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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Teaching Moments: Beyond Reasonable Doubt

My younger daughter (age 13) came home from dance lessons and said, "everybody was talking about some white man who shot a black child and got away with it."  I wasn't thinking about the Zimmerman trial just then, so I was quite surprised.  Here is the conversation (more or less) that followed:

Me: Wow! That sounds terrible.  When did that happen?

Younger Daughter (YD): I think the trial just ended.

Me: Ahhhh.  Did they mention the name 'Zimmerman' by any chance?

YD: Yeah.

Me: Well, it's a little more complicated than that.

YD: But he killed a child and got away with it!

Me: How old was this child?

YD: I think they said he was 12 years old.

Me: No, Trayvon was 17 years old.

YD: But he did kill him?

Me: Yes. Do you think it is always a crime to kill someone?

YD: It should be.

Me: How about when a policeman shoots a criminal to protect the public?

YD: Well, that's different.

Me: How about when a soldier shoots a terrorist?

YD: That's different too.

Me: Yes, both the policeman and the soldier were defending people.

YD: What's that have to do with this?

Me: Zimmerman claimed he was acting in self-defense.

YD: But he was older and bigger.

Me: He was older, but Trayvon was 4 inches taller than Zimmerman and more athletic.

YD: But they said that Zimmerman was following Trayvon.  How could that be self-defense?

Me: Zimmerman noticed Trayvon walking around in the dark in the rain looking like someone might look if they were casing a house prior to breaking in.  Zimmerman called the police and wanted to keep track of Trayvon until the police arrived.

YD: He called the police before he killed Trayvon? 

Me: Yes.

YD: Then what happened?

Me: According to Zimmerman, Trayvon confronted him, punched him in the nose, knocked him to the ground, got on top of him, and started punching him and slamming his head against the concrete.  Zimmerman did have a fair amount of blood on the front and back of his head when the police arrived.

YD: And then he shot him?

Me: Yes.

YD: Why didn't he just shoot him in the thigh or something?

Me: Good question, but I have a hunch if you're being pummeled by someone on top of you, it may be hard to aim.

YD: How can we be sure that's what happened?

Me: There were no witnesses who saw it clearly so we can't.

YD: So he might be making the story up?

Me: Yes.

YD: But how can we let someone who killed someone who might be lying get away with it?

Me: Well, our legal system is based on the concept of innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  In other words, before we punish someone we want to be very sure he's guilty and we'd rather let some guilty people go free if we can avoid punishing innocent people.

YD: So the jury gave him the benefit of the doubt.
Me: Exactly.  The jury didn't find him innocent, but rather found him not guilty beyond reasonable doubt.  He may very well be guilty, but there wasn't enough evidence to prove that guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

YD: It still doesn't seem right.
Me:  Yeah, I don't think there are too many parents who feel good about it.  The idea of having a child killed is horrifying regardless of the child's age.

YD: Yeah.
Me: Anyway, at least you now understand some of the more important details: that self-defense was claimed and that non-self-defense couldn't be proved beyond reasonable doubt based on the evidence, at least according to the jury.

YD: It's definitely not as bad as my friends at dance made it out to be.  I guess sometimes bad things just happen.

189 comments:

erp said...

Nice job of parenting there Bret.

Bret said...

Thanks!

Clovis e Adri said...

With all my respect, I wonder what that conversation would be if either dad or daughter were... not white.


erp said...

Clovis, Bret handled it perfectly. However his explanation to his daughter isn't the whole story by a long shot.

There are many many factors to this terrible episode, but none of them have to do with race except that Obama et al. wanted something to heat up the summer with racial unrest to take the heat off the unbelievable disaster that is his administration.

Some bright young thing pouring over possibilities to ignite riots, saw the name "Zimmerman" and thought white Jew and Trayvon Martin black youth -- race and anti-Semitism in one made-to-order package.

I live in a town nearby Sanford where this incident happened. At the time, there was a short blub in the paper the gist of which was that Martin attacked Zimmerman who was a volunteer neighborhood security watchman and the gun went off when he tried to get the gun out of Zimmerman's belt.

That's probably as close to the truth as we'll ever know.

However, there's lots more background: This area like most of Florida is depressed because of falling property values and many dwelling units are empty, so HOA's allow Section 8 people aka welfare recipients to rent units in formerly middle or even upper class areas.

Martin was not living with either of his parents. They are divorced, but both live in the Miami area hundreds of miles away. However, they got at least one million dollars from the HOA insurance company even though it’s not an upscale community and couldn’t afford to engage professional private security even after numerous break-ins hence volunteers like Zimmerman patrolled the area.

Martin was suspended from school for various infractions and living with his father's girlfriend.

The autopsy showed that Martin was high on marijuana.

Martin had no signs of beating on his body.

Zimmerman had multiple contusions and was bleeding. Neighbors testified that it was he was screaming for help.

There was a lot of chicanery around the four month delay in charging Zimmerman and the state’s attorney didn’t follow normal procedures by having it brought before a grand jury. Many other improprieties -- so much so that there law suits galore with people who were fired without cause …

The DOJ has confiscated Zimmerman’s gun and all the evidence in the case. Since there is no chance of their bringing federal charges against him, it is my opinion that this stuff will be altered or made to disappear so it won’t be available when Zimmerman’s suit against NBC and their parent company GE and its owner Soros comes to court. There is no question that NBC doctored videos to make Zimmerman sound like a racist. Other media also contributed by making Zimmerman’s telephone and social security number public and other illegalities. No doubt, lawyers are salivating at multiple additional law suits in Zimmerman’s future.

Much more horrendous interference with the DOJ actually orchestrating demonstrations and after the jury’s not guilty verdict, the President of the United States goes on television and says, “Of course, Zimmerman is guilty.”

It’s not to be believed, but there we have it. Fascism has taken root and I doubt we’ll get rid of it easily or quickly.

Annoying Old Guy said...

It's not a good idea to throw around the term "fascist", but it's hard to find a better word for a government that uses street agitation to achieve political goals, as it did here, and actively persecutes a citizen by setting up a "tip line" to get dirt on that person and not information on an event. What else can you call it when the executive branch arrogates to itself the right to decide which citizens are guilty?

Clovis;

I am not sure what your point is. Do you think the facts of the case depend on the skin tone of the people discussing it? I do believe, though, that you can't help thinking that. I can only hope you will be able to overcome your racial obsession, it's not good for you or society.

Bret said...

Clovis,

While my daughter mentioned race, you'll notice that after she brought up the race of the participants when she introduced the subject, it wasn't mentioned again in our conversation. That was purposeful. Race simply has nothing to do with the points I wanted to make: innocent till proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt and the concept of self-defense.

How would you think I should've handled it if I was black? If I was hispanic? Why would've it been different?

Peter said...

Hey, Super-Dad, can you handle a little aesthetic teasing in your moment of parental glory? I'm imagining a solitary postscript after you left to attend to your lettuce trimmers:

YD: "Geez, if I hadn't let him think he was brilliant, I never would have got rid of him."

Bret said...

Peter,

No doubt true. But you never know, sometimes a little of it sinks in.

And I do think that she hadn't been introduced to the concept of reasonable doubt. In fact, I think that an awful lot of adults who have been opining on the case aren't aware of the concept.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Bret;

I don't know about that, almost all the people I see opining about the case that think the verdict was wrong have no idea of the actual facts of the case, very similar to those YD spoke with. It is another example of how those who listen to TV news and read newspapers are more poorly informed than those who don't.

Peter;

Oh yes, I get a lot, for example yesterday after I had to give Boy Two a lecture on amphidromes.

Peter said...

And I do think that she hadn't been introduced to the concept of reasonable doubt

Maybe that's because her parents never gave her the benefit of it?

erp said...

For a better perspective: Zimmerman’s Neighborhood Stats.

Harry Eagar said...

'Yeah, I don't think there are too many parents who feel good about it.'

Really? There are an awful lot of rightwingers who feel wonderful about it. I suppose they may heavily overrepresent the can't-get-laid component that lives in their mothers' basements, but I hadn't thought that was true of all of them.

Annoying Old Guy said...

There are many right wingers who feel good that an innocent man wasn't put in jail. I presume Mr. Eagar's comment means he thinks right wingers should not be happy that law and justice were served, that they should be, as the left wingers are, unhappy about the failure of a political persecution. I'm not surprised.

Bret said...

aog wrote: "...the people I see opining about the case that think the verdict was wrong have no idea of the actual facts of the case, very similar to those YD spoke with..."

That's true as well.

I think the preponderance of evidence is that Zimmerman acted in self-defense, so if one sorts through it carefully, one doesn't even need to consider the reasonable doubt thing. However, with the reasonable doubt thing, there was still plenty of evidence presented in the news to support that.

So I think it is a combination of not knowing the evidence, not understanding the concept of self-defense, and not understanding the concept of reasonable doubt.

The last two can be explained very quickly and simply which is why I concentrated on that with my daughter.

Bret said...

Peter,

No, this daughter always gets reasonable doubt as she's (so far) an angel.

It's the older daughter who's guilty until proven innocent, at least when my wife is the sheriff, judge and jury.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Bret;

"plenty of evidence presented in the news"

The problem there is that "the news" (i.e., modern journalism) is responsible for most of the mis-information about the case. E.g., the NY Times inventing "white hispanic" to inject race in to the case. It is hard to find any printed article from a newspaper that doesn't contain significant lies or omissions.

erp said...

Anyone know why Obama isn't bring referred to as a white African in the media while Zimmerman is being referred to as a white Hispanic?

Harry Eagar said...

No, I meant precisely what I said. There are many rightwingers who think that shooting Martin was a wonderful thing.

Also many who think that letting kooks like Zimmerman act as investigator, judge, jury and executioner was just swell, because blacks are all criminals.

It might be nice if the rightwingers would acknowledge that everything Zimmerman did up to the confrontation was crazy and evil, racist and stupid.

He's your hero. You can have him.

Bret said...

Harry,

Do you have any links for any of your claims?

Zimmerman's no hero and I have yet to personally meet anyone who thinks Trayvon deserved to die and/or that it's a good thing that Zimmerman shot him.

erp said...

With apologies to Steinbeck, " ... sure Harry lots of right wingers ... ".

Annoying Old Guy said...

"It might be nice if the rightwingers would acknowledge that everything Zimmerman did up to the confrontation was crazy and evil, racist and stupid."

So in your view calling the police dispatcher to report a suspicious person is "crazy, evil, racist, and stupid". Does that mean the TSA is crazy, evil, racist, and stupid too?

Bret said...

aog,

Even I can answer that one for Harry. According to Harry's narrative, Zimmerman didn't call the police because Martin was acting suspiciously. Rather he called the police strictly because Martin was black.

The fact that there is not a shred of evidence that race was the basis for Zimmerman's motive (other than the fact that Martin is black) and plenty of evidence that it wasn't the reason Zimmerman called is immaterial for those with the preconceived and Obama approved narrative.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret:

As you recall, I am no American to be able to tell you what the conversation would be in other families of your society. And I have no desire to tell you what should you be discussing with your daughter (Who am I for that?).

Still, reading blogs, opinion pieces in newspapers and the very word of your own president, I believe many parents got in a different conversation with their children.

If you really do value freedom, you could also be worried that any day soon your kid could be walking in the street, and after being aproached by a stalker in the middle of the night, he may end up killed in a fight with an armed person due solely to the confusion and panic of the moment - and that his killer will walk free anyway.

Reasonable doubt applies both ways: we really do not know what happened that night, for only one (non partial) observer survived. Which means that the liability rest upon the shoulder of the person who initiated the whole approach - against the police advise, by the way.

I certainly do not believe facts depend on skin color, and I consider myself not obsessed with race in any way (do you really need these preemptive strikes, AOG?) - but it is quite obvious that race and skin color enters in how one fills in the unknown (and unknowable) details of that story.


Clovis e Adri said...

Since race and skin color entered the debate, maybe I could also use my far away observation point as an advantage: do you, dear American readers, have any idea as how this US classification system of "whites", "blacks" and "hispanic" is non sense?

When I read Erp complaining of someone using "white hispanic", I ask myself: does she even realizes how the term "hispanic" is misplaced?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

You are a prime example of this - "almost all the people I see opining about the case that think the verdict was wrong have no idea of the actual facts of the case" which I mentioned earlier. Presuming you are alluding to Zimmerman, you get the following wrong

1) There is absolute no evidence Zimmerman stalked Martin, and a reasonable amount of evidence he did not.
2) The police did not give Zimmerman any order or advice before the shooting.
3) The evidence is strong that the fight wasn't the result of panic or confusion, but because of a very deliberate decision on the part of Martin to assault Zimmerman.
4) There is strong evidence that Martin wasn't walking in the street during the incident with Zimmerman.

I suspect I could dig out more. The flaw in your advice to Bret is that you presume he has the same (non-evidence based) view of the incident you do. My point of view is that I could have my children avoid getting killed in this way by convincing to not go up and physically assault strangers.

"it is quite obvious that race and skin color enters in how one fills in the unknown (and unknowable) details of that story"

No, it is not obvious. I don't think it needs to enter in at all. That you do is the basis for the comment of mine to which you objected. Besides, if it really is "nonsense" as you say, how can it enter in that way? Why do you consider that "nonsense" so critical to this issue?

erp said...

Clovis, you don't understand sarcasm.

White Hispanic is a term made up by the media and my question is: if the media are using that construction for Zimmerman who has one white parent and one non-white parent (the media stupidly only designate Europeans as "white" because they wish it to become a derogatory term in public opinion), why aren't they calling Obama a white African. He also has one white parent and one non-white parent in his case from Kenya.

All categories of dividing us are misplaced. That's my point! Whenever I must fill out a form asking that I check my race, I write in: human. I refuse to play the divide and conquer game instituted by the fascists, yes aog, that's the word that fits unfortunately, in order to pit one part of our society against the other. They have broken the melting pot that made us all Americans.

You are right. Hispanic makes no sense, neither does Latino or any other single designation to describe millions of people of diverse backgrounds, but in order to make them a monolithic group of persons living south of the Rio Grande river, those who want to divide us need a name to call them.

I don't know where you are getting your information, but as I said before, section 8 rentals have changed the neighborhood from lower middle class to welfare housing. Read the link I provided above about the numbers of incidents in Zimmerman's neighborhood and how people were being terrorized.

You're wrong that we don't know what happened. Evidence and testimony show that Zimmerman was on his way back to his car when Martin attacked him.

We also know that Martin had a history of violent behavior and took took drugs. His mother threw him out after his third suspension from school that's why he was living with his father's girlfriend who was probably living there as a section 8 renter (that means we tax payers are paying her rent and most likely her EBT card (credit card), her Obama phone and all the other perks we generous tax payers provide for the needy and his tox screen showed marijuana in his body at the time of his death.

If you really want to understand the truth and don't just want your preconditioned opinions affirmed, read some conservative media online.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

Your four points are either in contradiction or take for granted unknown facts, at least to the extent I could read in standard sources as CNN, NYT and wikipedia - this last one usually is a good source for controversial topics, since the many different point of views and the rules for editing leads to a good balance plus references.

It is good practice, AOG, to give references when one makes points that are not widely known - could you be so kind for that? The same space you take to discuss how race oriented I may or may not be (what the point of making it personal?), could be used more objectively.


Erp:

Sorry if I do not get sarcasm all the time. It is a common problem with communication between different cultures - even more when done in writing, where we have no cues of body language.

Now that you explained, it is indeed a nice jab :-)

I feel myself a little bit like Data (the android of Star Trek fame) trying to understand Americans here.

erp said...

Clovis, I hope you understand and this is not sarcasm, that your sources for information are not trustworthy -- even Wikipedia is notorious for left wing slanting. It's usually good for getting facts like measurements, etc., but I wouldn't bet the farm* on anything else.

*Wouldn't bet the farmis a colloquialism for risk very much.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"Your four points are either in contradiction or take for granted unknown facts, at least to the extent I could read in standard sources as CNN, NYT and wikipedia"

I don't rely on those, I rely on actual testimony at the trial and official transcripts. I will note that it is the NYT that invented the term "white hispanic", which should indicate how much credibility you should give that source. Also, Wikipedia is almost never reliable on controversial topics, which tend to be taken over by fiercely partisan editors.

But let's take point (2) since that's the widest spread falsehood. Here is a good summary, the key points of which are

(1) Zimmerman spoke to a dispatcher, not police, so the police could not have told him anything at all.

(2) That dispatcher testified that he gave no order to Zimmerman, and that it is explicit policy to not give any orders.

(3) Zimmerman was out of his car before the dispatcher said "don't do that".

(4) Zimmerman agreed with the dispatcher when the dispatcher said "we don't need you to do that".

(5) The confrontation happened near Zimmerman's car, circumstantial evidence Zimmerman did in fact not follow Martin after this exchange.

Clovis, if you want actual information, and not the biased blather from unreliable sources like the NYT and CNN, I have three places to visit for you -

1) justoneminute.typepad.com : moderate view

2) legalinsurrection.com : right wing view

3) talkleft.com : left wing view

All of these have many posts on the subject filled with details and references. Any single post at any of those websites has more information than the entire corpus of coverage from CNN or the NYT.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:

A few points.

1) I did read your links. That the area had security problem is clear. That it means that particular kid had anything to do with it is not afforded and not probable (he was a newcomer after all).


2) Much of the other background is not really relevant to his death. He was probably a Marijuana user, but THC level indicate he did not use it that day, so he was not drugged or drunk to take unexpected actions.


3) I fail to find conclusive references to show that he attacked Zimmerman on its way back to the car. On the contrary, it looks like that the kid got startled and ran away and Zimmerman followed him - this is undeniable from the call he was in with the police, for example. In this same call the police warned him that they did not condone his pursuit - which makes me wonder how AOG concluded in the contrary.



Erp, I really do try to sort through information in colorless and impartial ways. If I only looked for "conservative media" I would be sorely failing on that. It is a very well known phenomena that people nowadays close themselves in bubbles of "information", only repeating and believing stories from partial sources. I do try to not fall for that trap - which explains why I am here in this blog, even though most of his participants do not share much of my worldview (it also helps that you are all very interesting people and the level of discussion is fairly good - congratulations for having this nice blog, Bret).

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

Thanks for the references, I will follow them before risking another opinion on the case.

But let me make clear that it is the "do not do that" reference I had in mind when giving the picture of the incident - I was aware that he was out of his car already. Which means that *he was already in the pursuit*, which he confirmed explicitely after asked so by the dispatcher. The duration and extent of the pursuit is anyone guess, since we can not rely only on Zimmerman's non partial word.

So if my points above are right, AOG, it shows that it is not me who is taking too much for granted in this case.

erp said...

Clovis:

I read that Martin did have marijuana in his system. If he didn't how could the coroner know he was a user. aog above explained that Zimmerman was found near his car obviously planning to follow the dispatcher's (he never spoke to the police) advice to wait for them.

Your world view is yours to make as you wish, but as one of the commenters here is wont to say: You have the right to your own opinion, but not to your own facts.

Unfortunately, we don't have to look for leftwing propaganda. It bombards us from every side and like most propaganda, it has very little, if any, truth to it.

I know how distressing it must be when all the facts point to the failure of socialism or whatever you prefer to call it and how even more stressful it will be when you learn more of the truth (if you choose to do so), that your beloved professors, favorite authors, friends, family, etc. are so very mistaken and how all the grand schemes to make everything glorious and grand by implementing, correctly this time, the heroic slogans of the past when it all turns to ashes ... and by then, perhaps we'll not be here as a beacon of freedom, but right there in the ashes with the rest of the world.

PS: Zimmerman didn't assume Martin committed all the previous crimes, he was reporting him as suspicious. There is nothing to suggest that he confronted Martin at all.

Clovis e Adri said...

Sorry, correction: "... we can not rely only on Zimmerman's partial word."

As for your comment, AOG, that evidence points to confrontation near the car, I fail to find that too. An infographic goes here:

http://zimmermanscall.blogspot.com.br/p/infographic.html

(I do not claim this one to be certainly trustworthy, but it is one in many pointing to the same situation)

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp: I do not want to make this space in the blog a war of facts on the case, there is already enough material for that elsewhere.

But one thing I must point to: you look to be unaware of how substances (drugs or not) act whitin our body and their process of elimination. You can prove someone used drugs because tiny amounts of it remain for long periods, but the capacity of the drug to influence your brain is by far gone then. Hence my comment that it does not bear relation to the event of his death.

I understand that you may bring this as indication that he was not the exemplary citizen, but my (limited) uderstanding of American society tells me that a lot of your fellow citizens use Marijuana without being criminals, right? I hear that in California you only need to tell (and pay, of course) a doctor that you are stressed and you get a prescription - and that hundreds of thousands follow this farce as standard routine. What a beacon of freedom to the world (yes, that was sarcasm).

[Disclaimer: contrary to the libertatian mood of this blog, I am very much against drugs left as free choice for the society.]



Annoying Old Guy said...

"On the contrary, it looks like that the kid got startled and ran away and Zimmerman followed him - this is undeniable from the call he was in with the police, for example"

No. Read the transcript - Zimmerman almost immediately lost sight of Martin and therefore couldn't have followed. This is undeniable from the call with the dispatcher, who (again) is *not* a police officer. This matters because it means nothing the disaptcher says has any *legal* meaning for Zimmerman. Or you could listen to Dee Dee's testimony, which also contradicts the "startled" part.

"police warned him that they did not condone his pursuit"

No. Read the link again - Zimmerman was talking to a non-emergency dispatcher, not any police officer. I also think "condone" is a not a good word. The dispatcher said, quote, "we don't need you to do that", that is "you are not required to do that". Further, Zimmerman agreed with that statement.

"let me make clear that it is the "do not do that" reference"

Sorry, that was a transcription error on my part. Let me again quote the dispatcher - "we don't need you to do that". Quoting it as "do not do that" is a miquote that substantially (one might say even inverts) the meaning.

"he was out of his car already. Which means that *he was already in the pursuit*"

No. That does not follow at all. I personally am frequently outside my car without being in pursuit of anyone. I suspect you have been as well.

"The duration and extent of the pursuit is anyone guess"

No. Check the timelines based on the timestamps of the calls made by Zimmerman and Martin. Listen to the testimony of "Dee Dee", the prosecution's star witness.

Let's turn this around a bit. I have provided many links and evidence. You have provided none. So let's address my point (1), "there is no evidence Zimmerman stalked Martin". Please provide some evidence to support your view that Zimmerman did, in fact, "stalk" (your word) Martin.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

From the wikipedia:

"After telling the police dispatcher that Martin "ran",[175] Zimmerman left his vehicle to determine his location and ascertain in which direction Martin had fled.[169][176] The dispatcher asked if Zimmerman was following Martin, and Zimmerman replied "Yeah."

Checking the references, it looks to be so. IMHO, Zimmerman got out of his car to make a pursuit - something either me or you do not do daily. (Or maybe you do, are you a police officer or something alike?)

But it looks to me that you are over-interpreting a few things, like your insistence that the dispatcher is not a police officer (by heavens, when you call the police you usually take them to be all the same), or your excessive emphasis in differentiating a "do not to that" to a "we do not need you to do that" - maybe my English understanding is truly bad, but I would take this almost as a command if in a call with the police.

As I said, I will follow your refs. before further comments - but thank you for providing them.


Clovis e Adri said...

AOG: You stated:

"My point of view is that I could have my children avoid getting killed in this way by convincing to not go up and physically assault strangers."

This is smart to teach for your children. But can you foresee how they may react in panic? I will offer you a personal history that happened when I was 16 years old.

It was dusk, and after coming from some physical exercise I was tired and stopped to rest a few minutes by the walk just 2 or 3 blocks from my home. An older unknown man (maybe in his 30's) soon came walking from another street, and upon seeing me said in loose translation: "Hey, are you up for a blow job?"

I've panicked. Feeling a lot of fear for myself, my reaction was to stand up and shout "What? Do you want to die you mother...?"

I had no means to actually kill him - probably he could win the fight, even if not armed. But I guess that to threaten that odious pedophile was the defense that a frightned teeneager had at the moment.

I do not know if I would run of fight if needed. There was not only fear in myself, but also some wish to punch someone like that (again, even if in disadvantage).

Thanks God, the guy just went away.

I do not imply that my little story has much semblance to Martin's in the details, but only point you to the extent that someone in dispair may act not in the smartest way - even againt better advice he hears from his parents.



Bret said...

Clovis wrote: 'differentiating a "do not to that" to a "we do not need you to do that"'

Well, idiomatic english varies from group to group and region to region, but here's an example of a conversation that I've been a participant in literally hundreds of times:

Friend: "We're having a dinner party Saturday, can you come?"

Me: "Sure, I'd love too, I'll bring a dessert."

Friend: "We don't need you to do that."

Me: "But it'll be my pleasure. See you Saturday."

And, of course, I show up with a dessert. Because what they're really saying is that they don't want me to feel obligated to bring a dessert.

Now, contrast this with them saying, "Don't do that." I would ask them why and they would probably tell me that they already have dessert covered and I would negotiate to bring something else.

So, in the groups I hang with, what the dispatcher said definitely means that it's perfectly fine and maybe even helpful to do that, but you're not obligated.

That being said, what that means in Sanford, Florida could be somewhat different.

However, the testimony by the dispatcher seemed to indicate that she was definitely NOT telling him that he must not do that.

That's why this distinction seems somewhat important to me.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...it is quite obvious that race and skin color enters in how one fills in the unknown (and unknowable) details of that story."

Skin color itself? Or culture (which might correlate with skin color)? Or ideology (which might also correlate with skin color)? Or news sources (which might also correlate with skin color)?

Bret said...

erp wrote: "I read that Martin did have marijuana in his system..."

Note that neither the prosecution nor the defense chose to bring that to the attention of the jury. Both sides considered it a non-issue.

erp said...

Bret:

I may have misread it or the info may not have not been correct, but in any case, the trial was so beset with information disallowed by the judge, who knows if or why?

What do you think of the DOJ confiscating all the evidence?

I think it's so it won't be available for Zimmerman's court case against NBC.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] There are many rightwingers who think that shooting Martin was a wonderful thing.

Name one. Link and quote please, since your quixotic definition of fact frequently includes a healthy dollop of fantasy.

It might be nice if the rightwingers would acknowledge that everything Zimmerman did up to the confrontation was crazy and evil, racist and stupid.

I'll bet that if you had to rely upon the facts available, rather than your fevered narrative, you can't point to one act that was crazy, evil, racist, or stupid. And you have already proven you can't use the word "racist" correctly.

Clovis, Harry:

Here is a good video summary of the known facts, including information excluded from the trial. Sometimes, Skittles are more than just Skittles.

Clovis: Explaining US racial groupings.

Hey Skipper said...

Here is an analysis of Zimmerman's calls to the police, showing precisely what a rascist bastard he was.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

Let's go to the full transcript:

Zimmerman: Shit, he’s running.

Dispatcher: He’s running? Which way is he running?

[Sound of car door opening.]

Zimmerman: [Grunts.] Down towards the other entrance of the neighborhood.

[Sound of car door closing.]

Dispatcher: OK, and which entrance is that he’s heading towards.

Zimmerman: The back entrance. . . . [mutters] Fucking punks [puddles?].

[Wind/breathing noise.]

Dispatcher: Are you following him?

Zimmerman: Yeah.

Dispatcher: OK, we don’t need you to do that.

Zimmerman: OK.


The "Are you following him?" precedes the "we don't need you to do that", to which Zimmerman agrees. This is consistent with the scenario where Zimmerman gets out of the car, starts to follow, loses Martin, then stops following when suggested by the dispatcher. Do you consider that, in your words, "stalking"? Also note that Zimmerman does this in direct response to the *dispatcher* asking about it. That is, the dispatcher asks for data, Zimmerman attempts to follow Martin to acquire that data, then stops when the dispatcher says it is no longer useful.

My point here would be that you use words with strong connotations ("stalk", "pursuit") to which I object. They presume facts and states of mind that are not in evidence.

Now I'll look at your own cite from Wikipedia:

"Zimmerman left his vehicle to determine his location and ascertain in which direction Martin had fled."

No pursuit, no stalk. Not even a "follow". Just "ascertain in which direction Martin had fled". Your own cite doesn't support your claim (which, let us recall, is that Zimmerman *stalked* Martin) so I can hardly call it supporting evidence.

"IMHO, Zimmerman got out of his car to make a pursuit"

On what basis, what evidence, did you form this opinion?

erp said...

This is the kind of dirty tactics employed by the left and are common at tea party rallies.

It's done because the media pick it up, print the pictures on the front pages of newspapers like the NYT, CNN leads off the news with it and everybody believes it to be true.

Wikipedia may even have a page on it.

Clovis e Adri said...

Hey Skipper:

I was taking your video seriously, until it ended hinting some paranoid conspiracy theory with an old Obama picture.

Still, taking its arguments as facts, very little remains about what happened in that fight. It mostly tries to highlight possible bad aspects of Martin's personality. It is interesting how he complains about the manipulation of imagery by the media, just to immediately show Martin in the worst picture they've got (a teenager showing his fingers, what a shock).


AOG: there again, I'll abstain from commenting further before getting more information.

Still, I'll ask you to change your phaser to mild stunt mode instead of the vaporizing one, for two reasons: i) A few words I use may have stronger (or weaker) impact than desired - remember I am no native English speaker (and never even lived in an English speaking country), e.g. pursuit and follow was mostly the same thing to me; ii) You keep taking for granted your own image of the episode, when you hardly make an effort to imagine how it was not clear to both sides what was happening. How sure are you that Martin did not *feel* he was being pursued?










Hey Skipper said...

This is hilarious, although it wasn't intended that way.

The comment thread is one for the ages.

Hey Skipper said...

Clovis:

Considering you don't live in the US, and English isn't likely your native language, you do a remarkably good job taking on board what is going on with regard to the Martin shooting.

However, I think you took the last seconds of the video to a place where they don't belong. Mr. Whittle was not asserting a conspiracy theory; rather, his assertion was that those who are collectivists effectively worship Obama. In so doing, as with any religious believers, they discard objectivity and reason in proportion to their belief.

There is no need to invoke conspiracy at all. Rather, it is all about cult of personality. If I remember correctly, you are from South America. I suspect you are familiar with Peronism. As with Peronism, so it is with Obamaism.

Essentially all those who feel compelled to go into journalism are collectivists. I have no idea why, but as a fact it is hard to ignore.

Collectivists, as a group, share certain precepts that, because they are essentially emotional, have nothing in particular to do with reality. From this basis comes certain "narratives" -- that is, a preconceived myth to which reality must conform.

In the case of the Martin shooting, Zimmerman had to be white, even though he would have been a member of an officially oppressed group under any other circumstances. Martin had to be an innocent victimized solely on account of his skin color, no matter the actual facts.

Consequently, very major news organizations in the US presented a completely fabricated reality, to the point where they, without any notice, presented transcripts as verbatim when they were in fact viciously edited. They showed pictures of Martin as a 12 year old, not as the 17 year old he was. They made, then mindlessly repeated, patently false accusations about Zimmerman's Neighborhood Watch record.

They made mockery of due diligence when it came to investigating Martin's background.

In other words -- and this is a serious allegation -- in pursuit of their narrative, they willingly engaged in conduct whose intended result was to further that narrative without any regard to justice or morality. I used to think the New York Times merely deluded.

No longer. NYT reporters and editors are star-chamber evil. Either that, or droolingly incompetent.

Fortunately, you have seen this behavior on display in this very thread. Previously Harry Eagar characterized everything Zimmerman did as crazy, evil, rascist, and stupid.

Based upon what? Some objective interpretation of reality, or the requirement that everything Zimmerman did as crazy, evil, rascist, and stupid.

No matter what.

Hey Skipper said...

Clovis:

I forgot to mention this:

No matter what you think of the end of that video, the factual assertions and reasonable suppositions Mr. Whittle makes are either true and plausible or false and ridiculous.

To the extent they are true and plausible (and I don't know of any contradiction) then Obama, Holder, NBC, NYT, et al are either fools or monsters.

Take your pick.

erp said...

Skipper:

I don't usually watch videos, but Clovis' remark about conspiracy peaked my interest, so I clicked it on to see what it was about. When I saw it was Whittle, I knew it was calmly factual and not at all heated by any kind of theories, nevermind conpiracy ones.

Clovis:

Again, you fail to see the reason Whittle inserted that last picture of Obama because it was classic pay back or if you perfer, irony.

Obama said if he had a son he would look like Trayvon Martin and the picture said if Obama was Martin's father, the dope smoking would be a case of like father, like son or the acorn doesn't fall from the tree, in other words, the son not only looks like, but acts like the father.

It's amazing that even though you come from a culture far different from ours, you have learned the ways of the left very well. When you accuse others (with absolutely no evidence) of doing what you do, it's called projection.

Unfortunately, Whittle is well known for his measured and factual essays.

BYW - when there is a conspiracy by many and diverse parts of society to spin and distort facts to further their leftwing narrative as Skipper points out above, it it no longer a "theory."

Annoying Old Guy said...

"Harry Eagar characterized everything Zimmerman did as crazy, evil, rascist, and stupid." [emphasis added]

And has been unwilling to cite any specific action in this regard, thus illustrating Skipper's key point - it's about emotion, not facts or logic. Being vaguely categorical in that way avoids any messy contact with reality. We should credit Clovis, in contrast, with being willing to actually engage on facts.

Annoying Old Guy said...

erp;

A clarification on your cite about the Zimmerman protest plant. That link is to an interview with her which makes clear she was openly with the anti-Zimmerman crew and mocking the other side. The idea that she was a pro-Zimmerman protestor was entirely the creation of so-called "news" organizations. She wasn't being dishonest or a plant, she was just used as a false flag by Old Media.

Clovis, this is just an absolutely perfect and archetypical example of what we mean when we write about "The Narrative" and media bias as Skipper did.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG, Hey Skipper & Erp:


After reviewing some links provided here and others found incidentally, I can only conclude that I was indeed misinformed about the topic. Much more than I ought to be.


It is embarassing. I will retreat from the topic and comment no further.

I only would like to add that my fault rests more on selection of sources than my English understanding (or so I hope, otherwise it is doubly embarassing).

erp said...

aog, Yes I saw that. Amazing even after all I know and cynical as I am, I was taken in.

Clovis e Adri said...

I will take a step back and give a last thought on the subject.

It is difficult to understand how so many important aspects of the case were not aired by the stantard media. For sure, liberal bias plays a major role, but I will ignore here the more "conspirational theory" side of the comments given above - for if you want to criticize the non-fact based approach of other people, you better check out yours too. ("Cult of colectivists" or "conspiracy to spin facts" are difficult to pinpoint with hard facts - in a minute we will be discussing if Da Vinci Code was real and Dan Brown knows it all).

Given that even the not so liberal part of the media was not of much help, I will risk another contributing factor: the "political correctness disease", wich means that to discuss race related matters looks a little bit of taboo in the US. I may be wrong - I am not in the US after all - but it looks so from here. Part of this is reflected in this very thread, where AOG was too fast to accuse me of "racial obsession" (i.e. to even enter the topic is a mine field). I guess that the less liberal media went a little silent with a few important things of the case due to that.

Another thing that was bothering me is that it is difficult to believe that the President of the USA was as misinformed as I was up to now. But then, now I understand - he was not. For only now I get some bits of his last comments on the subject.

His allusion to himself, when young, being followed by security personnel when shopping gives me a hint. He looks to believe that the reason Martin attacked Zimmerman was that he probably realized he was being watched for security concerns, and attacked him out of indignation.

Well, I am only trying to make sense of it all.

Erp: Before you start bashing me for not throwing away my leftist-socialist-communist-colectivist-"anyother-"ist bias and still believing your liberal media after caughting them robbing me flat, I warn you: the lack of integrity demonstrated in their reporting of this case was... a teachable moment, as Bret intended this thread to be.

Hey Skipper said...

... but I will ignore here the more "conspirational theory" side of the comments given above - for if you want to criticize the non-fact based approach of other people, you better check out yours too. ("Cult of colectivists" or "conspiracy to spin facts" are difficult to pinpoint with hard facts ...)

One word: Journolist.

erp said...

Clovis, I actually laughed out loud at your reference to conspiracy theories in the same sentence as the da Vinci code. It's obvious you are getting talking points from an older person. Tell him/her not to bother. I've heard them all and we're not children here to be distracted by pretty beads and colored lights.

As I said before, it's not a theory when there's an actual conspiracy of like-minded individuals all over the world bent on destroying us and bringing us to third world status.

Obama is a disgrace. He lies with impunity because he knows anything he says will be spun by the media to make him look good.

Clovis e Adri said...

Hey Skipper:

I will only take it seriously if you also present me a good theory for the assassination of J.F. Kennedy (which BTW needed a true conspiracy indeed). Better yet if it also explains its brother's killing later on.

Hey Skipper said...

Clovis:

Wow, is that ever a non sequitor. Best one ever, perhaps.

The link makes many factual assertions that have never been, so far as I know, contradicted.

Is there any explanation for the facts other than that a great many journalists share a narrative, and that they formed a cooperative group to promote that narrative under the guise of objective journalism?

Hey Skipper said...

Clovis, remember that the entire Zimmerman trial came about because a shared narrative required it, regardless of the evidence.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:

As always, I am happy if you are smiling.

I guess that your comment suggesting I get my lines from someone else is again sarcasm or irony. Unfortunately I fail to identify the joke, even tough I am sure it is on me.

But look, I am from a third world country, so I must be part of this conspiracy to bring you down - you know, to envy is to be human at least since Cain & Abel.

Hey Skipper said...

I will risk another contributing factor: the "political correctness disease", wich means that to discuss race related matters looks a little bit of taboo in the US. I may be wrong - I am not in the US after all - but it looks so from here.

When attempting to address racial matters here, collectivists (such as our own Harry Eagar) reflexively throw down the "racist" card, with the immediate, and quite possibly intended, effect of stopping all disagreement with their religious, pre-conceived, utterly immune to evidence opinions.

Much has been made about profiling, and about how awful it is. No doubt. Yet there is almost no such thing as an uncaused effect: why is it that black males are subject to so much suspicion, but Asian males aren't?

Unfortunately, because collectivist promiscuity in using the word "rascist", it is practically impossible to make the point (and Lord knows Obama, in his much vaunted speech didn't even try) that people "profile" black males for a very good reason: they commit violent crimes waaaay beyond their proportion of the population.

Effect, meet cause.

Yet somehow Zimmerman is a virulent racist for being a member of the neighborhood watch for a neighborhood that had been repeatedly subject to crimes committed by black males.

Explain that.

(Well, OK, you aren't American, so that is asking far too much. Of you. Not Harry, though, who slung that vicious, unsubstantiated, insult.)



erp said...

Reason Kennedy was killed? He wasn't producing the legislation the left wanted. He was a playboy who couldn't care less about policy, but just look what happened after the sainted martyr was laid to rest: every piece of major leftiwng legislation was rushed through congress and so we have Clinton and Obama making more and power grabs. The multi-trillion dollar war on poverty which lined the pockets of every lefty in the country and much of the world, to wit, Carlos Slim and his Obamaphone caper ... and no this time I'm not using sarcasm.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

The errors on this subject by Old Media were not accidents, or laziness, or even shoddiness. They were deliberate lies done with malice aforethought. The invention of the term "White Hispanic" by the NY Times, the NBC editing of the dispatcher call can only happened because of an explicit decision. I would be interested in your view on the explanation for those decisions.

If you take one thing away from all of this, I would hope it is "major news sources like the NYT and CNN are willing to actively distort and lie in order to report a story in a preferred way".

P.S. We're quite a no-holds-barred discussion group. I was actually trying to be somewhat restrained.

erp said...

Hey, why don't we send Clovis over to Orrin for toughening up?

erp said...

Bret, I don't know the protocol here. Please delete if this is not allowable.

This is a comment by Pat Buchanan to an article at the UK Telegram. Normally, I don't quote Buchanan, but he hits this one out of the park.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/nilegardiner/100227628/barack-obama-plummets-in-latest-polls-even-in-california-the-president-is-in-freefall/

BUCHANAN TO OBAMA By Patrick J. Buchanan

Barack says we need to have a conversation about race in America .. Fair enough. But this time, it has to be a two-way conversation.. White America needs to be heard from, not just lectured to.... This time, the Silent Majority needs to have its convictions, grievances and demands heard. And among them are these:

First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.. Jeremiah Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American.

Second, no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans. Untold trillions have been spent since the '60s on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing, Pell grants, student loans, legal services, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and poverty programs designed to bring the African-American community into the mainstream. Governments, businesses and colleges have engaged in discrimination against white folks -- with affirmative action, contract set-asides and quotas -- to advance black applicants over white applicants. Churches, foundations, civic groups, schools and individuals all over America have donated their time and money to support soup kitchens, adult education, day care, retirement and nursing homes for blacks. We hear the grievances. Where is the gratitude??

Barack talks about new 'ladders of opportunity' for blacks. Let him go to Altoona ? And Johnstown, and ask the white kids in Catholic schools how many were visited lately by Ivy League recruiters handing out scholarships for 'deserving' white kids...? Is white America really responsible for the fact that the crime and incarceration rates for African-Americans are seven times those of white America ? Is it really white America 's fault that illegitimacy in the African-American community has hit 70 percent and the black dropout rate from high schools in some cities has reached 50 percent?

Is that the fault of white America or, first and foremost, a failure of the black community itself?

As for racism, its ugliest manifestation is in interracial crime, and especially interracial crimes of violence. Is Barack Obama aware that while white criminals choose black victims 3 percent of the time, black criminals choose white victims 45 percent of the time?

Is Barack aware that black-on-white rapes are 100 times more common than the reverse, that black-on-white robberies were 139 times as common in the first three years of this decade as the reverse?

We have all heard ad nauseam from the Rev. Al about Tawana Brawley, the Duke rape case and Jena . And all turned out to be hoaxes. But about the epidemic of black assaults on whites that are real, we hear nothing.

Sorry, Barack, some of us have heard it all before, about 40 years and 40 trillion tax dollars ago. This needs to be passed around because, this is a message everyone needs to hear!!!

I'm for a better America… I am Not racist, Not violent, Just not silent anymore.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:


Sorry but you ask too much (as Hey Skipper realized related to race matters in US) when looking for my take on these points - I have not enough facts and information to judge.


That the media (every major part of it - no exceptions to the left or right) usually take sides and manipulate information according to its interests is as clear and old as the blue sky. This is also the source of many of the conspiration theories that some here are arguing for - but when everyone conspires, it is no longer conspiration, you see?

An obvious and very well known case: WMD in Iraq, remember?

That said, it still surprises me the level it was taken to in this Martin shooting case. The most I can make of it is what I've written above.

I say so because usually the media moves its arms to where matters for its pocket, like almost everyone else. So when it does so for geopolitical interests of the American power and its elite, it is very easy to understand. When it moves so because a billionaire is financing it with due to its own agenda (Murdoch, Soros and Koch brothers ring a bell?) it is also easy to understand.

But that it collectively acts to muddle a relatively simple case, spining it as they did, is not immediately easy to understand to me, since I do not see the possible gains it could have for anyone involved (and please, Erp, do not give me right now another lecture on how this is part of the socialist overtaking of America - reality is much more complex than that).

erp said...

Okay Clovis. You’re right it is much more complicated than the information you have at hand, so instead of a lecture, this time I'll give you a reading assignment.

Read Paul Johnson's, The Intellectuals and then rethink putting Murdoch and Koch in the same category as Soros. BTW you may not know that Murdoch supported Hillary Clinton over Obama in 2008.

After that read the rest of Johnson's work.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:

Thanks, I will write it in my list of future reading.

Taking a look at the reviews at Amazon though, it does not look like much of my kind of book.

You probably think I am a leftie with humanistic ideals and worldviews (someone defending anti-poverty programs must be right?). I am not. I am from the hard sciences and much of the phisophical talk about man and humanity is quite boring to me - hence a book atacking all these famous names of humanities is not my kind of reading. But if I can find it in a nearby library, I will take a look.

erp said...

Attacking???

Au contraire.

Johnson tells the truth, something scientists revere, about the famous men of the humanities who are in many cases, if not most, complete frauds and/or charlatans. As is surely the case for Rousseau. You'll be surprised at what kind of man he really was.

This is an easy read unlike some of Johnson's comprehensive histories.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...it still surprises me the level it was taken to in this Martin shooting case..."

I'm not sure it was "taken" anywhere.

I think it's a good example of people seeing only what their worldview/narrative/perspective/ideology/whatever-you-want-to-call-it allows them to. There are certain profession in the United States that only people of certain ideologies go into. Journalism is one of those.

So they see a case like Martin/Zimmerman and they are only able to register a subset of the facts. That subset, which fits their narrative, and which they write about, shows Zimmerman guilty. They were simply unable to see, and therefore write about, the subset of facts that would lead to reasonable doubt.

No conspiracy needed. No malice required.

Simply inherent in the system.

Hey Skipper said...

Clovis:

That the media (every major part of it - no exceptions to the left or right) usually take sides and manipulate information according to its interests is as clear and old as the blue sky.

Yes, and no.

Clearly my viewpoint on issues will have some affect on which facts I weigh more heavily than others, and can even bear on how I arrange those facts. That's fine; life is not determinate, and the values one holds (I prefer individualism to collectivism; your kilometerage may vary) will, in turn, weigh upon what I view as costs vs. benefits.

That's fine.

However, there is a fundamental difference between the left in the US and everyone else. Over the last ten years, there has been an almost endless litany of the left either fabricating facts, suppressing facts, or telling outright lies. Dan Rather (a once famous news anchor), Paul Krugman (Nobel Prize winner and columnist for the NYT), the New York Times itself, and at least one of our major networks, have all been guilty of grotesque malfeasance.

I'm sure there are plenty of other examples I can't recall right off the bat.

The important point to take on board here is that outside the left, the instances of this sort of foul behavior are very, very difficult to find.

As the local representative of the left, Harry has at least twice made serious accusations that are either completely uncorroborated (many right wingers are glad Martin was killed), or comprehensively contradicted by the facts (Zimmerman is a violent racist). He is true to leftist form.

That is an entirely different thing than selecting or interpreting facts through a point of view filter.

Moral relativism does not apply here.

erp said...

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/354434/college-republicans-denied-admittance-obama-speech-nathan-harden

Here's a perfect example of how the left plays dirty. There have been NO incidents of conservative violence ever to my knowledge and I spend a lot of time reading everything across the board. Yet, they cite security concerns planting the idea that conservatives want to harm Obama when that's the last thing we want . We remember the avalanche of government grabbing of power after Kennedy was shot...

and Clovis please don't repeat the fantasy that McNeigh and Oswald were from the right side of the political spectrum unless you mean the right side of socialism aka fascism. Both were lefties and/or their patsies.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG, Erp & Bret,

I can take from your answers above that, in different degrees, you all look to show the opinion that:

i) Jounalists are all completely skewed to the left, almost by construction since the profession would only attract like minded people.

ii) The Left has a far greater tendency to misrepresent facts.

Sincerely, both point of views look to me a bit naive. How do you make point (i) compatible with, for example, Fox News?

I agree that a majority of people who get their degrees in journalism are of liberal tendencies - but it does not mean the same for the ones who are actually exercising the profession, since the distribution of Media companies follows a whole other dynamics, this one dealing with political and economical power games.

As for (ii), it looks a classic case of selective bias applied to yourselves.

Clovis e Adri said...

Hey Skipper:

Sorry, I've meant to include you in my commentary above too.

I have no ideia who Dan Rather is, but I've read P. Krugman sometimes. Can you point to his "grotesque malfeasances"?

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:


This whole JFK affair is an endless source of fun.

So do you believe that McNeigh and Oswald were anything more than pawns?

I take nothing for granted. Your theory (it was the left!) looks less interesting than many others. I, for one, would say that the Right would be far more interested in hitting Kennedy than the Left.

BTW, Erp, I guess you were paying attention to it all at those times, right? (My father was not even a teenager yet). Can you add a couple of your feelings on the matter at the time? I would be interested in hearing it.

[I believe we are abusing Bret's space here already - if so, Bret, let us know, we can move this topic to email or something like that]

erp said...

Fox News is not conservative. Its owner is a lefty who supported Hillary in 2008. Their news programs have a more balanced approach, e.g., they have people with views across the political spectrum on panels, etc. They don't deliberately lie or spin, but if there is a mistake, a correction is made publicly. I am not a fan of Fox News and since they fired the only real conservative they had, Brit Hume, I no longer watch it.

The problem with you and others who've been so immersed in the left is that you think your world view is correct and anything that deviates from it is wrong or worse yet, evil. As Charles Krauthammer said: "We think the left is wrong; they think we are evil."

Since your side has no facts to show you aren't wrong, all you have is ad hominem attacks.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:

Could you please point to at least one ad hominem attack I've made here?

erp said...

Clovis, I said Oswald and Mc Neigh were pawns. You would have to define what you mean by the right. What most lefties mean is what is called fascism in English. If that's how you define, then maybe.

Since Kennedy was a playboy as I said, and not Interested in policy, we conservatives were delighted with him. His conduct during the Bay of Pigs was disgraceful, but only would have made it easier to deny him a second term.

Why would we arrange for a deranged hippy/commie to pick him off? Sorry. That doesn't compute.

Oswald spent time in Moscow and Cuba, and McNeigh spent time Moslem terrorists in the Philippines, none of these places are conservative holiday getaways.

erp said...

My comment was not directed at you personally. You wouldn't have received a reply had you made one. My comments to you are as one speaking to a grandchild of whom much is expected.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

"Jounalists are all completely skewed to the left"

Almost all. No group is completely homogenous. More importantly to me, modern journalists are extremely socially conscious and more than anything (including ideology) they don't want to be judge "uncool". For many (most?), a strong collectivist bias isn't something they consciously select, but rather it's a general tendency that is strongly magnified by this herd mentality. Once the Narrative has been set on a story, to dispute it is to be "uncool" and so journalists as a group toe the party line with an alacrity that is still stunning to me.

I'm not sure what you mean by this being incompatible with Fox News (although, frankly, I think resorting to that is a sign of using shibboleths rather than arguments). Fox News is, IMHO, roughly balanced, with no shortage of collectivists (e.g., Juan Williams). If you look over the years, you can see Fox News gradually shifting in that direction.

"the distribution of Media companies follows a whole other dynamics, this one dealing with political and economical power games"

And so ...? I would point out that a logical consequence of our view that ideology of the rank and file trumps the corporate interests of the owners would mean economic failure of the companies. And, gosh, that seems to be exactly what is happening.

Now, this view may well be bias, but making such an assertion is not proof. In absence of any other plausible theory for the Zimmerman/Martin coverage, I think you should at least consider the possibility it is an accurate theory. I would also note that for us, that coverage was not at all a surprise. It is, my view, completely typical. How often should I observe that kind of thing before I can be reasonably confident that it's objective, and not just my bias?

P.S. With regard to former Enron adviser Paul Krugman, here is a list to get started. There's plenty more if you want.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

I happened to be passing by California in your last presidential election. It was right when the presidential debates were happening.

Watching Fox News and NBC was like watching parallel universes where everything up in one was down in the other.

I do not watch either here in Brazil (I rarely watch any TV at all in fact), but my brief experience told me that Fox was quite the Republican channel - as expected from my readings of your newspapers. I mean they are conservatives in this sense - I see that here in the blog the standard to be considered conservative looks a lot higher than that.

Concerning Krugman, sorry but you need to be more specific. Reading the firt 5 links I only get too technical stuff related to policy to understand much - sorry but I do not have the time right now to read those CBO reports to see who was right in some small fine print letters of US budget discussions.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "ii) The Left has a far greater tendency to misrepresent facts."

No. No. No. No. Not me, I don't believe that at all. Perhaps aog and erp do.

I believe that everybody, left and right, except in rare instances, are only capable of seeing those facts that fit their world view and sometimes they see non-facts that don't exist (minor delusions and confusions). Of course, one can only pass on facts (and non-facts) that one can see.

And it's absolutely true for me as well.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "Could you please point to at least one ad hominem attack I've made here?"

You are one of the most polite and patient commenters I've ever seen on any blog anywhere. You're welcome to make any comment you like here anytime.

I'm thrilled with the quality and passion of the comments here. Some of us get a little carried away from time to time, but that part of the world of blogging, and compared to the vast majority of other blogs, we're pretty tame.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "Can you point to [Krugman's] "grotesque malfeasances"?"

Oy. There's a herd of pundits who do just that. Search on "Krugman Truth Squad." The Krugman Truth Squad is very ideological as well, but they have identified literally hundreds of misleading and untrue statements by Krugman.

Just as an example, Daniel Okrent, the Public Editor for the NY Times from 2003 to 2005 wrote in a column that "Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults."

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret:

Thanks for the reference, I will take a look.

As I've read Krugman quite a few times, it bothers me a little if I did not get any "grotesque malfeasance" by myself. For sure I have my own bias, but I'd like to think that a grotesque one I would see. (OK, I am aware that my credibility took a hit after this sad Martin's episode)

I see that many of the complaints concerning Krugman are mostly related to policy debate over political hot topics. But most of them really deal with technical budget matters to which I did not take great notice (after all, those budgets imply nothing to myself).

Krugman's opinions that take my attention is mostly devoted to his view of the last economic crisis, the proper reponse to it and the difference between perdictions of different economic models. As far as I can see, at these points he looks to be doing quite well.


Or not?

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:

Please, give a little bit more of your experience of those times.

Did you not feel in any way sad or sorry?

It was the most powerful person in the western world taking a bullet. Did it not take a dent in your American pride to see him die?

And what were the first feeling related to whom to blame? I can imagine that a lot of people thought at first of the soviets, or not? The idea of nuclear war came back again?

By the way, do you remember what did you feel during the cuba missile crisis?

erp said...

Clovis:

Provide an email address and I'll be glad to answer your questions about my experiences.

This isn't the proper venue.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:

You are right, Bret has been too patient already.

Please feel free to contact me at casmaia@gmail.com.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "As far as I can see, at these points [proper response to economic crisis] he [Krugman] looks to be doing quite well. Or not?"

Because of his "disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers" I've pretty much ignored everything he's said for ten years.

So to respond to your question, I did a quick google search on "krugman sequester" which pops up this at the top of the list, in which he sarcastically states, "The sequester, by contrast, will probably cost “only” around 700,000 jobs." Such a statement from Krugman is not surprising since, other than defense, Krugman has never met government spending he didn't like - it's his solution for everything.

Of course, unemployment did not increase after the sequester and employment did not decrease, so in one google search leading to one prediction he was completely wrong.

So I'll have to go with your "Or not."

Note that his malfeasance is not generally any one given statement. It's the relentless set of columns which look to me to be specifically written to mislead and convince the readers of things that just aren't so. You'd have to work pretty hard to spot a blatant malfeasance in a column, because other than predictions like the one above, on which which every economist has a pretty poor track record, he only occasionally makes blatantly obvious untruths. He is a master columnist in that sense.

Harry Eagar said...

'Even I can answer that one for Harry. According to Harry's narrative, Zimmerman didn't call the police because Martin was acting suspiciously. Rather he called the police strictly because Martin was black.'

That's a big part of it. He also called because he was delusional -- I am sure now erp will explain that Zimmerman was perfectly correct to diagnose drug use through a car window in the rain (of a person who was not using drugs).

erp said...

Your take on Zimmerman has been totally debunked from one end of the political spectrum to the other. Only the professional black baiters are still beating that dead horse.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

You wondered how it was that Old Media so uniformly distorted the reporing on the Zimmerman/Martin case. Well, here is Mr. Eagar still spinning out that distorted view and he is also a member of Old Media. See if you can get him to provide an explanation.

P.S. Note how Eagar won't provide any specifics (such as, what exactly Zimmerman did that was "crazy and evil, racist and stupid").

Hey Skipper said...

[Bret: ] Clovis wrote: "ii) The Left has a far greater tendency to misrepresent facts."

No. No. No. No. Not me, I don't believe that at all. Perhaps aog and erp do.


Bret, add me to that list.

A good example of misrepresenting facts, and a far better one of simply making them up was after the Gifford shooting. Both the NYT and Krugman insisted it was a consequence of GOP eliminationist rhetoric.

They purely made that up. That is easily bad enough. To make matters far worse, when that invention was shown to be completely wrong, neither the NYT nor Krugman corrected their grotesque malfeasance.

And I'm sure you remember the Dan Rather kerfuffle.

Another good example happened last week. A left wing journal, The New Republic, published an article including this para:

. . . Zimmerman was an edgy basket case with a gun who had called 911 46 times in 15 months, once to report the suspicious activities of a seven year old black boy. (emphasis in original)

Go here to see the reprehensible way they corrected a sentence that was demonstrably wrong in every respect.

And just with respect to this case, the MSM grossly altered a 911 recording, made up a racial classification (If it makes sense to refer to Zimmerman as "White-Hispanic" then I expect Obama to be referred to as "Black-White" from here on out), published a years-old picture of Martin, and omitted Zimmerman's injuries.

It would be easy to go on.

But the important point to be made here is that while everyone assigns different values to facts based on their point of view, only the MAL intentionally invents, alters or omits facts to support their narrative. In this regard, the left is qualitatively different from the right.

I am very hard pressed to think of similar examples from the right. In fact, I can't think of one.

And in this very thread, Harry Eagar has leveled factual accusations that have long since been proven wrong, then followed that up with "… [Zimmerman] was delusional …" which is so far beyond anything resembling the truth that he will not be able to back it up, just like he can't back up any of his other factual statements.

I have looked at discussion threads on both sides of this affair. The TNR thread is a perfect example of comments nearly universally completely disconnected from reality.

Why is that?

Bret said...

Hey Skipper,

I'm not saying the left never misrepresents anything.

But I've seen the right make some pretty ridiculous statements as well. Heck, I've made some pretty bad blunders of fact that I later found out were wrong.

OK, I haven't done comprehensive empirical research on the total amount of misrepresentation by left and right, but I've not seen any such research that convinces me that the left is substantially worse than the right.

We're all human.

Hey Skipper said...

In this regard, personal experience counts as research.

My recollections get me to a better than 10:1 ratio of willful concoction. There are reasons that the right has no equivalent to Dowdification or Fisking.

Perhaps I am flattering myself that my memory is equally good when it comes to intellectual sins of the right.

In that case, I am happy to be reminded.

But absent instances that I have selectively forgotten, then I think my charge stands as proven.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "Perhaps I am flattering myself that my memory is equally good when it comes to intellectual sins of the right."

Perhaps. :-)

Hey Skipper wrote: "I think my charge stands as proven."

Proven to yourself - clearly. And probably to many on the right. Others would need to see it proven beyond reasonable doubt before they accept the guilty verdict.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Bret, if you want an operant conditioning explanation for the disparity, you need only think of the consequences of doing so. A non-MAList can expect any misstatement to be exposed, dissected, and dragged up over and over again. A MAList can expect it to be ignored, glossed over, or even praised. Incentives matter :-).

Classic example - President Obama's recent comment about lawyers in Congress. That's borderline delusional yet he won't be called on it except by people who already don't trust him.

Or, Bret, Global Warmening. Anything like that on the other side?

erp said...

All:

Just recently I had a conversation with someone who was under the impression that the Republicans are responsible for defunding NASA. It's a pretty big issue in Florida and caused a huge displacement of working folks. The notion stunned me. Did I miss something?

Bret:

The difference, as we have all attempted to point out, is that when we make a mistake, we own it, make corrections or apologies and look chagrined. We don't lie (by commission and/or omission), spin and distort to deliberately make our point of view look like what it isn't.

The right, what is that exactly? If you mean conservatives or libertarians (we've already had that discussion) in general, they don't have at their disposal a vast media network, entertainment, academia, public schools, etc. to disseminate the false "news" and even if that we're available, I don't think these folks would do the same thing.

The other night I was in a room where the local TV news broadcaster was talking about Kerry's amazing coup getting the Israeli's and Palestinians in a meeting. He went on and on with nary a mention that Obama released two Gitmo prisoners as a pre-condition demanded by the Palestinians.

Wonder if he would have thought it important if the prisoners in question were Israeli?

Annoying Old Guy said...

erp;

As far as I know, NASA is still funded, although I would support defunding it. What that person probably meant was the GOP refused to spend more money on NASA. I've known more than a few would view that as "defunding".

Hey Skipper said...

[Bret:]Proven to yourself - clearly. ... Others would need to see it proven beyond reasonable doubt before they accept the guilty verdict.

The answer is obvious: factual disproof.

If your assertion that such conduct is equally distributed, then it should be a doddle to come up with a laundry list of similar sins from non-leftists. Particularly when you consider that non-leftists are far more numerous than leftists.

Sometimes absence of evidence is indeed evidence of absence.

Bret said...

erp,

You can claim that conservatives are more honest, but the other side claims that about liberals. For example, Study: Media Fact-Checker Says Republicans Lie More.

That doesn't make it true, of course, but I don't think there's enough objective evidence to say that one side is more truthful than the other.

I think everybody who comments here is more truthful than average, but both the Left and the Right have an awful lot of people, and not all of them are so honest.

erp said...

Bret:

By Republicans, they mean craven cowardly RINO's. They are far worse than the worst lefty because they aren't even honest about their own beliefs.

They don't speak for me.

erp said...

aog:

Mea culpa.

I didn't mean NASA was completely defunded -- just a bunch of programs on space exploration. They left in money for Islamic outreach and for studies on the coming global warming cataclysm being caused by deodorant sprays (oh sorry, that was a former scare). I'm old and can't keep all the left's scares-of-the-month straight. What's this new one being caused by again? ;-{

Hey Skipper said...

[Bret:] You can claim that conservatives are more honest, but the other side claims that about liberals. For example, Study: Media Fact-Checker Says Republicans Lie More.

That doesn't make it true, of course, but I don't think there's enough objective evidence to say that one side is more truthful than the other.


Leaving aside the problem that Politifact is kind of like a fox guarding the chickens, (which a link within your link mentions), you are comparing soup to nuts.

I accept that all politicians are lying all the time.

But my point wasn't about politicians (which is whom Politifact is grading), but rather those whose professional obligation is to convey facts to the extent they can be reliably ascertained.

My thesis is that the WSJ and Fox News, in their entire histories, haven't committed nearly as many sins against reality and morality as the NYT and NBC committed in just the Martin-Zimmerman case alone.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG: please, could you tell why would you prefer to see NASA defunded?

Hey Skipper: I think a good question you can ask is: how can it be that a completely honest group of people (as you look to think about conservatives) end up being represented by people who "are lying all the time" (politicians)? If they (conservatives) allow that to happen, are they still that honest?

Annoying Old Guy said...

"could you tell why would you prefer to see NASA defunded?"

It's not a proper function of government, it's not authorized by our nation's Constitution, it's a very inefficient use of money even for its putative purpose, and it stifles the private sector whenever possible. IMHO, we would be at least a decade or two ahead of where we are now in space travel had NASA been disbanded around 1972.

Hey Skipper said...

Clovis:

I didn't mean to imply that anyone is completely honest, particularly politicians. Their goal is to obtain and maintain power; therefore, they are particularly prone to saying and doing whatever it takes for that end.

Rather, my assertion is that progressives, by definition, must have a correct narrative. The cynic's way of looking at this is that all ideas progressives hold are correct because progressives hold them.

Therefore, progressives value their progressive ideas above everything. However, since progressives really don't know more than anyone else, they are just as prone to having reality puncture their presumptions.

But since the very essence of progressivism is the presumption of omniscience, where ever reality fails to conform with progressivism, so much the worse for reality.

In contrast, it is no insult to a conservative to not know everything, because the foundational idea of conservatism is that it is impossible to know everything.

erp said...

Skipper:

We conservatives are individuals. We don't have the Borg mentality, so while we might agree that keeping government out of lives as much as possible is the best policy for peace & prosperity, we might cheerfully disagree on lots of other things.

Harry Eagar said...

Skipper, are you saying Zismmerman was NOT delusonal?

Then you must think his original call to 911 was reality-bssed. It wasn't.

Annoying Old Guy said...

I am saying Zimmerman was not delusional. I say all the evidence, including much in this very comment string, support that claim. I have seen no evidence to the contrary.

Harry Eagar said...

His statement that Martin was on drugs was not delusional? His statement that they (which meant Martin) always get away with crimes was not delusional?

What crime did Martin get away with?

You seem so heavily invested in the Narrative that you cannot take statements at face value.

For example, you say no one on the right thinks Zimmerman is wonderful. How do you explain the $12000 to buy him more guns?

You think those people are that concerned about stray dogs?

Annoying Old Guy said...

"His statement that Martin was on drugs was not delusional?"

Zimmerman didn't make that statement. Check the transcript. Further, given the toxicology results, it may have been true.

"His statement that they (which meant Martin) always get away with crimes was not delusional?"

No, by "they" he meant the numerous other reports he had called in, including a serious house break in just a few weeks previously. You might note that Martin was singular, but "they" is plural.

"You seem so heavily invested in the Narrative that you cannot take statements at face value."

What statements would those be? I'm reading the actual transcript. I am taking those statement at face value.

"you say no one on the right thinks Zimmerman is wonderful"

No, I didn't. You seem to be the one who cannot take statements at face value because you don't know what that is.

"How do you explain the $12000 to buy him more guns?"

Right wingers don't think an person innocent of a crime should be killed by a lynch mob for that crime. You, obviously, disagree.

"You think those people are that concerned about stray dogs?"

No. They are concerned about real vigilantes who want to kill Zimmerman.

erp said...

... and the vigilantes, funded by us taxpayers, are being urged on by the president and the attorney general.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] Skipper, are you saying Zismmerman was NOT delusonal?

Beyond everything AOG just mentioned (which, in case you are unfamiliar with the concept, is called 'evidence'), I have yet another reason for saying Zimmerman wasn't delusional: it is a gross abuse of the word meaning.

Even if Zimmerman had said Martin was on drugs, at worst he was mistaken. Not delusional, mistaken.

What crime did Martin get away with?

The crime he didn't get away with was aggravated assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm. This is, to me, perhaps the most astonishing thing about this case. If Zimmerman didn't have a gun, he would have gotten a serious beating (at least) and Martin, had he been caught, would have been the one on trial.

Perhaps I shouldn't be astonished, though, because this is part of a much larger pattern. For reasons that shall forever remain unfathomable, collectivists side with predators.

Just so here.

Harry Eagar said...

If a fantasy-prone armed nut wandering the night targeting people walking home from the candy store is not delusional, then who could be?

It is also a delusion that Zimmerman is at risk. Where is your evidence for that?

Hey Skipper said...

Harry, at least get the simple facts right.

He was not walking home from "the candy store".

He was also not walking home, he was loitering.

It is also a delusion that Zimmerman is at risk. Where is your evidence for that?

That is, perhaps, the most laughable thing I've read yet. How about this for evidence: broken nose, lacerations on the back of his head from it getting slammed into the pavement, and eyewitness testimony that Martin was straddling Zimmerman and pounding the heck out of him.

You siding with a predator that attacked Zimmerman . Unfortunately for that predator, Zimmerman had a gun.

Bret said...

Harry asked: "If a fantasy-prone ... nut ... is not delusional, then who could be?"

Your argument here is of the form:

Assume A:

Therefore A:

But since there's no evidence of the assumption (fantasy prone nut), the conclusion (delusional) does not necessarily follow.

Can you start with and stick with only evidence to reach the conclusion of "delusional" without assuming it in the first place?

Harry Eagar said...

I am not assuming anything.

Zimmerman confabulated everything in his first call. Nothing in it was based on any evidence available to him.

We may speculate about why Zimmerman (but not Martin) was loitering about at night and stalking people with a gun. Given what else we know about him, I'd say fantasy-prone is probably as good a diagnosis as any.

We also know that Zimmerman had authority problems, and they were more serious than Martin's.

Why is your narrative that Martin was acting suspiciously but not Zimmerman? Zimmerman's behavior was at least as suspicious, and -- once he turned from stalking to pursuing -- more so.

What happened? It is as plausible as anything else that Martin saw this suspicious ('creepy') guy and, being young and inexperienced, decided to get a better handle on what this questionable character was up to in his neighborhood.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"I am not assuming anything"

Except

* Zimmerman confabulated everything in his first call.
* Zimmerman was loitering
* Zimmerman was stalking people
* Zimmerman was "fantasy prone"
* That we know other things about him that support this
* Zimmerman had authority problems

For none of which you provided the slightest evidence, which makes them all assumptions. The first is the best one, though - your claim is that (1) there had been no breakins in his neighborhood, (2) Martin wasn't wearing a hoodie and (2) Martin wasn't black? Just to pick out three things Zimmerman stated in his call, all of which you claim he confabulated. You might read back a bit too, where the "stalking" claim was thoroughly refuted.

"Why is your narrative that Martin was acting suspiciously but not Zimmerman?"

That's not part of my narrative, it's just another thing you are assuming. I will state I have seen nothing Zimmerman did that was suspicious. It is unclear how suspicious Martin's behavior was.

"What happened? It is as plausible as anything else that Martin saw this suspicious ('creepy') guy and, being young and inexperienced, decided to get a better handle on what this questionable character was up to in his neighborhood."

By committing felonious assault instead of (1) going home or (2) calling the police or (3) calling for help? I find that highly implausible. I'm not surprised, though, that you defend the person who called another "nigga" before beating him up.

erp said...

aog, my definition of a liberal is one who can hold opposite and opposing opinions are the same time. It's similar to Cognitive Dissonance as defined by Merriam-Webster.

The more evidence that their reasoning is faulty, the more shrill and irrational their arguments.

Harry personifies those beyond hope of looking at the world as it really is.

I think there is hope for Clovis. Perhaps his generation will unite the world through mass communication and be less likely to believe the blather from the elites.

I am guardedly hopeful this might happen.

Harry Eagar said...

So, you say Zimmerman did profile Martin. Now we're getting somewhere.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"you say Zimmerman did profile Martin. Now we're getting somewhere"

No, I didn't.

erp said...

http://www.volokh.com/2013/07/14/possible-change-to-florida-law-following-the-zimmerman-verdict/#comment-987516415

Pretty good analysis in this comment from the VC.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] So, [AOG said] Zimmerman did profile Martin. Now we're getting somewhere.

No, he didn't.

Now, how about providing some factual basis for even one of your claims?

It is as plausible as anything else that Martin saw this suspicious ('creepy') guy and, being young and inexperienced, decided to get a better handle on what this questionable character was up to in his neighborhood.

LeftySpeak (tm) is an amazing thing. Perhaps you could translate "get a better handle on" into the English the rest of us use.

And, while you are at it, please note the implicit inversion of morality here: that attacking Zimmerman is OK, but Zimmerman defending himself isn't.

Come to think of it, your excusing Martin would also have to work just as well for Zimmerman, had he decided to pre-emptively attack Martin, right?

Instead of calling the police.

It is tough trying to figure out which you hate more, effective civic organizations, or successful self-defense.

After all, both are anathema to all Right Thinking Persons.

Clovis e Adri said...

Sorry, but even I understand the meaning of "get a better handle on". It is funny to see native speakers not agreeing upon their own language.


AOG: I am doubly sorry for your opinion on NASA. My first sorry is for you, as an American, to show little deference for an institution so fundamental in defining your success as a nation. My second sorry goes to the lack of understanding of NASA's mission and how it could never be done by the private sector, for the sole reason of being utterly non-profitable. Not all human aspirations can be captured by the market, a fact that used to be obvious not so long time ago.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

I don't consider NASA to be particularly fundamental to defining our success as a nation. We'd be basically the same, and viewed the same way domestically and externally, if NASA had never existed.

"Not all human aspirations can be captured by the market"

All consensual human aspirations can be. A free market is in fact the only place where that's true, and the only place where many different aspirations can be achieved at the same time. If people really want NASA, and the aspirations you claim it achieves, why do you have to take money from those people by force to do it? Why can't they purchase / contribute that without the government? It is the free market that lets people chose to spend their money / resources / time on profit or not, as they want.

Let me give you an example - right now, there are private companies starting up to do asteroid exploration and retrieval. NASA is therefore making an effort to do the same, in order to undercut (through it's ability to coercively take money) those private efforts. Why should I be proud of that? It's the kind of thing this nation was founded to get away from.

P.S. You might want to look up "non-profit organization". That's a free market concept, and quite prevalent here, despite your view that such things can't exist.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

The idea that an institution so complex and expensive as NASA, with a budget of more than 16 billions per year, could be run in a donation basis is... words fail me.

I can tell you that my personal view of America would be different, had NASA never existed. Very probably the view of the Russians, who fell for Reagan's Star Wars bluff, would also not be the same. But who I am to preach you on your own country, right?

If the Chinese or Russian inteligentsia cover this blog, please take this urgent notice for your bosses: help and finance a Libertarian to be next president of the US, better yet if he is AOG here. It will be worthier than all your thousands of nukes.

erp said...

Clovis:

A couple of things. The Soviets didn't fall for Reagan's bluff. They responded as all bullies do, to a strong defense. SDI? I'm not a scientist, but I'd bet that our American ingenuity could have and maybe already have, pulled it off.

Seconding aog's comment. NASA doesn't represent what we are as a nation, the Constitution does.

Lastly, you are confusing donations and investments. 16 billion is a lot of money, but it's out there and many many people, including most of the people on the blog would be willing to buy bonds or otherwise invest our own funds of our own free will to a private space iniative.

Lastly it's the government who donates our funds by its confiscatory taxation and spends it on things against the will of many if not most of us taxpayers.

FYI -- Harry may be a native speaker, but the English he speaks is sprinkled with Newspeak (see Orwell's "1984."

Annoying Old Guy said...

"The idea that an institution so complex and expensive as NASA, with a budget of more than 16 billions per year"

One can make a very good argument that NASA is so complex and expensive for what it does precisely because it's a government agency. One need only look at Space Ship One, which made it to orbit on less spending than NASA would do on a study of the problem. Government makes things cost far more than they should, and then uses that as an excuse for continuing its monopoly.

I would also point out that Reagan's SDI had nothing to do with NASA and would have proceeded exactly as it did if NASA didn't exist. If was a program in the Department of Defense.

You did not address the point of NASA stifling private sector efforts. Do you agree with that? Do you think that reflects well on NASA? Do you think it's a reasonable use of all that taxpayer money?

"help and finance a Libertarian to be next president of the US, better yet if he is AOG here. It will be worthier than all your thousands of nukes."

Hmmmm, telling a pair of Communist and former Communist nations to support a candidate that embraces basically the same policies they have used to overcome the failure of Communism to damage a nation? That doesn't make any sense. In any case, they've already done far better with Obama so why gild the lily?

P.S. Skipper, we seem to have frightened Mr. Eagar off with our bizarre demands for actual evidence. That's old media for you.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

As for SDI, no, the present US technology does not reach most of the SDI targets. There are review studies and perspectives by the American Institute of Physics, published in Physics Today, that describe many of the limitations of the US missile defense. As they required paid access, I will not link them here.

Part of the problem is that the goal is too hard and always was. There were many elements of propaganda and bluff in the SDI, and it is recognized as so by much of the physics community.

Still, after you landed and posted a flag in the moon and stablished the modern communication systems of satellites - all done by NASA - many people were willing to believe Reagan, including the US enemies of then.

About your remark on investment, Erp, I do not get it. If most of what NASA does is non-profitable, how can it be an investment? People will give their money and know beforehand they will not see it again. There will be no profit, and not even the initial investment back. I believe the definition for that is donation, if my English does not fail me again.



Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

Space Ship One did not make it to orbit, it did sub-orbital flights. It did not have the capacity for orbital flights, so you need to be very careful when comparing costs. You also need to take care when comparing costs in different decades - technology drives the costs down with time. You also do not take it in account how much of its technology benefited from knowledge developed before, most by NASA in decades of research.

You also show little understanding of how NASA and the State Departmet are connected. The technology is mostly done by those guys at NASA, the Armed Forces drawn upon it heavely. So you take many risks when declaring the SDI independent of NASA know how.

This compartmentalization where you believe NASA to be something, your defense whole another one, is very misguided IMHO. Part of the reason for the Russians and Chinese to be glad with an AOG presidency.

Now, as you did not provide links, I could not comment on this alledge tiffling of the private sector by NASA. I am still travelling and with limited capacity to do my own search right now.



erp said...

Clovis, about SDI, I said American ingenuity would have made it so, if they hadn't already done so. I don't necessarily believe studies, but if I had to, I'd bet my money on our guys, not studies.

Profit is something even harder to understand for those brought up to think they're evil than physics is for puppies.

There was plenty of profit generated by NASA, suppliers, outside contractors, and a host of others involved. Then there's no reason to worry about costs because us taxpayers just keep on paying. Also, no private company would have squandered their funds on the space station just so the Ruskies could pretend they were players.

Now, that's a scandal.

Private space exploration would have been wildly profitable just like the railroads were before the unions and the government took them over and they declined into the 3rd world mess they are now. If they had been kept in the free competitive market, who knows what kind of great fast trains would be available.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

Sorry, I was typing rapidly. You are correct, Space Ship One made it to space, not orbit. But the cost difference are so enormous that even if it cost 10x (or 100x) as much to become orbital, it would still be cheaper. We can use SpaceX or Armadillo as a baseline as well.

As for waiting for advancing technology to drive down costs, I would say that makes NASA even more wasteful. I would also say that Space Ship One didn't depend on much NASA developed technology, its key innovations came from other fields.

"little understanding of how NASA and the State Departmet are connected [...] when declaring the SDI independent of NASA know how". Well, as far as I know, the State Department had nothing to do with SDI development.

I think you're confusing technologies used by NASA and technologies created by NASA. Moreover, there's little reason to suppose that if NASA hadn't done it, no one would have. Even NASA has lost much NASA technology, they couldn't even build Saturn V's today.

Link for asteroid capture. Key quote - "Separately, at least two private companies have announced intentions to mine asteroids for rare metals, arguing that supplies on Earth are dwindling". Purely a coincidence, I'm sure...

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:

On SDI, the studies I am telling you about were made by your guys. I am just repeating what your guys told me - they are the ones saying they could not make it yet.

Now, that maybe they can make it in future is a proposition I did not deny at any moment.


About NASA, of course many companies profit on it. They are in two categories: i) companies profiting directly from government contracts, but you may agree that this kind of profit is not the one you want, since you've paid for it; ii) companies profiting from spin offs of the technology developed. Well for this case I have no idea of the numbers, but I would be very surprised if it would pay alone for what NASA costed you in the last 5 decades or so.

Is it about economy, Erp: different from railroads, space exploration leads to very few profitable things. There are no richs to be taken in the Moon or in Mars, do you see? There is no big market for the last news about Jupiter's storms and hurricanes, or for the last news on the stability of the solar system magnetic field. This is all very good science that NASA does and that the American public pays for - but that hardly would be paid for by donations alone.



Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

Thank you for the link. But sincerely, that brief line in the whole of the piece was far too little to allow you to form that opinion. I do not see how you understand it as a stiffling of the private sector. There are plenty of asterois up there, if NASA wants to get one, it in no way interferes with other companies chasing their own asteroids.

BTW, if that companies really want to use them as source of rare metals, we are talking about the chase of many asteroids. So your stiffling theory makes even less sense.

Anoter comment here is in order: the fact that I admire NASA does not imply I like every possible mission it takes. This chasing of the asteroid looks interesting up to the point of capturing it, for it is an interesting technological challenge, although not a necessary one IMO. But the part of sending people up there to mine it is just for showing up, robots could do it cheaper and better. The argument that it leads to better technology for Mars human exploration looks like propaganda.


One last comment: I did not say we should wait for technological advances to drive costs down. Usually, someone needs to be doing the hard and costly things before they get to be cheaper, otherwise they never even come to existence. Tehre are exceptions to this rule, but they do not apply for most of what NASA does (again, IMO).

Annoying Old Guy said...

"space exploration leads to very few profitable things. There are no richs to be taken in the Moon or in Mars, do you see?"

No. I think companies that lead space exploration will become fabulously wealthy, that there are riches beyond our imagining waiting in space. It's interesting that you mention the Moon and Mars, and not the subject of the link I posted.

"that brief line in the whole of the piece was far too little to allow you to form that opinion"

Unfortunately, you do not get to decide what suffices for me to form an opinion. If private companies are doing it, shouldn't that be a specific and valid reason for NASA to *not* do that? Having worked on many high tech startups, I can tell you that it *will* have a stifling effect.

I follow this technology and my view is that the private sector efforts are using little to no NASA developed technologies, so all of that money and effort was in the end sterile and in a development sense, useless.

erp said...

The age old story of the doers and the dreamers also the subject of an interesting string some years ago. Which came first? I like to think they emerged together with a good idea put into service by the first engineer.

Clovis is a theoretical physicist like my son and many of his friends who are dreamers. They offer their seldom humble opinions on the how and why of our chaotic universe and rarely bother to think about how those ideas can be of benefit to us lesser mortals.

Doers take those ideas and adapt them to the here and now making our lives more comfortable knowing full well that some starry-eyed dreamer out there is thinking up something never thought up before for them to work on tomorrow.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] Sorry, but even I understand the meaning of "get a better handle on". It is funny to see native speakers not agreeing upon their own language.

My point wasn't that I didn't understand what "get a better handle on" meant; rather, that it was a typical example of leftist misdirection — using a term or phrase that hides reality. Harry used "get a better handle on" instead of the far more accurate "assaulted and battered".

That is the translation I was talking about: from obfuscation into clarity.

Is it about economy, Erp: different from railroads, space exploration leads to very few profitable things. There are no richs to be taken in the Moon or in Mars, do you see? There is no big market for the last news about Jupiter's storms and hurricanes, or for the last news on the stability of the solar system magnetic field.

In this regard, Clovis, I agree with you and disagree with AOG. The supplies of rare metals on earth are not dwindling, only changed in form from the raw material. It will always be far cheaper to mine landfills for these materials than going to space to get them. Moreover, there is no reason to expect that these materials will be in greater abundance or concentration on asteroids or other planets than here on Earth, nor any possibility of reducing space payload costs by three orders of magnitude (which would probably still be two orders of magnitude greater than terrestrial transportation costs).

Paul Ehrlich, a famous Malthusian prognisticator whose every utterance is quoted, despite his unbroken track record of failed predictions, famously lost a bet on commodity prices. I think AOG is going to lose this one, too.

And you are also right with regard to all the amazing things coming from orbiters, landers, and space telescopes: almost all of them are producing incredible knowledge for which the market would never pay. (The sole exception are solar observing satellites, since they provide an ability to detect solar storms in time to do take preventive measures.)

[AOG:] P.S. Skipper, we seem to have frightened Mr. Eagar off with our bizarre demands for actual evidence. That's old media for you.

And yet they insist they are the Reality Based Community.

Leftists are amazingly irony impaired. QED.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

Sorry to ask but now you've got me interested: are you an engineer or something related? Which kind of tech company you've started?

On the value of those asteroid, I don't think I have anything to add to what Skipper already said.

Erp:

It was my turn to laugh out loud when I've read the "seldom humble opinions" part. I guess it is true, we must sound quite self assured sometimes. Imagine what it is like to live among them everyday.

I wonder, Erp, if you son voted for Obama and now you are fighting since then. I gave up talking political matters with my mother, she probably thinks like you in many ways.



erp said...

Clovis:

My son has lived in France for the past 20 years, but If he were here, he might have voted for Obama once, but I doubt he'd have voted for him twice.

It was a challenge as he grew up, but he was in a very supportive environment, so he was allowed to go his own way and was not bound by the school curriculum.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

Skipper and I very much disagree on that, but time will tell. I think Skipper is specifically wrong on the ability to reduce launch costs (if you look at the actual energy needed, it is in fact 3 or more orders of magnitude less than we currently spend) and the value of the metals available in space (the potential payoff from one asteroid could be more than all the metals mined in Earth's history, and far easier to process and retrieve). But asteroids aren't the only potential source of wealth - I expect we'll move most of our energy generation and heavy manufacturing in to orbit over the next century or so and that will be make many many people very rich.

As for my tech history, I've worked with both hardware and software startups. I, personally, am a code slinger, a software engineer. I started working at startups in the mid 1970s, so I've been here, in the high tech industry, since well before the Internet boom. I saw it all, from the inside. Your idea that it wasn't "the real world" or didn't impact the "real world" is, honestly, just laughable to me. You will probably say 'give me a link', so here is a link to one of my projects, back in the 1990s, the first multi-window version of Emacs. Or you could look at a company called "Safely Filed", a startup done by She Who Is Perfect In All Ways, with which I helped a bit.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG: you keep pretty optimistic prospects about our future in space, which surprises me a lot coming from someone who barely values NASA.

Thank you for the introduction. You are then an uber nerd, which I value greatly. My first contact with Unix world came through Linux. I was 15 years old in 1996 and it was a revelation to me (only knew DOS and Windows before), use it since then.

I bet you indeed witnessed thing I can barely imagine. But I have never said or implied (read again my posts) that the internet did no impact real life (who could ever say that?). I only meant that it was a poor model to guide how our societies can be managed.

BTW, sorry but I have no idea who this most perfect lady is. I am prohibited of calling any one but my wife with these superlatives.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"sorry but I have no idea who this most perfect lady is. I am prohibited of calling any one but my wife with these superlatives."

Me too.

"you keep pretty optimistic prospects about our future in space, which surprises me a lot coming from someone who barely values NASA"

It's because I'm not a fair weather minarchist, who only objects to government spending on other people's pet projects.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

I see now, you were indeed talking about your wife. Ok.

A personal question: by your timeline above, I guess you were already here when Sputnik was beeping in orbit. Right?

In this case you experienced in your life time all the great achievements of the American space program (i.e. NASA!). I wonder, are you not a bit proud of it all?

You do not look to care much now, but what were your feelings then?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

I don't remember Sputnik, but I do remember the first Moon landing. Yes, when I was a child, I was proud of such things, but then I grew up and learned the hidden costs. Now I reserve my pride for my countrymen who do things themselves, not on the backs of coerced payments.

erp said...

I remember Sputnik very well and even then I questioned the hoopla in the media about Soviet advances in science and how we were hopelessly behind as if human knowledge was a race or contest. One story that hasn’t been told is the history behind Sputnik and how many failures there were before Yuri.

My kids are about the same age as aog and the others commenting here. We woke them up to see the first human being walk on the moon, not to see us poke a finger in the eye of the Soviet “space program.”

By that time those paying attention knew the fraud that was the Soviet's great experiment and that it was failing spectacularly.

I was pretty satisfied with how NASA was progressing until Carter decimated it and physicists were driving cabs to feed their kids. Since then space program and NASA became, not a vehicle for exploring the universe, but a vehicle for continuing the fiction of a functioning Russian space program until now it's become a joke on the TV show, "The Big Bang Theory" and another outreach program to the Moslem community.

If I were a cynic, I’d think that we helped get Sputnik up, so we could create a public opinion clamoring for us to beat them to the moon. Nah. Couldn’t happen.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

Do you believe that private enterpreneuship could have landed you in the moon in 1969? Do you regret the costs to do that by NASA?

In the same line, do you believe private enterpreneuship could be trusted for the protection of your country? I mean, should the Armed Forces be privately financed?

If your NASA answers differs from your Army answer, it begs the question: why?

One last question: can you give examples of your fellow countrymen that you admire?

Annoying Old Guy said...

No. Yes.

No. No.

Because the essence of government is a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.

The Founding Fathers. Andrew Carnegie. Sarah Palin. Donald Knuth. Burt Rutan. Mike Kulas. John W. Campbell.

erp said...

Clovis:

aog beat me to it. The Constitution which you don't seem to understand is the foundation of our country and our laws. It calls for a standing army and names the president, a civilian, as the commander in chief. There is no mention anywhere of initiatives into space or anywhere else.

We've strayed far afield of these ideals and are now governing by fiat. NB the attorney general's declaration that he will only obey what laws he wants to and indicated that law enforcement may do likewise.

To names above, I would add George Washington, the man who declined to be king, but would have made a great one, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, the personification of the ordinary American and the most decent man IMO ever to be president. Others I can't think of off the top of my head.

Clovis e Adri said...

I do not know the last three names AOG cited but will take a look.

I see the landing of the man in the moon, in good part, as an American demonstration of force in space, almost like a military exercise. NASA first developments, including landing in the moon, were very much within a national defense policy. Kennedy Space Center, from where the rockets were launched, were still Air Force land while much of that happened.

So if all the money spent were under the Air Force signature, AOG, would you still have a problem with that?

After all, isn't it the job of the Commander in Chief to decide how to build up your defense?


Erp:

Excuse me if I have no idea how you deem someone who started a war based in deceptions to be that decent. I must be again not very well informed. Or maybe this time it is not me.

Bret said...

I think that to the extent NASA is a military organization whose activities are reasonably strongly tied to defense of the citizens of the United States and perhaps their global interests, then that is indeed within the activities that should be pursued by the federal government.

The "space race" was originally about developing missiles and control of the skies and orbits. That we put men on the moon as part of that technology race is fine, in my opinion. That we were misled about the state of the Soviet space program and did not have to race quite so hard to "protect" ourselves is unfortunate as it was part of what stretched us thin in the 60s and early 70s and helped lead to economic stagflation in the late 70s and early 80s.

I believe NASA could still have a legitimate role in defense. I don't think they have a legitimate role in commercial ventures such as commercial satellite launches and further space exploration. If there are truly commercially viable ventures in space, there's plenty of private money to pursue them.

erp said...

Clovis: Perhaps it is you who are mis-informed. Bush followed the correct procedures, went before congress and went to war to protect us from another 911. Any deceptions came from those who opposed the war and that the media corrupted everything Bush ever said or did is not disputable.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp: I think you are grouping under the same hood the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. I've meant only the last one. There was no connection betweeen Iraq and 9/11. In fact, ironically, S. Hussein was the reason for Al Qaeda not having penetration in Iraq. Something no longer true, as we all know.

Bret:

Interesting point, I've never heard before any connection between the cost of the space program and the subsequent 70's crisis. I did not look for numbers, but I was under the impression that the US was paying for it easily, so I would thank you for any reference in contrary.




erp said...

Clovis, we'll need to agree to disagree on Iraq and Bret, I don't remember that NASA having had any effect on stagflation. In fact, Carter decimated NASA.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] [erp,] I think you are grouping under the same hood the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. I've meant only the last one. There was no connection betweeen Iraq and 9/11. In fact, ironically, S. Hussein was the reason for Al Qaeda not having penetration in Iraq. Something no longer true, as we all know.

The case for removing Saddam from power was a lot more complicated than just WMD.

I have a not inconsiderable background in national security issues, so the link post is not entirely clueless ravings.

erp said...

Skipper? Clueless rantings?

Clovis e Adri said...

Hey Skipper:

Thank you for the link, you provide a discussion of many interesting points. They may be resumed, if you agree, in this sentence: "The invasion of Iraq was in US best geostrategic interests." And the main driver of these geostrategic interests are, well, to have oil flowing.

Which poses an exercise in logic within the discussion of free market we are having just above.

If you do fiercely believe in Free Markets, how come that the best solution was not to let they act by themselves? The guys up there have the oil, the guys down there want it, one sells and another buys. Right?

Why is it necessary US intervations - regulations of the market, if you will - to ensure the best flowing of oil?

The bottom line is, if you are really a Free Market Libertarian, Hey Skipper, how is it that your analysis insist that "no to do anything" was no option?

My point is that you are either correct in your geopolitical exercise, and you concede absolutely Free Markets are flawed, or the contrary.

Feel free to give yout thoughts, my dear free folks.

erp said...

Gosh Clovis. I don't understand your comment.

What we have been saying here ad nauseum is we don't have free markets here in the U.S., especially in energy. Governmental regulations and lunatic environmental whackoes are preventing us from developing our own extensive supply of oil, natural gas and clean coal and forcing us to fund mythical renewable sources of energy which may be renewable, but are certainly not a substitute for fossil fuels as the failure of one after the other of crony capitalist solar and wind energy projects clearly shows. Add to that the failure of corn* fed and electric** cars which nobody wants to buy and can’t even be given away, it’s clear that the gazillions of our tax payer stimulus dollars has served only one purpose and that’s to stimulate Obama et al.'s bottom line as the money gets funneled back to the culprits.

* Which is raising food costs.
** Which need energy to recharge batteries.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] [Do you agree with] this sentence: "The invasion of Iraq was in US best geostrategic interests." And the main driver of these geostrategic interests are, well, to have oil flowing.

More accurately, I agree that the only reason the US has any particular interest in the area is due to oil.

Moreover, I assert that it is in the world's direct interest that the US maintains a strong presence in the gulf. In the not too distant future, the US will be largely, if not completely energy self sufficient. Therefore, any interruption of oil flow through the Straits of Hormuz will not effect the US directly.

However, try to envision the consequences if Iran were to close the Straits for, say, a month. Inevitably, the US would be caught up in the economic turmoil. Cast your glance a bit further afield. Might some countries, with far fewer resources than the US, be catastrophically effected?


If you do fiercely believe in Free Markets, how come that the best solution was not to let they act by themselves? The guys up there have the oil, the guys down there want it, one sells and another buys. Right?

Here you have turned logic right on its head. I believe that for certain classes of problems, a free market is by far the best solution. I also believe that oil supply and demand is well within the scope of the free market.

The result of the US deposing Saddam, and maintaining a strong presence in the region, isthe free flow of oil in response to demand. The US is a maritime power, and has always had freedom of navigation as a inherent part of our national security policy.

It should come as no surprise, then (although the anti-War left, so far as I know, has never even considered the possibility), that one of the strategic goals of Iraqi Freedom was maintaining freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf and Straits of Hormuz.

Imagine, if you will, what the consequences of a nuclear arms race between Saddam and Iran might have been.

The bottom line is, if you are really a Free Market Libertarian, Hey Skipper, how is it that your analysis insist that "no to do anything" was no option?

Not every problem is a market problem. Think about what is required for a free market: widely available information, property rights, and the rule of law. There are a few others, but that will do.

When I said that doing nothing was not an option, that was a judgment regarding national security strategy, which is well outside the scope of any possible description of a functioning market.

Further, that judgment was derived from assessing the state of play prior to Iraqi Freedom. The US's existing policy in the region was reaching a dead end -- we simply could not continue pursuing it very much longer; therefore, something else was going to happen.

Comparing the costs of the invasion against a nullity, which is a specialty of the left, is a vacuous and irresponsible exercise.

[AOG:] Now I reserve my pride for my countrymen who do things themselves, not on the backs of coerced payments.

I'm reasonably proud of those who made our entire space exploration effort happen, none of which would have been possible except for "coerced" payments.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

I believe Hey Skipper got my point, but I will rephrase it for you.

You believe in Free Markets and that the govt has no business in regulating the energy market in the USA. Your commentary above only reinforces that.

Now, suppose we all live in the Unites States of the World (USW). I gather you very much support the interventions of the govt on the energy market of USW, for your support for the Iraq war ammounts to that. My question was thus simple: why the double standard?


Hey Skipper,

Your answer has two mains points:

1) we need rules for a free market, and USW (see my above example to Erp) does not have those rules.

2) Iraq was a threat for other nuclear reasons: it could one day enter a nuclear race with Iran.

As for 1, you are still being inconsistent. Most Libertarian
promote Free Market in world wide terms, and the rules of commerce for Oil are truly very simple, someone pump it out to someone else to buy. I mean, this is a market with property rights, minimum rule of law (people pay, people deliver) and everyone is informed well enough - by your own standards, it could very well be a free market.

As for 2, we all know there was no trace of Iraq medling with nuclear ambitions anymore. The counry was in rubles and all nuclear capability was destroyed way before Desert Storm by Israel. There was no direct militar security threat for the US from Iraq. Only economical ones, related to a lack of oil flowing, which leads us back to point 1.

BTW, a Free Market believer should not fear Iran closing the strait, since he is one of the most intested in getting the oil flowing, being a big producer.


I resume my point with the above examples: when the matter is essential and survival mode kicks in, no one is a Libertarian, you all go back to plain pragmatism, your fancy free market ideals hastily forgotten. Notice that I am not using my own ideals to attack yours, only pointing out how you do not consistently apply yours.

In a language AOG may better understand: error, your code does not compile :-)

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] I gather you very much support the interventions of the govt on the energy market of USW, for your support for the Iraq war amounts to that. My question was thus simple: why the double standard?

Argument by analogy only works if the analogy is both simpler than what it is hoping to illuminate, and if the analogy is analogous.

Your analogy fails on both counts. It is more complicated than the actual reality, and it isn't analogous in any way to a free market. Your implicit assumption leads you to ask erp to explain a double standard that doesn't exist.

Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) was not an intervention on the energy market. To argue otherwise, you would have to be able to point at oil prices both before and after and show how invading Iraq changed oil prices to the US's benefit. I'll bet you can't. Nor can you argue, as conceptually addled leftists once did, that the goal of the war was to seize, or even slightly control, Iraq's oil.

Since OIF had neither any discernible impact on oil price nor the US's grabbing Iraq's oil, then erp's support for OIF cannot possibly amount to support for government intervention in the global energy market. Asking erp to argue for one side of a non sequitur is to insist on the impossible.

As for 1, you are still being inconsistent. Most Libertarians promote Free Market in world wide terms, and the rules of commerce for Oil are truly very simple, someone pump it out to someone else to buy. I mean, this is a market with property rights, minimum rule of law (people pay, people deliver) and everyone is informed well enough - by your own standards, it could very well be a free market.

For the reasons I cited above, I resist argument by analogy. So, against my better advice, I'm going to give it a try.

The US government has long fought organized crime. That is not an intervention in the free market; on the contrary, it is in support of the free exchange of goods and services within the US. OIF was not an intervention in the global free exchange of oil; rather, one of the outcomes was to ensure the continued free exchange of oil supplies relying on the Persian Gulf for transit.

Hey Skipper said...

As for 2, we all know there was no trace of Iraq meddling with nuclear ambitions anymore. The country was in rubble and all nuclear capability was destroyed way before Desert Storm by Israel.[Note: that assertion is completely wrong. Following Desert Storm, we discovered the Iraqis were well on their way to developing a nuclear weapon.] There was no direct military security threat for the US from Iraq. Only economical ones, related to a lack of oil flowing, which leads us back to point 1.

BTW, a Free Market believer should not fear Iran closing the strait, since he is one of the most intested in getting the oil flowing, being a big producer.


I suggest you re-read my link, because I think you are missing some central points.

First, a threat need not be military to be substantial. Your implied correlation between a military threat and a military response is completely artificial.

Second, you are falling into well worn path of arguing a null. I contended that the sanctions regime was nearing complete breakdown, and that the least worst option was getting rid of Saddam. You are entitled to disagree, but disagreement requires proposing an alternative — either that the sanctions regime was not nearing collapse, or that if you agree with the premise that it was, then there was an alternative to violently removing Saddam. Moreover, you have to consider the possible consequences, among which are …

Third, Saddam's actions in the absence of a sanctions regime would have created a Hobbesian security dilemma between Iran and Iraq, a foreseeable consequence of which could be an extended closure of the Straits of Hormuz. My link mentioned plenty of other consequences, but that one ought to entail in your mind a sufficiently long parade of horribles to make my case.

I resume my point with the above examples: when the matter is essential and survival mode kicks in, no one is a Libertarian, you all go back to plain pragmatism, your fancy free market ideals hastily forgotten. Notice that I am not using my own ideals to attack yours, only pointing out how you do not consistently apply yours.

Unfortunately, your argument has as much to do with the free market as soup does with nuts.

Clovis e Adri said...

Hey Skipper,


My argument was not entirely based on analogy, the analogy was given for illustrative purposes.

My argument, without analogies, only amounts to say that there is a market for Oil in the world, and that it could be a free market if powerful nations did not actively intervene in the region where the producers are.

Now, please notice that I am not saying those powerful nations are necessarily wrong in all their acts and interventions. Only that they make the oil market no longer an ideally free one - which is the goal of Libertarians.

Your lack of faith that the market would solve all the local problems (military and etc) for sake of their best profits only shows that, after all, you are not a true believer in Free Markets. Only that yourself did not realize how sinful you are to the eyes of the Free Market God.

BTW, this Orrin you guys keep mentioning as a good Liberatian hero is in fact a true one, by the commentaries at your blog on the above Iraq link that state he was against the invasion (he would prefer to see Iraqis become a big problem and only then bomb them). He sees the Trith and the Light, while in are in the dark dear Hey Skipper. For that is a coherent application of your stated doctrine.

I also would like to make explicit your logic in your phrase:

"Third, Saddam's actions in the absence of a sanctions regime would have created a Hobbesian security dilemma between Iran and Iraq..."

Translation: "Iraq may be a problem one day, so let us bomb it now. Problem solved". Do you see? Going for analogies, it is like saying "this badly educated child may be a problem tomorrow. Let us chain him now."

BTW, you are right in not using analogies, Hey Skipper, you are bad at it: soup and nuts are a very good proposition for a low fat dinner :-)





Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

"it could be a free market if powerful nations did not actively intervene in the region where the producers are"

Is it still a free market if not so powerful nations actively intervene? Such as by invading an occupying a neighboring oil producing nation?

"the market would solve all the local problems (military and etc)"

That you claim we think free markets can solve military problems indicates that you still do not understand the term "free market".

"Orrin you guys keep mentioning as a good Libertarian hero"

No, we've never claimed that.

Hey Skipper said...

My argument, without analogies, only amounts to say that there is a market for Oil in the world, and that it could be a free market if powerful nations did not actively intervene in the region where the producers are.

Unfortunately, your argument suffers from a fatal disconnect.

First, define the characteristics of a free market, then explain how nations intervening in the Persian Gulf affected the operation of the market for oil.

I'll bet you can't do it.

Producers were still free to produce, and buyers free to buy, and there remains vigorous competition between suppliers for buyers.

What's more, referring again to my link, you must agree that OIF made the oil market more free, because Saddam's military threat was held in check by keeping Iraqi oil off the market. In other words, your argument is falsified by contradiction.

Your lack of faith that the market would solve all the local problems (military and etc) for sake of their best profits only shows that, after all, you are not a true believer in Free Markets. Only that yourself did not realize how sinful you are to the eyes of the Free Market God.

Strawman alert. I don't know of anyone who thinks the market can solve all problems; in fact, the free market really solves just one problem: allocation of scarcity.

That's it. Unless you can demonstrate how guaranteeing freedom of navigation is a means of allocating scarcity — and I'll bet you can't — then you are making a classic category mistake.

I also would like to make explicit your logic in your phrase:

"Third, Saddam's actions in the absence of a sanctions regime would have created a Hobbesian security dilemma between Iran and Iraq..."

Translation: "Iraq may be a problem one day, so let us bomb it now. Problem solved". Do you see? Going for analogies, it is like saying "this badly educated child may be a problem tomorrow. Let us chain him now."


Once again, bad analogy. No. Worse than that, it is horrible.

In order to fix it, you would have to change it to "this badly educated child killed a million of his classmates, is still killing his classmates, and there is no reason to think he won't kill even more tomorrow if he can. Let us chain him up now."

Oh, BTW, your analogy has left out the entire concept of the Hobbesian security dilemma.

If you are going to use an analogy, first make it analogous.

BTW, you are right in not using analogies, Hey Skipper, you are bad at it: soup and nuts are a very good proposition for a low fat dinner :-)

Ummm, that's an assertion, not an analogy.

Good example of a category mistake, though.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:


----
Is it still a free market if not so powerful nations actively intervene? Such as by invading an occupying a neighboring oil producing nation?
----

I gather you are talking about the first Iraq war, but correct me if I am wrong. If I am right, let us make clear that our discussion above is related to the last Iraq War (2003). The first one is under the Orrin policy of "we bomb them if they become a bigger problem", a correct one under true Libertarian creed.


----
"the market would solve all the local problems (military and etc)"

That you claim we think free markets can solve military problems indicates that you still do not understand the term "free market".
-----

Maybe you are right - I may not understand Libertarians, after all you barely make an effort to enunciate your set of rules in clear ways.

Or, maybe, you could see my point as irony: many Libertarians assume some problems ought to be solved by the market alone, when I believe those same problems may need, once in a while, direct govt. intervention, and to withdrawn from govt. power to ever intervene is as naive as to expect free markets to solve military problems.




erp said...

Clovis: You are not remembering that military matters are the legitimate responsibili6y of the government per the Constitution and not subject to free markets. You must understand that we are a nation of law even though the current administration as well as previous ones have tried to circumvent it.

The war with Iran is legitimate because it was declared so by the U.S. congress and opinions to the contrary are irrelevant. You and others may think is was a mistake or wrong, but it wasn't, by definition, illegitimate.

Clovis e Adri said...

Dear Hey Skipper:


--------
First, define the characteristics of a free market, then explain how nations intervening in the Persian Gulf affected the operation of the market for oil.

I'll bet you can't do it.
--------

I believe you are making the classic mistake of causation over correlation.

The prices of Oil are correlated to the availability of it, hence correlated to the interventions on the producers countries.

You look happy that I can not prove a causal relation. Sure I can't. So what?


---------
Producers were still free to produce, and buyers free to buy, and there remains vigorous competition between suppliers for buyers.
---------

I see we operate under different definitions. If I kill the owner of a shop and replace him with a pal of mine, I believe it is a market intervention. You look to believe otherwise.


----
What's more, referring again to my link, you must agree that OIF made the oil market more free, because Saddam's military threat was held in check by keeping Iraqi oil off the market. In other words, your argument is falsified by contradiction.
----

I believe you may well be right in saying that OIF made the oil market better. We only disagree on how to name and define it. For me, it is an example of midly sucessfull market intervention. For you, it was an intervention to make the said market more free, i.e. a contradiction on itself if freedom is your stated objective.



-----
Unless you can demonstrate how guaranteeing freedom of navigation is a means of allocating scarcity
-----
OK, it must be my English limitations again, but you may illuminate me as how "freedom of navigation" is not related to the "allocating" part of "allocating scarcity".

I believe we both agree that to allocate something like oil, you need to be able to move it around.


---
BTW, your analogy has left out the entire concept of the Hobbesian security dilemma.
---

Not at all. You intend to pose the Hobbesian security dilemma as a infalible system to predict future behavior with absolute accuracy. It is not.


Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:

I believe there is a concept in your judiciary system dubbed "fruit of the fallen tree".

If your govt. obtains approval for a war based in fake evidence, the obtained approval is not, in the end of the day, legitim.

I believe Erp, that you did not pay attention to my point concerning Bush. I am not necessarily comdemning him for invading Iraq - I can understand the reasons US had, many of them well described by Hey skipper on his link. I only think that, as he did so basing the invasion in fake intelligence data (instead of explicitly for the "right reasons") makes him not that honest. Which was the start of this topic here in this thread.

Clovis e Adri said...

Ops, correction: it would be "fruit of the poisonous tree".

erp said...

I did pay attention, but I disagree that the intelligence was defective, nevermind fake and even if it were, I will never believe that Bush was deliberately deceptive.

It's so deadly dull. The same old propaganda swallowed whole, the same old arguments. If Skipper's arguments couldn’t convince you that it is you who are deceived, there's no hope of overcoming all your years of indoctrination.

Economics is a fun exercise with room for many opinions even though in the end, only one, free trade with the least interference by government, can work to produce peace and prosperity, it's the nonsense about the U.S. spilling blood for oil that makes me physically ill. It’s our own blood and treasure we are spilling. When Obama et al. finish emasculating us, we’ll see how the world likes the post Pax Americana era.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

Pray tell me, where are those Iraq's WMD if you believe the intelligence was right?

Now, Erp, about Skipper and I, we are mainly discussing how Iraq war can or can not be viewed through the lenses of a market intervention. I did not defy most of his arguments for the war itself.

But at no point he addressed the fake intelligence matter. So how am I supposed to be convinced that I was deceived on forming my opinion on this?

Now, on the nonsense about U.S. spilling blood for oil, Erp, there are many who agree with me on that one. Read hey skipper up there:

"More accurately, I agree that the only reason the US has any particular interest in the area is due to oil."

How come, Erp, that after reading all Hey Skipper writes, you still couldn't be convinced on this point? :-)

erp said...

The UN had observers in Iraq making sure Saddam was destroying his weapons in exchange for allowing him to pump oil. All that time there was never a word on fake weapons. There were also pictures of trucks moving into Jordan with alleged weapons. We didn't then and we don't now need Iraqi oil. All the world's people can believe as you do, it doesn't make it true.

I stand by my comment especially my last statement.

PS: I believe Skipper said our interest was in keeping shipping lanes open. That's a matter of enforcing international law. Otherwise every pennyante tyrant can close up free access to the sea and we can replay the Barbary coast pirates again. Remember when the Suez Canal was closed making shipping in the area an even greater nightmare?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

I wrote "Is it still a free market if not so powerful nations actively intervene?" and you responded
"I gather you are talking about the first Iraq war, but correct me if I am wrong"

I was referring to the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. Does that not count, because Iraq wasn't a "powerful nation"? Here's the point - so often in discussions like this, only the USA is presumed to have moral agency, that other people, other nations, simply do not matter in any moral calculus. For example, it's wrong for the USA to intervene military in the area, but OK for Iraq to do so. I was attempting to see if this is your view.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

There are subtleties you are not getting about my arguments. In fact, I think I've made here a few arguments that are hardly the "same old arguments" you see out there.

You look to be reading my commentaries as saying that the US invaded Iraq to get his oil. I did not say so at any time. You'll be no more physically ill if you stop to read what I've actually argued for.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

And I think I've answered your question properly, or not?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Yes. I read you to be of the "only the USA matters" viewpoint. American actions (such as the invasion of Iraq) are always ex nihilo and never in the context of the actions of other nations.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

By heavens, I must be writing in another language here.

I've written: The first one is under the Orrin policy of "we bomb them if they become a bigger problem", a correct one under true Libertarian creed.

I think it clearly means "those Iraqis that time deserved to be bombed".

Maybe your problem AOG is just the same as Erp above - you keep interpreting what you think I must think, not what I am actually writing.

Hey Skipper said...

[HS:]First, define the characteristics of a free market, then explain how nations intervening in the Persian Gulf affected the operation of the market for oil.
--------
[Clovis:] I believe you are making the classic mistake of causation over correlation.

The prices of Oil are correlated to the availability of it, hence correlated to the interventions on the producers countries.

You look happy that I can not prove a causal relation. Sure I can't. So what?



One of the classic correlation-causation mistakes is calling every instance of linking correlation with causation a correlation-causation mistake.

Not every correlation points to causation, but there is no such thing as causation without correlation.

Obviously, my pointing to historical oil prices could be the former; however, by reflexively accusing me of the classic mistake, you have relieved yourself of the burden of addressing a very real weakness in your argument. If the US actions in the Persian Gulf were, in fact, interventions in the market, then surely those interventions not only had to have some discernible consequences, but they would have to have been in the realm within which markets operate, the decentralized reconciliation of demand and supply.

The complete absence of market effects correlated with US security policy causes means your theory explains reality no better than the null hypothesis, which is really a fancy way of saying not at all.

[HS:] Producers were still free to produce, and buyers free to buy, and there remains vigorous competition between suppliers for buyers.
---------
[Clovis:] I see we operate under different definitions. If I kill the owner of a shop and replace him with a pal of mine, I believe it is a market intervention. You look to believe otherwise.


It could be one or more of many things, but if there is no consequent effect on the market, it is not a market intervention.

Once again you highlight the problems of argument by analogy. Okay, I will take yours as written.

All shop owners die. According to you, every shop owner death is a market intervention, and therefore that as a good Libertarian I must therefore be against death.

Clearly, that is a ridiculous consequence, but it is right where your analogy leads. Unless you can demonstrate how the shop owner's death impeded the decentralized reconciliation of demand and supply, then it isn't a market intervention, any more than if the poor sod had dropped dead of a blown ticker.

[Clovis:] I believe you may well be right in saying that OIF made the oil market better. We only disagree on how to name and define it. For me, it is an example of mildly successful market intervention. For you, it was an intervention to make the said market more free, i.e. a contradiction on itself if freedom is your stated objective.

Again, please re-read my link. Nowhere did I even come close to suggesting that any reason for OIF was to put Iraqi oil back on the market.

More critically, you have awarded yourself a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose victory. The embargo on Iraqi oil was a market intervention, and eliminating the embargo was a market intervention. So, according to you, everything is a market intervention. However, a theory that explains everything ends up explaining nothing.

In contrast, I could easily explain — already have, in fact — how one of the consequences of OIF was restoring the market to the way it would be without was very clearly an intervention on the supply side of the market: sequestering Iraq's oil.

Perhaps this example of an actual market intervention will help you make the distinction between a market intervention, and an action outside the realm of the market.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] OK, it must be my English limitations again, but you may illuminate me as how "freedom of navigation" is not related to the "allocating" part of "allocating scarcity".

Actually, your English is quite serviceable.

As for illumination, "freedom of navigation" has nothing to do with "allocating" and everything to do with "scarcity". Freedom of navigation means that nothing beyond physical constraints impedes supply. In contrast, the lack of freedom of navigation means a specific entity has taken it upon itself to create scarcity, whether through preventing passage, or stealing the commodity. The former (which is what would happen if the Straits of Hormuz were closed) artificially creates scarcity; the latter creates scarcity by artificially lowering the effective price producers get for their product, and increasing the price purchasers pay.

[HS:] BTW, your analogy has left out the entire concept of the Hobbesian security dilemma.
---

[Clovis:] Not at all. You intend to pose the Hobbesian security dilemma as a infallible system to predict future behavior with absolute accuracy. It is not.


In fact, your analogy did leave out the problem of the Hobbesian security dilemma. By doing so, not only did you fatally damage your analogy, but you also relieved yourself of the burden of addressing the consequences.

And this response is guilty of the strawman fallacy. I haven't yet, nor intend to, pose the HSD as a "system", infallible or otherwise, to predict behavior. Rather, it is a state of affairs that would have been bound to exist between Iraq and Iran (or, if it wouldn't, the burden is upon you to say why not), and that HSDs generally do not end well. In the case of Iran and Iraq, not ending well is a three word phrase for a possible epic Malthusian disaster.

As I argued in my link, in almost all cases international relations and national security decisions are about picking the least bad option. Unless you are willing to directly address downside risks (something which the anti-war Left has, to my knowledge, never done), then you are engaging in magical thinking.

Hey Skipper said...

If your govt. obtains approval for a war based in fake evidence, the obtained approval is not, at the end of the day, legitimate.

I believe erp, that you did not pay attention to my point concerning Bush. I am not necessarily condemning him for invading Iraq - I can understand the reasons US had, many of them well described by Hey Skipper on his link. I only think that, as he did so basing the invasion in fake intelligence data (instead of explicitly for the "right reasons") makes him not that honest. Which was the start of this topic here in this thread.


Wrong is not the same as fake. I am happy to agree that our intel on Iraqi weapons was ultimately wrong. However, before condemning anyone, it is worth remembering how Saddam's past behavior had created a very strong expectation bias. He had, after all, used chemical weapons against Kurds and Iranians, and also had a quite advanced nuclear weapons program about which we knew nothing before Desert Storm.

Additionally, Saddam acted precisely as if he had something to hide. After all, if he had allowed completely unfettered inspections, he would have knocked the strongest plank right out from under the case for invading Iraq. That he didn't meant one of two things — either he did have something he didn't want found, or he was behaving irrationally.

As it happens, the latter was the case. Unfortunately, that doesn't help the anti-war argument in the least, because the alternative to invasion was the elimination of the embargo constraints on Saddam and US influence in the region. Given that we now know that Saddam was acting irrationally, is that an outcome anyone should prefer? Or, would it have been better to wait until he had restored his military and obtained a nuclear weapon — both completely foreseeable outcomes — before doing something? IMHO, the answer to both those is an emphatic "no"; the anti-war Left, by failing to furrow their fevered brows over these problems in the first place, never addressed them in the second.

I would have preferred that the Bush administration had made the broader argument (although, to be fair, his speech before the UN pretty much did just that). But it is a truism of politics that to reach the finish line, it is best not to ride too many horses. The administration picked the simplest argument of all those available that would obtain their goal.

Of all the things I find most perplexing about the anti-war Left, a pretty high bar, is that they are willing to accuse the Bush administration of all manner of perfidy, without once taking on board the utter emptiness of their position. If the administration knew the intel to be wrong, then it surely would have made sure to plant plenty of evidence. It certainly had the means and the opportunity.

Yet it didn't, which could only mean it lacked motive.

One would think that somehow worthy of mention.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"The first one is under the Orrin policy of "we bomb them if they become a bigger problem", a correct one under true Libertarian creed."

What do you mean by "one" in "the first one"?

Orrin's policy is Orrin's policy, not mine. Orrin isn't a libertarian, and his policy is not the correct one "under true Libertarian creed" no matter how many times you write it.

"I think it clearly means "those Iraqis that time deserved to be bombed"."

Well, OK. What I fail to see is the relevance to anything I have written. So let's suppose it is true. Therefore...?

"Maybe your problem AOG is just the same as Erp above - you keep interpreting what you think I must think, not what I am actually writing."

No, I think not. You're the one who wrote "this Orrin you guys keep mentioning as a good Liberatian hero" even though no one ever wrote that, and I explicitly denied it in an earlier comment, after which you repeated it again. Is that not interpreting what you think we think, not what we are actually writing? Not to mention assigning policy views to us (as noted above) despite no one here espousing that policy.

I stand by my assessment, because my interpretation is that you want to focus on a very specific time window precisely to exclude the actions of other actors in the situtation in order to isolate the American actions out of their historical context. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a direct result of the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

erp said...

Clovis:

Speaking for myself, the reason I can pretty accurately guess what you're thinking is that I've heard the same arguments you are using practically verbatim, from lefties, especially those in academe, for coming on the 7th decade of my life.

I thought they were wrong when I was in high school and events unfolding over all these years have only reinforced what a precocious child I was. ;-}

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG:

Maybe part of the problem is the limitation of blog comments as a means of communication.

For example, you read my second citing of Orrin as still implying you find his opinion worth, when I was only referring to my concordance of Iraq first war (where I men "first one" as "first Iraq War").

As for assigning a policy view to you, you still do not get that I
was implying not a view you have, but a view you should have if you strive for coherence.


I think the topic is getting oversized here for a blog comment, and the discussion impaired. If we lose more time re-explaining everything we meant the previous comment, communication becomes real slow.


Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:

I believe you were indeed a smart child and became a wise and smart elder. It does not mean you are a patient one, though.

erp said...

Clovis:
I think you mean prescience, not patient, although I'm very patient as well as prescient. Both Job and Nostradamus would have turned green with envy had they known my work – modest too. :-)

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp:

What makes me wonder is why such a smart lady like you keep coming to the internet to have your opinions reinforced in resonant boxes.

Maybe you could use it to also learn something else different, something you do not know yet. If you wish to do so, the next step is to open up your mind to the possibility that, well, not everything other people say is just one more reprise of what you've heard in the last 70 years.

My best role model of scientists were still learning new things up to their last days. They created whole new categories of human knowledge, still they were aware how little they knew.

erp said...

Trouble is I haven't heard anything new except perhaps new examples of old things and I don't hold scientists in the same high esteem as you since they, in the main, have sold their souls to the devil of federal grants. Clever grant writers are in far greater demand than clever theorists.

As for taking up a new hobby? I've always wanted to learn how to crochet those adorable lacy doilies, so perhaps I'll take that up if I can get my arthritic fingers to cooperate.

Thanks for the tip.