Archive for October, 2006

USAID Protects the American Condom Industry

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Alex Tabarrok points out how USAID, the United States Agency for International Development, puts protectionist policies ahead of development in many cases.

Alex Tabarrok points out the example of how USAID purchases condoms produced domestically instead of overseas costing the American government $13.5 million dollars a year. A partial reason for this happening is because USAID probably follows procurement guidelines encouraging domestic purchases. Local aid becomes more about helping American companies and less about spreading American goodwill generally.

If the condoms the United States distributes overseas are bought in a global bidding process, it could save $13.5 million dollars a year. Then again maybe the federal government should get out of the business of giving away condoms overseas.

Buying Music On A Cellphone

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Today I received a press release for a new service called Textango. Textango allows people to buy music through their cellphones. Buying the music would involve searching for it and purchasing on the cellphone and then downloading on to a computer.

I haven’t even figured out how to use punctuation in text messaging yet but I am sure this might be convenient for some people. But if the music is going to be downloaded on to the computer I don’t understand the purpose of using a cell phone.

So far the only artist I recognized from the service is Chino XL.

New Yorkers Take Voting Seriously

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

Last election cycle Diddy, or whatever you want to call him promoted the slogan “Vote or Die!” In New York, it does not have to be a choice.

New Yorkers take voting so seriously that death will not stop New Yorkers from voting. According to the Poughkeepsie Journal in New York state 77,000 dead people are registered to vote and 2,600 people have made the effort to vote despite deing dead. I highly doubt the dead in all other states take their civic oaths as seriously as those in New York.

Ghosts seen around Halloween may just be out to fill their absentee forms.

Clean Money People In California Pander to the Youth

Friday, October 27th, 2006

Proposition 89 is a Clean Money campaign finace reform ballot measure in California
The California Nurses Association has taken to pandering to the youth through rap music. The California Nurses Association plans on buying airtime to run commercials. The lyrics to the rap are awful. The first thing that comes to mind when hearing about this campaign is other bad media uses of rap like Fred Flintstone in the Fruity Pebbles commercials.

Regarding Proposition 89, I have not looked into it too closely but it probably will do more harm than good. Campaign Finance reform never takes money out of politics it just changes the manner in which it enters the political system. The Pacific Research Institute has an interesting analysis on what is wrong with Proposition 89.

Here are some of the lyrics to the pandering song:

It’s about time for Prop. 89
What’s goin’ on in Sac Town is blowin’ my mind

Political corruption is on the rise
Donations are comin’ in super-size

Can’t get health if you don’t have wealth
Can’t fix schools if we don’t have tools
Can’t afford the gas, to fill up the tank
Big Boys are takin’ us to the bank

Proposition 89 is real reform
The corporations hate it like a lover’s scorn
They want freedom — to buy politicians
Of course they would rather keep with tradition

Californians, Rise up and shine
Send the big boys a message – Yes on 89!

Here is the youtube music video:

Lieberman Leads In Race For Senate

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

Recent polling by Quinnipiac University shows Lieberman polling in at 17 percent over Ned Lamont. The Republican Challenger Alan Schlesinger is polling at just 7 percent. At this point it appears as if Joe Lieberman is on track to win this race.

“Ned Lamont needed to score a knockout in the debates to catch Sen. Joseph Lieberman, but he apparently didn’t lay a glove on him,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D.

“Lamont’s negatives are up and he has fallen farther behind in the matchup against Lieberman because of his drop among independent voters and men.

“Observers had speculated that Alan Schlesinger would benefit from the debate exposure and take Republican votes away from Lieberman,” Dr. Schwartz added. “Instead, he took Republican votes away from Lamont.”

Joe Lieberman is winning the way because he a popular incumbent. In this latest poll, Connecticut likely voters give Lieberman a 49 – 28 percent favorability rating. Despite what Iraq war supporters may like you to believe, Lieberman’s longstanding position in the Senate is the primary motivating issue among likely voters. Lieberman is winning because he is the incumbent.

In Defense of Puff Daddy

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

An easy way to gain popularity, readership and hits on the internet is by writing controversial statements. This has worked for all varieties of political bloggers including Michele Malkin, Lew Rockwell and others. This also extends into the hip-hop blogosphere, mainly Byron Crawford.

Noz of Cocaine, Blunts & Hip-Hop Tapes has written a post defending Puff Daddy’s first album. This is somewhat suprising coming from a blog like Noz’s because usually the hip-hop he posts about is small-scale, independent hip-hop which I have not even heard about. I guess defending comercial hip-hop is the new hipster thing to do.

Pork: Everybody Does It!

Saturday, October 14th, 2006

Spending has increased at record levels under President Bush’s watch. The Republican Party has controlled both houses of Congress and the Presidency during a period of record spending. An argument fequently pointed out by defenders of the status quo is that increases are not that large if you just look at non-security and non-defense spending has not increased that rapidly. If you forget for a minute the massive increase in Medicare due to the prescription drug benefit and the optional war in Iraq, Congress and the Bush administration have allowed through a large amount of pork spending.

Bob Novak’s chronicles allowance of earmarks into recently passed Defense legislation. Here are the key passages:

In a caucus of Republican senators, 82-year-old, six-term Sen. Ted Stevens charged that freshman Sen. Tom Coburn’s anti-pork crusade hurts the party. Stevens then removed from the final version of the Defense Department appropriations bill Coburn’s “report card” requiring the Pentagon to grade earmarks. The House passed, 394 to 22, the bill, stripped of this reform and containing some 2,800 earmarks worth $11 billion. That made a mockery of a “transparency” rule passed by the House earlier this year, supposedly intended to discourage earmarks.

“You would think that with a war and all the controversy surrounding earmarks that the appropriators would hold back a little,” said Steve Ellis of the non-partisan Taxpayers for Common Sense. “But with an election just weeks away, they dug into the trough to find pearls to send home to their districts.” Ellis located unauthorized spending embedded in the bill that was harder to find than ever. Republicans in Congress seem unaffected by their conservative base’s anger over pork.

Stevens, the Senate’s president pro tempore and its senior Republican, reflects a majority in both parties defending pork. He has been enraged by Dr. Coburn, the obstetrician from Muskogee, Okla., challenging his seniors. But after an angry Stevens took Coburn to task for undermining party unity, the rookie was supported by the front-runner for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Sen. John McCain asserted that the people backed Coburn, who then made clear he was not intimidated by Stevens.

But as the leading Senate conferee determining the final version of Defense appropriations, Stevens stealthfully pulled out Coburn’s Senate-passed report card. It would require the Pentagon to assign a letter grade, from “A” to “F,” on the desirability of each unrequested earmark.

The earmark process enables the Congressional-Industrial complex to fund projects the military does not want. This year’s bill appropriates money to buy 10 unrequested C-17 Globemaster cargo planes from Boeing. It also funds 60 F-22A Raptor stealth fighters, not supported by the Pentagon and opposed by McCain and Sen. John Warner, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman. F-22A appropriations are guaranteed for three years, reducing leverage with contractor Lockheed Martin.

Not only is this pork spending bad for the nation financially but it is making the nation less safer. It is time that politicians realize that their is a war on and protecting America should be more important than protecting corporate interests in their district.

Rappers Do Some Good

Friday, October 13th, 2006



Rappers and hip-hop in general frequently get a bad rap. Not that rap doesn’t deserve it with big name artists like Jadakiss, DMX and too many numerous rappers. Partly for those reasons I feel there is a need for good news in commercial rap just like many conservatives/hawks/neo-cons feel there is a need to report good news in Iraq.

Lloyd Banks gave $10,000 to August Martin High School in Jamaica, Queens:

G-Unit’s Lloyd Banks and the G-Unity Foundation recently donated $10,000 to August Martin High School in Jamaica, Queens last week. Banks’ donation to his alma mater will be used to bolster the library. “I wanted to start something new,” Banks told Fox 5 New York. “I will make sure I come back here every year, as long as they accept me, just to let them know there’s something else beyond these walls.” Banks, who’s debut album Rotten Apple hit stores yesterday (Oct. 10), also offered encouraging words for students. “I love English, I wanted to know how to read and count my money, so I love math. You have to take what you want out of it. [School] definitely puts you on the right direction.”

Big Boi is making strides with his charity to help children:

Outkast’s Big Boi is finding good fortune through his alliance with Russell Athletic.

The company, which outfits more than 500 men’s and women’s athletic teams on 49 HBCU campuses and provides more than over $350,000 in scholarship money each year, has partnered with Big Boi in support of his Big Kidz Foundation, a philanthropic project created to help children make lifestyle advances through film and music.

Russell Athletic and its e-commerce web site, buyhbcu.com, recently sponsored the Foundation’s signature event Strut, a fashion show and charity auction.

Strut is just one of two events featuring the resources of the two entities.

Russell Athletic’s HBCU division recently announced that it will work with the company to create a one-of-a-kind football uniform that will debut Nov. 25 at this year’s Bayou Classic.

Partisanship is not Ideology

Friday, October 13th, 2006

Partisanship and Ideology are two completely seperate things that should not be confused.

Partisanship is the strict adherence to a candidate or political party based on previous support. Partisanship can be seen in political action that is driven solely by support for politicians because they have the right letter next to their name. I’ve never really been much of a sports fan because it has required a large degree of partisan support regardless of the team’s makeup. In politics, I don’t really have a “team.” Democrat or Republican is not as important to me as what the candidate really believe.

Political ideology provides a framework for political decisions to be made based on theory, philosophy or in some cases utilitarian evidince.

Hopefully, and in theory political parties are designed around ideologies. Both the Democratic and Republican parties contain traces of individualist, communitarian, libertarian, socialist and other ideologies. But too often in politics the ideological issues are just a way for political operatives to appeal to the general public.

A good example of this is Tucker Carlson’s recent statements on the Chris Matthews show:

TUCKER CARLSON: It goes deeper than that though. The deep truth is that the elites in the Republican Party have pure contempt for the evangelicals who put their party in power. Everybody in…

CHRIS MATTHEWS: How do you know that? How do you know that?

CARLSON: Because I know them. Because I grew up with them. Because I live with them. They live on my street. Because I live in Washington, and I know that everybody in our world has contempt for the evangelicals. And the evangelicals know that, and they’re beginning to learn that their own leaders sort of look askance at them and don’t share their values.

MATTHEWS: So this gay marriage issue and other issues related to the gay lifestyle are simply tools to get elected?

CARLSON: That’s exactly right. It’s pandering to the base in the most cynical way, and the base is beginning to figure it out.

Here is the video:
Personally I am glad that the Evangelicals haven’t been getting all they have been asking for. But on the bigger picture Tucker Carlson proves my point about political issues just being election and fundraising issues.

Goldberg makes a similar point about conservatives and libertarians at National Review:

Well, first the conservative movement was an insurgency within the Republican party. Then it largely took over the GOP. Then the GOP was an insurgency in American politics. In the early 1990s the GOP still felt like an insurgency party, a minority party becoming a majority party. When the GOP became the majority party, conservatives discovered — to our shame and regret — that the GOP never fully became a conservative party and once in power the differences between conservatism and “Republicanism” — for want of a better word — became more pronounced. We seemed to think that because conservatives were successful taking over the GOP and the GOP was successful taking over the government that conservatives would take over everything. It didn’t work that way. It turns out that small-government conservatism simply isn’t popular — or popular enough. The success of Bush’s compassionate conservatism and the fizzling of Contract With America conservatism, has been something conservatives have not dealt with squarely enough.

I think we have two enormous problems: trying to figure out what conservatism is in an age of success, which means figuring out how much of “big government conservatism” we’re comfortable with and how much should be thrown over the side.

I was initialy became attracted to the Republican Party in 1994 because I though they were the best advocates for small government. I believe the rhetoric that the Republican Party and its media advocates (National Review, The American Spectator, Rush etc…) were supporters of small government. Some of the Congressmen elected that year were genuinely interested in slowing, if not cutting the size of the government. My ideology has not changed but I no longer consider a strong alignment to the Republican team.

The problem with Republican politicians in office is that they enjoy being in power. Face it, power is fun and people will make compromises to keep it. Even thecongressmen who think power is not a motivating factor may be motivated by a desire to help their constituent which may not be good for the general welfare but may be seem to be good for their constituents.

Google Is Buying YouTube

Monday, October 9th, 2006

Reuters is reporting that Google is planning to buy YouTube.com. Google is planning to spend 1.65 Billion for YouTube.com Google’s stock has already reacted positively since the rumors started on Friday.

Is You Tube a good buy? The site features videos of just about anything permanently hosted on the Web for free. Google probably hopes to expand advertising on to the YouTube website as well as continue You Tube’s decision to make deals with large record companies.

Byron Crawford posts on the bussiness model behind Google’s acquisition of YouTube.com:

That said, YouTube getting in bed with the major record labels and TV networks as well as – possibly – Google obviously raises its own share of issues. The articles I’ve read on the deals YouTube is striking all note that the eventual plan is to a) load YouTube down with content (i.e. commercials) created by these companies, and b) develop technology to automatically root out unauthorized use of content owned by them. (Imagine a room full of Chinese with a list of major label artists, but much more efficient.)

From what I understand, the plan is to create revenue streams that will allow the major labels, TV networks, film studios and what have you (i.e. like three companies), if not necessarily the artists themselves, to benefit financially from user-generated content that incorporates elements of copyrighted works. But you have to assume that these corporations have no intent on authorizing the use of copyrighted works for user-generated content that could pose any sort of threat to interests of the copyright holders themselves, i.e. major corporations.

Update: I found this info on the internet suggesting Google bought YouTube to take away the competion for Google Video: Google Trends youtube and google video