Just a couple of days after a Red State reader thanked me for checking out The Daily Kos, so that he wouldn’t have to, I found this oh-so-thoughtful article:
Perspective: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Get a Grip
Mon Aug 14, 2006 at 03:55:37 AM PDT
I know there are millions of brave, decent conservatives. My apologies to those folks for the following. But good grief, when did the Republican Party become infested with what sound like so many loud, whining cowardly pundits? One second Reagan is up there standing toe-to-toe with the Rooskis, negotiating cool as a cucumber with 20,000 nukes pointed at him, and the next thing I know, the likes of Limbaugh or the crew at Powerwhine and Freeperland, are all shrieking like a class full of tweaked-out, neurotic fifth-graders having a panic attack every time OBL pops up in a grainy video with a rusty AK in the background. What the hell happened to the GOP I once knew?
Being a charitable sort, I’ll pass on the assumption that, as a liberal, DarkSyde was probably one of those who didn’t have a lot of respect for the GOP when President Reagan was negotiating with the “Rooskis.” I will point out that President Reagan proposed and had deployed the MX ICBM, opposed by many of our liberal friends, and the Pershing II LR-IRBM in Europe, as a counterbalance to the Soviet SS-20, something also opposed by the left, and the beginning of the silly “nuclear freeze movement.”
Death and injury are every bit as tragic as they are inevitable for human beings. Understandably, we worry about both, we all cry and mourn when either strike, especially with ourselves or those we love playing the starring role. And I have no desire to down play the loss that anyone feels when someone they love is struck down, be it by terrorism or leukemia. But …some perspective maybe?
Heart disease and cancer will claim about 1.5 million American lives each and every year. As far as accidental deaths (~100,000/year), motor vehicle accidents far and away lead the pack (+40,000/year), with accidental poisoning and falls in place and show1. You can play with those stats all kinds of ways. But the bottom line is that over the course of a civilian lifetime, the odds of falling victim to Al Qaeda rank somewhere between falling off a ladder to your death and being struck by lightning inside your home.
Well, heck, we’re all going to die sometime, of something! Why worry about anything?
How does Al Qaeda compare with past threats?
This is a UR-100, NATO designation SS-11 “Sego”. The SS-11 was one of the workhorses making up a significant portion of the land based Soviet nuclear deterrent. These weapons initially carried a single one-megaton nuclear warhead. Later versions carried up to six 300-500 kilo-ton devices in a single MIRV configuration (The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima yielded about 15 kilotons). Between 1970 and 1985 there were well over 1000 SS-11 missiles and later, larger variants deployed throughout the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in both silo and mobile launcher systems.
Had the SS-11s and their buddies been launched at the US during the cold war, they would have reached their targets in a few minutes and converted some 20 million US citizens into plasma. Many millions more would have died in agony over the next few weeks in ways too horrible to contemplate. A full Soviet attack would have turned every major city and military base into a smoking, glassy, radioactive crater. Let’s put it in perspective by way of pictures:
H-bomb test Castle Bravo shown to rough scale behind lower Manhattan with the two World Trade Centers for reference. The skyline has actually been made larger (By maybe a factor of ten as near as we can figure) for purposes of clarity–in actual scale it would be so small you wouldn’t be able to recognize it. Now multiply that by a thousand to get a handle on the cold-war. Yes, 9-11 was a shocking tragedy, as was Katrina, Oklahoma City, and the nation rightfully mourned them all and many more like them. But in even a limited nuclear exchange with the former USSR, there would have been no nation left. Photo work by Karen Wehrstein.
The Cold-war is just one of many threats we’ve faced that exceed the danger posed to America from Osama bin Laden by orders of magnitude. We also survived Hitler, Imperial Japan, the Kaiser, a Civil War, and the British Empire–the latter one twice by the way–just to name a few.
In that historical context, reading or hearing a bunch of yelping GOP crybabies incessantly screeching in craven horror that Al Qaeda is the worst, gosh-darn biggest bad-ass threat we’ve ever faced is, frankly, an act that has grown tired and embarrassing. And when they yammer, time and time again, that it’s not enough for them to be quivering under their beds, they insist the entire country crawl under there and obsess along with them, while they lay in fetal position swaddled in their faded George Bush security blanket squawking in fear, it’s enough to make Burt the Turtle duck and cover in disgust.
Here’s a message for both our homegrown Neoconservative, bloggy, gutless wonders and the Jihadi nutcases overseas: I grew up in the cold-war, my parents went through WW2 for crying out loud. We are not paralyzed with fear over Osama. Despite your best efforts, I’m not obsessed with terrorism. Sheesh, I barely even think about it. I face bigger statistical risks, in every way, every day, and on every scale, just driving across a set of railroad tracks and down the interstate smoking a cigarette in the rain, and I don’t worry much about that either.
And if you want me to be afraid for my very nation’s survival, Jebus H Christ, you damn well better be able to wave around a threat considerably more convincing than a rag-tag group of zealots who shit in caves and beg other people to put on suicide belts sporting a rip cord detonator.
Mr Syde doesn’t seem to understand the difference between preparing to meet an enemy and “quivering under their beds.” It’s the conservatives who want to fight back; the only ones I see who want to appease (a sure sign of fear) the Islamic fascists are our misguided friends on the left.
- Update 8:54 AM EDT: Yay! I got
One wonders what Mr Syde would have us do. He noted the statistical chances of dying in a car crash or from smoking cigarettes, and that they are greater than the risk of being killed in a terrorist attack. But perhaps he hasn’t noticed that the government has mandated many safety features for automobiles, and automobile manufacturers are touting their safety records in advertising. Does Mr Syde believe that, since we’re all going to croak anyway, we ought not to bother with seat belts and air bags and the like? Mr Syde mentioned that:
- the odds of falling victim to Al Qaeda rank somewhere between falling off a ladder to your death and being struck by lightning inside your home.
Quite possibly. And we have safety standards for ladders, things that ladder manufacturers must meet, to reduce your probability of falling off a ladder, and we attach lightning rods and electrically ground houses so if your home is struck by lightning, the chances that you’ll get killed are reduced.
Yet, for some reason, Mr Syde doesn’t seem to think we ought to take precautions against people who are actively trying to kill us!
Naturally, when the DarkSyde wrote:
Yay! I got
I went ahead and looked it up. And there it was:
Popular Kos diarist: Terrorism like falling off a ladder
Daily Kos diarist DarkSyde is a frequent, often bright and always popular contributor to that dark place. Science or what passes for it through a political prism tends to be his forte.
Today he gives the Daily Kos’ unofficial position on the foiled terror plots from last week. They don’t matter.
Here is the heart of his DailyKos column today:
Heart disease and cancer will claim about 1.5 million American lives each and every year. As far as accidental deaths (~100,000/year), motor vehicle accidents far and away lead the pack (+40,000/year), with accidental poisoning and falls in place…. You can play with those stats all kinds of ways. But the bottom line is that over the course of a civilian lifetime, the odds of falling victim to Al Qaeda rank somewhere between falling off a ladder to your death and being struck by lightning inside your home.
The obvious weaknesses in such an argument don’t need to be deconstructed. Suffice it to say a weapon of mass destruction could destroy more lives in a nanosecond than a decade of motor vehicle deaths could claim.
What astonishes me is that this is from the same website that conflates the low even if tragic Iraq War casualty rates with the Civil War.
These people never need to be allowed near the levers of power again. American voters may be upset, but let us hope the electorate isn’t stupid enough to trust people who view terrorism as a political equation to be minimized rather than a real and immediate threat to the Republic. And let us not be deluded ourselves.
They believe what they write and say.
The Red State author said that there were obvious weaknesses in Mr Syde’s article, and that the liberals ought never to be allowed near the levers of (political) power again. But he was hardly disparaging of the DarkSyde personall, and openned with a comment which called him an:
often bright and always popular contributor
to the Daily Kos. Mr Syde’s response was to refer to it as “whining” on “one right-wing chicken-shit site.” So much for even attempting polite discourse.
Also interesting to me was one of the Kos commenters, who posted:
Thank God for some desparately needed perspective.
For the record, I couldn’t care less about 9/11.
I’m over it.
I sat and watched with my wife transfixed, like everyone we know in Tokyo. We bought into a large part of the fear packaging, going so far as to liquidate some of our investments in the industrial north-east.
Pretty soon after, I started to realize how badly Osama had blown it. He tried for 50,000 and got 3,000. The vast majority of those in the buildings got out safely.
And that was with a sucker-punch.
Like 80 plus percent of Canadians, I signed on big-time for the Afghanistan, let’s get that son of a bitch Osama project. Pretty soon, however, it became clear that Bush was every bit as inept as I’d feared.
And like most of the world, I’m convinced that the invasion of Iraq and the coming invasion of Iran have radicalized a number of Western Muslims in ways that 9/11 never could. That said, I also know that the chances of my family being killed or injured in a terrorist attack are about the same as being struck by lightning. Twice.
Want some odds? Here’s a 100% safe bet: about 2.8 million folks are going to die of AIDS this year. I can remember watching the US troops sail around Africa and thinking: if only they’d disembark in Mozambique or any other African nation desparate for life-saving intervention and aid.
I feel badly for every single person affected by 9/11. But it wasn’t the worst crime committed on earth and it won’t be the last.
We need to get over this shit now and start dealing with global warming, diminishing energy supplies and getting that portion of the world that’s currently starving to death some food.
So, Osama bin Laden blew it; he only killed 3,000 when he was aiming for 50,000. Why, we ought to just forget about the whole thing, right?
The sad fact is that Mr bin Laden, were he able to get his hands on a nuclear weapon, would be more than happy to detonate it in New York City of Washington; then he’d get his 50,000, and more.
Unusually enough for Daily Kos comments (and there were 389 when I last checked), there were a significant number which disagreed with the author; they tended to be from self-identified New Yorkers. And, interestingly, they tended to deviate from the too-frequent Kos commenters who can use only one adjective.
In the end, I think it boils down to this: the Islamic fascists declared war on September 11th, 2001, and President Bush responded not as an understanding liberal, someone who wanted to understand what would make Osama bin Laden do such a terrible thing, but responded with strength and force and war. His response was the same as President Roosevelt’s response to Pearl Harbor, it was the response Americans wanted, and the response which the majority of the electorate approved on November 2, 2004. And the DarkSyde just plain doesn’t like that.
Cross posted on Red State.