Wish I had thought of this first

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wishes he had thought of this first. Alas, your Maximum Leader is not as bright as Ilya Somin over at Volokh. Should we hold belief in creationism against candidates for political office? It is a great post that causes one to examine one’s political prejudices. Here is the core bit:

Consider the following widespread religious beliefs:

1. Belief in the virgin birth of Christ.

2. Belief in the resurrection of the dead.

3. The belief that the Red Sea parted, enabling the Israelites to escape from Egypt.

4. The Bible’s claim that God wiped out nearly all life on Earth in a great flood (with only the denizens of Noah’s Ark surviving).

5. Belief in the existence of the Devil (a view held by 71% of Americans).

All of the above are contradicted by science, empirical evidence, or both. Yet few argue that endorsement of any of these beliefs should be a major strike against candidates for high political office, including the presidency. As an apparently believing Protestant, Barack Obama presumably adheres to at least 1 and 2 on the above list. Yet virtually no one claims that he is thereby unfit for the presidency. I don’t see why believing the items on the list above is any less irrational and unscientific than believing in creationism. One could argue that people can legitimately embrace these beliefs “on faith” irrespective of evidence. Perhaps so. But belief in creationism can be justified in exactly the same way.

Somin makes excellent points here. Your Maximum Leader supposes that the creationism bit is such a hotly contested issue is because #1 and #2 on Somin’s list seem to be “special cases” of divine intervention. But most people who have been educated (at least minimally) in the scientific method have a real tough time with rejecting emperical evidence that supports evolution as a theory. Your Maximum Leader would never have gone and extended the same line of critical thought to the Flood, the parting of the Red Sea, or existance in a Devil. Perhaps this is just intellectual sloppiness on your Maximum Leader’s part. Indeed, it likely is intellectually sloppiness.

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t immediately disqualify anyone for political office solely on the basis of being a creationist. He does start to examine their other beliefs more critically however once that flag is raised.

Carry on.

Gubernatorial Power

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was just mentioning in a previous post that nothing prepares someone for becoming President of the United States. He wrote in that post that some Governorships might provide approximate experience due to the size of the state, the role of the state in the world economy and the diverse population of the state. In the comments to that post the Smallholder and your Maximum Leader exchanged comments on which other states had powerful governors. (Smallholder mentioning Maryland and your Maximum Leader mentioning Virginia.)

Well… Thanks to the Wall Street Journal and a quick google search, we have an expert of gubernatorial power. Dr. Thad Beyle of UNC - Chapel Hill. Dr. Beyle has a made a career of studying gubernatorial power. He even ranks them. You can see these rankings in word format on Dr. Thad Beyle’s website on gubernatorial power. According to Dr. Beyle’s 2007 ranking the most powerful governors in the nation, in alphabetical order are: Alaska, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Utah and West Virginia. Your Maximum Leader was a little disappointed in Virginia’s rating. But after reading Dr. Beyle’s judging criteria, your Maximum Leader sees how the score was determined.

So… To put this post in a more political frame… Apparently Sarah Palin was one of the most powerful governors in the United States. (Mitt Romney was also a very powerful governor while serving in MA.) That counts for something. She was, by Dr. Beyle’s reckoning, more powerful a governor than either George W Bush or Bill Clinton…

Carry on.

Battle of Lake Erie

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is trying to catch up on some reading today. He’s had to miss some regular visits to blogs he likes. He’s also fallen behind on general “news” reading.

But in a category that isn’t “news” or “blogging” we have a little historical note…

Today is the 195th anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie. In the battle, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry defeated a squadron of the Royal Navy under Commander Robert Barclay. After the battle Commodore Perry send the famous dispatch reading “We have met the enemy and they are ours.” to General William Henry Harrison. (NB: Your Maximum Leader knew about the dispatch, but he didn’t know that it was sent to Wm Henry Harrison - fun fact.)

Thanks to our friend Polymath for pointing out this anniversary. And while we are thanking him, we need to point out the always interesting link he provided in his post. This link shows a 1998 live fire exercise staged to demonstrate the fire taken by Perry’s flagship the USS Lawrence. The live fire exercise is pretty incredible to watch. Your Maximum Leader has seen similar demonstrations on film. They always give him the heebie-geebies when you try and imagine what the battle must have been like for the sailors involved. Just when you have in your mind what the Battle of Lake Erie must have been like; then try to get your mind around a major engagement like Trafalgar. It adds a certain visual nature to a Patrick O’Brien book…

Carry on.

Political Musings - September 8 Edition

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been musing over politics recently. As you can tell from the last post, your Maximum Leader missed Sarah Palin’s speech last Wednesday. He also missed most of John McCain’s speech on Thursday.

NB to all minions: You know… Last Thursday was one hell of a day from a TV viewing perspective. There was the opening night of Football season. Your Maximum Leader watched the New York Giants bash in the hapless Washington Redskins. He also flipped over and was watching the Nationals on TV. He also wanted to watch the Barack Obama/Bill O’Reilly interview. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t often watch O’Reilly. But he wanted to see O’Reilly and Obama go at it. The interview didn’t disappoint. Then there was McCain’s speech. That is a lot of viewing all running simultaneously…

Anyhoo…

So, your Maximum Leader downloaded Joe Biden’s speech, Barack Obama’s speech, Sarah Palin’s speech and John McCain’s speech. He watched them all in order on Friday night.

Your Maximum Leader knows… That is a tall order to do right in a row. Indeed, watching that much speechifying at once is not something to be recommended to political novices. It was only your Maximum Leader’s black heart, strong constitution, and cynicism that allowed him to make it through the ordeal.

Whoda thunk before the convention season started that the most memorable speech given at either the Democratic or Rebpublican National Conventions would be from the Republican Vice-Presidential pick. Your Maximum Leader wishes he’d made wagers on it…

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader’s basic opinion of the race hasn’t changed. This is a tight race and will remain so (barring some unforeseen gaffe or happening) through the election. If the election were held today, your Maximum Leader believes that John McCain would win. But in all honesty, those of you who know your Maximum Leader well know that this is the first time that he’s thought John McCain would win. It is likely that your Maximum Leader will go back to saying that it will be Obama in a squeaker by the middle of next week.

So… Your Maximum Leader is concerned that the one question he keeps getting asked by people he knows is “Why do you think the polls are so close? Don’t you think McCain should be ahead?” What makes this question so concerning is the subtext. The subtext is always this “McCain should be further ahead, but white people don’t like telling pollsters that they aren’t going to vote for the black man.” Now being a Virginian, your Maximum Leader remembers well the Douglas Wilder/Marshall Coleman governors race back in 1989. According to polling, Wilder was going to crush Marshall Coleman. But in the end, Wilder only prevailed by a half a percentage point. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure that this racial subtext isn’t just a Virginia thing. He hasn’t heard much of it in the national press or on major blogs he frequents. Is your Maximum Leader concerned about people being racist and not voting for Barack Obama because he is black? Sure he is. Judging people solely by the color of their skin is stupid. But there are stupid people out there. He doesn’t think they are a sizable section of the population, but in a super close election they could be a factor.

From another angle… Women who are going to vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin just because Sarah Palin is a woman are likely just as small a group as unrepentant racists. But in a close election they might be a factor in some states. Frankly your Maximum Leader doesn’t think that many women will vote for John McCain just becuase of Sarah Palin being a woman. Some women might vote for the McCain/Palin ticket to make a statement about Sarah Palin’s treatment by the press recently. That is a different thing than just voting by sex. Perhaps your Maximum Leader is parsing. One voter is just voting on the non-sensical topic of sex. The other voter is voting out of sympathy. There actually is a difference.

Speaking of Sarah Palin… Your Maximum Leader is intrigued by her. Her politics (broadly speaking) seem to be in line with his own. She certainly seems to be an ambitious woman who is competent at everything she has attempted. It is hard to judge her record for a number of reasons. The first reason is that no one seems to vet a damned thing when it comes to Sarah Palin. The amount of rumour and innuendo widely circulated out there about Sarah Palin is staggering. If nothing else is only helps to strengthen that sympathy vote your Maximum Leader was just writing about. It seems from the past 10 days or so that anyone can say anything about Sarah Palin (or her family) and have it reported by a major news outlet - and be retracted/modified/revised within 24 hours. The way the press and left-wing bloggers have written pretty much anything they want about Sarah Palin makes your Maximum Leader wonder if it is possible for her to get a fair hearing at any point from most news outlets…

Now as for Governor Palin herself… Is she who your Maximum Leader would have picked had he been the Republican Nominee? Probably not. She wasn’t on your Maximum Leader’s radar for a host of reasons. The chief among them is that she has only been governor for two years. Now he is not saying that her executive experience is meaningless. It is not. But he is saying that by choosing Governor Palin, Senator McCain did seem to blunt his own critique of Senator Obama’s own lack of experience. There is the whole “she’s-the-Veep-and-he-is-the-Pres” arguement; but being able to really hammer Obama’s inexperience had been making people think. Now there is a certain hollowness in that arguement.

Frankly, Bill Clinton might have gotten it right when he said that (and your Maximum Leader paraphrases) nothing prepares someone for being president. That is a sentiment that your Maximum Leader has held for many years. Indeed, about the only thing that prepares someone for being president is having a long resume with lots of different positions on it. The only man in the past 50 year who was really qualified to be president was George H.W. Bush. (And frankly, he was a pretty good president. Better than both men who succeeded him. And - making a prediction here - George H.W. Bush will have been a better president than whoever wins in 2008.) About the only positions that might prepare a person to be president are Governor of California, Governor of New York and Governor of Florida. They are big states. The Governors are involved in foreign affairs because of the role their states play in the world economy. They have varied populations. And their powers are roughly analogous to that of the President of the United States. That said… On the whole, your Maximum Leader would rather elect a sitting or former Governor to the office of President of the US than a US Senator. There is a major difference to being a single member of a larger deliberative body and being an executive. Someone who’s done both would be good (Pete Wilson of California for example - before he went and pissed off all the hispanics in California and destroyed the Republican Party on the west coast.)

Anyhoo… Your Maximum Leader was writing about Sarah Palin. So far he is generally pleased with Sarah Palin. He has one big and one little concern though.

The big concern is the whole “Trooper” story. Your Maximum Leader will not recount the facts (such as we might know them). But he will say that any ethics investigation is serious and worries him. Your Maximum Leader hopes that the people who vetted Palin are very certain of the outcome. But at some level any investigating group (particularly special prosecutors appointed by the Department of Justice… Oops… We digress…) will want to find something. An investigation that finds nothing is one that can’t think of a reason for its own existance. Investigations go on until they find something. Unless Alaska’s investigators have a particularly narrow focus… Anything is possible. And that big radical “anything” is very disconcerting.

The small concern is the vetting process itself. Your Maximum Leader wonders just how good a vetting job the McCain people did. The Washington Post last week had a piece that seemed to indicate that the process was very abbreviated for Palin. That is concerning too. It gets to the “experience and judgement” that McCain touts. Of course, he is also a maverick and wants to shake things up. So you’ve got that too.

All in all it is going to be very exciting through November…

Carry on.

Missed it

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was putting his offspring to bed last night and started to feel a little tired. Then after reading some stories, discussing middle school and remembering 4th grade (with the Wee Villain, Villainette #1 and Villainette #2 respectively); your Maximum Leader lay down on his bed with the TV on and started to read some of the piles of paperwork the schools have been sending home with the kiddies.

Next think you know… Your Maximum Leader is being awakened by Mrs Villain this morning…

Your Maximum Leader missed Palin’s speech. He missed the Nats surprise win.

Damn.

He’ll try harder to stay up tonight and see McCain’s speech.

Carry on.

Don’t go f***ing with my ice cream.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is pretty damned pissed off now. (Any person of weak reading constitution or one easily put off by vulgarity ought to just skip th rest of this now.)

Allow him to explain.

Your Maximum Leader loves his ice cream. He is something of an ice cream snob. He wants lots of flavor. Creaminess. A good aroma (yes, ice cream has aroma). Good natural ingredients. There are a few brands that he likes and buys with regularity. Among those “premium” brands is Edy’s Ice Cream.

Since “premium” ice creams are a little pricey, your Maximum Leader (being a frugal fellow) buys a bunch of of half-gallons at a time when they are on sale. (A local grocery chain - Giant - often runs a 2-for-1 deal on Tuesdays.)

Now… Here comes the anger.

Your Maximum Leader goes through phases. Sometimes he eats lots of ice cream. Then he’ll go weeks (months) and never touch it. He has recently entered a phase where he finds himself eating more ice cream. He had a few half-gallon containers that were in the deep freeze from a recent sale. Yesterday he saw that Edy’s was on sale at Giant, so he went and bought a few more containers for the freezer. When he returned to the Villainschloss and put the ice cream into the freezer he noticed something…

The new containers seemed to be smaller than the old containers.

At first he thought it was some sort of visual trick becuase the colors of the container had changed. So he picked up the last of the “old containers” and put it side by side to a “new” container. The “new” container still seemed smaller.

Then he looked at the packaging to find out how much ice cream was in each one.

The “old” container - 1.75 quarts.

The “new container - 1.5 quarts.

What the hell is going on here? Your Maximum Leader just spent $4.00 for 3 quarts of ice cream. About a six weeks ago he spent $4.00 for 3.5 quarts of ice cream. What the fuck? First off… He thought he was buying a fucking half-gallon of ice cream in the first place. That is two (2, dos, deux, 1+1) quarts of ice cream. Your Maximum Leader is pretty damned put out in learning that he probably hasn’t been buying a true half gallon of ice cream for over a year. Now he’s learned that he is paying the same fucking price for 25% less ice cream. Frankly… He’s paying 2 quart prices for 1.5 quart containers.

He is pretty fucking upset right now. He doesn’t normally bandy about the f-word. But this is quite offensive. Your Maximum Leader understands market forces and how dairy prices have increased and that profit margins are tight. But he doesn’t think that screwing the customer out of a half-a-friggin quart of ice cream is going to make things better. Your Maximum Leader wouldn’t be complaining about Edy’s raising the price of a half-gallon of ice cream to cover their increased costs and need to make a profit. But holding the price steady and shrinking the size of the package to squeeze out a little cost savings seems damned underhanded. Your Maximum Leader knows milk costs money. He knows that sugar costs money. He knows vanilla costs money. He knows it costs more to ship ice cream to stores. He gets that. He would understand the cost of ice cream going up. But he doesn’t want to pay the same amount and get less (and probably have to buy more) just so the company can boast that they aren’t raising prices.

What did Edy’s (or Dreyer’s, or Nestle or whoever owns Edy’s) have to spend to retool equipment and redesign the packaging to camouflage this heinous change? How much of did they save on that? Damn this is angering.

Your Maximum Leader is seriously considering finding another ice cream to buy. He’ll have to try looking at the Turkey Hill stuff to see what they are doing now. (FYI - Your Maximum Leader doesn’t like Bryers. Its texture is too “grandular” on the tounge.)

Damned dirty ice cream makers… Going and fucking with your Maximum Leader’s ice cream. Now they’ve gone and ruined a perfectly good day with their tricks and deceptions…

Rat bastards…

Carry on.

No apologies to Homer required.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader just finished reading Iowahawk’s latest. If you are a right-leaning person, you should click through and read it for yourself.

The Idiossey. The Not-Really-That-Epic Poem of Obamacles.

It was quite funny. Your Maximum Leader is quite fond of “Book the Sixth: The Rage of Hildusa.”

Carry on.

New location for old favorite

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that a longtime favorite of his has moved his blog to newish digs. Yes friends, Ted of Rocket Jones has moved his blog. Update them links everyone. While you are updating the links (assuming of course you have links to update) you should go and visit and vote for what you think Ted should be called… (Gotta visit the site to find out what the choices are.)

Your Maximum Leader approves of the Boris Karloff image in the background. But your Maximum Leader demands that before too long we see a little Bela Lugosi for equal time.

Carry on.

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