The biggest (dumbest) lie ever?

Somewhere in the Pileus archives is a post I wrote about how if the lie you tell is so outrageous, the public gives you a pass. Example 1: When the party in power in a state says, “Our goal in redistricting is not to increase our partisan advantage but is to _____________.” It doesn’t matter … Continue reading The biggest (dumbest) lie ever?

The Post does it again

Another superb piece from the Washington Post on the ACA (Marc highlighted the last one a couple of days ago).  This one is from the guy who built and ran the RomneyCare exchange in Massachusetts:A health insurance exchange is more than a Web site. It is an insurance store, and to manage it well requires … Continue reading The Post does it again

Even Obama can’t violate fundamental laws of politics

There is an ironclad law of redistributive politics at play in the ACA (ObamaCare) fiasco. This law is that concentrated interests almost always conquer diffuse interests.  Milk producers are a concentrated interest.  Milk consumers are a diffuse interest.  Guess which group is favored by the long history of milk price supports?  Dairy farmers get fat … Continue reading Even Obama can’t violate fundamental laws of politics

Population paranoia

I just read an article in the NY Times about Germany's fight against population decline.  For a professional demographer, the article is old news and a bit funny because of all the countries that are facing this problem (which is the whole developed world and some of the developing world), Germany is sort of the … Continue reading Population paranoia

Zimmermania: naming something what it’s not

President Obama did an effective job a couple of weeks ago, I thought, of giving voice to why African-Americans tended to see the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman as a racial incident.  A lot of Americans had been waiting some time for him to say something similar. This past week, author Jesmyn Ward … Continue reading Zimmermania: naming something what it’s not

Journalists R us

Chris Matthews of MSNBC was defending his network against the idea that they are in bed with the Obama Administration: Well, he agrees with us, and we agree with him sometimes. One might riff on that quote in any number of directions.  I think the most interesting word there is "us."  All people, including journalists, … Continue reading Journalists R us

Marriage and maturity

Articles about the sex lives of college students always create a fair amount of buzz.  The article about University of Pennsylvania students last week in the NY Times is part of a much larger set of stories and articles (I recommend Ross Douthat’s take on the story). The average age of marriage of both men and … Continue reading Marriage and maturity

Shame and courage

Here is a simple truth.  It isn’t surprising or even terribly interesting.  This is it: I’ve done shameful things in my life.  I’m not going to say any more because—obviously—I’m ashamed.  I try to be a good person, but I can look back over nearly a half century of living and still recall actions that … Continue reading Shame and courage

A reply to James

This started out as a comment on James' post but ended up long enough to stand on its own.... James, I appreciate your sentiments here.  However, I think your conception of marriage is too atomistic (or perhaps I should say "dyastic").  I think marriage is best understood as a multilateral compact with the married couple … Continue reading A reply to James

We’re all haters now

A child faced with limits on her behavior will often lash out at the adult who is imposing those limits as being mean or hateful.  We ignore or forgive such words because we do not really expect children to understand the true motivations behind adult actions. We would expect a Justice of the Supreme Court … Continue reading We’re all haters now

How is this not huge?

This from NBC's Lisa Meyers (via RealClearPolitics video): [The IRS commissioner] has known for at least a year that this was going on and that this had happened. And did he share any of that information with the White House? But even more importantly, Congress is going to ask him, why did you mislead us … Continue reading How is this not huge?

Good news no one wants

So, the recent numbers suggest the short-term (next few years) outlook don't suck as bad as it used to: deficits significantly lower than previously projected and debt as a percentage of GDP holding steady.  Ross Douthat has an interesting summary of why everyone hates these numbers (except the Obama administration).  Nothing to get giddy about, … Continue reading Good news no one wants

The salt of the earth

Increased sodium consumption raises blood pressure, and high blood pressure is strongly correlated with (and perhaps causes) heart disease. Thus, a low salt diet reduces the risk of heart disease. Sounds reasonable.  But apparently wrong.  A committee set up by the National Institute of Medicine (part of the CDC) just released their review of the … Continue reading The salt of the earth

Hail, small money

Ezra Klein altered my thinking a tad on campaign finance with his recent discussion of the effects of "big money" and "small money." On a gut level, I vastly prefer the passionate party activist who sends $200 to her favorite fire-breather to the lobbyist who coolly covers his bets by supplying $2,000 to both candidates … Continue reading Hail, small money

The Collinses and the future of epigenetics

Recently Jason Collins became the first current athlete in major professional sports in the US to come out as gay. This earned him the cover of Sports Illustrated and more attention than he ever received for actually playing basketball. Reaction of other athletes and the general public to the announcement seems to be extremely supportive. … Continue reading The Collinses and the future of epigenetics

More chemistry

A few weeks ago, Jason responded to my critique of the new atheists (which was inspired by an excellent review done by Damon Linker).  Jason’s response was interesting but (modestly) mis-characterizes my argument. Jason boiled down what I was saying to a simple logical argument for the existence of God.  Though I don’t mind such … Continue reading More chemistry

Wise words on equality

From a recent short posting by Steve Smith of the USD Law School: Everyone favors equality: Everyone thinks that like cases should be treated alike. Nobody argues, “These groups are alike in all relevant respects, but they should be treated differently.” So when people disagree about legal or political issues, they aren’t arguing for and … Continue reading Wise words on equality

Just chemistry

In a recent review (“Where are the honest atheists?"), my always-interesting friend Damon Linker pans a forthcoming book by A.C. Grayling, one of the “new atheists,” for accomplishing little that hasn’t been said before (Dawkins, Harris, Hitchins, etc.,) and for exhibiting the same shortcomings.  He wants them to confront the “terrible” consequences of what they … Continue reading Just chemistry

Where is Mr. Smith?

I had to sort of hunt this morning to find any coverage of Rand Paul's historic filibuster in the NY Times.  I can just imagine that if it were Chuck Schumer talking about abuses of power by the Bush administration, it would be front and center. I'm sure their strategy is not to do anything … Continue reading Where is Mr. Smith?

Lines to think about

John Lott (of More Guns, Less Crime fame) writes: Mass shootings occur in places where people of all ages are defenseless, such as so-called gun-free zones in which lots of people congregate and guns are banned. Since at least 1950, all but two of the public shootings in America with more than three deaths have taken place … Continue reading Lines to think about

Liberty and public decency (part 2)

Click here for Part 1. What I think I know about human sexuality is this: it is complex, powerful, beautiful, mysterious, pleasurable, intertwined with a variety of biological, mental, and emotional processes, and deeply imbedded in countless ways into our society and culture.  Two implications (among many) of this characterization are: Sexuality is a social … Continue reading Liberty and public decency (part 2)

Liberty and public decency (part 1)

I’ve been thinking about my colleague Grover Cleveland’s short post on Beyonce’s wardrobe (or, rather, lack thereof) at the Super Bowl.  He started about by saying, “I don’t think I’m a prude, but…”  Having known the real Grover for many years, I can attest he is very good man, but not much of a prude. … Continue reading Liberty and public decency (part 1)


Have you ever driven a group of teenagers somewhere and wondered why they weren’t talking to each other?  After a brief moment you then realize that they all have a cell phone in their laps, which they are engrossed in.  This is what I call an “elsewhere moment,” an occasion where we discover that those … Continue reading Elsewhere

A day to think about constraints

Today, Barack Obama took the oath of office with his left hand on two bibles—one belonging to Abraham Lincoln, the other to Martin Luther King, Jr. That image evokes the progress our nation has made in breaking the shackles of slavery and prejudice that have long constrained us from reaching the promise of our founding, … Continue reading A day to think about constraints

A miserable misreading of Les Miz

Quite often feminist critiques of popular culture are insightful, but sometimes they are simply insufferable. The latter description is apt when describing the comments of Princeton theater professor Stacy Wolf regarding the musical Les Miserables.  I happened to see the new cinematic depiction of the popular musical this past week and was moved, as I … Continue reading A miserable misreading of Les Miz

For God so loved the world

I enjoy learning about different moral philosophies.  Few questions are more important, it seems, than this basic one: what ought we to do? Every philosophical theory has to start with some conception of what is it about human beings that really matters.  Given philosophers’ penchant for reason, it is no surprise that so many through … Continue reading For God so loved the world

The week in racial identity politics

Imagine a sports news jockey who accused a white athlete of trying to act black or being a traitor to his race by dating a black woman.  Simple: End of career. End of story. Rob Parker at ESPN learned that as long you are a black person criticizing someone for not being black enough, you … Continue reading The week in racial identity politics

Rand agrees with Sven

Senator Rand Paul said on CNBC essentially what I've been arguing: I have yet another thought on how we can fix this. Why don't we let the Democrats pass whatever they want? If they are the party of higher taxes, all the Republicans vote present and let the Democrats raise taxes as high as they … Continue reading Rand agrees with Sven

Remember the election

The post-election narrative that the media seems to have settled on is that Obama won, so the Republicans should just go along.  Given the narrow margin, they have avoided using the “mandate” word, but they still want to treat the election as if it were a mandate.  None of this is surprising. But the Republicans … Continue reading Remember the election

The real outsiders

When all the dust settles from the election today—who knows when that will be—the mainstream media will converge on a few narratives about the election.  As usual, most of those narratives will be ill-informed and mostly shaped by the biases that govern media coverage in America today. One narrative that will surely stick in the … Continue reading The real outsiders

A new level of creepy

Just when you thought the Obama as Cult Figure movement couldn't get any creepier, the Obama campaign releases a new ad with Lena Dunham talking about how special the "first time" should be.  [No, I'm not going to provide a link]. Essentially the ad is saying that voting for Obama is a sexual experience.  (And … Continue reading A new level of creepy

Out of context

Remember how the President and the MSM were upset about the whole "You didn't build that" comment was taking the President's words out of context?  I've seen the larger context and hold with those who think that, even in context, Mr. Obama's words sound pretty bad. But apparently it is OK for the president to … Continue reading Out of context

On taxes and contributions

The graph below from is both insightful and fair (as is the accompanying article.) But one thing has always struck me funny when discussing Social Security and Medicare with those on the left.  When they are defending the benefits of the programs, they always refer to "contributions" into a social insurance system, and they … Continue reading On taxes and contributions