Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Because "My Humps" Was Too Intellectually Challenging

The Pussycat Dolls have a new song out.
Enjoy reading the lyrics.

That is all.

Same Ol' Hack, Same Ol' Fallacy

It's amaszing how naive the neocons assume we must be.

In his recent piece assuring us that everyone but the Bush administration and its cronies are lying to us, Hack Kelly regales us with this bit of ridiculousness:

"Nearly every Iraq story is inaccurate," wrote Ben Connable, a Marine major stationed in Fallujah, in an email to a friend. "The numbers are inflated, the damage exaggerated, the estimates are misleading, and the predictions are based on pure conjecture, often by people far removed from the problem."

Read the rest of the piece for more of this piffle.

What Mr. Kelly obviously overlooks is the question of how much can we trust what an explicitly interested party like the military says. I've already posted several times on how troops are being pressured to toe the party line (I'll do a round-up of such posts later). Can Mr. Kelly really expect that the Marines are allowed to say anything but "things are going fine?"

Essentially any claim that "we should trust the troops because they know what is going on better than the media, they have first-hand experience, amounts to no more than "Who ya gonna believe? The Bush administration and those who work for them, or your lyin' eyes?"

That is all.

Polygamy Polygyny Polyandry

Matt Yglesias and Bret Weinstein talk about the issue.

Interesting stuff.

That is all.

Violence Was Worse than Reported, No it Wasn't, Yes it Was, Etc.

A new report by the Washington Post claims that the death toll from sectarian violence over the past few weeks has been higher than reported previously in the media; presumably [if this report is accurate] this would be because most media counts rely on their ability to track specific incidents, whereas a lot of deaths may not be connected to a documented altercation.

Obviously, people on the pro-war side tend to be distrustful of such reports, but having the official numbers lower than the actual numbers is a common practice when violence breaks out in a city. This was recently shown by the deliberate minimization of rapes after Katrina (after the initial reports were likely somewhat exaggerrated), which turned out to be an example of the pendulum swinging too far the other way, as predicted and later noted by Steve Sailer (and also by Ol' Lyin' Eyes Ziel here and here).

The fact of the matter is, there is good reason to assume not just that there are good things going on in Iraq that we don't hear about, but also bad things that either slip through the cracks or that are deliberately covered up or minimized by interested parties, such as the military and the Iraqi government.

That is all.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Victor Davis Hanson Still Needs to Learn About Reality...

I thought I would go about debunking V.D. Hanson's latest little piece of fantasy.

Okay, so the gist of the peace is that we are winning in Iraq, we are being into thinking we are not by the eeeeevil MSM (mainstream media), and we just need to avoid losing heart.

Now let's break this apart one piece at a time.

First, he claims that the insurgency lacks the ability to do three things:
(1) Drive the U.S. out
(2) Stop the training of Iraqi security forces
(3) Stop the formation of a new government

While technically true, this doesn't really matter. The insurgency doesn't have to win stay viable, it just needs not to lose. It can't drive us out, but it can sap our strength. It may not be able to stop us from training Iraqi security forces, but that doesn't mean that the forces we train will be able to provide security from the insurgents. And they may not be able to derail the new government, but unless that government has the ability to actually get things done, they don't need to.

And I'm not sure that the government isn't doing a good job of derailing itself. The reasons that it will be difficult to create a functioning multiethnic democracy in Iraq go beyond the problem of the insurgency, and the insurgency is not the only manifestation of ethnic and anti-U.S. strife in the U.S. And, contra Hanson, it does appear that the latest attacks have indeed been a setback to the formation of a new government, so Hanson's belief in an unstoppable democratic juggernaut is not entirely supported by the facts, to put it mildly.

Next, he outlines what he claims are the three strategies of the insurgents:
(1) Try to make things look worse than they by using suicide bombings, IEDs, and assassinations. These really aren't that big a deal, but for some reason the media emphasizes these things rather than school construction.
(2) Those who re linked to al Qaeda are trying to foment civil war. Again, the media helps the terrorists by not showing how much the vast majority of Iraqis believe in multiculturalism and tolerance.
(3) Third, they try to increase normal crime and thuggery, because, you know, it's not like Iraq has a lot of opportunities for thugs to rape, loot, and steal without help from organized insurgents.

Like the neocons are wont to do, Hanson makes much of the 100,000 criminals released from Saddam's jails prior to the invasion.

I'm not certain how relevant this is, for two reasons. For one thing, itis unlikely that the assassinations, suicide bombings, mosque-bombings, and IEDs are being done as part of normal criminal activity. Secondly, while Hanson is likely correct that the insurgency is not committing most of the rapes and thefts in Iraq, let's be honest: rapes and thefts are not why people think that Iraq is in chaos. I haven't heard that many (if any) any reports about rapes in Iraq, or about theft outside of a few cases where police stations were looted for guns, and maybe one or two large bank heists. The idea that "the terrorists have succeeded in making all the daily mayhem of a major city appear to be political violence" doesn't make sense when one considers the fact that most of the "daily mayhem" type violence either doesn't get reported, or else no one listens to it. The stuff that convinces people that there is a lot of political violence is the overtly political violence - assassinations of major figures, mass-casualty bomb attacks, etc. Most importantly, the killing of coalition soldiers is what concerns Americans - and in most cases, that can hardly be attributed to street crime.

And even if a lot of the violence is committed by common thugs, it doesn't speak well of our ability to maintain order in the country.

On the issue of the mainstream media's reporting, I'll believe that building schools is as significant as the suicide bombings, assassinations, and IED attacks the day that someone says "forget about the World Trade Center, I want to know about school construction projects that were going on in the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001.

Also, Hanson sets up a bit of a straw man when he chides the MSM for believing that civil war is likely:

And indeed, in the world that we see on television, there is no such thing as a secular Iraq, an Iraqi who defines himself as an Iraqi, or a child born to a Shiite and Sunni. No, the country, we are told, is simply three factions that will be torn apart by targeted violence.

There may be secular Iraqis, but some of the Sunni/Shiite divide is simply a divide between ethnic factions, and the actual religious differences do not necessarily matter; moreover, being secular does not make one immune to hatred of other people baed on their religion. Sure, there are Iraqis who say they only think of themselves as Iraqi, not as the member of a clan or sect. But in many cases, what this means is "my clan or sect is Iraq." In other words, they just think of themselves as Iraqi, but that simply means they want Iraq to stay together as a single country which they rule.

Next, he basically lays out our choices and the stakes in a long-winded fashion that adds nothing to what he has already said.

Now for the predictions for the future. Victor Davis Hanson says that we are going to win. This, of course, is a tremendous surprise to everyone except those people who have ever read a sentence of Mr. Hanson's work.

Specifically, he says that the Americans he has talked to believe that a new government will soon form and be seen as legitimate in the eyes of the people, and it will lead the Iraqi security forces to victory against the insurgents.

Who, exactly, are these Americans? Are they soldiers? Is anyone stupid enough to think that soldiers are allowed to say anything but "things are wonderful!"? Military censorship of the media is well-documented.

Then he states that the terrorists through their bombs have told him that they are still trying to use terrorism to stop the two things they fear: the Iraqization of those opposed to them (i.e. the building of anti-insurgent Iraqi security forces) and the democratization of Iraq. I find it interesting that without talking to them, he can divine what they are afraid of and why they fight us. Perhaps he should go into the necromancy (talking to the dead) business with Michael Ledeen.

Then he states:

It is an odd war, because the side that I think is losing garners all the press...

Gosh, it couldn't be possible that the fault is with him, and that he is underestimating the insurgents, is it?

Who are you going to believe? Victor Davis Hanson or your lying eyes? Of course, Hanson is the one we should believe:

Yet we hear nothing of the other side that is ever so slowly, shrewdly undermining the enemy.

Evidence for this is as follows:

(1) The Iraqi Army is now going on about half of coalition patrols and on many of its own.
(2) The Iraqi Army is now "developing into the best trained and disciplined armed force in the Middle East."
(3) We have rebuilt the infrastructure real good except for one or two essential parts - so progress on electricity and oil production will occur Real Soon NowTM (I think Jim Henley came up with this expression).
(4) We are going to use an "oil-drop" strategy to pacify Iraq, slowly expanding the "safe area" outside the Green Zone.

I suppose that the Iraqi Army may be going on a lot of patrols, but this ignores the question of where its true loyalties lie, and as to whether or not the Iraqi military is one of the institutions fomenting civil strife in Iraq. Of course, even if the Iraqi Army is fomenting strife, that doesn't necessarily negate Hanson's belief that its increase in power is a boon to U.S. Forces; it is quite possible that the U.S wants the Shiites to take revenge on the Sunnis in order to beat them down and discourage the insurgency. Nonetheless, it would tend to negate any argument that the increased activity of the Iraqi Army is a sign of progress towards a peaceful, democratic, and free Iraq. Rather, we would have an Iraq under the tenuous control of a faction that we ourselves exercise some level fo control over (for now). As far as being the best trained and disciplined army in the Middle East, bollocks. Israel's is certainly better, and Turkey's almost surely so as well. Probably he meant the best trained and disciplined army in the Arab world. This may be true, but it is rather like referrring to Carrot Top's most intellectual performance. And it looks as if they won't be replacing us anytime soon.

Hanson's argument on infrastructure bascially boils down to "trust us, here's only one step left." This is hardly encouraging. The fact of the matter is that electricity production is down below pre-war levels; oil production is ---- I even heard Fox News mention this. Perhaps all that needs to be done is the completion of the most vulnerable elements, power lines and oil pipes, but the fact of the matter is that unless we see some progress toward the completion of these things, then we can have evey other element in place and the electricity production and oil industries will still be shot to Hell.

As for the plan to expand security outward from the Green Zone, have we started yet? Is there any evidence that we have been successful in incrementally increasing security around the Green Zone at all? Without actual demonstration of the "safe zone" expanding, the "oil drop" strategy is mere wishful thinking.

Then Hanson outright lies. According to Hanson, "The nature of the debate has also changed at home." No one is concerned anymore that with whether Bush lied, or whether we "won the war but lost the peace." Nor does anyone care about flaws in our strategy. No, no, there are only those who think that we need to be patient and we will win, and those who think that it isn't worth it.

Although he doesn't say so explicitly, the way that Hanson phrases this suggests that even the antiwarriors agree that we can "win" - by which he means establish a pluralistic, democratic Iraq - they just don't think that doing so is worth it.

Of course, this is a lie. It is true that fewer people worry now about what we did wrong during and after the invasion, but that is mainly because most such people now believe that we shouldn't have gone in in the first place. A lot more people are now convinced that Bush lied (or at least distorted the facts), and that it is important to note that he did so. And the idea that staying longer will not help the situation in Iraq is a major reason why people think we should get out.

Next he suggests that everyone agrees that the people in Iraq know what they are doing, and that troop morale is wonderful, and everything is great and secure.

Most of these are simply assertions, and require the assumption that the troops are able to say what they really feel and that we can trust what the generals tell pro-war columnists. I am unconvinced that troop morale is high, due to the fact that, as stated before, the troops do not have the luxury of honesty, and due to the fact that another supposed indicator of the high morale and attractiveness of our military, high recruitment numbers, have been belied by the facts that the army has (a) reduced its goals, (b) started accepting dumber applicants.

Moreover, the high reenlistment numbers, often used to show how good soldier morale is, may be due to what amounts to coercion.

So I'm sorry if Mr. Hanson's statements don't impress me much. Sorry.

Next, there is a bunch of crap about how high the stakes are and about how our alternatives are (1) the terrorists win and take over the middle east (and next the world, presumably) or (2) we stay, in which case we will surely win. Rather naive, or more precisely rather idiotic.

Finally, he closes with a stirring rallying cry:

Can-do Americans courageously go about their duty in Iraq — mostly unafraid that a culture of 2,000 years, the reality of geography, the sheer forces of language and religion, the propaganda of the state-run Arab media, and the cynicism of the liberal West are all stacked against them.

I'm really glad to know that Hanson thinks it i a good thing that we blythely ignore the clear and present problems in Iraq, including the "cynicism" of those who think that we ought to come out with strategies and goals that are plausible.

Iraq may not have started out as the pivotal front in the war between democracy and fascism, but it has surely evolved into that. After visiting the country, I think we can and will win, but just as importantly, unlike in 2003-4, there does not seem to be much of anything we should be doing there that in fact we are not.

It's always refreshing to hear someone declare how out of touch with reality he is.

That is all.

Meet the New News, Same as the Old News

Commenting on Jim Henley's blog, Gary Farber points out that the "news story" about the Stephen Cambone memo (which I mentioned here is not a "new" news story at all, but is at least three years and change old.

That is all.

Figures of Speech Question

Does anyone know if there is a name for the figure of speech where the attributes of one sex are given to someone of the opposite sex? (If you're not certain what I mean by a name for a figure of speech, click here).

For example, referring to a man's "cherry" or a woman's "cajones."

If there is no such term, what do you guys think would be a good term to use?

That is all.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Friday, February 24, 2006

Tip of the Iceberg

In a rebuttal to those so-called "conservatives" who are unconcerned about the recent wiretapping incidents, there is a claim there is a far more wide-ranging surveillance program in place.

Rush Limbaugh has already indicated on his show that he has no problem with the information from warrantless wiretaps being used in court (which punctures one pro-wiretapping argument, that it is okay because it isn't being used as testimony in court, so it isn't covered by the fourth amendment).

If this other program involved domestic rather than half-domestic (i.e. one end in the U.S.) and foreign calls, then the other fig leaf drops.

Of course, some "conservatives" wouldn't give a damn if this were true. Andrew McCarthy has made it perfectly clear that he feels that the President has the power to take us into war (declaring war is dismissed as an unnecessary formality) and that once we are at war, the President can spy on anyone whom he chooses to designate a "potential enemy".

That is all.

Uh-Oh

Matt Yglesias has noted that even Ol' Sully is beginning to think that Bush misled the American people into after 9/11.

The Stephen Cambone memo indicates that Rumsfeld was eager to use 9/11 as a pretext to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

Of course, the fact that the Bush administration was looking for an opportunity to get Saddam is obvious to anyone who isn't it total denial.

That is all.

Discussion Topic

I'm interested in knowing what the people who read Glaivester think about Peter Duesberg.

I think that his theory that HIV does not cause AIDS is wrong, but Donald W. Miller, Jr. has a piece on LewRockwell.com that argues that he is likely correct, and I can't find too much fault with what he says, assuming that the factual information he cites for support are accurate. On the other hand, a person can make a reasonable sounding argument that colds are caused by little monkey who play in your nose, so the fact that he sounds reasonable doesn't mean I should trust what he writes.

Anyone have any thoughts, or any commentary on Dr. Miller's article?

That is all.

Prostate Cancer May Have a Virus Connection?

As I person with a father who has prostate cancer, I think that this is interesting news.

That is all.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Blog I Didn't Realize Existed

The House, M.D. Blog.

That is all.

Race Does Not Exist... Race Does Not Exist... Race Does Not Exist...

Yeah, right. As if.

Steven Goldberg debunks the race-deniers.

That is all.

A Plea to Comics Fans

Help to save a great comic!

Go to your local comic book store and buy the latest issue of Spider-Girl!

That is all.

Speak of the Devil

James S. Robbins blames the mosque bombings on al Qaeda, and as I had suggested it would be, it seems that the major motive in doing this is to pawn off the blame onto "foreign fighters" so as to maintian the fiction that the Iraqis really want to get along.

That is all.

Prediction

Michael Ledeen will find some way of blaming the bombing of the Al-Askariya mosque on Iran. His argument will go something along the lines of "this proves that there is no loyalty felt from the mullahs towards the Iraqi Shiites," or "most people would have you believe that the Shiite Iranians wouldn't attack Shiite Iraqis, but in reality, they attack each other all the time, just as Shiite terrorists and tyrants always love working with Sunni and Wahhabi terrorists and tyrants." In otehr words, more of his "all Muslims who hate democracy (and are U.S. and Israel-unfriendly) are automatically aligned, and all who like democracy (and are U.S. and Israel-friendly) are automatically aligned, and that is the only meaningful division."

That is all.

Civil War Roundup

The destruction of a Shiite mosque in Samarra, the most famous in Iraq, has sparked some counter-attacks against Sunni Arabs, whom the Shiites accuse of making the attack.

Here, here, and here are some more reports on this story.

Everyone seems to be getting in on the blame game. The U.S., unwilling to admit that the Iraqis may not love each other and may not want to live in multiethnic peace, blames Al Qaeda. SCIRI blames the U.S. because our allies in Iraq don't want Shiite death squads to roam the country. The Sunni clerics blame the Shiite clerics for the violent counter-attacks.

At some point, I'm certain that some Middle Eastern bigwig will accuse Israel or the U.S. of blowing up the mosque. I'm surprised they haven't already.

That is all.

Thoughts on WMDs

Allison MacFarlane considers the folly of lumping biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons together in one category.

That is all.

Why Was Larry Summers Fired

The natural assumption is that he was fired (well, technically he resigned, but that is like saying that a woman with a gun to her head "consented" to sex) for his politically incorrect statements about women and math and science. Matt Yglesias, though, wonders if he wasn't nixed due to internal issues, including the firing of a professor and attempts at rearranging the administrative structure and campus.

Matt's (well-documented and likely true) assertion is interesting, in a boring sort of way, for someone like me who likes to find boring answers to controversies.

That is all.

More Sectarian Attacks

If you haven't heard already, fresh sectarian attacks have rocked Iraq.

I'll comment more if I can think of anything interesting or original to say.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to Sully.

That is all.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

It's the End of the Pair-Bond as We Know It...

Stanley Kurtz on the attempt to do away with marriage and gender in Sweden.

A lot of good stuff. The fact of the matter is, as much as Andrew Sullivan may want to deny it, expanding the definition of marriage outside of male-female pair-bonds dilutes the institution. Some people don't understand that, and for them the demeaning of marriage is an unintended consequence, but for others it is the actual goal.

That is all.

X-Chromosomes and Homosexuality

There appears to be a link to how a woman's X-chromosomes are inactivated and to her propensity to have multiple gay sons.

However, it appears that this does not occur in the majority of mothers who have multiple gay sons but only in about 25% of them (as opposed to 13% with one gay son and 4% with no gay sons).

How this affects the "germ theory" of Greg Cochran, I am not certain. But it hardly refutes it, as it occurs in a relatively small number of mothers whose sons are gay.

That is all.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Government-Funding = Pro-Government Bias?

A while back, I commented on a piece by Tibor Machan suggesting that government funding doesn't necessarily imply impartiality (as the government is hardly a neutral player in the world). I think there used to be a comment by Greg Cohcran on that post saying that he thought that government-funded scientists usually were more objective, but it appears to have disappeared (perhaps Haloscan deleted it after it had been on for a certain amount of time).

Now Michael Fumento brings up a similar point.

Interesting article.

That is all.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Substitute Teaching

I've been doing some substitute teaching recently, and the most surprising thing is the way that some students have an attitude toward learning. It's as if school is a contest and the first one to learn something loses. I mean, I will admit that I never liked going to school per se (in the same way that all kids don't like school much), but I never actively resisted learning.

The Simpsons quote: "Not only am I not learning, I'm forgetting stuff I used to know." (Said by Milhouse after Ned Flanders became principal and basically wound up letting the students walk all over him) didn't use to make much sense to me; I thought that viewing students as not hating just school, but hating learning itself was a gross exaggerration.

But now experiencing classes with students who are not on the honors track, I am beginning to get the picture. Not that all of them are like that, but there are a fair number.

That is all.

Sailer on Harris

An old commentary by Steve Sailer on Judith Rich Harris's thesis that "parents don't matter."

I previously (and recently) commented on this issue here.

That is all.

About the State-Sanctioned Rigged Numbers Game

Dan Tarrant directs his rage at the state lotteries.

It's pretty good stuff, and connects nicely with a post of mine from a month ago.

The thing, though, that bothers me the most about the lottery are the advertisements, most of which practically scream "get rich quick! You could win! Come on and try it!" The worst of these was one where it mentioned how bad a generic "you" must feel that you had all of those dreary things to look forward too, including bills you had to pay. Then the ad stated that the narrator was "that little voice in the back of your head" and that you should buy a lottery ticket because "you will think about winning all day." Yes, if you have a difficult time making ends meet, by all means invest in a gambling scheme with a less than 50% payout (much less, if you include taxes and the fact that you don't get the advertised jackpot as a lump sum).

The lottery is, in essence, a system of taking money from the poorest and stupidest segments of society (yes, people who put a lot of money into the lottery are almost certainly more likely to have low IQs and not to actually think things through).

It's bad, and it should be stopped.

That is all.

The Unborn as Commodities

Joshua Trevino explains why in vitro fertilization is morally problematic.

This should show people that the claim that pro-lifers don't care about the life of the fetus but just want to control women's bodies is not accurate.

That is all.

Pleading the Tenth

Joseph Sobran on the forgotten amendment.

That is all.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Stephen Birmingham Debunks the "Saddam Tapes"

An excellent post with a pretty thorough debunking of the "latest" "evidence" that Saddam had WMDs in recent years.

I will try to post a fresh analysis of my own later. In the meantime, you can read my previous posts on this issue here, here, and here.

That is all.

Nature vs. Nurture

Dennis Mangan has a post about a recent book by Judith Rich Harris that claims that parental care has no effect on a child's behavior:

The developmentalists found that the children's behavior was correlated with the parents' behavior and attributed the correlation to the effects of the home environment. Though they realized that heredity might account for some of the correlation, they never considered the possibility that heredity might account for all of it. But that is exactly how it turned out. Once the effects of genetic similarities were estimated and skimmed off, the correlation declined to zero. The putative effects of the home environment disappeared.

I can't entirely buy that. Taken literally, it would mean that you can beat up your children, sexually molest them, let them be raised by wolves, and it doesn't change a thing.

I think a far more likely explanation is the "weakest link" one: nurture and nature each determine a level of behavior for your child (I'm pretending that behavior can be looked at as a linear quantity from "good" to "bad") and whichever level is worse, is where your child is. Put another way, parental care cannot overcome a child's genetics, but it can harm a child. The reason why parnetal care does not seem to have an effect is that the parents are almost always equal to or better than the genetics; when the parent is biological, they tend to be equal to; when adoptive, better than; because adoptive parents tend to be screened and because people who have to give their babies up for adoption are probably disproportionately people with genetic disadvantages.

I think that this would fit the facts and also seem more reasonable to me; it does not strike me as odd that a child whose parents are from a disadvantaged ackground might not be "fixed" by putting him with a well-behaved upper middle-class family. It beggars belief that the child of a well-behaved upper middle-class family would not be damaged by letting a couple who are abusive to him and who run a crackhouse adopt him.

That is all.

New Links on Glaivester

I have decided to put up some new links, one to a paleoconservative site, one to a liberal site.

Pumpkinhead, the blog of Pieter Friedrich (formerly of "Blogs for Peroutka") has a bunch of interesting thoughts on politics, religion, and Macdom, among other things. He is also involved with The Backwater Report, a Constitution Party-affiliated blog to which I have linked for some time.

The Center for Advanced Sarcasm, a former Glaivester blog of the week, contains the thoughts of one Dan Tarrant. It tends toward liberalism, but has some good stuff in there occasionally.

That is all.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Those Tapes

I'll wait for any extensive commentary on those Saddam tapes that have just come out until there has been enough time for more substantial analysis to take place.

But I do want to point out something.

The tapes in question are from 1995. This does not prove that there was a weapons program there after 1998.

Moreover, if there were a weapons program, why didn't Saddam either use it when we invaded (it might not have saved his regime, but it would take (presumably) a lot of American soldiers down with him, or give it up and thus bring international pressure against the U.S. to bear to try to delay or stop our invasion?

We are to believe that he was hiding WMDs so that he could not use them, but ship them to Syria while his country fell, as claimed by Ali Ibrahim al-Tikritit? Please. This guy has as much reason to be honest as Ahmad Chalabi.

I think that the sudden surfacing of these tapes at this time, and the sudden publicizing of the Tikriti interview, occurred primarily because the Bush administration needs to shore up its credibility before it begins to ratchet up the war machine against Iran. After all, if Iraq really was planning WMD terrrorist attacks against the U.S., then Bush was right, so he must be right in his claims against Iran as well. You do trust our glorious leader, don't you?

That is all.

Paul Craig Roberts has Andy McCarthy's Number

A great article to counteract Mr. McCarthy's piece of crap.

That is all.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

They Don't Get It

Deb Saunders has an article on the test controversy in California.

The argument that exit exams should not be required for students to graduate usually amount to:

The lawyer's argument is that it is unfair to not grant a diploma to a student who has completed 13 years of school and repeatedly received passing grades in math, English and other classes, because the student cannot pass "one test."

What they ignore is that if the students can't pass this "one test," then it is likely that all of the classes they took weren't worth very much.

Some of the anxiety appears to be over the fact that some of the students don't do well because English is not their first language.

Tough. English is what we speak here. Learn it fluently if you want to pass.

That is all.

Andrew McCarthy: Bush Should Be Allowed to Be a Dictator

While there are some legitimate things in this article by Andy McCarthy, this line beggars belief:

The power to declare war has never been a power to make, authorize, or initiate war. Indeed, as demonstrated in The Powers of War and Peace by Professor John Yoo, formerly of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, the Framers altered a draft of the Constitution that would have empowered Congress to "make" war, settling on "declare," a term of art which, at the time of the founding, merely meant the provision of formal notice to the world (including the enemy) of a state of total war (as opposed to some lesser degree of hostilities), which triggered various rights for belligerents under international law. It is no accident either that the U.S., despite having participated in numerous wars, has formally declared war only five times in its history (and not since 1941), or that our British forebears frequently fought wars with no formal declaration whatsoever.

Put another way, the President has the power to take us into a war without the consent of Congress. This is madness. The reason why the Congress is not given the power to "make war" is so that they cannot take the country to war without hte President's consent. That is, they can declare war, but the president can refuse to actually fight it. Thsi is far different from saying that the President can fight a war without a declaration.

And McCarthy's apparent endorsement of our fighting undeclared wars shows that he is another imperialist with a dictatorial ideal for the president.

His line that a formal declaration of war "triggered various rights for belligerents under international law" is also worrisome. Is he stating that without a declaration, our troops are not legally protected from abuse (e.g. we cannot charge those who capture our troops and mistreat them with war crimes) or that the declaration of war triggers rights for our enemies (in which case he is arguing that the President can figght a war harder without a declaration, making a declaration of war actually a statement of restraint rather than a statement of belligerence.

Let's be honest, Andy. You want the President to have absolute power. You really believe what this website sarcastically states.

That is all.

Why Affirmative Action is Dumb

Steve Sailer on the latest nuisance launched upon us by the diversity police.

As a job-seeker, this worries me greatly.

Meanwhile, I don't recall our stupid "conservative" president actually doing anythign to fight this, or, like, even actually, like, you know, saying anything about it.

That is all.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Thoughts on Al-Tikriti

So the WMDs are in Syria, eh?

The latest "confession" by Ali Ibrahim al-Tikriti means one of two things:

(1) Saddam behaved in an entirely preposterous manner prior to the war, deciding to let Iraq get invaded without putting up a no-holds-barred defense (i.e. moving his WMDs to Syria rather than using them against American troops), because humiliating Dubya was his primary goal.

(2) Someone is coercing or bribing him to say what the administration wants him to say, including creating a casus belli for us to attack Syria. (Sorry folks, when I first read this I thought he was one of the guys we captured in the Second Gulf War; I didn't read carefully enough and see that he actually had defected in the early 90s).

(2) He fell out of favor with Saddam [which is why he defected] and initially had been trying to pay him back by asserting whatever the U.S. wanted to hear in order to justify the overthrow of Saddam. Now that Saddam is gone, he is trying to curry favor with the U.S. in order to gain a position for himself in the new Iraq [again, by telling the current U.S. administration what it wants to hear, including creating a casus belli for us to attack Syria].

Given that this is a WorldNetDaily article, guess which one I am siding with.

That is all.

New Things on Glaivester

I have put up some links through the Amazon Associates program, so if people want to buy what I advertise, I get a cut. (This also gives me an opportunity to advertise Spider-Girl, a comic I greatly enjoy).

I have also fixed my Paypal button, so if you want to donate using PayPal, you can now.

(To donate to Glaivester, click on the link on the "DONATE" link on the right-hand sidebar, and then you see the donation options. If you don't see a right-hand sidebar, then scroll down; the sidebar will be on your left after the text runs out).

That is all.

Argentum et Aurum

Gary North comments on whether silver or gold is a better investment.

Me? I do both, although my gold outnumbers my silver by 4 to 1 (in dollar terms).

But Mr. North makes one important point, that silver has more industrial uses than gold and so is more vulnerable to alterations in demand, particularly more vulnerable to loss of value during a recession.

That is all.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Hack Kelly is at it Again

This article is mostly laughable.

While I agree that the anti-Bush comments at the Coretta Scott King funeral were not what I would consider appropriate, I think that the idea that the blacks will be voting Republican en masse any day now is stupid. Moreover, the idea that the GOP should make Condoleeza Rice the new Presidential candidate - ridiculous.

That is all.

Heterohomophilia

Steve Sailer has printed an email of mine on the "Brokeback Mountain" issue (the second email), where I offer my thoughts on the fascination by some heterosexuals with homosexual activity amongst the opposite sex, a term I call "heterohomophilia." (I actually referred to it in my email as fascination with homosexuals, but on second thought I realize that it is homosexual activity (either sex or pair-bonding), not actual homosexuals, that is found fascinating by the opposite gender).

In any case, I brought up the parallel between "slash fanfiction" and girl-on-girl porn was myself way back in January of last year, and Yggy brought in up in the context of Brokeback Mountain here.

That is all.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Sinister Government Discrimination

Outrageous.

That is all.

About that Accident

I probably should make a comment about Dick Cheney shooting that guy by accident. But I can't really think of anything novel and/or non-obvious to say. I don't really see much importance in the story from a standpoint of what it shows about Cheney or the Bush administration in general. It was a hunting accident, and doesn't really prove anything one way or the other about the war, or Halliburton, or illegal immigration, etc. So I'll wait to comment until I find something to say that is either relevant or clever.

As for those of you who take joy in berating Cheney, best of luck to you. He deserves all of the ribbing he gets. But I'm not going to join in the party.

That is all.

Bush, Exaggerrating?

Becky Akers suggests that Bush has been exaggerrating the scope of the threats that his administration has supposedly thwarted.

That is all.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Math and Science

Lew Rockwell denies that there is a shortage of Americans qualified in math and science.

As usual, he believes that the free market calibrates it so that we have jsut about the right amount.

It's an interesting proposition.

And of course, as I have mentioned before, any discussion of the gaps between the U.S. and other countries on test scores have to be considered in the context of our different racial demographics.

That is all.

York and Iran

Blow the Hell out of Iran now, says Byron York.

There are two problems with Mr. York's analysis of a post by Atrios.

First, he willfully misrepresents Atrios as suggesting that he wouldn't mind if nukes took out a city or two. Obviously, what Atrios is actually saying is (a) Iran is not an existentiaal threa to the U.S. and (b) it would by far be at a disadvantage in a nuclear exchange with the U.S., so it can easily be deterred from attacking us. Atrios is suggesting that taking out Iran's nuclear program is not necessary to prevent nuclear attacks, not that nuclear attacks would not be devastating.

If a nuclear Iran took out Jerusalem and London, to name a city or two, wouldn't that be really bad -- even if the U.S. was capable of devastating retaliation? Wouldn't it be better to prevent such an outcome, even if it involved a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities?

Would such an attack end there, or would we be forced into actually conquering Iran in order to have any long-term victory? Byron York coneniently ignores all of the unintended but likely consequences of an attack on Iran.

Second, Byron York trots out the old "[Insert eeeeevil country here] is just crazy, and will gladly let itself be blow to nothingness by the U.S. in order to destroy a city" canard.

In addition, there was a certain rationality that underlay the Cold War system of mutually assured destruction. Does anyone know whether Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would display that rationality?

York would do well to remember that (a) Ahmadinejad isn't a dictator; he can't choose to nuke something without other branches of government consenting, and (b) Ahmadinejad is a lot less crazy than people think.

I'll analyze (b) first. For one thing, even if his comment on the Holocaust were a denial - the term "myth" does not necessarily imply fiction, so he might have simply been saying that the Holocaust has become Israel's raison d'etre, and he thinks the implications of that are unfair (I would disagree with him) - that would be more playing to the crowds than an evidence of madness. Most of the Middle Eastern Muslims hate Jews, so it wouldn't be irrational for a Muslim leader to publicly speak nasty lies about them. For the second thing, the statements about taking Israel off the map are again, almost certainly just normal Iranian boilerplate to try and direct the people's anger outside fo the country.

Finally, back to the issue of (a) Ahmadinejad isn't a dictator: Steve Sailer has pointed out that the neocons always seem to assume that whatever branch of government in Iran contains the most belligerent people must be the one in charge, the better to wave the bloody shirt over; if Ahmadinejad were a moderate, like Khameini, they would assert that he had no power and that the crazed mullahs were really in charge. As it is, they claim, if not directly then by implication that Ahmadinejad is essentially a dictator.

Thanx and a tip o' that hat to Thrasymachus.

That is all.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Not About Dollars v. Euros After All?

Paul Craig Roberts disputes the idea that the Middle-East war is motivated mainly by the "petrodollar," and also disputes that the currency in which oil is priced has more than a marginal effect on the dollar's value.

That is all.

"Str8ening" Things Out

More of that Sailer good stuff, publishing an email from a gay reader on why he can accept Jake Gyllenhaal as a gay shepherd, but not Heath Ledger.

That is all.

Everything Has an Economic Dimension

Economics is not just about wealth, says Llewellyn Rockwell Jr.

This is an interesting point that is overlooked by too many people who dismiss economists as assuming that man is "homo economicus," concerned only with wealth maximization. Love, charity, the warm fuzzy feeling that you get doing a good deed are all economic decisions in that in each case, you are exchanging finite resources (even if the resource is only your time) in order to satisfy a desire (e.g. you spend an hour giving and receiving affection from a loved one rather than cataloguing your comic book collection, because the affection is more satisfying to you at the current time than having the collection be complete).

Although I suppose one could argue that everything could be considered wealth as well, depending on how you define wealth. Certainly, one could argue that non-material benefits could be considered wealth of a sort.

That is all.

CIA vs. W.

Paul Pillar reports on the (blindingly obvious) fact that the Bush administration manipulated intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq War.

For what it is worth, here is the Weakly Standard's (deliberate misspelling) response.

That is all.

Thomas Sowell a Utilitarian?

According to William L. Anderson, Mr. Sowell's recent column on wiretapping veers in that direction.

That is all.

Repeat a Lie Often Enough

Rumsfeld once again accuses (and subtly threatens) Syria and Iran of aiding the insurgency.

While I won't say that Iran and Syria have never done anything that might help the insurgents, they are not anywhere near important enough to the insurgents to justify the constant focus on them.

This is obviously done more for the edification of Rumsfeld's American audience than out of a desire to alter Iranian or Syrian policy, neither of which is likely a major player in the insurgency.

As I have said before, the two goals of this "blame Syria and Iran" campaign are (a) to excuse our failure to stop the insurgency, and (b) to set the public up to support the next Middle East war.

That is all.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

On Wiretapping

It is strange how many otherwise good, government-distrusting conservatives ÂȘincluding those who believe thatpublic schooling is terribly wrong) don't seem to have any problem whatsoever with the wiretapping issuethat has recently been brought up. I am specifically thinking of a personal acquaintance of mine when I say this.

But what the pundits are saying is also distressing. Just today, Sean Hannity essentially came out and said that the President has unlimited power as long as he is doing it under the rubric of "protecting the country," and that if Congress tries to curb him, it is the institution which is abusive its power.

Why doesn't Hannity come right out and suggest that we add a dictatorship clause to the constitution like the Romans had, but without the six-month limit?

That is all.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

More of That Sailer Good Stuff

Steve Sailer spanks the willfully ignorant or disingenuous Malcolm Gladwell.

That is all.

Not Even Israel First; Bush First

Mona Charen and Dennis Prager are apparently hallucinating a silver lining to the cloud of a Hamas electoral victory.

Presumably, their goal in this is either ideological (they want to preserve their neoconservatism) or loyalty-to-Bush-based (they are unwilling to admit that Bush's foreign policy is flawed in any way).

While Charen seems to be finding reasons to excuse the Palestinians for voting for Hamas, Prager, as Lawrence Auster points out, seems to be looking at the issue mainly as a club with which to attack the left rather than worrying about the actual issue of the Palestinians themselves.

This reminds me from something Steve Sailer has been saying: that a lot of whites look at minorities as being props that they use in order to improve their status with other whites. In this case, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is being used more as a prop in the right-left wars than as an issue in and of itself.

That is all.

Good Ol' Tom Toles

Clark Stooksbury comments on the hoopla over a recent Tom Toles cartoon. He's pretty much on the money.

I must say that I find most of the criticism of the cartoon to be disingenuous. One of the commenters on The O'Reilly Factor compared it to Nazi-era cartoons of Jews. This is totally ridiculous, as the point of Nazi-era cartoons was to make the Jews look like evil monsters needing to be destroyed; not as victims of bad decisions by the leaders of their community.

Most of the other criticism simply seems to be that it is offensive to portray a wounded soldier. My answer is, why? It seems to me that Rumsfeld and company's cavalier attitude about our military's limits is a much bigger concern, one that the cartoon's critics have apparently ignored.

I also note that I don't see any similar concern about offending the Kopechnes when making jokes about Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick. (This is, of course, a good thing, as jokes about Ol' Rock-Liver are usualy pretty funny).

That is all.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Supporting the Troops and not the War

Some morons on the right and the left don't believe that it is possible to support the troops and not the war.

Well, it is.

Because, you see, there is a difference between believing that a policy is stupid and will likely fail, and between hoping it will fail.

Obviously, I hope that our troops will do as well as they can, and that they will help to create a better situation in the Middle East. It would be nice if they could create a functioning multiethnic democracy there.

However, I would rather they not try, because I think they will fail. However, if they do try, I hope they succeed. But I can't support a policy that I don't think will succeed, as much as I would like to see it succeed.

This is as opposed to someone who wants the other side to win and who wants to see as many coalition soldiers get hurt as possible.

Capische?

That is all.

Yes, Virginia, They Do Want to Destroy Marriage

Stanley Kurtz explains the desire of some on the left to expand the definition of marriage to meaninglessness.

That is all.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Gay Un-Rights

A good article to read for anyone who claims that the gay rights lobby is only interested in protecting gays' rights, and doesn't want to take away the rights of people who dislike homosexuality.

That is all.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Shylock, the Arab

In Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, Portia, Bassanio's newlywed wife, pretends to be a judge and hears the case of Antonio and Shylock.

In case anyone here doesn't know the story, in essence, Antonio borrows money from Shylock, with the condition that if he cannot pay, he must let Shylock cut a pound of flesh from his chest (which will obviously kill him). When he can't pay, Shylock takes him to court to collect the penalty. (Shylock is a Jewish moneylender and he hates Antoino because of suffering prejudice from Christians all his life (as well as from the fact that Antonio undercut his lending business).

In any case, an interesting exchange occurs in the fourth act that shows one of themes of the play, which is (according to Shakespeare) the difference between the Christian and the Jewish outlook on life; between the (supposedly) overly legalistic outlook of the Jews and the merciful forgiveness of hte Christians.

Por. Of a strange nature is the suit you follow;
Yet in such rule that the Venetian law
Cannot impugn you as you do proceed.
[To ANTONIO.] You stand within his danger, do you not?
Ant. Ay, so he says.
Por. Do you confess the bond?
Ant. I do.
Por. Then must the Jew be merciful.
Shy. On what compulsion must I? tell me that.

Act IV. Scene 1 ll. 171-179

Forgetting the specifics of the play, and of the specific comparison used here (Jews v. Christians), we get a clear picture of a person trying to operate under the assumption of universalism, that all people share the same values.

Portia finds it so absurd that someone would kill someone as punishment for an unpaid debt that her response to the deal is "Then must [Shylock] be merciful," as no other reasonable option occurs to her.

Shylock, however, doesn't see it that way. He doesn't see why be merciful unless he is forced to by an outside power. "On what compulsion must I [be merciful]?"

After this, Portia goes into her "the quality of mercy is not strained" speech, where she in essence admits that Shylock doesn't have to be merciful, but really, no one could possibly not be merciful in such a situation.

Shylock responds (ll. 202-203) "My deeds upon my head! I crave the law,
The penalty and forfeit of my bond."

In other words, "I don't have to be merciuful, I ain't gonna be merciful!"

In a nutshell, this shows why it is unwise to approach people from other cultures as if they share your values, and why it is foolhardy to try and project your worldview onto them.

For our next exercise, students, let's pretend that the Israelis are Antonio (so the Jew [or the Jewish state, at least] is now the hero), the Americans Portia, and the Palestinians are Shylock. Omar al-Shylock.

In his recent state of the union, Bush said:

The Palestinian people have voted in elections. And now the leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism, and work for lasting peace.

I can just hear Omar al-Shylock's reply:

Under what compulsion must I?

That is all.

Thoughts About Guest-Worker Programs

Unless we can get rid of birthright citizenship, an essential part of any alien guest-worker program is a massive spaying/neutering campaign.

That is all.

So Far, So Good

From some predictions I made earlier this month:

(1) Killing of U.S. and other coalition troops will be down (< 50 hostile deaths for the entire coalition per month) for January and February, and then will start to climb again in March. Unless major changes in the way the war is fought occur, (see next prediction) there will be >1000 U.S. deaths in Iraq (hostile and non-hostile) by the time 2007 rolls around.

For January 2006, the current coalition fatality numbers are 44 hostile (i.e. combat-related) and 20 non-hostile (i.e. accidental or otherwise non-combat-related, e.g. deaths.

Turns out my doubts were unfounded.

So far, my predictions on coalition fatalities are pretty accurate.

That is all.
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