September 30, 2006

Immigration is NOT a single issue

But a short, two-word partial answer is: Birth control

Readers of this blog have seen my occasional comments in favor of a border fence along the line with Mexico; readers of my Today Newspapers columns (link at right) have read the arguments for this in much more detail.

Needless to say, mine is not the “standard liberal position” (not to mention not being the standard left-liberal position) on this issue. Neither is my consistent, and insistent, use of the phrase “illegal aliens” rather than “undocumented aliens.” And my refusal to lump and mix illegal aliens into a larger discussion — let alone general, indiscriminate numbering — of aliens in general is of a piece.

On this one subject, I might sound like I had read a page from Pat Buchanon.

But, I have different reasons than Buchanon for my stance, and unlike Paranoid Pat, this is just one part of the larger issue of how to deal with illegal aliens.

I want a border fence not because I think Mexicans in particular, or Central American Hispanics in general, are diluting and perverting our Anglo-Saxon culture. Nor am I afraid of Osama bin Laden or his minions setting up secret shop in Hermosillo, Sonora, then sneaking across the Sonora-Arizona border.

I do it on union-oriented social democratic grounds, as part of keeping American wages from getting depressed; that, in turn is part of a larger issue to which I’ll turn below.

I also do it because of environmental and related concerns. America has more than 300 million people now. And, not even counting Alaska, just in our 48 contiguous states, about 40 percent is desert (less than 10 inches of rain per year, semidesert (10-15 inches of rain per year), semi-semidesert (15-20 inches) or higher-elevation mountains too cold for agriculture. In other words, about 40 percent of our land is of marginal carrying capacity, ignoring the massive stupidity of Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, Salt Lake City and Albuquerque being built, and being boomed, in the middle of desert or semidesert. (L.A. is a mix, and Cairo is the only larger metropolitan area in the world in a desert.)

The other environmental issue is that, largely due to poverty in their native lands (more on that, too, in a minute), illegal aliens have less regard for trashing up the planet. Yes, that’s a generalization; no, it’s not a stereotype. Sociological studies will confirm the poverty-environmental maintenance inverse correlation in spades.

Now, as said, this is all part of a larger whole.

First, the American union and wages issue.

I favor a guest worker program that offers adequate workplace and other protective conditions for guest workers, and has an adequate wage floor. That, then, must be tied to larger American wage issues.

First, of course, we need a minimum wage increase. Second, we need that indexed to the inflation rate, just as Social Security has its regular COLA.

On the protective and regulatory side, we need to make the NLRB again stand for National LABOR Relations Board, instead of the L having been replaced with an M for Management. Don’t (fully) blame Shrub for this one; this began as another brilliant triangulation of Slick Willie’s, coming from an anti-union, right-to-work state. And Democrats love him WHY?

Next, NAFTA does need to be revisited. We need to find a way to revamp it from destroying the more labor-intensive Mexican family or extended-family farm. That’s why a lot of Mexicans, and Guatemalans, etc., are coming north. Along with that, whether in NAFTA or GATT, we need to address corporate American farm subsidies. Period. At the same time, though, Mexico needs to do more to transition its farm labor into other jobs. And, we need to rewrite NAFTA to address labor and environmental issues elsewhere in the Mexican economy.

Finally, I have two small words that will stick hard in much of the collective Mexican social craw: Birth control.

If you look at a resource like the CIA Factbook, you’ll see that if you put our birthrate and that of, say, Saudi Arabia or some other high-growth Arab country on a line, Mexico would be half of the way to Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. Guatemala would be equal to it.

Our birthrate is 14.14 per 1,000 population; Mexico’s is 20.69; Guatemala’s is 29.88; Saudi Arabia’s is 29.34 and Pakistan’s is 29.74. Of course, if you throw out the more than 10 percent of our population that is foreign-born, many here illegally, our native-born birthrate is about 12-12.5 per 1,000, not much higher than the U.K.’s 10.71 and right in line with France’s 11.99.

I don’t give a damn what the pope in particular and the Catholic clergy in general say about birth control. Nor do I care about what the growing conservative evangelical and Pentecostal Protestant movements in Latin America say about the subject.

If Mexico, and Central American countries (the problem isn’t so bad in South America) want more American foreign aid, condoms, diaphragms, birth control pills and even RU-486 — with counseling information on all four — need to be part of the price of foreign aid.


Cross posted at my Science and Reason Party blog.

Ed Bark is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it any more

The former Dallas Morning News TV critic spills the beans on News and A.H. Belo brass on his new blog.

Go read Uncle Barky rip Publisher Bob Dechard a new one, and explain the six-year gag order about him critique Belo-owned ABC affiliate WFAA-Channel 8, in this post.

Cross posted at BeloBlog.

September 29, 2006

Will Texas get Kinky Nov. 7?

Adapted from my Sept. 21 Today Newspapers column.

Texas is arguably seeing its most interesting gubernatorial race since the days of Ma and Pa Ferguson back in the 1920s.

Take a look at what we’ve got.

First is a blood feud match between the man that some of us progressives at times think almost makes President Bush look competent, Gov. Rick Perry, aka Gov. Helmethair, and the “one tough grandma,” whom you expect to see be pistol packing along with mouth shooting, Carole Keeton McClellan Rylander Strayhorn etc.

Next, you have a Democrat, Chris “Verizon” Bell (can you hear me now?), whom one would think ordinary be drooling at what is in essence, to some degree an intra-Republican fight as well as a personal steel death cage match. But, the man with a down-home ethical sincerity level not often seen in politics also seems to have a political personality that engages about as well as a blown clutch on a ’63 Chevy pickup.

When big-time Democratic campaign donors like trial lawyers appear to think the same thing, and to think it enough to make out their checks to Grandma instead of Verizon (although that is changing somewhat), you know that you’re not a “buy” in the political futures market, although that’s started changing recently.

And then you have Kinky — Kinky (“Sometimes a cigar really is just a cigar”) Friedman, author, musician and all-around raconteur, trying to break through the good ol’ boys and good ol’ girls with a refreshingly different campaign, albeit one that is threatening to somehow become more repetitive and more incomprehensible at the same time.

Now, whether Kinky is the answer or not, obviously the other folks are worried about him. Bell, perhaps worried about finishing fourth, seems to be the leading sniper, but Kinky is his primary target for getting votes anyway, especially as Bell shows Friedman is a hard-core conservative inside his populist schitck. However, the Perry and Strayhorn camps have started taking at least an occasional shot at the ol’ Kinkster, too.

One thing is for sure. With Kinky in the race, the state won’t have an abysmal voter turnout like it did in the 2002 general election.

As with many political race, at times it seems like this is the lesser of two, er least of four, evils, type of election.

Perry is beholden to special interests too thick to count. Among those with the deepest pockets are Cintas, the Spanish construction firm wanting to do partnership business in Texas as Cintas-Zachry, to build the state-long Trans-Texas Corridor toll road. Not all of Perry’s beholden interests are those with deep pockets, though. Or, at least, they aren’t first thought of for their deep pockets.

People who are concerned about First Amendment religious liberties issues note that Perry has jumped in bed with the Religious Right to a degree and in a way that practically makes George W. Bush look chaste in comparison.

And, speaking of that, you know that if Perry wins, he’s going to get talked up for national office in 2008. That’s even though there’s been no advance groundswell for him like Bush had in 1998.

Strayhorn? If it weren’t a blood feud, started when Perry pushed the Legislature to clip some of the Comptroller’s Office’s powers, what else would it be? And, do we really want someone who claims she can win the general election but was afraid to battle Perry in the Republican primary? And Strayhorn has already burned enough bridges with the Legislature, not just Perry, that she might have trouble being an effective governor.

(And, speaking of that, what’s with Chicken Little GOP women politicians over Perry? First, it was our Head Cheerleader, Kay Bailey Hutchison, ducking a prize fight with Rappin’ Rick, despite her snow job that it was because she really just wanted to best serve Texans in the Senate. Then, it’s Left Cross Grandma deciding a primary dropout is the better part of valor.)

Beyond sparring with Perry over some financial accountability issues, until the TTC hit the fan, her only real disagreements with the governor were personal, not political. As for TTC, and some disagreements on TAKS or other education issues, there’s non-Republican choices rather than trying to decide which of two Republicans to select.

Chris Bell? Nice man, from what I see. Decent. Ethical. Ethical enough to force both the Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives to break their sit-on-their-hands see-no-evil stance on the House Ethics Committee and actually censure the now-resigned, now-fallen Rep. Tom DeLay. He did also get some reputation for trying to improve political ethics while on the Houston City Council.

But, besides his charisma deficiency, can anybody really name anything else he has done in politics? Granted, cleaning up political ethics is good work, and hard work, in and of itself. And, he’s starting to get some traction out of the issue of underfunding of Texas state parks.

But, within Texas Democrats, he’s arguably on the conservative side; his work as a scheduler for Republican lieutenant governor candidate Rob Mosbacher in 1994, even if working at Mosbacher Energy at the time, should underscore that.

On the plus side, as a former journalist, one would hope that a Gov. Bell would continue to stress ethics, and open government as well.

And, that leaves Kinky Friedman, former headliner for the Texas Jewboys and murder mystery writer. Jokes aside about him bringing kosher government to the state, his own words perhaps say it best, when he said, “Can I screw it up any worse?” Probably not.

That said, as a populist-type candidate, Kinky has positions that haven’t totally meshed with each other, and some that are as inconsistent with each other, in their own ways, as those of career politicians.

Comparisons with former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura end here. Ventura had been mayor of a Minneapolis suburb before running for Congress. While his positions also weren’t totally coherent, he usually had more organization behind them.

But, Friedman may be right, contrary to big media assessments here in Texas. Maybe he can’t screw up any worse. Or maybe people are so tired of Texas politics and lame two-party candidates not to care.

As for some people saying they’re offended by his language, have these people said anything about that of President Bush or Vice President Cheney? Uh-huh.

Yet, Friedman at times sounds like he’s pandering so much to religious conservatives to get snuggly with them that he threatens to make Perry look chaste.

And he certainly doesn’t understand the First Amendment, nor 40 years of Supreme Court rulings, with wanting prayer, and the Ten Commandments, in public schools.
Even worse, his recent Kilgore comment that “If you don’t love Jesus, go to hell,” shows that this man is anything but inclusive.

Kinky Friedman is no progressive.

And, if you can’t even win a small-town, small-county race (Kinky lost a 1986 justice of the peace election in Kerrville), how do you expect your populist schtick to do anything statewide, without substantive ideas behind it?

In any case, here’s how I see the race going down to the wire.

Perry’s got a big war chest. Saturation TV, radio and print ads will be coming out the wazoo soon.

Strayhorn? If her fourth-place standing continues much longer, the Democratic trial lawyers’ checks will dry up more and more. Look for her to up the personal nature of the attacks. Her campaign, more than any of the other challengers, has to be geared specifically against Perry.

Bell? If a corpse can indeed pull 40 percent of the vote from the Texas Democratic base (see Tony Sanchez, 2002), he could win a four-way race, especially if some of Grandma’s traditional Democratic donors start returning home to roost. If nothing else, if a corpse actually can pull that 40 percent, then Verizon Bell might be living proof of that.

Kinky? He has to hope that Strayhorn hits harder as she continues to trail, and that Bell and Perry turn the snipers on each other as they try to narrow things to a two-person race.

Nov. 7, will we stay the course, seat a Democrat, or see a cigar-chompin’ dark horse charging hard up the rail, if he doesn’t keep tripping over his own hooves?

Stay tuned.

Some Democrats like Torture Ultra-Light, too

Unadulturated torture is torture. Liberal pundits have been calling Bush’s original “kinder, gentler” version “torture light,” so what the Senate has now approved is obviously torture ultra-light.

And despite this:
“This is wrong. It is unconstitutional. It is un-American,” said Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the committee’s top Democrat. He said it was intended to choke off access to Guantanamo to “ensure that the Bush-Cheney administration will never again be embarrassed by a United States Supreme Court decision reviewing its unlawful abuses of power.”

not even all Democrats feel that way, given the 65-34 final margin.

Democrats who voted “Yes” are Carper, Johnson, Landrieu (no shock with her lack of conscience), Lautenberg, Lieberman, Menendez, Nelson of Florida, Nelson of Nebraska, Pryor, Rockefeller (no surprise, given his lack of backbone in the past), Salazar (no surprise for quasi-Rockefeller reasons he’s already shown in his young Senate career). It’s especially troubling that members of racial or religious minority groups, who in this country, perhaps, and historically elsewhere, have had problems with government detention, would vote for such a bill.

In the House, 34 Democrats like torture ultra-light. That’s despite only eight of them being in election races ranked as tight, including two running for the Senate.

Again, for you readers, consider voting Green. And, ignore full-of-shit pseudoliberal bloggers like Mark Kleiman when they claim you and I are enabling Karl Rove by trying to hold Democrats accountable. He may claim to be part of “the reality-based community,” but it’s not one I want to live in.

September 28, 2006

Lindsey Graham shows his true colors

In debating an Arlen Specter amendment to the Senate’s version of the “Torture Ultra-Light is OK” bill, South Carolina’s Sen. Graham showed he clearly is not an enlightened, David Broder-type Senator.

Graham castigated Specter’s amendment to offer habeus corpus protection to terror suspects, saying, “It impedes the war effort, and it is irresponsible.”

No, Sen. Graham. You’re the irresponsible one. As pointed out by Carl Levin:
“The habeas corpus language in this bill is as legally abusive of rights guaranteed in the Constitution as the actions at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and secret prisons that were physically abusive of detainees.”

September 27, 2006

The Saudis are building a border fence ― maybe they’ll give us a field test for doing one on the Mexican border

Saudi Arabia wants to fence its border with Iraq, the whole 560 miles.

I’m not fully joking when I say this might be a sociological, geographical, and security laboratory for fencing our southern border.

And if the Saudis can spend $1.8 billion for border security there, even if in a lower-priced economy, why can’t we spend another $5-10 billion, not counting fence costs, above what we do now?

At the same time, doesn’t that say the Saudis agree with the U.N. assessment of the situation on the ground in Iraq?

Bush can stovepipe or sit on an NIE, but not the UN

President Bush a continues to sit on one National Intelligence Estimate about how the Iraq conflict (remember, no war was declared) has increased terrorism problems, while releasing redacted parts of it in dribblets and prevents another from even being formulated.

Re that second report, here’s how BushCo spins it (link below):
At the same time, California Rep. Jane Harman, senior Democrat on the House intelligence committee, accused the Bush administration of holding back until after the election a new NIE being prepared on Iraq.

Snow said Harman was “just flat wrong,” that the report was not even in a draft form and would take time to complete.

How much time? Well, surely, it can’t be rushed so much as to be completed before the Nov. 7 election, right?

But he can’t sit on the U.N.

A new U.N. report on how Iraq has fueled terrorism is saying the same things as our counterterrorism experts, as prepared by U.N. terrorism experts.
"New explosive devices are now used in Afghanistan within a month of their first appearing in Iraq," it said. "And while the Taliban have not been found fighting outside Afghanistan/Pakistan, there have been reports of them training in both Iraq and Somalia.”

I don’t believe in every tenet of Alcoholics Anonymous, but certain male alcoholics with a Type A personality or halfway there do seem to be especially stubborn, even obstinate. I don’t totally agree with the “dry drunk” idea, either, as it often becomes used as a weapon, not a tool.

But it, too, has some degree of validity. Exhibit A is at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Here’s what’s wrong with the core assumptions of Evolutionary Psychology

In writing this post, I am working with Imre Lakatos’ philosophy of science understanding of the development and refinement of scientific theories, rather than Popper’s falsification theory. (A great oversimplification of Lakatos is that rather than putting one theory up for falsification against a null set, a falsifiability-based potential counterexample, instead, multiple theories running on somewhat parallel explanatory tracks are thrown into the same “warm little pond” of a quasi-Darwinian intellectual evolutionary contest. The “fittest,” especially if clearly the fittest, emerges as the working theory until the scientific-evolutionary design space changes sufficiently enough (and perhaps suddenly enough, a la Kuhn) to put this working theory into a new intellectual evolution arms race.

Lakatos talks about “hard-core” portions of a theory without which it is, in essence, not the same theory. I just used “core” in my headline, but by it, I mean hard core.

It’s clear the hard core of Ev Psych is an strongly adaptationist understanding of evolutionary biology. I’ve made an initial statement here on what’s wrong with that, and made a first observation here on one item of fallout from adaptation being wrong, namely the idea that evolution is an algorithmic process.

More specifically than that, though, what’s wrong with adaptationism?

Optimality, just as I noted in my initial post on this subject.

More specifically than I mentioned there, what’s wrong with optimality? (I there said it was at least quasi-utopian, and hinted that it could be seen as quasi-idealistic, in the Platonic sense. In both ways, I called it “Leibnitzian,” as in it claims we are in essence living in the best, or at least nearly the best, of all evolutionarily possible worlds. I also said this smacked of Paley’s argument from design for the existence of God rather than drinking from the better waters of David Hume.

First, a series of rhetorical questions:
Who defines what “optimal” is? (Ev Psychers claim they can look at the EEA, but can they really define it that clearly?

For what length of time is a evolutionary change supposed to be optimal? Five minutes? (That can be a lifetime for a single-celled creature.) Five hours? Five days? Five years? Five centuries? Five millennia? Five eons? Even if optimality is true, a trait might be optimal today, non-optimal a century from now, but optimal again a century after that.

Now, I have no problem admitting that many evolutionary changes are adaptationistic — but not all of them.

However, that needs a further, and larger, caveat: a better definition of what it means for an evolutionary trait to be adaptationistic.

Just because a change is adaptationistic, this does NOT mean that it is optimal. Rather, it may simply be melioristic, that is, better than what was before but not the best. And it seems to me that hard-core adaptationists have totally blown by this distinction, or else tried to run it over and grind it into the dirt.

Now back to the critique that Ev Psych is some secular equivalent of the argument from design. To that degree, especially when a Dan Dennett in “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” can laud evolutionary nature as a quality creator, we are getting very close to a secular equivalent of Intelligent Design.

The teleological nature of trying to define what is “optimal” further parallels the teleological basis of intelligent design.

Beyond that, I have philosophical problems with an absolutist, or quasi-absolutist, theory, which a theory based on claims of optimality really is. Also, given that scientific understanding is normally understood to be provisional, and optimality is, in essence, a static state, it seems frozen in amber.

Another way of understanding this particular point is to see that the adaptationist program has a teleological view of progress, or, should we say Progress with a Platonic Idea capital P?

If we see adaptationism having this mindset to some degree, even if not entirely, it is then arguable that it is a metaphysical program. Especially taking φυσις in its original Greek meaning of “nature,” a program of Progress is arguably meta-physical, that is, going beyond nature.

Or, to put it another way, hard-core adaptationists are trying to promulgate a “secularist theology,” or, if you want to nail the hide to the wall with a two-dollar word, what they’re doing is … scientism.

So, on this count, I distrust the mindset of adaptationists for the same reason I have distrusted the quasi-metaphysical mindset of some cosmologists who have insisted that the universe had to be closed — usually to prevent the anti-Progress eternal entropy increase of an open universe.

The universe IS, simply is. It is neither good nor bad. Neither is evolutionary biology good or bad. Therefore, neither one can be said to be progressing toward anything, whether or not a teleological stance is the best to take. And likewise for human nature per se, and the Ev Psych that would try to study it from such a point of view.

Junk e-mail, junk e-mailers, junk thinking and junk defensiveness

I can’t really do anything about spammers and bots sending me e-mails about Viagra, hot stocks or Christian home loans, other than raising the security level on my various e-mail accounts and programs.

I can, though, respond to real people who send me junk e-mails of various types. That includes urban legends, today is so terrible compared to the 1950s or similar types of shinola.

And I do. It vents my frustration with such people as well as giving me positive pleasure to exercise my powers of memory and logical reasoning, depending on whether I more refuting non-factual statements the e-mailer uses as argument warrants, or illogical connections.

And I hit the Send All command.

I don’t care if people up the chain get bitchy with me. That includes today, when I got a “good old days” e-mail at the office that was bloated with myth, including:
1. People drank while they were pregnant back then and nothing happened;
2. We drove kids in cars without seat belts and nothing happened;
3. We had lead all around, with our children exposed, and nothing happened, etc.

I responded:
1. I grew up near the Navajo Reservation — I’ve seen the results of fetal alcohol syndrome.
2. My sister needed facial stitching after my mom had a fender-bender while driving a 1965 Rambler;
3. Poor children across the country were damaged with reduced IQs by exposure to lead paint, more concentrated exposure to leaded gasoline, and as here in Dallas, living next to a lead smelter.

Anyway, the person in the first link of sending the e-mail in the first place, three levels of response above where I got it, eventually got it back, as somebody did send it up the chain to him.

He then e-mailed the original sender and CC’ed me, calling me a nutjob and accusing me of wasting company e-mail privilege and time, while asking if my boss knew of this.

I first pointed out that his friend was the nutjob for sending it in the first place. I then observed that both his e-mail address and his friend’s were on company e-mail. I third pointed out that as a newspaper editor, it’s part of my job to get facts straight. I added that I take personal pleasure in doing so with urban legend-type e-mails as well as it being part of my job.

In light of things like this, I’m tempted to have something like the following as my e-mail signature, on office as well as personal e-mail. It would go out the first time I ever e-mail back to a first-time contact person.
Do not send me junk e-mail. By that, I do not mean ads for Viagra, etc. I do mean urban legends e-mails, “America was better in the good old days” e-mails, conspiracy thinking e-mails or political conspiracy e-mails. Given that I am a newspaper editor, please note that any political e-mail, if it lacks factual basis or is grossly illogical, falls under this category.

“Path to 9/11” not all wrong, either

Harper’s blogger Ken Silverstein says
Clinton does have a share of blame for the failure to nab bin Laden in particular and fight terrorism in general.

And I would tend to agree. Other than the fact he got elected as Democratic president, I’ve never been able to understand Democrats’ romance with the Big Hog Dog.

Of course, that’s what you get when you have non-ideological party battling a selectively ideological party in a non-parliamentary system, as part of the problem.

This is ridiculous — musical self-censorship over Islamic fears

The Deutsche Oper won’t do Mozart’s ‘Idomeneo’
oout of Islamic terrorist fears. The opera has a scene featuring the severed heads of Jesus, Buddha and Muhammed.

And, it’s had that same scene for well over 200 years.

What next? Stop performing Shakespeare’s Othello? We don’t have Jewish terrorists rising up over “Idomeneo,” or The Bard’s “Merchant of Venice,” for that matter. Nor have Christians protested the “Idomeneo” scene.

September 26, 2006

There’s TWO NIEs for Iraq, Bush won’t even fully disclose the first

The April National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq and the Iraq invasion/occupation increasing terrorism has become a hot-button foreign policy issue since The New York Times ran an in-depth story last week based on a leaked version of the document.

Under political pressure, President Bush finally announced he would release this NIE. But it turns out
Bush is an Indian giver. Because of “national security,” he’s only going to release sections of it. And those sections, even, won’t be released until the Guatamalan Scrubber, John Negroponte, is done with them.

But, it turns out there’s ANOTHER NIE, a newer one. However, Bush won’t call it an NIE yet, apparently so that the House and Senate intelligence committees can’t get a peak at it.

Why does this not surprise me? Bush gets the big PR for calling for release, then is an Indian giver, and flying under the radar screen as part of this as the heat dies down.

Question: Are hardcore GOPers, like Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, chair of the intelligence committee, getting sideswiped on this, or have they been in on the whole plan?

Mark Kleiman suggests some real learning for journalism students; I go one better

With all due respect to Mark Kleiman and his proposal to better educate college journalism students, I believe his focus on journalism students is too narrow and on college students is too late in life.

Mark Kleiman suggests some real learning for journalism students; I go one better

1. Informal logic/critical thinking skills. Students need to be able to recognize fallacious arguments, types of fallacies, and good logical reasoning skills, in today’s mix of mass media, mass entertainment and government misspeak bombardment. Textbook: “The Skeptic’s Dictionary”* by Robert Carroll. No Aristotle or other dead ancients needed.
2. Numeracy skills and logical reasoning. Learning how to understand false positives vs. false negatives in medical tests, correlation vs. causation, and ways of better understanding probabilities, indeed better visualizing them. Textbook: “Calculated Risk” by Gerd Gigerenzer.
3. Philosophy of science. How can high school students understand a biology class, let alone understand how creationists and intelligent design touters deliberately distort findings of evolutionary biology, if they don’t understand what science is and how it is done? A fun secondary textbook, for use near the end of the course: “A Glorious Accident”* by Wym Kayzer. Picture about 10 of the world’s greatest scientists, one of the top philosophers of science and another important cognitive philosopher, all sat down at a Platonic symposium. Better yet, watch the PBS video.
4. Financial planning. How better to stop predatory lending practices by banks, credit card companies and other financiers to educate students about it before they reach the age of majority?
5. Political science without American Exceptionalism bias. Textbook: No question but that it’s “The Frozen Republic”* by Daniel Lazare.

Now, where to teach some of these classes? Philosophy of science would be one semester of a ninth-grade introduction to science curriculum. The informal logic class would a half-semester, followed by the numeracy skills.

The financial planning would be part of a half-semester, or semester, course on macroeconomics. The political science would be the half-semester at the first half of the traditional junior-year American history class. To get it in, if necessary, U.S. history gets one “lab” day or double-scheduled day a week in a block scheduling system, if necessary.

That said, here’s a summary of my original online comment to Klein’s blog post:

I am a left-liberal who finds the body of the Constitution archaic and anachronistic. (See Daniel Lazare's "The Frozen Republic" for more on this line of thinking.) I want the "separation of powers" taught ONLY if contrasted to a parliamentary government - and that system's pluses.

Cost-benefit analysis? Depends on who's teaching the class. You want Newt Gingrich or some clone indoctrinating students?

Cost-bennie analysis assumes that all things can be monetized. Cost-effectiveness assumes that we make decisions in a moral vacuum, as does cost-bennie analysis. No way to teach those two issues WELL without the moral dimension.

Eric's right. Much of this is neoclassical economics. Given Adam Smith's "invisible hand" is a relic of Enlightenment Deism and its' god-winding-up-the-clock-and-sitting-on-his-perfect-world-LazyBoy diety.

Mark left out: A class in informal logic/critical thinking. That way, the "ideas" of people like American Hawk would immediately be seen to be intellectually underfunded.

* = Amazon reviewed by me

September 25, 2006

Some of the abuses” — McCain knows he caved on torture bill

On “Face the Nation,” the Schmuck Talker said:
I am confident that some of the abuses that were reportedly committed in the past will be prohibited in the future.


There you have it. McCain is supposedly against Torture Light (which, having been used by the Gestapo, NKVD and KGB, isn’t actually “Torture Light” at all) but Torture Extra Light? Schmuck Talk John is all OK with that.

And people still continue to praise the Schmuck Talker’s alleged honesty, and moral probity. Why, David Broder, why?

Bin Laden’s rumored death — my take on a possible Pakistani smoke screen

Is this a way of trying to get OBL to show himself and have his whereabouts more tightly nailed down, and so a French-Saudi-U.S. concoction of some sort? Possible, and I’m not the one to have invented this line of thinking. But, that’s only one possibility.

Here’s another one that I consider could be more likely, even much more likely.

Think about Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s recent agreement, earlier this month with the Waziristan and Northwest Frontier area to let it basically be autonomous. Then add in Bush’s public comments earlier this week about reserving the right to go after OBL wherever, whenever.

Factor in that the Islamabad/Waziristan agreement was in negotiations for some time, and that the U.S. knew at least the basic parameters of it for some time before it was announced. From this, assume that Rice or somebody else made some high-level private noise about “hot pursuit” before Bush’s public comment.

Then, is this somehow a “leak” engineered by Musharraf to say, in essence: “Move along. There's nothing to see here”? Or, beyond that, a shot across the bow from Musharraf to the U.S. to say that if you try to do too much intelligence sniffing on my side of the border with Afghanistan, the ISS might just actually help to cover up OBL’s tracks?