Deinonychus antirrhopus: terrible claw


"In a nutshell, [Steve] is 100% unadulterated evil. I do not believe in a 'Satan', but this man is as close to 'the real McCoy' as they come." --Jamey Lee West

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© 2002 Steve Verdon


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Monday, December 30, 2002

The Democrats: Are they Bankrupt of Ideas? With Eric Alterman joining the ranks of lefties who think there is something terribly inconsistent and/or its only about the oil I have to wonder if the Left and Liberals are just plain unsure of what sorts of ideas to put forward. After all Alterman is a "real journalist" who happens to run a web blog, not like most bloggers who are not journalists and just want a place to inflict their political twaddle on the world. Still Alterman has joined the growing ranks of those on the left who just don't seem to be able to formulate a cogent alternative to the Republicans/Conservative. The only think I see coming from the Left right now is race baiting and accusations of Anti-Semitism (for an example of this see Joshua Marshall's blog). I'd be shocked if a day went by where Marshall (another real journalist who happens to run a web log) didn't make some sort of reference to racism, bigotry or anti-semitism coming from the Right. (Note: I just checked and his posts on 12/27/02, 12/24/02, 12/23/02, 12/22/02, 12/21/02 all discuss racism or anti-semitism on the part of Republicans, i.e. except for the post on the 28th all other posts have focused on racism or anti-semitism). In other words, they have practically nothing to talk about.

I don't blame them for shying away from the economy. Afterall it was Bill Clinton that sat in the Oval Office doing nothing to prevent a huge bubble economy from expanding to the bursting point. And even when they did discuss it during the last election and try to lay all the blame on Bush it didn't really pan out for them. Similarly with the Social Security scare tactics; not to mention that trying to scare retired people was the sum total of their policy on Social Security and Medicare.

Frankly the Democrats/Left seem alot like a ship at sea with nobody at the helm.

Alterman Joins the North Korea vs. Iraq Idiots Club Alterman starts off his post today with a classic example of the liberal mantra on "Iraq vs. North Korea implies inconsistency and/or its only about the oil". Here is what he says

Quote of the Day: “In the case of Baghdad, the United States is preparing to go to war with a country that has just readmitted a hundred or so United Nations weapons inspectors. In the case of Pyongyang, the White House has said it has no intention of resorting to the military option, even though Pyongyang has just ordered the last three U.N. inspectors to leave.”

Cut to Donald Rumsfeld, George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, all wearing cheerleader outfits. Ready, action! Everybody together now! “Saddam, Saddam, he’s our man.”

Yeah, just ignore all the other say the People's Republic of China that would take a real dim view of an invasion on North Korea, or the fact that invading North Korea probably would be a blood bath (a complete cynical bastard would wonder if perhaps some out there might actually be hoping such a blood bath...I am not that cynical).

Eric then compounds his amazing lack of clarity on the issue with this:

Can Saddam be contained? Realist political scientists John Mearsheimer and Steve Walt say yes. Bush Administration and Neocon-soaked media say “Don’t bother us with facts. We want a war.” (Warning the link on Eric's site is a pdf file and can cause you computer to lock up, I recommend a straight download then read it.)

Let us assume this ture. What I want to know is can Saddam be deterred form developing weapons of mass destruction? The answer appears to be no. If this is the case it points to some rather unpleasant conclusions. Clinton was incompetent. Consider the fact that Saddam has not just been renewing his wMD program in the last year or so, but probably in the last 8-10 years. Even if it has only been 6 years the bulk of that falls under Clinton's watch. Further, we have additional evidence that Clinton dropped the ball on North Korea.

Further, the authors of the article that Alterman links to do not argue that Saddam will be deterred from using his WMDs, but the more specific claim that Saddam will be deterred from using them against the U.S. Further, they do acknowledge that Saddam's world view may not be the same as ours and hence he might not be deterred. Their response? Lame ass crap about how the U.S. supported Iraq back in the 80's when Iraq was fighting Iran. Yep, that's is their response to that argument...or I should say non-response.

Moreover, the authors do not address this possible scenario. Iraq develops nuclear missiles with a limited range (say a few hundred miles) then under the protection of his "nuclear umbrella" decides to start a conventional war with a neighbor, say Kuwait again. Now, if the U.S. tries to intervene it is a hugely different and more complicated scenario where the possible outcome is very, very devastating. Is there a high probability of this?

The authors also make this claim:

Yet there is no good reason why the United States cannot contain a nuclear Iraq, just as it contained the Soviet Union during the Cold War. None of the nightmare scenarios invoked by preventive war advocates are likely to happen in the real world.

The problem is that the Soviet Union isn't the same as Iraq. It had a much larger bureaucracy that could put constraints on what the top government officials could do. In Iraq there is no such constraint on Saddam. He runs the show, you don't like him or suggest his ideas are bad and you might very well find yourself with a bullet in your brain. The analogy is extremely weak at best.

Finally when you consider that North Korea was able to pursue it's nuclear weapons program with U.N. inspectors in the country I am not terribly persuaded by this analysis. Parts of it are probably true. For example, even with a nuclear weapon I don't think Saddam would try to attack the U.S. Nor do I think he would give such a device to terrorists (once they have it Saddam has very little control over it and it could be used against him). Still, Saddam has been a very serious destabilizing influence in the region. This destabilization is the source of many problems today (how about the problems in Isreal, the West Bank and Gaza?). Is it in America's (the World's) interest to have that region become more stable? I think so. Is war the only way? No, and I think even President Bush realizes that.

Of course, you wont get that from Alterman's site. Basically its just a bunch of puffery, IMO.

Saturday, December 28, 2002

Update on Liberals and North Korea vs. Iraq I have decided that I am going to link to articles by left leaning bloggers that try to make the case for the Bush Administration's inconsistency and opportunism with regards to Iraq (and oil) and North Korea (i.e. why the case can be made for an invasion of the former, but the case is much more...grim for the latter).

Here is our first new entry. Lean Left is discussing an article by Jim Hoagland but he makes this comment paranthetically:

but not North Korea, see, because the potential death at the hands of Saddams secret police is much worse than the almost certain death by starvation combined with the potential death by North Korean secret police. Apparently, since you are probably going to starve to death in North Korea, the uncertainty is reduced, making your situation bearable. Or something. Look! Saddam is eating a puppy!

The implication here is clear...why invade Iraq when we aren't planning on invading North Korea and the two are obviously equivalent.

The Daily Kos does it again just yesterday. Kos writes

But North Korea is not coveted by Bush's oil friends, so the administration can't be bothered by a nation that can already nuke Alaska. Heck, a nuclear-armed North Korea helps the Administration sell their missile defense boondoggle.

Ignoring what he written just a few paragraphs earlier

North Korea is far more a threat than Iraq at the moment. Not only does it have a confirmed nuclear weapons program -- with knowhow and technology provided by nuclear power Pakistan, but:

  • North Korea has repeatedly threatened South Korea, launching small scale military attacks and sabotage raids throughout the past years.

  • North Korea has multi-stage rockets with a range of 3,000 miles. And they are but a technological bunny hop from developing ICBMs -- rockets with the ability to reach targets in the United States.

  • North Korea has shown a willingness to trade and sell its technologies to anyone who can pay. For example, its missile technologies were bartered to Pakistan in exchange for help in building up its nuclear program.

  • So the Bush Administration is being inconsistent and also simply doing this just for the sake oil. These considerations play no part in the calculus.

    Brian Linse posts this under the title of "Dicking Around with Saddam".

    Old monsters like Libya, North Korea and Iran have proved — well, not ephemeral, but at least changeable, less terrifying today than they used to be. And the Iraqi threat, for which we're now prepared to sacrifice hundreds or thousands of American casualties, just a few years ago was simply another tinhorn dictatorship where C.E.O. Cheney was earning his bonus.

    Now there is no commentary, so I can only surmise that Brian approves of this line of thought. Never mind that while it might have been conventional wisdom that North Korea was changable for the better, it now seems they just changed to being far more sneaky.

    As I find more, I'll post them here.

    Update: Yep there is more. I found this at Desmonthenes site. Clearly Desmonthenes thinks that the fact that North Korea is developing nuclear weapons undermines the case for possibly dealing with Iraq via military might. The implication is simple, that when it comes to trying to prevent nuclear arms proliferation the same policy should be used in all cases.

    I haven't included anything by Hesiod, but he's in there. No big surprise there.

    Ah-ha! A liberal who gets it! CalPundit to the rescue.

    NORTH KOREA....With all due respect to those on both the left and right who keep nattering on about North Korea, will you all please just shut up?

    To the lefties: the fact that we are not attacking North Korea has no particular bearing on whether we should attack Iraq.

    To the righties: there are no options for dealing with North Korea other than negotiation. Military action is not possible, unless you're thinking we should just unilaterally lob a nuke at Pyongyang.

    Friday, December 27, 2002

    Thimerosal Update at Trash Talk Some new and interesting posts have been added in that thread. Looks like the hand wringing over thimerosal may be just that. Is it dangerous? I don't know, but concluding it is poison is just least not without more research.

    Krugman Watch Well, we see Krugman is off to a bad start right away. The news all over the palce is that Christmas sales were bad this holiday season. But Glenn Reynolds is linking to some sources that say otherwise.

    In a weekly report on Tuesday, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishiand UBS Warburg forecast holiday sales in November and December would be up an anemic 1.5 percent over last year, the smallest gain since the banks began tracking weekly sales in 1970.

    In other words, the increase in sales is the worst in 30 years, not that sales were actually down. Of course, this is a forecast and the actual data could come in that sales were down. But what it looks like is that Krugman is looking only at headlines and then banging on the keyboard zipping out another screed.

    This article that Reynolds links to also has the same conclusion. That sales will be either flat or only a very slight increase over last year.

    Is this disappointing? Well I guess it is if you were expecting a large increase. But why expect that? Krugman and many others have been running around saying, "The economy sucks," and so when you see some less than exceptional data why is it disappointing. If I were expecting a 3% pay raise and got a 3% pay raise should I be disappointed? Now if I was expecting a 6% pay raise and got a 3% pay raise I'd be disappointed.

    So, we have the following situation. The economy is in trouble of tipping back into recession. Consumer confidence is lagging, unemployment has had some slight increases, interest rates are about as low as they can go, and yet things still look rather bleak. So why expect growth rates in sales that are on par with the years 1999, 2000 and 2001?

    Krugman then points to the possibility that oil prices might go up and that could send the economy back into recession. I am doubtful of this. Perhaps if both oil prices rise and consumer spending decline. I have been rather busy over at Rick DeMent's blog, The Rant posting that past decreases in oil output has not had the debilitating effect on the least by itself.

    Finally, there's the desperate plight of the states. New estimates by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities show that state governments are facing their worst fiscal crisis since the 1930's. Since Washington shows no interest in helping, states will be forced into desperate expedients. Taxes, mainly taxes that fall most heavily on the poor and the middle class, will go up. Spending on education and, especially, health care will be slashed, with the heaviest toll falling on struggling low-wage workers and their children.

    Yep, here in California the Democrats spent like money was going out of style and the economic bubble was going to last forever. Now the State faces a deficit of around $30 billion. Funny how Krugman, liberal buffoon, can't seem to point out this idiocy on the part of the Democrats. Nope, it is all Bush's fault. Bush and conservatives and everybody else but the Democrats. Memo to Paul Krugman: The Democrats control the state of California, they determined past budgets and spent as if the money from the dotcoms was going to last forever. Granted the Republicans probably would have done the same thing, stupidity and bad decision making goes on in both parties. As a leading economist it would be nice if Krugman stopped reading the Democratic Talking Points and focused on providing some help with finding a solution instead of always looking to assign blame.

    Michelle Malkin on Joel Mowbray Visa Express at the State Department and Mowbray's articles was one of the reasons I started blogging. I just found the whole thing so ridiculous I wanted to say something somewhere. Then I remembered Robin Roberts over at Final Protective Fire telling me about his blog...

    Anyways, Michelle points out that Mowbray did some really good work exposing the amazing program at the State Department that allowed Saudi's who wanted to come to America to get their visa through their travel agent with little or no reveiw by the State Department. Never mind that without the visa the travel agent makes no money (hey there are those perverse incentives again...wonder if Kevin Drum still thinks they are nothing to worry about?) we'll just let these people come over here with practically no questions asked.

    Link via Croooow! Blog.

    Going to North Korea in a Handbasket North Korea has expelled the inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency today and told them they are going to reopen their plant for reprocessing spent fuel rods and that can also produce weapons grade plutonium. Just great. Another tin pot dictator and this one with a tenuous grasp on reality is trying to develop nuclear weapons. Not only are the South Koreans worried, so are the Japanese. Back in 1998 North Korea sent a missile over the main island of Honshu.

    According to this story there are over 8,000 spent fuel rods in North Korea, enough to make 5 nuclear weapons. The North Koreans are claiming they are reopening the reactor to generate electricity due to suspended oil shipments. The oil was promised to North Korea as part of a 1994 deal arranged by the Clinton Administration. Of course, North Korea was supposed to stop development of its nuclear weapons program. It is clear now that this was just a lie.

    The funny thing is the liberal reaction to this. The want to know why we don't want to go to war in North Korea. How about the deaths of many, many South Korean civilians? How about the deaths of thousands of American troops and North and South Korean troops? That North Korea might already have a nuclear weapon and could concievably use it? That the Chinese would take a very dim view of any military action in North Korea. Trying to compare the North Korea situation to Iraq and conclude that the same policy should be used highlights the complete and utter idiocy on the left. The two situations are not the completely the same. As such the policy probably should not be the same. Yes there are similarities, but there are also differences and it is the differences that are more important. You don't see that form the left side of the blogosphere and the left in general. Why? Because they are trying to score political points. I don't know I find trying to score political points while a nation is perfectly willing to engage in nuclear brinksmanship rather disquieting.

    Update: Here is an example of the stupid reasoning on the left. This is from the Daily Kos, note that the implication is that the implication is that those who think military force against Iraq maybe necessary should also be advocating it for North Korea. That is the implication with these paragraphs.

    North Korea has nukes, missiles able to hit Hawaii and Alaska, and it is just a hair away from developing intercontinental ballistic missiles able to hit the continental US. And it has been led by a two (father-son) Communist megalomaniacs that have systematically starved their own people for the past few decades.

    In addition, North Korea has been a belligerant nation, violating the UN armistice numerous times. In the past decades it has staged numerous small-scale forays into South Korean waters and territory.

    So why is the Bush Administration obsessed with Iraq instead?

    Yeah, yeah, I know the answer.


    Now the Kos doesn't really think that we should be going into either Iraq or North Korea, but he is trying to make the case that the Bush Administration is being inconsistent and/or is only interested in Iraq's oil. Ignore any of the problems with invading North Korea that are not present in an invasion of Iraq. Now that is stupid.

    Here is another example from Too Much Logic (actually I'd say not enough logic, but that's just me).

    Thursday, December 26, 2002

    Molly Uses the Kids Molly Ivins, in attacking Bush's budget decides to use children and the elderly as her weapon this time. See, it is the government's job to make sure that people have enough to eat (hmmm, exactly where is that in the Constitution and when can I expect a check for my past grocery expenses?), a roof over their head (hmmm, where is that in the Constitution?), educate the children (I don't see that provision in the Constitution either, and when am I getting reimbursed for my son's school expenses?). Oddly enough Molly closes out her article with this

    Pretend that they can call you and tell you how desperate their needs are. And if you can only save one orphan or help one homeless kid or feed one hungry family once, well, that's something, isn't it?

    Odd how an advocate for the Nanny State is exhorting us to engage in charitable giving. See there are two things going on here with charitble giving. First is that taxes reduce the individual's income thus reducing their ability to give to charities overall. However, if there are tax deductions built into the tax code this can promote charitble giving. The question is then, which effect is dominant. The latter effect depends on the price elasticity of giving, if the price elasticiy of giving is -1 then a dollar decrease in the cost of giving means there is a dollar cost increase in giving. That is tax deductions will incrase giving. However, the price elasticity of giving is believed to be less than one. One estimate I have seen is that the price elasticity of giving in -0.4. So, if the tax deduction reduces your tax burden by 28% of whatever you have given the deduction will increase the amount given by about 11%. But whatever money is given is from after tax dollars, that is it is that part of your paycheck that the government hasn't already taken a bite out of. That initial bite reduces your income and also your ability/willingness to give to charities. So it is possible that a tax cut can either reduce charitble giving (although that is unlikely given the low price elasticity of giving) or increase it.

    Note also that if the price elasticity of giving is less than one in absolute value, then the treasurey is losing money by having a charitible deduction. Some more research on this can be found here. But be warned, this paper is not easy going, the mathematics get pretty intense. One thing this paper notes is that giving to "social welfare organizations" (say a homeless shelter) have a price elasticity of giving greater than one in absolute value.

    C.I.A. Uses "Stress and Duress" Interrogation Techniques At "secret" interrogation locations outside the U.S. the C.I.A. is using such tactics as sleep deprivation and other stress and duress inducing techniques to get Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners to talk. The most recalcitrant prisoners are occassional "rendered" to other governments that are less kind in their approach to interrogation.

    Looks Like the Democrats are going to Challenge Republicans on Anti-Terrorism Measures Several Democrats who are being thought of as possible presidential candidates have voiced concerns that the Bush Administration is not doing enough to prevent future attacks. They haven't offered much so far other than suggesting more money for local police departments and creating an additional intelligence force. Of course, the first one makes me wonder what good is additional money for police departments. Responding to terrorists doesn't strike me as quite the same as dealing with gangs or other run-fo-the-mill criminals. Terrorists are not going to engage in criminal behavior until the last minute. Further, these perpespective presidential candidates have not called for new incursions on civil liberties, and have even indicated that the White House has already gone to far. Of course, they praise the increased incursions into civil liberties in airline travel. Anyhow, this looks to be the new issue for the Democrats. Perhaps they have decided that they can't win on just the economy and have to address concerns of terrorism as well.

    The contenders have offered a few, though not many, details on what they would do differently. Mr. Edwards, for example, urged creation of a domestic intelligence agency with the specific directive to work against terrorism at home, making up for what he asserted were the now-demonstrated weaknesses of the F.B.I. and C.I.A.

    I can see what would happen if the Bush Administration suggested this. There'd be screeching and wailing about the New Gestapo or Stazi. That Big Brother is actually George W. Bush.

    Update: Just thought I'd clarify the problem I have with spending more money on local police departments as a means to combating terrorism. Police departments and police officers are not terribly proactive in stopping crime and violence. That is police do not cruise around looking for people who are thinking of committing a crime and then arresting them. Such people have committed no crime. I might think about committing a horrible crime, but until I actual do there is no crime and the police are impotent. For example, I may have a detailed plan that I have thought up for murdering somebody and I might start carrying out parts of that plan such as purchasing a handgun. Still nothing illegal has occured. Until I do something illegal the police can't do much other than watch me. And is this really what the Democrats want? Local police departments to start watching people? I can here those shrill cries of Gestapo and Stazi again...and if I recall correctly many of those uttering those shrill cries were Democrats. Talk about confused.

    The Costs of Redistribution Or more accurately the costs of redistribution done badly. Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe, has finally put an end to the dominance of Zimbabwe's agricultural industry by whites, but at a cost of starving the population of Zimbabwe. Mugabe through use of force and violence removed the whites from their farms with no compensation and has "given" the land to poor blacks. The problem is these new tenets, for the most part, don't have much seed, no fertilizer, and no equipment. The U.N. estimates that half the population will need emergency food relief. Nearly half of the nations fleet of tractors that were to be used to plow the fields are out of commission due to lack of fuel and spare parts.

    So, the end of white dominance has occured, but it seems to me that the price is rather high.

    Wednesday, December 25, 2002

    USS New York to be Built with WTC Scrap Mettal The USS New York is a San Antonio amphibious transport dock ship (pictured below)

    The ship is scheduled to be ready for duty on 2007. The metal that is being salvaged will be melted down and used to configure the edge of the bow that cuts through the water.

    Click here to read more about the San Antonio class specifications.

    Tuesday, December 24, 2002

    New Blog Added to the Links I have added a new link Democratic Underground Monitoring Blog a.k.a. DUMB. The blog is going to be posting idiotic comments made at DU. The guy running it is a long time friend and has had the longest running sock puppet that I know of at DU. Check it out!

    Sunday, December 22, 2002

    New Idiocy from Democratic Underground Take a look at that post and shudder. Now your first thought might be, "Ahhh so what, so there are some kooks at the fringes on the left." I suppose that could be true, that this is just a kook on the fringes. The problem is that this is typical of Democratic Undergound, not the exception. Go ahead, click up one level and read any thread there at DU in the economics forum (if you are like me and know about economic theory it will be enough to almost make you weep). In fact, the more accurate portrayal is that those who are logical, rational, and understand some things about economics and statistics are the exception at DU not the rule. Further, my hunch is that eventually these types get banned at DU because they point out the moronic nature of the majority of posters there.

    Sure people say, "You get the same thing at Free!" But I just went there and it just doesn't seem quite as kooky or stupid. Sure they have their stupid idiotic puerile stuff. But not the level of utter idiocy that I see over at DU. I mean I see nothing at Free that makes me want to post like there is at DU. I do admit it might be my own bias, but I generally take a dim view of economic ignorance irrespective of political affiliation (don't push me on this one or I'll link to my discussion with Caral AS Thompson on discounting, smoking, and measuring social benefits/costs--something like 300 posts).

    Frankly I think the left needs an enema in terms of economic policy and thinking on economics. So much of it is based on the discredited shibboleths and bormides of socialism that it is no wonder the Democratic party doesn't have an economic platform (aside from "Its the economy, stupid," which is just campaign rhetoric and not a platform).

    Update: Rick DeMent raises objection I tried to head off in that I am being selective here. Well, as I said this is not an isolated post. Some examples

    The second example.

    Here we have "rapier" who is worried that the link I provided to an economics site has a bias or agenda. However a quick glance at the authors of the essays there will show that they are drawing on a wide array of economists from a wide array of schools of thought. For example they have Paul Krugman, N. Gregory Mankiw, Allan Meltzer, Jack Hirshliefer, Laurence Kotlikoff, Murray Rothbard, Gary Becker, Josheph Sitglitz, George Stigler, and Alan Blinder. (By the way there are at least 4 Nobel Laureates on that list). If there is a bias/agenda it is towards providiing an understanding of modern economics.

    Economc Dynamics vs. Statics

    This thread is a hoot. Never mind that I have given the text book description of what dynamic economics is its just bad...evil...something Republicans have cooked up to screw the little guy.

    Tax Reform and Elementary School Mathematics

    Read that post and my followups (I'm EconomicsDude). This idiot flunked out of elementary school is the only thing I can think of; 90% is greater than 10%.

    Trouble with Dates

    Here these nitwits don't know when recessions/expansions begin and end. It is not uncommon for these idiots to claim that the 1990/1991 recession went well into 1993 and if it weren't for Clinton we'd still be in it.

    Now not all the posters there are complete idiots, but most are. Of those who aren't that bad are yankeedame, acerbic, and rogerashton to name a few. But by and large the typical post is just garbage, and fewer are just out and out wrong.

    Saturday, December 21, 2002

    From Calpundit

    And digby's comment is right on target:

    Hiring minorities is a problem because:

    1955 - They are an inferior race
    1965 - They aren't good workers
    1975 - They make old white customers uncomfortable
    1985 - Affirmative action means their diplomas are bogus
    1995 - They are a litigation risk for discrimination

    When it comes to equal rights it's always something, isn't it? is okay to complain about a group of people (conservatives), but if you complain about a group of people (racial minorities) you are a bigot. Lets go through the list:

    1955 - They are an inferior race--No
    1965 - They aren't good workers--No (well I assume the distribution of good to bad is the same across groups)
    1975 - They make old white customers uncomfortable--Maybe they did once, but not anymore
    1985 - Affirmative action means their diplomas are bogus--Unfortunately this is/was the stigma attached to many minorities
    1995 - They are a litigation risk for discrimination--hmmm doesn't it seem this is a shade different than the first one?

    Lets consider. You have worked hard, very hard and your start-up is not pulling in $2 million a year in revenue. You have 20 people working for you. You aren't a Fortune 500 company, but you have done pretty good. Suddenly a lawsuit comes in that threatens to destroy your company. A customer claims your use of a certain chemical caused a problem. You fight the lawsuit and win, but still incur lawyer's fees and othe costs. Now, do you

    1. Keep using the chemical given that there is a suitable substitute that does not pose any risks.
    2. Switch to the substitute?

    Seems to me the answer is obvious. Seems to me that trying to draw an equivalence between the claim that minorities are the inferior race and minorities might sue for discrimination is bravo sierra. Especially when one considers that there are special institutional structures for suing for discrimination. Typical, no serious discussion of the potential perverse incentives that might crop up with a policy. Nope, just call them bigots and be done with it and hope they shut up so it looks like you won whatever discussion there was.

    Update: Some "white condescension" from Calpundit:

    UPDATE: Lots of mail on this, so I should clear up the point I was making: a small subculture is (or should be) allowed to do things that a dominant culture is not. Bosses are not allowed to proposition their underlings. Monopolies are not allowed to try and put small companies out of business.

    This is not to say there can't be black racism. Of course there can be. But the bar is considerably higher: Jim Crow was racist, while affirmative action to help a disadvantaged minority is not.--emphasis added

    Yes, for white people the bar (for racism) is lower, i.e. 'we' don't expect as much from non-whites (i.e. it is okay if non-whites are a little bit racist, but not for white people). Please.

    Also, look at the half-assed examples. Bosses do not comprise a "culture" or "sub-culture" in the same sense of Japanese culture vs. Ainu culture. Similarly for the monopoly comment (which is also just stupid, a monopoly has no competitors to drive out of business. Jesus, does Kevin have a dictionary...somebody send him a dictionary for Christmas).

    Update II: I was thinking about this, this morning and this part kept bothering me

  • Whites band together to make sure whites are elected to office and get their "fair share" of jobs and perks.

  • Blacks band together to make sure blacks are elected to office and get their "fair share" of jobs and perks.

  • Combined with this statement

    UPDATE: Lots of mail on this, so I should clear up the point I was making: a small subculture is (or should be) allowed to do things that a dominant culture is not. Bosses are not allowed to proposition their underlings. Monopolies are not allowed to try and put small companies out of business.

    Now I am going to make an inference here. Based on these quotes Kevin Drum thinks it is okay that minorities do things that may have a negative impact on the majority. Okay fair enough. But the guy really should do some frigging research before he opens his mouth and inserts foot. Asians. Prior to Proposition 209 at UC Berkeley if admissions were based just on academics the number of Asians admitted to Berkeley would increase (by a rather large amount, IIRC), the number of Black students admitted would decrease. So what we have is a program that not only has a negative impact on the white majority, but mainly on another minority...Asians. Further, if you look at admissions prior to Prop. 209 you see that the percentage of Asians admitted is well above their percentage in the populations. What the fuck? If whites are such goddamned bigots why are 'we' letting in Asians?

    How about this, many blacks applying to the UC system are coming from crappy schools. Schools that have major problems with drugs and gangs. They come to the University ill prepared (note that is ill prepared not inferior or stupid) and what happens? Has Kevin looked at graduation rates/drop out rates. Yes, sadly it is higher for blacks, latinos (and incidentally Filipinos) (at least at UCLA when I was there). Further, many of these students have to start out in remedial classes to get caught up on subjects they should have been prepared in in high schools. So resources are taken and used to bring under-prepared students up to speed and those who are prepared at turned away.

    Let me also point out that California has an excellent junior college system that is designed to allow under-prepared students to get up to speed in these basic subjects (and cheaply too--my estimates that in tuition alone going to a junior college saved me over $5,000) and that are supposed to help feed into the UC and Cal State system. UCLA, UC Berkeley and other campuses are impacted at the freshman and sophmore levels (i.e. it is very hard to get in), but much easier to get in as a junior (i.e. transfer from a junior college).

    So to recap, I think it is highly unlikely that racism is a factor in the UC admissions (by the way, for those of you who believe this, you have just implicitly stated that the admissions people at the UC system are very kind of you), that part of the problem with some low minority admissions are the crappy public schools in parts of California, and that many of these kids are being pushed into the deep end to basically sink or swim (my calculus class at UCLA was over 400 people, do you think the teacher even knew my name or could spend much time helping me? Classes at the junior colleges are often much smaller). Does this sound like a good method for increasing minority enrollments at the UC system?

    Thursday, December 19, 2002

    Just Great I wonder if they will ever be able to avoid stuff like this, generally speaking (i.e. I am not looking for arguments that Microsoft is lazy and/or stupid). Seems like it is like a chess game and you can't always anticipate what your opponent is going to do.

    Two Prison Inmates Face Hate Crimes Charges The two men beat a third inmate after the third iname accused one of the two of stealing his pet spider. Since the two men were using racial slurs while beating the third inmate the crimes have been elevated to a felony and both inmates face the possibility of life in prison.

    Light Blogging Today Have to get ready for my son's birthday party tomorrow.

    Wednesday, December 18, 2002

    Thimerosal and Autism This issue seems to be rather popular in the blogosphere recently. Click here for Ted Barlow, click here for Hesiod, click here for Jane Finch, click here for Dwight Meredith, click here for Medpundit.

    Anyhow, I decided to run over to Trash Talk (the discussion board for and see what anybody there knew about the issue. Looks like this is a major issue among the anti-vaxers (i.e. kooks). Still, this does not mean there isn't a connection. However, I was pointed to this article in the Wall Street Journal's online Opinion Journal. So while Dwight Meredith might be right about the amounts exceeding the EPA's "safe level", often times these levels are set ridiculously low to ensure nobody gets poisoned.

    Basically, while the stories of people like Dwight Meredith and his son Bobby are heart wrenching, I am not convinced by their claims it was the Thimerosal. It looks alot like post-hoc-ergo-propter-hoc reasoning to me. Also, the post at Trash Talk by jkeller rings true. While my son didn't have any illnesses, he was quite a handful when he was younger and we had our own whacky rituals to get him to sleep.

    Update: At the Trash Talk link above a link to this report by the National Alliance for Autism Research found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

    I also recommend this link to an Institute of Medicine report that finds no connection between Thimerosal and autism. The press release has alot of "cover your ass" verbiage such as:

    Current scientific evidence neither proves nor disproves a link between the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal and neurodevelopmental disorders in children, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

    The problem with the "disproves" part is that you cannot disprove something scientifically. If there is no connection, the data (i.e. evidence) is not going to show positively that there is no link. These are media-person weasal words so that if something does crop up latter (say a certain segment of the population is hypersensitive to Thimerosal) then they can point to this kind of stuff to say, "Hey, we didn't say it was safe!"

    From the Executive Summary though you have this (i.e. the findings of the guys with science degrees and not media-people):

    The hypothesis that thimerosal exposure through the recommended childhood immunization schedule has caused neurodevelopmental disorders is not supported by clinical or experimental evidence because:

    Update II: Dwight Meredith has written a comment. Dwight in unhappy with what I have written about his posts on autism and Thimerosal; namely the suggestions that he claimed Thimerosal was the cause of his son's autism. I think the simplest way to rectify the situation is to post Dwight's own words, thus removing the possibility of error. Here is what Dwight said:

    Your post sugests that I have claimed that my son's autism was caused by thimerosal. It also suggests that I have claimed that thimerosal causes autism in others.

    I have never made either claim. In particular, I have specifically and repeatedly stated that the science has not yet determined whether or not a causal link between thimerosal and autism exists. That point is perfectly plain in my writing. We would appreciate it if you would update you post to make it perfeectly plain that you have inadvertantly misrepresented my position. At PLA is an index to every autism post we have written. Please review them and you will discover that we have never made the claims you suggest.

    In my defense, I wrote my initial post shortly after reading Dwights post on Autism, Pure Rage and Thimerosal when I read this section

    It is possible that Bobby is autistic and will never lead a normal life because the medical establishment did not make the effort to add up a row of numbers to determine how much mercury they were injecting into his body.

    I am not a person who is quick to anger. Nevertheless, every time I even begin to think about the fact that NO ONE DID THE CALCULATION, pure blinding rage wells up inside me.

    That and the statements about injecting a poison into children. One of the things I have learned in my discussions with several toxicologists is that the dosage makes the poison. So while mercury is indeed something that can lead to very real problems (i.e. is a poison) the dosage is also crucial. One of the things the government typically does when determining safe minimum levels is to set that level ridiculously low. So low that even exceeding this "safe level" probably will not result in any harm at all.

    Dwight's posts do have a number of excellent points, such as

    It is important, however, to stay focused on what is actually known about the relationship, if any, between mercury in vaccines and autism. There have been no studies of which we are aware that demonstrate that thimerosal in vaccines causes autism. Thus, it would be wrong, or at least premature, to conclude that vaccines have caused autism in any child.


    The people who believe that autism is related to vaccines and/or thimerosal need to take care not to allow their rhetoric run ahead of the science and thereby unduly alarm parents. If thimerosal is related to autism, the solution is to remove the thimerosal from vaccinations not scare parents into refusing to have their children vaccinated.

    However, he also makes statments that...well are not so good. Such as in this post

    Both Glenn and Dr. Manhattan have indeed missed the seeing the forest. Each is quick to declare that no link between thimerosal and autism has been shown and that there is no such link. Dr. Manhattan goes on to imply that the entire issue is driven by greedy lawyers eager to bankrupt Eli Lilly.

    First, neither Glenn and Dr. Manhattan nor any other research have to show there is no link. That is scientifically impossible to do. It is up to those who feel there is a link to provide evidence that there is a link, until such evidence is provided the default is that there is no link. Further, I submit that Dr. Manhattan may have hit the nail on the head. We have seen this type of behavior before with silicone breast implants and the driving of Dow Corning into bankruptcy by lawyers who relied on very shakey evidence at best.

    And there is this comment as well

    Please allow us to state, once again, the actual status of the science in this area. The best scientific evidence to date neither proves nor disproves that thimerosal included in childhood vaccines causes autism. The causal relationship, if any, between thimerosal and autism remains an open question. It is a question we should answer though science and not through politics.

    It is my opinion that the only thing we can hope for in terms of a positive result is Thimerosal causes autism. We can never, ever be sure that Thimerosal did not, in some cases, cause autism. We will never be able to "exonerate" Thimerosal with certainty. Politics is the last stage here as it was with silicone breast implants. First, somebody thinks there might be a connection, then the lawyers get involved and then everything goes to Hell in a Handbasket. The final stages are political you have the F.D.A. involved and various special interest groups trying to influence bureaucrats and politicians. By that stage science is no longer the main driver in the process. At best science will have a marginal impact.

    D-Squared's Bigotry

    The world and his wife is shouting “why are CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICANS being so much louder in their condemnation of Trent Lott’s racism than LIBERAL DEMOCRATS??? Ever notice that nine times out of ten, the guy who’s making most of the noise about that terrible smell, is the guy who farted?

    In other words, if you complain about Trent Lott and are a Republican you yourself are a bigot. Of course, since this applies to a group of people based solely on their membership in a group, this too is bigotry. Perhaps D-Squared should stop farting on his blog.

    Update: Dean has this very good point in the comments section.

    U.S. Task Force Hunting for Al-Qaeda on the Horn of Africa The U.S. is looking for a connection between a Somali Islamic group, al-Ittihad al-Islami, and Al-Qaeda. There are over 400 Navy, Marine, Army and Air Force personnel on the U.S.S. Mount Whitney as well as 900 troops at Camp Lemonier in nearby Djibouti.

    Sudan was bin Laden's home in the 1990s; Yemen is his ancestral home, and Somalia has not had an effective government since 1991.

    Wow, Don't Mess with Other People's Food in China The head of a nursery school is to be executed for poisoning 70 students and 2 adults at a nearby school. What makes this rather shocking for me is that while the children and adults became severly ill none of them died. Seems like the punishment is a bit excessive.

    This reminds of a movie my wife rented, the Story of Qiu Ju. Qiu-Ju starts a small crusade to get some shred of justice for her husband who has been kicked in the groin by the village's political leader. She makes several journies each longer than the next. Her goal is to get the village political leader to simply apologize for kicking him in the groin. Each time she is rebuffed. Finally something is done. The village political leader is taken away for "re-education". The irony is that Qiu-Ju (very late in her pregnancy) starts her journies all over again. This time to secure the release of the village political leader. A complete over reaction by the state when something much simpler and less harsh would have sufficed.

    New Al-Qaeda Camps in Eastern Afghanistan Looks like the mess that Afghanistan is still makes it a good home for terrorists.

    More than a year after a United States-led coalition ousted Afghanistan's former Taliban rulers, who harboured the al-Qaeda leader and his followers, the report says ``one of the most recent developments is the apparent activation of new, simple, training camps in eastern Afghanistan'' for al-Qaeda supporters.

    Mr Chandler said the camps may have sprung up near the eastern town of Asadabad, in Kunar province. He said since US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan were constantly looking for such facilities, these camps were ``small, discreet and mobile'' and did not stay in one place for too long.

    This is my one worry about the focus on Iraq, that focus will be lost on Al-Qaeda.

    Update: Hamid Karzai has denied the claims.

    Update II: Robert Crawford points to this article that there is a real fear that if a mission goes bad the commanding officer could be prosecuted and his career ruined.

    Tuesday, December 17, 2002

    Julienne Malveaux I heard this quote on Larry Elder's radio show today.

    The insufferable black "USA Today" columnist Julienne Malveaux, on a political TV talk show said, "There's no great, white bigot; there's just about 200 million little white bigots out there."

    Well, I don't know about you, but I do know who the bigot is and that person sure isn't white. What Julienne Malveaux is saying that if you are white you are a bigot. There was no outrage over what Malveaux said. There has been, to the best of my knowledge, no apology. So what gives? Clearly this statement marks Malveaux as a bigot of a staggering magnitude (either that or an incomprehensible idiot), why is Malveaux not reviled? Rank hypocrisy.

    Here is another quote from Ms. Malveaux:

    Julienne Malveaux, columnist told a television audience, "I hope [Thomas's] wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter, and he dies early, like many black men do, of heart disease - he's an absolutely reprehensible person."

    Gee, what a nice thing to say. Check out that link you can see the intolerance and hate that the left supposedly decries shining through nice a brightly.

    Kevin Drum on Why Blacks Don't Trust Republicans Kevin claims that one of the reasons blacks don't support Republicans is the Republicans push for school vouchers. The only problem is that many young black voters who are also parents want vouchers. Click here, here, here, here, and here.

    That point is merely silly, but the serious reason that most people don't trust Republicans on race issues is made clear from Preston's #1 source of Republican pride:

    School choice, the granting of vouchers to needy students enabling them to pay for tuition in private and parochial schools, would allow those students to escape the crumbling schools which current circumstances force them to attend.

    Now, I'm not a die-hard opponent of vouchers, but the history of vouchers is clearly not based on any kind of commitment to racial justice. Republican conservatives began fighting for them two decades ago, and the fight was led primarily by members of the Christian right, who wanted public funding for Christian schools. Then, sometime in the mid-90s, after it became clear that this argument wasn't resonating with enough people, the GOP hit on a new argument: vouchers are good for black people!

    So what the freaking Hell is Kevin Drum talking about? Maybe he needs to get out of Orange County a bit more. Try South Central Kevin.

    Let me also add that Kevin's protrayal of the the history of vouchers is a bit misleading. Milton Friedman proposed them back, IIRC, in the 1960's as a way of injecting competition into the state monopoly on education. One has to admit that many of today's public schools are a complete disgrace (try visiting L.A. Unified Kevin) with problems with crime, drugs, violence, budget problems, and incompetent administrators. Maybe the initiating reason for the Republicans push for vouchers was based on the Christian Right, but it seems blacks want them too so that their children can have a better education. Denying this and pointing to the initial reason for Republican support for vouchers is rather peculiar.

    The Humor Stylings of Hesiod Theogeny I have to admit I enjoy (in a sort of perverse way) reading Hesiod's site. It is simply amazing to see how his mind...well 'works' isn't quite the word...opersates? Yeah that is it, how is mind operates.

    In a letter to Henry Waxman, last month, Daniels flat out lied about his tenure and potentially, about his knowledge of of Thimerosol.

    "I also want to make clear that I personally had no involvement whatsoever with these provisions. I spoke to no one about these provisions, either inside the administration or outside the administration. . . . I did not have any communications with anyone from Eli Lilly regarding the issue. Indeed, I had not even heard of Thimerosal until I received your letter, which is not surprising because Eli Lilly stopped making Thimerosal a decade before I began working there and the lawsuits appear to have been filed after I left."

    But...according to internal Lilly documents, the company was actively studying the health effects of the additive as late as 1999!...

    And also according to internal documents, Eli Lilly didn't stop manufacturing the drug until 1991.

    No Hesiod, it isn't Daniel's statements about his tenure that are incorrect, you blithering moron, it is his statements about when Eli Lilly stopped making Thimerosal.

    Here is another example of Hesiod, this time being dishonest. Hesiod quotes this part by Andrew Sullivan (and is vague as to whether it is a quote of Glenn Reynolds or Andrew Sullivan):

    "I'm second to few in believing that Trent Lott should step down as SML. But that doesn't mean I like the racial politics of the current Democratic Party. In fact, the way some far-left Democrats use race is no less repulsive than the way some far-right Republicans do. The equation of opposition to affirmative action or hate-crime laws or any other number of leftist policies with racism strikes me as a massively cheap shot. (I was on WBUR last night and paleo-lib Jack Beatty went straight to that knee-jerk point. Grrrr.) And the blithe assumption of moral superiority is equally galling."--emphasis added by Hesiod

    Note that Hesiod's emphasis leaves out the word some. It is clear that Andrew Sullivan is not talking about all Democrats or all Republicans, but only some. Further, he is right. Look at this post by Desmonthenes, clearly a liberal, who thinks fanning racial annimosity for political gain is a good idea. Then there is this crap at Democratic Underground.

    There exists in a large portion of the population an innate fear of change, and also a fear of the "other"...whether that other is someone of another race, different sexuality, different religion, etc.

    Gee, Hesiod you're right no Democrats/liberals play the race/bigotry card[end sarcasm]. What an utter and complete dunce. Sullivan is right, some on the left employ these tactics, we have proof.

    So I admit, I get a good laugh from what Hesiod writes he is the acme of "so stupid its funny".

    The Minute Man has more. I recommend this one as he debunks two of Hesiod's idiotic "posts".

    Spike Lee Opens His Mouth...and inserts his foot up to his knee. He claimed that Trent Lott is a card carrying member fo the Ku Klux Klan. Even Diane Sawyer jumped in and told Lee, not in these terms, that he is full of horse crap and that such statements without any proof are quite stupid. Well no kidding Diane, Spike Lee has been and idiot and all around a--hole for sometime...your just figuring it out now? With people like Spike Lee you don't need the Ku Klux Klan around, Spike Lee's bigotry is more than sufficient.

    Link thanks to Croow! Blog.

    P.S. Just in case you are wondering, Lee is the jackass who said he likes to give visual daggers to interracial couples in public. What a guy.

    Krugman Watch Krugman is like a pitbull with this Lott thing. Like the Democratic Party in lacking any stance on issues to make interesting and thought provoking column, Krugman is going to run with the race baiting. There was brief hope we'd start to get some good stuff from Krugman when he wrote this Op-Ed piece. But then the Lott thing came up and I guess it was just too tempting to not jump on the wagon of fanning racial animosity.

    Let's be clear that last week's remarks were in no way out of character. On the contrary, they were entirely consistent with Mr. Lott's statements on many other occasions.

    Many other occasions? Such as? I know Lott filed an amicus brief with the courts when Bob Jones University was in court, I know Lott made a similar statement back in 1980, and I know he opposed the making of Martin Luther King Jr. day a holiday. Is that enough to constitute many? I don't know. Maybe there is more and Krugman is just too lazy to list them (or maybe it was a space consideration).

    Still does this make Lott a racist and/or bigot? I dont know, I am inclined to think he is, but at the same time some of his positions I don't find that onerous. For example, the Bob Jones University issue over the interracial dating poicy. A private university...Hell any private institution, should have the right of deciding what it wants in terms of policies. I don't think it is the governments job to try and dictate morality. That is what some of these issues boil down too, IMO. Now, don't get me wrong, I would never support such an interracial dating policy, I would never support any institution that had such a policy, and I'd openly condemn it just as I am now. My personal feeling is that such a policy is wrong and ugly. But, just as I don't want the government telling me what to do in my own house I don't want the government to have the right to make similar dictates to other private instituitions either.

    The Republican Party's longstanding "Southern strategy" — which rests on appealing to the minority of voters who do share Mr. Lott's views — is no secret. But because the majority doesn't share those views, the party must present two faces to the nation. And therein lies the clue to Mr. Lott's role.

    Yes, and back a few generations the Democrats used to rely heavily on the Solid South. Further, if the "Southern strategy" rests on a minority of voters who share Lott's view then how do the Republicans win? If they are the minority how are the getting elected? Cheating I guess. And what about Clinton's admiration for Fulbright, not exactly a paragon of racial harmony and a supporter of Civil Rights.

    To win nationally, the leader of the party must pay tribute to the tolerance and open-mindedness of the nation at large. He must celebrate civil rights and sternly condemn the abuses of the past. And that's just what George W. Bush did yesterday, in rebuking Mr. Lott.

    Yet at the same time the party must convey to a select group of target voters the message — nudge nudge, wink wink — that it actually doesn't mean any of that nonsense, that it's really on their side. How can it do that? By having men who manifestly don't share the open-mindedness of the nation at large in key, powerful positions. And that's why Mr. Bush's rebuke was not followed by a call for Mr. Lott to step down.

    Ahhh I see. Of course, lets forget about Senator Byrd's comments (the man who actually is 4 heartbeats away from being President). Senator Byrd who just last year used the 'N'-word. It is clear from his use that the implication was somebody of low character...somebody black, why else did he use the phrase "white ni**er"? Sure his staff had an apology ready immediately, but there was nowhere near this level of hue and cry about it. Byrd got a pass. How about Donna Brazil who stated that the Republican Party is the party of the "white boys". Recently she tried to polish that turd of a statement by saying she meant that her mentors were white. What? She isn't a Republican, but a were her mentors Republicans. Still no apology.

    Okay, I have zero respect for Krugman anymore. He notes here that Atrios is a valuable source. Puhlease.

    I don't mind the focusing on Trent Lott's stupid and by all appearances bigoted comments. What really gets to me is the bullshit sanctimonious hypocrisy we get from people like Krugman and his preferred bloggers such as Josh Marshall and Atrios. Lott's statements were very stupid. At the very least he should step aside as Senate Majority leader. However, I don't see these lefties taking a hard look at their own ranks and applying the same standards. Add on top of this the rather blatant attempts to fan racial animosity for political gain and it is downright despicable.

    Monday, December 16, 2002

    Good Gravey Code_Name_D at Democratic Underground is a scraming moron. He has responded to my post. Amazing! He is accusing me of being ignorant, but here is a real howler

    Oh, so now we know that you know little of the Laffer curve, but also little over the concept of experimental thinking. A critical foundation in economic sciences. And an out right lie to boot. The curve of witch you speak is part of that fundamentalist crap that you keep spewing out. How in the world could Laffer have measured tax to income ratios of witch to apply to this chart? Laffer himself died long before the computer age, so he didn't have the advantage of running computer simulations.--emphasis added

    Now I suppose Arthur Laffer could be dead, I have looked to see if there is anything on him dying and have found nothing. But, if Laffer has passed away, it was well after 1989. In fact, I'd say it would have been within the last 10 years (note: this has Laffer alive and well and his age listed at 62). So the above claim about Laffer dying long before the computer age is just...ignorant bullshit.

    And even if he did, the whole argument would then be on what the simulation would look like? If he did take measurements, than the "curve" must be incomplete. Especially at the top end senses it is inconceivable he could have explored the extremes.

    Code_Name_D is now reiterating my point. Nobody really knows what the curve looks like except at the end points. When the tax rate is 0% then the tax revenue for that tax is $0. It shouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out...but obviously a moron can't figure it out. As for the 100% income tax rate, why work when you aren't going to get any of the wage? Do people right now work for a zero wage rate? No. So this seems like a pretty save bet as well.

    I wrote:
    No this is false. The curve looks at tax revenue as a function of the tax rate. The idea is that at the out tails of the tax rates (low/high) revenue is lower than in the middle.

    Code_Name_D replied:
    As I said, you would debate long and hard against the existences of the two extremes in taxation. Hardly a prophetic statement.

    I am not sure what Code_Name_D is smoking, but it must be good. My comment in no way indicates a denial of the tails of the Laffer Curve.

    Here is another gem:

    Me: This is false. The Laffer curve states that there will be no income tax revenue when then income tax rate is 100%.

    Code_Name_D: Perhaps in your textbook. But such a statement falls flat on its face when made to stand on its logical grounds. How can 100% taxation produce 0% revenue? Dude, are you really trying to convince us that if you eat a whole pie, you will in fact starve to death?

    Clearly the idea that if you don't get any of your wage you wont work (for pay) is beyond this idiot.

    Here is rapier's respones to my response. Most of it is gobbldeegook as far as I can see, but I found this striking:

    As to my supposed contraditions, I embrace contradiction. My liberalism is a process, not an absolute view of the exact roles for government or property or anything. As far as junk science, politics nor economics is a science, although they often pretend to be.--emphasis added

    Could this be why so many people have a hard time talking to some liberals? They just have shit for brains?

    Sunday, December 15, 2002

    Democratic Underground Update In case you are interested I have updated my comments at DU here and here. This now brings my posts as EconomicsDude upto 35. A new personal record for me. Or maybe it is the forum, maybe most of the DUers just ignore it...or maybe the moderators fo the economics forum understand basic neo-classical economics...who knows with that place.

    Friday, December 13, 2002

    Steve Chapman on Why War with Iraq is Not Good I was pointed to this article by Jane Finch over at the Daily Rant. I had remarked that I was looking for a good argument as to why we shouldn't consider going to war with Iraq and this was one of her suggested readings. The problem is Chapman actually ends up making a case for war, IMO. Chapman looks at what he calls the worst case scenario and tries to paint a grim picture. To summarize here is his list of "horrors" that should give us pause to consider war with Iraq

  • Bloody house-to-house fighting in the streets of Baghdad.
  • A civil war among contending groups in Iraq after Hussein is gone.
  • A long and difficult occupation in which American forces become the targets of indigenous rebels and al Qaeda fighters.
  • Unrest that brings radicals to power in oil-rich Saudi Arabia or nuclear-armed Pakistan.
  • Once we invade, it would be no surprise to see outbreaks of the virus [smallpox] in American cities, unleashed by covert Iraqi operatives already hiding within our borders.
  • Once American troops set foot on Iraqi soil, they may be bombarded with poison gas.
  • Attack Israel with either chemical or biological weapons.
  • Israel responds with nuclear weapons.
  • Saddam might give weapons of mass destruction to Al Qa'ida or other similar terrorists groups.

  • That is quite a list (well okay some are inherently contradictory, IMO). However, I don't think it is persuasive. I am not convinced that there will have to be bloddy house-to-house fighting in Baghdad, although it might come to that. In the last Gulf War the Iraqi military crumbled like a house of cards. Would it stand and fight even in and around Baghdad? I don't know and neither does Chapman, he is speculating.

    The civil war and American occupation are rather contradictory if you ask me. But I suppose that we could have one or the other, but again I am not sure there would be all that much of a problem. It depends on how the aftermath is handled. Even with American occupation I am not convinced it will have to be another Vietnam. Why every anti-war opponent has to invoke this specter as if it is a fact is beyond me. It is quite possible that the occupation is more like that of Japan.

    As for the fear of more extreme groups coming to power in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan that is already a fear. Is it more likely to happen if we Invade Iraq? It seems like a stretch for Pakistan, but not so much for Saudi Arabia, but with so many U.S. forces right there next to Saudi Arabia I don't think it would be that much of a problem.

    The smallpox/covert operatives argument is, in my opinion, an argument to go. Are we going to cower in fear of Iraq and knuckle under to such blatant terrorism? That is what Chapman is saying in effect. Don't go attack Iraq because they might do something bad to the U.S. What makes him think Saddam wont do it anyways? Saddam has a history of horrible judgement calls (Invading Iran, Invading Kuwait, thinking he could stop the U.S. in the first Gulf War, etc.). While I don't think Saddam is a bona-fide nutcase, I do think he does not have a completely realistic appraisal of the world and makes some really bad decisions at times.

    The use of weapons of mass destruction that Saddam now has indicates now is the time to go if we have to go, not wait till he comes up with nuclear weapons. Once he has nuclear weapons then the situation becomes at least an order of magnitude more difficult. Now he might feel that he can act with even more impunity in the region and do things to further erode what shreds of stability there is. For example, he might decide that the recent unrest in Iran and his new nuclear weapons make it a great time to re-invade Iran.

    Yes, he might attack Israel with chemical or biological weapnos and yes Israel might respond. However, first Saddam will have to be able to set up a deliver system and with the U.S. right there watching for such things, it might not be so easy.

    The last point of Saddam giving weapons of mass destruction to terrorists again provides a reason for going vs. not going and hoping he doesn't do it anyways. By not going Saddam could see the U.S. as weak and decide to risk such a venture. If Saddam is not there then he cannot give anything to any terrorists. This actually supports the Bush Administrations claim that Saddam is a threat to the U.S. Personally I discount this one, as I noted while Saddam's grip on reality may not be the greatest he isn't completely nuts. He'd know that anything that even hinted at an Iraq-Al-Aqaeda weapon of mass destruction attack could very likely result in an American response that goes right up to an includes a response with nuclear weapons. He may not make the best decisions in the world, but Saddam is not a suicidal maniac.

    Looks Like Lott Is Not Going to Step Down Now I have to wonder, will he try to save himself by selling the conservative agenda as both David Frum suggests and Michelle Malkin suggets.

    Hesiod's Offer Hesiod, still upset over Glenn Reynold's use of "objectively pro-Saddam" has made an offer. If Reynolds stops using "objectively pro-Saddam" then Hesiod will stop using the term Chickenhawk. I personally think Glenn should jump at it. For one, I don't think Hesiod can stick to such an agreement, and second if he does then great, so it is a win-win as far as I can see. If Hesiod breaks the agreement, it allows Glenn and anybody else to use the term "objectively pro-Saddam" without any regrets and also gives people to point out what a hypocrite Hesiod is. If he does stick to it, some rather unpleasant rhetoric will cease to be used.

    More fun at Democratic Underground Last night I paid a visit to DU and decided to have some fun with my sockpuppet. I have to admit I am shocked I have made it to 33 posts there. Anyhow you can check out the fun here, here, here and here.

    This resposne is quite telling of the attitudes of DU and the far left. Basically this attitude makes us all slaves to the government. We have our property rights at the governments discretion so it is not right to argue tha government should refrain, whenever possible, from interfering in the market.

    Title to land, the most basic form of property, has since civilization developed, been confered to individuals by government. Long ago that was kings. There is nothing 'natural' about claiming ownership of land and property. Without the authority of the government, be it a godlike king or a constitutional democracy, ownership devolves into simple brute force, which is not freedom.

    The idea here is people only have property rights if the government decides to grant them. All property is essentially the governments and it is only through their good graces that you can keep and use your property. Further, with this view, it is perfectly fine for the government to tell you what you can or cannot do with your property. All hail (or suplicate yourself) before the government.

    In this response Code_Name_D decided to advertise his stellar stupidity in regards to economics. I love this quote

    HA! The Laffer curve also doesn't talk about motivations ether. A little homo-economist rhetoric working its way in there? Laffer curve states that at 100% taxation, by definition, will not allow any funds or currency to circulate though the economy, and thus, no economy.

    First, homo-economicus is part of all neoclassical economics so no kidding that kind of rhetoric is working its way in there. Second, the Laffer curve states no such thing about 100% tax rates in general. For a 100% tax rate of income you will not get any labor supply that is taxable (i.e. labor done for pay). But this doesn't mean you'll get no labor and zero economic output. If you work for yourself and pay yourself nothing you wont be taxed. However, this type of economy would have very little specialization and hence output would be very low.

    Your other assertion that taxing inheritance at 100% will discourage earnings is also bogus as well because the tax is not paid by the person who made the money. HE IS DEAD! The inheritance tax is paid by the person who inherits the money. How is this going to discourage the accumulation of wealth?

    What an amazing non-sequitur. I didn't say it would discourage the accumulation of wealth, but that it would discourage the passing of wealth from one generation to the next. That is, if I new I was going to die soon, and that my children wouldn't be able to inherit the money, I might give it to him in the form of gifts, or something else. Sure it'd still be taxed, but not at the same rate.

    Thursday, December 12, 2002

    Ted Barlow is Blogging Again Head on over and check him out. You may not agree with him, but he is thought provoking.

    Hesiod the Nitwit Hesiod, among others, got into a snit when Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit made this post that those who are demonstrating against war with Iraq are "objectively pro-saddam". Various people felt that Glenn was using simple smear tactics in that post. That is you are opposed to war with Iraq you support Saddam. But then Hesiod wrote Glenn and e-mail that said in part

    "As an astute reader pointed out to me...

    According to Glenn['s logic]...anyone who supports an expanded war on terror/radical Islam/ OBJECTIVELY pro-Osama Bin Laden.

    Why? Because that's exactly what he wants [or wants] to goad the United States into.

    Moreover...for those who think invading Iraq absent an imminent threat will HELP Al Qaeda, and hurt the U.S. in the long term...supporting an invasion of Iraq based upon manufactured pretext is ALSO "Objectively" Pro Al Qaeda."

    Hesiod is in a snit because he feels Glenn misrepresented what Hesiod wrote. But this is what Glenn wrote:

    Okay, that's the reasonable argument. Here are the not-so-reasonable ones. Hesiod emailed me that by supporting war on Iraq I was "objectively pro-Al Qaeda, pro-Arab," etc. This is just dumb. People who oppose war on Iraq want to cover themselves by setting up a false dichotomy: war on Al Qaeda or war on Iraq. But, since there's no reason that one conflicts with the other, that won't wash. Indeed, I think it's more likely that the two reinforce each other.

    But as we can see Hesiod did say that those who support war (based upon a manufactured pretext) is "objectively pro Al-Qaeda". It is right there in the last line of Hesiod's e-mail. Furthermore, Hesiod the Idiotic, goes on to make the very case that Glenn is making. Hesiod argues, in short, that a war with Iraq will take resources that could be used against the war on Al-Qaeda and the side effect is to help Al-Qaeda. Well, if this line of reasoning is true and correct, then so is Glenn's point and you Hesiod are pro-Saddam. Live with it. The problem is that Glenn has spotted the problem with Hesiod's (as usual) faulty reasoning. It is a false dichotomy. While it might be true that some of the resources that are used in any possible war with Iraq could come from the efforts against Al-Qaeda they don't have too.

    Further, Glenn's overall point was that those who oppose war with Iraq are in effect helping Saddam. Suppose those opposed to war "win" and Bush decides not to pursue war with Iraq and follows another policy such as deterrence. Does this not help Saddam. Granted, I think it isn't because (most of) the anti-war with Iraq crowd like Saddam, but that they think such a policy is wrong and would rather not undertake such a policy even though it leaves a tin-pot dictator in power. In other words and more simply, just because I help you doesn't mean I like you. We can see something similar with the Cross burning case before the SCOTUS. Suppose the court says, "Cross burning, when done on private property, though repugnant, is protected speech." Does this make the SCOTUS pro-KKK? In a sense, yeah it does. It means they have affirmed the KKK's right to express themselves. It doesn't mean that the SCOTUS believes in the philosophy (using that term loosely) of the KKK.

    Not that I suspect Hesiod to understand all of this. Once something goes beyond the level of a Dr. Suess book Hesiod is considerably out of his depth.

    Democratic Undergound Morons Can you believe the stupidity? I love this quote:

    if (probably more likely "when", but that's for another discussion) we go to war against Iraq, I've heard that it will cost anywhere from 100 billion to over 200 billion dollars. Ok now who exactly is getting this money? It's obviously not going to personel is it?

    Nope, none of the money is going to the personel. None of it is going to them in terms of pay, medical care, food, or housing. None of them are going to qualify for G.I. college benefits, and none will qualifiy for veterans benefits later on. Obligate mouth breather.

    Larry Elder on Trent Lott I was listening to Larry Elder the other day and he has raised an interesting point. He doesn't care if Trent Lott is the most racist person on the planet (for those of you who don't know, Larry is black). He just doesn't give a crap if Trent Lott goes home and tells racists jokes, puts on black face and sits there looking over his backyard with a lawn jockey. What Larry does care about are what kinds of policies Trent Lott favors, supports, and puts forward. So long as Larry likes them (e.g. lower taxes, less government regulation, less intrusive government over all, etc.) then Larry doesn't care if Trent Lott goes home and puts on a white sheet with a pointy hat and insist on being called the Grand Wizard of Lottdom. However, if Trent Lott did something to try an roll back the civil rights (say reintroduce segregationist policies) then Larry would be right there clamoring for the son-fo-a-bitch to be run out of town on a rail.

    I think Larry has an interesting point. So what if Trent Lott is a racist, what really matters is what he does in terms of setting/shaping policy. Unless that can be shown to be racist then what is the big deal? I don't hear anybody calling for the resignation of Sen. Robert Byrd. Considering his recent use of the "N-word" I'd say the case is at least just as strong that he is as much a racist as Trent Lott is. I find this ridiculous posturing by the LIberals/Lefties/Democrats just ridiculous given the presence of a rather despicably character within their own midst (and to be clear this does not justify Lott's comments) just a bit hypocritical.

    Wednesday, December 11, 2002

    Justice Thomas Goes on the Offensive In a rare display Justice Thomas spoke out during the arguments phase today during the "Cross Burning Case" and said the following:

    A burning cross is indeed highly symbolic, Justice Thomas said, but only of something that deserves no constitutional protection: the "reign of terror" visited on black communities by the Ku Klux Klan for nearly 100 years before Virginia passed the law, which the Virginia Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a year ago.

    A burning cross is "unlike any symbol in our society," Justice Thomas said.

    "There's no other purpose to the cross, no communication, no particular message," he continued. "It was intended to cause fear and to terrorize a population."

    Well I am a bit surprised. It also seems that his impassioned oratory had an impact on the rest of the Justices who listened to Justice Thomas with rapt attention. I have to admit, the idea of the Ku Klux Klan and burning crosses is something I find very repugnant. Still I am leaning a bit towards it being Constitutionally protected speech when done on private property.

    Republican Steel Protectionism This is one area I think the Republicans goofed up and show that they need somebody with a better grasp of economics in there making/proposing policy. Anybody with just a basic understanding of economics knows that free trade is preferable ot protectionism. Think about it this way, suppose there was nothing preventing individual states from restricting the flow of goods and services across state borders and they could institute inter-state tariffs. Would this result in more economic output or less? Seems the obvious answer is less. The same thing holds at an international level.

    Here is another reason I think the Republicans don't have much in the way of economic policy making. The fall out from the protection of American farmers is fairly substantial. Since the American agriculure businesses face less competition due to protectionism/subsidies they have an incentive to rely on more pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. Also, they will farm land that requires much more irrigation. All of these things are not good environmentally and if they can be reduced without resulting in higher food prices then that is all for the better.

    In addition, if the U.S. grew less food the slack could be taken up by foreign countries. Instead of making loans then bailing these countries out when they default, the countries could have stronger economies by taking up the slack from the decrease in American farm output. Moreover, this would help get these countries on the path of development vs. being stuck where they are now.

    Another thing that annoys me about Repubicans is the corporate welfare. Corporate welfare, goes on on both sides to be sure, but the Republicans sometimes employ rhetoric saying the corporate welfare is bad, but then turn around and start handing out the corporate welfare candy. For example, the airline bailouts right after 9/11. The airlines were in trouble prior to 9/11 and the huge subsidy handed out after 9/11 just prolonged the problem (it undoubtedly put off United's filing for bankruptcy). Now to be fair, the Bush Administration has cut back on corporate welfare, but a 7% reduction is pretty meager, IMO. This is one way to help reduce the deficit and to help steal some of the force behind the Democrats rhetoric that Republicans are the party of big money corporations. Also, this goes on on both sides. In addition, some of what the Cato Institute calls corporate welfare might indeed be a legitimate area for the government to be spending in. For example, I am not too sure I'd want the private markets to supply air traffic control. I can definitely see how there could be external costs of not having good air traffic control.

    This gets back to what was discussed in this post here, at least in part. The libertarian wing of the Republicans feel ignored and that is one reason why they are leaving. Addressing these issues could help, but personally I hold out little hope.

    Partisan Bias of Tapped Tapped posted this comment by Robert Stacy McCain

    [T]he media now force interracial images into the public mind and a number of perfectly rational people react to these images with an altogether natural revulsion. The white person who does not mind transacting business with a black bank clerk may yet be averse to accepting the clerk as his sister-in-law, and THIS IS NOT RACISM, no matter what Madison Avenue, Hollywood and Washington tell us.

    Well, while we are at it, how about the statment of Congresswoman Diane Watson directed at Ward Connerly:

    "He's married to a white woman," Watson said. "He wants to be white. He wants a colorless society. He has no ethnic pride. He doesn't want to be black."

    Or this one by Spike Lee on interracial couples:

    "I give interracial couples a look. Daggers. They get uncomfortable when they see me on the street."

    Yes, those are ugly sentiments to be expressing, but to pretend it comes only from Republicans is idiotic.

    Update: Thought I'd add this as well. A caller to the Mark Taylor and Gloria Alred radio show (790 KABC) was talking about how blacks like Colin Powell and Condolezza Rice are not "mainstream blacks", their thinking is not in accord with "mainstream blacks" that they were, and at this point words failed the caller so Gloria Alred chimed in with "uncle Tom Types". Nope, nothing shocking from the left. Oh yeah, and lets not forget our good buddy, Robert "KKK Forever and I like to use the N-word" Byrd who is a Democrat and recieved lots of praise by Democrats for his stance against Bush's policies for Iraq.

    Demosthenes Suggest the Democrats Resort to Race Baiting Demosthenes suggests that the Democrats should be using the Lott fiasco not only to stir up the "faithful", but to also use it to fire up minorities. Now I admit that Lott's comments were stupid and repulsive, but using them to inflame minorities? Seems almost stupidly irresponsible to me.

    Demosthenes also stupidly agrees with Krugman's comment that Lott's idioctic comments might have helped turnout, while earlier Krugman was noting there was coverage of the fiasco.

    Atrios the Hypocrite Why is Arios hypocritical? Well he is linking to a post that complains about how some bloggers like to smear others and not attack the arguments. But that is exactly what Atrios has done himself. I noted here that Atrios simply branded the Cato Institute a pack of liars vs. taking on what they said. Same thing, different day, but Atrios proves that he too is a hypocrite. Good job Atrios.

    U.S. Could Use Nuclear Weapons in Response to Weapons of Mass Destruction Attacks I saw that article and my first thought was that the lefty nitwits would pitch a fit about this. And sure enough Hesiod on his Sit-n-Spin did just that. Not only that but he distorted the actual articles claims. The U.S. could respond with massive force upto and including nuclear weapons if the U.S. or the U.S. military is attacked. So we can see this screech by Hesiod was totally false:

    My question is...why can't we extend this retaliation threat to attacks on our CIVILIAN population?

    The fact that the stated policy covers both the U.S. and its forces means it covers civilians and the military.

    Then Hesiod decides to compound his misinformation when he implies China was making a similar statement with this link. The difference is that the U.S. is saying, "If you use weapons of mass destruction on the U.S. or U.S. troops we reserve the right to respond as we see fit and that could include the use of nuclear weapons." China on the other hand was saying, "If the U.S. intervenes on the behalf of Taiwan should the PRC invade Taiwan we might very well nuke Los Angeles." Totally different. That Hesiod sees them as being the same indicates he is either an idiot or is extremely dishonest.

    The Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Cross Burning Today As repugnant as this activity is, I have to agree that when done on private property with the property owners permission it should be Constitutionally protected speech. I see this as one of the prices for having the open society that we currently enjoy; that the speech of sleazy people is also protected along with the speech of much more reasonable people.

    Here is a post by Eugene Volokh predicting the outcome. He predicts that the cases will be overturned and that cross burning will in effect become protected speech. Note, that this does not give the Ku Klux Klan the right to start burning crosses anywhere they want, but so long as it is on private property they can burn them if they want.

    Professor Volokh has a follow up post that notes the general yuckiness of the Council of Conservative Citizens' (the CCC) position on this matter. The idea that cross burning is simply to demonstrate a lack of support for affirmative action is moronic and stupid.