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« And Now a Word from Our Leaders | Main | Responses »

September 10, 2007

Q&A With Gregory Cochran, Part 2

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Today we continue with the second and final part of our q&a with Gregory Cochran. Part One, which includes an introduction to Cochran and his work, is here.


***


A Q&A With Gregory Cochran, Part Two


2Blowhards: So you don't think democracy and Iraq are made for each other?

Cochran: I thought the "democracy push" in the Middle East was funny. Push for elections and you get Hamas and the Moslem Brotherhood. I knew that would happen before we tried it -- why didn't Condi? Why didn't the White House?

I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

2B: How important is it that we track down Bin Laden? Why haven't we been able to do so?

Cochran: We should certainly kill him. It sets an important precedent. As to why we haven't, I think finding someone in the Northwest Provinces of Pakistan is probably hard, and we're worried about upsetting the applecart there -- and I think we didn't want to, not much. Look at the resources committed. Judge them by their fruits.

2B: How could the USA more effectively protect itself from the danger of Islamic terrorists than it's currently doing?

Cochran: Stop trying to get Arabs to become jihadists. Leave Iraq, for example. It's not that big a threat in any event. We could imagine appointing people with brains and some knowledge of the Moslem world to key positions in the FBI and CIA and such, but that seems to be utterly against the spirit of the times. Certainly against the spirit of Washington. I mean there's been no move in that direction, and nobody really minds. Except me of course and I'm probably just irritable.

2B: Speaking of terrorism more generally, how much danger is there of nuclear terrorism? And what if anything should be done about it?

Cochran: Not much. No one is going to hand out nukes to terrorists and they can't build their own from scratch, that's for sure. Here I have to get technical. First, the first high hurdle in making a nuclear weapon is obtaining the fissionable materials. No terrorist group can make those materials -- it's a major industrial/scientific effort.

Second, you have to make a bomb out of the fissionables, which are for all practical purposes either highly enriched uranium (with the percentage of U-235 increased from the natural 0.7% to something over 90%) or Plutonium-239. Making a Pu-239 bomb is difficult and no terrorist can do it: India took seven tries. Making a bomb out of highly enriched uranium (HEU) is relatively easy -- we didn't even bother to test the Hiroshima bomb -- and terrorists might be able to do it. Modern nuclear weapons themselves have so many inbuilt safeguards that the thieves would have to take one apart and build a new bomb from the innards -- they couldn't get it to go off if they wanted to, unless the maker gave them the code sequences.

All you have to worry about is someone stealing a fair amount of HEU. In practice, the only place this would ever happen is Russia, where a lot of everything nuclear was made and where you can at least imagine something that stupid happening. I'm not saying it's likely.

So get rid of all the HEU -- in practice all Russian HEU -- and the problem no longer exists. Locking it all up in a well-guarded place would probably do the job. There have been moves in that direction. You need moderately-enriched uranium for nuclear reactors, but you can't use that for bombs. So, continue to work with the Russians on securing and/or eliminating that HEU.

2B: As for the mideast, what do you think of Steve Sailer's "cousin-marriage" explanation of why Arabs are so tribal? Are they in fact capable of much organization beyond the tribal level?

Cochran: I'm not sure it's the root cause. I think that the Middle East seems politically untalented compared to Europe, less inclined to trust non-relatives who live in the same country.

This goes back a while -- Islam is not the cause. Look at Anabasis, the March of the Ten Thousand. Greek mercenaries were on the losing side in a Persian civil war. When their generals/recruiters tried to negotiate a way out, the Persians killed them all in the middle of the negotiation. So the Greeks elected their own generals that night and fought their way out of the heart of the empire. You've seen "The Warriors," right? In that one night the Greeks showed more talent for self-government than the entire Middle East has in all the twenty-five hundred years since.

I have a notion as to the cause and I'm still thinking about it. It might be that cousin marriage is more of a symptom than a cause, although it could be both of course.

2B: How big a deal is Islam is for the non-Islamic world?

Cochran: Not very. It's economically and militarily weak, backward, and uncreative. "No major invention or discovery has emerged from the Muslim world for well over seven centuries now. "

2B: If the mideast isn't a big deal, then what are the governments and pundits who make such a stink about Islam's power and danger really up to?

Cochran: I think a lot of them can't count, and that's no joke. A fair fraction are running some private agenda, sure, but they can't count either. Certainly some thought they were helping Israel (when we invaded Iraq), but Israel isn't happy with the actual outcome. If none of your expectations come true, Machiavellianism doesn't really matter. No matter what you think you're up to, you're just floundering.

You know, these guys aren't exactly geniuses. I think that none of the key players in the runup to the war could have been accepted into a good graduate physics program. No more need be said.

2B: Have you looked into the Mearsheimer/ Walt "Israel Lobby" article and book? Are they on to something that needs more public attention? What policy would you suggest adopting towards Israel?

Cochran: I've seen excerpts of their article, but I haven't read the book. I expect I know most of it already. As for the general idea that pro-Israeli groups have huge influence on the US government, and that on the whole it's a pain in the ass, sure, everyone knows that. It's gone to a whole new level in this Administration and I'd love to know why. But in the long run, if they push sufficiently stupid policies, the bad consequences will make people stop listening to them.

If I were king I'd treat Israel with benign neglect. Think Eisenhower.

2B: What do you think of "peak oil"?

Cochran: In the sense of peak production of conventional, fairly-low cost oil, it sounds likely. We may already be there. There are lots of energy alternatives though.

2B: Are Iran's difficulties with gasoline production evidence of such a peak?

Cochran: No. They're evidence of subsidized gas prices and low investment in refineries.

2B: What will Peak Oil's implications be for the future?

Cochran: The market will make alternatives spring forth. Fortunately the laws of physics allow such alternatives. In fact there are plenty.

2B: What do you make of our efforts to wean ourselves off of oil?

Cochran: Paltry so far.

2B: The U.S. seems determined to play the world's policeman. Does the world in fact need a World Policeman?

Cochran: Just enough to deter piracy.

2B: Do you worry much about China as a military threat?

Cochran: Eventually, maybe. Not today.

2B: Are we headed for confrontation there?

Cochran: Even if we return to our normal level of sanity, it's fairly likely, in time.

2B: If we don't play World Policeman, will China?

Cochran: They're not that silly, one more reason they'd be such a tough rival.

2B: Back to the Iraq war. At this point, what would be an acceptable end-game for Bush? What exactly are we even fighting for at this point?

Cochran: I doubt if Bush will get any offer he'd consider, not in the time he's got left. I doubt if we'll ever get any such offer. We're certainly not fighting for anything that would be worth the current ~100 billion a year cost. I'd say we were fighting so that various people won't have to admit they were wrong. We're saving Establishment face.

2B: What would be the consequences of a rapid USA exit from Iraq?

Cochran: Someone would win the civil war and then they'd sell oil.

2B: As far as mideast policy goes, how could we do better than we do?

Cochran: I think we have little chance of running a practical Middle East policy. The political class is ignorant and / or crazy (and also lazy) and seems to enjoy being manipulated by groups whose interests are not closely aligned with those of the United States. For example, Bush Senior had Prince Bandar try to prepare Junior for the world stage. Why the hell would anyone pick a fat Saudi thief as a political science instructor? Why not someone on our side? And when Rudy has Norman Podhoretz as a foreign policy adviser -- Norman who wants to invade Arab countries that haven't even been discovered yet -- well, I tremble for my country.

2B: So what's the right general course of action for the US as the world's premier power?

Cochran: Do little. Stay strong -- although this can't possibly require the current high level of military expenditures. If I were picking an actor to represent the right policy, it'd be Jimmy Stewart -- a nice guy that you never, ever want to threaten. A mix of "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Winchester '73."

2B: What are some basic things that you wish more Americans understood about the mid-east, and about their own government?

Cochran: 1. Iraq is a Seinfeld war -- a war about nothing. 2. The Mideast isn't that important. 3. The people running the country have no idea what they're doing.

2B: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Very informative -- and very entertaining too. You could have a big career as host of a talk show.

Cochran: Thanks. I could try, but I think there's no market for what I have to say. And I have better things to do anyhow. Solving puzzles is fun.


***


Here's an Edge profile of Cochran. Here's an Atlantic Monthly piece about Cochran and one of his collaborators, Paul Ewald. Here's a New York Magazine story taking off from the Cochran-Harpending-Hardy paper about Ashkenazi Jews. Steve Sailer writes about that paper here. Here's Cochran wishing that the Bushies would learn a thing or two from Napoleon's misadventures in Spain.

Many thanks to Gregory Cochran. Thanks too to GNXP's Razib for putting me in touch with Cochran.

Best,

Michael

posted by Michael at September 10, 2007




Comments

Marvelous interview. Thank you. Now, how do we get it into the brains of the policymakers? Pour it into their Kool-Aid?

Posted by: Fred Wickham on September 11, 2007 3:19 AM



Great interview. For quite a while I kept thinking to myself "there must be more to this war - it can't be as pointless as it seems to be". But I've come to concur with Greg - our leaders just don't seem to be that smart. I think that's much more disturbing than jihadism.

Posted by: Mark F. on September 11, 2007 3:46 AM



Interesting stuff, just one quibble- I'm pretty sure Paul Wolfowitz, who studied math and whose father was a professor of statistical theory, could get into a graduate physics programme.

Posted by: omar on September 11, 2007 4:58 AM



Thanks again, Michael, for posting this very interesting interview.

I will point out the obvious:

1. Six years ago the enemy launched a successful attack in the United States that killed thousands of American, caused billions of dollars of property damage, and brought down the economy for several years.

2. The enemy had in fact declared war years earlier. In the aftermath of these attacks, the enemy declared its intention to launch attacks in the future.

As the events of September 11, 2001 proved, the enemy does have the means of staging successful attacks within the U.S.

3. In the past six years, not a single attack has taken place on U.S. soil.

One might conclude from the results that the Bush policy, no matter how transparently purposeless and stupid, has succeeded.

I know that I'm too dumb to understand the intricacies. Somehow, only the results matter to me. In my stupidity, I have this odd notion that Bush might have done something right.

So, I'll grant that I'm an idiot in comparison to Cochran. But, I'd still vote for Bush over Cochran. Any day. I'm so dumb that I'm a little grateful to Bush for doing a job that has earned him nothing but villification.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on September 11, 2007 8:24 AM



Six years ago the enemy launched a successful attack in the United States that killed thousands of American, caused billions of dollars of property damage, and brought down the economy for several years.

The attacks would have failed if the passengers had fought back, instead of meekly accepting death. The hijackers on the WTC planes were poorly armed and outnumbered eight-to-one by fight-capable passengers, whom I have somewhat arbitrarily defined as males between the ages of 16 and 55. The hijackers would have been destroyed in seconds had the passengers fought back.

Unfortunately, the middle- and upper middle-class white men who predominated on the airplanes simply have no concept of doing things like slamming their fists into other men's faces, not even if their survival depends upon it. Fighting back is something that only other people do - rednecks, ghetto dwellers, guidos, drunken fratboys. Say what you want about him, but Michael Moore was 100% correct when he said, not longer after the attacks, that they would have failed had more black men been passengers on the hijacked airlines. I'll de-racialize it a bit by saying that the attacks also would have failed had more working-class white men been onboard.


Posted by: Peter on September 11, 2007 9:14 AM



You're right Thomas - you are dumb. Perhaps you should shout a little less and think a little more.

Posted by: jeff on September 11, 2007 9:29 AM



Good series. Just one point:

- US military spending really isn't very high - just 4-5 percent of GDP. It's certainly very sustainable over the long haul without any significant strain on the US economy.

Posted by: dobeln on September 11, 2007 9:47 AM



[The attacks] would have failed had more black men been passengers on the hijacked airlines.

Peter, there were black passengers on the 3 planes that didn't fight back (not sure if on all 3, but definitely present). The leaders of the counterattack on Flight 93 were all white men. They had more and better information is all. The passengers on the other flights had been counseled for years not to resist hijackers, and they mistakenly did what they were told.

There's no possibility of that kind of underarmed hijacking working any more. Proof: Richard Reid was taken down by passengers wise to the new ways. Mostly white passengers, if I remember correctly.

I view 9/11 as the moment when the counsels of passivity that have become so commonplace with the feminization of America finally lost their suffocating hold on people's minds. No more Ms. Nice Guy, I most fervently hope and believe.

Posted by: PatrickH on September 11, 2007 10:38 AM



Peter,

You are certainly right that the passengers should and could have fought back. In the aftermath of the attack, PC politics have made this doubly impossible. Remember the infamous "flying Imans" episode? It's racist to assume that that Arabs might be the ones to look out for.

jeff, you are indubitably right. I should spend my time intellectualizing an air tight scheme that explains all events. That is certainly far more important than mere results.

I will get back to you as soon as I devise a comprehensive Plan to Save the World.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on September 11, 2007 10:45 AM



Cochran made some interesting points, but at the same time he seemed a little glib.

1) Why would the political class "enjoy" being manipulatied by groups whose interests are not closely aligned with those of the U.S.? Perhaps they are taken in by them for some reason that we might discover from a more in depth discussion.

2) How is the economy going to switch to alternative energy sources after the peak without tanking first?

3) What about the possiblity that rich Middle East oil scions with nothing better to do with their time, money and brains will help finance terrorists' attempts to get nuclear weapons?

4) Why is it fairly likely that we will have a confrontation with China when China has traditionally been isolationist?

I'm not saying I disagree with every point, only that we could use a little more analysis.

Posted by: Probiscus on September 11, 2007 10:45 AM



2B: What are some basic things that you wish more Americans understood about the mid-east, and about their own government?

Cochran: 1. Iraq is a Seinfeld war -- a war about nothing. 2. The Mideast isn't that important. 3. The people running the country have no idea what they're doing.

Wrong.

Iraq isn't a Seinfeld war. Plato said that all wars are fought for the acquisition of money and power. If you want to understand the war you have to follow the money, and you have to understnd HOW the US is benefitting from the war. And it is. You just don't know how it is, and that's why it seems illogical to you. You really need to learn more about how the world works.

The Middle East has 75% of all available oil reserves. It is hugely important, because those reserves are cheap, easily available oil for a world economy set up to run on oil. To say that it isn't an important region is laughable. Obviously it is.

Do the people running the country really not know what they are doing, or is it the other way around--that you don't know what they are doing? I think its the latter. Gee, here's a thought--maybe the guys in charge are willing to look stupid offering up inane reasons for their actions while they lie to your face, hiding their real ones. I wish people were as simple as taking what they say at face value. Unfortunately, they aren't. You undermined any credibility you might have with me and a lot of others with those last three statements. Kind of high on yourself, aren't ya?

Posted by: BIOH on September 11, 2007 10:53 AM



Some Islamist terrorist group someday (soon?) will get its hands on a nuke - probably by buying it from the rampant Russian thugocracy - and use it, pronto. If that isn't a serious threat I don't know what is. I'm sorry, but Bush & Co., who take that threat seriously...well...they aren't the idiots Cochran makes them out to be. Tactics are another matter. But to belittle the threat? That's idiotic.

Posted by: ricpic on September 11, 2007 10:54 AM



PatrickH -

We know from telephone calls that the hijackers on the two WTC planes had killed passengers and/or flight attendants. It should have been plainly obvious to everyone that they were dealing not with "ordinary" hijackers, but with highly trained and deadly commando squads, and that as a result passive surrender might not be the best option. Note that while the hijackers were able to kill people in surprise individual attacks, they would have been overwhelmed in seconds by mass counterattacks.

Posted by: Peter on September 11, 2007 11:04 AM



With every passing day, I am more inclined to agree with Mr. Cochran that the debacle in Iraq is a collision of two forces, each of which is more stupid than the other.

But while he seems right on the money that we don't have that much to fear from jihadists using conventional weapons, including nukes, he overlooks one overwhelming threat: sky-high birthrates of Muslims, including in every Western country where they migrate to.

As long as we keep inviting them in, they will outbreed us and become an ever-larger percentage of the population. Womb-to-tomb insecurity for the rest of us. As Muslims become a significant demographic, the pressure to bend our ways to accommodate theirs increases — see Sweden, the U.K., Canada, and Michigan. We can find ourselves turned into dhimmis subject to sharia law without so much as a popgun being fired.

Mr. Cochran, as a technical expert, is entitled to respect when he talks about things within his area of knowledge. He also seems to have uncommon sense. But like so many technically oriented people, he is out of touch with threats that are too "simple" for his analytical gifts.

We must defend ourselves against the Demographic Bomb. All Muslim immigration should be ended.

Posted by: Rick Darby on September 11, 2007 11:12 AM



Well, I hope that Mr. Cochran is right about nuclear terrorism, but I know some awfully smart people who would disagree with him on this matter. After all, even a "fizzle yield" of a poorly built Hiroshima-type bomb could kill 10 - 100,000 people, if it were placed in the right (or wrong) place. And I also have to say that a worldview that is based on the proposition that everyone who disagrees with you is an idiot is not very likely to turn out to be right, in the long run. An interesting interview, but I think that we can safely say that, whatever character flaws Mr. Cochran suffers from, excessive humility is not one of them.

Posted by: tschafer on September 11, 2007 11:30 AM



Note that while the hijackers were able to kill people in surprise individual attacks, they would have been overwhelmed in seconds by mass counterattacks.

Then why didn't the black passengers step up and lead the counterattacks?

Posted by: PatrickH on September 11, 2007 11:32 AM



Omar,

thank you for pointing that out about Wolfowitz. I did the same in a comment in the responses to the other part of the interview. Wolf's degree was actually a combined one in math and chem; and his father was a noted statistical theorist.

Being admitted to a physics program seems to be Cochran's gold standard for brains. And you know something? It's a crock of shit.

I've been reading a book by a theoretical physicist, THE TROUBLE WITH PHYSICS. I was struck by something he said, that aggression is a much bigger deal in physics than in pure math, where the proof is all.

The point of the book is that theoretical physics has gotten stuck on string theory, which Smolin contends is not falsifiable and is therefore not science. He is pretty hard on what's happened to physics in the last 30 years with the groupthink about string theory.

This should de-mystify Cochran's claim that being admitted to a physics program is an indication of special abilities, beyond those that relate to the subject they study.

If they can't see that their own field may be dominated by bullshit artists, why would they be politically astute?

See this interesting blog:

http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/

(He's even tougher on string theory than Smolin!)

Posted by: diana on September 11, 2007 11:47 AM



Rick Darby has it exactly right. Neither Cochran nor the political elites are explaining the REAL threat. it's right here inside our gates.

Posted by: Bob Grier on September 11, 2007 12:05 PM



I don't disagree that our lovely politicians are idiots, but the idea that success in physics equals political intelligence makes me question his other claims.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on September 11, 2007 12:10 PM



Aren't a bunch of you making the leap from "there are bad people out there who mean us ill" to "our current policy of killing and maiming thousands and of spending 100 bill a year knocking hell out of Iraq is a sensible way of dealing with this" a little ... I dunno, too quickly?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 11, 2007 12:23 PM



I think Cochran plays down both the importance of the Middle East and the potential threat from terrorists, but otherwise I agree with what he says, and again, I and most people I know were saying the same shit in 2002. It continues to boggle my mind that ANY of the outcomes in Iraq could have surprised anyone. It was fucking obvious from the beginning.

As for the people on the 9/11 planes, Peter and ST, if you bring yourself back to pre-9/11, ALL the common wisdom was to NOT fight back at hijackers. It was only after the two planes crashed into the WTC, an event that the people on flight 93 were made aware of, that they did fight back. And every instance since then has been met with force from passengers. The passive stance of those on the planes that crashed into the WTC has fuck-all to do with "PC" (and when the fuck can we stop blaming that for everything and also misappropriating "PC ideology).

Posted by: the patriarch on September 11, 2007 12:26 PM



"Aren't a bunch of you making the leap from "there are bad people out there who mean us ill" to "our current policy of killing and maiming thousands and of spending 100 bill a year knocking hell out of Iraq is a sensible way of dealing with this" a little ... I dunno, too quickly?"

Could be. Damned if I know.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on September 11, 2007 1:05 PM



Exactly how many times does the word "stupid" appear in these transcripts?

I've seen excerpts of their article, but I haven't read the book. I expect I know most of it already.

Oy, that and the comment about how you basically need a physics degree to prove intelligence really takes this man's credibility down a notch. What a glib, ridiculously overconfident thinker.

Why should I listen to him, and not the leftish commentary against the war that also predicted the Iraq War's problems with the same accuracy?

As for the 9/11 hijackers and the "meek" passengers -- the passengers and crew considered this to be a the usual hijacking, i.e. a demand for ransom or the freeing of various prisoners, not a suicide mission. Mohammad Atta in particular stated to the passengers they were returning to the airport.

Only an ideologue could deduce so easily that 9/11 happened due to a lack of "courage" from middle-class passengers.

DU

Posted by: The Mechanical Eye on September 11, 2007 1:20 PM



3. In the past six years, not a single attack has taken place on U.S. soil.

One might conclude from the results that the Bush policy, no matter how transparently purposeless and stupid, has succeeded.

Indeed. Also, since the start of the Iraq War, there has been no catastrophic earthquake to sink California into the Pacific. There's been no volcano eruption in the heart of the US. There's been no uncontrollable outbreak of a new strain of Flu. One might conclude from the results that Bush policy, no matter how transparently purposeless and stupid, has succeeded.

OR, alternately, one might consider that correlation does not prove causation.

Posted by: i, squub on September 11, 2007 1:26 PM



People in law-abiding societies tend to be wimpier. Law-abiding societies are still a good thing. Maybe a planeful of thugs would have overpowered the attackers, but during the rest of their lives they'd be doing harm. A lot of conservatives seem to fetishize tough-guy societies, but I'd hate to live (for example) in Columbia.

Posted by: John Emerson on September 11, 2007 1:32 PM




A physics Ph.D. is not the only way of proving intelligence, but it is one way - and intelligence is generally useful.
Is Wolfowitz 'brilliant'? Judging from performance and judgment, no. Judging from his casual display of invincible ignorance of the the Middle East in Senate testimony, I'd say that he didn't _know_ many relevant facts. Judging from his absolute refusal to accept less-than-happy news from Iraq and Afghanistan, I would say he was not _wise_.

Many of the people running the country are not very intelligent. Somone who graduates 885th out of a class of 890 is considered a perfectly respectable Presidential candidate.

Posted by: gcochran on September 11, 2007 2:07 PM



“I knew that would happen before we tried it -- why didn't Condi? Why didn't the White House?”

Constant self-congratulation for his prescience, which plenty of others had too.

“I've seen excerpts of their article, but I haven't read the book. I expect I know most of it already.”

Cochran is omniscient too.

“The market will make alternatives spring forth. Fortunately the laws of physics allow such alternatives. In fact there are plenty.’

This is optimistic at best, incredibly arrogant and ignorant at worst. First, there is no such thing as a level playing field/market for various fuels and technologies when the big players in fossil fuels and nuclear have gamed the system to have the government subsidize them and in the case of nuclear, indemnify them against lawsuits and also provide loans to build new plants. Second, there are few good alternative energy sources and even if we put them all together, we can’t achieve a one-to-one replacement for the fuels we are consuming now. This means that we are going to have a hard landing when we are forced to cut back our economy based on the fantasy of unlimited consumption and growth.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on September 11, 2007 2:24 PM



I never said Wolfie was brilliant. I said he was "numerate" and in the other comment, he was haunted by death and very fucked up. A demon-haunted mind (there are other demons than supernatural ones) is not to be trusted with policy.

The problem is that the guy at the top is really dumb. I don't care whether Steve Sailer estimates that Dubya has an IQ of 126 - he's a dodo. Never worked a day in his life. Drank like a fish until he was 45. Probably snorted a lot of coke. "Headed" a variety of failed business ventures set up by his Daddy, all of which were probably CIA fronts. Stole an election.

The stolen election, I think, was the original sin, not Iraq. And we dare to preach law to the Muslim savages. We don't even pay attention to our own laws. We bend them and twist them to benefit those in power.

Having stolen an election, Bush though he could do just about anything. And did.

One thing about this discussion that bothers me is the underlying assumption that the US invading countries unjustifiably is somehow out of character. Some lefty on NPR gave a list of how many countries the US has invaded since WWII. It was pretty shocking. Most of them we don't take notice of because the fight was so one-sided. Invading countries that we think can't resist is just something we do as a matter of course. The shock here is that an organized resistance (several, actually) had the temerity to take exception.

Posted by: diana on September 11, 2007 2:30 PM



There were no serious attacks in the US in the six years before 9/11 either. We're dealing with very small numbers.

Posted by: John Emerson on September 11, 2007 3:39 PM



Mr. Cochran, great stuff. But regarding the nuclear threat from Islamist extremists .... what about Pakistan? Aren't they a pretty large threat?

Posted by: yahmdallah on September 11, 2007 3:48 PM



Steve Sailer says bush has an IQ of 126? I demand a recount.

Posted by: Fred Wickham on September 11, 2007 4:27 PM



One last gasp from me about Michael Moore's nonsense about how black passengers (thugs all, apparently) would have 'risen up' against the hijackers: the 'thugs' would have taken on the hijackers if and only if a) the hijackers backs were turned; b) the thugs outnumbered the hijackers five to one; c) the thugs were equipped with a full array of modern firepower; and d) were thus able to shoot the hijackers in the back while driving by in an airplane compartment-scaled van at, oh, 30 miles per hour.

Just based on my general impression of the level of civic courage, social responsibility and selfless altruism demonstrated by thugs over the past thirty years or so.

Posted by: PatrickH on September 11, 2007 4:41 PM



I really wonder what a "stolen" election means. Do you really see much of a difference between the two political parties on Iraq? I don't. The dems may make a lot of noise about Iraq, but the policy would be the same if they were in office. That ought to be a real tip-off to anybody that the decision to go to war does not exist at the political level, that it goes higher, to those who really fund and control both parties (international banks and corporations), and that not even the carrot of ending an unpopular, costly war, and getting into the seats of power for a long, long time, with all the money to be had with that, is enough to break the grip of the real elites on the politicians. There is an awful lot being hidden from us.

BTW, Wolfowitz doesn't have to know anything about the region if our current foreign policy was never intended to create a "democracy" or to do anything but get control of the natural resources of the region by force. This has been the Anglo-American policy in the Middle East now for how many decades? That goes back to the lying and deception theme that you haven't answered as yet, Mr. Cochran.

I think its admirable the way you tackle the problem--you galther all the information and data you can, and then analyze the problem in a rational way. Unfortunately, this type of scientific analysis won't stand up if the data is incorrect or misleading. In fact, a great web of lies surrounds the real motives of many elites and their decision-making.

Don't believe me? Think you can get the whole story by reading the papers? Then ask yourself why countries all over the world have intelligence agencies that they spend many billions on when they could just read the paper and few books to get at the truth. Spy satellites, assassins, etc? Get the picture?

You are very rational Mr. Cochran, and I admire that a lot, but the power and money games people play are a lot more like the poker game you alluded to in your previous response to a poster here. We are not insiders, and we are in the dark, not them. I trust the insiders know the truth but pretend to be fools and offer us lies to keep us off the track. A real representative republic is loathesome to the elites. They are at war with us too, you know.

Posted by: BIOH on September 11, 2007 4:48 PM



Very interesting interview. But I really wish there had been more discussion of Iran, and whether a military strike on Iran is justified.

There isn't much that the administration can do about Iraq at this point, save to keep up maximum support and put competent, determined people in control. Too bad it took them so long to realize that.

But they are not yet committed to a single course of action with respect to Iran. They have a decision to make. Congress has a decision to make.

Iran is brazenly attempting to get nukes. Their ultimate goal is to become the hedgemon of the Persian Gulf region and beyond. An Iranian nuclear arsenal will ensure that we will not be able to curb their ambitions by force.

But... Is this a supreme threat to our national security, similar to a Nazi conquest of Europe? A Soviet conquest of Europe?

Europe mattered because it was a seat of world power. Is the Persian Gulf region of equal importance to our security?

Striking Iran means our forces will be killing people. We may loose pilots and more. That is on all of our heads. If you can dismiss this casually then you may have lost touch with your humanity.

Further, if Iran retaliates, they will not play by our rules. If they hit us with terrorist attacks, the conflict may escalate to an all-out war.

It is the most serious business. So I'll ask it again - is this a national security issue of vital importance? Are we willing to fight and win an all-out war against Iran and then try to pick up the pieces afterwards?

...Well, this is the question that I wrestle with when I think about our foreign policy in the M.E. I'd like to hear what the better informed have to say about it. Thanks.

Posted by: jsw on September 11, 2007 5:23 PM



He didnt steal the election diana. griffe proved that it was the stupid and bewildered, who would have voted for gore but couldn't figure out how the whole thing worked, that gave him vic. tor. y.

Posted by: omar on September 11, 2007 6:12 PM



But regarding the nuclear threat from Islamist extremists .... what about Pakistan? Aren't they a pretty large threat?

I'll let Cochran take a few minutes off, and you can answer that yourself. Do the leaders of Pakistan want everyone in Pakistan to die?

Posted by: Rob on September 11, 2007 6:26 PM



"I trust the insiders know the truth."

There's no sign of it. There _is_ no Inner Party.

Posted by: gcochran on September 11, 2007 6:40 PM



But regarding the nuclear threat from Islamist extremists .... what about Pakistan? Aren't they a pretty large threat?

As I understand it, Pakistan is in little or no danger from Islamic fundamentalism. Explicitly Islamic parties do very poorly in national and local elections. Except in a few regions they rarely poll out of the low single digit percentages. Pakistan's economy has been growing at a nice clip, which should help mute fundamentalism's appeal.

In addition, Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is kept under tight control by secular elements in the military command.


One last gasp from me about Michael Moore's nonsense about how black passengers (thugs all, apparently) would have 'risen up' against the hijackers: the 'thugs' would have taken on the hijackers if and only if a) the hijackers backs were turned; b) the thugs outnumbered the hijackers five to one; c) the thugs were equipped with a full array of modern firepower; and d) were thus able to shoot the hijackers in the back while driving by in an airplane compartment-scaled van at, oh, 30 miles per hour.

(sigh)
Michael Moore did not say that the (hypothetical) black passengers would have been "thugs." He has plenty of faults, but racism surely isn't one of them. And note that I de-racialized his statement by saying that it also would apply to working-class white men.

What Moore presumably was implying, and I am explicitly stating, is that the sort of upscale white men who predominate on flights like the ones which were hijacked - don't forget, they were transcontinental morning flights during the week, heavy on business travelers - tend to be anything but courageous when push literally comes to shove. It's part of their whole culture and conditioning to shy away from physical confrontations. How often has it been drummed into everyone's head never to resist a mugger? Men from working-class backgrounds, whatever their race, may be more willing to get physical when necessary.

Posted by: Peter on September 11, 2007 7:38 PM



Hey Greg: what do you think of Bill Clinton? Nobody can say he wasn't intelligent...

Posted by: SFG on September 11, 2007 7:52 PM



I haven't made it through all the comments so forgive any redundancy or other silliness, but it seems we've all been perversely corrupted by the advocacy journalism of today into framing debates as "is so-and-so unpatriotic/arrogant/racist/sexist/you get my drift?".

Cochran is arrogant. Okay. I'll sit still for any assertion, asking only that it's coherent and interesting to keep me still. Strike that. I'll settle for interesting, and the subject of Cochran's arrogance will require a good deal of wit to keep me interested. But above all, it is irrelevant.

Arrogant, sensible, and right beats arrogant, fanciful, corrupt and wrong, which unfortunately applies to an entire class of "elites" in government, the media, the military, etc.

Cochran is not so much arrogant after all as he is disappointed in us all. And we should all be disappointed in us all. Perhaps his most important point is that readily available information, the vast majority of it in the public domain, sat unutilized while America engaged in a highly manipulated, poorly informed debate.

The hysteria deliberately drummed up to create the fiction in the minds of the American public of an Iraqi threat need not have occured, and wouldn't have if there remained an ethical division between journalism and advocacy--and, perhaps, a more engaged and informed public.

If the Administration was so dishonest that it didn't care what the experts were telling them about Iraq's paltry capabilities (for instance regarding the dimensional requirements for centrifuges and aluminum tubes), it fell upon the media to counter what was in fact a crime in progress, the purposeful generation of a lie to create a sense of panic in the public (stop, take a breath) so that public will assent to the conquest of a smaller nation. Something too vast to be called simply a crime, after all.

This is bitter medicine largely rejected at the moment, but rest assured it will be the judgment of history.

It's understandable that we don't like to talk about the war in terms of a criminal act of one nation against another; it is sheer madness that we don't want, apparently, to correct the remarkable incompetence and political corruption that led to it.

Something deeper than the government is broken when, even as the disastrous results of this crime unfold, we cling to status quo candidates (Guliani, Clinton, Obama), and essentially attempt to will our way past the moral consequences.
Well, we're strong enough to do that, but trumping morality with might I fear will have consequences unimagined. Cochran's best advice? Stay strong, do little.

Posted by: Dennis on September 11, 2007 8:14 PM



"There's no sign of it."--really? So you know all there is to know, you have all the information, even more than people inside and outside of government who are the movers and shakers?

Thanks for the entertaining interview, but it has become impossible for me to read any more and figure you really have a handle on the situation. Nobody lies or hides anything, especially politicians! Good luck selling that to a critical readership!

Posted by: BIOH on September 11, 2007 8:31 PM



The problem isn't that Bush is stupid. He's plenty smart enough in an IQ sense to be president. Its that he's ignorant and incurious. One could go on forever recounting Bush II's character flaws. All he cares about is winning elections. As Steve Sailer wrote, "Bush has never seemed particularly interested in learning about the duties of his job (as opposed to winning and keeping his job, at which he shows great cunning)."

Likewise, I don't doubt that people in Bush's government have plenty enough IQ to do a good enough job, if they cared to do so. But they're all a bunch of ignorant ideologues and careerists, so it doesn't matter. They have put all their effort into learning how to get ahead in Washington, about which they doubtless know a great deal. That doesn't leave much time for learning about the real world.

Posted by: Thursday on September 11, 2007 8:57 PM



Right, Bush didn't steal the election. The Supremes did it for him:

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20010205/bugliosi

Posted by: diana on September 11, 2007 9:35 PM



I'm not even a Bush supporter, but the anti-Bush hysteria is just a mental illness. He is not a demon. He didn't cause Hurricane Katrina.

He didn't steal an election. He didn't lie us into Iraq. He's an honest man doing the best he can. It says more about the people who must turn him into a demon, all this dementia.

And, Diana, if you read The Nation and believe it, why the hell should anybody listen to you? The Nation is an old Stalinist rag. The only explanation for your hysteria is that you are a die hard commie, yearning for the rebirth of the Soviet Union. No, The Nation isn't "progressive." It's Stalinist. Don't even both trying to convince me otherwise. Decent people don't admit that they read that piece of shit.

What's this shit about drinking and drugging? The same morons who complain about this tell us that Clinton's foibles just prove that he's human... our first black president.

The viciousness of the hatred of Bush is a really ugly, disturbing thing. I look at the people doing it, and wonder if they're right in the head.

Just imagine how you'd be demonizing Bush if we had suffered another serious attack on U.S. soil. Michelle Malkin has corrected identified this hysteria as Bush Dementia Syndrome.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on September 11, 2007 10:06 PM



Some kinds of ideology convince their believers that they don't need facts, or that claims by doubters that contradict the ideology are certain to be wrong. That seems to me to be what happened to our Iraq policy, and many other Bush administration policies, much more than lack of intelligence. Smart people are at least as likely to blind themselves with ideology as dumb people. (And we're not talking about smart/dumb here, we're talking about smart/above average.)

Posted by: albatross on September 11, 2007 11:07 PM



There's always been some viciousness in American politics, and Gingrich and Rove have contributed far more than their share. Bush wouldn't be President without guys of that type, and he who lives by the sword dies by the sword. I only regret that Bush hasn't really been publicly disgraced yet.

This is off-topic, but anyway.

Posted by: John Emerson on September 12, 2007 7:07 AM



Had some leftist in a Latin American nation lost the popular vote but been declared the victor by that country's Supreme Court in a case brought by the candidate to avoid a full recount in a province run by his brother, with a partisan campaign leader as the person in charge of the vote, it is most likely that we would not recognize such an election as valid. THEY have corrupt politicians who are more concerned with taking power than legality or fair elections. WE, of course, have no such politicians; our politicians are always honest and pure, seeking only to serve the nation through selflessly running for office to thank the nation that served them so well personally. Right.

My own observations have led me to think that a loose confederation of uber-capitalists (global division) have spent the past thirty plus years seeking to elevate the power of the Presidency above its historic and constitutional equality with the other two branches of federal government. They've attached themselves to the Republican Party and so Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, et al continue to appear in or around administration after administration.

The Iraq invasion and linking it in the mind of the public to the attack of September 11 (which makes it part of the amorphous "War on Terror") has been extraordinarily helpful in moving this agenda forward.

Posted by: Chris White on September 12, 2007 7:50 AM



Chris: why so many ignorant-sounding red herrings in your post?

It's not unconstitutional to lose the popular vote and still win the election through a quirk of the Electoral College system. It happened once, maybe twice, in the late 19 c. I knew this even in high school. So why did you bring this up?

The final election results hinged on a razor-thin result of Florida voting, where a large block of voters, through their own stupidity, misread a ballot that was, incidentally, designed by a Democrat official. The Supreme Court eventually ruled, by letter of law, that an Nth recound is final. So where is the election theft?

I voted for Bush twice but in retrospect I wish that Gore/Kerry had won. A leftist president woudl have at least been hobbled by a vigorous conservative opposition while Bush's rule as a de-facto liberal badly compromised the conservatives into following their own Bush Derangement Syndrome in defending every single liberal outrage the man shoved down our throat.

Posted by: PA on September 12, 2007 9:16 AM



(sigh)
Michael Moore did not say that the (hypothetical) black passengers would have been "thugs."

(sigh right back at ya fella)
Michael Moore: "If the passengers had included black men, those killers, with their puny bodies and unimpressive small knives, would have been crushed by the dudes, who as we all know take no disrespect from anybody."

“Dudes” who “take no disrespect from anybody”, who are big enough to “crush the puny bodies” of the hijackers sound, well, a lot like thugs to me!

He has plenty of faults, but racism surely isn't one of them. And note that I de-racialized his statement by saying that it also would apply to working-class white men.

Michael Moore has plenty of faults and his statement demonstrates that one of them is indeed racism. As for your “deracializing” manoeuvre, why was it necessary in the first place?

What Moore presumably was implying, and I am explicitly stating, is that the sort of upscale white men who predominate on flights like the ones which were hijacked - don't forget, they were transcontinental morning flights during the week, heavy on business travelers - tend to be anything but courageous when push literally comes to shove.

Drivel. And weak evasive drivel at that. You take Moore’s utterly contemptible statement (my candidate for the single stupidest, ugliest and most worthless thing ever said by anybody about 9/11) and try to whitewash it as “presumably implying” something about working class people’s propensity to defend themselves. You still haven’t addressed the fact that the Flight 93 counterattack leaders were indeed middle and upper-middle class white men. Your animadversions against that group of people are simply not borne out by the facts.

My God, Peter. Why on earth you would approvingly quote a man who called the passengers on the two WTC-crashed flights “scaredy cats” escapes me entirely. That you continue to offer these watery mealy-mouthed defenses of that nano-souled charlatan simply makes me want to give up on you.

Which I am now doing.

Posted by: PatrickH on September 12, 2007 10:20 AM



OK, the thread's off-topic.

The people who misread the badly-designed ballot were not stupid. There are lots of stupid people in the world, and only this ballot caused trouble, in one small area.

So why does PA say they were stupid, without feeling the need to give any evidence for that? Because he's a hack ideologue who's picking up every argument he can find or imagine so he can fling them at the people he disagrees with.

And Bush isn't a liberal. The conservatives who supported him are trying to escape personal responsibility for the disaster they helped bring about, so they're calling him a liberal.

Sounds very stupid to me.

Posted by: John Emerson on September 12, 2007 10:21 AM



John, Well, technically, from the big-pic, poli-sci p-o-v, nearly all pols in America are liberals, in the sense of "accepting Enlightenment goals and methods as generally valid." Republicans are "market liberals," Dems are "welfare liberals." Pols who are true conservatives or true socialists are very rare in this country.

Not that this little exercise in categorizing clarifies anything, of course ...

Posted by: MIchael Blowhard on September 12, 2007 10:42 AM



Calm down, Emerson.

There is plenty of support to the statement that Bush rules like a liberal (in the sense of contemporary US politics).

- Compassionate Conservatism.
- "When someone hurts, the government must move."
- Democracy crusade in the Middle East
- "Isalm is a religion of peace"
- Approving comments on the hispanization of the US
- the mega-amnesty efforts on illegals
- Immigration in general
- No Child Left Behind
- Massive drug and healthcare entitlement spending increases
- Harriet Myers

These are just a few that come to mind. His only conservative acts: tax breaks (negated by his entitlement spending) and Robers / Alito (but see Myers above)

Posted by: PA on September 12, 2007 11:05 AM



Michael Moore: "If the passengers had included black men, those killers, with their puny bodies and unimpressive small knives, would have been crushed by the dudes, who as we all know take no disrespect from anybody."

Dudes who take no disrespect from anybody, who are big enough to crush the puny bodies of the hijackers sound, well, a lot like thugs to me!

My interpretation is rather different. What Moore was saying is that black men are less likely to be cowards who avoid all physical confrontations. A point with which I agree 100%.

--

As for your deracializing manoeuvre, why was it necessary in the first place

Merely to note that physical courage - or cowardice, if you prefer - is a class thing as much as a racial thing.

--

You still haven't addressed the fact that the Flight 93 counterattack leaders were indeed middle and upper-middle class white men.

One exception doesn't prove much. Also, I believe one of the men who spearheaded the counterattack was a top amateur rugby player, and therefore more physically oriented than the average upscale white man (whose idea of physical activity doesn't extend beyond the weekly round of cartball).

By the way, an often-overlooked point is that the Flight 93 counterattack was of great symbolic importance but little or no practical importance, in terms of saving lives. The aircraft's likely target was either the Capitol or the White House, both of which had been evacuated.

Posted by: Peter on September 12, 2007 11:14 AM



PA: Five of your examples were political rhetoric involving no action, or justifying action taken for other reasons. Nothing liberal about Harriet Miers. You've got NCLB and immigration. Pretty weak tea.

If you never supported Bush and his war plans, I'll give you a pass. But the vast majority of people who call themselves conservatives did, but now they're pretending they didn't.

Posted by: John Emerson on September 12, 2007 12:55 PM



Peter,

With your last whimpering, withered, burnt-out fag-end of a non-response, I realize to my shame that I have been wasting my time on someone without an ounce of intellectual integrity, or even (genuine) argumentative skill, namely you. I should have realized the signs when you quoted Michael Moore, but NO! Foolish hot-Irish-blooded me had to jump in, typing actual English sentences, constructing arguments, referring to 'evidence', 'facts' and otherwise exhibiting a full range of antique pre-Peter intellectual virtues. Foolish, naive, antiquated me.

I won't waste any more of my time on a pathetic luke warm troll like you. I can only regret the time I've already lost. O foolish me!

Posted by: PatrickH on September 12, 2007 1:08 PM



NCLB and immigration. Pretty weak tea.

Immigration is the biggest and most disastrous event in the history of our civilization since WW2. Hardly weak tea. Hell, everying besides immigration is weak tea.

NCLB is a case-in-point of Bush's complete internalization of every sentimental liberal shibboleth, and his willingness to expand the power of the Federal Gov beyond FDR's and LBJ's wildest fantasies.

Posted by: PA on September 12, 2007 2:30 PM



Michael:

Bush and the Republicans' rejection of scientific empiricism - their embrace of intelligent design, denial of global warming and rejection of stem cell research - is fundamentally incongruent with "accepting Enlightenment goals and methods as generally valid." They also are currently pushing a historically revisionist reading of the founding fathers and the origin of the constitution that claims that its precepts were divinely inspired.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on September 12, 2007 2:46 PM



If there is any topic that is rife with illogical claims and non-scientific dogma, its "global warming"--true nonsense if there ever was any.

Also, only embryonic stem cell research was kiboshed, not adult stem cell research. And since the adult kind is responsible for almost all (if not all) treatments that are effective and in use, that makes a lot of sense.

I don't support the Bush Administration on much, but what I do or do not support is based on reason, not dogma disgused by propaganda. Unfortunately, Mr. Winkler, you also are not above twisting the truth to push your own agenda, and I find it funny that you accuse others of what you are so frequently guilty of. This blog is rife with examples of such, as I have pointed out above. Mr. Cochran's analysis is based on facts, not political affiliation, and it would be nice if you could step away from your far-left aganda to analyze them on that basis, rather than reflexively trumpeting dogma disguised as reason.

Posted by: BIOH on September 12, 2007 4:43 PM



Michael – A great pair of posts. Sadly, Cochran seems to be inflicted with an insecurity which screams, “if only everyone were as smart as I am, had the same friends and sources as I do, and read exactly the same books and newspapers as I do, then they would almost be as wonderful as I am – but not quite.” A number of his “insights” about Iraq are not unique, and he severely understates the degree to which knowledgeable people in the CIA, the State Department and other agencies were deliberately marginalized as the Bush Administration doggedly pursued its objectives.

He reminds me a lot of Gore Vidal, another smart man who must constantly remind his interviewers and readers exactly how smart and well-read he is, and how his judgments are just the most correct and well-considered judgments ever in the history of mankind.

This said, the Cochran interviews are vividly entertaining and informative, and some of his conclusions about the folly of our Iraq involvement are spot on, despite any carping by true believers.

Posted by: Alec on September 12, 2007 5:19 PM



PA: So when did you quit supporting Bush? I gave you a chance to say that you never supported Bush, but you didn't pick up on it.

You gave me a long list of "liberal" things Bush did, of which only two had any validity. Bush is not a liberal except in Michael's terminology.

I don't think that Cochrane is bragging about his IQ. He mostly seems to be saying that almost anyone could have figured things out the way he did, but that no one in the Bush Administration meets normal standards of competence.

I somewhat disagree -- I think that wishfulness and irresponsible adventurism were the explanation, not pure stupidity -- but a lot of the flak he's getting is unwarranted.

Posted by: John Emerson on September 12, 2007 7:03 PM



So when did you quit supporting Bush? I gave you a chance to say that you never supported Bush, but you didn't pick up on it.

I don't know why I'd need a "chance" to say anything here. Obviously I supported Bush at some point, since as I mentioned I had voted for him twice -- both times in the spirit of choosing the lesser of two evils.

I stopped supporting him when I realized that he wants to destroy America's historic majority population with third world and Mexican immigration. I think the moment when he denounced the Minutemen as "vigilantes" before Vincente Fox is the precise point when I lost all illusions about Bush being in any way a conservative president.

Posted by: PA on September 12, 2007 7:30 PM



Is Wolfowitz 'brilliant'?

He’s ethnocentric, for sure…Stephen Walt and that freak, Abraham Foxman, from the ADL were on NPR’s Fresh Air last week.

“The market will make alternatives spring forth. Fortunately the laws of physics allow such alternatives. In fact there are plenty.”

Cochran obviously doesn’t share James Howard Kunstler’s peak oil worldview…I hope Greg’s right.

Posted by: Scooter on September 12, 2007 11:12 PM



"And, Diana, if you read The Nation and believe it, why the hell should anybody listen to you? The Nation is an old Stalinist rag. The only explanation for your hysteria is that you are a die hard commie, yearning for the rebirth of the Soviet Union. No, The Nation isn't "progressive." It's Stalinist. Don't even both trying to convince me otherwise. Decent people don't admit that they read that piece of shit."

Comments like this remind me why I blow hot and cold on blogs.

For the record: I rarely read the Nation. But I respect Bugliosi, and he wrote the best precis of What Happened in 2000.

Unlike some fucking idiots, I pick and choose articles regardless of the source.

Even Commentary publishes some useful stuff. Even Weekly Standard.

Posted by: diana on September 13, 2007 1:04 PM



Nothing new to add. Just wanted to say: interesting stuff in both the article and the comments. I usually can't get past the first few comments after good article, as things usually deteriorate pretty quickly into semi-literate pissing contests. That's why I don't have comments on my blog (well, that and I don't have any readers anyway). But this thread has been a great read, all the way through. Even the snark has been high-quality snark!

Posted by: Jim O'Sullivan on September 13, 2007 3:05 PM



I wrote longer comment about how much I enjoyed reading this comment section, but I don't think it uploaded. This one probably won't either, but in case it does, thanks for a great read, everybody.

Posted by: Jim O'Sullivan on September 13, 2007 3:10 PM



Dear BIOH:

You wrote:

"Also, only embryonic stem cell research was kiboshed, not adult stem cell research. And since the adult kind is responsible for almost all (if not all) treatments that are effective and in use, that makes a lot of sense.

I don't support the Bush Administration on much, but what I do or do not support is based on reason, not dogma disgused by propaganda. Unfortunately, Mr. Winkler, you also are not above twisting the truth to push your own agenda, and I find it funny that you accuse others of what you are so frequently guilty of. This blog is rife with examples of such, as I have pointed out above."

George Bush vetoed federal funding for embryonic stem cell research except for those cell lines for which research had already begun prior to his decision. His veto was based on his religious belief that an embryo is deserving of the right of personhood, not because he conferred with experts who told him that said research was unpromising and likely to be a waste of money. It was a decision that ignored empirical pragmatism in favor of religious belief.

I omitted this lengthy qualifier from my statement to Michael Blowhard not because of any devious attempt to deceive readers here, but merely because I assumed that the readers here are well-informed enough to already know this about the subject.

Based on that, you engage in false accudsations and name calling because you aren't interested in factual correctness, let alone truth. You merely seek to find instances where you think you can prove someone is being intentionally misleading so that you can pounce on them and then crow in victory.

You are a fatuous blockhead. But your comments are always good for a few laughs, I'll grant you.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on September 13, 2007 3:28 PM



Thank you. Interesting critique from the peanut gallery. Almost poetic but not ingenius. Still awaiting some substance. Wonderful follow-on commentary. God Bless America.

Posted by: Kevin on September 13, 2007 6:33 PM



Peter Winkler,

I thought your neglect to accurately describe the situation regarding embryonic stem cell research was due to your obsessive, knee-jerk marxism. I had no idea you had such high regard for how highly informed other posters are here, even those who disagree with you. One would never get that idea from any of your posts.

I'm sure that you find my observations entertaining. More importantly, you never seem to be able to refute any points I do make, as witnessed by your posting above. There are many kinds of satisfactions to be gained by an exchange of ideas beyond humor. I find out-arguing my opponents to be deeply sastisfying. That's enough for me.

I hope that someday soon, you might be able to experience that same satisfaction in an intellectual debate. Though I grant that it will probably be a new experience for you, I would caution you not to fear the unfamiliar. Settling for muddled dogma and spiteful rancor is no substitute for clarity and victory. You, but far more importantly we, deserve much better.

Posted by: BIOH on September 13, 2007 9:19 PM



Two questions:
Where was Adriana to tell us that the answer to all our questions resides somewhere in the works of John Lukacs?

Why would someone bring the belchings of the useless fat fuck Michael Moore into a thread? It's like shitting in the host's swimming pool during the party. Not that he's wrong to hate and despise GWB.

Posted by: expat on September 13, 2007 11:12 PM






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