Saturday, September 30, 2006

Missing the Point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Uh-huh.

But this will happen only if we win in Iraq.

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

Winning, however, is something Democrats rarely talk about.

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

That is all.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

What Have We Unleashed in Iraq?

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

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

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

That is all.

Paranoia

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

That is all.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Andrew C. McCarthy is an Idiot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This statement is also bizarre:

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

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

This concept is well explained by Matt Yglesias.

That is all.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Stop Your Sniveling and Groveling, Ilkka

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

That is all.

Sexist Assumptions

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

One wonders where this insight may be turned.

That is all.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Saving Cory Maye?

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

More on the case here.

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

That is all.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Another Reason to Home-School

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

Thanx and a tip o' the aht to Ifeminists.

That is all.

A Fun Idea in a Movie

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

That is all.

Clarification

I should point out two things:

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

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

That is all.

Disability and Sour Grapes

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

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

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

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

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

Imagine it.


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

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

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

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

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

That is all.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Privilege

Let me summarize this post:

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

That is all.

Thought for the Day

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

That is all.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Marrying Dogs Already

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

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

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

That is all.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Word of Wisdom to the Neoconservatives

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

That is all.

"Sexual Liberation" = Institutional Racism

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

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

It got me thinking:

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

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

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

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

That is all.

Victor Does Afghanistan

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

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

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

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

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

That is all.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Fears This Year

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

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

That is all.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Cliff May Has a Reasonably Good Article

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

What we are doing is not succeeding.

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

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

That is all.

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