Your Lying Eyes

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

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30 September 2007

'Not All of Them'

D-list comedienne (and lapsed-catholic) Kathy Griffin likes to tell how enjoys taunting her mother over the child-abuse scandal among the catholic priesthood, calling them "a bunch of kid f---ers." Her mother's retort? "Not all of them."

In Nassau County on Long Island (just east of New York City), law enforcement officials are up in arms because Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) just arrested 186 illegal immigrants in a raid centered around gang members. "Not all of them!" appears to be their response.
Nassau County officials today will call for a federal investigation into a series of antigang raids last week that resulted in the arrests of 186 immigrants on Long Island. They said that the vast majority of those arrested were not gang members and that local police were misled and endangered by the operation.
The magnitude of the horror - that the federal government dared to detain illegal immigrants who weren't gang members - is evident:
One of the arrests that drew protest was of the father of a 4-month-old whose mother was at work. Mr. Smith said that the father was not a gang member, but that another man living in his apartment in Westbury had been convicted of a robbery. He said when the father was taken into custody, he voluntarily left the baby in the care of others until his wife’s return.
Those ungodly beasts at ICE! You'd think they'd have made a point to ascertain the identity, life history, and spouse work schedules of the gang members' roommates before conducting such raids. How hard could that be? Nassau County officials have vowed that they won't be fooled again. "The police commissioner told The Associated Press on Friday that his officers would not cooperate again in such an operation." I'm sure the good citizens of Nassau County will sleep better knowing that their police will no longer help ICE track down illegal-immigrant gang members.

Brodhead Apologizes - Should Have Listened to AP?

The AP's Aaron Beard, who has been covering the Duke rape hoax incident since it happened, reports that Duke's president has apologized to the lacrosse players and their families for not better supporting the players early on. While "too little too late" is an obvious reaction, I'm more struck by this statement in Beard's report:
But even as Nifong won indictments against the players Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans, it became clear the charges had no merit.
Gee, Aaron, if you thought that way then, could you have maybe been a little more direct about it in your reporting? Shortly after the indictment, Beard filed a report on a study explaining Duke's allegedly inadequate and slow response to the incident. He does not provide even the slightest hint that the charges "had no merit," and, while quoting defense attorneys to provide balance, leaves every impression that the charges were not only credible but that Brodhead's only error was in not taking the charges seriously enough. And of course there was this gem:
The report said Duke's response was also limited by its lack of diversity in senior management; Brodhead and his core advisers are almost all white men.
I wonder if Brodhead, in addition to apologizing to the players and families, will rescind any "diversity" policies instituted as a result of this finding, since the white men around Brodhead appear to be the only ones down their who seemed to have gotten it right.

26 September 2007

Hillary's Lame Health Care Proposal

Alright, I admit it, I have not looked into her healthcare plan at all, and so only know what I've heard about it on NPR, which I think is enough. I don't like these "reforms" that merely make holding insurance mandatory with some subsidies to help make it more affordable - which subsidies would no doubt never be available to anyone we actually know - and tax credits that will be offset by other tax increases. These proposals don't really address the real "problems" with the current systems (the scare quotes are not meant to deny that there are problems, only that whether or not a particular problem exists is entirely based on one's own circumstances or ideological persuasion).

The problems with our current systems are as follows:
  • Inequities in coverage and delivery result in some people getting better care than others
  • Some people (usually marginally-employed young adults) prefer to take their chances without insurance, but no one expects them to do without medical care if they can't afford it
  • Privately purchased insurance can be hideously expensive for some people with poor health histories, or for people with low incomes
  • Health care of some sort will be provided in many cases no matter what, so the cost of the uninsured is spread out among the general population in some manner
  • Health insurers need to aggressively control their costs, which (besides incurring significant additional administrative costs in and of itself) results in refusals to cover many procedures that doctors and patients feel are necessary
  • The competetive nature of the insurance industry (combined with the uncertain causality behind most illnesses) provides little incentive for insurers to cover or encourage preventative treatments
  • Providing health insurance to their workers puts American businesses at a disadvantage when competing with companies from nations with public financing of health care (i.e., pretty much the world)
Similar problems to the above exist in other insurance businesses, but unlike life insurance or property and casualty, medical care is considered by most people to be a "right" - something that cannot fairly be denied.* Life insurers, for example, manage to aggressively weed out high risk clients - or charge them many times the rates charged to healthy insureds - without even a peep from a single Democrat. Health insurance is a different animal entirely. And so we are at the point where health insurance must be reformed.

But the situation we have now, for all its drawbacks, is the result of the continuous and unseen adjustments and refinements of the free market - the system of market pricing and profit motive that works everywhere else in the economy. True, there are a number of market distorters in the healthcare business - the god-like status of doctors, the lack of information available to consumers, rampant interference from government - that makes this system sub-optimal. But within these restraints, we can expect that the system - as it is set up - is functioning the best that can be hoped.

Which means it's a bad idea to tinker with it, to try to "tune it" so to speak. It can't be done - the government cannot "tinker" and hope to make things work smoother. Basic regulation - pollution controls on smokestacks, for example - can be enacted because it simply lays down an exogenous constraint that the market can work around. But if the government decided that factories needed to run more efficiently and proceeded to prescribe certain work procedures - that would be disastrous (though granted, given the decimation of our manufacturing sector of late, it could hardly have been much more disastrous).

So if reform is inevitable - and I believe it is - what's needed is to tear the whole system apart. Not the part about medical school and licensing - though maybe some changes can happen there - but the whole concept of a private health market. We need to basically establish Medicare for all, and do away with private insurance and private funding of insurance. Many - perhaps most - will suffer some degradation in their medical services - but that's inevitable anyway given the unsustainable increases in health costs. If we are to insist that everyone has access to quality health care, what's the point of having multiple health insurers to administer it, with their armies of clerks to monitor primary-physician referrals and deny preventive care treatment? Even assuming much lower government-employee productivity, the administration costs will be less under the single-payer system.

I'm cautiously optimistic that government run health coverage will not be disastrous primarily for one reason: you never really hear Europeans or Canadians complain about their systems, and people love to complain about their government. Oh, sure, you read some horror stories in conservative journals, but I've talked to a number of actual real-life middle class Europeans, and they have nothing bad to say about the health-care system they live with. And of course foreign corporations don't have to pay for their workers' health care, giving them an advantage over U.S. businesses. Tinkering with our current systems won't help that.

Of course the U.S. is neither Europe nor Canada, and we have demographic issues that could challenge such a system, namely large self-identified dependent classes which will exacerbate resentments between those who view themselves as supporting the system and those who view themselves as entitled to it. But is it much better now with Medicaid and the use of emergency rooms for routine care?

So that's why I oppose Hillary-style reform, and would prefer either to keep it as it is (with perhapse some tax credits to encourage voluntary purchase of insurance) or a single-payer systems - i.e., Medicare for all. The only thing that bothers me about supporting a single-payer system is that it means I agree with Paul Krugman.

* Although with P&C it sometimes treads into this territory, as with the controversial denial of coverage to Katrina flood victims - controversial despite the clear wording of the signed contracts. Auto insurance can be a hot topic, as well, and is usually mandatory, but the cost is much lower and the American car, as mythologized as it is in our culture, is not considered a "right" by the left, who consider it more of a vice.

Steve Sailer's review of Michael Moore's Sicko.
Krugman's NYRB article, where he strangely blames all the problems on "adverse selection," a problem in insurance generally.
Economist Robin Hanson's proposal that we cut medical spending (and care) in half.

24 September 2007

Rot in Hell, Krugman!

Read this disgraceful column by Paul Krugman on the "Jena 6" farce. What an ill-informed, sanctimonious little bastard. I hope and pray that 6 thugs surround you, you little shit, beat you to a pulp, stomp on your head, and continue to kick you while you lie unconscious on the ground! You cowardly little bastard. Maybe then you can walk into the local VFW Post (like you'd have a clue where that might be) and tell the guys there how they lost Vietnam.

Despite the obvious anger displayed above, I find the whole Jena mess terribly depressing. We have moved squarely into Orwellian mode without the government having to lift a finger. I fear that the blogger Mencius's outlandish theory of who actually controls us, the Polygon, to be all too plausible. But in a world where the act of running through the streets and burning down your own neighborhood is called a "rebellion," not a riot, what should I expect?

I just watched Al Sharpton on FoxNews' morning show where he was asked about the recent video showing a beating of a white kid at the hands of several black kids in Norfolk and was asked if he would support the family of this victim. Sharpton assured them that if the family asked he would indeed talk to them to ascertain whether his organization needed to be involved, it doesn't matter if they're black or white. That's all the 'conservative' edge of the media wants - that if national racial hysteria is to result from local encounters between races, we at least acknowledge that racism can happen on both sides - if we must stamp out racism, let's by all means stamp it out everywhere!. No need to actually question Sharpton (a very frequent FoxNews guest) on the fundamental accuracy of his portrayal of the events in Jena - no need for facts to intrude on a good story. If we are to have madness, then let the madness reign free!

20 September 2007

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Thuggery

Down in Jena, Louisiana, they're some real bigoted, narrow-minded folk. They seem to think that when 6 people gang up on another, beat him unconscious and kick and stomp him on the ground, that's a serious crime deserving of serious punishment. The national media knows better, and has been on a crusade to depict this incident as the second coming of the Scottsboro Boys. But it only shows how decrepit the civil rights movement has become.

If there is any outrage in this case, it is about the common prosecutorial conduct of piling on multiple versions of the most serious criminal charge conceivable in order to force a plea out of overwhelmed plaintiffs. Rather than simply charging the boys with aggravated battery, which is what this clearly was, the prosecutor charged them with attempted murder and conspiracy. Prosecutors do this all the time with all defendants - white, black, rich, poor, man, woman - and it ought to be stopped, in my opinion.

But the outrage isn't about this practice. Just what it's about I'm really not sure. There were clearly some racial tensions brewing at the high school, leading to a dispute over who could sit under a disputed tree - white kids or black kids. But look at how the media naively portrays this dispute:
In September 2006, a black student asked the vice principal if he and some friends could sit under an oak tree where white students typically congregated. Told by the vice principal they could sit wherever they pleased, the student and his pals sat under the sprawling branches of the shade tree in the campus courtyard.
Of course it didn't happen that way - I have no idea what exactly went down, of course, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't quite like that. At any rate, 3 white students - two of them pretty serious losers, it seems, and pretty un-intimidating ('doofuses' is one's first impression) from their pictures I saw on CNN - hung nooses from the tree. Because they weren't expelled - they were suspended 3 days and required to attend sensitivity training - many in the black community were sore. Two of them eventually dropped out of school, anyway. A couple minor incidents occurred over the next 3 months, but nothing serious until this beating.

What this seems to be about is the growing assertiveness of the civil rights community - think Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson - to have veto power over the prosecution of blacks alleged to have committed crimes against whites and to be able to demand prosecutions of whites who are thought to commit crimes against blacks. We see this in not just the Duke rape case but also in the prosecutions of police for using deadly force on the job as well as in the wrist slappings handed out in the heinous beatings of two white girls on Halloween in Long Beach. Using organized protests and throwing around the "R" word, activist can easily intimidate most politicians, prosecutors, and judges into seeing things their way. No, the civil-rights movement ain't what it used to be.

Which, as I have argued before, explains Rudy Giuliani's popularity. Everybody in the country knows that he told these people to eat shit and stood his ground, much to the enmity of the civil-rights community. This is indeed admirable in the man. Unfortunately, it may be his only admirable quality.

See also Chris Roach's take on this. Here's CNN's Roland Martin attempting to explain what it's about. Read his ramblings and tell me he isn't essentially validating my assertion above. CNN has really been on the 'cutting edge' of this issue, airing an astonishingly credulous "Special Investigation" last evening.

10 September 2007

We Will Fight Them on the Street

The Sunday Times Magazine featured a discussion with Giuliani, the theme being the basis for his appeal among Republican rank-and-file. It touched on what I think is the real basis for his appeal, which is his willingness to tell Al Sharpton (and the other assorted race-hustlers and apologists) to eat shit, but didn't come close to being that blunt. On Chris Matthews Sunday show, the half-circle jerk of pundits were trying to understand how the homo-loving, gun-fearing, abortion-funding Rudy could be so damn popular in South Carolina, of all places. Not one of them mentioned Al Sharpton's name. Here's the closest they came [link will expire soon]:
MATTHEWS...why's Rudy still number one? What is going on here? Can he beat these heartland conservatives?
MrR. GREGORY: He's just sticking with the argument that `I'm going to be tough, every bit as tough as this guy was, but I'm also going to be competent. I'm the guy who ran New York City and ran it well.'

MATTHEWS: Every election's a correction for the previous mistakes we make as
voters. Do you think the voters want to go to more testosterone, more tough
guy talk?

Ms. BUMILLER: No. But...

MATTHEWS: So why's Rudy selling that?

Ms. BUMILLER: Well, it's--for those of us who've covered him in New York as
I did, it's still--it's--we're all quite surprised. But I think he's working
because, right now, the Republican, the conservatives in the Republican Party
are more divided than they've ever been, and it doesn't matter as much, so far
it looks like, from the polls about, you know, where you stand on the issues
like abortion and immigration.
MATTHEWS: The way I hear it, I hear the rumor, in fact, I get some sources
that tell me that Rudy's plan--actually is a plan now--come in at least third
in Iowa, come in second in New Hampshire, and win big in your state, South
Carolina. Can he carry this tough guy talk into the--into the South?

Ms. PARKER: Absolutely. We're hot--we're big on testosterone. We really
like it down there. And no, he's very, very popular in South Carolina and is
way, way ahead of everybody else. As for some of the issues that people think
are of concern, there is no single issue anymore that's going to disqualify a
candidate. It really comes down to security and electability.
What Republicans in South Carolina like is the idea of a New York mayor who defends some cops who got a little skittish when a black guy reached into his back pocket and unloaded they're 38's before the guy's wallet hit the ground. That's the security they're thinking about. They figure a guy who can stare down that kind of pressure in a place like New York City must have nerves of steel.

Rudy's got nerve, no doubt about it. And in New York, he understood the basic problem plaguing the city: crime, and a polity that could not punish criminals and a demoralized police force. He provided the police something that a demoralized workforce always needs to lift their spirits - some real work to do. He had them start arresting people, for anything and everything, and backed them up each step of the way. Pretty soon the city was cleaned up, and minority (and minority-pandering) politicians lost much of their zeal. City politics got down to mere power-grabbing between the "haves" and the "want what they haves." The "haves," who actually vote, have been winning ever since.

But how does this translate to the national stage? Poorly, I think. It's quite a contrast to read about Rudy's Churchillian delusions in the NY Times Magazine article and then Greg Cochran's interview in According to the NY Times article,
Giuliani sometimes refers to himself in campaign speeches as “an expert on terrorism,” someone who has been studying its emergence for 30 years. Part of Rudy’s obsession with Winston Churchill, other than the flattering comparisons from which he benefited after Sept. 11, is that he sees himself as the same kind of lonely figure that Churchill was in the “Gathering Storm” years before World War II — a politician long driven to make people understand the gravity of the peril they face, no matter how his enemies may caricature him for it. “The mayor is getting close to a Churchillian moment, where Churchill is just being denounced and spat upon,” says Charles Hill, a former career diplomat who teaches at Yale and leads Giuliani’s foreign-policy group. “Every intellectual and artist and all the nobility are just dumping on Churchill, and he says: ‘No. You’ve got to stick with it. You’ve got to see the Nazis for who they are.’ ”
Here's Cochran:
I think that most people writing about international politics don't have much useable history. They keep making the same two analogies (everything is either Munich or Vietnam) because they simply don't know any other history, not that they really know much about Vietnam or WWII either.

I also think that they have zero quantitative knowledge. Comparisons of Saddam's Iraq and Hitler's Germany used to bug me, since Germany had the second largest economy in the world and was a real contender, while Iraq had the fortieth largest GNP and didn't have a pot to piss in.

I once assumed people were deliberately lying, but now I think that they simply don't have any quantitative picture of the world at all. One, two, three -- many! In the same way, people who equate the dangers of jihadism with that of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union really don't know big from small, don't know anything about the roots of national power. I think most writers and columnists are innumerate, just like the average American. Perhaps more so. If they could count, why the hell would they have gone into opinion writing?
Meanwhile, as the Republican candidates tilt at jihadi windmills, the Democrats are actively encouraging the most serious threat facing America today - a bilingual, dual citizenry.

05 September 2007

Oh No! The Morlocks are Putting Lead in the Children's Toys!

Yet another recall of Chinese-made toys due to excessive lead in the paint. So what are we going to do about it, other than much whining and gnashing of teeth? We're on our way this year to another record trade deficit with our favorite free-market Communists, and they now hold about a $trillion of our assets, so there's not much we can do about it.

But not too fear, Senator Dick Durbin, numero dos Democrat, is on the case. His solution? Mass inspections. What a brilliant response to this competetive challenge - an army of civil servants! Nothing will put those industrious Chinese in their place better than hoardes of American bureaucrats inspecting their merchandise. All those engineers who can't find jobs, have them inspect those toys - it's a perfect fit! We are doomed.

03 September 2007

The Lesson of the Larry Craig Incident - Updated

Update: Andrew Sullivan has his say (see below).

The lesson of the Larry Craig incident is most certainly not that unless we pass gay rights laws and legalize gay marriage homosexual men will be forced to engage in these kinds of anonymous, clandestine sexual encounters. Remember the David Vitter case? Try this on for size: as long as heterosexuals do not have equal rights, and heterosexual marriage remains illegal, straight men like David Vitter will be forced to hire prostitutes or engage in one night stands to satisfy their urges.

Many men seem to prefer multiple, anonymous sexual encounters. Or perhaps most men prefer this - but due to their sense of morality, or responsibility, or innate shyness, or fear of disease, or fear of wrecking an existing monagamous relationship, they do not act on it. My guess is that this applies to both homosexuals and heterosexuals. Homosexuals have the additional temptation that this anonymous sex can often (usually?) be had with no monetary charge - for example, in a public bathroom stall.

Larry Craig seems to have enjoyed his family life, or at least the image of his family life - faithful, supportive wife, beaming chidren of his seed. He could not have occupied such a world in a homosexual relationship - even in a legal marriage. Andrew Sullivan, for example, may well be perfectly satisfied in his monagamous relationship. But if he weren't, he'd have to cruise around for sex in shadowy encounters, lest his partner find out about it, or such activity sully his reputation (and that of the gay-rights cause).

So draw your own lessons from this sordid affair, but to think that legalizing gay relationships will eliminate such behavior is just silly.

Andrew Sullivan is back from vacation and naturally has some interesting commments. But he makes the very mistake I would have predicted:
That's why women and social norms are the main historic constraints on male sexuality. And why, with gay men or straight men who don't care who's blowing them, the social norms, like civil marriage, are even more important. But the Christianist right wants no social acceptance of gay relationships and no random sex either.
As pointed out here in the comments, Sully himself has exhibited some untoward behavior despite being already openly gay. How will being legally "married" make any difference? Who's going to care if a homosexual is faithful to his partner or not? Oh yeah, just imagine it: "John was a pillar of the community, beloved for his lifelong devotion to the community and to his partner of 25 years, Bill. But then John was accused of soliciting sex in a rest stop on Route 80 and it all came crashing down..." Sorry, I don't buy the "social norms as constraint" argument here.