Ex Orienti Lux

Open Source Geography

Please click here to see the OS Geo signup form.

What They Speak In Alabama...

...barely counts as English.  Am I shocked by the naked bigotry and racism in this? No. I'm more shocked that enough people in Alabama can read to justify written exams.


The "P" In GOP Stands For Something Else


I was going to write a whole thing about this, but really, who's surprised?  Is anyone surprised? Let's explore another dimension of this, though. What kind of jerk repeats the things that his lover said to him sub rosa to work colleagues while at work? I can totally imagine someone talking about these matters with friends, maybe even work friends, over a drink or eight after work, but, really, doing so at the office is a level or crudeness that I never expected.  

I guess I shouldn't be shocked, and I actually feel sorry for the lobbyist in question, whose just had her most intimate discussions turned into a news story.  This whole thing is an exercise in Republican hypocrisy, sure, but it's also illustrative of the incredible contempt that conservatives have for women.  Who cares about how your mistress will feel if the affair becomes public? Who cares what that woman will feel like if knowledge of her bedroom behaviours and preferences becomes public? What does it matter compared to your right to brag about nailing a bitch to another dude?

God, I'm so disgusted by this that I can't write any more.

Why Is It Republicans Have No Talent?

I am not one of those people for whom the political message of some artistic object X is enough to ensure that I will enjoy it. I have heard, seen and read enough awful stuff whose political messages I would otherwise find quite reasonable that was just so abominably made and executed that I couldn't bring myself to do anything with it, and I frequently try to forget it.  This leads me to the question that is probably on everyone's mind: why is it that Republicans seemingly have no artistic talents?  Oh, sure, I know that they have a blog dedicated to proving that it's a vast liberal conspiracy to keep Republicans from succeeding in culture, but if you take a stroll over there, you'll quickly find out that it's because the very cream of their crop are just hideously untalented - I mean, awful.

Listening to their jokes reminds of looking at conservative Christian bumper stickers from my beloved Texas: you have to be so deep in the know on their culture and in-jokes for any of the references to make sense that they look stupid to anyone else, or, more frequently, there's absolutely no subtlety or wit to what they're doing. Case in point:

Does anyone in the world who has more than three teeth find this funny? How about this one? "If you want to get to heaven, turn right and go straight."

Now, beneath the fold, you'll find some competing examples of Democratic and Republican pop music. I've chosen to look at hiphop and rock music, as they're probably the two easiest forms in which one can express political ideas.  Guess which ones suck.


Apparently, marriage cannot be between two men...


If only there were a lobby for women telling their husbands to prosecute affairs with domestic staff, there would be some real balance in the marriage debates.



Beware of Flawed Polling

Originally posted at The Moderate Voice

The contrast in quality between the news and opinion divisions of The Wall St. Journal never ceases to amaze me.

While the news reporting has won award after award, and has become the definitive source of news for the American business and financial communities, the opinion pages are characterized by what some would consider mendacity and methodological sloppiness or a genuine lack of understanding of the subject matter. Indeed:

The 13 March, 2009, op-ed by Doug Schoen and Scott Rasmussen is just another indication of why one should beware of anything written in those sections. Both authors are pollsters, and should therefore know better, but they didn’t provide full cross-tabs, sampling information, fielding dates or questionnaires for the polls they cite, and their analysis meanders back and forth between different polls. It is impossible to take any of the claims in this article completely seriously on their own merits.


The Real Significance of The CBS AIG Poll

Originally posted at The Moderate Voice.

A CBS News poll fielded over the weekend shows a surprising finding: while a majority of Americans disapprove of AIG handing out bonuses, believe that the government should do more to recover them and specifically give Obama low marks for handling this issue, there is no appreciable change in his overall job performance and there is an increase in overall confidence in his ability to handle the economy. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, has slightly lower numbers.


Time For Mark Penn To Go

Originally posted to The Moderate Voice - I'll be guest writing there on polling and polls for a while.

I’m a little late to the fight between Democratic pollsters Stan Greenberg and Mark Penn, but I thought it important to finish reading Greenberg’s book before I offered an opinion.

To those of us who work in polling, data or analytics, the revelations in Greenberg’s book provide few new revelations but replete examples of how far out of the mainstream of best practices and ethics Mark Penn’s work really is. This is also a perfect illustration of the problematic culture of Democratic consultants and their deleterious effects on Democratic campaigns.

But first, a little context.

Rick Perry's Options For 2010

Originally posted at The Texas Blue.

The Houston Chronicle continues to report on the back-room preparations for the 2010 elections in Texas. As we have previously noted multiple times (among them here and here), how the election cycle unfolds really revolves around what happens in the governor's race. There seems to be little doubt that Perry is going to try for an unprecedented third term, but there are a few things still up in the air:

Antigay forces don't want a debate. They want their way

Every four years, the people of the United States of America engage in a grand debate. The two major political coalitions in the country marshal their arguments and do their best to convince the people of America that their vision of the country is the superior one. At all levels of government and society, we argue about policies, laws and values. Each election, be it for a ballot initiative, state legislature seat or even the Presidency, is a figurative competitive debate round in which the two parties represent the competitors, and the people of America, the adjudicators. Earlier last month, a broad coalition of businesses, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Catholic Church managed to convince people in several states to pass initiatives and referenda limiting and removing rights from homosexuals. After a contentious air and ground war, they are hurt and shocked that anyone would call for boycotts of the businesses or charge them with bigoted promotion of hatred. They claim that this stifles their ability to engage in political speech or promotion of their religious beliefs. This claim is fundamentally wrong and demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the nature of democracy and free debate of ideas.

Liberal democracy requires and promotes a free and vigourous exchange of ideas. The freedom to say what you believe and act on it is one that only a few people in the world enjoy, and one that we should take seriously. It is these very freedoms that allow and justify the political advocacy of the Mormon Church, the Catholic Church et al. They are, and should be free to, say what they wish. And as we understand spending money to be a part of political speech, they are, and should be free to, spend money in support of ballot initiatives, propositions, referenda, etc. However, equally critical to the functioning of democracy is the right of response. Just as anyone is free to speak his piece and vote with his dollars, so to is anyone free to respond and vote with his dollars. It is this back and forth of ideas, proposition and counter-proposition, that is the very exchange of ideas that we rely on to make our democracy work.

Taken seriously, the anti-gay forces' claim is that no one may ever disagree with them or organize opposition to their political action, as it would have the effect of canceling out their free speech. Moreover, anyone who would not want to spend his money supporting groups with whom he has massive disagreements must continue to do so, as not doing so would discourage them from speaking up in the first place. To put it more bluntly, their feelings are hurt that anyone would disagree with them and they think that no one except them should have the right to speak or vote with their dollars. This kind of special pleading is ludicrous, and has no place in a modern democratic society. Any forum of debate relies upon the rules giving everyone an equal starting point to compete. You start equally, and then based on your talent, resources and luck, you do better or worse.

Anyone knows that debates can be contentious, but you shouldn't be awarded a win for being too afraid to speak in the first place. If you want an opportunity to convince people of your views, you have to accept the fact that people are going to try and convince them otherwise, as is their right. The desire of the anti-gay forces in America to silence their opposition and prevent them from speaking demonstrates the real goal: they don't want to engage in political speech or political action. They want to get their way, no matter how antidemocratic their methods may be.

The problems confronting America in the twenty-first century are numerous, and will require incredible amounts of hard work to solve. The path to a solution isn't always clear, as we have two wars, massive debt, unpopular bailouts and an economy that doesn't show any signs of having yet hit bottom. If we're going to pull out of the crises we currently live in, we're going to require an energetic and vigorous debate in which everyone participates. Even if they want to promote first century positions, the anti-gay forces in America should recognise that in the twenty-first century, they get no special privileges.