Tuesday, March 29, 2005

All jews think alike

All jews think alike.

In addition, his massive spike in shrillitude mirrors my own comparisons of the extremist right to National Socialists.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Te(ll)rry Care

Plumber falls for one of their right-wing jedi mind tricks by allowing the republicans to go right back to criticizing the Democrats on religious issues immediately after the Schiavo incident.

The entire Schiavo incident demonstrates how in touch Democrats are with the average american when it comes to religious issues and how out of touch the right wing is. Americans want as little interference from government as possible. That's why the right has been so successful in portraying Democrats as "against" various religious symbols. The right is only successful when they can portray democrats in this light.

Exempli gratia: Democrats "oppose" the ten commandments. Average american: "I like the ten commandments. How can they oppose my right to like the ten commandments?!"

Democrats are "pro-choice". Most americans are "pro-choice".

So I argue we should turn this Schiavo thing into an inverse Hilary-care for the republicans, beating them about the face and neck with the fact that they were so interventionist, continually refreshing the public's memory of the incident over the coming months and years.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Profound insight

The debate on Terri Schiavo is between those who define a person by their DNA and those that define a person by their mind.

That is all.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


So I happen to have CNN on and the Steroid hearings come on. Of course my initial reaction weeks ago when Canseco first went on his book promotion talk show rounds was that it was bad that players were doing it and good that Canseco exposed it. This is because I felt pity for these players who were endangering their health unnecessarily in pursuit of their career, and thought Canseco was doing a good thing by revealing it.

Then I thought about all those other people in various professions who risk their lives to do their work. Coal miners or crab fishermen could reduce the risk to their lives by being less efficient coal miners or crab fishermen, but they don’t. Professional athletes are essentially entertainers. There is something in watching the process of a man hitting a five ounce ball of twine over a quarter of a mile with a single swing of a tree branch that affirms something about the human condition. It is entertaining. Steroids make these entertainers more entertaining. So maybe Canseco was right when he said steroids were a good thing.

In addition, I thought of Leo Strauss who argued for an esoteric-exoteric distinction, applying the famous triplet of Hillel. Maybe Canseco was wrong in exposing this because, while pro-players should juice, the millions who fantasize about being those players should not. By living the lie, the players were providing good entertainment while also suppressing the publicity given to steroids.

But then I remembered that this is the aspect of Strauss that can be dangerous. Clearly, Strauss does not ultimately believe in this distinction because he wrote down his material. Maybe Canseco is ultimately correct in bringing this issue to light so that it can have our scrutiny (see what all jews believe on right) and apply G-d’s greatest gift to humanity, our reason, to this issue.

Then again, how can we trust with this demos to apply that gift?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Why Norm Angell is wrong.

There may be some readers who notice my posting has been light lately. This is mainly because I have been wrestling with this question for the past week. But since Matt can’t stop talking about this guy, I’ve managed to gather my thoughts on the subject. Matt Yglesias and Brad Delong brought up Norm Angell this past week. Norm Angell argued that great powers will not go to war because the huge economic costs negate any possible gains by the winner. He argued this in 1913.

Great powers don’t go to war because their rulers want to get richer. Great powers go to war because people are stupid.

One world war previous to Angell’s writing, the French revolutionary wars and Napoleonic wars (which are another good example of why Sharansky is also wrong), were caused when a corrupt expansionist power’s imposition of the costs of empire imploded and the resulting turbulent entity spreads chaos to the rest of Europe. In WWI the German and Russian powers imploded, and well…

Sharansky is partially right when he talks about the fact that elites on top of a tumultuous and dissatisfied society will seek an external foe on which to concentrate the energies of the demos. The growing wealth inequality of the nineteenth century, manifesting as the gilded age in America and the Edwardian period in Britain, led to the turbulent first half of the twentieth. Similarly, the wealth inequality in France led to its revolution and terror. This paradigm also applied to the War of Spanish Succession (which was severely aggravated by recession, leading to the French shutting off Spanish colonial trade with Britain and the low countries). All the way back to the Spanish and Hapsburg consolidation of power through the use of gun powder, which resulted in the Thirty Years War as that technology more thoroughly spread across Europe, we can see the elite (Hapsburgs) consolidating power by directing the energies of an oppressed demos against an externalized foe.

So Norm Angell is incorrect because he believes that nations go to war to capture wealth. As an elite becomes increasingly entrenched, and the demos becomes increasingly dissatisfied with its lower relative position (due to decreasing social mobility: the wheel of fortune stops spinning), the elite seek new ways to distract the demos from that dissatisfaction. Eliminating that dissatisfaction would cost the elites their entrenched status, so they will seek to channel the frustrations of the demos against external (and sometimes internal) “enemies”.

Not only is Norm Angell incorrect, I also believe he is incorrect even with nukes. The reason is that people thankfully don’t yet control nukes. Persons control nukes, and persons have a history of being somewhat reasonable.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Definition of Terrorism

Matt Yglesias points to this Columbia Journalism Review article denying the existence of a concrete definition of terrorism.

The difference between a terrorist act and a military act is the same as the difference between punitive and preventative sanctions. A terrorist act makes no sense in terms of projecting power except when taking into account the reaction of the terrorized. A military act projects power without regard to the reaction of the targets. Terrorism is a PR campaign that incorporates punitive¹ violence against its audience.

Some illustrations: Chechens massacre elementary school children. The Chechen soldiers expended in the mission were no doubt more valuable as strategic assets then the children they massacred. Therefore this incident is terrorism because it would make no sense except as influencing the decisions of the Russians. Aerial bombing: If the resources expended in the effort are justified purely by the destruction of the opposition’s ability to make violence (and not their will to make such violence) then it is not terrorism. If the resources expended require both the direct destruction of opponent’s abilities and inhibition of their will to be justified, then it is terrorism.

Nine eleven: terrorism because the attackers wished to send a message rather then incapacitate America, it is terrorism. The Cole attack was a legitimate military operation since military casualties inflicted by the radicals partially incapacitated the US’s ability to project its power in the middle east. Sure it was covert and irregular, but then again, so are US special forces. Killing the innocent close family of a judge is clearly an attempt to influence that official and therefore terrorism. Assassination is separate from terrorism and well defined.

We don’t approve of terrorism or torture in modern society for the same reasons. Both attempt to force others to carry out one’s own will. We currently prevent criminals from carrying out further crimes by isolating them from society. We used to simply lock people in the pillory and torment them (often to the point of maiming) for a few hours rather then isolate them from society. The purpose was to create a disincentive to crime through punitive measures, as opposed to inhibiting the criminal’s ability to do crime through imprisonment.

By extension then, the set of terrorists is a subset of propagandists. A military may engage in propaganda, but not all of its soldiers are propagandists.

¹: I specify punitive. I guess there could be a “Get punched in the face by a Gangsta Rappa” raffle as promotion for a consumer product. This does not qualify as terrorism due to the fact that the violence is viewed as desirable by the audience (people who want to get punched in the face by a rapper).

Friday, March 04, 2005

Inbred Hicks

Did I mention that the Wôl-Märt entity has been incarnated inside inbred hicks?


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The real reason US universities have succeeded

Nazis engaging in a book burning.

Becker Posner argues..., well argues something. This week the posts seem to meander around without a discernable thesis. However, they both speculate that the success of American academia is indication that "the American university system must be doing many things right." I think that's not necessarily true given that American universities were not exactly world class until after the Nazis had wrung every bit of intellectual courage out of Europe.

Considering Nobel laureates in Physics as a crude measure of academic excellence, the differences before and after the rise of fascism are stark. In the 36 award years before WWII (no physics Nobels were awarded in ’16, ’31, ’34, ’40, ’41, ’42) the US was represented among recipients six times (including three times in the thirties after Fascism had cast its shadow across Europe). In the first 36 award years after the war, Americans were represented among recipients in 21 years.

According to this wiki, Ernst Cassirer, the dissertation advisor to Leo Strauss, considered Harvard too provincial to accept their offer of a visiting professorship sometime between 1906 and 1919 despite eventually taking visiting professorships at Yale and Columbia after WWII. Schumpeter, Hayek, and Godel are all good examples of European intellectuals chased out by the rise of Fascism.