Archive for the 'Politics' Category

Comment moderation is turned off!

Monday, February 12th, 2007

I was reading in another blog about their move to requiring user accounts before one can comment.  I understand that desire, seeing as how I get 20-50 comment spam a day.  That’s why I went to moderated comments a while back.  Neither solution is ideal, but seeing as how I hate having so many different user accounts, I decided to go the way of moderated comments instead of user accounts.

But it had long been my plan to switch to the authentication string model and remove the moderation.  This has been the plan for far too long now and something always seems to be more important.  But, today the last straw broke my back.  Motivated by the bad news that yet another blog was taking action to eliminate comment spam, I FINALLY found the time to implement the comment filter.

So (triumphant music starts) from now on, no moderation!  All you have to do is answer a simple math question (something like “Please add 3 and 5″) and you’re comment will be immediately posted.  I decided to go this way instead of the “image in a string” route because sometimes those strings can be a pain to read and frankly anyone who can’t do simple math shouldn’t be posting here.

Comment away unfettered by the shackles of moderation!

Spankings to Assemblywoman Sally Lieber

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

I meant to blog about this when it first came out but have been busy the last couple days.  There is a bill being introduced into the state legislator making it illegal to spank children.  I have a lot to say about this but first, the link to the article, and links to associated opinion pieces:

This issue upsets me in so many ways I don’t even know where to start.  The best I can do is list the various complaints and then try to break it down from there:

  1. Privacy and freedom:  Who is the state to say how I raise my children?
  2. The legislation is backwards: if anything, spanking is more valuable for younger children, and should be outlawed for older children.
  3. The apologetic ness of the response: “I’ve only spanked my child 4 times in my life and it was a very, very, very important reason.”
  4. Physical intervention is a necessary tool for parents.

I guess I’ll start with #3.  I was going to put caveats in this post about when I think it is appropriate to spank but after thinking about the matter, I now refuse to.  I’ll decide for myself when I think it is necessary and I’ll give my readers the same respect that they can decide for themselves.  The over-arching issue is not whether or when we spank but that we love our children and raise them lovingly.  There is nothing about a spanking, even fairly frequent spanking, that precludes that.

Along those lines: spankings and beatings are NOT the same thing.  A spanking is something that at worst leaves a broad red mark for less than an hour on even the most sensitive butt-white (excuse the pun) skin.  A beating is something that might result in bruises.  So let’s put aside any implication that a spanking is beating or abusing a child.  It’s just not the same thing in even the remotest sense.

Which I guess leads me to #2.  A big part about what bothers me about the legislation is that it’s all backwards.  It says you can’t spank kids under a certain age (in this case 4).  However, if you think about it, spanking is something that only is relevant for young kids.  If you’re going to make legislation, it should say you can’t spank kids OVER a certain age, say something like 7, although 10 would give plenty of room for parental judgment.

For those of you who don’t have kids, the younger a kid is, the less they listen to you.  At some point, they’re so young they couldn’t understand your words if they wanted to.  At these young ages you only have one disciplinary tool: physical force.  (Which means I guess I’m getting into point #4.)  Most of the time this force is nothing more than stopping the child from doing what he/she intends.  But as they get more obstinate in doing what you don’t want them to, you have to step up the amount of force that you use to prevent them.

See, here’s the problem with the “no spanking” crowd.  What do you do when a child doesn’t respond to you “asking them”?  Asking them again, is laughable.  What if a kid won’t do a “timeout”?  Giving them another timeout is yet again laughable.  Kids are young, not stupid.  If they realize there is a limit to the punishments they receive, they’ll find a way abuse that.  It’s an important lesson for children to learn at a young age that the worse thing you do, the worse the punishment is.  The more warnings and punishments you ignore, the worse the punishments will get.  Not all wrongs are equal and kids need to learn that early because it is just as true for adults as kids.

As such, it’s very appropriate for parents to start with “don’t do that”, then step up to the “timeout” then to “physically stopping” the to “physically stopping with some minor pain” then to “punishment w/ pain (of which spanking is one option)”.  Does a parent have to use moderation to know when to step things up to the next level?  Yes.  Are there parents who show bad judgment? Yes.  In fact, stepping things up too quickly can harm the parent’s ability to differentiate between the minor wrongs and the major wrongs.  But none of this precludes the use of force/pain even on a fairly regular basis if the child is not obeying their parents.

I use pain in discipline much more often than my wife does.  Usually, since my boys are both toddlers, that most often means squeezing their arms or legs harder than is necessary when I’m physically trying to get them to do what I want.  I’ve often noticed the boys laughing when my wife is trying to get them to do what she wants.  They think she’s playing with them while, in reality, she’s getting frustrated.  All it takes is a quick squeeze for them to realize that this isn’t a game and they need to sit still while I change their diaper.

And you know what, my kids love me just as much as they love their mom.

To bring #2 to a close, as my children get older, I’ll have other tools to use besides force/pain.  I can reason with them, lecture them, ground them and punish them in ways that doesn’t require me to physically spank them.  But while my kids are young, I don’t have those tools available to me yet.  To take spanking away is to delay my ability to discipline my kids until they are old enough to be too used to getting their way without consequences.

Finally, I’ll wrap up with #1: Pope Benedict has often spoken of the dictatorship of relativism.  The idea is that we reach a point where we pretend that “everything is acceptable” but in reality we have a dictatorship that refuses to let you believe/do anything but what is “in vogue”.  While this proposed legislation is minor in the big picture, it is symptomatic of the dictatorship of relativism.  The mindset that creates this says: “Children have to decide for themselves what is right and wrong; therefore anyone who spanks their children is a very bad person.”  It’s the same mindset that says: “Those archaic ‘religionists’ want to enforce laws on us that take away our freedoms to do whatever we want and we enlightened people are smart enough to know that their archaic ways are so barbaric as to be illegal.”

Thankfully there are enough people who have lived the practical life of raising children to know how stupid this legislation is.  However, we must be wary of the mindset that spawned this legislation and fight it with all of our collective might.

Failures of the women’s movement

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

In my post about marital names the subject of the women’s movement and feminists came up.  Since it was a topic that was quickly diverging from the topic being discussed I decided to make a new post on the subject.  Here are the relevent comments:

Me: “There is plenty that is good about the women’s movement. Unfortunately there was one unintended consequences: a general negativity towards men, marriage and children. … Both the groom and bride need to be able to answer yes to all of those questions (not quoted) to give a marriage a fighting chance. What the women’s movement failed to realize is that it should be fighting to ensure that men answered yes to those questions, not that women should answer no.”

Sarah: “As far as the women’s movement being anti-children, marriage and men, nothing could be further from the truth. At the heart of feminism is the simply belief that men and women should be treated as equals in our society. And despite some radical ideas, this is what most feminists believe.”

For starters this is yet another case where Sarah completely mis-understands my point.  She’s right about the heart of feminism and what most feminists believe.  That’s why I used the critically important phrase “unintended consequences”.

Unintended as in that’s not what was in their heart and not what they believe.

Unintended or otherwise, I think the case is pretty convincing that is indeed what has happened:

  1. One of the first significant points of the women’s movement was that being pregnant keeps women from being successful in their careers.  If that’s not anti-children I don’t know what is.  What they should have done instead (and in fairness started fighting for about a decade too late) was fight for better maternity benefits and career environments that were supportive of raising children.
  2. Along the same lines, a big part of the women’s movement was abortion rights.  Even putting aside the murder of unborn children, which I view as scientific fact, abortion has still fostered the mindset that children aren’t a gift but a burden.
  3. The other early significant portion of the women’s right movement was no-fault divorce.  I’m sorry, nothing says anti-marriage than making it easier to end them.  What they should have been doing is making the consequences of men who abuse their wives much more stringent.  Instead they created an environment where not only is marriage denigrated, but the same asshole men that were emotionally abusing their wives before can now do it until something better comes along and bolt “without fault”.  At least before the women in those cases got 100% of the assets not 50%.
  4. Finally, the body of work of women who have called all men pigs in the name of feminism is so comprehensive that anyone who would doubt it is just being foolish.  While I don’t think most women buy into it, thankfully, I do think that it’s pervasive enough it creeps into the subconscious of too many women and makes them very wary of men, even very good men.

Notice that in all cases besides #4 the motives of the ones pursuing the goals was noble but the results were disasterous.  Personally I think women are in a worse situation as a whole today than they were 50 years ago.  More women are being raped.  More women are being abandoned by their spouse and just as frequently with children.  More women are being treated as sex objects through pornography and other sexual deviencies.  More women are being asked to not only do housework and raise children but at the same time are asked to have a full-time career.  More women are being pushed to the brink resulting in higher suicide rates for women than ever before.

In fact, the only area in which the women’s movement was a success was in getting access to more professional career and educational opportunities.  Heck, even that hasn’t been the success that the women’s movement was hoping.

Overall, while I think the original goals were noble, the result has been a disaster for women.  Women deserve better.

Meeting 95% of 95% of buyers needs doesn’t cut it.

Sunday, January 7th, 2007

Last night I watched the “documentary” Who Killed the Electric Car with by brother and mom.  I put documentary in quotes because it is your standard highly biased account which invalidates it as a true documentary in my opinion.  But that’s neither here nor there.

The point of this post is to point out some of the most overlooked reasons why alternative vehicles have failed in the last 20 years.

  1. 95% of consumers buy their vehicles not based on what they need the vehicle on a day-to-day basis, or said another way what they use it for 95% of the time, but based on all of the capabilities they would like.  The most obvious example of this is 4-wheel drive on SUVs in California.  Most Californians see conditions where 4-wheel drive is valuable about 3-4 times a year.  But those same consumers when they are buying the vehicle say to themselves, “I want 4-wheel drive because I like to go skiing”.  The same principle applies to towing, people capacity, storage capacity and most importantly for electric vehicles, range.  Even though on 350 days a year most consumers don’t drive more than 150 miles a day, it is very important to most consumers that on the remaining 15 days a year they can drive 600 miles if they want.
  2. The low gas prices of the last 20 years.  Everyone forgets that in the mid-eightes gas prices dropped dramatically.  While there was a full head of steam on alternative vehicles but it faultered when gas prices dropped.  Now that gas prices are back up, there is a new sense of urgency and it will last as long as gas prices are high.  However, many people overlook this factor.
  3. Safety regulations.  The car market has a “high barrier to entry”.  In other words, the amount of investment required to become a new car maker is so high that very few companies are even capable of considering it, much less being interested in doing it.  There are numerous reasons for the investment being so high but a big part of it is all of the regulations required to be met including the destruction of a large number of cars for safety tests.  What this means is that Detroit can safely make the same thing year after year because no new car makers are going to be able to come in and steal market share.  As the hybrids have shown, one Detroit is pressured, they will quickly respond.  Figuring out how to allow new car makers into the market would increase the options available to the consumer and force Detriot to be more innovative.
  4. Technology based regulatory requirements.  California and and a few other governments had passed laws requiring electric vehicles be made and sold at certain rates.  That’s the wrong way to regulate because it actually restricts innovation.  The reason is two-fold: one, it gives automakers an excuse for failing.  “You said we had to go all-electric and the technology isn’t available.”  If you instead say “the average emissions of all your car must be less than X” where X is a number that traditional internal combustion engines can’t meet but only slightly so, the car makers are forced to look at other technologies yet bear the burden of justifying their technology decisions.  Which leads to reason number two: By allowing experiementation, excellent solutions that aren’t being considered are given a chance to be vetted out.

There are of course other reasons, but in my opinion, these are the most important yet overlooked ones.

Vote Schwarzenegger for Governor

Saturday, November 4th, 2006

I’m not thrilled with Arnold.  While he’s done an OK job his pro-choice perspective really bothers me.  Thankfully he’s not a radical pro-choicer who stands for stupid things like free abortions for minors without parental notification.  That said, he does support ESCR research and most early term abortions.  Not good.

But you know what, Arnold has stood strong on Gay Marriage, vetoing that bill.  He’s stood strong illegal immigration issues.  Basically he’s the only person in Sacramento who does anything to keep the radically democratic legislature from going out of control.

And that’s what it boils down to.  If Angelides were elected there would be no one to watch the hen house.

Tom McClintock for Lieutenant Governor

Saturday, November 4th, 2006

Does everyone remember that very principled, financially conservative, socially conservative Republican who ran for Governor during the recall election?  Yes, this is THAT Tom McClintock.

McClintock is one of the most principled politicians I have ever seen.  He leaves himself open to criticisms because he refuses to bend his principles when voting or speaking so as to avoid politically sticky situations.  Even the stanch Democrats I know have a great deal of respect for McClintock’s integrity.  They’d never vote for him… mostly because they know he’d follow through on his promises.

And just what are his promises/goals?  Everything I want in a candidate:

  • Wants to balance the budget without bonds or raising taxes
  • Wants to bring an end to illegal immigration
  • Wants to bring legislative reform like redistricting
  • Wants to protect protect life at all stages
  • Wants to encourage businesses to come to California without compromising on important worker protections.

He’s my kind of candidate.  Vote for McClintock!

Yes on prop. 90

Saturday, November 4th, 2006

OK, that was a lot of no’s in a row.  Just to prove I’m not a negative kinda guy, I’ll vote yes on one…

OK, not really.  I don’t know about you but it has disgusted me to see the federal supreme court undermine the high standard that eminent domain has always been held to and then to see activist and snobby towns infringe on what I believe to be the rights of citizens to maintain ownership of land.

Proposition 90 will solve this growning problem by enshrining it in the state constitution that eminent domain can only be used for public works projects.

No on prop. 89

Saturday, November 4th, 2006

I must admit that prop. 89 is an enticing proposition.  It’s an attempt to reign in campaign spending and it has a mechanism to do it that avoids the constitutional issues that most reforms do.  It does this by using public funds to match the money raised by private campaign contributors.  The idea is that there will be no benefit to raising your own money because every dollar you raise, your opponent will get as well.  To double the effect, the publicly funded candidate won’t be answering any questions about being a toy of special interests.  The result would be that every candidate would voluntarily sign up for this program and therefore all candidates would be publically funded at a much lower level than they currently collect.

At least that’s the theory.

The problem is that while it may work, California will potentially be footing a VERY large bill during the transition phase and potentially indefinitely if it never accomplishes its goal.  That’s too much of a risk in our financially strapped state to take.

No on prop. 88

Saturday, November 4th, 2006

I’ll give prop. 88 credit that I won’t give most of the proposition: it’s at least honest in what it’s attempting to do.  What it is attempting to do is fix our schools by increasing property taxes.  I’ll also give it credit for not using a bond approach that seem so popular these days because it doesn’t have to combat the “you’re raising taxes!” argument.

All of that said, I just don’t think dumping more money into the public schools at this juncture fixes anything.  We already spend more than most states per child yet we continue to perform towards the bottom in standarized testing.  The problem is not money, it’s the educational system as driven by the CTA.  Until that is fixed, I won’t be voting for any new taxes for education.  It’s just wasted money.

No on prop. 86

Saturday, November 4th, 2006

The “new” model for propositions is to find a topic that Californians are upset about and then write a proposition that funels a bunch of funding to your favorite special interest group as the solution to that problem.  Proposition 87 uses this technique and so does prop. 86.

The special interest groups in this case are HMO’s and hospitals.  They want extra money and are trying to argue that cigarette smokers cost them a fortune so they should get the extra tax money on cigarette smokers that comes from this tax supposedly goaled at reducing smoking.

Don’t be fooled.

It’s not about smoking, it’s about finding an excuse to put money in HMO’s pockets.