Wednesday, 9 June 2004

Holdsclaw v. Davies

Daniel Davies:

I wish Saddam Hussein was still in power in Baghdad because if this were the case, then about 3,000 Iraqis would have been murdered by his regime and would be dead, the roughly 10,000 Iraqis we killed ourselves would still be alive, and we would most likely be well on our way to formulating a credible, sensible, properly resourced plan for getting rid of him and handling the aftermath.

Sebastian Holdsclaw:

This is pure fantasy. European countries and the UN were not in the process of figuring out how to get rid of Saddam just before bumbling George Bush talked them out of it. In January 2002 France, Germany and Russia were talking about having sanctions removed from Iraq and trade and diplomatic relations normalized. Even if he were one of those people who is easily impressed by European words decoupled from actions he couldn’t take comfort in the words. There wasn’t even a large rhetoric-only anti-Saddam pose being taken by European governments. At best there was the admission that he had been somewhat naughty in the past and aren’t we glad that sanctions have brought him to heel.

We would not be ‘most likely be well on our way to formulating a credible, sensible, properly resourced plan for getting rid of him’ if only the U.S. hadn’t invaded in 2003. Unless of course by ‘we’ he means the U.S. acting unilaterally. I understand the need to protect the leftist conscience, but let us at least stick to semi-plausible hypotheticals like “If we were lucky Saddam might have choked on a chicken bone.”

Needless to say, this is engendering a good discussion—a lot of it from the eminently sensible Gary Farber, whose blog you really should read on a regular basis if you’re not already.

Father's day shopping

I have come to the conclusion that slippers just aren’t sold in the summer in Mississippi. They’ll probably have to wait until this coming winter and be a birthday gift.

The good news is, Hallmark had something nice that I think will work as a gift, even if it wasn’t exactly what was requested. Now I just have to figure out how to mail it…

Another satisfied customer

Avril Lavigne, on Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit (a band name that seems oddly appropriate in light of this account):

“I mentioned to Fred that I was hungry, like, ‘I want an In-N-Out burger.’ “He had someone go out and get me a whole box of them, with fries. I was like, ‘Yeah!.’ Then he took a private jet out to one of my shows, expecting me to bang him. He was disappointed that I wouldn’t even go near him. He was a little pissed that I went to my room alone that night.”

That Fred’s one smooth dude, no?

Via Begging to Differ and Jeff Jarvis.

Fisk this

Some of my more conservatively-inclined readers may enjoy tearing a new one in this hapless Ole Miss undergraduate, who I’m sure thinks he’s far more clever than he actually is. A free sample:

The anti-Christ is dead. That was my initial reaction Saturday afternoon at a Cincinnati hotel bar to the news of former President Ronald Reagan’s death. I know it’s an insensitive sort of statement to the news of a death of someone grandly touted as one of America’s “greatest presidents.” Frankly, though, he is one of the worst presidents we’ve had.

Oh, don’t worry, it gets better from there. I think the only thing he forgot to complain about was Reagan’s firing of the air traffic controllers.


Steven Taylor thinks we shouldn’t go overboard in naming things for Ronald Reagan, a position I generally agree with.

I could get behind the idea of letting Sacagawea share the dollar coin with a series of dead presidents not otherwise honored on American currency, though. Coupled with stopping the presses on the $1 bill in favor of pumping out a lot more $2s (and dollar coins), I think people would be reasonably tolerant of a changeover.

Someone needs to read someone's dissertation

Will Baude:

Voting instrumentally (in presidential elections, at least) is quite irrational, except to the extent that voters enjoy doing it. The probability of any single voter changing the outcome of a presidential election is 0.

Tell that to a voter in Florida in 2000 (his probability was about .002, which isn’t great, but beats the heck out of the lottery). Because of the electoral college, the probability of any single voter changing the outcome of a presidential election varies from state to state, and is a function of the competitiveness of the election in that state. But you don’t have to believe me; instead, believe, er, Chris Lawrence:

For [supporters of third party candidates], the strategic/sincere choice rests on whether their vote is likely to be pivotal. Although Downs (1957) argues that casting a non-strategic vote is irrational, that is only the case if the vote has a non-negligible chance of affecting the outcome of the election. Sincere voting for minor candidates is irrational in the sense that elections are not normally thought of as a forum for expressing general preferences, but rather as a “selection process”; however, if political actors respond to election results as if they are referenda on particular policies espoused by candidates, sincere voting for minor candidates may be rational in certain circumstances. If a citizen’s vote is almost certainly not pivotal, it may be rational for voters to show their public policy preferences by supporting a minor candidate. ...

Thus, voters may be considered rational if they express a preference, rather than merely taking part in a “selection process,” in states where their vote is highly unlikely to make a difference in the outcome. For example, according to CNN (2000), only 20 of the 51 elections for electors in 2000 were in so-called “battleground” states that were expected to be close. Thus, a voter in one of the other 30 states or the District of Columbia could presumably vote for a third-party candidate and thus have virtually no expectation of affecting the presidential contest, as their vote would be highly unlikely to affect the disposition of their state’s electors. (103–04)

Unfortunately, the astounding finding that the variation in “pivotalness” of an individual’s vote varied in 2000 by a factor of nearly 1000 between the most competitive and least competitive state didn’t make it into then-Mr. Lawrence’s dissertation, although it has made it into at least one presentation of the findings of this chapter.