Monday, January 30, 2006

Gender Selection

In this piece by Colby Cosh, about gender-selection around the world (i.e. the practice of determinnig the gender of one's children, generally in the direction of more males) has one very interesting quote:

The Indian case suggests that state intervention is helpless to support a one-to-one sex ratio where abortion is otherwise legal: fetal sex-selection has been formally illegal in India for more than two decades, but the rule has proven unenforceable.

This reminds me of the smackdown I put on Osagie Obasogie a few months back, for the assertion essentially that we ought to ban testing the pre-born for gender lest that plus legal abortion lead people to slect for sex (according to Oh-Oh, we can't restrict abortion, so the only solution is to ban gender-testing).

That is all.

They Can Never Admit that there is an Insurgency

Because Iraqis love us, love us, I tell you!

It seems to me that there are two rationales behind neocons trying to deny that there those we fight in Iraq are genuinely Iraqi insurgents, mostly led by other Iraqis (Zarqawi is not, I think, in charge of most the insurgency; I don't think any one person or group is really in charge).

First, one major rationale for our invasion of Iraq was that we were going to liberate it. Of course, a lot of people deny that that was Bush's major stated intention prior to the war (his real rationale was the WMDs, they say), but the very fact that the action was named "Operation Iraqi Freedom" tells you that he was down with the messianic democratist program from the get-go, and certainly there were no shortage of war supporters whose main cry was that we were bringing democracy to the Middle East. There was also the belief that the Iraqis would more or less welcome us with open arms and then would all settle down to help us build a democracy - or do whatever the real goal was while we claimed to be building a democracy. (Of course, if the "democracy" bit were a lie, then the neocons and the administration probably didn't think that Iraq would settle down, but they couldn't say that, obviously).

When things did not go as planned (or at least as it was claimed that they were planned), the neocons and to a lesser extent the administration had to either admit they were wrong or find some excuse as to why it looked like they were wrong when they were, in fact, right. The general excuse they decided to use was that (a) the insurgency was very small, without popular support, and that (b) it was mostly composed of non-Iraqis in the first place. This makes it such that we are still fighting for the Iraqis, and conveniently sidesteps the issue of occupation by claiming that those we are fighting against are the real invaders, and thus are fighting against Iraq's independence and "liberation." Whenever we attack a house or even a city in order to kill insurgents we are thus defending, not attacking, the iraqi people. Mark Steyn has made it his policy to continuously assert both things to be true without supporting them with a shred of evidence, as if by saying it he causes reality to conform to his wishes.

Second, foreign fighters have to come from somewhere. By blaming another country, the neocons can set up the next war. If the goal is truly hegemony in the Middle east, and the destruction of any regime that we dislike, then blaming whatever country or countries we wish to attack next is a very useful tactic, and one that can be used again if we invade Syria and/or Iran and once again discover that an insurgency is greeting us.

With that in mind, I bring your attention to Michael Ledeen's recent (3 weeks ago) screed in National Review Online, called "Who’s an Iraqi?".

Essentially, he is trying to argue that any Iraqi who is working for the insurgency is really an Iranian, because they have been supplied and trained by Iran and have been in Iran for the past 20 yeras (strangely enough, he has no trouble viwing Ahmad Chalabi as an Iraqi, despite his exile status for far longer than 20 years).

While this could be used to argue that "true Iraqis" are supporting us and therefore we do have the support of the people, Mr. Ledeen doesn't seem to be stressing the moral import of the insurgents supposedly being "foreign" (although he makes a big deal out of the moral import of them being terrorists). The real upshot of this is that Iran is the problem, and that we need to get rid of the Mullahs (i.e. the single point that he has constantly been harping on since 9/11, as if he is the seventh type of college professor (single-theory-to-explain-everything-maniac)).

There is, unfortunately, a big problem with Ledeen's entire piece. And that is that he appears to be assuming that just because a group in Iraq uses terrorist tactics, and because it was trained by Iran, and because it is theocratic, it must be operating on the side of the insurgents.

In reality, most of these Shiite militias are probably fighting (for the time being) on our side, or staying out of our way at least. SCIRI (the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq) has not been involved in the insurgency, as far as I can tell.

In fact, there is a great deal of evidence that Shiite militias, including the ones in the Washington Times article that Ledeen kindly warns us about, are actually doing our dirty work for us. Tom Engelhardt and Gareth Porter have an interesting article up on LewRockwell.Com that talks about Shiite militias being used as Iraqi Security forces and terrorizing the Sunni population in a fit of vengeance.

In the WashTimes aritcle, it is stated:

But, Muhammad said, "They took them to a camp and gave them a briefing on what is happening in Iraq, and what Iran is trying to do: Support the Shi'ites and help them retain power. ...
"They trained them for militia purposes -- to go out on patrol, to get people out of their houses, execute them and leave them on the street," he said, adding that his nephew had boasted about his training to the family when he returned in early December.


Which seems to support Ledeen until you realize that the people that the Shiites are executing are Sunni Arabs, and that the shiites are working for us, as the LewRockwell piece explains:

Many of the Shiite troops and officers in the military and police commando units of the new Iraqi military are, in fact, motivated by hatred not just of Sunni insurgents but of the Sunni population as a whole. One fine reporter in Iraq, Knight Ridder's Tom Lasseter has, in fact, explored this new Iraqi reality on the ground in ways no other American reporter has thought to do. Last October, he "embedded" himself for a week in a unit of Lt. Gen. Petraeus's new military, the all-Shiite 1st Brigade, the first Iraqi unit to be given its own area of operations and often considered the template for the future of the army. What he discovered was a purely sectarian outfit obsessed with revenge against Sunnis. His is a chilling account of the violent Shiite hatred of Sunnis that drives Iraqi military operations in Sunni neighborhoods and essentially guarantees that the insurgency will only grow fiercer in response.

Lasseter found that Shiite officers and troops want to inflict death on a far broader swath of Sunnis than simply those insurgents they can identify. Their motive is clearly to intimidate the Sunni population into silence and acquiescence, while at the same time satisfying their own lust for revenge for past acts of oppression by the formerly powerful Sunni minority.


Ledeen also trots out another chestnut: The old "all Muslim terrorists are automatically allies" card. For some reason, we are supposed to believe that it is the height of naivete to actually look at different groups of unfriendly Muslims as different and to assume that they may not share goals or work together. For some reason, we are to believe that there are only "good Muslims" and "bad Muslims" and all of the bad Muslims work together. In other words, one is ridiculed if one does not have a six-year-old's view of the world. Odd.

This line in particular is a roarer:

And let's stop the bogus "analysis" that turns Iranian-trained terrorists into "domestic insurgents" by punching find-and-replace. They're terrorists working at the behest of Iran. And let's (finally!) stop acting as if Sunnis and Shiites don't cooperate in the killing fields of the Middle East.

Because he has evidence that the terrorists trained by Iran are Sunnis, I assume? Evidence from where, exactly? Nowhere in his article does he actually say that those who are being trained by Iran are anything but Shiites. What he does, essentially, is (a) state, without evidence, that Iranian-trained Shiites are part (presumably a major part) of the insurgency attacking our troops, and (b) label Iranian-trained Iraqi Shiites as "terrorists" and then conflate them with the insurgency because the insurgents are also labeled as terrorists. He doesn't actually give us any evidence of complicity in the Iraqi insurgency by Shiite Iraqis; he simply states that Sunnis and Shiites can work together, as shown by (alleged) Iranian support of Zarqawi and Zawahiri and the bin Laden family, and apparently assumes that by showing that Sunnis and Shiites can work together, that must mean that Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites are working together in the insurgency. He is assuming (or pretending to) that those who deny cooperation are simply doing so on principle, because of an irrational prejudice against the two groups working together. In fact, they are doing so largely because, looking at the current facts on the ground, they don't see any Shiite cooperation with the Sunni insurgency. Indeed, there is little evidence that the Shiites in Iraq are even running their own insurgency (rather they are using the government to get rid of or to suppress their rivals), let alone that they are working with the Sunnis.

Indeed, "let's stop acting as if they don't cooperate?" Earth to Mr. Ledeen, the Shiite terrorists aren't even leaving the Sunnis alone. They are targeting Sunni Arabs and cooperating with us (or perhaps more accurately, we with them). Ledeen's willful ignorance here is striking.

What Ledeen also neglects to look at here is that if we decide to put pressure on Iran, there is a good chance that the Shiite Iraqis will interpret that as a hostile act and will respond by forming their own insurgency against us. Far from easing up our problems in Iraq (by eliminating Iran's supposed support of the insurgents), putting pressure on Iran may actually turn our allies (the Iraqi Shiites) against us and instead of us being caught in a civil war where at least one group is on our side, we will get caught between Sunni and Shiite Arabs who both want us out. You think the current insurgency is bad? What if it triples (or more) in size due to an influx of angry Shiites?

Ledeen is not an idiot. If he is truly trying to get us to follow the plans he is advocating (rather than doing so for some sort of triangultion purpose), then he must want us at war with the entire Muslim Middle East, including with those who are now our allies (however uneasy). I don't know exactly what his game is, but Michael Ledeen is obviously a liar, a fraud, and not to be trusted.

Anyone who cares about the U.S. has to work to make certain that our information regarding the Middle East is accurate, and that means continuous, constant, redundant, merciless debunking of evil men such as he.

That is all.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sorry About the Lack of Posting

I've been rather tired. I'll try to bring the pace up a little soon, but it may be awhile before I'm posting five times a day or more on a regular basis again.

I'll try to post something every day, though, so keep on tunin' in.

That is all.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Iranian Dissidents as a Nigerian Email Con

John Zmirak makes a funny analogy.

That is all.

More on Iran

I ought to point out here that in my earlier post, I was not suggesting that I think that a nuclear-armed Iran would necessarily threaten us. Indeed, as Steve Sailer points out, Iran is not known for starting wars.

My point, in any case, was simply that Mark Steyn's proposals did not seem to match his rhetoric about what a problem Iran's nuclear problem was.

This means either that he simply doesn't have a plan; or more likely, that he doesn't really believe that Iran is that big a threat, but is trying to paint it as a bogeyman in order to wqve the old bloody shirt and stir up his readers for eventual war; that is, he is trying to incite the U.S. to take the next step down the path of conflict with Iran, so as to eventually put us in a place where we have to remove their curent government.

That is all.

Method to the Madness - Maybe

Christopher Deliso wonders aloud at the fact that the neocons, with their fetishism for "democracy," have brought such groups as Hamas to power.

Or two, they planned [the election of extremist parties] all along, aware that more "democracy" in the Middle East would result in mass upheaval, the empowerment of Islamic parties, and more fuel for the fire of jihad- thus handily ensuring that the war on terror will go on for years

It's an interesting hypothesis. And that they view election of Hamas is a positive development essentially for this reason (that it allows more overt wars to be fought against hte Arabs) is not necessarily denied by all of the pro-warriors:

[The heads of Hamas] are one and the same with the Palestinian Authority. If they bomb Israel from Gaza — not under occupation anymore, and is therefore, technically, part of the Palestinian state the PLO proclaimed in Algiers in 1988, but never bothered to take responsibility for — that is an act of war, which can be responded to in kind, under the full cover of the internationally recognized right of self-defense. No more excuses that the Palestinians live under occupation, that the PA is too weak to disarm Hamas, that violence is not the policy of the PA. Hamas and the PA will be the same: What Hamas does is what the PA will stand for. -Emanuele Ottolenghi

Of course, in many cases, particularly with those who were not eager for Arab elections but accepted them as invevitable, it is possible that the elections and the empowerment of Hamas, with all that implies in terms of Israel or the U.S. getting a pass to go to war, is seen as a lucky accident. But there are some (presumably those who were democratists from the beginning, although I'll have to look through their earlier writings to be certain) who seem to feel that this election was a good plan, because it gives us a "moment of truth," presumably one that was part of the plan all along:

...the policy of democratizing the Middle East creates a win-win situation for America and the free world...
But if the pessimists are right it is to our advantage that we discover now that the Arab world and Islam is fundamentally incompatible with our liberal democratic values, and that their goal of seeking a global caliphate means they are permanently at war with everything we stand for. If the clash of civilizations is inevitable, it's better we learn this when we're stronger, when we have the stronger military and the nuclear weapons, and can defeat them in an all-out war and destroy them before they destroy us.
-Daniel Freedman

So was the democratization of the Middle East all along a ploy so that we could justify the conquest of the Arab world? Perhaps. If so, then the who claimed that democracies never went to war with each otehr, so democratization is the surest path to peace was a blatant lie. (Assuming that the democratists claiming this overlapped with those who were hoping for the election of extremists).

That is all.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Time to Pick on Steyn

A recent post by Lawrence Auster about a recent article by Mark Steyn brought a few things to my attention.

First, for all of his bluster about how cowardly the Europeans are for not dealing with Iran's (supposed) nuclear weapons programs strongly enough, he never actually proposes anything more aggressive to deal with the issue. Rather, he suggests a number of ways that we might harry and annoy the Iranian regime. Although he doesn't come out and say it, presumably the goal of Mark Steyn's strategy is to lead to the overthrow of the current Iranian regime. Unfortunately, his ideas are too random and do not gel together at all; there is no overall strategy to turn any Iranian insurgency or instability into a change of regime. This makes his strategy incredibly dangerous - at least if the Iranians are actually pursuing nukes. You don't want to antagonize the Iranian government - particularly if they have a nuclear bomb - by stirring up dissent against it unless you have a plan to actually overthrow it.

It would be one thing if the ideas Mark Steyn proposes would actually do anything to slow the nuclear program, but I don't see how they would, so all he would accomplish is to get the Iranian government more angry at us at precisely the time when they are the most dangerous. Perhaps, as Steyn writes: "A Tehran preoccupied by internal suppression will find it harder to pull off its pretensions to regional superpower status." But all that this would mean would be that Iran could devote less resources to conventional warmaking. It wouldn't likely stop any nuclear weapons programs that Iran might have.

So ultimately, if we follow Steyn's advice but do not have a plan to get regime change in Iran, we are screwed. The absolute worst thing we could do would be to take actions which get Iran mad at us but do not effectively weaken it at all, particularly if Iran is actually pursuing nuclear weapons. If there is a rabid dog in the neighborhood, you either shoot to kill or you try to avoid him. You don't go up and shoot him with a BB gun.

Second, even if we assume that Steyn does have a plan for regime change, that is no guarantee that Iran would give up any nuclear weapons programs it might have, nor that the new people in charge would be trustworthy with them. However, it is in no way clear that Steyn cares whether or not Iran has nukes as long as the regime is changed. Indeed, Michael Ledeen, the neocon who brays the loudest for us to help catalyze or instigate a regime-changing revolution in Iran has hinted that he might not mind a nuclear-armed Iran if it were under other leadership:

To be sure, many of our finest Iran-watchers, including the great Bernard Lewis, believe that any future Iranian government, even a democratic one, is likely to continue the nuclear program. That may be true, although we should remember that once South Africa became a democracy it abandoned nuclear weapons. But even if it is true, a democratic Iran will not be inclined to commit hara-kiri by launching a nuclear first strike against Israel, nor will it likely brandish its bombs against the United States.

This suggests a loyalty more to ideology than to the nation.

Lawrence Auster calls Mark Steyn's position "Ledeenist," which I believe I have just shown is a very apt description.

Thirdly, Steyn can't resist using this article as an opportunity to spout off some of the usual neocon lies, even though they are tangential to his "argument" (if you can call it that) at best.

and for the Iranians recent history, from the Shah and the embassy siege to the Iraqi "insurgency" and Jack Straw's soundbites, tells them the West can't muster the strength of will needed to force them to back down.

(That is, the insurgency is mostly or entirely the creature of Iran)

As the foreign terrorists have demonstrated in Iraq, you don't need a lot of local support to give the impression (at least to Western leftists) of a popular insurgency.

(That is, the insurgency is mostly foreign and has little popular support).

That the insurgency is mostly foreign has been debunked, it is most unlikely that the insurgents are heavily dependent on Iran, and it is quite likely that there is significant popular support for the insurgency (I'll get more links up later). So he is basically pouring B.S. on us.

In short, Mark Steyn is being, well, Mark Steyn.

That is all.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Paul Craig Roberts is Worried About 2006

As he writes in his latest column, which brings up everything from the possibility of using tactical nukes on Iran to the petrodollar theory of the war in the Middle East.

That is all.

More Sailer Good Stuff, But He Didn't Consider Something

Steve Sailer wonders why the neocons were so intent that invading Iraq was the only way to get rid of Saddam's supposed WMDs, but in Iran, airstrikes are supposed to be enough.

But now that the American public has g[r]own wary of invading countries that begin with I-R-A, the neocons are telling us that no invasion of Iran would be [necessary] to root out Iran's entire nuclear infrastructure. We could just do it all push-button style from the air.

Perhaps it's because the neocons think that they have a better chance of convincing the Americans to attack Iran in a way that they could not have gotten us to attack Iraq.

I think that Mr. Sailer has overlooked a possible American response that the neocons may be planning.

Two words: Tactical nukes.

More specifically, any airstrikes will likely be aimed not at destroying missile installations but at devastating Iran so that it will collapse. The Bush administration nuking Teheran and killing much of Iran's government is not, in my opinion, an impossible-to-imagine scenario.

On the other hand, a lot of neocons are convinced that all we need to do is prod the Iranian populace and they will overthrow the mullahs; so if they are willing too have that much wishful thinking, why not a smaller bit of wishful thinking like thinking we can get rid of their installations from the air?

That is all.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Iodizing Africa

Ghana is getting it.

I got it the first time I read about it on VDARE, and got it all over again the second time.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to Steve (please permalink your post prior to it passing off your page) Sailer.

That is all.

Sorry for Lack of Posts

There was a power outage and then I was very busy.

Should be back to normal this afternoon/evening or tomorrow morning.

That is all.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Thoughts on Munich

I haven't seen the movie yet, so I cannot really review the movie itself.

However, one thing that has occurred to me from reading the reviews of people who dislike this movie for pro-Israel reasons (i.e. because they think that it portrays Israel less than fairly) is that a lot of them seem to be getting what I think is an erroneous impression of why people see the actions of the Israeli government after the Munich attacks as morally ambiguous.

The genreal refrain seems to be that the evil anti-Zionists, or antisemites, or anti-western, etc., people find Israel's actions morally ambiguous is because they killed the people behind the attack instead of forgiving them and because they pursued justice, or because they can't be any better than the terrorists because they kill people too.

However, I was under the impression that the reason why Israel's actions were considered morally ambiguous was because they were assassinating their suspects without a trial. That is, they were not pursuing the people behind the Munich attacks through the proper legal channels (e.g. capturing them and bringing them to Israel for trial as with Adolph Eichmann).

This is not to say that Israel's method of pursuit was necessarily legitimate. But to try to bring people to justice via assassination is an extraordinary measure for any country that values freedom and rule of law. This is not to say that it may not be a justified response, a necessary response, or a moral response. Rather, it is to say that such a situation is morally complex, and that there are defensible arguments both for and against assassination as policy.

Therefore, I see no reason why presenting Israel's response to the Munich assassinations as morally ambiguous or why trying to present both sides is necessarily a bad thing. Noe granted, there may be a pro-Palestinian subtext that is unwarranted, but as I see it, most commentators don't object just to this but to the very idea that anyone would view the Israeli response to Munich with anything other than gung-ho support.

When I have more time, I may give a more detailed analysis, with links.

That is all for now.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Wishful Thinking, Indeed

Wishful thinking still dominates global 'leadership.'"

So claims Michael Ledeen in his latest National Review column.

Coming from someone who believes (or claims to believe) that we can create a pro-American Iran simply by appealing to the innate pro-Americanness of the Iranians and that doing so will in no way lead to a ground war, accusing other people of "wishful thinking" is rather rich.

Steve Sailer has more on how the neocon view of the power structure in Iran always seems to assume that whichever branch is the most extreme (and therefore, the one who makes the best bogeyman for stirring up the old war fever) is the one that is really in charge.

That is all.

Maybe She is Taking the Pentagon's Advice?

Christiane Amanpour has attracted the wrath of K-J-Lo
for having the temerity to laugh during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's press conference. Obviously, she must be antisemitic.

Or maybe she is just taking retired Army colonel James "Scotty" Scott's advice.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to the Antiwar.com Blog.

That is all.

Resistance is Futile, You Will All Be Assimilated

Lawrence Auster makes a convincing argument that the idea that we need to "nuke Mecca" is actually a left-wing liberal idea, not a conservative or right-wing one.

This is because it is based on the idea that everyone in the world is the same, or more precisely, should be the same. In particular, everyone has to live by liberal ideas. If they can't do that, the two solutions liberals come up with is first, insist that they can and then try to force them to, and second, if it is hopeless, eliminate them. The idea of people living isolated from the west, and therefore from liberalism, doesn't occur to them.

Granted, this is a somewhat narrow definition of liberalism, as there are many liberals/leftists who seem to be content to be liberal within their own countries or regions and let the rest of the world be, but I think it is a fair description of the internationalist liberals, including the neoliberals (Gore, Clinton) and the neoconservatives.

More on this later.

That is all.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

It Takes Sixteen

If you click on this link to the J-Walk Blog, and then continue to click through on the "blonde joke" links, you will come back to the J-Walk Blog after sixteen clicks (having not much to do, I decided to keep clicking to see where the links would lead and how many clicks you would have to do to (a) get to the end or (b) get back to where you began.

That is all.

Mistaken Arrests?

Or deliberate attmepts at media intimidation?

William Fisher has the goods.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to Juan Cole.

That is all.

Slavery is Wrong

A great piece on the John Birch Society's blog against the draft, and those who would impose it.

That is all.

A Voice of Reason in the Wilderness of Madmen

Gordon Prather calmly explains things while Joe Farah froths at the mouth and Mark Steyn plays the fool.

That is all.

Monday, January 16, 2006

So Close, Yet So Far...

John Tamny of National Review Online almost gets it. Almost.

In his piece "Always a Monetary Phenomenon", he claims that inflation is, in fact, a monetary phenomenon. That is, that inflation only refers to price increases caused by the creation of excess money. Price increases or decreases due to other factors are not inflation. So low-cost foreign goods should not be seen as an indication of the strongness of the dollar.

There is a little problem. Inflation does not "result from" excess money creation. It is excess money creation.

The semantic revolution which is one of the characteristic features of our day has also changed the traditional connotation of the terms inflation and deflation. What many people today call inflation or deflation is no longer the great increase or decrease in the supply of money, but its inexorable consequences, the general tendency toward a rise or a fall in commodity prices and wage rates. This innovation is by no means harmless. It plays an important role in fomenting the popular tendencies toward inflationism.

-Ludwig von Mises,
Human Action


But this is a mere semantic argument.

His larger error lies in this statement:

...[Low inflation] arises when the central bank matches currency supply with currency demand...one sure way to warp this process would be to let exogenous factors get in the way of a supply/demand concept.

For someone who proclaims the free market (as Mr. Tamny does in the rest of his piece), to argue that the Fed's goal is to match money supply with money demand seens to me to be a fundamental understadning of what the free market is. The Fed is a government-sponsored business with a government-mandated monopoly on creating and maintaining the money supply. It can't operate on normal supply and demand principles because it is a socialist, centrally-planned institution. To ask it to match supply with demand is like asking the Soviet Union's commissars to match supply and demand.

The only way to have a true free-market in money is for the supply of money to be determined by the market, not the government. And the only way to do this is to letthe market determine what will be accepted as money. In practice, this usually leads to commodity money (e.g. the gold standard).

That is all.

What Would You Be Willing to Give?

Jim Henley offers an interesting variation on the "ticking time bomb" scenario. If information is important enough to justify torture, shouldn't the torturer be willing to go to jail to obtain it?

That is all.

Does the Media Hate Dubya?

David Lindorff thinks not.

That is all.

Very Interesting

I didn't realize that we were using plutonium fuel in spacecraft.

This is disturbing, particularly with a 1 in 350 chance of a plutonium leak, but it is possible that this sounds a lot worse than it actually is.

That is all.

Did You Realize

That the results of the Iraqi elections have not yet been certified?

That is all.

My Latest "To Blog" List

New! Discussing Michael Ledeen's "Blame Iran!" obsession, as mentioned here.

Talking about blaming the CIA for bad intelligence.

Update to my post on "Citizenism."

I will also talk some about the statement by Iraqi leaders apparently legitimizing he insurgency (Lawrence Auster discusses it here). Done!

A discussion of AIDS and Africa. Done!

The discussion of fatherlessness I mentioned here.

That is all.

Sorting Out AIDS and Africa

Previously I posted about questions regarding how many cases of "AIDS" in Africa are actually AIDS and how many are other diseases.

I got a comment that seemed to suggest that I would not doubt that all of the cases are genuine AIDS if I were to see for myself the circumstances in Africa. While I admit to ignorance as far as first-hand knowledge goes, I do not think that undertone I detect (that I am downplaying how bad things are in Africa) is accurate. Nor, necessarily, would more experience in Africa disprove the idea that AIDS is being over-diagnosed, unless I had the tools to give every supposed AIDS patient an HIV antibody test.

In any case, the concern is not that we are being too generous or too caring about Africa; the concern is that we may be reducing Africa's health and disease problems to a single issue because it is easier to understand, and in the process we may be not treating other problems.

In other words, Africa has a lot of diseases; we need to make certain that we don't get so focused on AIDS that we ignore other diseases, particularly diseases that we could easily cure with minimal effort:

And why are we to worry so terribly much about AIDS in Africa even as we ignore the millions of Africans each year who die of readily curable diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, and diarrhea? Yes, diarrhea.

Moreover, there is the concern that the focus on African AIDS is less about compassion for Africans and more because it serves the ends of American AIDS activist groups (Read the article linked in the quote above).

Also important is the consideration of the role politics plays in how we view the African AIDS epidemic; for example, while it became very clear in the 90s that AIDS is primarily spread in the western world by anal sex (mostly by homosexual and bisexual males) and intravenous drug use, there is still the belief that in Africa it is spread mostly heterosexually through vaginal intercourse.

Michael Fumento has been challenging that assumption, backed by a study in The International Journal of STDs and AIDS. Penile-vaginal transmission is difficult (in a study over a period of ten years, 19% of women and 2.4% of men in a relationship with an HIV-positive person of the opposite sex contracted HIV from them). In particular, the female-to-male risk is so low, it seems unlikely that HIV could have the multigenerational spread (i.e. person A gives it to person B who gives it to person C who gives it to person D) through heterosexual sex that would be necessary to spread an epidemic even if male-to-female transmission were more frequent. That is, if women cannot spread it back to men, then it cannot spread more than one generation through heterosexual sex.

A common thought is that this is because of the fact that men in Africa don't get circumcised as often as in the west, and being uncircumcised makes it easier to transmit HIV from women to men.

Unfortunately for this school of thought, female-to-male heterosexual HIV transmission is pretty low regardless of circumcision (risk is reduced from 1 in 80 to 1 in 200)*, so being uncircumcised in unlikely to explain the higher AIDS rates in Africa.

So how does AIDS spread? Fumento suggests two ways:

(1) There is a lot of reuse of hypodermic needles in Africa, often without any sterilization. So there is a good chance that HIV is spread through medical care that involves skin puncture. This is quite likely the largest single risk factor in spreading HIV in Africa.

Yet almost certainly greater [than sex] – and more controllable – contributors to the African epidemic are "contaminated punctures from such sources as medical injections, dental injections, surgical procedures, drawing as well as injecting blood, and rehydration through IV tubes," says Brody.

You don't even need to go to a clinic to be injected with HIV: Almost two-thirds of 360 homes visited in sub-Saharan Africa had medical injection equipment that was apparently shared by family members. This, says Brody, can explain why both a husband and wife will be infected.


(2) There is a lot of homosexual activity going on that doesn't register, although this is likely a smaller part of the problem than dirty needles.

For example, German anthropologist Kurt Falk reported in the 1920s that bisexuality was almost universal among the male populations of African tribes he studied. Medical records also show that African men who insist they're straighter than the proverbial arrow often suffer transmissible anorectal diseases.

Why is this important? Because, if true, it means that what Africa needs most in order to fight AIDS is clean needles or needle-sterilization equipment. Moreover, any attempt to reduce sexual risk factors should be the most focused on eliminating or making safer anorectal sexual practices. Preferably, in my opinion, bisexual customs ought to be eliminated wherever possible (it seems to me that much of this sort of homosexual sex is not related to homosexuality [i.e. a primary attraction to one's own sex] as we understand it in the west, and so a lot of it should be stoppable without taking the Africans to Exodus International.

In any case, it is wise to try to find out exactly what is happening in Africa if we are going to fight AIDS there. For that matter, all attemtps to eliminate AIDS need to rely on honesty and truth rather than political agendas.

That is all.

*It is not clear if 1 in 80 this means 1 out of 80 sexual encounters or 1 out of 80 year-long sexual relationships, or 1 out of 80 something else.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Note to Brussels: Betholt Brecht was Being SARCASTIC.

Apparently, Brussels has decided that it has had enough of the Dutch-speaking Flemish in the city, so in the words of Bertholt Brecht, it is deciding to dissolve the people and elect another.

This is very similar to the situation in Canada with Quebec, where immigration is encouraged by the federal government in an attempt to dilute the Quebecois, at least electorally, as Steve Sailer mentions in this comment on the Brothers Judd blog.

That is all.

Listen People, Soldiers AREN'T ALLOWED to Tell the Truth!

A common theme in the "Iraq is wonderful, the media is just lying to you," storyline is that the soldiers on the ground, who should know what is going on better than anyone, all think that things are going great and that the media is distorting things, not telling the whole truth, ignoring the good news, etc.

Well, this indicates that we may not be able to trust what the soldiers are telling us:

“The message is clear,” says one reservist who is home for the holidays but has to return and asked not to be identified. “If you want to get out of this man’s Army with an honorable (discharge) and full benefits you better not tell the truth about what is happening in-country.”

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to Lunaville (link is from Sol at 3:03 am Jan. 15).

That is all.

Save Spider-Girl!

Update: Spider-Girl has officially been cancelled, i.e. it will not be renewed after issue #100. But it has been officially cancelled before and then resuscitated due to fan support. Please, if you buy comics, start buying this title. The last issue does not come out until August. We still have amonth or so before they can change their minds without a significant publishing disruption. Increased sales figures are Spider-Girl's best hope. (Current sales figures are going down fast).

Spider-Girl, one of my favorite comics, may be in danger of cancellation at issue 100 if sales do not pick up.

I seriously encourage Glaivester readers who like comic books to buy one at the local comic store, or if you subscribe to comics, to consider subscribing to Spider-Girl. (You can subscribe at Marvel's subscription site).

Spider-Girl is the only current regular title set in the "MC-2" universe, an alternate version of the Marvel Universe about 15-20 years ahead of the mainstream Marvel Universe (also known as the "616" universe, reportedly named because the first issue of Fantastic Four came out in June '61).

In the MC-2, Spider-Girl, aka May "MayDay" Parker, is the daughter of Peter Parker, the original Spider-Man, and Mary Jane Watson. She has a lot of her father's powers (although some are at a lower or higher level than dead old dad's), and some of her own.

I don't know what else to say. Buy it. Oh, and New Excalibur is also good, and features Her Sexy Blueness. But that is a post for another time.

That is all.

Is Iranian President Ahmadinejad Actually a Holocaust Denier?

Al S.E. offers a rebuttal.

Essentially, his argument boils down to that what Ahmadinejad was actually saying was that the Holocaust has become Israel's raison d'etre and that the west in general exploits it as a way to attack Muslims.

As for the first part, I have commented on the "the Holocaust caused Israel to exist" idea here. As for the second, I think that that is not only a gross oversimplification, but also assumes that the people in Muslim countries are a lot better than I think they really are. But if this is what he was saying, it is a far cry from what he has been accused of saying.


That is all.

Bio-Terrorism

Dennis Mangan notes an interesting story:

Apparently a group of gay men in South Africa have decided to lie about their sexuality so they can donate blood.

It seems that once again, AIDS has begun to be treated as a political/rights issue rather than as a %*##$$!!! disease.

That is all.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Random Blogs

Here are some blogs I found clicking "Next Blog" button:

Interessieren

Frank's Life... Whatever

emily mills.net

Soli Deo Gloria

That is all.

Ol' Reliable

Michael Ledeen once again trots out the notion that the reason things are not going well in Iraq is because we haven't overthrown the mullahs in Iran yet, and that we will have to expand the war in order to win it.

His writing, as usual, contains numerous faulty [dishonest] assumptions, such as the idea that the only Iraqis who would use terrorist tactics they learned from Iran are on the other side. I'll try to critique his piece in more detail later.

That is all.

Agent Provocateurs, Entrapment, and Planted Evidence?

Gordon Prather has some theories about what the mission of the "Russian defector" - who was supposedly used by the CIA to give disinformation to the Iranians - really was.

Namely, the goal was to give the Iranians something which could be used as a casus belli to attack them.

A little Byzantine, I suppose, no more unbelievable than what the American Enterprise Institute's resident necromancer claims his dead CIA buddy told him.

That is all.

Maybe There Is a Slippery Slope

Despite liberal claims that same-sex marriage is not a slippery slope, the federal government in Canada has sponsored a study which is encouraging the legal recognition of polygamy.

So the question is, are the liberals naive or are they just lying?

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

That is all.

Kudos to Victor Davis Hanson (Really)

I would be remiss if I did not compliment Victor Davis Hanson on a fine article that shows dismay at the possible of the self-destruction of Europe.

As Lawrence Auster has pointed out, this is far preferable to the schaudenfreud-laced American triumphalism* that Mark Steyn displays on the topic. (Yay! Those dumb Euros are gonna die out!)

*By which I mean that Steyn sees the failure of Europe as being a "win" for the U.S. by comparison. Actually, his latest writing suggests he might not care if the U.S. is defeated, too.

That is all.

411 U.S. Soldiers Wounded in Action in December

Numbers are out at Lunaville.

I'll have to re-vamp my statistical analysis.

That is all.

Lottery, Schmlottery

Dennis Mangan discusses the lottery and Social Security.

This reminds me of a thought I once had.

Someone was talking about the fact that so many lottery winners seem to lose all of their money in a year or two. They wondered if it weren't a cosmic karmic payback of some sort.

Pfah. The real answer is that the people most likely to win the lottery are probably people who spend the most money buying lottery tickets. That is, they are not too good with money. The people who would play the lottery enough to have a decent chance of winning are the exact type of people who would blow through their winnings because they don't understand that (a) even a million, or several million, dollars is a finite quantity, and (b) they only get to keep a percentage of what they supposedly won; due to taxes, penalties if they want it all paid out at once, etc.

Murray Rothbard once said: "In fact, if you wish to know how libertarians regard the State and any of its acts, simply think of the State as a criminal band, and all of the libertarian attitudes will logically fall into place."

If by criminal gang you mean a mafia, then the rigged numbers game education-funding state lottery certainly seems to fit in with the overall motif.

That is all.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Chappaquiddick

You know you want to read about it.

That is all.

Whose Hearts and Minds?

According to this post by Juan Cole, a major criticism of American troops by other countries' troops in Iraq is that we are too quick to assume that the solution to our problems with the insurgents lies simply in "killing 'em dead until there ain't no more." Attempting to get the hearts and minds of the ordinary Iraqis has gone by the wayside.

Michael Schwartz at AntiWar.com makes a similar point at how we are trying to view every problem a a simple military one with a simple military solution: kill 'em::

Rather than allow the perpetrators to take refuge in a nearby home and then quietly slip away, the U.S. command decided to take out the house, even though they had no guarantee that it was uninhabited (and every reason to believe the opposite). The paramount goal was to kill or capture the suspected guerrilla fighters, and if this involved the death or injury of multiple Iraqi civilians, the tradeoff was clearly considered worth it.

Which leads one to question whether any of the talk about hearts and minds is about Iraqi hearts and minds or American ones. That is, as I have asked before (as have others), is the goal of funding propaganda in the papers, painting schools, etc., to gain Iraqi suport for an American presence, or to put on a nice face for American news cameras, so Sean Hannity can dutifully report on all of the "good news that is being ignored by the eeeeevvvvil MainStream Media (MSM)." (Of course, the fact that there has been an air war going on in Iraq, not in the future, or recently, but from the beginning, mentioned by Tom Engelhardt in the same article as the Schwartz piece, is a piece of news that the media has ignored and that I have a feeling that a lot of the pro-warriors would be just as happy not be reported).

If you look at the administration as using the Iraqis as props to rebuild American support for the war, and not as trying to actually help the Iraqis for the purpose of winning their hearts and minds (at least in the case of the Sunni Arabs), I think that you get a far different picture of what is going on in Iraq.

That is all.

Randy Graf vs. Jim Kolbe on The Border

UPDATE: I have been told that Jim Kolbe has dropped out and been replaced with another candidate (so Graf is not going to have an uncontested race, he still needs support). More on this as it develops.

I figure that I ought to say something about the guy who I am advertising for (disclosure: I'm being paid to run the ad on the left).

He is Randy Graf, who is currently running against Jim Kolbe in the G.O.P. primary for the U.S. House seat representing the 8th district in Arizona.

If you look at Randy Graf's position on border security vs. Jim Kolbe's, it's pretty clear who is the real conservative. Who wants to protect our orders, and who simply wants to keep them porous but formalize it.

[Just in case I am being too subtle here, Graf = Good Kolbe = Bad].

That is all.

Glaivester Reader Predictions

Earlier I asked my readers for predictions.

Well, here they are:

Dennis Mangan: Pat Buchanan will attend Ariel Sharon's funeral.

Derek Copold:

Calderon will edge out AMLO in surprise upset in 2006 Mexican election.

Republicans will hang on to Congress by the skin of their teeth.

Dubya will find good excuse to declare victory in Iraq and pull troops back to Kuwait and Kurdistan. Iran-Friendly Shiite government will lower the hammer in the Sunni triangle under our watchful eyes.

The Iranians will continue to jab us in the eye with nuclear threats, and we won't be able to a damned thing about it.

The Likud will take over the Israeli government, making big promises to the settler right, which they will betray after a few months of being in office.

HR 4437 will pass in a watered down form, but still with no "guest worker" provision.

A few GOP congressmen will get stung by the Abramoff scandal, but DeLay will escape with his seat. He won't return to the leadership.

Mel Gibson's Apocolypto will rock, sending his critics into further conniption fits.

daveg:

I think the Republicans will lose very few seats in the house, and perhaps even gain seats.

They will lose seats in the Senate, however, and may even lose control.

The House is more in touch with rank and file voters as demonstrated by the passing of real immigration reform. I think they will be rewarded for that.

The Senate has not done the same, and the Senate is also viewed as being the chamber involved in foreign policy and therefore more responsible for the war in Iraq. They will be punished for that.

Michael Brendan Dougherty has his own predictions post.

Martin Kelly:

We will all get rich from blogging.

Mark my words, my boy, mark my words...

That is all.

Private Health Care in Europe Does Exist

I have a feeling that most Americans think that all European healthcare is directly provided for, or paid for, by the government. This is not entirely accurate.

The Brussels Journal reports on differing systems in Europe. This even includes systems where there is some level of opting out from the government program, or where opting out is mandatory for some people. It also includes systems where private insurance can be added as an additional layer on top of government-provided health care.

That is all.

Coleman Guilty

Well, the case of Roger Keith Coleman, a minor cause in the anti-death penalty movement, has finally been solved conclusively.
DNA evidence confirms his guilt.
To be fair, it appears as if all or almost all anti-death penalty groups were lobbying to have the DNA testing done on the evidence, or were suggesting that the case against him had not been proven well enough in court; I didn't see any actually proclaim his innocence.
However, this is not the case that finally proves an innocent has been executed in the U.S., which a lot of people were probably hoping for.

That is all.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Gotta Love WorldNetDaily

In their link on their front page to this article, their subtitle shows what is really important about the story:

Male teacher accused of raping girl, 16
48-year-old English instructor also opponent of military recruiting

Oh, yeah, the political message here is difficult to decipher.

That is all.

Paul Bremer: The Administration Has No Common Sense

Paul Bremer was on Hannity and Colmes last night. Specifically, he was interviewed by Sean Hannity.

After the usual tripe about "How could you say anything against the Bush administration? You hurt our troops if you don't worship Dubya!" (brought up in relation to Bremer bringing out that he had requested more troops and was rejected), Sean Hannity actually asked Bremer a good question.

I don't have a transcript, but Sean Hannity essentially asked him why the administration did not anticipate an insurgency.

His response was that all of the intelligence was dedicated to the WMD issue.

I say, so what? Can't you tell that fire is hot and water is wet without intelligence data? The real question, of course, is, "why didn't you consider the possibility of an insurgency and dedicate intelligence to it?" I mean, a reasonably intelligent (no pun intended) five-year-old should be able to tell that when you invade a foreign country, they will fight you. They should have prepared even without intelligence data, just on the basis of common sense, and they should have been smart enough to know to gather intelligence.

The real answer, of course, is either one of two possibilities:

(a) That the administration was so blinded by its own propaganda that it thought that we would be welcomed as liberators and then we could just get around to rebuilding the country with the support of all of the Iraqis.

(b) It decided to lie about the insurgency it knew would happen, figuring that it needed to lie in order to get support for the Iraq Attaq. Perhaps Rumsfeld or Bush thought that if they could get us into the war, then they could figure out how to quash the insurgency later. Or perhaps, they plan a brutal, brutal, put-down, as suggested by Michael Schwartz, but realized that they need to get us good and desperate first.

That is all.

More on Salman Pak, etc.

Daniel Larison of Eunomia adds some thoughts to the "Saddam trained terrorists" issue, adding his voice of skepticism to Jim Henley's.

That is all.

Are We Heading for More My Lais Abu Ghraibs?

The recent concern over lowering the intellectual requirements for Army recruits has another angle:

Steve Gilliard worries about the fact that the My Lai massacre was perpetrated by soldiers who were probably disproportionately Category IVers.

Whether My Lai was the result of incompetence, or whether they were chosen for the mission deliberately because of their low intellectual caliber (i.e. they were more likely to follow orders without question and not notice that the people they were killing were civilians, this has some disturbing possibilities.

Could this mean more Abu Ghraibs, either because the soldiers don't think about what they are doing or because they can easily be convinced to do it (if the administration wants it done) and then made to take the fall?

More on this as it develops.

That is all.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Yglesias Censored?

Kevin Drum posts this bit from a Matt Yglesias posting on TAPPED:

I tend to doubt, however, that this line of criticism will gain any traction, since making the argument requires you to say that IQ tests (which is all the AFQT really is) are an important measurement and most liberals prefer to shy away from the topic.

Read the post he links to.

Nope, it's not on any January post or December 2005 post either.

Now I don't think that Kevin Drum was lying or that he made a mistake in his link.

Which means that someone altered the post.

Update: The esteemed Greg Cochran comments:

I saw it earlier. it's been changed.

Update #2: Here is a Google Cache of the original post.

That is all.

The Reduction of G.I. IQ

Fred Kaplan provides an excellent analysis of the situation with the military recruiting more from the left-hand side of the bell curve.

Previously, he reported on the reduction in formal qualifications required.

Don't expect the liberals to point this out, though, in response to pro-war bloggers who want to celebrate the seeming success in recruiting.

You see, the Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT) is really an IQ test, as Matt Yglesias points out (I can't link, I'll explain in the next post), and Kevin Drum points out, the elephant in the room is race, which is the main reason why IQ is so taboo to begin with.

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

That is all.

PowerPC Going Bye-Bye

Hello MacTel.

That is all.

Pardon Ben Kahn!

It's nice to see people pointing out that the free-speech restrictions during World War I were actually a bad thing.

That is all.

Gold Rush

With gold approaching $550.00/troy oz., silver $9.00/troy oz., and platinum already over $1016 the goldbugs are reminding everyone that they were right.

Gary North and Bill Bonner are among the happy few.

Oh, yeah, I am too.

That is all.

Fumento: Good on AIDS, Not-So-Good on Iraq

While Michael Fumento has done a great deal of good work on debunking various AIDS myths (e.g. that it is going to kill huge swaths of the U.S. population, that it is an "equal-opportunity" epidemic), his articles on Iraq leave, I think, a lot to be desired.

First, I do not notice a lot of numerical analysis of the metrics of the war (e.g. casualties, fatalities). Second, he seems a little too eager to believe whatever the government proclaims (i.e. that Zarqawi is the leader of the insurgency, and he uses the highest estimates for the percentage of foreigners in the insurgency (10% rather than saying between 4 and 10%). Third, he either seems a little too trusting of the goodness of our allies, or else he doesn't care if there are massacres carried out against Sunni Arabs:

Iraqi [i.e. Shiite leaders - Glaivester] leaders are also claiming the U.S. is holding them back from fighting the sort of war necessary to defeat savage terrorists, according to a Sunday Washington Post story. This echoes the only complaint I heard from Marines and soldiers when I was in Iraq, that we were trying to win with a "kindler, gentler military."

Reading the story he links to, one gets the sinking feeling that what the Shiite leaders really want is a chance to significantly reduce the Sunni Arab population , to put it mildly.

Earlier this month, I commented on Michael Schwartz's article about U.S. strategy in 2006, where he quotes Seymour Hersh:

An American Army officer who took part in the assault on Tal Afar, in the north of Iraq, earlier this fall, said that an American infantry brigade was placed in the position of providing a cordon of security around the besieged city for Iraqi forces, most of them Shiites, who were "rounding up any Sunnis on the basis of whatever a Shiite said to them." The officer went on, "They [the U.S. troops] were killing Sunnis on behalf of the Shiites,"

Given this, I am afraid of what not "holding [the Shiites and Kurds] back from fighting the sort of war necessary to defeat savage terrorists" might entail. Either Mr. Fumento does not believe that the Shiites will or are doing stuff like this, or else he doesn't care.

On the other hand, he doesn't like Cindy Sheehan, and while I don't doubt her sincerity, I have to agree with him that she is a crackpot.

More on this later.

That is all.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Henley on Saddam and Terrorists

Jim Henley discusses the recent claims about Iraq and terrorists by Stephen Hayes that I previously mentioned here.

That is all.

James Robbins, Translated

James Robbins' piece on why we need to make certain that Iran cannot acquire nukes essentially boils down to one thing:

We cannot let the Iranians acquire nukes because then we will not have the ability to threaten to invade Iran. As Americans, we need to have the unquestioned right to invade these sh***y little countries at will.

Of course, he neglects the other major concern, which is "how do we stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons (if they are truly trying to do so) and what are the potential consequences of trying to stop them?"

Jorge Hirsch is afraid that the administration is preparing for a nuclear attack on Iran. I'll try to post a more thorough analysis of this later. For now, let me say that I am not convinced that Bush would do this, but there are enough neo-crazies out there who I think would like to see something like this that I am not dismissing the possibility.

Definitely there are a number of circumstances that could easily come together to make nuking Iran (or even parts of Iraq) an attractive possibility to those who wish to continue or expand the war. If things get really desperate in Iraq, it may eventually become the only hope for continuing the war.

That is all.

Your Children Are Ours

A report on Germany's tyrannical opposition to homeschooling.

That is all.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Thank You, AntiWar.com!

The AntiWar.com Blog has added me to their blogroll.

That is all.

Revised Numbers: Eight Service Members, Four Civilians Killed in Saturday's Copter Crash.

Four of the twelve people killed in the helicopter crash Saturday were civilians.

It is still the greatest number of non-combat deaths in a single day for coalition soldiers in Iraq since the helicopter crash in January 26, 2005 that killed 31 servicemen.

That is all.

This Is an Interesting Story

Islamic suicide bio-terrorists?

The idea of suicide bombers infected with contagious blood-borne diseases such as HIV or hepatitis is quite disturbing; and the use of such diseases could make suicide bombing much more effective at hurting or killing large numbers of people.

Mike McConnell of KoKoNut Pundits also asks an important question here:

I wonder where they got those diseases in the first place?

For HIV, the pool is somewhat restricted. Well, if they are taking suicide bombers from Africa, maybe from contaminated needles? Perhaps they are gay men or drug users who are being told that this is their only hope to get into Heaven? If they are recruiting female suicide bombers, they could be taking prostitutes.

Of course, when talking about hepatitis (I'm assuming they are thinking sexually-transmitted hepatitis) they could take anyone who is being promiscuous, as hepatitis is easier to spread through heterosexual sex than HIV.

More on this as it develops.

That is all.

Don't Be Associated with Crackpots When You Don't Have to Be

Reading a recent column by Paul Craig Roberts about the wiretapping issue (I'll try to post about the column later), I notice a passing allusion to the Reichstag Fire, the incident (the burning of the German equivalent of our National Capitol Building, supposedly by Communists) which led to the Nazis consolidating their power in Germany.

This column on CommonDreams by Harvey Wasserman makes the allusion in much more detail.

I personally do not think that it is a good thing to try to draw parallels between the Reichstag fire and 9/11. This is because there is a strong possibility that the Reichstag fire was set by the Nazis themselves to allow them to take power. Any comparison of 9/11 to the Reichstag fire automatically brings up the crackpot discussion of the idea that Bush and/or his cronies were behind 9/11 in order to allow them to (a) attack Iraq (b) conquer the world (c) destroy civil liberties (d) kill the Arabs on behalf of the Zionists (e) et cetera.

Although I am sure that there are those who will disagree with me, I think that this is a crackpot theory and I think that reasonable antiwar people ought to dissociate ourselves from such tinfoil hattery.

That is all.

Education in the U.S.

John Stossel recently did a show about American education, questioning why we lag behind so much compared to other countries:

American high school students fizzle in international comparisons, placing well behind countries, even poorer countries like Poland, the Czech Republic and South Korea. American kids do pretty well when they enter public school, but as time goes on, the worse they do. Why?

Stossel's major goal is to show that extra spending on public education is not needed, because other countries are far more efficient.

Matt Yglesias responds by, in essence, saying that diminishing returns have set in, and because we are such a rich country we need to spend more proportionately to have the same level of education. Logically, I'm not entirely certain how this is supposed to work to make education proportionately expensive (as opposed to making each new increment in "goodness" cost more), but it seems to be an interesting argument.

Of course, all of this ignores the real elephant in the room: the U.S. has more students of sub-Saharan African descent and of Latino descent than most, if not all, European countries, and also many, many more than the super-homogenous East Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan. And, as Edwin S. Rubenstein shows, the entire score gap between the U.S. and the average high income country is due to the low scores of Latinos, blacks, and immigrants (the categories do overlap).

Whether one believes that this gap is due to innate characteristics or to racism and other environmental ills, there is no way to address the gap between U.S. and other countries' test scores without addressing the fact that the score gap occurs almost entirely within these two populations (I say "almost entirely" because there may be a few other ethnic groups that contribute to the gap, although fixing the black and Latino gap [i.e. bringing their average scores up to those of non-Hispanic whites] would by itself correct the gap), and that much of the gap is also due to the fact that so much of our Latino population consists of unassimilated immigrants.

That is all.

The Next Prez

An interesting website getting a head-start on the 2008 elections.

That is all.

More on Vouchers

J. H. Huebert argues against private school vouchers for the right reason, whereas the Florida Supreme Court did so for the wrong reason.

That is all.

Bobby Stethem and Munich

A week or two ago, Diana Moon wrote:

DISGUSTED and furious about the Germans releasing Robby Stethem's killer, and this is interfering with my ability to write about and this is interfering with my ability to write about Munich.

Hmmm... what should the U.S. government do about Mohammed Ali Hammadi? Actually, Munich might give the government some ideas (dare I hope?).

That is all.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I'm Not a Big School-Voucher Fan, But...

...Julian at Sully's blog has some interesting thoughts on school choice. Essentially, he is arguing that the whole reason for school choice is to let the standards be set by supply and demand; and that by their nature, private schools are supposed to offer diverse experiences (i.e. one school will give a different education than another). That's the point, that the successful school models will be revealed through competition. Therefore, arguments against private school vouchers - or otherwise against private schools being better than public schools - that rely on the idea that the private schools are not held to uniform standards miss the point.

That is all.

The Trials of AdSense

Worrying about experiences like the ones Steve Sailer is having are part of the reason why I am trying to get any advertising on my site done on my own (for the time being anyway).

That is all.

Pessimism on Iraq

Charles Peña points out how small and how insecure the troop reductions Rumsfeld is touting really are.

The real problem here is that the U.S. still has no real specific goals to meet in Iraq, so it can't really do anything but reduce troop levels a little and see if things don't fall apart, and if they don't, reduce troop levels further.

In the end, as Mr. Peña intimates, the talk about troop reduction is driven more by a desire to placate the American people with something that suggests we are winning than by the facts on the ground.

That is all.

Biggest non-Combat Fatality Day Since Jan. 26, 2005

12 Marines were killed in a helicopter crash; the crash was not apparently the result of hostile fire.

Correction:8 servicemen and 4 civilians.

That is all.

The Colin and George Comedy Hour

Gotta love this. Just gotta.

I particularly find it amusing when Dubya [in the parody, it's not real people] insists on calling Colin "Buckwheat" or "Stymie." Not so much because I think that it portrays Bush as a racist, but because it portrays him as entirely clueless as to what is appropriate to say. And clueless essentially describes Bush.

That is all.

Peroutka on Alito

ThirdPartyWatch has the story.

That is all.

Rights for Me but not for Thee?

Paul Belien expresses concerns about how the priorities of the European Union may make conscientious objection meaningless, and ultimately drive Bible-believing Christians out of government altogether.

This reminds me of the debate on forcing pharmacists to fill birth control prescriptions, where the so-called pro-choice side reveals that if you are not a pregnant women, they don't give a **** about your choice. (Read the comments here to see how many people on the left essentially believe that governments should determine exactly what a private pharmacy stocks. Oh, you're a Catholic hospital? Well, "separation" of church and state means that the state will impose its values on you. (That's a whole other post, on the difference between leftist and rightist understandings of "separation of church and state.")

[I should point out I don't have a problem with a privately-owned store firing a pharmacist for not filling a prescription, but it ought to be the store's job to make the policy, not the state's).

That is all.

Friday, January 06, 2006

SCIRI: You're Either with Us or You're with the Terrorists

The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq lays down the law.

That is all.

Ledeen and Lots of Laughs

How can Michael Ledeen spend most of an article worrying about our intelligence agencies being snookered by double agents and talking about how poor our intelligence is, when he is cozying up to ol' Ali Baba, Prince of Thieves?

That is all.

Of Course Torture is Useful at Extracting Information...

...if you don't care about accuracy and only care about getting people to tell you what you want to hear, as Al Qaida higher up Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi claims was the case with him.

Apparently, some of the facts seem to support his side of the story, such as the fact that:

The officials said the captive, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, provided his most specific and elaborate accounts about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda only after he was secretly handed over to Egypt by the United States in January 2002, in a process known as rendition.

This seems to support the concerns of Matthew Yglesias, about which I posted here. (Read an earlier New York Times article about Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi here).

Which indicates one reason why torture is a bad idea. Even if the person being tortured richly deserves his fate, torture corrupts not only the information obtained in an interrogation, but also the people doing the interrogation.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to Charles Dodgson.

That is all.

Down with Antidiscrimination

Wendy McElroy on men trying to force their way into where they are not wanted.

Turnabout, she points out, is not necessarily fair play.

An excellent article for property-rights believers.

That is all.

Another Listing of Coalition Casualties

GlobalSecurity.Org has a table of U.S. casualties in Iraq.

This is somewhat different than the similar tables found on the Iraq Coalition Casualties website. But it might be interesting to check up on from time to time.

That is all.

An Explanation

In case the title of my previous post was obscure, this article and this one explain it.

A B R A C A D A B R A
AA B R A C A D A B R
ABA B R A C A D A B
ABRA B R A C A D A
ABRAA B R A C A D
ABRACA B R A C A
ABRACAA B R A C
ABRACADA B R A
ABRACADAA B R
ABRACADABA B
ABRACADABRA



The idea, as I understand it, was that the incantation would cure the sickness because the sickness would slowly disappear as the word did.

So "Coalition Abracadabra" refers to the gradual disappearance of the other coalition countries (or at least their troop strength).

That is all.

Coalition Abracadabra

The U.S.'s allies' contribution to the coalition is steadily decreasing.

It will be interesting to see what effect this has on the U.S. presence in Iraq; i.e., whether we wind up having to increase our presence to make up for the drawdown of others.

There is a good graph in the article I linked to showing how many troops come from each country. By my figuring, the total is around 20,000-21,000.

I especially liked this quote:

What we need if we intend to have this global war on terror include some additional military campaigns is substantive military participation by allies and money," says Dr. Bacevich. "A coalition matters to the degree that it brings something substantive to the table."

This is so much more sensible than Deroy Murdock's statement:

None of America's 33 partners ever had to send so much as a Q-Tip to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. The fact that any nation assigns even one citizen to fight shoulder to shoulder with U.S. GIs should elicit celebration and gratitude...

which essentially states that the perception of a coalition is what actually matters, not any concrete contribution than any coalition member makes.

More of the non-reality-based community, I suppose.

That is all.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

And Now it is Your Turn to Predict (New Posts Appear Below this One)

Glaivester readers, now it is your turn to post your predictions for 2006. Just put them in the comments section of this post. I use Haloscan, so you don't even need a Blogger account.

That is all.

"Legitimate Resistance"

I know that I am six to eight weeks late in commenting on this, but the recent statement by Iraqi leaders about resistance being "a legitimate right of the people" at a reconciliation conference in Cairo bears some consideration.

Specifically, this statement was made:

Though resistance is a legitimate right for all people, terrorism does not represent resistance. Therefore, we condemn terrorism and acts of violence, killing and kidnapping targeting Iraqi citizens and humanitarian, civil, government institutions, national resources and houses of worships.

Now, there are two interpretations of this.

The pessimistic interpretation is that the leaders of Iraq are saying that it is legitimate to attack coalition targets, but not Iraqi targets; i.e., kill as many American, European, and other foreign troops as you like, but leave other Iraqis, including us, alone.

Such an interpretation is the one that tradcon Lawrence Auster believes is accurate.

The optimistic interpretation is that the leaders of Iraq were okaying resistance against an occupation, but as we are not occupiers but liberators of Iraq, they are not condoning attacks on us.

Such an interpretation is the one that neocon Dan Darling prefers.

Obviously (to me, anyway) the Iraqi leaders were deliberately vague in order that both sides would be able to interpret it the way they wanted to. That is, they are allowing the insurgents to believe that they agree that this is an occupation, and allowing the coalition to believe that they are simply making a pro-freedom statement, and not one that really applies to the insurgents.

This way, they can try to appease the insurgents as much as possible by throwing the coalition troops to the wolves (or at least to appease those who sympathize with the insurgents), while still maintaining that they are loyal to the coalition.

In a very real sense, though, this amounts to a victory for the insurgents, because ultimately, we need the full and unequivocal support of the Iraqi government more than they do. So this truly is a betrayal by Iraq's leaders, at least to the extent that the Iraq leaders owe the coalition loyalty for bringing them to power. Alternately, if on is liable to be sympathetic to the Iraqi leaders and not to the coalition, one could argue that this shows how alienated the Iraqis, even their leaders, are from the U.S., and by extension the other coalition countries. Either way, it does not bode well for the U.S. and the coalition it runs.

It also shows the naivete of the neocons, who essentially believe that they get not only to define the legitimate terms of debate (e.g. whether the U.S. is an occupier or a liberator), but to expect that everyone else will accept their terms.

This is the end result of the disdain for the "reality-based community," whereas one simply wills the world to be a certain way and it is. If it isn't, then just keep pretending it is, and somehow it will be.

(By the way, this is not a Christian belief system, for those of you who want to blame this sort of belief on Bush's evangelical Christianity. Despite the common belief that Christianity teaches blind faith and that faith itself is the imporant thing, Christianity actually clearly teaches that faith alone is worthless; it is the object of that faith that matters; faith is only useful if it coincides with reality:

And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
- Corinthians 15:17, King James Version

Christianity clearly teaches that its validity is dependent on an objective reality; the quality of one's faith is not as important as the object of that faith.)


So the neocons' own faith in the universal desire for liberal democracy and freedom not just for "me and mine" but for everyone, and their belief in the power of will to make things so ultimately leads to their destruction, because they are unwilling, and perhaps philosophically incapable, of recognizing non-loyalty to their ideals.

There is also the Rich Lowry position that "they didn't really mean it."

This, I think, represents unwarranted hopefulness, and perhaps a form of transference (I don't mean what I say, so they can't, either). Both are extremely dangerous.

That is all.

Upsurge in Violence

The recent large-scale terror attacks in Iraq do not bode well for the coalition. As I recall, large-scale attacks on Iraqi civilians after a time of relative calm (say the past week or two) sometimes lead into an uptick in attacks in general (i.. against coalition troops and Iraqi military troops as well. It is quite possible that the two months of calm I predicted will not now materialize.

(No, I am not trying to have it both ways. I will count it as being a strike against my predictions if the violence upticks in January or February; this fear that the calm will not materialize is not an official Glaivester prediction, so if it is right, no points for me).

We shall see.

That is all.

Just a Note on Chalabi

The Seattle Times on Mr. Yo-Yo (up again, down again).

That is all.

Woundings and Fatalities in Iraq

I have modified the tables of coalition fatalities and woundings found here and here, respectively.

Here is an update of my previous table comparing coalition hostile deaths. The bolded 57 represents the number of hostile fatalities in December. My original table predicted that December would have 68 hostile fatalities.

I'll try to do the analysis later.


2004..2005
131...79
129...75
74....74
65....71
63....69
58....69
58....57
45....48
45....46
39....45
35....42
14....33


Here is the table comparing wounded:


2004...2005
1424...611/576
1212...602
895....595
757....572
706....545
648....539
589....508
552....498
544....477
323....413
189....398
150....371


398 is the number of wounded for November, replacing my previous extrapolation of 662/627 (estimates were based on assuming the number of wounded to be proportional to fatalities, for details, see the original post).

611/576 is the new extrapolation for December (final numbers not back yet), replacing the previous extrapolation of 634/600.

Deadly

Yahoo! News lists the deadliest days of the war for Iraqis since the war began, listed reverse chronologically or in descending order of number of fatalities.

That is all.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Till Death Do Us Part

Some food for thought about love and marriage from Eliza in the Philippines.

That is all.

They Just Don't Get It

Rachel Raskin-Zrihen informs us that the life in Islamic societies (both those that exist in the west and those that exist in the Middle East) is terrible, and therefore we should not feel bad about imposing our way of life on them.

Two things are apparent here:

(a) The idea that maybe we shouldseverely limit the number of Muslims that we allow into the west does not occur to her. She thinks that we can just turn them into us.

(b) She assumes that these societies make the people the way they are, not considering that maybe sometimes the people make the societies the way they. Just going in and assuming that they are exactly like us, they just need to be taught differently is a little like assuming that you can install Mac OSX on a Dell.

That is all.
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