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March 31, 2004


Steven Pinker has written on the subject of vengeance in his book “The Blank Slate”, noting that in a primitive society a reputation for insane vengeance can help maintain the social order, by making people fearful of stealing other people’s property or spouses. As Pinker notes, vengeance seems to be an innate behavior that mostly just causes trouble in modern society, where it makes for a good percentage of police calls. I think vengeance has yet another role to play, which we may have seen in operation in Fallujah today.

Evolutionary psychologists have recognized that certain human behaviors are innate, and few doubt that a fear of spiders and snakes is instinctive. Some people are plagued with a fear of spiders to such a degree that they are almost immobilized with fear and revulsion. In an environment where the bite of certain spiders is fatal, especially to children, this only makes sound evolutionary sense. Children who avoid potentially fatal encounters die far less often than those that don’t. But spiders also crawl around, so an even greater loathing of them would motivate people to make sure that their dwellings and sleeping areas remain cleared of such latent threats. Even in countries where no fatal species of arachnids exist, many people are still terrified of them.

They have also noted that humans seem to have some innate reactions to large predatory animals. Children in Chicago still say that one of their biggest fears is of big cats. Lions, Tigers, and Pumas haunt their thoughts. Obviously there’s no logical reason they’d be afraid of big cats, other than the fact that humans grew up being afraid of big cats, and that fear stayed with us. We have some other common behaviors regarding animal attacks, such as a propensity to group together and make the loudest noises possible, screaming at the animal to distract it if it’s attacking someone else. Park rangers have always noticed this behavior in parks like Yellowstone, and it seems to be another thing that humans just know to do. I think we might have another behavior left over from our brutal relationship with big predators, and that’s what I’ll write about here.

Big cats present an interesting problem for primitive man. If you have big cats in the area you or your loved ones might end up being eaten for lunch. The trouble is, once you get good enough to be able to kill the occassional cat you still don’t seem to accomplish much. Managing to kill a cat buys you a temporary respite, but then it just gets replaced by another big cat which moves into the newly vacated territory. So trying to fight the cats would seem about as useful as what the liberals hold about fighting terrorism, which is that it’s always been and always will be, and trying to reduce it is futile. Fighting cats probably seemed that way for a long time.

Yet cats can be fought, and we’ve mostly eliminated them as a potential threat of any statistical significance. But until your cat killing abilities are good enough to pretty much wipe them out, which wasn’t until fairly recently, merely killing the cat isn’t the most productive strategy to follow. What would be a better solution would be to keep your local cats alive to defend their territory from intruders, while also making them very, very afraid of your tribe of humans. If you can teach them the lesson to stay away from you and yours, while also keeping the other cats away from you and yours, then you’ve got the ideal solution. You’re no longer game for them, and a large pressure is removed from your tribe.

The question is now how to get a large predator terrified of people. Obviously just doing a good job defending from attack won’t exactly inspire fear. It will just teach the cat that we are rather smart and wiley prey, sometimes dangerous, but still a rather tasty snack if you can sneak up on one of us. No, the lesson the cats need to learn is our pencheant for absolutely insane, unending vengeance. That we will track them down and make them suffer. Unlike a heard of animals, we have this innate desire to hunt the murdering bastards down and make them pay, however long it takes. Note that this behavior isn’t really seen elsewhere. It’s just us, and it’s in all of us, because it worked.

But there’s another trick to using this desire for vengeance to advantage. As I stated earlier, if you just hunt down and kill all the offending cats they will just get replaced by another pack or pride. What you’re trying to do is teach the cats a very harsh lesson about even thinking of attacking humans. The best way to teach this lesson is not to kill all the cats, but to kill only some of them, and possible most of their cubs, in the most brutal, public, and spectacular manner possible. Cats aren’t horribly bright, so you really need to overdramatize the lesson. Kill them slowly, making them scream and cry, then crush their skulls. Don’t stop there, either, because cats don’t have really long attention spans. Keep beating the broken corpses and then burn them. Then string the body parts up in the trees as a clear reminder about how humans respond when one of their own gets killed.

Now you could try to kill the parent cats in front of their cubs, but this really isn’t a successful strategy. That would require that the cubs manage to grow up without the protection of their parents, choose to remain in the area, and also manage to hold their territory against rivals, which is unlikely considering their immaturity. So you really want to target the weakest and youngest members of the pack when you dish out unholy savage butchery. You want the big ones to both get the message loud and clear, yet still manage to hold off any rival prides. If they lose, you’ve likely got a new pack of cats and have to start all over again, especially when the population density of humans was extremely low. During our early days, most cats probably hadn’t encountered us that often, and even if they had they likely hadn’t been taught some brutal lessons.

So let’s say the optimal behavior for a bunch of primitive humans is to react viscerally and violently to any cat attack, becoming blinded by vengeance and a desire to seek out and kill the cat’s cubs in the most brutal manner possible, in full view of the cub’s mother. With early applications the local predators learn to not only be wary of humans, but would eventually learn that attacking them is a pretty bad idea, at least if they’re in groups. You’ll note that while almost all cats will attack a heard of animals, almost none will attack anyone in a group of people. It’s not unlikely that we’ve burned a new behavior into them.

There are a couple more points worth considering. The desire for vengeance may burn bright, but it would be stupid not to restrain it until you’ve got a good chance of pulling off a raid on the cats. So a few more trigger mechanisms would be a wise thing to have in place, like being amongst a large number of equally enraged tribe mates, all raring to go. For example, I think people who had a predilection for single-handedly attacking a pride of lions would be removed from the gene pool in short order. But people who grouped together to badly outnumber the predator would do fine. Numbers count.

So you end up with humans who have a pencheant for insane vengeance, a quirk that makes them want to target the vulnerable or young, and a trigger to band together and attack while the target is badly outnumbered and vulnerable. Along with this behavior we also indulge in the butchery, burning, corpse beating and mutilation, dragging the corpse around so the “enemy” can get a good view, and then stringing up the remains for all to see. Sound like Fallujah? Mogadishu? Palestine? There’s one problem with this behavior, so great for using against wild animals. It sucks when we use it against people.

It sucks for several reasons. When we get attacked, or feel we are, these emotions and drives can be easily triggered, as if under a threat from a man-eating tiger or rogue bear. We get flushed with the feeling that “it’s the thing to do” and are certain it will have the intended effect. We’re probably certain it will work because it always worked, back when the target was a rather dim-witted predator that just knows enough to tally a cost-benefit analysis. After Fallujah many are burning to go in a string the citizens up from lamp-posts so they “get the message”. The trouble is, the message doesn’t work on people very well at all. If it did we would all be cowering in fear right now, wouldn’t we? Instead we’re just thinking of the appropriate strategy for a response, and our emotions are certainly indicating a far, far more violent strategy than our brains would judge prudent.

Look at the flip side of this behavior. When can you recall ever being cowed by fear of someone who can kill and butcher a baby? We don’t respond like a predator would, by readjusting our menu. We deem the perpetrators of such vengeance driven attacks as mere animals deserving of extermination. If we let our emotions take charge we don’t back off, we often want to attack with even more brutal efficiency than our enemies did in the first place. And then of course they strike back at us and we can end up in a tit-for-tat game of atrocity. Unless of course we have the calmness, strength, and organization to carefully target the actual perpetrators, either killing or arresting them, as opposed to doing something as stupid and counterproductive as blowing up a pre-school.

So here’s the question. We all seem convinced that such a response, hanging people from lamp posts and burning their children in fire will teach the enemy a lesson, and that they’ll just go away and be afraid of us from then on. Yet when we imagine someone doing the exact same thing to us we know we’d just vow to fight them to the last man. Our mental model of our own behavior in such situations seems flawed. The Palestinians have spent decades convinced that if they can just kill enough Israeli toddlers then the Israelis will tremble in fear and jump in boats and flee for their lives. It’s never going to happen. It’s so unlikely to ever happen that you’d think the Palestinians would note the evidence before them and change tactics. Yet they don’t. They’re already too caught up in a primitive behavior to break out. They target babies because something deep down in their brains is saying “This will work! You will strike fear and terror into your enemies and they will no longer eat anyone from your tribe!” Meanwhile, in the real world, Israel continues to try and carefully target the ring-leaders, dealing with far more restraint that is often warranted, considering that at least half the Palestinian population now thinks suicide bomb attacks against Israeli civilians is a good idea.

We often accuse the Palestinians of acting like it was still the seventh century, but in regard to this conviction that killing babies is going to accomplish anything, I’d say we’re looking at a trait from 70,000 BC. Trouble is, we easily feel the same emotions, but we just refrain from letting them lead us beating and burning the corpses of innocent civilians while on live TV. The Arab world has been so twisted by the terrorists and their supporters that this kind of behavior is seen as normal, if not laudable. Maybe if they can be made to realize that even though if feels like striking terror into the heart of your enemy by killing innocent babies will work, it’s not a bit true. Maybe then the cycle of violence can start to wind down.

March 31, 2004 in Science | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Mental Models II

Ok, I’ll continue on the topic of mental models, which I posted on yesterday. I’d like to make another point about people whose mental maps are not being checked against reality.

You’ll notice that most of the Gore areas were small clusters with high population density. One thing psychologists have noted is that many people are willing to completely deny the observable reality presented by their senses if everyone around them disagrees with it, or sees the same event or object in a completely different way. This might be a handy genetic trait, since if you disagree with your entire group over obvious reality then the likelihood is that your genes, unfortunately, inhabit a very stupid person. It would be best for you to rely on everyone else’s brain power and just shut up.

So you have an effect of “it must be true, because everyone around me believes it, even though it conflicts with all available evidence. The evidence must therefore be somehow flawed.” To keep this denial going you need some social support, which you can get in liberal areas. Even if a person didn’t start out a liberal, if they’re the least bit unsure about reality then moving to an area and getting surrounded by them might cause a shift, using the trait of adopting the opinions of others out of a statistical probability that they all can’t be wrong.

So they can maintain a system of mutual-support for a set of beliefs that obviously is completely refuted by history, unless someone can name the “prosperous” communist country. One-hundred and seventy million dead in the 20th century from such governments, outside of war, should be a pretty good reality check. But not if almost everyone you know keeps insisting that it’s not big deal, the experiments were flawed, evil capitalists took over these governments, it’s all a CIA conspiracy, etc. Their beliefs just become the sum of every lame excuse and justification that any of their friends have resorted to.

Now to keep up with this refuge from obvious historical facts, you need a fairly regular stream of support from your friends. Otherwise your brain is going to start pointing out a few things. So it’s easiest to keep believing in the glories of socialism if you’re in a liberal college or city and hanging out in the coffee shops, bars, and other haunts. So I would predict that a high-population density of extreme liberals would be fairly self-sustaining. Nobody needs to re-examine their viewpoints, because everyone agrees on reality.

Another thing people like to do is gossip. In fact, some studies of how people actually use language show that the majority of language use is for nothing more than passing gossip. Now gossip needs a bad guy, and out-group, some “those” to always be casting aspersions on. Well, in an area with a high concentration of extreme liberals, conservatives will quite nicely fill the role of the “evil others”. Any and all evil deeds can be attributed to the outgroup, and all righteous deeds attributed to the in-group. A nice worldview that gets reinforced everytime two liberals share a coffee.

Lynching in the south? Red-neck conservatives (even though the white’s in the South were just about 100% democrats).

The Nazis? Capitalist conservative scum (even though they were socialists who wanted to bring an end to vile capitalism).

The Christians? Right-wing ideologues (even though most of the remaining democrats in the south are black Baptists).

You name it. If it’s evil it must be the fault of the conservatives. This likely comes from reinforcing a fantasy worldview with the gossip and stories passed at the same coffees where the very same fantasies are getting mutually reinforced. And thus you end up with the weird liberal density map seen in the 2000 election.

March 31, 2004 in Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Clinton and Rwanda

The UK Guardian ran this story about Rwanda today.

President Bill Clinton's administration knew Rwanda was being engulfed by genocide in April 1994 but buried the information to justify its inaction, according to classified documents made available for the first time.

That’s real leadership, for sure. “Quick Madeleine! We must act immediately to justify our complete inaction! Lives are at stake!”

Senior officials privately used the word genocide within 16 days of the start of the killings, but chose not to do so publicly because the president had already decided not to intervene.

Well why would a modern liberal ever intervene to stop genocide? Hell, half of them are always out protesting in favor of it, waving their big Saddam posters.

Intelligence reports obtained using the US Freedom of Information Act show the cabinet and almost certainly the president had been told of a planned "final solution to eliminate all Tutsis" before the slaughter reached its peak.

“I’d really like to help. I really would. You know I feel for those people, but I just don’t see how we can intervene without interfering with my golf outing with David Geffen.”

It took Hutu death squads three months from April 6 to murder an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus and at each stage accurate, detailed reports were reaching Washington's top policymakers.

They were probably even getting nice satellite photos of the growing piles of corpses, and field intel on the whole operation.

The documents undermine claims by Mr Clinton and his senior officials that they did not fully appreciate the scale and speed of the killings.

Oh, they appreciated the speed and scale all right. They just didn’t give a damn.

"It's powerful proof that they knew," said Alison des Forges, a Human Rights Watch researcher and authority on the genocide.

Well maybe some on the left should re-evaluate their opinion of the left, which thinks using force is always the wrong option, except when it comes to forcing people to adopt socialism. Of course, this is also the same Human Rights Watch which recently concluded that NO amount of genocide in Iraq justified our invasion.

It discovered that the CIA's national intelligence daily, a secret briefing circulated to Mr Clinton, the then vice-president, Al Gore, and hundreds of senior officials, included almost daily reports on Rwanda. One, dated April 23, said rebels would continue fighting to "stop the genocide, which ... is spreading south".

Like Al Gore gives a shit how many innocent people die either.

Three days later the state department's intelligence briefing for former secretary of state Warren Christopher and other officials noted "genocide and partition" and reported declarations of a "final solution to eliminate all Tutsis".

I guess they don’t even remember what the term “final solution” implies.

However, the administration did not publicly use the word genocide until May 25 and even then diluted its impact by saying "acts of genocide".

The democrats are always spinning and wordsmithing, even when 800,000 people are being butchered. Tell me these people wouldn’t just rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic. And yet these same morons want us to believe they were actively pursuing Al-Qaeda in some capacity other than figuring up how much money the Trial Lawyers Association could make off a court case.

Ms Des Forges said: "They feared this word would generate public opinion which would demand some sort of action and they didn't want to act. It was a very pragmatic determination."

Yes. Keep the people ignorant of impending genocide so they won’t know to stop it. It sounds vaguely familiar, for some reason.

The administration did not want to repeat the fiasco of US intervention in Somalia, where US troops became sucked into fighting. It also felt the US had no interests in Rwanda, a small central African country with no minerals or strategic value.

And these same people think Bush is fighting over oil???? Give me a fucking break! Clinton and his croanies obviously put more value on a tin mine than 800,000 human lives. Yet the only way he could avoid repeating the debacle in Somalia would be by having himself and his entire cabinet resign so adults could take charge, and of course none of them were willing to do that.

William Ferroggiaro, of the National Security Archive, said the system had worked. "Diplomats, intelligence agencies, defence and military officials - even aid workers - provided timely information up the chain," he said.

It looks like everyone did their job except Clinton and his cabinet.

"That the Clinton administration decided against intervention at any level was not for lack of knowledge of what was happening in Rwanda."

Isn’t it telling that Clinton’s best defense is that he was ignorant, which we all knew applied generally? Turns out he wasn’t so much ignorant as a willing accomplice in genocide. Maybe that’s how he got a Nobel Peace prize nomination.

Many analysts and historians fault Washington and other western capitals not just for failing to support the token force of overwhelmed UN peacekeepers but for failing to speak out more forcefully during the slaughter.

Hell. They’re left criticizing Clinton for not even throwing around a few harsh words. A couple orders of magnitude past that and you might get a President who’s actually willing to dosomething. Thank G-d Bush won in 2000.

Some of the Hutu extremists orchestrating events might have heeded such warnings, they have suggested.
Mr Clinton has apologised for those failures but the declassified documents undermine his defence of ignorance. "The level of US intelligence is really amazing," said Mr Ferroggiaro. "A vast array of information was available."

Hell, Clinton probably had better intelligence about the scale and scope of operations than the damned Hutu planners did. Maybe they should’ve called him for some advice on how to improve their genocidal efficiency. I’m sure some under-the-table campaign cash would’ve worked wonders.

On a visit to the Rwandan capital, Kigali, in 1998 Mr Clinton apologised for not acting quickly enough or immediately calling the crimes genocide.
Not acting quickly enough? The pompous ass didn’t act at all!
In what was widely seen as an attempt to diminish his responsibility, he said: "It may seem strange to you here, especially the many of you who lost members of your family, but all over the world there were people like me sitting in offices, day after day after day, who did not fully appreciate the depth and speed with which you were being engulfed by this unimaginable terror."

Isn’t it amazing how he’s willing to lie his ass off to the faces of the very people whose families were butchered because he chose to knowlingly let it happen.

A spokesperson for the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation in New York said the allegations would be relayed to the former president.

Now isn’t that just elitist as hell. They’ll attach a note to a pigeon and send it winging off to the esteemed Presiden’ts ivory tower. Maybe he’ll take pity on the dead serf’s families.

March 31, 2004 in Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The DU on Fallujah

Regarding the brutal murder and mutilation of the contractors in Fallujah, Democratic Underground is on top of the story.

damn the iraqis?

they didn't create this anymore than we did. anyway the whole thing is sad. this isn't how people should live and to think it never occurs to the chimpster -- something is wrong with this picture.

Boy, some deep thought there. The killers in Falluja have merely been forced to slow down their reign of murder. They’ve been killing innocent people like this for decades, only now it’s on camera.

Ummm are you talking about Afghanistan?

sorry to rain on your rant.. but Iraq, before it was bombed into the stone age, was actually filled with many middle class families. They had symphonies, universities, tea rooms, it was a thriving country. There were pockets of religious zealots (gosh, much like here!), but it was NOT the stone age.. AND there were NO suicide bombers. UNTIL we destroyed their lives and their infrastructure. You appear to be describing Afghanistan perhaps... a country that is now the model of what happens when greedy, arrogant people like us use their country for decades of self-serving battles.

Sorry to rain on Caliphoto’s rant, but we barely bombed Iraq because the we ended it so quickly. Prior to the war Iraq was still a basket-case, with tens of thousands of children dying because of Saddam’s starvation policy, as the UN bureaucrats looted the country dry. Caliphoto doesn’t seem to mention those 400,000 Iraqis in the mass graves, so maybe he thinks they’re out listening to the symphony or something.

Devils Advocate, NZ
No, damn the corporate whores who are in Iraq to rape the corpse of Iraqi soveriegnty.

The Iraqis had NO CHOICE but to be on the business end of "Shock and Awe" - These foreigners had EVERY choice not to participate in the pillaging of Iraq's wealth.

We didn’t hit Falluja with Shock and Awe. Sorry, but this is one of the cities where the Ba’athist support came from. These are the people who used to run the death camps.

It is called reaping the whirlwind

These guys were working for the invader, they should accept the
risks of being in a war zone on the side of the aggressor and occupier.
Got killed? Tough luck!
It beats being on the side of the Ba’athist SS, which is what the average DU poster supports.

March 31, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 30, 2004

Mental Models

Bill Whittle wrote another fantastic essay.

Another one knocked out of the park! I'd point out that when academics have a good description of reality, ie. physicists or engineering professors, they love interacting in the real world. It's when they have a very bad description that their ventures into the real-world leave a bad taste in their mouths.

Col. John Boyd gave an excellent treatment of the concept of mental models of reality in his essay "Destruction and Creation" (GO READ IT, THEN READ IT AGAIN, AND READ IT ANOTHER TIME), to focus on how intelligent beings keep in touch with reality, and how they get fooled on the battlefield, among other things.

The key idea is that you have a mental map of something which may or may not conform to reality. If your map is wrong new sets of observations tend to just make it more and more complicated, with more and more exceptions and alterations piling up (entropy builds). The map overall makes poor predictions about the real world, and becomes a collection of ad-hoc fixes.

A smart person, when confronted with evidence that their mental model (or worldview) is inadequate, tears it apart and tries to assemble the pieces in a structure that can better explain reality. Emperor Misha and I were discussing this over some beers, and the question becomes "How can we get other liberals to undergo this "destruction" process so they can move on to "creation" and rebuild a worldview that bears a resemblence to actual reality?

The socialist worldview was literally created by a guy who didn't do any form of work, and didn't even like workers. Marx was the prototypical wackc-job who holes up in a cabin somewhere and writes a manifesto, without a single reality-check anywhere. Engles had to translate Marx into something half-way understandable, which just made it stupid instead of both stupid and unreadable.

With this concocted fantasy as the scaffolding, the liberals have build a bizarre and complicated model that leads them to make predictions like Chomsky's, usually off by several orders of magnitude. Yet whenever one of them rejects the model and adopts a mental model corresponding to conservatives, which has good predictive value, they are dismissed by those remaining on the left as a capitalist hack, sell-out, and anti-revolutionary traitor, the only characterization available in the Marxist model, since it doesn't include the possiblity that it might be wrong.

It reminds me a bit of those on the left who keep insisting that people should finally try socialism, as if it hasn't been tried over and over in countless countries, always producing abysmal failure. Part of Marx's message was that his system was "new, perfect, yet untried". That was back in the 1800's. They should get an update for goodness sake.

Apologies for the long comment. I just got on a roll.

I should also point out some of the features of the modern liberal worldview, which resurface all too often on the internet.

One is that they are right and their opponents are evil. To those who receive their wisdom handed down from Marx, the people who didn't agree with him either hadn't been explosed to the "truth" or were part of the existing and evil class and power structure that worked at oppressing the poor. There really are no other options to Marxists and their intellectual progeny. On the one hand, this keeps them from having to wrestle with the fact that many, even workers, look at their "sophisticated" theory and laugh at it as childish scribblings.

Another thing I think bears repeating is that none of the liberals assume their worldview could be examined and then rightfullly rejected as moronic. It simply must be true. Others can only oppose it out of some sort of sinister motive. Free-market capitalism is hard to grasp, often confusing, if not downright perplexing, yet it works. It works even if NONE of the participants understands it, just as we don't have to understand how we think or eat to accomplish the task. It's not like capitalists aren't used to being buried under a deluge of academic refutations of capitalism, and yet it still works. A system that continues to work despite being buffetted around, when people don't know enough to pull together and keep it going, is a system that I'd describe as "robust".

Communism doesn't work even if all the non-believers are shot in the back of the head. It simply doesn't work at so many levels that the idea that people in the 21st century still advocate it is amazing.

March 30, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Linda Heard Spouts Again

The Arab News of Saudi Arabia has printed yet another mindless article by the dumb communist twit Linda Heard. Interestingly, in all the talk about the radical Islamic message coming from the Middle East, her blather is even more extremist, anti-American, anti-Western, and pro-genocide. I’ve Fisked her many times before, as I did here, and she’s always a fount of stupidity and self-hatred. Let’s look at what she has to say today.

BEIRUT, 30 March 2004 — What’s going on? The Arabs are being “ordered” to democratize or else by men in suits thousands of miles across several oceans, in some cases.

We’re all the way across several oceans now? Is there someplace farther away than all the way across the Atlantic in one direction and the Pacific in the other, or did she twiddle away counting the Mediterranean and Indian Oceans? Does she have a point when she tosses in cute things like that, or is it an idiot moonbat thing?

One Arab country is groaning under the occupation of up to 150,000 foreigners in boots and tin hats, while the Palestinians, as always, are being assassinated at the whim of the “Butcher of Beirut” and suspected grafter, and left wandering around the rubble of their demolished homes — and all those men in suits can say from their comfortable leather chairs in climate-controlled network studios is: Stop the Terror! And they are referring to Arab terror. Eh?

A 75 word sentence, Eh? Maybe these new un-diagrammable sentences are some sort of defense against Fisking, but more likely they simple reflect a complete ineptitude with the English language. Nevertheless, I’ll make an attempt at delving into this mass of incoherent clauses and see if I can pull out enough meaning to serve as scaffolding for a refutation. But before I continue let me say “Stop the Drivel! Stop the Stupidity!”

First, we wear boots because we know how to make shoes. In European martial arts dating back to medieval times our primary kicks where delivered with the toe instead of the side of the foot, as is common in many Asian martial arts, because Europeans since then have always worn some form of stiff shoe or boot, where toe kicks provide the most damage.

Second, our hats are not tin, nor are they the stamped steel helmets worn by the Iraqis. A liberal probably wouldn’t know the difference between tinfoil and a PASGT Kevlar helmet, so maybe such total ignorance of reality should be forgiven. As an aside, the Marines are currently switching to a new lightweight helmet that can directly stop a 9mm round, due to be introduced this summer, so Linda can bitch and whine about those Americans in their brand spanking new ultra-advanced helmets that embody more technology than an Iraqi Scud. More on the Marine helmet is here, and more on the US Army’s new MICH helmet is here. Tin helmet my ass.

As for her insinuations about “Butcher of Beirut” and suspected grafter, need we remind her that the “Butcher” was in Baghdad, and did a hell of a lot worse than some graft. He put 400,000 people into mass graves, having Arab children shot in the back of the head. But of course in her world that’s a plus. The Iraqis unfortunate enough to attract his attention certainly weren’t left to wander about the rubble of their destroyed homes. They were buried with a backhoe or shredded, bagged, and dumped. Of course sometimes they were thrown off buildings, beheaded, electrocuted, set on fire, rigged with dynamite and detonated, or beaten with sledgehammers, which would probably be a nice fate for Linda Heard for egging on such things.

The Arab League has lost its credibility, not only vis-à-vis its dealings with the non-Arab world, but also among its own members because there is now a fundamental division. Some Arab states are joined at the hip with Pennsylvania Avenue, either because they have been intimidated or due to political or financial self-interest, while others don’t want foreigners in stripy suits and Harvard (or is it Yale?) ties telling them what to do.

Some Arab states realize that tyranny and theocracy aren’t going to make it in the modern world, while some still cling to such power in the absence of any other past experience. So perhaps they should continue to listen the the Harvard men instead of the unwashed drug-addled patchouli-cented losers in birkenstocks and tie-dyed T-shirts.

Arabs on the street are generally bemused, frustrated and struggle with feelings of impotence as their leaders appear to lack focus, unity and direction.

The only change over the past 1400 years is that now the Arabs on the street notice the situation.

Those basic feelings of injustice and helpless are pushing some — a very few — into the arms of extremists.

Then why aren’t we losing skyscrapers to non-Muslim terrorists from Central America, South America, India, Eastern Europe, Africa, or the Pacific? Could there be something to “Kill all the infidels! Kill all the Westerners! Kill all the Jews!” No, just couldn’t be. Not in her little world.

But this is something the current US administration refuses to contemplate, let alone acknowledge.

Maybe because it’s stooopid. The hijackers come from relatively well-off families, even rich families, in Saudi Arabia and Northern California. A mantra of the left is that poverty causes crime, which begs the question of how we're so rich now, with our crime rate what it is, when their theory would project that crime rates would be immeasurably higher the further back you go in the past. The Great Depression did not have a 20,000% murder rate. Sorry, but there it is.

As far as it is concerned, a person wakes up in the morning, sips his coffee and decides to embark upon a career path of terrorism for terrorism’s sake.

Actually, the seem to first go to a liberal Western college where professors tell them that all the Arab world’s problems are caused by evil Americans and Jews, and then they shotgun a latte and go off on their explosive career paths.

In the West, especially in the US and Britain, a section of the population — which once associated Arabs with petroleum, olives, camels and T.E. Lawrence, as if that wasn’t bad enough — now believe that Arabs and Muslims sit around hatching nefarious plans to take over the world and proclaim it an Islamic Caliphate.

Maybe because we keep hearing Muslim sermons laying out their nefarious plans to take over the world and proclaim it an Islamic Caliphate, no?

I know because I’ve got a stack of e-mails to prove it. They invariably end off with the hope that I “end up in a burka” or have my hands “chopped off”. There is so much ignorance about the Arab world out there, and, frankly this is just as much the fault of the Arabs as it is the Western media, and in some instances, governmental spin machines.

It’s also the fault of people like Linda Heard who patronizingly distort the Arabs into her own little brown dolls, striping them of anything that doesn’t match her preconceptions of what a poor, innocent, ignorant, and oppressed people are supposed to be like.

Most Arabs, from the wealthy down to a Cairo doorman know all about the West, as amazingly even the poorest have satellite dishes these days.

Al-Jazeera has about 35 million Arabic speaking viewers, so yes, 3.5% means 100% in the world of liberal innumeracy. In the more affluent Arab countries 1 in 4 households has a satellite dish, but somehow she thinks ALL of them do, even the poorest Arabs in the poorest Arab countries. Nice fantasy world.

As soon as they turn on the sets, they are bombarded with glossy Hollywood movies and television series, and those who speak English, can switch between CNN, Fox, the BBC and Sky News at will. But where do the Westerners get their feel for the Arab world? Where is the promised Arab English-language satellite network? Why aren’t there any movies about Arab concerns, lifestyle, culture, traditions etc. in English? All Westerners see on their screens are scenes like the WTC imploding on Sept. 11, teenage Palestinian boys wearing suicide belts or would-be hooded martyrs.

We don’t watch Arab TV for the same reason we don’t watch French TV. It’s not because we don’t like being informed. It’s because we don’t like to watch programs that absolutely suck. Did she watch any Iraqi TV? I loved the Saddam sing-and-dance shows. Absolutely loved them.

I’ve spent much of my adult life living and working in the Middle East, the Gulf and North Africa and I’ve never met anyone who wants to “kill the infidel” or “take over the world”.

She’s spent much of her adult life thinking like a child, but that’s another issue. But point conceded. We don’t have to live in fear of the bellhops at the particular hotels that she stayed at, unless perhaps he bellhops were less than forthcoming about their wish to kill her. A wish that would no doubt be quite strong, if not overwhelming.

On the contrary, I’ve met with warmth, hospitality, generosity and human, all too human, kindness.

Our soldiers are saying the same thing about the Iraqis they meet, who are incredibly grateful for our ousting Saddam.

Most ordinary Arabs are concerned with making ends meet, taking care of their families, and educating their children, like all of us on this one planet.

You can say the same about the Germans and Japanese in WW-II. It doesn’t mean that there weren’t evil things afoot.

There is anti-American feeling throughout, but this isn’t caused by an inherent hatred for Western values or freedoms, as George W. Bush is so fond of portraying. It’s because of America’s bias toward Israel — as it proved once again when vetoing a recent UN resolution condemning the assassination of Sheikh Yassin — its profiling of Arabs and Muslims in the US, its flouting of human rights at Guantanamo Bay, and its invasion of Iraq on the false pretext of WMD.

Yawn. Another ignorant supporter of Palestinian terrorism, dead children, and genocide stumps for more death, more fear. Will they ever learn?

Is this a manifestation of the “Clash of Civilizations” Samuel Huntington — a Harvard academic infamous for portraying Islam as the biggest danger to global stability — wrote about? Is this the Judeo-Christian world against Islam? Or vice-versa? I don’t think so. I believe it’s down to the root of all evil — money. It’s the haves who want more than they already have at the expense of the have-nots. How is that?

Good question. Whenever a Marxist moonbat is confronted with absolute evil, they can’t blame socialism, national socialism, or communism, despite these systems having killed about 170 million people in the last century, outside of war. They’ve always got to go back to the Marxist Mantra for Medicated Mendicants and blame money, usually Jewish money, shortly followed by blaming Jews for all the world’s problems. It’s all that they know how to do.

Do a little detective work here. Who stands to gain from and endless war policy, and especially when those conflicts are centered around and oil-and-gas rich region?

Whenever a moonbat plays the “Who stands to gain” card, you know they’ve slipped off the deep-end into paranoid anti-Semitic NAZI conspiracies. “Who stands to benefit from 9/11? -- Israel”, “Who benefits from Afghanistan? – Jewish Neocons.” “Who stands to benefit from Iraq? -- big oil.” “Who benefits from the Holocaust? – Jewish currency speculators” etc. etc. etc.

Think weapons manufacturers, the aviation industry, and Western energy sectors. Think companies like Halliburton, Bechtel, Dyncorp, Stevedoring Services of America, International Resources Group, and Carlyle... most of all Carlyle. On behalf of this company the father goes around paving the way for military contracts, while the son rubber-stamps the policy. There has got to be something wrong with this scenario. If the allegations are true, even UN administrators have been caught with their hands in the Iraq cookie jar.

Note how she hurled paranoid accusations exactly as I predicted. She is beyond all hope of reason, enmeshed in her paranoid fantasies about Jewish capitalist oppressors. She’s even thrown the “aviation industry” into the list of suspects. I suppose that everytime an airliner slams into a building an airline has to order a new Boeing, in theory, but I kind of doubt that it’s all a plot by Boeing to sell extra airliners. To her, however, this would make perfect sense. But at least she admitted that the UN administrators had their “hand in the Iraq cookie jar”. Now she needs to go further and admit that they were actively complicit in genocide.

It is my belief the Israel-Palestine conflict is being deliberately kept on the boil. Let’s face it. If the Arabs ever did shake hands with the Israelis in good faith, and a genuine peace were to prevail throughout the region, what a political and economic powerhouse that would be. And what influence would the men in suits have then? Against Israel’s military capability and Arab wealth, not much.

Arab wealth? We’re talking about an incredibly poor region, in case she didn’t notice. The entire Arab world has less non-petroleum exports than Norway. The Arabs are accutely aware of this, but she is not. And to propose that Israel could stand up against Western powers militarily (aside from France and Germany) is a stretch. Israel can’t engage counties armed with long-range nuclear missiles in an all-out fight, but somehow she thinks we must be fucking things up to keep from being invaded by Israeli armies. That conspiracy is so daft as to be beyond the realm of the absurd. The reason the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is kept boiling is that the PLO, Hamas, and Hezbollah blow up a bus every time it looks like there might be progress, since their entire power structure derives from the current situation. They can’t survive in an environment of peace. Now they’ve gone so far as to have created a total death cult amongst the Palestinian youth, and they lost the power to stop the cycle of suicide bombings. The future of Palestinians has been ceded to the dumbest of the 17 years old suicidal males that Palestinians produce.

As for us ordinary mortals, we are just dispensable cogs in the wheel of big business.

Well, actually some of us produce outputs, but others like Linda just ride on the wagon and suck off the government tit. Stirring up trouble and stoking hatred because they don’t have the necessary skills to flip a burger.

Ours not to reason why. It’s about time, though, that we did.

The left hasn’t tried to use reason in decades. Attempts to reconcile leftist theory with historical facts just results in a rejection of leftism, so everytime a leftist pulls it off you just end up with a new conservative. So I’m not going to hold my breath and wait for her to start something that she has to pretend hasn't been attempted before. It's kind of like all the socialists who keep running around claiming we need to try socialism because nobody has tried it before. You don't know whether they're that ignorant and stupid or just badly deluded or evil.

And, no, I am not a pinko-commie tree-hugging liberal. Capitalism definitely has its good points.

She just contradicted just about every word she’s ever written, which are published in all the standard Marxist publications.

Wealth is good, megawealth is even better, but — and this is a big but — not when it is forcibly grabbed by the few who send their forces into foreign lands and care not a jot about the piles of bodies they leave in their wake, as their dollars pile up in their numbered accounts.

Well, now she’s gone off and committed slander. Does she know of a single numbered account? No. Does she know of any dollars piling up? No. Yet these things must be happening in some parallel universe or her worldview will be exposed as completely moronic and invalid, which it is. The pile of 400,000 bodies was piled up by Saddam. The even bigger pile of bodies stems from her cute little NGO’s stopping third world countries from using any DDT, which is killing about 3 million children a year. Does she give a shit? Obviously not.

March 30, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Liberal Talk Radio

There was a beautiful piece today at Boston.com on Liberal Talk Radio.

Well, my "progressive" pals, prepare to confront a shocking fact: Talk radio is a business. As in must make a profit. Success requires capturing a vast audience, and more. As a business enterprise, it is virtually meaningless whether your listeners agree with you politically. Your audience must attract major advertising dollars. That's right -- we're not in NPR land anymore, Toto.

Exactly. Yet people like Soros and Gore just figure they can keep pumping money into it and keep it running, bashing Bush at every opportunity. They forget a few key things.

I used to work in radio, and I think Gore and his ilk should've spent a bit more time studying the industry. Maybe they should've gone to a few NAB conventions or something, because they're headed for marketplace failure. As an aside, my dad and uncle built an owned a radio station from 1968 till just a few years ago. It was originally called "Turner Broadcasting" until they changed the name and some guy in Atlanta adopted it. I used to work there or course, occassionally DJing, reading news (in those days it came of an actual teletype machine), and making spots.

The liberal network faces the hurdle of program directors. Each radio station's program director has to decide what to put on the air, in an attempt to attract and retain listeners to have a large demographic that will be attractive to advertisers. Even if the liberal talk radio network operates in the red, giving away the programs for free, why would any station manager sign up to carry it? Just to watch alll his listeners jump ship, followed immediately by his advertisers? Can he back charge Soros for the lost revenues so he can still meet the payroll and overhead? After running a couple of ours of turning off Al Franken will any listeners return later in the day?

The Boston.com article has some more delightful nuggets.

Understand: Your success depends on us embracing the utterly fantastic notion that we are what's wrong with America; that our national, cultural, and personal woes stem from taxes too low, affirmative action too meek, defense too strong, and illegal aliens too few. People who believe such twaddle are for the most part home watching Jerry Springer reruns. Numerous they are. A commercially viable national talk radio audience they are not.

This is where liberal talk falls flat. They have to blame all ills on everyone else, but they can't take the analysis very deep or it falls apart. So they're either stuck with high-school level sophomoric attacks or they have to resort to college liberal gobbledygook that nobody can parse, much less fathom. It's a message that is either redundant or incoherent. The audience for this message tends to be either true believers who don't think too deep, or shallow high-school kid types who don't listen to political commentary anyway. And the message itself is one of blame and self-loating, so it's kind of like running a constant stream of "I suck. You suck." Not an attractive message that makes people want to tune in. Thus the constant failure of liberal talk. That's why NPR and Pacifica Radio depend on donations, and don't have independent operators carrying the programming. Nobody would pay serious advertising rates to reach the small number of listeners, and even fewer advertisers would want to have their product associated with the negative, anti-American message.

March 30, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Diabetes Vaccine?

This was interesting. Researchers are testing a compound that protects against the onset of type 1 diabetes in mice. Will wonders never cease?

March 30, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

London Foils Bomb Plot

As everyone by now surely knows, the British arrested eight Pakistani men in London.

They had a thousand pounds of ammonium nitrate explosives five miles from Heathrow airport. People in cities tend not to run around with 100% AN fertilizer, so it's pretty clear what was going on. The apparently intended to strike soft targets like pubs and clubs.

Note that these punks weren't out fighting for Pakistani independence or anything. They just want to kill as many Westerners as possible. Sea of glass anyone? Not surprisingly, as reported in the Washington Post, senior Muslim leaders can't see the connection to Islam.

A senior Muslim community leader warned that the arrests did not necessarily mean police had uncovered a genuine terrorist plot. Iqbal Secranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, noted that police had arrested more than 500 people on suspicion of terrorism between Sept. 11, 2001, and the end of December, yet so far only five had been convicted of a terrorist offense.

Only seeing heads on pikes will make him change his mind about how seriously we take the threat. Bring back Vlad the Impaler.

March 30, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 29, 2004

UN Oil for Palaces Program Still Under Scrutiny

This NY Post article relates that 3000 UN staffers are under investigation for their involvment in the horribly run and scandal plagued UN Oil for Food program.

March 29, 2004 -- WASHINGTON - Investigators probing the United Nations' Iraq oil-for-food program are taking a close look at allegations the scandal-plagued initiative was filled with spies, terrorists and do-nothing bureaucrats earning exorbitant salaries.

And this would be different from any other UN program in what way?

The activities of the estimated 3,000 U.N. staffers who were working on the $100 billion humanitarian aid program are emerging as a central focus of the investigations into the mushrooming scandal.

How can you employ 3000 people to look the other way while keeping their pockets open for bribes? Isn't their some sort of labor management program in place?

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a letter to the U.N. Security Council seeking backing for an independent investigation of the kickback/bribery scandal, said he wants the probe to focus, in part, on whether the U.N. staffers violated procedures established for approving and monitoring contracts and whether U.N. personnel engaged "in any illicit or corrupt activities."

There wouldn't be a "kickback/bribery scandal" if there weren't UN staffers involved in "illicit or corrupt activities", now would there?

So far, the only U.N. figure to be named publicly in the scandal is Benon Sevon, the man in charge of the oil-for-food program.

As people have always said, "The fish rots from the head down." There's no way the head of the program was up to his eyeballs in graft, kickbacks, and corruption without a bunch of his staffers being in on it.

He was on a list of 270 names - published in a Baghdad newspaper - of international politicians and businessmen who were receiving vouchers from Iraq to buy oil at below-market prices so it could be resold at substantial profits.

And a bunch of those names were French ministers, one was a guy who arranged meetings with Jimmy Carter, and another was an Iraqi-American who kicked $400,000 over to Scott Ritter, the kiddy diddler.

Sevon has denied the charge, but has been put on ice - purportedly "on vacation" - until the end of the month, when he is due to retire.

And if you go asking around in a prison you'll find that all the inmates are completely innocent, too.

But new questions have surfaced about the presence on the oil-for-food program's administrative staff of a bureaucrat who was widely known to be an undercover agent for the intelligence service of France, a country that had huge financial interests in the program.

Yet John Kerry thinks we should've secured the blessings of France before pulling the rug out from under France's little kickbacks for mass-genocide operation they had going.

Kurdish officials in northern Iraq also made repeated complaints about the fact that Iraq, with U.N. approval, kept Americans, Britons and Scandinavians off the staff that administered the 13 percent of the oil-for-food proceeds earmarked for Kurdish provinces.

And of course the UN did Saddam's bidding, not wanting to upset a great and mutually beneficial relationship.

Only workers from countries perceived to be friendly to Iraq were approved.

France, Belgium, and Germany, anyone?

Howard Ziad, the Kurdish representative to the United Nations, told The Post that Kurdish authorities made repeated complaints to U.N. higher-ups that the staff assigned to his region was riddled with spies working for Iraqi intelligence.

Or French intelligence, not that there's a difference, given post-war revelations.

In July 2001, Kurdish security forces arrested a Tunisian U.N. employee with a car full of explosives meant for a terror bombing in Erbil. He was held for four months until the United Nations quietly negotiated his release, Ziad said.

When the UN is employing the suicide bombers it's part of the problem, certainly not part of the solution.

March 29, 2004 in Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack