SocraticGadfly: 5/5/13 - 5/12/13

May 11, 2013

Racialism at Heritage, suckitude at Hahvard

People following politics and think tanks closely have heard of Jason Richwine, until earlier this week employed by the Heritage Foundation, and his claim, in his PhD dissertation, that Hispanics are dumber than whites and condemned to stay that way.

Sounds like Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein, doesn't it?

Well, per The Nation, Richwine is a fanboy of them and their racialist ideas.

But that's a secondary issue.

Secondary, in a sense, to the issue of how such craptacular writing got approved by a Harvard dissertation committee.

Here's how:
The dissertation was approved, as all dissertations are, by a committee of three. The chair was George Borjas, an conservative economist who writes about immigration for  National Reviewand The Wall Street Journal. Borjas told Slate’s David Weigel, “I have never worked on anything even remotely related to IQ, so don't really know what to think about the relation between IQ, immigration, etc.… In fact, as I know I told Jason early on since I've long believed this, I don't find the IQ academic work all that interesting.”—not exactly an endorsement of the dissertation.

The second person on the committee was Richard Zeckhauser. He studies investing, not immigration, and his Harvard faculty website describes him as “a senior principal at Equity Resource Investments (ERI), a special situations real estate firm.” He told Wiegel that “Jason’s empirical work was careful,” but that he was “too eager to extrapolate his empirical results to inferences for policy.”

The third member of the committee is the big surprise, and the big problem: Christopher Jencks, for decades a leading figure among liberals who did serious research on inequality—a contributor to The New York Review of Books, the author of important books, including Inequality: Who Gets Ahead?, The Homeless and The Black White Test Score Gap. Christopher Jencks knows exactly what’s wrong with the studies purporting to link “race” with “IQ.”
OK, so one of the three admits that he knows nothing about IQ research in this issue, and that he finds the question boring. And, while he may write about immigration, that doesn't mean he knows anything academic about it. The second admits Richwine overstretched, while also indicating he doesn't study either immigration or IQ. 

And the third is an alleged librul who clearly knows what racialism is.And refused to answer questions from The Nation about why he signed off on this shite.

Jencks, unlike the other two profs, also refused to answer Slate's questions, apparently. Slate shows that Richwine's in thick with the racialists, like Steve Sailer. 

Meanwhile, proof again that a Hahvard education is worth no more than that at State U., other than the right name on a resume. And, proof again that, despite the lies of both conservatives and neoliberals, class issues, and class divisions, are alive and well in America. And, add the names of a coward, a coward-lite and a hypocrite to those of Larry Summers and Niall Ferguson as among the teaching excellence at Hahvard, eh?

And, assuming Jencks isn't a traitor to previous political stances, why did he sign off on this? Pure laziness? Overwhelmed with too many theses to read? Again, neither one bodes well for the actual educational value of a Hahvard "education." Ditto on the failure to man up and answer the media.

And, in an interesting sidebar, I'll bet you didn't know Steve Pinker had this many toes dipped in the racialist cesspool. Still, should it surprise you? No.

400! do I hear 450? Sold — global warming

Well, we're now officially at 400 parts per million of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a level not seen since before the genus Homo evolved from the Australopithecines.
At that time, global average temperatures were 3 or 4C higher than today's and 8C warmer at the poles. Reef corals suffered a major extinction while forests grew up to the northern edge of the Arctic Ocean, a region which is today bare tundra.
In short, contra the Koch Bros., eXXXonMobil, Peabody Coal, et al, trying to tell us that "carbon dioxide is good," our genus, not just the particular species, Homo sapiens, will face a brave new world, indeed.

Oh, sure, atmospheric CO2 has been even higher, even much higher. And that was when dinosaurs and similar reptilians ruled the planet, facing the first shrewlike mammals.

And, even then, CO2 levels weren't changing nearly as rapidly. (Sidebar: While I'm not a "Frankenfooder," this "degree of change" issue is one thing I raise repeatedly against those who issue a blank check to the world of genetically modified organisms.)

What's it mean?
"We are creating a prehistoric climate in which human societies will face huge and potentially catastrophic risks," said Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics. "Only by urgently reducing global emissions will we be able to avoid the full consequences of turning back the climate clock by 3 million years."
Unfortunately, fat chance, Bob.

We've likely got a 2 ppm per year change cooked in the books for 25 years or so, at a minimum.

In other words, onward to 450 by 2040.

And, unlike Peak Oil, where US technology mixed with the fungibility of crude means we might be no worse off, the US, with its favorable geographic location for industrialized agriculture, and its ever-growing dependence on air conditioning, is in special danger vis-a-vis many other countries.

But, not enough farmers and ranchers of the Midwest and Plains States will yet connect the dots, and those that do can't drown out the professionally funded deniers.

May 10, 2013

We must KILL, KILL, KILL immigration reform

National Institutes of Health image
I don't care how you feel about immigration reform, we have to KILL DEAD the currently pending legislation.

Why? Somebody in our bipartisan Googly Senate overlords of DC has foisted thisa massive biometric data-mining ID provision — into the legislation.

Forget the various Internet snooping bills that were sniffing around the edges of Congress last year. This is worse.
Buried in the more than 800 pages of the bipartisan legislation (.pdf)  is language mandating the creation of the innocuously-named “photo tool,” a massive federal database administered by the Department of Homeland Security and containing names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the country with a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID.

Employers would be obliged to look up every new hire in the database to verify that they match their photo.

This piece of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act is aimed at curbing employment of undocumented immigrants. But privacy advocates fear the inevitable mission creep, ending with the proof of self being required at polling places, to rent a house, buy a gun, open a bank account, acquire credit, board a plane or even attend a sporting event or log on the internet. Think of it as a government version of Foursquare, with Big Brother cataloging every check-in.
And, you're damned skippy there would be mission creep indeed. As Wired notes itself, it happened with Social Security numbers, which the gummint itself originally said would only be used for Social Security purposes.

So, again, I don't care what you feel about immigration reform — the current bill must be killed.

Not weakened, killed.

We don't need anything like this in the bill.

That said, per Dear Leader's own idea about taxing or fining social media and related sites to get them to cough up more info, if this provision stays in the immigration bill, y ou know Obaam will sign it into law.

That's why this bill, and this portion, must be killed. Not weakned, but killed.

If that means larger immigration reform is dead for 2 years, that's what it means.


I don't care if it even means emailing Ted Cruz, for fellow Texas denizens. Tell him to kill this thing. That said, I'm sure he's already dead-set against it, so Cornyn's the one to be worked here in Texas.

The next worry is that, if this passed at the federal level, it would trickle down to states.

Let's not forget that a state governed by a wingnut like Rick Perry has a driver's license with digital versions of your thumbprints.

And, you think identity theft is a problem now, dealing with Social Security and such? It would be Kafkaesque indeed with this.

So, it's not just the current bill. If future immigration reform legislation has something even close to this tacked on to it, it's got to be killed.

May 08, 2013

Democrats who still don't get it on the GOP, the budget, and Catfood!

And, no, this time, it's NOT Dear Leader, President Obama, who doesn't "get it."

It's a Democratic Senator.

The Washington Post has a story about how the shrinking budget deficit is gutting the likelihood of grand deals on debt-cutting.

First, how shrinking?

In February, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted that this year’s deficit would fall to $845 billion, down from nearly $1.1 trillion in 2012. Goldman Sachs recently predicted that the deficit would fall even further, to $775 billion, and return to sustainable levels within two years.
Take THAT, austerians, Catfood Commission, etc.

In turn, that's pushing back the next time the Congressional GOP gets to hold America hostage via hitting the debt ceiling limit.

That, in turn, has House GOP wingnuts like Eddie "Paul Ryan" Munster boo-hooing.

Now, the "Democrats who still don't get it." And, the Democrats who are "part of the problem."

They're the same person, this time:
“The American people — all of us — are tired of management by crisis,” Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said at the Peterson summit. “We need to start working now.”

First, why is an alleged liberal like Patty Murray at a Pete Peterson (aka Catfood Commission eminence grise) "debt summit"? The same one Eddie Munster was at, to boot?

If you want to get a clue, read about austerity costing 2.2 million jobs.
That's the conclusion of a new study by Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney at the Brookings Institution. In the 46 months since the Great Recession ended, state, local and federal governments have cut about 500,000 jobs. In contrast, in every other U.S. recession since 1970, the government hired approximately 1.7 million people, on average. That means the U.S. is an estimated 2.2 million jobs in the hole.

Given the size of the U.S. labor force, an extra 2.2 million jobs would mean the U.S. unemployment rate would be about 6.1 percent, instead of 7.5 percent. That would be below the 6.5 percent rate the Federal Reserve is targeting with its extraordinary bond-buying program known as quantitative easing.
Second, if "The American people — all of us" includes "House GOP," you're dead wrong. As your own party's cave on airport traffic controllers shows, the House GOP has seen management by crisis kind of, sort of, work, for its own ends.

Ergo, given A and B, and to riff on LBJ, er ... Patty?

Eddie Munster's got your ovaries in his pocket.

And, once again, people ask me why I continue to push Green Party voting?

Is Doc Halladay done for his career? And Phillies for the season?

Well, Roy Halladay, the iron man of the mound for most of the previous decade, is undergoing shoulder surgery. And, a bone spur doesn't sound like good news. Especially not if there's a partial rotator cuff tear and other things. True, it's not a full tear of the cuff, but, anything, it's a problem.

Fangraphs says that, going by the past, it's really not good news:
 Players over the age of 35 that went on the DL for any sort of shoulder injury only averaged 59 innings over the course of the rest of their career. So if Roy Halladay pitches 60 innings next year, he’ll be ahead of the game. 
What about more recently? Fangraphs adds that six starters in that group, DL-ing since 2002, pitched more than 100 career innings. They include John Smoltz (106), Pedro Martinez (153.2), Kenny Tim Wakefield (424.1), and Orlando Hernandez (438.1).

That said, we all know Halladay is a Smoltz/Martinez pitcher, not a Wakefield/Hernandez one. So, Phillies fans shouldn't hold their breath.

The real question is, how much should Phils fans expect Ruben Amaro to start working the trade deals?And when?

The when? The Phillies aren't in Marlin-land, so no need for a total panic yet. But, I don't expect them to be any more in play later than now. Unlike this in-the-tank Phils fan, I am not assuming their "putrid offense" radically heats up.

And, Amaro himself can do all the brave talk he wants, but, if he's wanting to be a buyer, I'm going to charge him a lot.

So, on the "sell" side, no serious talks even start before June 1, and likely not before the All-Star break. And, I'll discount the "buy" side.

As for who?

I see only three legitimate trade baits for Amaro: Cliff Lee, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels.

All three are interesting.

Lee's never had serious injury problems, he's a lefty, and his contract is long enough to pretty much wrap up his career, with the last year being cheaper.

Utley, so far, is having his best and healthiest year in four or five years. (Let's see what that looks like in a month or two.) That said, he's a free agent; unless you're sure you can resign him, and want to, you're buying a rent-a-player. And, Amaro knows he's selling one.

Hamels? So far this year, the opposite of Utley. His worst year since 2009. But, he's younger than Utley or Lee, and under contract for longer. If you assume he bounces back (and indeed, has started to do so by trade time), you'd have to be buying on him, if Amaro put him up.

That, in turn, relates to how much of an overhaul Amaro thinks the team needs. Both as far as players and contract dinero. Fortunately for him, Halladay is on an option next year, so there's no contract albatross there.

Any pennant contender that's not a totally small-market team will take Lee without asking any salary assumption. But, Amaro's player price might be high. Cleveland might have a prospects package, if it's still in the wild card running and the dealing timetable is later, not sooner. The Giants would certainly sniff. Maybe the Braves. Would the Rangers take a second run at him? What about Boston? And, the Yankees have nothing to offer.

Hamels? If he does bounce back, a mid-market team with a mix of major-league players and minor-league prospects needing somebody to shore up its staff for longer-term needs might bite. Or even an upper-market team looking to bounce back. Say, the Cubs?

Utley? Still not sure where he would head. Maybe the Nats, if the price is right. Or the D-backs, if they're hanging around?

May 07, 2013

The Texas non-solution for Medicaid expansion is dying

The Austin American-Statesman has details. I have no doubt that no bill's gonna get to the House floor before the Thursday deadline.

Some tea partiers will love that. Their "Texas solution" is, of course, to do nothing. Democrats are smart, both politically and otherwise, to avoid this baby with a 10-foot pole, but who knows if a few more would break ranks?

Anyway, in the meantime, smaller, rural hospitals will see taxes for their taxation districts rise again with the ER becoming more and more the substitute for health insurance. But, those voters still won't, or will refuse to, draw the connection with their local representative.

May 06, 2013

3D-printer guns — no longer just speculation

Ugh, ugh and ugh on this news — a 3D-printer handgun has reportedly been successfully fired.

Even more ugh is the reasoning of the person creating this gun:
(Cody) Wilson had said the effort’s intent was to “ensure the democratization of firearms themselves,” allowing universal access that will make the weapons less sensational.
No, it won't. In the violence-addicted US, whether urban ghettos or the violence romancing rural South, it will have just the opposite effect among anybody not already romancing the cult of the handgun.

And, Michael Reyes, top Austin agent for the old ATF, which now has "explosives" added to its name, has said that as far as he can tell, there's nothing illegal. And, were ATF to want to try to track printing of 3D guns (which could surely be bartered rather than sold for cash, a legal dodge right there), wingnuts would raise again the spectre of the evil gummint intruding into private lives. And, given Team Obama's continuing drive to vacuum up ever more online discourse, they'd have evidence on their side, sadly.

So, 3D guns will stay legal, no matter the stupidity level.

If you build it technically right.

That said, the real question is, how easy will it be to build an illegal gun, one that has no steel in it to make detectable by a metal detector. Contra this Atlantic piece, issues of building a legal 3D printer gun aren't the big deal. Building an illegal one, especially if one could use a printer to make a non-metal bullet, or use an infamous ice bullet, is the biggie.

UIL: Religion played no part in Columbus HS track disqualification

The latest Religious Right whine is coming from here in Tejas. It's the claim that the Columbus High School boys track 4x100 relay team, which won its event at its regional meet, was disqualified from advancing to state because of overt religious celebration.

Well, the University Interscholastic League is officially raining on this latest martyrdom parade. From a UIL press release:
An incident involving the disqualification of the Columbus High School 4X100 meter relay team at the Region IV Conference 3A regional track meet occurred on April 27, 2013. The UIL was made aware of this issue on May 2 after media reports of the disqualification began airing on May 1.  Once becoming aware of the incident, the UIL immediately began investigating the matter thoroughly.

Over the course of the investigation, the UIL interviewed several eyewitnesses and reviewed video of the race. Additionally, the UIL spoke to the involved parties.  The UIL has concluded the investigation and has found no evidence to suggest that the disqualification took place as a result of the student-athlete expressing religious beliefs.  The basis for the disqualification was due to the student-athlete behaving disrespectfully, in the opinion of the local meet referee.

Based on the UIL’s investigation, the student athlete raised his hand and gestured forward at the conclusion of the 4x100-meter relay. The meet official approached the student-athlete in an effort to warn him of a possible disqualification should that behavior continue. In the opinion of the official, the student reacted disrespectfully. Based on his reaction, the student-athlete was subsequently disqualified. Any decision to disqualify a student-athlete at any track meet must be upheld by the head meet referee. The meet official and the meet referee conferred, and the disqualification was upheld on-site. At no point during the discussions surrounding the disqualification at the meet was the issue of religious expression raised by any parties.

The UIL’s investigation also revealed that all coaches involved were notified prior to the regional meet that any gestures in violation of the NFHS track and field rule against unsporting behavior would be grounds for disqualification. Coaches were instructed to discuss this with their student-athletes prior to all races. 
If that's not enough for you, both the kid involved and his parents are telling the martyrs' brigade, ever so politely, to put a sock in it:
To assist the UIL in its investigation, the student-athlete’s parents submitted a letter stating that their son’s religious freedoms were not violated. “In looking back at the conclusion of the 4x100 race, we realize that Derrick could have handled the win in a different manner,” KC and Stacey Hayes said in the letter. “It was not our intention to force the issue that our son’s religious freedom was violated. Nor do we feel that way now. After discussing this with our son, we have come to the conclusion that his religious rights were not violated.”

The student-athlete who was disqualified also submitted a letter during the investigation stating: “Although I am very thankful for all God has given me and blessed me with, on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at the Regional Track Meet in Kingsville, TX, my actions upon winning the 4x100 relay were strictly the thrill of victory. With this being said, I do not feel my religious rights or freedoms were violated.”  
Now, let's move on. 

If only we could. Agitators aren't going to let go of this one, I have no doubt. I'm surprised Tim Tebow hasn't jumped in yet.