Thursday, December 31, 2009

Theory and Practice

Why Powerful People -- Many of Whom Take a Moral High Ground -- Don't Practice What They Preach
Three additional experiments further examined the degree to which powerful people accept their own moral transgressions versus those committed by others. In all cases, those assigned to high-power roles showed significant moral hypocrisy by more strictly judging others for speeding, dodging taxes and keeping a stolen bike, while finding it more acceptable to engage in these behaviors themselves.
Galinsky noted that moral hypocrisy has its greatest impact among people who are legitimately powerful. In contrast, a fifth experiment demonstrated that people who don't feel personally entitled to their power are actually harder on themselves than they are on others, which is a phenomenon the researchers dubbed "hypercrisy." The tendency to be harder on the self than on others also characterized the powerless in multiple studies.

"Ultimately, patterns of hypocrisy and hypercrisy perpetuate social inequality. The powerful impose rules and restraints on others while disregarding these restraints for themselves, whereas the powerless collaborate in reproducing social inequality because they don't feel the same entitlement," Galinsky concluded.


Strategic defaults – conditioning, morality, or naïveté?
In the report, White noted comments by the former Treasury Secretary on one of the hottest housing market topics of the day – strategic defaults:

The worst criticism has been reserved, however, for those who would walk away from mortgages that they can afford. Typical of such criticism is that of Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson, who declared in a televised speech: “And let me emphasize, any homeowner who can afford his mortgage payment but chooses to walk away from an underwater property is simply a speculator – and one who is not honoring his obligations.”
Maybe the rules are different for big banks than for homeowners.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I honestly don't understand how some things can be ignored

For example, there's this:
The average wage of a Chinese manufacturing worker in comparison to his American counterpart remained constant over the past 30 years, hovering around 2%. This means that despite the massive increase in Chinese exports to the US, a Chinese factory worker still earns a 50th of his American counterpart, just like in 1980. In comparison, the average wage of Japanese manufacturing workers in comparison to their American counterparts went from 7% in 1950 to nearly 60% in 1980. Korean manufacturing workers enjoyed a similar relative increase in their buying power between 1975 and 2000, as did their counterparts in Taiwan.

Though, I share some of the doubts expressed by Yves in the above link, I doubt that it's that great an exaggeration. Still, I find it hard to imagine awareness of that fact eliciting much more than than a shrug from the average American.

Well, if you subscribe to Harper's Magazine, it's something you might want to bear in mind when you read the January Notebook.

Friday, December 11, 2009

My heart goes out to you...

If you live in District B:
incumbent Stacy Head has one opponent: Corey Watson, an electrical engineer and pastor of a West Bank church. Watson is the son of the Rev. Tom Watson, who ran for mayor in 2006.

In case you've forgotten, father and son were in the news about a year ago:
You Asked For It... The List of Ministers Endorsing Indicted Congressman Jefferson
By Deborah Cotton

Below is the list of religious community leaders endorsing the indicted Congressman William 'Dollar Bill' Jefferson's candidacy, as supplied by campaign aide Eugene Green to the Times Picayune.
Bishop Paul S. Morton, Sr.
Rev. Tom B. Watson
Rev. Noily Paul, Jr.
Rev. Aubrey Wallace
Rev. Robert Turner
Rev. Samson Skip Alexander
Rev. Norman N. Francis
Pastor Chante H. Sutton
Rev. Charles M. Daniels
Pastor Tyrone Jefferson
Pastor Rachel Harrison
Rev. Brian K. Richburg
Rev. Darrin J. Boykins
Bishop Tommie Triplett
Pastor Tyrone Smith
Pastor Kevin Shorts
Rev. Cary Payton
Bishop E. Craig Wilson
Apostle Arthal Thomas, Sr.
Pastor Paul O. Evbuoma
Rev. Corey Watson
Rev. Dr. Ernest Marcello, Jr.
Rev. Rufus Bonds
Rev. John E. Breaux, Jr.

Just don't expect any debates to be restrained because one of the two candidates is a minister; Head's just as quick to dis ministers as she is to dis Walmart customers:
A leader of the black religious community said he was yelled at publicly by Head at an event for Congressman-elect Joseph Cao.

Bishop O.C. Coleman has asked for a public apology.

Of course, O.C. Coleman is, indeed, that O.C. Coleman. Still, I'd hate to have to vote for somebody as impolite as Stacy Head, and there are those damning emails to consider.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

How often have you heard Rob Couhig call Ray Nagin a liar?

“Haven’t we had enough of a mayor that's lied to us? And we're gonna come with a guy who lied the last time? Who's lied already to his best friends in politics about what he wants to do,” Couhig said after qualifying.

I get the last sentence. Couhig's trying to stir up shit between Landrieu and Jacobs. To accuse Landrieu of lying to his best friends strikes me as political hyperbole, but I've never known Couhig to soft-pedal his criticism of anyone...other than C. Ray Nagin. Exaggeration is the worst thing I can accuse straight-talking Rob of here.

However, I'm totally mystified by the second question. A guy who lied the last time? I think Couhig needs to explain that one, because I sure don't know what he's talking about.

Finally, I can appreciate the first question. After all these years, Couhig finally implies that Nagin is less than totally honest. It's a little late for that. I don't recall Couhig criticizing Nagin for his blatant dishonesty when he (Couhig) had a radio show. Couhig had a morning radio talk show when Mayor Transparency was in an ongoing dispute with WWL TV and the Times Picayune over FOIA requests and access to information. I listened almost every morning, waiting for Couhig to use his soapbox to bring pressure on Nagin to keep his promise to bring transparency to city government. If he ever mentioned the subject, it must have been on one of the rare mornings that I wasn't listening. It wasn't what I was listening for, but I'm sure I'd have noticed and remembered if Couhig had ever called attention to, or even acknowledged, Nagin's dishonesty when he had a radio show. He wouldn't take a stand when Nagin was lying about crooked contracts, but Couhig's the scourge of dishonest politicians now. Is anybody buying that?

To be fair, in an appearance on WDSU, Couhig did accuse Nagin of breaking his word last August. But, he only pointed to examples of what he (Couhig) considered broken promises, he didn't come out and call him liar. Anyway, that was August of 2009. Starting in late 2006 through 2007, Couhig had the forum to help expose the secrecy, obfuscation and outright lies of the Nagin administration, but he never used his microphone for that purpose. That, IMO, disqualifies him as candidate for mayor to a much greater degree than the decision to endorse Nagin in May of 2006.

Yeah, they're related

no link for the old T/P article

Money sets judicial rivals apart - Former prosecutors vie for vacated seat
Times-Picayune, The (New Orleans, LA) - Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Author: Gwen Filosa Staff writer

The race to replace ousted Orleans Parish Criminal District Judge Sharon Hunter comes down to two candidates with vastly different campaign styles, starting with the disparity in their money-raising abilities.

In the Nov. 5 runoff, Sandra Cabrina Jenkins, a private attorney who started her career as a prosecutor, faces Ben Willard , another former prosecutor with a politically connected family and a talent for campaign finance.

Willard , the brother of City Councilwoman Cynthia Willard -Lewis, has outspent Jenkins by a ratio of at least 8-to-1. In the primary alone, he raised more than $46,000 and spent $31,000, while Jenkins collected about $5,200 in roughly the same time period.

On Oct. 21, she borrowed $5,000 each from her bosses, Lawrence Blake Jones and Arthel Scheuermann, along with accepting an additional $1,000 donation. In the Oct. 5 primary, Willard swept into first place with 46 percent of the vote. Jenkins was second with 25 percent, separated from the front-runner by more than 14,000 votes. Voter turnout was about 23 percent.

The Section C judgeship burst open this summer when Sharon Hunter* lost her office because of judicial misconduct stemming from sloppy record-keeping. Hunter, first elected in 1996, was removed Aug. 19 in a unanimous ruling by the state Supreme Court for mismanaging her staff and failing to preserve at least a dozen trial transcripts.

The specter of a disheveled courtroom has popped up during the campaign, with Jenkins insisting that her track record in criminal law exceeds that of Willard .

Originally from Baton Rouge, Jenkins moved to New Orleans 13 years ago to begin her law career as a prosecutor in District Attorney Harry Connick’s office. In 1992, she left for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal, where she worked as a staff attorney reviewing criminal appeals.

"We have to make decisions quickly," Jenkins has said of a judge ’s role. "Without experience, you’re going to make errors. You don’t have to worry about that with me."

For the past two years, Jenkins has been an associate at the Scheuermann and Jones firm, which has been a key donor to her campaign, kicking in $2,800 during the primary.

Willard campaigns as a military man turned tough prosecutor. He is an alumnus of Southern University Law Center as well as an honor graduate of the Army’s Signal Corps training. He clerked for state Supreme Court Justice Bernette Johnson for four years before joining Connick’s office in 1999. Willard left in 2001 for a job in Juvenile Court, handling traffic court cases. He also works in his brother Walter’s law firm.

"What sets me apart is I’ve got military experience," said Willard , who recommends boot-camp-style programs and military careers for troubled teens.

His billboards, sea of yard signs and stack of endorsements -- SOUL, LIFE, the Progressive Democrats and the Alliance for Good Government, to name a few -- helped catapult him to a primary win.

Willard , 38, likes to point out that this is his first bid for public office while Jenkins, 41, ran unsuccessfully for judge in 1996 and 1998. She is endorsed by BOLD and Women in Politics.

In public appearances, Willard is a booming presence quick to veer into a tangent, such as comments about his son’s birthday being on Nov. 5. He often refers to himself in the third person when stumping for judge , and has a penchant for turning phrases.

When asked about domestic violence at a debate, he said his father raised him to respect women.

"If you put your hands on a woman, you get what you deserve," Willard said. "When you come before Judge Benedict Willard , we won’t put you in the jails, we’ll put you under the jails."

To the same question, Jenkins offered a more measured response. As judge , she would ensure that all paperwork is properly handled when it comes to defendants living under restraining orders, she said.

I keep telling you all to get library cards and use Newsbank at the Louisiana Library Connection. You can easily find Times Picayune articles going back twenty years and Baton Rouge Advocate articles going back to 1986. On Google, all I found was a couple of commenters alleging (correctly, as it turns out) that Ben Willard and Cynthia Willard-Lewis are brother and sister.

Anyway, in case you missed it, Ben Willard was in the news today. There was a similar report last year.

I really don't have as negative a view of CWL as some local bloggers, but I do wonder about her brothers.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Good Lord

Monday, December 07, 2009

(Really) Damn

This went up on the wrong blog last week.

I guess we won't have a candidate for mayor of Dubai after all. In case you missed it, we can't afford visionary leadership any more than Dubai could.

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