Your Lying Eyes

Dedicated to uncovering the truth that stands naked before your lying eyes.

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31 May 2007

Asylum Rulings Arbitrary, Study Shows

This article in the New York Times discusses the study which points out that who the judge is and where the case is argued has a lot to do with who gets asylum and who doesn't. I just saw the article and so haven't read it yet, but asylum is something that we should re-think, anyway. Asylum was used back in the day to embarrass communist countries, who did not allow their people to leave (knowing they'd lose all their best people in a matter of years to the more affluent free-market nations of the west). It was handy in the cold-war, but then liberals began to agitate for asylum from non-communist countries since that would embarrass our government for supporting repressive right-wing regimes. It makes no sense today - there are about 4.5 billion people in the world (rough estimate) living in non-democratic lands - do we allow them all to come here? Or just anyone who manages to sneak in or overstay their visa? Anyway it's administered, asylum-granting is guaranteed to be arbitrary.


Fred Thompson's entering the race seems a foregone conclusion. He's a likable fellow, with some basic, sound conservative principles behind him. But two things really bother me about him: 1) his heading the Scooter Libby Defense Fund and 2) his ferociously argued insistence that Saddam Hussein posed a nuclear threat to the United States. One suggests excessive cronyism (Scooter Libby was hardly worthy of such energies) and the other intellectual laziness - two qualities we have learned of late to be particularly problematic in a president.

24 May 2007

Barack Obama Sucks

On the Senate floor yesterday, Obama condemned the one feature of the proposed immigration bill that actually makes sense: de-emphasizing family ties and using a point system based on skills in selecting who gets to immigrate. The "family reunification" policy is, of course, insane, as there is no benefit to America whatsoever of allowing someone to live in the country merely because a relative is already living here, and any immigration policy that is not based on what is good for America is insane.

So what's Obama's beef?
"The point system does not reflect how much Americans value the family ties that bind people to their brothers and sisters or to their parents," he said. "How many of our forefathers would have measured up under this point system? How many would have been turned back at Ellis Island?"
No, Americans do not value the ties to bind people to their brothers and sisters and parents - they value the ties that bind people to their spouses and children and to the community and the nation. Americans do not appreciate bringing over the aging parents of adult immigrants to burden our social services, or their sisters to have children out of wedlock or their brothers to join gangs - that's not quite what we mean by family values. And how many of "our forefathers" would have gotten in under family reunification? Certainly none of my ancestors nor Obama's father, that's for sure. I'd say precious few.

But it gets worse. He called the point system, which is intended to allow in a better class of immigrant than we've been getting lately, "a radical experiment in social engineering." The nerve - dare I say, the audacity - of this man. What, pray tell, would he call a policy that has succeeded in creating a population of 100 million - and half of all persons under 18 - who are officially classified as 'minority', qualifying for special protection and preferential treatment in college admissions and hiring? How does he characterize the overnight normalization of 12 million+ people who have violated our sovereignty, have limited grasp of English, and work at low skilled occupations? What would he call a policy that has resulted in millions of immigrants whose children graduate high school at a 50% rate and whose grandchildren are only able to earn about 75% of the general population's average? What was it we did when we created within our land an effectively separate population with its own language, cultural interests, and communication networks? I guess our current immigration policy, which has dramatically redefined our ethnic makeup, is not "radical experiment in social engineering" while an immigration system based on skills and language and which is used by just about every other country in the world is. What a creep.

22 May 2007

Feds: Brightest not Diverse Enough for Bravest

The US DOJ has filed suit against the FDNY charging that the written exam for screening out candidates is not job related and disqualifies too many minority applicants. As far as whether the test, which was given in 2002, is job relevant they may have a point in that 97.2% of white applicants passed! You've got to wonder what kind of skills such an exam could possibly test for if so many pass. But not so many minorities passed - 92.8% of Hispanic test takers passed while 85.6% of blacks passed. Those are pretty high numbers too, and so the FDNY probably thought they'd hit diversity pay dirt - a written test that minority candidates overwhelmingly pass. In the previous test given in 1999, 90% of white applicants passed while 61.2 % of blacks and 77% of Hispanics passed. Sounds like a big improvement, but statistically the results are only a small improvement. As a result, there wasn't much change in the ethnic make-up of the force. Only about 7.5% of firefighters are black or Hispanic.

Provided it requires some cognitive skills, it's basically impossible to design a written exam that won't show these kinds of disparities in test results. By making the test easier and easier, and eliminating questions that test logical or reasoning skills, as was obviously attempted here, you can close the gap somewhat, but the statistically significant differential, which the DOJ points to here, will remain. The DOJ argues that the test is not relevant to the job, which is about all they could argue at this point, since the test has been designed to be so easy that almost every white applicant passes.

Compare these test results to this analysis of the July 2004 Texas Bar Exam (which I chose because it showed up first in a Google search). Among first time test takers, 85% of whites, 69% of Hispanics and 53% of blacks passed. These results are very nearly statistically identical (measured in terms of z-score differentials) to the 1999 NYC firefighters exam. They also are similar to what we find with the SATs, NAEP assessments* - just about any written test requiring cerebral energy. As la Griffe du Lion has pointed out, it's one of the few things you can count on in the social sciences, but count on it you can.

The best way to get around this (i.e., if an organization wants to avoid getting sued while trying to measure smarts) is via credentialism. CPA's, Actuaries, stock dealers, and many others (including obviously doctors and lawyers) belong to professional societies whose membership requirements involve passing one or more relatively difficult written examinations. Organizations can then post jobs which require membership in these organizations, or a certain amount of progress in attaining it. This leaves the company off the hook for having to justify that the exam these professionals have passed is job related - they merely have to demonstrate that the profession itself is important. No such recourse is available in the case of the FDNY - so they'll have to fight it out in court. Hopefully, if the feds win, they'll prove to be right, or people's lives will be at stake.

* The gaps in standardized tests are usually a bit wider than we see with the Texas Bar exam or the firefighters exams, presumably because they require studying rather than reliance on purely cognitive skills, which levels the field a tad.

21 May 2007


The immigration debacle is getting me nuts, so I need to give myself a little breather and review some other stories in the news.

Whales Continue to be Confused
A mother humpback whale and her calf have turned back again towards Sacramento after making some good progress towards the sea. Despite their much vaunted navigational skills, whales don't seem much better than me at finding their way around once they've strayed from the familiar route. Even if they can get back on the right track, they still have to cross beneath several bridges, which are apparently puzzling obstacles for the cetaceans to navigate through. But it's futile to get too emotionally invested in their ordeal, since the stress will undoubtedly weaken them, which means that the calf is almost certain to be torn to shreds by killer whales once they reach the open water, as anyone who watches the Discovery Channel must certainly know.

Man Charged in Braun Mugging
According to the Chicago Tribune: A South Side man was charged Sunday with attacking former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun in April after she identified him in a lineup, Chicago police said. Which is odd, since usually the mugging comes first, then the lineup, but I guess they do things a little differently in the Windy City.

A Little Multi-Culti Tension up at Harvard
Lubos Motl provides the you-are-there commentary in his endearing Czech-inflected prose.

Leaders in Feud
In Nigeria, where the feuding is a bit more colorful than the pathetic little cat fight between Bush and Carter, the President and Vice-President are locked in a nasty war of words after the recent contested election. It's a little complicated, but from what I can tell the President is accusing the Vice-President of consulting occult advisers (marabouts) who have predicted the President's early death. The Vice President countered that "unlike [President] Obasanjo who uses Christianity as a smokescreen while engaged in occultism and diabolical acts, I am a devout Muslim who has always striven to live in accordance with the teachings of Islam." Now isn't that a lot more fun than the "You're the worst President ever" and "Yeah well you're irrelevant" silliness that poses as a feud here?

Right and Left Poles Apart on Immigration

While the anti-war right and anti-war left could, for examle, join forces on Iraq, there seems to be little common ground in the immigration debate. One might think that protecting American workers from cheap foreign labor would provide fertile ground for such a coalition, and indeed both the right and left oppose a guest worker program. But that's about the only area of common ground. The divide on the other issues is so great that I would suggest even the most preliminary discussion would be fruitless.

For example, Speaker Pelosi let her opposition to the bill be known, and as the Times reports chose to highlight one issue as being unacceptable: the question of who gets to come in to this country and who doesn't.

House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, expressed concern about a central element of the bill, under which the government would establish a point system to evaluate would-be immigrants, giving more weight to job skills and education and less to family ties.“I have serious objection to the point system that is in the bill now, but perhaps that can be improved,” said Ms. Pelosi, a California Democrat. She asserted that this part of the bill, ardently sought by the White House and Republican senators, could undermine “family unification principles which have been fundamental to American immigration."

Now my mind simply reels at this attitude. She objects to the bill because it no longer proposes that an immigrant to this country gets to bring in his entire extended family. What could be the basis for such an objection? It makes no sense to give a foreigner preference in becoming a permanent resident merely because he's the brother of someone already here. The only possible argument in favor of this would be that this is the most effective way to use immigration to increase the number of future Democrats. Perhaps there's some "compassion" angle there, but wouldn't it be more compassionate to hand out visas via a pure lottery - again, why does being someone's brother give you the upper hand? I just don't get. And this is not just a side issue being debated, the Speaker has pointed to this as a critical item holding back her approval.

The Times article quoted above focuses on business leaders' second thoughts about the bill they apparently helped craft. One problem is that the law requiring employee verification applies to every person employed, not just foreign workers. But of course - what were they thinking? How could you restrict your search to only foreign workers? That would require making assumptions about who's a foreigner and who's not, and that would be discrimination. So the only fair way is to check every single worker - just like you can't assume a terrorist looks like a terrorist, so you have to check granny's pocketbook before she gets to go into the stadium.

And apparently there's a risk that there won't be enough low-skilled immigrant workers under this bill - like there's not enough now! The article quotes a Commerce Department report that of the 10 occupations expected to see the largest job growth, only two require a college degree. That's heartening, isn't it? Quite a modern economy we have going here.

18 May 2007

Immigration Boosters - Who Are These People

The latest Senate betrayal bill (aka Comrehensive Immigration Reform), an example just how bad our congress can really be when Republicans and Democrats join forces, makes one wonder just who these people are - what kind of people willfully participate in the ruin of a nation? We are dealing with a wide variety of people, who are apparently much more willing to work together than those who oppose this particular route to our nation's destruction. [Note: some updates added 10pm 5/17.]
  • Rich Republicans - Nowadays "rich" cuts a much wider swath than it once did. It includes the country club type, who obviously benefit from cheap immigrant labor. Even years ago, if you needed to find someone who spoke Spanish the backrooms of country clubs were the places to look. But we can include others in the broad upper middle class, as well. Lanscapers and general contractors are clear beneficiaries of cheap labor, but middle managers can also join the club. They may see benefits to their companies of the semi-slave labor trade both here and abroad, plus the happy, smiling faces of the toiling immigrants they see cleaning offices and mowing lawns leave them thinking "What's the problem? These people are happy to work for peanuts!"
  • Rich Democrats - Again, nowadays this includes more than the classic "limousine liberal" of the 60's. Due to their financial resources, these people are able to insulate themselves from any real-life contact with immigrants outside the well-controlled master-servant environment (except when this insulation tragically breaks down). So for the well-off liberal, immigrants typically pose no immediate threat, and their ability to undercut American workers also assures the liberal that he'll not have to have contact with any white working class Americans, whom the liberal particularly despises, or black Americans, whom they fear.

    Another immigrant trait which endears them to up-scale liberals is the tendency not to graduate from high school. This means that Hispanics, while numbering in the tens of millions, do not pose a significant affirmative-action threat to the supply of coveted college admissions slots. Even immigrants' children only graduate high school at a 50% range. The liberal thus need not fear that immigrants will bring down their neighborhoods or disrupt their children's career goals.
  • Neoconservatives - Neocons support conservative policies but think like liberals. Thus, the capitalist-theory side of them argues that open borders must be good because the free flow of labor must be good because the free market is good. Meanwhile, the liberal mind set assures them that because all people everywhere are just like everyone else everywhere these new immigrants will be just as productive as the Jews and Italians who preceded them [I'd be happy if they were as productive as the Irish, but I'm afraid even that is way too much to hope for:)]. The reality, which show that our latest immigrants are woefully underproductive even out a few generations, is then blamed on liberal policies such as bi-lingual education, trade-union restrictions, and affirmative action, policies which, even if they could plausibly be argued to be behind their lack of progress, are unlikely to be changed any time soon. But the neocon, ever impervious to reality, persists in his deluded thinking.
  • Neoliberals - see Neoconservative, above, just reverse the poles.
  • Neomarxists - these include non-rich liberals (though there's a major instersect with rich liberals, as well). Neomarxists, like marxists everywhere, look far ahead (as opposed to the myopia of the Rich Repubs and Rich Dems) and like what they see: a radically changed America, one where white America is finally vanquihed in a sea of brown 'minorities' (vanquished, of course, only in the political sense - economically, they would be merely tamed, as the Euro-male teat must be kept ever filled for the masses to succor). Michael Moore is a classic neo-marxist.
  • Partisan Democrats - looking ahead a few years, these people see millions of new Democratic voters, probably enough to swamp the Republican party in another couple decades.
  • Free-Market Economists - similar to the Neocons in basing their views on a single-minded devotion to free-market principles, but with an important difference - they only care about economic arguments, and are completely indifferent towards such boarish conceits as national borders and shared cultural identities. Don Boudreaux might be the most extreme of these.
  • The Generally Clueless and Deluded - while not an organized group, there are enough of these to constitute a significant bloc of the apathetic when it comes to immigration to give the above conspirators a buffer against electoral punishment. Typical confusions are:
    • We all came from immigrants, so who are we to stop anyone from coming here? - Uh, we are the People and we get to self-govern and make laws about who gets to come here, that's who.
    • We need immigrants to pay for our social security when we retire - sorry, but millions of low earners ain't gonna cut it. Besides, who's to say millions of new immigrants are going to be too crazy about supporting millions of old white folks? I wouldn't count on it, gramps.
    • Immigrants are revitalizing our cities - Many white people find immigrants much less scary than black people, and so see immigrants as being safer. I hate to break it to these people, but immigrants are not pods that convert people of African ancestry into Hispanics - our black fellow citizens are not going away. Immigration is adding to our underclass problem, not replacing it.
  • Immigrants themselves - Hispanic activist groups are growing in power - witness their blatant tribal strong-arming of filmmaker Ken Burns. Not every latino believes in unfettered immigration, and Hispanics are obviously not monolithic. Pre-mariel Cubans, for example, assimilated pretty much according to the European model, and consider themselves "white." But our civil-rights regime, by its nature, accords great advantages to being a member of a minority, and so the strength in numbers effect is powerful and in the best interests of most Hispanics to promote. Alas, polarization is bound to increase - forever.
So we're up against a formidable coalition. The majority of Americans want to enforce our immigration laws, period, which is obvious from how politicians running for re-election speak. But those who favor the re-molding of America, whether from short-sighted desires to capitalize on near-term financial or political gains, or from seeking to benefit from a permanent shift in the balance of power in America (and the world) among ethnic constituencies, are generally those whose voices get to be heard. The best we can hope for is stalemate, for now, but as the balance of power continues to slowly tip, time is runing out.

15 May 2007

Why We Lost Iraq

According to Tom Friedman, that is. He outlines it today in his column ($) in the Times. The problem, he argues, can be traced to the Bush Administration's tendency to look for loyal Republicans in its hiring practices:
[W]hile the Bush team has been lecturing the Iraqi Shiites to limit de-Baathification in Baghdad, it was carrying out its own de-Democratization in the Justice Department in Washington...What kind of example does that set for Iraqis?
A very bad example, to be sure, considering how Iraqis - like all Arabs - surely look to America for their inspiration.
Only a united America could have the patience and fortitude to heal a divided Iraq — and we simply don’t have that today...They actually thought they could unite Iraq, while dividing America.
Makes sense, doesn't it? Clearly, the Sunni and Shia in Iraq, naturally disposed to coalition building and consensus government, saw a partisan White House and a divided America and decided that, against their better nature, they'd give tribal loyalty and internecine warfare a shot instead. Before reading Mr. Friedman's column, I hadn't realized that victory in Iraq was so close - or that signing up for Times Select would reap such rewards.

The Republican Debate

I just finished watching the Republican debate. It wasn't too painful, though there were moments I had to leave the room to avoid hearing some excrutiatingly embarrassing answers. Some observations:

Kudos to Ron Paul for standing up to Rudy's bullying. Rudy claims he never heard the explanation that the 9/11 attacks were in retaliation for our army being stationed in Arabia, even though that explanation was provided by bin Laden himself. It certainly makes a lot more sense as a motivation than hating us for our freedom and wealth and way of life.

Tom Tancredo didn't do terribly, but he really has a hard time getting to the point. He missed a big opportunity to make a powerful attack on "comprehensive immigration reform" by wasting about 30 seconds going on about "conversions" just to throw out a "Road to Damascus" vs. "Road to Des Moines" joke. He's blowing a golden opportunity to move the anti-immigration debate forward.

Duncan Hunter was fairly effective. I thought he gave strong, spirited responses, though probably not enough to break through.

As far as the big three, I thought they all held up well, and mixed it up a bit.

Unfortunately, Rudy comes off great in these forums, and this debate was not exception, particularly in his clueless but honest outrage at Ron Paul. This is too bad because I am certain that Rudy would make the worst president of all. If you think that George Bush has set a new standard for hiring incompetent flacks, Rudy can outdo him. Think Bernard Kerik. And his denial of ever even hearing that 9/11 was motivated by our military involvement in Arab lands, despite his close involvement in that tragedy, speaks volumes about his intellectual curiosity.

All in all, an entertaining hour and a half, a good job by the Fox moderators, and a rather depressing display of our political leadership.

09 May 2007

Greensburg Tornado Aftermath

Have you noticed how the only whining that's coming out of Kansas after the tornado's terrible devastation is coming from the state's Democratic governor? (To punctuate the point, listen to this NPR interview with an 80-year old survivor of the storm - in particular, her little prayer - priceless!)

07 May 2007

Teaching Evolution in Schools

What good is teaching evolution in school when your daughter tells you that, according to her teacher, human beings won't have pinkies thousands of years from now because we don't need them. My advice that she ask her teacher if she would marry a man missing his pinkie finger is unlikely to be followed.