Monday, July 31, 2006

Notes on Lebanon

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

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

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

That is all for now.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Lebanon

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

That is all.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Moral Arithmetic and Its Consequences

Steve Sailer recently brought up this post on Marginal Revolution:

Mistakes in moral arithmetic

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

That is all.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Lebanese Complication

Over at Antiwar.com, Ann Berg mentions a possible side effects of the Israeli campaign to pacify Lebanon: what if Turkey takes a cue from them in dealing with Iraqi Kurds?

If they decide to attack, it will be difficult to deny them without looking like we are giving Israel special consideration when it comes to methods of defense. Which means we will either have to let them do it or else hold ourselves up to the world as hypocrites.

Berg also mentions Iran, but preventing Iranian interference will be a little less politically difficult, because they are officially considered an "evil" country. Therefore if we treat their "defensive tactics" differently than our own or Israel's we are less open to charges of hypocrisy, because we can argue that the nature of the Iranian regime makes it appropriate to give it less leeway in matters of defense. (I am not saying that this is necessarily an honest or good argument, but it would be consistent with the previous U.S. policy).

On the other hand, Turkey as a secular-led democracy (and an ally) would be much harder to malign, and one could not question its tactics without bringing up a comparison to Israel.

The solution? I have no solution. I don't think there is any solution that the U.S. can bring about to any significant degree. That's why I think it shouldn't be our problem. The time has come to move out of Iraq before we get dragged into a Middle-East wide war.

That is all.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Go Larry! Beat that Dead Horse!

Gotta getta dig in against Steve Sailer! After all, he committed the offense of, when Lebanon started attacking Israel, thinking first and foremost about how it would all affect our country and its policies, rather than, for example, how important it was to remind everyone of Arab/Muslim moral inferiority.

Of course, Mr. Auster, when you imply that Sailer's concerns about us being dragged into a war for Israel's sake are unfounded, it would be a heck of a lot more convincing if one of the writers whom you are always praising for being National Review's "resident adult" hadn't just stated in an article that "Israel is doing our heavy lifting" by attacking its enemies instead of us doing it for them.

That is all.

The Real Significance of the Stem-Cell Issue

Bush has actually VETOED a bill!

GASP!!!

That is all.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Desperate Housewidow

Well, a very interesting episode of Rescue Me aired last night.

Sheila rapes Tommy in this episode, after slipping Rohypnol and Viagra into his seltzer and cranberry (the drugs are from her son's stash, he has been selling these drugs at school), and then makes it look like he had fallen off the wagon and gotten drunk (he doesn't remember the night, and so when he sees the evidence she planted, he assumes he had an alcohol-induced blackout).

This is an interesting plot event. We'll have to see where it leads.

That is all.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Re-Occupied?

Israel may be sending ground troops into Lebanon.

Update: It has started. Whether this is the precursor to an invasion/occupation is not yet determined, but I am leaning towards, "of course it is."

Unless Lebanon somehow manages to stop Hezbollah from attacking Israel with missiles, this seems inevitable to me. Unless Israel intends to lay waste to all of southern Lebanon, its airstrikes are unlikely to be very effective, unless Hezbollah has very few centralized headquarters where they keep all of their missiles. At best, air strikes are reactive, and blowing up a site being used to lob missiles at Israel is not very effective if the Hezbollah terrorists put only a very few resources into each of a large number of sites. Ground forces are needed for real preventive measures.

If it is necessary for Israeli ground troops to go into Lebanon, as I suspect it will be, it will likely not be a good thing. Lebanon was awfully hard to occupy for Israel last time, and I am not certain that in the two decades they were there that they were able to make any real progress toward leaving Lebanon less dangerous than they found it. Or put another way, I don't think there is a way to fix Lebanon; Israel can only keep it relatively pacified (i.e. not a threat to Israel; I doubt that they can prevent civil strife from breaking out) as long as they stay there.

I seriously doubt that most Israelis are looking forward to the prospect of another long slog in Lebanon. But I'm not certain that there are any alternatives, short of either nuking Lebanon or evacuating Israel.

Despite the neoconservative attempt to blame all of this on Iran and Syria, I wonder if this would be happening were Syria still in charge of Lebanon. I'll find the link later but I believe that last year I predicted a civil war as the consequence of the removal of the syrian presence. I appear to have been a bit off, but the re-emergence of an unstable Lebanon that drags Israel into a conflict with it (which seems to be the result) is not only just as bad, it is much worse. And it will likely bring the civil war back as well, unless the Druze and the Christians just leave.

The neoconservative need to blame Syria and Iran for this is, I think, in large part due to an inability to admit that the "cedar revolution" could not work because the Lebanese, in their current demographics, are unable to produce the type of society that the "cedar revolution" promised. The situation is much the same as in Iraq, with Israel playing our role and Lebanon Iraq's (the big difference being that unlike the case of Israel and Lebanon, we do not border Iraq and can actually leave). As with Iraq, the neocons suffer an inability to admit that some of the people there are just not our (or Israel's) friends, do not think that we are wonderful liberators, do not love the west, do not love Israel, and want to kill us (or Israelis)*. Therefore, to cover up the fact that things are not going to plan, they have to find an outside party to blame: "No, no, the Lebanese are wonderful! They aren't doing this! Democratization of Lebanon is an eminently workable idea! It's just that darn Assad and those darn mullahs stirring up trouble!"

Of course, it will be interesting to see what they do if their dreams come true and we do topple Syria and Iran and then they have to explain why ou "allies" in the populace are trying to kill us. Probably we'll start hearing about how the insurgents are really Chinese.

That is all.

WMDs Found in Iraq!

Apropos of this, I would like to announce:

Recently the discovery was made that in his cleaing closet, Saddam Hussein had five gallons of a chlorine-based bleach and three gallons of an ammonia-based window cleaner. Such finds have been repeatedly discovered at Saddam's various palaces and in the houses of many of his compatriots. If mixed, hese could produce a toxic gas that could kill many people.

It was also discovered that Saddam had a large quantity of red Fiestaware, which is known to contain radioactive isotopes that could be used in a dirty bomb.

Finally, looking through one of his refrigerators in May 2003, soldiers discovered several strains of mold that might be useful in a biological weapons program. This was a difficult find to make; it was done in the dark, as the electricity to that area had been off for two weeks. We have been assured that the mold in the refrigerator on all of the food in there is tied to a chemical weapons program.

That is all.

Lunacy at VFR

Steve Sailer recently quoted this Dave Barry line:

They can hold all the peace talks they want, but there will never be peace in the Middle East. Billions of years from now, when Earth is hurtling toward the Sun and there is nothing left alive on the planet except a few microorganisms, the microorganisms living in the Middle East will be bitter enemies.

Lawrence Auster had a conniption over it.

I think the funniest part about that posting was this response by "Ben:"

Finally, anybody who sums up the middle east crisis as ...

“They can hold all the peace talks they want, but there will never be peace in the Middle East. Billions of years from now, when Earth is hurtling toward the Sun and there is nothing left alive on the planet except a few microorganisms, the microorganisms living in the Middle East will be bitter enemies,”

is not worth reading.


My question for you, dear reader, is:

Is anyone who, reading an interesting analysis of what would really make things more stable for Israel in the Middle East (smart dictators who would have something to lose if provoked Israel), fixates at a small joke at the end about how eternal the conflict there is, and finds that the thing most worth commenting on, worth taking seriously (at least on the issue of Sailer's writings)?

That is all.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Thoughts on Lebanon

The biggest thought I have about the present Middle East problems is that we have to extricate ourselves quickly from Iraq lest the whole thing blow up with us in it. (Of course, the pro-warriors probably want us right in the thick of it so we can take the lead if and when it explodes).

I also tend to think that the recent attacks from Lebanon should give the lie to the idea that Lebanon is a peaceful wonderful country but for the Syrian occupation. Of course, Joe Farah will probably keep arguing that Syria is really behind all this, and that all real Lebanese are totally in support of Israel and want a return to the good old days when the Maronites ruled, and that the problems in the country did not come from demographic changes but from Syria. In fact, the demographic changes are not even real, but are driven by large numbers of "Lebanese" really being Iranian!

As for Israel's response, morally I don't really have a problem with it. Strategically, is it the best move? I have no idea, and so unless a flash of inspiration strikes I will keep my mouth shut and trust the Israeli strategists to know what they are doing.

That is all.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Craig Smith is Dishonest or a Moron

My money's on liar, although both are possible.

In his recent WorldNetDaily column, he suggests that the Supreme Court in the Hamdan case, by ruling that the Geneva Conventions applied to prisoners we are holding in Guantanamo and that we cannot try them by tribunal (presumably we will have to use normal military courts) has also ruled, in essence, that Bush can order them executed.

Not so fast. The relevant portions he cites allow for spies, certain saboteurs, and spies to be executed, but they say nothing about dispensing with the trial. He doesn't even bother, as Adam Yoshida does, to make a point that he sees trials as unnecessary. He simply assumes that the fact that they have been accused of war crimes to be the same thing as being convicted.

Does beleiving that the people at Guantanamo ought ot be tried mean that I am soft on terrorism? No, it simply means that I do not have the blind faith in our government (or ny other worldly government) to always catch the right people. Those who wonder "why we give terrorists due process rights" apparently are under the impression that we never capture the wrong person.

That is all.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A Rather Poor Example to Follow

Steve Sailer is pretty good at explaining things, but in his comments regarding this New York Times column by Tony Horwitz, he leaves out the most important reason why the column should be ridiculed.

In the column, Horwitz writes:

America has always been a diverse and fast-changing land, home to overlapping cultures and languages. It's an homage to our history, not a betrayal of it, to welcome the latest arrivals, just as the Indians did those tardy and uninvited Pilgrims who arrived in Plymouth not so long ago.

Oh, yeah, and that worked out so well for the Indians, didn't it?

That is all.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Feminist Hypocrisy

Most feminists seem to think that it is a terrible discriminatory thing that gay marriage is not the law of the land (except in Massachusetts).

The arguments usually gpo along the lines that there is no set definition of "marriage" and that it ought to change with society, which should be dedicated to "equality." In practice, of course, what they want is not just "same-sex marraige," but to have it become so normalized that it is not even referred to as "same-sex marraige" but as "marriage" like all other marriage.

Which, of course, would destroy marriage. What is desired here is not simply to expand some notion of rights, but the total destruction of a gendered idea of marriage. Which will, in turn, make marriage meaningless.

Feminists understand this when they rail against the idea of calling Ifeminism "feminism." Why is it so hard to understand why people likewise balk at calling same-sex partnerships "marriage?"

Answer: it's not. The truth of the matter is that most such leftists are not delusional about the impact of gay mariage. They jsut hate marriage and want to destroy it by making it meaningless.

Claims that they don't see how same-sex "marriage" will hurt marriage are belied by the fact that so many of them hate the idea of marriage in the first place (I don't meant that they personally don't want to get married but that they think that marriage is a bad thing).

I remember another article at Pandagon that I cannot find right now where one of the writers was trying to explain why she supports "marriage equality" (i.e., same-sex marriage) while being opposed to marriage. I think what she said was something along the lines of "uf we are going to have marriage, we should have same-sex marraige so that we can show that we view same-sex relationships as legitimate." Nonsense. Being for same-sex marriage can easily be a part of being against marriage; the goal is to dilute marriage so as to make it meaningless.

That is all.

Everybody talks About it, But...

What can actually be done about global warming? That's the real problem driving the lack of interest in fighting it. The idea that cheap solar and wind power are right around the corner seems to be rather naive, indicating that we would have to consider nuclear power or else condemn ourselves to a greatly reduced standrad of living.

Interestingly enough, some of the leftists at my graduate alma mater admitted that we would have to freeze our standard of living in order to achieve their goals (actually, it would likely need to be radically decreased, but at least they were on the right track).

Which is an important point that people ought to bring out before we act as if global warming is merely driven by power-hungry big business out of Captain Planet.

That is all.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Marital Rape Never, Ever Happens

Which is why it is such a bad thing to show it occurring on television. Obviously, if a television show depicts a man raping his wife, it must be condoning such an action, because such things never, ever, actually happen so there is no reason to show it other than to try and encourage it.

And of course, unless the woman immediately starts getting angry or upset or starts crying about it, and unless she immediately starts referring to it as rape, the show must obviously be indicating that absolutely no trauma occurred and it was A-OK. Because there is absolutely no such thing as denial.

That is all.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Reading Between the Lines

According to an artilce in Mother Jones, Congressman Dana Rohrbacher changed his position on embryonic stem-cell research because when he and his wife going through fertility treatments which included embryo transplantation it changed his persepctive:

“I have done a lot of soul-searching but also a lot of rethinking about reality, and what’s going on here, and I have come to the conclusion that I’m…first, I’m still pro-life. But I always said that life begins at conception. But…I was always predicating that on the idea that life begins at conception when conception begins in a woman’s body... I don’t think that the potential for human life exists in a human embryo until it’s implanted in a human body."

If I were cynical, I might suggest that Mr. Rohrbacher's views were altered primarily because the process that he and his wife went through likely created a number of surplus embryos, and not wanting for his wife to gestate them, or to go through a lot of hoops to get them adopted, he decided to define their person-status in the way that would be most convenient for himself and his wife.

But I'm not that cynical, am I?

That is all.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Shine On

I'm sure to get people angry by saying this, but I much prefer the 1997 miniseries Stephen King's The Shining to the 1980 Stanley Kubrick version.

Why? Because the 1997 version had an understandable plot. The original movie was a mishmash of scary images, none of which really gelled into a storyline. In the 1997 miniseries, I understood what was going on.

That is all.
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