Sunday, July 31, 2005

Thus Spake Gary Brecher

From the War Nerd:

"We could do it, way more easily than the Romans. We'd burn only as many calories as it takes to press a button. If we had the will, we could wipe out the whole population of the Sunni Triangle in a few days. If we used neutron bombs, we could do it without even messing up the area too badly. It would sure stop the insurgency.

"Trouble is, that kind of genocide just isn't popular these days, and nobody, not even Professor Hanson, is ready to argue for it. It's hard to argue you want to bring democracy to the Sunnis by making them extinct. And what Hanson and morons like him won't admit is that short of genocide, there is no military solution to urban guerrilla warfare."

Which is a concern that I have been voicing all along.

That is all.

Steve Sailer on Gary Brecher on Victor Davis Hanson


That is all.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Word "Terrorist"

A lot of people have expressed dismay at the reluctance in parts of the media to us the word "terrorist."

However, it has struck me that in some contexts, it makes perfect sense to avoid using that word and to use words such as "extremist" or "militant" instead.

The thing is, terrorism is, first and foremost, a tactic. Identifying someone as a terrorist identifies the general type of tactics they are willing to use, and definitely indicates something about their morality or lack thereof, but it doesn't indicate much about what they are fighting for or what group they belong to. Nor does it offer specific information on the tactics that would be useful in noticing and catching such persons, the way that "bomber," "sniper," or "suicide bomber" does.

Also, I feel that we need to look at what we are fighting in broader terms than just "terrorism." If we are fighting Islamic extremism, we are fighting against all kinds of Islamic extremism that might hurt us, not just terrorism. Or put another way, terrorism is the tactic of our enemy, not his goal. We seek not just to reduce Islamic terrorism, but to reduce any threat they may pose.

In some ways, many on the neoconservative side are so concerned with using terms to remind us of the evil of the enemy that they make it more difficult to accurately identify the enemy or to see what it is we should be fighting.

This is also a problem with the term "homicide bomber." In an attempt to remind us that the enemy is murdering innocents, the term used to identify the tactic loses important information or else misreporesents it. That is, either "homicide bomber" refers exclusively to people who blow themselves up in order to kill others, in which case blowing other people up without blowing one's self up is not "homicide bombing," in which case the term "homicide" is essentially used to mean "suicide," or else we refer to all bombings that kill people as "homicide bombings," in which case the term we use doesn't include the important tactical information as to whether the bomb was set off remotely or as to whether we are dealing with people who are willing to die to kill us. Some people argue that we shouldn't care whether or not the terrorist blows themselves up, and should either mention it far down in articles describing the attack or not at all, because our concern should be for the victims and not the terrorist. But that is ridiculous. We want to know how the people were killed. We want to know the tactics that the enemy uses.

Propaganda for the purpose of demonizing the enemy is a fine thing in war, and can be used effecctively. But it should not be used at the expense of clarity.

That is all.

Thoughts on the War on Terror

Jacob G. Hornberger observes the problems that our current policies have.

I think the essential problem with the current crop of neoconservatives justifying anything our government does is that they are employing terms that are, strictly speakng, not applicable.

Supposedly, we are at war, and all of the people at Guantanamo are unlawful enemy combatants, so we can essentially hold them as long as we want without pressing charges. Even if they are POWs, we are allowed to hold them until the end of hostilities, so we have the right to hold them indefinitely, as this war has no clear end.

The problem with this type of talk is, of course, that it ignores the possibility that if this war has no clear ending, perhaps it should not be though of as a war, per se. Listen, if these people are suspected of being unlawful enemy combatants, they should have a trial to determine this, and then if convicted, we can imprison them, execute them, or whatever we need to do with them. Yes, I agree that we don't need to worry about protecting the rights of unlawful combatants, but we do need to worry about protecting the rights of people wrongly accused of being unlawful enemy combatants. Without trials, we do not have a good way of distinguishing the two.

And what if they are legal prisoners of war? Well, the first thing to do is to determine what war. A general war against terror? Please. The war in Afghanistan? The war in Iraq? And then we need to determine how we know whether or not we have won, so we can dfine an "end to hostilities" when the POWs will be let out.

We have already overthrown the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, and are not at war with any other Middle Eastern country, so if we define victory as in World War II, we have already won and POWs need to have releases scheduled. People who are unlawful combatants need to be tried or released.

We need to use the system as it was intended, not play word games to allow us to do whatever we want and whatever is convenient.

That is all.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Disturbing News

Is the right to die becoming the duty to die?

That is all.

The Danger of Euphemisms

Apparently desiring to avoid offending Muslims, Emanuele Ottoleigh attempts to define "terror" as an ideology:

"It is not realistic, because terrorism exploits the openness of free societies to pursue its deadly designs."

"Tolerant immigration laws, due process, and a host of mechanisms expressing confidence in the freedom we cherish and the desire of all human beings to enjoy its gift have made it easier for terrorists, who loath freedom and exalt death, to strike."

"Ultimately, terror’s goal is not just to influence a change in policy among Western societies, as many in Europe claim. Terror’s ultimate target is the Western way of life itself, which is built on freedom."

This is ludicrous euphemizing. Terrorists do not necessarily hate freedom, nor do they hate the western way of life. Also, terror does not have a goal. Terrorism, as many have said before, is a tactic; in theory, a terrorist could want anything; a person who loves and desires freedom could commit terrorist acts to fight a society that oppresses him, or he could be trying to get a dictator installed.

What Ottoleigh really means by terrorist is specifically "Muslim extremist" (I'll leave it to the reader to determine whether he thinks that there is such a thing as a non-extreme Muslim). However, because it is un-PC to point out the common thread uniting our current enemy (that is, that they are all professed Muslims), he does not once mention the words "Muslim" or "Islam."

Don't get me wrong, I am not using "Muslim extremist" as a euphemism for "terrorist," rather, I am simply poinitng out that terrorism is not the ideology we are dealing with, it is the tactic they are using.

There are really two issues regarding the morality of terrorism; first, is it justified to deliberately attack civilians in order to terrorize a populace to achieve your goals; second, are the goals one is trying to advance good ones? If one is attacking the terrorists simply for their methods, then it is appropriate to refer to "terrorists" generally. But if one is trying to attack the goals they are trying to achieve, then using the word "terrorist" as the defining feature of the enemy, or defining the ideology we are fighting as "terror," is not very useful.

That is all.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

July Iraq Fatality Figures

So far, the coalition fatalities for July: 37 hostile, 7 non-hostile.
Iraqi fatalities: Civilian: 481, police/miilitary: 232

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to Icasualties.

That is all.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Value vs. Price: Marginal vs. Average Price

Ruminations by Michael S. Rozeff on the issues of stock prices aand values.

Essentially, this is somewhat similar to the issue of marginal vs. average revenue/cost/profit, although there are some differences.

I think this may indicate one reason for bubbles; more on that as I have time to think about it.

That is all.

Thoughts on the SCOTUS

I will try to get some thoughts together about Mr. Roberts and the Supreme Court.

But I'm tired now.

That is all.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Funny Thing

I watched some of Rescue Me the other night. The episode with the "sensitivity training" class.

I loved the scenes where Denis Leary's character raised his hand when asked "is anyone here prejuficed?"

I also loved the conversation, particularly where the Puerto Rican firefighter started the discussion of why they only got one racial slur when all the other groups got four or five. Particularly amusing was the look on the face of the guy teaching the class.

Of course, the language was a little rougher than I normally listen to.

But it was a funny episode.

Just thought I would post something that wasn't grousing about the government or the Bush administration for a change. Political blogs, particularly ones by people who are somewhat outside the political mainstream, can sometimes get a little too serious and a little too grousy. Thought it would be nice to post somethign light-hearted for a change.

That is all.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

More on our Mexico Policy

So Mexico won't deport mass murderers unless we agree not to give them life imprisonment or the death penalty?

My solution is more extreme than Bryanna Bevins' (end immigration from Mexico until they give us better terms):

Send troops into Mexico to get these outlaws, and kill any Mexican who gets in our way. If we can locate the criminal, then start carpet-bombing whatever city he is in.

Mexico is not Iraq. It is invading us.

I don't want to conquer them, it would be too much work.

But if they don't start being good neighbors, the US should bomb them to Hell.

That is all.

Slow Blogging

I may be blogging rather sparsely for a few days. My nephews are visiting, and I have a lot on my plate.

That is all.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Look Who has a Fanlisting!

My favorite Marvel character!

UPDATE: I have added the fanlisting to my links on the side of the blog.

That is all.

The G-Gnome Fact-Checks the War Nerd

With some of the statements made by Gary Brecher in a recent column that I mentioned here.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to GayLikeaFox.

That is all.

Thoughts on Poddy

Steve Sailer here brings up an important point.

Part of the reason that neoconservatives, particularly those who are Jewish and/or particularly suportive of Israel, are disliked is because so many of them seem to have no problem with the US having ethnically suicidal policies and Israel not having them.

John Podhoretz and Tamar Jacoby both seem to think that because their forbears immigrated to the US in the early 20th century, that it is necessary for us to allow Mexicans and others to immigrate in the same ways. There is also a sense in some of the writing that the concern is to reduce the relative population of Gentile whites in the country in order to prevent there from being a dominant culture, other than that of tolerance and diversity, because of a fear that, not being the dominant community, any dominant community will persecute them.

As Jewish people are the dominant community in Israel, there is no such concern, so they have no problem with Israel having more restrictive immigration laws. All of which, of course, breeds resentment, of course, among American whites who feel that their culture is being degraded in a dishonest ploy.

Which is not to say that this is a strategy or a tendency among all Jews. Don Feder and Paul Gottfried are both very concerned with maintaining the cultures of Europe and America as well as Israel; and there are plenty of Jews who have decided that Israel needs to lose its identity and become multi-culti as well.

But to the extent that neoconservatism is associated with Jewish people, the dislike of it is more due to a sense of double standards and to a lack of conccern for American culture and interests than it is to any resentment of Jews per se.

That is all.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Not Much to Say

But I didn't want my readers to think I'd forgotten them.

That is all.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

ETA and IRA Play by "Faggy" Rules, Al Qaeda Wants to Kill 'Em All

Thus spake the War Nerd.

That is all.

Dennis Prager Misses a Vital Point

In this column Dennis Prager questions how a person can oppose this war yet support the troops.

Well, what he fails to see is that some people may want the troops to win, but think that it is not a likely enough outcome to be worth the effort. To say that the Iraq War is unwinnable and that we should withdraw the troops is not the same as to say that we want the troops to lose.

Granted, it is difficult to "support the troops" if you actively desire their defeat, but not all, or even the majority, who disagree with the war in Iraq want that; the message, it seems to me is, "support the troops, give them achievable goals."

That is all.

This is Ridiculous

The brothers Judd Blog appears to me to be essentially a pro-Bush propaganda site, as they seem to unequivocally celebrate every position that fits with the Bush-neocon line.

In particular, this post distresses me.

"The American taxpayer will never pay what it would cost to close the borders."

This was written after noting that the Senate voted down a bill to add 2000 agents and 8000 detention beds.

Good grief, what would that cost? I can't imagine it should cost more than, say, a billion or two. We spend more than that in two weeks in Iraq, and we are apparently willing to pay that. It's more of that Larry Craig nonsense; play up the large-sounding number (billions, I tell you, billions!) while not comparing it to other spending or figuring out what the actual per-person cost is.

Moreover, it ignores all of the costs of illegal immigration, e.g. free medical care.

Orrin Judd also lies in the comments (or is grievously mistaken) and states that "citizens have had their say, they want their beef cut cheap, their vegetables cut and their lawns mowed," and that the jobs they take are "jobs no one wants." There is every indication that Americans would like to see a reduction in illegal immigration, other than a few lazy writers for the Wall Street Journal who don't want to mow their own lawns or take care of their own kids. But whenever they try to make a law to do that, some stupid judge gets in their way. In what way have the "citizens" had their say at all? Moreover, the benefits of illegal aliens doing cheap labor are outweighed by the social services they take (e.g. schooling for their kids, medical care). The companies hiring the aliens benefit from the cheap labor, but the consumers pay for it in other ways.

That is all.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Iraq in Casualties

So far this has been quite a low coalition-fatality month.
Iraqi police/military and Iraqi civilians are doing about the same as they have been for the past few months, though.

That is all.

A Very Silly Argument

Of all of the arguments that we are not doing anything wrong at Guantanamo, "It seems to me that many of the so-called 'abuses' portrayed at Guantanamo are the same kinds of practices we accept as fraternity hazing activities on American college campuses" is the stupidest.

If the argument is that we need to be tough to get information from people whom we have confirmed to be terrorists, that is one thing. Or if the argument is that the mistreatment is harsh, but within bounds as long as there is no permanent physical damage, that is one thing.

But the argument that as long as some people like to be treated a certain way, that it is okay to treat prisoners that way is ridiculous. The most obvious difference is that the prisoners have no choice.

Using this same logic, gang rape could be excused by the fact that "lots of girls would love to have sex with five guys in one night." This of course ignores the issue of coercion, which is the point.

That is all.

Maybe I have Farah all Wrong

Maybe his goal isn't to re-establish Maronite dominance in Lebanon.

Maybe he just wants to make claims that will make him lots of cash.

Lawrence Auster chastises Farah's sensationalism.

That is all.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Sean Corrigan on Stock Prices

A very good point about why aggregate stocks aren't all worth what we think they are.

That is all.

Something Unserious

Here's a debate on the different movie versions of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (although the first movie was renamed Wille Wonka and the Chocolate Factory).

That is all.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

MUGGER's Argument

MUGGER (Russ Smith) formerly of the New York Press, explains how he sees Bush's policy as our "only hope" against terrorism.

Other than the fact that nowhere in his column does he consider, you know, trying to reduce the presence of Arab Muslims in the West (or at least better screening), there is also the fact that he doiesn't really make the case that the removal of Saddam reduced terror all that much.

He brings up the $25,000 Saddam paid to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers (which everyone seems to bring up). I hate to point this out, but (a) that's not a lot of support and its loss doesn't reduce terrorism all that much and (b) it seems that a little hard diplomacy could have stopped the payments. Hell, the payments should have been easy for Israel to intercept. He also talks about Saddam's defiance of sanctions, which is (a) somewhat iffy, and (b) again could have been dealt with a lot better than by conquering Iraq.

This statement is also starnge:

"Does anyone really believe, objectively, that Saddam, still in control, wouldn't just be marking time to wreak havoc against the West in general, and Israel in particular?"

Why should the animus against Israel in particular make Saddam particularly threatening? If he were arguing that it was right for Israel to take action against Iraq, this would make sense, arguing that we needed to take action because Israel in particular was threatened does not.

He also makes a big deal of the fact that Clinton called Saddam "a menace" and that Hitler teamed up with non-Aryans, so it is possible that Saddam could have teamed up with al Qaeda.

None of this shows that Saddam actually was teamed up with al Qaeda or that the removal of Saddam actually has reduced the terrorists' capacity to commit terrorism against us.

It seems that a lot of arguments for the war are more about "showing resolve" and about "taking the war to the jihadis" (i.e. invading the Middle East) than about actually articulating a strategy to reduce the number and capacity of the terrorists.

That is all.


How much antisemitism is actually caused by John Podhoretz opening his mouth?

That is all.

Michael Ledeen Loses it

Michael Ledeen wonders why Tony Blair left Iraq off the list of countries plagued by terror in recent years, and compares Iraq to Israel.

Some thoughts:

(1) The most obvious reason for not including Iraq is that Iraq is, essentially, a war zone. Terrorism in Iraq is qualitatively different because it is part of a guerilla war, rather than occurring in an otherwise peaceful context, as happened in the US, Spain, and Britain. Moreover, in Iraq it is not foreign terrorism in the same way as it is in the West. Moreover, on some level we are encouraging terrorist attacks to occur in Iraq. I mean, that was the whole point of "bring 'em on!" The coalition is supposedl tryng to get the terrorists to come to Iraq so they won't come here. So to the extent that our being in Iraq is part of defeating terrorism, it is, at least according to the rhetoric, more to reduce terrorism here than to reduce terrorism there.

(2) As for Israel, yes, I'll agree that Israel should be included among the countries scourged by Islamic terrorism. Moreover, I will agree that the antipathy and blame that many Europeans feel for Israel probably accounts for some of the reason it was not mentioned.

(3) "Yet I don't know any country this side of the Levant in which there has been so much anti-Semitism, so many complaints that "Zionists," "Likudniks," "Jewish hawks," and — the single epithet that sums up all of the above — "neocons" had manipulated America and its poodle Blair into the ghastly blunder of Iraq."

Actually, other than a few people with some reflexive loyalty to the Republican Party (e.g. Pat Buchanan) I think the general consensus is becoming that Bush is a neocon, not that Bush is a puppet.

(4) "The Iraqis are viewed much the same way, and are at some risk of becoming the new Jews of the Middle East. In the enormous hate literature directed against the neocons, Ahmed Chalabi is part and parcel of the anti-Semites' hateful vision. No matter that he is a Shiite, and no matter that he was rudely dismissed by the Israeli government before Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was in cahoots with the Jewish cabal, and was therefore 'one of them.'"

In other words, if you don't trust Ahmed Chalabi, you are an antisemite. Notice the usual neoconservative have-it-both-ways argument; "neoconservative is a code word for 'Jew' even though there are neoconservatives who are not Jewish." The logic of this argument is that anyone criticizing anyone who is associated with the neoconservatives is an antisemite. In other words, the goal is to take criticism of our policy in Iraq, or of the people in Iraq whom he likes, out of the realm of polite discourse.

In any case, the idea is not so much that Chalabi is in cahoots with Israel and got us into the Iraq war on their behalf; it is that he managed to ingratiate himself with several pro-Israel Americans by making unrealistic claims about how friendly Iraq would be to Israel under his direction. That Richard Perle may view Israeli interests as identical with, or more important than, American interests, does not mean that he is in agreement with Israelis about what Israeli interests are. In other words, the problem with Perle vis a vis Chalabi is not that they are working for Israel. It is that Perle is willing to give to much credit to anyone claiming to be pro-Israel (i.e. he is too gullible) and that he is willing to ignore all other considerations (i.e. does Chalabi have much support from Iraqis outside of exiles and some Kurds) other than the person's statements about Israel.

That is all for now.

More on Hack Kelly

Here's an interesting article by our old friend, Hack Kelly. See? The army did meet its recruitment goals for June, and the other branches are doing wonderful! Besides, re-enlistments are higher than usual!

Now let's look at a few things:

(1) The higher-than-normal re-enlistment rate is partly due to people being co-erced into re-enlisting.

(2) The army lowered its monthly recruiting goals by 1350 in May.

(3) I question whether similar trickery is being used for the Marine recruiting goals, and for the Air Force and Navy, I don't believe that they are recruiting heavily, nor are they at quite as high a risk of serving in Iraq.

Bottom line? We will begin running out of troops, according to some, by mid-2006. No amount of Hackery by Mr. Kelly will change that. If Iraq is not mostly under control at that time, we'll have to use severe brutality against the Sunni Arabs, start a draft, or give up.

I await the Kurdish death squads.

That is all.

I Didn't Know You Could DO That!

Broadband through power lines.


That is a... wow.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Bush's Neoconservatism

Lawrence Auster points out the problems with Bush's policies in an excellent article.

That is all.

The Judds vs. Cole

Here and here are two interpretations of the Plame affair.

Two things jump out at me when thinking about this:

First, I recall that the first time I heard about the forged documents was when I heard that they were forged; I hadn't realized that they existed efore then. I also think I heard about them before the famous "sixteen words" in his address to Congress, although I am not certain. As I recall, at the time there was the idea that this was a forgery, but we supposedly had other, real evidence.

There are claims that the report on Wilson's trip said the exact opposite of what he was claiming (that there was no evidence that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium). Anyone care to comment on that?

When questioned about the "sixteen words," we were told that there was other evidence that the British were not permitted to reveal to us. As I recall, that evidence was never produced.

Finally, I have to say that the fact that there were forgeries produced is significant even if the forgery was not a significant facor in pushing us into war; first, because we need to find out who made the forgery and prosecute them, and secondly, so we can find out if they fabricated other evidence used to push the war.

That is all.

Martial Slavery

Anthony Gregory on why the draft is evil.

It strikes me that the reason that so many people cannot make the connection between the draft and slavery is because it has become a big enough part of our culture (albeit one that no longer exists) that we cannot look at it as it is, for that would shatter much of how we se oursevles.

Put another way, it is very difficult to admit that the US had legal slavery up until 1973. Therefore, to allow us to fool ourselves into thinking that we did not, we like to distinguish the draft from slavery.

I suppose there are also a bunch of people out there who assume that there ought to be a collective legal obligation to serve society, and so do not see a draft as slavery because they feel it is simply fulfilling an implied social contract.

But some of that, too, I feel, is a rationalization because we hate to think of our government as a slavemaster.

In any case, I have the feeling that the practical objections to the draft will prevent it from being used in the near future, so, with luck, this is all a theoretical exercise.

That is all.

Cole's Obsession

While I find Juan Cole more believable than the people in the Bush administration, I have to agree with Martin Kramer that the attempt to bring it all back to Israel is rather ludicrous. As I understand it, Osama bin Laden's main concern is Saudi Arabia, not the Palestinians. To the extent that he decries Israel and sets them up as a motivation for his attacks, it is mainly boilerplate for the Arabs who really do care about mainly about Israel.

I think that there is a danger here that Mr. Cole is trying to interpret everything through the lens of his beliefs about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is unwise and unhelpful.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to Noah Millman.

That is all.

Why the %^&&&&@@## Should We Let Them In?

Good ol' Sully suggests here and here that no concession we can make will reduce the motivation fro Islamic terrorism. Therefore, our only course is to democratize the Muslim world in order to "drain the swamp" of fanaticism and to allow "the silent majority of Muslims to regain power from the fanatics."

Money quote:

"But deep down, how do we drain the swamp of Islamo-fascism? For all my criticisms of the conduct of the Iraq war, the reason I'm still glad we did it and still want us to get it right is that I see no fundamental solution to this unless we give the Muslim Arab world an alternative apart from Jihadism or the autocracy that fosters it."

None of this seems to ask the question, what if the silent majority support terrorism against the west, or the more important question: why do we allow these people to immigrate to the west in large numbers?

As long as we determined to have nearly open borders and to let people into the US who have a cultural antipathy toward us, we will not be safe. The neocons seem to think that the best solution is to make the rest of the world more like us so that we can let them in safely, but it seems to me that not letting them in would be a simpler, cheaper, and more effective solution. And then we can determine whether or not remaking them in our image is necessary.

Here's a post by Lawrence Auster on the messianic universalism that has infected neoconservatives. I am making essentially the same point he has been making for quite some time now.

That is all.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Troop Reductions?

A memo suggests that the US and Britain are planning to draw down the troops in Iraq.

Juan Cole has some thoughts.

Considering the issue of recruitment, it wouldn't surprise me if the troop levels in Iraq are reduced.

Juan Cole points out that "Of course, it should be remembered that the Pentagon has wanted to draw down its troop numbers radically in the past... Wanting to draw down and being able to are not the same thing." However, this ignores the fact that "not being able to draw down" does not alter the fact that needing not to draw down and being able to not draw down are not the same thing.

In other words, they may not be able to draw down and maintain a stable Iraq, but they may not have any choice but to draw down if they don't restart a draft.

What will happen if we are forced to draw down our troops?

Mr. Cole thinks that we will turn the country over to Kurdish paramilitaries and Shiite militias. I think that this may be politically untenable, as it will keep the country divided; so I have a feeling that we will maintain control, as it were, by using fewer troops for the same effect - in other words, we'll get medieval on the Sunni Arabs. If the Kurds or the Shiites get too uppitty, we'll probably go after them, too.

That is all.

Good News

For those of us who are fans of Her Sexy Blueness, as I call her, Nocturne is going to be in Excalibur this fall.

Here's the cover.

I'm excited.

That is all.

John Podhoretz's Bullying

Steve Sailer disapproves of John Podhoretz's general attitude.

I concur.

That is all.

Bush is the Third World's Bitch

Steve Sailer explains the stupidity of the guest worker program.

Somebody impeach the treasonous clown in the White House.

That is all.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Thoughts on Iraq

It seems to me that there are three arguments as to why we should be in Iraq vis a vis terrorism.

(1) Iraq was a sponsor of terrorism, so getting rid of it reduces the number of states that terrorists can rely on.

(2) Being in Iraq gives us an opportunity to go after the terrorists and kill them, or better yet, to draw terrorists in so we can kill them. This reduces the number of terrorists.

(3) By turning Iraq into a wonderful democracy, we can "drain the swamp." In other words, by reforming the government in Iraq, we can eliminate the conditions that breed terrorism. Alternately, by installing a US-friendly government there, even if not a free society, we can at least assue that Iraq will help us in this war.

I find these reasons unconvincing.

(1) Saddam gave money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. He also harbored some people who had made terrorist attacks, including one of the people behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombings. However, as far as I can tell, none of this provided a huge amount of operational help; that is, there is little evidence that Saddam's actions helped them carry out terrorist attacks, at least in the US. Even if in the eraly 90s, Saddam thought of bin Laden as "an asset," I do not see that the reverse is true. Moreover, it seems to me that whatever limited assistance Saddam could have given to terrorists could have been ended more easily with a little harsh diplomacy; there seems to be no evidence that we ever tried to get Saddam to turn over the people in his custody prior to attacking; and I recall hearing that we gave up a chance to attack Zarqawi in the North because if he had been killed it would have reduced the argument that we needed to be in Iraq to defeat the terrorists. I don't see a great deal of evidence that the conquest of Iraq has severly impaired Islamic terrorism.

(2) This is problematic because it is classic hacking at the branches instead of striking the root. Finding terrorist cells one-by-one and blowing them up is whack-a-mole war; moreover, there is little guarantee that a lot of the terrorists attacking in Iraq would be able to get to the US if they wanted to; in other words, a lot of these terrorists would not be able to threaten Americans unless Americans went into their backyard where they would be available as targets. "We're fighting them there so we won't fight them here" is a lot less convincing when the terrorists we are fighting can't get "here."

(3) This would be a wonderful idea if it were plausible. In reality, it seems unlikely that such a fractious pseudo-country like Iraq can unify to form a relatively free government. The idea that it will produce a model for the rest of the Middle East to follow, or that the other countries are going to suddenly burst into democracies and that terrorism will dry up, is ridiculous. Moreover, I am unconvinced that a friendly US client-state ruled by a strongman could be much of an ally against terrorism. Certainly, he could reduce the ability of Iraqis to engage in anti-US terrorist activites, but I doubt that pre-invasion Iraq was enough of a hotbed of terrorism that this would be much of a loss. Moreover, it strikes me as unlikely that he would be able to do much to reduce terrorism in other countries.

And of course, none of this deals with the overarching flaw in these plans. Namely, that there is the assumption that our invasion of Iraq could not have possibly helped the terrorists recruit. The terrorists all hate us anyway. Some terrorists attacked us before we conquered Iraq, so that must mean that Iraq cannot possibly be a motivation for any future terrorists, because, you know, all people go into terrorism for the same reason. Moreovber, why would any Arab who didn't hate us anyway hate us for liberating Iraq? Obviously, our wonderful liberation could not have motivated anyone to attack us, and if anything should have made the Arabs love us more and want to attack us less.

This naivete ignores the fact that a lot of people resent having foreigners on their homeland. There is no acknowledgment that there are people who didn't hate us before who hate us now, or that some of those who did hate us but were unwilling to take a risk to put that hate into action may have had their cost-benefit analysis shift.

In any case, despite the recent lull in American casualties, I have a feeling that Iraq is going to be a big pain in the rear for some time to come.

That is all.

Jared Taylor on Offensiveness

An extreme problem; Taylor offers an extreme solution - albeit a very libertarian one, at least as regards employment.

That is all.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Comics Blogging

In the tradition of Jim Henley, I have decided to blog on an important occurrance in comics.

Apparently, Her Sexy Blueness is back.

That's right. Talia Josephine "T.J." Wagner, aka Nocturne, is back, as of UnCanny X-Men #'s 460-461.

For those of us who dig furry, blue, three-fingered chicks (she's from an alternate universe where she is the offspring of Nightcrawler and the Scarlet Witch), this is a big deal.

Here are some images (#3 is a fanart image, the other are from comic books):
1 2 3 4

That is all.

The London Bombings and Iraq

One worry that I have from these London bombings is that people will decide to base foreign policy on appearances rather than practicality. In other words, Britain's decision as to what to do in Iraq should be based on what is in Britain's best interest, not on "proving it cannot be cowed."

The statement of many pro-warriors that this proves that Britain needs to stay strong and keep fighting in Iraq is, in my opinion, nonsense.

The argument is generally based on one of two arguments:

(1) To leave Iraq would show weakness in the face of terror; it would show that we (by "we" I mean countries in the coalition; I am American) give in to terror and would encourage more attacks to get us to give in more.

(2) The attackers want us to leave Iraq; therefore our being in Iraq must damage them in some way; therefore we must stay in Iraq to keep damaging them.

The first is dangerous because it allows terrorists to control our actions; our involvement in Iraq should be continued or discontinued based on how it affects our interests, not on simply trying to "stand up to terrorism." Not that we shouldn't consider whether or not our actions will be seen as "appeasement," obviously that should be a factor; there are cases when you may need to do something simply to show that you will not give in; but that should not be the only, or even the major, consideration here.

Our being in Iraq has benefits (presumably) and costs (definitely). Our policy should weigh those against each other and determine whether or not staying is a net benefit (as well as how we shall stay, e.g. how many troops). The British should determine how the London bombing relates, if at all, to the war in Iraq, and how that alters the cost-benefit analysis, and decide their policy accordingly based on all of the factors.

The second argument is also dangerous, because it assumes that if Iraq has value to the terrorists that it must therefore have strategic value. Put another way, the fact that a lot of Arabs don't want us in Iraq and are willing to conduct terrorist attacks against us for being in Iraq does not mean that our being in Iraq reduces their ability to commit violence. In fact, there are probably a lot of people who were previously non-violent who have become violent in response to our being in Iraq.

The standard response to this,m of course, is that no, they hated us long before we were in Iraq. Look at September 11! Look at the USS Cole! etc. etc.

Well, yes, there were Arabs that hated us long before we invaded Iraq in 2003. The question is whether or not our being in Iraq is reducing or increasing the number of Arabs who hate us. The belief that there are no Arabs who hate us now who excepting those who hated us before we invaded Iraq, or who would hate us anyway, is based on a very juvenile interpretation of this war. That is, it is based on the assumption that, since we are trying to good in Iraq, any Arab who bore us no ill will could not possibly change his mind because of the invasion of Iraq. Moreover, those who didn't like us but who weren't willing to attack us could not have had their hate increased as a result of our being in Iraq; if anything, our being in Iraq should make some of those who hate us come to love us. So definitely, no Arab terrorists could have become so in response to our invasion.

In any case, there is way too much simplistic analysis here; and that is not doing anyone any good.

That is all.

Be Cautious of LASIK, Says Kathy Griffin

Kathy Griffin's experience having LASIK surgery to correct her vision.

I don't know the whole story here, but I do think that this indicates a need for caution before pursuing surgery.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to Dale Steinreich on the LewRockwell blog.

That is all.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

We Don't Know

I think that both the war-bots who argue that the London attacks show how important it is for us to be in Iraq, and the anti-warriors who argue that we know that it happened because of Iraq are both guilty of assuming too much.

That is all.

Stanley Kurtz is Stupid

Once again, a neocon shows that he either does not use his mind enough, or is dishonestly misinterpreting things.

Essentially, he is arguing that the fact that Britain is planning on moving troops from Iraq to Afghanistan is dangerous, because "it's tough not to think that the open announcement of the withdrawal plan before we knew the Iraqis were ready was driven by British politics."

Although he acknowledges that setting deadlines may have benefits (e.g. it forces the Iraqi security forces to get serious about being ready), and that the deadline is contingent upon the Irraqi secuirty forces being "ready," he seems concerned that the terrorists see it as a sign of weakness.

I don't see how. Britain wants to put more troops in Afghanistan. Moreover, unless there is some deadline for when the Iraqis have to take over, the security forces will never be ready. Although that may be what Mr. Kurtz really wants in Iraq; perpetual occupation. And it is also possible that he doesn't see Afghanistan as that important (I think a lot of neocons thought that pursuing Al Qaeda should be secondary to using 9/11 as a pretext to accomplish their pre-existing agendas). In any case, the real argument here seems to be that if Britain wants to go about fighting a war in the Middle East using a different strategy than we do (e.g. concentrating on Afghanistan rather than Iraq), it's a victory for the terrorists. In other words, we expect Britain to be our poodle and to do whatever we want.

In any case, I suspect that the response of a lot of neocons is that the latest attacks prove that Britain cannot begin withdrawal and should put more troops in. Which is, of course, ridiculous. If a partial withdrawal is the best strategy, it should be pursued; deploying troops in an area you think is unnecessary (or counter-productive) just to spite the terrorists, is ridiculous; moreover, it means that the terrorists can get us to do whatever they want by attacking us and demanding that we do the opposite.

I wish that the neocons would determine their strategy by logic, and not simply by wanting to not appear to be "chicken."

That is all.

Appeasement and Spain

I am sick of morons talking about what a cowardly nation of appeasers the Spanish are.

What no one seems willing to understand is that the Spanish people never thought that the war in Iraq was doing anything effective against terror. They saw it as a needless provocation against the Arabs. Moreover, they were miffed when Aznar sent Spanish troops anyway, over their objections. Nonetheless, most Spanish people cared more about other issues, and so were willing to vote for Aznar anyway. So when they were attacked, the costs of the war in Iraq, and the consequences, seemed a lot more serious to them than it had, and the natural response to the Prime Minister was to throw him out of office. This wasn't because the Spanish were too cowardly to continue the fight against terror in the face of terrorist attacks, it was because they decided that what they felt was an unproductive policy changed from a minor liability to a major one. I doubt that very many Spanish supporters of the war turned anti-war as a result; rather those who were anti-war suddenly moved the war issue up on their agenda.

Therefore, the real issue as to how these attacks will alter Britain's response to the war on terror is based on what percentrage of the British public see Iraq as important to the war on terror. If a large number think that being in Iraq is helpful, that is, if the British public supports Blair's decision to go to war, I would imagine that these attacks would strengthen Britain's resolve. If Blair went to war against the will of the British people, they will proably blame him.

That is all.

Frank Gaffney's "Logic"

Let's read this article, and summarize Gaffney's main points (so as to avoid lots of copying and pasting, each point is numbered as they were in his article):

First, this terrorist bombing proves that the Iraq War is necessary to prevent future terrorist bombings; even though we do not yet know who was responsible and what effect the war in Iraq has had on them. We do know, however, that without the war on Iraq, we would have had many more bombings like this and they would have been much worse, because... er... I said so.

Second, the fact that we are not a police state makes it easier to attack us. Furthermore, the terrorists attack us because we ae not a police state, even though, again, we do not yet know who is behind the bombing or what there agenda is. So cutailing civil liberties would likely make it easier to fight the enemy, but would also constitute appeasement.

Third, public transportation is an easy target for terrorists. [Actually, this is a simple statement of fact, so I can't really make fun of this one].

Fourth, we need to encourage civilians to be more alert. [This could be a bad thing or a good thing, depending on whether we are talking about spying on each other's personal affairs, or whether we are talking about notifying police if you see a Middle Eastern-looking man muttering "time to kill the infidels," and not worrying about "racial profiling.]

Fifth, the G-8 summit is stupid, although in the wake of terrorits attacks we need to keep buggering on to avoid giving them a propaganda victory. Our main concern should be attacking Iran and Syria. [Partly right on this, partly wrong.]

Sixth, these attacks prove how inmportant it is to conquer the Middle East and to fight Islamic terrorists, even though we don't know yet who committed these atrocities and whether or not they had state sponsorship. That terrorism exists is enough reason to conquer the Middle East.

Finally, this attack proves the need to discourage Israel from giving in to Palestinian demands, even though the untrained observer may not see what these attacks had to do with the situation in Israel. [I'm not saying that he's wrong that giving in to the POalestinians is a bad policy, but I fail to see it as immediately related to this attack.]

That is all.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Emmanuel Goldstein Al-Zarqawi - Again

Apparently, Tom Engelhardt and Dahr Jamail have the same idea that I had about Zarqawi.

That is all.

Stupid Idiots Undermine the Anti-War Movement


Not just because getting naked to protest war makes you look like an idiot. It's also stupid because I don't see how a protest against war in San Francisco is going to reach anyone who isn't against the war already.

What's next? Maybe a protest for gay rights on Castro Street? Protesting against genetically-modified food and biotechnology in Amish country?

Kevin Michael Grace has the funniest comments on this:

"...Sherry Glaser... told the San Francisco Chronicle, 'Boobies never hurt anyone.' As Glaser is a 'size 40DDD,' this is clearly not an empirical statement."

That is all.

Does Male Bisexuality Exist?

Intriguing study.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to IFeminists and Gays for Life.

I'm too tired to discuss the implications now.

That is all.

Thoughts on Eugenics

This article on eugenics gave me two thoughts:

(1) The main reason that people object to human eugenics, particularly to human genetic engineering, is that on some level it objectifies people. I think that most of the portrayals of eugenics as creating a dystopia are based on the idea that eugenics requires one to look at people as objects, and thus destroys a lot of the basis for individual rights.

I would say, though, that breeding-based eugenics (i.e. by choosing a sperm donor) is less disturbing than custom-engineered humans, as it is simply a more refined version of what we have been doing for our entire history.

(2) Personally, I cannot imagine being willing to donate sperm anonymously. I couldn't stand the idea of having kids out there that I didn't know, or even know of.

That is all.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Amelia Chase

My favorite episode of Law & Order SVU, "Ridicule" was on USA tonight. It should be on again at 11:00 pm Eastern Standard Time if anyone wants to watch it. It deals with a case of female-on-male rape, and as someone who is fascinated with role reversal, I loved the episode. It also features Diane Neal in a guest-starring role as Amelia Chase two years before she became ADA Casey Novak.

AS far as I know, I am the only person I know of who has written fanfiction dealing with the episode "Ridicule."

Casey's Twin


Thoughts on the Supreme Court

A.C. Kleinheider is probably right about the Supreme Court. I cannot help but think that it would have been politically better for Bush if Rehnquist had esigned first. Then he could nominate an arch-conservative, and that would pacify the right enough so that he could replace O'Connor with a moderate without getting too much grumbling.

On the other hand, maybe God wants Bush to have to, you know, actually stand for something.

That is all.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Thoughts on Billy and Willy

Joseph Farah makes a point about Billy Graham that I agree with.

I don't hate Clinton the same way that a lot of people do. Having said that, I do not think that he is in any way a role model. Maybe if he gets out the sackcloth and truly repents of his sins, I would see him more sympathetically; but I don't see him as truly sorry and so I do not think that Christians can view him as a role model.

Whether or not Bill Clinton believes in Jesus and is saved, he does not strike me as someone who would be good as an evangelist - he has the skills, I suppose, but not the character.

That is all.

Operation Enduring Freedom

Of course, it is due to two major attacks, but has anyone noticed that the US death toll in Afghanistan for the first half of 2005 is greater than the US death toll for any of the years 2002, 2003, or 2004?

See here.

That is all.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

A Trivial War?

Food for thought from Matt Yglesias on the real priorities of the neocons.

Or maybe they do consider this war important - they just have a strategy that involves short-changing our troops in order to achieve another end - reinstatement of the draft? To make nuking Syria more acceptable? You decide.

That is all.

Trade Deficits a Problem, but Free Trade not

Antony P. Mueller explains what the real problem is.

Hint: protectionism won't solve it.

That is all.

Xenophobia is a Powerful Force

John Tierney explains why they fight us in Iraq (registration required).

(Thanx and a tip o' the hat to Steve Sailer.

Of course, this also brings up another issue, one reason why so many Americans cannot understand that people may fight us taking control of their country, even if we are trying to bring them freedom and goodness.

It's that Americans don't understand race.

All our talk about race and racism is laced with two prejudices:

(1) Races are defined in global, top-down terms rather than local, bottom-up terms. That is, race is thought of as a definite number of classifications (e.g., black, white, Asian) to which people can be defined. In reality, of course, any group of people who have significant reproductive isolation can be considered a race. Big races (whites) can be divided in to smaller races (Anglo-Saxons, Germans, and French). Therefore, tribal warfare, nationalism, clan warfare, all of this, can be seen as variations on racial conflict.

(2) Racism is supposedly all about "white privilege." Racism is (supposedly) all due to whites having so much power. Actually, racism is an outgrowth of the natural tendency to put one's own family first. The vast majority of people on Earth are racists and see no problem with it. Protecting "their own" means a lot more to them than abstractions such as democracy and liberty. Hell, the Sentinel Islanders are willing to attack helicopters that bring them food, just to keep outsiders, well, outside. And they are attacking them with primitive weapons like spears (or bows and arrors, I forget which). If people would stop and think and realize that most people in the world think it is perfectly acceptable to dislike or distrust people based on their not being like you, they might understand other people's actions better.

That is all.

Thought for the Day

Anyone who believes that the government should cover the cost of abortion as part of a socialized medicine program who then claims not to be "pro-abortion" is a hypocrite.

That is all.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Luther Vandross, R.I.P.

For some reason, this particularly saddens me, even though I don't listen to Mr. Vandross's music and really know little about him other than that he is a famous singer.

But dying at only 54 - that's just not right.

That is all.

Signs and Portents

Oh, this bodes well. Will the 21st century racial issue in the US not be black-vs.-white, but black-vs.-Hispanic?

Perhaps all the chattering about "white privilege" and "institutional racism" will decrease somewhat when racial issues begin popping up that do not involve (non-Hispanic) whites at all.

That is all.

Thoughts on George H.W. Bush

Lawrence Auster notes how, now that Clinton is no longer a rival, George H.W. Bush has no problem with him.

It seems to me that the Bush family is all about personal power. Nothing less, nothing more.

I wonder when the arrnaged marriage between George P. Bush and Chelsea Clinton will be announced.

That is all.