Monday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. Two symbols examined, one a very important lady with a torch.
  2. A feast day, the presentation.
  3. The press and Islam.
  4. The tour of California, a graphical view of what have your day job be in a saddle.
  5. Lamarckian descent/inheritance revisited.
  6. Chant.
  7. “Move over to the side of the road” alligator version.
  8. Of Apple and Microsoft.
  9. So … now Mr Obama has taken up the “religion of peace” slogan. What is it with these Presidents?
  10. Also, how about the religion of desecration?
  11. Mr Ping and the stimulus.
  12. I’m willing to bet that few, especially of his detractors, think of the Pope as cheerful (but I’ll wager he actually is such).
  13. UK and “Fairness”.
  14. Christ and Christianity without his death.
  15. Obama and the birth certificate weirdness.
  16. A lecture on an early heresy.
  17. Why is that the left cannot argue for the stimulus without resorting to logical fallacies (poisoning the well and ad hominem attacks in this case)?
  18. So … dollhouse, whaddya think, here’s an interview.
  19. Five films.

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20 comments

  1. Boonton says:

    Obama’s birth certificate:

    I’m not sure what is being demanded:

    Obama could have made all these suits go away by offering to the court the original, long form birth certificate from when he was born in Hawaii

    The reason he probably doesn’t is because he probably doesn’t have his. Like many people I myself don’t have my ‘original’ birth certificate, original meaning the one actually printed when I was born. When I need my birth certificate, I get a certified copy from the state’s vital statistics department. The certified copy has a raised seal and indicates that the state asserts all the information on it is true. There is nothing in the Constitution that requires American citizens to keep their original birth documents (and it would have never have occurred to the Founders to add anything like that considering that 300 years ago many Americans had no ‘official’ birth documents beyond entries in family Bible’s or maybe Church registries). The state of Hawaii has confirmed that Obama’s birth certificate is valid. The website makes much of the fact that HI will issue birth certificates for those who are foreign born but HI will not issue a birth certificate for a foreign born person saying he was born in HI. When you couple this with the fact that contemporary evidence exists for Obama’s birth in Hawaii (a newspaper record of his birth from the date it happened), Obama’s birthplace has been proven as much or more than any other US President.

    On the other ‘citizenship theory’ that Obama isn’t a citizen because he either holds or held as a child duel or tri-citizenship with Kenya and/or Indonesia because of his birth father and later stepfather. This is pure nonsense. US courts are not in the business of trying to figure out foreign citizenship laws. Additionally, even if Obama fit the criteria to be a citizen of some foreign country (as do many Americans), there is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits such a thing. Most of the Founders would have likewise been considered British citizens and could have choosen to move to England and live there as such if they wanted too. Since Alan Keyes is, I believe, a lawyer and self-proclaimed Constitutionalist he really should know better than to knowingly participate in a frivious lawsuit. It is perfectly proper that the suit be dismissed & its filiers charged with the legal fees for abusing the court system.

  2. Boonton says:

    Why is that the left cannot argue for the stimulus without resorting to logical fallacies (poisoning the well and ad hominem attacks in this case)?

    Amazingly as poorly educated in economics as your example is he is still more logically consistent and does less poisoning and ad hominem attacks than most stimulus critics.

  3. Boonton says:

    For example, we have you:

    1. Accusing stimulus supporters of theft (2/12 highlights #9)

    2. Asserting that the bill is about ‘paving the road to serfdom’ (2/4 #2)

    In neither case do you provide much of anything in the way of logical support even when challenged. So off the bat we have your two logical fallacies (poisoning the well #2 and ad hominem attacks #1) here.

  4. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Be serious (or make it more obvious when you’re joking).

    #1 -> redistribution has been argued as akin to theft. Take your classical redistrbution hero, the (mythical?) Robin of Locksley “stealing from the rich”.

    #2 -> Paving the Road to Serfdom is not an poisoning of the well, it is a reference to a well known book by FA Hayek (as if you didn’t know that).

    You’re reaching. As for as those arguments I’ve linked (which isn’t the same as those I’ve made, I make no claim I support and agree with everything I post … just that I find them interesting and that they might be interesting to those who read my blog) “less logically consistent” and so on, … you cite two> linked posts … I’ve been posting multiple links virtually every day on the stimulus and the two you find are a stretch for your fallacy claims. Too bad. Try again some time.

  5. Boonton says:

    The theft argument was your own, the article you linked to wasn’t about the stimulus program ditto for your Serfdom comment. Both of these were areas where you added your own spin to the articles you were linking too so it is perfectly fair of me to treat this as your own commentary.

    Now could you show us exactly how your arguments are not ad hominem & poisoning the well? In your defense, so far, you’ve use the logical fallacy of argument from authority in regards to #2 (if Hayek used it as a book title it must be true) as well as #1 (it has been argued? so what?) Perhaps it would be helpful to show exactly what you think is ad hominem and well poisoning by the author you cited in #17.

  6. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    What have I said that sinks to the level of

    I assume that these Chicago School freemarketeer morons have thrown all this out, and believe insane things like in a recession or a depression, you should slash government spending. That’s simply madness. The Friedmanites are the equivalent of religious fundamentalists. I would say that what they are preaching is unscientific, except that the dismal science is not much of a science in the first place.

    Which then goes on with “So …” therefore having proved ??? what!?

  7. Boonton says:

    Harsh yes but neither poisoning the well or ad hominem. Slashing gov’t spending in a recession/depression is madness. You can argue that theory but it’s no more ad hominem than saying socialism is madness or communism is madness.

    I would disagree with his characterization of Friedmanites as religious fundamentalists. First Friedmanites would say monetary policy should be used in the face of a depression (Friedman built his reputation by arguing that the Fed caused the Depression by not using its power to stimulate the economy). The Fed has turned the monetary stimulus guage to ‘high’ and there’s no significant opposition by economists with that call. To be honest there really isn’t much in the way of Friedmanities around anymore. The 80’s and 90’s were not kind to them and their theory essentially says what we are seeing today is impossible, you can’t have a deep recession with highly stimulative monetary policy. This is kind of the inverse of the charge against Keynesian economics in the 70’s which said stagflation (inflation coupled with recession) should not theoretically exist.

    Anyway, these are all quite debatable points. You can charge that Friedmanites are clinging to a theory without even attempting to update it with the actual evidence available today. You can likewise say this is an unscientific stance and economics as a whole is unscientific to begin with. That’s probably a bit unfair but it is a charge that can be supported or refuted.

    Compare this with your charge that the stimulus bill is theft and Obama is trying to bring us to Serfdom. Is there an argument behind that? Not that I’ve seen from you. Is it something that can be refuted or does it exist more as an emotional charge? I would argue it is more of the latter which makes it illogical. Previously you have argued that appeals to emotion demagogic. Well pot, kettle black?

  8. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    I missed your defense of “Chicago School freemarketeer morons”???

  9. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Look I called nobody a moron or insane (ad hominem).

    “No significant opposition by economists”, I linked the other day a list of 200 economists (some of them Nobel winners I believe) who signed a letter opposing the stimulus. So that argument by you is just plain counter factual.

  10. Boonton says:

    Read more carefully, I wrote:

    “The Fed has turned the monetary stimulus guage to ‘high’ and there’s no significant opposition by economists with that call. ”

    Perhaps you thought Fed meant Federal government rather than Federal Reserve but even if that was the case “monetary stimulus” and the fact that the paragraph was talking about supporters of Milton Friedman should have hinted that I was talking about monetary policy.

    As for you not calling anyone a moron or insane, that’s nice but some people do consider being accused of theft or seeking to impose serfdom on their fellow citizens to be a harsher charge than the playground insults of moron or insane.

  11. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    On the first, we were discussing the stimulus bill, not stimulus in general (which I gather from the above is the lowering of interest rates by the Fed).

    On ad hominem … so what you are saying is that in your world, calling a person a Nazi, insane or a moron (all playground insults) is not an ad hominem remark while alluding to a well known title of a economic text or historical/mythical figure is. Gotcha.

    And by the way, the thesis of “Road to Serfdom” in part is that those going down that road aren’t intentionally seeking serfdom but that their actions have that result. Their intentions are good, it’s just that the consequences of their choices don’t lead to the result that they intend. Much like the perceptions of many regarding the stimulus. That is that the intentions of the supporters are not in question.

  12. Boonton says:

    Perhaps I was assuming too much wonkery here. Friedman’s theory was called monetary theoriest and the primary gist of his theory was that inflations and depressions were created by either too much or too little monetary stimulus (technically not lower interest rates but that’s close enough here).

    He may sound very close to the Austrian school because he was a well known advocate of free enterprise and was highly skeptical of fiscal stimulus and gov’t spending in general. Also he fought an uphill battle for his theory against a Keynesian orthodoxy that held sway in his day that discounted monetary policy. So it is understandable that both you and the blogger you quote see Friedman as the arch enemy of Keynes and all things stimulus. But in reality they are closer to each other than they would have ever really wanted to acknowledge.

    What made Friedman appear more free market centered was his feeling that gov’t could not time stimuluses correctly. So he advocated a constant rate of modest growth in the money supply. He felt this should eliminate major depressions and inflations but the economy would still suffer minor booms and busts that should be left alone. We have no idea what he would have made of today’s world but he almost certainly would have approved of the Fed’s use of monetary stimulus to address the recession.

    “Their intentions are good, it’s just that the consequences of their choices don’t lead to the result that they intend.”

    To make this argument you must demonstrate that you have some command of the likely consequences. This will require a bit more than rattling off book titles.

  13. Boonton says:

    let me add when the blogger you quote asserts it is madness to cut spending in the face of a depression, he does appear to have a better command of why this allegedly ad hominem assertion is true than you have for your serfdom assertion.

  14. Boonton says:

    #3. The press and Islam

    A Muslim TV station owner seems to have gone crazy and beheaded his wife. The press isn’t covering it! Except it’s on CNN’s main page and the date stamp on the article (http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/02/16/buffalo.beheading/index.html) says it was posted before 9 AM Monday!

    Except what this says about anything is beyond me. There’s no indication that the man killed his wife because of Islam, no indication that he felt he was following Islam, nothing. At least from the picture it would appear that the couple was relatively secular. As far as we can tell, the man killed his wife for reasons no different than the other men who kill their wives that are profiled endlessly on ‘true crime’ shows.

    Look at this! http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D00E0D71231F936A15753C1A9679C8B63 back in 2001 some Rabbi arranged to have his wife murdered! Does this tell us anything useful about Judism or Rabbis?

    I’d take the rights’ charge that the Press goes too soft on Islam more seriously if they produced something beyond “Look someone did something wrong and he was Muslim!”

  15. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    I haven’t read Mises but himself and read the FA Hayek book mentioned some years ago. But … that’s not the point. The point is, I’m not the one advocating a huge leap. As is oft quoted in other context, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. The immediate emergency borrowing of $1+ trillion dollars, which dwarfs any borrowing done before, is claimed necessary to fix this problem. That’s an extraordinary reaction. I’m suggesting that extraordinary proof is required to back that up. That you should be able to demonstrate clearly and unequivocally that this is needed and why and what it will do. That has not been done. Most of the argumentation for the stimulus has been of the “your a moron” sort or accusing those who don’t support the stimulus of arguing in bad faith.

    Really in part the problem is not about what I believe. There has been no serious or realistic engagement to address concerns other than default acceptance of the Keynesian or neo-Keynesian economic model. There are alternatives, and these have not been basically ignored. Nobody seems to have an interest in meeting those arguments head on. As I wrote earlier there are non-economic reasons why Keynesian economic policies are popular in government. I think these are operative here.

    What is really odd is that you are not willing to admit that calling those who disagree with you insane or a moron is not an ad hominem. That’s just weird. I mean the claim that is basically the textbook definition of an ad hominem attack. Why the heck are you defending it as not being the case?

  16. Boonton says:

    That has not been done. Most of the argumentation for the stimulus has been of the “your a moron” sort or accusing those who don’t support the stimulus of arguing in bad faith.

    Has it really? Well I learn something new every day.

    What is really odd is that you are not willing to admit that calling those who disagree with you insane or a moron is not an ad hominem

    Ad hominem does not mean hurting someone’s feelings. It also doesn’t mean that any argument with name calling is automatcally invalid. Ad hominem means basing an argument on name calling. “Only a moron would favor cutting spending in a recession” is not an ad hominem argument. It is basically saying “cutting spending in a recession will produce bad results (i.e. results only a moron would would like)”. Now an ad hominem would be “Mark’s a moron so what he says has to be wrong”. Subtle but real difference.

  17. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    And the argument offered against monetarism in the quoted piece is absent, except for the name calling. Hence the term usage ad hominem is appropriate.

  18. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Oh, and if you have arguments for the stimulus pitching that argument to meet concerns and arguments of other economic schools, please provide them. I’d be interested.

  19. Boonton says:

    Actually the argument isn’t missing, it’s implied. It is of the form monetarism creates bad outcomes. You can say the argument is incomplete. It doesn’t tell us what the outcomes are, why they are bad and why monetarism produces them.

    Ad hominem, though, is a fallacy of reasoning. “Monetarism is wrong because it’s supporters are morons”. It may very well have morons supporting it but that doesn’t cause the theory itself to be wrong. Morons may believe in gravity, that doesn’t make gravity unreal.

  20. Boonton says:

    Oh, and if you have arguments for the stimulus pitching that argument to meet concerns and arguments of other economic schools, please provide them.

    I’m still trying to figure out how you’ve come to the conclusion *most* of the arguments for the stimulus package consist of calling people who oppose it morons. Have you surveyed the Senate and House debate? Have you reviewed Krugman’s columns and blog posts? How about Brad De Long and other economists in favor?

    It seems to me you plucked out a single blog post that calls some people morons and have used that to justify your absurd blanket accusation.