Monday, January 10, 2011

More Football Predictions

So my most recent post on football made many wrong predictions and even got the schedule wrong. Stupid.

Jared Lee Loughner...

... was an unusual man with unusual political beliefs that could be called right-wing (his interest in a currency backed by gold and on the unconstitutionality of community colleges) but very different from most right-wing political beliefs. There are two general ways that politics may have played a role in his attempt to kill Gabrielle Giffords and his murders of the other people at her meeting. One is that in his mind, his very unusual political beliefs went along with other motivations to lead him to try to kill his local Democratic member of Congress. This does not seem unlikely Ross Douthat writes: Violence in American politics tends to bubble up from a world that’s far stranger than any Glenn Beck monologue — a murky landscape where worldviews get cobbled together from a host of baroque conspiracy theories, and where the line between ideological extremism and mental illness gets blurry fast. Douthat is downplaying the role of politics, but he is acknowledging its possibility.

The other way that politics may have played a role is that he was inspired by the militant language and imagery of less unusual right-wing politics. Clearly, it is neither the conscious object nor a known practically certain result of less unusual right-wing politics to shoot members of Congress in the head, so there is no intent to create a danger for polticians in this way. But could there still be a strong influence from rhetoric to act? It seems possible, but it must be remembered that troubled people (whether or not they are insane) can interpret statements in ways that cannot be predicted by the people who make the statements, often with tragic results that it may not be fair to blame on the people who make the statements.

A person may want to be against the extreme right because of the tendency of people with unusual versions of right-wing political beliefs, like Loughner, or James Von Brunn the Holocaust Museum shooter, or the suicide bomber of the IRS office in Texas, along with less obviously political examples of violence that a person may decide to go against the right-wing to make these people feel worse about themselves. That being said, it would be unfair to ignore other poltically motivated violence. the violence of Islamic extremists is more severe and more common, even in America recently with the attempted explosion at Times Square, the shooting at the army base in Texas, and the shooting at a military recruiting center in Arkansas (along with the sting operations by the FBI catching MUslims trying to blow up a Christmas tree in Oregon and a military recruiting center in Maryland). James Lee took hostages at the Discovery Channel because he was against about population growth, making him like an environmentalist terrorist. The quasi-political violence of Omar Thornton, the African-American who murdered his ex-co-workers and complained about their racism after getting fired for stealing from his job, was treated by the media with something that was almost like sympathy as his claims of racism were then investigated by the media.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Medicare and Advance Directives II

The Obama White House has again changed its mind and decided not to include language on the subject of end of life counseling. I believe that a rule that could help make it clear that patients have the right to this counseling under Medicare woulsd be good, but the rule should be made according to the rulemaking process which requires that the rule be open to comment from interested parties before it becomes law, while in this case the White House does not believe that there was "adequate space" in the public comment period, according to White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs. That being said, I do not believe that this change will have any effect on the paranoia of many of Obama's opponents, which was not made any LESS outrageous by the earlier decision to include this language in a regulation, but it is a good sign of a healthy respect for the spirit of the law.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Football Predictions

Here are my predictions for the National Football League playoffs:

Indianapolis beats New York Jets.
Baltimore beats Kansas City.
New Orleans beats Seattle.
Philadelphia beats Green Bay.

Pittsburgh beats Indianapolis.
New England beats Baltimore.
New Orleans beats Atlanta.
Philadelphia beats Chicago.

Pittsburgh beats New England.
Philadelphia beats New Orleans.

Michael Vick the dog-killer and his Philadelphia Eagles beat Ben Roethlisberger the rapist and his Pittsburgh Steelers.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

More Ivory Coast

In my previous post on this subject I wrote that even if negotiations are unsuccesful to get Gbagbo to admit defeat in the recent presidential elections so Outtara can become president, the United Nations, along with the African Union and ECOWAS, will be showing that there are costs to violence against political opponents and the rule of law by "not really being able to do business and run a country before going through negotiations." This is true, but there are other things that the international community can and does do. At least it can continue to provide some protection for political opponents who are at risk of violence from the government. It can monitor if elections are fair or not, although it probably is bad for international organizations to say that a certain side won an election. There may be an invasion to stop this dictatorship, but that is almost certainly not worth it. There may be sanctions. In the short-run, this may mean higher prices for chocolate because Ivory Coast is the world's largest producer of cocoa beans, but in the long-run it may mean a better understanding by African politicians of their responsibilities, which will mean a more peaceful and prosperous Africa, which will mean more agricultural production and less hunger.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Southern Sudan and Africa's Present

Here is an article about the planned referendum on the seccession of Southern Sudan and how it may turn out well. That would be nice in a good step for a country that has had too much violence and a victory for the diplomats and politicians from many countries who would have made it happen, along with the millions of people of Sudan.
Many countries in Africa like Sudan have been characterized by an increase in expected violence and poverty since decolonization. That means that, in some cases, decolonization failed, but it does not mean that decolonization should not have been done. The failures of decolonization often may be better than the failures of continued colonization. Of course, this does not apply to every African country. In some countries, decolonization has failed so completely that the country may be better off with continued colonialism. In other countries, however, decolonization has not really failed at all, and the country has a level of peace, prosperity and pride that is above where it would be had it stayed as part of a colonial empire.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Earlier today, I saw the cover of a tabloid in a grocery store about the people we lost in 2010. Teena Marie or whoever was not Michael Jackson. Elizabeth Edwards was not Ted Kennedy.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ivory Coast

I am very happy to see that the New York Times is calling the country of Ivory Coast "Ivory Coast," instead of Cote d'Ivoire, the French name for the country, which translates as "Ivory Coast." To call if Cote d'Ivoire would only be a combination of political correctness to transfer resources and respect to people who would act offended if somebody used the English name and for people who are unusually and unreasonably interested in trivia to show off their sensitivity and knowledge of nonsensical trivia.

That being said, I am unhappy to see that Ivory Coast is in a state of turmoil as President Laurent Gbagbo has refused to step down and acknowledge that he lost the recent elections to his challenger, Alassane Outtara. If the Ivorians, the United Nations, and other countries are able to resolve this situation that would be ideal, but even if they do not, the United Nations will still be showing that violence against political opponents and the rule of law has not only the organic and internal consequences of a bad relationship between a government and its citizens, but also the international consequences of not really being able to do business and run a country before going through negotiations with the United Nations and other parties.