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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The Wimp Factor : Gender Gaps, Holy Wars, and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity The Wimp Factor : Gender Gaps, Holy Wars, and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity

The Wimp Factor : Gender Gaps, Holy Wars, and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity, a recent book by Stephen J. Ducat, Ph.D., is discussed in Shrinking Bush / S.F. psychologist argues that hyper-masculinity is undermining the American political culture.

Appears to me to be one of the silliest books in a season of silly books. I especially loved the assumption that the Bushes have a fear of therapy - as if they would just go to the author, he would straighten out their masculinity. He misses the reality that one of the reasons that a majority of voters preferred him to Mr. Kerry is that he is comfortable with who he is, and Mr. Kerry appeared never to really know who he was. The author felt that the scene where Mr. Bush landed on the carrier deck to declare an end to major hostilities in Iraq was silly, with him strutting around in his flight suit. But then, Mr. Bush did much of his military service in just such a flight suit, flying, yes, fighter jets. No wonder he looked comfortable in it - he had spent hundreds of hours in just such an outfit. Adding in Abu Ghraib was just as silly. This is essentially blaming the President for all of the (very few) atrocities committed in this war - just like blaming presidents Roosevelt and Truman for those committed by our troops in WWII, etc. The surprise is not that they happen, but rather, given human nature, esp. that of the very young adults involved, that it has not happened much more frequently in this war. But I attribute that to the professionalism of our volunteer military.

I think though that his basic premises are wrong. Sure, men may lack a feminine side, and be drawn to women because of it. Similarly, women lack to some extent a male side, and are drawn to men for similar reasons. Yin and Yang. But that doesn't mean that masculinity is wrong. Rather, the good doctor seems to believe that the feminine side is better, and therefore we should all try to bring it out. It isn't. It is just different. The world needs both. As a guy, one of the weirder sights is a bunch of women trying to make a joint decision. Often, after a lot of dithering, they can't. Can you imagine running a war that way?

Indeed, I don't find Mr. Bush's reelection surprising, just the closeness of it. We are at war, and a majority of the electorate obviously feel more comfortable with Mr. Bush running it. One thing he doesn't do is dither. And we are all left with the worry that Mr. Kerry, if he had been elected, would have.

Another aspect of this is that what we need right now is decisive, aggressive action. The time for talking is over. The time for trying to understand the other side is over. What we showed with two decades of inaction was weakness to a very chauvinistic society. And they did what most males would do when shown weakness, they attacked, and attacked. The more weakness we showed, the more brazen their attacks, culminating in 9/11. They respect fear. They respect Shock and Awe. They don't respect the feminine attribute of understanding. They respect force, and the willingness to use it. So, are we safer with a President who has shown the world that we will destroy any country harboring our enemies? I say yes.

Finally, I find it the ultimate in conceit for the good doctor to assume that Mr. Bush's problem is that he fears therapy. By all indications, the President is happy with who he is. He appears very happy with his wife and family. And she appears very happy with him too. And now the doctor (presumably without ever meeting with the President, and definitely without ever having seen him professionally) arrogantly declares that Mr. Bush is wrong. He shouldn't be happy with himself. He shouldn't be happy with his marriage and family. Why? I think obviously because the doctor wouldn't be. But he should know better with his training - he is projecting his own feelings on to the President. And as a psychologist, that is unprofessional.


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Monday, December 13, 2004

How Daschle Got Blogged How Daschle Got Blogged

How Daschle Got Blogged in OpinionJournal - John Fund on the Trail. Interesting article on the effects of blogging. In this case, the only real state wide paper was significantly biased in favor of Democrats and in the previous Senatorial election, may have swung the election in their favor by its biased coverage - esp. of the corruption of voter fraud.

The elections in two years are going to be very very interesting. The big question to me is how the Democrats (primarily) and the Republicans (to a lesser degree IMHO) will anti-blog.

The problem I see is that what blogging does is open up new avenues for dissemination of facts. I don’t see dissemination of falsehoods as fact to be that overly effective. But something will be done to counter blogging. It was just too effective this time - both at the national level with the Swift Boat Vets and Rathergate, and at the local level, with, for example, SD. The only thing I can see right now is agressive trolling. But that just ruins blogs that allow comments, whereas many others do not, and probably cannot be silenced that way.

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Friday, December 10, 2004

Answers to eight questions by Kevin Drum Answers to eight questions by Kevin Drum

Kevin Drum asks in the The Washington Monthly:
1. Considering how Iraq has gone so far, do you still think that American military power is a good way to promote tolerance and democracy in the Middle East? Has your position on this changed in any way over the past two years?

Yes and no, respectively. Turning the other cheek, or cutting and running, as was done by previous administrations, most notably that of Mr. Clinton, failed utterly in promoting either tolerance or democracy. It only incited Al Qaeda et al. into bigger and bigger attacks on us.
2. Shortly after 9/11, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson said publicly that they thought the attacks were well-deserved retribution from God in response to moral decay — as personified by gays, feminists, the ACLU, and NOW. Do you worry that Falwell and Robertson are identified by many as the face of the Republican party? Do you think President Bush has sufficiently distanced himself from them and their followers?

They are only identified as the face of the Republican Party by the rabid left, who seek an easy way to tar the entire Republican Party. Indeed, identifying Michael Moore as the face of the Democratic Party today would be more accurate, given this last election.
3. Is democracy promotion really one of your core concerns? Just how far are you willing to go to demonstrate your credibility on this subject? Note: President Bush's policy toward either Pakistan or Saudi Arabia would be excellent case studies to bring this question to life.

Yes it is. This is an absurd argument. But in any case, a thriving democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan will affect both countries immensely.
4. On a related note, which do you think is more important to the Bush administration in the short term: preservation of a stable oil supply from the Middle East or spreading freedom and liberty throughout the region? Would you be interested in seeing the records of Dick Cheney's 2001 energy task force to verify this? Please be extra honest with this question.

Before 9/11, I would have said oil. Now, democracy, because it is the only realistic way to combat Islamic terrorism. And of course, oil in the hands of Islamic terrorists would make that problem worse too.
5. A substantial part of the Christian right opposes any compromise with Palestinians because they believe that Jewish domination of the region west of the Jordan River is a precondition for the Second Coming. Is this a reasonable belief? Or do you think these people qualify as loons who should be purged from the Republican party?

In your rabid leftist dreams. This is a gross mischaracterization of the Christian right, with no basis in fact.
6. Yes or no: do you think we should invade Iran if it becomes clear — despite our best efforts — that they are continuing to build nuclear weapons? If this requires a military draft, would you be in favor?

No, and I am not sure if I would even support bombing Iran – I would probably leave that to the Israelis. The reality is that we are to some extent in a race with time in Iran. It is falling apart as we speak. Massive protests, being brutally put down. I expect to see another Iranian revolution in the very near future, esp. if we can get thriving democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan on two of its borders. Esp. if these democracies can maintain some amount of secularization. The problem with invading Iran, above and beyond the practical, is that it would probably be counterproductive, with all of those pro-American Iranian youths rallying behind their flag.

So, no. We shouldn’t invade.
7. If President Bush decides to substantially draw down our troop presence in Iraq after the January 30 elections, will you support that decision? Please answer this question prior to January 30.

Depends on why he does it.
8. Would you agree that people who accept Laurie Mylroie's crackpot theories about Saddam Hussein's involvement in 9/11 might be taking the threat of terrorism a little too seriously? What do you think should be done with them?

No worse than the crackpots who still believe as an article of faith that there were no ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda. Neither is true.

Maybe I should rephrase your question. Would you agree that people who accept the crackpot theories that there were and continue to be no ties between Saddam Hussein et al. and Al Qaeda might be taking the threat of terrorism not seriously enough?

You appear to be one of those people who want to continue to live in a 9/10 world. The world before a handful of Islamic terrorists attacked us on our own soil and killed more Americans than the Japanese did at Pearl Harbor.

There is no reason to believe that if we did not respond, that the attacks would just go away. Instead, as we continued to ignore attacks on us, including when the Iranian “students� occupied our embassy in Iran for so long, the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, the first attack on the WTC, attacks on our embassies in Africa, Black Hawk Down in Somolia, and the attack on the Cole, the attacks just got more brazen and frequent.

While it appears that Saddam Hussein had pretty much dismantled his WMD programs under pressure of sanctions, the CIA report this summer made clear that he was prepared to immediately restart these programs when sanctions were lifted, and there was every indication that his massive bribery was having the desired effect – our putative allies, most notably France and Russia, were not only taking bribes, but were violating sanctions on a routine basis, while working to lift them. And there is some evidence that Al Qaeda was talking with him about WMDs, etc. I think it highly probable that we would have seen an WMD attack in this country utilizing Iraqi WMDs in the next decade or so if we had not invaded.

So, in my view, only someone heavy into denial could ask the question you asked.


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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

re: Drug Industry Must Change Its Ways To Improve Its Image re: Drug Industry Must Change Its Ways To Improve Its Image

Drug Industry Must Change Its Ways To Improve Its Image by Mort Kondracke makes some interesting points about the drug industry . He does make good points though. In particular, he points out that the idea of reimporting drugs from Canada is ludicrous.

Drugs are cheaper there because of price controls. But as a result, the Canadians free ride on U.S. consumers of drugs for development of such. Without the U.S. consumers paying full price, new drugs won’t get to market.

The drug companies are facing one of two major alternatives with Canada. They can either limit their sales there (which is happening with increasing regularity) to an amount approximating Canadian demand, or they can just cut Canada off. No wonder the Canadian government has no interest in helping U.S. patients get low cost drugs through reimportation - in the long run that is just going to hurt Canadian consumers, either from scarcity, or from higher prices. The third alternative, raising prices, won't work because of the price controls.

I also thought that his point about advertising was on point. I too find it absurd that drug companies are suggesting that people ask their physicians whether a certain drug is appropriate for them, without any indication what that drug might be useful for.

I may be a little cynical, but expect that much of this advertising is aimed at “seasoned� citizens, some of whom spend a lot of their time and energy worrying about this sort of thing.

So, I have a vision of a physician patiently explaining to some older woman that this first drug is inappropriate for her because she is the wrong sex. The second drug is inappropriate for her because she doesn’t have high blood pressure. The third one is inappropriate because of …

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Friday, December 03, 2004

Follow on to Islamization of Europe Follow on to Islamization of Europe

My comments on Islamization of Europe discussed some of the potential ramifications from a likely Islamization of Europe.

In that posting, I glossed over what is happening in this country, the U.S.A., and blithely assumed that our neighbors in the New World would go along with us. That, to some extent, of course is naive. We have two decades of strife in this hemisphere, much in reaction to what was viewed as our imperialism. To some extent, opposition to the United States is almost knee jerk in much of the rest of the Americas. Indeed, I cannot name another country in the Americans that has stood by us nearly as steadfastly as has Great Britain over the last hundred years or so.

In addition to problems with our imperialism, there are also large differences based on religion and language. The predominate religion south of us in the Americas is Roman Catholicism, and the primary language is Spanish, and secondly, closely related Portuguese. And of course, up in Quebec, we have French speaking Catholics.

And yet. And yet. One of the trends in this country that has made me quite happy is the final integration of the Catholics into our society. For hundreds of years, there was some religious strife and persecution. It was accentuated in the late nineteenth century with the waves of Irish and Italian Catholic immigration. In the early 1940s, when my parents were dating (they didn't marry until after the war), both my father and my mother's sister had Catholic fiancées, and, as good Protestants, their parents forbid the unions. As a result, they all ended up marrying within their faith, and ethnic group (all descended primarily from Great Britain, but some German too).

But then, WWII was the big mixing bowl. For the first time, regiments were not raised locally, probably due to experiences in previous wars where, when a given regiment was heavily damaged in battle, the region from which it was raised was hit disproportionately, while other areas, through luck, were not. In any case, the result was that the Whites (including Hispanics) in this country were all thrown together in the same units. Catholic, Jew, and Protestant, from New York City, Montana, and San Francisco, might be sharing the same tent. And, I think, they all realized that their differences were not as great as their parents had taught them.

In any case, by the time I was going to high school in the 1960s, there were some schools that were still fairly segregated by religion and ethnic background, esp. in the inner cities. But where I grew up, in the suburbs (of Denver), there was almost total integration, at least of the Catholics and Protestants. Indeed, for the most part, I did not know the religion of my classmates. And my Catholic friends were little different than I. Things got worse in college. My fraternity was probably 1/3 Protestant, 1/3 Catholic, and 1/3 Jewish. These were the guys I got drunk with, played sports with, and slept with the same women with.

I married a woman of a faith very near my own (mainline Protestant). But then, she was never that devout or religious. After my divorce ten years ago, of the four women I principally dated, three are Roman Catholic, and one Mormon. And yet, spiritually, I have much, much, more in common with them spiritually, as they are all fairly religious, than I did with my Protestant ex-wife. We find much more in common with our faiths than we find separating us. I go to their churches, and they go to mine. Sure, I am not totally comfortable with their services, but then, I have problems with our new junior minister who prays to Jesus, instead of, as I believe you should, directly to God.

My point here is that I think that my experiences are indicative of what is happening in this country. In this last election, Mr. Bush outpolled Mr. Kerry, a practicing Roman Catholic, with the Catholic vote. And he pulled a significantly larger percentage of the Hispanic vote than he did four years earlier.

What I see happening is that devout Catholics are little different from devout Protestants. And the "Red" message plays much better with the devout Catholics, as it does with devout Protestants, than does the "Blue" message of Mr. Kerry. On questions of abortion, homosexuality, family, there is little separating these groups.

Back to the geopolitical. In the end, Christians are going to band together to fight Islam. And that is going to happen primarily in the Americas, because, except in central and eastern Europe, long under Soviet domination, the vast bulk of the religious Christians are in the Americas. We have significantly more bringing us together with the rest of the Americas than they, or we, do with the rest of the world.

But, it isn't going to be a United States of All the Americas. Too much bad blood over the last two centuries. Rather, I see three main centers of influence. English speaking in the north. Spanish speaking, with probably Mexico as the primary player. And Portuguese speaking Brazil, with the two southern centers of influence making some common ground to counterbalance our economic weight. We can add in to our center of influence such outliers as Australia and New Zealand, and, maybe even, the U.K, itself, if it can disentangle itself from the rest of Old Europe.

We shall see.


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Commentary - The Islamic of Europe? Commentary - The Islamic of Europe?

Commentary - The Islamization of Europe? talks about how militant Islam is potentially taking over Europe - essentially a relatively peaceful reverse Crusades.

I really don't hold out much hope for the "old" Europeans. The article goes into depth as to the demographic trends. But also, Old Europe has lost its vibrancy. It is a society beyond its peak, and, arguably, in decline. And thus, its real danger.

Compare this with this country, the United States. For the most part, we know who we are. There is an American culture, ethos, etc. It is decidedly Judeao-Christian in origin and current culture. Sure, some day we will decline, as do all civilizations, but not yet, and not in my lifetime.

So, what does that mean for the world. I think ultimately we can expect to see four major power centers in the world, a Christian America, a Moslem Middle East, a Hindu India, and a Confucian Far East. Old Europe will be mostly under the sway of the Moslems. New (middle to eastern) Europe will be allied with us. Africa will, for the most part, be fought over - still, with northern Africa solidly in the Moslem camp.

The Russians cannot realistically expect to keep Siberia. Ultimately, the Chinese will take it. It is too valuable, too far away from Russia itself, and China is much more vibrant today than Russia can expect to be. This will means, ultimately, that Russia must face west, and, in particular, make common cause with its Christian former satellites in New Europe.

One commentator has suggested that both China and India have a lot of recent experience fighting militant and expansionist Islam. But before you can count them as allies, one must consider that they have fought each other several times during the 20th Century. Also, they compete head on in so many areas.

Finally, both face the same demographic challenge - both have way too many young males, as compared to females. When this situation is induced in rats, the juvenile males start running in packs, terrorizing everyone else, esp. the weak. We see the same in humans. The reality is that the females of our species civilize the males. If there are too many males without mates to civilize them, there is hell to pay. There are really two solutions: suffer the consequences; or kill of the excess males through war.

Thus, I do not expect the Indians and the Chinese to coexist peacefully in common opposition to militant Islam. But rather, to bleed off some of their excess males in minor skirmishes. The Indians are more likely, I think, to ally themselves with us. After all, they are, for the most part, Caucasian, have English as a primary language, and are, to some extent, a common law country. This leaves the Chinese to ally somewhat with the Moslems. But due to their own Moslem problems, I do not see this being a very close relationship.

I hope I am wrong. Our culture came, for the most part, from Old Europe. There is a lot of sentimental value there. My parents probably made it to Europe, most often Great Britain, once a year, from the early 1970s until my mother's death last year. Indeed, my 82 year old father spent a week at Oxford this year taking a class on Islam. This love goes deep with us.

And I don't want us to lose it. As happened in the 1400s, when Constantinople finally fell to the Turks. They converted some of the oldest and grandest churches in Christendom to Mosques.


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