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Fantasy Football

September 2, 2010 Leave a comment

I want to apologize for my recent hiatus. Other than regular work, it’s been draft week for fantasy football for me so I’ve spent most of my free time doing that. I’ve read a lot of good policy stuff too – I just haven’t had the time to properly comment on it. My problem with time management is that when I get into something I tend to spend almost all my time concentrating on that particular activity even if it’s largely trivial like fantasy football. By golly, I want to be the best at it. I’m super competitive. Some people think I’m angry when playing games; honestly I’m having a great time! I promise I get back to blogging soon; my free time should increase now that I’ve drafted in both my leagues.

Networking can improve both your career and your fantasy football team.

I’m in a league with Radley Balko of Reason Magazine and The Agitator – I’ll be pretty excited for my team, the Panmictic Partyers, to beat him in week 2. 


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It Should Have Been Televised

For opponents, how would you have answered those questions? 

(via: The Daily Dish)


[update: July 10]


Jacob Sullum over at Reason Magazine’s blog has had enough defending “the constitutional principles that social conservatives use to restrict liberty, because they so rarely return the favor by supporting those same principles when the effect is to expand liberty.” Sullum seems a bit late to the party on this, it’s long been obvious to me that more often than not, self-described “strict constructionists,” “federalists,” and even “small government conservatives” are just interested in advancing their right-wing agendas not upholding constitutional or small government principles. The Founding Father idolatry of the Tea Partyers is especially egregious in this respect. 


This is partly the reason I have trouble identifying with political labels, even my preferred “classical liberal.” In my more openly libertarian phase, this was even more so the case. When it comes down to it I don’t want to lock myself into any specific ideological response to every circumstance. I tend to favor more liberty over less and even less government over more; that guides me but ultimately I’m a consequentialist more than anything else. If my underlying principles lead to more suffering, I’ll abandon them for those circumstances – consistency be damned! I hope to expand on this in the future.  Anyway, here’s more Sullum:

Is this a constitutional rationalization for my pre-existing policy preferences? Yes, but I think it’s a pretty good one. I would much prefer that the government get out of the business of certifying marriage altogether. But as long as more than 1,000 provisions of federal law hinge on marital status, the government will have to decide which couples qualify, and basic fairness demands that sexual preference play no role in that determination. What legitimate government interest can possibly justify preventing the longtime spouse of a veteran from being buried alongside him, simply because both of them are men? This sort of thing really is shameful.

Should Obama Back The AZ Law?

April 27, 2010 5 comments

The modern “conservative” movement and the Republican Party seem to oppose anything Obama supports. Any increase in government power is treated as further evidence we’re becoming the new Soviet Union. Any chance Obama coming out in favor of Arizona’s new immigration law, which The Economist calls “Hysterical Nativism”, would get the Right to repeal this illiberal state-power swelling abomination?  For anyone unfamiliar the new law compels AZ state authorities to check the immigration status of anyone the police “reasonably suspect” of being in the US illegally. The problem of course is that it basically creates a police state where you’re guilty until proven innocent.  Here’s is Andrew Sullivan countering some dissents from his strong criticism and language.

A police state is one where any cop can pull you aside for any reason and demand papers. If you don’t have them, you’re guilty till proven innocent. The overwhelming majority of those “reasonably suspected” of being illegal immigrants will be Mexican. What we have here, regardless of how it came about (and I agree the Feds have a terrible record in policing the Southern border), this is a police state directed at a minority, innocent and guilty. That’s the reality.

Steve Chapman at Reason.com reminds the nativists the results of their past efforts.

Turning the border into a 2,000-mile replica of the Berlin Wall may sound like a simple cure for the problem. But besides being hugely expensive, it would have effects the advocates would not relish.

How so? Massey says the number of people coming illegally has not risen appreciably in the last couple of decades. But the number staying has climbed, because anyone who leaves faces a harder task returning.

I’m for increasing access to legal immigration, but anti-illegal-immigration crusaders should realize fencing illegal aliens in and pushing them further in the shadows of the law makes any problems worse. 

Happy 4/20!

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Bitter Cops

I had some amazing cocktails at my new friend Ran’s bar at the Sichuan Garden II in Woburn, MA. He’s superb mixologist; he treated a lady-friend and I to some classic drinks with some modern and personal twists. I really loved his maple old-fashioned. Little did I know that the lemon foam on top is potentially illegal in some parts of the US! Not to mention those bitters that spiced up a few other drinks I enjoyed…

In case you’ve been sitting in a dark room somewhere sucking down rum and Diet Cokes, America is in the midst of a cocktail renaissance. A cadre of elite mixologists (or bartenders, as Thrasher prefers to be called) in New York, Portland, San Francisco, D.C., and other creative-class cities is bringing back classics and offering new twists on retro techniques. Meanwhile, alarmed by all this creativity and innovation, retrograde health inspectors and bureaucrats are cracking down on innovation from coast to coast.

I’m a 1st Amendment absolutist – it allows me to vigorously defend the 21st!  

Cucumber Chill = Japanese Slipper muddled with lemon cucumbers and mint toped with shiraz and midori caviar
(photo via: Ran’s F.B. page)

Attempting to Mix a Hypocrisy Tonic

My uncle loves to send me right-wing chain emails about the dangers of government, the evilness of Obama, all the crazy things “the liberals” are up to, and sprinkles in some nativist xenophobic blather for good measure. Honestly, he’s a great guy personally, but seriously warped with partisanship, paranoia, and populism like others swept up with Tea Party style politics. His colleagues don’t seem much better. I recently got into an email row with one of them over the Massachusetts RMV offering a spanish language manuel and test (written by volunteers). I pointed out among other things that multiple studies and surveys (here, here, and here) show that 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants and Americans in general overwhelmingly speak English. He responded with “I think you’re wrong” and asked about some anecdotal cases. Failure to deal with actual evidence doesn’t often lead to a fruitful conversation.


Most of the emails I get sent end up being demonstrably false, yet that doesn’t appear to give my uncle any reservations. Bizarrely, these emails often bash big government and advance some pretty narrow (and wrongheaded) views about the constitutional limits placed on our government. I say bizarre because he works for the government. I hope this will be a hypocrisy tonic:

FAA wastes stimulus funds:

  • Lake Cumberland Regional Airport in Kentucky got $3.5 million to build a glass-fronted terminal in 2004 that was largely unused until the first passenger flights began this June. The airport now has six flights a week.
  • Montgomery Regional Airport in Alabama got $22 million to build a $35 million terminal with a sloping glass facade and a rotunda topped with a domed ceiling that reflects the historical architecture of the state Capitol.
  • Halliburton Field Airport in Duncan, Okla., got $700,000 for a terminal with a pilot room and a reception room. The airport, open only to private planes, has 24 landings and takeoffs a day, mostly local pilots in piston-engine planes.
We can privatize many of the FAA’s duties for example:

Air Traffic Control. The Federal Aviation Administration has been mismanaged for decades and provides Americans with second-rate air traffic control. The FAA has struggled to expand capacity and modernize its technology. Canada privatized its ATC system in 1996. It set up a private, nonprofit ATC corporation, Nav Canada, which is self-supporting from charges on aviation users. The Canadian system has received high marks for sound finances, solid management, and investment in new technologies.

Delayed? Blame the FAA:


Go to the site to watch the video. 


[update]: He does recognize the irony but it doesn’t seem to affect his politics. I think that might show the mind’s ability to compartmentalize and hold mutually contradictory beliefs. 

Don’t Compromise the Comprehensive

March 25, 2010 Leave a comment

A Republican compromise on the healthcare bill on things like tort reform and other cost control issues made sense. Of course they didn’t and we got a Democratic Party-only designed bill, which actually turned out fairly well since they moderated themselves. Of course, major improvements are still needed – especially to control costs and to make sure this bill is payed for. There is no doubt that this is an expensive bill – in theory the GOP could still offer some sensible conservative ideas. But as I’ve discussed with many people compromise couldn’t and still can’t mean that only the politically popular things both parties can agree on get passed (or kept). A comprehensive solution was necessary; not a few incremental reforms. Peter Suderman at Reason magazine tells us the problems of over-compromising. Keep in mind that Suderman is not a proponent of this bill but recognizes the key problem with the Republican’s “do only the stuff we agree on” approach.

[I]nsurance reforms without a mandate would, in their own way, be just as bad, and twice as stupid. Prohibiting preexisting conditions entails enacting two different regulations, known as “community rating” and “guaranteed issue.” There are variations on each, but in basic terms, these regulations mean that insurance companies have to charge everyone the same amount for the same policy, regardless of risk factors, and that they have to issue policies to everyone who’s willing to pay. 

The problem is that with these regulations in place, there’s no incentive to buy insurance until you’re already very sick. After all, if the insurance companies can’t turn you down or jack up your rates, why buy in early? So what happens is that, in hopes of saving money, some number of healthy people decline to buy insurance, creating a sicker, more expensive pool. That pushes a new wave of the healthy people to jump ship, which creates a pool that’s even sicker and even more expensive. Go through a couple iterations of this, and fairly quickly you have a very small, very sick, and very, very expensive insurance pool. 

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