Monday, January 24, 2005

Instapundit and the Singularity Socialist

When worlds collide...

Via The Sideshow I find that Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit and feudal lord of Right-wing bloggers, is a fan of Charles Stross, the science fiction author.

I have known Charlie and his partner, Feorag at Pagan Prattle, for some years now and I am certain that Charlie is about as left as they come, although definitely a free thinker and nobody's fool.

"The leader and their coterie form a tightly-knit community, bound together by a shared ideological outlook and suspicion of outsiders. They don't trust fellow members of their own party who don't fully subscribe to the clique's world-view. They have a set of policies determined by their ideological outlook, and they appear to be pursuing these policies without any interest in the public response to them. They know they're right and they're not interested in protests: proceeding by consensus is seen as weak.
The in-group have strong links to key industrial sectors and their policies promote the well-being of those sectors at the expense of others.
(Charles Stross on neoconservatives)

In fact, those who are regular Newshog readers will recall that Charlie drew the comparison between Bush and Thatcher long ago, even before Rove admitted the inspiration.

Then again, Reynolds likes William Gibson too - another author not known for his love of corporate power and it's neoconservative political wing.

Maybe Reynolds is batting for the wrong team? Maybe deep in his heart he is a modern socialist and has been reading the Right's propaganda for so long he hasn't realised his true convictions. Perhaps he is yet to have his own Road to Damascus...

Or perhaps Charles Stross just is that good an author.

84 comments:

Glenn said...

Hmm. Well, I'm only a "conservative" in the sense that I support the war on fundamentalist islamist terror. One would think that a war on theocrats would be congenial to the Left, really.

I'm also a big fan of Ken MacLeod's fiction. But, yes, Charles Stross is that good an author.

Avedon said...

No one who opposes violent theofacism allies themselves with the American right-wing.

Cernig said...

Hi Glenn,

Maybe we can convert you to modern socialism yet then. Although a true leftie has no more reason to war on Islamic theocrats than on Christian Theocrats like the current President. We believe in dialogue and in progressive change where possible. "War is the last refuge of the incompetent" and all that.

For my own views on the war on terrorism, I refer you to my archives. If you HAVE to go to war, then maybe the Israeli paradigm of terror fighting is the most discredited of all and the least likely to provide any real solution. The UK paradigm, while sometimes flawed, at least has stopped the fighting in N.Ireland. I would advocate a sea-change in US policy in Iraq away from the Israeli paradigm, for instance.

I assume from your comments however that you were originally against the invasion of Iraq as it was not war against a theocracy. It only became so later after the US led coalition used the wrong tactics and alienated hearts and minds.

That said, thanks for actually visiting the site and commenting. You have gained my respect by doing so - certainly if I had posted an item about Matt Yglesias, Kevin Drum or another of the major liberal blogger elite, it is unlikely they would even have noticed.

Regards, Cernig

Glenn said...

In defense of the elite leftie bloggers, there are a *lot* of blogs out there and it's hard to promote them all. I try myself, but I miss people and there are no doubt some angry that I'm "ignoring" them when the truth is that I'm just a busy guy trying to get my daughter to Karate class on time. I do try to encourage people, and I made an effort early on -- when the blogosphere was right-leaning -- to encourage lefty bloggers though some of those, like Oliver Willis, don't seem very appreciative.

Cernig said...

Hi Glenn,

Thanks again for the comment, which adds something to the "progressive pecking order" debate in that it at least seems to be a rebuttal of Atrios et al's claims that the right-leaning blogosphere is a carefully orchestrated top-down heirachy. As you say, you try but you miss some. They seem not to even want to notice. However, that debate has been covered elsewhere.

Secondly, though, whenever a professor of law ignores two thirds of a comment to answer the last third, then we can assume it wasn't by accident. Can I pose three direct questions?

1) Did you approve of the war in Iraq before it became a "war against fundementalists"? Iraq was a very secular state prior to the invasion and the argument could be made that the invasion became a self-fulfilling prophecy for extremists in the Christian right by creating a religiously based insurgency. (I leave aside whether or not ALL of the insurgency is composed of fundementalists, a moot point but not centrally relevant here.)

2)Do you subscribe to the "clash of civilisations" theory about the war on terror? If so, is it a clash between Western-style and Islamic civilisations or is it a war between Christian and Islamic fundementalists (as Bush seemed to suggest by the use of "crusade")that everyone else should be trying to stop from BOTH ends?

3) Given the christian religious right's attitude to science, in particular evolution, does it worry you that christian fundementalism is being courted by the Bush team as a source of election winning votes for the Right? In other words, is this a worrying trend?

If you drop by the site again I would love to hear the opinions of a right-leaning, obviously educated, pundit on this subject. I for one regard christian extremism in much the same light as I view islamic or any other religious extremism.

Regards, Cernig.

Anonymous said...

Erm, who's saying I'm a leftie?

I vote straight Liberal-Democrat. (That's the British political party of that name, which has a fairly specific policy platform, not a vague description that maps onto the US political spectrum.) I'm in favour of mixed economies, public education and healthcare, and as much personal autonomy as we can eat. I'm opposed -- at a gut level -- to the devil-take-the-hindmost policies which seem to have infiltrated conservative politics during the 1970's, but I'll take pragmatism over ideology any day of the week. I guess this puts me squarely in the European social democratic mainstream, with a sprinkling of social libertarianism on top. Not exactly China Mieville territory ...

Oh, Iraq? I didn't oppose the Iraq invasion out of some sort of left-wing post-colonialist cringe reflex; I opposed it because in the light of what I knew about the history of the middle east it looked like a Really Bad Idea, or at best a Dubious Idea being executed by the Wrong People (i.e. Don Rumsfeld). They didn't read their history books. If they had, they wouldn't have gone about it the way they did.

On fiction ...

If there's one thing that I've figured out, it's that preaching at your readers is stupid. It won't make converts, and it'll annoy everyone who doesn't agree with your ideas. So if you catch me doing it, kick me on the shins, okay?


-- Charlie

Glenn said...

I love Stross's comments above.

In answer to your questions, which I answered incompletely because they were a bit tendentious, and when you comment on blogger you can't see the other comments any more -- Iraq is part of the war against the fundamentalists. Just look at the countries it borders, all of whom are now under threat and will be far more so in the near future. In addition, the elections in Iraq are being closely watched in Iran, where the mullahs are in a bad odor. Conflating "the war on fundamentalist terror" with "the invasion of Iraq" is a serious, though common, mistake.

I'm skeptical of grand theories like the "clash of civilizations." But the Middle East is a dreadful place, politically. Actually, most of its ideological/religious problems are European imports -- fascism and other totalitarian ideologies, which don't really have Islamic roots. There's quite a tradition of rather mellow Islam, though it's been in eclipse since the early 20th Century for reasons that have more to do with European power-politics than any inherent characteristics of Islam.

On "Christian extremism" -- well, yeah, it's something of a threat, though rather less immediate than the Islamic variety. (You might read what Keith Henson wrote about domesticated memes for some thoughts on why). But the Bush Administration's problems with science are not rooted in fundamentalism, but in rather well-established (though to my mind unpersuasive) religious views shared by nonfundamentalists like, say, the Pope. I still disagree: I've been pretty criticial, for example, of Leon Kass and the White House bioethics council, on a wide variety of subjects. Being something of a transhumanist myself, we part on most issues.

I think, however, that the Western Left is myopic in its views on religion. In Europe, for example, there still seems to be a lot of worry about Christian extremism even as it's Muslim activists who are murdering their critics. In this, as in many other ways, I think that the Left is still fighting the ideological battles of the 20th -- and 19th -- centuries.

Finally, on socialism, etc., I think it's unworkable in a world of scarcity. As I've suggested elsewhere, however, things may look somewhat different in a post-scarcity world.

Anonymous said...

Glenn, from where I stand GWB seems to be as much a symptom of religious fundamentalism as the ayatollahs -- and the Pope. Caveat: I stand somewhere outside America, in a place described by Pat Robertson as "a dark land full of homosexuals" (in a fit of pique after his investment company was spanked out of Scotland by a boycott that involved everyone from Outrage! through to the Kirk).

As for socialism in a world of scarcity, I don't believe that this is a world of scarcity: I think most of our perceived scarcities are manufactured. Remember, this is the planet where over the past twenty years the population has increased by 50% but the numbers living in poverty have stayed the same in absolute terms -- meaning, half a billion fewer people are living in poverty than would have been the case if we applied a straight-line extrapolation. If we can lift half a billion people out of poverty without most of the rest of us even noticing ...

Cernig said...

The last post was from Charlie, I believe. He just didn't sign it.

Regards, C

rosignol said...

For my own views on the war on terrorism, I refer you to my archives. If you HAVE to go to war, then maybe the Israeli paradigm of terror fighting is the most discredited of all How do you figure that?

Israel still exists, despite the efforts made to destroy it, and the rate at which their enemy's operations are achieving their objective (dead israelis) is falling. How is this not a success?

Now, if Israel *didn't* exist, then yes, their paradigm of fighting (terror or anything else) would indeed be utterly discredited, but that is not the situation.

You seem rather unclear as to the point of war.

ps: Hi, Charlie. Feels odd to see familiar names outside of the familiar context. ;)

Anonymous said...

"Atrios et al's claims that the right-leaning blogosphere is a carefully orchestrated top-down heirachy."

Hahahahaha

Do you really want to ally yourself in the same camp as a nutjob who would say something as obviously stupid as that?

Oh, and being compared to Thatcher is the biggest compliment you could give GWB, keeping in mind how Thatcher extracted Britain from its malaise of the 60s/70s and made it a world power again. I sure hope W is up for the challenge.

Lastly, grouping GWB's Christian constituents together with "Osama and friends" suggests that you are more interested in ranting and raving than in any kind of rational analysis of the real world.

Tim Kyger said...

I am a Presidential appointee, working here in the Pentagon, in the policy shop. In other words, I work not only for George Bush (ultimately), but for Don Rumsfeld, and even more directly, for Doug Feith.

And I think that Charles Stross is probably the most important new sf/f author of the last ten or more years.

Why? He's that good. IMHO, of course.

But givin who I choose to work for, why would you give *my* opinion any weight? *grin*

Charles, you're a right damn good author. I look forward to reading your work for many, many more years. Thanks in advance!

Anonymous said...

Glenn, from where I stand GWB seems to be as much a symptom of religious fundamentalism as the ayatollahs -- and the Pope.This is a perfect example of what many moderates that share many liberal values tend to despise about the modern left: the inability to prioritize and contextualize things without the omnipresent (and often exaggerated) filter of your own experience. Every leftist that makes the direct comparison based on some pastor's blustery crusade against something like the "insidious homosexual agenda" within a free society, for example, clearly can't seem to grasp the concept that islamic radicalism goes for severed heads. Even Christian fundamentalists that might have violent thoughts are hamstrung in a pluralistic society. They have to push their ideas.

Bush Administration = Islamic Radicals

= Taliban, = Hitler, = fascists

These are the hyperbolic and superficial analogies that will essentially continue to consign the left to irrelevance by alienating a whole host of potentially natural allies, in addition the the usual natural enemies. In addition, opinion-leaders among leftists seem more dogmatic than analytic, on the whole, that the center-right spectrum.

Bill from INDC

Doug said...

What Bill said.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard the term "modern socialist" before -- is there a more formal definition of it that someone could offer? If so, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks!

Mark

_Jon said...

Clearly what makes Glenn so special / popular is that he doesn't discriminate someone's creations based upon their beliefs, leanings, or politics. If a product is good, he recommends it. If not, he generall keeps quiet. He was probably raised with the "If you don't have anything nice to say...." mantra (Albeit only in regards to products - he is clearly vocal wrt policy or actions he dislikes.) I disagree that he is a feudal lord of any group of bloggers because - by definition - bloggers don't follow. Not all "lefties" follow Kos, just as not all Photoshop junkies love Fark. It just doesn't apply in this realm.

As for the religion, equating a religious fanatic with an organization of murderers results in people discarding the entire message. Like many other things, moderation (despite your true feelings) results in greater popularity.

As for the war, people have been yelling as loudly as possible that Iraq is a stepping stone. It is not an end. It is a means to an end. But some people just can't see long-term strategies well. I've comparied the WoT to a chess game. In order to understand the current move, you have to be capable of forecasting it's results six or seven moves ahead. If all you can do is play checkers, then chess is incomprehensible. If the only thing you see about Iraq is "Iraq", then a winning strategy about the WoT is beyond your understanding.

But, I do congratulate you in getting Glenn to post a comment at your site. Heck, FrankJ had to resort to calling him names and making up lies just to get an obscure link. :)

Robin said...

Yes, Bill nails just why the comments above are so fundamentally silly. Pun intended.

TallDave said...

Thanks for an interesting discussion guys.

Keep up the great fiction, Charles! As I noted in an email on Glenn's blog, your work has some great intellectual hooks.

Oh, btw, iirc Charles you were described as a lefty on Amazon's editorial reviews of Singularity Sky (or maybe it was Iron Sunrise?) when I ordered there.

Ron Brynaert said...

Glenn,

Why don't you enlighten us with the story behind your associating with Ricky Vandal, a freeper from the Netherlands who you've helped earn links at his propaganda blogs.

And, it's nice to see that sometimes you leave your name when you post comments.

Who's the winner of this week's win a record deal contest, Mr instapundit?

More on Ricky the troll at Why Are We Back In Iraq? and loaded mouth

Glenn said...

Anonymous: The Pope a "fundamentalist?" Not in any ordinary sense of the term; it is the Pope -- or, more accurately, the Papacy -- that fundamentalist Christianity initially rebelled against. If you see "fundamentalist" as a synonym for "people I don't like based on the intensity of their religious belief" then you may use it in that fashion, but it's otherwise somewhat inaccurate, and likely to mislead many readers who are better informed, or at least expecting a more standard usage.

I find, however, that British and European commentators tend to get religion wrong. Though I'm not terribly religious myself, I think that's very likely to lead to serious misconceptions. Here is something I wrote on that for The Guardian a while back, though I'm afraid it only scratches the surface.

Europe is post-Christian, but it is not post-religious, and again, I think that Keith Henson's point on domesticated memes applies, and that Europe will be unhappy with the lesson. I hope that I'm wrong about that.

Cernig said...

Hi rosignol,

The point of war is to end it...the Brits aren't fighting in NI anymore and the Isaelis are STILL fighting. That was the point of the article I linked (Talking to Terror) which you obviously didn't read.

Bill, you said:

"Even Christian fundamentalists that might have violent thoughts are hamstrung in a pluralistic society. They have to push their ideas."

This palpably isn't true. Look here at Project Meggido, where the FBI documents the christian terrorist groups currently flourishing in the US, who are at present keeping their heads down as they seem to be winning the battle without firing a shot.(Please actually READ this link before blowing off steam, folks)

Although it is Charlie,not me, you are disagreeing with. I dislike fundementalism in all it's forms but see a distinction between even Opus Dei and al Quaida.

Lastly, I truly see no difference in the levels of vitriol or idiocy exhibited by thoughtless people either from left or right. Both sides of the equation are guilty of sloppy thought, lack of logic, and name-calling, from time to time. (eg Ann Coulter)

Regards, C

Anonymous said...

Go talk to a few Greeks about what life was like in the Ottoman Empire and you'll be enlightened. Talk with the Egyptians who are Coptic Christians and it will be very eye opening.

_Jon said...

"Lastly, I truly see no difference in the levels of vitriol or idiocy exhibited by thoughtless people either from left or right. "

Amen.
(pun intended)

Cernig said...

Glenn,

Congrats on the Guardian piece, it is excellent work. I suspect thee and me (avowed leftie from a modern, practical socialist tradition) would agree on a whole lot more than you would with many others who voted Bush. I still think you voted for the wrong guy based on your other beliefs but if you were for the invasion of Iraq from purely geopolitical grounds I can see why you did. You must feel stymied by his administrations handling of the whole affair though, surely?

I have a feeling you would be happiest voting for Gordon Brown of the UK :-) Brown is pretty much the definition of a "modern socialist" for the poster who was asking earlier...and the man who actually did the work to drag the UK out of the financial gutter Thatcher put it in, however much US propaganda about the Iron Lady may claim.

Regards, C

Pixy Misa said...

I know Charlie from Usenet and he's clearly a smart guy. But when he says things like Glenn, from where I stand GWB seems to be as much a symptom of religious fundamentalism as the ayatollahs -- and the Pope. he shows that he has no real understanding of religion and its relationship to politics. I'm an Australian atheist myself, and even to me that statement is utterly and obviously absurd. Bush is not a fundamentalist, not even of the contemporary Christian variety, and that is in turn miles apart from Islamic fundamentalism. Not even in the same state, let alone the same ballpark.

TallDave said...

The irony in the left's anti-religious rhetoric is that they eschew and even mock conventional overt religious belief but embrace the supposed virtue of more subtly but nonetheless equally based-only-in-faith causes like communism/socialism, sexual permissivism, and (dare I say fundamentalist) pacifism, generally showing little or no inprovement in rationality over the positions of their nemeses. There was a very good piece on "protests-as-rituals" recently which illustrated well the attractiveness and pervasiveness of this religion-like phenomenon among the modern Western protest movements. I think this goes back to mankind's well-demonstrated psychological need to find some religious outlet, and shows it will emerge even when denied as being such.

Anonymous said...

Glenn's comment on fundamentalism is equivocal and I think panders to this post. As a PhD candidate in English I also have a fundamentalist belief in the Bible as God's word, but I don't have the fundamentalist praxis as regards the use of culture. What non-Christians sadly get so wrong is how they tar all Christians with one broad brush. Whenever I see a Christians are Fascists, or Bush is Hitler post I just cringe at the colossal ignorance of the person. Here's an analogy: all lefties are Stalinists, or all lefties are Pol Pots, or all lefties are Maoists. These three are responsible for anywhere between 50 & 100 million deaths. Hitler persecuted Christians even more than did Stalin and Mao and he managed to exterminate a paltry 9 million or so in the camps. The fact is that the ideologies of Communism and Fascism are secularist religions and they are the greatest evils that have confronted mankind in the past 2000 years, ever since the Roman empire. Though the Fascists have been discredited, the Left is still hopelessly deluded about how the nature of its ideology inevitably leads to the gulag. It's not that leftists are bad, it's the system which is bad and always falls under the control of the worst people. Compare those crimes to the most commonly cited crimes against Christianity: the Salem witch trials in the US; the inquisition in Spain; the Crusades in the middle ages. The Salem trials about which we have a landmark play by a leftist writer killed 16 or so; the inquisition killed anywhere from 1,000 to 30,000 to 300,000 people (see http://biblia.com/christianity/spanish.htm) . The latter is an anti-Catholic number used by Protestants and not credible. In any case, how does that measure up to the Left's wholesale massacre of civilians in every country they have ruled? And the Crusades? They were a response to Muslim fundamentalism which swept across the world and imprisoned my own country of Greece for 400 years. My grandfather was born under Turkish rule in Crete in 1885. But in the aftermath of 9/11 and hundreds of self-detonating Muslims slaughtering civilians, Cernig claims that Christian fundamentalists are just as bad as Muslim ones? See, it's logic like that that discredits putatively intelligent people and causes them to be seen as delusional. Such rhetoric is shameful, disreputable, and abhorrent and anyone who uses it undermines their own argument more than any counterargument can. Come on people, grow up and argue logically.

Wacky Hermit said...

"Look here at Project Meggido, where the FBI documents the christian terrorist groups currently flourishing in the US, who are at present keeping their heads down as they seem to be winning the battle without firing a shot.(Please actually READ this link before blowing off steam, folks)"

I read the article, and I have to say I didn't find anywhere in it which said which battle these wackos seem to be winning. Even in right-wing states like Utah, where you can't spit without hitting somebody who thinks Clifford the Big Red Dog is a Communist plot, these sorts of people are thought of as being way out of line. They move to places like Idaho, not because they find loads of converts there, but because these places are so sparsely populated that they can live by themselves. There is pro-militia sentiment among Christians in Utah and Idaho, but by and large it is definitely NOT in favor of racist or Christian militias.

If by "winning the battle" you mean the battle for the hearts and minds of the right, even the religious right, these groups are definitely losing it.

Shannon Love said...

Cernig,

I think your post reveals more about your stereotyped based view of the Right than it does about the paradoxes of Glenn's reading habits.

I am an agnostic, a philosophical rational-empiricist, and I was educated as a biologist but I grew up in a small American rural community in the late 70's early 80's when evangelical christians were just becoming a political force. I was raised by my Grandparents who were Southern-Baptist (like the Clintons) a sect far more fundamentalist than those milk-toast Methodist to which Bush belongs to. Most of my relatives are still very religious so I have a very good view of the phenomenon from the ground up.

I couldn't wait to escape small, town rightwing life and flee to the open-minded, progressive thinking, Leftist world of the university that I read about. I wanted a place where ideas came in rapid succussion, where people abandoned the dogmas of past generations for new ideas created by empiricism and reason.

Imagine my utter shock to find the exact same type of behaviors in the Leftist of my school as I had left behind in the churches of youth. Charles Stross's description of neo-conservatives is a dead accurate description of the social dynamics of Leftist subculture. For example, Just like Christian fundamentalist pride themselves on not consuming certain types of media, Leftist are very proud that they never (to take some popular American examples) listen to Rush Limbaugh or watch Fox news.

I learned that group-think and group over-identification are not the flaws of a particular religious or political viewpoint but are instead cognitive failures of human beings in general that must be resisted by conscious effort. Leftist are horribly prone to group think because they spend so much time telling each other how open-minded and rational they are. Believing themselves immune they fall prey to group think and over-identification faster than those who know they hold their beliefs out of faith.

Socialism functions as just another religion. It adherents are just as immune to empirical evidence as religious fundamentalist.

Cernig said...

Shannon,

"I think your post reveals more about your stereotyped based view of the Right than it does about the paradoxes of Glenn's reading habits."

On this you are undoubtably right. Don't mistake me as someone who cannot think for themself, however :-) It has become obvious during this conversation that Glenn is not typical of the Right in the US, any more than I am a typical Leftie, at least by US standards. By the same lights, several posts here have shown a knee-jerk ability to equate socialism with communism or with a form of hidebound ideology which was discredited and discarded back in the 60's - a common mistake I have found here in the US but rarely made in my home of Scotland.

Regards, C

Cernig said...

Note to Americans:

Tony Blair and his appointed right-hand man, Gordon Brown, are members of the "Labour and Socialist Party" of the UK. Brown is a bit more left than Blair, however he still keeps to practical politics (ie what really works) more than to some philosophical ideal.

Cernig said...

Hi Wacky Hermit

I would suggest that even in strongly Islamic areas like Iran, the guys doing the beheadings are regarded as extremist wackos too. In fact, I know this to be true as many prominent moderate Moslem clerics there and elsewhere (eg Iraq)have spoken out against the practise, as they have against waging war on women and children through indiscriminate bombs. Dont believe me? Its easy enough to google. So, that is the flip side of your coin.

The battle I refer to is the one the Christian wackos say they should be engaged in, but they don't have to bother since everyone else is doing it for them - against moderates and extremists alike. Or do you think a cluster bomb in a built-up area is smart enough to only kill wackos?

Yes, I know the wackos in Iraq are killing US and UK troops...but this is why I advocate trying UK tactics instead of Israeli ones in that theatre for a while. The UK troops are trained to isolate the wackos from the moderates through better "hearts and minds" work before they kill the wackos.

rosignol said...

This palpably isn't true. Look here at Project Meggido, where the FBI documents the christian terrorist groups currently flourishing in the US,.
.
I read it.

Did you notice this part?

[...]
The attached analysis, entitled PROJECT MEGIDDO, is an FBI strategic assessment of the potential for domestic terrorism in the United States undertaken in anticipation of or response to the arrival of the new millennium.
[...]

Repeated for emphasis: "...IN ANTICIPATION OF OR RESPONSE TO THE ARRIVAL OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM."

It's *2005*, people. Everyone posting here should remember the new year's celebration of 1999/2000. Presumably you also remember the complete and utter lack of violence perpetrated by those dangerous right-wing whacko christian/racist/survivalist types at the time.

Do you seriously think some guy out in the boonies with some guns and a crate of MREs in the basement who thinks the end is coming and is determined to ride it out- but leaves the neighbors alone in the meantime- is a terrorist that can be seriously compared to the likes of Hizbullah or al Qaeda?

Please. You're only hurting your own credibility by making the comparison.

No, it's not quite 'normal'. Yes, I can understand why Europeans would find it disturbing. I wouldn't want someone like that for a neighbor, either. But the only people they're harming is themselves, and they are within their rights to do so.

To assert that they are 'terrorists', just like the islamic nutjobs that blow themselves up and decapitate civilians is laughable.

Ron said...

Well gee, I certainly feel stupid. I can't say I've ever heard of Charlie Stross. Ever. And I consider myself fairly well read. I read the WSJ in my morning bath (darling, bring me my coffee), the NYT at lunch (hey, that's not what the WSJ said about it!), and I probably subscribe to maybe 10 or more magazines although most are currently in stacks waiting to be read. I'm talking months of waiting, big big stacks. Yes, and some of those have the word Living in them, Southern Living, Coastal Living, magazines my wife subscribes to. But still having stacks, even Living stacks, lends support to one's belief in being well informed.

Charlie who? For that matter, it seems like most of the authors cited by Glenn are completely unknown to me. Maybe if they sent me free books I would know them. And recommend them to the unclean masses.

Does Glenn actually read all of those books? Or does he do what I did in Chinese Revolution course in college, read the first and last chapters and cite sections in each?

Does this guy actually teach? I mean he's a law professor, right? And he seems to be a devoted father and husband. And he writes about countless stuff which would seem to indicate that he read this stuff. But I can barely keep up with reading his ruminations let lone the stuff he cites.

And he read this Charlie whatever book? Come on.

Anonymous said...

A recent (2003) scholarly (and hence the horrific price on Amazon and hence the incredibly boring prose - it's a reworked dissertation) treatment of ACTUAL threats from right wing extremism in America is Confronting Right Wing Extremism and Terrorism in the USA. Get your library to order it (list price is $102.94 on Amazon. Have you ever seen something for sale with 94 cents? Perhaps it's part of the right wing top-down hierarchical conspiracy?). It's worth slogging through. Lots of the 304 pages are bibliography and notes, and you don't have to read those parts if you don't want to.

Michael Tinkler
http://crankyprofessor.com

Shannon Love said...

Cernig,

"It has become obvious during this conversation that Glenn is not typical of the Right in the US"Actually, Glenn is far more typical of the American Right than many external observers, even those in American Left, suspect. He is especially representative of that very important swing voter in the vast American middle who actual decide which way elections go. He votes not by party or ideology but issue by issue. He will jump party lines at will to vote for the individual politician that best represents each specific issue.

you write about "neoconservatives" and "christian fundamentalist" as if they and their ideas arose from some politically extreme minority. They don't. Both groups have deep roots and wide roots in American political culture. They were largely invisible back when we had a monolithic media but they were still there nonetheless.

My main point is that the decision making process for christian fundamentalist is no more dogmatic and ideological than for their counterparts on the Left. For example, Leftist disregard for evolutionary theory that contradicts their political beliefs is every bit as severe as that of any "scientific creationist".

Perhaps you have problems with taxonomy? You seem to think that neoconservatives and fundamentalist are synonymous. They are not. Neoconservatives are members of the Right who used to be Leftist. They kept the ideals and passions of their youth but lost their faith in the practical mechanisms of Leftism. Neoconservatives seem to be a small cable because their most visual representatives are a few hundred intellectuals operating within a handful of prominent think-tanks and universities. Many if not most of them are actually Jewish.

In any case, neither group represents a large or radical group within the American political spectrum. People on the far Left like to portray them so, but in reality, they are just projecting themselves onto others.

TallDave said...

Cernig,

I'm curious how your brand of socialism differs from the kind you claim people are confusing it with. Do you espouse universal, government-provided health care? Comfortable pensions for all those over 65? Mandatory month-long vacations? Rigid labor markets in which it is difficult to fire unproductive workers? How much of this do you believe is economically supportable? What's your view on how medical care is affected by gov't-induced inefficiencies? Just wondered.

For myself, I wasn't trying to equate communism and socialism, just pointing out they are both points along a "nanny government" continuum that substitutes for religion as something leftists place their faith in. As for my own views, I believe ideally government should only provide a safety net for those who are unable to provide for themselves, and that the negative unintended consequences of trying to do more for society through government intervention generally outweigh the benefits.

Anonymous said...

Or do you think a cluster bomb in a built-up area is smart enough to only kill wackos?Again, Cernig, this is an example of overblown hyperboly from the left that turns off a lot of people. Cluster bombs are used to infrastructure like runways and bridges. Have they ever been used at the local bazaar in Iraq? I think not. Just say Bush=Hitler. It's faster.

rosignol said...

Just say Bush=Hitler. It's faster..
.
Why is it always "Bush=Hitler" and never, ever "Bush=Stalin" or "Bush=Mao"?

Anonymous said...

I am one of those crazy capitalist, Christian (although not too fundamentalist) right wing loons that strike fear in the hearts of the Guardian's editorial board.

And I liked the Stross book "Singularity Sky," very much.

Why? Because it was a good book.

If Mr. Stross thinks that we Christian types are as dangerous as the Islamonauts, that is fine. I think he is very wrong, and he probably would think I was a brainwashed kook. That's OK, it's no big deal. He writes good books, and I will continue to read them.


p.s. I think the European, and Northeastern American view of what exactly a fundamentalist Christian is might be horribly off base. Because of lack of contact with actual practising Christians, there may be some confusion about this. Bush is not a fundamentalist Christian. He is a Methodist, which is a fairly mild denomination not known for door knocking, snake handling or clinic bombing. I have friends that do not smoke, cuss, drink or have sex before they are married. But they are not fundamentalists even though they are devout. they are not going to condemn me for being a Papist imbiber or my wife for her bland Methodism. A small minority of Christians are nuts, sure. But they mostly do things like picket, act weird and call people "fags." Much less dangerous than the sawing off heads, car bombing, plane hijacking, woman stoning, goat romancing Islamonauts (I couldn't resist) that populate much of the Middle East.

Anonymous post by Z M Ward here is sunny Fla.

Cernig said...

Hi TallDave

You wrote: "I'm curious how your brand of socialism differs from the kind you claim people are confusing it with. Do you espouse universal, government-provided health care? Comfortable pensions for all those over 65? Mandatory month-long vacations? Rigid labor markets in which it is difficult to fire unproductive workers? How much of this do you believe is economically supportable? "

In order - Yes, No but I do support a basic subsistance pension, no, no. The costs...well, the US as a whole (not just the gubment) spends 15% of it's current GDP on healthcare, much of which is taken up by over-inflated admin costs from insurers and hospitals. The Swedes spend 8% of their GDP on universal healthcare provided by the state, the UK figure is comparable. You do the sums. Socialists in Europe got over kindergarten politics a while ago, we use what works. Unfortunately, both right and left in the US haven't quite got there yet, I would say.

In my view, a country that does not provide universal health care is uncivilised, no matter it's other accomplishments.

Regards, C

Anonymous said...

Oh dear: storm, meet tea-cup, tea-cup, meet storm. Hope you get on well together ... we seem to have attracted a combative little audience, don't we?

My religious beliefs are nobody's but my own: but as I said earlier, I have a knee-jerk dislike of ideologies. In principle I don't care what anyone else believes as long as they don't try to make me live by their rules (and don't preach or proselytize at me). Unfortunately, instinctive authoritarians seem to crop up in all cultures and places; and when they don't pick a political ideology to beat their neighbours over the head with, their second choice is usually religion. Hence my comment about George W. Bush, the Pope, and the Iranian clergy. Their specific beliefs may be different, but they all seem to want to impose their religious rules on their neighbours -- and I'm not happy about that.


-- Charlie (still anonymous on blogger)

Shannon Love said...

"In my view, a country that does not provide universal health care is uncivilised, no matter it's other accomplishments."America does provide universal health care, we just do so in a decentralized manner. American heath care, as measured in health outcomes, is on parr with and often exceeds that of nations with politically managed health care.

There is more than one way to arrive at the same outcome.

Anonymous said...

Glenn, from where I stand GWB seems to be as much a symptom of religious fundamentalism as the ayatollahs -- and the Pope.

This is a perfect example of what many moderates that share many liberal values tend to despise about the modern left: the inability to prioritize and contextualize things without the omnipresent (and often exaggerated) filter of your own experience to silly belief patterns.

Bush Administration = Islamic Radicals = Taliban, = Hitler, = fascists

...leftists seem more dogmatic than analytic, on the whole, that the center-right spectrum.


- BILL FROM INDC

Good point Bill - once a leftist has adopted this (religious dogma) worldview, they respond to any challenge or the introduction of contradiction (heresy)with repetition of chant-like leftist slogans (prayer); and merely offer (faith-based) assertions in the place of rationale.

My pet theory is that in many cases, (not all) their political beliefs fill the void left by the rejection of any formal religion; and their political rhetoric similarly becomes quasi-religious in tone.

The Plain old' Faithful are at peace with the "mystery" of their g_d, but the anti-religious left has to maintian their creed without that helpful bucket - "mystery" for anything that does not follow logically, from other elements of their faith. (see; G_d, merciful, cross reference, Tsunami).

This is really why the angry left is so damn angry.

Conitive Dissonance hurts.

Ray said...

Anyone who accuses Bush of being a Christian Fundamentalist and then votes for the Liberal Democrats is showing ludicrous heights of hypocrisy. The Liberal Democrats are the idealogical offspring of 19th century Methodist Evangelicals who took over the once admirable British Liberal movement.

I say this as someone who agrees with Lib Dem policy on almost everything except foreign policy. The Lib Dem's ridiculous fetish for the EU and The United Nations has effectively put their foreign policy in the hands of a corrupt right-wing French President. I'm never going to vote for those wankers ever again.

I say we abolish the Lib Dems and bring back the Whigs. They were Liberals you could admire and vote for. When I say "you" I, of course, mean "me".

Anonymous said...

I am a former professor of history at a state university in north Fla. I no longer teach as I was ostrasized for being a...*gasp*...a republican and having worked on a (first unsuccessful, then another successuful) gubenatorial campaign. You talk about Sweden as being a model of socialism. What you fail to mention is that Sweden has a nearly 60% unemployment rate. Yes, they are in fact a socialist constitutional monarchy. However, the country is nearly bankrupt from having a cradle to grave "nanny" social care system.

They have the highest tax rate in Europe (66% on average). Those who are footing the bill are beginning to revolt. There is a growing underground movement to heavily modify the system as it now exists. Additionally, like many other countries that have a growing muslim population that is taking advantage of the generosity of their host nation, there is beginning to appear a strong anti-immigrant sentiment in the native population.

As for socialism as a form of government. It doesn't really work all that well. Government is by nature a drag upon a national economy. The less government interference, the more dynamic an economy. Additionally, what most Americans fail to realize is that the NAZI's (the acronym stands for: Nazione Sozialist Arbeiter Partie or National SOCIALIST Workers Party) were socialists, and their bitter battles with the communist movement in the 1920's stemmed from the similarity of goals for Nazis and communists (differences between brothers is often the most bitter of all).

The Illicit Professor
Rich V, Pikesville, MD

Harkonnendog said...

Dear Cernig,

Your post regarding health care is simplistic. First you need to prove that the Swedes or Brits offer the same level of care as the Americans. For instance, the UK spends a smaller total amount on its military than the US does. According to your logic that means the US does not use its military budget as wisely as the UK. Obviously that logic doesn't hold up since the militaries are not equivalent.

Not to burst your bubble, but I wonder what the UK percentage would be if the UK health care system worked as half well as the US system. I wonder what the US percentage would be if Americans had to wait 18 months for heart operations, when they didn't die in the meantime, like they do in the UK. Or if they were forced to remain in hospital beds because the US lacked secondary care facilities, like the UK does. Maybe you should make that a factor in your calculations. I wonder what the percentage would be if the US sytstem didn't invent most of the new drugs the UK system benefits from.

A two minute google search will show you your health care system is in crisis. The US rejected the socialist medical solution for rational reasons. This is a complicated issue. Our system is not perfect, but I would rather pay 15% of my income for the best care in the world, available upon demand, than pay 8% to be put on a series of waiting lists.

Cheers!
Harkonnendog

Wacky Hermit said...

Illicit Prof, I'm not a history expert (I've only read ONE book on German Pre-WWII history, not TWO, lol) but IIRC the "Socialist" in "National Socialist" was chosen as part of the name in order to try to lure people away from the real Socialist parties. It seems like every other party in Weimar Germany was the "______ Socialists".

Cernig said...

Oops, Illicit Prof...

You are a liar, Sir.

Statistics Sweden, 2005The Swiss unemployment rate is 5.3%, their GDP is growing, their total of all taxation is 31.6%.

The previous poster is correct about the NAZI party - they were certainly nothing socialist by the time Hitler had control, as you doubtless well know.

Can I suggest you were fired for incompetence, not being a Republican?

Regards, Cernig

Judith said...

The political labelling here is truly one-dimensional, and surprising for SF fans. The fandom I remember didn't try to pigeonhole people's politics into mainstream categories.

Just to add to the mix: I am a post-60s socially liberal feminist, mellowed out libertarian, who usually voted Democrat before 2004, voted for Bush this time. There are many like me. We don't agree with some of Bush's domestic policies, but we do support and understand his foreign policy, and the Democratic alternative was much worse. I guess if you like labels you could say we are Koch Democrats or Schwarzenegger Republicans. Or hawkish libertarians. I think Glenn fits into that category too.

Anecdotal evidence (but lots of it!) leads me to believe that we were the swing voters who made the difference.

The torturous rationales some of you are going through to pigeonhole us according to your prejudices are amusing.

Judith said...

PS It's also odd for SF fans - by definition people who enjoy good fiction for its own sake - to be surprised that someone can enjoy works by an artist whose political beliefs differ from his. I mean, that's the difference between art and propaganda isn't it? Or do you all vet your authors' politics before deciding what novels to read?

Cernig said...

Hi Harkonnendog,

I took your advice and googled "UK health crisis" and guess what, there isn't one. Its a persistent myth but a myth nonetheless. There never ever were 18 month waits for heart ops. Ever. There was a crisis about 5 to 10 years ago, but it was a legacy of the Conservative years when they drew down spending on health. Now it is recovering. The UK, like most of Europe, has an advantage over the US in most health indicators. To the extent that the Swedish model has been touted by some Republican heathcare experts as a solution to the US crisis.

To be honest, that fits my personal experience of both systems. I have received better and faster care in the UK than the US.

I also googled "comparisons of UK and US healthcare". I hope to present my findings in the next couple of days, so keep reading Newshog :-)

Regards, Cernig

Cernig said...

Hi Judith,

Ah c'mon. You have to realise that the original post was pretty light-hearted. I posted it because someone on Glenn's blog had asked about Charlie's rep for being a "leftie". Certainly Glenn and Charlie took it as light-hearted. You have to admit it gave rise to some interesting conversations though.

Just for the record - I love Heinlein, I enjoy Pournelle, I enjoy all kinds of SF authors without care of their politics.

Regards, Cernig

Anonymous said...

Reverand Lovejoy and Ned Flanders (and the whole Flanders family) are annoying but they're not evil. Bush's Christianity is closer to Ned Flanders's than Pat Robertson's.

TallDave said...

Cernig,

Sweden is one tiny homogenous country. When you look at the EU as a whole, median income is lower than the U.S., after-tax income far lower, unemployment much higher, their health care system similarly deficient with wait times and low-quaity care, and the entire social service sector is demographically headed for bankruptcy. You can't just grab the best case and pretend it's representative of the whole. You might was hold up Beverly Hills as evidence of how well the U.S. works.

In my view, a country that does not provide universal health care is uncivilised, no matter it's other accomplishments.Thanks, that really drives home my point that socialism functions as a religious belief for leftists. In my view, a country that embraces government-run health care is dangerously delusional, no matter how well-intentioned.

Regards

TallDave said...

http://www.angelfire.com/pa/sergeman/issues/healthcare/socialized.html#britain

Pages and pages of news stories about problems with socialist health care, just in the UK.

TallDave said...

Here's a typical article in Sep 2004, from the Guardian no less. They're not exactly right-wingers.

Tony Blair's opportunities for showcasing Labour's NHS achievements at the party conference in Brighton this month were blighted yesterday when the local hospitals were implicated in a waiting list fiasco.

The Department of Health said Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS trust was under investigation over irregularities in the recording of waiting times.

The official waiting list statistics for England, published yesterday, showed 281 patients had been waiting more than nine months for an operation - the maximum allowed under government targets. The department said 234 of them were Brighton patients absent from previous figures.

Because of the Brighton discovery, the national total of patients waiting between nine and 12 months rose from 19 at the end of June to 183 at the end of July. The number waiting more than a year rose from 61 to 98.
Looks like your claim of no wait times for operations is a bit spurious.

Cernig said...

Hi TallDave and welcome back.

Actually, I said there were never 18 month wait times for heart ops.

I do not deny there are wait times for non life threatening ops. There are wait times for those in the US too, aren't there?

The wait times for ops were HUGE under the Conservatives. I KNOW, I was there. They have consistently come down under Labour, not as fast as some have liked though, and THAT is the crisis referred to in the Guardian article.

Just so you know, The Guardian seems to regard itself as the newspaper of opposition - it will slag off the party in power no matter who they are. That isn't a bad thing, now is it?

Regards, Cernig

Cernig said...

Hi again TallDave,

"a country that embraces government-run health care is dangerously delusional, no matter how well-intentioned." In what way is that any less or more a statement of faith than my words, I ask myself? And oddly enough I have an answer for myself.

Do you think a country that didnt offer any health care whatsoever for its citizens in the modern age could fairly be labelled as uncivilisied? Well of course you do. My statement becomes the logical collary of that realisation, as such an important matter does not, surely, admit of degree. No faith required. A simple matter of a verbal expression of symbolic logic.

What is this "politics as faith" thing anyway? Bash the godless commies by telling them they have a god anyway and its their political beliefs? The latest right-wing meme? You use it almost as if you don't quite believe it will work - and you are right in that suspicion. Give it a rest as it won't fly here - I am a deeply religious person so the godless guilt trip doesnt work. My politics are thought out, and I will happily embrace what purports to be a right-wing policy when it also happens to be the correct policy. The kindergarten for politics was left behind at the sites of some other, more strident, leftie pundits. Sorry. Attack my evidence or my logic by all means, but leave the name-calling at the door.

Next. It's hardly fair to compare an EU which has just taken on a whole bunch of ex-Eastern Bloc countries as members with the US on a pure toe-to-toe basis. It would be far fairer to compare "Old" Europe and the US on a per capita basis. I will have to see if I can find the stats to do so. You can, I hope, trust me to be totally impartial when I do so.

Lastly, thank you for the link. I notice it comes from a very right-wing pundit's site so is unlikely to be a fair and representative sample, but it will still come in very useful for the research I am embarking upon for an article to be posted this weekend sometime. The subject will be a comparison of the UK and US healthcare systems on a cost for results basis and on overall quality of care.

Thanks again for your interest in my blog, Dave. I hope you stick around to throw in thoughts and comments from the right. You seem to have strong opinions (faiths?) about your politics but can express them (when you choose to) without the strident playground-style name-calling so prevalent from both left and right in US political debate

Regards, Cernig

TallDave said...

"a country that embraces government-run health care is dangerously delusional, no matter how well-intentioned." In what way is that any less or more a statement of faith than my words, I ask myself?Because my statement is based on the empirical observation that gov't-run industries are less efficient and tend toward corruption and despotism, while your statement is based on an admirable but delusional ideal that in order for a country to be "civilized" the government must seize people's wealth and uses it to provide medical care in the name of social equality.

Just so you know, The Guardian seems to regard itself as the newspaper of opposition - it will slag off the party in power no matter who they are. That isn't a bad thing, now is it?It wouldn't be, if it were true. In fact, they are far more critical of right-wing causes, and go looking for those kind of stories. They'll report stories critical of left-wingers only if they fall into their lap, and generally they prescribe more leftist solutions for leftist-caused problems.

I do not deny there are wait times for non life threatening ops. There are wait times for those in the US too, aren't there? The wait times for ops were HUGE under the Conservatives. I KNOW, I was there. They have consistently come down under Labour, not as fast as some have liked though, and THAT is the crisis referred to in the Guardian article.Where does it say they are non-life-threatening?

No, there are virtually never long wait times in the U.S. for operations. In the U.S. if one needs surgery and it is unavailable in your state, you can simply have it done in another state; try that across the pond. Again, the free market is more efficient. Oh, and guess what: the EU rich don't wait, they just come here or go to private EU clinics. So much for social equality.

I'm not particularly interested in debate over which UK party is worse at running gov't health care. From my perspective, they're both wrong for trying.

% of GDP spent on health care is an apple/orange comparison between capitalist and socialist industries, since under socialism the gov't actually decides how much to spend. In fact, a lower socialist % is often an indication that service is simply not being provided. For instance, dental care is manifestly abhorrent in Britain; just looking at their teeth it's clear orthodonty is not in wide practice as it is in the U.S. I've heard some horror stories about UK dental work that had to be fixed in the US, and the shortage of dentists there is actually getting worse.

TallDave said...

Next. It's hardly fair to compare an EU which has just taken on a whole bunch of ex-Eastern Bloc countries as members with the US on a pure toe-to-toe basis. It would be far fairer to compare "Old" Europe and the US on a per capita basis.On the contrary, it's extremely fair to include Eastern Europe, because those countries' economies were ruined by socialist policies. But even accepting your premise, you will find that with a couple exceptions Western Europe countries are generally quite a bit poorer than the US even before their huge socialist tax bite.

http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/rankorder/2004rank.html

Harkonnendog said...

Cernig,

I didn't mean you should google using the words "UK health care crisis," I meant you should use google to check out the UK system.

I can't fisk your sources, but here's mine regarding long waits for services.

http://www.thisisthenortheast.co.uk/healthspectrum/features/0503/healthtourism.html
One of the things clearly stated in that article is people waited 18 months or more for heart operations in the UK, to the point where they went overseas to get operations.

Here's another exerpt:

The fruits of the extra millions poured into heart surgery by Mr Milburn are already appearing; two months ago the national heart "tsar" Dr Roger Boyle predicted things were going so well that the ambitious target of a three month maximum wait for heart patients would be achieved by 2005 - three years ahead of schedule.

Maybe we have different ideas about what constitutes a health care crisis. A 3 month wait is not, to my way of thinking, an ambitious target. Talk about loewered expectations...

This article:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/talking/gp/private_care.shtml
describes how people are getting private insurance despite free healthcare. Why? Because the wait is shorter and the service is better. Despite the fact that they have access to free healthcare (not free, of course, since it is paid through taxes, but still) they are choosing to use private insurance.

Cheers!
Harkonnendog

TallDave said...

I agree, it is a great discussion Cernig. Thanks for debating.

Let me add one other brief comment: Socialism is a wonderful ideal. If Strossian cornucopia machines fall from the sky tomorrow, I will wholeheartedly embrace the new order. But in practice here in the real world, the results have generally been that the more coercive utopianism the gov't tries to impose, the worse mess they make of things.

Cernig said...

Hi again Dave and Harhonnendog,

Aw c'mon guys, read more carefully.

I keep saying - the huge gaps in the UK health system are purely the result of the lack of funding it was given by the right during the Thatcher years. The Labour govt. under Blair/Brown has been consistently funding it to present levels with plans for further increases and things are changing fast. The article Harkonnendog cites is already obsolete.

Oh, and as far as dental care is concerned....been to the South recently? I live here and my teeth are in far better shape than many I see here.

Can we wait until I get a chance to write the article on the US/UK comparison before we debate this further, please? It will make a far better platform to begin from than this post.

OK...Info time. Please stop confusing Communism with modern socialism. It bears no more resemblance to it than old-style robber-baron capitalism bears to the current US right. Here, read this on Social Democracy, which is the prevalent and mainstream socialist current in Europe nowadays.

BTW, Harkonnendog, I liked this post. :-)

Regards, Cernig

TallDave said...

While Illicit Professors unemployment rate is obviously wrong, so is your tax rate

http://www.scb.se/templates/tableOrChart____68066.asp

Sweden has much higher local taxes than the U.S. 66% is pretty close to accurate.

TallDave said...

Cerniq,

So the UK's problem with socialism is... not enough taxes. FYI The article I put up was from last September. This is not a problem that was solved.

The difference is the rural South is relatively poor. In Britain you took this problem and gave it to everyone in the middle class too. I guess that's equality.

OK...Info time. Please stop confusing Communism with modern socialismFrom an economic perspective, government control of industry is government control of industry and it never works, regardless of the politics involved.

TallDave said...

To elucidate the above re communism vs socialism: No one is arguing that "modern socialism" is equivalent to the ideology that murdered 100 million and impoverished billions. But when talking only about how they relate to gov't control of industry, it's just the difference between gov't controlling a few industries or all of them. The underlying justification is also quite similar: Stalin argued nationalizing all industry was done "for the people" just as you claim modern socialism is nationalizing health care to be "civilized," albeit on a smaller, better-governed, and much more humane scale.

Anonymous said...

"Lastly, I truly see no difference in the levels of vitriol or idiocy exhibited by thoughtless people either from left or right. Both sides of the equation are guilty of sloppy thought, lack of logic, and name-calling, from time to time. (eg Ann Coulter)"

As far as comments from the audience, the NY Times does not agree with you. "As nasty as critics on the right can get (plenty nasty), the left seems to be winning the vileness derby this year." Daniel Okrent, NY Times Public Editor, 10/10/2004.

And if the commentators on the left and right are equally nasty, why are their audiences reacting differently?

Jim C.
zgystardst -at- yahoo /dot/ com

TallDave said...

"Do you think a country that didnt offer any health care whatsoever for its citizens in the modern age could fairly be labelled as uncivilisied? Well of course you do. My statement becomes the logical collary of that realisation, as such an important matter does not, surely, admit of degree. No faith required. A simple matter of a verbal expression of symbolic logic."

Uhhhh... no. My country offers me no health care whatsoever as long as I am able-bodied and able to pay for it myself. I don't find this the least bit uncivilized -- but I would find it uncivilized and unfair to have my earnings seized to pay the medical costs of others who are able-bodied but prefer not to work. And "such an important matter" clearly does admit of degree: even the most socialist countries have caps on what they will spend to sustain the life of a citizen.

TallDave said...

I'm curious, C, did you oppose the action in Afghanistan as well as Iraq? Do you think it was not worthwhile to bring freedom, democracy and hope for a better future to these 50 million people who had zero chance of those without our intervention?

Personally, I think Iraq has been brilliantly executed, except that they should have handed over soveriengty and held elections immediately, before the insurgents were organized, rather than waiting. But hindsight is 20/20.

The complaints abut the execution are a combination of the ridiculous and the disingenous. The Abu Ghraib "scandal" that got so much undeserved press attention is a non-event; those prison conditions were better than most POWs historically enjoyed, and better than most US prisons as well. Only the lurid photos and Mary Mapes' bias made it a story. Disbanding the mostly conscripted Iraqi army that slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Shia and Kurds was a no-brainer. The missing WMD was unexpected by everyone on Earth, and may actually have been moved to Syria or buried somewhere in the vast Iraqi desert; we stll stumble over buried WW I WMD shells now and then. All the postbellum carping just proves it's easier to criticize than to actually do something useful, noble, and bold.

Harkonnendog said...

Thanx Cernig! It is a constant battle not to roll down that hill again, lol. I look forward to reading your essay, though I'll admit my gut reaction to the this argument "it would work except it was undefunded" is nausea. (Gut reaction, get?)

Cheers!
Harkonnendog

Mr. M said...

Man am I sorry I'm not joining the conversation until now. Well, since things are as they are, I won't be quoting anyone directly, instead, I'll jut be hitting some of the many topics, and instructing you all in what is what. Modern Socialism I will leave to C, since I'm not a modern socialist. I'm not an old school socialist. I'm just not a socialist.

BUSH=HITLER:

Bush is not Hitler. Hitler had a moustache. Okay, seriously, Bush really isn't a Hitler clone, but there are similarities. Mind you I say similarities, and these similarities rely on interpretation of information, and analysis, none of which can be directly said to be fact. I had, months before I even got seriously into politics, I broke it down into the question, "how do you try and take over the world?" If Pinky and The Brain had been in the room, we may have all found ourselves subservient to a pair of rodents (although Condi kinda reminds me of Pinky. "What are we doing tonight Mr. Bush? (snarf)" "What we try and do every night, Condi, try and take over the world.").

Essentially, there are three things that you need, and we will use Hitler and Bush as examples. 1) Create a Global atmosphere that is not conducive to dissent. For Hitler, remember the "policy of appeasement." It pretty much ran like this. Hitler would say, "I'm gonna invade this country." Everyone would say, "Alright Ady, but this is the last one." After that, he would pick another country, rinse and repeat. The idea was that no one wanted to really mess with him because of...2)Develop a military strategy or scenario that is difficult or impossible to counter. Blitzkrieg. One minute your sitting there reading the paper, drinking coffee, the next, you're part of a composite material typically referred to as rubble. 3) Rally citizens around a common cause, usually involves subjugating people. For more on this, go on google, and search "holocaust." So how does Bush fit? 1) After 9/11 he made a very famous faux pas, "you're with us, or you're against us." For more of this kind of attitude, check out my earlier post entitled Go Ahead Punk. And of course, the rest of the world takes this kind of swagger seriously because... 2)We happen to have probably the most powerful military in the world. And if that fails, we'll just turn your country into a glass parking lot. 3) Ann Coulter said it best when she said, "we should kill all their leaders and convert them to Christianity." Now I'm not saying that Bush is going to go and actually follow Hitler's foot steps. Not at all, I'm just saying that he could find a little more couth way of going about things.

Fundamentalism:

Here's the sitch, to say that radical Christianity is nothing like radical Islam is, well, wrong. To sit and think that established Christianity is and has always been one big love in is also wrong, and forgetful. Anyone remember the Crusades? How about the inquisition?

Now I know this stuff happened years ago, but still. The idea is not that I'm attacking the religion, but all the stuff surrounding it. I have always said that God corrupts politics, and politics corrupt God. It really is that simple. People will do anything in the name of God if they have enough faith, and you can get them to do anything in the name of God if you are in the right position to do so. Ergo, God is power.

That being said, I rarely ever attack the religious right. Essentially because it is kind of like a Chinese finger trap, the more you fight against it, the more it resists. I could go on, but let me get to the next point.

Left vs. Right:

Cernig is, as he puts it, a modern socialist. We get along great, we're both on the left of the scale, but I am not a socialist, just in case you forgot from the beginning of the comment. Ideologically, I'm a very radical liberal. I don't think guns should exist, let alone be issued to all people, I think it's possible to allow everyone their personal, and capitalistic liberties, and still have a government that can ensure the well being of all of its citizens. I think the environment should be cared for, yadda yadda yadda. On the other hand, I'm also quite moderate, maybe even a centrist. The reason for that is that in the end, I'm a pragmatist.

And that's just not a common thing in modern politics.

I understand that while I feel it is right for gays to be allowed to be Married, I understand that baby steps are necessary, and getting a guy in office that will get them civil union rights is probably the best step. At this stage of the game, I'll accept anyone that doesn't try to openly ban being gay.

So unlike a lot of my left wing friends, I appear much more moderate than I am, and therefore have a slightly different perspective. I also have the tendency to be a little more critical of my own political affiliates than most.

Lefties like their causes. The more extreme the liberal, the more likely it is that they're moderate on most things save one or two issues. Issues for which they will pick up an AK-47 and go to war (unless their anti-gun, at which point they will instead pick up a bowie knife).

This leads to a lot of infighting, and has, to a degree landed us in the problem we're in right now. The other thing that has us stuck in the mud is...

Activisim:

Look, I don't want to offend anyone, but most activists do more harm to the liberal agenda than good. Here's why. Right after the election, I listened on the radio to a deejay say, "well, I think what it is is that the um democrats, like, want to tell everyone how they're, like, gonna live, and I think America's just not gonna, like, put up with that." After picking my jaw up off of the floor board of my truck, I actually thought about that.

Than I thought about PETA. Than I thought about spotted owls. Liberals are associated with the Democratic Party, and all the activists that end up pissing people off are associated with Liberals, so. Yeah, while we may be saying, "look as long as you're not hurting anyone, go ahead," we still look like the people that are trying to control lives.

Okay, I think I've wasted enough space for now, maybe I should write a post or something yah?

Harkonnendog said...

Mr. M-
regarding your Hitler post- It might interest you that Hitler, from the very beginning, said that his ultimate goal was to conquer all of Europe and Russia in order to assure the Aryan race the place it belonged. It was never a secret. Chamberlain et al ignored his this reality because they didn't want to believe it.

Much the same way liberals today ignore the talk of Islamofascists. Zarqawi, Arafat, bin Laden, they have quite clearly said that ALL the Jews in Israel must be killed and that Shari'a must rule the world. That is their goal. They're quite honest and straight forward about it. But, because they fear the truth, liberals refuse to accept them at their word.

Also, I don't remember Hitler liberating countries from mass murdering tyrants and then granting the people of those countries democracy... like Bush has done in Afghanistan, and as of TODAY!!! TODAY!!! Iraq. I guess that's pretty minor though, given the powerfully compelling similarities you've mentioned above.

Cheers!
Harkonnendog

Dick Eagleson said...

You run a lively watering hole here Cernig. My compliments. Hope you don't mind me jumping in and wallowing around with the other animals.

Just by way of handing in my calling card, I would describe myself as being attitudinally and politically closest to Judith among your preceding posters, with the exceptions of being male and a bit older. I reside in the Los Angeles area of Southern California.

First, three things you should keep in mind about that Meggido thingy:

1. The FBI is a government bureaucracy. Like all government bureaucracies, it spends a goodly fraction of its resources developing new cases for why it should be an even BIGGER government bureaucracy. This is one of the reasons we of the non-left tend to view government activity a wee bit more skeptically than you and like-minded Europeans do. Whether you tend to regard government as a weed or not, you can't deny that its natural tendency is to grow unchecked.

Since the FBI's mission is to deal with crime that may cross the borders of one or more of our 50 states, and to handle internal threats to the U.S. Government, it is unsurprising that the Bureau tends to have an institutional prejudice in favor of seeing any conveivable threat in the most grandiose possible way.

2. As the lead agency in charge of the - literally - incendiary debacle that was the assault on, and immolation of, the ranch of the so-called Branch Davidian sect/cult in Waco, Texas back in 1993, it is perhaps unsurprising that, in a document prepared only a few years thereafter, the agency might tend toward more than a bit of superfluous melodrama in limning the alleged threat posed by other fringe religious groups. Retroactive ass-covering and self-justification in an ostensibly forward-looking document is, shall we say, not exactly an unknown phenomenon, and not just in government circles.

3. As a non-American you are probably not familiar with the ethnic and religious makeup of our FBI. It is, to quite an astonishing degree, just a bigger and better dressed version of any of our big-city police departments. That means it is heavily skewed toward being working class, Irish-American and Roman Catholic in its personnel and management. This simply adds one more institutional incentive to over-regard any Protestant splinter group as dangerously nutty.

Next, you have written several things that lead me to believe - giving you the charitable benefit of the doubt - that you don't know much about the American military, the Iraq War and how the former is conducting the latter.

I'll first cite that "cluster bomb" crack.

The U.S. military does, indeed, have cluster bombs in its inventory. But I am unaware of any use of such during the current war in "built-up areas" - by which I take it you mean urban areas occupied by noncombatant civilians. If I have misinterpreted your meaning, or if you have some relevant contrary specifics to offer, please enlighten us all.

I will add the personal observation that among the many delusional tropes loudly espoused by anti-war leftists, the "carpet bombing innocent civilians" one seems a particular favorite despite the massive lack of any real-world referent to which it might plausibly be attached. I don't know - and perhaps you can enlighten me on this point as well - but is it commonly assumed on the left that the terms "precision-guided munitions," "smart bombs" and all of their synonyms are simply propaganda inventions to cover campaigns still conducted as though by the late Gen. Curtis LeMay against the late Empire of Japan?

Next, there is that business about "Israeli tactics" vs. "U.K. tactics." Again, I'm not sure exactly what you mean by the former, but you do mention "separating" the good guys from the bad guys as the central distinguishing feature. I infer that you mean actually killing terrorists when also killing the odd noncombatant civilian or two at the same time cannot be avoided is something the U.K. simply doesn't do. If this is a correct read, then I can only suggest that you ought to talk to some REAL soldiers of the U.K. variety sometime - once they stop laughing, that is.

The U.S., I assure you, goes to considerable pains to "separate" actual innocent civilians from the beasts in human form who walk among them. You would probably be astonished at how many times they succeed.

But war is a nasty business at best. A condition in no wise helped by the fact that it has been Islamo-goblin policy from the first to resist being "separated" from their intended slaves as vigorously as possible. The favored goblin tactic is to, whenever possible, coerce women and children into standing between said goblins and the U.S., Iraqi or other Coalition troops at which they shoot.

As the so-called "insurgency" is not, in fact, a "popular" uprising in any sense, there will nearly always be a lot more noncombatant civilians around than Ba'athist or jihadi goblins when the bullets start to fly. This simplifies their job and, understandably, complicates ours.

If you are under the impression that the U.K. contingent of the Coalition Forces has found some way to magically avoid such dilemmas, then you simply don't understand the nature of the Iraq War.

The U.K. troops largely avoid the "collateral damage" problem because they are mainly posted in the southern Shi'a area of Iraq in which such situations rarely arise. They rarely arise, in turn, because in the Shi'a south, as well as in the Kurdish north, there pretty much ISN'T any "insurgency."

The "insurgents" are neither Shi'a nor Kurd and cannot make suitably convincing noises to either of the genuine articles, or to U.K. troopies who've been in-country long enough to pick out the telltale cues. Any U.K. troops too green to have acquired sufficient such local know-how (and there cannot be many such left in the entire U.K. Army by this time) have locals attached to their formations to help them out.

Except for the odd shoot-and-scoot attack launched from central Iraq, the goblins can do little in these areas because they aren't natives of these parts and stick out like proverbial sore thumbs. If the U.K. military seems to more easily "separate" the goblins from the goats it is because the U.S. military has thoughtfully posted its U.K. allies to the places where both the need and the difficulty of accomplishing such is least.

What the insurgent goblins ARE is almost entirely irredentist Ba'athists with a modest admixture of non-Iraqi Arab Sunni jihadis. The former are Saddam's thugs and torturers who are fighting to get their old jobs back. The latter are mostly illiterate hayseeds from other Muslim tyrannies who have been fed a pack of lies about "Crusaders raping our women" and suchlike.

The Ba'athists fight to deliberately maximize civilian casualties because they don't, and never did, care a whit about their allegedly fellow Arab Sunnis and because they realize that their only future is a violent death and a shallow excavation if they cannot forcibly throw Iraq back into its former squalidly tyrannical state.

The jihadis fight because they are credulous twits amped up on martyrdom fantasies - 72 virgins and other convenient fairy tales. Once in Iraq, they are kept in virtual confinement, except when sent out to shoot and bomb, so as to make sure they hear nothing on free Iraqi radio and TV that might conflict with the load of manure they were fed by their recruiters and handlers.

The fighting and bombing mostly take place in the Arab Sunni central region of Iraq because that's the only part of the country in which the goblins look and sound exactly like regular civilians. Thus the U.S. forces - who deliberately took on this nastiest part of the job because we never ask allies to do something we are not willing to do ourselves - are the ones who not only face almost all the "music," but are also facing it in the parts of Iraq in which doing that "separation" trick of yours is the most difficult.

We try not to kill any noncombatant civilians when shooting at goblin irregulars, but our munitions, while smart, are not yet brilliant enough to always avoid the innocent.

Finally, there's the issue of "universal healthcare."

It is true that the U.S. has no National Health Service. This causes many British and European folks to infer, therefore, that the U.S. offers no government-provided "free" healthcare to its citizens.

In a narrow sense, this is true. Most Americans get health insurance via their employers. This care is not "free," but it is quite reasonably priced. I, for example, am curently covered by a plan that pays for 100% of any big stuff. I have to kick in 10 dollars per doctor visit and can get up to three months supply of any on-patent medication by mail for 10 dollars per prescription or any off-patent medication for five dollars/scrip. My coverage is no gold-plated anomaly either.

Veterans of our armed forces get healthcare at an entirely government-run system of Veterans Administration hospitals and clinics.

People too disabled to work get stipends and some medical services from the Social Security Administration, whose main job is collecting the taxes for, and paying out the benefits of, our universal government retirement pensions program. Most states also have disability stipend programs funded by a small tax on wages. Typically, this covers one for up to the first year or so of disability, after which the Supplemental Security Income part of Social Security takes over until recovery or death.

My fellow citizens not so covered, however, do not go without. True, you will find no mini-NHS in Washington to minister to those without employer-provided coverage. But you WILL find a form of mini-NHS in each of the 50 states that covers those on the dole and the working poor who have children. Within states, there are also public hospitals and clinics run by counties and/or cities that must take all comers. My own daughter was born in such a hospital. These are not "poverty-only" facilities.

Many, in fact, are teaching hospitals. If you have seen the American TV show 'ER,' it is set in Cook County General, a famous teaching hospital in Chicago. My aforementioned daughter was born at Harbor UCLA Medical Center, another such institution here in the Los Angeles area.

It is true that many Americans have no health insurance in an individualized sense. But the vast majority of these are young adults who, actuarily speaking, pretty much don't get seriously ill. By the time most Americans actually start needing significant healthcare, they are typically employed in a job with employer-paid benefits. Again, not all employer-paid plans are equal and some don't pay 100% of costs. On the other hand, one is allowed to deduct significant medical expenses from one's taxable income. To put a cap on one's possible single-year or lifetime medical expenses, policies with no upper limits, but large (e.g, $2,000) yearly deductibles are inexpensively available.

It is true that, in aggregate, America spends roughly double the GDP percentage on health care that Britain and most European countries do, but, as noted earlier by another commenter, it is no more reasonable to assume that America spends "too much" than that EU states spend "too little" - at least not without working additional factors into the calculus.

There are, to be sure, adminstrative inefficiencies in the American system. A lot of this derives not from its basically non-governmental nature but from the fact that doctors are, as a class, reluctant to leave the Dickensian system of labor-intensive, hand-written and hand-managed paper medical records behind in favor of up-to-date digital technology. To put it bluntly, doctors, who are rather more diva-esque in the U.S. milieu than I found them to be in Europe, still harbor the superannuated notion that typing on a keyboard is somehow a menial activity while scribbling indecipherably on random scraps of paper is more in keeping with their self-image as Lords of Medicine.

The U.S. federal government gave this roadblock a swift kick in the fundament a few years ago when it mandated electronically stored medical records in standard formats as part of a legislative package designed to make employer-provided healthcare coverage more portable across jobs. It will, doubtless take another decade or so for the full effects to be felt, but that train has, at least, now left the station.

Another differentiating factor is citizen expectations. The typical U.S. citizen expects quite a high level of care, especially toward the end of life when expenses tend to be greatest. He also expects it to be reasonably convenient and prompt.

The U.K. and EU may not have years-long waiting lists for expensive and complex procedures, but there ARE waiting lists and, as a previous commenter noted, the official government figures on such things are not necessarily holy writ. I know the waiting list situation in Canada, which has an EU-style healthcare regime, is widely regarded as a scandal. There has been a steady drain of Canadian specialist physicians southward as a result of the practice constraints they face at home. The only waiting lists in the U.S. are for transplantable organs.

Another difference is how much capital investment is made in healthcare per capita in the U.S. compared to our friends across the pond. In Canada, the government health ministry is quite mingy, by American standards, in paying for things like MRI, CAT and PET scanners and other expensive, electronics-intensive diagnostic and support gear. I am told that in Canada it is often necessary for patients to be moved among two or more hospitals simply for access to relatively scarce diagnstic tools. In the U.S., every hospital tends to have their own. What's the situation in the U.K.? How about the rest of the EU? Better, I hope.

In some cases, there is even a quality argument to be made. At one time, I thought the jokes about British and European dentistry were relics of WW2. Then I spent two years working in Western Europe in the late 1970's. The EU citizens I've met more recently have done nothing to convince me that much has changed. Good Lord, people, get a clue! Teeth are NOT a nefarious American plot! Posession with intent to chew is not a crime!

Then there's the question of the overall health of the national economies in question. The U.S. spends more on healthcare, but devotes less of its GDP to government at all levels than does the EU, after adjusting for the portion of EU government that is represented by healthcare handled in the U.S. private sector. We can do this because our labor productivity is higher than the U.K.'s and higher still - by something like 50%, I believe - than that in the rest of the EU. In short, we spend more on healthcare, but can better afford to do so.

One final note. The healthcare figures of merit which are often used by Europeans to indict U.S. healthcare practice are only marginally below those of the EU and Japan. For the vast majority of the U.S. population, they are actually better.

The seeming overall deficit for the U.S. is actually a case of comparing essentially unimodal European populations against a bimodal U.S. population. Most Americans are moderately healthier than their EU counterparts, but the U.S. national averages are pulled down by a small outlier population of inner-city, mostly black, citizens whose markedly poorer health status is the product of a dysfunctional welfare-client culture that exploded due to ill-conceived government programs of the 1960's, and in which drug abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and gun violence figure prominently.

Rampant gang warfare perpetrated by, and which kills primarily, black males between 15 and 35 has an understandably outsized effect on, say, life expectancy numbers - especially when the rest of the citizenry is ADDING a year of life expectancy every seven or so years. These charming folks - the cleverer of whom have gotten rich selling rap/hip-hop "culture" to surburban American and European "gangsta" wannabes - constitute 1.5% of the U.S. population and nonetheless manage to perpetrate 50% of the violent felonies.

Welfare reforms that end the ability of multiple family generations to "live off the county" indefinitely, and a decline in the size of the young black male demographic, have decreased this population by roughly half in the past decade and it should shrink further in coming years.

Well, that's it for now. I look forward to replies.

Cernig said...

Hi Dick,

Iraq War/war on terror: I have written a fair bit about my take on the war on terror, including one post which is linked above and which handles the "UK vs Israeli style" question. For the record, if I was leader of the free world I would have gone into Afghanistan, not let up till Osama was in custody or dead and his apparatus dismantled. I wouldn't have gone into Iraq even if I DID think they still had the WMD the US had sold them. Sanctions were working, just as they did against Libya eventually. Iraq was a side issue pursued for personal reasons and is being justified as exporting freedom after the event. If exporting democracy was the true aim, then Kuwait or Saudi or even North Korea were better targets. Now we are there, we have to do the best we can with the mess we made. My mom always made me clean up my toys at the end of the day. The UK's methods of terror fighting in N.I. have stopped the bloodshed, Israel's methods have poerpetuated the fighting in their own locale. The US uses Israeli methods in Iraq, this is a mistake.

OK, cluster bomb was wrong and I apologise for the hyperbole. However, 250lb bomb is correct. A new variant was developed for use in urban situations and used in the second assault on Fallujah and since. (see Defencetech archives - go look. Everyone who has pretensions of punditry on the military should be reading Defencetech anyway.) Do you know the lethal radius on even a precision-guided 250lb bomb?

Healthcare: Ive said already - can we wait for the post I am preparing to debate this? I promise it will make a better platform for the discussion than this thread.

There, that help?

Regards, Cernig

PS: I notice that at least one right-wing site references these comments as a fun demolition of the irrational ranting lefty by a bunch of logical and well-reasoned righties. Do you all actually feel that way? I thought I was holding my end up pretty well :-)

TallDave said...

Thanks for responding the comments Cernig. I realize there is probably now too much to respond to it all.

Regarding your question, I thought you did pretty well, esp. considering you're arguing from the incorrect position ;)

All contention aside, I think we're just excited to have a reasoned debate with a socialist who is willing to try to rationally back up his arguments, and having Stross and Reynolds show up was certainly an attention-getter.

TallDave said...

Cerniq, te your Afghanistan comments:

This is a common meme from the left, which reflects convenient hindsight combined with either ignorance or disingenousness depending on one's knowledge of politics and military planning. It's so easy from the position of looking back now to say that "of course" we should have gone into Afghanistan. At the time it was considerably more controversial; Afghanistan was not called the "graveyard of empires" for no reason. Three weeks in, with little apparent progress being made, the war was being called a "tar-baby" and a "quagmire," and we were told the Pentagon would begin "massaging the news" to cover up the failure. Then overnight the Taliban collapsed and ever the meme has been it was an obvious fait accomplis long before it happened. As Tom Wolfe said, only George Bush would have gone into Afghanistan; Kerry or Gore would have endlessly equivocated about sovereignty and precendent, tossed a few cruise missiles around, demanded the UN pass a resolution or two, hired more security guards at the airport, and called it a day.

As for "not let up till Osama was in custody or dead and his apparatus dismantled," we're still in there doing that! If you think we could just airlift 100,000 soldiers into the Hindu Kush or that it would do any good if we did, then you don't understand the logistics and tactics not to mention the history) of mountainside fighting.

Oh and again, sanctions were NOT working. Saddam was skimming tens of bilions and bribing the UN, and the support for sanctions was collapsing. And even if they could, how many more years would you have had them go on? 50? 100?

Dick Eagleson said...

Yo, Cernig!

Okay, I looked at your archives. You're still wrong and I'm still right.

The pair of Guardian articles you cite by way of advancing your notions about the alleged superiority of what you refer to as "U.K. tactics" actually do a pretty good job of making my points and do nothing to support yours.

One article had an mid-October, 2004 date and seemed to be mainly an exercise in anticipatory outrage by one of the Guardian's famously judicious scriveners. The only part of it that might not have been pulled, whole-cloth, from the author's bum was a bit of anonymously sourced rumination alleged to be from some unnamed Royal Army chappy who was alleged to have expressed his trepidations about all the wanton slaughter he was just sure the bloody Yanks were going to do in Falloujah. Right. Given that the Falloujah operation was a month away from launch, I think we can fairly regard this pointless bit of fictive Fleet Street wankery as worth every bit of what the pet budgie doubtless did on it the next day.

The article that actually had some content was - interestingly - dated April 1, 2003. Would I be rude to point out that this date was about two weeks into the initial invasion and blitzkrieg toward Baghdad and a little over a week before the end of major combat operations when Baghdad fell on April 9? In other words, it was written before there was any "insurgency," per se, though the U.S. troops were, as I have noted repeatedly, fighting un-uniformed irregulars in addition to regular Iraqi Army units all during this time.

As the article also went on to point out, the British Army and Royal Marines were operating in and around Basra at this time, having come in through Umm Qasr. As the article did not point out, their landing and move inland occurred through negligible resistance. The U.K. formations were never in heavy or continuous contact with major formations of either Iraqi regulars or irregulars during any of this time. In other words, they were, both then and later, as I also noted in my previous post, in quite a low threat-density operating environment.

That being the case, their expressed preference for going about afoot without body armor, sunglasses or helmets to reassure the locals was entirely reasonable, given their circumstances.

As I had also hoped to make clear in my previous post, the bulk of American forces were never so fortunate in their own circumstances. U.S. troops were in the thick of a very high threat-density combat environment from the get-go and this has not changed since.

That being the American's situation, the idea of their adopting the so-called "U.K. tactics" of management by walking around, looking people in the eye and saying "Howdy" is simply farcical.

The article mentions alleged British shock at reports of dead women and children during a U.S. Marine bridge seizure operation near Al Nassiriyah. The article implies, but does not come right out and say, that these deaths were directly caused by the Marines.

The article also mentions a car bomb attack on the U.S. Marines in Al Nassiriyah. The article did not mention the ambush of a U.S. Army maintenance company that had also taken place in Al Nassiriyah some days previous or the several troops from it that were still MIA at that point. One of these was the soon-to-be-famous Pvt. Jessica Lynch, but news of her rescue would not break for another 24 hours or so.

Her squadmates were not, with one exception, so fortunate. At least two of the captured male troops had been featured - alive - in an Iraqi videotape that surfaced shortly after their capture. Others were seen to be dead of bullet wounds in the centers of their foreheads. All were later found dead on the grounds of the hospital from which Pvt. Lynch was plucked. The howls of outrage from the anti-war left about this flagrant vilation of the international laws of war were - gee, imagine that - entirely absent.

My point here was that Al Nassiriyah was a veritable hornet's nest during this period. Any uniformed American walking about in naught but his BDU's in that place, at that time, would have been ground to hamburger in no time.

That continues to be the case down to the present day in those areas of Iraq where the goblins roam. I daresay the small detachment of British Commandos who moved into the "hot zone" of Iraq for a time just before the Falloujah operation found few occasions for hatless rambles.

At the risk of introducing some actual history into this discussion, the Northern Ireland experience was also hardly a polite matter between competing groups of strollers out for their afternoon constitutionals during the bad parts of the the 30-year "Troubles." The IRA were every bit as nasty as their Iraqi goblin cousins - especially in the first few years in the 70's. No quarter was asked and none given. The Commandos and the Paras didn't do much foot patrol either. Either they went about in a Saracen armored car or they went out in a hearse. Sometimes, they got six feet of ground and a flag for mum despite rolling armored.

The Israelis face, if anything, a worse threat level than U.S. troops in Iraq. You may recall an incident from a couple of years back in which two luckless Israeli army troops were dragged from a car and literally ripped limb from limb by a crowd of ordinary locals - not even the really bad actors in Gaza and the West Bank.

"U.K. tactics," eh? You first, bud.

Now to technical matters. The 250 lb. smart bombs used in Falloujah are GBU-29 JDAM-PIP's based on the Mk-80 250 lb. "dumb" iron bomb.

Asking their lethal radius is a bit like asking "How long is a piece of string," but lets look at possibilities.

First, accuracy. their so-called "CAP" - meaning "circular error, probable" - is three meters or 10 feet. That means it will hit within that distance of its exact aim point 90% of the time.

How deadly it is depends on what type of fuze is used. An air burst or surface burst - contact - fuze can kill with shrapnel up to three kilometers from point of detonation. A human body within 40 feet of the detonation point is guaranteed to be dead from blast wave shock, with diminishing lethality expectable at increasing distance.

In Falloujah, and other urban settings in which these bombs are used, however, they are typically fitted with delay fuzes that allow the bomb to pentrate the ground or the foundation of a building, go some modest distance into the ground, and detonate there. This produces a somewhat smaller certain-death blast radius and cuts the lethal range of fragments down quickly as the delay setting increases.

I haven't been able to find a concrete/soil density vs. penetration depth vs. lethal radius graph or table yet. But it's not hard to see that a bomb that goes through a house roof, then a slab or basement floor and digs itself even a few feet into the subsoil isn't going to be sending much out radially at high speed.

What it will do is a midget version of what the German delay-fuzed bombs did during the Blitz in 1940 - blow almost straight up, collapsing even a multi-floor structure directly above, but doing comparatively little damage to things quite close by to the sides. If said structure happens be a goblin nest, too bad for the goblins. But people to either side will probably live to tell the tale, though their ears will ring a bit for awhile.

All for now. More later.

TallDave said...

"I wouldn't have gone into Iraq even if I DID think they still had the WMD the US had sold them. Sanctions were working, just as they did against Libya eventually. Iraq was a side issue pursued for personal reasons and is being justified as exporting freedom after the event. If exporting democracy was the true aim, then Kuwait or Saudi or even North Korea were better targets."

I'd have expected better than this from you.

1) The idea the U.S. sold Iraq its WMD has never been more than an urban legend.

2) Sanctions were not working, as I pointed out above

3) Personal reasons? That's more than a little ridiculous. The advance of freedom of Iraq was always one of the many valid reasons for the war, just as it was during the Cold War. Regardless of whether you believe it was advanced honestly in either case, the fact remains - tens of millions have been freed from tyranny, which answers the moral question pretty decisively.

4) Invade Kuwait or Saudi Arabia? Madness. They're at least nominal allies, and haven't attacked anyone. We're already pressuring them in other ways, and they have taken some democratic steps such as municipal elections. North Korea? They have nukes thanks to non-enforcement of the 1995 Agreed Framework, not to mention enough artillery lined up to obliterate Seoul in a matter of hours. Equally mad.

Mr. M said...

My my my, what sharp teeth Haarky.

First, and I thought it was kinda clear, the Hitler thing was just some similarities, and I do believe I even said that I don't think Bush is following in Hitler's footsteps per se. But more on that later.

I love how the right loves to pin us liberals with ignoring the threat from Islamofacists in the world. And for that I have to apologize for not necessarily wanting to kill every brown man that doesn't think like I do. I know, it's a character flaw.

But let's not make any mistakes here. I'm not all amped to go give Osama a bear hug. On the contrary. The man may be little more than a paper tiger at this point, but he ordered the murder of 3000 innocent Americans, and I would really like to see him brought to justice. Of course, on that, I'm still waiting.

In fact, I'm very up on the Islamofacist thing. As Richard Clarke put it, Osama is among a group of radical muslims whose intent it is to render the world into a fourteenth century style society that revolves around Islam. Considering some of the practices of modern day unenlightened radical muslims, I'm guessing that fourteenth century unenlightened radical muslims are worse.

So I dig the sitch. Probably more than El Presidente, considering the fact that my response to 9/11 wasn't to go and kick someone else's ass. I don't know I'm just saying. Or maybe not. I mean, the man was tired of swatting at flies. So, let's just leave the flies alone until they drive a couple of jumbo jets into some very large office buildings.

But, hey, who cares about WMD's or terrorism? We're spreading freedom. You know, cause it's like butter.

Actually, and here's the interesting thing. Bush's policy of spreading freedom directly steps on the toes of a nation's right to sovereignty. Look, I'm not apologizing for any of the dictators these people are under, but truth be told, no matter how bad off they are, they have to start the ball rolling on their own. That's just the way it is.

If revolution does begin, than there's no bad for us to go in and help the rebels, but there's so much wrong with just imposing freedom on someone that if I tried to go into it right now, my wife would kick my ass for not letting her be. So I'll check in later, and finish school.

Mr. M

Cernig said...

Hi TallDave,

C'mon man, you KNOW that secretly you want to be a social democrat. :-)

Harkonnendog said...

Nice post, Mr M.

3 things stood out for me.

"We're spreading freedom. You know, cause it's like butter."
Great line, lol. But we're spreading it because free societies don't breed the conditions that nurture Islamofascism and its byproduct: terrorism. Still a great line though.


"Actually, and here's the interesting thing. Bush's policy of spreading freedom directly steps on the toes of a nation's right to sovereignty."
This is interesting, and goes to the heart of the matter, I think. I don't believe any country that is not a democracy has a right to be sovereign. I don't think any non-democracy is even legitimate. But this is another discussion altogether.

"And for that I have to apologize for not necessarily wanting to kill every brown man that doesn't think like I do. I know, it's a character flaw."
Aw man, you had to play the race card. Well, FYI if you were to kill every brown man that disagreed with you you'd have to kill me. (Hispanic, at least according to the government. And because I'm Portugeuse, which they say is Hispanic because of Brazil?!?) Anyway, that argument dehumanizes me and everyone who disagrees with you. It is the old "conservatives think liberals are wrong, liberals think conservatives are evil" thing all over again... bummer. I call shenanigans!!!

Cernig said...

Hi All,

I just wanted to say that I won't be making any more comments on this thread. Not because I am running away (heh - the lefty is not for running) but because there are other posts on this blog that would make a far better platform for much of the debates that we are having now. I would love all you rightwingers who are now visiting Newshog to have a look around at the other stuff we write or talk about here. Please, pull up the battered old sofa, raid the fridge, and make yourselves at home. I am thoroughly enjoying the discussions so stick around as long as you like.

Regards, Cernig

PS I think John Pike just became my favourite conservative blogger. Talk about telling it like it is.
(Sorry Glenn...you would be my favourite if you gave more of your own opinions and less of links to other peoples. Your own thinking is far more impressive than much of your linkages manage, why don't you use more of it on your blog?) - C

Storminator said...

I must say this is the best discussion in a comments section I have ever read. Very civilized and informative.

PS