Friday, July 16, 2004

Link Day

* Tax the rich! The Bush tax cuts benefit the wealthy, right? So we can expect if and when Kerry gets elected, he (or at least his Sugar Momma) and trial lawyer extraordinaire John Edwards will see their tax bills rise precipitously, right? Think again. Maybe it is too much to ask one bleeding heart liberal super-millionaire to give away the vast portion of his/her fortune in order to live less like a hypocrite, but can't they just stop going out of their way to not pay taxes?

* Remember the lies Bush told about Iraq seeking to purchase uranium from Niger? Turns out, as usual, that there was plenty of lying going on, just not from Bush. Or you could read about it here. But don't expect to see good old Joe Wilson making the major media rounds to explain his lies, as is pointed out here. But in the eyes of some, particularly the person responsible for funding this web site (see the bottom of the linked page), Joe Wilson is the model of honesty. Heck, if you defended Bill Clinton's honesty for so long, as so many Democrats have, it is easy to see how you lose some judgment in this area.

* I read yesterday that US troops are pulling out of Bosnia after nine years. Nine years stuck in that quagmire, which I remember all the networks fretting over at the time, and incessantly across these nine years, as another Vietnam (which makes it at least the third of five Vietnams we've had since Vietnam: Central America (Reagan), Iraq (Bush Sr.), Afghanistan and Iraq (Bush Jr.)).   At least now we can expect all of the anti-Bosnia war demonstrations to come to an end.  Anyway, do you remember all of the hand-wringing from the press following the initial "victory" there over our inability to find weapons of mass destruction ? Oh, sorry, my mistake, nobody ever tried to sell that war as one that involved any American security interest. It was just good old-fashioned American do-goodism, which was OK in the case of Milosevic for two reasons: 1) he didn't have the good taste to produce mass graves silently and slowly over the years, away from the camera's eye (see Saddam Hussein); 2) he lacked the ability to bribe every UN security council country in Europe with lucrative oil contracts that circumvented UN imposed sanctions (see, also, Saddam Hussein).
But at least in Bosnia we had the backing of the UN.  Oh, wait a minute, we didn't have their backing, did we.  But we did have France on our side, and that's what counts, right?  That's what Kerry and Edwards mean when they say they want America to be respected in the world again.

*   Against racial profiling?  I bet you'd change your mind had you been on this flight.


Blogger Professor Vic said...

I feel bad that the Jerky doesn't get enough responses to his political commentary (although plenty on his sports talk), so here is a brief comment on racial profiling.

Racial profiling is inherently offensive because people in any targeted group, even if innocent, are assumed to be guilty based on the actions of a minority of their peer group. I mean, I certainly don't want to be associated with the Jerky just because we are both athletic and strikingly good-looking economists.

Now that doesn't mean that profiling can't be an effective way to reduce crime or terrorism, but it does mean that you should make sure that you are engaging in profiling that works. Several years ago the U.S. Customs Service was profiling black women for additional screening and the statistics showed that their targets ended up having no higher rate of customs violations than randomly chosen individuals. Therefore, the Customs Service was being offensive for no good reason. I suspect that quite of bit of police profiling and pulling motorists over for DWB is similarly ineffective and offensive.

If a profiling method is found to be effective, then the decision has to be made about the tradeoff between civil liberties and security, and security will not always be the winner. Strip searching every young Arab male before flying in order to reduce the chance of terrorism by .00000001% is a bad tradeoff.

The only obvious solution is to make sure law enforcement agencies keep good statistics about who is pulled over or subject to extra searches along with a record of the result of this search. At least this way we have information about whether profiling is effective so that this information can be used in weighing options.

As for the fines that airlines had to pay, I can only relate the story of my next-door office neighbor at Lake Forest, Ahmad Sadri, a poli-sci professor at LFC and a frequent NPR guest. Shortly after 9/11, he was denied boarding, even after going through secondary screening with no hint of a problem, and this prevented him from attending a conference in NYC. After spending hours writing a paper for the conference, I would be pissed for missing the conference based solely on my ethnic background and think I might deserve more than just a refund of my ticket. What do you think?

8:31 AM  

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