Friday, March 31, 2006

An Important Point on Immigration

I'll try to post a longer post elaborating on this, but I think that in the immigration debate, it is important to note that one reason why there is a procedure for legal immigration, rather than us just letting everyone come here, is to limit the amount of immigration. That is, we (meaning U.S.ers in general) want to be able to limit immigration so that we have a number of immigrants that we can assimilate and that we can integrate into our culture. Moreoever, we want the power to adjust immigration depending on our needs and depending on how the costs and benefits (to the U.S. and its current citizens) change over time.

Illegal immigration short-circuits that by causing our immigration levels to reflect only the desires of the immigrants themselves, and of certain businesses which benefit from the cheap labor.

The reason why this is important to point out is because a very common idea (I don't like the word "meme") that has been circulating in political circles is that the reason why we have so much illegal immigration is because we are just too darn strict in letting in legal immigrants. A lot of people talk about "securing the border" and discuss why immigration is a wonderful thing, so long as it is legal, and say that they don't have anything against immigrants, just against those who "break our laws." The subtext is that we should have a system whereby all of these people could enter legally if they so chose. In other words, immigration ought not be reduced at all, we just need to legalize those who are here.

The fact of the matter is that we need to reduce immigration so that we can assimilate those who are already here. Periodic restrictions in immigration helped us to assimilate immigrants in the past, restricitons now ought to have a similar beneficial effect. Moreover, some immigrants are good for the U.S., and some are bad (I am talking about individual immigrants here, I am not using "some" as codeword for different racial groups), regardless of whether they entered and stayed legally or illegally. The ones who have a net detrimental effect to our country ought not to be let in. For these ones, it's not that they are here illegally and that is why they are a problem. The fact is, they are a problem and that is why we refused to let them in legally.

So the point is, any good immigration reform is going to result in a lot of people who would have otherwise gotten in not getting in. Among those who want to come here, there will be losers. Moreover, the goal is not just decreasing the total amount of immigration; there will be particular people whom we decide that we want to keep out, even if there are empty slots left. So not only will there bw losers, but the U.S. government should be the ones determining who the winners and losers are (that is one of government's legitimate functions). Those who say "we don't mind your being here, just come legally," are either being disingenuous or stupid.

That is all.

Dick Morris the Broken Clock

Meaning he is right occasionally.

He recently stated (on Hannity & Colmes, I think) that it would be a bad idea to make it a felony to enter this country illegally. I agree. I want immigration reform, but I don't want to make entering this country illegally a felony. (a) Crimes bring in a whole set of legal manuevers that are not available in civil cases (e.g. deportation cases), and (b) I don't want illegal aliens jailed, I want them deported. As soon as possible. They should only be detained in order to keep an eye on them until we return them.

That is all.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

De-Bunking Bunkum

To commemorate the third anniversary of the Iraq invasion, Michael Graham offers a list of "facts" that we supposedly know for certain to bolster the case for our war in Iraq.

After running through the more dire predictions of the anti-war side, and then declaring that they all "got it wrong" (more on that later), he proceeds to remind us that he is not convinced that Saddam did not have WMDs at the time of the invasion (which he apparently kept but didn't use, because...?) Oh well, maybe some of Michael Ledeen's friends can help him to find them.

Then he engages in what is a little bit of posturing, indicating that while both sides are spinning the war, there are some facts that need to be considered in analyzing the war. He then takes a little dig at antiwar forces, pretending that facts don't matter to them by remembering Clinton and the definition of "is."

His next paragraph speaks volumes:

I offer them for your consideration. Ignore them or embrace them--either way, they will still be the facts.

This is always a very dangerous assetion to make about anything where our primary information on is deductive or secondhand 9that is, based on other's analyses). It's one thing to say "These are the facts. Disprove them or accept them," in which case you invite your opponent to prove you wrong. But the way he phrases it, he immediately indicates that he is unwilling to hear information contradicting his thesis. This is settled, without recourse.

So, really, how factual are his facts?

"Fact" (1) Invading Iraq and toppling Saddam has SAVED lives, not cost them.

He calculates this by using two assumptions that are likely to be fallacious:

First, he calculates the rate at which people would be killed under Saddam by taking the average over 20 years - 1,000 monthly if we assume 1 million people, perhaps as high as 4,000 if we accept some estimates. This assumes that the number of people killed duyring Saddam's last years would be the same as the average during his reign, which including, lest we forget, the Iran-Iraq War and the first Gulf War. It is quite likely that the death toll over the last few years of his reign, say, 2000-2003, would be somewhat lower than this average.

Granted, though, he does make a good point that if we believe some antiwar claims, as many as 5,000 Iraqi children died every month from the sanctions (that would come to about 720,000 children over twelve years). Again, though, there might be some question as to how these deaths were distributed over the last three years or so of Saddam's reign.

Second, he also makes the unfounded assumption that all Iraqi deaths are reported.

Today, according to the anti-war website IraqBodyCount.net, the maximum Iraqi death toll in these three years was under 40,000 Iraqis. Or the equivalent of eight months of "peaceful" UN sanctions.

No, that is the maximum number of REPORTED deaths. The infamous Lancet study found a 95% confidence level that the net number of lives lost from the invasion was between 8,000 and 194,000 [this is as of October 2004, almost a year and a half ago). That is, there was only a 2.5% chance that fewer than 8,000 extra people died as a result of the invasion. Again, note that this is the net number of deaths, not the gross. So however many lives were saved by the invasion, the same number were killed by the invasion, plus an additional 8,000 to 194,000 [and htis was as of October of 2004). I commented on this extensively here.

This also casts doubt on his earlier claims that U.N. predictions of 500,000 injured Iraqi civilians were wildly off the mark. As for his dismissal of German claims of "millions of [Iraqi] victims of U.S. rockets," while I think that the number is offf by an order of magnitude, it is not unlikely that there are a large number of Iraqis who have been killed or injured by American air raids.

And in any case, if we are discussing the effect of war versus the effect of sanctions, it must be pointed out that we are assuming the sanctions as a given. The possibility that we might have lifted the sanctions without forcing Saddam out of power, or, as Gene Callahan suggests, simply tried to bribe Saddam to hand Iraq over to someone more congenial to us, need also be taken into account. Even if the sanctions cost more lives than the war, the argument would simply be that we were killing fewer with one policy than with another policy we could have decided on to get rid of Saddam. That we could have chosen a third policy is not even considered.

"Fact" (2) The Iraqis are Taking Over, and Increasingly the Iraqi Forces are the Ones Suffering Deaths, not Coalition Troops.

It's possible, if we assume that the number of dead Iraqi police and military are actually higher than the numbers reported, and that they are not proportional to the numbers reported. But going strictly on the reported deaths, Iraqi polic and military have been suffering similar fatality rates since Novmeber, as I explained here. What are increasing are reported civilian deaths, [not counting the ultra-high death count from August 2005, which came mostly as the result of a single incident] not reported police and military fatalities. A cynic might suggest that the lower American and other coalition fatalities are not due to Iraqis taking over for them as much as they are due to us leaving Iraqi civilians in the lurch and at the mercy of the insurgents.

As for reports on how many new army units are being formed, I wonder how many of them are simply glossed-over Shiite and/or Kurdish militias that in their spare time terrorize Sunni Arab civilian populations in retaliation, as mentioned by 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 were killing Sunnis on behalf of the Shiites,” with the active participation of a militia unit led by a retired American Special Forces soldier.

I'll try to find more articles dealing with the makeup of the current Iraqi forces, but that would take too much time right now and really I could do a whole post on that, so I think I will. Suffice it to say that it is not yet clear that Iraqi security forces are fighting for a stable, secure, free Iraq, rather than for their own agendas.

It should also be pointed out that, as Michael Schwartz points out, the Iraqi forces are largely designed to be under our command, not as independent units fighting for Iraq, making them part of the occupation rather than of a liberation.

"Fact" (3) The vast majority of American soldiers and Marines who go to Iraq come home safely.

Here Mr. Graham plays a little bait-and-switch, talking about our relatively low number of U.S. fatalities, and then mentions that "that total number of casualties over three years (2320 when he wrote the article) equals just one month of the Vietnam War..."

Mr. Graham pulls a little bait-and-switch by conflating casualties with fatalities. In reality, in addition to the 2323 Americans that have been killed (1865 in combat) there are at least 17004 combat-related injuries, and could be as many as 30,000 more injuries, presumably mostly or completely from non-hostile incidents.

But in any case, how relevant is the fact that "the vast majority of soldiers aren't injured?" The number of casualties is nearly 20,000 at a minimum, which still represents a large number of soldiers killed. In most if not all of the wars we have been in, most of our soldiers survived, so that is a weak point.

I'll agree that we have had fairly low fatalities in Iraq so far, though; I will give him that. But I'm not certain whether that will continue and I doubt that it is enough to justify this war in terms of its financial cost to us, its cost in terms of other countries' respect, or in terms of the human toll on the Iraqis.

"Fact" (4) Saddam had Al Qaueda connections.

Other than the sudden trust this guy has in the Clinton administration's honesty ("It was the Clintonistas who feared Osama would 'boogie to Baghdad' in 1999, not the Bushies") one has to be skeptical of his assertions of the "mountains of circumstantial evidence." Moreover, his statement that "Now we have obtained Iraqi intelligence service documents that clearly state 'OBL and The Taliban are in contact with Iraq'" is hardly proof of any operational relationship. As for the claim of additional documents showing that Saddam funded Al Qaeda in the Philippies, I will say that if true, it is troubling.

But let's remember that many of the much-vaunted Al Qaeda connections have wound up being nothing more than meetings that never went anywhere. I remember reading somewhere that the evidence suggests that Saddam was more interested in finding ways to achieve a peace with Al Qaeda so that it wouldn't attack him rather than trying establish a relationship (remember, Osama bin Laden offered to help us to overthrow him in the 1990-1991 Gulf War). This is also why he started making all of those gestures from the mid-1990s on to show that he really was a strong believer in Islam. (If anyone knows what the site is that I am talking about, could you please comment on this post or email me at glaivester -at- yahoo dot com?)

And it also appears that these new documents may not be entirely reliable. They had no official stamps or markers, for one thing.

"Fact" (5) There is no civil war because only 25,000 Iraqis are fighting each other. That's not civil war, that's just murder and terrorism.

This requires (a) that we assume that the 25,000 figure is accurate (b) that we assume that the 25,000 does not include various peshmerga and Shiite militia forces who are fighting the war on the other side [i.e. than the Sunnis], and (c) that a relatively small number of soldiers is contrary to the definition of war.

I don't really think that we know how many people are actively involved in this conflict. We were told back in 2004 that there were only 5000 insurgents, but estimates of the lower bound are now around 20,000. Unless you believe that the vast majority are foreigners who have just come into Iraq (which is prety clearly not the case), then it is almost certain that there is a much larger supply of either inactive insurgents or pre-insurgents, ready to come out and fight when they feel that the time is right. Moreover, there is a good chance that many of those who are not are at least passively involved in it, as Gary Brecher mentioned in relation to the earlier conflict between the Iraqi insurgents and the U.S.:

Arabs are people persons, nosey as Hell. The only thing they like better than cheap cologne is spying on everybody in the neighborhood. So you have to face the fact that everybody in these towns where roadside bombs are hitting our patrols not only knows who planted the bomb but helped them do it.

Seymour Hersh has a pessimistic perspective on whether the Iraqi armed forces and police are really fighting for a unified Iraq, or whether they are just another self-interested side in the civil war:

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 were killing Sunnis on behalf of the Shiites,” with the active participation of a militia unit led by a retired American Special Forces soldier.

And the evidence seems to be that the security forces are predominantly Kurdish and Shiite, suggesting that their loyalties, should civil war come, would wind up being to their peoples rather than to preserving the country as a multiethnic state.

And a recent report (thanx and a tip o' the hat to Jim Henley) by Riverbend that it is being broadcast on TV not to comply with the orders of Iraqi securit forces and police during nightly patrols suggests that these institutions may be involved in something less honorable than securing the country.

I'll try to get more evidence of Shiite and/or Kurdish participation in the civil war via the police and military, but later.

As for the belief that 25,000 is not enough enemies to consider the fight a civil war, I ask "What about the war on terrorism?" I mean, 19 men killed 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001, and we were supposed to accept that as the beginning of a war. Surely, when more than 3000 police and military and almost 8000 civilians are known to be killed in one year, that should count at least as much, particularly in a country one-tenth our size.

If there were 250,000 insurgents in the U.S. looking to overthrow our government, and they managed to kill at least 1,580 soldiers and police and at least 3000 civilians a month, would we deny that that is a civil war? Yet since April of 2005, that is proportionately to is population, what Iraq is facing.

In short, Michael Graham is full of it. He's another pro-war shill distorting the facts to prettify the Iraq fiasco.

That is all.

Conventional Wisdom is Often (Deliberately) Wrong

Update: There is a new Sixteen Volts piece on this essential issue.

Sixteen Volts recently had a posting about the recent Duke University rape case. He points out the obvious, that to the extent that race plays a role in the coverage, it is the fact that white men allegedly raped a black women that makes it a big story. There would be much less outrage were the races reversed.

This reminds me of an article I read while doing my post "Rape Is About Sex! Duh!"

The article was about lesbians facing sexual assault by other women, but that is tangential to the point of this posting. The important line:

Most of the rapes in the U.S. are committed by white men. Many people in the U.S. wrongly believe that the majority of rapes are committed by men-of-color against white women. The fact is that 90% of rapes occur between people of the same race. However, men-of-Color are disproportionately incarcerated.

This is a textbook example of using half-truths. The implied message is:

"White men are more likely to commit rape than black men. Many people wrongly believe that blacks are more likely to commit rape than whites, but women have much more to fear from white men. However, black men are more likely to be imprisoned for the same offense where a white man would get off.

In reality, there are several flaws in this message.

Flaw 1: They are comparing total numbers of rapes by white men against total numbers of rapes by black men, not considering the fact that there are more than five times as many whites as there are blacks.

Flaw 2: There is a unfounded assertion that many people in the U.S. think that the majority of rapes are black-man-on-white-women. I don't know of anyone who thinks this. And in terms of determining who is more likely to rape, what is important is the race of the rapists, not the race of the victims.

Flaw 3: The fact that most rapes are intraracial rather than interracial is brought up, obviously to make it look like white men are more dangerous than black men. But two things are overlooked: comparing the rate of intraracial black rape to intraracial white rape, and comparing black-on-white rape to white-on-black rape. As Ilkka Kokkarinen (16 volts) pointed out in the aforelinked post, black-on-white rape is much more common.

Flaw 4: There is also the obviously implication that white women have more to fear from other whites than from blacks. This may be true in a broad sense of what white women ought to worry about, but not so true in terms of assessing the danger level of black men vs. white men. Part of the reason why so many rapes are intraracial is because there is a reasonably large amount of segregation. A white woman living in a mostly white community who doesn't meet many lacks is much more likely to come into contact with a white rapist than a black one simply due to the sheer preponderance of white men. This doesn't mean that the white men are more dangerous per capita, or that if she lived in a mostly black neighborhood, where whites did not predominate, that she would be safer.

So what is the message? No, it's not that black men are dangerous, or that most black men are rapists, or any such. The message is that a lot of what we hear as conventional wisdom consists of misrepresentations and half-truths, as well as lies. Particularly on issues of race and gender, the most highly respected experts tend to misrepresent facts in order to maintain their ideology of absolute equality of behavior between races. (I would say the same thing about the Iraq War except that I don't think that those who are trying to push the pro-war view are terribly highly respected as experts by anyone other than hacks.

The larger point is, don't trust what you read until you're certain that you understand what the facts really say, not what the writer is trying to make them say.

That is all.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Tired of Condi

I'm sick and tired of people saying that they want Condoleexa Rice to be the next Republican nominee for President. What has she done, other than be a full-on supporter of Bush?

She is pro-choice, remember. To elect her would be to betray the Christian conservatives who elected her boss.

Let's be honest. There are some Republicans who just want to have a black woman as a nominee. That's a stupid moitvation. We'll have a black nominee or a female nominee when a good one comes around. Condi is not this one.

Listen, folks, if I am going to vote for a black woman to be President of the United States, it's going to be this lady.

That is all.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Henley on the Russkies

Jim Henley discusses Russia's talks with Iraq prior to the invasion. He thinks that the Russians may have been helping us.

One of his commentors remembers an attack on a Russian convoy during the war.

That is all.

This Doesn't Look Good...

Some Iraqis think things are now even worse than under Saddam. The problem is, they don't have hte dictator, but they don't have order, either, which is necessary for real freedom.

That is all.

Quick Thought

There are a lot of posts coming down the pike here, although it may take a little while before I have the time and am in the mood to get them posted.

Joesph Farah is making the same mistake that I earlier criticized Andrew C. McCarthy for making.

I'll try to post about Ol' Joe later, but for now, one quick thought:

A lot of pundits are looking at the Abdul Rahman case, and asking "why did we even bother going into Afghanistan if they're just going to keep being ruled by tyrants?"

When someone asks you that question, I think that you ought to bear in mind Justin Raimondo's response to a post on The Corner by Kathryn Jean Lopez.

K-Lo asked:

SAY IT AIN'T SO! – Sure, it was International Women's Day in Afghanistan, too on March 8 there, but some women were…wearing burkas. Whatever have we been fighting for?

Raimondo's reply:

Well, you see, Kathy, there were these two really big buildings in downtown Manhattan...

That is all.

Titles

A few ideas that have been floating around in my head:

Some great ideas for album titles:

Anaphrodisiac (the album cover would feature a Terminator endoskeleton in a Grateful Dead pose.)
Sum Esse Fui Futurus (for an album of cover songs tranlated into Latin)
Chiasmata
Signed, Sealed, and Lost in the Mail
Central Dogma

Good ideas for TV episode titles (for a sci-fi series about superheroes invovled in an intergalactic war):

"Butterfly Effector" (or Butterfly Effective) (It would be about a person who has the ability to analyze events so as to have an intuitive ability to know, for example, where to punch a building so it will crumble).
"The Vagina Dentata Syndrome" (about an alien female suffering from something similar to the Vulcan Pon Farr - two rules about the episode: the terms "vagina dentata" and "syndrome" are never used in the ep itself, and the sexuality is done mainly psychologically - no revealing outfits [think T'Pol in the decontamination room on Enterprise], and not even any implied nudity until maybe the end [and the viewer doesn't get to see anything at all]).
"The Kingdom Factor"
"Gestalt"
"Deus Ex Machina"
"The Bunker Hill Gambit"
"Central Dogma"

Good ideas for song titles:

Anaphrodisiac
Chiasmata (I'll give you one guess as to which albums these first two songs would be on)
Magellanic Cloud
Homeostasis
P.S. I Don't Love You Anymore
Learning through Osmosis
Antiseptic Sexuality
Monochrome

That is all.

Monday, March 27, 2006

So Close and Yet So Far

Andrew C. McCarthy takes away a good lesson from the Abdul Rahman scandal, but then he runs in the wrong direciton with it.

He points out the very real fact that democracy is, in and of itself, not a guarantee of liberal (in the classical sense of the word) policy or of the protection of individual freedoms. In a country where the vast majority of the population favors an illiberal belief system, the only way to insure human rights is to suppress the popular will.

He points out quite eloquently that we should have expected something like this:

You reap what you sow. What is happening in Afghanistan (and in Iraq) is precisely what we bought on to when we actively participated in the drafting of constitutions which — in a manner antithetical to the development of true democracy — ignored the imperative to insulate the civil authority from the religious authority, installed Islam as the state religion, made sharia a dominant force in law, and expressly required that judges be trained in Islamic jurisprudence. To have done all those things makes outrage at today’s natural consequences ring hollow.

If the outrage is based on a sense of betrayal of liberal values, then sure, it rings hollow. My own outrage was at the fact that the Afghanis tried to impose a death sentence right under our noses while we were keeping them in power. And my outrage was at the complicity that we would have shown in allowing it to happen under our noses. Fortunately, it appears that Rahman's life will be spared.

We can pull our heads up from the sand now and say, “No, no, no! We’re nice people. We didn’t mean it that way. That’s too uncivilized to contemplate.” But the inescapable truth is: the United States made a calculated decision that it wasn’t worth our while to fight over Islamic law (indeed, we encouraged it as part of the political solution).

In other words, the only way to achieve religious freedom is to supprss the will of the Afghani people and to force them to have a constitution that does not enshrine Islamic Law. Again, so far, so good. Nothing he says is untrue.

As Lawrence Auster puts it:

Assuring an Afghan constitution that protected liberal individual rights would have required that we take over Afganistan and rule it against the will of its people; it would have required that we suppress democracy in the name of individual rights.

Here, though, is where he starts to go in the wrong direction.

People who objected (like moi) were told that we just didn’t grasp the cultural dynamic at work. I beg to differ — we understood it only too well.

Here is where McCarthy begins to go in the wrong direction. Not only is he pointing out the apparent contradcition in our goals, he is now suggesting how the contradiction be solved, and he chooses, i my opinion, the wrong way.

Against from the same Auster post I mentioned previously, there are three ways to deal with Afghanistan:

(1) Allow the Afghanis to have their way while pretending we are building a liberal, human rights-respecing society (the hypocritical option).

(2) Be unhypocritical by allowing the Afghanis to have their way, but not pretending that we are building a liberal country. This is the option that both Auster and I favor.

(3) Be unhypocritical by actually insisting on a liberal government. This is what McCarthy wants, and where his error lies.

The fact of the matter is, our goal in Afghanistan was to rout the Taliban because they were the direct allies of Al Qaeda. Our only goal in Afghnistan ought to be to make certain that the Taliban not regain power, which can be accomplished now, methinks, simply by establishing an air base in the country and bombing the Taliban whenever we hear that they have gathered or if they start to regain political power. Beyond that, we have no interest in protecting the current government, and in fact, for warlords or politicians whom we do not particularly like, we have no reason to protect them from the Taliban; let them fight them, and if the Taliban remnants kill a warlord and threaten to gain control over his lands, then take the Taliban out. Trying to make certain that whatever replaces the Taliban is

The point is, imposing liberal government in Afghanistan should not be a high priority. Andrew McCarthy apparently has been bitten by the imperialist bug and has become, if not a messianic democratist, in the sense of democracy uber alles, at least a messianic liberalist, in the sense that it is the job of the U.S. to bring liberal democracy throughout the world. Or at least that a major part of the war on terror is forcing liberality down the throats of the Muslim world.

As for not understanding the political dynamic - methinks he doesn't. Those who insisted that we could get a democracy and Islamic Law without Sharia may have been wrong, but those who think that we could have imposed a liberal republic on the Afghanis without facing a mounting religious insurgency like the one that drove the Soviets out are also delusional. True, this time the Afghans would not have a superpower sponsor like they did (namely, us) when fighting the U.S.S.R., but they could have done serious damage unless we just decided to wipe out large portions of the population.

Allowing them their Islamic law was how we maintained some semblance of order. As Auster says:

The alternative pushed by McCarthy was not to be hypocritical about [liberal] democracy but to insist on it. But that would have required us pushing the Afghans against their wishes, and our whole reconstructive effort might have broken down.

Being able to predict the consequences of current policy and to show up those who have unrealistic expectations of it does not make you a realist. If you retain the same essential expectations, but just provide a different way of getting there, you are just as deluded as they. Sometimes the policy was right, it's the expectations that should have been revised.

That is all.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

IF YOU DON'T DEPORT THEM, IT's AMNESTY, YOU BLEEPING BASTARDS!!!

(Note: this is my second post saying essentially this. I thought the first had been lost, and now it suddenly appeared below. But I'll leave both up, so you can read whichever one you please, or both, if you prefer).

Okay, a little primer for you out there.

If you don't deport illegal aliens, you are giving them an AMNESTY.

"Earned citizenship" for those who are here illegally is AMNESTY.

A guest-worker program for those who are here illegally is an AMNESTY.

Letting them pay fines and then buy their way to citizenship is an AMNESTY.

Deport the mor it's AMNESTY.

Anyone who claims not to favor amnesty, but who doesn't want illegal aliens deported, is a LIAR.

That is all.

IT IS TOO AMNESTY, YOU BLEEPING BASTARDS!

A very good letter to VDARE.

If illegal aliens aren't deported, it's an amnesty.

Guest-worker program for those who are here illegally = amnesty.

"Earned citizenship" = amnesty.

Anyone who says "It's not an amnesty. Earned citizenship isn't amnesty, because they have to earn it," or "They have to pay fines and taxes, so it's not amnesty," is a LIAR, a MORON, or both.

Deport illegal aliens or it's an amnesty.

I saw "The Beltway Boys" recently where bot hfred Barnes and Morton Kondracke were agreeing that the only problem with our immigration system was that we were not letting in enough people legally, and processing them. This is in tune with the leftist claim that the reason there is so much illegal entry into this country is because our immigration system is too restrictive.

Sorry if I'm ranting, but I'm fed up with a lot of these liars who just want to make certain that they can get lots of dirt-cheap help.

That is all.

Lawrence Auster Defines Liberalism

In this recent piece, Lawrence Auster explains what all forms of liberalism have in common, and also describes the essence of conservatism that is necessary for non-destructive forms of liberalism to exist.

His explanation of what is necessary for classical liberalism is one that describes one of the most fundamental core tenets of both the traditionalist conservative and paleoconservative philosohpies:

This does not mean that all liberal values must be rejected. Classical liberalism, for example, is a core aspect of our tradition, but it must be understood within the context of an actually existing people and culture, not as a freewheeling dynamic unloosed by globalist corporations and Wall Street Journal ideologues in an agenda of world transformation.

That is all.

Gulf War Syndrome

Apparently no single cause has been found for "Gulf War Syndrome".

This has caused the Royal Society, Britain's leading science academy, to dismiss it as a recongnizable disease. I don't see why this should cause people to deny its existence, though, as the Times article I linked to does, as there are plenty of diseases or disorders that are exclusionary diagnoses (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, and sudden infant death syndrome come to mind).

According to the Royal Society, Gulf War Syndrome has not caused an increase in mortality amongst Gulf War veterans, which is a more important finding in terms of the syndrome's existence than an inability to find a single cause. Moreover, whether Gulf War Syndrome is fatal or not, the Royal Society not appear to deny that there is an increase in illness associated with the Gulf War.

Of course, it should be noted that the Royal Society has been receiving government funding since 1850, so it might be worthwhile to look over their methodology in erms of calculating fatalities to make certain that it wasn't spun so as to minimize the impact of the disease, in order to, you know, keep Mothe Empire with her purse strings happy.

Likewise, "I believe there is little value in conducting further research into the causes," as Professor Simon Wessely, Co-Director of Kings College Centre for Military Health Research, says, could be taken in several ways. Presumably, we are meant to assume that further research would be fruitless because the syndrome is too diffuse (which reminds me, are they looking for a common cause for the entire syndrome, or are they just looking for a common cause for the individual illnesses that make up the syndrome? I would seem more fruitful to look for common cause for common symptoms, but I am assuming they have done that). However, there could also be pressure from above not to investigate, or perhaps they there is little value in conducting further research because they keep hitting "classified information" walls.

Of course, perhaps they are being totally forthright, and there really is no particular illness except for those that are always associated with wars. But the possibility of cover-ups to protect the continued use of depleted uranium or to prevent leaks about government blunders is always in the back of my mind.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to Scott Horton's The Stress Blog.

That is all.

Udolpho on Illegal Alienness

Udolpho, who has some good stuff when he's not trashing the eminently superior Mac OSX, has some good commentary on the recent pro-illegal-alien protests.

That is all.

The Separation of Money and State

What went wrong with the United States? Empire and the loss of the gold standard (which go hand-in-hand), says Llewellyn Rockwell.

He reviews the book Empire of Debt, by William Bonner and Addison Wiggin. I think the points are well taken.

That is all.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

From Russia, with Ambiguity

Jim Henley discusses the recent scandal involving the Russians giving (inaccurate, as it turns out) intelligence to Saddam Hussein at the beginning of the war.

That is all.

Maintaining a Conviction Rate

This article about the reluctance to accept recanted testimony in a sexual abuse case reminds me of Paul Craig Robert's articles about how courts are driven to try to convict innocent people by the prosecutor's desire to have a good conviciton rate. Also see here and here.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to IFeminists.

That is all.

I Haven't Forgotten You, Dear Reader

I've got one or two posts half-written, and another big one that I promised a few months ago (on "Citizenism") started, but it may be a while before I get them up. So here is an interesting article by Professor J. Philippe Rushton on geography and IQ in the meantime.

Before I get some of the major posts out, I may have several minor "link" posts, or even one or two short posts (i.e. 2 or 3 paragraphs) discussing topics that hit my fancy, but rest assured, I've got more major Glaivester analysis coming through the pipe.

That is all.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Thoughts

The continuing decrease in coalition fatalities over the past three months (which invalidates one of my predictions at the beginning of 2006), along with the increase in Iraqi fatalities, has led many neoconservatives to suggest that we are succeeding in the strategy of transferring the responsibility of fighting the war to the Iraqis. Charles Krauthammer suggests this in a recent article (I'll add more links as I find them).

The general attitude is reflected by Krauthammer's statement:

Does not everyone who wishes us well support the strategy of standing up the Iraqis so we can stand down? And does that not mean getting the Iraqis to fight the civil war themselves?

Hence the gradual transfer of war-making responsibility. Hence the decline of American casualties. Hence the rise of Iraqi casualties.


Well, just one little problem here. If you look at the Iraqi deaths during the war, you will find that monthly police/military fatalities peaked in July of 2005, and then went down steadily until they stabilized at just below 200/month in November (actual numbers, low of 158, high of 193). The recent increase in Iraqi fatalities [compared to the last three months of 2005) is almost entirely due to an increase in civilian fatalities (or at least in reported civilian fatalities). This suggests that what is happeing might be more of a slight abandonement of Iraqi civilians rather than the Iraqi police and military taking over effectively.

Another issue is that coalition casualties are not necessarily down as much, only coalition fatalities are. Although the final numbers for February have not been tabulated yet at ICasualties (and no numbers at all for March), coalition casualties have apparently increased recently, but they are of the non-fatal kind including woundings serious enough that the wounded soldiers cannot return to duty.

In any case, while my prediction has not come to pass per se (unless of course we have a huge number of fatalities over the next week), I still think that this lull in fatalities is a temporary one. That is, unless the coalition is willing to let Iraq go completely to pieces while staying behind in the bunkers.

So I wouldn't count on the ability of the new Iraqi forces to replace coalition forces just yet.

That is all.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Thoughts on Victory

A quick perusal of the internet has not shown me anything I can link to, but I remember a few days ago seeing Michael Barone on a talk show, discussing what Bush needs to do to regain support for his presidency, in particular for his war in Iraq.

After some people suggested timetables , Barone's oh-so-helpful resposne was that Bus hought not to set any timetables (I don't recall if similar statements about benchmarks were brought up or not). But what Barone suggested Bush ought to do struck me as quite meaningless; although I suppose it might help Bush's poll numbers if we assume that large numbers of the American public are not particularly intelligent (which is probably accurate).

What Barone suggested is that Bush give regular (presumably weekly or monthly or somewhere in-between) progress reports on Iraq, mostly what we had accomplished since the last report, and, I suppose, some list of goals to be accomplished by the next one.

The problem with this, of course, is that in terms of revealing progress news like this is worthless without context; that is, it is not particularly useful to find out what has been accomplished unless we have an idea as to the parameters of the war and as to how this will bring us closer to the point at which we can reduce our military presence to a minimum without the country falling apart (which appears to be what victory means at this point - create an Iraq stable enough so that it can survive without the coalition providing active security - a small number of troops (<50,000) may be based in Iraq, but they ought not to be part of day-to-day domestic security).

That is why Arthur Chrenkoff's late, great, "Good News from Iraq" was so worthless. All it did was piece together a bunch of stories that showed isolated positive developments. It didn't show us what we wanted to know, which was, "how much longer? Are we any closer to Iraq being able to maintain its own security?"

That's why no one except the propagandists care about new schools being built or painted, why no one except the propagandists care about how many Iraqi newspapers open. That's why so many people don't really care about how many elections Iraq has. It doesn't tell us that the insurgency is dying, which is what we need to hear.

And talking about how many insurgents are being killed is not helpful unless you can show that the insurgents are not being regenerated from the ranks of disgruntled Sunnis and whatnot.

I don't watch episodes of South Park, but occasionally I linger a few seconds while flipping channels. I recall one episode where there were some gnomes who were stealing underwear as part of a three-part strategy:
1. Steal underwear
3. Profit

What step 2 was apparently eluded the gnomes. Likewise, the goal in Iraq is:
1. Hold elections
2. Uh...
3. Win

The "good news" that we keep being told that the media won't report amounts more or less to continually reiterating how well we are doing at step one of the plan. How that will be parlayed into victory (by which I mean the withdrawal of all coalition troops from active security without Iraq collapsing) has yet to be explained in any but the broadest terms (e.g. "as they stand up, we'll stand down).

That is all.

About the Balkans

More of that Steve Sailer good stuff.

(The middle link contains stuff about the Balkans, even if that is not primarily what it is about).

That is all.

Omega-3, the Magic Fat

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish such as herring (sardines), mackerel, and salmon, may help slow the spread of prostate cancer.

Which is why I am glad that I try to take cod liver oil at least once every few days. No word on whether Omega-3's from flax seed have the same effect, but I see no reason why not, provided the flax seed is properly broken down.

That is all.

World War II May Have Been Necessary, but It Didn't Help the Economy

David Henderson addresses a particularly popular misconception amongst conservatives.

This is probably as common a fallacy as the alternative fallacy - believed by Democrats - that the New Deal is what got us out of the Depression.

That is all.

It's All Terrorism

This recent National Review piece about the ETA "permanent" ceasefire with Spain makes some interesting points, but I think that there is an important issue that is being overlooked, not only here but in all discussions of "appeasement" and "not giving terrorists what they want."

The subtitle of the article states that "There’s no such thing as a trustworthy terrorist." The problem with this statement, of course, is twofold: First, by "untrustworthy," what he really means is not that the terrorists can't be trusted to keep their word, but that they can't be trusted to agree to whatever terms we wish to set down for them; that is, we can't cajole them into abandoning their goals. A conditional cease-fire is a conditional cease-fire. In this context, "permanent" merely means that the terms of the deal will not be changed and that the ETA won't make the first move to breach the treaty; if Spain agrees to the terms and keeps its words, there will be peace. What Rafael L. Bardaj√≠ wants is for the ETA to agree to peace without any concessions from Spain, or else with concessions, but with the understanding that should Spain violate the treaty, they have no recourse but to sit and take it.
Second, there is the automatic assumption that there is something special about being a non-state actor, or an officially labled "terrorist" group that makes one untrustworthy. That states also can lie, cheat, give false impressions, and refuse to give up using violence to solve a particular situation does not occur to him, or at least not as a bad thing. That states expect to be appeased, and that they often use appeasement as a pretext to demand more concessions (think: the U.S.'s attitude toward Iraq in the 1990s) does not occur to him.

So now a point-by-point response.

This is not the first time ETA has declared a cease-fire. Each previous time, they eventually returned to their bombs and bullets. As it is, this current guarantee, this “permanent cease-fire,” is only a conditional one. ETA is exchanging peace for independence. The length of this cease-fire will depend on how eager the current socialist government in Madrid is to have it be permanent.

Well, yes, but let's be honest. This same rule applies to any conflict involving those who use violence, including states.

ETA has made this declaration because it believes it can best obtain its aims by leaving its weapons silenced for the time being. The terrorists have left violence aside, but not their weapons — nothing has been said about handing those over. There is no process of disarmament in sight because the government in Madrid is the side expected to be making the concessions, not the terrorists. The weapons will serve as a tool during the talks, and, if there is no final agreement, they will be put back to use.

Does anyone deny this? And ultimately, how is this significantly different from the what states do when they sign treaties, with the not-so-veiled threat that if the other country doesn't play along, they get bombed?

ETA is not a nihilist organization that seeks terror for its own sake. It has a political agenda, and its violent activities are always politically motivated.

What distinguishes it in the end from governments which do the same things?

The only way the current cease-fire will become permanent is if major concessions are granted by the Madrid government, and ETA is convinced that Basque independence is irreversible and near. ETA will win, and Spain will [sic] loose. And if the political talks fail, ETA will go back to its traditional policy of using car-bombs and other means of intimidation. For the terrorists, this is a win-win game.

Well, then, the question is whether losing the Basque provinces is worth it to stop the ETA. No different from a territorial dispute between states, really. Unless you believe that the ETA has grander plans than Basque separatism.

Talking with terrorists risks too much and gains little, if anything. Zapatero, the accidental prime minister of Spain, has given up the only important thing for dealing with terror: the position that terrorists will not gain anything from their actions and threats, and that their violent efforts are futile.

Saddam Hussein might say the same thing about talking with the U.S., which dishonestly pretending it was focusing on elimintaing Iraq's WMDs during the 1990s, when in reality the only thing that we were interested in was forcing a change in regime to one more congenial to our interests. And yet, we are supposed to find Saddam wicked and deceitful for supposedly not appeasing us.

Zapatero is willing to sell Spain for a temporary peace, when he should be striving to totally disband ETA. That is the way to bring peace; there is no terror when the terrorist organization no longer exists — not when the terrorists say so.

The issue is whether ETA's demands are reasonable. If not, then the only thing to do is to either (a) destroy them, or (b) find a compromise that you are willing to enforce with the threat of destruction. But I don't see why this makes the ETA any worse than nation-states at war who cannot yet come to a compromise. In any war, ceasefires and peace talks are only successful when each side finds an agreement it can live with; if they can't the war continues until either one side is totally destoryed or until the devastation of war brings one or the other side to reevaluate what is willing to give up on.

That is all.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Addding to My Blogroll

Sixteen Volts is now on my blogroll. It is the blog of Ilkka Kokkarinen. I'm not certain that I can say anything definite about the blo's theme, other than that it is usually very interesting.

That is all.

How to Have Secure Computers

Don't send computer viruses.
If you have an idea for a fun Trojan horse, don't send it.
If you have an idea for a virus, don't send it.
If you have a great idea for a worm, don't send it.
If you think you have a way to get someone's information by using spyware, don't do it.

Don't tell people to get anti-virus software.
Don't tell people not to open suspicious emails.
Don't tell people to install security updates.
Don't suggest that it is your responsibility to protect yourself from computer viruses.
Don't perpetuate a "hacker culture" by telling people that anyone except those who write computer viruses have any responsibility for stopping them.

Consider these ideas for a moment, then read this (note: link is dead - 09/16/09).

That is all.

Be Careful What You Wish For

James Robbins wonders why the administration isn't doing more to publish/publicize the documents it captured when conquering (sorry, liberating) Iraq. I notice that one possibility that he doesn't mention is that perhaps the documents do not prove what he wants them to prove.

In fact, Jim Henley has indicated that he suspects that the documents, properly analyzed, will reveal that weapons inspections were intended to help bring about covert regime change, and that Iraq's WMDs were merely a pretext. If some of the documents would indicate that, then perhaps he would be happier if they didn't come to light.

That is all.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

So We Brought Freedom to Afghanistan, Did We?

So a man is on death row for being a Christian? I thought we were supposed to have made Afghanistan a freer country?

Granted, I'm glad we went in and taught the Taliban a lesson about supporting Al Qaeda (or if the Taliban were Al Qaeda's creature, then we effectively attacked Usama directly - nothing wrong with that). But if this doesn't put paid to the idea that Afghanistan is a model of successful nation-building that can be applied to Iraq, at least it creates grave doubts, or should do so, if we aren't brainless morons.

The man in question is named Abdul Rahman, and is being tried for his life on the charge of "attacking Islam." I say we put the people in power who decreed this. We should find the people who can get him off, and politely tell them that he gets off, or they die.

“The Attorney-General is emphasising he should be hung,” Judge Alhaj Ansarullah Mawlawy Zada, who will be trying his case, told The Times. “It is a crime to convert to Christianity from Islam. He is teasing and insulting his family by converting. In your country (Britain) two women can marry; that is very strange. In this country we have the perfect constitution, it is Islamic law and it is illegal to be a Christian and it should be punished.”

I think we ought to ask Judge Zada what he thinks about using lit sticks of TNT as suppositories. Same goes for the Attorney-General. Not that I support interference in other countries' policies per se, but we're there, we put them in power, we're somewhat responsible for their being there, and they owe us. So it's not a bad idea to give them a reminder of that fact.

Better yet, we ought to consider pulling out and letting the wogs take care of their own security. I have no problem with seeing how well they do against the Taliban without their help. If the Taliban can conquer them, let them. We have no interest in keeping the current brood of kleptocrats in power. Our only interest is in preventing the Taliban from staying in power. So if they do take over, we bomb them again.

I don't care who is in power, as lopng as (a) it's not the Taliban, and (b) we are not actively supporting them if they are behaving evilly. As I doubt that there are non-evil groups in Afghanistan that are likely to come innto power, our best bet is to avoid supporting any side and simply to destroy the ones that threaten us, letting the current government and/or whatever governments may replace it fend for themselves.

That is all.

To-Hell-With-Them

John Derbyshire explains an interesting theory of war, that I to some extent concur with. I am not as eager and willing to threaten other countries and to "bomb them back into the stone age" in order to get our way, but I think it a more prudent policy than what I refer to as "messianic democratism," the current strategy.

The one problem I have with the article is that Mr. Derbyshire repeats what I consider to be a common canard regarding the comparisons of Germany/Japan after World War II and Iraq:

I don’t find any of these historical analogies persuasive. Postwar Germany and Japan were wrecked societies to which we had applied the “Bomb Them Back To The Stone Age” doctrine (hereinafter BTBTTSA) that Rich sneers at elsewhere in his article.

In other words, the major reason why Japan and Germany are different is in what we did to them, not in who they were. To be fair, I don't think this is exactly what Derbyshire believes, but it is what he is indirectly (and perhaps unintentionally) saying. Taken literally, this would imply that were we to bomb Iraq a little more and be a little more callous in regards to the loss of Iraqi life (or perhaps even go so far as to embrace it), we could pull of what we did in Germany and Japan.

The fact of the matter is, of course, that Germany and Japan were totally different societies from Iraq, or indeed the entire Middle East, and regardless of how we defeat them, that fact will no change. Germany and Japan were highly industrialized countries with lots of high IQ people and cultures that promoted devotion to teh country as or more importantly than devotion to one's clan. Iraqis may well be incapable of democracy on their own, at least incapable of it under the current culture and their current multiethnic makeup.

So the idea that the major obstacle to democratizing Iraq is U.S. unwillingness to be sufficiently vicious is a rather naive one, in my opinion, as well as one that tend s to gloss over the actual differences of different peoples. Seeing as Derbyshire believes in the differences of different peoples (he mentions so in his piece) I can only imagine that he neglected to point out the cultural differences between the Midle East and the Axis as being relevant to democratization because he was concerned with other issues.

That is all.

Female-on-Male Statutory Rape

Charges against ephebophilic* teacher Deb LaFave were dropped today. I'll have to try to write something up on the general issue of female-on-male statutory rape. In the meantime, here is a previous post on the topic.

That is all.

*Ephebophilic - describes an adult who is attracted to underage adolescents.

Sully is Nearly Right

Sully posts something Bruce Bartlett said about Bush and loyalty over at his blog.

One thing he says though, that may be based more on myth than fact:

"Part of this may be due to the fact that Bush is personally a nice guy. Many people like him too much to tell him what a shambles his presidency has become to his face."

Well, look at this quote from a Steve Sailer reader after Bush's nasty performance on the first debate:

"I definitely agree with the reader who said that Bush takes after his mother. Barbara Bush definitely has a reputation behind the scenes as a pretty nasty and unforgiving person. I think that her fairly good reputation with the public is based on a) Nancy Regan was so reviled in many quarters that her successor was bound to be positively contrasted with her, whether accurately or not and b) She wrote a book and said her dog wrote it, which was regarded as cute."

That is all.

Monday, March 20, 2006

It's Always World War II

Except that it's not, say Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski.

That is all.

Charlie's Dad and the Toothpaste Factory

I recently watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (i.e., the updated movie) on video. I couldn't help but notice a very interesting, pro-capitalistic element in the movie. There be spoilers ahead.

Toward the beginning of the movie, Charlie's family appears to be all but ruined when a new machine is added to the toothpaste factory, making Mr. Bucket's (Charlie's dad's) job obsolete, and resulting in his being laid off.

After Charlie wins the prize, and rejects it becuse Willy Wonka would force him to forsake his family, we learn that Charlie's dad now has managed to get a new, better job at the factory, repairing and maintaining the machine that replaced him.

Which is, in the final analysis, the way things ought to be.

That is all.

Thoughts on Brokeback

Perhaps my fellow evangelicals and I have been too hard on Brokeback Mountain. Let's remember, these are shepherds we're talking about. Maybe rather than being upset at the pro-gay story, we should be relieved that there wasn't a love triangle subplot involving the boys and one of their sheep.

That is all.

Rape Is About Sex! Duh!

One of the stranger claims made in recent days is that "rape is not about sex."

Over and over it has been said that rape is not about sex, it is about power and control. "Rape is best characterized as torture that uses sex as a weapon. Like a torturer, the rapist uses sexual acts to dominate, humiliate, and terrorize the victim". Perhaps one might understand that that is the victim's interpretation, but we are told that "Rape is not about sex to the rapist; it has to do with control and power."

Not just sometimes, but every time.

Hogwash. Utter hogwash. Despite my problems with Alas, a Blog, on this particular point which Ampersand is correct:

Men who rape women don't do it because they hate women, but because they don't give a **** about women (at least, not the women they rape). They want something, they take it, and they're by-and-large indifferent to how the person they "take" it from feels.

This is why the "rape isn't about sex, rape is about violence" analysis falls short. It's not true - not from the point of view of many rapists - and it denies the true horror of the situation. Many rapists don't rape because they hate and want to hurt women; it's not that personal. Rapists rape because they want sex; they don't consider the woman's feelings at all...


Now don't get me wrong. There are cases in which rape is simply used as a tool of violence, as a way to dominate or control someone. Homosexual rapes by heterosexual males likely often fall into this category (except in situations when men subsitute for women due to a lack of women), as would ritualistic rapes by serial killers and a large number of wartime rapes. But to argue that the casual rapist isn't raping for sex but for violence, power, and control is rather like saying that the mugger mugs people as an act of violence rather than because he wants their money or that the shoplifter shoplifts purely out of kleptomania or to get revenge on the store, not in order to, you know, get stuff free. Or that the person who murders witnesses isn't doing it to keep them from talking but just for the sake of the violence itself.

This is not to say that rape isn't an act of violence, power, and control, but to say that these are usually tools used to get sex rather than ends in and of themselves.

One argument against this is that sex is so available that no one needs to rape in order to get sex; therefore sex cannot be the motivating factor. Perhaps. But money is available as well, and people still steal. The issue isn't whether or not the rapist can obtain sex elsewhere. The issue is that the rapist's motivation is sex when he wants, with whom he wants, and how he wants. He apparently calculates that he can get a "better deal" by taking what he wants than through other means. Perhpas this calculation is wrong - to continue an analogy, lots of criminals probably make less through robbery than they could through honest work - but this doesn't change the fact of the motivation.

So why do we hear that rape is about power and violence?

Two reasons:

The most obvious is that we tend to look through the eyes of the victim, for whom the violence and the loss of control to the rapist is the major event. The victims are usually bothered by the violation, not by the fact that they had sex. So we tend to project the consequences of the rape and the victim's attitudes onto the perpetrator: the violence is what affected her, so that must have been his goal.

The second reason is more controversial, and is something that I more or less have thought up myself. To explain my hypothesis is really the point of this whole piece:

The more casually a society takes sex, the less of an impact the act of rape has in terms of sex. Therefore, in order to have rape be a serious crime, one has to redefine it away from sex.

Of course, one might argue that they didn't use to take rape seriously at all. I think it's not so much that as that people were in denial over it, suggesting that the woman either was lying or that for some other reason rape had not occurred. And it must also be pointed out that in the less humane societies of old, people were brutal enough that rape did not always seem so terrible in comparison to other things that people did to one another. In a society where pickpockets were hung publicly, the violence was casual enough that however seriously rape was taken, it wouldn't necessarily carry the same weight it does in our comfy modern times.

In any case, though, with sex being a privae topic and officially relegated to marriage and whatnot, the idea of forcing someone to have sex carried with it the idea of a pretty intense violation. Someone was being forced to go through a very private and intimate experience. But if sex is no more intimate than shaking hands, then rape is no more serious than grabbing someone's hand without their permission (or holding onto it, as the case may be).

Which leads in to the reason why we keep hearing that rape is not about sex. It is philosophically untenable to keep pushing the boundaries of the sexual revolution without making rape seem less and less violative by comparison, as the act which is coerced in rape becomes less and less private, personal, and valued in society. So the only way to retain the sense of horror at rape is to alter the rationale for rape being bad; that the goal is total violation, so that the violence becomes the issue; rather than the horror coming from the intimacy of the act which was forced upon the victim, which is the old rationale.

Thoughts?

That is all.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Value of Human Beings

The problem with those who want to value humans based on their utility is that there is no standard for utility unless humans (or something else) have (has) axiomatic value. If humans are basically worthless, then what difference does it make if something is useful to one of them? Sure, some people are drains on society and some contribute, but at the end of the day, why is society valuable?

Unless you accept some axiomatic value for humans or for something else that humans can serve, even as a starting point, you can't assign them any utilitarian value. The axiomatic value should, in my opinion, be equal, or at least I see that as the least arbitrary of the arbitrary systems of values you could assign to people.

Perhaps utility can create a second-order value; that is, a person's total value is his axiomatic value plus or minus his utility to other persons times these other people's axiomatic values. But there has to be a starting point that is either pre-logical (axiomatic, that is, it isn't deduced from other principles) or else circular.

That is all.

Global Warming? Kyoto Is not the Solution.

Thus spake Bjorn Lomborg.

That is all.

More on the French Protests

Although the recent French riots could easily be discussed in terms of "bad economics" and "stupid unions," and all of the free-marker arguments trotted out, it occurs to me htat there is an immigration angle to this issue.

If France does make its hiring/firing policies more lax, or if it plays with its minimum wage at all, it would likely bring in more workers from poor immigrant neighborhoods. Policies that restrict the ability of a business to fire workers or that keep the wages up or that in any way make workers more expensive tend to make businesses more cautious about whom they hire. Therefore, it will skew jobs more toward the more skilled people, even in professions that don't require a lot of skill, because the employers don't want to take any chances of hiring someone who will work out poorly (but not poorly enough to be fired).

In fact, the connection between this bill and immigration issues (including people who are not immigrants themselves but who are descended from recent immigrants) is hinted at in the article:

Designed by the government to help ease the crisis of chronic high unemployment, particularly among poor youth after riots last fall in the suburbs, the law is seen by its opponents as a step toward eroding long-cherished employment rights and benefits.

In any case, though, if the problem is a glut of labor, the solution is to let in fewer immigrants, and perhaps to pay some of those who are here to go back to their home country (or their parents, grandparents, etc. home country if need be). In any case, the immigrant issue should be dealt with directly, not through laws on other issues.

Back though to the economic illiteracy of so many French people, though, I love this little quote:

"I'm sick and tired of all these phony contracts and I want to protect my children's future," said Carole Cases, a 43-year-old nurse, with two of her children, from the Paris suburb of Noisy-le-Grand. "They're trying to dupe the young."

"I'm sick and tired of all these phony contracts." Translated: "I'm isck and tired of having choices and then having to live up to them."

The only other interesting tidbit to me was on the second page, when it is mentioned that the protestors ran into Turkish protestors who didn't want a memorial built to commemorate Armenian victims of genocide. The French protestors expressed there opinions: "Fascists!" and "Go home!"

About the encounter with the Turks, what can I say? When French protestors are right about something, they are right.

That is all.

Pre-War Propaganda

I thought that this piece from September 11, 2002, would be of interest to my readers.

I think more than anything, reading this little piece of neo-puffery about the [then] coming war made me distrust Ahmad Chalabi.

That is all.

Okay, This is Just Hilarious

The Neocon League of America.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to this guy.

That is all.

Scientologyism

Sully has been commenting on the South Park vs. Scientology battle here, here, here, and here.

Considering his recent decision to use the term "Christianism" as a parallel to "Islamism" to describe Christians who don't approve of homosexuality (let's be honest, however he defines "Christianism," that's what he really means), I wonder how long it will be before he starts discussing scientologyism and the difference between Scientologists and scientologyismists.

That is all.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Under Odysseus

A few weeks ago, someone asked if I would consider Under Odysseus as a blog of the week. Sorry, but it doesn't have a sitemeter icon or any way that I could track whether or not people are coming from my site to that one, so no, it can't be a blog of the week.

But I will link to it. Check it out using the link above. It appears to be a fictional blog of one of Odysseus's men.

That is all.

Vampiress Blogging

Looking at the stats on my blog, I get the feeling that my readership has declined since the New Year (or since mid-January, at least). The reason for this, I believe, is that the quantity of my blogging has declined a little since I began substitute teaching. In particular, I lost a few readers during a period when I got tired out and only blogged onc or twice in a four-day or so period. Also, the quality of my blogging has probably gone down a little as I have concentrated some on, you know, real life (shudder).

So what is my current strategy?

Well, the same as always.

First, try to post often. This means that the blogger "Next blog" function (top right buton on the blue Blogger NavBar strip at top) will get me a few extra hits from people from random blogs. It also makes my readers more likely to check up often, as there will be lots of new material. I try to post at least once a day, and usually more frequently. I also click on the "Next blog" feature occasionally so that other people with sitemeter will check my site from the link in the "referrers" links on their sitemeter account.

Second, try to make a few really good posts every week. That is, posts that are more than Instapundit-style "Click here. So and so says this. Indeed! Read the whole thing." And maybe once a week or every two weeks try to make a long post that discusses something in depth. This may not be what a lot of blog readers are looking for, but I think that the people that are in my "ecosystem" (e.g., Steve Sailer and Lyin' Eyes Ziel) are looking for some "value-added" blogging, not just insipid thoughts to show how smart they think they are.

Third, try to comment on other people's sites, and when appropriate, mention your site. Only when appropriate though.

Fourth, develop friednships with other bloggers and get them to exchange links.

Fifth, I am banking heavily on the fact that a picture that I linked to early in my blogging career has got me a lot of hits from Google Image searches. I didn't intend this to happen, but since it has, I am making the most of it. Maybe a lot of people who come here from an image search aren't going to come back, but if a few do, it's worth it.

The picture, of course, is of the vampiress Urs. Urs was a sexy vampiress played by Kristin Lehman on Forever Knight.

I mention her every so often in order to make certain that my image score stays on top.

No other picture to which I have linked has been so successful at getting me traffic, so I link once more.

That is all.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Damneder Lies

An interesting and necessary article about the [then incipient] war on Iraq from the year before it happened.

That is all.

More on "Choice for Men"

I think that Udolpho explains what I have been trying to say about the "If women can get abortions, why are men forced to pay child support?" argument very succinctly:

This idea very neatly divides those who truly find abortion unobjectionable and those who just like it because it gives women whatever they want.

That is all.

Annie Proulx, Sore Loser

I suppose I ought to comment on the recent Guardian piece by Annie Proulx, excoriating the Oscars committee for not giving Brokeback Mountain more Oscars.

Steve Sailer (check out here as well, Diana Moon, Dennis Dale, and Udolpho have all commented on this.

So my two cents?

(1) She's a sore loser.

(2) Her hatred of Crash makes no sense to me. The movie was an interesting one (I reviewed it here, and I liked it for not trying to make any major character simply evil, and presenting a racist as a human being rather than as some sort of incomprehensible monster (Steve Sailer has also said this). Part of her hatred may be for this reason, that the racist is not portrayed as entirely evil, nor the black criminal as entirely a victim (this turned Nate Mezmer in Counterpunch against the film).

(3) Her obvious irritation that Philip Seymour Hoffman got the award for best actor might stem from the fact that he also played a gay character, but one who was a "lisping queer" rather than a Marlboro-man clone who just happens to like buggering men. As Jon Stewart said, "Capote was a ground breaking film that broke taboos, that showed America not all gay people are virile cowboys. Some are actually effete New York intellectuals." Perhaps she couldn't handle it.

That is all.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Riots in France

I just heard on the TV about some young people's labor riots in France, where they were protesting new rules making it easier for employers to fire them. Apparentl;y 50 cops were hurt in these dumb protests, which also involved property destruction. AS far as I can tell, the protestors were not descended from recent immigrants nor were they Muslim.

(I will link when I find a good link to the story).

If the protests don't end, I have three suggestions as to how the French government can deal with these vandals.

See? I don't discriminate.

That is all.

More Fiction Thoughts

I remember watching an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit where one of the conflicts was that a primary piece of evidence against some people could not be used because it would compromise a federal terrorism case.

I can't help thinking that in a real-life situation, rather than accept that they might have to let a killer get off in order to protect the information, the police might decide that seeing as they know the guy's guilty and can't use their best evidence, they'll just falsify other evidence to get them. In fact, I can see the federal agents suggesting that they do this.

I think that an episode or a story where someone falsifies evidence for precisely this reason would make an interesting show.

For this to be done properly, we would need three things:

(1) A clearly guilty bad guy
(2) Sympathetic cops
(3) Unintedned consequences for their falsifying evidence (e.g. an innocent gets caught up and convicted as well)

Without (1) and (2), you have out of control cops, and the dilemma is too easy (the cops are evil, so what they do is evil). Without (3), the dilemma is also easily resolved, because we are shown that falsifying evidence doesn't have consequences. In otehr words, the morality of one side of the dilemma would be totally theoretical, divorced from reailty.

I think it would make an interesting story.

That is all.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Congress Worries that Internet May Allow Too Much Free Speech

More on the depredations of McCain-Feingold and the attempts to prevent it from destroying free speech.

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

That is all.

Persia/Iran

Joseph Farah claims that the choice of the name "Iran" reflects the Iranians' Nazi sympathies. Supposedly, they chose the name in the 1930s because they wanted to identify their Aryan heritage so as to tand with Hitler.

The problem with this account is that it ignores the fact that Iran has always been what the people living there called it. Persia was a name imposed by outsiders.

To the natives [of Iran] themselves, it has been known as Iran for centuries. "Persia" was simply what foreigners insisted on calling it, because that was what the Greeks called it...The Iranians eventually tired of accepting someody else's name for their own country... - Tom Burnam, The Dictionary of Misinformation

That is all.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

More on Casualties

Todd Chretien has an interesting piece on Counterpunch on the carnage of the Iraq War.

Some of what he says is incorrect (I believe that Lunaville has refuted the claim that significant numbers of soldiers are dying outside of Iraq of their injuries and not being counted - I can't find the specific post right now, though). On the other hand, it is good that he points that a lot of so-called peaceniks like John Murtha really want to continue the war, just in a different, and perhaps more lethal (to Iraqis, that is) way.

That is all.

Andrew Cockburn on the Iraqi Civilian Deaths

This is an interesting post, more than two months old, discussing the deaths of Iraqi civilians (which I discuss at length here.

That is all.

Whom to Trust?

Sully writes:

What is the real state of Iraq? Is it this rosy picture painted by Ralph Peters, who accuses Western journalists of lying? Or is it the experience of these actual Iraqis explaining their situation?

Hmmm... do I trust Iraqis and journalists, or someone who is "A former intelligence officer, riding around Baghdad, painting a rosy picture?"

Hmmmm.... that's a tough one.

That is all.

Democracy in Iraq

One thing that confuses me is when people talk about how "democracy" or "improving the lives of Iraqis" suddenly became the rationale for the war when WMDs were not found.

That we were giving the Iraqis "liberty" was always a major part of the war propaganda. In 1998 we had the Iraq Liberation Act, and the attack was called "Operation Iraqi Freedom." To be fair, that may not have been presented exactly as the Iraq War's raison d'etre, but it was always portrayed as a major consideration, so I don't know where the people insisting that democratizing Iraq didn't become a concern until mid-2003 are coming from.

(I'll update this later, with links).

That is all.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

An Idea for a Character

For what, I'm not certain, but he would be a villain.

I have recently been reading some of the V for Vendetta graphic novel at Barnes & Noble," and it occurred to me an interesting way to deal with the idea of a masked man.

A little background: I have the idea for a superhero team called The Defense Force. At some point, I may blog on it; I've already reserved the name. But I think this guy would fit either somewhere in their rogue's gallery, or if not, then he would probably fit somewhere in their universe.

My idea - what if a mask were used, not for concealment - but to add things to a person? The character I am thinking of would call himself "the Cherub." But unlike the Putti that most people associate with the term "cherub," he would look more like a Biblical cherub - four wings and four faces. (I'm not certain yet whether the wings would be from genetic manipulation or prostheses of some sort).

Basically, the Cherub would be a madman of some sort who somehow grafted permanently onto the sides and back of his head masks of a lion, an ox, and an eagle. His face is unobscured.

I'm not sure yet how he would fit into the storyline, and I am also aware that none of you probably have never heard of "The Defense Force" before (unless you are one of my personal friends whom I have talked about it to - I don't think I've posted about it online before, except in an old GNXP comment thread where I don't mention the name).

But the idea of the Cherub is, I think, very cool.

That is all.

A Chance to Poke Fun at Sully

Sausy Blue posts on her blog about the general issue of apparent misconceptions about feminism and how it taints people's attitudes toward feminism on her blog.

Nothing particularly stands out, but I have derived a moment of levity in the last paragraph:

So what's to be done? With the Reverands of middle America teaching their loyal followers that the corruption of the world, and their hymnals, as well as the drowning of New Orleans, the wildfires out West, and the Iraq War are all because of "the gays" and "those feminists"?

Well, those reverends are partly right about Iraq - but only partly. The Iraq War is not because of "those gays." It's because of this gay.

That is all.

Feminist Hypocrisy

Before reading this post, let me say that I am not for men getting out of paying child support. However, I am also not pro-choice. I do think, however, that there is a lot o hypocrisy involved in making men pay child support for children they did not want while being pro-choice on abortion, and that is what I am addressing in this post.

I find it interesting that when it comes to issues of child-support, feminists suddenly turn all prudish and insist that once someone is pregnant, the man has made his decision and must pay for it. Usually this involves some level of beating strawmen (implying that he wants to force the woman to have an abortion), some level of double standard (well, he did have a choice - to have sex or not) blatant shifting of the rules of argument (in a discussion on whether it was equivalent to say that a man's choice was before conception occurred and that a woman's choice was before conception occurred, Ampersand once stated that the position that a man had no choice only made sense if all sex was female-on-male rape, blithely ignoring the fact that the argument was about choice after pregnancy acknowledging that the sex was consensual), or bringing up irrelevant ad hominem attacks (well, this should teach men to be more interested in birth control), or even looking at using child support as a way to enforce morality on males in a way that offends them when applied to females (men would be more irresponsible if they didn't have to pay for the consequences of sex).

The only reasonable argument is not having to carry a baby to term against one's will has a stronger claim to be a right than not having to work to support someone you didn't consent to fathering. But rather than saying that, most feminists wind up using the other, more dishonest arguments.

It is the use of such dishonesty (or, being more benevolent, total ignorance or lack of logic), even by people whom I otherwise respected, that caused me to stop visiting and commenting on Alas, a Blog.

What is even more ridiculous is when they try to parody the pro-lifers on the issue. The reason that this is so ludicrous is that they act as if men expect to have all the options (i.e., regarding child support) when a woman gets pregnant but don't want women to have any options.

This is a blatant lie on two counts:

(1) There is no evidence that the men who believe that child support should be mandatory are the same ones who want abortion made illegal.

(2) The fact of the matter is that (with the possible exception of South Dakota until its new anti-abortion law gets overturned) women;s options are currently enshrined in law by Roe v. Wade, while men have no option but to help pay for whatever the woman decides.

It is blatant hypocrisy for feminists to pretend that there is a double standard against them on this issue when in fact all the legal issues are weighted in their favor.

This tends to support my belief that many feminists are really female supremacists and don't really care about equal rights. They care about improving the status of women vis a vis men, and about protecting female interests, whether or not doing so is congruent with equality. If it is, fine. If not, then equality must yield to female interest.

That is all.

Making Us Wait

The New Mactels won't be able to boot Windows Vista at least until 64-bit Mactels come out. If then.

That is all.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sensationalism? Why, Whatever Do You Mean?

This advertisement for Whistleblower Magazine is obviously working on a story because of its newsworthiness, not its sensationalism.

Particularly when you see how it is referenced on the site:

Lust-filled women on sex rampage with your kids:
What's really behind today's epidemic of teacher-student carnal relations


That is all.

More Sailer Good Stuff!

Steve Sailer debunks the claim by Robert J. Sampson that immigration from Mexico reduces our crime rate.

That is all.

The Serbian/Iraqi WarHawk Connection?

Paul Craig Roberts muses on how the Balkan War set a precedent.

That is all.

The Civilian Death Count

Back in late 2004, there was a report published in the British medical journal Lancet saying that 100,000 people had died as a direct result of the Iraq War. Now the estimates are running as high as 250,000, with an average of around 150,000.

There was a lot of skepticism about the initial report, both when it came out, and today as well. No less a luminary than Michael Fumento has criticized it.

Some of the criticism, including the Fred Kaplan Slate piece I referenced, was on the basis of statistical problems with the study (although it ought to be pointed out that by leaving Fallujah out of their results, the team doing the study probably reduced the results somewhat, which would offset at least some of the factors that might exaggerrate their count). Often brought up were the disparities between this and the Iraq Body Count, which counts fatalities in Iraq by scouring news reports. (Estimates were between 14,181 and 16,312 deaths by October 29, 2004, and are between 33,489 and 37,589 as of today (March 12, 2006)).

Some people, such as Penraker have (in an article linked two paragraphs ago) insisted that the invasion actually saved lives, and that the people killed in the conflict are fewer than would have been killed if Saddam had remained in power.

The most obvious reason, in any case, why people discount the Lancet study is that there are nowhere near that many reports of deaths on record. So one wonders where all of these "phantom deaths" come from.

So let's first discuss the problems that have been mentioned with the Lancet study, and then discuss where those deaths might have come from.

A large part of the criticism was in the range of deaths presented. The range was somewhere between 8000 and 194,000 in the original study, or 98,000, plus 96,000 or minus 90,000. (why it wasn't 101,000, ± 93,000 is not spelled out; it apparently was not a perfectly symmetrical bell curve).

A lot of people dismiss the study as impenetrably broad based on this fact, but what needs to be considered is the way that statistics works. A 95% confidence interval means that the chances that the number will be within a particular range is 95%. However, the chances are not equal that it will be any point in the range. 95% confidence represents 2 standard deviations.

So what was the death toll as of the time of the Lancet study? If we assume an assymetrical bell curve with a mean of 98,000, and a standard deviation of 45,000 down and 49,000 up, there is a 68% confidence level that the result will be between 43,000 and 147,000. The chance that the deaths would be under 8,000 is only 2.5% (1 in 40) with a corresponding 2.5% chance that they were greater than 194,000.

For a discussion of standard deviations, click here.

Another thing to consider is that the study did not try to determine the gross number of deaths caused by the invasion but the net number. This means that if the death toll were 20,000, this means 20,000 more died than would have died if we had not invaded (assuming that the mortality rate in Iraq would have held constant at what it was from in the 15 months prior to the war). So if we save any lives from Saddam, the war killed those in addition to the 8,000 to 194,000 "excess deaths."

One issue that have with most pro-warriors when they are trying to talk about how many Iraqis were saved by the invasion is that they take the number of people who were estimated to have been killed during Saddam's reign, or at least the last 12 years of it, and extrapolate from that, without considering whether the rate of killing has gone down toward the end of the Saddam era. I would think that Saddam was not killing anywhere near as many people in the three years before the invasion as he did in his heyday, which would reduce the number of people he would likely have killed from March 2003 on, were he still in power. But I could be wrong. Anyone have any statistics to say one way or another?

So now to the issue of where the deaths come from. How can there be 100,000 deaths in October of 2004, or 150,000 to 250,000 now, if reports only show ~15,000 then and ~35,000 now? Obviously, there would have to be some unreported deaths. If one thinks about it, this is more than likely.

While Fred Kaplan's piece in Slate suggests that the Iraq Body Count is more reliable,

There is one group out there counting civilian casualties in a way that's tangible, specific, and very useful—a team of mainly British researchers, led by Hamit Dardagan and John Sloboda, called Iraq Body Count. They have kept a running total of civilian deaths, derived entirely from press reports. Their count is triple fact-checked; their database is itemized and fastidiously sourced; and they take great pains to separate civilian from combatant casualties (for instance, last Tuesday, the group released a report estimating that, of the 800 Iraqis killed in last April's siege of Fallujah, 572 to 616 of them were civilians, at least 308 of them women and children).

the fact of the matter is that reporting based on news reports is a surefire way to underestimate the death toll in a country as chaotic as Iraq. (Pro-War ideologues, of course, deny this and to the contrary insist that Iraq Body Count gives an exaggerated picture of the death toll. Penraker referred to it as "always suspect," although he didn't say why; presumably he believes that the reports on deaths are evil media lies or else that insurgents, particularly foreign ones, are being counted as Iraqi civilians) In fairness, Kaplan acknowledgs this:

The group also notes that these figures are probably on the low side, since some deaths must have taken place outside the media's purview.

However, he "allows" for unreported deaths by simply assigning a number to them; perhaps as many as the reported deaths (15,000 at the time). The fact is, he doesn't have any particular basis for estimating unreported deaths, or if he has one he doesn't tell it to us.

So how did these deaths occur? It appears at first to beggar belief that such a large number of deaths are occurring outside the radar. After all, it would seem that the media have a lot of access to Iraq and can find out anyhting they want, right? But that so many deaths could occur unheralded and uncounted becomes much more believable when one realizes that there are other major things that are occurring in Iraq that get very little press.

Tom Engelhardt and Michael Schwartz have commented on one such thing, something that in fact may explain the death count.

What people don't realize about Iraq is that there is an air war going on. Despite the way that talk of Bush's "new strategy," of more intensive air power and less intensive foot patrols (as which Schwartz hiself refers to it), tends to suggest that the U.S. has been sparing in its use of planes in the past, in point of fact air power has been a major part of this war since at least mid-2004. (If you'd like to see some article from August 2004 on, and you don't want to bother searching the piece linked to in the previous paragraph for links, then here are a few links from that piece to click on: here, here, here, or here). The "new strategy" essentially just tinkers with the air-to-ground ratio, it doesn't represent a qualitative change.

The clear import of the Schwartz and Engelhardt piece is that air attacks have caused large numbers of civilian casualties that have gone unreported due to logistical difficulties (i.e. when a bomb blows up a building, it can be difficult to establish who died; if the attack occurs outside of areas where reporters or even coalition infantry go, the attack might not even get reported).

So it is not unreasonable to assume tha the Lancet study is more accurate than it is being given credit for being.

That is NOT all. There is more. But I will leave that for another post.

That is all - for now.
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