I agree with A.L.'s concerns about a persistent aristocracy. It is the potential for mobility that helps bind American society, that makes us equal in a meta-sense rather than a direct literal one (the latter being, as A.L. notes, a utopian delusion). However his choice of mechanism to avoid this is flawed. If we look at history and ask how elites have maintained their dominance what we see is that they used the power of the state to do so. It is through law and regulation that persistent aristocracies are created and maintained, not economics and business. In the old days the laws were explicit – serfs were tied to the land, only aristocrats could own weapons, only special interests could import specific goods, etc. In modern times it is much harder to be so clear and get away with it so other mechanisms have evolved. Every time a new business regulation is created it becomes that much harder for new comers to bootstrap themselves in to wealth. This is one reason why big business is often not hostile to or actually supports regulation. It may cost them something but it costs their current competition the same and imposes a much larger burden on any startup thereby reducing future competition. This tends to consolidate the power of the current elite at the expense of turnover. As more and more power is controlled by government rather than the free decisions of the citizenry being a member of the New Class becomes more important, again helping to consolidate the power of the existing elites.
Campaign finance "reform" is part of this as well. If one faces possible criminal prosecution for printing up signs for a candidate (which is in fact the law of the land) then individuals are frozen out of the process and must subordinate themselves to the members of the New Class who can navigate the thickets of campaign law. These people become the new priesthood who control the levers of power.
Because of this it strikes me as counter-productive for someone who objects to such an aristocracy to advocate strengthening their source of power (the state) in order to oppose them. One need only look at what the elites of both government and business support to see the futility of this. People frequently think that it's a contradiction for business elites to support things like the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty, but it's completely consistent with their class interests. Such powerful regulation of economic activity tends to freeze existing arrangements, arrangements in which those elites are on top.
Ultimately, who cares if there are fantastically wealthy people about? The only thing that makes them a problem is the ability to pass laws to control other people. Keep that from them via a minimalist government and they're not really a threat. Put the power to control people and their propery in their hands and you've contributed strongly to creating an aristocracy. The Founding Fathers knew this which is precisely why the created a strong but minimalist federal government. Let me close by quoting the same passage A.L. does with a bit of emphasis added:
These rogues set out with stealing the people's good opinion, and then steal from them the right of withdrawing it, by contriving laws and associations against the power of the people themselves
a woman distraught over the pounding Dan Quayle, Vice President Bush's running mate, was receiving in the media. We [BotW] listened patiently and commiserated, but then the conversation took a really strange turn, as the woman explained to us how concerned she was that Jews were buying up all the real estate in Northern Virginia.
I think that BotW overstates the case. Surely it would be easy for the NRA to put out a bland response of the form suggested, to wit : “The NRA is concerned with the Constitutional right to bear arms in the United States. It has no position on gun control policy in an occupied country”. Further, as far as I know the NRA has never advocated private posession of the weapons now outlawed in Iraq which is essential heavy arms (roughly weapons that require a crew or a mount and automatic weapons). Why Chatterbox thinks that accepting those kind of restrictions in a foreign, occupied country would cost the NRA points with its political base is unclear to me.
I was actually originally concerned about the ban (which in initial reports was far stricter). A strong ban would leave guns only in the hands of those opposed to the US and/or allied with the Ba'ath. The hard core gunnies (like former Ba'ath enforcers or Caliphascists imported from Iran) would benefit greatly from a strong ban as it would have little effect on them while disarming the average citizen. I think that the ban is just right. It restricts weapons that the gunnie would need to actually oppose US forces or inflict heavy casualties while leaving the general citizenry the means to protect themselves from intimidation by the gunnies. I hope that in the longer term the Iraqis adopt a provision in their Constitution that is modeled directly on our Second Admendment.
Playboy had pornography in a soft-focus way, along with a goodly number of real, interesting articles. The magazine was done in by market fragmentation. The dedicated porn readers were taken by the true hard-core porn magazines (of which Penthouse was a precursor). The soft-core people moved upscale a bit to the "Guy" magazines (FHM being a leader there). Political junkies moved on to hard-core political magazines which have become much more numerous and well written over the last few decades.
What the NY Times peddled was soft-focus liberalism along with "hard" news. We seem the same sort of defection. The hard-core liberals have shifted to media that's as hard-core as they are. Non-liberals have migrated to media that was more right wing and did as good a job (and nowadays better) at being authoritative. It seems to me that the NY Times has tried a different approach in shifting to be much more hard-core liberal while trying to maintain the image of objectivity. That's just not possible in the more media savy modern America and we are seeing the inevitable crash from trying.
I think that Americans today want their media more raw and unfiltered so that one can do the mixing oneself, rather than accepting what some effete snob in New York City thinks is the right mix. Of course, the rise of modern irony is a big factor in this and the NY Times was part of the cultural shift that made that more widespread. Is that ironic or is it fitting that an organization that aided and abetted the challengers of authority should itself be destroyed by the forces that unleashed? I'm not sure, but I do know that I am having far too much schadenfruede watching it all happen.
The EU is pursuing a policy of "dialog". What have they to show for it?
EU officials acknowledge they have little progress to show for six months of talks, other than an agreement to admit U.N. human rights monitors and a suspension of the public stoning to death of convicted adulteresses.The essential problem of the EUlite is that by accepting the tenets of transnational progressivism they have lost the ability (or perhaps even the desire) to prefer Western civilization over others and te capability of acting even if they did have preference. But we see the cynicism even here as even Reuters reports
"When we raise our concerns about human rights, weapons of mass destruction and support for terrorist groups opposed to the Middle East peace process, they talk softly but they have made few concessions," one EU official said.
Unlike over Iraq, Britain and France are on the same side for the moment in backing cautious engagement with Iran. Both also have oil investments in the country of 65 million people. Germany, Tehran's biggest Western trade partner, backs the dialogue policy more enthusiastically, as does Italy.What was that about money obsessed Americans?
On Thursday morning they [the French] rolled over to support U.N. Security Council Resolution 1483 that to a large extent legalizes the invasion and occupation of Iraq – previously denounced by most of the council as illegal. It is almost as if a jury returned a verdict of justified homicide for a lynch mob.France, the nation of unilateralism and violations of EU regulations. France, a nation that entertains Robert Mugabe at a state dinner. As for the jury, maybe it's more like 12 Angry Men where one juror slowly persuades the rest of them to a very different opinion than they had at the start.
The resolution leaves "The Authority," as the occupying powers euphemistically call themselves, in full control of Iraq. Am I alone in being reminded of "The Organization" that used to rule the roost in Pol Pot's Cambodia?Yes, it's just you and other people with limited vocabularies. You could at least selected "Palestinian Authority" instead which is another brutal, genocidal dictatorshiop that actually has the same word in the title so it must be very similar. Oh, wait, the PA is a good brutal, genocidal dictatorship (like Pol Pot used to be before he went out of fashion).
The other cosmetic concession was that the Security Council would review the resolution in six months. But typically, the U.S. could veto any attempt to change it. The Russians were insisting that the U.N. weapons inspectors declare Iraq disarmed before sanctions were lifted.Tha's right, we should keep the Iraqis poor and starving until Hans Blix decides he's had enough of a well paying cushy job. That's real concern.
The by-play over the inspectors is highly revealing about the motivations and the powers involved. The British would very much like to see the U.N. inspectors back in Iraq, since they realize that the refusal to admit them makes nonsense of their entire legal case for the war. And, in the increasingly unlikely case that anyone other than Judith Miller of The New York Times finds any weapons, no one will believe weapons are there unless the U.N. is involved.This is revealing. Note that the important part to justifying the war isn't finding WMD in Iraq but letting in the UN inspectors. I've just never seen it stated so baldly. And frankly, I would begin to doubt the presence of WMD if they were found by the UN. I suspect that even if the UN did find WMD, those who won't believe the Coalition won't believe the UN either based on the same logic as the start of this editorial, that the UN has sold out to appease the US.
So is there any upside? Well, up to a point. The U.S. was forced to come back to the U.N. because it could not legally sell Iraq's oil without a Security Council resolution and because even alleged coalition countries wanted a U.N. resolution before they would join in the occupation. The U.S. had to admit that it was, in fact, an Occupying power.The idea that the US was forced back to the UN shows a deep misunderstanding of the situation. The vote in the UNSC was a favor to the other UNSC members to show that if they are cooperative, we won't squash them like the insects they are. Iraq couldn't legally sell oil before invasion and that never stopped the Ba'ath. Note the implication that the US would be bound by "international law" in the case of Iraqi oil despite the fact that no other nation seems to have been. I also don't remember the US denying it was an occupying power.
The real problem that the Left has with recent US actions is that the US is starting to act like other nations - doing what it wants and then getting the UN to post-facto approve of it. The peaceniks and do-gooders have rendered the UN incapable of actually doing anything, so who are they to complain when it does nothing against the US? Isn't that what they wanted?
The money graf is
after she won the NASDAQ-100 Open in April, Serena Williams -- the reigning French Open champion -- smiled mischievously, mustered a cartoonish French accent and said, "We want to make clothes. We don't want the war."In response,
A number of Paris boutiques removed clothing endorsed by Williams and a French firm canceled plans to design blouses with her.As Best of the Web asks, where is the outrage over the suppression of Williams' free speech rights? Oh, wait, she was in France which doesn't have any such thing. After all, they even have language police.
So programmer H ran in to an example of this. Some code was calling an operating system conversion in a low level library (used extensively through out the code). Now, what would you do?
Let's recast it as a socio-political problem. You're running some outreach program in society A that was originally designed in society B. It turns out that because of differences in culture, people are getting confused by the way the program is run. Your potential solutions are to
This seems very similar to me to the manner in which the New Class will attempt to modify basic structures in society at the drop of hat because it's convenient for whatever local problem is currently vexing them. The collateral damage is not just ignored but generally not something that even springs to mind. This to a large extent accounts for the trail of destruction left by the social engineers. I have the good fortune (because I did the basic design) to be working on a code base that is reasonably modular so we can have some idea of how changes will propagate. Even then, we are not infrequently surprised at the dependencies. Societies, however, are structured far more like the worst spaghetti code. This makes the cross dependencies far more numerous and harder to predict. One needs to have a high degree of non-awareness to blithely mess with something like that.
This is part of why I lean heavily to conservatism as a libertarian. Things may be bad but it's easy to make them much worse and hard to make them better. Slowly and carefully are the only ways to succeed in improving. Otherwise things go well until they go very, very badly. That's not the way I run my development and it's certainly not the way I want my society modified.
Of course, the promotion of this double standard is done with specific intent. Someone who cared about the children and their education would ask whether more children were getting a better education. However, if one's goal is to preserve government control of the schools then perfection is a good choice for a criteria since, involving humans and all, it is not obtainable. What's interesting to me is how this standard has been established for private schools while not being established for government schools. That's the clever bit.
This is all an outgrowth of the "bucket of crabs" theory of improving society. For those comfortable with the status quo, requiring that any reform help everybody or nobody is an excellent way to appear morally pure while preventing change. We've seen the same thing with welfare reform – if the reform wouldn't make the lives of every single welfare recipient better then it was wrong to do. It's the ultimate rational of socialism, the equal sharing of misery – at least among the proles. Those who perform the noble duties of doling out the misery deserve some compensation for their selfless efforts, right?
Of course, striking the tax harmonization provision still leaves over 250 articles. The odds of that much text in multiple languages being internally consistent is roughly nil. But I suppose that, like the constitution of the USSR, it's more of a propaganda device than an actual governing document.
Even the rebellion of Babylon 5 itself temporarily creates two human polities but by the end of the run there's only one again. It is apparently inconceivable to both the rebels, the shadow backed human government and the writers that there could be two independent human governments. The civil war among the Minbari follows the same pattern.
More problematic for me were the Shadows and the Vorlons. Clearly for dramatic purposes one wants to have two strong opponents with different philosophies. However, what is the need to make these two distinct species? Then there is the Shadows and Vorlons leaving the galaxy. What, all of them? Every single one? Regardless of how attractive exploration of such a new environment would be, it's extremely difficult for me to believe that every individual of entire races would as one pack up and move.
I don't want to pick on Babylon 5 in particular. I liked it very much (at least seasons 1-4). This kind of tribalism is endemic to space oriented science fiction. Just consider the Star Trek universe (the Star Wars universe doesn't because only humans matter there). I suppose it's easier in terms of dramatic structure and story telling because then the racial designation becomes a convenient short hand. But I wonder if it doesn't demonstrate something avatistic in all of us, that even forward thinkers still postulate an essentialist and tribalist future once we get off this planet.
UPDATE: Orrin Judd has a post that is very apropos to this one. The key part is his review of John Gray talking about the European Union project. This is a very Babylon 5 view of the future - an organization that is democratic among the tribes with the presumption that each tribe/nation/culture/race/species is unitary and that all that is required is to adjudicate among them.
It apparently didn't occur to these two that the reason Bush hadn't done what many of his predecssors did is that every single previous effort failed. Isn't doing something that fails over and over and expecting it to work the definition of insanity? But perhaps Bush is being extremely subtle and by adopting the much more direct style of his failed predecessors is deliberately arranging for another failure. It could be that Bush thinks that he needs to do something dramatic to the Palestinians and the Palestinian Authoriy like he did to the Iraqis and Ba'ath and the current state, while too violent to be called peace, is not violent enough to provide a casus belli for a strong intervention. Or perhaps Bush needs another humiliating failure to drive a cleanup of the State Department.
Nah. Not even Bush is that subtle. I just don't understand what he thinks makes sense in this effort.
To illustrate the battle facing Taffin, she organized a call in to French radio stations the day of the transport workers strike. It was successful enough that the radio station "Europe 1" responded with the threat of a lawsuit against Taffin's organization on the basis that the organization interferred with the work at Europe 1. The WSJ claims irony, but I suspect that, being public sector, the radio station employees don't need to depend on public transport and so weren't much affected by it.
There doesn't seem to be all that much hope for a turn around if, despite all of the disruption and the mildness of the demands, people like Taffin are an ignorable minority. (Taffin, by the way, is a big fan of the Iron Lady, Lady Margaret Thatcher). When Reagan crushed the air traffic controllers and Thatcher broke British unions there wasn't that much public support for their targets. But French unions still enjoy broad public support which means that if the current French leadership's brains could contain the thought of real reform they would still be unable to act. These strikes simply underscore that point. At least we'll get to skim off most of the redeemables before the country goes completely under.
The image is hailed as the "first of its kind" which translates to "first image from a spacecraft at another planet". The Voyager spacecraft also took pictures of Earth but those were from so far away that the Earth was just a dot, not a disk. And, of course, Voyager was free flying and never stayed "at" another planet. It visited briefly during some gravitional slingshots but it didn't take pictures of Earth at that time.
The picture was actually not of Earth but of the conjuction of Earth and Jupiter. A conjuction is when one planets gets in front of another (they become "conjoined"). There is a diagram below showing the geometry of the orbiter, Earth and Jupiter.
In some sense this is probably payback for both the anti-American protests (in the street and from the Roh administration) and the coddling of North Korea (such as paying $200M to have talks). On the other hand, paybacks are a form of tough love, demonstrating that actions have consequences. Moreover, the situation has changed since US troops were stationed there. South Korea is no longer an impovershed ally on the front lines of the Cold War but a relatively wealthy nation with a strong military and a reasonable government. So it's reasonable for the US to expect South Korea to contribute more.
Most of all I would say that this is a wakeup call for South Korea to start behaving more responsibly with regard to North Korea. Raising a generation that sees no difference between the Koreas is not the mark of a serious nation. It's been easy for politicians in South Korea to posture against the US by minimizing the North Korean threat because of the free security provided by the US. Reducing that support a a time when the US is itself facing threats elsewhere on the globe is good for the US and I think good for South Korea in the long term as well because it will encourage them to deal with North Korea more realistically. The prospect of handling a North Korean attack mostly by themselves may serve to wonderfully concentrate the minds of the South Korean government.
Before Neo was found by the rebels did he not think he was using the machines, rather than vice versa?
For a post-modern, probably nothing. After all, one of the tenets of post modern thought is that there is no objective reality therefore there's no good reason to consider the rebels view of reality instead of Neo's.
But I think I'll take objective reality as a given. In that case the difference is how aware Neo is of reality. In the Matrix Neo isn't doing anything real, he's performing meaningless actions like rats in a laboratory maze. His activities are purely arbitrary and effectively decided by others. However, there's no fundamental reason that Neo's actions in the Matrix couldn't correspond to real world activity. Many tasks (and more as time goes on) could be done as well in the Matrix as in "real life". Almost all engineers, for instance, could do all of their work in the Matrix and in a far safer manner. Molecular biologists could "shrink" and manipulate cells and biologically active molecules "by hand" in a Matrix (the latter is something that's actually being worked on today).
So the essence is, are the people in the Matrix aware of their state? Do they know what they are doing? Neo doesn't, but those in my scenario do. In addition, in my view people chose when and how to be in the Matrix, they are not fooled / coerced in to doing so.
This is really quite analogous to the state of the rebels. Are they enslaved by the Matrix? Yet they enter it in order to affect change in the real world (if nothing else, to pop Neo out of his pod). So if one believes that being in the Matrix is instrinsically enslavement then even the rebels fighting against the artificial intelligences is enslaved. I don't see it that way. The rebels are not enslaved, even when they are in the Matrix because they are aware and they have made a real choice based on that awareness.
Consider a future columnist (or weblogger, who may well be the same thing by then). Instead of trying to absorb information by staring at a flickering screen and hoping the good stuff happened to be on when he was watching, he would connect in to the Lexus-Matrix which would contain all of the raw data feeds of blogosphere. The columnist could wander the virtual reality of the latest Lunar Conservation Society protest, the Senate hearings on Orrin Judd nomination to the Supreme Court or devastation of the latest terror attacks in Israel. Or one could be a hazardous waste disposal worker who slips in to the Matrix to drive his vehicle in the waste site rather than exposing himself. While the physical vehicle might be strictly functional the worker could enhance it's Matrix avatar with all sorts of comforts. Rather than being oppposed to reality, a Matrix could well enhance it. And rather than being a prison or a delusional playground, it could be a real tool for productive activities. What it's almost certainly not going to be is pure Good nor pure Evil. Yet much of the commentary on film seems to presuppose either an estatic embrace of or violent rebellion against such technology. I believe that instead of being a clarifying moral event, it will be just another workplace in which most people are consumed by the quotidian concerns and not ethical quandries. The same old reality, even in the Matrix.
The analogy here is the while Iraq and the Saudi Entity are hardly allies, they were both in effect bases for the Caliphascists and the removal of Iraq is a serious defeat for them. Clearly the Saudis thought so and expended great effort to avoid this outcome. Further, as one of the commentors mentioned, access to Iraqi oil will go a long way in making it easier to pressure the Saudis.
I suppose its the standard liberal mindset with its short term vision and blithe disregard for the real world consequences and costs of actions. Do the obvious thing, the thing that sounds like it should work, don't worry about whether it's really going to be successful.
P.S. As for the comment that the US will “only attack countries with weak armies or without running water” – who exactly could we attack that doesn't have weak army? France?
Although an AI has a number of advantages over a human - tactical speed and memory being the primary ones - the AI generally has fixed patterns of behaviour. Once the human learns these patterns then he can crack the AI and will be able to set up situations where the AI does strategically stupid things which over time give the player such a strategic advantage that the AI's tactical advantages are insufficient for victory. What is observed is that the AI tends to be brittle. If the player does standard things then the AI does well but it fails if attacked in the “wrong” way and once broken it collapses rapidly. So the battle is generally a struggle until the tipping point after which the AI's battle plan comes apart in short order.
Against humans it's very different because humans adapt and do some crazy, innovative things. With an AI, there's a good chance your plan will survive meeting the enemy. That's not the case against a human. Well, I should say some humans. The Ba'ath defense in Iraq reminded me very much of a classic AI defense. In many cases tactically well done, strategically there didn't seem to be any actual plan. And when the Ba'ath collapsed it was very rapid. The conquest of Baghdad was just like so many endgames where, after some hard fighting to get in to position, I would set up for a siege while sending in units for recon in force only to discover that the enemy resistance had effectively collapsed. At that point I would abandon the careful siege and charge forward to finish before the enemy could recover. I suspect that the causes are similar – a rigid set of rules that are applied long after they're clearly useless.
Our recreational games are now accurate enough to give the proper overall feel of real military campaigns. Our children are learning this as they play. Some are learning squad level tactics, others keys lessons about logistics and inniative. And note that most current strategy games are real time. There are no turns, all units move and fire continuously. Players don't have the luxury of previous games to sit and think as long as they like before moving. This leads to intense games because if you're not doing something productive every single second you're going to lose. So one accepts that it's better to make a not-bad decision now instead of a good one later.
Many strategy games have certain units or sets of units that, if acquired, effectively guarantee a victory. A good game makes such units very expensive. The standard newbie question is "how do I survive if attacked by force V?". The answer is almost always "You can't. But what the #$%& were you doing while your opponent was building V?". So one learns logistics – since there's little to no hope of defeating such a force one must prevent the opponent from having the time and resources to build it. As in the game, so as in real life. You don't win by smashing the units your opponent sends at you. Heck, that's a standard thing you try to get the AI to do! If those units weren't expendable they wouldn't have been sent. Instead you go for the resources, the infrastructure.
Our next generation will understand military operations like none other before it. If the rest of the world is concerned about us now, just think of the children...
What's fascinating is that Estrich touches on all of the key points that made Bill Clinton such a lousy president but never puts it all together. What was Clinton's primary failing as president? His banana-republic view that it was all about him, that once he was president the power of the office was his personal toy. Because of this Clinton disregarded the interests of any thing other than himself – Monica Lewinsky, his cabinet, the rule of law. Clinton almost certainly could have defused the entire issue by just issuing a statement that “Yes, I did it, I'm sorry, please forgive me”. He chose not to for purely selfish reasons. And what's the problem now? Clinton is ignoring any interest other than himself – other Democratic presidential candidates, their supporters, the Democratic Party. Blumenthal and the Clintons are pushing this book for purely selfish reasons. Is there, perhaps, some pattern here?
Given how much effort Estrich personally put in to preventing Clinton from suffering for his selfish behaviour it seems rather hypocritical to complain about the Clinton Crew continuing to behave the same way they always have. But Estrich just can't see the pattern.
Segev then goes on to talk about some of the bad things that Israel has done:
[…] during the Six Day War of 1967, the former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion urged Teddy Kollek, the mayor of Jerusalem, to expel Arabs who had been living there in houses formerly inhabited by Jews. Kollek replied that, according to the law, he could not do that. Ben-Gurion's reaction is recorded in his diary: ''No need for any law. Occupation is the best law!'' Those particular Arabs were, in fact, eventually forced out.No mention of anything less than polite things the Arabs may have done in the same time frame (such as the mass ethnic cleansing of Jews in the Middle East). Ultimately, of course, the acts of terror are because “Israel constantly violates their [Palestinians] most basic human rights and imposes various forms of collective punishment”. If this were true, why are the Palestinians conducting terror against the Palestinian Authority which does worse to them than the Israelis? Why not the Kuwaitis who ethnically cleansed them from Kuwait after the first Gulf War? Or Jordan and Lebanon which refuse to allow them to become citizens?
But Segev's biggest delusions is the following:
Painful as it may be, the Israelis must recognize that terrorist attacks cannot be stopped entirely-and efforts to reduce the tension must nevertheless continue.That's simply not true. I can think of several measures that would end the terror, most of which revolve around the concept that “no Palestinians means no Palestinian terror”. What's bizarre is that Segev touches on this with his quote above. One might argue that today, it is unacceptable to ethnically cleanse Israel and the West Bank of Palestinians or to commit genocide against them. However, that seems to be a double standard as the open embrace of exactly those measures against the Israelis draws no serious condemnation. As others have noted, should not the Palestinians and their appeasers like Segev consider that at some point, Israel may be willing to fight to the last Palestinian as well?
But it's really too late. Now that the US is in Iraq, the ability to maintain our presence in other nations of Arabia is much less important. It's telling that Al Qaeda waited until after the US had announced the transfer of its military out of the Saudi Entity to strike there. It's a clear admission that Al Qaeda itself believes that it cannot stand against the US military and can only go against US civilians. What would it mean if it was the presence of the US military that kept away Al Qaeda?
The key question is, who exactly would have this “right”? Someone who bought land in 1947? If someone had only lived in a house for a few months before the war, it hardly seems like a crippling loss of patrimony to not get the house back. What about 1946? What if it was land siezed from Jewish owners during the pogroms of the 1920's and 1930's?
This is where one gets in to some fun issues. If it was legit for the local government to sieze and re-sell such land, why can't Israel? If instead there is some higher principle that forbids such things, then any Arabs that bought such land aren't the rightful owners. But that's a real can of worms to open because then one can start tracing back through a succession of siezures during pogroms, purges, factional strife and conquest. Is it all a matter of who kept good records? I don't think I have to go in to the joys of deciding about which records are considered legitimate to illuminate the economy sized can of worms involved there.
So clearly the thing to do here is get a UN commission working on it, making sure that the committee members have large staffs and generous travel budgets. That'd put any determination out at least 10-20 years. Meanwhile the negotiations could proceed about other issues since the negotiators wouldn't want to challenge the primacy of the United Nations.
One might argue that we have souls and therefore can't be discarded. But there are different orders of angels, why not different orders of souls as well? One of arguments against true artificial intelligence is the lack of a divine spark. But who can say that such a spark won't be made available at some point in the future? Either there have been souls of creatures back to the origins of life on this planet, or souls were added to certain creatures at some point in time. The first case leads to the different orders and the second to the addition of souls to the previously non-souled. Both of these are consistent with a further stage of intelligence.
Silicon based intelligences would certainly be far better able to appreciate the wonders of creation because they could travel and live in so much more of the Universe than fragile, carbon and water based creatures. It would seem such a waste to have this big, wide Universe and have intelligence restricted to just the surface of a few tiny planets.
The problem for the Democrats is that to attack President Bush on this issue would be to lose on the meta-issue which is a general attack on the “bellicosity” of Bush's foreign policy. If we need to lean on the Saudis to deal with this issue, that of itself is an admission of several things the Democratic Party doesn't want to admit:
the bombing "could have been avoided if you had actually crushed the basic infrastructure of al Qaeda" and that "al Qaeda has regenerated" because America has paid too much attention to Iraq.. Best of the Web claims that this is inconsistent with Graham's earlier objection to authorizing the invasion of Iraq because he wanted a wider war (against, for instance, Hezbollah). I don't see the inconsistency. Graham clearly believes that if we had pursued a larger war we would be enough further along in crushing the terrorist infrastructure than we are now. Best of the Web missed the mark on this one.
I think that Graham is correct, but I think that a wider war would have less successful in the long term. Graham is thinking too tactically – remember, amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics. It is, in my infallible opinion, more important to prevent the regrowth of terrorist infrastructure in the future than the smash it now. I think that concentrating on Iraq now, while allowing more terrorism to continue than would be the case with a wider war, will do more to “drain the swamps” in which terrorism grows. Better to cut the flow of support, even if it causes a temporary surge.
The first thought that comes to mind is, given the death toll of the wars of the 20th Century, the rise and fall of Communism and its heinous legacy which still enslaves billions, Naziism and many others, is why rolling all that back is such a horrid idea. Apparently another century like that is Greider's preferred outcome.
Many opponents and critics (myself included) have found the right's historic vision so improbable that we tend to guffaw and misjudge the political potency of what it has put together. We might ask ourselves: If these ideas are so self-evidently cockeyed and reactionary, why do they keep advancing?Has Greider already rolled back the century in his head? Could the massive failure of the Left across that span of years, destroying entire countries and leaving a trail of hundreds of millions of corpses, possibly, just maybe, have something to do with the advance of conservatism? Those ideas certainly have their problems but history has shown that one is far more likely to survive those problems than the problems of the big political ideas of the 20th century, the ideas that Greider is afraid are retreating.
Greider actually has a number of good insights in modern politics but he has a curious blind side to specific details. For instance, he writes
Free-market right-wingers fall silent when Bush and Congress intrude to bail out airlines, insurance companies, banks--whatever sector finds itself in desperate need.I don't remember that silence. One need only look up the reaction to the steel tarrifs. All of the free-market types I know and read have stated forcefully their disgust with any airline industry bailout. But the most bizarre claim was
The "school choice" movement seeks not smaller government but a vast expansion of taxpayer obligationsWhy exactly would a vast expansion of taxpayer obligations be something that Greider objects to? Moreover, as one of the commentors at the Brothers Judd points out those vouchers wouldn't cost any more than is currently being spent on education. There's no reason to expect a vast expansion of taxpayer burdens. Vouchers would certainly lead to a smaller government - no more Department of Education, no vast federally funded "education" establishment.
Greider is correct that the government should get out of the way and let "every man fend for himself". What we find is that people aren't stupid and they realize that
For most Americans, there is no redress without common action, collective efforts based on mutual trust and shared responsibilitiesSo when left to fend for themselves, Americans will form communities, organizations and fellowships that allow common action, collective efforts along with mutual trust and shared responsibility. Greider speaks as if the era before the New Deal was a barren, Hobbesian wasteland in America rather than (as Tocqueville saw) a stew of non-governmental organizations that allowed people to work together and support each other. What we see now, after a century of Greiders views ascendent, is books like Bowling Alone decrying the atomization of American social life. Greider should ask himself why this is if it is conservative policies that atomize society.
But why would a Communist regime care? In fact, one might logically argue that such a regime would benefit from wide spread homosexuality especially if it led to state run child rearing. Joe Haldeman alluded to this in The Forever War. Moreoever all of the rhetoric of Communism is against such persecution. I find it quite puzzling not only because such persecution is against the putative values of Communism but because there doesn't seem to be any benefit from it for such regimes. Yet it has been a hallmark of totalitarianism that homeosexuals are actually worse off than the average population under Communism, persecuted specifically for being homosexual.
It's even more puzzling that the fact that so many of the fellow travelers of the Communists and now the Caliphascists are homosexual. But that at least isn't much different than writers and artists hobnobbing with Castro while he imprisons the local ones.
Suppose President Bush just flat out lied about the WMD, that it was all just a cover for invading Iraq. This would be completely different from FDR's cirumlocutions to cover his gettting us involved in the European theater of WWII.
But I do see a parallel with the defense of Clinton (not too strangely since it's to a large extent the same people). In both cases the focus is on the basic act (bonking the intern or trying to build WMD) while completely ignoring the open defiance of law and comity. I just heard part of an interview with Senator Bumpers and he still maintains that the issue was the physical deed with Lewinsky, not the lieing, the perjury or the abuse of power (such as using the Cabinet as a propaganda tool in what was effectively a private legal matter). In the same way the focus on WMD is the same kind of narrow focus with the same purpose — to excuse and disregard the other crimes committed in conjunction with the basic infraction. If one just asks “were WMD found in Iraq” one can evade the question of whether the Ba'ath had any obligation to cooperate with the UN and the US in looking for WMD or to comply with the terms of the ceasefire. The logic is that if no WMD are found then any crime committed with regard to WMD is irrelevant. It's all about political battles in the US.
It's the new isolationism, not ignorance of foreign affairs but their complete subordination to domestic political agendas and perforce a complete lack of concern about what is going on in the world outside of the US. Is that not the essence of isolationism?
The blurb on the back says “William Mandela lives on the snow covered planet of set aside for his kind […] The crew is forced to abandon ship and return home […]”. That summary gets you to end of page 166 (of 274) so well over halfway through the book. Just to get things set up! Several interesting plot lines are set up, none are resolved really. To actually wrap things up Haldeman pulls out not just one but two Deus Ex Machina plot twists with no foreshadowing (unless you count random plot lines that need to be resolved).
The characterization and what plotting there is are done badly as well. I will cite two examples, both of which were typical. First, when the gang leaves on the starship they take a Tauran along. This is potentially interesting because much of the crew are veterans of the Forever War against the Taurans. Part way through the mission the Tauran kills one of the crew, claiming self defense. Is this true? Or is the Tauran homocidal? Or perhaps it's acting on some long range plot for or against the human group mind. How is this actually resolved? The crew decides that nobody much liked the dead guy so it's not worth worrying about. It's never brought up again.
Just kidding, there's nothing so spoil. At the end of the book, after the first Deus Ex Machina (there is a magically shapeshifting race living on Earth and the Tauran home world that has been manipulating the races. How, exactly, they did this before there was contact between Humans and Taurans isn't, like most of the things in the book, explained or ever wondered about) the gang are wandering about on Earth where everyone has disappeared. As far as they can tell, every single human and tauran disappeared at the same time (except for those on their starship). Then the remaining crew start exploding. It turns out that some effectively omnipotent being was running and experiment and is now cleaning up. This being can cause tens of billions of sentients to disappear simultaneously across a big chunk of the galaxy but to clean up the remaining few people has to make them explode. There is clearly no point to this except to allow the author to engage in cheap pathos as people watch their friends and lovers explode. They don't just disappear like everyone else so that the gory after math of each explosion can be described. I pushed through thinking “surely it can't really be this bad – the author must have something in mind”. Nope. He didn't. You shouldn't have anything about this book in mind either, especially purchasing it.
There is something of an issue with using the local Iraqis. The problem with that is two-fold. First, the lack of capital (money and equipment). There are more complaints in Iraq about the lack of services than the lack of use of the local population. So we need to prioritize getting things working again over other considerations. The second is many of the local Iraqis are compromised by association with the Ba'ath regime. For instance, one example on NPR was running the Um Qasr port. I wouldn't trust the previous operators to be either non-corrupt or to work against any Caliphascists trying to smuggle things through port.
That said, I do have to agree that there should be a strong effort made to get the locals involved where possible. While running a port is too risky, running the water or electrical supplies is far less sensitive to security. Getting things working should be the highest priority but not the only one.
This reminds of the flap over eating dogs in Korea or the brouhaha about horses being shipped from California to other states for to be slaughtered for meat. Maybe it's because I don't own pets but I just don't see the difference between a horse, dog, cat, cow or pig in this regard. I have yet to see an argument against the kinds of things mentioned here that wouldn't apply equally well to any of these animals. Clearly that's a feature from the PETA point of view but it seems to escape otherwise rational people.
I've thought for a long time that the current Green movement, like the liberalism of which they are an offshoot, is in fact profoundly opposed to nature and the ecology. Just as liberals claim to be protecting liberty but all of their solutions reduce it, so do Greens claim to want to protect the environment but all of their policies leads to greater destruction.
One case in point, which is mentioned by OJ in his post, is the view that the conservative reaction to a spotted owl is to kill it. There is some truth to this but it is a direct result of Green policy, in particularly the Endangered Species Act. It is not that the owls themselves are bad, but because they have been given greater property rights than the legal owners of land in dispute there is a powerful incentive to ldquo;bury the problem”
In the large scheme, Green call for ever greater government control of property and society. Yet what we see is that it is free societies that are the best stewards of the planet and socialist / communist countries that are the worst. Nothing that's been done by the rapacious private corporations of America can hold a sooty candle to the devastation wrought by Communism in Eastern Europe, Russia and China. One might note that the only country in Africa that has a growing elephant population is the one that permits trade in ivory. Even the US it has been the government, not private interests, who have done the most ecological damage (think Rocky Flats). Even when it is private interests (such as overgrazing in the West or the water problems in California) one finds the hidden hand of government pushing (via laws or subsidies). As with most things, it is not that private interests are perfect custodians, just much better ones.
To a large extent this is because people acting in a private capacity are far more likely to look decades ahead (for their retirement or their children) than a politician is to look past the next election. Moreover, people don't foul their own nest whereas for government nothing is ever really the property of the person making the decision so there's no ties that bind the hands that act.
Now, I'm a minarchist, so I admit that there is a role for government and that's basically to internalize externalities. For instance, car pollution. This is an externality where your car polluting in effect robs me of my property (clean air in my yard). It's just not feasible to deal with this on a person to person basis (that's why it's called an externality). The government can serve here not by command and control (like CAFE) but by turning the externality into something internal to private actors. A classic example is pollution credits. If cars that pollute more cost more then people will work it out on their own. The government could determine the total carrying capacity for such pollution and then auction off the rights to generate that pollution. People who didn't like it could buy up the rights and just bury them. People who wanted big smoke spewing land cruisers would have to fork out, thereby supressing the demand for such things.
Finally, people like nature. Given the resources and the ability to act, people (in general, overall) will act to preserve the ecology (not, as OJ says, every blade of grass, but a good portion). If spotted owls didn't threaten land owners with expropriation there would probably be a lot less hostility.
I think that Saddam Hussein had the weapons or was close to having them. However, thinking about it I don't see that defying the UN even if he didn't was prima facie a stupid policy. But we have to weigh that against the plausibility that Saddam Hussein could actually be that clever.
“Tariq was still terrified of what the remnants of Saddam's regime would do to his family if he surrendered to us,” said a Western security officer.Might it be that this spin is part of a deal struck with Aziz, that we claim he's not cooperating when he is?
Alternatively, it could be that we got some very good information from him and we don't want to tip off those who would be in danger from such information in our hands. That would indicate some actual forethought.
the numbers of seats for each group will be fixed in advance in an effort to reduce ethnic tensionsBzzzt! Wrong answer. This is a pallitive, not a solution. Rather than fostering any sort of cross group interaction, it will isolate and disenfranchise anyone who thinks of themself as an Iraqi first. It re-enforces the idea which is already far to prevalent that the way to power is to climb to the top of the local tribe / sect and then use the government to get stuff for your tribe / sect. This has been the historical experience of every single place that has tried this kind of thing (including the US). This is just sweeping a problem under the rug like we did for 12 years about the Ba'ath. Not an auspicious sign.