Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Katrina

What can I say?

This looks to be a terrible disaster.

As I understand it, the wind wasn't that bad, it was the rain that caused the damage (please tell me if I am incorrect here). After most of the windy parts of the storm had passed, I was under the impression that things weren't that bad. It appeared that the media had exaggerrated for ratings and for sensationalism.

Then, it turns out that the winds weren't the problem. It was the rain. Everything flooded. It's almost as if someone had hit a city with a nuclear bomb and the city suffered only moderate damage, and then a few hours later the fallout somehow caused a massive fire to erupt that engulfed the city.

The lesson here: the impressive part of a thing (e.g. the wind of a hurricane) is not always the most dangerous part.

If you wish to donate to the Red Cross, here's a link to their website.

For now, that is all.

The Dems and War

To remind you that the ther party are also warmongers, Radley Balko has some suggested slogans for them.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to Matt Barganier.

That is all.

War by Means of Terror

In the single most deadly attack on Iraqis since the end of major combat operations in May 2003, hundreds were killed in a stampede apparently caused by rumors of two suicide bombers in the crowd. (The exact numbers are uncertain, I've heard reports varying from 600 to 1000, although the report I linked to says 816).

Although the article mentions mortar attacks on the Kadhimiya shrine shortly prior to the the stampede, I am not certain that the mortar attacks were a large contributing factor to the incident.

What this means is that the single biggest terror attack in Iraq was carried out not using bombs, or bullets, or weapons of any kind, except for terror itself. Even if hte mortar attacks played a major role in the panic, it is the terror itself, not the attacks, that killed so many.

I don't know if this symbolizes anyhting, but it is not good.

As the attack occurred near a Shiite shrine that was filled with pilgrims, I imagine that the vast majority of the victims were Shiites. Which would be consistent with Sunni insurgents being responsible for this terrorist attack (by which I mean that they deliberately spread the rumors in order to start a panic; or perhaps there really were suicide bombers but they decided not to do a bombing after discovering how many were killed by the mere rumor); although I suppose foreign jihadists could be responsible as well. The mortar fire was almost certainly done by Iraqi Sunnis; fooreign jihadists are usually suicide bombers.

Of course, it is possible that the rumor wasn't started deliberately in order to kill Shiites; the rumor could have just formed, as rumors do; and this entire incident could be nothing more than an unfortunate accident (or from the perspective of the Sunni insurgents, a fortunate accident). Nonetheless, it should still be blamed on those who commit terrorist suicide bombings; it is doubtful that such a rumor would have spread or been believed had the number of suicide attacks not made it a plausible story.

In any case, this is likely going to be another step towards civil war. Although some might argue that the civil war has already started.

That is all.

Andrew McCarthy on the War

One problem with the war in Iraq is that because the pro-war side consists of so many disparate camps that sometimes one will make an excellent criticism of one of the others, but on another aspect of the larger "war on terror" their ideas are even more extreme and unrealistic.

For example, Look at this piece by Andrew MCarthy. He is very correct that most of the people in the US are more concerned with Iraq not being a threat than they are with it being democratic.

However, he seems to be conflating the concept that we should not make democratization priority number one with the idea that we need to expand the war:

"To the extent there is public uneasiness, it is not over the fact of that war but rather the manner in which it is being prosecuted, with terrorists continuing to score successes and their facilitators in Iran and Syria making war on American forces with impunity."

Well, yes, public uneasiness with the war on terror is not with the war itself but with how we are prosecuting it. However, I doubt that much public uneasiness is with the fact that we haven't taken action against Syria and Iran. I doubt very many people want an expansion of the war (and if you doubt that military action is what he is suggesting, read this: "I might have considered doing that BEFORE Iraq since we knew that Iran was harboring al Qaeda leadership before the Iraq operation started – in addition to Iran’s rich record of anti-American terrorism." He's not talking about harsh words or sanctions here. I suppose one could argue that he is not suggesting military action but a covert operation to overthrow the mullahs using internal dissidents, but let's be honest, that will fail wihtout American military support, Michael Ledeen's insanity notwithstanding).

I also think that he exaggerrates the extent of Saddam's ties to terrorists that threaten us, and also makes the unwarranted assumption that the best way to solve the ties that were there was to topple his regime. It seems to me that with a few minor incentives we could have gotten Saddam to stop giving money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, to have handed over whatever terrorists were hiding out in Iraq, and to offer his help in apprehending more.

Also, let's remember that Mr. McCarthy is one of the Chalabists:

"It would be very convenient for me to second-guess what I would have done differently at this point. I hope I would have handled Iraq as the Pentagon hoped to handle Iraq, because I think that was a good plan (i.e., installing an Iraqi government in waiting at an early stage)."

Now, of course installing a government in waiting doesn't necessarily mean Chalabi, but Chalabi was the one that the Defense Department had hoped to install at the time, and I'm not certain who else would have been available. Also, as he hopes he "would have handled Iraq as the Pentagon hoped to handle Iraq," and the Pentagon hoped to install Chalabi, this means that he wanted to put Chalabi in there.

While I agree that democratization was too lofty a goal, I don't think that installing an exile with little or no support among Iraqis, who has a reputation of dishonesty and embezzlement, and who now is suspected of being an Iranian agent, was a much better solution.

Moreover, he gives the impression that democratization was always seen as a secondary objective, with eliminating terrorism being the primary. This is either dishonest or else (much more likely) he is remembering only thsoe arguments for the war that reflected his own concerns. That we were trying to democratize the Middle East and that this was an essential, non-negotiable objective of the war was drummed into our heads from the start. In fact, there were many who argued for conquering (sorry, "liberating") Iraq regardless of any terrorist connections, simply because making Iraq a democracy would spread freedom throughout the Middle East and thus "drain the swamp" of terrorism.

In all due fairness, a lot of people I have talked to during the invasion denied that there was any such agenda or that the administration had made that a major objective (oh, no, he isn't planning a democracy. He just wants to defend us against Saddam. This is about terrorism, not nation-building). Considering how much I'd heard the discussion about how we had to democratize Iraq, this floored me. I can only assume that these people were selectively listening to what we were being told, and that they just assumed that Bush's goals as to the war were the same as their own.

Or, perhaps, the problem is that I was listening to the neoconservative ideologues like Norman Podhoretz and Michael Ledeen while everyone else was listening to Bush, and perhaps Bush demured on the democracy issue while the ideologues pushing the war from behind-the-scenes were much more open about the real goals. If that is the case, then the problem is that the majority of the country made the mistake of listening to the administration's proclamations without paying attention to what the people behind the policy were pushing.

All I know is that I recognized the messianic democratism in this Middle East project way back in 2001 or 2002, long before the invasion of Iraq. Lots of other people don't remember it being a part of the justifications for, or objectives of, the war, but I had it pegged from the get-go. And now look who are the ones who are surprised.

That is all. For now.

More Predictions

I'm not certain where on my blog I said it, but I clearly remember predicitng that we would see 2000 American fatalities a year after we saw 1000. That would be September 4 or so. Currently there have been 1883. So it appears that I was (thankfully) mistaken. I also predicted that there would be 2000 hostile U.S. fatalities by the New Year. So far we have 1468 hostile U.S. fatalities (1677 for the whole coalition). so it is likely that that prediction was too pessimistic as well.

That is all.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Predictions for 2005: an Update

Here and here are some predictions I made in January for the coming year (that is, for this year).

Let's see how well they have held up. (I also made a few longer-term predictions about Iraq back in 2004; I'll get to those later).

1) At least 1000 American troops will die in Iraq during 2004. Troop levels will not decrease unless by necessity.

So far, 546 American troops have died during 2005. If things keep going at this rate, somewhere around 820 troops will be killed by the end of the year. So it looks as if that prediction is (thankfully) not going to come true.

2) The January 30 elections will occur, and there will be many charges of irregularities by the Sunnis, and some charges of irregularities by a few Kurdish and Shiite groups, although the majority of those groups will support the results, or at least be indifferent to them.

I think that this is mainly what happened.

3) The insurgency will not be affected in any significant way by the elections.

Well, the insurgency (measured in terms of hostile coalition fatalities) went down for ~ 3 months after the elections, and then returned to about the same strength as it was in the second half of 2004. Wounded stats are a little lower than they were in the second hald of 2004. On the otehr hand, it looks as if attacks on Iraqi policemen and military/security men, as well as Iraqi civilians, may be increasing. So I think my point was mostly correct; the elections have not had a long-term effect on the insurgency as far as I can tell.

4) Ahmad Chalabi will get a position of political power.

He is now a deputy prime minister.

5) Neither Syria nor Iran will fall on its own, but we will not invade either or them either, as we lack the number of troops to do so. Basically, I don't see the situation in the greater Middle East (i.e. outside of Iraq) changing a whole lot, whatever occurs in the war on terror or in Iraq.

I have been right (so far) on Iran and Syria. As for changes in the greater Middle East, well, Lebanon is not under Syrian domination and Gaza no longer has Jewish settlers. How significant a change each of these is, only time will tell.

6) Nothing will happen on the Social Security front.

It's pretty stagnant.

7) Bush's amnesty proposal will begin to cause a break-up of the GOP; not that people will defect, but we will get increasing levels of criticism from the GOP against Bush that will make it difficult for the GOP to get any sort of agenda passed.

Well, Limbaugh and Hannity are starting to get critical of Bush on this issue. I'll have to find some more examples, but I think that we are starting to see even some die-hard Bush partisans begin to get upset about this issue. I'm not sure it has made it harder for the GOP to get its agenda passed yet, though.

8) Nothing new will happen on the gay "marriage" front.

I guess some stuff has happened in Canada, but I was thinking of the US, and I don't see any new localities or states successfully legalizing gay marriage, nor any challaneges to the Massachusetts law that have any hope of success. So yeah, I was right on that one - so far, at least.

9) There will be a major terrorist attack (>100 deaths) in Europe by Muslims that will cause an anti-Muslim backlash.

Well, there was the attack on the British subway that has led Blair to actually start talking about deporting people who refuse to assimilate. But this was somewhat smaller than I predicted. So I will leave it up to my readers to determine how accurate the prediction was.

I think that the Dow will go below 10,000 at least once.

Not yet, although it came close once.

We will still have at least 150,000 troops in Iraq by December.

Our strength may be 140,000, but there are reports that we may add troops before the next Iraqi election. In any case, the general thrust of the prediction seems to have been correct; we haven't seen any significant reductions in American forces in Iraq. And according to the army, it is possible that we may have 100,000 or more troops in the country for 4 more years. So my general sense that Iraq won't be secure enough any time soon for us to reduce our troop presence greatly appears to have been proven several times over.

I'll try to get some links and whatnot, and to discuss other predicitons of mine later, but for now...

That is all.

A Libertarian Solution to the Intelligent Design Controversy

You know, I personally would prefer that we didn't teach anything in public schools. Privatize them all.

That is all.

When it Comes to Homosexuality, Gender Matters

Planet Out has commented on an issue that Steve Sailer brought up 11 years ago.

(Thanx and a tip o' the hat to Ol' Sully for directing me to the Planet Out article).

That is all.

Monday, August 29, 2005

On the Break-up of the Pro-Warriors

Raimondo discusses the divisions in the War Party caused by the new Iraq constitution.

And even Larry Auster, generally a Raimondo-detractor, seems to like this column.

That is all.

NRO: Religious Freedom at Risk in New Iraq

Nina Shea & John F. Cullinan are concerned about the new Iraqi constitution.

They feel it doesn't protect individual rights enough. In particular, it does not do enough to protect women's rights and religious freedom.

All I can say is - NO! Who could have predicted something like this?

At some point, I will have to compile a list of various columns where we were assured that the Iraqis were devoted to secular government, separation of church and state, and modern liberal democratic principles. And then we can see hwo the people who wrote these columns explain it all away.

(Most likely argument? The Iraqis wanted a liberal government, but the State Department betrayed them).

That is all.

ChalabiWatch

Jim Hoagland kisses the Chalabster right between the butt-cheeks here and here.

Matt Yglesias expressed his disdain here and here.

Orrin Judd has also fallen under ol' Ahmad's spell.

Steve Sailer is not amused. Actually, I think he is amused, just not surprised or particularly happy about the turn of events.

That is all.

Iraqi Constitution

Bob Murphy has some thoughts on the Iraqi constitution.

My personal prediction is that the constitution will keep getting delayed for another week or so, and then it will get approved, under suspicious circumstances. It is not necessarily unlikely that any plebiscite will also have results that are a little suspicious. Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as election-rigging.

Of course, my predictions may be wrong; I did predict that coalition fatalities would be over a hundred a month during the summer and that US fatalities would surpass 2000 by the beginning of September this year (I'll find the links later). (US fatalities are currently at 1877). So don't rely on my powers of prognostication, folks.

Nonetheless, I will go out on a limb in predicting the fate of the Iraqi constitution.

That is all.

Good News from Iraq

The British have managed to keep stability, as it were, in Basra, by giving it up to gangsters and Muslim fundamentalists (or something similar to fundamentalists).

But there is good news from Iraq! I just saved a bunch of money on my car insur...

That is all.

Calling Gary North

So maybe us crazy dispensationalists aren't the only problem:

"Yankee postmillennial pietism, according to Rothbard, is one of the the earliest ideologies spreading statism as we understand it in the modern sense."

That is all.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

A Good Buchanan Piece

Ol' Pitchfork Pat on the illegal immigration crisis.

Should Bush be impeached for treason if he won't protect the border?

Pat suggests so.

Even Lawrence Auster, no fan of Pat's, admires him for this piece.

That is all.

Juddy Python

Go to the Brothers Judd blog and read any post about Iraq.

Sometimes I get the impression that on the issue of whether things are going wrong in Iraq, Orrin Judd is played by Michael Palin.

That is all.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Thoughts on The Bell Curve

A spirited discussion of The Bell Curve on Matt Yglesias' website.

There have been a lot of people over the years who have commented that even if there are innate racial IQ differences, it is not a goodthing to publicize because it would mean that racial inequality may be insurmountable, which we cannot accept.

It occurs to me that the reason that the issue of whether or not there are genetic differences in IQ between the races is so important is because of the alternate explanations for racial inequality.

That is, continuing racial inequality is currently blamed on "whiteness" and "institutional racism." That is, that all white people are racist by the very fact of their white skin, that they have unfair privileges that they must repudiate, and that whites alone among the races do not have the right to look out for their ethnic interests. Rather, it is the duty of white people to selflessly disregard the interests of people from their own race, and to always give advantages to people of other races in orderto make up for past racism. As "people of color" (a blanket term for all non-whites) are the oppressed, there is no recprocal duty; blacks have every right to put black interests first, Hispanics have the right to put Hispanic interests first, and so on.

Therefore, if it can be shown that there is a genetic factor or factors at work, it takes a lot of the burden off of white people (it would also mean that if we deny the existence of the factor and continue to blame institutional racism that we are in effect castigating whites for something that is not their fault).

Obviously, finding a genetic factor that explains the racial IQ gap is in the interest of whites (and ethnic groups with high average IQ test scores, such as Ashkenazi Jews and Asians) and against the interests of groups with low average IQ test scores (blacks and Hispanics). Seeing as the current conventional wisdom is that there is no such genetic factor, if no such research is done the results are the same as if the research confirms the lack of a genetic factor; therefore, the only way that research could change the status quo is by finding such a factor. Therefore, it is in the interest of groups that do well on IQ tests to do such research (they have nothing to lose and possibly something to gain) and against hte inteerests of groups that do poorly on IQ tests (they have nothing to gain and quite possibly somethign to lose). [It should be pointed out that if we were in a society where racial IQ differences were the conventional wisdom, then it would be the groups that scored lower on the tests whose interests would be served by more research].

In any case, I predict that the more that charges of "institutional racism" are levelled in our society and the more that calls to end "white privilege" or for whites to "reject whiteness" are heard, the more pressure there will be to do research on the sources of racial differences in IQ.

That is all.

"Starved" - Getting Better

I like the show "Starved" considerably better than I did 2 weeks ago.

Mainly because the characters are starting to have some real personality. Some real pathos. All except for the compulsive overeater guy, who still seems rather blank to me. But hopefully his time will come, too.

I'm starting to see at least three of the characters as being on a continuum. The woman is the most "recovered," the main character (Sam) is somewhere in the beginning of recovery and the black cop (I forget his name) is nowhere near recovery, and in fact does not appear yet to want to get better. The overeater guy is sort of the odd-man out here.

That is all for now.

Friday, August 26, 2005

S. T. Karnick, Wishful Thinker

S. T. Karnick claims that it is perfectly consistent with conservatism to support the democratiztion project.

After all, if there is a universal human nature, as conservatives believe, mustn't we all want the same things, like democracy and freedom?

Several posts by Lawrence Auster: here, here, here, and here.

However, there is another important point to make:

Universal human nature refers mostly to such basic desires as sex, wealth, and power. It is not clear to me that such abstract and complex ideas such as universal rights and freedoms for all (as opposed to freedom for me and mine, screw everyone else) are part of human nature.

In the comments section of the FPM article, "Northern Steve" mentions Turkey as an example that you can too have an Islamic democracy. What he leaves out, though, is that to the extent that Turkey reflects liberal western values, it does so because Attaturk essentially suppressed Islam through the sword. Certain aspects of Islam, such as headscarves or females, were actually banned under Attaturk. So yes, if you force Muslims not to behave like Muslims through a police state, you can get a "Muslim" semi-democracy.

In any case, I think that Mr. Karnick is simply using wishful thinking to justify Bush's universal messianic democratism.

That is all.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Thoughts on Sheehan

To be honest, Cindy Sheehan has not impressed me much as a figure for the antiwar movement to rally around.

(1) Anecdotal arguments are not the best arguments against the war. That one person was killed is not a good argument that the war was unjustified, in my opinion.

(2) Her reaction to her son's death is not necessarily typical; a lot of parents think that their children made admirable sacrifices.

(3) Some of her statements (referring to non-Iraqis aiding the insurgency as "freedom fighters from other countries," saying that America is "not worth dying for") seem to reflect a pro-insurgent, anti-American, rather than a pro-American, antiwar point of view.

That is all.

Scopes Monkey Trial - About a Lot More than Evolution v. Creationism

Or, to put it another way, more of that Steve Sailer good stuff.

That is all.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Pat on the Dems

Buchanan's commentary.

The current problem with the Democrats, in my opinion, is that too many of them are too cowardly to make a stand one way or another. They criticize Bush for the war, but too few of them are willing to make a specific stance as to what our policy should be, or else their policy is essentially Bush's with a few paeans to the UN thrown in there. And too many of them were eager to go to war when it actually came to a vote back in 2003.

That is part of why Kerry lost; he had no real paltform distinguished from Bush's that one could vote for; anti-war types couldn't really get excited over him because he really didn't have an anti-war policy. There was nothing there.

Would a stronger anti-war stance benefit Dems? I doubt it could hurt.

That is all.

On Michael Graham

Joseph Farah on the firing of Michael Graham, ostensibly for writing this column.

A letter to VDARE suggests that he may have been fired for his views on immigration, and the controversy over the whole Islam thing was just a cover.

Personally, I don't think he should have been fired.

That is all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Do Feti Feel Pain?

The controversy erupts!

That is all.

More Thoughts on Iraq

Posts on NRO's "The Corner" Here,
here,
here,
here,
here, and
here on the new Iraq constitution.

My thoughts:

Andy McCarthy is technically correct that during a time of war, the victors have a right to make certain that Iraq's new constitution reflects their interests even at the expense of the will of the people (i.e. we can force a secular constitution down their throats). The problem is that it would be difficult to enforce.
Part of the reason why we are unwilling to stand up more and demand certain things from the Iraqis is because we don't have the forces to keep control of the country; it's not necessarily moral posturing (e.g. what right do we have to enforce our politics on them), but practical necessity (we need to make concessions to the fundamentalists because we don't have the strength to threaten to put them down if they decide to join the insurgency). Part of the problem here is that the people planning the war were overly optimistic about the Iraqis embracing western political values. Therefore, no one prepared for this contingency.

Moreover, due to the propagnda war, there is moral posturing involved. The extent to which we exercise our prerogative as victors to determine Iraq's rules is also the extent to which it becomes harder to maintain that this is an occupation rather than a liberation.
In other words, there has been a whole lot of talk about how this is not an occupation (an how silly it is for people to call it that) and about how we are letting Iraqis decide how to run their own affairs. Granted, we could demand thaat they enshrine women's rights and separation of mosque and state in their constitution, but to do so we have to give up the fabntasy that we are a liberating force allowing the Iraqis to live their own lives and to admit that we are going to force them to be what we think they should be. they can change the policy, but then they have to change the rhetoric.

Finally, I think that Andy McCarthy's suggestions as to how the war ought to have been run also has a lot of flaws. For one thing, I don't think that we could effectively atttack Syria or Iran without ultimately needing to invade and ocupy these countries. And I don't think that such an invasion would be any more successful than the one in Iraq. In other words, we'd be facing a long-term occupation requiring >500,000 troops. The neocons would probably retort that the insurgency in Iraq gets most of its strength from Iran and Syria, so if we attacked them, we wouldn't have any insurgency in any of the countries to worry about (i.e. expand the war and the need for troops diminishes), but this is rubbish. Definitely, there is an indigenous insurgency in Iraq and there would also be one in Syria and Iran.

Finally, the suggestion by McCarthy that we should have had a government-in-waiting all ready to install before we invaded Iraq sounds good, but I doubt it would have improved things. Any government we installed would probably be run by Ahmad Chalabi or Iyad Allawi, and would have little more legitimacy in the eyes of Iraqis than the American regency under Garner or Bremer. All that would have accomplished would have been to move up the "transfer of sovereignty" a year and a few months. As this transfer accomplished absolutely nothing, I doubt that moving it up would have helped.

Unless of course, McCarthy was simply echoing the common neocon sentiment that things would be better if we had put Chalabi in charge. Considering the concerns about Chalabi's loyalties and honesty, I think that the Pentagon's plan of setting up a government by installing him could have gone much. much worse than what actually happened. In other words, given our options for whom to install, I don't think that an early installation of an Iraqi government (composed largely of exiles) would have benefitted us.

In short, unless we are willing to commit a whole lot more troops or start really cracking down on Iraqis, I don't think we have much of a choice but to accept a much less liberal government than we would like. Nor is there much, if anything, that we could have done after the initial invasion that would have altered this.

That is all.

Erik Rush is an Idiot

He calls for us to annex Mexico.

Maybe he's just joking, but if he's serious, well, there's just one problem:

I don't &*##@@!!!ing want Mexico!

This line is particularly amusing:

"We would gain complete and immediate legal control over both sides of the border (as well as all ports and points of entry within Mexico, a national security boon)."

Seeing as we are unwilling to take practical control over our own side of the border, which we already have legal control over, I fail to see the benefit to having legal control of the other side will help us.

That is all.

On Gaza

Noah Millman offers his thoughts.

My feeling is that the Gaza withdrawal will do nothing to placate the Palestinians, if that is the goal. It might, however, put Israel in a better strategic position, if Israel can change its defensive tactics as a result.

That is all.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Thoughts on Plame

I'll try to study up and see what I can say about the Judith Miller/Valerie Palme issue. Honestly, it seems complex and somewhat tangential to the issue of the war, so I have been unwilling to say much. I definitely don't want to ream someone out and then discover that they did nothing wrong.

I will say that I have no patience for those who insist that it was right to leak her name to discredit her, because the CIA was trying to undermine the presidency. If the president and the administration were tweaking the intelligence to make it say what they wanted it to say, then someone should have undermined them. This goes back to the whole issue of the CIA being "evil" for not supporting the war with both barrels. And, of course, the fact that things in Iraq have not gone as the neocons said they should hasn't dissuaded them. They either (1) blame the CIA and State that they weren't on board earlier (if they had only supported Chalabi in the beginning, Iraq would be paradise!) (2) or deny that there are problems or that the problems are important.

I also find it puzzling when people suggest that Judith Miller was the one who leaked Plame's name. Correct me if I'm wrong, but she wasn't authorized officially to have that information, was she? So isn't it the person who told her that is the leak?

That is all.

More on Iraq and Theocracy

It appears that Matt Yglesias has the same concerns about Michael Ledeen's grasp of reality that I have.

That is all.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

More Sailer Good Stuff

Steve Sailer's latest column.

Does anyone doubt that intellectually and/or in terms of writing ability, he is in a class with Aristotle, Galileo, and Dante, and quite likely with Newton, Darwin, and Shakespeare?

Can anyone doubt that he deserves to be classified with such company?

That is all.

More on Theocracy in Iraq

In the Comments section of a post on Alas, a Blog, I wrote this:

"I very seriously doubt that the feminist and pro-secular government Iraqis make up a majority of the population, particularly in the Shiite regions that we are strongly allied with. The fact of the matter is, if we are going to avoid a nasty Shiite insurrection to go with the Sunni one, we may have to make concessions like this.

"The neocons always wanted to portray Iraq as a nation of progressives and to claim that the vasst majority of Iraqis favored separation of mosque and state. We heard all sorts of polls and quotes supposedly confirming that...

"...The neocons will try to deny their mistake by claiming that no, no, the vast majority of Iraqis are classical liberals, they want secular democracy, women’s rights, etc., but the EVIL state department sold them out to a small minority of misogynists and fundamentalists. No, they were right all along about Iraq, but were betrayed by the evil state department."

Well, thanks to Clark Stooksbury, I now have two links that prove my thesis:

"after all, the drafters in Baghdad surely know that most Iraqis are against a sharia-dominated state, and the odds are that if they write such a document, they'll be rejected." - Michael Ledeen

"given the evidence (mentioned by Publius earlier) that Iraqi citizens are more liberal on the subject of religion than are their representatives here...This makes me wonder what the diplomats are thinking..." -Glenn Reynolds

Michael Ledeen also disparages our ambassador, Zal Khalilzad.

Yes, yes, it's those evil diplomats who are preventing Iraqis from becoming New Hampshire. Ahmad Chalabi said so.

That is all.

Theocracy in Iraq?

On the Corner, Andy McCarthy opines that he is discouraged over the US encouraging Iraq to set up a semi-theocracy where Islam is the basis of law. What people seem to be failing to recognize is that we are not doing this because it is our choice, but because it is, ultimately, the choice of the Iraqis.

We would like to believe that the majority of Iraqis want a secular government, separation of church-and-state, etc. But the reality is that those Iraqis who do are probably in the minority, and if we insist on secularizing the Iraqi government, we will alienate a large number of Shiites, who are currently willing to work with us.

Could we forcibly impose a secular government on Iraq? Certainly, we could; but it would require a whole lot of force on our part, and would inevitably alienate us from a large number of Iraqis. It wouldn't be as simple as telling Iraqis that the Constitution is unacceptable and sending them to their rooms without any supper until they redraw it. A Shiite insurgency would probably begin to appear; and we would need to start locking down a lot of Shiite-cominated areas like we do areas in the Sunni triangle.

Realistically, if we want to keep the transition in Iraq relatively peaceful, we have to give the people what they want.

That is all.

Anyone Find this Disturbing?

The army is considering that a > 100,000 troop deployment may be necessary for 4 more years.

Oh, joy.

That is all.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Friday, August 19, 2005

An Outrage Rectified

A happy ending for
this story.

When illegal immigrants can get in-state tuition, why the Hell shouldn't soldiers get it?

That is all.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Law & Order: Reality Version

It's not pretty says Paul Craig Roberts.

That is all.

Roundup on de Menezes

So the Brazilian shot by the British police may not have been nahving strangely after all. So all of the pro-warriors like that idiot John Gibson praising the job the Brits did were all wet.

Who'd a thunk it?

Antiwar Blog
Unqualified Offerings
Ifeminists Bulletin Board
More from Antiwar Blog

I'll try to post a few more as they come out.

That is all.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

OUCH!

Steve Sailer shatters a lot of myths of the left.

This includes the myth that Christian fundamentalism hasn't improved morals much, as evidenced by the higher rates of crime, illegitimacy, etc. in the Bible belt.

Why do these Christian areas have so many more of these problems?

"That's mostly because the South has a lot more blacks than the rest of the country, who are much more prone to a variety of social ills. What is methodologically correct is to make black-to-black and white-to-white comparisons."

Of course, a lot of people would think that this is a racist thing to say - funny, though, how using the same stats to disparage Christianity isn't considered bigoted...

That is all.

Thoughts on Vincent and the Insurgency

Over at National Review, Kathryun Jean Lopez seems to be implying that Steve Vincent was killed by people associated with the insurgency. Jim Henley suggests it may be Shiite police, who are, you know, technically our allies.
If true, this just shows how erroneous the "good guy, bad guy" model of Iraq is (that is, that we can easily divide the Iraqis into two camps, those who support the coalition and those who don't, and expect that everyone in each coalition will unite over their common goals there). Rather, it seems that there are myriad factions, each one looking to either subvert or suck-up to the current system depending on what gives them the advantage.
The same Iraqis we see as a bulwark against Baathist resurgence may be the ones slitting the throats of uppity journalists.

But - but - they want democracy and freedom! They had an election, didn't they?

That is all.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Gary Brecher on the Insurgency

The War Nerd Speaks.

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

That is all.

More Thoughts on Hiroshima

The main reason that Hiroshima concerns me, I'll be honest, is not because I have a great deal of sympathy for the Japanese or because I want to bash the US for bombing them.

I'm not interested in apologizing to the Japanese or any of that.

My concern is that too many people have decided that World War II is a model for all wars. Supposedly, in WWII, good and evil were so clearly defined, and we were so obviously righteous, that we had a right to demand any victory conditions we wanted without negotiation. I'm not terribly concerned about this atitude per se, but it bothers me that some people want to apply it to every war before or since; I'm not too concerned whether or not firebombing Dresden was justified at the time, or whether bombing Hiroshima was justified at the time, but I am worried when people claim that because that was justified, we also ought to nuke Baghdad or flatten Fallujah.

I think we need to question actions such as the bombing of Hiroshima, not to play some sort of blame game, but so that we aren't so complacent about seeing it as so unambiguously good that we make it a model to follow.

That is all.

Great Minds Think Alike

Gene Callahan echoes thoughts that I have expressed regarding Hiroshima.

That is all.

Thoughts on Starved

I saw Starved tonight (last night, technically).
I wasn't too impressed.
Imagine "a very special episode of Seinfeld," dealing with eating disorders. Other than the female character reacting to her fathers (yes, plural), none of the major characters seems to have any real pathos, or capacity for pathos. I don't care about any of them, they are just there as, well, character studies. Which is why I never really liked Seinfeld, none of the characters had any depth.
Of course, with Starved, you get to see a guy crawling along a floor after an interrupted colonic, spraying water behind him.

That is all.

Thoughts on Iran and Iraq

By Jim Henley.

That is all.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Liberal Logic

According to this article, new technology allows women in America to determine the sex of their baby very early on, so that they can have a sex-selection abortion if they so choose.

Osagie K. Obasogie finds this to be a bad thing:

"Some prochoice advocates argue... 'if you believe women have the right to choose, [selecting sex] is a perfectly legitimate reason...' 'Subsuming an ostensible right to select sex under Roe's reproductive freedoms is as misguided as the Gender Mentor Kit's mistaking sex for gender.'"

He (she?) goes on to say that:

"To the extent that the Gender Mentor Kit does little outside of lending more slipperyness to the slope toward designer babies -- where a child's physical, emotional, and mental attributes are pieced together in a Frankensteinish manner -- we ought to think long and hard about whether 'mentoring gender' is a recipe for disaster."

Let's explain what the real issue is here:

Once you accept that the state cannot restrict access to abortion, at that point, selecting sex or any other characteristic become de facto a legitimate reason for an abortion. That is, if a woman wants an abortion, one cannot stop her on the grounds that her motivations are suspect. Put another way, once a woman can determine the sex of her baby during the window in which abortion is unrestricted, there exists no way of preventing her from aborting.

In essence, the only way to prevent sex selection is to prevent people from knowing the sex of their baby for as long as abortion is possible. So what Mr. Obasogie is implying, is that learning the gender of the baby should be restricted to prevent gender selection, as the abortion aspect cannot be.

In short, using abortion for sex selection ought to be illegal; but we can't have any restrictions on abortion, so let's ban learning the child's gender instead. This also mean that if abortion were legalized throughout all nine months of pregnancy, people could be banned from using ultrasound to determine gender.

This shows how liberalism often destroys one freedom (the right to learn your child's gender early) in the service of its dedication to "equality" and other forms of freedom.

That is all.

NRO's the Corner is Useful for Something

Kathryn Jean Lopez drew my attention to this.

That is all.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Oh Goody!

Pentagon considers temporarily increasing troop levels in Iraq.

That is all.

Calling Michael Ledeen

A report suggests that the revolution in Iran is not beginning anytime soon.

Of course, the response of Ledeen and his ilk is probably "intelligence said the same thing about the USSR! So because they were wrong then, we know for certain that they are wrong now, so we need to push for regime change!"

The problem is, if he's wrong, and a push for internal regime change fails, we will be pushed into a full-scale conventional war with Iran. Do we want to risk that? I don't.

That is all.

Computer Humor

Lawrence Auster on a new version of a famous skit.

That is all.

R.I.P. Peter Jennings

Peter Jennings, 1938-2005.

That is all.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

That Sailer Good Stuff

"Perhaps, but maybe JPod is the anti-Ali G. The comedian Sacha Baron Cohen who plays the moronic Pakistani wigger Ali G is actually a member of a brilliant British Jewish family (his cousin Simon Baron-Cohen is an important autism researcher). In contrast, John Podhoretz plays being a member of brilliant American Jewish family, but actually is a moron."

Read more.

That is all.

Thoughts on Music

Bart Frazier has some.

That is all.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

On Hiroshima

Analyses that talk about how difficult it would have been to conquer Japan without Hiroshima usually all tend to dismiss the real important question. Had we not been so obsessed with unconditional surrender, would Japan have been willing to surrender to us without the bombings?

The idea that requiring that surrender be unconditional is the sine qua non of war, and that it is justifiable to do anything in order to avoid putting conditions on surrender is a brutal and barbaric philosophy.

So were the bombings necessary? Perhaps. But I wish that someone would actually take some time to defend requiring unconditional surrender instead of just assume thnat unconditional is the only type of surrender we can accept.

That is all.

Bombing to Provoke?

I've had this article in my bookmarks for awhile. Make of it what you will.

That is all.

Stupidity, thy Name is Glazov

Clark Stooksbury has alerted me to the presence of another of Jamie Glazov's famous "symposiums" on Front Page Magazine.

As usual, Jamie Glazov is a moron, and manages to use double-talk to advance illogic.

A few examples:

The basic setup of the symposium is an analysis of the US war effort in Iraq.

First off, Jamie Glazov (aka FP, as he represents all of Front Page Magazine) and Karl Zinsmeister give the war effort an A because we were able to overthrow Saddam and to set up some sort of government. Considering how weak Saddam was, this is the equivalent of giving a kid on a test an A because he spelt his name right.

Steve Vincent, who would come to die before the symposium was concluded, gives the US a B-, and says that in terms of securing Iraq from the insurgents, we get an F.

Glazov's response? You can't blame the US for what the insurgents are doing. "Blame the terrorists, not America."

This is stupidity. The issue, as Mr. Stooksbury pointed out, is not blame. The issue is that in order to grade the war effort, you need to grade how well we accomplished our goals. One of our goals was to secure Iraq from terrorist attacks. If the terrorists are still able to make enough attacks so that people cannot go out of their hotels, then that is a failure on our part, and should be considered in assessing the war effort.

Cliff May, after saying that "the Bremer regency was seriously flawed" (i.e., we should have put Chalabi in charge), points out that we didn't plan for a guerilla war, and that we underestimated the strength of the insurgency.

Glazov's response? "But isn’t it a bit unfair to judge the U.S. for failing to see the future? These criticisms are easy to make in hindsight, no?"

No, it is not unfair to criticize the US for failing to see the future. That is what a war plan is about, trying to predict the future, and to prepare for it. If you predict the future accurately, you get good grades, poorly, you get poor grades. Moreover, it is not as if people didn't predict a guerilla war; just look at the first few issues of The American Conservative, just look at the concerns of GEneral Shinseki that we needed more troops in order to stabilize the country. Moreover, I remember a report by James Fallows that Rumsfeld refused to consider the possibility of an insurgency when people mentioned it. As for criticisms being easy to make in hindsight, yes, they are, that is why hindsight is the standard we hold our decisions up to. Getting an "A" should not be an easy task.

He also consistently insists that anyone who opposes the US with weapons is a terrorist, and that there is no "insurgency," and that we cannot use the term "occupation," but must use the term "liberation." He also tries to imply, until it becomes untenable, that the foreign fighters are the bulk of the insurgency (which allows him turn it around whenever discussing who is the invader and occupier).

Finally, (although this isn't about Glazov) there is a little bit by Cliff May, where he suggests that grading the war effort is rather useless; how, he asks, would we grade the war effort in WWII in the early years when Japan and Germany were advancing.

My answer? Well, wars do not fight themselves. You constantly grade yourself to see how you can improve. After the first year or two of he Civil War, when the Union seemed to be losing, Lincoln did not turn things around just by "staying the course." He re-assessed his strategy and altered it in order to win. He would have done it again if he had kept losing.

In any case, the problem with Glazov is that he can't do anything but parrot propaganda that everything is always fine. He has no critical thinking skills whatsoever, or else he chooses not to use them.

That is all.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Things in Israel

This whole incident is bad. Very bad.

The ramifications of this, both in terms of the terrorism situation in Israel, and in terms of the political fallout, are not going to be pretty. From Israel's standpoint, having an Israeli Jew commit a terrorist attack to protest his government's Gaza evacuation plan is a PR nightmare. And yes, that may sound rather shallow, worrying about Pr when five or six people are dead, but when most of the world hates your country, you'd be surprised how problematic bad PR like this can be.

Too tired to blog more on this.

That is all.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Steve Sailer vs. Matthew Dowd

Steve Sailer discusses population trends in Mexico.

One thing I remember from this: "Population momentum" is also known, as I recall, as the "bulge in the snake" effect, because when looking at population bar graphs that plot the population at various ages like so,

0-10 XXXXXXXXXX
11-20XXXXXXXXX
21-30XXXXXXXX
31-40XXXXXXXX
41-50XXXXXXXXX
51-60XXXXXXXX
61-70XXXXXX
71-80XXXXX
81++XX

a baby boom results in a bulge in the youngest group that gradually advances through the different age groups as time passes, like a large animal, swallowed whole, moves down a snake's body.

In any case, a decrease in the birth rate doesn't begin to decrease population until the number of people who are dying overtake the number of people being born, so if we assume three to four generations at any one time, population doesn't begin to decrease until the youngest generation is smaller than the oldest, or until the grandparents and/or the great-grandparents (and others in their generation) outnumber the children.

Population momentum (also known, I think, as "demographic momentum") is, of course, a vital point to consider in any population growth model.

That is all.

Monday, August 01, 2005

There was an error in this gadget