Saturday, October 19, 2002
Black Hearts in the White House...Two TalesI'm feeling very bitter after reading this story: Book: Carter, Democrats Asked Soviets to Stop Reagan, Sway U.S. Elections. It's possible of course that the story is untrue. But a lot of other poison has emerged from the Soviet archives, and it is noteworthy that leftists haven't been denying stuff -- just hoping we wouldn't notice.
Remember the old conservative charge that many of the Democrats here in America were playing footsie with the Soviets?... Now bombshell revelations prove these accusations beyond a shadow of a doubt...Well, this is bad enough, but I'm aware of another story that dovetails with this, and makes the implications uglier by an order of magnitude. It's a tale that doesn't seem to be widely known.
In a nutshell, the number two man in the Communist Party of the USA, Morris Childs, grew disgusted with Soviet Communism, and cooperated with the FBI for about 20 years. He was trusted and liked by the top rank of Soviet leaders, and they conferred with him on many sensitive issues. You can read the fascinating story in the book Operation Solo, by John Barron. (I highly recommend Barron's book, it makes even the best spy fiction seem tame and contrived)
One of the things revealed in that book is that the Soviet leaders were actually convinced that Reagan was planning to attack them. They were paranoid, and terrifyingly isolated from reality, to the point that they refused to believe their own intelligence services, who reported that no preparations for war were being made by the US. One of the greatest services Morris Childs did for us was to let Reagan know what was going on, so he could work to defuse what had become an extremely dangerous situation.
It seemed strange to me that the Soviets could so badly misjudge us -- now we seem to have a possible reason why. The Soviets believed these damnable lies because they came from leaders of the Democratic party!
I mostly try to avoid rants and harangues and name-calling, and to hold this weblog to a tone of reason, and openness to debate. I'm now going to turn off reasonable-discourse-mode (click), and say that if this is true, hanging and flogging is much too good for these treasonous worms -- they should be tied into sacks and thrown into the Potomac !!!!! (click) Resume reasonable-discourse-mode...
Friday, October 18, 2002
Thursday, October 17, 2002
more 'lying with statistics'Sam Sachdeva has a web magazine, ALLsci, with summaries of recent science developments. He thought I might be interested in this one, the line of argument running....
...The number killed in highway accidents in September 2001, for instance, is almost the same number that was killed during the September eleventh terrorist attacks. The risks of terrorism, then, are certainly high, but they are fractional compared to everyday risks. "The point of my paper is that the risks that we have from international terrorism is very small compared to the risks that we face in daily life," said Congleton...Well, that's true, at least so far, and if the author wanted just to warn us against panic, fine. But, he's got other things in mind.
...Congleton, in essay published in the Independent Institute's Independent Review, compares terrorism to any other form of political expression, such as a think tank publishing an essay or a group of protestors blocking the entrance to an abortion clinic. Because the differences between Al-Qaeda, for instance, and the Cato Institute, a think tank that promotes libertarian points of view, are not that different, the threat of terrorism should be compared with other threats, such as highway safety and violence from guns.Well, the political bias is too blatant to be worth much mention. (Cato Institute, forsooth!) Like so many on the left, he desperately wants foreign policy to just go away, so they can get back to forging the welfare state.
Statistically, it's more interesting. I think it's a good example of lying with statistics.
First, events grouped together are not the same as ones spread widely. Suppose your town averages 50 inches of rain a year. Shall I tell you that getting 25 inches in 1 hour is not worth worrying about? Similarly, The First World War profoundly altered European politics and society. Just afterwards, the flu epidemic of 1919 killed the same number of people in a matter of months! But it passed with hardly a ripple, because the deaths were spread over all the world.
Second, some things tend to grow. If there are suddenly 10 cases of smallpox, that's not the same as 10 cases of heart-attack. The terrorists hope their actions will snowball, and their movements will grow, with one attack leading to many. (I hope it will lead to their exiting the gene-pool.) It's misleading to compare their attacks with traffic deaths, which change little from year to year.
Update: Happy Fun Pundit tore into this same guy a while back, you can read it Here.
Wednesday, October 16, 2002
been there, done that...Dean Esmay has an interesting history of America's war against another gang of Islamic banditti...
...The first time the American flag flew over foreign soil taken in battle came in a war against international terrorists. Unlike today’s brigands, they were not driven by ideology or religion, but by a baser and perhaps more honest lust: gold. But terrorists they were, and our war against them was fought long and hard, in somewhat unconventional but still very real ways. And it was long before all of us were born...As someone said in the comments, they used to call it tribute, now it's "Wealth redistribution" to allay "root causes"
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about this nation building stuff...I've exchanged some e-mails with one Anthony Parisi; and by and by he asked me how to start a blog! Well... why not -- I sent him the decoder ring and the secret handshake. (The fail-safe codes to the weapons of mass deconstruction come later, on good behavior.)
Anyway, he's here, and I thought I'd pick out something and disagree with it, by way of a compliment...
...The Bush Administration hates nation building. They said it during the campaign for president, and their actions in Afghanistan have done nothing to dispel that statement. Yes, things are better in Afghanistan, but they are rapidly deteriorating. We of the west are not doing enough. More troops, more money, more aid. They want these things, we destroyed their government and are thus responsible for helping them get back on their feet. But the Bush Admin doesn’t like to nation build, and doesn’t seem to know how. If they want to see a good example, perhaps they should look at the former Yugoslavia, where we have done such a good job, they already take democracy for granted, and don’t vote...First of all, anyone who would try to nation-build Afghanistan is crazy. It's never been a nation, never been anything but a collection of warring tribes. With the double whammy that each of the tribes has some neighboring country where they have a lot more kinsmen than they have in Afghanistan, and which they tend to think of as their country.
And the various warlords are armed and pugnacious, and not about to submit to a central government. So nation building would have to start out with war. And one that really would be a quagmire.
More importantly, you can't build nations. All you can do is help them build themselves. [Repeat that several times, so it sticks in your mind]
The idea that some government can build a nation is the sort of idea leftists like to promote, similar to the idea that governments can cure poverty. It's not true, never works; but since the real purpose is to increase the size of government, they don't care.
Iraq was, I believe, fairly successful as a nation (at least by Arab standards), and there is hope for it. I will be deeply disappointed if we are not wise and generous in our attempts to get them started on a better path. But I think any attempt should begin with a forthright statement that that things may not work out, and if so, we will cut our losses and go. In fact that sort of realism will make success much more likely.
Also, we are not responsible for Afghanistan, just because we destroyed their government. That's welfare-thinking. We were perfectly justified in attacking them. We owe them nothing. We help because we are generous, and because it is in our interest for Afghanistan to do well.
Tuesday, October 15, 2002
warm-hearts for freedom...needed now as much as ever...I liked an article in NRO, How would President Reagan fight the war on terror?
...But Reagan was an optimist because he believed in the human spirit. He drew an important distinction between the Communist dictators and the people who lived in those countries, who he considered the first victims of Communism. When he spoke about world affairs, he was less interested in communicating with the elites behind the Iron Curtain than the masses, who he believed aspired to be free.It's good to remember that the same arguments being scraped up now by the left in favor of preserving Saddam in power were used by the same crowd to argue that the Soviet Union should be preserved. Civil war, nuclear explosions, starvation and the total breakdown of order would follow without the strong central communist government to 'hold things together.'
You don't see a lot of follow-up articles on that subject anymore, especially about Russia. Were you aware that, even while much of the world is in recession or slow growth (us), Russia's economy is growing rapidly and steadily? (That doesn't get mentioned much in the NYT--might give us peasants unwholesome ideas--we might make a causal connection between a 13% flat-tax and economic growth.)
Monday, October 14, 2002
holding the lineGary Farber makes an important point...:
I seem to have utterly failed to communicate, to many, the bases of my concerns about biological and gas warfare and the consideration of them as "weapons of mass destruction."I think the problem is the word 'fought.' Certain people were glad to anathematize Weapons of Mass Destruction, until it looked like something forceful would actually have to be done about it. And done by the United States. Led by a conservative. (shudder...)
We should defend the line we have drawn. The world will become far more perilous if we don't. The civilized world should have decided on a regime change in Iraq the moment Saddam started killing people with Nerve Gas. Except that that would mean war, and we could never do anything so immoral as fight a war. Or even worse, stand up in defense of civilization. Perish the thought. (worth reading the whole post)
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Sunday, October 13, 2002
Itsa no fair, they arresta Tony Forte, but notta Tony Piano...You know that kind of decision where you put together a number of factors, and weight them? Many people don't really understand the process, and feel those decisions are unfair somehow. Imagine you are the boss, and are deciding to fire an unsatisfactory employee. You have a long list of minuses in mind, and not many plusses. None of the bad points is decisive in itself, but taken together, they say that Wolfgang is a real loser, and is clogging up the pipes bigtime.
Now imagine yourself trying to justify the decision to someone soft of heart, and even softer on logical thought. "But Wolfgang has only been late 5 or 6 times. You can't fire someone for that!" "It's not just any one shortcoming," you reply, "there's a complex matrix of factors of varying weights being considered here." "That's crazy, lots of people have faults, and you don't fire them! You're just down on Wolfgang for some reason."
A lot of people just will not accept that kind of decision-making. (Even assuming they can understand it.) It seems cruel, unnatural, contrived.
I have a hunch bordering on a certainty that something like this is going on with the decision to invade Iraq. The administration has a big basket of pros and cons, plus reasons to attack other places, plus reasons to do nothing .... All the possibilities have been weighed-up and compared.
Some of those arguments are chains of conjecture or probability, like those discussions of the possibility of a comet striking the earth. I recently read a scenario where Iraq detonates a nuke in a US port, then threatens more! We are forced into massive nuclear response. The odds of that happening are very low, but the cost... There are other chains of inference -- what we are doing is also like arresting a particular crime boss partly because it will discourage crime in general. Or discourage young punks from starting a career of crime... None of these things is certain, but many of them together can make a compelling picture.
But my point is, many, perhaps most people will not accept the idea of going to war based on a matrix of reasons, even if when put together they add up to two or three adequate reasons for war. Most people expect a single casus belli. Over and over I hear: If we knew for sure that Saddam had nukes, that would justify war. Or If we knew for sure that he was involved in 9/11...
I think the administration has instinctively shied away from explaining their actual reasoning. I guess they think that would be like trying to discuss the Florida election calmly and rationally. They're probably right. And so they are telling people the simple stories they want to hear, instead of the convoluted reality, and they end up stretching the facts, and looking like liars.
My take is that we have an unusually honest President, with a pretty straightforward administration. I can't prove it, I'm just putting together scraps of information my secret agents have gathered. Little things that seem to me to make a pattern. Here's one. When Bush was running for re-election as Gov. of Texas, ('98 or '99?) there was already a lot of talk of him for President in 2000. That's an awkward thing, and most politicians in that position would lie, and say they have no interest in the Presidency, and only want to serve their state. (Those denials of interest in the Presidency are so common they are considered white lies.) Bush called a press conference to announce that he was undecided!. A very unusual event.
ugly Americans...I liked this, found in Tim Blair, who is blogging about the bombing in Bali.
"THEY MAY KILL SOME OF US, BUT WE'LL KILL A LOT MORE OF THEM." From Captain L.J., of the United States Air Force:Some Americans make me feel proud.Just wanted you to know that I and all the aircrew at my location send our prayers to the families of the Australians and New Zealanders killed or injured in Bali.The man is prepared to die for Australians, yet he wants to donate money to us. This must be an example of that American tyranny we hear so much about.