July2013

Reason author refutes own argument.

Imagine that:

Today Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother,  said she believed Florida’s “stand your ground” self-defense law “assisted the person who killed my son to get away with murder.” She did not explain how, which is hardly surprising, since George Zimmerman’s defense was not based on the absence of a duty to retreat for people attacked in public places. Rather, it was a classic self-defense claim that could have been successful in any state…

And yes, it is still nonsense if you cite the jury instructions or the interview with Juror B37, neither of which shows that Zimmerman’s acquittal hinged on his utterly irrelevant right to stand his ground while he was pinned to it and pummeled.

If you’re going to premise your entire argument on a basic fact (in this case that stand your ground had nothing to do with the case), you should probably do a little better than attempting to pass an arbitrary assertion at the end of your diatribe as conclusive proof.  IE, your argument, in your own words, is a non sequitur.

What the author misses is that stand-your-ground laws allow people like Zimmerman to engage in behavior that is reckless; behavior that they would not normally engage in if they weren’t secure in the knowledge that if they provoked a fight, they could then stand their ground instead of being required to retreat.

And more amazing is the fact that we take the word of a proven liar over the dead victim or his black friend.

But I forgot – we live in a post-racial world and all that.

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Libertarian Unicorns.

Another principled stand by another principled libertarian:

“Mitch McConnell is a proven conservative who stands strong for Kentucky in the face of President Obama’s big government agenda in Washington,” [Sen Rand] Paul said in a statement. “He is a consistent voice against Obamacare and against this administration’s war on coal. He has stood up for Kentucky values.”

Will the shills ever learn?

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Completely obvious and expected results unexpectedly occur…again.

Via Mark Thoma I find Mark Kleinman reporting on today’s charter school failures:

What does a Republican charter-school enthusiast who believes in school-level accountability for educational results do when a charter school run by a big Republican donor gets a lousy evaluation score? Why, he cheats, of course.

Tony Bennett, former head education honcho in Indiana and current head education honcho in Florida, to his chief of staff:

“Anything less than an A for Christel House compromises all of our accountability work.”

Bennett to the official in charge of the grading system for schools:

“I hope we come to the meeting today with solutions and not excuses and/or explanations for me to wiggle myself out of the repeated lies I have told over the past six months.”

Somehow, magically, the score for Christel House went from 2.9 (C+) to 3.75 (a solid A)….

You’d have thought that charter schools, like private prisons, could hardly have done worse than their big, clumsy, bureaucratic, union-dominated public competition. But you would have been wrong, twice.

He forgot the third one: healthcare.

There is one overarching principle here that cannot be ignored: any time a public function is run by private companies, it will inevitably lead to worse outcomes.  Why?  Because intrinsic to the whole arrangement is the “profit motive.”  No private company is going to run a public good for free.  And at some point, the public good (education, rehabilitation, healthcare) is going to come into conflict with the desire to secure a profit.

Conservatives constantly remind us that if you want more of something, subsidize it.  They want to talk about “incentives.”  You want more for-profit-but-not-for-education schools?  Subsidize them by transferring tax money from public schools to them.  You want more prisoners?  Subsidize incarceration.  You want worse health outcomes?  Subsidize administrators and doctors and executives at hospitals, drug companies, medical device manufacturers, etc, with public money to provide services, not outcomes.

We get the obvious result – in fact, the ONLY result you could possibly get.

The goal of a company (and its principles, investors, employees, etc) is not to provide a public good.  The goal of a company is to make a profit.

The sooner everyone realizes this the sooner the madness will end.

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Tom Coburn calls increasing unemployment “great for the country”…

As quoted by Slate:

“The one thing that we have achieved is that we have actually cut discretionary spending through sequestration and the Budget Control Act,” Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn pointed out. “That’s one thing we’ve done great for the country, and you’re going to put that at risk trying to achieve something that is impossible for us to achieve.”

Remember, sequestration is a policy that by all credible estimates has increased unemployment by over 1.5 million people.  That is 1.5 million more lives and families ruined.

This is why conservatives cannot be bargained with – only defeated.

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The Atlantic misses the boat on food stamps…

A glaring mistake in an otherwise fair piece on food stamps:

Completely setting aside ideology or ethics, it makes sense for the GOP to oppose food stamp spending from the perspective of interest group politics. The program is essentially a financial transfer from their districts to Democratic-leaning areas.

They probably should have written “completely setting aside reality” – for it is a fact that wealth transfers occur in the other direction (on the federal level) – from rich people in liberal areas to poor people in conservative areas.  And the data probably holds intrastate too (you try to pave an entire state on just taxes from a few dispersed farms).  Although there may be a lot of poor people in cities (as is evidenced by the rates of SNAP utilization), it doesn’t seem hard to imagine there may be a few rich folk sprinkled in there too (think: NYC).

Ironically, the authors commit the same error in judgement that many racist southerners use as their rationalization for voting against their economic interest: “those people” in the cities get all the money from us hard workin’ salt-of-the-earth types.

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Patent trolls decry patent trolls.

You can’t make this #@$% up:

The tech industry, after focusing laserlike on immigration reform for much of the past year, is using the slow congressional walk on that issue to increasingly turn its attention to another fight: getting Washington to curb patent trolls.

Silicon Valley has long complained about abusive patent litigation, calling it extortion and an unseen tax on its businesses.

Literally, their entire economic model is based on government intervention and granting of artificial monopolies.  It is an “unseen tax” on every consumer in the nation.  Yet when others do it to them?  Oh the humanity!

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Oxymoron of the day:

“Liberal meat-eater.”

“While animals raised for food do have a certain degree of intelligence, Farm Sanctuary is seeking to humanize them to advance its vegan agenda – an end to meat consumption,” said David Warner of the National Pork Producers Council. “While vegans have a right to express their opinion – and we respect that right – they should not force their lifestyle on others.”

Replace “vegans” with “abolitionists” in that last sentence and tell me, what group does that sound like?

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Or in other words, “not at all surprised.”

From Politico:

Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald said Sunday it’s “amazing” that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper still has a job and hasn’t been prosecuted.

Clapper recently apologized to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) for an “erroneous” statement given to Wyden over the scope of the National Security Agency’s data mining programs, but Greenwald said on ABC’s “This Week” he was surprised that’s as far as it’s gone given that Clapper was “caught red-handed lying to the American Congress.”

“It’s amazing that he not only hasn’t been prosecuted  but still has his job. And what that does is it lets national security officials continue to lie to the public,” Greenwald said.

Really?  I find it hard to believe that someone as intelligent as he is actually holds this view.  He has been awake for the last 5 (10, 15, 20, 25?) years, yes?

Did I miss where Clapper lied about using steroids?

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Conservatives and their libertarian football.

It still hasn’t occurred to the libertarians to stop voting for conservatives

Fortunately, 205 House members saw through the fear-mongering to demand that our lives be free of relentless inspection by our overseers. A majority of Democrats and a large share of Republicans acted as though it’s not too late to rescue our privacy from the maw of the surveillance state.

One would think you’d support the party that is more aligned with your interests?

Oh, that’s right, I almost forgot the main interest of “libertarians” is sticking it to the poors, especially “those people.”

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Irony.

From crooksandliars.com we are sent to the NYT where Warren Buffet’s son writes about the “charitable industrial complex“:

Early on in our philanthropic journey, my wife and I became aware of something I started to call Philanthropic Colonialism. I noticed that a donor had the urge to “save the day” in some fashion. People (including me) who had very little knowledge of a particular place would think that they could solve a local problem. Whether it involved farming methods, education practices, job training or business development, over and over I would hear people discuss transplanting what worked in one setting directly into another with little regard for culture, geography or societal norms.

Often the results of our decisions had unintended consequences…

Maybe he could share some of this information with his father?

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