Quitters Hall of Fame

Mudflats checked out how many other first term governors pulled a Palin and quit:

On a hunch, I reviewed online lists of all the men and women who’ve been elected governor of their state since the year 1900. Pored over them for a few hours. Over 1200 politicians have taken that first-term oath of office. Some soon died in office. Many resigned to accept other positions in government, including Spiro Agnew who was “tapped” by Nixon after being the Governor of Maryland for about five minutes. On a handful of occasions, a first-termer was dragged off to the slammer or impeached. One was incapacitated by a nervous breakdown and one left just as impeachment came knocking on his door. So—how many out of over 1200 just up and quit before the end of their term?

Three: Jim McGreevy, Eliot Spitzer and Sarah Palin.

Quote of the Day

“Wait: Michael Jackson died? How come nobody covered that?”
Matthew Yglesias

Michael Moore’s Next Movie

Variety has reported on Michael Moore’s next documentary:

Michael Moore’s opting to spoof romantic conventions in titling his upcoming documentary “Capitalism: A Love Story,” which addresses the causes of the global economic meltdown.

“It will be the perfect date movie,” Moore said in an announcement Wednesday. “It’s got it all — lust, passion, romance and 14,000 jobs being eliminated every day. It’s a forbidden love, one that dare not speak its name. Heck, let’s just say it: It’s capitalism.”

Moore and Overture Films had announced previously that the film would be released domestically on Oct. 2 — a year and a day after the U.S. Senate voted to approve a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. Paramount Vantage will handle international distribution.

The film is described as focusing on “the disastrous impact that corporate dominance and out-of-control profit motives have on the lives of Americans and citizens of the world.”

I’ll have to wait and see what I think of this one. While there are certainly problems with the capitalist system which are responsible for the economic collapse (as even conservatives such as Richard Posner have argued) my suspicion is that Moore will over-emphasize the bad while failing to appreciate all the benefits of capitalism.

I’ve found Moore’s work to be quite mixed in the past. Fahrenheit 9/11 was an easy one as the case against Bush was so strong. Sicko showed both the good and the bad sides of Moore. He did an excellent job of showing the problems faced by many in hour health care system (as long as you realize that millions of other people are also satisfied with the system). On the other hand he white-washed problems in foreign systems. For example, he showed Americans receiving health care at a clinic in Cuba suggesting that this is the type of free health care which is available in Cuba. Actually he went to a clinic which treats foreigners only and which is not representative of Cuban health care. He showed the positive aspects while ignoring problems in countries such as Great Britain. While France does have an excellent system, Moore even exaggerated the benefits available there. I fear that a documentary on capitalism will emphasize the worst of Michael Moore’s views.

A Prediction On Capitation

There are many possible ways to pay doctors. If for some bizarre reason I wanted health care reform to fail after enacted I would choose capitation. This is the way most likely to screw both physicians and patients and make everyone want to abandon the system. We’ve already seen that mistake under HMO’s, and we know how most people feel about them. While there is certainly a problem with doctors being motivated to  perform more expensive care with payment by fee for service, capitation provides motivation to do as little as possible as doctors are paid a flat mouthy amount regardless of what they do. We really don’t have a problem with too much being done in health care in this country overall. The problem is that some people receive more expensive services than needed while millions don’t receive the health care they need. What is needed is to reform the system so that care is available for all, which will keep doctors so busy providing necessary care that we should not need incentives not to work as occurs under capitation.

I’ve found it disturbing that many bloggers who are supporting health care reform are also naive supporters of capitation. Undoubtedly most of them are too young to require very much medical care and have never experienced the problems under capitation. There is a tremendous difference between reading and blogging about health care and actually having experience in the field (as is seen with the misconceptions among many liberal bloggers over care from the VA). At least I felt a little better after reading this post from Ezra Klein. Ezra supports capitation but I was happy to see he concluded by writing, “I’m actually a big fan of this model, but I rather doubt it will be adopted here.” In this case I hope that his ability to predict political outcomes is superior to his understanding of health care in the real world as opposed to theoretical blogging.

Republicans and States’ Rights

I’ve noted in previous posts that Republicans have failed to uphold their stated belief in states’ rights by supporting the DEA raids on those dispensing medicinal marijuana in states where it is legal. Here is another situation where I fear Republicans will not support states’ rights:

Massachusetts, the first state in the nation to legalize gay marriage, has become the first to challenge the constitutionality of a federal law that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, saying Congress intruded into a matter that should be left to individual states.

The suit filed in US District Court in Boston claims that Congress, in enacting the Defense of Marriage Act, “overstepped its authority, undermined states’ efforts to recognize marriages between same-sex couples, and codified an animus towards gay and lesbian people.”

Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, which opposes gay marriage, said, “We believe the suit will have no credibility in the federal courts. The federal courts have already ruled that the DOMA is constitutional.”

Which Deniers Of Science Are Worse?

Following the last post on science and political views, The Secular Outpost asks a related question:  Are Climate-Change Deniers as bad as Creationists?

Predictably, whenever the Chronicle prints a statement of the fact of human-caused climate change, as it did with the publication of Paul Krugman’s excellent editorial, “This close to betraying planet” on Tuesday, June 30, there is always a backlash of ignorant outrage. These tirades sound eerily familiar in tone. They sound exactly like the antievolutionary screeds of creationists. In fact, there is probably considerable overlap between the climate-change deniers and creationists; once you start rejecting inconvenient science, it easily becomes a habit. Climate-change deniers and creationists indulge in the same kind of rhetoric and employ the same sorts of tricks. Unable to win on the basis of evidence and logic, they resort to name-calling. Creationists characterize evolutionists as “atheists” who promote “the religion of secular humanism.” Climate-change deniers call their opponents “pathological romantics” or “eco-zealots.” While engaging in ad hominem argument, it also helps to mischaracterize opposing positions. Evolutionary theory as depicted by creationists bears scant resemblance to the real thing. Similarly, deniers of climate change fatuously say that their opponents want to reverse the industrial revolution or go back to transportation by ox cart. In fact, those leading the charge in warning against climate change, like Secretary of Energy, Nobel Prize winning physicist Steven Chu, are the most active proponents of new science and new technology. Another tactic common to both the creationists and the climate-change deniers is to present a skewed version of the facts. Young earth creationists falsely claim that there are no transitional fossils. Climate-change deniers laughably tout the balmy climate that global warming will supposedly bring to New England (the real effects will be devastating). It is little wonder that creationists and climate-change deniers are so much alike. Both groups are motivated by a fundamentalist ideology: theological fundamentalism in the one case, and economic fundamentalism on the other. Ignorance is always dangerous, and doubly so when it is intentional.

The post doesn’t really answer the question of who is worse, but some of those commenting do suggest answers. The best answer might be a commenter who says, “In my personal experience they’ve been one in the same.” That is often, but not always true.

Scientists Reject Republicans

With old divisions between left and right over matters such as economics and size of government breaking down, the primary difference between liberals and conservatives have come down to holding a reality-based world view versus one based upon superstition and the misinformation commonly spread by the right wing noise machine. With the Republican Party being dominated by the religious right it comes as no surprise to find that scientists are overwhelmingly backing the Democrats over Republicans. A Pew Research Center survey of scientists found:

Slightly more than half of scientists (52%) describe their own political views as liberal, including 14% who describe themselves as very liberal. Among the general public, 20% describe themselves as liberal, with just 5% calling themselves very liberal.

Most scientists identify as Democrats (55%), while 32% identify as independents and just 6% say they are Republicans. When the leanings of independents are considered, fully 81% identify as Democrats or lean to the Democratic Party, compared with 12% who either identify as Republicans or lean toward the GOP. Among the public, there are far fewer self-described Democrats (35%) and far more Republicans (23%). Overall, 52% of the public identifies as Democratic or leans Democratic, while 35% identifies as Republican or leans Republican.

The survey also compared views on scientific issues with those of the general public. You have to take such questions with a grain of salt as a survey which gives a choice of agreeing or disagreeing could obtain different results with changes in wording. The survey found far greater belief in evolution among scientists than the general public:

Scientists were also more likely to believe in a human role in global warming and see this as an important problem:

A large majority (85%) of Americans says that the earth is warming, but they are more divided on the cause of climate change than are scientists. About half of the general public (49%) says the earth is getting warmer “mostly because of human activity, such as burning fossil fuels,” while 36% say warming is occurring “mostly because of natural changes in the atmosphere.” About one-in-ten (11%) say “there is no solid evidence that the earth is getting warmer.”

By contrast, 84% of scientists say the earth is warming because of human activity. Scientists also are far more likely than the public to regard global warming as a very serious problem: 70% express this view, compared with 47% of the public. Public attitudes about whether global warming represents a serious problem have changed little in recent years.

It would also be helpful to have a break down by field. Typically when conservatives quote scientists who disagree with the scientific consensus on climate change such views are from scientists in other fields while there is a high degree of agreement among those actually in the field. Differences in opinion in the general population were strongly related to political affiliation:

The strongest correlate of opinion on climate change is partisan affiliation. Two-thirds of Republicans (67%) say either that the earth is getting warmer mostly because of natural changes in the atmosphere (43%) or that there is no solid evidence the earth is getting warmer (24%). By contrast, most Democrats (64%) say the earth is getting warmer mostly because of human activity. Nearly half of independents (49%) say human activity is causing the earth to warm, while 47% say either that the earth is getting warmer due to natural atmospheric changes (38%) or that there is no solid evidence that the earth is warming (9%).

The divide is even larger when party and ideology are both taken into consideration. Just 21% of conservative Republicans say the earth is warming due to human activity, compared with nearly three-quarters (74%) of liberal Democrats.

There also are significant differences in views about climate change by education. More than half of college graduates (58%) say climate change is occurring and caused by human activity while those with no more than a high school education are more divided in their opinions; 45% say the earth is warming because of human activity and 40% say it is due to natural changes in the atmosphere.

Scientists were more likely than the general public to be concerned about the suppression of scientific findings by the Bush administration:

Most scientists had heard at least a little about claims that government scientists were not allowed to report research findings that conflicted with the Bush administration’s point of view. And the vast majority (77%) says that these claims are true. By contrast, these claims barely registered with the public – more than half heard nothing at all about this issue. Only about a quarter of the public (28%) said they thought the claims were true.