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Live not by lies. - Solzhenitsyn
To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle. - Orwell
Knowledge is good. - Animal House
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May 2004 Archive
If you are looking for my blog items on the IQ by State hoax, click here.
[Update, 11/4/04: By the way, if you are interested in this topic, you are probably also interested in my big scoop story from October 2004 on how John Kerry and George W. Bush compare in IQ, as indicated by their scores on IQ-like military aptitude tests. The original story is here. A follow-up story putting the whole question of presidential IQ in historical perspective is here. You can read all sorts of reactions to my study, including the interview where Tom Brokaw asked John Kerry about my article here in my October blog archive. (Just scan down through my blog items for lots of good material mixed in with irrelevant stuff.) And, you can read what Kerry told Tom Brokaw off camera about why his score might have been worse than Bush's here.
Finally, I'm going to be adding material on IQ and the new 2004 elections on my blog at www.iSteve.com. So check in periodically.]
"The Genetic Origins of Personality:" A fun piece of pseudo-science from David Schlinkert:
This paper deals with the genetics behind the eternal questions: Why are all men jerks and why are nice guys so boring? The reader may note that these two questions are mutually exclusive, but empirical observations have lead the researchers to believe all women have asked these questions and firmly believe they are both valid.
Our research shows there are two gene pairs controlling the major character traits in men: the jerk/nice pair and the interesting/boring pair. There are sixteen possible combination of these pairs... [Here are three excerpts:]
jJiI [Inherits both Jerk genes and Interesting Genes from both parents] -- homogeneous for jerk, homogeneous for interesting -- 6.25% of all men
These are the REAL MEN. Most attractive to women, highly successful in life. Frequently have careers they can't talk about, and incidents they won't admit to. Always one steps ahead of the law and past lovers. Rarely marry, unless in politics, but frequently leave children behind to be raised by lesser males...
nNiB & nNbI -- homogeneous for nice, heterogeneous for interesting/boring -- 12.5%
Marries late, if at all, mainly because women rarely notice them. Has a life outside of work, but you'll never listen long enough to find out. Devoted to wife and family, when married. Nice guys at all levels that do 90% of everything necessary to keep the world going...
nNiI -- homogeneous for nice, homogeneous for interesting -- 6.25%
Cultured, educated polymaths. Equally at home at the opera and the wilderness. Riveting conversationalist, great cook. Kind, loving, committed. Gay.
No Fun in the Sun -- A second summer in Iraq is beginning, with the temperature climbing daily. By next Monday, June 7, the Baghdad high temperature is expected to hit 109. Whatever they are paying our soldiers over there, it's not enough.
Daughters and Las Vegas -- Families are flocking to Las Vegas to benefit from the booming economy, sunshine, and moderate housing prices. There's just one question: Are they nuts? Especially if they have daughters. Consider Chris Rock's wise advice to his fellow fathers of daughters: "Your job is to keep them off the pole." Rock says he won't have a playset in his backyard because they come with too many poles.
The NYT runs an article on a juvenile court judge in Las Vegas whose teenaged daughter has become a total skank, and it has dawned on him that maybe Las Vegas isn't the best place to raise a daughter.
But it's not just Las Vegas. What's the cause of the self-poleification of young American women? I remember back in the Eighties when I was a yuppie in Chicago, stripping was simply not on the social radar screen. Something happened during the Nineties to set off the current wave of female exhibitionism, but what was it? The collapse of feminism? The Internet? The proliferation of television channels?
One theory a reader suggested is the rise of hip-hop videos on MTV. The quintessential Eighties video -- Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" with supermodels pretending to play guitars in little black New Year's Eve dresses -- seems quaint today. Rappers like Snoop Dogg brought the pimp style to MTV along with their attendant strippers.
New VDARE.com column at left...
The Neocon Invade-the-World/ Invite-the-World platform. The Bush Administration's combination of unilateral aggressive war and open borders never made much sense even in terms of internal consistency. After all, if, as revenge for 9/11, you are going to go beat up a country that wasn't involved in 9/11, inviting the furious survivors to move here and take the jobs "Americans just won't do" is clearly just asking for trouble. Indeed, the French tried the same policy in the 1950s -- importing as guestworkers the cousins of the Arabs the French Army was torturing back in Algeria -- and they are still paying the price today
Beach Book -- I just finished Stephen L. Carter's The Emperor of Ocean Park, a ponderous but curiously engrossing detective meganovel. Carter is a prominent Yale law professor, one of the few black public intellectuals in America who doesn't write primarily about race. For example, one of his nonfiction books deplored the judicial nomination process, and, sure enough, the narrator of this book is the son of a famous black conservative Supreme Court nominee (like Clarence Thomas) who was voted down by the Senate (like Robert Bork) because he was caught in a lie about some unsavory connections (like LBJ's buddy Abe Fortas).
After his father's death, the dour, prissy narrator (a law professor at a college much like Yale) discovers that his father had left him a cryptic message that various scary people want him to decode. The who-dunnit is vastly complex and there really should be an index so you can more easily hunt down the countless clues that are dropped throughout the the 660 large format pages. One problem with the ending is that it took Carter so long to write it that by the time he finished, there was a Republican rather than a Democrat in the White House, messing up one of the motivations in a book concerned with judicial nominations.
I'm not a connoisseur of detective novels, but Carter also provides an interesting picture of his small world of the black upper middle class, the inbreeding group that summers in the black section of Martha's Vineyard.
Carter a practicing Christian, a skeptic about affirmative action, and a man who cuts a formidable figure as a speaker, is likely himself to be nominated for the Supreme Court someday, if the political planets are in alignment where the nomination of a political centrist is called for. The novel rather reads like it was written by somebody who doesn't want to foreclose his shot at the big prize, but, nonetheless, the book is as impressive as Carter is.
Shrek 2 -- A decent movie, but was I missing something or did they leave out about 75% of the jokes? The kids in the theatre seemed to like it, but they sure didn't laugh much. The adults chuckled a little more, but it still was a long ways from being a laff riot. But it's making money at an insane rate, so I guess it's generating great word of mouth -- it must be one of those movies where the gags sound funnier when your friends tell them to you than they do up on the screen.
Also, am I the only person in America who's tired of Hollywood spoofing Hollywood? When the kingdom of Far, Far Away is revealed to be fairy tale version of Beverly Hills, am I the only person whose heart sank? It was a fresh idea when Jed Clampett rolled into town, but isn't it getting a bit tired?
Chalabi's Cheerleaders go on the offensive: The NYT reports:
Last Saturday, several of these Chalabi supporters said, a small delegation of them marched into the West Wing office of Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, to complain about the administration's abrupt change of heart about Mr. Chalabi and to register their concerns about the course of the war in Iraq. The group included Richard N. Perle, the former chairman of a Pentagon advisory group, and R. James Woolsey, director of central intelligence under President Bill Clinton...
Although Mr. Chalabi's supporters outside the administration have been caustic in their comments about his treatment, there has been relative silence so far from Mr. Chalabi's supporters within the administration. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, who favored going to war in Iraq and was a patron of Mr. Chalabi, did not respond to numerous requests this week for an interview.
Currently playing mostly in Hispanic neighborhoods in California, "A Day Without a Mexican" is a fairly amusing cross between a "Twilight Zone" parable and one of Christopher Guest's satirical mockumentaries. It depicts what might happen if one sunny morning, all twelve million Latinos in the Golden State suddenly vanish into a purple haze, leaving inept gringos behind to bunglingly paint their own houses, wash their own cars, and scrub their own toilets...
The movie is unlikely to strike a nerve among people in the immense regions of the country where Americans take for granted that they will do all those jobs that upper-middle class Californians assume "Americans just won't do." Nor will the movie convince the general public that Los Angeles is actually better off for having been inundated with illegal immigrants. The film metaphorically asks: What would LA look like if the federal government had been serious about enforcing the law?
Like Seattle with sunshine?
The rest of the review takes a rather serious look at the issue of Latino separatism raised by Samuel P. Huntington's new book Who Are We?
Pollkatz is back! The best source for opinion poll data has gone back online after several months presumably earning a living. Somebody named Stuart Eugene Thiel charts all the major Bush-related poll results on a scatterplot. This graph shows that over the 40 months of his Presidency, Bush's Approval rating drifted downward except for three boosts: 9/11 and the subsequent Afghan victory, the initial Iraq Attaq, and the capture of Saddam. Also, here's Bush's Approval / Disapproval spread -- it turned clearly negative for the first time ever in the last couple of weeks.
The Neocons' Favorite Mother Theresa-Hating Marxist Defends his Crush on Chalabi -- Christopher Hitchens explains that he was impressed that "whenever I mentioned any name, Chalabi was able to make an exhaustive comment on him or her." Perhaps Chris should have gotten exhaustive comments on Chalabi from those who knew Ahmad-the-Thief's works. The problem with the neocon fantasy of ordinary Iraqis dancing in the streets to proclaim Chalabi ruler of Iraq by acclamation like George Washington or Charles De Gaulle was that Iraq is right next door to Jordan, where Chalabi defrauded a sizable fraction of the populace of their life savings. Lots of folks in Iraq had relatives or friends in Jordan who had been impoverished by Chalabi.
Mookie al-Sadr gets his Fallujah Deal -- It looks like we've agreed once again, just like with the Sunni bravos in Fallujah, to let bygones be bygones with the Shi'ite bravos under Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf. We'll mostly just sit in the outskirts and let the Iraqis runs the city. The military is quite pleased that they didn't have to Dresdenize Fallujah, and a full scale American assault on the ultra-sacred Shi'ite shrines in the center of Najaf could have been a hearts and minds catastrophe of nearly-global proportions for the U.S.
The WaPo reported:
After weeks of urban fighting in southern Iraq, U.S. troops suspended attacks on Shiite Muslim insurgents Thursday in response to an offer by rebel cleric Moqtada Sadr to partially withdraw militia forces from the holy city of Najaf and evacuate government buildings. Sadr's offer, made in writing to Shiite mediators and passed to U.S. occupation authorities, fell far short of the requirements U.S. commanders have said Sadr must meet before they would suspend efforts to subdue the insurgency. During Sadr's seven-week revolt, U.S. officials repeatedly demanded he disarm his Mahdi Army militia and give himself up to Iraqi courts to face charges of murdering a moderate cleric last year.
Hey, that gives me a crazy idea -- maybe we should extend this apparently successful local policy to the whole country! We could just sit in in our bases in Turkey, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman, plus our aircraft carriers and let the Iraqis run Iraq. In the extremely unlikely event that they decide to invade a neighbor again, we just use our absolute air superiority to nip it in the bud.
Below is a crazier idea -- Why don't we let the Iraqi people vote in a referendum on whether they want us to continue to liberate them or not?
A New Iraq Exit Strategy
The Clash Referendum: Should we stay or should we go?
If we go there will be trouble.
An' if we stay it will be double.
The U.S. is in a bind in Iraq because we don't want to be seen as being driven out by a bunch of punks with RPGs before we establish democracy. On the other hand, nobody really believes anymore that we can establish an enduring, working representative government there.
So, why don't we let the Iraqis democratically vote us out of Iraq? Let's announce that we will abide by the will of the Iraqi people as expressed in a national referendum on, say, June 30. The ballot will have just one question on it:
Should we stay or should we go?
If the Iraqis vote "go," then we go (within, say, 60 days). In leaving, we give the Arab world an impressive object lesson in how the United States of America believes in democracy and the rule of law. We leave with our honor intact.
If they vote "stay," well, then we're stuck there, but at least we've shown the world we're wanted.
Greg Cochran came up with the idea. He argues that a referendum can be pulled off more quickly and peacefully than an election because when you have different candidates running for office, their militias will be sure to start shooting each other. But a referendum is simple enough for people with no experience at (or talent for) self-rule to deal with.
The Wedding Party Massacre in Perspective -- My friend Jerry Pournelle (among much else, an artillery captain in some of the worst fighting in the Korean War) explains why that kind of horror is inevitable:
Let me limp up and say it again: Armies break things and kill people. If you do not want things broken and people killed, keep the army in barracks. If you put the Army into an unfriendly country, things will be broken and people killed.
It is no good trying to change the nature of the Army so that it doesn't break things and kill people because if you do you won't have an Army any longer.
Now you would think anyone with any historical sense could understand this, just as you would think that anyone with any sense at all could have predicted this sort of thing would happen once we sent the Army into Iraq, and that it will happen again if we keep it there. And all the sensitivity training in the world won't change that: the incidents will continue to happen, only now we will have a Sensitive New Age Army that won't be as good at breaking things and killing people when things really need breaking and people really need killing.
Sorry for shouting, but apparently it needs shouting.
NYT: "Good Teachers + Small Classes = Quality Education" -- Somebody named Michael Winerip confidently announces in the the NYT:
The secret to quality public education has never been a big mystery. You need good teachers and you need small enough classes so those teachers can do their work. Period. After that, everything seems to pale, including the testing accountability programs, technology, building conditions...
Good teachers and small classes. Those were the two main factors New York's highest court cited last year when it ruled that the state had financially shortchanged New York City schools.
Okay, that clears that up! Case closed.
But one question -- if you have smaller class sizes, don't you need more teachers? For example, if you reduce class size from 30 to 20, you need to hire 50% more teachers. Doesn't that mean you have to scrape the bottom of the barrel harder to find more warm bodies to stand in front of the new smaller classes and emit education-oriented noises? So, don't you face an inevitable trade-off between good teachers or small classes?
This reminds me of the time over a decade ago when Congress gave Washington D.C. the money to hire 2,000 new police officers, and the city ended up hiring a lot of the drug dealers the new cops were supposed to arrest. Okay, it's not that bad, but can't anybody at the NYT do simple arithmetic? Or did their 6th grade math classes have too many students in them?
"THE PLIGHT OF GAY MUSLIMS: It's grim, of course. Radical Islamism hates only Jews more than homosexuals. And the mullahs best even John Derbyshire in their bigotry."
Well, the subject is a little more complicated than that, since the Islamic nations are also the world center for boy prostitution. For example, Marrakech and Tangier in Morocco are favorite spots for European gays to holiday because the boy-buggering is so inexpensive.
The great he-man film director John Huston lived in Marrakesh while making my favorite movie "The Man Who Would Be King" in 1975. He wrote disapprovingly in his autobiography An Open Book:
"Marrakesh itself was an experience. The hotel was fine, the food excellent, but the overall atmosphere was unsettling. It has since become the capital of the haute couture, I suppose partly because little boys are available in abundance. Depravity is looked on with an understanding eye. It is not officially condoned, but neither is it discouraged. In fact, there is an understanding between the boy prostitutes and the police that, following an encounter with a foreigner, the boy is to report it to the police along with whatever else he may have been able to learn about his consort."
If Andrew wanted to actually do something to put pressure on Muslims to change their unenlightened views, he could try to persuade his fellow Western gay men to boycott Muslim countries when planning their next sex vacations. Somehow, though, I don't think we'll be hearing about that from Sullivan.
Welcome to everybody from The Corner -- I realize my old buddy John Derbyshire has promised you'll find "gibbering hysteria" here about the Chalabi Charade. Sorry to disappoint. I'm just siding with President Bush, who recently told King Abdullah of Jordan, 'You can piss on Chalabi'" (UK Telegraph), rather than with the shrinking remnant of Chalabi Cheerleaders left in the civilian wing of the Pentagon and the neocon thinktanks.
But, please stick around and check out iSteve.com. You may find it as fun to read as Derb does.
Why did the White House not tell the Pentagon about the Chalabi Raid? One of the most puzzling questions about the raid on Chalabi's mansion was that American armed forces were involved, yet the top civilian leaders of the Pentagon -- presumably, the direct chain of command -- were apparently kept in the dark about it. As I mentioned earlier, Newsweek reported:
For the hard-liners at the Defense Department, the raid came as a surprise. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his senior deputies, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, got the news from the media. When Iraqi police, guarded by American GIs, burst into the home and offices of Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress, looking for evidence of kidnapping, embezzlement, torture and theft, the men who run the Pentagon were left asking some uncomfortable questions. "Who signed off on this raid?" wondered one very high-ranking official. "What were U.S. soldiers doing there?" asked another, according to a source who was present in the room... The raid was apparently OK'd by the American proconsul in Baghdad, Paul Bremer, probably with tacit approval of White House officials." -- Newsweek
If Bremer had an okay from the President to make this radical move, why would Mr. Bush utterly cut Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Feith out of the loop in a military operation? That sounds like a shocking violation of the standard chain of command.
I don't know why it happened that way (if that's the way it happened), but the simplest explanation I can think of would be chilling: the President of the United States did not trust his own Department of Defense to not betray the operation to Ahmed Chalabi!
That would be very, very bad.
More press comments:
The New York Times apologizes to its readers for printing so many credulous articles before the war about Saddam's WMD:
"But we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge.The problematic articles varied in authorship and subject matter, but many shared a common feature. They depended at least in part on information from a circle of Iraqi informants, defectors and exiles bent on "regime change" in Iraq, people whose credibility has come under increasing public debate in recent weeks. (The most prominent of the anti-Saddam campaigners, Ahmad Chalabi, has been named as an occasional source in Times articles since at least 1991, and has introduced reporters to other exiles. He became a favorite of hard-liners within the Bush administration and a paid broker of information from Iraqi exiles, until his payments were cut off last week.) Complicating matters for journalists, the accounts of these exiles were often eagerly confirmed by United States officials convinced of the need to intervene in Iraq. Administration officials now acknowledge that they sometimes fell for misinformation from these exile sources. So did many news organizations — in particular, this one."
Well-connected conservative insider Robert Novak reports:
"Republican senators, who do not yet want to be quoted by name, feel there must be some accountability for this massive blunder, as there must be for the prisoner abuse scandal. They want the president at least to consider whether Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and others should pay with their jobs for putting Ahmed Chalabi in power."
James P. Pinkerton, an official in the first Bush Administration, tries to channel the ruler of Iran:
My plan is working well. When I, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the ruler of Iran, launched my plan to get you Americans to do our work for us - to destroy our personal enemy, Saddam Hussein, and also to destroy our historic enemy, the country of Iraq - I could only pray that my plan would work so quickly. Our weapon of mass destruction, of course, was Ahmad Chalabi.
Former Reagan staffer and Cato Institute stalwart Doug Bandow notes:
"...in February, Mr Chalabi essentially admitted that he had misled the Bush administration. In an interview with Britain's Daily Telegraph, he declared: 'We are heroes in error. As far as we're concerned, we've been entirely successful.' Never mind the truth: 'What was said before is not important.'"
In the Guardian, the much reviled but truth-telling former Iraq weapons inspector Scott Ritter says:
"When I met [Mr Chalabi] in December 1997 he said he had tremendous connections with Iranian intelligence," Mr Ritter said, according to an article by Mr Cockburn published today in the Guardian. "He said that some of his best intelligence came from the Iranians and offered to set up a meeting for me with the head of Iranian intelligence."
One of the countless scandal-mongering Cockburns offers a detailed account of what appears to have been an early collaboration between Chalabi and Iranian Intelligence to buffalo America.
The WSJ Editorial Page, however, is sticking with their main man Chalabi, at least for now, in "The Chalabi Fiasco: He's a pawn in a much larger strategic game." I'm sure that while Chalabi appreciates the support, he feels insulted to be called a pawn in somebody's else's game by one of the chief pawns -- the WSJ -- in his own game.
The tag team of retired four star Marine general Anthony Zinni. the jarhead's jarhead, and Hunt for Red October author Tom Clancy are promoting their new co-written book, which is critical of the Pentagon civilian brain trust. According to Fox News:
In discussing the Iraq war, both Clancy and Zinni singled out the Department of Defense for criticism. Clancy recalled a prewar encounter in Washington during which he "almost came to blows" with Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser at the time and a longtime advocate of the invasion. "He was saying how (Secretary of State) Colin Powell was being a wuss because he was overly concerned with the lives of the troops," Clancy said. "And I said, 'Look ..., he's supposed to think that way!' And Perle didn't agree with me on that. People like that worry me." Both Clancy and Zinni praised President Bush but would not commit to voting for him. Clancy said that voting for Sen. John Kerry, the Democrats' presumptive nominee, would be "a stretch for me," but wouldn't say that he was supporting Bush. Zinni, a registered Republican who voted for Bush in 2000, said he could not support the president's re-election "if the current strategists in the defense department are going to be carried over."
"Sovereignty" for Iraq -- Either the post- June 30 Iraqi government will be truly sovereign, in which case it will have ultimate control over the U.S. military within its borders (which ought to be an alarming idea for patriotic Americans), or it won't have control over the most powerful military force inside its territority, in which case it won't be sovereign. Here's an interesting debate between Tony Blair and Colin Powell over exactly what the President means by "sovereignty."
To paraphrase Mao, sovereignty comes out of the barrel of a gun.
Guerilla war in the Communication Age -- So, it appears certain that we blew hell out of the sleeping guests at a wedding party out in the desert near the Syrian border, killing a bunch of women and children. How do we know? Because the (late) wedding videographer shot hours of footage during the wedding, which matches up with the post-kablooey footage shot by news organizations. The massacred clan members were part-time nomads who follow their flocks in the spring. No doubt they also smuggle stuff back and forth across the Syrian border, and they may have been moving foreign fighters around. But, in the war for Arab hearts and minds, that hardly matters. What counts is that there is video footage of joyous people celebrating a wedding one evening and then there is footage of their mangled bodies the next day.
Just like at Abu Ghraib, we were undermined here by the ease of visual recording and communication in the 21st Century. Guerilla wars are inherently ugly businesses, but it's now virtually impossible to keep the most brutal pictures from showing up on screens around the world.
This has major strategic implications. The kind of voluntary guerilla wars we could fight and win in the past -- such as in the Philippines a century ago -- may no longer be feasible because the political cost of doing what has to be done to civilians is too immediate. We can still win desperate ones we have to fight, but discretionary wars for ambitious political purposes, like Iraq, seem technologically obsolete.
Chalabi's Charade in perspective: Back before the Iraq Attaq, I wrote in VDARE:
The triumph of capitalist democracy over communist tyranny didn't bring "the end of history" (as Francis Fukuyama forecast in his famous article by that name) because the stuff of history is not so much conflict between ideologies as between groups -- what Lenin called with brutal brevity: "Who? Whom?"
We are moving from an era in which ideology mattered most to one where much of the world's politically activity is hard to distinguish from organized crime. Considering how many millions the ideologues of the 20th Century murdered, this transformation is a major improvement. But it confronts us with new challenges.
Chalabi knew all the "proposition nation" hot buttons that would excite gullible American neocon intellectuals, but his own goal is non-ideological. He simply wants to be a trillionaire.
Saddam used to own all the trillions of dollars of oil under the territory of Iraq. Chalabi's not greedy -- he just wants what Saddam once had. Sure, Saddam ended up in a hole in the ground, but he had one helluva ride along the way. However, more than a few other men in Iraq have the same ambition as Chalabi, and while Chalabi is the past master at getting America to kill for his ambitions, some of these other men are a lot better at getting young Iraqis to die fighting for them than is Chalabi, whose approval rating in Iraqi polls is below Saddam's.
By the way ... As one reader pointed out: Doesn't "a chalabi" sound like a sandwich? An especially delicious sandwich?
Ron Unz Goes Public with His Disgust -- My pal Ron Unz, the scary-smart hero of the campaigns against the bilingual schooling fraud, unleashes on the foreign policy neocons in "If You Can’t Trust Chalabi-the-Thief, Whom Can You Trust?"
Nervous days at the AEI -- A friend who worked at the American Enterprise Institute when it was the bland but infinitely respectable think tank for Chamber of Commerce America, back before it's still puzzling mutation into the Middle Eastern Adventure Institute, dropped by to see some old friends there on Friday, the day after Ahmed Chalabi's files were seized. He said the paranoia level was intense. Apparently, they were expecting a visit from federal investigators.
Tons of stuff on Chalabi's Cheatin' Heart below, but first ...
New VDARE column at left on India v. China
By the way, Razib of GNXP.com and I have kicked around the idea that Indian thought tends to be at one end and Chinese thought at the other end of a dimension running from metaphysical to practical, with European thought in the optimal middle -- where the focus is on finding "practical principles."
Historian S.A.M. Adshead of New Zealand wrote a little book called something like China in World History, full of aphorisms. One that particularly struck me went something like this: the Chinese focused on magic and technology while the Europeans focused on theology and science. (You could extend that to India and say that the Indians focused on philosophy and mathematics.) Early on, the Chinese profited more, but in the long run, the Western approach proved best.
For example, consider medicine. The scattershot Chinese trial and approach method accumulated countless medicinal herbs, some of which really do work, but nobody has any idea why, so there's never any rising curve of medical advance. Indian homeopathic medicine, in contrast, is based around the use of uselessly small amounts of chemicals, which is justified by an a priori philosophy. In the middle lies Western medicine, which is based on trial and error that's eventually boiled down to a smaller number of powerful principles. Yet, keep in mind that Western doctors may well have killed more people than they cured until, maybe, the early 20th Century!
Republicans were outraged when Nancy Pelosi said of the President: "The emperor has no clothes." The Ambler, Kevin Michael Grace, has the real story.
Will any civilian Chalabi Cheerleaders in the Pentagon be declared "enemy combatants" and sent to Guantanamo Bay for a little "softening up?" Time reports:
After a CIA complaint, the FBI launched a full field criminal probe into whether Chalabi and senior i.n.c. [Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress] aides passed high-level intelligence to Iran—information believed to be so sensitive, a senior U.S. official says, that it may have provided Iranian authorities with insights into the U.S.'s sources and methods for collecting intelligence and could even "lead to the loss of lives." U.S. intelligence officials told the FBI that they have "hard" evidence that Chalabi met with a senior officer of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security in Iraq. A senior U.S. official says Chalabi and his intelligence chief, Aras Karim Habib, are suspected of giving Iran "highly classified" data that were "known to only a few within the U.S. government." The FBI investigation, sources say, will probably involve dozens of agents and a full arsenal of investigative techniques, possibly including court-authorized searches and wiretaps. The probe will examine whether U.S. officials illegally transmitted state secrets to the i.n.c. The investigation could ultimately reach high-ranking civilian officials at the Pentagon and the Defense Intelligence Agency (dia) who have dealings with Chalabi and his organization.
In case you were wondering, here's a potentially relevant excerpt from Article III of the U.S. Constitution:
Section. 3. Clause 1: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
Clause 2: The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
Should giving American secrets to Chalabi's spymaster, long suspected to be an Iranian agent by U.S. government agencies, be prosecuted as treason? (Aras Habib Karem, or whatever he calls himself, as apparently skedaddled to safety in Iran, according to Time, like Kim Philby hightailed it to Moscow.)
Treason sounds like a really big stretch to me. Just because David Frum got Bush to declare Iran part of the Axis of Evil, does that mean Iran is legally an "Enemy?" I dunno. But every week on Law & Order, the prosecutors make even bigger stretches to nail some Great White Defendant (to use Tom Wolfe's phrase from "Bonfire of the Vanities") by torturing the law until it squeaks. And that show is sure popular.
Here's an article from NRO arguing for an expansive legal definition of treason ... in the case of that "American Taliban" kid. And here's a more thorough debate over whether Walker was guilty of treason in Insight Magazine.
Whose side are you on: Ahmed Chalabi's or the President's?
"To King Abdullah of Jordan, Mr Bush remarked: 'You can piss on Chalabi.'" -- UK Telegraph
"For the hard-liners at the Defense Department, the raid came as a surprise. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his senior deputies, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, got the news from the media. When Iraqi police, guarded by American GIs, burst into the home and offices of Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress, looking for evidence of kidnapping, embezzlement, torture and theft, the men who run the Pentagon were left asking some uncomfortable questions. "Who signed off on this raid?" wondered one very high-ranking official. "What were U.S. soldiers doing there?" asked another, according to a source who was present in the room... The raid was apparently OK'd by the American proconsul in Baghdad, Paul Bremer, probably with tacit approval of White House officials." -- Newsweek
As you may have noticed, I'm not the biggest fan of Mr. Bush's leadership. But, he's finally waking up to how he got snookered. And I sure as hell trust my President in this dispute more than I trust the convicted Iraqi conman who is known throughout the bazaars of the Fertile Crescent as "Ahmed-the-Thief." I am astonished at the number of neocons who have, in the crisis, decided to turn against their President and side with Ahmed Chalabi.
A reader writes:
Having worked on the 92 Bush-Quayle ..., I was really surprised at the degree to which George W. Bush favored neoconservatives. That crowd really treated his father badly, much worse than Buchanan in the primaries or various liberal Republicans like the late John Chafee or Bill Weld. Campaign people and the Bush "schedule C" appointees viewed the neocons as a selfish and untrustworthy crowd...and definitely "not like us." Many of them quickly put feelers out to Clinton when things looked rough in 92. Since Bush is famous for holding grudges, it seemed strange that he turned to people who treated his father like a chump.
I strongly suspect that necons will try to shift blame as the Iraq debacle worsens. Rumsfeld will be left carrying a lot of the blame, and maybe Bush will become a target as well. It will be interesting to see how things develop.
Lots on the "States with higher IQ vote Democrat" hoax here.
Special Sneak Preview This Weekend of
This Summer's Most Unbelievable True* Story!
George W. Bush
Recoil in shock (but not awe) as the War on Terror mutates horribly into the War in Error!
* Warning: Truth not yet proven
Early Sunday update on...
Did Iranian Mullahs Hoax Bush into Invading Iraq for Them?
"Suspcion of Chalabi Deception Intensifies" reports the LA Times on Sunday, 5/23:
WASHINGTON -- Ahmad Chalabi, the onetime White House favorite who has been implicated in an alleged Iranian spy operation, sent Iraqi defectors to at least eight Western spy services before the war in an apparent effort to dupe them about Saddam Hussein's illicit weapons programs, current and former U.S. intelligence officials said. U.S. investigators now are seeking to determine whether the effort -- which one U.S. official likened to trying to "game the system" -- was secretly supported by Iran's intelligence service to help persuade the Bush administration to oust the Baghdad regime, Tehran's longtime enemy.
Officials said other evidence indicates that Chalabi's longtime intelligence chief furnished Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security highly classified information on U.S. troop movements, top-secret communications and other closely guarded material on U.S. operations in Iraq.
The U.S. investigation into the suspected spy operation was a key reason behind the raid Thursday on Chalabi's Baghdad home and the offices of his Iraqi National Congress. Several INC members also were accused of kidnapping, robbery and corruption....
It is not clear whether Iran had any role in using the INC to provide disinformation to the West. U.S. officials say the INC may have been acting on its own when it sent a steady out a stream of defectors between 1998 and 2003 with apparently coordinated claims about Baghdad's purported weapons of mass destruction...
Because even friendly spy services rarely share the identities of their informants, or let outsiders meet or debrief their sources, it has become clear only in recent months that Chalabi's group sent defectors with inaccurate or misleading information to Denmark, England, Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden, as well as to the United States, the officials said.
As a result the officials said, U.S. intelligence analysts in some cases used information from now-discredited "foreign intelligence sources" to corroborate assessments of Hussein's suspected weapons programs. Few of the CIA's prewar judgments have been proved accurate so far. "We had a lot of sources, but it was all coming from the same pot," said a former senior U.S. intelligence official. "They were all INC guys. And none of them panned out."
A U.S. official confirmed that defectors from Chalabi's organization had provided suspect information to numerous Western intelligence agencies. "It's safe to say he tried to game the system," the official said.
A discredited INC defector to Germany who was code-named "Curveball" was the chief source of information on Iraq's supposed fleet of mobile germ weapons factories. Another INC defector who provided similar information was deemed a liar. So was an INC defector who said he had helped build 20 underground germ weapons laboratories, a now-discredited claim that made headlines when the INC made him available to some reporters in December 2001.
The CIA was unable to interview two other supposedly senior Iraqis who spied for British intelligence in Baghdad before the war and claimed to provide detailed information from within Hussein's inner circle.
Information from both informants has now "fallen apart," one U.S. official said. "Neither had direct knowledge of what they claimed. They were describing what they had heard."
The details further tarnish Chalabi's battered image amid allegations that he shared highly classified information on U.S. operations in Iraq with his intelligence chief, identified as Aras Karim Habib.
The INC, which began as an umbrella group for Iraqi exiles, has long had an office in Tehran. Chalabi has repeatedly visited the Iranian capital, and some critics in Congress have questioned his growing ties to the ruling Shiite Muslim regime there.
A U.S. official said Chalabi "shared [information] with people who provided it" to Tehran. "There's real concern he was passing very sensitive, highly classified information to the Iranians," the official said.
Habib, who was named in an arrest warrant issued during the raid Thursday, is a fugitive. Chalabi was scheduled to appear today on several American TV talk shows.
Should make for interesting television.
Please note what this article is saying and what it is speculating about. We know that Chalabi snookered the U.S.A. into the war with his made-up WMD intel, and this article helps explains how he cleverly got so many different countries to believe it. We're pretty sure by now that he has been giving American secrets to Iran's secret police during the Occupation. This article goes on to speculate that before the war, the Iranians were giving Chalabi help in hoodwinking the rest of the world, thus creating the Manchurian Candidate nightmare scenarios where one of America's worst enemies swindles us into our executing its evil plans for them at the cost of hundreds of American lives and hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars.
That's still speculation. But it sure makes a lot of sense. We know Chalabi's spymaster Aras Karim Habib had long ties to Tehran. And the superb competence of Chalabi's disinformation campaign suggests his organization had professional help from a sizable country's spy service, such as Iran's.
One excuse we'll probably hear soon is that Bonnie Prince Chalabi must be an innocent who was betrayed by his underling Aras Karib Habib, but that seems unlikely when you consider just how smart is Chalabi is. He has a Ph.D. in mathematics from the U. of Chicago, but he's no nerd -- he has the people skills of Oprah. This convicted embezzler is a James Bond evil millionaire villain come to life. Newsweek's new article calls him "a Machiavellian con man for the ages."
Let's face it: while Chalabi's cheerleaders considered themselves to be geniuses and men of the world, they weren't anywhere near his league. He figured out all their weaknesses -- whether stupidity, cupidity, naiveté, dual loyalty, whatever they were -- and played them like a Stradivarius in the hands of Paganini.
"The Rise and Fall of Chalabi: Bush's Mr. Wrong" -- Newsweek's brand new expose on Chalabi:
Chalabi has not always charmed his patrons. His first run as a CIA asset in the early- and mid-' 90s was a disaster. Chalabi's attempts to foment an insurrection were aborted in a fiasco still known around the agency as the "Bay of Goats." "It was a nightmare," says a former U.S. intelligence official who worked with Chalabi. "His primary focus was to drag us into a war that [President] Clinton didn't want to fight."...
Chalabi had more luck with a group of Republican hard-liners who formed a kind of government-in-exile in the 1990s. So-called neoconservatives like Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, the veteran bureaucratic infighter known in the Reagan administration as the "Prince of Darkness," were drawn to Chalabi's ideas. Several, like Wolfowitz and Doug Feith, a then obscure Washington lawyer who had once worked for Perle at the Pentagon—and now serves—as under secretary of Defense for policy—began talking about a speech Chalabi gave to the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs in June 1997. In that speech,Chalabi promised that Saddam could be overthrown on the cheap if the United States dared back a guerrilla force led by Chalabi. (Feith told NEWSWEEK that he found Chalabi's vision of post-Saddam Iraq to be "quite moving.") A side benefit, Chalabi suggested in his conversations with the neocons, would be an Arab country friendly to Israel. Soon Chalabi was dining from time to time with Perle, a fellow epicure...
A few American spooks even speculate that Habib has been working for Tehran all along—to the point of spreading disinformation about Saddam's WMD stockpiles to help lure the Americans into toppling Saddam, Iran's bitter enemy in a long and losing war during the 1980s. The theory seems very far-fetched—why would Tehran want America to occupy its neighbor Iraq? But in the back-stabbing, "Spy vs. Spy" world of Baghdad, all conspiracy theories have their day...
A certain amount of corruption is to be expected when new governments arise out of old dictatorships. But, according to Iraqi investigators who raided Chalabi's house and headquarters last week, Chalabi's empire pushed the boundaries of brazenness. Today his extensive network of cousins and nephews runs almost every major bank.
That reminds me of my one highly indirect encounter with Chalabi. Ann Marlowe asked Chalabi about my theory (in my award-winning American Conservative article "Cousin Marriage Conundurm") that Iraq is so rife with nepotism due to inbred extended familes that honest government is unlikely there. He pooh-poohed my idea. I would say that I had the last laugh, except that the Chalabi family appears to be crying all the way to the bank.
Laura Rozen asks: "Was the real back story to Gulf War II not that a group of neoconservatives tried to realize their grand strategy for the Middle East, but that a bunch of academics playing spy games got duped by Iranian intelligence?" You should check her War and Piece blog for updates on this developing story. As she noted earlier, "A word of warning, that this Chalabi story is being sourced from so many directions, with so much speculation and even false flags, that the basic story line is bound to drastically evolve. Some walking back on various aspects of the plot, am hearing now. Will try to straighten out any misconceptions I have posted as I can..." Joshua Micha Marshall is staying abreast at Talking Points Memo and Randall Parker is all over it at ParaPundit.
Friday, May 21: Did the United States of America get conned into conquering Iraq by the Ayatollah Khomeini's heirs in Tehran? Were the Bush Administration's neocon strategists duped by a node on David Frum's "Axis of Evil" into carrying out their nefarious agenda for them?
Boy, if this Newsday story is true, it will sure be a tough one for Rove to spin! If Bush did indeed fall for the Ayatollah's Posthumous Revenge on the Great Satan, Bush might not carry Texas. He might lose 538-0 in the Electoral College.
BY KNUT ROYCE, WASHINGTON BUREAU
[Or you can find the article on the Seattle Times]
May 21, 2004, 7:29 PM EDT
WASHINGTON -- The Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that a U.S.-funded arm of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress has been used for years by Iranian intelligence to pass disinformation to the United States and to collect highly sensitive American secrets, according to intelligence sources.
"Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the United States through Chalabi by furnishing through his Information Collection Program information to provoke the United States into getting rid of Saddam Hussein," said an intelligence source Friday who was briefed on the Defense Intelligence Agency's conclusions, which were based on a review of thousands of internal documents.
The Information Collection Program also "kept the Iranians informed about what we were doing" by passing classified U.S. documents and other sensitive information, he said. The program has received millions of dollars from the U.S. government over several years.
An administration official confirmed that "highly classified information had been provided [to the Iranians] through that channel."
The Defense Department this week halted payment of $340,000 a month to Chalabi's program. Chalabi had long been the favorite of the Pentagon's civilian leadership. Intelligence sources say Chalabi himself has passed on sensitive U.S. intelligence to the Iranians.
Patrick Lang, former director of the intelligence agency's Middle East branch, said he had been told by colleagues in the intelligence community that Chalabi's U.S.-funded program to provide information about weapons of mass destruction and insurgents was effectively an Iranian intelligence operation. "They [the Iranians] knew exactly what we were up to," he said.
He described it as "one of the most sophisticated and successful intelligence operations in history."
"I'm a spook. I appreciate good work. This was good work," he said.
An intelligence agency spokesman would not discuss questions about his agency's internal conclusions about the alleged Iranian operation. But he said some of its information had been helpful to the U.S. "Some of the information was great, especially as it pertained to arresting high value targets and on force protection issues," he said. "And some of the information wasn't so great."
At the center of the alleged Iranian intelligence operation, according to administration officials and intelligence sources, is Aras Karim Habib, a 47-year-old Shia Kurd who was named in an arrest warrant issued during a raid on Chalabi's home and offices in Baghdad Thursday. He eluded arrest. Karim, who sometimes goes by the last name of Habib, is in charge of the information collection program.
The intelligence source briefed on the Defense Intelligence Agency's conclusions said that Karim's "fingerprints are all over it."
"There was an ongoing intelligence relationship between Karim and the Iranian Intelligence Ministry, all funded by the U.S. government, inadvertently," he said.
The Iraqi National Congress has received about $40 million in U.S. funds over the past four years, including $33 million from the State Department and $6 million from the Defense Intelligence Agency.
In Baghdad after the war, Karim's operation was run out of the fourth floor of a secure intelligence headquarters building, while the intelligence agency was on the floor above, according to an Iraqi source who knows Karim well.
The links between the INC and U.S. intelligence go back to at least 1992, when Karim was picked by Chalabi to run his security and military operations.
Indications that Iran, which fought a bloody war against Iraq during the 1980s, was trying to lure the U.S. into action against Saddam Hussein appeared many years before the Bush administration decided in 2001 that ousting Hussein was a national priority.
In 1995, for instance, Khidhir Hamza, who had once worked in Iraq's nuclear program and whose claims that Iraq had continued a massive bomb program in the 1990s are now largely discredited, gave UN nuclear inspectors what appeared to be explosive documents about Iraq's program. Hamza, who fled Iraq in 1994, teamed up with Chalabi after his escape.
The documents, which referred to results of experiments on enriched uranium in the bomb's core, were almost flawless, according to Andrew Cockburn's recent account of the event in the political newsletter CounterPunch.
But the inspectors were troubled by one minor matter: Some of the techinical descriptions used terms that would only be used by an Iranian. They determined that the original copy had been written in Farsi by an Iranian scientist and then translated into Arabic.
And the International Atomic Energy Agency concluded the documents were fraudulent.
(And, here's more on how Chalabi's intelligence chief, long suspected of being an Irainian agent, has fled to avoid being arrested.)
See, we've known for a long time that Bonnie Prince Chalabi, the king over the water to his neocon admirers, hoaxed us into invading Iraq in two ways: by lying about the WMD and by lying about the public mood inside Iraq. And we've learned recently that he was passing new American secrets to Tehran. What we hadn't known until this article, assuming it's true, is that Chalabi had -- long before the war -- been passing disinformation from Tehran to us. That's how he could make his reports on Saddam's non-existent nuke building so realistic -- they were based on the Iranians' very much existent nuke development.
In other words, we weren't just fooled into getting into this infernal war by a homesick exile, but by our sworn enemies in Iran.
That's bad, very, very bad.
America will be the laughingstock of the world. I can't think of too many things more humiliating than this in history. The closest analogy might be in 1870 when France's Emperor Napoleon III fell for Bismarck's hostile editing of the Kaiser's conciliatory telegram and declared war on Prussia, falling into the Iron Chancellor's trap. Nap III got beat, captured, and lost his throne.
But at least he was hoaxed by a master. Our neocon geniuses got pranked by these people.
How do we find out if this is true? The simplest way would be to arrest Chalabi and turn him over to the Delta Force boys out at the airport and have them put him to the question, like they say in Edgar Allan Poe stories about the Spanish Inquisition. They're not creepy amateurs like the reservists at Abu Ghraib. They're professionals. "Mr. Chalabi, vee haf vays of making you talk."
Another interesting topic is what kind of life insurance does Chalabi have. If I were him, I'd have an arrangement with my Swiss bank that the day after my untimely death, they would turn the files in my safety deposit box documenting all my links to American neocons over to Le Monde and Der Spiegel. Of course, Chalabi has lots of other potential enemies, but then he has lots of other files too -- he seized Saddam's secret police torture confession files as soon as he got to Iraq. So, his life expectancy might be surprisingly long.
If this is true, what next? I guess they'll try to spin it: "Just because our hated enemies in Iran manipulated us into going to war doesn't mean we wouldn't have done it all on our own anyway!" Hmmhmm... Needs work. If I were Karl Rove, I'd have focus groups of likely voters scheduled for noon Saturday and have my staff stay up all night writing possible excuses to try out on them.
A reader writes:
I have a good excuse ready for Rove & Co.
“Hellllllo! Iran is part of the axis of evil. They’re EVIL. So this is just the kind of trickery we’ve been expecting from them.”
First question: If the spin doesn't work, legally speaking, how does the Republican Party dump Bush? The primaries are all over and he won almost all the delegates. Can the delegates legally rebel at the GOP Convention or are they bound by law to vote for the Chump-in-Chief?
Second question: Who should replace Bush on the GOP ticket? The Cabinet is discredited, even Powell. For instant name recognition, the obvious choice would be Ah-nold, but he ain't eligible.
Who's still in Chalabi's pocket?
At National Review, Michael Ledeen, Michael Rubin, and Frank Gaffney all sided with Chalabi against the Bush Administration on Friday morning. David Frum delivered a spinjob trying to put his long relationship with Chalabi in the best possible light. Meanwhile, Jonah Goldberg did his best impression of Sgt. Schulz on "Hogan's Heroes" -- "I know nuthink!" Jonah announces, "I've never been able to figure out what the story is on him." Editor Rich Lowry goes one step farther toward sanity: "I’m with Jonah in not really knowing what to make of all the Chalabi business, but I’ve always been a mild Chalabi skeptic."
Rich: NR is in danger of being permanently tainted by these guys. You've got to cut them loose, now.
NR contributor Cliff May is also still on Chalabi's side: "
Clifford May, president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, another conservative think tank that strongly supports the administration and the war in Iraq, called the U.S. role in Chalabi's fall from grace "confusing and disturbing." "On the face of it, the way he was treated strikes me as less than respectful for someone who spent many years working for the liberation of his country, and while I'm sure he is no Mother Theresa, very few people are in that neighborhood are," May said. "If people in the Middle East see us treating our friends and allies this way, they may conclude they're better off being our enemy."
The American Enterprise Institute continues its inexplicable infatuation with Chalabi:
"I think the Coalition Provisional Authority has lost its grip on reality," said Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign policy and defense at the American Enterprise Institute. "The CPA has spent too much time in Saddam's palace, and they've caught a whiff of dictatorship. There were no charges against him - and they smashed up his house. Can you imagine if we did that to a member of Congress here? That's what he is. At the end of the day, Ahmad Chalabi can take care of himself. This is a symptom of us having lost our way."
The WSJ editorial board is still in deep denial: "America alienates an ally in Iraq. Someday we hope U.S. officials will explain to us how in scarcely a year they managed to turn one of our closest allies in ousting Saddam Hussein into an opponent of American purposes.
Andrew Sullivan appears to have gone to Christopher Hitchen's place to drink his sorrows away. In the wee hours, he writes: "I'll check in later today to explain why a) I'm more encouraged than I have been and b) why I'm now persuaded that that wedding party story was and is bullshit." But little more is heard from him.
Instapundit devotes himself to happy talk about how things are really going pretty well in Iraq.
Isn't it about time to clean house?
What can I say in summary?
I hate these guys. I hate what they've done to my country. I want justice done.
And that includes private sector justice -- the Chalabi Cheerleaders in the prestige press should find their careers are toast. They should have to make their livings from now on writing public relations press releases announcing that Tammy Faye Baker will be the celebrity guest judge at the drag queen lip-syncing contest at the Manhole Bar and Grill.
Announcing the iSteve.com's Bush Pardon Pool! -- Just send me an email filling in the list of names in this upcoming wire service news story:
Washington D.C., January 19, 2005 (AP) -- On his last full day in office, outgoing President George W. Bush issued full Presidential pardons for the following figures implicated in the growing scandal over the origin and conduct of the Iraq War: ...
Treason trial for Feith? A reader writes:
"That seems a little much, Steve. No one really thinks Feith et al deliberately sold out America's interests for Israel's interests. At the worst, you can accuse them of forgetting that American interests and Israeli interests are not necessarily identical. But if they weren't actually passing secrets to Israel, or acting on orders from Israel, or something like that, I think using the word "treason" is hyperbole."
I never said Feith should be convicted of treason. I just pointed out how much I would enjoy seeing him tried for treason.
Still, I'm most interested in this question: From whom did Ahmed Chalabi get the top secret American information that he passed on to the Iranian government? Was it through official channels? Or was it leaked to him by his friends in Washington? Or, did his friends in Washington get themselves designated official channels for the purpose of giving him top secret information?
Good morning! How did you sleep? I bet you slept a lot more soundly than certain neocons, who may have spent the night thrashing about, wondering what American officials in Baghdad are finding out about them in the files seized from Ahmed Chalabi.
There have always been only three main theories for why so many influential neocons sold out America to Chalabi.
1. They are fools. Machiavelli offered this advice in his Discourses' Chapter XXXI, which is entitled "How Dangerous it Is to Believe Exiles:"
"As to [the exiles'] vain hopes and promises, such is the extreme desire in them to return home, that they naturally believe many things that are false and add many others by art, so that between those they believe and those they say they believe, they fill you with hope, so that relying on them you will incur expenses in vain, or you undertake an enterprise in which you ruin yourself."
Well, that sure sums up the bill of goods Chalabi sold America.
"How vain are the faith and promises of those who find themselves deprived of their country. For, as to their faith, it has to be borne in mind that anytime they can return to their country by other means than yours, they will leave you and look to the other, notwithstanding whatever promises they had made you."
And that explains why Chalabi has been passing American secrets on to our good buddies, the mullahs in Tehran.
You don't get sent to prison for sincerely believing nonsense, however. Developing a big fat wet crush on Chalabi and/or subscribing to the ridiculous neocon ideology is not a criminal offense. So, the neocons must be hoping that Chalabi's files include lots of cackling over how he has duped those naive, trusting morons in D.C. and NYC. In Feith's case, I particularly looking forward to his defense attorneys calling as a witness Gen. Tommy Franks and asking him to repeat his assessment of Feith's intelligence: "the f***ing stupidest guy on the face of the earth."
Embarrassing, yes, convictable, no.
2. Chalabi bought them. You can buy intellectuals and apparatchiks cheap -- just invite them to speak at some impressive-sounding conferences at fancy hotels. There's nothing illegal about that. But, perhaps Chalabi spent some of his cash more, uh, directly? We may find out.
3. They did it for Israel. John Dizard reported in "How Ahmed Chalabi Conned the Neocons" in Salon:
"Ahmed Chalabi is a treacherous, spineless turncoat," says L. Marc Zell, a former law partner of Douglas Feith, now the undersecretary of defense for policy, and a former friend and supporter of Chalabi and his aspirations to lead Iraq. "He had one set of friends before he was in power, and now he's got another." ... Zell, a Jerusalem attorney, continues to be a partner in the firm that Feith left in 2001 to take the Pentagon job. He also helped Ahmed Chalabi's nephew Salem set up a new law office in Baghdad in late 2003... Zell outlines what Chalabi was promising the neocons before the Iraq war: "He said he would end Iraq's boycott of trade with Israel, and would allow Israeli companies to do business there. He said [the new Iraqi government] would agree to rebuild the pipeline from Mosul [in the northern Iraqi oil fields] to Haifa [the Israeli port, and the location of a major refinery]."
Presumably, Feith could defend himself by saying that all the disasters he has inflicted on America (here's Slate's list in an article entitled, "What has the Pentagon's third man done wrong? Everything") were due to his truly believing that what was good for Israel was also somehow good for America. That may be a perfectly valid defense and I hope he tries it out when he's put on trial for high treason.
Isn't it about time you bought a subscription to The American Conservative? We were right from the start about Iraq.
What do GIs call Iraqis? For a long time, Greg Cochran has been predicting that U.S. soldiers will inevitably end up hating all Iraqis and giving the natives a derisive nickname, equivalent to the term "gook" that was used in the Korean and Vietnamese wars (and which may have descended from the term "gugu" that our boys called Filipinos during the long-forgotten but bloody putting down of the Filipino uprising of 1900-1902.) Now, Bob Herbert reports on "the growing rage among coalition troops against all Iraqis (known derisively as "hajis," the way the Vietnamese were known as "gooks")."
A haji is a pilgrim to Mecca, so, considering what our fighting men are enduring over there, the term they chose is pretty non-insulting. Still, I'm sure the locals don't appreciate it. But, that's the way wars, especially guerilla wars, work.
P.S. A reader suggests the GI's got the name from Johnny Quest's Indian sidekick in the old cartoon (my favorite cartoon, by the way, when I was six.)
Guess what's not mentioned: An LA Times article says:
Taxpayers are subsidizing California's growing low-wage economy to the tune of $10 billion a year through public health services, tax credits, child-care programs and other assistance for the working poor, according to a UC Berkeley study to be released today.
And that's not counting county services like emergency room care.
Of course, the LA Times never mentions why there is such a large and growing number of low wage workers in the state: immigration.
Californians are civilized people and we refuse to let residents of our state subsist solely on the wages that the market delivers to the bottom tier, so we subsidize the working poor. Thus, unskilled immigration doesn't actually lower costs, it just shifts them from the politically powerful interest groups to the unpowerful rest of us.
Dog population genetics: Many years after scientists figured out how to determine a human's racial background from his genes, the same has finally been accomplished for dog breeds.
Couldn't Have Happened to a Nicer Guy Dept. -- Ahmed Chalabi, the darling of the neocons, the man who concocted the phony WMD intelligence that got us into this mess, says his house in Baghdad was raided and trashed by U.S.-led forces who seized his computers.
Whether follow-up raids on Chalabi's facilitators in Washington and New York have been scheduled yet was not announced..
Memo to Douglas Feith, Scooter Libby, Richard Perle, Bill Kristol, James Woolsey, David Frum, et al: All you have to do to get rid of incriminating files on your PC is to highlight everything in your "Chalabi" folder and click Delete. That gets rid of those documents you don't want prying eyes to see. They won't ever be able to find them after they seize your PC as evidence. (Just ask Oliver North!) So, you can breathe easy again.
Need help: I'm going to write a VDARE.com article on India vs. China, keying off the latest election, so please send your thoughts.
That reminds me. I have lots of Indian readers, but I can't recall hearing from too many Chinese readers lately. I wonder why?
Torture testers -- Before authorizing the use of torture during interrogations of Arab prisoners during the famous Battle of Algiers in 1956-1957, the redoubtable French General Jacques Massu subjected himself to the various techniques, such as having himself mildly electrocuted. Of course, he didn't force himself to endure it for as long as the prisoners would, but it was still a rather impressive gesture. I wonder if anyone on our side volunteered to have himself sexually humiliated?
And, no, I'm not going to count Andrew Sullivan.
The War Nerd says:
The more you compare the way we used our strengths in GW I with the way we wasted them in GW II, the more you respect Colin Powell. He got it exactly right the first time--meet the enemy in unpopulated, flat desert, stay the Hell out of the cities, stick with our strengths: air power and mobility. Which brings up another big question: General Powell, how come you didn't resign when you must've known they had it all wrong this time around?
Greg Cochran on the nonexistence of "Islamofascism" and much else here on Jerry Pournelle's site. Greg, when he makes the effort, is a world class polemicist, but he's also the world's leading theorist of evolutionary medicine, so I hesitate to encourage his tendency toward journalism. He could easily be the next Ann Coulter, but he could also be the next William D. Hamilton.
Is just mentioning the high Jewish average IQ a "slur?" As many of you may know, Greg and Henry Harpending, the genetic anthropologist at the U. of Utah, have a major scientific paper in the pipeline offering a plausible evolutionary explanation for why Ashkenazi Jews have both higher average IQs and a whole suite of nearly unique hereditary diseases of the nervous system. This enquiry should open up an entirely new line of investigation that could lead both to cures for the diseases and invention of techniques for making people smarter.
Greg and I have had a lot of discussions over whether he and Henry will be roasted alive for simply mentioning the fact that American Jews tend to have higher IQs than other people. I was reminded of that because a liberal site called Arts Journal that had fallen for the IQ hoax graciously published a semi-retraction (or "clarification"), but couldn't resist adding this curious paragraph:
The trouble with Sailor's [sic] clarification is that he gets to the bottom of things by scraping bottom with an anti-Semitic slur when he writes that "anyone familiar with the topic would quickly recognize the fallaciousness of the data. The 113 [IQ] figure for Connecticut is way too high. That's about what Connecticut would be if it was all-Jewish."
I emailed back:
You accused me of making an anti-Semitic slur -- which is a very serious accusation -- by mentioning that the average IQ of Ashkenazi Jews in America is around113.
Considering that you slurred Republicans by publishing fraudulent IQ data [about how low their IQs are], I'd be fascinated to learn the logic by which you arrived at the conclusion that I slurred Jews by mentioning accurate data [about how high their IQs are]. I'm familiar with about ten different estimates of American Jewish IQs published in refereed scientific journals. They range from 107.5 to 118. The scientist who is currently working the most on this topic told me that 113 is the best estimate. All the real world correlates of IQ -- educational level, income, scientific and literary accomplishments, etc. -- are roughly in line with that figure.
You seem to be implying that Jews are less intelligent. Besides apologizing to me, you should apologize for making an anti-Semitic slur.
Logically disposing of this kind of nonsense is like shooting fish in a barrel, but, it obviously touches deep, arational emotions. Or perhaps they're not so anti-rational, just concealed. Four years ago, long before Amy Chua's book World on Fire confirmed this, I wrote in "IQ and Why We're Afraid to Talk About It":
Although the Great and the Good ceaselessly sermonize us that racial conflicts are caused by the majority feeling superior to the minority, a quick global survey suggests the opposite. The doltish masses have frequently risen up against astute "middle-man minorities" that control trade.
Southeast Asians have repeatedly launched murderous pogroms against the Overseas Chinese who dominate their economies, such as in Indonesia in 1998. African-Americans burned down hundreds of Korean stores in South Central L.A. in 1992. Fijians, Ugandans, and Trinidadians have all tried to oppress the more clever Asian Indians in their midst. The Turks killed huge numbers of Armenians in 1915. And from 1933 to 1945 the Germans eliminated most European Jews, at a time when German Jews were the best-educated ethnic group in the world. (The Nazis banned IQ tests specifically because Jews outperformed gentile Germans.)
Thus the truly unmentionable Unpleasant Fact today is not that blacks have mean IQs well below the white average. It’s that other groups have mean IQs well above it.
This censorship may be prudent. But it is crippling American intellectual discourse.
Chris Rock gets the last word -- Razib points out:
This reminds me of the old Chris Rock line that he didn't get why people object to "positive" stereotypes. He noted that he'd be really excited if people said stuff like, "Yeah, blacks are good with money, let that guy manage my investments," or "Let's cheat off the black guy! You know they're smart!"
Suppose you have a young man from Seattle and a young woman from Miami and they meet at the University of Chicago and decide to get married and settle in Chicago. Would you expect them to bring their mothers and fathers and then their extended families to Chicago to live with them?
Well, that's how "family reunification" works for immigrants in America and Canada.
A reader writes:
I am from humble beginnings. 9 kids. Neither my mom, dad or three older siblings graduated from high school. My dad was a truck driver, my mom was a short order cook and she baby-sat other kids (I was the last of the line and we were stretched out over 20 years). Most of my family, I would say, are from the left hand side of the bell curve or very near the center. But we worked hard, were honest and Christian. My mom and dad couldn't do it today (my dad died in 1980) because of the illegal immigrants. One of my sisters' husband is a manual laborer being squeezed by illegal immigration - hard. I worry about them.
I love your IQ work, Steve, and your solutions for left side Americans. You are the true compassionate one. I got lucky in the IQ gene pool and I'll be ok - for now. I want you to know I really appreciate your efforts in immigration as it relates to the lesser blessed Americans. As, a CPA, I totally agree that the elites are screwing the little folks so bad with all of their laws. That is what kills me about the Democrats - how they consider themselves for the little guy and all they are doing is f'ng him to gain more and more power.
Abigail Thernstrom declares "No, Brown Isn't a Bust" -- Leaving aside the fact that the 1954 Brown decision had little effect -- Southern schools weren't desegregated until the Nixon Administration 15 years later, after the country pushed through Civil Rights the correct way, not by judicial fiat but by vote of Congress -- Thernstrom is certainly correct that nobody wants back the old segregated South. White Southerners benefited almost as much from civil rights as from air conditioning, and black Southerners benefited even more.
But Thernstrom's musings on the present are pretty hilarious:
When we misleadingly label schools in California with few whites "segregated," the implication is that learning is likely to be compromised. Of course it's desirable - where demographically possible - for children to grow up in a multiracial, multiethnic setting. But surely we don't want to suggest that the racial mix in a school inevitably determines the quality of the children's education -
Personally, I want to tell the truth, whatever it may be.
- that children in schools without "enough" whites are doomed to academic failure. The doomsayers today who moan about Brown's failure would have people believe that the problem with urban schools is that they aren't white enough - that whites are needed if children are to learn. Were that the case, American public schools would be in deep and permanent trouble.
Well, obviously, American public schools cannot "be in deep and permanent trouble" because ... uh, well ... because that would be bad. And, as we've seen in Iraq over the last year, bad things can't possibly ever come true.
But, faced with hard tasks ahead, optimists keep going, while pessimists walk away.
But realists figure out to to solve the problems we can solve.
Oh, boy. There is so much demagoguery and obfuscation rolled up in these few sentences that it's hard to know where to begin. First, that there are average differences between the races/ethnic groups in school achievement (five grade levels between whites and blacks and four between whites and Hispanics, according to the Thernstrom's book No Excuse) does not mean that every individual black and Hispanic is "doomed to academic failure."
No, it just means that on average when looking at thousands of students, blacks and Hispanics as a whole learn less. As we saw with the IQ hoax, anybody who knows the racial makeup of American states could figure out by eyeballing that table that it was hooey. With the NAEP test scores, which the Thernstroms emphasize so heavily, just the white % of a state's population accounts for 49% of the differences in math scores and 62% in reading.
Next, it's destructive to think about this in absolute terms like "doomed to academic failure." We should look at it relatively. Most importantly, we shouldn't measure how well schools are doing by measuring the absolute performance of their students, since that will depend largely on race and class. Instead, we should be evaluating schools based on value-added. Kids should be tested in kindergarten, fifth grade, eighth grade, and high school by an independent agency. Then, all schools should be assessed on how much value they add to their average student. A school whose students averaged 75 IQ on their tests as 6 year olds might be adding more value than a school who is made up of kids with an average of 115 IQ.
Finally, let's think about what we can do too boost IQ before school, since we don't seem to be able to do all that much during school. For example, as I pointed out in VDARE.com, my best guess is that promoting breastfeeding to blacks could close 10% of the white-black IQ gap.
A reader suggests:
Feeding cod live oil to nursing mothers might help, omega 3 fatty acids in baby formula might be able to boost IQs. Both have weaker evidence than ideally I would want, but both point (as does the breast feeding evidence) at a positive effect of such fatty acids on early brain development.
Let's also get serious about studying other potential IQ-diminishers, like lead paint.
But we can't talk about how to boost IQ until we are allowed to talk about IQ.
I finally found it! -- In February of 2001, on the 10th anniversary of the liberation of Kuwait, I wrote a commentary for UPI arguing that Bush Senior had done the right thing by not going ahead and conquering Kuwait: "So, while the outcome of Desert Storm was hardly ideal, it was about as good as could realistically be hoped for in the Middle East, that junkyard of statesmen's dreams." Other excerpts:
Second, the post-war era would have been even more chaotic and dangerous if American had occupied Iraq.
We like to dream that we could have converted Iraq into a peaceful democracy, just as we did with Japan and West Germany after WWII. The peoples of those two great industrial nations, however, had at least already learned how to work together with trust in the economic sphere. American proconsuls Douglas MacArthur in Japan and Lucius Clay in West Germany could thus extend that heritage of peaceful industrial cooperation to the political sphere.
In contrast, democratic "nation building" in Iraq probably would have turned out about as well as it has in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo.
Further, occupying Iraq would have presented the U.S. with severe geopolitical dilemmas.
Immediately after the war, Saddam's ethnic enemies within Iraq - the Shiite Muslims in the south and the Kurds in the north - both rebelled. If we were running Iraq instead of Saddam, we would have been presented with the same urgent question: Do we let the Shiites and the Kurds break free and set up their own nation-states? Or do we fight them to keep Iraq whole? It would have been extraordinarily distasteful for us to capture Saddam, only to then take on his favorite pastime of crushing breakaway elements.
Yet, for us to allow Iraq to break up into three small states would have badly destabilized the balance of power in the Persian Gulf.
As the stalemated Iraq-Iran war of 1980 to 1988 showed, those two bitter rivals are perfectly matched against each other. If Iraq had broken into three mini-states, however, Iran would have become the dominant regional power. This would have been especially troubling because the new Shiite state centered on Iraq's Persian Gulf oilfields would have shared its religion with the Shiite theocracy of Iran. This would have paved the way for the Iranian army to threaten Kuwait's independence.
Further, if we'd allowed the emergence of a wealthy Kurdish state in the north with control of the Mosul oil fields, we would have greatly provoked our own valued ally Turkey, in which Kurds make up 20% of the population. A country of four million Iraqi Kurds would likely have funded rebels among Turkey's thirteen million Kurds.
The Kurds are one of the most numerous peoples on Earth without their own state. Rightly or wrongly, though, the Turkish government has long viewed Kurdish separatism as a mortal threat to that fragile republic. America has long sided with the Turks in their bloody struggle with Kurdish separatists because Turkey is our favorite Muslim Middle Eastern country. That's because its government is trying, against long odds, to make it into a secular European country.
Unfortunately, the rest of it might be less prescient, but in the interests of complete disclosure, click here to read the whole thing.
You know those goofy "I am an Army of One" ads? -- Well, here's the heroic story of Brian R. Chontosh, who is a genuine one-man army ... except he's a Marine Captain, so he won the Navy Cross.
Marcus Y. Epstein on Zora Neale Hurston on VDARE.com -- Hurston was the first major black woman novelist, and her life story (told, more or less, in her wonderful autobiography) is even better than her fiction. As Marcus points out, she's been adopted by feminists etc., but she wouldn't hang out much with her current admirers. My 1995 National Review article on Zora is here.
My new VDARE.com column at left looks at the two missing letters in all the current discussions about why the Brown v. Board of Education hasn't brought about educational utopia.
As for that decision itself, I think the most sensible analysis was put forward by Thomas Sowell many years ago. I don't believe it's online, so I'll try to recount it from memory.
In 1954, the Supreme Court enjoyed many targets of opportunity when it decided to finally battle segregation. Choosing to make schools the first battleground, however, was a mistake, simply because it was asking too much to expect white parents to risk their children's futures in pursuit of a constitutional ideal. And, indeed, the Brown decision remained a dead letter until the Nixon administration forced the desegregation of Southern schools in 1969. The ruling's initial impact was merely to radicalize Southern white sentiment in favor of "massive resistance." And, indeed, even today, when de jure segregation is officially excoriated, de facto segregation remains standard practice: most white parents make costly efforts to shield their children from having to attend schools that are heavily black.
In contrast, Sowell argued, the denial of the vote to Southern blacks was an obvious disgrace under our Constitution, and it wasn't as much of an emotional hot button since it involved the fates of politicians, not of one's own children. Congress finally passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965, and it was quickly a huge success. Rabble-rousing white Southern politicians either saw their careers come to a quick end now that everyone could vote, or, like George Wallace, they quickly changed their rhetoric. So, there was no more organized resistance to Civil Rights.
Today, 39 years later, the 1965 VRA is a huge success, much more than school desegregation. All citizens are welcome to vote and everybody's vote is counted equally. Sowell, therefore, suggested that the Supreme Court should have gone after the denial of the vote to Southern blacks in the mid-1950s, and left school desegregation until later.
P.S. It's worth noting that one of the first great milestones toward integration came seven years earlier in the private sector: Branch Rickey's hiring of Jackie Robinson to play big league baseball. I explained how the free market impelled baseball to get rid of discrimination in my 1996 National Review cover story: "How Jackie Robinson Desegregated America."
Gay "Marriage" -- Political correctness and radical social change make a dangerous combination. If the press is committed to fully, honestly debating a topic, then afterwards making a big change is reasonable. Unfortunately, today, the mainstream press refuses to even discuss basic facts about homosexuals. Consider my 1994 National Review article "Why Lesbians Aren't Gay." Has anything that honest appeared in the media since?
Now, it could be that gay "marriage" will turn out to be socially harmless. But, considering, the paucity of frankness, how could we possibly know at this point? Back in 2000, I wrote:
So legalizing single-sex marriage isn't likely to prevent the next gay venereal epidemic. Yet, will gay weddings destroy society? Overall, I'm not terribly worried. Still, the fervor with which some gay grooms will pursue the perfect wedding will make straight men even less enthusiastic about enduring their own weddings. The opportunities for gays to turn weddings into high-camp farces are endless. For example, if two drag queens get married, who gets to wear white? And anything that discourages straight men from marrying would be widely harmful. While most straight guys eventually decide that being married is fine, the vast majority find getting married a baffling and punitive process. (You may have noticed that while Modern Bride magazine is now over 1,000 pages long, there is no Eager Groom magazine.) About the only comment a straight man can make in favor of his role is that at least it's a guy thing … not a gay thing. But for how much longer?
Of course, you've never heard that from anybody else -- maybe because it's a stupid idea, but certainly because it's not nice to say that.
Indeed, this fear worries me more now that it did then. The evidence keeps accumulating that contemporary straight men are almost as reluctant to engage in anything that could be thought of as implying they are gay as their grandfathers (like the famous scene in in Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs where Steve Buscemi objects to being given the code name "Mr. Pink.") The problem is that modern straight guys know a lot more about gays' preference than their grandfathers, so there are more things they avoid than their grandfathers, who, for example, liked seeing Broadway musicals. I don't want the next generation of men dodging out of getting married because weddings seem as gay as Oklahoma (or, as too many guys think of it today, Oklahomo).
The Indian Election debate continues. I get the impression that this topic isn't electrifying my non-Indian readers, but India is important, dammit, so it's time to eat your vegetables., A reader writes:
China has an enormous advantage over India: relative homogeneity.
I don't care how many peasants and poor they have, the fact that you don't have 4000 year old caste hatreds gives them an enormous advantage. Another thing: the Chinese have one language and a few dialects. In India 30 languages and 600 dialects.
These factors make nation-building even more difficult. But worst of all:
In China there is no significant difference in racial appearance between the rich and the poor. They come from the same people. In India, you can see a colour line dividing classes every inch of the way. Sure these lines aren't cut and dry like black and white and there are overlaps but the trends are easy to follow for anyone willing to observe.
iSteve.com's panel of South Asian pundits hashes out the Indian election for you. Americans are waking up to the facts that India is important, India is crazily complex, and we Americans don't know jack about India. So, here are some more opinions from people who actually know what they are talking about. A Bangladeshi-American writes:
I'm not a big fan of the victorious Congress Party, but....
1) the liberalization was started under the leadership of congress in the early 1990s. the outgoing BJP *continued* them (as did a short-lived far left gov. in the late 1990s).
2) the BJP is the party of upper castes, but it is not the party of the super-wealthy upper castes, insofar as many are small business-persons and people who are not part of the English speaking elite, but rather local gentry who might be literate in Hindi. This was one reason why the BJP was initially somewhat wary of more free trade, their small-trader constituents were often pro-buy-India. The bimodality that is typical of American democrats is more pronounced among Congress.
3) the analogy with the sailer strategy doesn't work insofar as whites are 4/5 of the American electorate, the Indian "middle class" is probably, generously defined, no more than 1/4 the electorate.
Another reader writes:
A couple of your readers on your site have commented that the 'Achilles' heel' of the Indian political system is its wide inequalities that allegedly prevent the emergence of a political consensus.
The middle class is currently 300 million -- and is growing at about 30-40 million per year. Assuming that this current Congress coalition consisting of unreconstructed communists actually lasts it's five year term (which is doubtful) there will be close to half a billion middle class Indians at the time of the next rematch. The economic reforms that have been put in place will probably allow this continue on current momentum alone, though indefinitely sustained progress does require continuous reform. In any case, half the population is more than enough to win elections by those intelligent enough to calculate the political arithmetic.
The comparison with China is also irrelevant. China has more poor people than India -- some 900 million poor rural peasants. The only reason you never hear from them is extreme press censorship which doesn't report the daily spontaneous strikes, protests and violence. You only hear about the big movements like Falun Gong and broad statistics without context, such as an occasional reference to 100 million migrant labourers (now that's a tinderbox just waiting to light).
I do agree, though, that the BJP cannot be politically correct when it comes to getting votes or it will lose out. We see the results in the US vis a vis the Republican Party.
In response, the Bangladeshi seer questions the size of the Indian middle class:
Here is a quote for the NY TIMES (the last statistics is telling, there is "middle class," and *middle class*):
"But the hype over the high-tech campaign obscured these statistics: In a country of 180 million households, only about 45 million have telephone lines. Among India's 1.05 billion people, only 26.1 million have mobile phones. And while around 300 million Indians still live on less than $1 a day, only an estimated 659,000 households have computers."
Top Eurocrat calls for taking Gypsy children away from their parents -- Two weeks ago, I wrote in VDARE.com about how much Western Europe was terrified of Gypsies moving in from Eastern Europe under the new, expanded European Union. Here's proof:
In an interview broadcasted on Dutch TV on 1 May, Eric Van der Linden, EU Commission’s Ambassador to Slovakia, proposed to remove Romani children from their parents and put them into boarding schools: “It may sound simplistic,” the Head of the EU Delegation said, “but it is, I think in the root of the cause that we need to strengthen education and organise the educational system in a way that we may have to start to, I’ll say it in quotation marks, force Romani children to stay in a kind of boarding schools from Monday morning until Friday afternoon, where they will continuously be subjected to a system of values which is dominant (“vigerend”) in our society.”
When the journalist objected that Roma might be opposed to such a measure, Van der Linden proposed to utilise financial incentives as to break an initial resistance. He agreed that, “we do live here in a democracy, so you can force it, but you can of course try to let it develop more smoothly through giving financial incentives.” He expected that families would as a result send their children to school and that “the generation that will be educated then and at the same time raised, will fit better in the dominant society, they will be able to cooperate in a productive way to the growth of the economy.”
Practices of forcibly separating Romani children from their parents as a means to assimilate the Romani communities have a long tradition. Under the reign of Empress Maria-Theresa Romani children were removed from their families and brought up by non-Romani families as a means to eradicate Romani culture and identity. In Switzerland similar practices were introduced after the first World War and persisted until the early 1970s.
Okay, I got it -- Thanks to everybody who helped me out with my request to check something in The Economist. You can see the result in my VDARE.com column on Monday morning.
More on the Indian election: One Indian-American writes:
You're absolutely right about the dynastic aspect of democracy in India. The Nehru-Ghandhi dynasty - with their Fabian socialism - has kept India behind for decades. Yet, the Indian people love them. It makes no sense to me.
Also, I took the liberty of applying the "Sailer Strategy" to the Indian election. It works remarkably well. The BJP government lost in India for the same reason Republicans lose in America. The BJP wins elections when middle class Hindus go out to vote. In India, they get derided for this (just like Republicans get derided for not having enough minority votes). Everyone knows it's morally superior to get the vote of Muslims. So this past election, the BJP figured they would hold on to their traditional base, and they chased after a marginal share of Muslim votes (who make up ~13% of the population). Whether or not they succeeded in attracting extra Muslims, I don't know, but they ignored their base, who didn't bother to turn up to vote for them at the polls or who voted for various regional parties.
Of course, nobody in the Indian press is going to come up with this analysis, but it's exactly what happened. In their political leanings, the Indian press is almost exactly like the press we've got here in the U.S.
An Indian reader in London writes:
What a disaster. I don't know which wall to bang my head against.
India is growing at its fastest rate ever - actually the fastest growing economy on Earth for some quarters in the last year, unemployment receding rapidly, incomes zooming upward and what do the peasants and illiterates do? They re-elect a party that had the country stuck in a socialist s***-hole for 45 years.
This won't last of course. The government will be unstable, there will be lots of infighting and you'll have fresh elections in a couple of years again. However, the damage has been done to the Economy.
This is what I've referred to as India's Achilles' heel. Its grinding, massive inequalities make it impossible to put together a majority political culture that works. It's no secret that the Upper Castes and the educated were the ones making money in the boom. Peasants and lower castes with little education and no learning (or worse still, no literacy), couldn't conceivably have gained from a freer market. The [outgoing] ruling BJP is packed with Brahmins and other wealthy Upper Castes. Their campaign slogan was "India shining". That shows you how out of touch these people are with the population. What's a poor illiterate peasant in Bihar to make of "India Shining"?
This brings us to why India can never compete with China. India has a serious structural problem that cannot be solved. Watch out America. You don't want to turn into this.
Okay, anybody want to speak up for the Gandhi dynasty and their pet Congress party?
Dynasticism in South Asia -- For years, I've been pointing out that in wide swath from Pakistan to the Philippines, voters have a distinct preference for electing democratic dynasties. Today, Sonia Gandhi's Congress Party won the Indian elections, putting her in line to become the fourth member of the Nehru-Gandhi family to be prime minister. Bizarrely, she is an Italian (she was a flight attendant who married non-political airline pilot Rajiv Gandhi, who was then dragooned into becoming Prime Minister after his ambitious little brother's airplane blew up), who does not speak any Indian language particularly well. In modern nationalist thought, the idea of a foreigner becoming the national leader seems strange, but under the dynastic system, that happened a lot. For example Czarina Catherine the Great of Russia was a German, as were Kings George I and George II of England. The last Czar of Russia, the murdered Nicholas II was 1/128th Russian, although he strongly identified with Russia.
My National Interest article on "Revolutionary Nepotism" is finally on-line.
THE UNITED States currently confronts foreign policy challenges involving such highly disparate foes, friends and in-betweens as North Korea, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Morocco, the Congo and the Philippines. All these countries, however, possess one striking common denominator. Although dynasticism is supposed to have died and been buried by meritocracy, these countries are all led by the children of former heads of state.
The same is true of America, whose president is not just the son of a president, but also the grandson of a senator and brother of a governor. Americans tend to be willfully blind to the crucial subject of nepotism. We disapprove of it, so we feel we ought not to think about it--a dangerous illusion as we pursue a more activist foreign policy that brings us in touch with cultures that approach the topic quite differently.
The return of family rule should not surprise us. Nepotism and its more formal offspring dynasticism have provided the basic organizing principles of politics for much of human history. For example, in the early 20th century, the ruling aristocracy of Mongolia, which comprised 6 percent of the population, still consisted of the descendants in the direct male line of Genghis Khan, even though he had been dead for almost 700 years.
"Harsh C.I.A. Methods Cited in Top Qaeda Interrogations" - NYT
"The Central Intelligence Agency has used coercive interrogation methods against a select group of high-level leaders and operatives of Al Qaeda that have produced growing concerns inside the agency about abuses, according to current and former counterterrorism officials."
And I say: Good.
There are obvious distinctions between Al Qaedas and Iraqis:
- We're not trying to win the hearts and minds of Bin Laden's inner circle, like we are with civilians in Iraq. Instead, we are trying to exterminate Bin Laden's boys.
- They started the war with us. We started the war in Iraq.
- They may know about plans to murder thousands of American civilians. The value of knowledge extracted from Iraqis is likely to be a lot less.
- Hopefully, the CIA keeps American women and cameras away from their prisons, and the level of perversity and sadism down. But, we don't know that for a fact.
Neocon Meltdown continues: Tucker Carlson is profiled at the New York Observer:
While Carlson's still a staunch conservative—he’s anti-abortion, married with four kids—he’s changed his mind about the war in Iraq. "I think it’s a total nightmare and disaster, and I’m ashamed that I went against my own instincts in supporting it," he said. "It’s something I’ll never do again. Never. I got convinced by a friend of mine who’s smarter than I am, and I shouldn’t have done that. No. I want things to work out, but I’m enraged by it, actually."
Mr. Carlson—never really a card-carrying member of the vast right-wing conspiracy—said he had broken off from the hawkish neoconservatives who flogged the war from the get-go. "I’m getting more paleo every day," he said, referring to the so-called paleoconservatives. Mr. Carlson was beginning to sound a bit like former Nixon speechwriter and Crossfire alum Pat Buchanan, another righty who has been an opponent of the war. In the past, said Mr. Carlson, he had made some unfair attacks against Mr. Buchanan, and he was feeling guilty about that, too. "Buchanan is a perfect example of somebody who’s been name-called into oblivion," he said. "And I did some of that. I definitely called Pat a lot of names. And I feel bad about that."
What to do with Iraq? We were content to let Afghanistan go back to being Afghanistan because it is such an unimportant country. But Iraq has trillions of dollars worth of oil in the ground (a few trillion more than just a year ago, due to the rise in the price of oil) and it's in the same neighborhood as other countries with trillions of dollars worth of oil. So, it behooves us to think about how to prevent the oil from ever being used again to pay for mischief-making. One reader writes:
I think probably the easiest part would be controlling the fields. They are physically compact, and out in the desert. The pipelines are longer and harder to protect, but I suspect that could be done, if we concentrated on it. Let Iraqis work in the fields. Minor sabotage would be tolerable, to the degree it could not be prevented. It is really vastly harder to protect people, road convoys and dense cities, as we are now trying to do, than to guard oil installations, which are just a few pipes on a big beige billiard-ball table, flat, empty and easy to watch over.
And, anyway, assuming the Iraqis want or need the oil revenue, all we would really need to control are the export points. Oil would not leave Iraq unless both we and the Iraqis wanted it too. We would have a veto on oil exports, but they would have one too.
The tricky part is the money. Do you distribute it to the government, to the people, or to associations of people, such as mosques or local agencies? I would love to simply distribute it to the people directly, and then have the government forced to come to the people for tax revenue to support itself. That was essentially the way Western democracies arose, with the king having to ask for money and the taxpayers demanding the vote in return.
But I suspect that a country that is used to murdering people to select political leaders would probably find a way to coerce newly affluent citizens to contribute to government. Anyway, do we really want to put Iraqis on the dole? I think they tried that in Northern Ireland and the West Bank.
So I would say, distribute the revenue according to some sort of formula among the important elements of Iraq: the central government for the army, local governments for schools and police, religious groups for social work, and citizens, probably, for some relief from hard conditions. And yes, definitely, all payments should be conditioned on some minimum standards of behavior. The central government would have to maintain whatever rules were adopted assure at least primitive representation for all important groups and to refrain from threatening non-Iraqis. The rest of the payments would depend mostly on their not being diverted to violent groups and not being too, too corruptly used. Break the rules, and you get your allowance cut, or converted to in-kind supplies of what you need for legitimate purposes.
I don't think all that would be administratively too difficult. Of, course it might drive Iraqis, Arabs and the world press up the wall. And at some point we might find ourselves cutting off funds and food to people who need it, because local thugs still want to play games.
In a sense, we are already doing much of is, only very roughly and with aid money rather than oil revenue. And we are doing it as we try to construct civilized political institutions, rather than as a substitute or pure bribe for maintaining them. I just want to preserve the ability to control the money as we withdraw from direct involvement in Iraqi affairs.
Troy, with Brad Pitt as Achilles will be out Friday, with my review in The American Conservative (which won't be online, so go buy it) being out immediately afterwards. Here's one paragraph from my review:
Still, the youth market may find the Bronze Age warriors comprehensible since their prickly, pre-chivalric trash-talking ethos prefigures that of post-chivalric African-American athletes like the petulant hoops prodigy Allen Iverson and rappers like the murdered Tupac Shakur. Achilles sulking in his tent because King Agamemnon insulted his honor by taking his spoils-of-war sweetheart Briseis is surprisingly like Kobe Bryant moping on the court because Shaquille O'Neal dissed him by demanding the basketball.
Victor Davis Hanson, Classicist vs. Victor Davis Hanson, Polemicist -- Speaking of the Ancient Greeks, the article "The Case of Victor Davis Hanson: Farmer, Scholar, Warmonger" by F. Devlin Roger in the Occidental Quarterly is terrific. The first half consists of an appreciation of Hanson's profound contribution to understanding the crucial question: Why the Greeks? What happened during the Greek dark ages (roughly 1100 to 800 BC) that transformed the fairly conventional culture that produced Achilles to the unique culture that produced Homer and a host of great men in his wake?
Hanson, an orchard farmer in the Central Valley of California, where the climate isn't too different from Greece, delivered an answer in his scholarly books such as The Other Greeks: the Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization. Devlin writes:
"We still had no plausible explanation for the Greek miracle. Thanks in some significant measure to Victor Davis Hanson, we now do. The explanation, in a word, is agrarianism. All preindustrial societies are agricultural, but only a few have been agrarian; of these latter, classical Greece was the first and most important. Agrarian societies are informed by a certain ideal, according to which landed estates should be generally small and inalienable. A plot of land should be large enough to provide a family with a decent sufficiency, but not luxury. It should belong to a family rather than any individual; the head of the family holds it in trust for the benefit of his children and his children’s children. It is his, in other words, but not his alone. He has no moral right to do with it simply as he pleases."
This is similar to Thomas Jefferson's vision for America of a society of small landowners, which he did much to bring about by eliminating primogeniture and starting the Federal Government's system of selling land cheap in relatively small parcels.
Unfortunately, Hanson the scholar has recently descended into the squalid marketplace with the rest of us professional bloviators with predictably unfortunate results. I don't know many people who still read Hanson's endless effusions about the Middle East anymore, but his recent short book Mexifornia shows how good he can still be when he holds himself in check. It would be a right and fitting thing for a rich man to do to pay Hanson a large annual stipend to subsidize his writing, with just one condition: he not publish more than 80,000 words per year.
Understanding the French: Michael Blowhard points out:
"The key to understanding the French, IMHO, is understanding how rewarding the French find "Being French" to be. Hard though it is for an American to believe, the French wake up in the morning and look forward to a full day's-worth of Being French. They go through the day Being French with great relish. They re-charge at night so that they can spend the following day Being French."
French philosophy is, IMHO, best understood as a cross between a hyperrefined entertainment form, and an industry for the supplying of fodder for cafe-and-flirtation chatter. Take French philosophy straight and you're likely to wind up doing something stupid like destroying a department of English, or maybe even ruining your own life. The French would never make such a mistake; after all, nothing -- not even philosophy -- can distract them from the pursuit of Being French. In fact, part of Being French is enjoying philosophical chitchat, the more fashionable the better. We may not have much patience with it, but the French love the spectacle of radical posturing. We tend to engage with the substance of a radical position. For the French, this kind of attitudinizing is enjoyed. It adds spice to life; it's sexy intellectual titillation... French philosophy? Well, it gives the French something sophisticated-seeming to say (and to gab about) as they go about the genuinely serious business of Being French.
The future looks dumberer -- Looking at the NAEP scores for public school 8th graders by state (see below), it struck me that California is a going to be, on average, a much dumber state in the future than it is now. I always thought of it as a pretty smart state, what with Silicon Valley, Cal Tech, and aerospace. Even Hollywood attracts a lot of smart cookies. In the past, these smarts were spread pretty broadly through the general populace in California.
But California's 2003 NAEP scores for public schools 8th graders are awful: 44th out of 50 states in Math (behind states like Tennessee and Nevada, a state where the study of probability is the only socially sanctioned intellectual pursuit) and 49th in Reading (well behind Mississippi). If California is the pacesetter state, with its 25 year head start on absorbing immigrants, then the future looks dumber for all of us.
Neocon/Iraq Attaq Punditariat melting down: Andrew Sullivan, badly shaken by the prison scandal, says he's worn out: "At this point, the reason for blogging has gotten a little lost. And then I realize we are at war. And I realize my own pathetic part in it is trying to think about it, fight it with words, and that this blog is a small part of that wider effort. At some point, I will have to give it up or take a long break. But when that is, I'm not so sure."
David Brooks writes in the NYT: "This has been a crushingly depressing period, especially for people who support the war in Iraq. The predictions people on my side made about the postwar world have not yet come true. The warnings others made about the fractious state of post-Saddam society have."
Brooks goes on to raise an important subject:
"Nonetheless, it's not too early to begin thinking about what was clearly an intellectual failure. There was, above all, a failure to understand the consequences of our power. There was a failure to anticipate the response our power would have on the people we sought to liberate. They resent us for our power and at the same time expect us to be capable of everything. There was a failure to understand the effect our power would have on other people around the world. We were so sure we were using our might for noble purposes, we assumed that sooner or later, everybody else would see that as well. Far from being blinded by greed, we were blinded by idealism."
Put more starkly: why were the famous neocon intellectuals like Brooks so much stupider about Iraqis than, say, the War Nerd was? Last July, "Gary Brecher" wrote an article entitled "Iraq: the “Duh!” Theory," which contains more common sense about Iraqi psychology than 99.9% of what you read in the prestige press. He wrote:
"And how hard is it to turn a 17-year-old into a guerrilla? Man, if they'd had that option when I was a senior I never would've had to take another vocational aptitude test. "Guerrilla fighter" would've been my first, second and third choice."
What the War Nerd does, and I try to do, but very few of the big shots even thinks of is draw the connections between the micro world of everybody's daily life, where everybody is an expert of sorts, and the macro world of policies and philosophies, where we turn to intellectual elites for guidance. Your typical intellectual, however, forgets that his beloved macro world's concepts have no consequences except where the rubber meets the road in the micro world.
The Brookses and Sullivans were too lost in the clouds of their "democratic domino" theories and "flypaper" nostrums to notice that on the street, all over the world, teenage youths form gangs to defend their home turf. That urge can then be exploited by older men with larger ambitions. What's so complicated about that?
Why is the prison scandal so disturbing to Americans? -- Objectively speaking, this is predictable stuff. If you want to make an omelet out of Iraq, you got to break a few heads, yada yada. Consider the should-be famous scene from The Battle of Algiers:
When challenged at a press conference about torture, French Col. Mathieu answers with Descartes’ logic and Cyrano’s panache: "The problem is: the FLN wants us to leave Algeria and we want to remain … Despite varying shades of opinion, you all agree that we must remain … Therefore, to be precise, I would now like to ask you a question: Should France remain in Algeria? If you answer “yes,” then you must accept all the necessary consequences."
This kind of Abu Ghraib garbage is, generally speaking, one of the necessary consequences of us wanting to remain in Iraq while a lot of the more violent young Iraqi males want us to leave. (Forget the opinion polls -- in an insurrection you don't count noses, you count balls.) I always thought it was not a good idea for us to be in Iraq, precisely because we'd end up being responsible for this kind of thing.
So, why the shock? Partly because we've willfully forgot everything we once knew about fighting guerilla wars. The second half of the 20th Century was largely devoted to guerilla wars, yet we, as a people, have forgotten how guerillas operate -- their entire intention is to encourage the occupiers to do evil things like this in order to bring the outraged civilians over to insurgents' side.
But, beyond all the obvious reasons, a lot of Americans are clearly disgusted by the perversity of "softening up." In particular, they are horrified by the expressions on the faces of that young lady.
For example, Susan Jacoby writes in the LAT: "As a feminist who has always supported equality for women in the military, I am so disturbed by the role of women in these atrocities that I have difficulty explaining the intensity of my reaction."
The "Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS" aspect is deeply disturbing. There's a seldom spoken but widely felt thought that something has gone wrong with America morally and our Iraq adventure could be opening the closet further.
What's gone wrong? Is it all the Internet pornography? Is this the end result of putting women in the Army? As you probably know, my pet peeve as a film critic is Hollywood movies built around butt-kicking babes, that sexual fetish that has spread so far in recent years. In real life, women can't kick men's butts in a fair fight ... But, inside a prison, they can torture men. But that turns out not to be so titillating in actuality.
Ted Kennedy's immigration SOLVE Bill -- As I reported Sunday, the Democrats announced in time for Cinco de Mayo their SOLVE Act (for "Safe, Orderly, Legal Visas and Enforcement") to import tens of millions of new Democrats from overseas, but have been keeping it fairly quiet in the English language press, for obvious reasons. A reader writes:
"The SOLVE bill should more accurately be called the DISSOLVE bill because the end result will be the balkanization and possible breakup of the United States. I don't know why the Democrats even bother to retain the numerical limits because they can be exceeded by almost every category. This bill will result in 3 million legal immigrants a year, and because of chain migration it will keep increasing. In 20 years the immigrant population will be over 100 million, plus another 100 million of their children. In 30 years immigrants and their children will outnumber Americans! With multiculturalism, and 50 different ethnic groups demanding their rights and everything be in their language, I wouldn't be surprised if we had another civil war."
Reshuffling: Fire Rumsfeld. Move Powell to Defense to reintroduce the Powell Doctrine. He'll fire Wolfowitz and Feith. Replace Cheney with foreign policy wise man Sen. Richard Lugar. For a Sec. of State who'll rebuild our popularity globally, well, the man most capable of doing that is ... shudder, gag ... Bill Clinton.
"States with higher IQ vote Democrat:" -- Many hundreds of blogs, and even the famous Economist of Britain, have fallen for the IQ by State hoax.. If you want the real story, read below. This material is organized (or, you may argue, disorganized) blog style, in roughly reverse chronological order.
Farther down are honest tables showing smarts by state and by nation. Fascinating stuff.
The Economist issued a retraction on May 20, 2004:
in St James's
[Update, 11/4/04: By the way, if you are interested in this topic, you are probably also interested in my big scoop story from October 2004 on how John Kerry and George W. Bush compare in IQ, as indicated by their scores on IQ-like military aptitude tests. The original story is here. A follow-up story putting the whole question of presidential IQ in historical perspective is here. You can read all sorts of reactions to my study, including the interview where Tom Brokaw asked John Kerry about my article here in my October blog archive. (Just scan down through my blog items for lots of good material mixed in with irrelevant stuff.) And, you can read what Kerry told Tom Brokaw off camera about why his score might have been worse than Bush's here.
Finally, I'm going to be adding material on IQ and the new 2004 elections on my blog at www.iSteve.com. So check in periodically.]
a moment, I thought Sen. John F. Kerry was the exception to the rule
that all liberals are secretly obsessed—even though they tell each
other they don’t believe in it—with IQ.
"The 2004 IQ Wars: So much for the candidates, what about the voters?" My new VDARE.com article is up. I publish, for perhaps the first time anywhere, a table of average IQs by states from a study of Vietnam Vets. It won't tell you anything about who deserved to win the election, but it is interesting.
To give you a sense of why people familiar with IQ testing instantly scoffed at the validity of the hoax data claiming the average IQ in Connecticut was 113 and in Utah was 87, it's important to understand how IQ tests are scored. The mean is typically set at 100 and the standard deviation at 15. This means that Utah's average person would fall 1 and 11/15th standard deviations lower than the average person in Connecticut. Using the Normdist function in Excel, you can easily put this on a percentile basis. This hoax data therefore implies that a Utah resident of average intelligence (50th percentile) would be only at the 4th percentile in Connecticut. The average person in Connecticut (50th percentile) would suddenly be at the 96th percentile if they moved to Utah. Well, that's nonsense.
In contrast, here is a good-faith attempt at making up a realistic list of states by IQ and voting. The methodology probably isn't perfect, but the results are a lot more plausible than the hoax numbers. These guesstimated state averages range only from 94 to 104. (By the way, in most of the Red states at the bottom of the list, the main reason they are at the bottom is because of the lower average IQs of the Democrats in those states.)
IQ by state hoax updates: Let's step back a bit and try to figure out how the original hoaxer created his table of IQ by State data supposedly showing that almost all the smartest states voted for Gore.
What the guy did, I believe, was take average income by state and make up IQ scores off that. That gives a certain surface credibility to his made up numbers because, no doubt, there's some kind of positive correlation between IQ and income in reality. I plotted his data on a graph and it's just a straight line with minor random perturbations to make it look more authentic. There are no significant outliers like there are with real data. Moreover, his range of average state IQs is too big: from 85 in Mississippi to 113 in Connecticut. I'd bet the real range is about, say, 90 to 105.
Also, his method of faking the IQ scores off the income data badly underestimates the IQ of the big empty Republican states where the cost of living is much lower because there is so much land per person. That's how he got ridiculous numbers in the low 90s and even 80s for almost all-white states in the Great Plains and Great Basin, where people can enjoy a high standard of living on a lower income than on the two crowded coasts. In reality, those states are among the highest scorers on the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests. But incomes are relatively low there because the cost of living is so low.
Finally, his argument is probably a little more accurate for the white populations -- there is probably a modest positive correlation between voting for Gore and higher IQ -- but just among whites. (In contrast, higher IQ blacks and Hispanics vote a little more Republican than their lower IQ cousins. For example, in the 2002 midterm elections, for which I bought the long lost exit poll data when the Roper Center put it on sale in 2003, 55% of Hispanics who were college graduates voted for a Republican candidate for he House compared to only 27% of Hispanics who are high school dropouts. Similarly, 16% of blacks who are college grads vote Republican compared to only 2% of blacks who are high school dropouts.) Of course, Gore got over a quarter of his support from blacks and Hispanics.
But. this scam fooled so many white liberals because white liberals don't really think much about nonwhites. They just think about all the ways they are superior to conservative whites!
More hoax debunking: Some spreaders of the hoax data have attributed it to the The Testing Agency. I asked Wendy Lord, the firm's Chief Psychologist, about the data. She emailed me back:
I do think representative data for at least larger states might be available -- the military spends a fortune getting a nationally representative sample of over 10,000 civilians to validate its Armed Forces Qualification Test (the one used in The Bell Curve), so we could probably attain representative scores for bigger states and regions. But I haven't seen any of that data by state. If you know of any (from legitimate sources!), please email me.
UPDATE: Some spreaders of the hoax data have attributed it to the The Testing Agency. I asked Wendy Lord, the firm's Chief Psychologist, about the data. She emailed me back:
I do think representative data for at least larger states might be available -- the military spends a fortune getting a nationally representative sample of over 10,000 civilians to validate its Armed Forces Qualification Test (the one used in The Bell Curve), so we could probably attain representative scores for bigger states and regions. But I haven't seen any of that data by state. If you know of any (from legitimate sources!), please email me.
UPDATE: IQ by state hoax crumbling -- Under pressure from me, the American Dissembler (excuse me, the American Assembler blog) has constantly changed its story about the IQ by State table it has done so much to disseminate to liberal websites under the heading "States With Higher IQ Vote Democrat." Now (early Sunday morning), its latest ploy is to try to laugh the table off as a joke, which was hardly what it was saying before:
"This chart has some people up in arms
"Some folks have no sense of humor. We made it pretty clear that, even if these stats are for real, which, as we stated in English, we have no evidence that they are, we think this chart is a joke... All we can say is, lets face it, the last "tortuous" two weeks have been depressing. Everyone could stand some levity about now."
I'm kind of sorry I managed to puncture this nascent liberal urban myth so quickly. Nothing demonstrates the hypocrisy of Democrats on the topic of IQ than the enthusiasm with which so many leapt aboard this bandwagon as a way to prove they were mentally superior to Republicans, despite, in the near-decade since the publication of The Bell Curve, having constantly denounced IQ tests as meaningless, racist, and evil incarnate.
Anyway, lots more below on the fabrication, along with a lot of honest information about intelligence, by state and by nation.
Hoax Update: The table of IQs by state spreading across liberal blogdom is purportedly based on the Ravens Advanced Progressive IQ Matrices test. Psychometrician Chris Brand tells me: "John Raven knows of no comprehensive State-by-State data for his test."
The IQ by State hoax is spreading -- Lots of liberal blogs are posting it because it makes them feel superior to see scientific proof that Blue States are smarter than Red States. This is just like the Lovenstein Institute Hoax of a couple of years ago when a lot of Democrats fell for some jokers claiming to have proven that Jimmy Carter had a stratospheric 175 IQ while George H. W. Bush had only a 98 IQ (in reality, Bush the Elder graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale in 2.5 years), and that Bill Clinton's IQ was an Isaac Newton-like 182, while George W. Bush's was 91.
What makes it so ironic is that liberals denounce IQ tests as the spawn of the devil, except when they are citing them to prove Republicans' inferiority. As I wrote in 2000: "Honest talk about IQ would expose some deeply personal inconsistencies among our most influential thinkers. Although the typical white liberal intellectual claims he wants to censor discussion of IQ to shield black self-esteem, his sometimes-berserk reactions reveal that he finds it a peril to his own. He considers himself superior to ordinary white people for two contradictory reasons: a] He constantly proclaims his belief in human equality, but they don't; b] He has a high IQ, but they don't."
The original source for the IQ by State data, as far as I can tell, is somebody calling himself "Robert Calvert" who posted the table to a Mensa discussion group in November of 2002. A skeptical Mensa respondent pointed out:
What is even more surprising is the correlation between IQ and income - using Excel I get a correlation coefficient of 0.92, extremely high for this kind of data. The scatter plot is a textbook straight line. Every extra IQ point means another $400 per annum. There is no need to compute the regression line, you can read the result right off the graph. If I didn't know better I would think that the data had been cooked up to support the income-IQ relatedness theory. However, you appear to have a different motive: [to prove Democrats are smarter than Republicans.]
"Calvert" claims the IQ numbers are from the Ravens Advanced Progressive Matrices test, but that test is only for higher IQ individuals, such as applicants for executive jobs. Instead, the Standard Progressive Matrices are the correct test for determining the average population of a large region.
"Calvert's" numbers are clearly fallacious: for example, Utah, according to him, has an average IQ of 87, the second lowest in America. Yet, on the National Assessment of Educational Progress achievement tests, its children score above the national average on Reading, Math, and Science, and Utah trails Connecticut (purported IQ of 113) by only small amounts on every subject except Writing, where Utah does oddly bad. And Utah is ahead of New York (purported 109) in several categories.
In terms of education and party voting, there existed in 2000 a U shaped pattern, with Gore doing best with the least and most educated.
This comes from the Voter News Service exit poll of 13,000 voters.
If you weight this data on a 1 to 5 scale, with the the high school dropouts as 1, then the two candidates are almost exactly equal, with Bush edging out Gore by the meaninglessly tiny margin of 3.29 to 3.28. This means the average Bush and Gore voters both fall between "Some College" (3.0) and "College Graduate (4.0).
A couple of caveats: First, people exaggerate their education. It's unlikely that 18% of voters actually had graduate degrees. Second, a large fraction of Gore's votes from Graduate Degree holders came from schoolteachers, and many don't consider Ed School masters and doctorates to be in the same class in terms of mental demands as other advanced degrees.
UPDATE: In the 2002 House races according to the long-delayed VNS exit poll data that was finally released in 2003, "Republicans won for the first time in decades among those claiming to have post-graduate degrees. They even captured a majority of women with college or post-graduate degrees."
UPDATE: NOV. 4, 2004
How smart are Bush and Kerry voters? I'm getting thousands of hits today because last May's IQ by state hoax is hot again as Kerry supporters try to console themselves by proving that they have higher IQs than Bush supporters. But what about 2004?
Probably the simplest and surest way to get actual data on this question is by looking at the education level demographics in the exit poll data. As I've mentioned, I'm cynical about the accuracy of Tuesday's monopoly exit poll, but it's probably as good we've got. So, let's put education credentials on a 1 to 5 scale with:
No high school degree = 1
High school degree, no college = 2
Some college, no degree = 3
College graduate = 4
"Postgrad study" = 5
In 2000, Bush's voters had almost higher levels of education, with an average of 3.29 to 3.28 for Gore voters. (A 3.29 means that the average Bush voter fell 29% of the way between Some College and College Graduate). Gore did best with high school dropouts and those with postgrad study, and Bush did best in-between.
In the 2002 midterms, GOP candidates for the House attracted a particularly brainy bunch of voters, garnering a 3.37 to the Democratic House candidates' voters' 3.21. GOP house candidates carried college graduates by a 58-40 margin, and even won a majority among those with post-graduate study. (Please note that the post-grad category gets inflated by Democratic-voting public school teachers with advanced degrees in Education.)
In 2004, however, Bush went slightly down-scale, with an average voter educational level of 3.24 to Kerry's 3.32. Bush did much better among high school dropouts in 2004, attracting 49% of their vote, compared to only 35% in 2000.
The gap was narrower among voters for the House candidates with Democratic supporters averaging 3.31 to Republicans 3.28. (This suggests that the small number of people who voted for a Republican House candidate but not for Bush were particularly well-educated). In sum, these are not big differences.
More on IQ and Voting: Here's the education levels of voters in the 2002 Midterm elections broken out by race. This comes from the long-lost exit poll data that I bought and personally number-crunched. GOP candidates for the House of Representatives did exceptionally well with the well educated in 2002, especially compared to Bush's rather downscale re-election campaign in 2004.
As you can see, with each race, the GOP did the worst with high school dropouts. With whites and Hispanics it did the best with college grads, and among blacks, Republican candidates greatest appeal was to those who had done postgrad studies (not necessarily a postgrad degree -- and all this is self-reported so there is likely some exaggeration of credentials, although voters do tend to be better educated than nonvoters.)
So, overall, there was a positive correlation between educational level and Republicanism. Still, the fact that for whites, there was a drop-off between college grad and postgrad in support for the GOP indicates
For comparison, here are the GOP candidates for the House's share of whites in 2002 versus Bush's share of whites in 2004. The 2004 numbers come from a post-election phone poll of 1800 respondents conducted by James Carville and Stanley Greenberg's Democracy Corps (see p. 34 of this big PDF):
Republican House candidates in 2002 got 59% of the white and Bush in 2004 got 58%, so it's a clean comparison. Clearly, Bush's re-election campaign appealed to people farther down the educational ladder than the 2002 House candidates, although the difference is not huge.
Scott Marquardt graphs IQ, income, and voting by state. IQ comes out a wash but Kerry states tend to be richest, followed by very heavily Bush states, with moderately Bush states the poorest.
On an individual level, Bush did somewhat better with high income people, but something that jumps out from the county maps showing the vast, empty red counties and the small, crowded blue counties is that while liberals may not be particularly rich themselves, liberals like to live near rich people.
I'm actually quite serious about this. One of the big things going on in the country is that people with bigger families are moving to the emptier Red states where it's easier to afford a bigger family. People with no or few kids are moving to the more crowded Blue states, where cultural amenities are denser.
I asked the college student who posted the table where he got the data and he replied:
The statistics are from the book "IQ and the Wealth of Nations," by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen. See here for more info: http://allconsuming.net/item.cgi?isbn=027597510X
It turns out that this table is going around the liberal blogs, such as the Daily Kos. For example, the American Assembler claims:
"This chart is derived from taking the Ravens Advanced Progressive Matrices of average IQ by state (Source:IQ and the Wealth of Nations)"
This same attribution pops up verbatim on other sites.
Well, it's a HOAX.
I own "IQ and the Wealth of Nations." I read it extremely carefully. I've written a lengthy review of the book: http://www.vdare.com/sailer/wealth_of_nations.htm. As the title suggests, it's about the average IQs of nations, not states. There's nothing in it about IQs by states.
Also, anyone familiar with the topic would quickly recognize the fallaciousness of the data. The 113 figure for Connecticut is way too high. That's about what Connecticut would be if it was all-Jewish. It's not. The 87 for Utah is a joke.
Somebody probably got the idea from Lynn & Vanhanen's book and made up some numbers by starting with the income table (that's why the correlation with IQ is so high). The goal, obviously, was to make Democrats feel superior.
The funny thing is that this hoax will be the first time that any liberals will have ever heard of IQ and the Wealth of Nations, which is probably the most important book published in this century.
Honest data on smarts by state! In contrast to the bogus "IQ by State" hoax data going around on liberal sites like Daily Kos (see below), the invaluable Ken Hirsch has tabulated the latest state by state official National Assessment of Educational Progress scores against the 2000 election results. Obviously, 8th graders can't vote. But I'm not the one claiming that the average person in Utah's IQ would be only at the 4th percentile in Connecticut. We can take a look at real, honest data that correlates to some degree with IQ and see that the differences just aren't that great and that there's is a mixture of red and blue states at the top and the bottom of the list.
by NAEP 8th
Grade Math Public Schools Score (2003)
Math Averages (Means) (not weighted by population):
Bush States: 276.5
Gore States: 277.1
by NAEP 8th
Grade Reading Public Schools Score (2003)
Reading Averages (Means) (not weighted by population):
Bush States: 262.2
Gore States: 262.5
So, the Gore states scored a fraction of a point higher than the Bush states, but there was essentially no difference.
National Assessment of
By the way, this page makes a good faith attempt to estimate average IQs by state from SAT and ACT scores. The methodology is far from bulletproof, but the author's results sound not too implausible: his estimates range from an average of 94 in Mississippi and South Carolina to 104 in New Hampshire. If you can think of a better way to do it, send the author an email.
As you may have noticed from eyeballing the data, the highest-scoring states don't have much in common except they tend to be quite ... well, northern (if you get my drift). In his obituary for Daniel Patrick Moynihan, George Will coyly wrote:
"The Senate's Sisyphus, Moynihan was forever pushing uphill a boulder of inconvenient data. A social scientist trained to distinguish correlation from causation, and a wit, Moynihan puckishly said that a crucial determinant of the quality of American schools is proximity to the Canadian border. The barb in his jest was this: High cognitive outputs correlate not with high per-pupil expenditures but with a high percentage of two-parent families. For that, there was the rough geographical correlation that caused Moynihan to suggest that states trying to improve their students' test scores should move closer to Canada."
Sure, George and Dan, whatever you say! It must be playing hockey that makes you monogamous and thus smart.
Anyway, cutting through the euphemisms, here are the correlations between test scores and percent of a state's population that is non-Hispanic white:
0.70 Math (i.e., % of whites "explains" 49% of variation)
0.79 Reading (62%)
Q. Do smart whites vote Democratic?
A. Sort of.
Contrary to the IQ hoax data, I've shown that there was no obvious difference between the Bush States and the Gore States in school achievement. But, if we look at the scores on the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress achievement tests for white 8th graders as a proxy for how smart the state's white people are, we see Gore carried the white voters in the five states with the highest achievement scores. On the other hand, Gore didn't carry the whites in any of the next 18 highest scorers, so the effect is not huge. It's much smaller than in the hoax IQ by state table.
But, this helps explain why so many white Democrats fell for the hoax. See, when white liberals say to themselves, "Democrats are smarter than Republicans," what they really mean is: "White Democrats are smarter than White Republicans." They are thinking in apartheid white-only terms, because they don't think of minorities as being real Democrats. Minority Democrats are just props to demonstrate the moral superiority of white Democrats.
(Technical note: I don't have actual scores, just the percentage who scored at the Proficient level or above, but that should be fairly similar to the average score. So, don't take these rankings as carved in stone. They are just indicative of general trends.)
A few comments: Massachusetts' white students continued their fine performance, which goes back to the 17th Century Puritans. New Jersey continues to outshine its outdated stereotypes. Minnesota's whites scored very well for a state without many Jews. Colorado was the highest scoring state that voted for Bush, and it's second to Massachusetts in highest percentage of adults with college degrees. Virginia and North Carolina score very well for Southern states. In fact, Virginia's whites outscored Maryland's whites, which is interesting because right of center people in the D.C. suburbs move to Virginia while left of center people move to Maryland.
California's whites scored well under the national average, which is pathetic for a state that has brain-drained the rest of the country for a century (e.g., Richard Feynman). That must say a lot about the quality of public schooling in California. Rhode Island's whites did much worse than their neighbors in MA and CN, but I'm not sure why. Hawaii's whites scored dreadfully. But West Virginia's whites (who voted for Bush by less than the national average) are in a class by themselves at the bottom of the chart.
Washington D.C. has by far the most liberal whites in the country (voting 67% for Gore, 20% for Bush, and 12% for Nader), but so few of these white liberals send their children to D.C.'s public schools that the NAEP didn't find enough white students in D.C. to report a statistically trustworthy score.
(You can see the math and reading tables by state aggregating all races here.)
IQs by State, 1960 -- You probably remember the notorious "Democratic states have higher IQs" hoax from last May. Well, here, thanks to Prof. Henry Harpending of the U. of Utah anthropology dept., might be the closest thing to a national sample of IQ scores ever: the Project Talent database of 366,000 9th-12th grade students. Unfortunately, it is 44 years years old. Nonetheless, it correlates reasonably with 2003 NAEP 8th grade achievement test scores (here are the 2003 scores). As you can see, in this list of kids' IQs back in 1960, of the top 10 smartest states, in 2000, Bush and Gore each won five. So, we're back to my original conclusion: red states and blue states are similar in average IQ, as are, on average, Republican and Democratic voters.
Some caveats: These IQ scores are set with the national mean of the 366,000 high school students equal to 100 and the standard deviation set to 15. But, keep in mind that we are only beginning to explore this huge database, so take everything with a grain of salt.
There weren't adequate sample sizes from Alaska, Washington DC, and South Carolina, and I excluded South Dakota because the result was too different from North Dakota. (I think something might be confused about both South Carolina and South Dakota -- I'll try to find out more.)
Harpending also looked at whites only data (unfortunately, the majority of participants doesn't have a race recorded) with the smartest whites (which I suspect is all that white liberals care about -- feeling smarter than white conservatives) were (in descending order): Connecticut, Montana, Nevada (I bet that's not true anymore!), Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Virginia. The dumbest whites were in (in descending order): Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Kentucky. All of these states voted for Bush in 2000. I suspect, however, that air conditioning and the abolition of the caste system have some good for the test scores of whites in the south, especially in North Carolina. Here, for purposes of comparison, is the 2003 NAEP public school achievement tests for white 8th graders.
Honest Data: Average IQ by Nation: "Robert Calvert," the joker who apparently fabricated the data in the table that purports to show that smart states voted overwhelmingly for Gore in 2000, claims to have been inspired by the fascinating and important 2002 book "IQ and the Wealth of Nations" by Richard Lynn (emeritus professor of psychology at the U. of Ulster) and Tatu Vanhanen (emeritus professor of political science at the Universities of Helsinki and Tampere and, interestingly, father of the prime minister of Finland.) As the title suggests, that book is about nations, not states. There is no table of data on IQ by state in it, as many have claimed.
On the other hand, it does contain a fascinating table listing average IQs for 81 nations, based on 168 national IQ studies, almost all of them published in refereed scientific journals. Lynn and Vanhanen then correlated IQ with per capita GDP and found a correlation of 0.73.
I'm reproducing their table below, but please read my review of their book for important caveats and a discussion of which way the arrow of causality points: from IQ to income or vice-versa? I wrote recently about the United Nations report that confirmed Lynn & Vanhanen's argument that the best thing we can do to help the Third World overcome poverty is to help much of the Third World overcome IQ deficits caused by a lack of micronutrients such as iodine and iron. The U.N. summarized: "Few outside specialist circles are aware of the scale and severity of vitamin and mineral deficiency, or of what it means for individuals and for nations. It means the impairment of hundreds of millions of growing minds and the lowering of national IQs… And it means the large-scale loss of national energies, intellects, productivity, and growth."
When reading the chart below, don't assume small differences are meaningful. Lynn and Vanhanen's methodology is rather heroic in its assumptions, so differences of, say, less than five points are probably unreliable. Also, scores for individual countries are probably not too reliable, either. Regional patterns, such as the very high scores found in the five Northeast Asian countries (counting Chinese-settled Taiwan and Singapore as Northeast Asian), however, are of great importance in understanding the world we live in.
In this table, "fitted GDP" is a calculation of what per capita income would be expected to if all you knew about the country was its average IQ. For example, Hong Kong registers the highest average IQ (107 on a scale where the U.S. is 98). It would be expected, based on a simple regression model of these 81 countries to have a per capita GDP of $19,817, which is quite close to its actual GDP of $20,763.
China, on the other hand, with an average IQ of 100, two points higher than the U.S., would be expected to have a per capita GDP of $16,183. Instead, it's per capita GDP is only $3,105 (presumably due to decades of Maoist insanity, among other problems). This massive gap between the high potential of Chinese workers and their low wages explain why so many hundreds of billions of dollars of overseas capital is being invested in that country.
If you invest in overseas stocks, you should buy IQ and the Wealth of Nations to help you find countries with high potential workforces who are currently earning less than they could if their economies were better ordered. It's analogous to Warren Buffett's value investing -- it's safe to assume that eventually the governments of China and Poland, say, will figure out how to make their constituents as prosperous as other high IQ countries.
Frighteningly, the U.S. looks rather overvalued. Of course, we make up for it by working longer hours than our European competitors. But the very long run future of our competitiveness versus smart and hardworking Northeast Asia does not look bright.
The heart of IQ And The Wealth Of Nations is its Appendix 1, which describes each of the 184 studies.
Lynn and Vanhanen's summary listing of mean IQ scores for the 81 countries has been available on the web for some time. (Here, on Lynn's website is his list. And here are other copies of the summary list: wordIQ, sq.4mg, Griffe, Nuenke.)
Unfortunately, everything on the web heretofore has made Lynn and Vanhanen's results look like a black box. This has had two bad effects.
If you've actually studied Appendix 1, and seen the methodological hurdles Lynn and Vanhanen have had to deal with, you're not likely to say things like, "L&V showed that Sweden's IQ is higher than Norway's." Sure, they came up with a 100 estimate for Sweden and a 98 estimate for Norway. But the reality that's apparent in Appendix 1 is that there's way too much noise in the data for fine distinctions like that to be trustworthy.
To open up the black box, I've created a table displaying virtually all the information Lynn and Vanhanen provide on each IQ study they used—not just the overall the national results you've seen so far.
This should prove highly useful to future researchers.
Skeptics are likely to be surprised by how robust and consistent the findings tend to be.
The rest of my article is here.
From my VDARE.com article in May 2004:
On the other hand, secretly, IQ remains a vital subject in nice liberal neighborhoods, where upper middle class parents strive desperately to get their kids into public school gifted programs that have extremely exclusive IQ requirements (and thus few black or Hispanic students).
Four years ago, I wrote a five-part VDARE.COM series on how to help the left half of the IQ bell curve. In my first article, "IQ and Why We're Afraid to Talk About It," I noted:
"Honest talk about IQ would expose some deeply personal inconsistencies among our most influential thinkers. Although the typical white intellectual claims he wants to censor discussion of IQ to shield black self-esteem, his sometimes-berserk reactions reveal that he finds it a peril to his own self-image. The typical white intellectual considers himself superior to ordinary white people for two contradictory reasons: First, he constantly proclaims his belief in human equality, but they don't. Second, he has a high IQ, but they don't."
So, which is it, liberals?
A. IQ tests are meaningless, racist, and the spawn of the devil.
B. IQ tests prove that liberals are superior to conservatives.
Because IQ remains wildly popular among Democrats for the purpose of asserting mental superiority over Republicans. Look at this table headed "So Democrats really are smarter." The prestigious magazine The Economist (with which we’ve had to criticize before) picked it up from one of the hundreds of liberal blogs that gleefully circulated it earlier this month.
The Economist, May 15, 2004, p. 26
[The Economist retracted this in a subsequent issue.]
Among many ironies, The Economist falsely attributed this table to " IQ and the Wealth of Nations by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen (2002)." That landmark book, with its fascinating table of average IQs for 81 countries, is about nations, not states.
"The book’s thesis—that a country’s prosperity is closely related to the average IQ of its population—should have made the cover of The Economist because of its devastatingly important implications. But, although some academics took notice, it was ignored by the mainstream media."
As far as I can tell, this phony table is the first time The Economist has deigned to mention Lynn and Vanhanen's two-year-old book.
But the table printed in The Economist is a HOAX.
The rest of the article is here.
Churchill on the horrors of WWI: "When all was over, torture and cannibalism were the only two expedients that the civilized, scientific, Christian States had been able to deny themselves: and these were of doubtful utility."
Two definitions of "patriotism:" Saying your country is the best versus wanting what's best for your country. I vote for the second definition.
The Gypsy style in China: A reader comments on Gypsy-like begging techniques in China and on what was the purpose of kidnapping children (like little Adam Smith when the future economist was four):
In China we encountered gangs that congregate around big cities like Guangjhou (Canton). They buy light-skinned babies and, when kids are 5 or so, put them to work as heart-tugging panhandlers. One Hong Kong friend of Pauline's family had their child kidnaped and went on a two-year panic search. They finally recovered their girl, whose arm had been amputated to add appeal to the pitch. In Guangjhou we encountered a little boy asking for money. After giving him food for two days, we noticed that he was badly bruised. My wife informed the cops, who took the boy's father into custody. Turns out, Dad was angry the boy did not bring money as instructed and punished him with severe beatings each time he came home empty-handed. My grandparents used to tell my father and uncles haunting stories about the Ragman who took children. For Chinese parents, recovering from an economic system that vented only misery upon its people, this is reality.
The mysterious War Nerd writes about the cheap weapon -- the Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) -- that's giving us so much trouble in Iraq.
Friends -- The Real Final Scene -- Like when Pam woke up on Dallas and realized that all the misbegotten plotlines of the previous season were just a bad dream and none of it happened, Rachel wakes up and says, "I had the most horrible nightmare. I dreamed I had a baby a year ago, and I hadn't taken any care of it. I've paid more attention to a Tomagotchi. Instead, I spent all my time hanging out at the coffee shop with my stupid friends and sleeping around. The baby had no impact on my self-absorbed lifestyle whatsoever. Thank God the last year has been just a terrible dream."
The media won't talk about it, but a lot of people are wondering whether the heavy female participation in sexually humiliating Iraqi men at Abu Ghraib indicates some kind of anti-male lesbian ring in operation. It's hardly an implausible speculation, considering the high percentage of lesbians among women who make the Army their careers, so I went looking for evidence.
And found ... zilch. Nada. For example, Gen. Janis Karpinski ... an obvious lesbian, right? Well, she's been married for 29 years. And so it goes down the list. So, scratch that theory.
Peggy Noonan on Abu Ghraib:
The most distressing of the scandal photos is, to me, the one of an American woman, a GI, who is laughing, holding a cigarette and aiming her fingers as if comically shooting or aiming at a group of prisoners, presumably Iraqi. They are naked and hooded. She looks coarse, cruel, perhaps drunk. And as I looked at her I thought Oh, no. This is not equality but mutual degradation. Can anyone imagine a WAC of 1945, or a WAVE of 1965, acting in this manner? I can't. Because WACs and WAVEs were not only members of the American armed forces, which responsibility brought its own demands in terms of dignity and bearing; they were women. They apparently did not think they had to prove they were men, or men at their worst. I've never seen evidence to suggest the old-time WACs and WAVEs had to delve down into some coarse and vulgar part of their nature to fit in, to show they were one of the guys, as tough as the guys, as ugly at their ugliest. But the young woman soldier in the scandal photo--she looked, shall we say, confused about these issues. It was chilling. Perhaps we should be worrying about that, too.
A lot of Muslims are saying right now, "When you let women take their veils off, this is what happens." (Of course, veiled Muslim women sometimes do terrible things to the enemy wounded after the battle is over, but logical consistency is not terribly important to these people.) This is a bad, bad setback for our cultural offensive to make Muslim societies less bloody-minded about treating women.
And it wasn't just six bad apples responsible for this, like a lot of Iraq Attaq supporters are claiming. It likely goes a lot farther up the ladder. (The six are being punished for being so stupid as to take pictures of their war crimes, not for being the lone offenders.)
When you are fighting a guerilla war, you need to get prisoners to talk. The military and intelligence agencies have developed elaborate procedures for breaking prisoners down psychologically without resorting to too much raw violence (especially of the kind that leaves marks). What we see here is an semi-amateur version of the traditional American style of interrogation described by Mark Bowden last year in The Atlantic.
Remember, the guerilla leaders want to provoke us into doing this. So, this kind of stuff is inevitable when you have to fight a guerilla war without an indigenous ally to do the bad stuff for you. The last time we won a guerilla war was in El Salvador in the Eighties, and we had local army and paramilitaries who were more than happy to do for us stuff you don't want to know about. We had to spend much of our time trying to get them to be a little less evil. In Iraq, though, we don't have a side. Roughly nobody is fighting for us. So we've got to do it all by ourselves. Hence, Abu Ghraib.
Look, maybe I'm a wimp about war, but General William Tecumseh Sherman wasn't, and here's what he told military cadets:
"Boys, I’ve been where you are now and I know just how you feel. It’s entirely natural that there should beat in the breast of every one of you a hope and desire that some day you can use the skill you have acquired here. Suppress it! You don’t know the horrible aspects of war. I’ve been through two wars and I know. I’ve seen cities and homes in ashes. I’ve seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. I tell you, war is hell!"
And the American civil war was one of the most gentlemanly ever fought. Guerilla war is worse.
$79.5 billion here, $87.5 billion there, $25 billion over there, pretty soon you're talking about real money: The Bush Administration is unexpectedly asking Congress for another $25 billion for Iraq until Congress can vote for the big 2005 appropriation.
Charles Murray on religion: Good interview in Reason magazine on what Charles learned from researching Human Accomplishment and his own ex-Buddhist Quakerish-agnosticism.
Everybody's talking about Bush denouncing his skeptics as racists for not believing that the Iraq Attaq will turn Mesopotamia into a democracy. Here's John Derbyshire's take. Interesting quote:
Does our own president believe in [multiculturalism]? I feel sure that [Bush] does. He is a sincere man, and also a very religious one, in the apologetic, guilt-addled, world-embracing style of upper-class white American Christianity. Further, I don't think he has the kind of mind that responds critically to social dogmas. If they appeal to his emotions, and are widely believed, or at least repeated, by the people he moves amongst, he will incorporate them into his worldview, and from then on will defend them with the iron-willed certitude that is, of all his character traits, the one most useful to our nation in this time of war. Everything George W. Bush has said and done indicates that on matters of race, ethnicity, "diversity," and multiculturalism, he is as liberal as it is possible to be.
Are women soldiers in their element? Yesterday, I worried that war was even worse psychologically for American women than men. A reader responds:
"I'm not a big believer in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in men - people are undoubtedly evolved to slaughter their neighbors. I would worry more about modern men suffering psychological ills from 'slaughter deficiency'. And women are psychologically tougher than men, so don't worry. Women have been torturing enemies to death for eons. I bet most of them enjoyed every minute of it."
"When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier."
Quentin Tarantino on Mel Gibson:
LA Weekly: So you saw The Passion of the Christ?
Quentin Tarantino: I loved it. I’ll tell you why. I think it actually is one of the most brilliant visual storytelling movies I’ve seen since the talkies -- as far as telling a story via pictures. So much so that when I was watching this movie, I turned to a friend and said, “This is such a Herculean leap of Mel Gibson’s talent. I think divine intervention might be part of it.” I cannot believe that Mel Gibson directed it. Not personally Mel Gibson — I mean, Braveheart was great. I mean, I can’t believe any actor made that movie. This is like the most visual movie by an actor since Charles Laughton made The Night of the Hunter. No, this is 15 times more visual than that. It has the power of a silent movie.
Chalabi & Frum: One of the great mysteries of the Iraq War is why in the world did the neocons decide that convicted embezzler Ahmed Chalabi, the man most responsible for the WMD fraud, was the future George Washington of Iraq.
Well, now John Dizard in a Salon.com article entitled "How Ahmed Chalabi Conned the Neocons" has illuminated this puzzle: Chalabi exploited the neocons' loyalty to Israel.
"Ahmed Chalabi is a treacherous, spineless turncoat," says L. Marc Zell, a former law partner of Douglas Feith, now the undersecretary of defense for policy, and a former friend and supporter of Chalabi and his aspirations to lead Iraq. "He had one set of friends before he was in power, and now he's got another." While Zell's disaffection with Chalabi has been a long time in the making, his remarks to Salon represent his first public break with the would-be Iraqi leader, and are likely to ripple throughout Washington in the days to come.
Zell, a Jerusalem attorney, continues to be a partner in the firm that Feith left in 2001 to take the Pentagon job. He also helped Ahmed Chalabi's nephew Salem set up a new law office in Baghdad in late 2003. Chalabi met with Zell and other neoconservatives many times from the mid-1990s on in London, Turkey, and the U.S. Zell outlines what Chalabi was promising the neocons before the Iraq war: "He said he would end Iraq's boycott of trade with Israel, and would allow Israeli companies to do business there. He said [the new Iraqi government] would agree to rebuild the pipeline from Mosul [in the northern Iraqi oil fields] to Haifa [the Israeli port, and the location of a major refinery]." But Chalabi, Zell says, has delivered on none of them. The bitter ex-Chalabi backer believes his former friend's moves were a deliberate bait and switch designed to win support for his designs to return to Iraq and run the country...
Why did the neocons put such enormous faith in Ahmed Chalabi, an exile with a shady past and no standing with Iraqis? One word: Israel. They saw the invasion of Iraq as the precondition for a reorganization of the Middle East that would solve Israel's strategic problems, without the need for an accommodation with either the Palestinians or the existing Arab states. Chalabi assured them that the Iraqi democracy he would build would develop diplomatic and trade ties with Israel, and eschew Arab nationalism. Now some influential allies believe those assurances were part of an elaborate con, and that Chalabi has betrayed his promises on Israel while cozying up to Iranian Shia leaders.
Newsweek now reports that Chalabi is buddying up to his fellow Shi'ites in Iran, perhaps even sharing American secrets with our traditional enemies.
But U.S. intelligence agencies have recently raised concerns that Chalabi has become too close to Iran's theocratic rulers. NEWSWEEK has learned that top Bush administration officials have been briefed on intelligence indicating that Chalabi and some of his top aides have supplied Iran with "sensitive" information on the American occupation in Iraq. U.S. officials say that electronic intercepts of discussions between Iranian leaders indicate that Chalabi and his entourage told Iranian contacts about American political plans in Iraq. There are also indications that Chalabi has provided details of U.S. security operations. According to one U.S. government source, some of the information Chalabi turned over to Iran could "get people killed." (A Chalabi aide calls the allegations "absolutely false.")
David Frum rushed a vindication of Chalabi onto National Review Online: "The Chalabi Smear." All of you aspiring writers out there who are worried that maybe you aren't quite good enough to be a professional, well, just read Frum's latest and ponder the amazing fact that he's getting paid for stuff this transparently awful. So, why shouldn't you get paid too?
Better yet, read Frum's piece along with Noah Millman's refutation on Noah's Gideon's Blog. (Noah blogs only intermittently, because he has been entrusted with vast financial responsibilities, but he's brilliant on the Middle East.) Here's Frum in italics, followed by Noah:
Frum: ITEM: Salon magazine last night published a lengthy attack on Chalabi by John Dizard. In it, former Chalabi business partner Marc Zell calls Chalabi a “treacherous, spineless turncoat,” for failing to deliver on Chalabi’s alleged promises to open Iraq to trade with Israel. I don’t know that these promises were ever made – and if made, I wonder whether Chalabi ever suggested that they would rank first on a new Iraqi government’s list of priorities. But never mind that: Chalabi has not exercised executive power in Iraq for even a single day. How exactly was it ever possible that he would carry out any promise about anything to anyone?
Noah: Hey, don't breeze by the fact that key Chalabi promoters picked their man because he promised to normalize relations between Iraq and Israel. A legitimate case can be made for that goal as a foreign policy priority, but it seems to me the neo-cons have been spilling a lot of ink denying that Israel had anything to do with the case for war against Iraq. But even letting that breeze by: is Frum claiming that Dizard made the line up? Or is he saying that Dizard was a fool for taking Chalabi's promises at face value? Or what, precisely, does he mean by "How exactly was it ever possible that he would carry out any promise about anything to anyone?" Is he seriously suggesting that the problem with our war effort so far is that we haven't installed Chalabi as dictator yet, so that he'd be able to fulfill his promises to guys like Zell?...
This has gotten beyond embarrassing. It's become dangerous...
... we now know some things. We know that Sistani is the most credible leader among the Shiites - and he's religious leader who resolutely refuses to hold political power to boot; how about that?. Guys like that don't come by the dozen. We also know - and knew beforehand - that Jordan had a potentially pivotal role to play in postwar Iraq. The old Iraqi royal family was the same Hashemite clan that reigns in Jordan, and ethnic ties between the Jordanians and the Sunni Arab Iraqis are strong. Jordan is also among the most liberal Arab societies and about as solidly pro-American as Arabs come these days. It would be hard to think of an Arab country in a better position to be helpful in Iraq than Jordan, and harder to think of a more potentially helpful Arab family than the Hashemites...
So in retrospect, if we cared about having a stable Iraq, maybe we should have gotten the Hashemites more closely involved pre-war. Maybe we should have consulted more closely with Sistani in the immediate post-war period...
Oh, and what do the Jordanians and Sistani have in common? Well, one thing that comes to mind is that they hate Ahmad Chalabi. Chalabi was convicted in absentia of defrauding a Jordanian bank; even those who question the political motivation of the charges can't deny that this suggests he is not loved in Amman. Is this because Chalabi is a Shiite democrat? Hardly; Sistani has been a forceful advocate for the Shiites and against clerical rule, and Sistani will not deal with his fellow Shiite, Chalabi. And in this, the Jordanians and Sistani are in tune with the Iraqi people, who also can't stand Chalabi, according to all poll results.
Chalabi was the man we placed our bets on pre-war, and we continued to bet on him post-war (and we're still betting on him, at least a little bit). And we've lost our shirt on those bets. We were cool pre-war to the idea of bringing the Hashemites into the equation, in part because Chalabi objected. (Indeed, he claimed that bringing them in would be a betrayal of Iraqi democracy, and would justify resistance to the Americans. This kind of statement still didn't get us to drop the guy.) We kept Sistani at arms length for months, in part because Chalabi was cool to him...
So here's my message to Robert Kagan - and to every other war supporter whom I still consider credible, and look to for sane advice on how to deal with the mess we're in. I have a new credibility test for you: whether you are willing to say bad things about Ahmad Chalabi.
Is soldiering bad for American women? I suppose that the prominent role women soldiers played in the Abu Ghraib disgrace will be saluted as smashing the final sexist taboo: at last, American women are free to be war criminals!
It raises some disturbing questions about the gender integration of the American military, however. You have to worry about the psychological toil that war will take on our women. We know now that war harms a lot of male soldiers psychologically. It seems awfully likely that the impact on women will be even worse.
All about torture -- Mark "Black Hawk Down" Bowden explained the use of torture in interrogations last year in The Atlantic Monthly. American interrogators aren't supposed to torture people, just use "stress and duress," a kind of Torture Lite.
Also, Fred Reed puts it in perspective here. Fred's an old soldier and military journalist. A few years ago he decided that war, which seems so important at the time, is actually, when viewed in the long run, just something that males do.
Torturing Arabs -- The French tried it in Algeria in the 1950s. It succeeded tactically, but the French public didn't have the stomach for it, and it didn't make the Arabs and Berbers want to reconcile with the French either.. You can read about it in my review of The Battle of Algiers.
More on the bogus 1492 C.E. (Common Era) dating terminology -- I complained below about the new-fangled practice of describing dates with the initials C.E. instead of the A.D. that everybody is familiar with. Worse, the "C.E." isn't supposed to mean what it obviously means -- "Christian Era" -- but the meaningless "Common Era." A reader writes:
I agree we should keep the AD/BC. It shouldn't matter that we have people that are not Christians. After all our days of the week are name for Nordic gods and Saturday is name for Saturn. In Latin derived countries they are name for the Roman gods. But Christian countries don't get upset about using pagan gods for the day of the week.
How true. Of course, if anti-Christians in the elite keep up the kind of pointlessly nasty attack that this "Common Era" nonsense represents, then we'll start to see Christians becoming ever more radically counter-cultural. They'll start spelling "Sunday" as "Sonday" and all the rest.
UPDATE: A reader writes:
minutes and seconds are Babylonian.
A Conjecture: A reader writes:
The more effort parents put into their children, the less likely they are to have grandchildren, because the children see how much work it is to be a parent.
Bush calls Iraq skeptics racists: The President said:
"There's a lot of people in the world who don't believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern. I reject that. I reject that strongly. I believe that people who practice the Muslim faith can self-govern. I believe that people whose skins aren't necessarily -- are a different color than white can self-govern."
George Will replied:
That is one way to respond to questions about the wisdom of thinking America can transform the entire Middle East by constructing a liberal democracy in Iraq. But if any Americans want to be governed by politicians who short-circuit complex discussions by recklessly imputing racism to those who differ with them, such Americans do not usually turn to the Republican choice in our two-party system...
Ron Chernow's magnificent new biography of Alexander Hamilton begins with these of his subject's words: "I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be." That is the core of conservatism. Traditional conservatism. Nothing "neo" about it. This administration needs a dose of conservatism without the prefix.
General Odom says: Let's git out soon:
Arnaud de Borchgrave reports for UPI:
If it wasn't a quagmire, it was certainly quagmiry. And the first prominent retired general to break ranks with President Bush's Iraq war policy was a Republican who once headed the National Security Agency and also served as a deputy national security adviser. Gen. William E. Odom, a fluent Russian speaker who teaches at Georgetown and Yale universities, told the Wall Street Journal's John Harwood staying the course in Iraq is untenable. It was hard to disagree with Gen. Odom's description of Mr. Bush's vision of reordering the Middle East by building a democracy in Iraq as a pipedream. His prescription: Remove U.S. forces "from that shattered country as rapidly as possible."
Gen. Odom says bluntly, "we have failed," and "the issue is how high a price we're going to pay — less by getting out sooner, or more by getting out later." At best, Iraq will emerge from the current geopolitical earthquake as "a highly illiberal democracy, inspired by Islamic culture, extremely hostile to the West and probably quite willing to fund terrorist organizations," Gen. Odom explained. If that wasn't enough to erode support for the war, he added, "The ability of Islamist militants to use Iraq as a beachhead for attacks against American interests elsewhere may increase." Gen. Odom, heads of the pro-Republican Hudson Institute, also calls the sum achievement of U.S. occupation of Iraq "the radicalization of Saudi Arabia and probably Egypt, too. And the longer we stay in Iraq, the more isolated America will become."
In 1999, I had dinner with Gen. Odom, who headed the Reagan NSA. The retired three star general is no wimp: after Margaret Thatcher finished her after-dinner speech, Gen. Odom stood up and denounced her anti-German reunification leanings after the fall of the Berlin Wall. She, not surprisingly, fired back as good as she got. In fact, after question time was over, the former Prime Minister came over to our table and went jaw to jaw with Gen. Odom for 20 minutes, the two of them doing a good impression of an irate baseball manager and an umpire. He finally announced, "During the Revolutionary War, your ancestors wore stupid red coats and my ancestors hid behind trees and shot them" (or words to that effect). Mrs. T. started laughing, and they went off to the bar and talked like the old pals they are for the next two hours.
Star Wars missile defense near operational in Alaska -- It's far from ready for prime time, but the odd thing about our hit-to-kill interceptors is that there's an easy way to make them much, much more effective: put a nuclear weapon in the tip. The current system is like going bird hunting with a rifle. A nuke designed to go off in the general vicinity of an ICBM is a shotgun.
American women sexually humiliating Iraqi men-- a bad idea: A reader writes:
Abusing POWs invites reprisals by the enemy. It is especially dangerous for U.S. forces to humiliate enemy troops in a SEXUAL way, as was apparently done in Iraq. Why? Because the U.S. armed forces puts female troops into combat theaters. I shudder to think what might happen to the next U.S. female soldier (e.g., Pvt. Jessica Lynch) captured by hostile forces in Iraq or Afghanistan. As shocking as are the photos of Iraqi POWs being sexually humiliated by their U.S. captors, just imagine the photos of sexual abuse inflicted upon an American female POW by angry Iraqi or Afghan fighters.
New VDARE.com column at left...
UPDATE: Demonstrating the remarkable influence wielded by irony-laden iSteve.com paragraphs, the U.S. has responded to my posting below by dumping General Saleh and by replacing him with a former secret policeman, who looks even more sinister.
Is it just me, or does the man to whom we're handing Falluja, former Republican Guard General Jasim Mohamed Saleh, remind you of anyone in particular?
Why are we messing around with some road show Saddam wannabe when we could put the real deal himself back in the saddle? He knows how to deal with rebels. As James Pinkerton jokes in The American Conservative: "Iraq needs someone who can establish central authority, restore a monopoly on violence, and eliminate the bin Ladenites. We know just the guy... Saddam: He's tanned, he's rested, he's ready!"
* from Won't Get Fooled Again by The Who
I never understood who they are trying to kid with this "Common Era" stuff. You know, how we are now supposed to say Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492 C.E. (Common Era). Or the Battle of Marathon was in 490 B.C.E. (Before Common Era).
"Common" to whom? Muslims? They've got their own calendar -- it was the year 898 (I am told) their time, not 1492. Common to the Jews? Nope. Common to the Hindus, Buddhists, and Confucians? Don't make me laugh.
C'mon "C.E." only makes sense if it stands for "Christian Era." There's nothing common about a dating system that begins with the estimated birth year of Jesus Christ. And since the system is inextricably Christcentric, why don't we just keep "A.D." and "B.C.," which everybody understands, instead of introducing new abbreviations that confuse 95% of the public? Or is confusing the public the goal of much of contemporary intellectual activity?
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For the convenience of search engine users: Although the correct spelling of my name is "Steve Sailer," people looking for me often spell my name as Steve Sailor, Steve Saylor, Steven Sailer, Steven Sailor, Steven Saylor, Stephen Sailer, Stephen Sailor, Stephen Saylor, Steven E. Sailer, Steven E. Sailor, Steven E. Saylor, Stephen E. Sailer, SteveSailer and more.