Why I am voting for Bush

July 30, 2004

In his nomination acceptance speech last night Kerry basically said that he would not attak another country until AFTER we had been attacked. Living in the city that is one of the two most likely targets of a terrorist “first” strike, I’m going to chose the guy who will attempt to stop them in the first place. Yes, I understand this process is messy. I just prefer the mess to be over there.

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Why persuasion by evidence/reason is hard?

July 29, 2004

Causing someone to believe something requires either a chain of logic or a set of evidence. If to believe proposition p, someone also has to believe e.g,. proposition p1-p3 and the probability of convincing them of each of one p1-p3 is 66%, then the proabilty you will be able to convince them of p is only 30%! Before you embark on convincing someone of something using reason or evidence, think about the probability of your success. Is it really worth it? Perhaps it is more efficient simply to make them like or fear you and agree with you for those reasons. If you go with that approach, try the techniques described here.


Do “Palestinian Refugees” mean that Israel should annex the territories?

July 27, 2004

There are 1.65M Arabs living in “refugee camps” in the West Bank (700k) and Gaza (954k) holding out for settlement into Israel. It is quite clear that allowing these people all to settle into Israel would rapidly mean the end of Israel’s existence as a Jewish state and the likely followon attempted genocide of the Jews living their. It is also quite clear that these people have no valid claim on a right to settle in Israel. So the “Palestinian” “Refugees” are a mortal threat to Israel and their claims of refugee status means that they have renounced any claims of a particular right to settle in the West Bank or Gaza.

What follows is obvious: Israel should deport all the “Palestinian” Refugees” from Gaza and the West Bank, annex the territories, and give the remaining Arab residents citizenship.

  • But, what about the demographic issues of absorbing so many Arabs? There are 2.3M Arabs in the West Bank, 1.3M in Gaza, and 1.25M in Israel for a total of 4.85M Arabs in territory controlled by Israel. There are 5.5M Jews in the same area. Those numbers are indeed awefully close for something to remain a “Jewish State”. On the other hand, after subtracting the refugees the ratio drops to 3.2M Arabs to 5.5M Jews (36%).
  • But, who will accept and settle these refugees? Israel should offer a $10k per capita settlement payment for each refugee accepted by another country. Given that there are lots of countries in the world with GDP per capita under $5k, accepting these people should be a no-brainer for many governments. The total cost for all the refugees would be $16.5B. Given that Israel has a GDP of $121B, a defense budget of $10b, Israel could finance this at $1b/year for the next 20 years. The savings in the cost of defense would make it well worth it!
  • But, 3.2M Arabs, 36% of the population is still A LOT! I’m not sure I agree, but if it is a concern, lets assume we want to reach 20% (1.375M Arabs). That would require persuading an additional 1.825M to leave. Given that GDP per capita in the West Bank and Gaza are $800 and $600 respectively, $2k per capita should be enough to convince the vast majority of these populations to depart. For a total marginal cost of $3.65B.
  • But, what about about the human rights of the deported refugees? They chose to be refugees and they bear the consequences. The non-refugee Arabs are being compensated for moving elsewhere. What is wrong with that?
  • But, what about the inevitable disapproval of the international community? It forfeit its right to an opinion in the travesty at the Hague regarding the wall.

Sane vs Insane differences

July 27, 2004

Wretchard encapsulates the substantive policy difference between the parties:

two opposing, and therefore contradictory visions, are contending for the electorate this November. The first argues that despite the shortcomings of multilateralism, diplomacy and concession, it is still the best way to settle accounts with radical Islam. It will concede that more might have been done to prevent September 11 but it will maintain steadfastly that the alternative, which was to strike at enemies the way they have struck at us is fundamentally wrong and dangerous. And by exclusion it will maintain that whatever the dangers of Clintonian policy the world was safer then than it is today. Ths second point of view will argue that eight years of wilfull blindness; supporting Bosnian Muslims; ignorning the A. Q. Khan network of nuclear proliferation, buying North Korea its own reactors and receiving Yasser Araft at the White House; the whole policy of concession, bought not a whit of safety. It will argue that our enemies are even now on the point of obtaining nuclear weapons to turn against us, and will if we return to the policies of the past. It will concede that there have been disappointments in Iraq, but that by any historical yardstick our progress to victory — and here is the unique word — has been steady, irresistable and therefore inevitable.

The first point can be reasonably argued. The question is why the Democrats have chosen liars and cheaters to do so (Wilson, Clarke, Berger) and whether they can really argue that there was a tolerable multi-lateral alternative in Iraq..


Russia to Grozny Fallujah?

July 27, 2004

According to the Asia Times:

Do not be surprised to see three or four divisions of the Russian army in the Sunni triangle before year-end, with an announcement just prior to the US presidential election in November. Long rumored (or under negotiation), a Russian deployment of 40,000 soldiers was predicted on July 16 by the US intelligence site http://www.stratfor.com, and denied by the Russian Foreign Ministry on July 20.

The article suggests that this is a change of policy from attempting to appease Muslims into believing we are on their side (as in the Balkans), and now simply to kill resistance. The US does not have the stomach to do Fallujah, but the Russians most definitely do! Also the Russians want to learn the effective things the US does…


Maybe Teenage Pregnancy is a good thing

July 26, 2004

A friend forwards this post from Philip Greenspun:

Now that I’m 40 years old most of my friends are in their riper years. The women who are trying to have children in their late 30s and early 40s are going through torture. Hormones, needles, in-vitro fertilization, miscarriages, etc. Maybe teenage pregnancy isn’t such a bad idea after all. I wonder if in pre-industrial societies it wasn’t the case that the grandparents did most of the child-rearing that required judgement and experience. The teenage girl did the child-bearing but was still living surrounded by extended family so that her 30-35-year-old mom and mother-in-law could provide adult guidance for the baby. Perhaps we believe that teenage pregnancy is bad only because our family structures have been broken up.


Postrel and Nussbaum explain Bush Derangement Syndrome

July 26, 2004

Virginia Postrel notes:

When I was in New York a few weeks ago, a friend in the magazine business told me he thinks the ferocious Bush hating that he sees in New York is a way of calming the haters’ fears of terrorism. It’s not rational, but it’s psychologically plausible–blame the cause you can control, at least indirectly through elections, rather than the threats you have no control over.

Charles Krauthammer (former psychiatrist) identified this ferocious Bush hating as Bush Derangement Syndrom (BDS)

the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency — nay — the very existence of George W. Bush.

Although both Postrel and Krauhthammer’s accounts are anecdotal, they appear to be identifying something very real. Over at Reason, Martha Nussbaum (who taught at Brown when I was there) places these emotions in a broader psychological context:

Disgust, I argue (drawing on recent psychological research), is different. Its cognitive content involves a shrinking from contamination that is associated with a human desire to be non-animal. That desire, of course, is irrational in the sense that we know we will never succeed in fulfilling it; it is also irrational in another and even more pernicious sense. As psychological research shows, people tend to project disgust properties onto groups of people in their own society, who come to figure as surrogates for people’s anxieties about their own animality. By branding members of these groups as disgusting, foul, smelly, slimy, the dominant group is able to distance itself even further from its own animality. Such irrational projections have been involved in antisemitism through the ages, and in misogyny in more or less every society.

So perhaps liberal intellectuals hate Bush so much because these people have a deep desire to be non-animal. Being non-animal means being above/outside the reality of cultural/religious/national/tribal conflict and competition. Being animal means realizing that occasionally one must choose between killing or being killed and acting now or acting later.

Lee Harris thinks we talking only about forgetfulness:

Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe. . . . They forget that in time of danger, in the face of the Enemy, they must trust and confide in each other, or perish.

They forget, in short, that there has ever been a category of human experience called the Enemy. And that, before 9/11, was what had happened to us. The very concept of the Enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary. An enemy was just a friend we hadn’t done enough for — yet. Or perhaps there had been a misunderstanding, or an oversight on our part — something that we could correct.

And this means that that our first task is that we must try to grasp what the concept of the Enemy really means.

The Enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you. And while it is true that the Enemy always hates us for a reason — it is his reason, and not ours.

Although his account of the enemy is correct, the problem is not simply forgetfulness. Although it would be nice to believe that reminding is the cure, Nussbaum et al give us reason to believe more is required. We are looking at active rejection of contamination. Although, I don’t think the emotion is disgust exactly, it certainly looks related.