Sunday, December 31, 2006

Glaivester History

My first use of the tag-line "that is all."

The birth of the Glaivester.

For those who are newbies, I was using his pseudonym on the internet for four and a half years before I started a blog.

And outside of the blog posts, I do not use the tagline "that is all," very much. So no, I am not insane, with a compulsion to end everything I say with a catch-phrase.

That is all.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Lawrence Auster Can Be Naive

Mr. Auster is good on a variety of topics, but I find his belief that there was anthing that Saddam could have done to stop the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. to be fairly naive.

Mr. Auster asks:

"What more “face” would he have lost by turning over to the inspectors all his actual information on his WMDs? "

Has Mr. Auster considered he possibility that whatever information he turned over to the inspectors, Bush would still insist that he was hiding something?

"People say that Hussein was not crazy. But his behavior of appearing to conceal WMDs (which apparently he did not even have), which forced America to invade his country and destroy his regime, was crazy. I wonder if he ever realized this."

I think that there is some desire here in Mr. Auster not to consider the possibility that he was duped by the administration.

Of course, this brings up Mr. Auster's reason for believing that Bush could not have lied about the WMDs - esentially, the damage to his reputation from us not finding them would be too great, so he must have thought that Saddam had WMDs for him to make it the public purpose of the war.

This is a reasonable point, but I think that there are good responses to it. I will try to write something about that in the future when I have more time.

That is all.

Quote of the Week

The Dujail reprisals were a war crime, no doubt about it, a bigger sham of justice than Saddam’s own trial, by two orders of magnitude. They were also the sort of war crime that people like Ralph Peters and a hundred other pundits and parapundits think the United States should be committing. Every time you read a complaint about “politically correct rules of engagement” you are reading someone who would applaud a Dujail-level slaughter if only we were to perpetrate it.

-Jim Henley

That is all.

Ding Dong the Bastard's Dead

I'll try to post some thoughts on Saddam's execution at some point.

For now, suffice it to say that it was richly deserved, but will not, I think, effect the situation on the ground much.

That is all.

Sorry for Light Posting

I've been away from my computer for a while, and when I got back to work on Tuesday I was too tired to post.

I'll try to post more later, maybe not until 2007, though.

That is all.

Disturbing News

On the "flying imams" case. (I don't let the fact that I find Andrew McCarthy repulsive get in the way of realizing how stupid bending over backward for these agent provocateurs can be).

Thanx and a tp o' the hat to Lawrence Auster.

That is all.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

German Government: We Want Your Kids

Educational tyranny in action.

(Admittedly, it is from WorldNetDaily, so take it with a grain of salt, but the story is not implausible).

That is all.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Good Article by Rich Lowry

It isn't all the media's fault.

That is all.

This is Interesting

Maybe not everyone believed that Saddam had WMDs.

That is all.

Bush Sinking

I think that this is a reasonable article.

At the very least, Bush needs to seriously rethink his strategy in Iraq. We are not winning, and simply adding a few more troops without also altering the strategy will not avail us much. Yes, we need more troops if we want to gain control of the country, but that alone won't help us if we are committed to a losing goal and a losing strategy to achieve that goal.

That is all.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Tet for Tat

A common refrain from war-bots is that the media lost Vietnam by obscuring our victories. The most obviously example, of course, being the Tet Offensive, which the media supposedly presented as a loss for our side when it was actually a victory.

But think about it for a second. We were in Vietnam until 1973. Tet occurred in January of 1968. Are we to believe that it was the media that prevented us from finally defeating the Viet Cong Communists for good during those five years?

In addition, according to this Wikipedia article and this one, the press coverage of the Tet Offensive did not greatly influence public support for the war (Ameican casualty counts did that) and the major negative effect on American public opinion from the Tet Offensive was their realization that the U.S. government, which had prior to Tet reported the Communist side as a spent force, had badly underestimated the enemy.

Largely, that is what is bothering the public about Iraq as well. During the first two years or so of the war, we were constantly assured that the insurgency was almost defeated, that there were only a few dead-enders, or that we were fighting 5,000 disgruntled "Islamists," and once we killed or captured them democracy would break out. Instead, there has been a gradual uptick in the amount of violence, and for a year and a half or so, in American and other coalition casualties.

When the predicted pacification did not happen, the public slowly began losing confidence in this war and in how we were fighting it.

Some true believers, unable to comprehend that the leaders of the country either lied to them or were grossly mistaken, have taken to denying that the people fighting in Iraq are Iraqi at all. But tales of foreign fighters have mroe to do finding an excuse for the violence that allows the initial predictions to be accurate than with actual facts. That is, they can claim that we did defeat the Iraqi insurgents by denying that those we fight now are Iraqi insurgents:

But it really hasn't been. It was dead enders, just as Rumsfeld said, at first. Then the jihadists joined in, then Iran and Syria were able to build an insurgent war machine within the country.

Ultimately, the goal is to to never admit a mistake and to blame those who expose your errors for your errors' inevitable results.

That is all.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Support Our Troops

When one of thsoe moronic hawks keeps telling us that you cannot support our troops unless you support the war, the current strategy for fighting it, and the President, remember that the President does not really support our troops that much, at least in terms of making sure that their service is adequately compensated.

So remember that those who equate support for Bush and support for the troops really are either woefully ignorant or else really do not care a whit about our troops. In reality, they are part of the Dubya cult of personality and they just want to use them as human shields to protect their idol.

That is all.

Victory, Schmictory

Despite the anger this position will surely engender amongst hawks, I agree with the idea that we should exchew the use of the term "victory" in Iraq, at least for the time being.

This is not, however, because I want to see the U.S. lose in Iraq, or because I see "victory" as an inflammatory term. Rather, it is because the term "victory" has become a substitute for a thoughtful articulation of what we hope to accomplish in Iraq.

"Victory" is not a strategy. Technically, in fact, it is not even a goal. Victory is the state of having met your goals. Therefore, saying that "our strategy is victory" is like saying "our strategy is to meet our goals," which is meaningless, as strategy is the proccess by which we hope to achieve our goals. Saying that "our goal is victory" is similarly tautological, amounting to "our goal is to meet our goals."

Rather, I like to talk in terms of concrete policy.

If we are to stay in Iraq (which I do not think is a wise idea), the goal ought to be pacification. That is, to bring Iraqis under our virtually undisputed control and for them to peacefully accept our dominance. Only a pacified country can be democratized (which would still be a pie-in-the-sky goal), or more realistically, defanged (i.e. we set up a stable government that is non-threatening and compliant with U.S. interests and desires).

The main failing in the occupation of Iraq is that we concentrated on democratization first, rather than pacification. We did this largely because we assumed that the Iraqis were on the "same page" as we were and wanted the same things. Still today, we portray our strategy in Iraq as helping the Iraqi to be able to police themselves, or more specifically to be able to train the Iraqis to work towards our goals in Iraq for us, which of course assume that they have the same goals for the country that we have and only need to be trained on how to realize these goals.

As long as we rely on others with different interests to protect what we perceive as our interests in Iraq, our strategy will be a woeful failure and we will be left either blaming others for Iraqi misdeeds (the constant chorus that the insurgency is enitrely foregin fighters or entirely a proxy army fighting on behalf of Iran and/or Syria), or trying to place all of the problems on the head of some Emmanuel al-Goldstein, such as Zarqawi or Sadr.

Some people argue that the way we fight in Iraq is criminal. I say that it is worse: it is stupid.

That is all.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Qu'Ran Swearing In

Via Jim Henley I found this piece by Julian Sanchez and then this one by Dennis Prager.

I must say that I think that Prager is being ridiculous. I think that it is reasonable to allow a Muslim to be sworn in on the Qu'Ran. If the U.S. people do not like this, then they ought not to elect Muslims. Prager says that Jews and secularists have long been sworn in on a Christian Bible, but I do not see why that matters. If true - and I do not know that it is - it is probably because they decided not to object to it. If a Jew asked to be sworn in on a Torah, I doubt that most people would mind. If they do, then they ought not to elect Jews.

He also tries a reductio ad absurdum by asking what if we elected a Nazi who wanted to be sworn in on Mein Kampf (he actually says "a racist," but I think that it is fair to say that someone wanting to be sworn in on a book written by Hitler would probably hail from the Nazi wing of the racists). It does not appear to have occured to him that if we elected someone who believed in Nazism, what book he was sworn in on would be the least of our problems.

In fact, if we read Prager's piece, Prager nowhere suggests that non-Christians were not allowed to choose a different book, just that they chose not to object (and as I recall, John F. Kennedy was sworn in on a Catholic Bible rather than a King James Version, so I do see that there have been some accomodations made.

This does not mean that having an official sworn in on the Qu'Ran mnight not be troubling for various cultural reasons, but if it is a problem, then surely electing a Muslim to higher office would be a bigger one, and the fact that people voted for a Muslim should be the real issue, not the fact that the Muslim takes his faith seriously.

That is all.

Some Stuff from Henley

Jim Henley makes an excellent point about all of the hysteri over the "false story" (whether it is or not I do not know) about Iraqi Sunnis being burned alive.

It is folly to get vaught up in individual atrocity stories. What matters is the overall trend.

I think that this is one thing that a lot of people forget.

That is all.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

White Privilege

Erin Aubry Kaplan makes a very interesting point:

American society seems to be more tolerant of a white man screaming racial epithets and making threats that he obviously has no power to make good on at black people at a comedy club than it is of (what they believe to be) a black man murdering two white people and getting away with it.

I particularly like this line:

Sounding uncannily like Richard Nixon in 1973, Richards declared, "I am not a racist." This may make liberal Hollywood in particular and white people in general feel better. But how about facing the black people he so viciously maligned? And how about probing the possibility that he may be racist — why should we take him at his word?

Should we also put your comment, "I'm not equating racist invective with charges of double homicide" to the same scrutiny as we do Cosmo Kramer's Michael Richards' claim not to be racist?

Thanx and atip o' the hat to Steve Sailer.

That is all.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Trouble with the Philosophy

Penraker demonstrates the major failing of the ideology that the main problem in Iraq is Iran and Syria.

The entire argument he presents is based on the notion that the Iraqis are on our side and want the same things for Iraq that we want. According to Ol' Penny, Bush was right that we cannot win the war in Iraq, we must elt the Iraqis win the war for us.

From the start, Rumsfeld and company took the right approach. They decided that ultimately, this was Iraq's war to fight. Once it became clear that the insurgency had lots of staying power, due to the help coming in from outside the country, the decision was made to build the Iraqi forces so that they could counter them.

What this ignores is that many of the Iraqis see no need to counter the various insurgencies, or see only the need to counter insurgencies other than the ones they themselves are planning; that is, they may wish to wipe out other death squads, but also want to form their own.

The public has no idea that an insurgency is fought differently. In an open and truthful media, we would have had insurgencies explained to us by numerous experts. They would have told us that you can't win this type of war by injecting huge numbers of troops and killing as many as you can. No, you win them by being steady, by gradually cutting them off from all their support mechanisms, and by showing resolve.

Ah, yes, showing resolve. That gets the enemy down. Of course, the fact that doubling troop levels might be seen as resolve is too much for Peny's poor, overtaxed little brain to understand.

He keeps on repeating the myth that the insurgency was entirely "dead-enders," but that they have now "petered out" and are replaced by non-Iraqis, and that the insurgency could not last without outside governmental support (i.e. Iran and Syria).

The Iraqis are not on our side, Penny, unless they are the leaders who know that they only have power because the U.S. is propping us up. And even they only pretend to be on our side, for as long as we can benefit them.

Get used to it.

That is all.

Limbaugh Parrots Glaivester

Further, it might be helpful if the administration gave us a clearer picture of our desired end game in Iraq. Isn't it true that we don't have to achieve anything close to a violence-free zone in Iraq in order to accomplish our mission and leave? Shouldn't our goal merely be to train the Iraqi troops to the point that they can furnish stability for a government – preferably democratic – that is friendly to the United States and that will not allow itself to be a safe haven or training ground for international terrorism?

-David Limbaugh Addressing the elephant in the room

Wow. Who? has been saying over and over again that we have no clear goal in Iraq?

That is all.

Monday, November 20, 2006

No Matter How you Couch it

This pre-election article by Joseph Farah is still essentially "bend over!"

Note added on December 8, 2006): I know that I wrote this two weeks after the election, but it Farah's bendiness deserved to be pointed out even after time's arrow has made it irrelevant.

That is all.

Science and God

It is often brought up that most of the top scientists are non-theistic (i.e. they are atheists, agnostics, or believe that there may be some sort of God, but not a personal one) as proof that religion is silly and the refuge of the deluded.

The argument is essentially that science disproves the supernatural, and thus religion is entirely due to the ignorance of the masses. The fact that the top scientists are not religious proves that science and reigion are incompatible, and that science is correct and religion wrong.

What is ignored, however, is the issue of professional bias. Scientists study natural things, things that can be studied scientifically (i.e. by reproducible methods that are falsifiable). The supernatural is by its nature ascientific, that is, outside of what science can study. Belief in the supernatural is not by necessity antiscientific or unscientific, unless it makes you reject the things that science has actually found (e.g. you deny the theory of gravity). It is rather ascientific, outside of science.

The fact that so many scientists reject the existence of the supernatural is, I think, less evidence that the supernatural cannot exist than it is evidence that they have given in to professional bias; that is, they believe that anything that they cannot study through their methods cannot exist. It is hardly surprising that the top scientists tend to come to believe (or come from those who already believed) that nothing exists outside of the natural world, after all, if your tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

However, we are left with a question here. Can this professional bias be found in other fields?

Of course. Most notably, it is found in economists. Some of the most brilliant economists are so in love with their field of study that they come to think that all of life can be explained in material economic terms. Issues such as culture and people's biological and cultural limitations are often cast aside as irrelevant, in the belief that a desire to maximize one's material comfort is all-important (in a certain sense, all behavior can be reduced to economics, that is, making choices as to how to use limited resources; however, when we talk about economics we are usually thinking in terms of material comforts, and most economists when trying to analyze society do so in this way). This is part of why so much of the world seems to resist the economists' theories: they are not taking into acount things that go outside of their field of study.

So what does this mean for religion and science? It does not prove that the supernatural exists, of course; that some arguments for atheism are not valid, or not entirely valid, does not make the atheists wrong; moreover, that they are not entirely valid does not, of course, mean that they are not valid at all; definitely the fact that many or most scientists are irreligious is not a neutral argument or one that would support belief in the supernatural. However, it makes those arguments less than the devastating blows to religion that some of the antireligion critics think they are. what it does mean is that "what do the top scientists believe?" is not necessarily the only or best guide for determining the possibility of the existence of the supernatural, anymore than economists should be the sole or primary guide to social policy.

That is all.

Glaivester on a New Blogroll

Creative Destruction has added me to their blogroll.

Naturally, I am reciprocating.

That is all.

The Army We Could Have Had

There has been a lot of brouhaha over the years bout Rumsfeld's statement that "you go to war with the Army you have."

Both conservative Lawrence Auster and liberal Matthew Yglesias have pointed out that going to war in Iraq with large army was impossible, because we didn't have the army that would be required (although Yglesias believes that to be one reason why we shouldn't have gone and Auster thinks that we had to go, because he still believes the old line that everyone thought Iraq had WMDs). Lots of conservatives have blamed Clinton for gutting the U.S. military.

But few have pointed out the fact that Bush has had five years since 9/11, and we have seen no major push to increase the size of the army. So while we can blame others for the fact that our army was too small for Iraq, the fact that it is still too small to hold onto Iraq must be at least partially blamed on Bush.

Granted, we are not getting enough volunteers to double the size of the army currently, but that just means that the government isn't offering enough incentives, such as higher pay or better benefits. Bush tried this war on the cheap, and we are paying the price.

That is all.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Typical Neocon Play

When all else fails, blame the doubters for your failed policy.

It's a clever ruse. If the doubters continue to dout, blame all failures on their lack of nerve. If they syop doubting, you can avoid their criticism by saying "everyone supported it."

Ol' Penny also brings up that old chestnut, if we would be willing to slaughter a whole bunch of Iraqis now and let God sort 'em out, it will reduce the long-term suffering. An easy excuse for pooh-poohing concerns about power abuse.

In reality, he is half-right. Genocidal fury unleashed is the one thing that can pacify Iraq. However, I doubt that it will reduce the suffering of the Iraqi people, and I further doubt that down the road it would be good for us, either.

That is all.

Common Sense on Iran

Contra the democratists, by Randall Parker.

That is all.

Friday, November 17, 2006

What You Cannot Say, Part Two

This piece by Jonah Goldberg is interesting for what it does not say rather than for what it does. He is worried about qualified Asian students getting passed over for less qualified blacks and Latinos due to affirmative action. He also points out that affirmative acion was intended to be temporary, but is now permanent.

But notice that nowhere does he speculate as to why affirmative action didn't work when it was done as a temporary measure, or why blacks and Latinos stll can't see to meet the normal wualifications for elite law schools at rates approaching their representation in the population.

Nor does he offer any real solutions to helping blacks and Latinos (1) improve their performance, or (2) to participate in our society productively in other ways if their performance in this area cannot be improved.

Until we deal with the issue of why racial disparities exist and how to either fix them or deal with them, there will never be any real clear debate on affirmative action, just a bunch of nibbling at the fringes.

That is all.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Pro-War Lie #7

(Okay, I just made that number up. I was going to give it a larger number, like 785 or something, but I figured that among pro-war lies, this was near the top ten).

the Iraqi insurgency is mostly foreign-based and will subside if we attack Syria and Iran.

More commentary on this coming.

That is all.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Joseph Farah is Right - Sort of

Genocidal slaughter is the only way to win in Iraq - if by winning we mean pacifying the country, not making Iraq a self-sustaining democracy (which is impossible in my opinion). The question is, is it necessary or desirable to win in this way, rather than to simply declare victory and leave (which could still be considered winning if we define winning by the removal of Saddam and not by the pacification of Iraq as it now exists).

That is all.

Quote of the Day

Putting up with the inflated self-regards of Hollywood artistes is the price we pay for the occasional non-moronic movie. -Steve Sailer

That is all.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Let's Be Honest

Every time Matthew Yglesias or Tamar Jacoby open their gaping yawps, another person is converted into a (Kevin) MacDonaldite.

On Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David once said that his brother's obnoxious behavior was the cause of most of the antisemitism in the U.S.* Obviously he has not heard of Matt or Tamar.

That is all.


* Or something along those lines.

What We Cannot Say

All of the brouhaha over the new film Borat, featuring a Jewish comedian portraying a stereotypical Polish man mispronouncing "Poland" as "Kazakhistan" brought something to mind that has been bothering me for a while, but not enough so that I would post about it.

It is strange that in the current culture, we can laugh at things while having to deny what we are actually laughing at. In this case, we are laughing at eastern European Gentile stereotypes (okay, I admit that all of this part of it I amn taking from Steve Sailer), but pretending to be laughing about people from a more isolated area (the reason being, of course, that Kazakhistanis have not entered our national consciousness enough for people to be worried about offending them as much as we would Jews, Poles, or Gypsies. Plus, unlike Arabs and Muslims, we aren't as worried about retribution [Salman Rushdie, anyone?]

What this brings to mind is something they had on VH1 a year or so ago. It was something like "100 funniest television moments," and one of them was about Crank Yankers character "Special Ed." (Crank Yankers is a show where they re-enact prank phone calls with puppets). When describing him, he was described as "a really enthusiastic kid," or something like that.

At no point did anyone mention that he was mentalli retarded, or even say something along those lines. Which one might argue was necessary, because to mention that fact would be offensive. But for Pete's sake, that he was mentally retarded was the entire joke to his character! His name made fun of the classes that people with mental deficiencies (amongst others) take. So it's okay to make fun of the retarded, provided you don't actually admit that that is what you are doing.

It's as if there was a skit about a black man with huge lips eating a watermelon, and people laughed at it and called it funny, but for some reason no one pointed out that the humor was based on racial stereotypes. Is it somehow less offensive if you pretend not to know what the joke is?

This also reminds me of the Supreme Court case a few years back about affirmative action, where it was ruled (essentially), that affirmative action was okay provided that you were vague enough about ho it worked. Any method of affirmative action that actually quantified anything or that had any sort of paper trail to show how it worked was verboten.

Something is very wrong in a society where this level of hypocrisy is maintained.

That is all.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Thought for the Day

When people wonder why initiatives to cut spending and lower taxes are not more successful, the answer is obvious: because we let the parasites vote.

That is all.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Good Article on Our Traitor President

Lawrence Austeron how Bush's cult of personality may have doomed us to more illegal immigration, perhaps dooming us as a nation.

That is all.

Thoughts on the Saddam Verdict

It's good that he has been sentenced. However, I doubt that it will change much in Iraq, as Saddam is unlikely to be of much use to the multiple insurgencies. I don't think that any of the insurgents ever thought he would get back in power, even if the Ba'ath Party were to take over again. And the idea that one of my friends suggested, that there are lots of people in Iraq who love us and want to help us, but who are not doing so because Saddam is still alive and they fear he will make a comeback - I sseriously doubt that there are a significant number of people in Iraq whose actions for or against us are determined by thoughts about Saddam's fate.

Definitely some will protest his execution, because as a Sunni Arab, he on some level is considered to be representative of the Sunnis in general. He is, in a sense, their man, and they will object to his execution for that reason (even if it is a pro forma gesture), or because as Sunnis they fear reprisals or alienation from other Sunnis if they are not seen as "part of the team." However, I doubt that many really have their heart in it for Saddam's sake, and likely this will pass quickly, as they have far more pressing concerns that they will insurge for.

That is all.

We Wuz Stabbed in the Back!

Charles H. Featherstone on the perennial excuse for losing poorly thought-out and unwisely entered wars.

That is all.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I Agree with Penraker on Something!

Although I find him to be a bit of a hack on Iraq issues, Penraker certainly has some good points on the euthanasia issue.

I can't help but wonder what would happen if every time a liberal shows a pro-life person who speaks out against birth control and uses him as evidence that all pro-lifers are against birth control and that the movement is really about controlling women, what he would do if someone put out an article like this and suggested that the pro-choice movement was really about eliminating the inconvenient.

Certainly some feminists seem to have few qualms with a woman committing (post-natal) infanticide, although they express their upsetness at society that she was forced into it. In fact, her biggest objection is that it is a more inconvenient form of birth control than abortion:

I think it would be a hideous form of birth-control, because you would still have to go through the stress and danger of nine months of pregnancy.

Notice how she doesn't really care if the baby suffers or not. Or maybe it's not a baby, it's a post-gestational fetus.

That is all.

Sailer on Iraq

Why the idea of installing democracy was always loopy.

That is all.

Monday, October 30, 2006

I'm Glad I'm not the Only One

I'm really glad to find out that I am not the only person to have mistakenly thought that the Spin Doctor's song "Two Princes" had dirty lyrics the first time I heard it.

Go here and use the "find" function for the phrase "father will condone you." Then see what people thought the lyrics were. When I first heard the song (back in '94 or '95, I think), that's what I thought the lyrics were too.

That is all.

Genocidal Frustration

Ralph Peters' new "kill 'em all" column (thanx and a tip o' the hat to Gene Healey and Daniel Larison) seems to follow the line of thinking that Steve Sailer's worries about in terms of moving toward genocide against the Arab/Muslim world.

Of course, I was one of the earliest to start predicting things of this stripe (see here for a larger list). (Although, I suppose, the very first might well have been Paul Craig Roberts, who has an even earlier column than the one I am linking to suggesting that nuclear war might be a substitute for the draft, but I can't find it right now).

That is all.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Lancet Round-Up

Justin Raimondo and Tom Engelhardt make essentially the same point: the resistance to the results of the Lancet study (that 655,000, or more accurately somewhere between 400,000 and 900,000 more Iraqis have died because of our invasion than would have otherwise died) is largely driven by a desire that it not be true.

At Creative Destruction, thought, Bob Hayes has some real objections to the way in which the study was carried out (see here and here). Amongst them are that the study did not do enough to prevent duplicate reporting and that it concentrated in urban areas, which might not be epresentative of the country as a whole (he has cause to believe that these areas would likely have disproportionately high casualties).

Steve Sailer brings his usual rationality and calmness here and here.

That is all.

On that New Jersey Decision

Common sense from Pat Buchanan.

That is all.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Jonah Goldberg

Justin Raimondo and Matt Barganier both have at Jonah Golberg for his latest column.

There are several problems with his article. First, and onw that both Matt and Justin pointed out, is that despite his claims, a lot of the "pro-war side" are abstractly pro-war. They think war is good for the American people, to give them meaning or to show off their power. In fact, Jonah Goldberg himself had an article where he talked about how war has advanced technology and science.

Another point where he is off is in suggesting that all of the natiwar people are for non-American-interest related humanitarian interventions such as Somalia or Darfur. Not only were and are a lot of antiwar people against thsoe interventions, it was Goldberg who suggested a U.S.-interest-free invasion of Africa, not some antiwarrior.

I will agree that a lot of the Democrats criticizing the war who had previously voted for it are being cowardly. The Kerry types, who refuse to take responsibility for the fact that they made a bad decision in authorizing Bush to go to war, are little more than sniveling fairweather friends. Murtha, of course, is not such an one, because he had the courage to say "I made a mistake. I was wrong, and I am sorry." Agree or disagree, he at least is willing to take responsibility for what he has done.

I also find it unconvincing his attempt to lay all of the problems of Iraq at the door of "intelligence failures."

B.S. No one who thought seriously about Iraq thought that there would not be a low-grade civil war and insurgency. That was a possibility that the administration either lied about or at the very least deliberately ignored because it would not fit with what they wanted to believe.

This, however, is something that no one that I have read has brought up:

Says Jonah: According to the goofy parameters of the current debate, I'm now supposed to call for withdrawing from Iraq. If it was a mistake to go in, we should get out, some argue.

Well, no. The arguments for withdrawing from Iraq are not based on the idea that "it was a mistake to go in, so regardless of anything else, we must get out." The arguments are alos based on the idea that we are unlikely to accomplish anything positive by staying in Iraq. That we were mistaken to go in is simply a supporting issue. No one, or nearly no one, who thinks we need to get out think that we are accomplishing good in Ira and yet need to get out anyway. This is as false as the idea that thinking we should get out is equivalent to wanting us to lose. It assumes that the antiwar people see the benefits of the war that the pro-war people are claiming.

This is another area where Jonah's thinking is murky:

Of course it's the central front in the war on terror. That it has become so is a valid criticism of Bush, but it's also strong reason for seeing our Iraqi intervention through.

This seems to assume that even though U.S. intervention has, in Jonah's opinion, created a bad situation in Iraq, that there is a way for our intervention to fix the problem. There is the possibility, even probability, that "seeing our intervention thorough" will only create more of the same.

He also defends democracy promotion, even if not an early rationale for the war (I actually believe that it was the primary motivation for the war, although very few other people remember it as such):

Jonah apparently believes that: "promoting a liberal society in the heart of the Arab and Muslim world" would "be in our interest and consistent with our ideals."

This, of course, ignores the fundamental issue of whether or not it is possible to successfully insstall a liberal democratic society in the Arab and Muslim world, which had always been the real concern of the realists on the antiwar side.

Finally, Jonah suggests that we ought to hold referendum and let the Iraqis tell us what to do. Other than the fact that leaves out the idea of the American citizenry having any say in our being there (apparently we ought to be, in his opinion, slaves to the Iraqis), he also has a little more barbarity in there than is apparent at first glance:

" If Iraqis voted "stay," we'd have a mandate to do what's necessary to win, and our ideals would be reaffirmed. "

In other words, if we could get 50% of Iraqi to ask us to stay, we could raze the villages of the other <50% of Iraqis to bring them to heel.

Sigh.

So clueless, so stupid, so...Jonah.

That is all.

African Adoption and Madonna

In all of the business about Madonna adopting a Malawan child, one theme that has been ocnsistently sounded is why she adopted a kid with a living father, instead of an orphan, with the implication (a) that she would have done more good the latter way, and (b) that she is using her money to rip kids away from their biological families.

However, the father says hee is okay with this adoption.

What no one has yet considered (as far as I know) is the issue of low paternal investment in Africa. That is, in much of Africa, men do not provide for their wives and children, because marital fidelity is considered much less important in much of Africa and therefore men do not have much confidence that their kids aren't the product of cuckolding.

This would go a long ways to explain why someone might not have hte same motivation to want to be the one to provide for his children.

Perhpas that is not what is going on here, but it should at least be considered as a possibility.

That is all.

The Shameful NAACP

William Anderson on the organization's seemingly inconsistent approach to the Duke rape case.

Of course, one might think that an organization entitled "National Association for the Advancement of Colored People" is titled such that they see their interests less in terms of abstract racial equality, and more in terms of protecting their own and only their own.

On the other hand, at least they are concerning themselves with darker-skinned and non-elite blacks rather than focusing entirely on a "mulatto elite," as they originally did.

That is all.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Can You Say "Delusional?" I Knew You Could!

Poor Penraker still believes in the tooth fairy - I mean, foreign fighters.

In fact, even the article he links to isn't saying what he is saying.

It sounds more like Talabani is asking for help from Syria and Iran than accusing them of running the insurgency.

But we won't let little things like facts get in our way, will we?

That is all.

Why I Do Not, as a General Rule, Watch Anime

I've never really found anime as fascinating as some do. I have occasionally watched more than a minute of Inuyasha on the Cartoon NetWork, and two years ago I found Lupin III mildly amusing, but in general I don't find it that interesting.

Two things, though, that I have noticed about anime:

(1) As Udolpho has pointed out, there seems to be a creepy pedophilic element in a lot of the Japanese cartoons, where obviously sexualized characters look like they are still in elementary school. (More precisely, everyone looks like they are in elementary school, so any sexual behavior by default involves people who look underage).

(2) In graduate school, I once watched an episode of Knights of the Zodiac wih a friend who insisted that it was the best cartoon ever. I couldn't help but noticing how they translated onto screen the comic book conceit that one can recite an entire paragraph of dialogue in the time it takes to do a jump-kick. This becomes not only bizarre, but in my opinion extremely boring, as you can watch a whole minute of a fight scene during which time one of the contenders is still suspended in the air waiting for his attack to hit home.

In any case, I much prefer American cartoons (including the American versions of cartoons that also had different Japanese versions, i.e. classic Transformers).

That is all.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Bend-Over Brigade

While I do hope for a G.O.P. victory in the House (the Senate can go to Hell), Tony Blankley's "vote G.O.P.! Wah! Who cares if your Senator is a worthless leftist piece of pseudo-conservative dung?" puts him squarely in the bend-over brigade category.

Clark Stooksbury and Daniel Larison have some more choice words for "Bend-Over" Blankley.

That is all.

Even a Broken Clock

I'm not a big fan of George Soros, but this piece on the War on Terror is pretty reasonable, in my opinion.

Let me restate Soros' four objections in my own words:

(1) When fighting on their own turf, terrorists are essentially guerillas. So you wind up with the major problem that plagues anti-guerilla warfare: how to stop the guerillas without turning the populace in which they live against you (which, unless you decide to stop potential future guerillas by wiping out or severely and permanently tyrannizing the populace, is the main goal of the anti-guerilla's strategy; wherezas the strategy of the guerillas is to make it that you alienate the population so that they will support the guerilla forces).

(2) There is no single terrorist organization that we can go to war with, and not all terrorists threaten us or are part of the same threat. We need to view terrorism as a bunch of different problems, not lumpable together into one big problem (except to the extent that we look at the law enforcement side, where we can develop general rules to catch terrorists and to stop terrorist attacks). There is also the nasty side of "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." The War on Terrorism can be used to suppress dissidents by labeling them "terrorists." I'm not saying that we would do this, but the War on Terror could give less free countries cover to do so.

(3) We are fighting mosquitoes with an elephant gun.

(4) We need to be careful to look at how we appear to the rest of the world, and to determine when we are right and they are wrong, and when perhaps their perceptions are justified. We also have to consider when, even if we are right, discretion is the better part of valor.

That is all.

(3)

Shanghaied? In Reverse?

Here's a piece on human trafficking in Iraq.

Thanx and atip o' the hat to Jim Henley.

That is all.

Costs of Illegal Immigration

This is errible.

Of course, trust the liberals to insist that the real problem is that we do not have a socialist health care system that takes more of our taxes to help us treat uninvited foreigners. Because, you know, we owe it to Mexico to treat its citizens.

That is all.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Quick Thoughts on North Korea

I'm not certain that I would blame Bush or his policies for the problems with North Korea. Maybe moreso Clinton, for giving them stuff (although I am under the impression that the Bush administration may have given them some aid as well), but in neither case do I think that there was an obvious way to stop North Korea if someone had just had the guts. Any military attack would likely have caused them to unleash their artillery on Seoul.

Maybe some people think that sacrificing Seoul would be worth it, but it is not plain to me that it would indicate a lack of nerve to take the position that we do not want to risk Seoul by attacking the North Koreans.

And short of military action, there is not much that we can do that would actually affect anything, at least not without China's (and maybe Russia's) help.

If we believe Mark Steyn, I suppose we could threaten to nuke Beijing and Moscow in order to force them into helping us, but - Hell, if I have to tell you why this is a stupid idea, then you're already lost.

That is all.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

And What Exactly Do You Want Us to Do?

Stan Kurtz is once again screaming about how America is not taking the threat of North orea seriously enough.

But that's not the issue. The issue is that we can't really do that much about it, unless China comes on board, and therefore there is little point in debating about it. I suppose we could just nuke the country, or carpet-bomb it, but does anyone think that doing that would not have tremendous consequences (including the likely devastation of Seoul by North Korean artillery).

That is all.

Sorry I've Been Away for a While

I've been busy at work and getting furniture and curtains for my apartment.

That is all.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Mistake Pro-Warriors Make

Recently Lawrence continues to assert that the Iraq War was a good idea, even if the occupation and democratization project were not.

Forgetting for a moment his assertion that everyone believed Saddam had WMD (see my previous blegging post) and that it was likely that he would pass them on to terrorists (and forget for a moment the question of whether chemical weapons, which are the most lkely banned weapons for Saddam to have had, are really WMDs in any objective sense), there is a question as to whether his solution is realistic. [Note: In case it is not clear, I do not question Mr. Auster's integrity. I just think that he is likely to be honestly mistaken in some of his conclusions].

Essentially, he thinks we should have gone in there, smashed Saddam, and set up a new government immediately, not caring if it was democratic or not, and then withdraw most of our troops, leaving perhaps a small contingent in a deserted area as a forward base in case of future troubles.

There is one big problem with this. Unless we planned on simply putting the next layer of the Ba'ath Party in charge, there is no way that any government we installed could take control without a massive U.S. presence.

The Ba'ath Party is the only organization that already had the forces and the infrastructure to keep control of the country. Only someone whom they would follow would be able to use them to do so. If we were to install Ahmad Chalabi, as the execrable Andrew McCarthy, Michael Ledeen, and Barbara Lerner wanted, we would still have needed to have occupied Iraq in order to make certain that he maintained control of the country. The idea that if we had just set up an "Iraqi"-controlled government in the beginning, that that would have somehow quieted everything down, is as ignorant as the belief that once you remove the dictator, suddenly the "natural" desire for democracy will manifest itself.

I suppose one might argue that the Iraqi National Congress would know more about the people of Iraq and thus would have avoided some of the problems that were caused by cultural ignorance (e.g. they would know who to talk to and what to say in order to get things done). Perhaps, although I question whether their various agenda would necessarily be conducive to keeping the country stable and together.

There is also the fact that any government we installed would have to, to some extent, reflect ppular will unless we were willing, personally, to massacre large numbers of people to suppress any rebellion. Sistani, remember, was the one who pushed for elections when Bush wanted to have a caucus. This is one of the things that delayed the "tansfer of power" to an Iraqi government. Those who argue that we alienated the Iraqis by occupying the country rather than by turning it over to "Iraqis" (i.e. the Iraqi National Congress) immediately seem to forget who it was who pushed for the delay, in order to make certain that Iraqi would have elections.

Of course, we could have just said "screw you," to Sistani, and put the Ol' Chalabster in there anyway, but it could have caused great civil unrest. And we, not the INC, would be the only force capable of putting it down, so we would be the ones responsible for killing large numbers of Shiites to suppress their terroristic goal of actually voting for their own government. Bad PR, I would think, although I suppose we could avoid it yb simply shooting any journalist who had the temerity to report on it rather than focusing on school re-paintings.

In short, in for the war, in for the occupation - unless you don't care if Iraq devolves into chaos, in which case, we could have removed Saddam, smashed his governemnt, and left, not even bothering to set anyone up to take his place.

That is all.

Bleg

I remember reading several, several months ago that there were reports by a German agency that indicated that, to the extent that they had independent intelligence, they did not think that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. I think I read it at Jin Henley's weblog or at Matt Yglesias's old haunt. Could someone help me find either the post or some of the original articles that the post was based on?

Thanks.

That is all.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Missing the Point

While Matt Yglesias has already said much of what I am saying here, I feel the need to weigh in on the issue of the pro-warrior's reactions to the National Intelligence Estimate.

This article in National Review starts off resaonable. The first four paragraphs make a point that I very much agree with: the issue isn't "don't do anything that makes the jihadists angry." Rather, it is, "do the benefits outwiegh the costs?" Disempowering the Taliban sent a clear message: harbor someone who has attacked us, and we will go after you. It also helped us to scatter Al Qaeda's leadership. Even if it angered Muslims and caused people who previously were not in the jihad to join the jihad, there were clear benefits.

Interestingly enough, "the editors" (who wrote the piece) admit that we cannot be entirely indifferent to Arab public opinion, and then they say:

In the current war, we are fighting essentially a multi-faceted global jihadist insurgency, and it is self-defeating to create more anger toward us unless doing so also promises to produce countervailing long-term strategic benefits.

Now on to Iraq. There very next statement is that there are such benefits. And then the article derails.

If we prevail there, we will have destroyed a dictatorship supportive of terrorism and Arab radicalism and replaced it, we hope, with a government opposed to both of those things.

I think the key issue they are overlooking is the "IF." Whether or not there are benefits ot our presence in Iraq largely depend on whether or not success, defined I would think as the creation of a stable and not anti-American regime. (Not necessarily a pro-American one, it would be enough for it to be indifferent to us). AS was said in the Matt Yglesias article linked above, the Republicans seem to feel hat victory is inevitable if we stay for long enough, and that the Democrats know that and oppose staying because they oppose victory. That the Democrats, and anti-war conservatives like myself, do not see victory as a possible outcome, does not seem to register.

I was listening to the Mike Gallagher Show on the radio yesterday, and he was angry at the Daily Show for suggesting that Rumsfeld was naive to say that we would be greeted as liberators in Iraq. What is interesting is that he didn't even try to use facts to refute tje idea that we were not seen as liberators. I mean, he could have at least brought up the staged toppling of the Saddam statue. He simply asked, "how were we seen, then, huh?" (Uh, as conquerors, invaders, occupiers - we got rid of one bad guy, but then tried, more or less, to control the country, either by ourselves, or later through Iraqis whom we supported). Then he asked if that is how liberals see the U.S., "as a loser." No acknowledgement that things are going badly in Iraq. Just anger at anyone pointing out the fact.

Next, we are told that we are likely to win in Iraq because the Terrorists® are alienating the Iraqi people:

The extremists’ savagery toward innocents is a serious blow to their long-term goal of winning over Muslim hearts and minds.

This seems to assume that there is a group call "the extremists" ho are our main enemy in Iraq, and who are trying to win the Iraqis over. In reality, there are several groups, all with different agendas, who are unlikely to alienate their own constitutency, and whose alienation of other Iraqis is more likely to result in them forming their own extremist groups and commiting terrorism against the constituencies of the group that attacked them. This is called "civil war." I mean, if a Puerto Rican gang were terrorizing an urban black neighborhood with a large teenage population, would the likely result be more trust of the police, or forming a black gang to attack the Puerto Ricans?

If we succeed in creating a stable, democratic Iraqi state, it will be clear that the terrorists are opposed not so much to the “crusaders” and “occupiers” as to the legitimate aspirations of Muslims in the Middle East. This would be deeply problematic for them, as even Abu Zarqawi — not noted for his subtle thought — recognized.

Uh-huh.

But this will happen only if we win in Iraq.

Yeah, that's the problem. Unfortunately, instead of seeing this as a problem, "the editors" just see it as a reason we need to win in Iraq, with no consideration of the question of whether that is even possible.

Winning, however, is something Democrats rarely talk about.

Strangely wnough, it is also not something that the pro-war people ever really explain how to achieve.

That is all.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

What Have We Unleashed in Iraq?

Not that this is new by now, but in case any of my readers haven;t heard yet, it has been suggested thattorture in Iraq may be worse than it was under Sadddam Hussein.

Not, it should be pointed out, that the U.S. is worse than Saddam. Rather, all of the groups that emerged in the chaos, from native Iraqi police to terrorists to militias, may be doing things that are worse than what was occurring while Saddam was in power (in the later years, anyway).

Food for thought the next time that we think that we can make a third-world country become Just-Like-Us(TM).

That is all.

Paranoia

Of all the explanations behind the actual motivations for Bush going into Iraq, the stupidest has got to be the "he did it for short-term electoral advantage". When there are conspiracies to take us into war, I doubt that they are motivated by anything this petty. Not that this would not have entered into the calculations about the war, but it was not one of the major factors influencing the decision to fight.

That is all.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Andrew C. McCarthy is an Idiot

Andrew C. McCarthy (I assume the "C." is to distinguish himself from one of the stars of "Weekend at Bernie's") makes one of the very common neoconservative claims:

Our being in Iraq has nothing to help jihadist recruiting, because they would hate us anyway.

This is stupid on so many levels. Does he honestly think that there is no one in the Muslim world whose willingness to do harm to Americans has been increased by our presence in Iraq?

Grievances are just rhetoric. If the bin Ladens did not have Iraq, or the Palestinians, or Lebanon, or Pope Benedict, or cartoons, or flushed Korans, or Dutch movies, or the Crusades, they’d figure out something else to beat the drums over. Or they’d make something up — there being lots of license to improvise when one purports to be executing Allah’s will.

Uh - but nothing gets people in quite such a tizzy as when it can be actually demonstrated that we have actually invaded their land. The idea that some made-up grievance would be as effective at recruiting as our actually being over there is ludicrous.

But of course, the real goal behind this propaganda is to convince us that the only variable we can affect in terms of Muslim terrorism is the number of terrorists we kill; the conclusion then being that massive responses to any perceived disobedience to American desires has no downside. Which makes sense if the ultimate goal is to justify nuclear genocide.

He also tries to make fun of the claim that the War in Iraq has provided Al Qaeda with a recruiting tool by asking whether or not Clinton's policy of sanctions (to be fair to Clinton, this was in essence a continuation of Bush pere's policy) also provided a recruiting tool. The point is apparently to chasten Democrats by pointing out that many of the criticism of Dubya can be applied to Clinton as well, but why the idea that Clinton exacerbated problems in the Middle East by his policy of sanctions should shock anyone mystifies me. Granted, pointing this out will embarrass those who are not anti-war so much as anti-Bush, but amongst the true antiwar crowd, abhorrence of Clinton, his Balkan policy, his Middle East policy, etc., was a staple of the debate long before 9/11.

This statement is also bizarre:

If we’re to be honest, however, it would be preposterous to claim that anything President Clinton did — in Iraq or anyplace else — “caused” jihadist terrorism. Just as it is inane to argue now that our current Iraq policy is the “cause.”

The point is not that our policies cause jihadism so much as whether or not our current policies exacerbate it. But for dullards like McCarthy, the idea of nuance or degrees is apparently too hard to grasp.

This concept is well explained by Matt Yglesias.

That is all.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Stop Your Sniveling and Groveling, Ilkka

If you have any spine left at all, the single post on your blog can be entirely eliminated other than the first sentence.

That is all.

Sexist Assumptions

Over at Feministe, zuzu has posted about the fact that just because someone says something in a way that sounds scientific, that backs up society's assumptions, and that has a bunch of numbers thrown in, it doesn't mean that the statement is true, or that the numbers actually come from any reliable primary source.

One wonders where this insight may be turned.

That is all.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Saving Cory Maye?

This seems to be good news. A man who killed a policeman in what appears to be an act of self-defense (the policeman had gone into the wrong house, without announcing themselves, and he claims, very believably, to have thought that they were criminals and that he feared for his life), has been spared death row - at least for now.

More on the case here.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to Jim Henley.

That is all.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Another Reason to Home-School

If this type of search bill passes the consequences would be monstrous.

Thanx and a tip o' the aht to Ifeminists.

That is all.

A Fun Idea in a Movie

I'd like to see a movie where some liberals go into an alien culture, and a redelighted to find out that the aliens "celebrate diversity," until they realize that to the aliens, celebrating diversity means actually acknowledging diversity and basing social policy on diversity.

That is all.

Clarification

I should point out two things:

(1) It is not transsexuals per se that raise my ire as in this post. It is people who seem to think that we ought to define our social paradigms to reflect their idiosyncrasies.

(2) I also do not have anything against the disabled. What I do not like is people pretending that it is not better not to be disabled.

That is all.

Disability and Sour Grapes

The part her eabout Christopher Reeve strikes me as ridiculous. It is one thing to say that it is bad to talk a lot about a cure for a disability because we don't know when we will get one, and getting better access is a more realistic goal, but there i adefinite sense here that being disabled is not a bad thing and htat disabled people should not want to be cured, even if their disability was acquired rather than inborn. That is, someone who is crippled in an accident should not want to find a way to walk again.

This passage (from this article)in particular strikes me as moronic:

Bit [sic] suppose he hated being gay as much as Reeve hates being disabled?

Suppose he wrote an autobiography about seeking a cure for his homosexuality? Suppose he started the Barney Frank foundation to cure homosexuals? Suppose he held a television special to raise money to find a cure for homosexuality?

Suppose Barbara Walters interviewed him on 20/20 on his work to find a cure for homosexuality?

Imagine it.


BUT HOMOSEXUALITY IS NOT LIKE A DISABILITY. DISABILITY MEANS THAT YOU CANNOT DO CERTAIN THINGS THAT OTHER PEOPLE TAKE FOR GRANTED.

Oh, and it isn't a social construct. Yes, society can be made more enabling of disabled people, but not being able to walk makes it more difficult for you than being able to walk. And any realistic way of making it easier for a non-ambulatory person to get around ultimately means more work for other people. That is, you can externalize the costs of a disability, but that doesn't actually mean that they go away, as much as liberals like to think that ramps and special areas on busses and elevaotrs for two-story buildings come from the Tax Fairy.

A far better comparison than Barney Frank would be "suppose Andrew Sullivan hated being HIV-positive. Suppose he gave money to an oganization that wanted to cure AIDS?"

I mean, if we are to assert that disability is a neutral thing,m then let's assert that AIDS is a neutral thing, and that all attempts to cure it or get a vaccine should be abandoned in favor of concentrating all of our efforts at making people with AIDS feel that having AIDS is not a problem.

What this is really about is about sour grapes; people trying to reduce the pain of disability by pretending that not being disabled isn't a bettter situation.

That is all.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Privilege

Let me summarize this post:

The 95% of people who are normal aren't willing to change their entire social paradigm in order to make the 5% of people who are outliers feel comfortable! It's so unfair!

That is all.

Thought for the Day

Only an idiot would think that forcing someone to deny that they are being forced is a good way to trick people in to thinking that they are not being forced.

That is all.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Marrying Dogs Already

I recently saw the episode of Family Guy where Brian's (their anthropomorphic pet dog) gay cousin Jasper wanted to get married to his (human) lover.

I couldn't help but notice that they ignored the most obvious joke; soon we'll be allowing people and dogs to marry. It seems to me that at some point that should have come up, like someone saying "Gay marriage? What's next? Marrying your dog?" And Jasper looking around nervously at that, or perhaps the marriage gets delayed at the end because of it.

That would not only be obvious, though, it would be funny, a lot more funny that 50% of the hit-or-miss pop culture references in the show. (They only work when the people think to actually do them in character).

That is all.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Word of Wisdom to the Neoconservatives

You know, if you are trying to dispel the idea that the Iraq War was a Zionist-engineered plot designed mainly on behalf of Israel, it's a really bad idea to constantly bring up the payments he made to Palestinian suicide bombers as a justification for going to war with him.

That is all.

"Sexual Liberation" = Institutional Racism

A column that Winston Smith (he who now loves big sister) once wrote contained this bit of wisdom:

Of course, this strange distortion of reality is a necessary part of the... fantasy of the white boy narrator, in which the edgy underclass lifestyle has no real consequences to anything important, at least as long as you are white. A handsome white boy can even be HIV-positive and be no worse for the wear, but the minority characters who have the bad luck of becoming HIV-positive have a somewhat shorter half-life. (However, I suddenly understand a lot better this whole concept of "white privilege".)

It got me thinking:

Perhaps there really is such a thing as "white privilege," but rather than being some sort of subconscious conspiracy as the leftists say, it is rather a lack of noblesse oblige amongst the whites, by which I really mean the bourgeiosie.

That is, the true "white privilege" consists of white folks who are shielded from some of the negative consequences of their actions by family and wealth set bad examples for the less shielded groups, which would include blacks and Hispanics, but all lower-class whites.

The reason why it is bad for wealthy white women to deliberately get artificially inseminated and have a baby when not married is not that the baby she has will necessarily turn out worse than if she had a husband. It is that she will set a bad example for the poor black woman, Hispanic woman, or even lower-class white woman who decides that there is no longer a stigma to out-of-wedlock births and thus she is more likely to have bunch of bastards. And, lacking the resources of the bourgeois woman, this does not turn out so well for her, so we are stuck with a bunch of kids more likely to be delinquent and/or to go on welfare.

Of course, this is not a formulation of "white privilege" that the leftists are likely to embrace, because it suggests that sexual liberation is institutionally racist, and nothing is more important to liberals than giving unconditional moral approval to all consensual sex acts.

That is all.

Victor Does Afghanistan

This post by Clark Stooksbury about a recent Victor Davis Hanson article on Afghanistan caused me to look at this page on Icasualtues for the first time in weeks.

It is interesting to note that the number of coalition fatalities is already higher than last year's, although an increasing proportion of fatalities are from countries other than the U.S.

I remember a few years ago we were told by neocons that Afghanistan was a success story that either showed how successful he neocon mission to the Middle East could really be, or that it was proof that Iraq would have worked had we followed the neocon model there as we had in Afghanistan (presumably meaning had we put Chalabi in charge as we had with Karzai).

But it seems that the winds have shifted, and a new idea is being put across, namely, that if you supported the war in Afghanistan, now that it may turn out like Iraq, you obviously ought to support Iraq as well, or perhaps more precisely, that the deaths in Afghanistan legitimize the deaths in Iraq, as if the higher casualty rates were the only thing making the Iraq invasion less justifiable than the one in Afghanistan.

We will see, but I doubt that anyone who isn't already committed to the war in Iraq will buy that.

That is all.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Fears This Year

I think it would be a good thing if the Democrats take the Senate this year, but the G.O.P. keeps the House. It might wake the G.O.P. up to the mess Bush has made in Iraq, and, as the Senate is the more liberal on the issue of illegal aliens, it will signal that the G.O.P. will suffer if they don't go to the correct side on this issue.

The big fear, of course, is that the opposite will happen. And maybe we will get two more years of insane war and an invasion from the South.

That is all.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Cliff May Has a Reasonably Good Article

Although I don't agree with everything he says (I don't think that Saddam singlehandedly ruined Iraq, which May seems to imply)* and some of what he says may really indicate something he doesn't realize (When he says "[If we couldn't find the appropriate Iraq to govern for us] Then we should have delayed the invasion until we did," he does not consider that this ,ight have meant not invading at all), but at least he makes one very good point:

What we are doing is not succeeding.

At least he isn't going on with the "Everything is coming up roses, but the media are lying to you" tripe that we have heard so many give us. And at least he realizes that "stay the course" is woefully insufficient. If we are in it to win, we at least ought to have some sort of plan for achieving victory other than "keep on truckin' and hope for a miracle."

Re-reading what I just wrote I am stunned at how low my standards have gotten.

That is all.

* It seems to be a standard neoconservative tactic to blame all of Iraq's ethnic fractiousness or its lack of human infrastructure or democracy or other lack of human capital on the effects of Saddam's reign. This serves simultaneously the purpose of making the current strife seem less predictable than it was and to make Iraq's democratization more doable than it really is.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Udolpho on Computers in the Classroom

Udolpho has some choice thoughts on Maine's laptops for students program.

Having substitute taught in Maine for a few months, I can confirm that most of what he assumes is happening - is, actually, indeed, happening exactly as he says.

Half the time in the classroom was spent making certian that students were paying attention to the lesson, and not to reading one-liners about Chuck Norris

At one point, some sort of security breach made it so that the school had to recall all of the laptops for a few weeks. Man, were things better for those few weeks.

That is all.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Mark Steyn Doesn't Get it

Some time ago, Matt Yglesias commented on what he called "The Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics," that is, the idea that the only limit to what we can accompliosh is the strength of our wills.

Mark Steyn appears to be following that line of reasoning in his latest article, "World is watching as Iraq war tests U.S. mettle."

The essential theme is that directly after September 11, we got countries like Russia and Pakistan to give us assistance in fighting the Taliban even though it was not in their interests to do so because we had the determination to use our power to get our way. In other words, we were willing to threaten enough to scare them into complying. The reason why things are not going so well in the Middle East now is then, by implication, because we have lost that will.

All well and good, but what, I must ask, does Steyn think we need to do differently? He doesn't mention a solution, although the obvious implication is that we ought to threaten some action against anyone who opposes us.

He then goes on to criticize those who oppose this war for wanting to "cut and run," but he doesn't really give us any alternative other than (presumably) continuing on the way we have been. Unless, perhaps, he thinks we will win if we are "scarier."
Before going on to analyze the rest of the piece, let's analyze the idea that our force of will is what got us so much cooperation in 2001 and is the only thing lacking now.

Steyn writes:

What's the difference between September 2001 and now? It's not that anyone "liked" America or that, as the Democrats like to suggest, the country had the world's "sympathy." Pakistani generals and the Kremlin don't cave to your demands because they "sympathize."

But that misses the point. The question isn't whether or not Russia and Pakistan sympathize with us, but whether or not the rest of the world does to the extent that they stand behind us. Russia can afford to say "no" to the U.S., particularly if most of the rest of the developed world is also saying "no." It cannot afford to say "no" to the U.S. and Europe. In the latter case, Russia runs the risk of alienating the world, which could put it in a bind whenever trade negotiations or the like come up. In the former case, Russia will only alienate the U.S., and maybe not even that, because if we press the issue, we may be the ones finding ourselves alienated. We no longer have the support of the rest of the world to use as leverage against those who do not cooperate with us.

They go along because you've succeeded in impressing upon them that they've no choice. Musharraf and Co. weren't scared by America's power but by the fact that America, in the rubble of 9/11, had belatedly found the will to use that power.

Yes, but largely because we knew that September 11 gave us a window to do so without sanction. If we had tried the same thing a year earlier, there would have been serious international consequences for us.

Then Steyn goes crazy:

For example, within days it had secured agreement with the Russians on using military bases in former Soviet Central Asia for intervention in Afghanistan. That, too, must have been quite a phone call.

While this idea may apply to Musharraf, the idea that Putin was afriad that we would use our might against him is ridiculous. Russia has enough nukes to blow up the world. It doesn't do things because it is scared of our military might. Steyn is an idiot if he thinks that we threatened military action against Russia.

Moscow surely knew that any successful Afghan expedition would only cast their own failures there in an even worse light -- especially if the Americans did it out of the Russians' old bases. And yet it happened.

At this point, Steyn makes a big assumption - that we have a special ingredient that would make us more able to contain Afghanistan than the old USSR, and that Russia was worried that we would show them up in Afghanistan. In reality, they knew better than anyone how unlikely we were to establish anything in Afghanistan, or to accomplish much more than the overthrow of a particular regime we didn't like. If anything, this was a chance to show the world that no one can control Afghanistan, and thus eliminate the shame of the USSR loss in that country.

Next, Steyn starts criticizing Democrats for "wanting us to lose the war." That is, of course, a ridiculous way to phrase the issue. What Steyn is saying is that if we leave Iraq, we will have lost, so wanting us to leave is to want us to lose.

But that assumes that there is a way to win. Those who want us to leave believe that we have already lost, or at least cannot accomplish anythign more by staying. Discretion is the better part of valor, and there is nothing unpatriotic about wanting to cut our losses.

Of Australian politicians, he says:

Unlike Bush and Blair, they've succeeded in making the issue not whether the nation should have gone to war but whether the nation should lose the war.

But neither is the real question. The real question is can we win this war, and if so, how?

Finally, he misinterprets this entirely:

to begin something and be unable to stick with it to the finish is far more damaging to your reputation than if you'd never begun it in the first place.

Most people would see that as a caution against taking on ambitious projects like democratizing the Middle East. Neocons like Steyn, however, see it as an excuse to keep doubling down whenever you made a bad decision, the way a compulsive gambler keeps going for that one big jackpot that will set him right.

The fact of the matter is, that if beginning a project and not finishing it is worse than not beginning it, then it is also true that the longer you spend on the project, the worse not finishing it will be. "Cutting and running" in five years will be a lot worse than doing it today. Is Mark confident enough that we will be able to win that he will risk making an eventual defeat that much worse?

That is all.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Hmmm... Isn't this a Regular Feature?

In a recent column about Lebanon, the Editors at National Review Online write:

If current trends continue, the Bush administration’s project in the Middle East will require the same sort of expedient we have just seen in the Israel–Lebanon conflict: a papering over of what is essentially a failure.

Which reminds me, when is Bill Crawford's next "Good News from Iraq" column coming out?

That is all.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Mark the Date - "Wolf! Wolf!"

Is August 22 the day Iran will strike?

I think we should all mark this on our calendars so that if, as is likely, nothing happens, we become a little more skeptical of such latter-day William Millers in the future.

Like the predictions earlier this year about North Korea, this is likely overblown. This type of urgency-building by picking near-future dates and worrying about them being the flashpoint for some monumental catastrophe is rather counter-productive in the end, if the real goal is to prepare us to deal with potential threats from Iran, North Korea, or other hostile states, because in the end, such predictions wind up discrediting the threats in the eyes of those you most want to convince.

It's the boy who cried "wolf."

That is all.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Poddy and Iraq-nam

As I recall, there are some people who argue that we won the Vietnam War. The problem was that the South Vietnamese lost after we gave what we had won back to them.

In essence, the idea was to divide the Vietnam War into two separate wars, so that the final outcome would not be seen as our loss.

This column by John Podhoretz seems to me to be in the same vein.

I think that one can clearly divide the Iraq War into two wars: the war for conquest and the war to maintain occupation. We clearly won the first, throwing out Saddam and taking over the capital in three weeks.

The second we have not won.

Podhoretz's attempt to divide the second Iraq War in two, into a second and third war, strikes me as disingenuous.

The division he wants us to believe in is thus:

The grinding Second War may have come to a successful conclusion due to two events: The formation of the Iraqi government on May 20 and the killing of Zarqawi on June 8. The inability of the enemies of progress to prevent the government from coming to power must have been a huge blow, and certainly the death of its key strategist may have been the coup de grace. The Coalition casualty toll has decelerated radically in the last 9 weeks.

The milestones he cites, for one thing, are largely irrelevant. The goal of the insurgents was always to drive us out (eventually) and in the meantime to cause us as much damage and to alienate us s much from the Iraqi people as possible. Preventing elections was not essential, and the fact that we have managed to get a government set up in Iraq is hardly a defeat. What matters is whether the government actuall has control over the country, not whether we can get a bunch of politicians to agree to consider one another legitimate statesmen and so declare themselves a united government. It hardly represents a defeat for the insurgents if we get a united Iraqi government with little actual power.

Moreover, the killing of Zarqawi hardly represents the destruction of the insurgency. There are plenty more like him, and it is unlikely that he led more than a small fraction of the insurgents anyway. Referring to his death as marking the end of one phase of the war is, I think, obliquely a way to try and convince us that the insurgency was less Iraqi than it was (a facorite tactic of the neocons, who would have us believe that the insurgents are mostly foreign, when 90-96% are domestic).

Thus, we have three wars, the one against Hussein, the one against foreign fighters, and the one involving the Iraqis in a civil conflict, one which the neocons assured us would not occur (I'll try to find a reference later).

Right. Methinks that Johnny simply wants to be able to keep declaring victory if we cut and run, and is defining the "three wars" so as to save face.

On the other hand, if it gets us out of the quagmire, who am I to complain?

That is all.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Israeli Lobby Targets Israel

Charles Krauthammer is angry at Israel for not fighting Hezbollah hard enough in a proxy war between the U.S. and Iran which is actually designed to achieve what Krauthammer and his ilk assume are Israel's interests.

Confused? Yeah, me too. Layers and layers here, like an onion.

There's some interesting commentray on this article at TPMCafe.

One quote from Krauthammer that deserves mentioning:

Unlike many of the other terrorist groups in the Middle East, Hezbollah is a serious enemy of the United States. In 1983 it massacred 241 American servicemen. Except for al-Qaeda, it has killed more Americans than any other terror organization.

The implication is that Hezbollah is a threat to the U.S. But operations against the U.S. seem to be limited to Americans who are in Lebanon. In the case mentioned here, they were soldiers who had taken sides in a civil war and who were in the country undergoing the civil war. The idea that Hezbollah threatens the U.S. because it attacks our soldiers on its own territory is bizarre, although many neoconservatiuves have used the Marine barrack bombing to argue that Hezbollah is a threat whom we must defeat.

It seems to me that this is largely a way to try and conflate our enemies and Israel's, but it also may stem from the neoconservative belief that we have the right to do whatever we want to other countries and to force other countries to bend to our will, and that anything that prevents that is a threat to us (because we are only secure if no one else has sovereignty). This belief often comes out when neocons are discussing why other countries (e.g. IRan) should not have nuclear weapons.

In any case, the motivations behind this different pro-war factions can get rather complex, and it sometimes takes a little thought to even scratch the surface of figuring it out.

That is all.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Who is Controlling Whose Foreign Policy?

Is the U.S. trying to get Israel to attack Syria, asks Margaret Griffis.

Of course, to the extent that the neoconservative policy is based on supporting perceived Israeli interests, if it is true that they are encouraging an Israeli attack on Syria, it would indicate pretty much once and for all that they are working for policy goals that they think would be good for Israel or for their conception of what Israel should be, not working on behalf of Israel for the goals it wishes to pursue.

That is all.

Clarifying

In my previous post I wrote:

Regardless of Iranian (and some say Syrian) support for Hezbollah, it could not have the power in Lebanon that it does if at the very least a large minority of Lebanese did not support it. Those who deny this are either trying to stir up conflict between us and Syria, or else are trying to maintain the lie that the Lebanese are natural-born western-style democrats (small "d") by shifting all of the blame for Lebanese problems onto foreigners.

I think some may have misunderstood what I was saying here.

My reason for bringing this up wasn't that because there is Lebanese support of Hezbollah, Israel has the right to do whatever they want to Lebanon.

I brought this up because I wanted to point out that in attacking Hezbollah, you attack Lebanese people. Claims by folks such as Joseph Farah that Israel is liberating the true Lebanese from evil Iranian and Syrian interlopers are full of manure.

Prior to last year we were relentlessly told that the problem in Lebanon was Syria (and Iran) and that once Lebanon was independent, it would go back to being the wonderful westernized modern place it was before the civil war (which we were told was entirely due to Syria disupting the Lebanese people's naturally multiculturalism). Now that that has proven a lie, and that we see that Lebanon has not reverted to what it was, rather than admit they were wrong the neocons will insist that the Lebanese are wonderful westernized people who love Israel and the U.S. and that the evil Iranians and Syrians are preventing them from expresing their love. Actions taken against Lebanon will be portrayed as liberating the Lebanese from Iranian or Syrian "occupation."

Moreover, this will be used as a reason to "deal with" (i.e. make war on) Syria and Iran.

Basically, what offends me more than anything are attempts to pretend that the people whom we or whom our allies are attacking are really on our side, and we on theirs (In Iraq, this happens when we call insurgents the "anti-Iraqi forces, refer to our occupation as a liberation, o talk about us protecting the aspirations of the Iraqis from "foreign fighters" or portray the insurgents as the occupiers who are trying to put Iraq under iranian rule), and I wished to rebut this. Basically, I was calling for honesty in how the attacks are portrayed (i.e. Israel's attacks are against the Lebanese, not in suppot of the Lebanese in their battle against whoever).

That is all.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Notes on Lebanon

When Israel attacks of invades other Middle eastern countries, I think it ougt to be given more leeway (that is, benefit of the doubt) than the U.S. Why? Because Israel lives there. Unlike us, it can't just isolate itself. A lot of countries over there pose no serious threat to us, but a very rael and present danger to Israel. So I'm willing to cut them more slack.

Regardless of Iranian (and some say Syrian) support for Hezbollah, it could not have the power in Lebanon that it does if at the very least a large minority of Lebanese did not support it. Those who deny this are either trying to stir up conflict between us and Syria, or else are trying to maintain the lie that the Lebanese are natural-born western-style democrats (small "d") by shifting all of the blame for Lebanese problems onto foreigners.

Earlier Lebanese democracy existed because the demographics were different than they are now. The increase in Shiite Muslims and the decrease in Christians had a lot more to do with the civil war than Syria did.

That is all for now.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Lebanon

I have been mulling over in my head some thoughts about Hezbollah. I will try to post something about it over the weekend.

That is all.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Moral Arithmetic and Its Consequences

Steve Sailer recently brought up this post on Marginal Revolution:

Mistakes in moral arithmetic

1. For reasons of practicality and cost, nations should in many cases devote more resources to their own citizens than to foreigners.

2. Once the costs mentioned in #1 are taken into account, foreigners are still "worth less" than citizens.

#2 does not follow from #1, that is a mistake in moral arithmetic. #2 is false.


It seems to me that the #2 should read Once the costs mentioned in #1 are taken into account, foreigners are still "worth less to the government" than citizens.

It seems the issue here is not how much an individual is worth, but to whom is he worth? That is, I do not think that the life of an American is more valuable than the life of a person from, say, Great Britain. But I would regard him as more valuable because he is one of ours. The major paleoconservative principle that defines our position on this differently from other, more nationalistic (as opposed to patriotic) philosophoes, is that we believe that it is the moral duty of the person on the other side to feel the same way.

There are, of course, caveats here. One can morally one's own and one's country when one's country has turned evil (say, a defector from Nazi Germant or the U.S.S.R.). But in general it is moral to work firstly for the good of your own (family, country, etc.), all else being equal.

There are two dangers here from adopting Cowen's philosophy. The first is that a person will decide that he is a "citizen of the world," and lose the cultural and historic ties to one's country that make the world a truly diverse and interesting place.

The second is that one will decide to find other reasons to justify tie to kith and kin than simply kithship and kinship, and decide that his people are objectively better. And then he will decide that seeing as he loves his kith and kin because they are better, not because of the fact of their relationship to him, then there is no reason why the rest of the world should not love them better than their own kith and kin. And thus neoconservativsm is born.

That is all.
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