Archive for March, 2010

Megashark Infographic: Shark vs. Airliner

Posted in Bizarre, Cool stuff with tags on March 17, 2010 by lumpy

FANTASTIC!

Oh, go on!

New Class from Telos

Posted in Grad School, Revolution with tags , , , on March 16, 2010 by lumpy

Well, not a journal I’d usually pick up, but Kenneth Anderson over at the Volokh Conspiracy recommends this article at Telos, and it is an interesting one.  Here’s the first paragraph:

The paradigm of a “new class” originated in socialist Eastern Europe among dissidents and other regime critics as a way to describe the ensconced stratum of managers, technocrats, and ideologues who controlled the levers of power. The rhetorical irony of the phrase depended on the implied contrast with an “old class” as well as the good old class theory of the orthodox Marxism that once served as the established dogma of half the world. The history of class struggle, which had been history altogether, had culminated in the victory of a proletarian class that in turn had ushered in—or was well on its way to ushering in—a classless society. Or so the grand narrative went. To talk of a “new class,” then, conjured up the unquestionable epistemology of class analysis, while simultaneously challenging the notional outcome: instead of the end of the state and classlessness, one was stuck with police states and a new class that, while eminently cooler than the Bolsheviks of yore, still exercised a dictatorship (of the not-proletariat) while skimming off the benefits of unequal power. The phrase turned Marxism against Marxism during those decades when the fall of the Berlin Wall was not even imaginable.

Go on!

Slate Does Andrew Breitbart

Posted in Media with tags , , , , on March 16, 2010 by lumpy

Big Breitbart: Andrew Breitbart is messing with you, by Christopher Beam

It’s a nice, big, four page look at the man who started the Huffington Post (for a liberal friend), then three conservative sites: Big Government (which broke the ACORN scandals), Big Journalism, and Big Hollywood, as well as Breitbart TV.

Go on!

Why Invade Iraq: A Background Post

Posted in Background with tags , on March 11, 2010 by lumpy

I put this in the comments over at Blackfive and thought I’d put it here for future reference:

First off, because Saddam used Oil-for-Food money to build palaces, buy friends, bribe UN administrators, fund terrorist organizations outside Iraq, and purchase weapons instead of feeding and providing medical care for his people, it is estimated that containing Iraq caused possibly as many as half a million civilian Iraqi deaths. Whether that number is high or not, it was being used as propaganda throughout the Mideast to recruit terrorists to AQ and other organizations. Continuing the ceasefire policies was untenable on a moral level and was stupid on a geopolitical level if terrorism is a concern.

Second, Saddam had signed contracts w/ France and Russia to give their oil companies multi-billion dollar development projects as soon as the sanctions ended, so even had we wanted to continue, containment was going to fail. At some point, very probably in 2003, the UN Security Council would have either ended sanctions or gutted them.

Third, the ceasefire signed in 1991 (yes, we were technically at war w/ Iraq from 1991 – 2003) required Saddam to prove he did not have WMDs or programs to produce WMDs. The burden of proof was on him, not the Coalition. Even so, post-invasion, our troops found clear evidence of dormant WMD programs, so had the sanctions ended, it is obvious that Saddam intended to resume WMD R&D. Saddam’s WMDs did not need to be a direct threat to the continental US to be a threat to our vital national interests, including key allies such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, etc. In 30 years of rule, Saddam was responsible for Iraq being at war in all but the first two years. Maintaining a permanent state of war was his method of remaining in power and that was unlikely to change in his lifetime, and quite possibly in the lifetime of his successor, likely to be his son.

Additionally, biological weapons are a serious concern. Terrorists have very good bioweapons delivery potential, and all they lack is a nation willing to risk US retaliation and give them the bugs. Saddam had made a joke out of the US and the UN for 12 years; he was a hero in the Mideast for defying sanctions. He was living proof of the impotence of the West, and especially the US, to retaliate against a state. It was exactly that presumed impotence that lead AQ and other terrorist organizations to escalate violence against the US, believing that in the end the US would just lob a few cruise missiles at suspected terrorist sites and issue stern, meaningless warnings.

I agree there are other states whose sponsorship of terrorism was (and is) of great concern. However, we had UN resolutions that authorized war against Iraq in 1990, were officially in a state of war through 2003, and Iraq had repeatedly violated the terms of the ceasefire, so Iraq was a terrorist sponsor we could actually do something about legally with direct military action. No other nation fell into that category, so no other nation would have been a legitimate target. In addition to the legal justifications, we also had a staging area for troop buildup, a coalition of more than 30 nations ready to go in w/ us, Saddam’s military was debilitated after 12 years of sanctions, and Saddam’s open defiance of the US called into question our ability to act in a way that no other nation’s actions had. These conditions made the invasion of Iraq a far easier and far better proposition than similar actions against other state sponsors of terrorism. Other nations were being dealt with in other, more appropriate ways.

Regarding the decision to invade Iraq, Bush had independent reports from multiple US agencies as well as British, French, and Russian intelligence agencies that all agreed that Iraq had developed WMD capabilities. There were disagreements and even contradictions among all these various sources as to exactly what those capabilities were, but all agreed Iraq had WMDs and was a threat to the US and / or US allies and interests. The idea that Cheney’s opinion was the only reason Bush invaded Iraq is contradicted by so much evidence that it is absurd.