Monday, November 27, 2006

Democrats to Haiti: no trade deal :: WSJ

The Haiti trade proposal has been in the works for years, but really emerged as a divisive issue this fall. Perhaps the most controversial proposal on the table would allow Haiti garment makers to produce as much as 60 million square yards of woven apparel, such as chinos and denim jeans, with foreign-made material, while still qualifying for duty-free access to the U.S. Haiti's backers say that accounts for less than 1% of the U.S.'s overall apparel imports each year.

Supporters say the deal would give Haiti greater flexibility to meet the requests of retailers, and is needed to restore some competitive edge Haiti lost after Congress conferred special trade benefits last year on the Dominican Republic and five Central American nations.

Haiti is by far the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, with four-fifths of its 8.3 million people living in poverty, and newly elected president René Préval is grappling with the spread of AIDS, unreliable electrical service and criminal gangs, as he seeks to revive the economy.
. . .
But with voter concern over globalization having tipped important races in midterm elections and helped Democrats retake Congress, Haiti now faces an even-tougher environment, trade experts said.
The moral high ground is with those supporting Haiti. We feel your pain.

Cross posted at The Emirates Economist.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Mark Steyn :: "Episcopal Church is irrelevant to the stewardship of the earth"

Bishop Kate gave an interview to the New York Times revealing what passes for orthodoxy in this most flexible of faiths. She was asked a simple enough question: "How many members of the Episcopal Church are there?"

"About 2.2 million," replied the presiding bishop. "It used to be larger percentage-wise, but Episcopalians tend to be better educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than other denominations."

This was a bit of a jaw-dropper even for a New York Times hackette, so, with vague memories of God saying something about going forth and multiplying floating around the back of her head, a bewildered Deborah Solomon said: "Episcopalians aren't interested in replenishing their ranks by having children?"

"No," agreed Bishop Kate. "It's probably the opposite. We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion."

Now, that may or may not be a great idea, but it's nothing to do with Christianity, only for eco-cultists like Al Gore. If Bishop Kate were an Episcogorian, a member of the Alglican Communion, an elder of the Church of Latter-Day Chads, this would be an unremarkable statement. But, even in their vigorous embrace of gay bishoprics and all the rest, I don't recall the Episcopalians formally embracing the strategy that worked out so swell for the Shakers and enshrining a disapproval of reproduction at the heart of their doctrine.

Lifesite News:
“Bishopess (sic) Katherine Jefferts Schori seems to suffer from the same foot-in-mouth problem as Sen. John Kerry, but if her self-satisfied moral and intellectual superiority gives her comfort as she contemplates the barrenness and decline of the Episcopal Church, she's welcome to it,” said Domenico Bettinelli, jr, former editor of Catholic World Report, who posted on his website an image of a large Catholic family at a wedding with the words “Halp us Bish-up Kate wee R Catlick”.

UPDATE: TigerHawk has also picked up this story, and is generating comments.
UPDATE: Comments on the Steyn op-ed are hot and heavy over at titusonenine.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Milton Friedman on the draft :: Greg Mankiw

Greg Mankiw reminds us of this golden oldie:

Mr. Westmoreland said he did not want to command an army of mercenaries. Mr. Friedman interrupted, "General, would you rather command an army of slaves?" Mr. Westmoreland replied, "I don't like to hear our patriotic draftees referred to as slaves." Mr. Friedman then retorted, "I don't like to hear our patriotic volunteers referred to as mercenaries. If they are mercenaries, then I, sir, am a mercenary professor, and you, sir, are a mercenary general; we are served by mercenary physicians, we use a mercenary lawyer, and we get our meat from a mercenary butcher."

Mankiw asks: "Who will play Friedman against Rangel's Westmoreland?"

To give Rangel a fair shake, he's not saying a volunteer army is mercenary. He's making a point more like Kling's to which Caplan plays Friedman. It's not whether the soldiers are mercenary or slave. It's whether they are representative of the population or not.

Carafano and Kane say they are:
What's "very, very wrong" with the Rangel-Herbert picture is that it has no factual basis.

According to a comprehensive study of all enlistees for the years 1998-99 and 2003 that The Heritage Foundation just released, the typical recruit in the all-volunteer force is wealthier, more educated and more rural than the average 18- to 24-year-old citizen is. Indeed, for every two recruits coming from the poorest neighborhoods, there are three recruits coming from the richest neighborhoods.
. . .
The only accurate way to assess military demographics is to consider all recruits.

If, for example, we consider the education of every recruit, 98% joined with high-school diplomas or better. By comparison, 75% of the general population meets that standard. Among all three-digit ZIP code areas in the USA in 2003 (one can study larger areas by isolating just the first three digits of ZIP codes), not one had a higher graduation rate among civilians than among its recruits.

In fact, since the 9/11 attacks, more volunteers have emerged from the middle and upper classes and fewer from the lowest-income groups. In 1999, both the highest fifth of the nation in income and the lowest fifth were slightly underrepresented among military volunteers. Since 2001, enlistments have increased in the top two-fifths of income levels but have decreased among the lowest fifth.

Allegations that recruiters are disproportionately targeting blacks also don't hold water. First, whites make up 77.4% of the nation's population and 75.8% of its military volunteers, according to our analysis of Department of Defense data.

Second, we explored the 100 three-digit ZIP code areas with the highest concentration of blacks, which range from 24.1% black up to 68.6%. These areas, which account for 14.6% of the adult population, produced 16.6% of recruits in 1999 and only 14.1% in 2003.
Meanwhile Democrats are running from Rangel's proposal, with vigor.


In reaching the decision, the FDA considered the risks and benefits of silicone implants," Dr. Donna Bea-Tillman, FDA's director of the Office of Device Evaluation, said during the news conference.

"Although there were a number of complications reported in the core studies, including breast hardening, breast pain, breast implant rupture, and the need for additional surgery, most of the women in the core studies reported being satisfied with their results," she said.

In addition, the FDA looked at a report by the Institute of Medicine, which found no cases of connective tissue disease or cancer associated with silicon implants, Bea-Tillman said.

The watchdog group Public Citizen has opposed the use of silicone gel breast implants since the fall of 1988.
God (as interpreted by Micah (and Larry)):
Preachers Larry Keffer and Micah Armstrong, of the Biblical Research Center, protested outside of the strip club Saturday night. Redner said the group has protested in the past, but Saturday’s event was the most disruptive, including a megaphone.

The group was yelling at patrons as the entered and exited the building, shouting at patrons. “God is not impressed with the size of your breasts! God is not impressed with your talent!” yelled one of the protesters.
This appears to be one issue on which Public Citizen and the Biblical Research Center are in agreement.

Virginia Postrel had this to say in 1996:
Right now, breast implants symbolize the power politics of the Food and Drug Administration and the breakdown of the tort system. This is a nice, comfortable significance that even Washington understands, one that generates money for think tanks working on legal reform. It makes a terrific Fortune cover story. And it is, indeed, worth pointing out.

There never was any credible evidence linking implants to major diseases. Yet juries made multimillion-dollar awards to women claiming they'd gotten sick from their implants, and the FDA imposed a moratorium on most sales. (Post hoc ergo propter hoc is the first fallacy they teach in logic, but just try getting on a jury if you've ever studied logic.) Now we have good evidence that implants don't cause the maladies for which they've been blamed. And the exculpatory studies keep coming; two new ones were presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.

On October 22, that group issued an official statement declaring that "studies provide compelling evidence that silicone implants expose patients to no demonstrable additional risk for connective tissue or rheumatic disease. Anecdotal evidence should no longer be used to support this relationship in the courts or by the FDA." But neither juries nor the FDA are listening to the experts.

Exactly one week later, in fact, a jury in Nevada awarded $4.1 million to a woman who claimed she'd gotten immune-system and neurological diseases from her implants. The defendant, Dow Chemical, hadn't even made the implants; it had just done general studies on silicone for Dow Corning, a joint venture with Corning Glass Works. It's as though the Simpson jury had convicted Kato Kaelin, Rosa Lopez, and that famous barking dog. Proximity was more important than proof.

Meanwhile, the war on implants is causing collateral damage. Silicone itself has become a casualty. Science suggests it's a benign, useful substance, vital to all sorts of medical products. Jury awards say otherwise. So products that use siliconefrom brain-fluid shunts to artificial joints are in trouble. Supplies are drying up, going only to wealthy manufacturers that agree to assume the risk of future litigation. And even they pay dearly; prices have risen as much as 700 percent.
The Postrel link comes via A Second Hand Conjecture.

The Nominating Committee Announces Its Slate of Five Nominees

Bios as posted at the official website:

Some FAQs:

1. How many years experience do the candidates have serving as a parish rector?
Dannals: 21
Jennings: __
Johnston: 16
Lewis: 14
Parkinson: 9

2. How many goggle hits does each have?
about 63 for "robert s. dannals"
about 36 for "gay c. jennings"
about 15 for "shannon s. johnston"
about 62 for "irwin m. lewis"
about 16 for "caroline s. parkinson"

3. Are any (or have any been) Nominees in Elections for Bishop in the Episcopal Church (click link)?

4. Seminary?
Dannals: The Virginia Theological Seminary, M. Div., 1981; Drew University, D. Min., 1989; Graduate Theological Foundation, Ph.D., 2005
Jennings: Episcopal Divinity School, M. Div., 1977
Johnston: Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, M. Div., 1988
Lewis: The Virginia Theological Seminary, M. Div., 1980
Parkinson: The Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, VA, M. Div., 1984

5. Home church (or other) webpage:
Dannals: Christ Church Greenville
Jennings: CREDO Institute
Johnston: All Saint's Tupelo
Lewis: Diocese of Southern Virginia
Parkinson: Grace Church, The Plains

UPDATE: Here's what's being said about the candidates in the comments over at Stand Firm in Faith.

Dawkins' Delusion :: Mahalanobis

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

BBC frightened of criticising Islam, says archbishop :: Telegraph

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has accused the BBC of bias against Christianity and says the broadcaster fears a terrorist backlash if it is critical of Islam.

The archbishop, the second most senior figure in the Church of England's hierarchy, said Christians took "more knocks" than other faiths at the hands of the BBC.

Dr Sentamu claims Christians take ‘more knocks' at the BBC
"They can do to us what they dare not do to the Muslims," he said. "We are fair game because they can get away with it. We don't go down there and say, 'We are going to bomb your place.' That is not in our nature."

The Ugandan-born archbishop nevertheless said Christians must be more forceful in promoting their beliefs.

Blaming the "chattering classes" for undermining trad-itional Christian culture, he said: "They see themselves as holding the flag for Britain and that Britain is definitely secular and atheist. I want them to have their say but not to lord it over the rest of us."

In an interview with the Daily Mail, he called for a return to family values and an end to the tyranny of materialism, especially at Christmas.
. . .
Dr Sentamu also questioned whether Muslim women were required to wear the veil by the Koran, and argued that those who did should not expect British society to be reordered to accommodate them.

He said Muslim scholars would say three things about the veil. "First, does it conform to norms of decency? Secondly, does it render you more secure? And thirdly, what kind of Islam are you projecting by wearing it?

"I think in the British context it renders you less secure because you stick out and it brings unwelcome attention.

"On the first question (of whether the veil conforms to norms of decency) I don't think it does conform."

The archbishop said he never wore a cross when visiting a synagogue or mosque, explaining: "Because I am going into someone else's home. And I can't simply say, 'Take me as I am, whether you like it or not.'

"I think the thing is in British society you can wear what you want, but you can't expect British society to be reconfigured around you. No minority can expect to impose this on the public or civic life."
I agree with him that the BBC is not evenhanded in its coverage of Christianity and Islam. I do not follow him on his analogy between between wearing a cross in a mosque and wearing a veil in British society. Actually, his view on veils is an embarassment to the Church of England.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Friday, November 03, 2006