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October 25, 2007

Comments

"Dude – you were robbed."

If you ever do a blog, and want a tip on how to link to someone that in a way that will maximize clicks (which will still almost never be clicked by more than about 5-10% of readers, and that's optimistic), it's that you link to an individual entry, not just the general blog, and you give people a reason to be intrigued or to want to read what's there, without either quoting much, or being so cryptic as to be mystifying.

In other words, you have to write something that makes people want to see what's at the link. Just tossing in a link doesn't do much. (Then there's also not mucking a link by right-clicking on Google as a way to find it, which gets you Google HTML without warning.)

(This is not a criticism of John! He was under no obligation to maximize click-throughs; I'm just saying that this is how it works, I can say after six years, come late December, of reading blog stats on click-through rates.)

But thanks for the thought. I keep hoping I'll feel up to more frequent blogging (not commenting: posts on my own blog) Real Soon Now.

"OD = Emergency Room. Ex-friends = dead. Car crash, gun that should not have been loaded, suicide…"

Wait, how do you put the blame for all that on marijuana?

Because I know lots of folks who have been smoking it for more than thirty, forty, years, and not one of them has yet committed suicide, been shot, shot anyone, or been in a car crash.

Done less with their lives than perhaps otherwise, yes. The rest of this? What's the established causal link you can point to?

"OD = Emergency Room"

What does that mean? Someone was in danger of dying because of marijuana and had to be rushed to the Emergency Room?

Or someone inexperienced with it felt panicky? Or what?

You said "You don’t seem to think it is addictive and you don’t seem to think you can OD or die from it."

These are simple claims:
1) marijuana is addictive
2) you can "OD"/overdose on marijuana
3) you can die from marijuana.

These are all factual claims, and if true, it should be perfectly easy to link to evidence of their factual nature.

If you can't do so, have you considered the possibility that these statements might be incorrect? If not, why would not link to evidence otherwise?

You're free to modify or withdraw these claims, you know. Would you perhaps like to modify or withdraw, say, the assertion that "[...] you can OD or die from [marijuana]"?

KCinDC: is your history really that much worse than that of the last guy who was elected

Better I would say. I never had so much as a parking ticket in my life. I did inhale though. And it was damned tasty.

Jen: which "OC" are you from - CA or FL

Hah. Ocean City, MD. My whole damned state is blue. We were blue before blue was cool.

Gary: Wait, how do you put the blame for all that on marijuana?

Because I was present for each of these. I know firsthand what was ingested. I could get into detail about… well no, I won’t.

I said it was all anecdotal Gary. I have no links. I was present. I can get into…

OCSteve:

Alcohol will always be a problem I have to watch closely.

Pot? At some point you have to put it behind you forever.

Why do you consider -- and I'm in no way suggesting that this is a wrong position for you to take as regards yourself -- consider this a general prescription for everyone? Why is alcohol tolerable for everyone, but marijuana so deadly that no one can smoke it for long without serious damage?

Have you considered the possibility that these might be good guidelines for yourself, but utterly inapplicable to billions of other people, and thus perhaps inappropriate to offer as ukases for the human race?

(Which is what you did by going into the second person, of course.)

Because it's not considered a controversial observation to note that many people have to put alcohol entirely behind them, to deal with it. But you assert that that's only the case for marijuana.

Based on what objective information?

"However, I'm a quarter of the way through Howard Zinn's A People’s History of the United States, so I should have more information soon."

Oh jeez.

Um, Zinn is useful if one knows nothing whatever of history beyond sixth-grade patriotism, and if it's just a starting point to go read serious historians.

But alone, he's as biased, incomplete, slanted, and inaccurate as all the texts he's attempting to balance.

He's incredibly simple-minded, simplistic, sloppy, reductionist, and all in all tends to wind up with a sort of "Leftist History For Dummmies" version that I'd hate to think anyone would buy into without context and less superficial additional knowledge and points of view.

Which isn't to say that he's worse than various right-wing historians.

But please, the only way to read history is to a) read lots of original sources for yourself; and b) read lots of different historians of competing schools, all the schools of thought you can find, on any given event and issue, and compare and contrast their arguments and points, to weigh which have more and less merit.

The one school class I have any fond memories of at all are my AP American History class, where we did nothing for a year but read Civil War documents and dozens of historians, and where the necessity of reading multiple POVs, both source documents and analysis, both as many as possible, was drilled into us.

But it was already my autodidact approach, anyway.

Anyway, bottom line is that Zinn is kinda the classic jejune sophmoric start for folks who know little, and find it a great revelation, but he's not someone to be taken particularly seriously on his own.

Sorry. Howard Zinn kneejerk. Kinda the worst possible cliche to haul out, I'm afraid. No offense intended, mind.

"...do we not agree that both parties have been invested in interventionist policies for the past 50 years?"

Sorta, but I don't find "interventionist policies" a remotely helpful term.

"Intervening" can mean any kind of interaction, including a wide variety of good, and a wide variety of bad. It doesn't tell us anything useful to refer to "interventionist policies": "interventionist policies" that do what, for what reason, to what effect, with what result, at what time, at what place, by which people?

Only when we start to get specific about all these things can we start to analyze how it fits into the history of U.S. foreign policy, world politics, and so on.

Not doing this results in the sort of blur-it-all claim you initially made, in which Bosnia and Vietnam were morally indistinguishable. I have no problem defending, while also criticizing some subaspects, of both the Nato intevention in Bosnia, and the U.S.'s last intervention in Haiti. This doesn't speak at all, contra John and his ilk, to what I think of our actions in Iraq, or Vietnam, or Operation Ajax, or a hundred other U.S. interventions.

It's a lot more complicated than "intervention = bad" or "intervention = good."

"As for my school system, I think that it was a neutral experience, but like all public schools in the 80’s, we had old textbooks that covered only the basic narrative."

So my answer is "yes," but also that it's not a terribly edifying point.

Please allow me to fix this sentence, if you would be so kind and generous. It should read: "As for my school system, I think that it was a neutral experience, but like almost all public schools throughout American history, we had old textbooks that covered only the basic narrative."

"She had us read Catch-22 and gave us an in-depth education on the military industrial complex."

I have to say that it's unclear how that's the provenance of an English teacher. Teachers are supposed to teach critical thinking: not political views.

But I'm glad she did good things for you, of course, and sorry to hear that she couldn't continue doing so at that school.

Hope you stick around here, and continue to have things to say. Don't let my disagreeing with you, however sharply or strongly, ever put you off! Feel free to let me know if I inadvertently hurt feelings, as it's only my intention to hurt the feelings of someone acting malicious, never someone I'm simply disagreeing strongly with! I do tend to put things strongly, at times, if I feel it's called for. But I never want to insult anyone without actually meaning to. :-)

Oh, and OCSteve lives in Maryland; he confuses everyone with that. It's all part of his fiendish plot to... confuse us.

"I said it was all anecdotal Gary. I have no links. I was present."

Yes, but I don't understand why you seem to believe that the conclusions you are stating are therefore correct.

I'm confused. Do you or do you not assert that:
1) marijuana is addictive
2) you can "OD"/overdose on marijuana
3) you can die from marijuana.

I'm fine if you want to withdraw any or all of these claims.

Or defend them. Or pick and choose. It's all fine with me.

I just don't understand what it is you're saying, which seems to be something like "this is right, but not factually, only in my mind."

Or something. I'm not following. What is it you're trying to say?

Because "disturbed people can use marijuana, and these same people can end up dead or injured" isn't a claim I'd argue with.

I'd just argue that it's no more true than that "disturbed people can drink water, and these same people can end up dead or injured," and that so far we've established that pot is as dangerous as water, and nothing more.

I actually think it's a little more dangerous than that, but I probably wouldn't bother to try to prove it.

I'd definitely argue that alcohol is far more dangerous, both physiologically, and behaviorally, and I would have no difficulty whatever establishing that that's accepted scientific fact. Do you disagree?

Mind, I'm not asking if you disagree if it's true for you, in terms of what you, OCSteve, ingest. I'm asking if you disagree that as regards established medical knowledge on human beings, you believe what I said to be a false statement?

If you want to argue that most people who try, or who regularly smoke, pot, are in significantly greater danger of suicide or injuring themselves than people who don't smoke it, then, again, that's a claim of fact, not a statement where subjectivity is useful; one can either offer a cite to stats indicating this is true, or false, or not. That's all that's necessary.

If you want to argue that hat most people who try, or who regularly smoke, pot, are in significantly greater danger of suicide or injuring themselves than people who drink to excess, or who are alcoholics, the same.

Objective things are either so or not so.

Gary: Why do you consider -- and I'm in no way suggesting that this is a wrong position for you to take as regards yourself -- consider this a general prescription for everyone? Why is alcohol tolerable for everyone, but marijuana so deadly that no one can smoke it for long without serious damage?

I do because I do… my advice on this is no more relevant than my advice to the Democratic Party. It is all worth what you guys pay me for it – nada… It’s crap – my thoughts on a blog at 11PM. It means nothing. If there is a young person here who can avoid some pitfalls if I share some bad experiences then I will do so. I’ll expose myself a bit if it helps someone avoid some of the pitfalls I went through.

This is not a general prescription for everyone. Alcohol is bad stuff and is in no way tolerable for everyone. I never said that. Alcohol is addictive. Tobacco is addictive. So is pot. In my experience pot is the most seductive.

;)
Smiley…
Seriously, no animosity.

Well, I'm reading the Howard Zinn book because it came highly recommended by a few friends and because it is an alternate view of history. That said, I'm aware that Zinn is biased, but I still want to hear his take on our country's history.

I know that original sources are the way to go. That's how I prefer to get my news on the Bush administration's antics. CSPAN-3 and I are very good friends. But as for history, summaries are going to have to do for now. I just don't have the time.

I am also reading Zinn because I've grown up being everything Republican. Both my parents are Republican, all their books are Republican, and they forced me to listen to the local Republican talk radio station while driving to and from school (Dr. Laura and Rush Limbaugh- two voices I wish I never had to hear again). Therefore, my reading of "liberal" ideas is not reaffirming my previous beliefs, but is instead my attempt to find out what the other half has to say.

As for my English teacher, she wasn't teaching us political views. But she did choose a book that let us know that the military industrial complex exists, which is more than I can say for any of my history classes. Naturally, we also asked her questions, and during class, it was all about English. But during lunch and after school, her classroom was often packed with smart kids that wanted to learn some interesting stuff. She gave us articles to read and the discussions we had were, to this day, some of the most interesting of my life. She taught us how to question the world. If a teacher's duty is to teach critical thinking, I can't imagine anyone doing a better job.

Want to know the craziest part? A lot of the kids that would come to her class during lunch weren't even her students. The conversations were just that good.

God, I miss that class. And almost every student from that class went on to college.

Anyway, I've really enjoyed this conversation today. I will continue to hang out here. I do get a bit intimidated sometimes, but I can handle it. I have no problem with telling someone when I think they're being a jerk (which, for the record, no one here has been so far). Most importantly, for me anyway, is that I think we are all willing to learn from each other, which is why I'm excited to have found this website.

Anyhow, I'm signing off for the night. Have a great Friday everyone.

Don't let "Big Pot" get you down!

"Therefore, my reading of 'liberal' ideas is not reaffirming my previous beliefs, but is instead my attempt to find out what the other half has to say."

That's good. That's fine. Good for you.

I'm just saying, keep going from there. It's very common for people brought up strongly with one point of view -- about whatever, it doesn't matter -- to when they finally encounter some good information about why part of what they used to believe is wrong, to leap to being equally enthused for their new, reverse, one-sided view, rather than simply realizing that things are very complicated, and consist of a whole lot of varyingly conflicting views, not just two, and that a lot more learning is called for, rather than adopting just a different simple-minded cardboard view. Which, frankly, is what Zinn gives. But I agree that he can be a useful start, so long as he's only that.

I'm sure you won't make that mistake; you seem bright; I'm just saying that that's the cliche of people who encounter Howard Zinn and find him a revelation.

Simple-minded right-wing history: The U.S. is always wonderful, and always stands for freedom and justice, and any exceptions we get past quickly; the U.S. is nothing but a force for good in the world, with only trivial exceptions.

Simple-minded left-wing history: The U.S. is nothing but a patriarchal committer of genocide and interventions against the worthy governments of other nations, and generally has been a force for evil in the world.

The actual truth is vastly more complicated than that, and tends to work out to thousands of events, in some of which the U.S. played a role more good than bad, some more bad then good, and many so complex that it's difficult to sort out or judge the mix of so many effects.

I'm a big fan of arguing specifics, and not generalities, on issues such as this, myself. I'll leave it there, and thank you for indulging me in my weariness with Howard Zinn.

"I know that original sources are the way to go."

But not alone. That's the way people get off onto lunatic theories, by not understanding original sources in context, and not being familiar with which interpretations have been debunked, which facts contradict their pet theories and so on. That's how people wind up conspiracy theorists.

It's equally as absolutely mandatory, to understand history at all, to read a wide variety of competing historians on any given issue.

Ditto contemporary politics, I'd say, incidentally.

Summaries are a surrender to ignorance, and what someone else thinks.

"But she did choose a book that let us know that the military industrial complex exists...."

Which book, he asked curiously?

Have a good weekend.

I am a libertarian at heart. Repeal all the drug laws. The “war on drugs” is a joke. Let all of those people out of prison. Put whatever you want into your body… Offer me a toke and I will join you…

But responsibility comes with that. I won’t stand by and let people think pot is harmless – it is not. Cigarettes will kill you. Booze will kill you. Pot will kill you.

I hope to die with an empty bottle of Jack Daniels in one hand, a fat roach in the other, and an empty pack of cigarettes at my feet.

Given the insane price of cigarettes these days, I will be totally pissed if there are more than 5 left in the pack.

"It means nothing."

?

Myself, I'd never presume to advise someone that they should base their behavior on my physiological responses, because theirs are bound to be different, therefore it's an absolutely sure thing that my advice to act as if they had my physiology would damage and do harm to many people.

If people who don't share your physiology took your advice, they could also be damaged by it.

Why would you want to do that, or think that a good idea?

I don't get it.

It means something if you tell someone that this is a good or bad idea, or they should or shouldn't do something. People are apt to give credence to what they hear, at least from sources they consider credible.

Offering people advice on drugs, medicine, their physiology, and the like, based only on your own subjective response would be a terribly irresponsible and, well, stupid thing to do. It would hurt people.

It would be very bad advice.

I'm sure you wouldn't want to hurt people, so I'm sure you wouldn't want to offer them advice that could hurt them, so I'm sure you wouldn't be so silly as to offer advice to someone based on the notion that their physiology is identicial to yours.

"Alcohol is addictive. Tobacco is addictive. So is pot. In my experience pot is the most seductive."

I have no doubt that you're correct about your own subjective perception of your self.

However, there are studies of the physically addicting affects of all three, and tobacco wins. Objectively. Factually.

What's in people's heads in a whole 'nother matter than what's physically addicting, just as it is to what the relative toxicity of alchol and marijuana are.

Myself, I could and sometimes do offer a fair amount of advice about alcohol and drugs, but I offer facts, and a lot of emphasis on how much people differ, so you shouldn't make judgements about something on the assumption that you'll react the same as your friends or people around you.

"But responsibility comes with that. I won’t stand by and let people think pot is harmless – it is not. Cigarettes will kill you. Booze will kill you. Pot will kill you."

This is impassioned, and wrong.

Pot can be used harmlessly, and it can be used harmfully. Some people are capable of using it harmlessly, and some are not.

Those are true facts. What you said is factually untrue, because you didn't say "for me and some people." You said it as a universal, true of everyone, and that's false.

Cigarettes stand very bad odds of killing you, but millions of people have smoked them all their life, and died without harm.

Fact. I highly don't recommend playing those quite bad odds, and I've never smoked tobacco, but I won't lie about it.

Most people drink not much booze, and do so with little or no harm to their lives. Other people have a great deal of trouble with it, sometimes just for periods of their lives, and others all their lives. A significant number of people can't safely drink alcohol at all. But many can.

OCSteve, please don't confuse what might be absolutely helpful, or necessary, mantras for yourself with factual statements about everyone else.

Gary: You are correct. I should not presume to offer advice, even to one I presume to be much younger than me who could, although not likely I admit, benefit from it. I should not presume. It is stupid and bad advice and it could hurt people. Advising people not to smoke MJ could do harm to many people, they could be damaged by it.

I agree that offering people my subjective experience is terribly irresponsible and, well, [a] stupid thing to do. It would hurt people. It would be very bad advice.

So toke up people!!!


Gary: I’m busting your stones dude. ;)

"Gary: I’m busting your stones dude. ;)"

It's good you said that, or I might have mistaken your meaning, as I, of course, didn't in any way say you shouldn't advise "people not to smoke MJ."

I said a whole lot of other stuff, none of which resembles that remotely.

Myself, I'd certainly advise anyone to be extremely cautious about any drug use, and of course, most cautious of all of any unprescribed drug use in which they're unfamiliar with that drug's effects on their system. And then to be cautious in being aware that their response is apt to evolve over time, and not remain static.

And I'd go on to offer a lot more advice about specifics, in circumstances where it was warranted. If I knew someone well enough, I might advise them as to how much a bad idea I think it would be for them to try such and such, and why.

And so on.

But I wouldn't lie to them, or exaggerate, or tell them that they should assume they're going to have the same reactions I do, or that anyone else they know does, because, yes, that would be advice with a high risk of causing them harm.

Lying to people, including exaggerating -- "you'll die if you smoke marijuana!" -- is counter-productive.

Tell that to kids, or anyone, and sooner or later they'll note that they've known a lot of people who smoked marijuana, and none has even ever gotten sick from it, let alone died, and they'll think "marijuana has no drawbacks!," and won't listen to lower-key warnings about drags on motivation, being stupider while stoned, and so on. So, speaking of ideas that are b. a. d....

And now back to Young Indiana Jones. I also have The Company waiting. And the new disks of My So-Called Life are out....

Speaking of drugs, I still have the last episode of The Corner to watch, too. Man, is that depressing.

However, I'm a quarter of the way through Howard Zinn's A People’s History of the United States, so I should have more information soon.

I think you'll find Zinn to be pretty one-sided.

If you're interested in a somewhat less partisan one-volume history that's still an enjoyable read, I highly recommend Hugh Brogan's "Penguin History Of The USA".

Original sources are always best, but sometimes it's helpful to get a good overview of the topic to provide some context.

But responsibility comes with that.

That pretty much says it all.

Thanks -

Gary: Lying to people, including exaggerating -- "you'll die if you smoke marijuana!" -- is counter-productive.

Uhhmmm. I was trying not to go here but I can’t let “lying” stand…

I was not lying or exaggerating. They were my friends. They died. There was no booze involved. Only pot.

It’s a bit of a hot button for me. Don’t take offense please. You could not have known. OTOH, please don’t assume “Lying to people, including exaggerating” is the default.

Look, I’m not sure how much clearer I can be: I like pot. But pot is just as bad as alcohol.

People, especially young people, should not take it lightly.

That is all. I’m sure you can agree with that.

"But pot is just as bad as alcohol."

According to what objective, scientific metric, OCSteve?

If you are trying to say that this is how you feel about it, fine! That's terrific, and I wouldn't dream of arguing! That's your subjective feeling, or your correct appraisal about their effects on you.

But as a factual objective statement about all human beings? By what metric?

You keep disagreeing with my bringing mere facts into the conversation, and you keep making absolute declarations that are factually untrue, and I ask you what you mean, and then the conversation continues without any acknowledgement by you of what's fact and what isn't, but instead you make another absolutist claim that would seem difficult to factually support.

This seems unproductive. I'm not trying to argue with your feelings. I'm trying to be accurate about the facts of marijuana and alcohol, their relative toxicity, physical addictiveness, and so on.

I hate to ask for the third time, but could you possibly please respond to this?

I'm confused. Do you or do you not assert that:
1) marijuana is addictive
2) you can "OD"/overdose on marijuana
3) you can die from marijuana.

I'm fine if you want to withdraw any or all of these claims.

Or defend them. Or pick and choose. It's all fine with me.

I just don't understand what it is you're saying, which seems to be something like "this is right, but not factually, only in my mind."

Or something. I'm not following. What is it you're trying to say?

I do get that this is an emotional subject for you, and that you've had friends who have had dreadful experiences, and that someone died, and I'm entirely sympathetic.

It's just that that doesn't change statistics.

But perhaps we should leave the topic for another time.

People, especially young people, should not take it lightly.

That is all. I’m sure you can agree with that.

That part I'll sign on for.

More kids than not, I'd worry more about alcohol use than marijuana use, though.

But most importantly, everyone is an individual, and I'd worry about them appropriately according to who they are as an individual, not according to one-size-fits-all set of What's Best For You. One kid's vulnerabilities, or strengths, rarely resembles than of another's.

This is probably all I need say for now.

Got any weekend plans?

"But she did choose a book that let us know that the military industrial complex exists...."

Which book, he asked curiously?

As I assume it's past young Jen's bedtime, I'll venture the guess it's the book she originally mentioned, Catch-22

And Jen - when you wake up (or get back from the party, whatever) - hang in there. You can learn a lot from some of the posters around here, including, on many topics, the occasionally irascible Mr. Farber.

Or even me, who has been teaching history somewhat longer than you've been alive. And still learning. (Off tomorrow to hear a talk by John Hope Franklin, age 90-plus and still learning!!)

"As I assume it's past young Jen's bedtime, I'll venture the guess it's the book she originally mentioned, Catch-22"

That seems highly plausible, given how common a high school assignment it is, at least in some places.

I don't really think of it as representing "the military industrial complex," which is, after all, commonly considered to be a postwar development, though obviously its foundation is in WWII.

But I also think of the "military industrial complex" as playing out in the development of the infrastructure in governement with the National Security Act of 1947, the establishment of the National Security Council, CIA, the post-war split and settlement amongst the services, the growth in independent political power and influence on Congress of each service, their interwining with the huge growth of the industrial defense conglomerates, fed by Congress, at the request of the services, and so on.

I don't associate it with the classic absurdities of war, which are a theme found equally in WWI dramas, commentaries on the Crimean War, and in Russian literature, as well as elsewhere.

I suppose Milo could be taken as a "symbol" of the MIC, if one wants to write a decent high school sophmore paper. But it seems kinda far afield from educating anyone useful about the the concept of the military-industrial complex.

On the other hand, it's what you'd get in an English class, rather than a history class.

So that doesn't mean you aren't likely right, of course. As usual.

I've always been amused that the original title -- and it was used for a magazine excerpt, prior to publication of the full novel -- was Catch-18, but then Mila 18 came out, so....

Of course, a really subtle clue was when she wrote "She had us read Catch-22 and gave us an in-depth education on the military industrial complex."

Duh. But I'd have to have looked back to notice that! How unreasonable would that be, I ask you?!

Gary: this is right, but not factually, only in my mind

OK – close enough. ;)

Look – when you attempt to give advice to someone, which is more effective: scientific studies or personal anecdotes?

I realize that you are a stickler for facts and accuracy. I personally find that anecdotes work better in a case like this.

Hmm. Did I just say fake but accurate?

This discussion makes me feel old.

I walked to school. In the snow. Uphill both ways.

And I had to rub two sticks together to light my joint.

@OCSteve, Gary & Jen: Truth, as usual, is in the middle. Cannabis can be mentally addictive (physical addiction is very rare) and heavy blowing can be damaging. For vulnerable groups (which can be genetic) there is a chance at psychosis/schizofreny and/or depression as a side effect.

In the Netherlands about 10% of the starting youth will blow daily and in 2005 6100 people contacted addiction-care because their cannabis usage caused them trouble.

Cannabis stil is less addictive and damaging than alcohol and tobacco. Death from cannabisOD would make you a medical miracle. But if you start very young or blow very much it will have negative effects on your brain.

Everybody can buy pot here, but (as everybody probabely allready knows) usage in the US is much higher than in the Netherlands. I think alcohol usage is higher here though (drinking is legal as from 16), so it's not just the coolness of doing something illegal.

OK forget the sticks. I’ll cop to using a zippo. Its bad enough someone will have to google that.

zippo's were highly in fashion when I still smoked ;)

Could you light it on the leg of your jeans though? (Up to flip the cap, down to strike the flint.) All the cool kids could… ;)

I never said I *had* one.

But I'll honestly confess to never being part of the cool gang anyway ;).

This discussion makes me feel old.

I hear you.

I walked to school. In the snow. Uphill both ways.

And that was in the summer!

And I had to rub two sticks together to light my joint.

Sticks?!? You had sticks?!?

We used to have stand around and wait for lightning strikes so we could light our dubes off of the burning embers.

I have a feeling Jen stays up later than .....(snort!) ......sorry I dozed off..... most of us here.

As one of the more immature posters here, I'd like to welcome Jen because, finally, someone more my age is here to understand me. ;)

You have an old soul, though, John.

"Look – when you attempt to give advice to someone, which is more effective: scientific studies or personal anecdotes?"

Facts, of course ("scientific studies"). Tell me an anecdote, and I'll point out that it's meaningless unless supported by facts. Why would I believe it?

Anyone who would be persuaded by an anecdote, and not go research the facts, to see if the anecdote does or doesn't reflect reality, is, ah, not very bright.

I figured this out by the time I started reading; it's part of why I thought most adults I observed at the time seemed not very bright.

OC Steve:

But Harry Reid was first out the gate with GW.

Phil Plait (who is not me) at Bad Astronomy has something to say about this, and winds it up with:

Sixth, no real scientist is saying that global warming is causing these fires. What it’s doing is setting up conditions where things like this are more likely. Global warming affects global weather patterns, and it’s the Santa Ana winds that turned these fires from a nuisance into a killer. I’m not saying that GW is the trigger here; I’m saying that things will get wonkier from here on out. Count on it.
Plait is an actual for-real scientist and worth listening to here.

Gov. Bill Richardson and Sen. Boxer ran out the NG in Iraq bit.

Haven't read their comments, but I don't think even you would at this point think that criticisms on where and how the NG are delpoyed, and its effects on domestic situations, are out of bounds.

I haven’t seen any serious criticism of FEMA, but almost every mention is used as an opportunity to compare this to Katrina.

Um . . . this isn't good for your point, because every comparison of the fires to Katrina I've seen comes from members of your political party which Tbogg addresses here.

Those aren’t just nobodies we can just write off like some kook claiming OBL or HRC did it.

Um . . . some of those "kooks" are some of the most widely-read bloggers in your political party, including Michelle Malkin, who is blaming illegal immigrants.

I think that the environmentalist issue is the only legitimate one to discuss here. I tend to listen to the Forest Service on that.

Can you please highlight everything in your LA Times link that deals with environmentalists? Thanks.

While you do, you may want to read this from the Executive Director of the Sierra Club:

It's like clockwork: Every time there's a big wildfire like the ones we're seeing in California, our opponents use the tragedy to attack environmentalists. And each time there's a fire, we're forced to point out, again, that we have long supported the kind of fuel reduction around communities that can mean the difference between losing a home and saving it.

In fact, these fires have little to do with forest management. The fires are burning in chaparral and brush, not dense forest. And the Forest Service's own tracking site shows that not a single fuels-reduction plan has been appealed in this area in at least a decade.

[of OCSteve]: "...every comparison of the fires to Katrina I've seen comes from members of your political party...."

They're registered Independents?

Of course, if you want a splendid example of who is making comparisons to FEMA, there you go.

Simply marvelous. I'd love to have been a witness to the meeting this was proposed at.

I should have mentioned that you have to love the kicker at the end. You couldn't find a better closing for a short-short story.

[...] Philbin's last scheduled day at FEMA was Thursday. He has been named as the new head of public affairs at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, ODNI spokeswoman Vanee Vines said.

Fine, "your recent former political party" sted "your political party." It's not like Steve's gonna vote for Hilary or Obama.

"It's not like Steve's gonna vote for Hilary or Obama."

There's a year to go. There's no harm in being generous and optimistic.

Gary:

Picking up from way up-thread:

"Are you saying Eisenhower was warning of something else? Or talking about some other time? Or that he was prone to leftist hysteria? Or what?"

None of that. I was saying the military industrial complex was here long before Iraq. But maybe I was looking too narrow. If I look at it as broadly as you are, from WWII forward, the existence of the MIC has been a constant presence. They make money all the time and don't need a war to still make money. That was my point.

"What are you referring to? You're claiming that the U.S. engaged in preventive wars during the Cold War? What? Who did we "hit you first"? The Soviet Union? China? Where? Who?"

No. [I know you get this. You're just playing dumb for effect] Just referring to MAD. It's like when you're in a good hockey fight and one of your teammates comes up to help and you belt him too before you realize who he is. You're on the defensive. You're tense.


"What objectively would make the Russians a "threat" to the world," Putin. Old timers.

"and not the U.S., precisely, would you say?"

An opposition that doesn't die when it runs its mouth off.

Do you seriously think that we present more of a danger to the world than China and Russia?

Liberal Japonicus and Gary F. -

" 'The American South is an interesting example, because the military leaders accepted that the war was over, but Jefferson Davis and others advocated a continuing campaign of guerrilla warfare, and the prevalence of myths of the Lost South suggest that the South is not necessarily a good example of a territory accepting defeat.'"

It's a question of what the south did versus what it said. Secession was never attempted nor considered again. Southern leaders, while glorifying the rebel cause, did not take the psychological break with the Union to the point that secessionist leaders in several other countries have; They never appealed to the nation's external enemies for support, never relaunched military struggle in a later generation, never rooted for the failure of American foreign policy, consistently paid taxes and participated in the electoral process, served in the military and were trusted to serve in the military. Contrast that with the serial rebellions of the Scots and Irish, the Corsicans, Basques, Kurds, southern Sudanese, Chechens and several others. Alot of rulers who fought a civil war would have killed to get as definitive an outcome as Washington got with the US Civil War....oh wait, they did kill for that objective, alot, and it still didn't work. On the key issue of secession, the lost cause talk was alot of blowhard talk, otherwise they would have tried it again. Of course former CSA supporters established dominance over blacks and pro-Unionist whites, but they never challenged the whole national structure again.

"The South didn't engage in much postwar military resistance, but the story of Reconstruction is, of course, the story of thorough ideological resistance, and counter-revolution to crush the newly granted civil rights of former slaves, to push and keep as many as possible in indentured servitude as closely resembling slavery as possible"

This ideological resistance was still very incomplete. The former Confederates used local and state institutions to enforce the racial hierarchy they wanted, but they gave up on fostering a truly independent and exclusive national identity. They accepted that southerners were Americans, even if distinctive Americans, they served in its military and never rooted for the US's foreign enemies, they allowed the southern whites be nostalgic for the CSA in the past but to be loyal to the USA in the present.

Judged by the stated war aims of each side at the beginning of the American Civil War, the Confederate capitulation was total and definitive. From a baseline of 2007, the ideological resistance of the post-bellum south to modern consensus views of race
(and their resistance to the more advanced views of a temporarily dominant minority faction of the Republicans, that a majority of white America was ambivalent about) was breathtaking. From the baseline of 1861-1863 though (as opposed to "extra" expectations developed in the middle 1860s)the south never again challenged the outcome.


"and to defend the Southern Cause as noble, and then to subsequently begin the Big Lie version of history that the War wasn't at all about slavery"

This actually proves the point further. I agree that these assertions are a Big Lie. But the fact that pro-Confederates feel the need to make this argument is itself a major concession. Up until the very last months of the CSA, self-respecting Confederates would have bridled at the idea of describing slavery as a bad thing, or a bad institution to fight and die for. They would have been happy to defend it. The Big Lie was needed only because southerners after the war were implicitly conceding that fighting for slavery was wrong.

" (this campaign remains staggeringly successful to this day; lots of otherwise liberal people still actually buy into this ahistoric nonsense), along with the rest of the Birth Of A Nation/KKK version of history."

Agree that's its all nonsense.

"And that worked terrifically for about a century. Who needed military resistance?"

Try making that argument to a Confederate in 1862. A slaveholder from that time would have been horrified to be told that he he should feel like a winner even if what he thought of as his country and property were conquered and confiscated. Being able to dominate ex-slaves wouldn't have made him feel restored.

They [the military-industrial complex] make money all the time and don't need a war to still make money.

The argument was often made by political economists during the Cold War era that, no, the MIC doesn't need war as such, which was why the stock market tended to drop when it seemed war was imminent, rally when "peace was at hand."

But what it did need was the threat of war, constantly, long enough so that we could build, at great cost, an entire generation of weapons and never use them, but watch them slowly go obsolete in time for us to build - at even greater cost - ANOTHER generation of weapons, &c.

What would have ruined them was actual peace. Fortunately (?!), after the end of the Cold War as such, we discovered that we had many other potential "enemies," all of whom represented such a terrible threat that we must give the armed services and their allies lots and lots and lots of money to ensure our precarious safety.

I do not vouch for the accuracy of this analysis even at the time, much less projected to the present. (Companies like Halliburton, as opposed to say Boeing, seem to make their profits from the aftermath of war rather than the perpetual preparation for it.)

I merely say that stirring up rumors of war is by no means incompatible with the observation that the MIC doesn't actually need war to benefit.

YMMV.

spockamok,
You've jumbled what I've written with what Gary has written, which isn't so much of a problem, cause I agree with Gary's point, but it's a bit problematic to argue about your response to Gary because it then gets very confusing. You think that because the pro-Confederates had to reframe their goals, this constitutes support for your notion that the South accepted defeat, because they knew that they had to restate their notions. I'm confused cause this sounds like the Irish or the Scots or the Basques or the Kurds or the Chechens never recast their goals but clung to what they were after. I don't know about the Sudanese or the Corsicans (though I suspect the fact that Napoleon was Corsican might be a relevant fact here), but I believe that all the others have found ways to reframe their goals multiple times. Of course, there were and are groups which have clung to the purity of their notion of the conflict as they see it, but by that measure, not only were there Confederate colonies in Brazil, but you are privileging the views of the most radical over the views of the larger majority.

Do you seriously think that we present more of a danger to the world than China and Russia?

If I had to choose world dominance I'd rather have the US than either of those. But since my aim is to stay independent I have to look at which country had most guns, has started most wars lately and is more agressive. You think that Russia or China fit that picture better?

Weapon industries can live very well even without a threat to their own national state, if other states feel threatened by each other.
There are a lot of bucks to be made by exporting weapons*. Although I have no hard numbers available, Swedish or German** weapon manufacturers are probably making more money by exporting modern weapons than by providing them to the military of their own countries. A big dent in the profits was, I admit, that the Bundeswehr sold off a lot of used stuff from the Nationale Volksarmee (GDR military) to countries that otherwise would have bought new ones but it was nonetheless profit by export.

*also giving incentives to develop new ones that can replace the "now obsoletes".
**to be nasty: Sweden sells its newest stuff making the buyers voluntary beta testers while Germany sells weapons that already have shown their reliability but are also not "top edge" anymore.

Hey, Civil War talk! And about whether it was all about slavery to boot! Let me play the Devil's advocate.

As far as I can tell, the Civil War at the start, and a few years afterwards, was all about the preservation of the Union (teh Yankees' POV). The Rebel side argued that the presidential election of 1960 was so flawed, no candidate having anything close to a majority, that the very legitimacy of the Federal Government was questionable. So it is conceivable that this was a popular uprising against unlimited Unitary Executive powers. Reprised from the other side in the Andrew Johnson impeachment, by the way.

DaveC:

Beg to differ with your interpretation of the 1860 (not "1960" - but we shouldn't carp over typos) election. I think the major reason why Abraham Lincoln's electoral victory fanned latent secessionist sentiments into fullblown rebellion in the South was not so much because of "flaws" in the process, but because of the fairly unabiguous nature of Lincoln's win (and thus the political ascendancy of anti-slavery sentiment).

Then, as now, it was the electoral vote that made the President, and Lincoln garnered 180 (out of 303): way more than any of his rivals, even though Old Abe got only 39.6% of the popular vote (and we see, now as then, that the popular count isn't ALL there is to American elections - see 1992, 2000).

Of course, the Presidential contest of 1860 was somewhat unusual in that there were four "serious" candidates in the race -one Republican, two (sectional) Democrats, and a third- (fourth-?) party candidate as well. Also, there was the fact that the political Establishments in virtually the entire South would likely have viewed any Federal Government not devoted to preserving slavery as "illegitimate" in any case.

But "a popular uprising gainst unlimited Unitary Executive powers"? Not very likely: Lincoln, when he took office, found himself in a unique situation: facing an armed secessionist rebellion in half the South, Congress not in session, and no precedents to draw on: most of the Presidential powers Lincoln claimed (and which contemporary authoritarians love to cite), he had to invent on the spot. After all, civil wars are definitely NOT normal everyday events (in the US, anyway!).

I think DaveC. haunts the environs (somewhere in the Midwest) of Chicago, so he may, in fact, be referring to "1960" when rebel factions questioned Mayor Daley's 10,000 zombie uncles rising from their graves and voting for John F. Kennedy.

I think that's where Richard Nixon concieved of the idea of inciting rebel factions in his southern strategy.

I could be wrong ......... though when George W. Bush said taxes would be raised over his dead body, I sensed an electoral strategy in the making on the Republican side.

Phil: It's not like Steve's gonna vote for Hilary or Obama.

I can’t imagine any circumstances where I would vote for HRC. You are correct there.

The other day when I laid out my list of what I want from a candidate Katherine suggested that matched Obama. Hilzoy has suggested to me in the past I might like him. I need to start paying more attention to him, but I’m mostly trying to ignore them all this early.

So you never know… Of course when I go to vote, being one of those red-state types I’m likely to confuse Obama with Osama - in which case I’d likely just break out in a cold sweat and run home and hide under the bed.

But in either case at least I won’t be cancelling out Hil’s vote here in MD.

Most, if not all, of the Southern leadership military and political would have been hanged for treason in most other nations. And the Confederate flag should have been made illegal...a symbol that resembles the swastika. The Southern elite got off easy. They even got to keep their slaves, but had to develop a legal system that recognized them as something else.

The priority after the Civil War was Anglo-Protestant Solidarity, by any means necessary.

A good book concerning the Aryan religious beliefs after Northern Aggression.

Reforging The White Republic: Race, Religion, And American Nationalism, 1865-1898 by Edward J. Blum

The Spanish-American War did wonders for the relationship of White Power in the United States.

Dutchmarbel: "If I had to choose world dominance I'd rather have the US than either of those. But since my aim is to stay independent I have to look at which country had most guns, has started most wars lately and is more agressive. You think that Russia or China fit that picture better?"

I'm not talking about world dominance. Gary Farber seemed to indicate he thought the US the biggest threat to world peace. The question was to him.

But, to answer your question, yes, I think
Russia and China are a more likely threat to world peace simply due to the lack of opposition inside each country.

What Gary is apparently saying is exactly what most Europeans say (the U.S. is dangerous) while at the same time being totally comfortable with cutting military spending to let the US do the dirty work of protecting the free world. Some threat we must pose to them! They don't even need a military to protect themselves from us.

If "world peace" is defined as the complete absence of war (a misleading utopian definition) then we are a "threat." If it is defined as the greatest degree of peace possible under the circumstances, I don't see how we are the greatest threat.

If "world peace" is defined as the complete absence of war (a misleading utopian definition) then we are a "threat."

If we all get to define terms away from their self-obvious meanings, we can all be right, each of us in our own little self-created world.

I'm not signing up for the US being the greatest threat to world peace. There are too many folks competing for that title to declare a clear winner.

I'm also not signing up for the US being anything like the protector of the free world. These days, anyway. There's too much self-interest involved, and too many voices here calling for "creative destruction" for that to be so.

In any case, it's hard to imagine "world peace", or peace in any context, being defined as anything other than an absence of war.

Thanks -

bc,

You seem to be under the same delusions that Anglo-Protestants throughout history have shared.

"We embrace mass-death and destruction to save the world from evil."

Get off the cross and get over your self.

BC,

If a person in the non-European world had to chose between Roman-Catholic Iberian Imperialism (Spanish, Portugal) or Anglo-Protestant Imperialism (British, United States) they might have chosen the Roman-Catholic. At least the RCII allowed for more rights if you were not extinguished, first. APII only allowed rights to whites, consequently a white Roman Catholic was more likely to enjoy the fruits of capitalism while a Protestant of color would have been regulated to all kinds of legal abuse.

However, your dichotomy is a bit degenerate, kind of like asking “Would you prefer NAZI Germany to Italian Fascism?” or even more down the moral abyss “Would you prefer rape and torture or just torture?”

The Soviet Empire was fought, in spite of US Imperialism and abuse, if anything US exceptionalism added gas to the fire, making life worse thatn it had to be.

Russell:

You are mostly right re definitions. But the U.S. was certainly not a barrier to world peace in WWII when we actively waged war on other nations. We needed to wage war to make peace. I can conceive of many different situations when war waging is peace making. As opposed to war making.

I was a little bothered by the "world domination" context of the earlier post. If that were the case, we would have annexed Canada and Mexico a long time ago (I say that in full knowledge that we in fact annexed part of Mexico a long time ago). Regardless of how any of us feel about Iraq, our nation's actions are a far cry from a stab at world domination.

But I agree that the ultimate goal is a world without war.

Regardless of how any of us feel about Iraq, our nation's actions are a far cry from a stab at world domination

Actually, I think this is 100% wrong.

I don't think you, personally, are endorsing world domination, but the folks who have defined US foreign policy over the last 6 six years are explicitly interested in, precisely, world domination.

Don't take my word for it, read what they've written. The Project for a New American Century stuff is a good place to start. Look at the list of members there and google up their other stuff. Also notice how many folks there are highly placed in policy shops, either within the government itself or as members of influential think tanks.

This goes back at least to the late 80's, when folks like Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, and Paul Wolfowitz decided that the best possible response to the fall of the Soviet Union was to establish and solidify the position of the US as the single dominant world power.

No global or even regional rival was to be allowed to emerge, either militarily, economically, or politically.

The goal of the folks who are making our foreign policy right now is world domination, and nothing other than world domination.

Some think that's a fine thing, some don't. I don't. But whether you think it's a fine thing or not, that is the goal that's on the table.

Thanks -

Someotherdude:

Aunque tengo mucho respecto a la cultura Iberica y a la iglesia Catolica, no veo la pregunta asi. Los Maya tampoco! :) Y como puedes hablar del comunismo asi? Si los Estados Unidos no defendiera el mundo libre todos nosotros quizas hablaramos el Ruso. Y lo que is mas interesante, mucho del mundo si escojo y escojo el punto de vista de Jorge Washington. Aunque si hay problemas con el punto de vista del mundo "Anglo-Protestante", y aunque si los del minoridad sufrieron demasiado, ultimamente nos trajo al sistema de mas libertad in la historia del mundo. (sorry for the inability to use acentos).

In short, I'm sorry if I offended your vicitimization, real or perceived. I respectfully disagree and never intended to portray the U.S. as a martyr. You raise a whole issue I never intended to touch on. And you assume that I am an "Anglo-Protestant." I like the comment that RCII allowed more rights only if you were not extinguished first! At least you somewhat see the other side of the coin.

And I'm sure Romania, Hungary, Poland, the Baltic Republics, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, etc. etc. all feel the same way about U.S. exceptionalism as you do.

Russell:

O.K., good point, but I think we need to define "world domination." Is that economic? Cultural? System of government?

I'm saying there is no intent on militarily bringing Pax Romana to all the world. As opposed to having an intent to ignite the people's revolution in all those damned capitalistic degenerate nations.

bc,

I’m an Afro-Latino Protestant, and I suspect most Americans confuse American exceptionalism with the Hand Of God.

“Romania, Hungary, Poland, the Baltic Republics, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, etc. etc” were never invaded and occupied and had right-wing authoritarians put into political power by the US. I assure you, their misty-water colored memories would look differently, if this was the case.

The US did to Eastern Europe what it should have done with most of the world. However, I suspect European lives have more value than the lives of souls in the “darker” parts of the world.

But, to answer your question, yes, I think Russia and China are a more likely threat to world peace simply due to the lack of opposition inside each country.

Most people think that the biggest threat to world peace comes from the country most likely to start a fight that might snowball others into it. Lack of opposition then only matters if the foreign policy is aggresive.

What Gary is apparently saying is exactly what most Europeans say (the U.S. is dangerous) while at the same time being totally comfortable with cutting military spending to let the US do the dirty work of protecting the free world. Some threat we must pose to them! They don't even need a military to protect themselves from us.

Total worldwide spending is 1200 billion, Nato does 850, US does 553, EU does 301, official next position is Japan with 49 but estimates about China are 90. Which means the US spends 46% of the worldwide budget, the EU 25%, China 8%, Japan 4% and Russia less than 3%.

If "world peace" is defined as the complete absence of war (a misleading utopian definition) then we are a "threat." If it is defined as the greatest degree of peace possible under the circumstances, I don't see how we are the greatest threat.

If it is defined thusly, it would mean the least amount of openly armed conflict between two or more parties, nations or states possible under the circumstances. Which means that everybody initiating an openly armed conflict is a threat. The more likely the fight will expand, the bigger the threat.

Someone above asked what kind of world domination the US has allegedly in mind.
I think it is: we control the oil* and the main routes of transportation for raw materials. If you don't do what we say, we will cut you off first from oil, then from other things you need. If that does not work, we consider to destroy your infrastructure. And if even that does not work, say hi! to Mr.Atom. But rest assured, we rarely have to resort to the last part. Oh yes, we also demand a virgin country sacrifice every decade to keep the great Ledeen happy.
In less loaded language: Domination by credible threat of disdvantages with no in-built upper limit.

*that was an explicit tool PNAC thinks the US should acquire especially against China.

O.K., good point, but I think we need to define "world domination." Is that economic? Cultural? System of government?

Military, economic, and political. More or less in that order, apparently. No rival, global or regional, is to be tolerated.

In addition to global terrestrial dominance, we are to dominate near-Earth outer space as well.

Not a joke.

Thanks -

Well, that’s right! Let’s face it! The American public is more nationalistic and war-happy than we would like them to be. Lets just think about which are the American movies, full with wars and guns and people who die (WHY?! Because this is what American people ask for!), lets think about the leaders in all the latest wars… that had, sometimes, really doubtful reasons to start from the beginning…

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