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Brian Baird's Flawed and Biased Survey

I got a note from my Congressman, Brian Baird, to take a survey on Congress' Top Priorities. What I discovered was a mess:

What best describes your opinion on how the U.S. should handle the current situation in Iraq?
  • Maintain current troop levels until Iraq is stable
  • Support President's plan to increase troop levels
  • Begin a phased withdrawal of troops from Iraq
  • None of the above

How about supporting the President's plan to temporarily increase troop levels, Mr. Baird? That's an important word to omit.

When it come to legislation before Congress as it relates to gun control...
  • Congress should always protect the 2nd Amendment's right to own firearms
  • Congress should pass reasonable and responsible measures to ensure gun safety
  • Both of the above
  • None of the above

Amendments don't have rights, people do. I would choose a selection that reads “Congress should repeal any measure that infringes the right of citizens to own any personal weapons currently or previously in service to any of world's armed services or militias.”

What best describes your opinion on how the federal government should balance the budget?
  • A single payer system under which the federal government provides health insurance to all individuals
  • An expanded employer-based system under which the federal government requires all employers to provide health insurance to their employees
  • A system under which the federal government requires all individuals to purchase health insurance with government subsidies for those who can't afford it on their own
  • Do nothing. Leave current system the way it is
  • None of the above

Hrm, I think the question and the answers don't mesh neatly here. I would choose this answer to the medical insurance crisis: “Deregulate health insurance; ensure competition among health care insurers; cap damage awards in medical liability cases.” I would choose this answer to balance the budget: “Continue to reduce government services and simply other government programs until expenses are at least 10% less than taxes. Invest surplus money in basic research and infrastructure with an eye on long-term returns.”

Which statement best describes your opinion on future trade policies/legislation?
  • The U.S. should pursue trade policies that protect American jobs and the environment
  • The U.S. should pursue trade policies that open up new markets for U.S. products
  • Both of the above
  • None of the above

How about, “Support free trade agreements with countries that support basic human rights such as owning property, limiting government interference with commerce, and allowing consumers to choose amongst a broad array of competitors.”

Which do you agree with most when it comes to environmental issues?
  • The U.S. government should do more to protect the environment
  • Environmental regulations are often too burdonsome
  • Both of the above
  • None of the above

I choose, “Informed and plentiful consumer choices lead to socially-conscious buying decisions, even about the environment.”

Aside from the very important issue of the war in Iraq, which ONE of these other issues is most important to you?
  • Making healthcare more affordable
  • Reducing our dependence on oil and gas
  • Balancing the federal budget
  • Creating new jobs
  • Ending illegal immigration

I choose, “Simplifying and reducing government interference in free markets.”

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Monday, Jan 29 2007 12:25 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Barring Citation of Wikipedia

According to Inside Higher Ed Middlebury College has barred citing Wikipedia in academic works, referring to the frequent problem of inaccurate or incomplete entries. However, this raises a serious issue: academics are supposed to cite any reference or work they used to develop their own publications. Anything less is dishonest!

I would never advocate Wikipedia as a single source of information, but it's a good source to get started on the search for more information. While some entries are controversial, for the most part the information there is a decent summary and a long list of additional references to go explore. If a student used this as a starting point, it deserves credit in a paper!

The academics have their heart in the right place, though:

He [Don Wyatt] stressed that the objection of the department to Wikipedia wasn’t its online nature, but its unedited nature, and he said students need to be taught to go for quality information, not just convenience.

While people shouldn't solely go to any encyclopedia for their information for academic writing, places like wikipedia are often a better source for discovering the underlying controversies present in a particular subject area, or disagreements amongst sources or experts. That sort of information in invaluable in research, and should be cited if used to direct one's study.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “General” Friday, Jan 26 2007 09:24 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Upgraded to MT-3.34

While I did not experience any XSS attacks, I have upgraded to MovableType 3.34 to avoid them in the future. There doesn't seem to be much more in this new version other than some extra plugins in the package.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Blogging” Thursday, Jan 18 2007 12:02 PM  |  Permalink  |  2 comments  |  No trackbacks

Dancing Cowboy Ads Revisited

According to the New York Times, we actually like the dancing cowboy ads. I disagree. They attract our attention, but I don't think we like them.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Blogging” Thursday, Jan 18 2007 10:02 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

More 'News' Pushing for Gun Control

Melissa Santos of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer laments “Despite shootings, gun control unlikely.” While the piece is more balanced than most, it's still a hit job on the rights of gun owners. One usually expects Seattle's paper to print Washington Ceasefire releases nearly verbatim and call for draconian restrictions.

I doubt this plea will be heard, however. Despite a Democratic majority in Washington politics, my state legislators are aware that there are very few gun crimes and quite a few gun owners in the state. It doesn't take much for their to be a backlash against Democrats over wedge issues such as gun ownership.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Guns, Politics” Friday, Jan 5 2007 12:39 PM  |  Permalink  |  1 comment  |  No trackbacks

Christmas Presents

As you can see, Ryan had a good Christmas:

Ryan On Mini-ATV by Josh Poulson

Alana got some interesting dolls that interact with you, I'll try to get a good pic up soon.

Verdict on the Playstation 3 so far: needs more titles, kids like Marvel Alliance.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Pictures” Tuesday, Jan 2 2007 09:41 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks


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