Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tiny Bubbles

The economics blogger at the Atlantic continues to discuss Obama's Nobel Peace Prize, because criticizing and whining is the equivalent of a cheap high for Miss Megan McArdle. (She dearly loves a good round of What's Wrong With Everyone Else.)
Hmm. Well. Call me crazy, but I think that maybe to earn the Nobel prize, a million dollars, and all the associated prestige, you ought to have made efforts somewhat more heroic than chairing a meeting in which you said that you thought we ought to have fewer nuclear arms--even one in which you said that the US also thought we ought to have fewer nuclear arms. You should, I don't know, deliver a deal or something.
The strange thing is that instead of discussing why Obama does not merit the Nobel Peace Prize, McArdle addresses Mark Kleiman's reasons why he does deserve the Nobel instead. It's as if she would rather get into a back-and-forth with another blogger than address and refute the facts.
As for the notion that this strengthens our hand when dealing with Iran and North Korea, I'm really skeptical that this does anything at all. The leaders of Iran and North Korea do not, to put it mildly, look up to us. They don't want us to think that they're nice, moral people. They want us to think that they are terrifying military forces whose desires must be assuaged. The people of North Korea and Iran don't like us either, but even if you thought that this was likely to have a big impact on their opinion, this would be purely hypothetical, because both countries have very tightly controlled media which will report whatever the leaders want them to think.
Let's take a look at the facts. Iran spends about 6 billion on defense. North Korea spends about 5.5 billion. The US spends about 663 billion. Iran does not have much chance of terrifying the US with its military might, nor does North Korea. The latter does have a nuclear weapon, but even their meglomanical, crazy leader has not lost his head enough to actually use it.

Do the people of Iran hate us? Every news report that I have seen that interviews Iranians on the street shows people explaining that they have nothing against America and Americans. With so much conflicting evidence it's not possible to simply state "they hate us" and expect us to accept this answer. Either way, the issue has little to do with the real issues that shape Middle East policy, most of which center around oil.

Do Iranians know about Obama's Nobel? They do have censorship, but look at this list of Iranian satellite channels. There are channels from the US, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, and Turkey. It's possible that the information was reported on Iranian television.

How about the internet, the bane of a closed society?
Blogging in Iran operates under special circumstances because the government restricts certain views. Blogs in general tend to be unregulated compared to other forms of expression in Iranian society. This characteristic can account for the huge popularity of blogs especially among Iranian youths. As of October 2005, there are estimated to be about 700,000 Iranian blogs (out of an estimated total of 100 million worldwide, of which about 40,000-110,000 are active, mostly written in Persian, the Iranian language).

There are also many weblogs written by Iranians in English and other languages. Most of them, though, belong to expatriates who live in North America, Europe, Japan, etc. Iran is the third largest country of bloggers.[citation needed]
Again, it's very possible the information did spread. But Megan McArdle wanted to pooh-pooh Obama's Nobel so she just assumed that facts fit her preconceived notions and did not do any research to check her theory. She thought up a reason or two which sounded good and reinforced what she wanted to say, so she avoided checking her work. And McArdle is able to remain in her little bubble without any further thought.

Stupid mistakes corrected.


Downpuppy said...

This is a pattern unique* to McArdle:

1)Pick up a post by somebody that nobody outside her bubble cares about, about some tiny aspect of a much bigger thing.

2)Assume that said tiny aspect is the whole picture.

3)Ridicule the whole thing for being based on said tiny aspect.

She did it to the Kidney Foundation, & lots of other times.

* Or maybe she's the only person I read dumb enough to do this repeatedly.

clever pseudonym said...

The funny thing about the people who are *still* carrying on about this is that, when they're not busy frothing at the mouth over who's been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, they're dismissing it out of hand as irrelevant. If that's the case, why do they even care who wins it?

Anonymous said...

Um, Susan, I think you mean NORTH Korea. I'd have just passed it by, but you did it twice...

Downpuppy said...

Actually, the $28.5 is S Korea. North Korea is $5.5

& the $1470 is the entire world - the US is "only" $663

Susan of Texas said...

Thanks for the corrections, guys. I need to be more careful.

Batocchio said...

"Stupid mistakes corrected"...?

How? Megan's still paid to blog!


Anonymous said...

I don't think pointing out the relative sizes of a country's military budget will convince anybody on the other side (for lack of a better way of putting it -- I call them "the crazies" usually).

My understanding is that at the time of the 9/11 attacks, Bin Laden and his followers numbered roughly a thousand people (there was a fascinating BBC documentary about this, which got no play in this country, as far as I know). So -- a thousand rag-tag nutters -- and America throws a tremendous amount of military might at two countries (one of which had damn-all to do with any of it) -- and eight long years later, we still haven't "won" despite the massive disparity.

Instead of being ashamed & rebuked by their absurd over-reaction, they want John McCain to get the Nobel Peace Prize for championing the surge.

I mean ... um ...

Ratiocination is not their strongest suit.

Susan of Texas said...

Oh yes, facts are useless with this crowd. They just move the goalposts and lie to themselves.

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