Last week, in an important event in global consciousness, Tyler Cowen highlighted a fascinating study:
Intriguingly, across the world the main social groups which practice polygyny do not consume alcohol. We investigate whether there is a correlation between alcohol consumption and polygynous/monogamous arrangements, both over time and across cultures. Historically, we find a correlation between the shift from polygyny to monogamy and the growth of alcohol consumption. Cross-culturally we also find that monogamous societies consume more alcohol than polygynous societies in the preindustrial world. We provide a series of possible explanations to explain the positive correlation between monogamy and alcohol consumption over time and across societies.
I guess that's why Utah didn't make this list.
Ex-Treasury chief Paulson loses $1 million on DC home.
Jesus on a pistachio nut
Rudy Giuliani and Michael Mukasey met with a terrorist group in -- shock horror! -- France!
But on December 23, a group of leading conservatives -- including Rudy Giuliani and former Bush officials Michael Mukasey, Tom Ridge, and Fran Townsend -- did exactly that. In Paris, of all places, they appeared at a forum organized by supporters of the Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MEK) -- a group declared by the U.S. since 1997 to be "terrorist organization" -- and expressed wholesale support for that group.
Imagine if that had been Michael Moore, Nancy Pelosi and Bernie Sanders. Imagine the screeching throughout wingnuttia. Palin would have already tweeted four or five incomprehensible tween girl blurbs about it. Cable news would spend the next two weeks piecing it apart. Dogs and cats would be sleeping together. Mass hysteria.
CNN poll: 63% of Americans want out of Afghanistan
More than six in ten Americans oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan, according to a new national poll. And a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday also indicates that 56 percent of the public believes that things are going badly for the U.S. in Afghanistan.
Sixty-three percent of people questioned in the poll say they oppose the war, with 35 percent saying they support the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.
...The survey indicates a partisan divide, with three-quarters of Democrats and more then six in ten independent voters opposed to the war, and Republicans supporting it by a 52 to 44 percent margin. A minority of Democrats and independents say the war is going well, with a majority of Republicans saying things are going well for the U.S.
Afghanistan, Obama's war of choice, has now gone the way of Iraq: only Republicans now support the ongoing occupation, and that only by a thin margin.
So where's our democracy?
Well, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R) is showing he's divorced from reality, as always, by saying that not only should the U.S. have permanent bases in Afghanistan, but that the Afghans have to "earn" those bases...
And as figures are announced that show over 10,000 people were killed last year in Afghanistan, with civilian deaths and injuries up 20% on last year, NATO spokesman Brig. General Josef Blotz channeled World War One era British Field Marshall Douglas "Butcher" Haig to give some bass-ackwards justification for the death toll:
"Our casualties are not a proof of any failure of our strategy. On the contrary,"..."before it gets better, unfortunately it has to get worse"
Suuuure, General. And I'm sure Haig said something similiar just before the Somme. But sometimes, it getting worse is just because it's getting worse.
What does it tell us when one anonymous U.S. commander is reported as describing Afghanistan as a " non-stop "Tom and Jerry" cartoon, but life-claiming and hazardous"?
According to my brother's friend Steve King, Steve King likes to tell young schoolchildren a story about a strange man walking to their school and sticking a thing of his through the door of their classroom. No, not that thing, a gun! And then the gunman shoots children like them. This happens all the time, he says. And it's called abortion. Children need to stop abortion if they don't want to be shot. "Where do you stand on the abortion issue?" he asks. Do they want to be shot? READ MORE »
If you're disappointed in CNN, you can always turn to MSNBC…ooops, never mind, they're solemnly reporting on the end-of-the-world nonsense from the Harold Camping Cult. They're predicting the Rapture will come on 21 May.
I would like to propose a novel version of Pascal's Wager for the news media. When apocalyptic cults come along and announce disaster and doom, ridicule them. Just rip into them, send your most sarcastic, cynical reporters to cover the story, and just shred all the followers as loons and gullible freaks. There will be two possible outcomes.
One, they're right, and the world ends. Your business has nothing to gain or lose by taking them seriously before the big event — it's going kaput no matter what. So have a grand time before the catastrophe and make money with laughter. It's not as if listening to crazy ol' Harold Camping will make a bit of difference in your fate.
Two, they're wrong, and the world keeps rolling on beyond 21 May. We all win! It means your coverage was spot on perfect, and got all the right answers, while the cultists are going to have to go glumly back to living their miserable little failed lives. Follow up with a feature on all the broken-hearted crazies. Start looking for the next mob of nuts to mock.
See? That's how to handle it. All this sober pandering to derangement gains you nothing.
War, peace and mockingbirds
This is too funny. The candidates for the RNC chairmanship were having a debate and were asked to name their favorite book. Here are the responses from this sad group of clowns.
Maria Cino: To Kill A Mockingbird (ok)
Reince Priebus: The Reagan Diaries (…pathetic pandering to the base)
Michael Steele: War and Peace (…he then goes on to recite the opening paragraph from Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities thinking he was quoting from War and Peace. Sigh. Obviously Steele never read War and Peace but it did make him look intellectually cool…for all of three seconds.)
Best response came from Ann Wagner who answered, "My kitchen table." Apparently Wagner thought she was being asked to name her favorite bar. She came back to name Bush's memoir, Decision Points, as her favorite book.
Decision Points? Seriously? In the history of the written word, there is no other book which came to mind?
What the hell is wrong with these people? Is 'blithering moron' a personality prerequisite for anyone seeking higher office in Republican ranks? It appears so.
The "tea party-ization" of Congress
Republicans are wasting no time in their attempt to appease their Tea Party base.
When Republicans take over the House…, they will do something that apparently has never been done before in the chamber's 221-year history:
They will read the Constitution aloud.
And then they will require that every new bill contain a statement by the lawmaker who wrote it citing the constitutional authority to enact the proposed legislation.
Cute, except that teabaggers might end up shocked on learning what it is the Constitution actually says. Yale constitutional law professor, Akhil Reed Amar, notes that the Constitution grants broad powers to the feds and limits state rights to a greater degree than many in the Tea Party movement assume. Carrying around pocket sized copies of the Constitution might impress fellow tea-dolts but actually understanding what the document says is another matter.
For his part, E.J. Dionne applauds the new measures being introduced by House Republicans but for reasons entirely different from those of teabaggers.
From its inception, the Tea Party movement has treated the nation's great founding document not as the collection of shrewd political compromises that it is but as the equivalent of sacred scripture.
Yet as Gordon Wood, the widely admired historian of the Revolutionary era has noted, we "can recognize the extraordinary character of the Founding Fathers while also knowing that those 18th-century political leaders were not outside history. . . . They were as enmeshed in historical circumstances as we are, they had no special divine insight into politics, and their thinking was certainly not free of passion, ignorance, and foolishness."
An examination of the Constitution that views it as something other than the books of Genesis or Leviticus would be good for the country.
Agreed except that having a healthy, informative debate these days on any issue seems unlikely in the current political climate. Reason and logic have given way to spin and lies unlike any other time I'm aware of. But hey, let them have a go at it. Any attempt to educate the electorate is always a good idea.
World Nut Daily praises white extremists
The usual, the usual. In this case, Kinston, NC kept electing black Democrats to office. In retaliation, Barbour Haley's beloved Citizens Council (relabeled of course for the new millennium) got passed a new ballot initiative outlawing putting party affiliation onto the ballot, so that voters would have trouble seeing who was the black Democrats just by looking at party affiliation, thus hopefully depriving the black candidates of a few votes and getting more whites elected. The Justice Department sued, and a judge agreed that the ballot initiative is illegal -- because the entire intent of the law was to get more whites elected, it's illegal under the Civil Rights Act of 1965.
World Nut Daily's writer is incensed, incensed I say, at this untoward interference in local affairs! Why, if the whites of a town want to insure that their own get elected via hook or by crook (mostly by crook in this case -- as in, crooked), it's their own affair, and the Feds should not get involved!
Remember, whenever you see a Republican talk about "state's rights" or "local autonomy", what they mean is a state's right to discriminate against people of color (and other minorities). It's just short-hand for bigotry and hate. That's all.
Jurassicpork: Two Hundred and Forty One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
100,000 dead fish join thousands of dead birds in Arkansas.
In case you have forgotten just how fucked up the response to Katrina was, here's a reminder "The Federal Emergency Management Agency hasn't tried to recoup about $643 million in improper payments made to victims of Hurricane Katrina and other disasters in the wake of a judge's order more than three years ago, according to a government audit issued Monday. ... The improper payments have gone uncollected for more than three years because FEMA hasn't given its final approval to a new process for recovering the money, auditors found in a report by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general's office. ... The federal agency has distributed more than $7 billion in disaster assistance payments since hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf Coast in 2005. An estimated 160,000 applicants received about $643 million in improper payments resulting from fraud, FEMA errors or other mistakes."
Income disparity is a growing problem: http://www.theygaveusarepublic.com/diary/7391/income-disparity-is-a-growing-problem
Note to Darrell Issa: "Corrupt" and "stuff I don't like" are not synonymous.
Christ...where to even start with this? So Darrell Issa -- never the sharpest knife in the drawer -- is going to investigate TARP, which was initiated under Bush with majority republican support in both chambers and has, for the most part, been paid back under Obama. Not quite sure how that qualifies as "corrupt."
And as for "waste, fraud and abuse" -- yes, there is always some of that going on. Especially in the Pentagon. If he wants to unleash the GAO on defense contractors and weapons suppliers and mercenaries and the costs of the wars -- be my guest, I look forward to the reports with bated breath. But really, outside of the statistically small bit that goes along with human beings being involved with any venture, there just isn't that much, and the ones that try it tend to get caught. (When people rant about those stories in the paper, I usually ask if they would prefer the person got away with it undetected? When they say no, I ask "Then what are you bitching about?")
As for the stimulus...I wish it had been a trillion bucks. It might actually have kept unemployment under eight percent if it had been, and if that was the case, Issa most certainly wouldn't be taking over as Chair on Wednesday.
Love is a battlefield: House Republicans All Excited To Pass Their Little Health Care Repeal
Reading the venison leaves: Palin Either Has Run Out of Things To Say Or Is Running For President