Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fool or Liar

John Kyl has an interesting article out, but it seems to me to be rather overly rosy-tinted about Iraq.

Let's go into some detail.

First, both the Iraqi leaders and Americans we met expressed cautious optimism about the new Baghdad Security Plan

Most of the Iraqi leaders were put into power by the U.S., so they know who to kiss up to. The Americans, presumably mostly soldiers, have to be optimistic. You can't survive a deployment of several months to a year without hope.

And the Iraqi government is now committed to a key part of the military plan, making sure that after an area of the city is cleared, the Iraqi army and police remain to keep it pacified.

Uh... seeing as the Iraqi Army is on the same side as the Shiite death squads, I'm not entirely certain that their staying behind is good news if our goal is to prevent ethnic cleansing and a nasty little civil war.

Two key Iraqi leaders noted a feeling among ordinary Iraqis, Sunni and Shia alike, that "something was different this time" - that this new strategy has a chance to succeed. All cautioned that there would be "bad days and good days" and that we wouldn't be able to pass judgment on the new strategy for months. But the sense of hope and optimism was still palpable.

No, Charlie Brown, I won't pull the football away this time.

The second message I took away from our trip was that we cannot micromanage this war from the U.S. Congress, either by cutting off funding for our troops or setting conditions on troop deployments.

Only the latter can be in any sense considered micromanaging, and even then it is dubious whether setting general conditions is really in that category (micromanaging would be more like Congress demanding to be consulted for every troop movement). Cutting off funds is macro in every sense of the word. What Kyl is really saying here is that the Congress cannot legitimately say anything in any way about the war and must let our glorious leader be the dictator in military matters that he so badly wants to be.

Beginning with our first meetings at Camp Arijan in Kuwait, senior military leaders consistently emphasized to us the need for Congress to pass President Bush's supplemental spending request to carry out the mission over the next several months.

I don't believe him.

Threats from some in Washington to block the request for funding or impose onerous restrictions on how the money is spent have our military leaders worried that they won't have what they need to fight and win. The troops with whom I spoke are also carefully watching the debate back home and don't want to be undercut while their lives are on the line.

Previopusly in the article he was trying to be part of the debate. But with these type of statements the goal is to distract the public from the factual aspects of the debate over whether or not the troop surge will do any good but subtly or not-so-subtly implying that any suggestion that we should not carry out the strategy will demoralize our troops. It's just a way to shut down debate.

...this "slow bleed" strategy that seeks to end the war by choking off funds and reinforcements is totally irresponsible. It would pull the rug out from under our troops just as they appeared to be making real progress against the enemy.

We have heard about this "progress" for years now. Why should we believe you now when every other time, you were wrong?

Finally, I left the Middle East with a growing concern over the pernicious role Iran plays in the region.

Ah, the call for expanding the war. Iran: the all-purpose excuse for current failures and for the need to escalate the conflict.

Part of the president's Baghdad Security Plan includes going after improvised explosive device networks and capturing those who bankroll them, regardless of their nationality. Some have criticized this approach as an "escalation against Iran" or a "prelude to war."

I don't think that anyone has suggested that going after Iranians who are in Iraq is "escalation." Kyl is just lying on that score. What people suggest is escalation is the idea that we need to bomb Iran in order to get rid of IEDs in Iraq.

We have an incredibly complex and difficult road ahead, but everyone I met in Baghdad - Iraqi or American, general or private - believed that we were finally moving in the right direction.

Either you are lying or you were carefully shown only people who were shills for the administration policy.

That is all.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith Thought

I think that what the people who want to get a paternity test for the baby should do is claim that Anna Nicole Smith's baby is really dead and Howard K. Stern has replaced her with another baby. At that point, they can demand DNA tests to determine the maternity of the baby or else the baby and her guardian have no standing to inherit any of Anna Nicole's assets in the U.S. or to continue Ms. Smith's suits for cash from her late husband.

In other words, if Mr. Stern really is in it for the cash, make the baby worthless unless they get a DNA sample. That sample can then, of course, be used to establish paternity as well as maternity.

That is all.

Thought for the Day

Wouldn't it be funny if all of the kids invovled in the "Truth" ad campaign came down with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, endometrial cancer, and/or colon cancer?

That is all.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


This post by Mona on Unqualified Offerings is ridiculous.

Apparently she feels that there is no rational reason why straight men would be uncomfrotable showering (as in, naked) in the same room as gay men.

She also apparently feels that all men should be perfectly comfortable not just with the fact that some men like to have sex with other men, but with the idea of they themselves having sex with other men, and that if they find that idea gross, there is something wrong with them.

So this is what it comes to. Not only only should we be tolerant of gays, but if we find the idea of engaging in homosexual activity ourselves repugnant (which is why straight males are often uncomfortable with the idea of showering with gays, because of the uncomfortable thought that they are ogling you and perhaps thinking about having sex with you), there is something wrong with you that needs to be conditioned out.

Anyone who claims not to see why people would be uncomfortable being ogled ought to be willing put up nude pictures of themselves on the internet to prove it. Otherwise, they understand exactly why straight men (and likely some gay men too) are uncomfortable showering with gay men and are just poseurs.

That is all.

Monday, February 19, 2007

A Very Good Point

Daniel Larison writes:

Once again war supporters are personalising the conflict to an absurd degree. Remember how the insurgency would start dropping off if we just got Hussein and his sons? Remember how we just had to get rid of Zarqawi, and the insurgency would go into decline? This is more of the same–a weird Anglo-American trait of recent years to make every foreign policy problem into a stand-off with some mini-Hitler, which has the advantage of making the people taking on mini-Hitler into microscopic Churchills. Once we defeat the mini-Hitler, as if he were the final challenger on a level of a video game, we will have triumphed!

He makes a very good point here. Much of the ideology behind the Iraq War is based onthe idea that there is a particular person or a small number of persons who are preventing the Iraqis from coming out and supporting "their" vision of a democratic, united Iraq.

I have commented on this myself:

As long as we rely on others with different interests to protect what we perceive as our interests in Iraq, our strategy will be a woeful failure and we will be left either blaming others for Iraqi misdeeds... or trying to place all of the problems on the head of some Emmanuel al-Goldstein, such as Zarqawi or Sadr.

Another comment on this here.

I think that this focus on particular persons as the main obstacle to victory in Iraq is largely based on the fact that once you base your goals and strategy on the claim that Iraqis are hungry for U.S.-bestowed freedom and that they love us and want what we want, then you have to come up with excuses for all of the actions they are taking against us. In other words, you need some person to blame for whatever goes wrong so that you can ewxcuse any failures on our part by referring to our current bogeyman as the source of our problems. Therefore, we can laways pretend that the real problem is that we haven't caught our killed Uday and Qusay Saddam Zarqawi Moqtadr al-Sadr yet. (And we can also find some way to blame our not killing him on our political opponents and thus avoid any responsibility whatsoever).

That is all.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Wishful Thinking Is Not a Strategy

Quin Hillyer's little piece here is, unfortunately absurd.

Of course, he has a response to that claim:

Conservatives well grounded in their own traditions will not scoff at all those "what ifs" as mere pipe dreams. Rather than scoff, they will roll up their sleeves and try to turn those "what ifs" into reality.

Yes, but his major "what if," the one on which all of the others really depend, is "what if our Iraq strategy works?" This is not a "what if" that most Americans can really affect a great deal, unless of course he thinks that rallies for the troops somehow demoralize and defeat our enemies.

If he wants to call for a major, MAJOR expansion of the military and to call on Americans to roll up their sleeves and volunteer for service in order to send hundreds of thousands of troops into Iraq to pacify it, then maybe I will take his "what ifs" seriously. But all he offers in the way of pacifying Iraq is wishful thinking, not any actual means by which we can help assure any sort of success. And trust me, if the war in Iraq started to go well, then the otehr things would start falling into place.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to Clark Stooksbury.

That is all.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Thoughts on HPV Vaccine

Although I have publicly disagreed with her opinions on the issue of so-called "white privilege," I want to commend Sara Anderson of F-Words for her thoughtful analysis of the isues surrounding mandatory HPV vaccination. She discusses the issue here,
here, and here.

That is all.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Thoughts on Amanda Marcotte

Good Ol' Ampy defends the decision by John Edwards to keep Amanda Marcotte on his campaign team, even after she made disparaging remarks toward Christians (see also here.

My question is, would he be as at ease with someone keeping a campaign worker if, instead of insulting Christians, she had said that Martin Luther King Jr. was "a socialist, plagiarizing, philandering, communist sympathizing demagogue?" (I know of a reasonably well-known internet columnist who has written this - not me - but he/she has changed the wording since then, so I won't cause problems by mentioning his/her name).

That is all.

More on Sexual Orientation Issues

While not one, I think I am beginning to find asexuals to be an interesting topic.

That is all.

Homophobic? Sorry, I Was Born That Way

"The Man who is Thursday" has some thoughts on why trying to promote acceptance of homosexuality amongst males (as opposed to promoting respect toward everyone, including homosexuals) is a losing strategy.

That is all.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Rants Against Leftists

In response to A friendly challenge/dare/what-have-you on Creative Destruction, here are a few choice Glaivester comments about leftists:

Every time Matthew Yglesias or Tamar Jacoby open their gaping yawps, another person is converted into a (Kevin) MacDonaldite.

On Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David once said that his brother's obnoxious behavior was the cause of most of the antisemitism in the U.S. Obviously he has not heard of Matt or Tamar.
-Let's Be Honest

When people wonder why initiatives to cut spending and lower taxes are not more successful, the answer is obvious: because we let the parasites vote. - Thought for the Day

Why doesn't this bitch [Ellen Goodman] just say what she means? America's current population is too conservative and too white (non-Hispanic white) for her tastes, so she wants to replace us with leftist Mexicans. -Ellen Goodman, Be Honest

The fact of the matter is, there are two reason why the left wants open borders:

(1) To bring in more poor people from socialist countries in order to fill our countries with those who will vote for socialist policies.

(2) To make non-Hispanic whites become a minority as soon as possible, because they hate non-Hispanic whites and want us to be outnumbered so we can become the oppressed minority, because they feel we deserve it.

I'm sorry, but I hate the leftists. They want nothing more than they want to destroy white people and to destroy capitalism, and I am sick of it.
-The Idiotic Left

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.
"Sexual Liberation" = Institutional Racism

This next piece was written after some consternation after arguing at a well-known liberal blog.

Why? Because more than anyone else, they strip away the pretensions that a lot of the leftists tend to celebrate.

Take for example, this post by Ilkka Kokkarinen (Sixteeen Volts) [Note: post was deleted when Ilkka gave up bloging, and is not included in archived Sixteen Volts posts or at Webarchives (it's from May 2006)], suggesting that a lot of leftist positions come from the fact that the people espousing them can't, like, get their lives staight and want to blame someone for it...

...There is also the fact that one of the most frustrating things is trying to have a respectful discussion with someone who refuses to respect you. Once you realize that a lot of these people you are arguing with are
losers, and feel the way they do because they are losers who cannot make it in the real world and therefore decide that the problem must be with the real world rather than with them, it is quite liberating. When you realize that you don't have to respect people who would just as soon see you subjected to forcible indoctrination of their ideas, but can call them out as losers, suddenly you feel much, much freer. -Why I Read Udolpho and Sixteen Volts

And I found I neglected in all of my blogging to point out that people who simultaneously believe that you "have a right to do whatever you want with your own body" and also that you have the right to have the taxpayers finance your choices have the morality of spoiled whiny teenagers.

That is all.

What the Hawks Believed

In order to remind people how bizarre the beliefs of the hawks were, I would like to introduce you to this very difficult to find piece by David Silverberg back in 2002.

Why does anyone believe these dolts?

That is all.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Seven Myths About Iraq

I recently read this piece of trash, about ten supposed "myths" about Iraq (all of which are antiwar, leaving the "truths" pro-war). This was fortuitous, as I had already begun to write my own "myths about Iraq," to explain the massive, stupid arguments that pro-war people, including people who used to be intelligent before they got caught up in the cult of Bush, use.

There are several canards out there about Iraq that I think we need to deal with if we are to understand the problems there.

(1) The Iraqis want exactly what we want.

I remember hearing Rusty Humphries say one time on his show that he is still convinced that all people desire freedom and have the spark of liberty, or somesuch. This meant that the democratization of Iraq is still doable, because that in the end is what the Iraqis want. The only problem, he insisted, was that they were not certain that we would stick it out with them to give it to them.

In other words, if the Iraqis were certain of us, the freedom-loving majority would stand up to the terrorists and calm Iraq down.

This is also a subtext in Hannity's insistence that with the mightiest military in the world, we could not possibly lose in Iraq if we had the will to win and the determination to do what it takes. As Hannity's goal for Iraq is a united, democratic Iraq that is a friend to the U.S., his position only makes sense under the assumption that, given enough support by the Americans to do so, most Iraqis would choose to remake Iraq the way we want it remade.

Finally, this is the underlying assumption behind any plan to "train the Iraqis faster." Any plan that relies largely on Iraqi forces must necessarily assume that the Iraqis are willing to fight and die for our vision of Iraq, and the only problem they may have is insufficient experience to do so.

In reality, Iraq is fairly tribal, sectarian, and Muslim. Many, many things are far more important to most Iraqis than political freedom, economic freedom, or even basic human freedoms as we understand them. So any plan that relies on Iraqis spontaneously acting like Westerners is doomed to failure.

(2) If we had just changed one little thing, everything would be okay.

In general, this one thing winds up being the setting up of an Iraqi government. The idea is usually either that the Iraqis resent the fact that we "occupied" the country for so long before creating an "Iraqi-led" government, thus alienating Iraqis, or that we let the Iraqis have too much freedom in setting up their government, therefore not getting a leader we could deal with. Richard Perle has often said the former, Jack Kelly recently said the latter.

Generally, the alternative presented is that we should have installed a president of our liking, and written the constitution we wanted Iraq to have and imposed it on them.

On some level, this is accurate; if we spent more time forcing the Iraqis to do what we wanted, instead of trying to coax them to get along with us, we would have avoided some of the problems and a lot of the hypocrisy. However, the problem with looking at things this simplistically is that it ignores the fact that governments need the consent, or at least the acquiescence, of the people to be effective. We could write any constitution we wanted and install any leader we wanted,, and it wouldn't have made any difference. Unless the leader had a 300,000 or 400,000-man private army, we would still have neeed to be there to pacify the people and to enforce his rule.

Richard Perle and Jack Kelly and their ilk either believe that the Iraqi are so stupid that they would have eagerly accpeted a puppet government as different from a straightforward U.S. occupation, or else they believe that the cover of an "Iraqi government" would give us the ability to launch the mass-murderous policies that would likely be necessary to keep the Iraqi in check and submissive.

(3) The mistakes in Iraq were just run-of-the-mill mistakes, things that couldn't have been predicted.

"Mistakes are always made in war," so the saying goes, as evidenced by Orson Scott Card and Thomas Sowell. Those who complain are merely Monday-morning quarterbacks with 20/20 hindsight.

But this ignores the fact that there were people who predicted accurately what would happen who were ignored. Pat Buchanan, amongst others, predicted the guerilla war that would follow the conquest, Eric Margolis predicted Iraq's break-up, Scott Ritter, who correctly predicetd the lack of WMDs, was vilified as being "on the take" from Saddam Hussein, and sordid personal affaris were all brought up.

And yet, we are supposed to still trust the pro-warriors more, and still denigrate the war opponents, based on the fact that "mistakes are made in war," and therefore w should judge a man's position on the war by the purity of his intentions, not by his actual ability to accurately forecast the results of his policies.

Not that war opponents have not made mistakes, most particularly in regards to the number of casualties that would occur in the initial invasion. But the main reason thatwe were wrong is that in the initial invasion we mightily avoided any urban warfare or any attempt to pacify the populace. In other words, we didn't try to complete the conquest. We bypassed all of the people who needed to be brought down at the start, and as a result they were able to create the core of the insurgency in the early days.

Other "mistakes" are simplistic rewrites of the antwarriors' positions: " Critics have been proved wrong repeatedly in their claims that elections could not be held in Iraq or a government formed there. Iraqi voter turnout, even in the face of terrorist threats, has exceeded voter turnout in the United States."

As I recall, the issue was not whether or not elections would be held, but whether or not they would actually matter in terms of breaking the back of the insurgency. We were continuously told by the neocons, and by Cheney in the VP debate against Edwards, that elections had a magical power to quell insurgencies. In reality, tribes voted in the way that would put their ribe in the best position to exercise power over other Iraqis. Claims that Iraqis braved terrorist attacks to exercise the right to vote ignores the possibility that they were also under threat if they didn't vote, and vote for particular candidates. You think that when Moqtada al-Sadr runs candidates, that he didn't send troops in to make sure that all his relatives and neighbors voted Mookie - or else?

As for setting up a government, it is easy to set up a government. The difficulty is in getting the people to actually be loyal enough to fight for the government and to support it.

The pro-warriors were wrong on many issues, and the antiwarriors were correct. No amount of "mistakes are made in war" will alter that simple fact.

(4) We have a clear enemy to defeat, if we set our minds to defeating him.

Generally, this is brought up by those who argue that the reason that we are losing in Iraq is that we are too subdued by the rules of engagement. If were simply more willing to kill the enemy instead of coddling him, we would win easily.

Jack Kelly is among the many who have argued this.

Andrew McCarthy also hints at this in this article:

Unless our actual, overriding purpose in Iraq is to crush al Qaeda and its sponsors — rather than hope we can delegate the job to the newly trained forces of a Maliki-led government — our enemies will have their victory. All we’re otherwise doing is running out the clock and running up our casualty count.

While the rest of the article seems to have an actual policy suggestion, albeit a rather extreme one - that we need to try to take on the entire Muslim world militsrily - that particular line seems to indicate that there is some way that we can do serious damage to Al Qaeda from within Iraq.

This is also implied by those who suggest that our problem is too-restrictive rules of engagement. In general, these calls seem to imply that we have a clear enemy and that if we were simply to kill him, we would win.

In fact, a recent article (which I commented on) is essentially trying to get us to believe that the "enemy" in Iraq is uniting, and is equating this enemy to Al Qaeda (presumably to encourage us to accept that yes, conquering Iraq is a good way to make progress in the war on terror.

The problem, of course, with these ideas is that they ignore or outright deny the fact that we do not have a single clear-cut enemy in Iraq. The fact of the matter is that there is no way to achieve anything resmebling a victory (which I will define as creating an Iraq whose policies are mostly those that benefit the interests of the U.S.) or pacify the insurgency without dominating the country.

Killing the enemy is not enough. They can recruit and regenerate their forces too quickly. The only way to pacify Iraq is to conquer the entire population so as to prevent those who are not currently your enemy from becoming so. A few of those "looser rules of engagement" people seem to realize this, but most still seem to think that we can "kill the enemy" without regarding virtuallyeveryone in Iraq as an enemy, or at least as a peon who lives and goes about his business at our sufferance.

No way, mister. Either we go all the way and pacify the country, or we get out. We can't look at the enemy as some distinguishable entity distinct from Iraq itself.

(5) The enemy interprets the war in the way that we do.

Critics claim that there is no connection between the war on terror and the war in Iraq. They don't seem to notice that the terrorists themselves obviously see a clear connection, which they express in both words and deeds.

Terrorists are pouring into Iraq, even at the cost of their lives, in order to prevent a free, democratic government from being established in the Middle East. They see victory or defeat in Iraq as having major and long-lasting repercussions throughout the region and even throughout the world.

-Thomas Sowell, Another Vietnam?, Part II (previously references in this post)

Let's see. Muslims, enraged that a foreign power is occupying a Muslim country, attack that foreign power.

Yes, there's absolutely no reason for them to do that other than a hatred of democracy.

And that doesn't even address the question of how many of the attacks in Iraq are actually being committed by foreigners rather than Iraqis.

One of the more egregious examples of this is this piece by Amir Taheri, which was met with glee by the Bush-bewitched Penraker. After making a reasonable argument that we are not in a simple sectarian war, with all Shiite Arabs pitted against all Sunni Arabs, and/or both/either pitted against the Kurds, he proceeds to proclaim the war is a political one. The obvious conclusion is that Iraq is moving towards some sort of Hobbesian high-stakes game of Risk, with each tribe placing first and foremost the goal of political power for those who are is relatives. Although alliances and religious loyalty being what they are, these games wind up causing a great deal of sectarian strife (because, on average, two random Sunni Arabs or Shiite Arabs are more likely to be allies than one of each), in the end we are left with many sides, shifting alliances, and in many cases a lack of clearly defined sides.

However, after that reasonably good analysis, Taheri immediately resimplifies the occupation into the political terms with which it was orignially sold to us:

What is happening in Iraq, however, is neither a civil nor a sectarian war (although elements of both exist within the broader context). This war is a political one - between those who wish Iraq to succeed as a new democracy and those who want it to fail.

Words almost fail me. This is the most insane way of reading the previous three pages that I can imagine. What seems most likely from what he wrote before is that the war is a Hobbesian multiethnic one - a bunch of tribes scrambling for their piece of the pie. How that translates into caring specifically about whether a democratic Iraq succeeds - even into Iraqis considering that possibility that a multiethnic democratic Iraq will succeed - is beyond me. No wonder they want to blame Iran entirely for the insurgency, if their understanding is so limited.

Of course, this isn't the first time Taheri has, in the closing paragraphs of his article, basically summarized his thesis in such a way as to contradict everything else in the article. Back in 2004, he wrote this piece denying that Islam is compatible with democracy, because Islam demands things that are incompatible with democracy, and makes no distinction between the secular and the religious [no "render unto Caesar" and all that]. His solution?

Muslims can build successful societies provided they treat Islam as a matter of personal, private belief and not as a political ideology that seeks to monopolise the public space shared by the whole of humanity and dictate every aspect of individual and community life.

In other words, if they do all of the things that Taheri spent the article arguing that they cannot do.

The point is, though, we cannot work on the assumption that we can put ourselves in the Iraqis shoes and anticipate their desires by looking at our own. All cultures do not value the same things equally.

(6) Iraqis don't mind it when we cause civilian casualties.

This was originally told to us in the run-up to the war, supposedly by Kenneth Joseph, a "human shield" who changed his mind when the Iraqis told him how much they wanted the U.S. to bomb them:

Rev. Kenneth Joseph said some of the Iraqis he interviewed "told me they would commit suicide if the American bombing didn't start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain freedom from Saddam's bloody tyranny."

The estimable "Hack" Kelly also implied that the Iraqis felt this way in a previously referenced article:

Ethiopia won in short order because it unapologetically used force against vicious people who understand only force. They killed the people they needed to kill without worrying overmuch about collateral damage, and not at all about world opinion. And though the Ethiopian soldiers are Christians, they were hailed as liberators in this overwhelmingly Muslim country.

The implication, of course, is that the Iraqis would not rage with hate against us if we started slaughtering them, but would coo contentedly at the concern we showed them.

The overall message is that we should brutalize the Iraqis if that is hat pacification takes, and that there is no need to concern ourselves with blowback, because they respect power so much and "love a strong horse." There should be no concern that we make them hate us, as long as they fear us.

Maybe. But Middle Easterners have long memories. If we wield our power as a club, we darn sure better make certain to never, ever, weaken. EVER. Because once we do that, we'll be stuck doing it forever, or suffering the consequences the moment we slacken.

In truth, there is little reason to believe that the Iraqis are willing to die for the sake of our mission's success as we define it. Kenneth Joseph is most likely a fraud, and the Ethiopia/Somalia situation is difficult to derive positions on Iraq from. At least one Iraqi blogger definitely doesn't seem to think that a policy of "kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out" is good by her.

(7) Voting means the Iraqis support democracy.

The next person to say "but Iraqi voter turnout was higher than U.S. voter turnout, so they must support democracy," gets a big middle finger.

Then running candidates in the elections must mean that someone is very pro-democracy. So why do we see people like al-Sadr as enemies, when they are eager to participate in the system?

The question answers itself. Being willing to vote when a foreign power occupies your country and makes it the way to obtain political power is not the same thing as believing that the voting booth is the best way to solve political questions, nor does it indicate an ability to sustain democracy in the absence of said occupation.

In short, these 7 arguments (and you can probably think of several more) are amongst the most potent weapons of the pro-warriors to obfuscate our understanding of the situation in Iraq. By asserting false premises such as these, they canmake very ridiculous conclusions seem reasonable, because, given those premises, the conclusions are logical.

Beware of them, and be ready to point out the falws in these arguments whenever pro-warriors use them.

Maybe somewhere there is a good argument that this is a good war and that Bush is running it well and that the Iraqis really want to be New Hampshire ("Live Free or Die!"). But these aren't they.

That is all.

That is all.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Class Apathy

Note: This was originally written on April 18, 2006, but as I was still substitute teaching at the time, I decided not to post it. Here it is now:

Steve Sailer recently posted an email where it was mentioned that the upper middle-class often has little to no respect or knowledge of the lower classes. (The email was in response to this earlier posting).

This reminded me of some of my own experiences.

I have recently been making some small amount of money by substitute teaching, and I have noticed, among other things, just how different from me a lot of the non-college-rack students are. I think a lot of people in the "cognitive elite" (basically, anyone who goes to a competitive college or to grad school) assume that the difference between an honors student and an academic student is the ability to understand calculus, or to do sumplification of trigonometric equations, or somesuch. The differences are often much more - fundamental.

This worries me tremendously; not because of some snobbish concern that the hoi polloi are a bunch of yahoos, but because I fear that the cognitive elite who run the corporations and the government are likely as isolated from this, just as I would have been were it not for my experience subbing. Ignorance, particularly when you are ignorant of the fact that you are ignorant, can be extremely dangerous. As Steve Sailer has pointed out, policy-makers have a tendency to assume that everyone thinks and responds like they do, and thus base policies on what would make sense for them. This is tremendously dangerous, though, when the people whom the policies effect react and respond to incentives quite differently. If most of them are like I was, then the elite areway too isolated in their ivory towers.

I have known about this in theory for quite some time; which, I suppose, is why I have been able to adapt to substituting so well. I don't get discouraged if all of my students do not show the potential to become rocket scientists because I was not under the delusion that they would all be able to do so. But I never really understood how stark the differences between people at different cognitive levels are.

I really think that everyone in the "cognitive elite" ought to do at least a month of substitute teaching, at a high school of middle school where they will be teaching students on the left half of the bell curve. I think it might force our future leaders to make policies based on a representative sampling of all parts of the U.S. population, not just based on what they think their friends would go for.

That is all.
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