2005 October 31 Monday
MS-13 Gang Uses Deportation As Free Trips Home For Visits

Members of the Hispanic gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) use deportation as a handy way to get back down to El Salvador and visit with family and recruit more gang members before heading north again with their new recruits.

Of the 70 passengers, at least four are members of Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, a gang formed two decades ago near MacArthur Park west of the Los Angeles skyline.

For one of them, Melvin "Joker" Cruz-Mendoza, the trip is nothing new. This is his fourth deportation — the second this year.

Wiry with a shaved head, the 24-year-old pleaded guilty in separate felony robbery and drug cases in Los Angeles. "MS" covers his right forearm. Other tattoos are carved into the skin above his eyebrows.

In the last 12 years, U.S. immigration authorities have logged more than 50,000 deportations of immigrants with criminal records to Central America, including untold numbers of gang members like Cruz-Mendoza.

There's something obviously wrong and highly fixable with this picture.

"I think most of the police departments will agree that you're just getting them off the street for a couple of months," said FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker, who is coordinating investigations across North America, where the gang operates in a loose network of cells.

Deportations have helped create an "unending chain" of gang members moving between the U.S. and Central America, said Rodrigo Avila, El Salvador's vice minister of security.

How about trying felons for violating the law? Get deported as a felon. Come back the United States. Get caught. Go to jail for 5 years. Second time? 10 years. Third time? Longer still. This is not rocket science. It is basic law enforcement. Punish people for breaking the law. In fact, the law already exists for doing this:

After serving little more than a year in jail, Cruz-Mendoza was deported for a third time in January, records and interviews show.

U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested him in Arizona a month later. At that point, he could have been charged with a felony for reentering the country after deportation, which could have landed him in federal prison for as long as 20 years.

Law enforcement is a strong point with conservatives. The Bush Administration's failure to properly enforce immigration law even against felons is yet another piece of evidence that Bush is a faux conservative.

MS-13 members deported to El Salvador use their visits there to recruit more gang members and bring the gang members back north into the United States with them. So weak US border control and weak enforcement of immigration laws against repeat illegal entrants combined with deportations are together supporting the MS-13 membership recruitment operation.

The deportation revolving door is helping to feed the MS-13 franchise expansion operation into areas of the United States that do not have MS-13 cells. Your taxpayer dollars at work:

The move to the East Coast came after members met to work out which U.S. regions would be open to the new Salvadoran groups. With Southern California already claimed by existing cells, members agreed that Salvadoran branches could move to other parts of the U.S., according to gang members and U.S. law enforcement officials.

The article claims that the Washington DC area has 5000 MS-13 members. The franchise expansion is obviously proceeding apace while the Bush Administration and members of the US Senate continue to look for ways to pass a new immigration amnesty. Read the whole article. It is disgusting that the governing elites of the United States of America are letting this happen.

Update: An article by Al Valdez, an investigator for the Orange County District Attorney's office provides many details about Mara Salvatrucha.

Most of the Salvadorian refugees settled in the established Hispanic neighborhoods of the "Rampart" area of Los Angeles. However, Salvadorians were not readily accepted into the Los Angeles Hispanic community, and were frequently targeted by local Hispanic gangs. As a result, in the late 1980s, some refugees and refugee members of La Mara and FMNL formed what is now known as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS) street gang in Los Angeles. Like many other street gangs, MS initially formed for protection, but quickly developed a reputation for being organized and extremely violent. MS membership continues to be fed by refugees from groups like FMNL.

Since its inception in California and Washington, DC, Mara Salvatrucha has expanded into Oregon, Alaska, Texas, Nevada, Utah, Oklahoma, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Canada, and Mexico. MS is unique in that, unlike traditional U.S. street gangs, it maintains active ties with MS members and factions in El Salvador. Mara Salvatrucha is truly an international gang.

Valdez says the MS-13 people send M-16s from El Salvador (where the rifles are cheaper) to the United States (where the rifles are more expensive). They also ship hand guns from the US to El Salvador because hand guns are harder to get there. So MS-13 are international traders who look for arbitrage opportunities and who try to make markets more efficient.

Looked at in this light the movement of MS-13 members into the US to spread out into every corner of America is an attempt to make criminal labor markets more efficient. Criminals are underutilized in El Salvador because there is not enough to steal and not enough people to brutalize and defraud. Libertarian Open Borders advocates should reflect upon some of the undesirable consequences of unfettered labor markets.

Update II: Mara Salvatrucha is also becoming more horizontally integrated and hierarchical in management structure.

Until recently, MS-13 wasn’t that big a player in East Coast gang culture. The reason for its weak position in the East Coast crime world was obvious: It wasn’t very well organized. MS-13 was comprised of a group of cliques that operated independently of each other.

No more. Law enforcement officials now report that gang members from across the country have come together to unite affiliated groups up and down the East Coast. The leadership for these cliques is now coming from as far away as California and even from El Salvador.

Robert Hart, senior agent in charge with the FBI, says that when individual groups of MS-13 unite, the results can be devastating. “The cliques, instead of operating independently of each other, are beginning to come together,” Hart explains. “The difference is by doing that, obviously you have a much tighter organization, much stronger structures and, instead of having various cliques doing whatever they want, wherever they want, there is one individual who is the leader and is able to control the payment of dues and the criminal acts they engage in. The result is very, very similar to what you would see in what we refer to as traditional organized criminal families.”

I know a guy who thinks Hispanic immigration is like Italian immigration and therefore fairly benign. Well, El Salvadoran immigration is looking more and more like Sicilian immigration.

Update II: In Central America the governments use tactics against the gangs that currently would not pass constitutional muster in the United States.

Honduran President Ricardo Maduro still has bitter memories of how his own son was kidnapped and killed by gang members in 1997, and has ordered a "zero tolerance" crackdown on gangs in his country. A law passed by the Honduran legislature makes illicit association a crime -- in other words, anyone looking like a gang member is arrested as a suspect.

El Salvador has a similar law, called the "Mano Dura," or Firm Hand, and now the "Super Mano Dura." But some human rights activists and even a former Honduran police commissioner, Maria Luisa Borjas, criticize the crackdown tactics as extreme and repressive.

But let the Hispanic gang problem get big enough and the populace of the United States will increasingly demand reinterpretations of the US Constitution to make harsher law enforcement tactics legal. The public will sacrifice freedom for safety. Open Border libertarians advocate a policy that will lead to conditions that will cause the American populace to put safety ahead of freedom.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 31 07:39 PM  Immigration Crime
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John Burns On Sunni Trojan Horse Joining Iraqi Security Forces

John Burns of the New York Times reports that the Sunnis may be joining the police and military in order to undermine the Iraqi government from within.

Rising Sunni recruitment into the new security forces could just as easily portend the opposite of what the Americans hope. American officers have acknowledged that the 200,000 soldiers and policemen trained under the $11 billion force rebuilding program include some, perhaps many, who are insurgent infiltrators, just as others have proven to be agents of the Shiite militias.

Like Sunni political participation, some Iraqis say, the surge in recruits could reflect little more than a decision by Sunni hard-liners to oppose the American enterprise in Iraq from within, as the insurgents have opposed it from without. When hard-line Sunni leaders say the earlier boycott of politics was a mistake, these Iraqis warn, what they may mean is that they had forgotten the lessons of the Trojan horse.

The Sunnis are unwilling to accept the idea that after centuries of Sunni rule the political order will reverse itself and Shias will rule.

A common test is to ask Sunnis whether they will accept Shiite majority rule. Sunni politicians, like ordinary Sunnis, are generally evasive. Some say it will never come to that, because secular politics uniting Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds will prevail; most, employing an expedient arithmetic of their own devising, say that a Shiite majority is a demographic myth, so the issue doesn't arise.

Burns reports that the Sunnis believe the Sunni insurgents are winning their war, that the US will withdraw, and then the Sunnis will defeat the Shias and Kurds. But anyone who accepts the more optimistic interpretations of events in Iraq offered up by many war supporters should demonstrate their faith in the rosy scenario and be ready to heed Ayatollah Sistani's coming call for a withdrawal of US forces. In the optimistic view if the Shias think they are ready to handle the Sunnis then, by golly, they are ready.

The optimists want us to accept their optimistic interpretations of events in Iraq. Okay, I'm ready. Lets call their bluff and argue that, yes indeed, the Iraqi military is a force to be reckoned with and the Iraqi people see the Iraqi government as legitimate. They are ready to fight on their own. Their people support them. When the call from top spiritual leader Sistani for US withdrawal comes in 2006 that call should be heeded with alacrity. Why stand in the way? The Iraqis are ready.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 31 02:09 PM  MidEast Iraq New Regime Failures
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Israel West Bank Barrier Cost Put At $3.67 Million Per Mile

A July 7, 2004 article puts the cost of the Israel West Bank barrier at $1.56 billion.

In all, the complex of fences, concrete walls, trenches and razor wire is to run 425 miles and is one-fourth complete. It will cost Israel about $1.56 billion. Work had been scheduled to be finished by the end of next year.

That works out to $3.67 million per mile. To build an equivalent high security barrier along the almost 2000 mile US-Mexican order would therefore cost in the neighborhood of $7.34 billion.

An October 31, 2005 story puts the Israeli barrier at nearly 3/4ths complete with about 10% waiting for the outcome of court cases in Israel. Completion is expected at the end of 2006. Already the barrier has greatly decreased the frequency of terrorist attacks in Israel leading to a recently foiled Palestinian attempt to smuggle rocket construction specialists from Gaza to the West Bank.

In some sections the Israeli barrier is a layer of fences and sensors. In other areas it is a 25 foot high concrete wall. If anyone comes across detailed cost information on the per mile cost for each type of barrier section please post in the comments or send me an email.

These cost figures do not change the conclusion of my previous post "One Year Of Illegal Alien Health Care Costs Would Pay For Border Barrier".

By Randall Parker 2005 October 31 01:52 PM  Immigration Border Barrier
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US-Mexico Border Violence Doubles Against Border Patrol

The US Border Patrol is getting attacked much more often this year.

At least 687 assaults against agents were reported during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, up from the previous year's total of 354 and the highest since the agency began tracking assaults across the Southwest border in the late 1990s, according to Border Patrol officials.

If the United States built a border barrier along the entire length of the border that was far more substantial then fewer would try to cross and the violence would decline. Half-way measures will be contested. Effective measures would intimidate the bulk of the smugglers out of trying to cross at all.

Gunshot incidents are rising rapidly.

In Tucson and San Diego, the most violent sectors, agents reported being shot at 43 times — up from 18 the previous year. No agents were killed, but three were shot in the leg. At least 20 more were hospitalized, many with head injuries from rocks.

Officials interviewed by the LA Times reporter claim the violence is a response to tougher border enforcement.

"They're feeling they have to fight their way through now," said Agent Jim Hawkins, a spokesman for the agency's Tucson sector. "We're taking their livelihood away from them, so they're getting angry and desperate."

A border barrier along the entire US-Mexico border would solve this problem. Using Israel's West Bank barrier as a guide the cost would be between $2 bilion and $8 billion.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 31 01:34 PM  Immigration Border Control
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2005 October 30 Sunday
Sistani Wants US Troop Withdrawal From Iraq

Here's the best news I've heard since the United States invaded Iraq. Hamza Hendawi of the Associated Press has the scoop:

NAJAF, Iraq -- Iraq's top Shiite cleric is considering demanding a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. and foreign troops after a democratically elected government takes office next year, according to associates of the Iranian-born cleric.

If U.S. officials and their coalition partners do not comply, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani would use peaceful means such as mass street protests to step up pressure for a pullout schedule, according to two associates of the cleric.

I see this as a positive development. The US could withdraw with assurances from the Shiites that the Shiites can handle the Sunni rebellion on their own. The war camp in the US could declare a victory for their strategy. They could support a US pull-out without having to admit huge mistakes in strategy. Their continued delusion could be a price worth paying to end the $6 billion dollars per month cost, the deaths of US soldiers, and the maimings and permanent injuries of US soldiers. It would also reduce the ability of Sunni extremists to mobilize recruits for jihad.

A call from Sistani would be hard for the United States to ignore.

Vali Nasr, an expert on Shiites who lectures on national security affairs at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, Calif., said al-Sistani's intention to call for a withdrawal timetable has been an "open secret" for some time.

"He will not do it in an anti-American way, but in a pro-Iraqi way," Nasr said.

Ahmed S. Hashim, a professor of strategic studies at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I., said a public declaration by al-Sistani "will leave us without any legs to stand on in Iraq."

"But if we are made to withdraw prematurely, the country will plunge into civil war," said Hashim, who has visited Iraq several times since 2003.

George W. Bush ought to take this as an opportunity for "peace with dignity". He could claim that the US was not retreating and that the Iraqis have decided they can carry on without further US help. Declare success and withdraw.

Thanks to Greg Cochran for the tip.

Update: Modest proposal for British Prime Minister Tony Blair: Send a secret emissary to meet with Sistani's associates to relay a British request to be asked to leave Iraq. Blair needs a way out of Iraq. It has become a huge political liability for him. Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani could save his political skin by providing him with the leverage he needs with the Americans to exit Iraq.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 30 01:37 PM  Mideast Iraq
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War Costs Falling More Heavily On Older And Married Soldiers

Most Americans do not know anyone who has died in Iraq.

Unlike Vietnam, when young men faced the draft, where every family knew someone who was serving or had dodged the draft -- and unlike the world wars when almost every adult was in some fashion involved in the war effort -- Mr. Bush's open-ended war on international terrorism has scarcely touched most Americans. There are no war-bonds drives, no recruiting posters, no shortages.

Americans are 10 times more likely to know a young adult between 21 and 35 who has been murdered than they are to know someone who has been killed in Iraq.

Accidental drowning kills about as many in the same age group every year as the conflict half a world away.

For Americans, the war in Iraq has now lasted a third as long as the Vietnam War.

That similarly far-away and controversial conflict killed 58,000 Americans -- 19 a day for nearly a decade -- or about 228 for every million Americans. By contrast, only seven U.S. soldiers are killed in the current war in Iraq for every million Americans.

The point about a greater likelihood of knowing someone who was murdered does not apply equally across all sections of society. Since blacks murder and get murdered at several times the rate of whites they are even more likely to know someone who was murdered as compared to someone who died fighting in Iraq. However, among whites the ratio of likelihoods is probably much less than 10 to 1. In some rural white subpopulations from low crime areas (thinking of the northern plains states and New Hampshire) that are near average in IQ I would not be surprised if they were more likely to know people who died in Iraq than who died from murder in the United States.

Young soldiers are much more likely to be married than same age civilians.

Soldiers aged 20 to 24 are twice as likely to be married as their civilian counterparts, said Charlie Moskos, professor emeritus of military sociology at Northwestern University.

"The sadness is the same whether it's a 19-year-old or a 39-year-old dying," he said. A higher percentage of married men are being killed right now than there were in Vietnam, he said, but "if anything, the parents suffer the most in these kinds of wars. The loss of a family member, whether it's a teenage son or a middle-aged husband, is equally traumatic."

The all-volunteer nature of the force also decreases public opposition to the war in Iraq.

"The difference between an all-volunteer force and a draft force is tremendous," said Professor Ernest May, a Vietnam historian at Harvard. Although people understand the tragedy of military deaths in Iraq, he said, they know these are "people who volunteered, who put themselves in harm's way. That in itself means a lower level of public attention."

David Segal, director of the Center for Research on Military Organization at the University of Maryland, sees the use of an all-volunteer force and the heightened dependence on National Guard and Reserve units as "an interesting test of whether the all-volunteer force can, in fact, sustain large, drawn-out conflict. While it hasn't fallen apart yet, the feeling is that it was not designed to do that and it's not doing it well and that's why we're using the reserve component in ways they weren't intended to be used."

The casualties in Iraq are older.

On average, casualties in the Iraq war have been about three years older than those killed during the Vietnam War. But that slight change disguises a more fundamental statistical shift: In Vietnam, nearly half the service members killed were 20 or younger. In Iraq, fewer than 1 in 5 of the dead have been that young. There have been commensurate increases in the rates of death in Iraq among U.S. service members in their 20s, 30s, 40s and even 50s.

The war still is not sustainable in the long term. Recruitment is down. So the all-volunteer force is going to be harder to staff. Also, as more die and come back maimed a growing fraction of the population will know someone who died or was injured.

82% of Iraqis want US troops to leave. So the war is even less popular in Iraq than it is in the United States. In spite of staffing up, training, and deployment of Iraqi military units and in spite of development of equipment, tactics, and intelligence aimed at degrading the insurgency the US and British daily death rate has not trended downward. The Panglossian argument for the war becomes steadily less plausible.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 30 11:27 AM  Mideast Iraq Costs
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The Demographic Battle For Kirkuk

An excellent article in the Washington Post (and well worth reading in full) provides an excellent survey of Kurdish attempts to demographically retake Kirkuk and the surrounding region in order to make them part of a future independent Kurdish state.

KIRKUK, Iraq -- Providing money, building materials and even schematic drawings, Kurdish political parties have repatriated thousands of Kurds into this tense northern oil city and its surrounding villages, operating outside the framework of Iraq's newly ratified constitution and sparking sporadic violence between Kurdish settlers and the Arabs who are a minority here, according to U.S. military officials and Iraqi political leaders.

The rapidly expanding settlements, composed of two-bedroom concrete houses whose dimensions are prescribed by the Kurdish parties, are effectively re-engineering the demography of northern Iraq, enabling the Kurds to add what ultimately may be hundreds of thousands of voters ahead of a planned 2007 referendum on the status of Kirkuk. The Kurds hope to make the city and its vast oil reserves part of an autonomous Kurdistan.

Saddam Hussein deported large numbers of Kurds from the Kurdish region he controlled and at the same time he shipped in Sunni and Shia Arabs. Since Saddam's fall many Arabs have been leaving (and some have been scared into leaving) while the Kurdish political parties have simultaneously been using cash from the regional government units to pay to resettle Kurds from central and southern Iraq into areas which they consider to be part of their Kurdish homeland. This is demographic war over how large the Kurdish autonomous region will be and whether the Kurds will eventually manage to secede entirely from Iraq.

The Kurds probably need to add perhaps two hundred thousand Kurds to swing Kirkuk firmly into the Kurdish sphere. But to the extent that they manage to drive out Arabs they can reduce the amount of Kurds they need to add.

Kirkuk's precise demographic makeup is a source of dispute, but Kurds are believed to represent 35 to 40 percent of the population. The remainder is composed primarily of Arabs, ethnic Turkmens and a small percentage of Assyrian Christians.

The Kurds, saying they have a historical claim, hope to anchor Kirkuk to Kurdistan, their semiautonomous region. Kirkuk holds strategic as well as symbolic value: The ocean of oil beneath its surface could be used to drive the economy of an independent Kurdistan, the ultimate goal for many Kurds.

If the non-Kurdish politicians have their numbers right then the outcome of Kirkuk's referendum is already been determined.

Arab and Turkmen politicians said as many as 350,000 Kurds have been relocated into the Kirkuk region since Hussein's fall.

Once US troops leave Iraq willl the Kurds formally secede or just pretend to be part of Iraq while de facto seceding? In either event, will the Arabs wage civil war to keep the Kurds in Iraq? Or will the Sunni and Shia Arabs be too busy fighting each other to bother with the Kurds? How is this going to go down?

The problem with formal secession is that it increases the odds that the Turks will intervene. Turkey does not want an independent Kurdistan because the existence of a Kurdish state might embolden the Turkish Kurds to renew their struggle to secede from Turkey.

By themselves I do not see the Arabs in Iraq putting together a military force effective enough to put the Kurds under the thumbs of the Arabs. But might a future Iraqi government ally with Turkey to jointly invade the Kurdish region? Or will the Turks restrain their desire to invade a Kurdish state because such an invasion would almost certainly torpedo their efforts to join the European Union?

By Randall Parker 2005 October 30 10:28 AM  Mideast Iraq Ethnic Cleansing
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Single Mothers Have Poorer Marriage Prospects

Nothing surprising here.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Women who have children outside of marriage are less likely than other single women to marry, and when they do marry, their husbands tend to be less well-matched, according to a new study.

The results show that the odds that unwed mothers marry rather than cohabit are about 30 percent lower than those of childless single women.

When they do marry, mothers are more likely to have husbands who are significantly older and less educated than those of childless women.

“It's more difficult for unwed mothers to get married, and if they do, they tend to not marry well,” said Zhenchao Qian, co-author of the study and associate professor of sociology at Ohio State University.

The results suggest that efforts by the federal government and states to promote marriage among young, poor Americans need to do more to prevent out-of-wedlock childbearing, Qian said. He conducted the study with Leanna Mellott, graduate student in sociology at Ohio State, and Daniel Lichter, professor at Cornell University .

I bet those single childless women are seen as better catches on average even before considering their lack of children. Part of their poorer marriage prospects stem from the fact that women with illegitimate children tend to be dumber, less educated, and lower wage earners on average. Still, most men see existing children as a liability when looking at a single women. So these results are at least partially due to that simple fact.

For example, the study showed that single mothers were less likely than childless women to marry a man with at least some college education. That suggests unwed mothers are unlikely to improve their economic prospects through marriage, she said, because potential husbands are less likely to have opportunities for good-paying jobs.

That is not entirely true. Even if their husband earns low wages those wages would be added to the wages of the woman. Also, a second parent in the household would provide extra labor for child care so that each parent could more easily manage to go to work and still have the kids looked after. Sometimes that is accomplished by having the two parents work different times of the day and days of the week.

In addition, a white woman who had children outside of marriage was more likely to marry a man who was significantly older – at least six years older – than she. That wasn't the case for Black and Hispanic women, but only because they were less likely than whites to be married at all, Qian said.

“Our analysis suggests that Blacks and Hispanics may be less likely to marry or cohabit because they face shortages of potential spouses,” he said. “If they had been married or living with someone, they would likely have husbands or partners much older than themselves.”

Of course, part of the problem for most of these women who have children out of wedlock is that even if they didn't have illegitimate babies their marital prospects would still be bleak. Still, illegitimate children do make their lives and their prospects even poorer.

The United States as a whole would be much better off in the long run if reproduction outside of marriage became as stigmatized and punished as it used to be in the early half of the 20th century. We all pay for illegitimate births in higher taxes, higher crime, and in other ways. We'd be better off if single women had fewer children and had those children much later. At the same time, we'd be better off of smarter married women had more children. This sort of talk is taboo in the mainstream media. But that taboo does not make the facts any less true.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 30 09:53 AM  Human Nature
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Loss Of Libby As Aide Will Weaken Cheney

Part of the influence of US Vice President Dick Cheney derived from his indicted aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby's ability to work the bureaucracy for information.

Cheney allies were sprinkled across the bureaucracy, even in the State Department, and they helped keep Libby in the information loop. After Wolfowitz left the administration to become president of the World Bank, the number three spot at the Pentagon was given to Eric Edelman, once Libby's deputy in Cheney's office.

"His staff intervened at select but critical junctures when they thought State was going to push policy off track," said one Cheney ally who works elsewhere in the administration.

Bush's top people and their neoconservative aides and neoconservative allies in the press and think tanks are the authors of the Iraq debacle.

Here's the first praise of Condi Rice I've read that has substance behind it: She blocks Cheney.

The power of the vice president's office appears to have diminished somewhat in Bush's second term, in part because of Libby's legal troubles and also because Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has proven to be an effective counterweight, administration officials said. But Cheney remains extremely powerful, in part because of the effectiveness of Libby, who ran a small but talented staff that kept its pulse on the bureaucracy. At key moments, Libby or Cheney would weigh in, often tipping the scales in the direction they sought.

You go girl!

Will Cheney's weakening in any way change the course of events in Iraq? Does Libby's indictment make a US withdrawal from Iraq any more likely? The US death toll in October 2005 is running well above the war's average. So much for the idea that government Iraqi soldiers are shouldering more of the burden of fighting. If they are then the insurgents are growing more effective faster than the Iraqi military. What's Cheney's explanation for this? How does Bush explain it? Well, they just ignore the basic facts.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 30 08:46 AM  Politics American Domestic
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2005 October 29 Saturday
Immigration Issue In Virginia Gubernatorial Race

In a very close gubernatorial race the Republican candidate is accusing the Democratic candidate of being soft on illegal immigration.

RICHMOND, Oct. 28 -- Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry W. Kilgore unveiled a television ad Friday evening that focuses on immigration and blasts Democrat Timothy M. Kaine for supporting taxpayer-financed day-laborer centers and in-state tuition discounts for undocumented immigrants.

Kaine's campaign responded immediately, saying that the commercial misrepresents the lieutenant governor's views.

Kaine claims he's against in-state tuition for illegals. But he makes an exception for children brought here by their illegal parents. Well, er, those children are probably the bulk of those illegals seeking to get in-state tuition. So Kilgore's claim sounds pretty accurate.

The important point about this report is that immigration is becoming an issue in election races and candidates see the pro-illegal immigration label as an electoral liability. As long as immigration does not become an election issue wealthy people with vested interests in cheap labor can buy politicians to lower immigration barriers. But the broad public wants less immigration, not more. In close races immigration is going to pop up more in reaction to increasing public unhappiness about elite contempt for popular views on immigration policy.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 29 06:57 PM  Immigration Politics
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2005 October 28 Friday
President Of Iran Calls For Destruction Of Israel

Wannabe nuclear power Iran wants destruction of existing nuclear power Israel.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared Wednesday that Israel is a ``disgraceful blot'' that should be ``wiped off the map'' - fiery words that Washington said underscores its concern over Iran's nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad's speech to thousands of students at a ``World without Zionism'' conference set a hard-line foreign policy course sharply at odds with that of his moderate predecessor, echoing the sentiments of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of Iran's Islamic revolution.

But would future Iranian leaders try to use their own nukes to destroy Israel? Or would they hide behind the protection of their nukes to allow them to step up efforts to support terrorists against Israel? What would a nuclear Iran do? Or, rather, what will a nuclear Iran do?

Zionist regime, hundreds year war, blah blah blah.

"The establishment of Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world," Mr. Ahmadinejad said, the news agency reported. "The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of the war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land."

Referring to comments by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic revolution, Mr. Admadinejad said, "As the imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map."

He probably believes what he's saying.

Don't go signing treaties with Israel or righteous Muslims will overthrow your government.

Mr Ahmadinejad warned leaders of Muslim nations who recognised the state of Israel that they "face the wrath of their own people".

He added: "Anyone who signs a treaty which recognises the entity of Israel means he has signed the surrender of the Muslim world."

Remember the Cold War where the opposition adhered to a ridiculous secular ideology based on glaringly huge wrong assumptions about human nature? That was no fun at all. There's seemingly no limit to the delusions that humans will jump on and believe in. Will genetic engineering to raise IQs make this problem any less? Surely, conventional religiosity will decline and with it a lot of the enthusiasms for jihad that we see among some true Muslim believers. At the same time, knowledge about human nature will become so detailed that a lot of ideologies will become provably wrong just using neuroscience and genetics. But will smart people start dreaming up very dangerous ideologies that suck in other smart people even once the old myths fall before the advance of science?

By Randall Parker 2005 October 28 10:00 AM  MidEast Iran
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2005 October 27 Thursday
Allan Wall Calls For National Guard On US Border

Serving with his Texas Army National Guard in Iraq Allan Wall argues for use of National Guard units to secure the US border with Mexico and stop the illegal alien influx.

I think it's a great idea. An excellent idea. An idea whose time has come. Many of the tasks necessary to secure the U.S. border are the same tasks we are already performing here in Iraq. They could be carried out just as easily (and less expensively) on our own borders. Here in Iraq, National Guardsmen are patrolling 24/7, logging thousands of miles in armored humvees. Why can't they do the same on our own borders?

In Iraq, Guardsmen secure defensive perimeters, they man guard towers, they operate UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). They do surveillance in the dark with night-vision equipment. Why can't they do the same on the borders of their own country?

Currently, Guard units are being called up on 18-month deployments to Iraq and other places. Why can't they be deployed the same length of time to guard the border? When a Guard unit is not deployed, guardsmen train a total of about 40 days a year, one weekend a month and a two-week "annual training" period. Why not rotate National Guard units in and out of border duty for their yearly "training" period?

A unilaterial withdrawal of US troops from Iraq would free up all those soldiers to do border control for the United States. All that equipment deployed in Iraq could then get shifted to the US southern border. While those soldiers were deployed along the Mexican border the US government could fund construction of a border barrier that would gradually reduce the need for troops.

While the National Guard can not (according to Allan) act like police and pick up illegal aliens the Guard could do all the patrolling and spotting so that the Border Patrolmen themselves could just go from place to place using the directions of Guardsmen.

Enforcement of the US southern border would greatly reduce the illegal alien influx and therefore save taxpayers lots of money and improve the quality of life in the United States. Effective border enforcement would reduce the illegal drug flow. One beneficial side effect would be a slowing and possibly even a reversal of the slide of Mexico into a corrupt lawless narco-state. That would provide security and quality of governance benefits for both the United States and Mexico.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 27 04:14 PM  Immigration Border Control
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Early 20th Century Progressives, Eugenics, Minimum Wage

Over at Marginal Revolution Alex Tabarrok says early 20th century progressives advocated a minimum wage for women only in order to promote their eugenic goals.

Progressives, including Richard Ely, Louis Brandeis, Felix Frankfurter, the Webbs in England etc., were interested not in protecting women but in protecting men and the race. Their goal was to get women back into the home, where they belonged, instead of abandoning their eugenic duties and competing with men for work.

Unlike today's progressives, the originals understood that minimum wages for women would put women out of work - that was the point and the more unemployment of women the better!

Are today's progressives dumber than the progressives of a hundred years ago? Or are today's progressives more brain washed by the accumulated lies of politically correct ideology? My guess is the latter. People have become more unrealistic because public discussions are conducted under taboos that prevent honest discussion of obvious truths.

Alex is reacting to a paper by Princeton academic Tim Leonard: "Protecting Family and Race: The Progressive Case for Regulating Women's Work."

Seems to me these progressives who were pursuing eugenic goals made a fundamental mistake. To the extent that a minimum wage would keep some women home and pregnant it woud tend to have a dysgenic effect. Why? Because a minimum wage would reduce labor market participation of dumber women more than smarter women. Dumber women are more likely than smarter women to have their market wage fall below the minimum wage. Very smart women will still go off to work at higher paying jobs which their cognitive abilities enable them to do. Dumber women will get locked out of the labor market given a sufficiently high minimum wage.

A maximum wage for women only (and mind you I'm not advocating this) would be far more eugenic than a minimum wage. But a maximum yearly income would be even more eugenic. Smart women would, on average, work a fairly small fraction of the time to achieve their maximum income, freeing them up for child-rearing duties. Whereas dumber women would, again on average, work many more hours to achieve their maximum allowed yearly income.

To the extent that dumber women get locked out of the job market by a minimum wage that creates conditions that create support for the welfare state. Any woman whose husband died, became ill, or left her who was also locked out of the job market could be left in a position of being unable to support herself. At the same time, the welfare state encourages reproduction among those who have the least earning power in the job market. No need to spend time at work? The state will pay for your babies? Some (though not all) women will have more childen under those circumstances.

The progressives probably lost the ability to use state power to coerce for eugenic goals when women gained the vote. However, when DNA sequencing costs fall far enough to demonstrate in undeniable ways that genetic variations cause large variations in cognitive ability I predict the political Left will once again take up eugenic politics. I expect most of us will live to see progressives promote the use of state power to achieve eugenic goals in order to uplift the poor with genetic engineering and with restrictions on reproduction by those who refuse to use genetic engineering to have smart babies.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 27 11:03 AM  Human Nature
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2005 October 26 Wednesday
Wal-Mart Wants Healthier And Cheaper Workers

The New York Times got hold of an internal Wal-Mart memo on benefits costs written by Wal-Mart executive vice president for benefits M. Susan Chambers. Read their new article on the memo. Also, after telling Wal-Mart they have the memo Wal-Mart furnished the Times with the final memo version that went to the Wal-Mart board of directors: (PDF format)

Growth in benefits costs is unacceptable (15 percent per year) and driven by fundamental and persistent root causes (e.g., aging workforce, increasing average tenure). Unabated, benefits costs could consume an incremental 12 percent of our total profits in 2011, equal to $30 billion to $35 billion in market capitalization.

Wal-Mart's benefits costs are growing faster than their sales. Wal-Mart believes its least productive workers are most likely to stay in their jobs.

While Associates are satisfied overall with their benefits, they are opposed to most traditional cost-control levers (e.g., higher deductibles for health insurance). Satisfaction also varies significantly by benefit and by segment of Associates. Most troubling, the least healthy, least productive Associates are more satisfied with their benefits than other segments and are interested in longer careers with Wal-Mart.

I wonder how they measure "least productive".

They want to change jobs in order to attract healthier workers. One way to do that would be to inject physically demanding tasks into more jobs so that less healthy workers decide to leave or to not apply in the first place. See further below for that proposal.

Redesign benefits and other aspects of the Associate experience, such as job design, to attract a healthier, more productive workforce.

Of course a younger workforce is a healthier and therefore cheaper and more productive workforce. But the Wal-Mart worker population is aging more rapidly than the American population:

Our workforce is aging faster (0.50 years per calendar year) than the national average (0.12 years per calendar year).

Our workers are getting sicker than the national population, particularly with obesity-related diseases. For example, the prevalence of coronary artery disease in Wal-Mart’s population grew by 6 percent compared to a national average of 1 percent, and the prevalence of diabetes in our population grew by 10 percent compared to a national average of 3 percent. (That said, our workforce is no sicker at present in absolute terms than the national population.)

Wal-Mart does not believe its workers become more productive with time. Makes sense. The tasks to perform in a retail store are fairly simple and rapidly mastered. Yet Wal-Mart pays their longer term employees more and those employees also cost more in benefits. For example, the longer term employees are older and hence use more medical benefits. Also, those more likely to be unhealthy are less likely to leave Wal-Mart.

Moreover, because we pay an Associate more in salary and benefits as his or her tenure increases, we are pricing that Associate out of the labor market, increasing the likelihood that he or she will stay with Wal-Mart.

Oh heavens! They pay their longer term workers more and therefore those workers can't make as much by switching jobs. Therefore those workers stay with Wal-Mart and drive up benefits costs! The audacity of these workers, responding to economic incentives created by their employer.

Wal-Mart is feeling the heat from the increased costs state governments are shouldering for Medicaid.

Moreover, federal and state governments are increasingly concerned about healthcare costs, and many view Wal-Mart as part of the problem (a view due, in part, to the work of Wal-Mart’s critics). Medicaid costs are a major priority on most governors’ agendas; already a quarter of states are spending more than 25 percent of their budgets on Medicaid, and observers across the political spectrum assert that the current system – with spiraling costs, a large population of uninsured, and an increasing number of medical bankruptcies – is unsustainable (although there is little consensus on what should take its place). In this environment, we can expect efforts like those in Maryland (which is trying to mandate that companies spend a certain percentage of revenue on healthcare) and New Hampshire (which requires health services to track where Medicaid enrollees are employed) to accelerate.

A large percentage of children of Wal-Mart employees are on Medicaid or are medically uninsured.

We also have a significant number of Associates and their children who receive health insurance through public-assistance programs. Five percent of our Associates are on Medicaid compared to an average for national employers of 4 percent. Twenty-seven percent of Associates’ children are on such programs, compared to a national average of 22 percent (Exhibit 5). In total, 46 percent of Associates’ children are either on Medicaid or are uninsured.

The children who are uninsured end up showing up in emergency wards seeking care. We pay. In the United States cheap labor is subsidized labor. Low paid Wal-Mart employees aren't making enough to pay the taxes that fund schooling or medical care of their kids.

Wal-Mart wants to drive off unhealthy workers by injecting more outside manual labor requirements into all job descriptions.

Design all jobs to include some physical activity (e.g., all cashiers do some cart gathering);

Offer savings via the Discount Card on healthy foods (e.g., fruits and vegetables);

Offer benefits that appeal to healthy Associates (e.g., an education offering targeted at students).

Reductions in retirement benefits combined with increases in educational benefits would tend to pull in more younger workers and fewer older and less healthy and more expensive workers.

I wonder what Wal-Mart's position is on Bush's half-baked foreign worker permit proposal. Such a proposal should hold considerable appeal for American corporations because the workers would all be temporary. After several years of gradually rising costs from employing such workers a company like Wal-Mart could say "Oh sorry, we'd love to keep you but your temporary worker permit has expired and you have to go back to Mexico or El Salvador". A huge workforce of workers who have to leave after a fixed amount of time would allow US corporations to avoid higher costs associated with longer term workers. Though as I point out at that previous link, such a program would work much different in practice than it is proposed to work in theory.

Imagine the United States government functioning as a corporation setting immigration policy with the same cut-throat view toward the bottom line that Wal-Mart uses to modify benefits packages and drive off and attract employees. Also imagine that all state and local governments effectively were subsidiaries so that their costs and revenues showed up on a consolidated financial statement for the federal government. US immigration policy would get reformed over night with the goal of driving off the low revenue (i.e. low income earning potential) and high cost (tendency to commit crimes, have illegitmate children, etc) immigrants while at the same time attracting the highly profitable (likely to earn high incomes and generate low costs) immigrants.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 26 01:45 PM  Immigration Economics
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2005 October 25 Tuesday
Lynching Culture Leads To High Old South Violence Today

The southeastern area of the United States has a higher rate of white violence than the northeastern United States. A couple of sociologists propose that the same cultural factors that supported lynching in days gone by also cause more violence today.

Two University of Iowa sociologists have combined historical and sociological data to arrive at a new theory explaining the disproportionate violence in the southern United States, as compared with the North. The South's legacy of lynching, they say, has contributed to a culture in which violence and taking the law into one's own hands are considered appropriate means of resolving disputes.

Matthew P. Zevenbergen, a UI graduate student in sociology, and Robert D. Baller, assistant professor of sociology, collaborated with Steven F. Messner of the University at Albany-State University of New York on what they believe to be one of the first detailed, quantitative studies focused on a historical aspect of a criminological phenomenon. The study was published in the August 2005 issue of the American Sociological Review, the leading journal for the field of sociology.

"For decades we've searched for some proxy measure of culture to explain why Southerners on average are more violent than Northerners," Zevenbergen said. He believes that history suggests a partial answer.

The authors looked at data from 10 southern states for which reliable information on the incidence and prevalence of lynching is available: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. They compared lynching rates with current statistics on homicide rates in these states, using data from the FBI and the National Center for Health Statistics.

Mapping the areas in which the rates for both historical lynching and modern-day homicide rates are highest showed a strong correlation, though not perfect overlap, they found. Subsequent statistical tests, that controlled for known covariates, supported the relationship present in the comparative maps.

"Homicide rates in the latter decades of the 20th century were very high in the Mississippi Delta. Less extreme but high rates can also be observed along a path extending from North Carolina through Georgia, the northern parts of Florida, and the southern parts of Alabama," the authors note. "Extreme lynching activity occurred in roughly the same areas."

The violence that characterized the so-called "era of lynching," roughly the end of Reconstruction to the beginning of the Great Depression, created a culture of acceptance and even celebration of brutality among white people, the authors hypothesize. The same violence led to "self-help adaptations" in the black population, they suggest. Unable to rely on law enforcement for protection, black residents in the South developed various tactics to help and protect themselves and their families, often meeting violence with violence. Thus, acceptance of violence was prevalent across racial lines.

The authors theorize that these cultural attitudes and behaviors are maintained through the generations as children learn from their parents and grandparents how to respond to challenges and threats, leading to a regional culture in which violence is expected and accepted, Zevenbergen said.

"Through socialization, children in the South are raised to be more self-help oriented," he said. "They are taught to stand up to bullies and solve problems with fistfights. We posit that this behavior, which has its roots in a brutal historical era, demonstrates the impact that lynching still has on Southern culture."

Anyone think this explanation makes sense? I suspect the factors that caused the lynching culture predated it. So we are really looking at a common cause to both phenomena.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 25 10:39 AM  Culture Compared
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2005 October 24 Monday
Iraq In Civil War As Poll Shows 82% Of Iraqis Want Coalition Troops Out

Past and potentially future Prime Minister of Iraq Iyad Allawi says Iraq is in a civil war.

Closely allied to the United States and British governments, Mr Allawi, 60, is the most senior Iraqi politician to have said that civil war has become a reality.

His comments, in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, will cause deep concern in Washington and London. "This is one of the stages of civil war we are right in now," he said. "What you have is killings, assassinations, militias, a stagnant economy, no services. With the help of the world, we must try to avoid moving further and deeper into these stages."

He said that while suicide bombs grabbed the headlines, the murder of Sunnis by Shia groups and vice versa was more significant and ominous. "On a daily basis there are assassinations and liquidations. In Jordan, I was told that the official figures of Iraqi students trying to move to Jordanian universities is 14,000. We have an exodus of doctors from Iraq. These are all the ingredients of much wider problems."

Shiite security forces are operating death squads against Sunnis.

BAGHDAD -- Britain's envoy in Baghdad urged the Shiite-led Iraqi government yesterday to mount an inquiry into reports that its security forces are operating clandestine death squads against minority Sunnis.

The call by Ambassador William Patey came after a week in which a journalist for a British newspaper was abducted by men driving a police car (he was later released) and a defence lawyer in the Saddam Hussein trial was shot dead by men claiming to be from the Interior Ministry.

The absence of Sunnis in Iraq's southern city Basra has not prevented a decline into lawlessness. Basra is controlled by Shiite militias and the chief of police does not trust most of his police force.

Once a relaxed riverside getaway, Basra has slipped under the rule of fundamentalist Shiite militias with strong ties to Iran. The city has only 2,500 to 3,000 police officers, and several times that number in the province, while estimates of militia ranks have reached as high as 13,000 in Basra and its environs.

In recent months, lethal attacks on British forces and other rising violence in the city — including the murders of an Iraqi employee of The New York Times, Fakher Haider, and of a New York journalist, Steven Vincent — have shattered a convenient myth: that no matter how brutal the Sunni insurgency became, the Shiites in Basra would keep the city relatively peaceful, overseen by the soft touch of British forces.

So much for the theory that only the Sunnis are a problem.

The British are increasingly attacked by the Shiite militias.

And new details of last week's violence have highlighted what many long suspected: Basra has fallen under the control of a cabal of renegade police commanders who have enforced a reign of terror in the city.

It was these commanders, with close ties to radical Shia militias, who held the two SAS soldiers in their headquarters at Basra's Jameat police station and probably orchestrated the violence that followed.

British soldiers involved in the operation to rescue the two men say they were surrounded by up to 3,000 demonstrators.

They were then attacked by a well co-ordinated core of between 500 and 1,000 who damaged 13 Warriors, setting eight ablaze with petrol bombs.

Hostility toward British troops around Basra is rapidly increasing.

But in the past 10 days, despite that happy vignette, the cheery "salaam alaikums" that used to greet the soldiers have disappeared. You can feel the hostility in the market.

"The British have turned into terrorists," Fahed Jaber, a trader, said. "They have become Americans. Before, they were our friends; now we see them as occupiers."

This is a view almost universally held in Basra since soldiers stormed a city police station to rescue two SAS troopers arrested last month.

The British Sunday Telegraph has gotten ahold of a secret poll of Iraqis done by the British Ministry of Defence which shows that Iraqis strongly oppose the presence of US and British forces in Iraq and 45% support attacks against US and British troops.

• Forty-five per cent of Iraqis believe attacks against British and American troops are justified - rising to 65 per cent in the British-controlled Maysan province;

• 82 per cent are "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops;

• less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security;

• 67 per cent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation;

• 43 per cent of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened;

• 72 per cent do not have confidence in the multi-national forces.

How about a popular referendum in Iraq on whether the US and British should pull out? If we are really for respecting the democratic will of the people then shouldn't we abide by the results of such a referendum?

Retired general and former head of the US National Security Agency William E. Odom argues the worst that could happen after a US withdrawal from Iraq is already happening.

If I were a journalist, I would list all the arguments that you hear against pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq, the horrible things that people say would happen, and then ask: Aren't they happening already? Would a pullout really make things worse? Maybe it would make things better.

Read Odom's full article. He directly addresses all the major arguments against a US and British withdrawal. I find his case convincing. Though I've been for unilateral withdrawal for a couple of years now.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 24 01:32 PM  MidEast Iraq Opinion Polls
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2005 October 23 Sunday
Way To Reduce Physical Junk Mail In United States

An article in the Washington Post reviews ways to stop unwanted fax calls, other solicitations, and junk physical mail.

To opt out by mail and at no cost, send a postcard or letter containing your name, address and signature to: Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, N.Y., 10512. To register online at the DMA's Web site costs $5. Either way, you remain on the DMA's do-not-mail preference file for five years and then must re-register. Typically it takes about three months for the junk mail to dwindle. But the junk mail never stops completely.

Then there are the junk calls. Check out the US FCC Do Not Call Registry which you can register for at a web page. That's a fast thing to do. The confirming email messages come quickly once you've registered and then you just click on each one for each phone number to activate your entries. Though note a number of exemption categories prevent a complete cessation of junk calls.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 23 09:36 AM  Life Regular
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2005 October 22 Saturday
Harriet Miers Questionable Land Sale Deal

When the Texas state government wanted a slice of Miers family land at a Superfund clean-up site for a highway off-ramp a friend of Harriet Miers was chosen to sit on a panel to determine how much money the land was worth.

The resulting six-figure payout to the Miers family in 2000 was despite the state’s objections to the "excessive” amount and to the process used to set the price. The panel recommended paying nearly $5 a square foot for land that was valued at less than 30 cents a square foot.


Texas law says that in condemnation cases, a judge must appoint three “disinterested” special commissioners to hear evidence, determine the “injury or benefit” of the state’s action to the property owner, and rule on what, if anything, the state should pay for the property.

But there was an accumulation of shared interests - dating back years - among several of the parties that assembled in state District Judge David Evans’ courtroom to settle the Miers’ case.

Campaign finance reports in Dallas show that Miers’ law firm, Locke Purnell Rain & Harrell, had contributed at least $5,000 to Evans’ political campaigns between 1993 and 2001. That included a $3,000 contribution in 1998, the year before the Miers’ condemnation case appeared in Evans’ court.


One of the three commissioners whom Evans appointed to hear the case was Peggy Lundy, a close professional friend and political ally of Miers.

Crony capitalist George W. Bush (who made his wealth as a front man to get taxpayer funds to pay for a sports stadium that made Bush and his associates rich) wants to appoint a crony to the US Supreme Court. But I so do not want the United States to be governed with Latin American style government ethics. That way lies ruin. That way lies corruption.

The Bush dynasty is a pox on America.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 22 08:38 PM  Politics American Constitution
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2005 October 21 Friday
No Lie Left Behind Fails To Produce Educational Miracle

One of George W. Bush's faith-based initiatives, the piece of educational legislation called No Child Left Behind (more accurately labelled No Lie Left Behind), No Child Left Behind has not helped to improve test scores in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests.

WASHINGTON – The national report card is in for No Child Left Behind, and the results are mixed: American fourth- and eighth-graders are continuing hard-won gains in mathematics, but are still struggling, or even losing ground, in reading.

That's the big picture from the 2004 National Assessment of Educational Progress, the "gold standard" for testing, released Wednesday. Under the 2002 No Child Left Behind law, national and state report cards are required every two years as an indicator of whether students are learning basic skills - and how schools may need to adjust to make sure they do.

The rate of improvement of math scores slowed.

Reading scores among fourth- and eighth-graders showed little improvement over the past two years, and math gains were slower than in previous years, according to a study released yesterday. The disappointing results came despite a new educational testing law championed by the Bush administration as a way to improve the nation's schools.

Most troubling for educators are the sluggish reading skills among middle-school students, which have remained virtually unchanged for 15 years, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which administers the federal test and bills itself as the "nation's report card."

There's that troubling problem for simple minded politicians that the rate of progress was faster before No Lie Left Behind.

By some measures, students were making greater gains before the law was put into effect.

"The absence of really bad news isn't the same as good news, and if you're concerned about education and closing achievement gaps, there's simply not enough good news in these national results," said Ross Wiener, policy director of the Education Trust, a group that seeks to bring attention to the needs of poor and minority students and has consistently supported the federal law.

But Bush's faith remains unshaken.

Mr. Bush, meeting with Education Secretary Margaret Spellings at the White House, said he was pleased with the test. "It shows there's an achievement gap in America that is closing," Mr. Bush said.

A simple mind might think that NCLB has caused the slowing of the rate of test score improvement.

From 2000 to 2003, before the federal law took full effect in classrooms, the percentage of fourth graders scoring proficient in math rose eight percentage points, compared with four points this year, Mr. Jennings said, and the percentage of eighth graders proficient in math rose three points before the law, compared with the one-point rise this year.

The law has as a goal the closure of the proficiency gap by 2014. But projections of current trends show that the date is unrealistic. Perhaps we just need to learn patience and wait 200 years.

Fourth-grade math students showed some of the most rapid progress in closing the achievement gap between black and white students, Mr. Kingsbury said. Extrapolating from those results, he said, black and white students would probably be performing at equal proficiency levels by 2034. Other results, like eighth-grade reading, suggest it will take 200 years or more for the gap to close, he said.

All this talk assumes that the performance gap is even closable using better teaching methods. I believe that the closure of the proficiency gap solely depends on offspring genetic engineering for enhanced cognitive capabilities. When will such biotechnology become readily available, cheap, and commonplace? Some years after that point the gap might cose. But even ready availability of the means to add intelligence-enhancing alleles to offspring is not a guarantee that all races will use the technology equally. So there's no guarantee the gap will ever close.

The Bush Administration is arguing that immigrants with a lack of English language proficiency are keeping down progress in reading. Well, certainly that's a contributing factor. A President who was really worried about that problem might even decide to stop the influx of immigrants who can't seem to attain a high level of English language proficiency. But we know that Mr. Bush has other priorities. However, if only immigrant language proficiencies were holding back reading improvements we would expect on a state level we'd see progress in states that aren't seeing much in immigration. But all tested states had no progress or got worse in reading.

At grade 8, no state had a higher average score in 2005 than in 2003, and 7 states had lower scores.

More effort put into raising the scores of less bright kids has hit a point of diminishing returns. Those kids are not going to start functioning at the level of bright kids. Therefore the gap between the races and between the economic classes will remain and progress will slow further. Bush's educational policy is guided by the politically correct view of racial differences in cognitive ability as laid down and enforced by the inequality taboo. As long as America's discussion of education is founded on falsehoods about human nature unrealistic policies will get enacted to pursue impossible goals.

The results from Connecticut are typical.

At the fourth grade level, the disparity between rich and poor was evident. According to the results, only 14 percent of Connecticut's economically disadvantaged students scored at or above the proficient level for reading, while 48 percent of their economically well-off peers reached the same level. That gap has persisted since 1998.

Meanwhile, the performance gap between whites and minorities on the eighth grade reading test has endured. While 42 percent of white students scored at or above the proficient level, only 11 percent of black students and 13 percent of Hispanic students reached the same goal. Fifty percent of Asian/Pacific Islander students were proficient or better.

Check out graphs on 4th and 8th grade math and reading scores over time. Note the "Accomodations Permitted" for handicapped people starting in 1996. That provides an additional way for schools to puff up their scores. The 8th grade scores strike me as more important because 8th graders are closer to the final product level of knowledge at the end of 12 grade or at the point where kids drop out of school.

Press emphasis on small fluctuations and increases in scores distract from a more important deeper pattern. Comparison across races is best done using standard deviations rather than the misleading changes in absolute percentage differences that the national politicians and the press prefer. The standard deviation differences between the races change little across decades. As long the standard deviation differences remain outside mainstream public policy discussions about educational outcomes and race the vast bulk of the public policy debates will take place based on a foundation of lies.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 21 07:25 PM  Education
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Ethiopian Jews Doing Poorly In Israel

Ethiopian Jews are a big financial burden on Israel.

Each Ethiopian immigrant costs the government about $100,000 over the course of his or her lifetime, according to government estimates.

I'd like to see figures on educational attainment for their children as compared to the Ashkenazi Jews, Mizrahi Jews, Arab Muslims, and Arab Christians. Also, some IQ tests comparing the groups would provide useful insights. But the accurate measures of the truth makes the truth that much harder to deny. So I can understand why the Israeli government might prefer to remain ignorant.

They have high rates of single parent households and higher rates of crime.

The Brookdale survey, based on interviews with about 15,000 Ethiopian residents in eight Israeli cities, offered several findings that are distressing Ethiopian activists. According to the survey, as much as 30% of the Ethiopian family units are single-parent families. Also, more than half of the households that have children under 5 — especially those with large families — do not have any games, toys or books.

The Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews has been tracking crime among Ethiopians since 1996, when Ethiopian juveniles committed 139 crimes. This accounted for 1.2% of all opened police files that involve young perpetrators. In 2004, Ethiopians accounted for 4.1% (933 of 22,839) of juvenile crimes — double the proportion of Ethiopians in Israel's overall youth population. The issue drew national attention this past May, when a 16-year-old Ethiopian boy allegedly murdered a 15-year-old girl from the town of Rehovot. Police said the suspect, who was on an unsupervised vacation from a juvenile detention center, was in a drug-induced state when he assaulted and killed the girl.

The Israelis are going to keep bringing in Ethiopian Jews because they identify members of their ethnicity by religious criteria. But the total number of Ethiopian Jews is probably small enough that Israel's immigration problem probably won't get too big to cause the sorts of headaches that the United States has to deal with.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 21 01:40 PM  Immigration Societal Decay
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Texas Governor Perry: Border Enforcement First

Republican Governor Rick Perry of Texas disagrees with former Republican Governor of Texas George W. Bush on the importance of law enforcement on the US border with Mexico.

"Until the U.S.-Mexican border is secured to the point that we have substantially stopped the illegal trafficking of people and narcotics and terror, any discussion about a guest worker program is premature," Perry, normally a staunch Bush ally, said before returning to Texas after a two-day trip to Washington.

Perry also said he wants the federal government to declare the 2,000-mile border stretching from Texas to California a "high-risk threat area" to enable it to qualify for additional law enforcement money from the Homeland Security Department.

In response to the lawlessness of Nuevo Laredo Mexico and Mexican Zeta commando military deserters operating along the US border Governor Perry is allocating more law enforcement resources to the US-Mexican border.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry also announced last week a new security plan for the Texas-Mexico border, saying the state would "increase the law-enforcement presence in the border region, provide new investigative tools, improve communications among law-enforcement officials and make our border region more secure."

"I offer this plan, not because it is the state's responsibility to control the federal border, but because the state of Texas cannot wait for the federal government to implement needed border security measures," he said.

Build a wall. Round up all the illegals. Quadruple the size of the Border Patrol. The lawlessness could be stopped and the smuggling reduced by orders of magnitude.

We should protect ourselves from the Colombianization of Mexico. (same article here)

EL CENIZO, Texas - When he looks across the Rio Grande into Nuevo Laredo, Webb County Sheriff Rick Flores sees not the friendly Mexican border town he knew growing up, but the violent trappings of another country far to the south.

"It's a sad, scary sight," he said. "We are in the United States of America, and just across this border, the Colombianization of Mexico is slowly taking shape."

In describing the surging drug violence along the U.S.-Mexico border and elsewhere in Mexico, Flores and other law enforcement officials and analysts are increasingly referring to Colombia, where the Medellin drug cartel and other criminal organizations waged war on the government and killed hundreds of people during the 1980s.

Mexico has become the center of the drug war.

An estimated 1,100 people have been killed in drug-related slayings so far this year, and analysts say that the epicenter of the hemisphere's drug war has shifted to Mexico.

Effective border enforcement would reduce the level of violence and lawlessness in Mexico. We could cut off the ability of drug cartels to cross the border at will by building a barrier layer, quadrupling the Border Patrol, and increasing the number of inspectors at entry points. Then the drug money would stop flowing through northern Mexico and the place would become less corrupt (at least by Mexican standards) and less violent.

Update: Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison joins a lengthening line of politicians who are reacting to popular frustration over weak border enforcement and proposing legislation or ordering policy changes.

WASHINGTON — Saying the U.S.-Mexico border is "hemorrhaging," Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison filed a bill Wednesday that would give states, local law enforcement and volunteers the authority to enforce federal immigration laws.

The legislation mirrors an effort in the House that would create civilian militias to patrol the 2,000-mile border with an amateur force.

The political wind is blowing increasingly in the direction of immigration restriction.

Update II: Jerry Seper of the Washington Times reports that Texas sheriffs are outgunned and outequipped by drug smugglers and illegal aliens.

Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez Jr., who has spent 30 years with the Zapata County Sheriff's Office and leads its 24-member force, said his outmanned deputies do daily battle with alien and drug smugglers who have better weapons, vehicles, radios, computers, telephones, Global Positioning Systems and night vision equipment.

"It's the federal government's responsibility to ensure border security, and I would think that after September 11, the government would be concerned about making sure these borders are secure," he said. "But I assure you, the border here is very, very porous. How can anyone honestly say we are doing our best to prevent another terrorist attack from happening?"

The United States government should not tolerate lawlessness on its border with a narco-state.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 21 10:33 AM  Immigration Politics
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2005 October 20 Thursday
Former Archbishop Of Canterbury Loves Life Of Brian

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey demonstrates superiority of Christianity to Islam in Britain.

Speaking as a member of an all-party group of peers opposing the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill, Lord Carey said he wanted to live in a society where people were sensitive to the feelings of others.

"But in being sensitive, what we mustn't do is create a society in which certain stories are not told," Lord Carey told a news conference.

The former archbishop said that, following the publication of Salman Rushdie's book Satanic Verses, Muslim groups came to him asking him to support their campaign against the novel.

"They were very offended by Satanic Verses but I said you are living in a country and civilisation where we are quite used to this," he said.

"They say: 'Why as a Christian don't you condemn the Life of Brian?' I said: 'I love the film and I think it is good for religion to be knocked, to be criticised, to be challenged because we have done a lot of damage in the past'.

Now, you listen here! He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy! Now, go away!

Islam takes the humor out of life. Christianity inspires much more humour.

arriving at Brian's crucifixion Brian: Thank God you've come, Reg.
Reg: Well, I think I should point out first, Brian, in all fairness, we are not, in fact, the rescue committee. However, I have been asked to read the following prepare statement on behalf of the movement. "We the People's Front of Judea, brackets, officials, end brackets, do hereby convey our sincere fraternal and sisterly greetings to you, Brian, on this, the occasion of your martyrdom. "
Brian: What?
Reg: "Your death will stand as a landmark in the continuing struggle to liberate the parent land from the hands of the Roman imperialist aggressors, excluding those concerned with drainage, medicine, roads, housing, education, viniculture and any other Romans contributing to the welfare of Jews of both sexes and hermaphrodites. Signed, on behalf of the P. F. J. , etc. " And I'd just like to add, on a personal note, my own admiration, for what you're doing for us, Brian, on what must be, after all, for you a very difficult time.

The Swedes said the Norwegians banned Life Of Brian because it is so funny.

This film was initially banned in Norway for blasphemy. It wasn't released there until 1980. Subsequently, it has been marketed in Sweden as "The film that is so funny that it was banned in Norway!"

At least the Norwegians didn't issue a fatwa calling for the death of the Monty Python troupe.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 20 11:52 PM  Culture Open Versus Closed Societies
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2005 October 18 Tuesday
Hispanics Doing Most Hurricane Reconstruction Work

You might think that the poor blacks and whites of southern Louisina would enjoy a burst of higher paying construction work for Hurricane Katrina reconstruction.. Well, no. The federal government is looking the other way while a huge influx of Hispanic workers is keeping wages down and displacing the locals.

More than seven weeks after Hurricane Katrina cold-cocked the New Orleans area, the London Lodge on Airline Highway still has no electricity and isn't open for business. Nevertheless, it doesn't have many vacancies.

The first floor of the Lodge, a landmark on a strip briefly famous for trysts between prostitutes and a Louisiana television evangelical, is gone, the Sheetrock and furniture and cigarette machines and glass that once comprised it left in smashed heaps scattered about the lot. And housed on the second floor above the piles of moldy rubble are the workers creating those piles.

Most are Latino. Indeed, on similar jobs throughout the hurricane-ravaged region, a majority of the workers are Latino, primarily coming from Texas. The hotels and motels on both banks of the Mississippi River -- most in better shape than the London Lodge -- are filled with these new arrivals.

Take away the Mexicans and rebuilding would stll get done. But it would get done by American citizens at higher wages. The article cites examples of illegals getting $8 per hour. In inflation-adjusted terms that is much lower than the minimum wage in the late 1960s. Take away the illegals and the wages might be a couple of bucks an hour higher and poor black and white Americans would be doing the work. Fewer idle hands would be the devil's workshop for crime. More lower class Americans would learn some work habits. They'd still be getting paid less than minimum wage workers of 1969. But it would be an improvement over current conditions.

The bulk of the Hispanics are illegals.

Rojas is among those who believe that a significant proportion of the Latino work force -- as much as 80 percent, by his estimate -- lacks legal documentation. He candidly acknowledged that a handful of his recent hires are among them. The fact that New Orleans faces emergency needs, and is doing so without a full labor force in place, means fewer questions are being asked, he said.

You hear a lot of liberal Democrats bemoaning black poverty on TV shows and in newspaper columns. But here was an opportunity to give some of those people jobs for higher wages than they normally command and those very same liberal Democrats are utterly silent on this subject as the jobs go en masse to Mexicans (with Ray Nagin as a rare exception). The Democrats strike a pose claiming that they care about poor people. But this really is just a pose.

Next time you hear a liberal Democrat claim that the Republicans are the heartless bastards responsible for poverty in America ask that liberal how the Democrats can stand by and let Hispanics displace blacks from all the construction jobs in southern Louisiana.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 18 09:20 AM  Immigration Societal Decay
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2005 October 17 Monday
John Fund: Harriet Miers Will Repeal Roe v. Wade

John Fund reveals why James Dobson, of the Focus on the Family Christian radio show, has publically stated his conviction that Harriet Miers will vote to repeal Roe v. Wade if she is confirmed to the US Supreme Court.

The call was moderated by the Rev. Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association. Participating were 13 members of the executive committee of the Arlington Group, an umbrella alliance of 60 religious conservative groups, including Gary Bauer of American Values, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation and the Rev. Bill Owens, a black minister. Also on the call were Justice Nathan Hecht of the Texas Supreme Court and Judge Ed Kinkeade, a Dallas-based federal trial judge.


What followed, according to the notes, was a free-wheeling discussion about many topics, including same-sex marriage. Justice Hecht said he had never discussed that issue with Ms. Miers. Then an unidentified voice asked the two men, "Based on your personal knowledge of her, if she had the opportunity, do you believe she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade?"

"Absolutely," said Judge Kinkeade.

"I agree with that," said Justice Hecht. "I concur."

Kinkeade and Hecht are both friends of Miers.

James Dobson was on the phone call and supposedly indicated right then that he was getting off the line to make calls in support of Miers.

So now the Senate Democrats face a dilemma. If the Senate Republicans split on Miers should the Senate Democrats vote for Miers as a way to heighten an internal Republican Party split? If they do then they might not like the result, at least on abortion.

Will Senate Republicans who do not want to appoint a lightweight Bush crony to the Supreme Court bow to pressure from anti-abortion Republicans now and vote her on against their best judgement?

By Randall Parker 2005 October 17 02:03 PM  Politics American Constitution
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De Facto Privatization Seen For Many State Universities

Percentages of budgets of state universities coming from state and local taxes have declined in recent decades.

The share of all public universities' revenues deriving from state and local taxes declined to 64 percent in 2004 from 74 percent in 1991. At many flagship universities, the percentages are far smaller. About 25 percent of the University of Illinois's budget comes from the state. Michigan finances about 18 percent of Ann Arbor's revenues. The taxpayer share of revenues at the University of Virginia is about 8 percent.

The cost of in-state tuition has gone up far faster than inflation.

The average in-state tuition nationwide for students attending four-year public colleges increased 36 percent from 2000-01 through 2004-05, according to the College Board, while consumer prices over all rose about 11 percent.

This is an argument for greater automation of education as a way to reduce labor costs. Why not record lectures on high resolution video and let kids watch lectures before they even set foot on university campuses? For many topics which have very objective material such as physics and math tests are automatable. Software could generate variations on test questions and automatically score tests as well.

State appropriatons haven't declined much but state enrollment numbers have increased rapidly.

"The air is filled with this rhetoric about privatization, but the evidence doesn't support it," Mr. Callan said. He noted that in straight dollar terms, state appropriations for public universities have not fallen much across the nation in recent years. They totaled $67 billion in 2001, $70 billion in 2002, $69 billion in 2003 and $69 billion in 2004, the last year for which nationwide data is available.

But because enrollments surged during those years by more than 1 million students, or 11.8 percent, per-student appropriations dropped more steeply than at any time since the early 1980's, to $5,721 from $6,874, according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers.

Again, automate. Automation would make education much more convenient and potentially much more rapid for anyone smart enough to focus intensely on a single subject. Watch lectures any time of the night or day and any day of the week. Watch many lectures quickly in succession. Take tests when you are ready rather than when a class's tests get scheduled.

State universities could film every class in their physics, math, chemistry, and engineering departments for starters. The most objective material with exact numeric and formula answers lends itself to automated testing. Upper division math classes which require proofs which can vary in approach and still be correct are harder to grade. But most of the more quantitative fields lend themselves to automated testing. On some topics such as economics and accounting some material can be tested in formats that lend to automation and some can not. Enough material could get tested automatically to allow big savings in labor costs and therefore in tuition costs.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 17 01:45 PM  Education
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2005 October 16 Sunday
Harriet Miers Appointed To Expand Presidential Powers?

Dick Polman of the Knight Ridder Newspapers puts forth a very interesting theory to explain Bush's appointment of Harriet Miers to the US Supreme Court:

But the Miers nomination isn't about abortion at all. It's about putting somebody on the court who will protect the legacy Bush cares about most: the expansion of presidential power during the war on terrorism.

And who best to rule in favor of those expanded powers - the authority to detain "enemy combatants" indefinitely without trial; to prosecute them in Bush-created military tribunals and to limit their right of appeal; to quiz them under flexible rules of interrogation - than a jurist who had been legal counsel and staff aide to the president who sought those powers?

Clearly, the betting inside the White House is that Miers, a public defender of the Patriot Act and a legal adviser on wartime presidential powers, would be more dependable than the justice she would replace. It was Sandra Day O'Connor who warned, in a 2004 ruling that partly reined in Bush's expanded powers, that "a state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens."

Read the whole thing.

For evidence to support his argument Polman points to a Oct. 11, 2005 speech White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card delivered to the Hudson Institute conservative (neoconservative?) think tank where Card laid on heavily the idea that the Congressional and Judicial branches of government are preventing the President from doing what he ought to be able to do. (PDF format)

And I have watched as she has counseled the president as he has had to address some of the most significant challenges in the history of our country, challenges, by the way, that require a constitutional understanding because the demands on the president are frequently challenged by those who want to interrupt the president’s ability to be president. And our great Constitution does have Article 1 and we are Article 1, and we are represented by people who serve on Capitol Hill, and we have a wonderful branch outlined in Article 3 that provides justice, makes sure that the rule of law is respected and understands that there are consequences of people who don’t follow the law.

But it’s Article 2 that I find to be the most challenging to understand. Article 2 is the president. It’s the executive branch of government. But Article 2 doesn’t talk about the executive branch of government much; it talks about the role of the president as the leader of the executive branch of government. Harriet Miers understand that Constitution, and she has helped guide the president at a time when many of the constitutional outlines have been challenged by others who are also mentioned in the Constitution, Article 1 and Article 3.

So Harriet is an outstanding person and she will be terrific on the court. She will make a great justice and I am excited that the president has nominated her, and I look forward to her hearings, I look forward to her confirmation, and I look forward to her taking that oath. It means so much to all of us. The most moving experience that I have had in government have always centered around a hand going on a Bible, a right hand being raised to God, and words being administered, and in their simple words, simple words: preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Well so much for the balance of power between the branches. Card and Bush want Executive Supremacy on national security issues. As an aide to Bush Miers dutifully supported Bush's attempt to expand his powers and he hopes she'll continue to do that if she makes it onto the Supreme Court.

Alexander Hamilton was right to argue that the US Senate should prevent crony and ally appointments to the US Supreme Court.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 16 03:45 PM  Politics American Constitution
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2005 October 15 Saturday
Southern Louisiana Set Itself Up For Hurricane Katrina Disaster

The Washington Post has a lengthy article on the Louisiana political decisions by Louisiana pork barrelling politicians that made the Hurricane Katrina disaster possible.

Two months before Hurricane Katrina, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) gave a chilling preview of its rampage. "This isn't a simulation of World War III, or 'The Day After Tomorrow,' or Atlantis -- but one day, it may be Atlantis," Vitter warned at a hearing. Then he displayed a computer model of a Category 4 hurricane smashing New Orleans and flooding the city under 18 feet of water.

"It's not a question of if," Vitter said. "It's a question of when."

But do not trust the words of Louisiana politicians who are pointing the finger of blame:

"Instead of spending millions now, we are going to spend billions later," he said.

But as Vitter was forecasting destruction, he was also holding up legislation that would have approved levee upgrades and launched the coastal restoration plan. And the holdup involved an industry-backed provision that Vitter had inserted to help Louisiana's loggers deforest cypress swamps, which would reduce the natural hurricane defenses the restoration was supposed to rebuild.

In order to reduce hurricane damage to human dwellings part of what southern Louisiana needs is to allow areas to revert to nature. Allow flooding of fields and swamps and silt deposits. Allow much more trees and brush to grow without harvesting and clearing for short term commercial gain.

Louisiana's Hurricane Katrina disaster was set up by the choices and decisions of the populations in that area. They built where they shouldn't have built. They demanded levees to allow them to live in places where they shouldn't have lived in the first place. Commercial interests and Congressional representatives (that would be you Senator Mary Landrieu) connived to shift the large Army Corps of Engineers budget away from flood prevention and toward pork projects.

Louisiana's $1.9 billion per year Army Corps of Engineers budget is the largest in the nation. They had the amount of money they needed just from fleecing taxpayers in the rest of the country. They could have paid for their own flood protection using local and state taxes.

The scope of the losses from Hurricane Katrina was made possible by the response to Hurricane Betsy in 1965. The levee system built in response to the 1965 flooding allowed construction of large subdivisions of homes below sea level in areas that previously had been swamps.

The Corps aimed to protect New Orleans from the Gulf with levees much shorter than the river levees, plus two huge floodgates designed to keep storm surges out of the lake. But the economic rationale for the plan would be derived by reclaiming pristine wetlands at the city's outskirts, extending the levees beyond New Orleans to "hasten urbanization and industrialization of valuable marsh and swampland." A subsequent report would find that only 21 percent of the land protected by the Corps project was already developed; the rest was soggy, vacant and well below sea level, just waiting for subdivisions. Katrina would put those lands back underwater.

At one hearing in the late '70s, a freshman Louisiana congressman named Robert Livingston Jr. blistered a Corps colonel for protecting swamps instead of people. "Perhaps I am being a bit too complex," he said. "It would seem to me that if hurricane protection to the people and properties is the paramount importance, the portion you would want to complete first would be those levees surrounding inhabited areas rather than those around uninhabited areas.

"Would that not be a priority, sir?"

So government spending created the levees that led to the housing construction that led to the huge economic losses from Hurricane Katrina. How about letting those areas return to swampland and let them flood whenever the river rises or a hurricane hits?

Many projects didn't get built because they required the locals to pay 30% of the costs and the locals did not want to pay to protect themselves in the low level swamps they had turned into subdivisions. Well, why should the rest of the country pay for their choices?

Read the whole disgusting saga. It'll inoculate you against the rhetoric coming from Louisiana politicians. They made the mess.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 15 02:59 PM  Politics Money
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Humans Act Like Chimpanzee Bonobo Hybrid

Temple Grandin, an amazingly high functioning autistic with a number of impressive intellectual accomplishments to her credit (including livestock slaughter facilities designs), reviews Frans de Waal's book Our Inner Ape which advances the argument that examination of Chimp and Bonobo behavior yields two sides of what makes up human nature.

In this fascinating book, de Waal suggests that the two species represent sides of our own nature. We have "not one but two inner apes," he writes, speculating that humans may act like a hybrid of bonobos and chimps.

Grandin notices that de Waal avoids the genetic significance of his observations.

De Waal does not discuss the possible genetic implications of many of his observations. Animals who have high-fear genetics are less inclined to be aggressive because they are afraid to fight, and stressful, scary situations can affect them more dramatically. When bombs fell on Munich during World War II, de Waal tells us, all the bonobos in the zoo died of heart failure, but all the chimps survived. Unfortunately, he does not discuss how these differences in fearfulness might affect social behavior. Fear and other traits, like aggression and sociability, have a strong genetic component. In my own work with antelopes, I have observed huge differences in the startle and fear response between individual animals. It is likely that there may be genetic differences between the most peaceful and most violent chimps.

Since personality characteristics vary between humans due to genetic and development differences some humans are closer to the average chimp and others, relatively speaking, are closer to the average bonobo.

The more precise terminology for labelling the Chimps and the Bonobos is Common Chimpanzee or Pan troglodytes for what we commonly just call Chimp and the Bonobo is called Bonobo or Pygmy Chimpanzee or Pan paniscus.

We aren't technically a hybrid of Chimps and Bonobos. The Chimps split off from the humans before the Common Chimps and the Bonobos split off from each other. But different humans share characteristics with Chimps and Bonobos to varying degrees.

From Amazon:

Noted primatologist de Waal (Chimpanzee Politics) thinks human behavior cannot be fully explained by selfish genes and Darwinian competition. Drawing on his own primate research on chimpanzees and bonobos—our closest animal relatives—he shows how much we can learn from them about ourselves: our qualities of "fellow feeling and empathy" as well as our power-obsessed, violent side. We are "bipolar apes," de Waal says, as much like bonobos as like chimps. The latter are known for their viciousness and "red in tooth and claw" social politics, but bonobos offer a radically different social model, one of peace and hedonistic orgies; de Waal offers vivid, often delightful stories of politics, sex, violence and kindness in the ape communities he has studied to illustrate such questions as why we are irreverent toward the powerful and whether men or women are better at conflict resolution.

Advances in genetics and neurobiology are going to undermine more sentimental, religious, and ideological views of humans in favor of a view of humans as smarter primates. The political implications for this coming change will be profound. Liberalism, even among secular liberals, is still based upon a mystical view of humans as magically equal and hence entitlted to equal rights. That view is not going to survive the coming avalanche of scientific evidence. But religious views are in for similar rough times as urges to commit many sins are traced back to genetic sequences and neuronal wiring patterns.

I do not know what sorts of political schools of thought will emerge after human nature becomes demystified. Dumber people will probably to continue to believe many myths because much of the evidence against their myths will be incomprehensible to them. Also, some smart people will opt for self delusion. But quite a few people will come to understand the real score. What will they decide to have as their political philosophies and ideologies?

I'm expecting a partial return to some ancient pre-Christian Roman and Greek schools of ethics and political philosophy. Take away Christianity and liberalism and high pagan culture might appeal to Western elites of the 21st century. But I'm just guessing.

Update: Of course people do not always change their beliefs when confronted with new evidence. Michael Gazzaniga argues in his book The Ethical Brain that not just religious people but also highly scientific people resist changes in their beliefs when confronted by new evidence.

Nowhere does the human capacity to form and hold beliefs become more stark than when clear scientific data challenge the assumptions of someone’s personal beliefs. It would be easy to spin a story line about how a particular person with a set of religious values resisted the biological analysis of this or that finding in an effort to reaffirm his or her belief. There are many such stories, but they miss the point. Scientists themselves are just as resistant to change a view when confronted with new data that suggest their view is incorrect. All of us hold on to our beliefs, and it now appears that men are even more tenacious about not letting go than are women

Let me be as clear as I can about what I mean by “holding beliefs” or having belief systems. Many roads lead to holding beliefs. For many religiously oriented people, rules and codes to live by are spelled out and delivered by the religion in question, when one signs on to it. For the scientist, scientific rules and codes become part of the beliefs one must uphold upon joining the ranks of the particular science. For utilitarians, the decisions society makes about life’s challenges become their own beliefs. Overall, and this is my view about the nature of beliefs, our species instinctively reacts to events, and in a specialized system of the human brain that reaction is interpreted. Out of that interpretation, beliefs emerge about rules to live by. Sometimes they have a moral character; sometimes they are of an utterly practical nature. We can form beliefs slowly or quickly. Studies have shown startling aspects of how we can generate and hold onto a belief. People who buy a computer-generated lotto ticket for a dollar are reluctant to part with it if offered more money for it seconds after its purchase. Offering two bucks—a 100 percent increase in their investment—doesn’t do it. In many instances the offer has to be extended to twenty bucks. Why? Why do we hold onto our beliefs—new or old? Interestingly, it turns out that scientists are slower to change their views in the face of new data than are preachers.

People will often put far more effort into rationalizing a reconciliation of their beliefs with new evidence than they will put into abandoning their beliefs. Beliefs are like possessions. People feel a sense of loss when they have to give up a belief and they resist the potential loss.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 15 10:57 AM  Human Nature
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2005 October 14 Friday
Call For Rise In Retirement Age

The editors of the Christian Science Monitor argue for a rise in retirement ages in order to better cope with the rapidly decreasing ratio of nonworking retirees to workers.

In a little-noticed news item last week, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the think tank for 30 industrialized nations, warned that world economic growth will decline to 1.7 percent over the next 30 years if older people aren't encouraged or allowed to work. If nothing is done, the OECD stated, the ratio of nonworking retirees to workers will nearly double in those countries by mid-century.

This demographic reality usually draws a simple political response: raise taxes or lower benefits, or both. In Congress, that way of thinking has led to stalemate on revising Social Security. Both political parties need to discuss a retirement age of at least 70 for both Social Security and Medicare for the next generation.Better yet, it should index the age requirement to rising longevity so this issue can be done with.

All the Western developed countries face very similar demographic problems due to aging populations. We collectively need to admit that as people live longer and have fewer children they are going to have to work longer.

The number of years spent working could be increased at both ends of the working period. Older adults most obviously could work more years. But also children could be educated more rapidly so that they could enter the workforce at younger ages. Recording of high resolution college course lectures and the development of standard tests for highly quantitative college course subjects could provide opportunity for students under the age of 18 to earn credit for many college courses. This would enable them to finish college years sooner and therefore to enter the labor force years sooner.

Developed countries also need to stop the influx of low skilled and low paid immigrants. People who earn low wages pay less in taxes. Therefore they receive more in benefits than they pay in taxes. Immigration eligibility criteria should be designed to allow in only people who are likely to pay far more in taxes than they will receive in benefits over their entire working lives.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 14 11:40 PM  Economics Demographic
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Harriet Miers Nomination In Trouble

Bush plays religion card and it backfires.

Every White House effort to cool conservative opposition to Miers seems to backfire, including Bush's explanation of why the White House is stressing Miers' evangelical Christianity.

"People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers," Bush said Wednesday. "They want to know Harriet Miers' background ... And part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion."

On Thursday, Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, called the administration's efforts to woo religious conservatives by stressing Miers' religion "out of bounds."

"We are the last people on Earth to object to the news that she is a committed Christian," Perkins said in a statement. "By the same token, this fact is not grounds for certifying her to us or to the public. ... Inferences drawn from an individual's religious affiliation have no place in decisions to nominate or confirm a judicial appointee."

Jan LaRue, chief counsel of the conservative Concerned Women for America, issued an extensive position statement Monday, saying, "We find it patronizing and hypocritical to focus on her faith in order to gain support for Miss Miers."

Even Christians know that being a Christian does not automatically make one qualified to serve on the US Supreme Court. Bush is condescending to these people and they've noticed it.

While George is condescending on religion his wife is busy condescending with false charges of sexism.

Laura Bush said yesterday that some critics of Harriet Miers may be motivated by sexism, echoing an allegation that earlier infuriated conservative activists opposed to the Supreme Court nominee.

On NBC's "Today" show, Laura Bush joined President Bush in defending Miers as the "most qualified" person her husband could have appointed to the Supreme Court. She also said it's "possible" that questions about Miers's intellectual qualifications are sexist in nature, a charge other defenders of Miers have made publicly and in private conservations with conservatives opposed to the nomination.

Steve Sailer points out that if we wanted politically correct condescension from a First Lady the nation would have chosen John Kerry.

Do conservatives really need to be abused by the unelected First Lady for the high crime of diversity insensitivity toward First Family cronies? We could have had Teresa Heinz Kerry do that for us, couldn't we?

Howard Kurtz points out Miers was chosen in part because she is a woman and the Bushies are promoting a double standard.

Translation: I can consider gender factors in making my choice, but anyone who raises questions about whether this non-judge is qualified to sit on the nation's highest bench is doing so because she's a woman.

Does that smack of a double standard? Would conservative pundits really be praising a man with the same lack of judicial experience or intellectual writing?

In fact, I would argue that resorting to the old you're-attacking-her-because-she's-a-woman argument is itself a bit sexist, because you're asking potential critics to hold Miers to a different standard because she is a woman. (And don't believe politicians don't think about this. Some Republicans were salivating at the prospect that the Democrats might have to oppose Janice Rogers Brown, a black woman, and tick off two constituencies.)

Is Harriet Miers just a Bush suck-up crony? You decide:

The Bush-Miers letters were among more than 2000 pages of documents released this week by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. In a 1997 Hallmark greeting card (adorned with a photo of a dog), Miers sent along belated birthday wishes and noted that "You are the best governor ever--deserving of great respect!" In another note (penned on an American Greetings card), Miers wrote that she hoped Bush's daughters realized that their parents were "cool." A 1995 Miers note thanked Bush for a visit, adding that an airplane ride with the governor was "Cool!" Sadly, the document dump did not include Miers's e-mail or IM messages, which are surely filled with loads of sappy emoticons.

Bush's power is declining in part because of the accumulation of his mistakes and in part because he can't run for reelection again.

Also see my previous post "Alexander Hamilton On Harriet Miers Appointment".

By Randall Parker 2005 October 14 09:16 AM  Politics American Constitution
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2005 October 12 Wednesday
Immigration To America Increases Total World Population

Evidence from a new study by Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies strongly suggests that allowing poor folks from less developed countries to immigrate to America increases their fertility and therefore increases world population growth.

• In 2002, immigrant women (legal and illegal) from the top-10 immigrant-sending countries had 2.9 children on average, compared to a fertility rate of 2.3 children in their home countries — a 23-percent difference.

• Among Mexican immigrants in the United States, for example, fertility averages 3.5 children per woman compared to 2.4 children per women in Mexico. Among Chinese immigrants, fertility is 2.3 in the United States compared to 1.7 in China. Immigrants from Canada have 1.9 children compared to 1.5 children in Canada.

• While immigrants from the top-10-sending countries have more children than women in their home counties, for immigrants from three countries — India, Vietnam, and the Philippines — immigrant fertility is lower in the United States than in their home countries.

• Immigrants in the United States can differ in important ways from the general population of the countries they come from. If we adjust for their education level, which is a good predictor of fertility, we find that the gap with their home countries actually grows — from being 23 percent higher to 33 percent higher.

Why would this be? They can afford more kids in the United States. If you think, like I do, that the world already has too many people then this result is yet another reason to oppose high levels of immigration.

• Put a different way, given the education level of immigrants and the fertility of similarly educated women in their home countries, one would expected immigrants from the top sending countries to have 2.15 children on average in the United States, not the 2.9 they actually do have.

• As for legal status, we estimate that the birth rate of illegal alien women was 3.1 children on average in 2002, or about 50 percent higher than the two children natives have on average. The birth rate for legal immigrants is 2.6, or about one-third higher than that of natives.

• The high fertility rate of illegal aliens seems to be due primarily to factors other than their legal status, such as culture and educational attainment.

10% of all births in the United States are to illegal aliens. Time to deport them. Time to build a wall with Mexico and stop lettting them get in. Time to start enforcing labor laws against employers who hire illegal aliens.

We have previously estimated from birth records that there were 380,000 births to illegal aliens in 2002, accounting for nearly 10 percent of all births in the United States.

• If illegals are allowed to remain in the country, either as illegal aliens or legal residents, births alone will add some four million people to the U.S. population over the next decade.

• While immigrant fertility is significantly higher than that of natives, their presence in the United States is not the reason the overall fertility rate in the United States is much higher than in other western countries. Fertility in the U.S. is roughly 2.0 children, with or without immigrants.

• New immigrants (legal and illegal) plus births to immigrants add some 2.3 million people to the United States each year, accounting for most of the nation’s population increase.

• Immigrant fertility differs by education level much more than that of natives. For example, immigrants without a high school degree have 3.3 children on average, 74 percent higher than the 1.9 children for college graduate immigrants. In contrast, native high school dropouts have 2.3 children on average, only 27 percent higher than the 1.8 fertility for native college graduates.

• Because immigrant fertility differs so much by education, immigrants now account for more than one in three births to mothers without a high school diploma.

Stop letting in the dummies. Stop letting in the poorly educated and low skilled. Stop subjecting ourselves to "getting hit on the head lessons".

Bottom line: immigration to the US boosts the fertility of the immigrants. So our population grows more rapidly and the whole world's population grows more rapidly. Worse yet, the least educated are popping out the babies most rapidly and their kids achieve far less in education and income. Plus, those poor folks get their medical costs and other costs of raising children paid for by taxes on the higher income natives.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 12 11:39 AM  Immigration Demographics
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2005 October 11 Tuesday
Does Western Culture See Anger As Strength?

In a Wall Street Journal article about anger and stress in the workplace one claim set me to wondering: which cultures condone more use of expressions of anger in workplace situations?

That may be because Western culture tends to view virtue as a weakness and anger as a strength, notes Robert A.F. Thurman, the chairman of Columbia University's Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies department and author of the book "Anger." In it, he notes that Aristotle thought anger helped soldiers overcome their fear. Anger, he writes, can also be useful if it drives people to action to resolve problems.

"The person who is habitually angry will get ahead sometimes maybe by being more aggressive," he said in an interview. But he also argues -- along with most doctors interested in blood pressure -- that anger is ultimately very destructive. "In the long run, they'll generate so much resentment, bitterness, hatred and anger that people will just want to see them put down."

Or at least that would be the case if the wheels of justice spun quickly in the office. "Sometimes it's going to take a hell of a long time to catch up with the idiots," he concedes.

I know a few of you readers are Americans who have lived and worked for years in East Asian countries. So I have a question for you: Is anger seen as more or less a desirable emotion in East Asian workplaces as compared to American workplaces? Also, is anger more admired or respected in any European countries?

Mind you, I'm talking about anger here, not violence. Obviously beating up coworkers is generally frowned upon and reason for getting fired. Is anger a more accepted emotion by supervisors than by workers? My guess is yes. Though in civil service and other more protected jobs I'm guessing subordinates can get away with expressing more anger.

Is expression of anger used as a masculine assertion of dominance and control? Or is it simply used to scare people to work harder?

Also, is "Western culture" and "East Asian culture" even the proper level of granularity for discussing this? Is the role of anger in Japanese companies much different than in Korean companeis for example? I've read that Koreans among East Asians are most like Americans to manage. How is anger by bosses viewed in China? I'm guessing it is more condoned or accepted in China than in Japan. But that is just a guess. Anyone have appropriate experiences that would allow them to compare?

By Randall Parker 2005 October 11 10:13 PM  Culture Compared
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US Soldiers Going Deeper Into Remote South Afghanistan

Scott Baldauf of the Christian Science Monitor is writing a 3 part series on his experience embedding with US Army 82 Airborne soldiers as they flew into a remote part of Afghanistan and went on patrol. The soldiers carry 115 lbs of equipment.

For the next five days, I will have a front-row seat in what some call "The Other War," where 18,000 US troops continue fighting four years after ousting the Taliban government and sending Osama bin Laden into hiding. I will accompany a US Army squad carrying a mere 40 lbs. of body armor, notebooks, water, and MREs, while they carry up to 115 lbs. of "battle rattle" - guns, ammo, food, body armor, radios, and night-vision equipment.

The villagers need to be friendly to both the Taliban and the US and Afghan government soldiers.

But as they patrol the villages, the squad also knows that democracy often has little to do with local loyalties. Unarmed Afghan villagers will always cooperate with whatever gunman is in town at a given time. Brannan's men know that a village of "friendlies," as cooperative Afghans are called, can turn into a Taliban haven overnight.

"I don't know who the villagers are closer to, the Taliban or us," says Senior Airman Brian Mellon, alias Gunslinger 37. He's an Air Force forward air controller temporarily assigned to Brannan's unit to call in and coordinate airstrikes if needed. "If we go there, we talk to them, give them food. But if the Taliban go there, they beat the local people. So if your life's in danger, it's more conducive to work with the Taliban."

US soldiers are going deeper into remote areas where US forces haven't previously patrolled. When a village has ammunition but no guns the soldiers assume that the ammo belongs to the Taliban. What I find curious is that some villages are so poor the people can not even afford guns - and this in a country with large numbers of guns.

I'll update this post with links to the 2nd and 3rd parts of the series when those articles show up on the web.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 11 12:59 AM  Military War, Rumours Of War
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2005 October 07 Friday
Alexander Hamilton On Harriet Miers Appointment

Randy Barnett points to Federal Paper No. 76 by Alexander Hamilton:

"To what purpose then require the co-operation of the Senate? I answer, that the necessity of their concurrence would have a powerful, though, in general, a silent operation. It would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity. . . . He would be both ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most distinguished or lucrative stations, candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him, or of possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure." (The italics are mine.)

Barnett points out that Miers is a perfect example of what Hamilton was talking about.

Harriet Miers is not just the close confidante of the president in her capacity as his staff secretary and then as White House counsel. She also was George W. Bush's personal lawyer. Apart from nominating his brother or former business partner, it is hard to see how the president could have selected someone who fit Hamilton's description any more closely. Imagine the reaction of Republicans if President Clinton had nominated Deputy White House Counsel Cheryl Mills, who had ably represented him during his impeachment proceedings, to the Supreme Court. How about Bernie Nussbaum?

Ann Coulter reacts to Harriet Miers:

"No. She’s something new: a complete mediocrity.”

Well, she's not new for the Bush Administration. Mediocrity is what I expect from the Bushies. I can't say I'm disappointed by the Miers appointment. My expectations are too low to feel disappointment. The proper feeling? Disgust.

Ann Coulter told Hannity and Colmes that Miers is an "embarrassment". She told Bill O'Riley: "I don't think she's qualified for the job" and "We are talking about the Supreme Court" and "First woman head of the Dallas bar assocation? We're talking about the Supreme Court". "This shows stunning arrogance by the President" and "This is laughable it is so absurd". You go girl!

Coulter points out the extremely low odds that the best person for the job of Supreme Court justice would just happen to be President's personal lawyer. Bush isn't taking this seriously. Yes, it is the Supreme Court we are talking about. An appointee ought to have exceptional qualities and those qualities should have been recognized by others.

Coulter makes an excellent point about conservatives who have gone through the Ivy League and came out still conservative:

Third and finally, some jobs are so dirty, you can only send in someone who has the finely honed hatred of liberals acquired at elite universities to do them. The devil is an abstraction for normal, decent Americans living in the red states. By contrast, at the top universities, you come face to face with the devil every day, and you learn all his little tropes and tricks.

Conservatives from elite schools have already been subjected to liberal blandishments and haven't blinked. These are right-wingers who have fought off the best and the brightest the blue states have to offer. The New York Times isn't going to mau-mau them — as it does intellectual lightweights like Jim Jeffords and Lincoln Chafee — by dangling fawning profiles before them. They aren't waiting for a pat on the head from Nina Totenberg or Linda Greenhouse. To paraphrase Archie Bunker, when you find a conservative from an elite law school, you've really got something.

Back in 1987 Miers was donating to Democratic Party candidates.

During that presidential campaign, Miers contributed $1,000 to the Albert Gore for President Committee, as well as $1,000 to the Democratic National Committee. Gore lost the Democratic primaries to Dukakis.

Wobble wobble wobble. (to the sound of a turkey saying "gobble, gobble, gobble")

Conservatives are angry because they had higher hopes and expectations.

Yet when the announcement came, the criticism came from a direction few expected: deep within conservative ranks. And Mr. Bush's efforts this week to reassure his base is making rifts within this highly diverse coalition more apparent.

Social conservatives want assurances that Ms. Miers will share their views on flash-point issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, and that she is genuinely one of them.

Conservative intellectuals, on the other hand, want someone with the legal acumen to roll back the reach of judges.

Bush has done plenty that his base ought to be angry about. Maybe the Harriet Miers nomination will serve as the straw that broke the camel's back and more people on the Right will begin to criticise Bush for a much larger range of Bush failures and policies that are anything but conservative.

A new CBS News poll shows only 26% of the American public thinks the US is headed in the right direction and only 37% approve of the job Bush is doing. Only 225 have "a lot "of confidence in Bush appointees and 30% have "some" confidence in Bush appointees. In the face of this situation Bush appoints a mediocrity "or of being in some way or other personally allied to him" to the highest court in the nation.

Bush's political tone deafness used to be viewed as a sign of his strength and determination. Now that Iraq has developed into a full debacle and he's made some other big mistakes the more common reaction appears to be be "Oh no, what's he done this time and what's he going to do next?".

Update: Check out this graph "Historical Bush Approval Ratings". The trend is downward.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 07 01:18 AM  Politics American Constitution
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2005 October 05 Wednesday
US Army Lowers Recruiting Standards Due To Iraq

Recruiting shortfalls as young men decide Iraq is not worth dying for have led the US Army to announce yet another lowering of standards on recruits.

The Department of Defense "standards on qualification tests call for at least 60 percent Category 1 to 3 (the higher end of testing) and 4 percent Category 4," the lowest end, Harvey said. "The other services follow that standard and the Army National Guard always followed it as well. But the active Army chose a standard of 67 percent in Categories 1-3, and 2 percent Category 4." It now would use the Defense Department guidelines, he said.

This basically lowers the IQ standards for recruits. This will reduce average effectiveness of military units. Perhaps the military can compensate somewhat by assigning dummies to Korea and other places where combat is unlikely.

The 6000 to 8000 soldier recruiting shortfall for the last year is behind the policy change.

Coming off a recruiting year in which the Army fell short of its goal of 80,000 active-duty soldiers, Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey announced that the Army would allow up to 4% of its recruiting class to be Category IV recruits — those who scored between the 16th and 30th percentile in the battery of aptitude tests that the Defense Department gives to all potential military personnel.

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) has 4 sections (known as the Armed Forces Qualification Test or AFQT) that are pretty heavily "g" loaded. In other words, the sections are similar to IQ tests and measure what IQ tests measure. The standards lowering is being done for results from the AFQT subsections of the ASVAB.

The US military has spent large sums of money on psychometric research for decades and has found that IQ correlates heavily with ability to carry out military duties and not get oneself and fellow soldiers killed. So the US military is very keen on keeping out the dummies. The military correctly sees that maintaining military standards is a matter of life and death. If only medical school admissions boards which lower standards for blacks and Hispanics took the same approach the number of deaths from malpractice would be lower. But I digress.

A previous report by Steve Sailer mentioned that the category IV recruits are below 92 IQ and the US Army already doubled its category IV intake last year from 1% to 2%.

Almost nobody in the media is aware of the vast investment the U.S. military has made over the last 88 years in IQ testing of potential recruits, and the huge number of correlation studies they have done comparing soldiers' IQ with their actual performance. I was only barely aware of it myself until I spent hours last fall interviewing military psychometricians for my article showing that John F. Kerry scored a bit lower on his officer application IQ test than George W. Bush did. (This was the report that Tom Brokaw asked Kerry about on the NBC Nightly News.)

Because the U.S. military knows that bad things tend to happen to low IQ soldiers—and to their comrades who have the misfortune to be standing nearby—since 1991 only about one percent of new enlistees have IQs below the 30th percentile (i.e., an IQ of about 92). (See Table 2.8 in this Defense Department report.)

Last year, the Army announced that because of tribulations in meeting recruitment quotas due to the Iraq War, it would up its share of new soldiers scoring below the 30th percentile all the way to 2 percent.

Since the black IQ average is 85 and 85 is well below 92 that 30th percentile cut-off point makes a substantial majority of blacks ineligible for service in the US military. By one estimate three fifths of blacks and one fifth of whites aren't smart enough to join the military under the tougher pre-Iraq standard. Letting in more lower IQ recruits will especially help with black and Hispanic recruitment.

Update: Fred Kaplan of Slate criticises the lowering of standards and accidentally violates the taboo on racial differences in intelligence.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 05 11:21 AM  Mideast Iraq Costs
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2005 October 04 Tuesday
Hurricane Katrina Underscores US Iraq Overstretch

Check out this article from the Washington Post. Some National Guardsmen in Lousiana lost their homes in the hurricane yet were called up for catastrophe duty and now are getting shipped off to Iraq even though their families have no homes and their wives lost their jobs.

"It's hard," Sepulvado said amid the bustle of pre-deployment medical checks at his battalion headquarters in Gulfport. Nearly 70 percent of the members of his battalion had their homes damaged, with the homes of 115 destroyed or unlivable.

Soon after Katrina plowed through, Sepulvado was sent to work at Gulfport's Hope Haven, a home for abandoned children. As he and comrades ripped out walls and carpeting, repaired shingles and moved appliances, they worried about their own catastrophes. "I was kind of thinking, 'What am I doing here?' " he said. "Why are we doing this when we lost our own homes?"

Like others in his unit, Sepulvado waits for an insurance check, hoping to get his family--now living with parents -- settled before he deploys. His wife, like several other spouses, lost her job when her workplace was destroyed.

The US military is not big enough to fight in Iraq, handle a disaster at home, and let National Guard soldiers have time to take care of families when they lose their own homes.

The Iraq War will go down in history as an act of foolish and counterproductive overstretch. Hurricane Katrina's aftermath in New Orleans similarly sends a reminder that the middle and upper class populations of the United States have only tenuous control of the third world populations in American cities. We can not afford to send soldiers to control third world cities abroad when we do not have enough soldiers to control third world cities at home.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 04 08:11 PM  Mideast Iraq
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2005 October 03 Monday
Ford And GM SUV Sales Plummet

Consumers react to the high price of gasoline.

General Motors (GM) sales were down 24% overall, and its SUV and truck sales fell 30%.

SUVs are going out of style.

Ford Motor (F) also took a hit, with sales down nearly 20% in September. Sales of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury cars were up 6%, but sales of trucks and SUVs fell nearly 28%.

Ford and GM are attributing part of the drop to the end of their price discounts where buyers could pay employee prices for vehicles. But the Ford sales with SUVs down 28% while cars are up 6% demonstrate that the market is shifting away from gas guzzlers big time. I'd love to see what is happening to their average fleet fuel economy.

Sales are up for Chrysler, Toyota, and Nissan.

Compared with same month last year Ford's SUV sales dropped in half.

The company sold 12,879 Ford Explorer SUVs, down 57.7 percent from 30,448 in September 2004. It sold 1,771 Mercury Mountaineers, down 54 percent from 3,846 in the same month last year.

Ford said overall sales of its sport utility vehicles were down 51 percent from last year, when it offered 0 percent financing for 72 months.

Big ouch.

Ford is massively shifting toward hybrids.

Ford recently announced a plan to make gas-electric hybrid engines available in half its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury lineup by 2010.

Given the large profit margins on SUVs it makes sense for the car makers to put hyrbid technology into SUVs first.

I'm expecting the big three to pour a lot more technology in the direction of raising fuel economy of SUVs because SUVs have much larger profit margins. GM and Ford especially need to revive their fortunes in higher profit margin markets.

I bet we will see more rapid development of GM's Displacement-On-Demand (DOD) technology that turns off some cylinders at cruising speeds and Chrysler's equivalent MDS (Multi-Displacement System) technology. GM and Chrysler already sell some vehicles with these technologies. GM sells the DOD technology with their optional Vortec engines. Perhaps GM will start offering the Vortec upgrade for no additional cost in some SUV promotions.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 03 05:41 PM  Economics Energy
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2005 October 02 Sunday
Medical Tourism Seen As Growth Industry

Some medical tourists save two thirds of the costs for procedures that cost tens of thousands of dollars in the United States.

Bradley Thayer, a retired apple farmer from Okanogan, Wash., traveled 7,500 miles to get his torn knee ligament fixed, and says he paid a third of what it would have cost him in a U.S. hospital. And that included air fare to Bombay.

Thayer was uninsured when he suffered his injury. If more people paid their medical costs out of pocket then more would shop around and even go abroad for treatment. Insurance decreases competition in medical services. Wider use of tax-advantaged medical savings accounts therefore would increase competition and drive down prices in health care.

The article quotes patients saying that Indian doctors provide more information and their phone numbers to call for questions.

Thailand leads in the medical tourism market but India's business is growing.

India is still a relative newcomer to the international medical market, attracting 150,000 foreign patients last year, compared with Singapore's 200,000 and Thailand's 600,000. But India's numbers are increasing. In Jaslok, one of Bombay's top private hospitals, three Americans were recovering from orthopedic surgery in June alone.

IVF in India costs only an eighth the cost in the US.

In vitro fertilization can cost $20,000 in the United States and $15,000 in Europe. In India it costs about $2,500.

Medical tourism is easier for medical conditions that are less debilitating. This puts an upper limit on medical tourism. Also, people in the United States who are old enough to quality for government-funded Medicare have little incentive to look abroad. Plastic surgery might be a better bet for growth in medical tourism because for most people plastic surgery is both optional and paid out of pocket. However, due to its optional nature and the fact that insurance companies rarely cover its costs plastic surgery is probably already the most competitive type of surgery in the United States.

I would expect the medically uninsured to be the biggest customers of medical tourism. Will insurance companies eventually start providing their customers with monetary incentives to seek treatments abroad?

Travel distance is another obstacle for medical tourism. This provides an opening for Mexico. The Mexican government ought to allow doctors from South and East Asia to come in on work visas to set up hospitals and clinics to serve US customers. That would cut travel times and provide a big revenue source for Mexico as those treatment centers use Mexican suppliers, secretaries, nurses, and other laborers. Other Central American governments and Caribbean governments where salaries are lower could also try for this business using imported doctors to provide the breadth and depth of brain power and skills.

By Randall Parker 2005 October 02 04:21 PM  Economics Health
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