Archive for May, 2007

The Prisoner’s Dilemma

Monday, May 21st, 2007

Below is a post at talking about the classic game theory example, the prisoner’s dilemma, and how it relates to our relationship with Al Qaeda, among other things. The two main battlefields where the United States and Al Qaeda are at war with each other, besides the mainstream Western media, are Iraq and Afghanistan, in that order. Whether or not we stay or leave, surrender or prevail, will have long-term consequences. If Al Qaeda were to be vanquished in Iraq, either by the U.S., the Iraqi Army, the tribal militias, or some combination thereof, and Iraq were then to descend into a pure Sunni/Shia civil war, as the Democrats are so desperate to insist that it already is, then I could at least contemplate an argument for withdrawal, but I would still be against it. Throwing up our hands and choosing to just turn over Iraq, the central, oil-rich territory in the Middle East, to whomever is strong enough to take it, would not, in my humble opinion, bode well.


So, anyway, the prisoner’s dilemma is a cogent analysis of the differences between liberalism and conservatism. The choices are: always screw the other guy, never screw the other guy, or choose to screw or not screw the other guy, depending on what he did to you the last time. If it’s a one-time deal then the first option is the best choice. If it’s an iterative deal, then the third option is the best choice. The second option is never always the best choice. A large subset of liberals believes in option number two. A small subset of conservatives believes in option number one. A minority of liberals and a majority of conservatives believes in option number three. Overall, I would say that U.S. and Western culture as a whole is trending away from option number three towards option number two. This is Osama Bin Laden’s analysis as well. This is what the Islamists are banking on.

Issues, Opinions, & Candidates

Monday, May 7th, 2007

Here is my arbitrary, arrogant assignation of points to the candidates, based on the issues. I won’t even consider any of the Democrats. They have all made it clear that they wish to withdraw from Iraq. That is absolutely unacceptable to me. I’m only going to consider the top tier of the Republican candidates: Giuliani, McCain, Romney, and Thompson. None of the others has any kind of realistic chance, and I don’t like them anyway, expcept for Newt, but I don’t want him to be President. Three of them (Brownback, Tancredo, & Huckabee) don’t even believe in evolution! So here is a list of the issues in this upcoming, far into the future, election, as I see them, with my opinion of where they are at, and the number of points I assign to each candidate for that issue. Some issues get more points than others, but the issues are not presented in any particular order.

Abortion – Like Rudy Giuliani, I don’t care much about this one way or another. I think Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and it would have been better to leave it up to the state legislatures, i.e., the voters, the people, but now I think it would be a mistake to overturn Roe. It’s established. Overturning it would be a huge hassle and wouldn’t significantly affect the number of abortions. 20 points for Rudy. Minus ten for McCain, Romney, and Thompson.

Iraq – The overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq was a brilliant, courageous undertaking. It was the right thing to do. The resulting insurgent, religious, jihadist, revenge-seeking chaos was inexcusably unexpected and unplanned for. Nevertheless, the invasion was the right thing to do, and unplanned for or not, the resulting chaos is what must be dealt with now. We hoped and wished that it would be easier than this, but it isn’t. We will need to maintain a large presence in Iraq for another 5-10 years. If we don’t, if we surrender as the Democrats demand, we will pay a huge price later. 100 points for McCain, 90 for Giuliani, 80 for Thompson, 50 for Romney.

Immigration – The Mexicans who have come here illegally are in the tradition of America’s immigrants; the Irish, the Italians, the Germans, the Poles, the Swedes, the Chinese, etc., all poor people seeking opportunity, with nothing to lose. They come here, they work hard for low pay, they sacrifice so that their children can realize the American dream. Some Mexicans are criminals of course, but no more than any other ethnic group who has come here from somewhere. There is however one big difference. All those other people came here legally. They passed through Ellis or Angel Island. They waited in line. As much as is humanly possible, illegal immigration must be stopped. Our borders must be secured. Walls must be built. Then, and only then, our entire immigration system must be reformed from top to bottom. We must make it easy for people with skills and expertise and education to come to America from all over the world. We must also make it easy for those on or near our borders who want to work hard and do the back-breaking labor that nobody who is already here wants to do. And we must, after the borders are secure, make a way for those who are already here illegally to become citizens. I think McCain gets another 20 points for this one. I’ll give Thompson, Giuliani, and Romney ten each.

Pork – Nobody’s really touting this as a major issue, but I think it is. The Republicans and the Democrats are equally bad on this. McCain again. 30 more points. Thompson and Giuliani get 20 each, Romney ten.

Gay marriage – Give me a break. Although this issue really annoys me, I really don’t give a sh*t about it. I don’t care what anybody’s position is on it. No points for anybody.

McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform – I agree with the conservatives that this is a dumb bill and McCain was a dope to back it, but I don’t care about it. There is more free speech, especially political free speech than any sane person can possibly stand. We are not in any danger of being deprived of anyone’s opinion about anything. McCain loses ten points, mainly because of the reflection on his judgment. Everybody else gets ten.

Taxes – I do believe that the less a society is taxed, generally speaking, the healthier that society is. Individual responsibility trumps collective responsibility every time. The more resources and power that can be safely left in the hands of individual citizens, the better. Collectivity, “The Common Good”, the Commons, whatever you want to call it, has its place. Obviously there are endeavors that are best carried out at high levels of organization, like war and interstate highways. What is sometimes overlooked is that all such ventures in communism require a central authority to regulate and administer them. Along with such central authorities inevitably come abuses of power, waste, and stupidity. It’s a trade-off. Is the good of the common good such a good good, and so unattainable by the spontaneous cooperation of individuals, that it is worth the price of bureaucracy and loss of freedom? I am not a libertarian, but if one is to err, it is best to err on the side of the libertarians. I think Giuliani, Romney, McCain, and Thompson all get 30 points here.

Social Security and Medicare – Nobody in either party is talking about this, except for Fred Thompson. It’s a very difficult but not insurmountable problem if faced squarely. Thompson gets 50 points.

Global Warmingism – As can no doubt be discerned from the sarcastic “ism” suffix attached to this, the 21st century’s fastest growing religion, I am not a big fan of global warming hysteria. All candidates of either party are required to render obeisance to the one true ecoGod, so it is difficult to award points on this issue. I have to intuit which candidate is most insincere about his concern for the polar bears. I’m gonna give Thompson ten points.

The results:

McCain — -10 + 100 + 20 + 30 – 10 + 30 = 160

Giuliani — 20 + 90 + 10 + 20 + 10 + 30 = 180

Romney — -10 + 50 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 30 = 100

Thompson — -10 + 80 + 10 + 20 + 10 + 30 + 50 + 10 = 190

So Thompson wins, Giuliani is a close second and McCain not too far back in third, with Romney a somewhat distant fourth. We have an excruciatingly long way to go until the primaries, let alone the election, so this is all subject to massive change. Thompson is not even declared yet. All in all though, I would be pretty happy with any of these guys. If a Democrat has to win, God forbid, I would hope it’s Barack Obama, just because he’s the most unknown.