This guy claims to use science to prove evolution can’t be true. Three claims: evolution has never been observed (false), science requires observation (false), and the laws of thermodynamics prove order cannot emerge from chaos (false). But he’s VERY CONVINCED HE’s GOT IT ALL FIGURED OUT. Which counts for something I guess.
“If one speaks to most Israelis or Palestinians and dare to suggest that they are victimizers, they will be outraged. “How dare you say I am a victimizer? I am the victim!” We fail to realize that we can be a victim and a victimizer at the same time. Our victimhood and the fact that justice is on our side do not give us permission to ignore moral red lines.”—
While I agree that the blockade is ridiculous and terrible, why do you think that opening up all the crossings would result in less terrorism rather than more, given Hamas' control of Gaza and its militant wing's stated purpose of liberating all of Palestine?
First, I do not in any way think Hamas presents an existential threat to the State of Israel. The power gap is too large. Not US v al Qaeda large, but still enormous. (Note: some of this is borrowed from a long discussion I’ve been having on Facebook.)
Second, like it or not, the people of Gaza think of Hamas as the legitimate government for their territory. Hamas, after all, is more than a military organization: it’s social support, schools, hospitals … a full service government in the place of a state (money provided courtesy of Iran and Qatar, of course). Gazans know this: they see no other prospects — it’s Hamas, starvation, or Israeli bombs. They choose what most would choose in such a circumstance. As history also shows. If you change that sense of legitimacy, however, then there is a prospect for change. Until then, all bombing does is solidify support. (WWII research for example shows that the British, the Russians AND the Germans all supported the war as the bombing got worse.)
You cannot win this war against a government that is perceived as legitimate by its people short of something close to genocide, which of course none but the most extreme of anyone anywhere wants. You certainly cannot win it with heavy weapons, which only reinforce support for the regime.
Thus, third, just in Gaza I’d throw the border open and invite every Palestinian who wants a job to come work (like before the first intifada). That alone would strip Hamas of much of its power since it uses its Iranian and Qatari money to provide food and education and shelter and healthcare to the Gaza population that otherwise faces 60%+ unemployment. I’d open the never-allowed open Gaza airport and port. I’d invite Arab forces in from Egypt and Jordan to play police roles. I’d go after the politics on which Hamas rests not the military annoyance that are its horrible but virtually ineffective rocket attacks.
That seems to me the beginning of a plan that might dent an otherwise perfect death spiral.
Are there risks with such a strategy? Sure. How’s the old one working? Is Hamas (or Hezbollah in southern Lebanon) stronger or weaker due to Israeli policy over the last 20+ years?
I've been writing that I don't understand why Israel isn't following elementary counterinsurgency as espoused by David Kilcullen ("The Accidental Guerilla") and General Petraeus and proven in Iraq. The key: get the people on your side with minimum force and maximum exposure and trust-building. I recognize it's a more complicated dynamic with Israel/Palestine, yet Israel is literally doing the exact opposite. Creating more insurgents through heavy force. What do you think?
If someone is doing the exact opposite of the only strategy that is known to work, what is the most reasonable conclusion to draw? … that they don’t want to achieve that which they claim to want to achieve?
Gaza: 9713/sq.mi. (Only Macau, Monaco, Singapore, Hong Kong and Gibraltar are more dense — in that order.)
US: 84/sq.mi (Greenland is least dense at .4/sq.mi)
The attached video link shows the first 2 of a 6 bomb JDAM package dropped in Afghanistan. 1000 lbs per bomb. If you can tell me where exactly in a 9713 people per square mile country one is supposed to go to avoid this kind of destruction, whether with one minute’s notice or one hour’s, please let me know. And remember: it doesn’t work: Hamas is stronger after 30 years of this, not weaker. Just like Hezbollah now entirely runs south Lebanon. There has got to be a better way. http://youtu.be/LWZCStUeKnU
Over the past few weeks, extremism and violence once again escalated and finally exploded in Israel and the Gaza Strip. Space for a moderate…
Politicalprof: there always needs to be space for careful and thoughtful reasoning. I am glad to signal boost this editorial. The Southerner in me does ask: do people really get to axiomatically determine democratically the character of their state? In all cases? Given what democratic majorities have promoted in this world, I’d love to see that notion fleshed out in a way that doesn’t quite make me see Selma, AL.
It seems to me that there are at least two kinds of explanations in the world: those that try to explain things as a result of factors that are intrinsic to the issue, and those that try to explain things as a result of factors that are extrinsic to the issue.
Put another way, do things happen because of forces “inside” the group or object being explained, or do things happen because of forces “outside” the group or object being explained?
This question seems to me to be at the heart of the discussion of the child refugee crisis on the US border. Tens of thousands of children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are arriving at the United States’ borders seeking entrance to the country by whatever means possible. Some have endured horrific conditions on their journey; others face horrific conditions no that they have arrived. It is a real human crisis.
The domestic US politics have been remarkable. Many describe the refugees as fleeing gang and drug violence in their respective countries. In this account, desperate parents pay smugglers vast sums in a faint hope that their children might live a better life — or live at all — in the US, whereas the murder rate is so high in El Salvador that it’s safer in Baghdad.
Put another way, the refugees as coming because of reasons that are intrinsic to their group: they have a problem they are seeking to solve through migration.
An opposite account asserts that the refugees are coming because the United States is the land of opportunity. They are attracted by our jobs and our benefits. They want our life … and so the children are sent as a wedge to open the border to all future comers.
Or, to use the logic offered here: the refugees are coming because of “us” — extrinsic factors are pulling them here rather than intrinsic factors pushing them.
Which is staggeringly arrogant. Americans are so damn convinced that they are so damn wonderful that they never question the notion that no one — or at least almost no one — would put their children on a bus and into the hands of criminal strangers to sneak them across multiple borders all for some plot to wedge their way into the United States. That is an act of desperation and fear, not hope and politics.
The “US” explanation is really an “it’s all about us” explanation. It compliments us. It makes us feel good about us. And it excuses us for our complicity in creating the problem of drug gang violence in the first place — since absent our market, why would the drug gangs exist?
But it has nothing at all to do with why all those children are arriving on our borders.
An insightful look at who gets shot in America by the woman who has made it her work to catalog them, one at a time.
Politicalprof: A must read from the editor who compiled Joe Nocera’s gun violence blog. My favorite lines:
But while half of the shootings I featured were the result of a crime, the other half, I was most surprised to learn, resulted from arguments — often fueled by alcohol — among friends, neighbors, family members and romantic partners. More and more, people are solving their differences not with their fists but with guns. Husbands and wives are shooting each other, as are sisters and brothers. In many homes across America, loaded guns are easily accessible, and children find them, accidentally shooting themselves or each other. One hundred children died in unintentional shootings in the year after Newtown, which breaks down to two every week.
Since the late 1970s the cost of education has risen by over 1,000% whilst the mean family income has stagnated. As a result, graduating from a higher institution means for the typical college student to be burdened with debt, especially if desiring to pursue a masters or phd, when he/she is just starting their adult lives. Do you think it's always worth it to get an education? It would invariably seem like the answer is yes, but with the current job market, nothing seems guaranteed
Well, I’d say first of all that “always” is a pretty useless word in human life. Second, I’d say let’s not confound “education” and “higher education.” Thus, yes, it is ALWAYS worth it to get an “education.” It may or may not be worth it to get a higher education, depending on what one wants in life.
As for costs, there is no question that the increased cost of higher ed (to the student, where we’ve shifted costs over the last 30 years) makes it harder to understand why it might be “worth it.” (The reasons for these increased costs are a matter for another post.)
My sense is a lot of people think they have to go to an “elite” school to have a chance in life, and so will pay anything to achieve this end. And, to be fair, if you want to be President, you’re probably right: Harvard and/or Yale seem to have become prerequisites for that career. But for the rest of us, it’s pretty silly.
News flash: YOU CAN LIVE A FINE LIFE AND HAVE A FINE CAREER EVEN IF YOU ATTEND A LESS ELITE, LESS EXPENSIVE COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY. Just pay attention and actually learn how to think and grow and develop … rather than seeking a stamp on a passport of “MAJOR MOFO UNIVERSITY.”
You probably won’t become POTUS. But then again, you probably won’t anyway …
What do you think of Piketty's "Capital in the 21st Century," and do you think it's possible for any sort of change in policy in America anytime soon?
I credit Piketty for reigniting the same conversation that the Occupy movement did: that inequality is not inevitable, but is instead the result of policy. I am not able to chime in on his data, about which there was critique (and lots of persuasive defense), but I can only hope that his book helps us move past the silly orthodoxy that the rich earned their money through hard work — especially working harder than everyone else. Some did — there are geniuses and innovators out there. But lots timed their working live well … and got lucky on the baby lottery.
We have chosen to transfer vast amounts of wealth from the working and middle classes to the rich, all while gutting social support programs and “get ahead” institutions like cheap, quality education. We did not have to do this. We can change it if we wish.
I'm an Undergraduate political science major, and I just wanted to let you know that seeing your posts on my dashboard helps me believe that there's still hope for my chosen discipline. You're an actual, real life inspiration, which has honestly been rare for me the past 3 years. So thanks.
FOX’s Steve Doocy explaining why ordinary citizens in Chicago could understand the new “all gender” bathroom signs to go up on a very few number of bathrooms here at my university, Illinois State University, while the FOX News crew, desperate to construct a nightmare scenario, apparently finds them “too confusing.”
The hosts of Fox & Friends mocked Illinois State University’s decision to accommodate LGBT students by designating certain campus restrooms as gender-neutral.
During the July 9 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox’s Heather Nauert reported on Illinois State University’s decision to re-label a number of single stall restrooms on campus, designating them “all-gender” restrooms rather than “family” restrooms. The change is expected to affect approximately 10 restrooms and won’t affect the functionality of any of the facilities. Designating gender-neutral restrooms on campus is a common practice aimed at accommodating growing populations of transgender and gender-variant students, who often face harassment and even violence in public restrooms.
Nauert, who incorrectly identified the university as Indiana State University, attributed the decision to the “P.C. police.” Members of the Fox & Friends crew could be heard laughing throughout the segment, and Nauert concluded by stating “we’re all a little confused by it”:
Fox & Friends has a habit of ridiculing gender-neutral accommodations as ridiculous or unnecessary. The show has mocked gender-neutral passports, passport applications, college housing policies, student financial aid forms, and marriage licenses. In all of these cases, the changes were minor adjustments made to acknowledge members of the LGBT community. And in all of these cases, Fox & Friends jumped at the opportunity to turn gender-neutral accommodations into an early morning punch lines.
From the 07.09.2014 edition of FNC’s Fox and Friends:
Dear Heather Nauert and the rest of the Fixed and Fools crowd, transgender-bashing is NOT FUNNY AT ALL!
Politicalprof: When I was Chair of the Illinois State University Academic Senate, the university extended all its “on campus” benefits to domestic partners regardless of gender/sexual orientation. (State law at the time prevented us from extending health benefits, etc.) I was proud to have supported that decision and spoke out in favor in public. As a faculty member of Illinois State University today, I am happy to see the institution is continuing its forward momentum. More, just like that decision to extend ISU’s benefits to domestic partners, this decision has caused exactly no clamor on campus.
“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”—
John Adams, remarking that July 2 should go down into history as American independence day, since it was on July 2, 1776 that the Continental Congress agreed to support the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration was formally approved, after edits, on July 4 —!— and signed in August.
Two years ago Kansas embarked on a remarkable fiscal experiment: It sharply slashed income taxes without any clear idea of what would replace the lost revenue. Sam Brownback, the governor, proposed the legislation — in percentage terms, the largest tax cut in one year any state has ever enacted — in close consultation with the economist Arthur Laffer. And Mr. Brownback predicted that the cuts would jump-start an economic boom — “Look out, Texas,” he proclaimed.
But Kansas isn’t booming — in fact, its economy is lagging both neighboring states and America as a whole. Meanwhile, the state’s budget has plunged deep into deficit, provoking a Moody’s downgrade of its debt.
There’s an important lesson here — but it’s not what you think. Yes, the Kansas debacle shows that tax cuts don’t have magical powers, but we already knew that. The real lesson from Kansas is the enduring power of bad ideas, as long as those ideas serve the interests of the right people.
Why, after all, should anyone believe at this late date in supply-side economics, which claims that tax cuts boost the economy so much that they largely if not entirely pay for themselves? The doctrine crashed and burned two decades ago, when just about everyone on the right — after claiming, speciously, that the economy’s performance under Ronald Reagan validated their doctrine — went on to predict that Bill Clinton’s tax hike on the wealthy would cause a recession if not an outright depression. What actually happened was a spectacular economic expansion.
Nor is it just liberals who have long considered supply-side economics and those promoting it to have been discredited by experience. In 1998, in the first edition of his best-selling economics textbook, Harvard’s N. Gregory Mankiw — very much a Republican, and later chairman of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers — famously wrote about the damage done by “charlatans and cranks.” In particular, he highlighted the role of “a small group of economists” who “advised presidential candidate Ronald Reagan that an across-the-board cut in income tax rates would raise tax revenue.” Chief among that “small group” was none other than Art Laffer.
And it’s not as if supply-siders later redeemed themselves. On the contrary, they’ve been as ludicrously wrong in recent years as they were in the 1990s. For example, five years have passed since Mr. Laffer warned Americans that “we can expect rapidly rising prices and much, much higher interest rates over the next four or five years.” Just about everyone in his camp agreed. But what we got instead was low inflation and record-low interest rates.
So how did the charlatans and cranks end up dictating policy in Kansas, and to a more limited extent in other states? Follow the money.
For the Brownback tax cuts didn’t emerge out of thin air. They closely followed a blueprint laid out by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, which has also supported a series of economic studies purporting to show that tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy will promote rapid economic growth. The studies are embarrassingly bad, and the council’s Board of Scholars — which includes both Mr. Laffer and Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation — doesn’t exactly shout credibility. But it’s good enough for antigovernment work.
And what is ALEC? It’s a secretive group, financed by major corporations, that drafts model legislation for conservative state-level politicians. Ed Pilkington of The Guardian, who acquired a number of leaked ALEC documents, describes it as “almost a dating service between politicians at the state level, local elected politicians, and many of America’s biggest companies.” And most of ALEC’s efforts are directed, not surprisingly, at privatization, deregulation, and tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.
And I do mean for the wealthy. While ALEC supports big income-tax cuts, it calls for increases in the sales tax — which fall most heavily on lower-income households — and reductions in tax-based support for working households. So its agenda involves cutting taxes at the top while actually increasing taxes at the bottom, as well as cutting social services.
But how can you justify enriching the already wealthy while making life harder for those struggling to get by? The answer is, you need an economic theory claiming that such a policy is the key to prosperity for all. So supply-side economics fills a need backed by lots of money, and the fact that it keeps failing doesn’t matter.
And the Kansas debacle won’t matter either. Oh, it will briefly give states considering similar policies pause. But the effect won’t last long, because faith in tax-cut magic isn’t about evidence; it’s about finding reasons to give powerful interests what they want.