“What’s particularly disappointing is that the authors are clearly trying to understand people with a perspective different from theirs and are simply unable to pull it off. “

That’s Glen Reynolds (better known, of course, as the Instapundit), reviewing Naomi Cahn and June Carbone’s book Red Families v. Blue FamiliesThis seems right on point with my frustration with many liberals recently.  I often feel like I can’t tell if they are being willfully dense or are really living in such a closed world that they simply cannot understand anything else. 

Slate’s Political Gabfest podcast reviewed this book a few weeks ago, and their understanding of “red states” (aka The South) seemed to be based on nothing further than the movie Deliverance.  They literally had no concept and no idea what life in the south is like (it’s pretty close to life in the north, but with different accents and buildings are further apart); their descriptions involved rampant shotgun weddings and teen brides.  Not that those things don’t exist (well, I’m skeptical about the shotgun weddings), but they don’t exist any differently from the way they do in other states.  There are cultural differences, but they are no where near as simplistic and downright cartoonish as the Slate gabbers seemed to think they were.  The differences between individual families are far broader.  (I’ve lived in New Jersey, Georgia, and Tennessee.)
It’s not even that they are not trying to understand; it’s that they are and they simply don’t understand that life is not a stereotyped cartoon outside of the world that they know.  

How much did you spend in lottery tickets last year?

I turned 18 in 1998; lottery wasn’t legal in my state then, but I went to college close to the border, and sometimes friends and I would hop over the line and get a ticket and some cheap gas (Georgia stations were selling it at $0.75/gallon for a while back then!) and a (1 dollar) lottery ticket.  We probably did this six or seven times during my freshman year.  When they legalized the lottery in my state a few years later, I probably played a couple times, just for the novelty.  My husband put in a few dollars a week with some co-workers for a while several years back.  I don’t think either of us has bought a single ticket, or even really thought about it, in years, despite the fact that we certainly visit places that sell tickets several times a week, pass billboards for it on a daily basis, and are subject to some of the most irritating radio and TV commercials for it ever written. 

Of course, we’re middle class.  But if we were “less fortunate“. . . (via Nealz Nuze)

The devious slogan for the New York State lottery is “All you need is a dollar and a dream.” Such state lotteries are a regressive form of taxation, since the vast majority of lottery consumers are low-income. The statistics are bleak: Twenty percent of Americans are frequent players, spending about $60 billion a year. The spending is also starkly regressive, with lower income households being much more likely to play. A household with income under $13,000 spends, on average, $645 a year on lottery tickets, or about 9 percent of all income.

How many times have you heard some variation on “the rich are different from you and me”?  I think, instead, that the poor are the ones that are different.  The more I see in life, the more I see that, by and large (but of course, not without exceptions), the poor stay poor because they do things that make them poor.  Things that seem not only stupid but outright bizarre to me.  It’s not just throwing away significant amounts of all too scarce money on a “dream” (more like a fantasy) of a lottery, it’s a whole slew of things that demonstrate similar poor planning and lack of forethought, and an overall failure to accept that success almost always takes work and patience.

How tremendously terrible are the Democratic nominees in Shelby County, TN?

So bad, they’re not even pretending they’re not.  And they expect voters to just deal with it. 

It is understandable — if a tad abrupt — that a spokesperson for one of the two major parties in Shelby County should dismiss the other party’s freshly minted nominees for county offices as “duds.”

That’s what Shelby County Republican chairman Lang Wiseman, extolling his own “great candidates,” had to say at a post-election GOP rally concerning the Democratic victors in May 4 primary voting.

What is less customary is that such a spokesperson’s opposite number — in this case, Gale Jones Carson, one of two campaign co-chairs (the other is Dave Cambron) for the August 5 general election — should be advising Democratic cadres at a post-election rally to “hold your nose” and vote for all her party’s nominees “whether you like them or not.”

What are you going to do, Memphis, vote Republican?

What does internet regulation have to do with the financial crisis?

Nothing.  And yet (via Instapundit),

Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported on another little Easter egg in a bill cruising through Congress that would normally have followed Nancy Pelosi’s policy of discovery ex post facto. Democrats have pushed hard to get the financial-regulation reform bill unstuck in the Senate, mainly playing on class-warfare themes in painting the GOP as the party of eeeeeeevil Wall Street robber barons. However, the House version of the bill contains provisions that would put the Federal Trade Commission in position to start issuing rules on Internet transactions that would not only slow down business growth but also have no relevance at all to the financial collapse that prompted the bill. 

I’m not trying to argue that these hidden gems are in any way meaningful.  I’d note that this is about trade (although that’s not a problem that should need a solution at this time), and in no way threatens communication.  But it’s puzzling, none the less. 

This is just another example of something that can be avoided if we were to limit federal bills to only the topic at hand, as I wrote about here.  If this aspect of the legislation is necessary, and I think that’s a big if, let it stand on its own.

Want Limited Government? Limit the Bills

A tax change that will harm the ability of employers to keep their retirees off Medicare.  No protection for children with pre-existing conditions.  An individual mandate with no means of enforcement

It seems that nobody read and understood the full workings of the “historic” healthcare bill that was voted in last week.  New and unexpected provisions that failed to get consideration before the law was made are still coming to light.  And many of them are so complicated that no one can even agree on what they really mean.  That’s no surprise, considering the bill was just shy of 2000 pages long and loaded with non sequiturs.  Has anyone credibly explained what student loans have to do with healthcare, anyway?   

In Tennessee, we have a system that is far different from the federal government’s.  Article II, Section 17 of the Tennessee State Constitution states:

No bill shall become a law which embraces more than one subject, that subject to be expressed in the title. All acts which repeal, revive or amend former laws, shall recite in their caption, or otherwise, the title or substance of the law repealed, revived or amended.

In other words, in Tennessee, a healthcare bill would have to be about . . . healthcare.  Not healthcare and student loans, not healthcare and Louisiana purchases, not healthcare and cornhusker kickbacks.  Just healthcare.  In fact, healthcare being such a broad category in itself, each act would likely be limited to being about only one part of healthcare. 

Imagine this rule as applied to the federal government: we could read the bills, and know what was in them, in a matter of minutes, not grueling days.  Changes would be easy to spot and report on.  There would be no “discoveries” days later that no one so much as had the chance to comment on.  No congressperson could be rewarded by sprinkling the bill with district-specific special favors in exchange for a vote. 

Each law would be about what it was about.  Nothing more, nothing less.  The U.S. could benefit from following Tennessee’s lead.

Who is Ahead in the TN 3rd District Republican Primary?

At the Tea Party Debate between the GOP primary candidates last Saturday, which I live-tweeted, Van Irions mentioned several times that he was leading “in the polls.”  I receive emails from the Irions campaign, and have received several emails from the campaign urging me to “vote” for Irions at this website, Topix.com.  The results look like this:

Who would you vote for in the 3rd Congressional race

Click on an option to vote

  •  Tommy Crangle-R
  •  Chuck Fleischmann-R
  • Tim Gobble-R
  • Art Rhodes-R
  • Robin Smith-R
  •  Van Irion- R
  •  Mark DeVol -I
Van Irion- R 88   46%
Tim Gobble-R 36   19%
Chuck Fleischmann-R 33   17%
Art Rhodes-R 19   10%
Robin Smith-R 7   3%
Tommy Crangle-R 3   1%
Mark DeVol -I 2   1%
Current Total 188

*Last week, I received an email from the campaign boasting that they were leading in the same poll. 

I also receive emails from the Chuck Fleischman campaign; I have not received any emails requesting my vote in this poll.  There is also an online poll at the Chattanooga Tea Party website (viewing or voting in the poll requires registration, I’m basing this post on an email from the campaign sent on Feb. 26), which again is based only on votes by whoever happens to click. Notably, Irion is in 2nd place in this poll, with 26% of the vote, based on that email (with Fleishman a very close 3rd at 24% and Gobble leading with 33%). 

I was not able to find any other polls regarding this race. 

Was Irion, at the debate, boasting about his success in an online, unscientific poll that is weighed in his favor by asking his supporters to vote in it?  If the answer is yes, I find that quite dishonest. 

* Originally, I wrote that I had received the email “today,” which was incorrect.  The email was dated last week; I was just cleaning out the inbox today (well, now yesterday) when I read it.

Tweeting the TN 3rd District Congressional Primary Debate

Debate yesterday; I tweeted it.  Check it out and let me know what you think.  (Apologies for the terrible spelling- I’ve got to work on that if I want to keep this Twitter-thing going).