Do anti-Bush folks have low IQ or are they simply intellectually dishonest?

May 11, 2004

It seems that Democrats really really want to believe they are smarter, but it turns out they’ve been hoaxed.

Now we are getting all this evidence of Saddam’s WMD, connections w/ Al Queada both before and after 9/11 and they don’t want to hear it. Laurie Mylorie notes:

Opinion polls show that most Americans still believe Iraq had substantial ties to al Qaeda and even that it was involved in 9/11. Yet among the “elite,” there is tremendous opposition to this notion. A simple explanation exists for this dichotomy. The public is not personally vested in this issue, but the elite certainly are.

America’s leading lights, including those in government responsible for dealing with terrorism and with Iraq, made a mammoth blunder. They failed to recognize that starting with the first assault on New York’s World Trade Center, Iraq was working with Islamic militants to attack the United States. This failure left the country vulnerable on September 11, 2001. Many of those who made this professional error cannot bring themselves to acknowledge it; perhaps, they cannot even recognize it. They mock whomever presents information tying Iraq to the 9/11 attacks; discredit that information; and assert there is “no evidence.” What they do not do is discuss in a rational way the significance of the information that is presented.

Her testimony to the 9/11 commission is also fascinating. Of course, people like my friend J don’t want to read any actual evidence or discussion of it.

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Saddam 9/11 Link Confirmed

May 11, 2004

So now we know that Saddam had WMD (escaped to Syria and almost used in Lebanon). We know that he was cooperating with Al Queada at least after Aghanistan (because that was where the Jordanian terrorists were recruited). And now Edward Jay Epstein confirms that Saddam was working with Al Queada in the run-up to 9/11. What else is there?


Religion/Patriotism vs Atheism/Internationalism

May 4, 2004

Apropos my last post about the left-liberal abandonment of America as an idea, I just read this review of Samuel Huntington’s new book.

Huntington’s challenge to the roster of leading intellectual superstars does not stop here. Many who do not share this basic antipathy to the nation nevertheless come under his critical scrutiny because they are too squeamish to take the elementary steps needed to promote the nation; they follow the weak path of willing the ends while denying the means. He cites, for example, Michael Walzer (“A radical program of Americanization would really be un-American”) and Dennis Wrong (“Nobody advocates ‘Americanizing’ new immigrants, as in the bad old ethnocentric past”). This opposition to Americanization, Huntington declares, “is a
new phenomenon in American intellectual and political history.”

But he provides a context/reason

Aiding this intellectual disaffection have been various effects stemming from economic trends of globalization that work to devalue the idea of the nation in general. The modern economy creates a class of transnational elites who identify more with the world than the nation: “The economic globalizers are fixated on the world as an economic unit . . . as the global market replaces the national community, the national citizen gives way to the global consumer.” At the head of this new class of transnationals are the “Davos” men and women, whose ranks include not just business executives but global bureaucrats and members of various internationally minded NGOs. These are the people whose hearts thrill at a ruling from The Hague, whose loyalty goes first to the United Nations, and who regard any expression of patriotism as an act equally as atavistic as attending religious services.

Note the lines here religion/patriotism vs atheism/internationalism. Its a strange mix because the history of the nation-state and America in particular is tied, among other things, to the assertion of an identity *independent* of ones religion. During the 1960’s the modern left came into existence, abandoning the notion of America as representing the pinnacle of liberal values to the notion that America isx the foremost oppressor of other people’s cultural authneticity.
Huntington gives voice to the difference between neo and paleo conservatism that George WIll identified

Huntington argues that America has two sources of identity. The first he calls “the Creed,” by which he means the basic principles of individual rights and government by consent of the governed as these are drawn from universal arguments, such as can be found “most notably in the Declaration of Independence.” The Creed claims to make its appeal to rational precept (to “nature”), which is in principle available to all people. (It is curious that Huntington selects the term “creed” to refer to this dimension, as the word evokes powerful connotations of acceptance on the basis of faith.)

THE SECOND ELEMENT of identity is Culture. Culture, as any social scientist knows, is a most useful concept until one is confronted with the task of having to say exactly what it means. Huntington does his best, defining it at one point as “a people’s language, religious beliefs, social and political values, assumptions as to what is right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate, and to the objective institutions and behavioral patterns that reflect these subjective elements”–in brief, nearly everything. But Huntington boils the concept down, as he must, and culture comes to refer to language (English), to religion (sometimes “dissenting Protestantism,” sometimes, more broadly, “the Christian religion”), and to a few basic English ideas of liberty. America’s culture, in Huntington’s shorthand, is “Anglo-Protestantism.”

Huntington formulates the central paleo-argument:

The problem with Creedalism in this arena is its clear “imperial” implication. Huntington is a nationalist, but a moderate one who has little use for contemporary international Creedalists who believe that “people of other societies have basically the same values as Americans, or if they do not have them, they want to have them, or if they do not want to have them, they misjudge what is good for their society, and Americans have the responsibility to persuade them or to induce them to embrace the universal values that America espouses.”
[…]
Huntington ties the origin of the Creed to Anglo-Protestant culture, but he does not–or does not quite–equate origin with essence. He grants that the Creed can–indeed has–spread, albeit in an attenuated form, to nations that are not Anglo-Protestant. But there is no question that his argument moves in the direction of saying that spreading the Creed very far afield, given its chiefly cultural origins, is a delusion.
[…]
A great deal of what is most lovable about America, and perhaps also higher and more valuable, is contained in the Culture, not in the Creed. For Huntington, it is clearly not just a matter of convenience that Americans have one language, which happens to be English; rather, it is important that we speak English and find our roots in Shakespeare, not Cervantes. By the same token, it is not just a matter of convenience for Huntington that America is chiefly Christian, rather than Buddhist or Islamic. He wants it to be that way. More broadly, he argues that such preferences are justified, and they should be openly defended and preferred–not be made objects of shame, hidden from view. But Creedalism (at any rate, the zealous Creedalism that Huntington attacks) is not only indifferent to these cultural preferences, but it is almost antagonistic to them.

As I said before, the failure of the Paleo-conservatives is that they seem almost antagonistic to the advocacy tools available today.


Conservative vs. Neo-Conservatives vs Left-liberalism

May 4, 2004

From George Will

Pat Moynihan said: “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”
[…]
The issue is the second half of Moynihan’s formulation — our ability to wield political power to produce the requisite cultural change in a place such as Iraq. Time was, this question would have separated conservatives from liberals. Nowadays it separates conservatives from neoconservatives.

Although George Will is attacking neo-cons in his piece, I largely agree with his forumation. Though, I would phrase it with more nuance. Both conservatives and neo-cons believe that local culture needs to change. The difference is that Neo-cons hope that we can influence culture through politics/institution-building; that failure to do so will result in much less pleasant forms of cultural-change (memecide). My criticism of paleo-conservatives is that they have no program for cultural change. Perhaps they believe it is not possible, but I can imagine a program of propaganda, PR, advertising, branding etc that might be more effective than the troops doing liberating and holding local elections. The problem conservatives have is that they seem to believe that these are all left-liberal tools and have abaondened them to the left-liberal ad agencies in New York and Hollywood and the real paleo-cons at Al Jazeera.

Note: Neo-cons are typically policy geeks who baseline view cultural expression as noise. Positive expression of American values may be a casualty of America’s culture wars.


Kofi-gate/UN-SCAM coverup continues

May 4, 2004

From the NY Post

May 4, 2004 — WASHINGTON – The United Nations yesterday threw up a stone wall in the oil-for-food scandal, insisting that contracts between the world body and private companies should not be turned over to investigators.

In a defiant move that has infuriated probers, Secretary-General Kofi Annan threw his support behind a letter from former oil-for-food head Benon Sevan to officials of a Dutch company that inspected Iraqi oil shipments. The letter directed the company not to hand over documents to congressional committees and other “governmental authorities.”


Why People Matter

May 4, 2004

Whether “Great Men” or historical trends drive change is a common coffee/beer debate topic. I’m generally on the side of former (strongly influenced by the Mule character from Asimov’s Foundation trilogy when I was a kid). Either way, it is very clear that management matters A LOT in running a company or a country. The French stolen passports and the Chinese SARS outbreaks are examples of governmental incompetence. Via WinterSpeak, here is a story about AT&T Wireless’ incompetence. It is scary how much they got wrong in the process. Stuff that is so basic about software development. No version control. No rollback. No break the built rules. Nothing! Wow.


SARS Chinese incompetence (like France?)

May 4, 2004

Via Fried Man.
Yet another SARS outbreak is hitting China. Apparently because the lab that accidentally caused the last outbreak just did it again!

he latest outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in China, with eight confirmed or suspected cases so far and hundreds quarantined, involves two researchers who were working with the virus in a Beijing research lab, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday (April 26).

“We suspect two people, a 26-year-old female postgraduate student and a 31-year-old male postdoc, were both infected, apparently in two separate incidents,” Bob Dietz, WHO spokesman in Beijing, told The Scientist.

As Dan said in response to my post about thousands of blank French passports being stolen multiple times. “it’s like, “oh, there goes another batch. bummer. fromage, anyone?”

Its bad when its blank passports. It may be worse when its SARS.

“Normally, it’s not possible to contaminate people even under level two confinement, if the security rules are obeyed, with the appropriate hoods, and so on,” Danchin said. SARS work requires level three. “So it suggests there has been some mishandling of something.”

“The lab might have all the right rules, but the people may not comply! For example, notebooks are not supposed to be taken out, a lot of things like that. A virus doesn’t jump on people!” Danchin said.

Perhaps this is why the first thing that VCs look at when deciding to invest in a company is its management.