Bull Moose Blues

Very few bloggers annoy me as much as Marshall Wittmann. Part of it’s superficial; referring to himself in the third person, and through a self-appointed, laudatory nickname, is really irritating. But moreover, he always seems to embrace centrism for the sake of centrism, so that he can complain about how Democrats don’t see how obvious it is that the U.S. should focus all of its foreign policy on one mildly consequential terrorist group, and how Republicans, well, er, well let’s just say that he refrains from criticism of any and all Republicans. And what’s funniest about his writing is that it so often debunks itself. See this post, via Matt Yglesias:

The Moose would readily sign up for the Democratic Party of FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ and Scoop. Alas, it doesn’t exist and there is no sign that it will return anytime soon. And it is hard to believe that any of those great Democrats would recognize their party.

Emphasis mine. What do JFK, LBJ, and Scoop have in common? Oh, that’s right, they helped start and expand U.S. involvement in Vietnam. The Moose seems to admire their hawkishness for its own sake, totally forgetting the horrible consequences of it. That’s the same thing that irritates me about his support for the war in Iraq today; he seems like he wants to be a hawk, so he supports any and all wars that are proposed, ignoring the critical details. It shows an intellectual laziness and poseur status that’s just embarrassing.

Kurdish Independence?

That’s what Knight-Ridder’s reporting (via Kevin Drum):

Kurdish leaders have inserted more than 10,000 of their militia members into Iraqi army divisions in northern Iraq to lay the groundwork to swarm south, seize the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and possibly half of Mosul, Iraq’s third-largest city, and secure the borders of an independent Kurdistan
….The Kurds have readied their troops not only because they’ve long yearned to establish an independent state but also because their leaders expect Iraq to disintegrate, senior leaders in the Peshmerga — literally, “those who face death” — told Knight Ridder. The Kurds are mostly secular Sunni Muslims, and are ethnically distinct from Arabs.
Their strategy mirrors that of Shiite Muslim parties in southern Iraq, which have stocked Iraqi army and police units with members of their own militias and have maintained a separate militia presence throughout Iraq’s central and southern provinces. The militias now are illegal under Iraqi law but operate openly in many areas. Peshmerga leaders said in interviews that they expected the Shiites to create a semi-autonomous and then independent state in the south as they would do in the north.

In terms of political stability, this doesn’t do us any favors. But I think that, ultimately, this will be more helpful than harmful. After all…

  • Iraq’s an artificial country anyway. Considering that ethnic self-determination tends to make for more stable countries in the long run, it makes sense to divide the country up into actual nations.
  • If the Palestinians think they have it bad, they should take a look at the Kurds. The Kurds have never had an independent country. Whereas the Palestinians were ruled by the British mandate, and then by Israel, the Kurds have always been ruled by repressive Arab regimes, who inevitably screw them over. If anyone deserves their own state, it’s the Kurds.
  • The Arab Sunnis are going to battle the Shi’ites over oil anyway; why not at least separate them politically to make it harder?
    Now, there are downsides, of course. The Shi’ites might ally with their brethren in Iran (though the ethnic divide could be an issue), the Sunnis would certainly resist violently, and Turkey might very well decide to crush the Kurds over secession fears. But civil war is already taking place anyway, and it’s better that it have some positive result than just preserve a broken political structure. So, viva Kurdistan, I suppose.

  • Irony At Its Finest

    Andy’s right; this is sublimely ironic:

    A central figure in the attempt to interpret the writings of Freud as endorsing homosexuality as a psychological illness has just died. His name was Charles Socarides, and his main contribution to the psychoanalytic literature was to assert that fathers induced homosexuality in their own sons in the first months of a baby’s life. His own son, Richard, of course, turned out to be gay – not only gay, but the Clinton administration’s liaison to the gay community.

    It’s good enough when people like Phyllis Schlafly and Alan Keyes have gay kids, but when the guy blames fathers for causing homosexuality – boy, that’s some delicious irony.

    Yes, Virginia, We Really Are That Stupid

    Polls are among the most depressing creations of man, even when they’re not biased. This is why:

    About 22% of U.S. adults believe Saddam Hussein helped plan 9/11, the poll shows, and 26% believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded. Another 24% believe several of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqis.

    What’s most bizarre about this is that they have more reason to believe the first proposition than the second two. After all, Bush not-so-subtley tried to connect the attacks and Saddam for over a year. But people responding yes to the second proposition presumably subscribe to the conspiracy theory that Saddam moved all his country’s weapons out before we went it, a theory that Bush has never come close to endorsing. Additionally, the most common incarnation of that theory claims that the weapons were moved before the U.N. inspectors went in, so they wouldn’t have been there when we invaded. So, responding yes to that question would not fit either what Bush has said or that particular theory, and thus is probably best explained by the respondents never having read a newspaper of any kind. As for the third one, I don’t even know where to start. There has been no controversy over the nationality of the hijackers. None. Nada. It’s universally acknowledged that 15 of the hijackers were Saudi, 2 citizens of the United Arab Emirates, one Lebanese, and one Egyptian. So, basically, 24% of America did not care to read any mass media following the attacks. Encouraging, that.
    Scary though it may seem, this isn’t the most depressing poll I’ve ever read. Kevin Drum once linked to a poll showing that 42% of America belives that life on earth has “existed in its present form since the beginning of time.” He also linked to an NSF report showing that 25% of Americans subscribe to geocentrism. Then again, a 2003 poll showed that 34% of Americans believe in UFOs, the same amount believes in ghosts, 29% believe in astrology, and 24% believe in witches. Not in the Wiccan sense, mind you. Wow…if I ever need something to make me depressed fast, I know what to look for…

    How Is This Revelant?

    The Washington Post has a story about Sam Alito’s strategic recommendation, as a young Reagan lawyer, to not appeal a procedural decision in a case about the Black Panthers. I don’t know what the Post thinks is important about this; I would hope they would be sane enough to not think he’s a Black Panther based on this. For one thing, Alito was giving strategic advice; he was on the government’s side, he just thought it was unnecessary to appeal the decision. For another thing, he’s Samuel @#$% Alito! Member of Concerned Alumni of Princeton, Sam Alito? “Racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed,” Sam Alito? I doubt he supported Martin Luther King back in the day, let alone Huey P. Newton.