Saturday, March 31, 2018

Police profiling by race seems to continue

One week ago it was the March for our Lives to End Gun Violence. The subject changes too quickly.

Today, as I return from a day trip, CNN is talking about the two major police shooting incidents in the news.

It looks like the cops in Sacramento were legally wrong in not stepping back in reassessing, according to CNN legal commentators.  Vox has the best explanation so far as to what happened. And there are reports that this was an agonizing death.

And the New York Times reports on the great length of time it took for Baton Rogue police to release all their video and to fire the officer who killed Alton Sterling. 
 These incidents can indeed undermine the rule of law over time.  It would be too risky to work as a police officer. 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Restrictions on Census make citizenship question less "dangerous" than it sounds

First, here is NPR’s research on the citizenship question on the census in the past, and the relation to the American Community Survey.
There is a great deal of criticism, even rather collective uproar, over the Trump administration’s wanting to put the citizenship question back on the 2020 census and other special surveys. 
Would it lead to lower participation of minorities and lower voter turnout later?
At least twelve blue states are suing the Trump administration over the question. 
I worked for Census, on the diennial in 2010, and on the Current Population Survey in 2011.  This crisscrossed the time when my mother passed away, so it was a somewhat turbulent time personally.  But I can share a couple perspectives.

One is that Census is not allowed to share PII with any other government agency.  We were sworn to that.  Another is that census survey interview employees are scored on how effective they are in getting all the interviews, especially in the CPS were there was a 10 day period every month to complete the assignment. But it was common to turn in difficult interviews without all questions answered, or with some answers “deducted.”

Properly conducted, there is no reason for adding the question to reduce the participation of minorities or undocumented persons or Dreamers in the surveys.
In 2010/2011 at least, respondents were asked if they considered themselves Hispanic even though they might be European or Caucasian.  The next census would collect information on legally married same-sex couples and families with same-sex parents (voluntary, NPR reference).  Apparently it won’t collect stats on LGBT otherwise.  Trump seems not to want the LGBT community to function as a potentially intersectional “group” politically, even if it has little or no opposition (outside of a couple of extremist appointments) to LGBT individuals.  (The trans military issue is still a problem.) 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Gun manufacturers have their own "CDA230": should it be taken away from them?]

Here are a couple pieces:  “The fight over gun control really isn’t about guns”, from Time, Oct. 2017.  I would say, it is about protecting oneself from sharing vulnerability with others.  To a somewhat less obvious extent, that is true about many free speech arguments. 
A lot of this comes down to how far we will go in expecting individuals to bear the full responsibilities of their actions.  But it is an existential tautology: Victims and their families and loved ones also bear these responsibilities, whereas most of the rest of us do not.  So we always have to re-evaluate everyone’s karma in an issue like this.  And unfortunately, too many people on the Left especially want this to be about what group(s) you belong to.  But shared responsibility certainly goes to speech distribution  issues on sex trafficking, terror recruiting, and weapons instructions.
The analogy between weapons ownership and speech carries into policy arguments about downstream liability.  The gun industry has its own “CDA230” (Section 230) through the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005.  
As an NPR article in 2015 shows, the analogy is not perfect .   But the gun industry will surely come under pressure over this issue. 

Will “the kids” attack collectively irresponsible speech distribution as much as they have gun sales?  Campus speech codes do not bode well for this comparison. 

I presume it won’t be very long before David Hogg can vote.  In 3 years he can drink (we hope he doesn't much) and, by his own laws, own a lawful weapon himself.  And in 8 more years he can serve in Congress. In 18 years he can be president. (Mark Zuckerberg has 2 more years, but blew it with the Facebook scandals.)   I think in a lot of places you can run for local office at 18.  He should go for it in Broward County.  (It might be hard to make Hollywood movies and do public service both, but Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger have pulled that off.)  On Facebook, some friends use “Poopiepants” for the White House’s current occupant (at 71) and mention potty training, like what substitute teachers have to deal with by surprise. .  As David Brooks said, right now the world is led by a child.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Santorum tells high school students to suck up and learn CPR

Rick Santorum said that high school students needed to suck it up and learn to defend themselves tna take care of each other, like learning CPR.  Like preparing for war?  Here is the CNN story
This is pretty incredible.  Until you think about Paris in 2015. Is everybody a soldier now, like even before age 18 and old enough to vote?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

How the NRA went crazy -- great op-ed on CNN; Sessions acts to support gun stocks ban

An op-ed by Josh Campbell probably makes one of the best “objective” arguments for reasonable gun control in CNN.  An AC360 video is included.

Campbell argues that reasonable gun measures are not about taking away prospective rights for especially rural people, those suspicious of government, or those in high crime areas with unusual needs for self-defense – because the vitriolic absolutism from the NRA recently is spurred by gun manufacturers who practically extort politicians with campaign support.  Remember the Parkland student who challenged Rubio on his campaign contributions and being willing to turn them back.

The NRA, back in the 1990s, did sponsor responsible behavior by owners and especially gun sellers.  No more.  “The NRA went crazy” he says, because of greed from weapons manufacturers.
In the meantime, Jeff Sessions has taken an administrative move to ban even some possession of bump stocks with criminal sanctions.  
As I’ve noted elsewhere, the gun debate has spilled over into free speech areas, with recent actions by YouTube. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

What is behind Trump's solar panel tariff? Driving people back to fossil fuels to preserve his base's legacy jobs?

Trump appears to be attacking the renewable energy industry with his 30% tariff on imported solar panels, most of which are imported. This seems higher than even the steel tariff (also Bloomberg ).

It would sound deliberately aimed at discouraging American homeowners from converting away from using fossil fuels, as if that somehow saved coal or oil industry jobs in the short run. It’s ghastly to do something harmful to appease a weak political base in the short run.

Well, not so fast.  Trump thinks there are definitely problems with Chinese solar manufacturers, and claims that a few American solar panel firms will gain in the long run (Bloomberg). 

Monday, March 19, 2018

GOP said to consider a complicated Internet sales tax that would burden small retailers with compliance costs

Jessica Melugin writes, on Foundation for Economic Education, that some in the GOP are pushing for a full Internet sales tax where the state in which the consumer lives has a right to collect the tax or share it with the tending state.
Big retailers support the tax because it would be costly for small Internet business to comply with them. Retailers might pay Amazon to do the tax, or possibly a system would be developed that would allocated the taxes properly through a portal.
This could be a problem for authors of self-published books who try to sell the books online themselves (as many do); likewise for some independent filmmakers. 
The overall tone of the tax is anti-competitive and tends to favor existing big business power structures.  Think about it in the way Hollywood wants to attack Section 230 and DMCA Safe Harbor (main blog today).

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Why the Second Amendment remains so sacrosanct in the U.S,

Here are a few more stories of relevance on the gun debate.

In the Sunday Washington Post there is a long story (“Primed to Fight the Government”) by Kevin Sullivan about the Second Amendment, doomsday preppers, and “the Central Oregon Constitutional Guard”, bordering on sovereign citizens, link here
In Ohio, a student winds up with a suspension notice when he stay in his classroom instead of going aon a walkout which the school says was a memorial service for the Parkland victims.  The student did not want to be forced into political speech on either side of the gun control issue after a tragedy, Washington Post story by Marwa Eltagouri here
David T. Jones has an interesting perspective on gun control in the Epoch Times, mentioning an ideological case for repealing the Second Amendment on more modern moral grounds, on the theory that individuals should not own weapons of personal destruction. 
Then Robert Leonard weighs in on the New York Times, “Why gun culture is so strong in rural America.  It’s personal responsibility.  It’s not guns, it’s just the gunmen. Of course, is it "personal responsibility" for the victims, in an existential sense> 

Monday, March 12, 2018

The demands for action and "revolution" from the radical Left become ever more dangerous: ending "structural racism"

Nils Gilman’s article “The Collapse of Racial Liberalism” in the American Interest comes at you like a warning   It fits perfectly into David Brooks’s “Understanding Student Mobbists

Suddenly ideas of meritocracy and personal responsibility fail, to be replaced by collective reparative justice, tribalism, and expropriation.  This sort of reasoning comes from the “No Spectators” crowd (like in the film “Rebirth”), that demands “take action” from everyone and threatens to try to shut down all the individualists, who refuse to recognize the personal privilege they inherit from "structural racism." 

Golman links to lengthy "The Case for Reparations" by Ta-Nahesisi Coates in the Atlantic, June 2014. Note the metaphor of "pirate flags" in Section IX.  He also links to "While I'll Never Apologize for my White Male Privilege" in Time, May, 20014.   I seem to have taken up this subject (the idea of discounting content because of the identity or privilege of the speaker) in my own DADT-III book (Feb. 2014).  But I have always seen this more as a matter or personal rightsizing or "paying your dues" that accountability for belonging to a group with sins of the past to pay for.  
But I used to hear the same from radicals in the early 1970s - like the People's Party of New Jersey. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

NBC4 Health Fair in Washington offers "OneTest" for cancer; vendor unaware of Andraka's work

At the NBC Washington Health Fair today, there was a booth for “One Test”, “a blood test for early detection of multiple cancers”, including liver, lung, colon. Kidney, pancreas, and prostate.

The test looks for certain protein markers and may be given at intervals by physicians.  The test comes from Genesys Biolabs in Rockville, MD.

The people manning the cubicle were not aware of JackAndraka’s mesothelin level pancreatic cancer test.  There wasn’t any information quickly online on the progress of the test in getting approvals and patents, but CNN has a recent story.

There was an ALS booth that was empty and not manned. 

There was also a bariatric chamber on display. 
NBC4 has moved the event from January to March.  

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

The Far-Left uses ostracism to win the culture wars despite losing the political ones in 2016

David Brooks has several recent pieces about millennials in which he seems to touch on Amy Chua’s ideas about tribalism (without mentioning her book by name), but this one is particularly interesting: “How Progressives Win the Culture War” 

Brooks discusse the polarizing public behavior of the Parkland teenagers (David Hogg is charismatic and he isn’t the only one  -- Jack Andraka and Taylor Wilson are similarly charismatic on actual science and accepted truth as if the hardliners on the NRA caused the conservatives to dig in further.  (There is an unbelievable proto-fascist video attributed to NRATV:)

Yet, the left leaning progressives, he says, are winning the culture war and ignoring the political one. 
  They are making it socially unacceptable to even mention certain positions (like race and gender together with biology – Brooks obviously thinks Google should not have fired James Damore) because they keep dangerous possibilities (especially to their own minority groups) in circulation and make it possible that they can come back.

Brooks himself keeps a lot of ideas in circulation by mentioning them occasionally, just like I do.  And Brooks doesn’t seem interested in belonging to a tribe.  Neither do I.
The Left has made it OK to call the president “Poopiepants”.  And Brooks himself calls Trump “a child”.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Trump's autarky (really ex-Bannon's): tariffs and trade wars

Donald Trump has dived into protectionism and threatened to expand it into a trade war.
The Wall Street Journal today in an op-ed (“A Lovely Little Trade War:, explains “autarky” and belittles Trump’s idea “we win, you lose”, because trade isn’t a zero-sum game. Yup, in Trumpland, when you create winners you also create losers and have to take care of them.

Trump is now threatening to tariff European vehicles.

A Facebook friend has unearthed papers saying that tariffs could have caused the Great Depression.
Blomberg points out that the Trump tariffs would affect only 2% of imports but can have a much bigger economic impact.