Good riddance

Media outlets are reporting that late-term abortion doctor George Tiller has been shot and killed at his church in Wichita, Kan.

Tiller should have been jailed and had his license revoked for the abortion-related midemeanors he blatantly committed; had justice been done then perhaps he would still be alive. Not that I care, as I wouldn’t shed any more tears for dead abortionists than I would for murdered concentration camp guards. And at his church? What sort of church that calls itself Christian allows a totally unrepentant man with the blood of many children on his hands to attend it?

It should be amusing to watch the pro-abortion camp go hysterical with fear over this, as they still hadn’t gotten over the previous round of abortionist shootings that ended over a decade ago. They know at heart that the issue will never be settled; the murder of unborn children will never, ever be acceptable to decent men and women. Abortionists have killed more Americans than every American military foe in history combined, so based on the body count alone, the post-natal termination of an abortionist is more rationally justifiable than the killing of a jihadist in Iraq or Afghanistan.

UPDATE: National Review: “It’s hard to be anything but sick over the news.”

Yeah, it’s really not. And so-called “conservatives” are sick indeed if they can shrug off the death of innocent Iraqis and Afghans as collateral damage, call for military action that spells the certain death of innocent Iranians, and then be genuinely upset over the fittingly violent end of one serial child-killer.

Typical Keynesian

Paul Krugman offers a very strange complaint about two critics of the Obama spending plan:

First Eugene Fama, now John Cochrane, have made the claim that debt-financed government spending necessarily crowds out an equal amount of private spending, even if the economy is depressed — and they claim this not as an empirical result, not as the prediction of some model, but as the ineluctable implication of an accounting identity.

There has been a tendency, on the part of other economists, to try to provide cover — to claim that Fama and Cochrane said something more sophisticated than they did. But if you read the original essays, there’s no ambiguity — it’s pure Say’s Law, pure “Treasury view”, in each case. Here’s Fama:

The problem is simple: bailouts and stimulus plans are funded by issuing more government debt. (The money must come from somewhere!) The added debt absorbs savings that would otherwise go to private investment. In the end, despite the existence of idle resources, bailouts and stimulus plans do not add to current resources in use. They just move resources from one use to another.

And here’s Cochrane:

First, if money is not going to be printed, it has to come from somewhere. If the government borrows a dollar from you, that is a dollar that you do not spend, or that you do not lend to a company to spend on new investment. Every dollar of increased government spending must correspond to one less dollar of private spending. Jobs created by stimulus spending are offset by jobs lost from the decline in private spending. We can build roads instead of factories, but fiscal stimulus can’t help us to build more of both.1 This is just accounting, and does not need a complex argument about “crowding out.” Second, investment is “spending” every bit as much as consumption. Fiscal stimulus advocates want money spent on consumption, not saved. They evaluate past stimulus programs by whether people who got stimulus money spent it on consumption goods rather save it. But the economy overall does not care if you buy a car, or if you lend money to a company that buys a forklift.

There’s no ambiguity in either case: both Fama and Cochrane are asserting that desired savings are automatically converted into investment spending, and that any government borrowing must come at the expense of investment — period.

Note that Krugman doesn’t bother attempting to set the two economists straight by showing where the money is going to come from, instead he turns to a simple Econ 101 diagram of the so-called “multiplier effect” and complains about accounting. If this is a Dark Age of macroeconomics, it’s because the biggest names in the field are a bunch of third-rate Keynesians who cling to their outmoded and ineffective models as the economy melts down around them. They have no ideas except to spend more and print more, as if the problem was somehow brought about by too little government spending and too little inflation. And they completely fail to account for the actual consequences of debt and unproductive employment, or the important distinction between private consumption and government spending.

As one astute commenter pointed out: “Increase in G does decrease I – right now. It can theoretically result in increased GDP over time. This can happen though only if G creates greater velocity than I.”

“I will die a Viking”

Francis Asbury Tarkenton is a Viking to the end:

“I can’t put my arms around this as a Vikings fan,” he said. “I was born a Viking, I retired a Viking and I will die a Viking. … And in the spirit of sport — I don’t like to use the word hate — but [the Packers] are the enemy are they not? And I want to embrace the icon Brett Favre to come over here and play for my team? He’s a Packer and should be a Packer.

No. 10 is right. I think the Vikes will ultimately go with Sage Rosenfels, which is a definite upgrade from The Tarvaris Jackson Experiment and a perfectly reasonable option in an offense that needs a game manager more than a gunslinger. Favre looked pretty good his last year in Green Bay, but that was thanks to an excellent wide receiver corps. He didn’t have that in New York and he wouldn’t have it in Minnesota either.

And if you’re looking for a reason to cheer for the Vikings this year, Kenichi Udeze provides all the reason you need. His positive attitude and refusal to complain about the tough hand he was dealt are admirable.

The frauds of science

According to this UK study, scientific misconduct is probably far more common than scientists are willing to admit or science fetishists are willing to believe:

The level and quality of research and training in scientific integrity has expanded in the last decades, raising awareness among scientists and the public. However, there is little evidence that researchers trained in recognizing and dealing with scientific misconduct have a lower propensity to commit it. Therefore, these trends might suggest that scientists are no less likely to commit misconduct or to report what they see their colleagues doing, but have become less likely to admit it for themselves….

A pooled weighted average of 1.97% (N = 7, 95%CI: 0.86–4.45) of scientists admitted to have fabricated, falsified or modified data or results at least once –a serious form of misconduct by any standard– and up to 33.7% admitted other questionable research practices. In surveys asking about the behaviour of colleagues, admission rates were 14.12% (N = 12, 95% CI: 9.91–19.72) for falsification, and up to 72% for other questionable research practices…. Considering that these surveys ask sensitive questions and have other limitations, it appears likely that this is a conservative estimate of the true prevalence of scientific misconduct.

I note that whenever the topic of scientific fraud or scientific credibility comes up, science defenders inevitably begin lecturing on how scientists are “trained” not to commit fraud and so forth. This is true, but they never seem to realize that the “we wuz trained” defense is no more credible for scientists than it is for journalists claiming that attending J-school somehow proves they cannot possibly be guilty of subjective bias. This paper should explode that oft-heard defense, while the sizeable gap between the 2 percent of scientists willing to admit their own serious misconduct and the 14 percent admitting they had witnessed others commit serious misconduct also tends to call the credibility of the average scientist into question.

And before any dimwitted science-fetishist brings up that old chestnut about how science critics shouldn’t use the products of scientists, let me remind everyone of two things. 1) Science is not engineering and most inventors and entrepeneurs are not scientists. 2) By this logic, no atheist critic of religion should be permitted to use the products of the religious faithful.

The only good police shooting

Is a police-on-police shooting.* But they’re the good guys? Right, only good guys would ever occupy themselves with pulling over and attacking EMTs and shooting their fellow officers.

Here’s a simple lesson, Mr. Policeman. If the guy is driving an ambulance, he’s the good guy. Not you. See, he’s the guy actually saving lives, he’s not the guy with the gun and the badge pretending to enforce the law so long as it doesn’t conflict with what the politicians expect. And don’t shoot someone just because he has a gun! If he’s pointing it at you and he’s not in his own house, fine, blast away. But if he’s not aiming or shooting at you, master your adrenaline and hold your damn fire!

Of course, as we all know, the fatal shooting will be investigated and the policeman who pulled the trigger will be exonerated, because no police killing is ever unjustified. The only possible conclusion is that Officer Edwards was up to no good and merited killing. It’s a pity police-on-police killings don’t happen more often. If they did, the trigger-happy morons with badges wouldn’t be so quick to draw and fire in the knowledge that they’ll get away with murder.

*Okay, police have the same right to self-defense that anyone else does. But they don’t have any more right to self defense than anyone else either.

GDP Watch: Q1 2009 Preliminary

Speaking of statistical shenanigans, now we’re told that things are better than previously reported, but not as much better than previously reported as expected. Got that? Of course, I know you’re all looking forward to the upcoming revision of the National Income and Product Accounts, where similar post-facto adjustments will be applied to historical data.

Quarter Adv Pre Final Rev Annual
2009 Q1 -6.1 -5.7
2008 Q4 -3.8 -6.2 -6.2 -6.3 1.1 (1.3)
2008 Q3 -0.3 -0.5 -0.3 -0.5
2008 Q2 1.9 3.3 2.8 2.8
2008 Q1 0.6 0.9 1.0 0.9
2007 Q4 0.6 0.6 0.6 -0.2 2.0
2007 Q3 3.9 4.9 3.9 4.8
2007 Q2 3.4 4.0 3.8 4.8
2007 Q1 1.2 0.5 0.6 0.1
2006 Q4 3.5 2.2 2.5 1.5 2.8
2005 Q4 1.1 1.6 1.7 1.3 2.9
2004 Q4 3.1 3.8 3.8 2.4 3.6

The reliability of government statistics

It seems that Shadowstats’s criticism of the Consumer Price Indices produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics sufficiently annoyed the BLS economists enough that they produced a 17-page rebuttal entitled “Addressing misconceptions about the Consumer Price Index“. In that report, the BLS attempted to prove that the Shadowstats SGS-1980 adjustments significantly overestimate cumulative inflation, which from April 1998 to April 2008 was reported at 32 percent according to the BLS’s own CPI-U. However, when reading the report, I couldn’t help but notice two things. First, they didn’t include another, more conservative Shadowstats adjustment, SGS-1990. Second, in the table that compared the estimated SGS-1980 projections to actual price changes, they didn’t include what the CPI-U projected. Should one trouble to run the numbers, it’s not hard to see why they elected to omit that rather pertinent information.

In order to demonstrate that Williams’s figures are wrong, the BLS showed that the average delta in the prices of goods they selected was 81.7 percent over the specified ten-year period (They actually cheated and included two income-related figures that are not included in the CPI for the obvious reason that wages and income are not consumer goods; even so, that only reduced the average to 71.7 percent.) This is certainly an interesting way to attempt defending the credibility of a reporting methodology that provides a figure of 32 percent, but it is not a very effective means of doing so. In case the obvious conclusion has escaped the attention of the mathematically challenged, let me hasten to point out that 32 does not equal 81.7.

The BLS economists argue in their rebuttal that if it weren’t for that pesky increase in energy prices, the performance of the CPI-U would have been pretty good, of course, that defense would be far more meaningful if we were still living in a society that depended upon horse-drawn carriages for transportation and firewood for heating. Moreover, even if the three energy-related prices are excluded, CPI-U still comes in on the low side of the actual prices reported two-thirds of the time, 4.5 percent on average. On an annual basis, that would indicate an additional half-percent of inflation per year that is not included in the official BLS statistic.

The quarterback speaks

There have been more successful quarterbacks in NFL history. There have been better quarterbacks in NFL history. But there has never been a quarterback that I loved half so well as Francis Asbury Tarkenton. And now, years after his retirement, he proves that he can be every bit as entertaining as a football observer as he was scrambling around buying time in the backfield:

“I think it’s despicable. What he put the Packers through last year was not good,” said Tarkenton, who played for the Vikings from 1961-66 and again from 1972-78. ”Here’s an organization that was loyal to him for 17, 18 years, provided stability of organization, provided players. It just wasn’t about Brett Favre. In this day and time, we have glorified the Brett Favre’s of the world so much, they think it’s about them. He goes to New York and bombs. He’s 39 years old. How would you like Ray Nitschke in his last year [playing for] the Vikings, or I retire, and go play for the Packers? I kind of hope it happens, so he can fail.”

“He told the Packers ‘I’m retiring,’” Tarkenton said. “They’ve got to move on. They’ve got to go through their offseason plan, their workouts, they go with the other quarterback, who is a good player, and then comes back and says, ‘I think I want to play.’ … You build your team in the offseason. Everybody knows that. It’s about team. It’s not about Brett Favre. So he goes and runs up to the Jets, doesn’t even dress in the locker room with the players. Has a separate facility. Playing quarterback is about the relationships you have with your coaches, with your players, with your trainers, with your managers. How can you do that if you show up on gameday and you haven’t put the time in. And now he’s trying to do it again in Minnesota. And if Minnesota bites, God bless them…. I understand he’s been glorified so much. He’s been a great player, there’s no question about it, but it’s all about him. It is supposed to be all about your team. If you’re going to be the quarterback of your team, you need to be there in the offseason workouts in March and April. Peyton Manning’s there. Tom Brady’s there. I think he has been a great flamboyant quarterback, but he has made more stupid plays than any great quarterback that I’ve ever seen.”

All I know is that as a Vikings fan, I never feared Brett Favre. Never. Sure, sometimes he’d beat you with a lightning strike from that cannon arm, but just as often – more often – he’d beat the Packers with an untimely interception. Now, I can’t honestly say with complete certainty that even an injured, nearly washed-up Favre wouldn’t be in the Vikings’ best interest this season, since I have reservations about Sage Rosenfels and the team has been essentially without an actual quarterback for three years, but I suspect No. 10 is probably correct.

Torture and the ticking-bomb myth

NW asked my opinion about legalizing torture, which is as follows:

I don’t think there’s any situation where it can be legally justified. I think it can at least theoretically be justified on moral grounds in some circumstances, and in those circumstances the torturer should be willing to pay whatever penalty is deemed appropriate. After all, if the information he seeks is that overwhelmingly important, then he should be willing to pay a price for obtaining it. If the torturer is not willing to sacrifice hiimself for the information, if he is only willing to sacrifice his victim, then how important can the information possibly be? Be realistic, the nature of government is to stretch its limits, so one can’t reasonably expect legalized torture to remain within the nuanced strictures its defenders envision for long.

As far as the oft-mentioned ticking-time bomb scenario, that’s a particularly ludicrous attempt to justify the unjustifiable on emotional grounds. The ticking-time bomb scenario is a Hollywood invention and to the best of my knowledge there has never been a real one outside of television. One might as reasonably contemplate the burning question of whether or not the torture of intelligent extraterrestrial aliens is justifiable. In reality, either the plot will be broken up by conventional means long before it was to take place, or it will take place as planned and the first the authorities will know of it is when someone calls to report a big explosion.

Moreover, even in the extraordinarily unlikely event that a ticking-time bomb scenario were to occur and the relevant information was extracted by torture, history strongly suggests that it would prove useless because the authorities would sit on it for one reason or another until it was too late. Government does not move quickly enough for even this very improbable justification to hold water.

UPDATE – There is also a broader issue at stake here. If torture is deemed legally permissible, what is the limiting factor in preventing it being applied to every situation in which the government would like to obtain information? First, torture is an obvious violation of the 5th Amendment since it is being used to compel the victim to testify against himself. Second, if it is legal and trumps the 5th amendment, why should the police, the DEA, and the IRS not also be permitted to compel testimony in this manner? Remember, we’re dealing with a government that has successfully claimed that it can ban certain naturally growing plants under the Interstate Commerce clause even though said plants are neither sold nor cross state lines.

Fascists are always leftists

Progressive order out of chaos in the Bundesrepublik:

The killing in 1967 of an unarmed demonstrator by a police officer in West Berlin set off a left-wing protest movement and put conservative West Germany on course to evolve into the progressive country it has become today. Now a discovery in the archives of the East German secret police, known as the Stasi, has upended Germany’s perception of its postwar history. The killer, Karl-Heinz Kurras, though working for the West Berlin police, was at the time also acting as a Stasi spy for East Germany….

For the left, Mr. Kurras’s true allegiance strikes at the underpinnings of the 1968 protest movement in Germany. The killing provided the clear-cut rationale for the movement’s opposition to what its members saw as a violent, unjust state, when in fact the supposed fascist villain of leftist lore was himself a committed socialist.

This is why books like Liberal Fascism are important. Unless you understand the actual political spectrum, you’re constantly left floundering about and bewildered by historical events such as these. And it’s interesting to see how German socialists still love a well-publicized false flag operation. It’s a relief to know such things could never happen in the USA.