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Obama Proves Hillary Right! Let's Invade Pakistan!



Hillary Clinton said that Barack Obama was naive on foreign policy. And obviously out to prove her point for her, he suggests that we might unilaterally invade Pakistan.

Pakistan is an ally. Pakistan has nuclear weapons.

That's the end of Obama's rookie campaign. Sure, there will be backpedalling big time, but not fast enough. He's done.

ETC: Pale Ride says rightly in the comments, "Don't forget Edwards was talkin' tough about Saudia Arabia last week. So let's see, some Democrats want to piss off the few islamic allies we have, yet open dialog with those who hate us (Iran, North Korea, etc). To quote the wise and all knowing Wile E. Coyote, 'I'm such a genius!'"

MORE ETC: And then this thoughtful exchange

"I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance," Obama said, with a pause, "-involving civilians." Then he quickly added, "Let me scratch that. There's been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That's not on the table."
His remarks show that he hasn't really considered the idea that as president he'll have at his disposal the use of nuclear weapons. For all his yik-yak about Bush and the war, you'd think that he's had plenty of time to consider his position on this. It's kind of important.

This guy is such a wet-behind-the-ears rookie. I don't think Hillary needs to do much more campaigning. She'll be the one left standing at this rate for the Democrats.

My thoughts about the use of nuclear weapons: of course there are circumstances that warrant the use of a nuclear weapon - even in the case of civilians. I'll give one:

  • AQ unleashes a lethal biological weapon that poisons a town with a highly contagious pathogen. The choice is either to nuke the place or to allow it to spread planet-wide.
There are probably others. Fortunately, the state of our technology allows us to avoid the use of such massive weaponry. We have precision missiles that can hit just about anything squarely, so why go deer hunting with a canon when we can use a rifle?

No one who aims to be president should take our assets off the table - in any circumstance.


Tags: politics | terrorism
by Brett Rogers, 8/1/2007 10:34:06 AM

Believing the Unreal


In reading The Wisdom of Crowds, I came across an interesting experiment.

A guy named Solomon Asch conducted an experiment on conformity...

The participants - the real subject and [eight] confederates - were all seated in a classroom where they were told to announce their judgment of the length of several lines drawn on a series of displays. They were asked which line was longer than the other, which were the same length, etc. The confederates had been prearranged to all give an incorrect answer to the tests.

Many subjects showed extreme discomfort, but a high proportion (33%) conformed to the erroneous majority view of the others in the room, even when the majority said that two lines different in length by several inches were the same length. Control subjects with no exposure to a majority view had no trouble giving the correct answer.

He later held a similar experiment, but gave the subject an ally who would tell the truth. What he found was that even if the subject had only a single ally, the subject would stick to their personal perception and not conform to the group.

After finding Asch's experiments on Wikipedia, I found a guy named Milgram, who conducted a really fiendish experiment.

A slip of paper is given to the participant, another to the confederate. The participant is led to believe that one of the slips says "learner" and one says "teacher" and that he is randomly given one of the slips. The actor claims to have been assigned as "learner," so the participant is led to believe that the roles have been chosen randomly. In actuality both slips say "teacher," while the actor just misreports what is on his slip; no element of randomness is involved.

The participant chosen as the teacher is given a sample 45-volt electric shock from the electro-shock generator, as a "sample" of the shock the "learner" will supposedly receive during the experiment. The "teacher" is then given a list of word pairs which he is to teach the learner. The teacher begins by reading off a list of word pairs to the learner. After reading through the word pairs, the teacher will then only read the first half of the word pairs, and read 4 possible answers. The learner will indicate which second word he believes to be correct by pressing a button (1 through 4) corresponding to the teacher's choices. If incorrect, the learner will receive a shock, increasing by 15 volts with each wrong answer. If correct, the next word pair is read.

The teacher believes that he is actually giving shocks to the learner participant. In reality, there are no shocks being given to the learner. Once the learner was separated, the learner set up a tape recorder, integrated with the electro-shock generator, which would play pre-recorded tracks at certain shock levels. At 135 volts the learner's pre-recorded pleas of agony begin. After a certain number of level increases, the actor starts to bang on the wall that separates him from the teacher (subject). After banging on the wall and complaining of his heart condition (which he talked about at the beginning of the experiment), the learner gives no further response to the questions and no further complaints.

If, at any time, the subject indicates his desire to halt the experiment he is given a succession of verbal prods by the experimenter, such as: "The experiment requires that you continue. Please go on." If the subject still wishes to stop after four successive verbal prods, the experiment is halted.

This experiment in authority pressure, very twisted in nature, had some amazing results.
In Milgram's first set of experiments, 65 percent of experimental participants administered the experiment's final 450-volt shock, though many were quite uncomfortable in doing so. No participant stopped before the 300-volt level. Variants of the experiment were later performed by Milgram himself and other psychologists around the world with similar results. Apart from confirming the original results the variations have tested variables in the experimental setup.
(Emphasis mine.)

If a terrorist group shows themselves an ally to an individual's initial prejudice and hate, and stokes that with alliance, Milgram shows us that it wouldn't take much authority to "coerce" people to hurt others.

One participant in Milgram's study said this:

While I was a [participant] in 1964, though I believed that I was hurting someone, I was totally unaware of why I was doing so. Few people ever realize when they are acting according to their own beliefs and when they are meekly submitting to authority.
It doesn't take much to turn a normally peaceful person to hurt others in a desire to obey authority.

What would have prevented this participant from dealing these severe 400+ volt shocks? What if one person had been there to question the authority?

This is why it's going to take a profound effort on the part of Muslims to push back hard against these violent leaders and their teachings. There must be someone there to openly question these teachings and tether the would-be terrorist to humanity to prevent these attrocities. Otherwise, it's only going to be endless violence.

We in the West may not be able to able to reach the terrorists, but we can exert pressure on the local/national Muslim community to put pressure on those within their midst. Media won't help with this because they only know that if it bleeds, it leads.

It's going to take a more activist role on the part of individuals. This is everyone's fight because anyone can become a victim of it.

What can you do? Supporting the troops is good and necessary, but beyond that - what can you do? How can you help to reduce their necessary fight?


Tags: terrorism
by Brett Rogers, 7/23/2005 8:20:52 PM

The End of Immigration


Found this on Drudge... British Muslims were polled about their feelings toward the bombers/bombings. Most condemned them...

However, six per cent insist that the bombings were, on the contrary, fully justified.

Six per cent may seem a small proportion but in absolute numbers it amounts to about 100,000 individuals who, if not prepared to carry out terrorist acts, are ready to support those who do. [Emphasis mine.]

Moreover, the proportion of YouGov's respondents who, while not condoning the London attacks, have some sympathy with the feelings and motives of those who carried them out is considerably larger - 24 per cent.

A substantial majority, 56 per cent, say that, whether or not they sympathise with the bombers, they can at least understand why some people might want to behave in this way.

It's increasingly hard to make an argument that this is not an an issue with Islam itself. Will Muslims be welcome to emigrate into western countries? Not when there are polling results like these. If this keeps up, there's going to be serious problems for the Muslim community - and it's theirs to fix.

ETC: Good news - Muslims protesting terror. More of this please.


Tags: terrorism
by Brett Rogers, 7/23/2005 8:24:04 AM


Sunlight - of a Different Kind


You've probably heard before that any publicity is good publicity. It's face time. It's exposure. You're now famous and important.

Tom Friedman has an article in NYT that suggests a quarterly Hatemongers list. His reasoning is that these hatemongers will then be exposed and scurry away like cockroaches.

The hate spreaders assume that they are talking only to their own, in their own language, and can get away with murder. When their words are spotlighted, they often feel pressure to retract, defend or explain them.
I get his reasoning, but I don't agree.

People go on Jerry Springer knowing that they will be ambushed and shamed and encouraged to expose themselves and their private life to the world, but they do it anyway. And that's just for the thrill of being momentarily famous.

The hatemongers among us believe what they believe to their core. If confronted, many of them will not back down, but see it as a test of their beliefs. Theo Van Gogh's killer recently expressed no remorse and insisted that he did the right thing. This he did under the spotlight of the world. But he didn't flinch. He didn't retract, defend, or explain away his actions. He had no remorse and instead said this:

"If I ever get free, I would do it again."
I think Friedman is a thoughtful guy, but he doesn't understand the enemy. The last thing we should do is give them publicity. A responsible media would give no time whatsoever to the killers in our midst. By doing so, it only emboldens others to copycat their acts, or makes others believe that their hatred is legitimate because it is shared.

It feels like Friedman wants something effective like America's Most Wanted. Only there is no jail at the end of the line for the hatemongers given facetime. Only massive media exposure. And with the right audience, any publicity for them would be good publicity. Which would be bad for the rest of us.


Tags: terrorism | media
by Brett Rogers, 7/22/2005 12:49:39 PM




Found this at The Corner via Instapundit, which is Aussie Prime Minister John Howard's response to a question from a reporter, who asked if Tony Blair felt that his decision to be part of the Iraq operation was to blame for the recent London bombings - i.e., are y'all bringing this on yourselves?

PRIME MIN. HOWARD: Could I start by saying the prime minister and I were having a discussion when we heard about it. My first reaction was to get some more information. And I really don't want to add to what the prime minister has said. It's a matter for the police and a matter for the British authorities to talk in detail about what has happened here.

Can I just say very directly, Paul, on the issue of the policies of my government and indeed the policies of the British and American governments on Iraq, that the first point of reference is that once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism, it's given the game away, to use the vernacular. And no Australian government that I lead will ever have policies determined by terrorism or terrorist threats, and no self-respecting government of any political stripe in Australia would allow that to happen.

Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq.

And I remind you that the 11th of September occurred before the operation in Iraq.

Can I also remind you that the very first occasion that bin Laden specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia's involvement in liberating the people of East Timor. Are people by implication suggesting we shouldn't have done that?

When a group claimed responsibility on the website for the attacks on the 7th of July, they talked about British policy not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn't be in Afghanistan?

When Sergio de Mello was murdered in Iraq -- a brave man, a distinguished international diplomat, a person immensely respected for his work in the United Nations -- when al Qaeda gloated about that, they referred specifically to the role that de Mello had carried out in East Timor because he was the United Nations administrator in East Timor.

Now I don't know the mind of the terrorists. By definition, you can't put yourself in the mind of a successful suicide bomber. I can only look at objective facts, and the objective facts are as I've cited. The objective evidence is that Australia was a terrorist target long before the operation in Iraq. And indeed, all the evidence, as distinct from the suppositions, suggests to me that this is about hatred of a way of life, this is about the perverted use of principles of the great world religion that, at its root, preaches peace and cooperation. And I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances rather than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder.

PRIME MIN. BLAIR: And I agree 100 percent with that. (Laughter.)

It's idiocy to even ask the question in the first place because it's woefully ignorant of the facts, but at least PM Howard was in an educational mood. I hope reporter Paul was listening.


Tags: politics | terrorism
by Brett Rogers, 7/21/2005 2:43:58 PM

Dumb Marketing


I recently made mention of the capture of an Al Qaeda guy named Al-Libbi (also called Abu Farraj or Abu Faraj), and I was confused as to why we would announce that we got hold of his laptop, which seemed to contain a lot of information about contacts within Al Qaeda. Seems to me that information like that you would want to keep close to the vest while you searched out that contact information so that you could bring in as many people as you could before they knew that you knew how to find them. Make sense?

After a couple of comments from people, I decided to dig into the story a little more - to the extent that I can from the news sources available to me. Google News is a good way to generally get a feel for what's being reported on a given story, and so I got a wrap-up from it.

From reading the stories, here's what I've gleaned:

It appears that the US government touted the claim about capturing the laptop with its contact information; it doesn't appear to be a media leak. I couldn't find any instance of a government official decrying the press' announcement of the fact of the laptop. Someone vetted the information and decided that it could be used for marketing, and therefore it was reported.

It seems that the information has helped to gather up 24 more Al Qaeda members/sympathizers.

There's some speculation about Al Libbi's role and whether he was the Number 3 guy in Al Qaeda. Might be me, but in a decentralized organization like Al Qaeda, there is no real vertical chain of command, so declaring anyone as "the Number 3 guy" is dumb. There are lots of "Number 3 guys" in the Al Qaeda org chart, I'm sure.

Some left-leaning publications are taking this speculation to be a case of mistaken identity. That's a misleading headline.

So my take on it all is this...

The Bush administration/Pentagon/Homeland Security/FBI/CIA folks have taken such a bunch of abuse in the press about efforts in addressing homeland security and achieving success in Iraq that they move too quickly to find good PR and therefore make mistakes like this.

News cycles are fast. Too fast. I understand that White House and crew want to get ahead of a story quickly, but they can't afford too many gaffes, and the Bush White House has never been very good with marketing. When Time has a story like this:

Can This Man Help Capture bin Laden?

It makes it more important to remain as accurate as possible.

Bush was right when he said (and unfortunately later recanted) that the war on terror can't be won. Of course it can't - that's like trying to defeat crime. There will always be crime, and sadly, there will be always be nutjobs who want to erase Americans or Isaelis or whomever from the face of the earth. But to the degree that we Americans can best gauge success - an attack on US soil - there hasn't been one in nearly 4 years. Success? Yes.

I think it mischaracterizes what's happening in Iraq to call it any of the labels given to it by those opposed to it. The majority of Iraqis remain thankful that Saddam is gone, thankful that they will rule themselves and enjoy more freedom, and thankful that with each day, life improves for them. Success? Yes.

But all the success in the world won't make up for dumb marketing.

If you watched the president's news conference the other night, there's no way that anyone can construe that the press is unbaised. A hard question is one thing (Tim Russert is very good at this), but sermons in the form of "questions" are something else entirely. And if the press isn't friendly, good marketing is all the more important, but I'm not holding my breath for this administration to fix that problem in the next 3 years.


Tags: politics | terrorism
by Brett Rogers, 5/9/2005 12:59:38 PM