Thursday, June 30, 2005

Two Things that Irritate Me

Leftists who think that they are for personal freedom because they don't see taking away my property rights as a substantial loss of freedom.

Rightists who don't understand that war is simply another government social program.

That is all.

The War on Terror in Iraq

Andrew McCarthy explains why the war in Iraq was so a necessary war.

Three major problems:

(1) As Steve Sailer points out, if the connections are so clear, why hasn't Bush made more of them? We should be able to sweat the information out of the people we have in custody. Also, why should we trust the stories about, e.g. Salman Pak, when we were told stories about Saddam's doubles; stories that were equally plausible and that it was claimed there were evidence for, and that appear to be untrue.

The only explanation I have heard is the one given by Richard Poe - that the real people behind 9/11 are the Soviets, the Chinese, or even France and Germany (those paragons of evil), and we are trying to preserve relations with them by not asking questions that could lead us to them. And let's face it, Mr. Poe is delusional. Michael Ledeen also had a similar theory, by the way - which also implied the belief that the populations of France and Germany supported us but their governments suppressed it - or at least he felt that we could encourage their populations to rise up and "free themselves" from their governments.

(2) As Noah Millman points out,

"The question is not whether Saddam was willing to work with al-Qaeda, because a whole host of regimes in the region have had one or another degree of involvement with al-Qaeda. The question is: how important was Saddam to al-Qaeda, and, to the extent that Saddam was a threat, what was the best way of neutralizing it?"

Have we really hurt Al Qaeda, or Islamic terrorism in general, by invading Iraq? Or are we breeding the next generation of Al Qaeda?

(3) At this point, it doesn't entirely matter whether or not we were justified in going into Iraq. We are there. What matters is what our strategy is now we are there. Are we defeating terrorists in Iraq? Not just are we killing terrorists, but are we reducing their number by killing more than we are generating? How are we going to do this? Do we have a working strategy to win?

Two more thoughts on Mr. McCarthy's piece:

"The president needs to be talking about Saddam and terror because that’s what will get their attention in Damascus and Teheran."

Wait a second - is he saying that such talk will get them to stop their support of terrorists? (And how much anti-American terror have they actually been responsible for, if you think about it?) Doubtful. Unless his point is that Bush needs to stress the anti-terror rationale for toppling Saddam so that the people can be rallied behind attacks on Syria and Iran. Which, to be honest, is probably what McCarthy is trying to do.

"Just tell us one thing: Do you have any good answer to what Ahmed Hikmat Shakir was doing with the 9/11 hijackers in Kuala Lampur? Can you explain it?

"If not, why aren't you moving heaven and earth to find out the answer?"

Hmmm... was he there with Saddam's doubles? And why isn't the Bush administration moving heaven and earth to find out what the connections were?

That is all.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Everybody Talks About the Syrian Border...

But no one does anything about it.

Thoughts on why from Sully and Steve Sailer.

The most disturbing possibility:

"At least part of the Administration wants to conquer Syria, which is more of a problem for Israel than Iraq was, so they want the border to stay porous as an excuse for invading Syria."

This reminds me of a statement that one of Lawrence Auster's readers made when in a dialog with him: "Sealing the Syrian border is probably not feasible. What is required is a confrontation with Syria."

Of course, once we "confront" Syria, and then are forced into a ground war where we conquer Syria, what will we do when the Syrian insuirgency begins, or when we find foreign terrorists from Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, etc. are invading Syria?

Or maybe no one is concerned with that. As soon as we are stretched too thin in too many Middle Eastern countries, they can (a) argue for a draft, or more liekly (b) start the brutal suppression of hte population.

That is all.

More Hack Kelly

"Hack" Kelly gives us more Pollyanna.

We are apparently to believe that the insurgency is losing, and that this is why coalition fatalities are so high.

That is all.

Goals in Iraq

I have been thinking about the question of what we are doing in Iraq and how we can win, if winning has any meaning any more.

I got into a big argument with the commenters at Art Chrenkoff's blog, all of whom seem to think that the war is progressing nicely, and that we can be confident that we are beating the insurgency even without any meaningful metrics for success - or rather, with all meaningful metrics pointing the other way.

Someone asked me "how do you propose we win." Well.

Personally, I'd rather see a withdrawal, but if Bush wants toprovide a real strategy, one that could earn my respect (for his being honest, not because the strategy is a good one), it would go something like this:

(1) First, we stop talking so much about "democracy" and about Iraqis having "an independent government." Bush should plainly state: "Our goal is to get an Iraq that does not threaten us, prefereably a democratic one. But the first goal, before Iraq can truly become an independent nation, will be for us to provide security and to establish control over the country. We will curtail Iraqi's freedoms where we have to and will refrain from giving Iraq full sovereignty until we can establish a single central control of the country. So despite all of the rhetoric about democracy, we must, as in Germany and Japan, have control over the country before we turn it over."

(2) Second, we need to cordon off large areas of cities, at least one area every day, consisting of several blocks. When we do, (and we won't announce which area beforehand), we will order everyone into their houses. At that point, we will go house-to-house and remove all weapons from each house. We will also search the house for any evidence of association with insurgents. Any evidence and we send everyone in the house to jail for a few days until we can figure out what the relationship between them and the insurgency is. After a week, we let out those we think are innocent, and prosecute those whom we feel are guilty.

It goes without saying that all such searches will take places in unfriendly areas. Areas that are mostly Shiite or Kurdish will be allowed to keep their weapons.

If anyone kills a coalition soldier during these searches, their house, and everyone inside, gets blown up immediately.

(3) If disarming the populace leads to less defense against looting, etc., we will solve that by stricter martial law defense. That is, if anyone is suspected of looting something, our soldiers will tell them "STOP!" and if they don't stop they get shot immediately.

(4) If people crossing from the Syrian (or other) border are really a problem, then we should have air patrols over all relevant borders. Thee should be a few checkpoints through which movement is allowed. Anyone traveling across the border from elsewhere will be bombed immediately. Prefereably, we could also set up several lookout posts, say, every five miles across the border, and anyone attempting to cross not at the controlled checkpoints will get shot.

(5) Every month, we will surround a town entirely over the course of one night, and then the next day we will give everyone in the town a few hours to get out. They have to go out through specific checkpoints, where they will be searched for weapons or other evidence of hostility. Anyone attempting to get out not through a checkpoint wil be shot. After the deadline is up, we send troops into the town to check each house. Thsoe who stay in the town must surrender to any soldier immediately and be taken to a detention center, or they will be shot. The soldiers will go through house after house, and confiscate all weapons or weapons materials. Once this is done, the townspeople will be allowed back. Metal detectors will be used to detect buried weapons.

(6) In general, all Iraqis in dangerous areas will have their movement severely restricted.

I'm not certain that that will do it, but at least it represents a real plan.

That is all.

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Terror War in and on Iraq

Lawrence Auster on the neoconservatives' divorce from reality.

That is all.

Wow. I'm Actually Starting to LIKE John Lennon

John Lennon on big deal benefit concerts.

That is all.

Do We Have a Strategy to Win?

From Lawrence Auster's View from the Right.

I particularly find the comparison to FDR interesting.

When it was pointed out that the "democratization" rhetoric was harmful because it confused a realistic, concrete goal (defeating the insurgency) with a more abstract, and unlikely one (creating a democracy in a country that is majority Muslim), the correspondent said:

"Roosevelt formed a coalition in defense of the "four freedoms" with Stalin. That's acting from political necessity."

Hmmmm. The only problem is that the rhetoric was never intended to direct our policy. Killing the "Krauts" and "Japs" (I'm not advocating the use of racial slurs, but let's face it, that is how the Germans and Japanese were thought of during WWII) was the policy. Even if we talked about freedom, we didn't discuss "liberating" Japan and Germany, nor was there any serious thought that we prioritized their freedom; we wanted to remove tyrannical tendencies in their societies in order to reduce the chances of another Tojo or Hitler, but our first goal was to kill them all until they submitted.

I think that there is only one way that we can win in Iraq. That is to resort to massive anti-Sunni Arab brutality. Even if we caused Syria to close its borders, the insurgency would be going on strong. It might lose its supply of suicide bombers, but it would still have the ability to place IEDs and would still have most of its warriors who fight with guns and mortars.

The only way to stop the insurgency is to convince the Iraqis that any ethnic group that attacks us will be decimated. Currently, that means massive retaliatory attacks against the families and towns of insurgents.

This is a bad situation.

That is all.

Iraq OSX

Abu Ghraib, Steve Jobs-style.

That is all.

Frank Speiser on Eminent Domain

For the first time, I am posting on Glaivester a piece by someone else. Mr. Frank Speiser recently asked if I would post a piece he wrote called "imminenet eminent domain," and I am pleased to do so:

Imminent Eminent Domain:
Paying Tribute in Collectivist Society
By Frank Speiser

Recently there has been some ruckus over the eminent domain ruling by the Supreme Court. While there have been vastly different interpretations of the ramifications of the decision, there is no doubt that the ability of the State to claim dominion over private property has been expanded. Although this decision has surprised some people, it shouldn’t. This is merely the logical progression of “value-free” economics. Its chickens have come home to roost. What we are witnessing is the perfect combination of the negation of private property ownership and the illegitimate denial for an individual to apply a subjective value preference to events in his life. To put it simply: we’re all serfs now. Meet your new boss: anyone with the ability to direct the planning of your community.

Of course, this ruling should outrage private-property advocates everywhere. Any further powers of private property delegation being granted to bureaucrats is truly a scandal. However, there is an even greater evil buried in this episode: we have finally reached a public repudiation of American ideals by the federal government. Although the Supreme Court, Congress and the Executive branch seem to compete for the highest examples of contempt for the Constitution and Bill of Rights, this moment is historic in its flagrant rejection of this nation’s founding intent. With this ruling, the United States is no longer a “moral nation” in the sense that its citizens derive certain inalienable rights endowed by our Creator. The Supreme Court has claimed that “public use” trumps the right to own property. The ramifications of this are horrifying, of course. Bureaucratic accounting projections now outweigh private ownership and inalienable rights. ">The Supreme Court has reinforced this. We may as well toss the entire Declararation of Independence out the window, according to the Supreme Court.

Of course, the founding documents of the United States of America didn’t say that a person must believe in God (or a god, or a specific God) in order to have rights – simply that anyone that exists has rights which an not be alienated. You’re here – you have these rights. This is the great shining American ideal. The cornerstone of this philosophy is private property and self-dominion (i.e., life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness). The recent Supreme Court decision negates this. While most commentators are content to debate the extent to which eminent domain may be applied, the real evil is that the public has been conditioned to tolerate any such thing as eminent domain. Now, the ruling that the net benefit to “the public” trumps private property means this nation is no longer grounded in moral recognition of inherent and inalienable rights. Consensus (and not inalienable ideals) is now our master, regardless of whether the consensus is morally proper and just. So long as the “public” stands to benefit, the individual and all he owns is fair game. Again, while this is outrageous, it is simply a natural permutation of what happens when “value-free” economics are applied. We are currently at a fork in the road as Americans: do we have morals and principals, or do we not? If we do nothing here and accept the ruling, the answer to this is clear.

A few years ago, while I was on my initial path toward exploring anarcho-capitalism, I drove to New Orleans to visit one of the premier scholars on libertarian concepts and private property rights: Walter Block. (note: for anyone serious about understanding freedom, I strongly suggest reading anything Walter Block has ever written.) We discussed private property rights, and he suggested I read the works of R.H. Coase. He posed some interesting problems with wealth maximization versus “homesteading” and private property retained by the individual. He also predicted with astounding accuracy the events which are unfolding before us today. Dr. Block clearly demonstrated to me how “net benefit to the public” or “wealth maximization for society” is not a valid primary factor for assigning property rights. However, with almost uniform dissent to the rights of man, the Supreme Court, as well as many legal proceedings in lower courts are applying the destructive reasoning of Coase with increasing frequency. The problem at hand is that arguments aiming at the maximization of net societal wealth as the highest ideal have replaced the arguments regarding the right to individual subjective preference.

If you’d like an example of what Coase, and the reasoning of the Supreme Court is all about, it would basically boil down to this:

If I, as a central planner put up for punching you in the nose $150,000, but you only had $20 to have me not punch you in the nose, my budget wins and I punch you in the nose. Society benefits, because I have stimulated an economic transfer of $150,000, and if I’m any good at what I’m doing I might also stimulate some publicly subsidized medical attention. My punching you in the nose might even have special auxiliary bonuses to the public!

Now, you might say, “wait – it isn’t right for you to punch someone in the nose, just because one guy can contribute more to “the public” for the rights to do so”, but the Supreme Court doesn’t agree. In fact, unlike Coase’s theorem, the controversial ruling does not even attempt as an ultimate goal to maximize economic gain, but merely provide “fair market value” for the property rights usurped by the State.

The road to run roughshod over individual rights is wide open. Consider the following egregious example: suppose your town council decides to rape every woman in your town and provide “fair market value” for doing so, by the current eminent domain logic, it could claim eminent domain over their persons and have their way. This might seem like a vulgar and extreme example, but it illustrates the point of what the Supreme Court is trying to communicate exactly. Also, if the Supreme Court deems a person’s home to be subject to public use (so long as there is a projected economic benefit), what else is up for grabs when private property rights no longer apply? Why should we expect a person to claim the right to any portion of their property, their person included, when the ownership of property need only show a benefit to “the public” to be re-allocated to a specific use? It is also not reasonable to believe existing laws prohibiting rape would stop such a scenario, since all three branches of government have demonstrated a capacity to violate private property rights at every turn, and the Supreme Court has validated this action. If the assignment for use of private property is ceded to bureaucrats, we may one day wake up to find all of our mothers, wives and sisters being conscripted as concubines for public officials in return for the approximate “fair market value” compensation given to a red light district worker in Amsterdam. With the way the Fed is simultaneously raping the dollar, the victims will most likely lose some points on the conversion, as well. If you think this is a far-fetched idea, pieces of the idea are already at work in Europe. This disgusting scenario is meant to highlight what could happen if the morals governing our culture are not considered in economic calculation. With the current official practice of “value-free economics”, this sort of thing was bound to happen. While the implications to private property in the Supreme Court decision is clear, the assault on any moral grounding of our culture may be far more devastating. It should be clear right now that there is no law in this nation protecting us from abject slavery since the State has claimed the ability to exert dominion over any property inn the “public” interest. The good news is, if you believe in inalienable rights and principles, you do not need a decree to claim these inherent rights for yourself.

There is a fix for this morass, however. First, we must demand the reversal of the obscene decision handed down by the Supreme Court. Secondly, the “public” must take private property rights more seriously, and understand why they are a part of what once made America the hope of the world. Furthermore we must clarify why we libertarians and anarcho-capitalists carry on the fight for these rights with such verve and vigor. We need to reach individuals as individuals, which leads me to the next point. We desperately need to include in discussion and allow (insist, even) for wider acceptance economic theories that take into account the subjective valuation of preferences. Even if these subjects are not well understood, we need to be better as a philosophical movement of getting these points introduced into general discussion.

Public officials hate the work of Mises, Hayek and Rothbard simply because these giants have efficiently exposed the shortfalls of central planning, but with government now declaring arbitrary rights to assign our property for public use, we need to again reach out to people and remind them why the inviolable rights of individuals were such an issue in the founding of this country.

People should be free to make their own disparate and subjective choices about the allocation of their property without the threat of seizure of said property simply because government officials project that they can squeeze a few more dollars out of it than what is produced currently. Please note: the fix is not one set of standardized and mandated morals, other than the adherence to the non-aggression axiom and acknowledgement of subjective individual preference. We needn’t compete over issues of whether my God can beat up your God. Classical liberalism and Mises need to make a comeback here in America. This is a huge philosophical commitment, and change is not easy to come by in the placated masses of today, but even Joe Schmoe can see why he should retain the ownership rights to his home. Aside from the opportunity to expose another evil of the State, this latest Supreme Court ruling represents a unique opportunity to communicate the libertarian vision to previous audiences that were either unwilling to listen or uninterested. This error on the part of the Supreme Court is something that literally hits home with everyone, and we should make every effort to resuscitate the classical American ideal and individualism.

If you truly want to do something to celebrate the Spirit of ’76 this year, write your local newspaper and let your town council know that you will not sit idly by while the government makes plans for your private property.


If anyone else has a piece they wish to post on Glaivester, please email me at glaivester at yahoo dot com.

That is all.

Tell Me Why I Don't Like Mondays

More of that Steve Saierl good stuff, and this time it's about Africa, IQ, and micronutrients.

He also mentions the fact that Mr. Feed-the-Third-World, Bob Geldof, used to have a band. Specifically, before he was famous for Live Aid, Band Aid, and now Live 8, he used to front the Boomtown Rats.

Although I'm a little young to remember them per se, I do remember them from "Whatever Happened to..." on VH1.

The only song of theirs I know, though, is "I Don't Like Mondays," which was about a school shooting.

Here are the lyrics.

That is all.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Last Throes, Eh?

"Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Sunday he is bracing for even more violence in Iraq and acknowledged that the insurgency 'could go on for any number of years.'"

So the insurgency is in its "last throes?" Well, maybe in the same sense as Jonh Adams was one of our "last 42 presidents."

It seems that Cheney's statements were very premature.

Of course, I remember a talk-show host (Laura Ingraham, I think) saying that the insurgency was in its "last gasps" back in late 2003.

I also love the way that Rumsfeld tries to defend Cheney: "Well, you know, throes can be very violent."

Well, yes, but is there any evidence that the insurgency is about to implode? Other than the fact that increased casualties indicate "desperation?"

And as Wonkette said, no one denies that the insurgency is having a "throe." It's the part about "last" we question.

That is all.

Oh, Those Warmongering Japanese...

William S. Lind on Japan's new, more aggressive stance.

I'm, not sure what this portends, but I think that there is probably a method to this madness. I doubt Japan will get into a war because the US wants it to, nor do I think that they are stupid enough to go up against the Koreas and China for territory that would not be worth much to them.

I think they're trying to play for something, but I don't know what. I doubt it will be a big problem for us, whatever it is, if we stay out of it.

That is all.

Iraqi Military Suffering Worst Month so Far

Iraqi military deaths are now higher for June than they were in May (274 vs. 270). On the other hand, civilian deaths are still "only" 425, compared to 573 in May.

Of course, there are still 5 more days in June. So at the end of the month, the picture will be clearer.

That is all.

Steve Sailer on the Insurgency

Steve Sailer makes a point that I have made myself about Max Boot's error.

Namely, the lack of organization and unity among the insurgents makes it more difficult to defeat them, as there is no "head" to cut off.

The only way I can see to defeat the insurgency in Iraq is to convince Iraqis who want to join the insurgency that the cost of attacking coalition troops is too great; the only way I can see us having a chance of winning is with massive collective punishment. I think that is a bad idea, but it is the direction in which we are headed.

That is all.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Yes, Yes, but What are We Going to Do?

Michael Neumann on protesting the war, and on practical action - or lack thereof.

That is all.

Thought for the Day

Charles Stanley's InTouch.org on trusting God.

I remember once a teacher of mine told me "Never put your faith in humans. They'll disappoint you every time. Always trust God first and foremost."

A lot of my readers I think are secualrists, so they will disagree with me on this, but I do think that trusting in God is important. I don't trust the government, and I don't trust our leaders. I am afraid of the type of person I'd become if I put my trust in myself (which is ultimately what those leaders of ours do). But I do believe that there is Someone in Whom I can trust, and in times like these, that is important.

That is all.

What is James Robbins' Point?

Apparently, he thinks that we have the right to detain people forever, without trial, as we can never really tell when the war on terror is won. That seems to be his point, anyway.

That is all.

Winning in Iraq

Lawrence Auster makes an excellent point about Iraq.

In Iraq, we are the occupying force; therefore, we have to win in order to win. The insurgents merely have to avoid losing. In other words, our problem in Iraq is not that we are being militarily forced out, but that we have not been able to force the insurgency out.

This is why I can't take the people seriously who claim we are winning/have won in Iraq. I do not see the power of the insurgency as any less than it was a year ago, and I see the Iraqi government as no nearer to providing its own security than it was a year ago.

That is all.

Raimondo Echoes Glaivester

"The consequences of "victory," however, would be worse. Contra Boot, the insurgents have clearly fought us to a standstill, but we could still "win" in Iraq – by committing an act of genocide. We could wipe the Sunni population off the face of the earth, systematically and deliberately, and be done with the insurgency forever... The question is: what new horrors would rise out of that holocaust, what ghosts would return to haunt us – and exact their revenge?"

Hmmmm... where have I heard that before?

That is all.

Sir Elton and Slim Shady

An interesting, if old, article from Steve Sailer.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to The Gays for Life blog.

That is all.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Volokh the Idiot

Eugene Volokh doesn't understand the dissent here, obviously.

The idea that eminent domain should only be used for public uses and not for private ones is not a statement that if the government wants a mall in a place, that it has to run the mall. Rather, it is a statement that if eminent domain is ever okay, it is only okay for legitimate public uses (e.g. schools, roads, etc.).

To put it in perspective, one may agree that the rules of war are different than the rules of law enforcement. For example, we can't shoot drug dealers on sight or hold them indefinitely as POWs until drug dealing is eliminated. This does not mean that it would be okay to do so if Congress were to declare war on drugs, as "war" is not the appropriate response to drug crime (I'll leave aside the issue of whether or not criminalizing drugs is appropriate).

That is all.

I Know this is Petty

And I don't have the same beefs about the Byrdster as the neocons do, but anyone else notice the resemblance here?

Robert Byrd
Senator Palpatine

That is all.

I Suppose I Should Have a Comment

Silly, counter-productive, and irrelevant to actual pressing national interests.

That is all.

Barbara Lerner Wants us to Attacks Syria

According to her latest article in National Review.

She also wants us to attack "weapons sites" in Lebanon, apparently under the assumption that, because Syria must still be occupying Lebanon, that the Lebanese would probably welcom such an incursion.

Again, I note the irony that we expect Syria to be able to control its borders while we make no plans to get control of our own.

A quick perusal of coalition casualties also indicates that very few coalition soldiers are killed by suicide bombings, although plenty of Iraqis are, making it far less certain that the "foreign fighters" are causing a great deal of harm to us.

I also seriously doubt that we can do air attacks on Syria without repercussions in Iraq and in other countries. Indeed, it may force us into a ground war with Syria and Iran if Syria decides it has nothing to lose (which, considering that Syria has already appeased our desire that they get out of Lebanon, would not be an unreasonable assumption if we were to bomb them now).

Is the real goal of the neocons to get us into an expanded war in the middle east? Oh, yeah. I'm sure that Lerner already has a Chalabi picked out for Syria and for Iran.

That is all.

Max Boot on Iraq

Max Boot seems to think that the insurgency cannot win.

I disagree;

(1) I think that there was enough American manipulation of the election that a good percentage of Iraqis do not consider the elected government wholly legitimate. Therefore, they don't see the insurgents as revolutionaries fighting against the wonderful (small-d) democrats they elected.

(2) The lack of a unifying organization, ideology (other than "get the Americans out") or leader helps them, not hurts them, as there is no "head" that we can cut of to end the insurgency, and as there is no way other than getting our troops out to address their grievances and to abstract people from the insurgency.

(3) Finally, I don't see attacks on civilians as weakening support for the insurgency, because in the end Iraq is fractious enough that people often won't care if civilians are killed as long as it isn't their friends and family. As I understrand it, most of the attacks are on Shiites, so if the insurgency is mainly Sunni, they don't care about losing hte support of those they attack.

I think that the biggest problem with neocons like Max Boot is, once again, that they think that the Iraqis are like us and that they think like us.

That is all.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Thoughts on Exit Strategies

The biggest problem in arguing with the pro-war crowd is that they (at least most of them) refuse to actually establish definitions of such things as victory. It is impossible to have a logical argument with someone who goes around in circles.

Rush Limbaugh was once asked what our exit strategy was. His answer? "Victory!" Okay, great. The person asked him to define "victory." He spluttered and then laughed as if that was a ridiculous request, as if what "victory" meant was patently obvious. He never actually explained how he planned to win in Iraq, or when winning would allow a troop draw-down.

What the pro-war people need to do to have any credibility is to provide some sort of framework for how they want to transfer more responsibility to the Iraqis (unless they want us to occupy Iraq with 150,000+ troops indefinitely, in which case they should state that this is what they mean, that they aren't looking for "victory," they already have it and are planning on how to hold on to it).

UPDATE:

Here is what I would like to hear:
(1) What the pro-war people see as the permanent (as in next 30, 40 years) outcome. US occupation? US bases? A contingent to keep the peace like in South Korea? A few bases to allow us to build up forces in the region later if need be (as in Europe). How many troops would they like to see in Iraq in 10 years?

(2) What benchmarks will allow them to draw down forces, and how much? 1000 troops for every 2000 new Iraqi forces? For every 5000 forces? What? Any benchmark for progress that doesn't provide a condition at which we wil reduce our troop commitment is not a benchmark for victory.

(3) What is the current state of our armed forces vis-a-vis recruitment? How do they plan on increasing recruitment or how do they want to make due with a smaller military?

(4) Let's look at the insurgency honestly. How is it doing in terms of (a) coalition soldiers killed, (b) Iraqi soldiers/military/civilians killed, (c) number of insurgents. (i)How do we get all three of those numbers down? (ii) After we try a strategy, tell us honestly, was it effective? Tell us a month later, two months later, and three months later.

I'd like to see some analysis, rather than just accepting the status quo, and talking about staying the course.

That is all.

Shorter James S. Robbins

Yup, we used WMD as an excuse to conquer Iraq. We never intended for Saddam to comply; our goal was regime change. I think it was a good thing.

He leaves unanswered whether we thought Saddam would refuse to comply or whether we we intended to make compliance impossible (by say, requiring that he show us WMD's he didn't have).

That is all.

More Bush Pandering to the "Religious Right?"

Well, will Dubya try to give this "praying Christian" her wish? Was he pandering to the religious by letting her go to a GOP fundraising dinner?

I think that the GOP has to lay down some ground rules as to who is appropriate and who isn't appropriate at their fundraising dinners.

That is all.

Oil, Israel, Empire, or None of the Above?

Paul Craig Roberts wonders if Bush even has an agenda in Iraq.

Perhaps Bush is so imersed in his own spin that he believes everything he says.

Who knows?

That is all.

Neoconnivance

Charles Fetherstone on good news and bad news from the Bsuh administration.

That is all.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Potpourri

Justin Raimondo on John McCain, Kevin Michael Grace on the state of freedom of information in Canada.

That is all.

News from Lebanon

Syria may not be doing so well in the Lebanese elections, after all.

That is all.

Iraq Update

Iraqi Civilian Fatalties for June: 313
Iraqi Police/Military Fatalities for June: 193

US hostile fatalities for June: 47
US non-hostile fatalities for June: 8
Bulgarian non-hostile fatalities for June: 2

US wounded in June: 134 according to weekly totals through June 14, 51 as of June 10, according to DoD monthly totals.

That is all.

Thoughts on Faith

A lot of times, people ask why, if God exists, doesn't He show Himself? Why does he expect us to use faith instead of proving Himself by appearing on Main Street?

I think that the Bible actually answers this; according to the Bible, there is no reason for anyone to think that if God showed Himself, that people would believe.

Even if one looks at the story of Cain and Abel as myth, it is very clear that the people who wrote the story believed that someone could have direct contact with God and still reject Him.

Moereover, when the Israelites came out of Egypt, they saw many miraculous happenings, and yet still stopped believing whenever the going got tough.

Also, there were occurrences in the New Testament when Christ performed miracles, but people who believed the miracles were true still refused to believe He was Christ, because to do so would require too big a change in their world view.

So in short, I don't think that God suddenly performing an obvious miracle would necessarily have the effect of causing a sudden revival. In fact, it might even lead to people going en masse to some other faith if some people decided to twist the message.

I may think more about this later.

That is all.

About to Pop

LewRockwell.com has two articles, by Steven Greenhut and Bill Bonner discussing the housing bubble.

Oy vey.

That is all.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Is Anyone This Naive, Really?

Michael Dickinson suggests that we abolish money.

According to his way of thinking, money is simply a system of record-keeping as to "I've got mine," and without it we could save so many resources currently devoted to "Bankers, bookkeepers, accountants, cashiers, salesmen, customs officers, security guards, locksmiths, wages clerks, tax assessors, advertising men, stockbrokers, insurance agents, ticket punchers, slot machine emptiers, [and] industrial spies..."

What doesn't seem to occur to him is that without this bookkeeping, there would be no way to know how much of everything to make, and without a system for accumulating capital, there is no way to get research into the technology that allows us to provide more resources.

In other words, all of the monetary and financial superstructure of our society (banks, stocks, etc.) is necessary in order for resources to be distributed efficiently. If we didn't have them, we would not have the means to make progress os that we would have the goods and services to improve people's lives. To get people out of accounting jobs in order to get them into "productive work" would be like trying to increase cotton production by turning all of the people at the agricultural machine factory into cotton pickers.

The general idea that a lot of liberals have is that there is a pile of goods, and e are taking them. That we are actually creating these goods and serices does not seem to occur to them.

That is all.

Holding Men to Account Reduces Unwed Births

Very interesting.

Now if we could just get rid of the paternity fraud problem, then tough child support laws would seem a lot better. Although in a world where the woman can decide whether or not to abort, tough child-support laws are sexist. Which is not necessarily to say that the laws are bad, although I would argue that in most cases, legal abortion is.

That is all.

Honesty is the Best Policy

Lunaville excoriates a report on coalition deaths in Iraq because it dishonestly inflates the number of dead coalition soldiers.

Notice that the report Lunaville disparages actually would have supported Lunaville's position that the war was a bad idea.

To put things another way, Lunaville is putting honesty ahead of political agenda.

Bush could learn a lot from them. But he probably won't.

That is all.

Friday, June 17, 2005

World War II vs. Iraq

The biggest problem with trying to compare the Iraq War to World War II is that the two wars are not alike at all in respect to the cual fighting.

World War II was essentially a traditional ground and naval war, where success could be measured by the acquiring of territory and the confiscating ofthe enemies' resources (e.g. cutting off Japan from oil).

After the conquest phase of the war, the occupation phase was relatively peaceful. Yes, there were a lot of problems, but we weren't getting Americans shot and killed by insurgents.

Iraq, on the other hand, had a quick and relatively painles conquest phase, and is now essentially a war of attrition against an occupying power.

The way, in my opinion, to measure progress is essentially by measuring how much damage the insurgents can do to us vs. how many resources we can bring to bear against them. Or to put things another way, the success or failure of the war can only be measured by looking at the death toll/injury toll for the coalition, or by looking at whether or not we have the resources to continue. If the monthly death toll is getting higher or if we are running out of resources, we are losing.

Enemy body counts are mostly irrelevant, as we do not have an insurgency of a defined and finite size. Unless the insurgency shows signs of waning (i.e. decreased attacks), I don't think that body counts mean much.

Body counts reflecting the deaths and injuries on the coalition side do matter, though. Because we have a central structure which can be bled. Or put another way, we could eventually run out of soldiers or suffer so much damage that we have to withdraw. The insurgency does not have a central command which decides when they can no longer keep up the fighting.

So what options do we have?

(1) More of the same. This will probably lead to higher and higher monthly body counts, and eventually the recruiting problems will come to a head and we'll have to reduce troop levels or find some way to bring in extra soldiers.

(2) Withdrawal. One way or another, we'll have to reduce troop levels with the goal of getting out of Iraq.

(3) Escalation. We could decide to put more soldiers in Iraq, either by shutting down all our other bases, increasing recruiting or starting a draft.

(4) Brutal put-down. We could maintain or reduce troop levels, and simply bring order by mass murder. This is an option Michael Savage discusses often, where we bomb the Sunni triangle relentlessly. In essence, the idea involves responding to any attack on American troops by killing large numbers of Iraqis (probably Sunni Arabs). I there is difficulty getting security in the "Green Zone," all buildings around the zone will be razed and any Iraqi getting within, say, 500 feet will be killed.

Which method is most likely to be used? I'd say number 4.

That is all.

Dissembling by the Administration

Andrew Sullivan points out that Scott McClellan won't give a direct answer.

That is all.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Thoughts on Macintosh with Intel Inside

Here's an interesting article on the news.

That is all.

The World is Ending

Counterpunch, an arch leftist website, praises Clarence Thomas.

It's about the medical marijuana issue.

That is all.

Lebanese Christians Side with Syria

Very interesting.

I wonder what, if anything, Joseph Farah will say.

That is all.

Killing the Other

Butler Shaffer asks a question:

Would you agree to the death of an innocent stranger in order to save a loved one? To avenge a loved one?

Although he is talking about the Iraq ar, it strikes me that this question also relates to issues such as abortion and stem-cell research.

Is it that we are so certain that these are not lives (or more precisely, persons) that we are willing to see them killed, or is it because they cannot complain to us, so that we may ignore them?

That is all.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Neoconservatives on Iran

It seems to me that a current key tenet of neoconservatism is that Iran is on the verge of revolution, that a revolution will decrease the chance of Iran causing nuclear problems, and that we can push Iran to a revolution with minimal expenditure of treasure and no expenditure of (American) blood.

Further, the assumption is that because the insurgency is supposedly mostly foreign fighters, or else is dependent on foreign support, therefore taking down Iran will quiet things down in Iraq and (presumably) allow us to bring some troops home, thus alleviating the army's recruiting problems.

Taking down Iran will also - in theory - take down Syria, thereby reducing two of the states that are presumably the biggest sponsors of the insurgency.

In theory, we can expand the war without expanding (and in fact reducing) our troop commitment.

Unfortunately, I think that if we actually try to instill unrest in Iran, we will be more likely to find that we either get a lot of dissidents killed, turn a lot of dissidents against the US, or wind up being forced into a ground war in Iran. Probably all three.

In any case, I don't think we can expand the war without having to expand the actual ground war, which we can't do without either a draft or resorting to keeping order through mass murder (20,000 soldiers could probably keep order in Iraq if we were willing to resort to shooting 500 Iraqis every time a coalition soldier was killed). Whether the neocons who advocate this policy believe this as well and are lying to us, or whether they are actually deluded themselves I don't know, although I suspect that there are some in each camp (i.e. some liars, some naifs).

That is all.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Lew on Huffington's Blog

Llewellyn Rockwell is now posting on Arianna Huffington's blog.

That is all.

A Good Idea

This is an interesting way to combat rape.

The only objection I can see is if that a woman could theoretically use it during consensual sex either to injure the man (I'm not sure if the "rape trap" produces an injury) or to falsely label him as a rapist; but that is really irrelevant, as any defensive device could be used offensively. So objections to the device make no more sense than objections to, for instance, guns.

That is all.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

More Thoughts on Medical Marijuana

Chris Roach praises Clarence Thomas.

And rightly so.

That is all.

Doug Casey on Gold

The recent price variances of gold are discussed, and thoughts about its future price are considered.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should point out that I own a few thou in gold and another thou or so in silver, so it is in my interest for gold and silver prices to rise, in case anyone thinks that might color my opinions.

That is all.

Disgusting "Bioethics" in Canada

An article on JewishWorldReview about how Canada is refusing to let a kidney donation take place to save a Jewish hero.

But rather than just beating up on Canada, I want to mention that I find the whole idea that people are not allowed to sell organs to be stupid (not that there is selling going on in this case, but apparently fear of that is why they aren't allowing the transplant). I think that the idea that so-called bioethics prevent people from profiting from helping other people ultimately puts the "purity of the system" over the value of human life.

To explain what I mean by this, let's look at Judaic morality for a moment (which has a parallel issue to this, and which is appropriate considering that the article was on a Jewish web site and the victim in this story is Jewish).

Judaism has a lot of laws, including that people ought not to eat pigs or work on Saturday. Nonetheless, all of the laws, excepting the law against murder, the law against idolatry, and the law against sexual immorality, are nulland void in teh case when following them costs a person his life. In other words, a starving Jewish man in a prison with only bacon to eat is not just allowed, but required to eat the bacon because preerving life is more importatn than dietary restrictions.

In the same way, I think that preserving life is more important than preventing people from porfiting.

Obviously, allowing the sale of organs has its drawbacks; you may get a lot of peopl who try to donate who do not have good organs, for example. But most of these can be screened out, and I can't help but think that with so many people dying waiting for a transplant that the risk of someone getting a bad organ is smaller than the current risk of dying without getting a transplanted organ.

That is all.

You Will be a Marine!

Does anyone else find this disturbing?

As a person with a 14-year-old niece and a 12.5-year-old nephew, I am certainly worried about what will happen in 3 and in 4.5 years, respectively.

That is all.

Another Issue on Deep Throat Brought Up

A few months to a year ago, I remember hearing people discuss that it was impossible that any one person could be deep throat. Now, after Mark Felt's confession, Ann Coulter is the only one to remember that fact and to remain skeptical.

Although I often disagree with her on issues, on this she is very astute and interesting. I'll have to someday compare her writing to that of Gary North, who concentrates on the issue not of the identity of Deep Throat, but on whether or not information leaked to Woodward and Bernstein was even the decisive issue in implicating Tricky Dick.

That is all.

Can You Say Rationalization?

Porn Star Mary Carey still considers herself to be a "good Christian".

I won't dispute her Christianity, seeing as what that requires is that she believe in Jesus as having died for her sins. However, I would dispute the "good Christian" part, and I think that some of her explanations for why having sex on camera is not immoral are, well, rationalizations.

That is all.

Why Jews are Smart

In this paper (PDF format) by Greg Cochran et al., the biological reasons for the abnormally high IQs of Ashkenazi Jews are discussed.

Here's an article on the issue in The Economist.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to Steve Sailer.

That is all.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A Canadian's Thoughts on the Subject Medical Marijuana

Colby Cosh is always an interesting read.

And note that Clarence Thomas voted for state's rights on the marijuana issue, making him, in my opinion, a more principled strict constructionist than Antonin Scalia.

That is all.

The Mind Boggles

Steve Sailer reports that the apparent reason Kerry didn't want his military records released is that his test scores in college were lower than George W. Bush's.

More from the the Boston Globe.

That is all.

Radley Balko has Matt Yglesias' Number

This posting by Matt Yglesias blew me away. He essentially admitted that he doesn't care if it is constitutional, he wants the federal government to have unlimited power.
Radley Balko rightly pulverizes the little snot.
A few months ago, I decided to include Mr. Yglesias in my links, and then, after reading something he wrote where he praised premarital sex, decided to remove the link. I must say that I am glad to have done so.

That is all.

Entrapment?

Is our Homeland Security Department resorting to entrapment to pass the time?

Paul Craig Roberts thinks so, and his article can be read on any of these websites (pick your favorite of these four):

Antiwar.com
LewRockwell.com
VDARE
Counterpunch

That is all.

Bush and Mary Carey

Well, does Joseph Farah regret bending over and encouraging others to do the same now?

That is all.

Monday, June 06, 2005

"Darth Sidious is Obviously Meant to Represent Bush - You Liberal Pinko! I Can Certainly See the Parallels!"

On the BackWater Report, Lee Shelton wonders how neoconservatives can be so certain that the evil Sith in Star Wars: Episode III are meant to represent the Bush administration. It hasn't been explicitly stated that they represent the President and his cronies. Could it be that they see the parallels themselves?

Hmmmmm....

That is all.

Change can be Scary

Apple will soon be using Intel chips instead of IBM PowerPC chips in its Macintoshes.

This is a frightening and exciting time to be a Macker.

That is all.

Sullivan on Limited Government

Andrew Sullivan makes another point that I firmly agree with, whether or not I have actually blogged on it before.

Technically, a reader of his made it, and he concurred.

In essence, the statement is that secular government, that is, government that wants to be neutral on religion, must by necessity be limited government. The bigger government is, the more it must ultimately be imposing one person's values on another. "Separation of church and state" cannot exist with big government. What people who want "separation of church and state" and also want big government actually want is not separation byt active hostility between church and state, such as those who want to force Catholic hospitals to provide birth control.

That is all.

I Don't Like In Vitro Fertilization

Andrew Sullivan asks whether or not those who dislike embryonic stem cell research think in vitro fertilization should be illegal.

Well, I don't think we should allow in vitro fertilization to be done in such a way as to produce extra embryos that are discarded. Yes, i am willing to take that stand.

That is all.

The EU is Evil

Vox Day points out that the EU is unlikely to take "no" for an answer.

As Lawrence Auster has remarked, the verynature of the EU is to ignore the people's will in favor of trying to expand the power of the trans-European elite. If the people vote against it, the EU's solution is to keep them voting until they vote the right way, or to ignore the vote altogether.

That is all.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Question

I have noticed on sitemeter that a lot of people are coming to my site through a search for Images on Google or through a Google search which also involves the KnightVision Forever Knight fansite (run by someone whom I know on the 'net through posting on the Sci-Fi channel bulletin boards for Forever Knight). Could anyone who comes here through one of those methods explain to me how they wound up searching for "Glaivester" images? Don't get me wrong, I'm not angry at anyone. I just want to find out how people come to my site.

Thanx.

That is all.

Sorry for Light Posting

I'll try to get some more posts up soon. I've been away at a biology conference presenting the research that I did for my Master's thesis.

That is all.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

May was a Deadly Month

A brief rundown of stats this month, taken from the Iraq Coalition Casualties website.

86 coalition soldiers dead: 78 US, 2 UK, 4 Italian, 2 Bulgarian

67 hostile deaths, 19 non-hostile deaths

Since March 2003, May 2005 was the 8th deadliest month out of 27 months, 7th deadliest if only hostile fatalities are counted (April 2003 had more deaths but fewer hostile deaths than MaY 2005).

95 wounded as of May 7, more recent figures ought to come out soon.

273 Iraqi police and military and 573 civilians killed (although some of these may be from non-hostile incidents like the recent copter crashes).

My previous prediction of 2000 American fatalities by September and 2000 hostile American fatalities by New Year's seems, fortunately, to be an overestimate. Unfortunately, the violence has increased this month to pre-Iraqi-election levels. Only time will tell whether this is a spike or an indication that the insurgency is still going strong. I'm afraid that the second is more likely.

That is all.

That is all.

What About Afghanistan?

Juan Cole worries that we are moving toward an insurgency in Afghanistan.

I think we should pay attention, and see what we need to do, before our great success story in the "War on Terror" turns sour.

That is all.

Gordon Prather on World War II and Oil Embargoes

Could we be headed to become another Japan?

Gordon Prather warns us on the topic.

Of course, the neocon answer (for some neocons) is that if the arabs cut off our flow of oil, we should just seize the Saudi oil fields.

But what if that isn't an option? What if the Saudis have mined their oil fields in case of seizure, as Daniel Pipes fears?

In that case, we could really get revenge on the Middle East if it refused to sell us oil, but how would we help ourselves out of the crisis?

Well, I have one solution:
Long-term, I think the best solution is to work on creating a method of converting cellulose to fuel. If we could create organisms that could digest cellulose as well as starch to use in making bio-diesel and the like, we might be able to create our own source of fuel.

Short-term? I think that the best solution is to hope and to avoid doing stupid things in the Middle East. Er - to avoid doing any more stupid things in the Middle East.

That is all.

Canada-Arkansas AIDS Scandal?

Was Clinton Involved? No, not that way.

WorldNetDaily reports on a Canadian Red Cross blood scandal, and a possible connection to Ol' Billy Boy.

That is all.
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