May 2011

aka Dain Fitzgerald.

You can read it here via Google Docs.


Political Polarization in recent decades is due to the intransigence of increasingly sophisticated ideologues – the same group, paradoxically, that is most politically engaged – and is unlikely to be remedied by more education or a more deliberative democracy, as informed by the findings of political psychologists and other scholars. Due to epistemological ignorance and social complexity, the use of stereotypes by ideological political actors, as outlined by Walter Lippmann, is unfortunately relied upon to determine one’s political beliefs. Civil society, with its more piecemeal and granular approach to problem solving, is relatively better able to take account of the uniqueness of persons, their beliefs, and their lifestyles, making it a superior arena for (an admittedly informal) deliberation when compared to its explicitly political alternative.

Karl Smith writes “crime and poverty in the first world are biological diseases and one day they will have a biological cure”.
Public policy is applied zoology.

In a comment at Crooked Timber, Chris Bertram quotes G. A. Cohen:
there is now no group in advanced industrial society which unites the four characteristics of: (1) being the producers on whom society depends, (2) being exploited, (3) being (with their families) the majority of society, and (4) being in dire need.
Cohen’s full essay here.

I saw this article linked maybe a couple months ago, but had trouble finding it again. Ilkka inspired me to go looking again, so I’m linking it here to remember. In my first link Mackubin Thomas Owens says “Contrary to common contention, Israel does not currently allow women in combat–they’ve been banned since 1948”. Indeed it is contrary to common contention, including wikipedia. Granted, he wrote that in 2005, but I haven’t heard anything about that changing since then.
UPDATE: In the process of writing this post I see Wikipedia has a portion elsewhere backing up Owens. I was placing greater weight on Wikipedia than NR, so now I’d like someone knowledgeable to clear this up for me.

Steve has been on a tear recently about the “deep state” in Pakistan. So when reading more of Chris Coyne’s “After War”, it occurred to me that bits of it illuminate who has influence within our own government.
“Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, as well as other key members of the Bush administration, initially favored the quick transfer of power to Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi. In contrast, the CIA voiced their support for Ayad Allawi, a Baath Party defector in the 1970s. Finally, some in the State Department favored Adnan Pachachi, another Iraqi exile, as the next leader of Iraq.”
So what happens when we roll the tape? Chalabi was interim oil minister for a couple of months and deputy prime minister for a year. Allawi was president of the governing council for a month, and for a year was the first prime minister of the new Iraqi government. I had never heard of Pachachi, he apparently refused the position of president when a U.N envoy nominated him and became the oldest man in the Iraqi parliament. So it looks like the CIA is the most powerful of these factions. It has also been said that CIA opposition was important in blunting the later push for war with Iran, but I don’t put as much weight on that for now. Greenwald headlined Petraeus’ move to CIA and Panetta’s move to DOD as “A more militarized CIA for a more militarized America“, but maybe it’s wrong to think of the CIA as helpless victim of DOD colonization (recall also that outgoing DOD secretary Robert Gates is ex-CIA). On a contrary note, Coyne quotes Robert Dreyfuss saying about the run-up to the Iraq war “The war over intelligence is a critical part of a broader offensive by … the Bush administration against virtually the entire expert Middle East establishment in the United States – including State Department, Pentagon and CIA area specialists and leading military officers.”

I was disappointed in the section on Halliburton. Coyne details that among major Iraq contractors, they received the most money (almost 11 million, with the runner-up getting a bit over 5) despite being middling in terms of campaign contributions (2.4 million over 12 years, while two others gave over 3 and two gave just over 1). He then notes that in the three election cycles prior to Cheney joining Halliburton in 1993, their total campaign contributions were 740K. In the next three they spent 1.6 million and received 2.3 billion in contracts. What’s the obvious piece of data that could have been presented but was left out? The contracts they received in the three prior election cycles under a different head.

Critical Review founder and editor Jeffrey Friedman has written a short piece on Richard Cornuelle, famous for his book Reclaiming the American Dream, and a devout civil societarian. Cornuelle died on April 26th. He and Friedman share(d) a distrust of Rand-Rothbard style libertarianism:

Early on, Dick had been a doctrinaire free-marketeer and a member of all three of the early libertarian “circles” in New York in the late 1940s and 1950s: those of Ludwig von Mises, Ayn Rand, and Murray Rothbard. But he came to think that “there was a screw loose” in libertarianism, as he put it in a 1993 Afterword to his most famous book, Reclaiming the American Dream (1965). Dick first stumbled on the loose screw when he wrote an article attacking a three-day work week decreed by the coal miners’ union. The aim of the three-day week was to preserve jobs in a declining industry. Dick took the standard economists’ line: If an industry were on the wane, it would and should be liquidated so its unneeded workers could “disappear.” His editor suggested that he actually meet some disappearing coal miners, and Dick went to Kentucky and found people who, through no fault of their own, desperately needed help.

Rand and Rothbard had created versions of libertarianism for which any humane consequences of capitalism were secondary. In these libertarianisms, the inviolate right to private property reigned supreme—regardless of the consequences. As Dick wrote in 1993, libertarianism  constantly forced him to make “haunting, morally intolerable midnight choices between liberty and community.”

“Midnight choices”? I like that, whatever it means.

Read the rest here.

I got Christopher Coyne’s “After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy” (previous mentions on this blog) a while back, but put it aside for more interesting stuff. I bookmarked a passage a while back to write about, but before I get to that I’ll give my overall impression. It’s a thin book, both literally and figuratively. The era of exporting democracy is fairly short (“exporting civilization” is eternal) and his analysis seems aimed at people who wouldn’t normally read academic publications anyway. The book presumes readers have not heard of game theory, and so far all its focus is on the prisoner’s dilemma. There’s also an explanation of the concept of public choice, but that also seems very basic. His main point seems to be that exporting democracy via military occupation can easily go wrong and often does. There’s lots of listing of ways in which problems can occur, but no fine-grained analysis of how prevalent or harmful particular problems are. I’m still interested in what he thinks of this.

Onto the bookmarked passage. I’ll append endnotes at the bottom, replacing cites with the complete titles from the bibliography:

I’m just going to copy Myles’ comment in bulk:

In a post criticizing Wolfram Alpha, Xamuel references the fact that “0!=1”. Coming from a programming background (with C syntax in particular), I thought “Of course 0 doesn’t equal 1, even though the point of this post is to erroneously prove that it does”. But no, what he actually meant to convey is that the factorial of zero is equal to 1. It is unacceptable that I should be confused in such a manner. The exclamation/bang symbol should not be used for negation seeing as how it is commonly used for factorials. I have seen some formal logic using the tilde to indicate negation, and since I don’t that’s used for anything else, I recommend its adoption. I have less frequently seen “><“, by mixing up the greater and lesser symbols to indicate inequality. Not as good as a simple negation.

Hat tip to Ilkka.

UPDATE: Audacious Epigone tackled this better a few years back.
origen01 engaged in some thread necormancy on an old post, writing that blacks have admiration rather than vitriol toward whites. As you might have guessed, this sent me to the GSS. There is a question FEELWHTS which reads as “In general, how warm or cool do you feel towards white or Caucasian Americans?” Here are the results by race.