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So Stupid It Just Might Work
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
You've probably all seen that remarkable leftie rant against Southerners at www.FuckTheSouth.com. If you haven't, the author basically tells residents of the South that the democrats don't need them, their crazy way of thinking, their sky-high divorce rates, or the net drain they impose on government resources.
What makes this site so amusing to me is that the democrats do need these people, and badly, too.
Think I'm kidding? Consider the democrats who actually won the presidency over the last four decades - LBJ from Texas, Carter from Georgia, and finally Bill Clinton, straight outta Arkansas.
How about the losers? You have Minnesota senator Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern from South Dakota (don't let the name fool you, it's just one state away from the Canadian border), Walter Mondale from Minnesota, and finally Dukakis and Kerry from Massachusetts. The only one who even came close was Al Gore, from Tennessee.
Anybody else see a pattern here?
Now, here's the funny part: democrats have already solved this problem. They know exactly what to do, but they just haven't realized it yet. Bear with me for a second and I'll give it all away for free.
It really is a troublesome demographic. If you look at these folks as a group, you're going to have to face some difficult issues:
1) They are deeply unfriendly to homosexuals, and will take great offense to any talk of gay marriage.
2) They tend to be strongly pro-life, and even use birth control less often than the national average.
3) Churches play a big role in the community, especially among the politically active.
4) As a group, they do represent a net drain on government resources, accepting more in aid than they contribute in taxes. Joblessness and low wages are a huge problem.
5) They were deeply affected by the civil rights movement and they carry a lot of anger. They still tend to frame current political events through a civil-war era frame of reference.
6) Their marriage statistics are embarrassingly bad, and there are ugly rumors about low IQ. The young men of this group tend disproportionally to settle matters of personal honor with violence, even gunfire. Not many of these men make it through college.
I'm talking, of course, about blacks, and the democrats already have this demographic sewn up. How hard can the South be?
How do democrats appeal so successfully to American blacks, and how might they use similar tactics to appeal to the South?
First, I'd suggest that democrats become staunch defenders of Southern honor; respond as righteously and as forcefully to any sort of insult against the South as you would to an ugly racist comment. If anyone dare suggest that Southerns have a low IQ or that they are to blame for their own poverty, act with the same outrage that you would expect if such charges were leveled against blacks. If you hear the word 'redneck' escape a Northern mouth, act as if you'd just witnessed a hate crime. Do your best to squash the ugly stereotypes of the Southern man as lazy, violent, or uneducated.
Second, promote victim status, and a corresponding dependence upon democratic largess. Never miss a chance to mention the civil war and the terrible price paid by the South. Remind them at every opportunity that they are second-class citizens and that the deck is stacked against them by rich people from the powerful North, and tell them that their very lives depend upon the unions and the trade protections that only you will provide. Make them believe that without the protection offered by the democrats, Southerners are just wage slaves, the raw muscle to move the wheels of the rich Yankee machine.
Third, get into the churches and promote their religious leaders to national prominence. Find two or three people with the word 'Reverend' in front of their name that you can put on a the national stage. Refer to these folks as spokesmen whenever issues that impact the South are discussed. Don't worry too much if they are moonbats, they'll play well with their own supporters and that's the important thing.
Finally, tell them that their problems are not their fault. Tell them that they would be fine if their jobs had not been taken away by the greedy, and their schools eroded by the corrupt. Tell them they are suffering because America turned it's back on them, and promise them good-paying, entry level factory work that no longer exists. No one will ever deliver these jobs, of course, but promise them before each election, and blame the republicans when they never materialize.
It'll work, too. Good god, it'll work better than you'd ever believe. Just shut up about gun control and you'll have these folks sewn up in no time.
Did You Notice This, Too?
Thursday, November 18, 2004
I saw The Incredibles last week, and enjoyed the hell out of it. If you haven't seen it yet, go.
There was one thing that made it especially enjoyable for me, and I'm embarrassed to say that I almost didn't get it until the movie was half over. Do you remember that scene in the cave, where ElastaGirl is talking to her kids? Telling them that the bad guys were not like the ones on TV, that they would kill children without remorse, that their cruelty was restrained by nothing?
Did that sound like anybody you know?
I've been waiting three years for this. This, my friends, is the 9/11 movie that Hollywood never had the decency to make. A 9/11 movie for the rest of us, a movie that knows that enemies still exist, and is willing to call them by name.
This is a movie that actually had the balls to suggest that America needs heroes again! This is the movie that was made for the America that looked into the eyes of a tough Marine in 2004 and saw a tough Marine from 1944 staring back at us.
This is a movie for the America that felt gratitude and pride that such men were still among us.
It's OK to want to be a hero - a real hero, someone genuinely extraordinary, someone that others look up to. In fact, my very first post on this blog made exactly that point, long ago. Heroes matter when our safety is no longer assured. There is nothing childish or unrealistic about it.
What is childish and unrealistic is the failure of the overcivilized among us to adapt. You want childish? Talk to the people who think that war never solves anything. You want unrealistic? Listen to the ones who claim we can find safety in apology and compromise. You want to see helpless naif pursue a silly and outdated ideal of masculinity? Look at the guys who's response to 9/11 involved paper-mache puppets and street theater.
There's a difference between ordinary people, and ordinary people who aspire to heroism without irony or apology. The difference? The folks who aspire to be something special, something selfless? They're worth something.
And they are worth even more now.
About That Shooting
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Last week, a Marine shot a wounded enemy fighter right in front of a media photographer (the video is available here). The fighter seems to have been one of five enemy, wounded in earlier fighting, who had been left behind by the first American forces who had passed through.
Judging from what I saw on the video, the sequence of events was straightforward. The Marine in question was alarmed by what he saw, he altered his partners that the wounded man was still breathing - in his opinion, faking being dead - and then instantly shot him. He clearly perceived the man as a threat.
At first glance, this does look a lot like the execution of a prisoner. This guy was shot simply because he was alive and breathing, and apparently unresponsive. This should not have been a surprising discovery; the other Marines apparently expected to find live, wounded enemy in this location.
I've been waiting to read a definitive post about this, and I have yet to see it. I'm not qualified to write that post myself, but I do know what questions I'd like to have answered.
My impression is that this is not a complicated question, and that the correct judgment hangs on a single issue. As I understand it, the fact that the bad guy was wounded is irrelevant; his status as a captive is, so far as I can tell, also irrelevant. The only issue at hand is whether the Marine who shot him made a legitimate judgment that this man was a threat. If this enemy was a threat, then he was a legitimate target, period. I have seen nothing to indicate to me that the applicable rules suggest anything else.
The phrase 'legitimate judgment' is that grey area where all the questions live. This is a tough call; on the one hand, I have no doubt in my mind that this Marine was acting to defend himself and his unit, and was not acting out of malice. On the other hand, we have rules against killing prisoners who aren't moving, and we have no choice but to enforce those rules.
So, was it a good call or not? That depends on a few things that I don't know.
What is our protocol for handling an apparently unresponsive, wounded enemy? How does this protocol change when the enemy commonly conducts suicide attacks from that position? How does it change when a small unit does not have the resources to properly secure every wounded fighter?
My guess - and I am speculating here - is that unlike police forces, military forces are not required to capture enemies who are unresponsive to commands. While it is often desirable, from both a intelligence and humanitarian perspective, to capture such enemies when you can, it is not always practical and it is not required. Unlike enemy who have actually surrended, unresponsive enemy are accorded no special protection.
In this case, I'll start with the assumption that a live enemy, giving the appearance of being unresponsive, can be judged to be a legitimate threat. That's the reality of this particular battlefield, a reality known to this Marine, who was reportedly wounded the day before in a similar event. Second, I'll assume that the man who was shot did not make any effort to indicate surrender; perhaps he was unable to make such an effort, or perhaps he was just being deceptive. Third, I'll further assume that these Marines already had their hands full, and were not in a position to extend unnecessary courtesy to their opponents.
If my large collection of assumptions is correct, this Marine deserves a beer and a pat on the back. If I'm wrong (and I realize I very well may be) I'd very much like an authoritative answer to some of these questions that I've raised.
No matter how it turns out, I do hope this Marine escapes punishment. I feel certain that he was acting in good faith, even if his judgment does turn out to be incorrect. Protecting our men, when they do act in good faith, is no less important than enforcing the rules when they don't.
Sarin In Iraq (Photos)
Friday, November 12, 2004
Here's some photos of that Sarin recently found in Iraq. Current rumor is that they are calibration samples used in Russian chemwar detection gear. No idea why they are labeled in English...
I'm guessing it's not even Sarin, just something that looks like Sarin to the detectors. Who in their right mind would package something that deadly in glass?
Good News For The Democrats
Thursday, November 4, 2004
Have a look at this graph at AlphaPatriot; it shows margins of victory for the every presidential election since 1824. If you look at it overall, it suggests that Bush's recent victory stacks up pretty well. However, if you only look from 1920 onward, Bush's margin was comparatively small. If you take it from 1962 forward (my lifetime) it only looks about average.
No matter how you look at it, this was no landslide; it was only a three percent margin, after all.
But... not only does Bush have the Oval Office, he has the Senate, and House, with even greater margins than before. Politically, it was a massacre.
How does an otherwise unremarkable victory create such carnage?
Consider the price of corn.
The market for corn is highly optimized and very efficient. If the going rate to the farmer is $100 per ton, he can sell all the corn he has at the going rate... but he'll sell nothing if he asks a penny more. Tiny difference in price, huge change in outcome.
In today's elections, the candidates are so closely matched that small differences in their 'price' yield huge differences in outcome. If you are disliked just a tiny bit more than the other guy, you will not only lose the election, but it might cost you the House and the Senate as well.
Our democracy has become so efficient, so highly optimized, that the losers just don't lose; they get clobbered. And that's a good thing.
The old days of insulation are over. Ask Tom Daschile - he was the most powerful democrat in Washington just last week. Ask Newt, too, if you can find him.
This is how it's supposed to work. Government has become incredibly responsive to our desires, at least to the desires that we express in the voting booth.
So why do our choices always suck? Why don't we ever have candidates we really like?
That's easy. When you appeal to people as a group, and deliver the optimal solution to their group needs, you'll find that most individuals are generally unsatisfied. Get 12 people together and agree on what kind of pizza to get. The optimal choice for the group is almost certainly not what you, as an individual, would prefer. In fact, it's probably just barely good enough.
This is what democracy looks like when it is working perfectly.
If I'm right, this is awfully good news for the democrats.
They lost this time around by about three percent - a loss that can be reversed by simply changing the mind of one out of every fifty voters. They do not need to rebuild their entire party, them simply need to lower their price by a few cents. Even a tiny change that makes them just a little more popular can bring them huge rewards.
Democrats everywhere are wracking their brains tonight, wondering what sorts of huge changes their party will have to endure to ever be competitive again. Huge changes aren't necessary, kids. Just change one mind out of fifty and you'll rule the world.
Wednesday, November 3, 2004
Kerry's concession was as unexpected, at least by me, as it was graceful and correct. Thank you, Senator, very much. You are doing a real service for your country.
I had a nice gloat post all ready to go, too. Photos of all the losers, with some very sharp comments thrown in. I've tossed it.
We're at war, and we are all in this together. We've settled our biggest difference, and now we have a lot of work to do.
You're an American? That's all I need to know. You're on my side.
New Kid On The Block
A good friend of mine let me in on a little secret today - he's got a new blog up, and it's pretty damn good, too. Rob knows how to live the good life, biking and snowboarding in all sorts of fun places, and often emerging unscathed.
Buy A Phone Card For A Soldier
Here's one of the few ways that an average citizen can offer something tangible to a random soldier deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
You know you want to do it - because it's the right thing to do.
Gotta See This
Seriously, these are remarkable. Don't miss either one.
And now for something completely different... have you ever encountered someone on the street who looks perfectly normal, and it's only after you've interacted with them for a few minutes that you realize that they are completely insane? Keep that thought in mind.