Friday, December 04, 2009

Friday Musings on Memes and Elections

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Taiwan is becoming so multicultural, that at my local supermarket in a small central Taiwan town a Vietnamese newspaper is sold.

Here's a racist hate meme one hears quite a bit:

"...there has been an average of 160,000 troops in Iraq during the past 22 months, and 2,112 deaths; a firearm death rate of 60 per 100,000 soldiers. The firearm death rate in Washington, DC is 80.6 per 100,000 for the same period. That means you are about 25% more likely to be shot and killed in the US capital,...... than you are in Iraq ." Conclusion: "The US should pull out of Washington."

The reality is that in 2008 Washington DC had a population of 591,000 and 186 murders for a murder rate of 30 per 100,000. Thus, the assertion that underpins this is complete crap, a shining example of the cynical joke that 62.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot. Moreover, the US troop death rate in Iraq is not a murder rate but the rate of deaths among troops in an occupation and they are the perps, not the victims (except in the sense that they are victims of the criminally stupid decision of the Bush Administration to invade Iraq). Just as the rate of death among armed robbers is much lower than that of their victims, for obvious reasons, the murder rate occurs among the Iraqi population, and out of the more than 20 million there when we invaded, probably around a million have been killed one way or another, according to different studies.

This is just a racist hate meme in which "Washington DC" stands as a proxy for blackness, since the city itself is predominantly black, and suggests that those black people are violent and dangerous, more so even than (gasp) "the terrorists."

I wouldn't mention this on a Taiwan blog but it keeps getting passed around Facebook and I keep seeing it. Please stop passing it around; all it does is announce that the poster is too lazy to use Google.


A local car hauls a load.

There's an election tomorrow for the local councils, township and town executives, and county chiefs. In Taichung the election was put off for a year as Taichung is about to become a municipality, meaning that we are not participating (hence my low level of focus on the election). Here's what I wrote in Dec of 2005, when the DPP got slaughtered at the county exec level:
Here's another interesting thing about this "defeat." Let's take a look at those figures for local council seats:

The pan-green camp -- the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) -- followed closely behind with 24 percent of the seats.

Wow! Just 24%. Looks grim, until you look at the previous scores:

1998: Blues: 52% Greens: 16%
2001: Blues: 49% Greens: 17%
2005: Blues: 47% Greens: 24%

Folks, I might be slightly math-challenged, but there's a clear trend here, and these results show a resounding 41% gain in four years. No way to spin this other than as a DPP success.

The same trend, albeit not as marked, also showed in the election for township chiefs.

Township election results were also returning a pan-blue majority. At press time, the percentage of pan-blue chiefs elected in the 319 townships stood at 55 percent, while the pan-green camp had around 11 percent.

In the last township chief elections in 2001, pan-blue chiefs secured 62 percent nationwide, while the pan-greens took only 9 percent.


Sure, it doesn't look like much...but the Greens grew about 20%. The good guys may have been slaughtered at the County Chief level, but we're inching up at the local level. The DPP needs to more aggressively pursue the gangster-businessmen combines that run the townships and towns across Taiwan, and make sure to get candidates for every seat. The results will not only be a cleaner Taiwan, but more DPP candidates elected at the local level. Of course, with the KMT in charge of so many counties now, pursuing "Black Gold" may become more difficult.
I looked over what I wrote last time and we are still facing the same problems of the lack of localization, the black gold politics, and so on.

If the trend continues, the KMT and its allies will lose another 3-4% of the local council seats to control around 43% of them, with the Green camp climbing to somewhere around 30%. That trend line (and it should flatten over time) represents a sort of rough benchmark of how well the DPP should do. But that's if past trends hold, something we know won't happen. The spin on Sunday should be fun to read.
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13 comments:

Anonymous said...

i dont find that that article in that vietnamese newspaper racist at all. maybe inaccurate but certainly not racist. because the fact is washington d.c. does have a high murder rate as well as crime rate. quite sad and shocking considering it is the nation's capital.

Thomas said...

I worry big time about Ilan. With all of the effort that Ma and Co. are putting in to holding Ilan, it would be no surprise if they came out ahead in the very tight race. However, as the KMT has made such a big deal about Ilan, if the KMT does win the County Commissioner seat, then we will hear a lot of gloating and back-patting. That one election could give Ma and Co. all of the ammo they need to keep up their dreaded policies for the next several years.

I am very concerned indeed.

Michael Turton said...

aargh. The vietnamese paper has nothing to do with the paragraph below it. It is just an interesting photo.

It certainly is racist.

Michael Turton said...

Thomas, A-gu and I were worried in the summer that the KMT might sweep all the county chief seats, before all the splits. But you are right about I-lan. it will become harder now that Taipei people are relocating there to take advantage of the new tunnel.

Anonymous said...

I don't find the meme racist, I find it dehumanizing. It didn't mention anything about race or demography, it mentioned firearm control. Washington DC would be a proxy for many things, so jumping to its demography would be a bit strange. But facts aside, the meme seems to suggest that 2112 deaths are nothing and that local causality do not count at all compared with what happens in DC. This is why I said that it is dehumanizing.

Jules Hong said...

Don't want to split hairs, but saying DC has a bunch of crime is about as racist as saying that there's plenty of corruption in China.

Other then that, just want to say how much I've enjoyed reading this blog. I was a little too young to really appreciate the place when I last visited, and you've brought back some really nice memories.

Anonymous said...

"Moreover, the US troop death rate in Iraq is not a murder rate but the rate of deaths among troops in an occupation and they are the perps, not the victims"

Much of what you write is juvenile, liberal crap--except when you are hauling your fat butt around on your bike--but this takes the cake. Calling US service men and women "perps" shows your stupidity.

Do you have even one close friend who wears the uniform of the USA? I doubt it or you would know what a terrific group of people they are. They didn't ask to be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan. They went because they believe in their country and their fellow Americans.

I am so glad you are in academia because you make me think of the old saw, "Those who can't, teach." Good luck on the Doctorate because I doubt you could ever make it in the Armed Forces or the business world--where many CEOs are former service men.

Michael Turton said...

I have many friends who have served. They are all great people. So is every soldier in every army. Your inability to distinguish the structure from its parts is one of the reasons your kind is so easily duped into supporting the sending of good men out to kill other good men by the empty clamor of false nationalism.

Readin said...

Anonymous said... "I don't find the meme racist, I find it dehumanizing. It didn't mention anything about race or demography, it mentioned firearm control. Washington DC would be a proxy for many things, so jumping to its demography would be a bit strange."

I agree that it could be about a lot of things. The most racist reaction I know of what the guy who jumped to the conclusion that the meme was about race while ignoring everything else (such as corruption in the city government, gun control in the city, a decades long lock on power by the liberal Democrats in the city).

Readin said...

"Moreover, the US troop death rate in Iraq is not a murder rate but the rate of deaths among troops in an occupation and they are the perps, not the victims (except in the sense that they are victims of the criminally stupid decision of the Bush Administration to invade Iraq). Just as the rate of death among armed robbers is much lower than that of their victims, for obvious reasons, the murder rate occurs among the Iraqi population, and out of the more than 20 million there when we invaded, probably around a million have been killed one way or another, according to different studies."

I have to agree with Anonymous that the above is juvenile liberal crap. The "liberal" part is something I'm sure you already know and agree with - and "liberal" isn't always bad. But in this case it is also juvenile crap. On first read I was planning to respond to it point by point but on closer inspection I could find no point. Are you saying the U.S. is on the same moral ground as robbers and murderers?
You seem to be making a distinction between a murder rate and a death rate amoung an occupying force, but you are responding a to a suggestion that we attempt to save American lives by withdrawing - so it seems you are saying it's better for people to be murdered than it is for people to be killed when occupying foreign territory as "perps", so we should pull out of Iraq to protect the perps but stay in DC to let the murders continue.

As for calling our soldiers "perps" and calling Bush's decision "criminally" stupid - how do you set your standard of crime for stupidity? Ever since World War II the question has been around of how that war and the tens of millions of resulting deaths might have been prevented. Should the allies have acted when Germany re-armed in violation of the agreements that ended WWI? Should the allies have acted on the first invasion? Should the allies have acted on the anschluss? People who advocated doing so were accused of being warmongers, racists, and haters. Should the allies have sat back and simply rolled over (it likely would have saved lives - some 10 million Jews would have been gassed but without resistence there wouldn't have been an excuse, bogus or otherwise, to kill non-Jews) The same is true in China. No resistence in Nanjing would have meant no Nanjing massecre, or at least not an immediate one.

Iraq under Saddam had invaded two neighbors, was violating the agreement that had ended the previous war it had started, had committed an act of war against the U.S. by attempting to assassinate a former U.S. president, and was suspected of developing nuclear weapons.

Perhaps the pacifists are right and we should never go to war. But that doesn't seem to be your position. Instead you seem to be arguing from a position of arrogance that someone who disagrees with you on the question of when to act to stop a growing threat is not just "stupid" but "criminally stupid".

Michael Turton said...

Your response is simply spew, lacking logic, acquaintance with reality, or reflection on the behavior of your own nation.

There's no equivalence between a tinpot dictator like Hussein and a real, serious threat like Hitler. Iraq in 2003, impoverished, starving, and disarmed, was not a threat to anyone, least of all the US. It was not involved in 9/11, had no WMDs, and was no longer a threat to its neighbors. The invasion was in violation of international laws and agreements, and was thus every bit the criminal act that -- since you invoked him -- Hitler's invasion of Poland was, or China's of Tibet, or Japan's of China, or Hussein's of Kuwait and Iran.

Yes, we were armed robbers. When you invade a country, wreck it, cut it up, and then when the advocates for the invasion benefit from the investments in oil (like Peter Galbraith, for example), you're engaged in armed robbery. What do you think invading Iraq was about? It was about oil and gas and profits for Bush's cronies. It had nothing to do with Iraq's international behavior. The Bushites have made that clear over and over again in their constantly shifting rationales for the invasion.

So yes, in Iraq, we are on the same moral ground as robbers and murders, in fact worse, since robbers and murders rarely pause to torture their victims as well, nor do they engage in long-term occupation of their areas. Nor do they plunder their own taxpayers to advance the interests of their cronies, like Bush and his pals.

There are a million Iraqi dead, another couple of million injured, and millions in exile internally and externally. How do you propose to right this wrong? What justice will you give the living and the dead? Or is your position that whatever the US does, it is Ok because the US does it?

And the idea that any intelligent person could imagine that pulling out of Iraq means approving of murders in DC is completely asinine.

Michael

Michael Turton said...

The standard of stupidity is committing to an illegal and ethically indefensible war based on lies, that would result in an occupation that would cost hundreds of billions and inflame a quarter of the world's population against us for years to come, wreck our moral authority in the world, trash our Constitution, stretch our military to the breaking point, dishonor our troops, and damage our relations with all our allies.

It would be hard to identify a more stupid move by an American president in modern American history.

Michael

Readin said...

"and a real, serious threat like Hitler"

When did Hitler become a "real, serious threat", and wouldn't it have made more sense to stop him prior to that happening?

So far Iraq has cost in human terms, even using your very high estimate of 1 million, about than 1/40th of WWII. And it American lives it has been about 1/100th the cost of WWII.

On gambling and statistics, that would be a good bet if the danger were real only 1 out of ever 39 times. But a danger prevented is a danger never acknowledged. The guy who insists you put down the cell-phone while driving can never prove you would have had an accident if you had kept talking. You can never prove a killer given a life-sentence would have killed again if freed.

But apparantly you already knew before anyone else that Iraq wasn't developing WMD and you knew he was bluffing when he violated agreements by refusing inspectors access to his facilities. Apparently you already knew that all the oil revenue the Iraqi government was getting but not using to feed the people would never be used for anything dangerous (actually it was already being used to fund terrorists). In your ability to forsee the future you were smarter than all those people who disagreed, and you were smarter than all those people who said Germany would not be a threat either.

I understand now why you voted for Obama. Your foreign policy seems every bit as arrogant as his. Do you also think, like he seems to, that if we just set a good example that all those child nations will follow Daddy America's lead and put down their weapons?


"Your response is simply spew, lacking logic,..."

If you are going to make such a claim, at least have the decency to back it up as I did by showing where your logic had trouble. For example, you said in your response to me: "And the idea that any intelligent person could imagine that pulling out of Iraq means approving of murders in DC is completely asinine." Exactly, which is why your earlier post didn't make sense. It lead to that very asinine conclusion which I'm pretty sure you didn't intend.

How do you know all these claims about Bush entering the war just to get rich are true? To me they have as much credibility as those claims Clinton was involved in drug-running, and they have even less credibility than the people who keep trying to make an issue out of Obama's birthplace.