The Therapy Sessions
Friday, October 31, 2003
The Lucky Die Young
Kamato Hongo of Kagoshima, who died today, celebrates after being named "the world's oldest person:"
Someone nearby claimed she emitted a faint "Yippee!" before turning to her nurse and saying "can I die now?"
This poor woman was 58 when WWII ended.
If I live be 80, I swear to God I'm gonna kill myself.
Dean: I'm A "Metrosexual"
Well put. From Q and O:
Tom Maguire notes that "in the millisecond between assertion and retraction, Dean's entire Southern "strategy" passed before his eyes."
One does have to wonder how that will play in the South.
Bill: "Honey, that Dean feller just called hisself a 'meterasekshul". Any idear what that is?"
Carol: "I don't know, dear....maybe he has relations on city buses?
Bill: "naw, I doubt it. I cain't see that feller ridin public transpertashun. I think he might be one a them, whatyacallit, folks who know how to match their pants and their shirt. I ain't sure I can vote for a feller like that."
Carol: "Dear, you haven't voted since Jimmy Carter."
Bill: "You're damned straight. If ya cain't trust a peanut farmer from Georgia, who can ya trust? Not one of these here meterasekshuls, that's fer sure. I ain't votin for em!"
Carol: "...but you never vote anyway."
Bill: "Well, this year, I ain't votin for him, specifically."
Yep. Howard Dean better get caught kissing his wife, and soon. Also, it wouldn't hurt if he made a few campaign stops at Hooters before Super Tuesday rolls around.
A Disturbing American Poll
The aspect of this poll that I find most disturbing is that 32% of respondents would leave Iraq immediately.
They would abandon our friends in Iraq: the tens of thousands of police we’ve trained, the town councils we’ve help establish, the governing council that we put in place, and the 70% of Iraqis who wish us to stay.
They would leave their fate to Al Qaeda, and all the other "foreign fighters" who have streamed into Iraq in the past six months with dreams of killing Americans. The mass graves in Iraq would begin filling again, the presses would be shut down and America’s reputation would be stained by failure and dishonor.
The Arab world – which in 20 years will include 4-5 nuclear-armed states – would see our shameful departure as evidence that democracy is fraud, and its pent-up anger would be turned toward the US, with the expectation that America would surrender further in the future. This is a very dangerous misconception for them to have.
The events that will transpire will make 9/11 look trivial. We are talking about incinerated American cities, and a nuclear response that will leave perhaps tens of millions of Arabs dead.
If we don’t change the current Arab mindset (and only freedom of information, democracy and capitalism can do this), I am not exaggerating when I say that there will be genocide. And for every American killed, there will hundreds of Arab dead.
Now I understand that this war is tough (and it will probably get tougher). Every morning I wake up and my first thoughts are with the soldiers in Iraq (every death fills me with profound sadness), and the last thing I check before I go to sleep is whether any more of our young soldiers have been killed. Iraqi police and civilians are being killed too. And they are being killed because they are working with us (the terrorists aren't winning any popularity contests in Iraq right now).
I wake up late at night wondering what is going on over there (I am writing this at 3:00 am), and I wish to God that we could just make the region understand just what is at stake here, and the true evil of the men we fight. The people we are fighting are the people we need to fight, and they know, more than most Americans do, that the war they are fighting in Iraq is important.
Bush has been poor at communicating the importance of the struggle. We need Churchill, but Bush is all we have. The message he needs to get across is this: our soldiers are not dying in vain, and we will not leave the field like we did in Vietnam. Our people need to hear it, our soldiers need to hear it, and the enemy needs to hear it.
The Iraqis - especially -need to know that we will not abandon them. The Democrats are falling over themselves to tell the world that this exactly what we will do.
Vietnam was a war that was lost on the ground in a part of the world that was not very relevant to US interests.
Iraq is the most important war we have fought since Korea.
If we “win” in Iraq and establish a stable, prosperous and democratic Iraq (a huge - perhaps impossible - undertaking), the Iraqis win. The Arab world will undergo a transformation. Baghdad is a vital Arab capital, and it (now) has the Arab world’s freest press.
To abandon Iraq to these larval tyrants would be a mark of shame that would haunt the US for decades. It would be a green light to our enemies that yes, we can be cowed by terror, and perhaps Allah is on their side in the battle against America.
Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia (the world’s biggest sponsors of terrorism (after Iraq and Afghanistan have been eliminated)) all realize what effect a free Iraq will have on their own restive populations. Al Qaeda realizes that the greatest threat to its long term viability is secular democracy. Their defeat in Iraq will cause their world to undergo change, and change is what dictators fear the most.
To fail in Iraq would hand terrorists the biggest victory they have ever achieved. It is the perceived inevitability of their victory over the West that energizes their foot soldiers. The result would be more terrorism, and more dangerous terrorism.
What would make it very painful is the war is now ours to lose, and it is being lost not on battlefield but on the home front. Large numbers of Americans simply don’t realize that the world changed dramatically on 9/11. There is no going back to 1998, a time when we didn’t have to worry about these things.
I hope these 32% of people will reconsider this war and realize that this is not Bush’s war, but America’s war (a war declared in an overwhelming congressional vote).
We have no choice but to win it.
Thursday, October 30, 2003
Videotape Shows Saddam's Men Torturing Iraqis:
More nasty stuff from Saddam's henchmen:
The punishments include fingers being chopped or shot off, tips of tongues being cut off, wrists being broken by sharp blows from a wooden rod, lashes by whip or cane, a bound man being tossed off a building, a beheading involving a sword and a knife and a man being humiliated by riding a donkey backwards.
"Humiliated by riding a donkey backwards?"
Khmer Rouge In Iraq
Thomas Friedman, on target:
Since 9/11, we've seen so much depraved violence we don't notice anymore when we hit a new low. Monday's attacks in Baghdad were a new low. Just stop for one second and contemplate what happened: A suicide bomber, driving an ambulance loaded with explosives, crashed into the Red Cross office and blew himself up on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. This suicide bomber was not restrained by either the sanctity of the Muslim holy day or the sanctity of the Red Cross. All civilizational norms were tossed aside. This is very unnerving. Because the message from these terrorists is: "There are no limits. We have created our own moral universe, where anything we do against Americans or Iraqis who cooperate with them is O.K."
What to do? The first thing is to understand who these people are. There is this notion being peddled by Europeans, the Arab press and the antiwar left that "Iraq" is just Arabic for Vietnam, and we should expect these kinds of attacks from Iraqis wanting to "liberate" their country from "U.S. occupation." These attackers are the Iraqi Vietcong.
Hogwash. The people who mounted the attacks on the Red Cross are not the Iraqi Vietcong. They are the Iraqi Khmer Rouge — a murderous band of Saddam loyalists and Al Qaeda nihilists, who are not killing us so Iraqis can rule themselves. They are killing us so they can rule Iraqis.
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
I'm Glad We're Friends With Israelis
They make useful toys:
This is one of those "gee whiz" weapons that makes sense.
The terrorists that we fight can't even manufacture the explosives they strap to their bodies.
Israel understands the war we now fight, and that we must win it.
Two Face Penalty in Slave Reparations Case
WARSAW, Va. - Crystal Foster's father advised her to spend the $500,000 income tax refund she got two years ago. When the government came looking for its money, the Fosters said it was their rightful reparations, since their ancestors were slaves.
Though there is no federal reparations program, Foster had spent the money in eight days, buying a $40,000 Mercedes Benz, paying off her student loans and helping her brother pay for his first year at Virginia Tech.
Foster's father, Robert Lee Foster, prepared her tax forms and was convicted along with his daughter of trying to defraud the government. He maintains he did the right thing.
According to the Internal Revenue Service (news - web sites), more than 80,000 tax returns were filed in 2001 seeking nonexistent slavery tax credits, totaling $2.7 billion. More than $30 million was mistakenly paid out in slave reparations in 2000 and part of 2001.
The IRS is so befuddled by the tax code that Congress hands it that it can't even spot something this obvious. This is the best argument for a flat tax that I've ever heard: simplicity makes fraud easier to spot.
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Ted Kennedy: An OK Senator When He Is DrunkKennedy Vote Stumble Leaves Senators Gasping
Hard-drinking Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy appeared to be so confused on the Senate floor last week that he prompted "audible gasps" from his colleagues by mistakenly voting for two pieces of legislation he was known to oppose - only to have his votes corrected later.
"The Senate chamber was filled with audible gasps last Tuesday when Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the pro-choice champion, clearly voted 'yes' on final passage of the bill to ban partial-birth abortion," columnist Robert Novak reported Sunday.
Kennedy also botched his vote on a Democratic-backed amendment to require partial Iraqi repayment of U.S. reconstruction aid by inadvertently siding with the White House.
The fumble required the intervention of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, who had to explain what happened to Kennedy and get him to change his vote.
Asked if the top Massachusetts liberal was "slipping a little bit," Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., blamed Kennedy's stumbling on the sometimes confusing language used in the legislative process.
"I suspect that he just walked on to the floor and thought that he was voting on the final question as opposed to whether [the bill] was going to be tabled or not," Sen. Corzine told WABC Radio's Steve Malzberg.
Corzine's explanation notwithstanding, no other senator seems to have had a problem figuring out how to vote.
(Thanks to Freedom Of Thought.)
Saturday, October 25, 2003
Questions For The Inquirer
U.S. eyes quicker self-rule in Iraq
With attacks worsening, strategy is under review.
WASHINGTON - Amid increasing attacks on U.S.-led forces, the top U.S. civilian and military officials in charge of Iraq are coming to Washington for deliberations on improving security and pushing the country down the path to self-rule more rapidly, officials said yesterday...
...Iraqis also appear to be growing more disenchanted. A new poll this week suggested that the goodwill produced by Saddam Hussein's ouster had been lost, with only 14.8 percent of Iraqis viewing U.S.-led forces as liberators, compared with nearly 43 percent of Iraqis six months ago.
I've grown very skeptical of the Inquirer lately, and each morning's scare story about Iraq is part of the reason.
This poll - unreferenced to any organization - shows something that other polls in Iraq have not shown. It hints that Iraq has completely turned against us.
This would be a huge story, and this poll (wherever it is) would be the key piece of evidence.
So let's hear more about this poll!
Who did it? What methods were used? What was the sample size? Where was it taken? This isn't a poll like NPR's Anne Garrels does - going to an anti-American demonstration and noting hatred of the US! Or is it?
The Inquirer says nothing.
While it is entirely possible that this is a fair assessment of the situation on the ground in Iraq, it would be useful to know what the other 85% of Iraqis think. Are they now growing hostile to the US (as the story implies)?
This would be a new development and the poll should be THE STORY.
I think it is likely that - as in past polls - Iraqi opinion can be broken down this way: one fifth of Iraqis strongly support the US, One fifth hate our guts, and three fifths are adopting a wait and see attitude (noting improvement and hoping it will continue). In all cases, strong majorities favored the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
So what is the real story? The Inquirer is reluctant to say, and it is bending numbers from a mystery poll to fit its story.
Idiot Without A Net
Niagara Falls Stunt Was 'Impulsive'
Here's a bet that this jackass had no life....
NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario (AP) -- A man who went over Niagara Falls with only the clothes on his back and survived will be charged with illegally performing a stunt, park police said Tuesday.
Kirk Jones, 40, of Canton, Michigan, is the first person known to have plunged over the falls without safety devices and lived. He could be fined $10,000.
"It was an impulsive one-second thing and in a second and a half I was in the water," Jones said in a telephone interview with WXYZ-TV in Detroit.
"I was in the water for about eight seconds. ... I was immediately enveloped by what seemed like tons of water."
Tons of water? In the biggest waterfall in North America? Who knew?
Family and friends said Jones had been considering the stunt for years -- but more so in recent weeks.
Friends and family should have told Kirk that this was not such a hot idea.
One friend said Jones hoped to make a lot of money from the notoriety....Eric Fronek, 21, also of Canton, said his friend had been talking about possibly going over the falls for weeks.
"No one believed he would actually do it," Fronek said Tuesday. "He said, 'If I go over and I live, I am going to make some money."'
Oh yeah. I can't wait for the book.
Lynda Satelmajer, of Brampton, Ontario, said she and her family watched the man as he entered the river and then went over the falls.
"He seemed a bit edgy, kind of jumping around," she said. "He walked over to where we were standing and he jumped and slid down on his backside and went over the brink.
"It was really freaky, actually. He was smiling."
Yep. No Life.
Whispers Of Democracy In The Mideast?
WASHINGTON – Ever so gently, the breezes of change - we can't yet call them "winds" - are rippling across hitherto repressed parts of the Islamic world.
• Saudi Arabia announced last week it will hold elections for municipal councils within a year - its first flirtation with real elections.
• In Morocco, King Mohammed VI outlined sweeping changes in polygamy, marriage, and divorce laws, proclaiming: "How can society achieve progress while women, who represent half the nation, see their rights violated and suffer as a result of injustice, violence, and marginalization?"
• In Iran, the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi - the first Muslim woman to win it - gave heart and a fillip to the embattled reform movement. Ten thousand Iranians turned out at the Tehran airport to welcome her home.
• Arab intellectuals, in cooperation with the UN, released a report Monday calling for reforms that would advance the cause of women's rights in Arab lands and make governments more accountable.
• Afghanistan has virtually finished a constitution that will affirm adherence to Islam, but provide for national elections in 2004, and set up a two-chamber parliament in which women would have a significant role. The draft constitution guarantees the protection of human rights.
• In Iraq there's movement toward swifter empowerment of the Iraqi Governing Council, to be followed by a new constitution and national elections, perhaps in 2004.
Every person in the western world should hope that these trends accelerate. This is bigger than the war. It is bigger than George Bush.
The current hopeless Mideast, with its repressive leaders and disillusioned youth, serves no one except Al Qaeda.
Friday, October 24, 2003
Let's See If We Can Make It Go Bankrupt Even Faster
WASHINGTON (AP) - Finally, proof that government is full of hot air, or at least helium.
Medicare, the federal health insurance program for seniors and the disabled, is spending $600,000 this year to have a blimp fly at sporting events, including Saturday's Tennessee-Alabama college football game in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
The blimp is part of a $30 million advertising campaign in 2003 to make the program better known to its 40 million participants.
The white blimp bears a likeness of the American flag and blue lettering advertising 1-800-Medicare, the telephone number the public can call with questions about benefits.
The ad campaign is needed because "the average senior has no clue what the benefits are," Tom Scully, the Medicare administrator, told a health care conference in Washington on Wednesday.
Is Medicare really this oblivious to its own bleak future? In 10 years, it won't have two nickels to rub together. But for now, it's busy finding anyone who needs a little free money.
Ah government! It would be funny if it wasn't so tragic.
Scary Stuff From Africa
MEMRI: Latest News
During September 2003, mass hysteria spread through Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, which was ultimately quelled by police intervention and statements made by the health minister. The panic was caused by rumors of foreigners roaming the city and shaking men's hands, making their penises disappear...
Al-Quds Al-Arabi correspondent Kamal Hassan Bakhit, who was the first to report on the affair outside Sudan, wrote that "the source of the horror is a foreign citizen from a West African country who is roaming through the city marketplace and draining men's virility via a handshake" and that "people are refusing to shake hands with anyone they don't know."
...(A) fabric merchant S. K. A., said that a man from a West African tribe came into his shop to buy fabric, but an argument quickly developed between the two. Then the West African shook the store owner's hand powerfully until the owner felt his penis melt into his body. The store owner became hysterical, and was taken to the hospital.
...It was also claimed that once "'Satan's Friend' drains a man's virility," he demands that his victim pay him over four million Sudanese pounds (about $3,000) to get it back. 
...Focusing on the report of the Sudanese man who lost his penis after contact with a comb, Abbas wrote: "No doubt, this comb was a laser-controlled surgical robot that penetrates the skull [and passes] to the lower body and emasculates a man!!
Yes. No doubt about that.
"I wanted to tell that man who fell victim to the electronic comb: 'You jackass, how can you put a comb from a man you don't know to your head, while even relatives avoid using the same comb?!'"
And of course, this being an Islamic society:
In conclusion Abbas wrote: "That man, who, as it is claimed, is from West Africa, is an imperialist Zionist agent that was sent to prevent our people from procreating and multiplying…"
From Q and O:
"God must not be happy about getting his own movie:
Actor Jim Caviezel has been struck by lightning while playing Jesus in Mel Gibson's controversial film The Passion Of Christ.The lightning bolt hit Caviezel and the film's assistant director Jan Michelini while they were filming in a remote location a few hours from Rome.
I guess Old Testament God has returned, and he's rediscovered lightning.
But that's not the worst of it.....
It was the second time Michelini had been hit by lightning during the shoot.
So, while pretending to be Jesus, he gets hit by lightning.
There's a message there somewhere."
Q and O is rapidly becoming one of my favorite blogs.
Thursday, October 23, 2003
DOA Drug Bill?Democrats vow to block prescription drug compromise
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Forty-one senators -- 40 Democrats and and one Republican -- have signed a letter to President Bush saying they would oppose the Medicare prescription drug compromise now being negotiated by a House-Senate conference committee.
That number would be enough to block the bill in the Senate, and effectively kill it.
Excellent. Kill it. Kill all of these bills! The last thing our country needs is another promise it can't keep.
Good And Bad
I think there has been a change in the media coverage of the war, and it has been for the better. I don't want "rah!rah!" cheerleading. Honest criticisms, like Thomas Freidman's, are welcome in the mix: Free Advice to G.O.P.
It's time for the Bush team to admit it made a grievous error in disbanding Iraq's Army — which didn't even fight us — and declare: "We thank all the nations who offered troops, but we think the Iraqi people can and must secure their own country. So we're inviting all former Iraqi Army soldiers (not Republican Guards) to report back to duty. For every two Iraqi battalions that return to duty (they can weed out their own bad apples), we will withdraw an American one. So Iraqis can liberate themselves. Our motto is Iraq for the Iraqis."
• Attacks on our forces are getting more deadly, not less. Besides those killed, we've had 900 wounded or maimed. We need to take this much more seriously. We're not facing some ragtag insurrection. We're facing an enemy with a command and control center who is cleverly picking off our troops and those Iraqi leaders and foreigners cooperating with us. Either we put in the troops needed to finish the war, and project our authority, or we get the Iraqi Army to do the job — but pretending that we're just "mopping up" is a dangerous illusion.
• The neocons need a neo-Baath. I'm glad we banned the Baath Party, but the ban was not done right. It needed to be accompanied by a clear process for people who simply joined the Baath to secure government jobs, like school directors, to recant and be rehabilitated. Just tossing these people out has purged thousands of technocrats, weakened the secular middle class and left a power vacuum filled by religious groups. Also, Iraq needs a party that can express the aspirations of Iraq's Sunni minority and give them a stake in the new state. Right now, the Sunni mainstream in Iraq isn't sure how it fits into any new order, so the worst elements are opposing us and the best are apprehensively sitting on the fence.
And there's this is in today's Washington Post:
U.S. Force Pulling Back in the North
MOSUL, Iraq, Oct. 22 -- The senior U.S. military commander in northern Iraq said Wednesday that he was beginning to reduce his soldiers' presence in this northern city and turn their security duties over to Iraqi police officers and troops as local government takes root and life slowly returns to normal.
Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the 101st Airborne Division, also said he thought it would be possible for the Pentagon to reduce the number of U.S. forces in northern Iraq, without adversely affecting security when fresh forces replace his 20,800 troops in late February or early March.
And the Philadelphia Inquirer is getting in the game too:
Six months after the war, Iraq feels like a patchwork of separate countries - a confused mix of stability and chaos, progress and paralysis, the only common denominator being the unexpected difficulty of rebuilding it into a stable society. Extensive interviews show that, amid this jumbled picture, occupation authorities are making progress in the reconstruction.
A question central to U.S. success remains unanswered: Is this progress fast enough?
What follows is a story that I think correctly assesses the importance of Iraq, and the confusion on the ground there. The majority of Iraqis support our efforts, but they are keeping quiet (for many reasons), and many evil people are coming in to fill the void. Great things are happening, but there are ominous developments as well.
Yes, our soldiers are dying. Each death is terrible and tragic. The death of each soldier in World War II was tragic too. But then, as now, there were more important things: this war will determine what direction the Arab world takes.
In a few years, the Arab countries will all have nuclear weapons. In a few cases, so will terrorists.
Democracy in Iraq is the only way I see that we can take the wind out of the terrorist belief that they (and only they) speak for "the people."
Democracy exposes them for what they are: larval tyrants.
In a year or two, these scum will be attacking people for doing something Americans take for granted: voting. They will try to threaten people away from the polling stations, and their bombs and bullets will kill many.
The power of intimidation might keep some people away, but don't bank on it. Never underestimate the courage of the common person. Choosing one's leaders is a universal desire.
If the Democrats have suggestions for getting to this point in Iraq, I'm willing to listen. For years, they have been saying that we should send money to the Middle East, not soldiers. Very well, but where is the track record for success in this approach? Should we support the authorities in Saudi Arabia or Syria or Iran (governments that are largely unpopular among their own people)? The aid that we have given to Egypt ($2 billion a year) hasn't won us any friends in that country.
Right now, the Democrats all want to pretend there is no threat. To them, it is still 1998.
I wish it was.
A Useless Gesture
Senate Votes to Crack Down on Some Spam
"When this bill becomes law, big-time spamming in effect becomes an outlaw business," said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and one of the chief sponsors of the bill.
Big Deal. These people still haven't figured out that the internet is different: it's huge, it's ungovernable and it's INTERNATIONAL.
Don't get me wrong. I hate spam as much as anyone, but this law will be largely ignored and it will be ineffective: no one has the time, the money and the patience to track down the asshole selling penis enlargement pills using his generic e-mail address.
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Another Reason Not To Be A Teacher In Philly...
Were any more needed?The Philadelphia Inquirer
During his first week as a new teacher this month, David Pitone was unable to handle the unruly students in his computer science class, so he sent them to the principal's office for discipline.
But officials at Audenried High School in South Philadelphia sent the students right back and told Pitone he had not followed proper disciplinary procedures.
This Road Looks Familiar!
The troops returning home are worried. “We’ve lost the peace,” men tell you. “We can’t make it stick.”
A tour of the beaten-up cities of Europe six months after victory is a mighty sobering experience for anyone. Europeans. Friend and foe alike, look you accusingly in the face and tell you how bitterly they are disappointed in you as an American. They cite the evolution of the word “liberation.” Before the Normandy landings it meant to be freed from the tyranny of the Nazis. Now it stands in the minds of the civilians for one thing, looting.
You try to explain to these Europeans that they expected too much. They answer that they had a right to, that after the last was America was the hope of the world. They talk about the Hoover relief, the work of the Quakers, the speeches of Woodrow Wilson. They don’t blame us for the fading of that hope. But they blame us now.
Never has American prestige in Europe been lower. People never tire of telling you of the ignorance and rowdy-ism of American troops, of out misunderstanding of European conditions. They say that the theft and sale of Army supplies by our troops is the basis of their black market. They blame us for the corruption and disorganization of UNRRA. They blame us for the fumbling timidity of our negotiations with the Soviet Union. They tell us that our mechanical de-nazification policy in Germany is producing results opposite to those we planned. “Have you no statesmen in America?” they ask.
(Thanks to Jessica's Well)
Monday, October 20, 2003
Training At Nahrawan and Salman Pak:
An Iraqi officer (L) [only identified by initial] tells us that one day a Land Cruiser belonging to the Personal Security Force (Al-Amn Al-Khass, responsible for the protection of Saddam Hussein) arrived and a senior officer from the Presidential Palace stepped out of it. He was one of those officers who used to stand behind Saddam, which means that he was one of [his] personal bodyguards. After a two-hour meeting with a select group of officers at the Special Forces School, we were informed that we would have dear guests, and that we should train them very well in a high level of secrecy - not to allow anyone to approach them or to talk to them in any way, shape, or form.
A few days later, about 100 trainees arrived. They were a mixture of Arabs, Arabs from the Peninsula [Saudi Arabia], Muslim Afghans, and other Muslims from various parts of the world. They were divided into two groups, the first one went to Al-Nahrawan and the second to Salman Pak, and this was the group that was trained to hijack airplanes. The training was under the direct supervision of major general (M. DH. L) [only identified by initials] who now serves as a police commander in one of the provinces. Upon the completion of the training most of them left Iraq, while the others stayed in the country through the last battle in Baghdad against the coalition forces.
"I remember that the leader of the group was a Saudi cleric called [Muhammad], who was a fervent and audacious individual and did not require much training. He was highly skilled, and could fire accurately at a target while riding a motorcycle. Additionally, he used to deliver fiery sermons calling for Jihad and for fighting the Americans anywhere in the world. Surprisingly, this man's picture, alongside the commander of the Special Forces School, was televised several times before the beginning of the war and the fall of the former regime."
Sunday, October 19, 2003
Lieberman Gets An Earful
Lieberman Heckled by Arab Americans
DETROIT - Democratic presidential candidate Joe Lieberman was heckled Friday by several Arab Americans angry with his support for Israel as he spoke about restoring peace and trust in the Middle East.
"What about the wall?" shouted several attending the Arab American Institute leadership conference as they interrupted Lieberman's speech. The reference was to Israel's plan to build a barrier that juts into the West Bank...
..."It has nothing to do with security. It has to do with stealing from the Palestinians," shouted Greta Berlin during a question-and-answer session after the speech. Berlin had just returned from the West Bank, where she was working with the International Solidarity Movement, a pro-Palestinian group.
It's no surpirse that the toads at the ISM are heckling Lieberman. It's not surprising that the wall is becoming such an issue.
What is surprising is that somebody like Leiberman is afraid to even speak up in its defense. A similar wall in Gaza has ended terrorist attacks there, and this wall will do the same thing on the West Bank.
The Palestianians - who clearly believe that terrorism is negotiation by other means - are horrified at losing the only weapon they have.
Yes, the wall will take some "Palestinian" territory. To this, I say: So what?
From global perspective, the Palestinians must not be allowed to take home any trophy form their bloody choice. By large margins, opinion polls show they support every suicide bombing. When Israeli schoolchildren are torn apart by bombs, the Palestinians celebrate. Their leaders cynically condemn each act, but they organize new attacks, to ratchet up the pressure on Israel to deal.
Will it work? The world is watching.
What will the Palestinians get for this? Will they get a win? Will they get the de-facto border from 1947, with Israel hiding behind the wall and abadoning the settlers?
Or will they lose? Will the wall take some of their territory and farmland?
The State Department says it will tolerate a wall on the 1947 borders: an Israeli loss, and a victory for the terrorists (See! We forced the Israelis to abandon their citizens!)
I disagree. The message to people who choose terrorism must be as clear as day: choose and lose.
It is vital to the cause of world peace that the Palestinians emerge empty handed from this wreckless choice: suffering more, poorer and more oppressed than they were.
Only then will they begin to look at Arafat as the terrible leader he is: a fool who was getting more at the negiotiating table than he ever dreamed possible, and threw it all away by making unreasonable demands that Israel could never accept (ie: the right of return). Arafat single-handedly doomed Barak, and now as a reward, he gets to deal with Sharon. From this, he should return with nothing but shame.
The world is watching. Other terrorists are watching.
Will terrorism work? Is it really a good way of forcing a democracy to give in?
What does the world gain by giving the terrorists the impression that it does work? The answer: more terror.
Friedman on the spirit of reform that is roiling the Arab world:
I should have known something was up when a Saudi diplomat recently asked me, "Do you know what kind of woman is most sought after as a wife by Saudi men today?" No, I said, what kind? "A woman with a job."
I thought of that when I read last week's announcement that within a year Saudi Arabia would conduct its first real elections — for municipal councils. Most people thought it would snow in Saudi Arabia before there would be elections. So what's up?
What's up are three big shocks hammering the Arab system. First, with oil revenues flat, there isn't enough money anymore to buy off, or provide jobs to, the exploding Arab populations. Hence the growing need for wives with work. The second is the Iraq war shock. Even with all the problems in Baghdad now, virtually every autocratic Arab regime is starting to prepare for the uncomfortable possibility that by 2005 Iraq will hold a free election, which will shame all those who never have. As Lawrence Summers, Harvard's president, likes to say, "One good example is worth a thousand theories." Iraq — maybe — could be that example.
But there is another tremor shaking the Arab world. This one is being set off by a group of courageous Arab social scientists, who decided, with the help of the United Nations, to begin fighting the war of ideas for the Arab future by detailing just how far the Arab world has fallen behind and by laying out a progressive pathway forward. Their first publication, the Arab Human Development Report 2002, explained how the deficits of freedom, education and women's empowerment in the Arab world have left the region so behind that the combined G.D.P. of the 22 Arab states was less than that of a single country — Spain. Even with limited Internet access in the Arab world, one million copies of this report were downloaded, sparking internal debates.
Friday, October 17, 2003
Philly Digs Deeper
FBI corruption probe makes Philly mayor more popular: Poll finds Street gaining edge in campaign
Oh Philly, will you ever win?
Just Incredibly Stupid
The Senate voted by a slight margin to make half of the Iraqi reconstruction aid a loan.
Saddam left Iraq in $180 billion of debt (most of that tyrant apologists France and Russia) and the Senate wants to add to that total, making Iraqi reconstruction that much more difficult. It is a huge propaganda victory for our enemies (See! The selfish Americans really were in it for the oil!) and it will cost the American lives, as some fence sitting Iraqis fight against a loan they didn't agree to. Not surprisingly, all the democratic senators who voted against the war and now wish the reconstruction to fail (are you listening, Ted Kennedy?) voted for the loan idea.
How can our Senate be so stupid?
In the reconstruction of Japan, there was a point when chaos ruled, and (unlike Iraq) most of Japan was starving. Congress was complaining about the cost of the reconstruction in Japan. Starry-eyed idealists had the wacky idea that a democratic, capitalist Japan would be bulwark against communist expansion in Asia, and that it might just infect the area with capitalist zeal. Realists in Washington complained that it was costing too much money, and that silly yellow people could never build a democracy or understand how to make money.
Douglas MacArthur was furious. He cabled Washington: "Send me money or send me bullets."
It looks like we should prepare to send bullets this time. Thank you, Senators.
The "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" is loud, but they are not the whole story. The party is confused:
The findings in the new polls suggest that the divisions over Iraq within the party are less clear-cut than some strategists and candidates believe, or that support for U.S. action to remove former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein from power is a serious handicap in the battle for the Democratic nomination.
Democrats surveyed in the three states also listed foreign policy and national security experience as the most important attribute they are looking for in selecting a nominee. They rated that characteristic over such other choices as experience in Congress, being a decorated combat veteran, being a Washington outsider or having a blue-collar background.
Thank God For Experts
Expert: China will not overtake U.S. in space
The fact that an "expert" has to come out to say something so obvious is evidence of a strange paranoia in the US.
I'm glad China's in space. It may spur NASA to make painful admissions (space shuttles are a waste of money) and important changes (the International Space Station is an expensive political gesture but a scientific yawn).
I'll add to the comments of the "expert:" China - as it currently stands - will not overtake the US in much of anything until its economic system is thoroughly reformed.
Americans have been slow to realize it: closed societies, with centralized command economies and secretive information exchanges, will never compete effectively with open democratic capitalist societies. The free flow of information and goods makes an economy hum.
China will be able to work its way out of poverty. But the Communist Party is increasingly going to be veiwed as an anachronism. It will either be overthrown by the newly-rich, information-hungry fresh leadership that will emerge, or it will transform itself into something that is communist in name only.
China has a future, but Communist China's day has long past. The creaking dinosaurs roaming around Beijing should be preserved in a museum somewhere.
Bush Takes On The Leaks
Oh boy. The Philly Inquirer gets in a little humor:
WASHINGTON - Concerned about the appearance of disarray and feuding within his administration as well as growing resistance to his policies in Iraq, President Bush - living up to his recent declaration that he is in charge - told his top officials to "stop the leaks" to the media, or else.
News of Bush's order leaked almost immediately.
Thursday, October 16, 2003
The Kucinich Website. No, He's Not Retarded!
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Kucinich, you get the last question. The one time you had executive responsibility as mayor of Cleveland the city went bankrupt. How do you respond to those who will say that you'll do for America what you did for Cleveland? (Laughter.)
REP. KUCINICH: . . .I also want to remind you that in Cleveland that default ends up being a badge of honor for me because I stood up for the people of Cleveland against a takeover of our municipal electric system by a utility monopoly.
Oh yeah, this'll work:
The restoration of the rights of workers in America and throughout the North American continent will begin when we repeal NAFTA.
And Dennis wants to go in the wrong direction on Social Security:
"I see a new horizon for Social Security in America, through restoring the age of retirement to 65 years, instead of the current 67 years.
Yes, this guy is a hoot.
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Saudi Police Fire Warning Shots, Arrest 50 at Rally
RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi police fired into the air during a rare demonstration Tuesday and arrested up to 50 protesters calling for greater reforms during the kingdom's first human rights conference.
Police fired the warning shots to disperse the protesters and made the arrests, witnesses said. Authorities also set up roadblocks to prevent them from reaching the conference building, they added.
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
This Is A Job For UN-Man!
The UN is busy with fairytale plans to ban landmines. Or it bombards would-be nuclear armed dictators with paperwork ("That'll show you, Kim Jung Il!").
But it really should ban something that needs to be banned: the Third World practice of shooting machine guns into the air at celebrations.
This is dangerous stuff.
Wedding Party Shoots Down Plane
BELGRADE (Reuters) - A two-seater sports plane on an unauthorized joyride was apparently shot down by mistake when it flew over a Serbian wedding party where guests were firing guns into the air, local media reported Sunday.
Two men were reported to have sustained serious injuries when their aircraft burst into flames and crashed near Kraljevo, central Serbia.
"I heard shots from a wedding party which was very close to the crash site. Then I saw the plane in flames. It was shot in the left wing," witness Zoran Vukadinovic told reporters.
"A few moments later, while attempting a crash landing, it was caught in overhead power cables," he said.
Local media said neither of the men held a pilot's license.
Firing guns into the air at weddings and other celebrations is common in Serbia.
The Power Of Art
Art helps save lives and neighborhoods. So says Jane Golden, director of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. The Mural Arts Program is committed to "discovering and applying the social power of art."
Art saves lives. We believe it.
Oh, I do believe it.
It has saved my life on many occasions.
When I am walking in the city, and I see paintings on the houses, I know I'm in a bad neighborhood. I should get the hell out before it gets dark.
The life I save is my own. The revealing power of art. Indeed.
A 30,000-square-foot mural about young people's dreams now stands across from the new Lincoln Financial Field; another mural, at 50th Street and Woodland Avenue, is a tribute to young people who have died from violence.
Nothing says "neighborhood where you don't want to buy a house" quite like a mural with pictures of gunned-down drug dealers on it.
A community arts project can play a very practical part in a neighborhood's strategy for survival and regeneration.
Right. Nothing financially regenerates a neighborhood like a mural: it tells people where to buy crack.
If a bunch of kids want to paint murals in my neighborhood, I going to call the cops on the little bastards.
In the "People's City" they might think nothing of defacing the community wall with "art." In the selfish suburbs, we have a little thing called private property. And when a person turns his private home into a garrish affront to community, we have ordinances to make them conform.
Here's a bet that Jane Golden lives in leafy neighborhood too, and she wouldn't dream of letting a bunch of kids paint on her house. ("No, no, kids! Please don't paint on the pool shed! Here! I have some construction paper for you!")
As we continue to look for ways to reinvigorate Philadelphia, I ask you to remember that the arts are not only a necessity for a living, vibrant, cultural center, but are also essential agents of change and transformation in every corner of the city.
Well, let's see. Philly is already a shithole. Transform it into what?
Golden just wants to give the kiddies shovels, so they can dig that hole a little deeper.
Monday, October 13, 2003
My Man Makes His Move
Give 'em Hell, Dennis!
Rep. Kucinich Announces White House Bid
The Saudis want everyone to know: The war had nothing to do with this. They have been planning to do this for a long time.
Saudi Arabia to Hold First Elections
RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy, announced Monday it would hold its first elections to vote for municipal councils, seen as the first concrete political reform in the Gulf Arab state.
The announcement by the cabinet followed growing demands by reformists on de facto ruler Crown Prince Abdullah to allow wider political participation, elections and freedom of expression in the conservative Muslim kingdom.
In taking this action, Saudi Arabia has joined a growing trend toward experiments in democracy in other Gulf Arab countries. The decision also coincided with the opening of the first human rights conference in Riyadh.
Qaddafi Renounces Terror...Sort Of
Good old Moammar. In his own words:
The war changed and moved from the battlefields we learned about in books, into the homes. In the past, soldiers fought soldiers, and today soldiers fight women and children in Baghdad and Gaza… As long as the woman is home and she is the one targeted, she must be trained… The woman must be trained how to fight within the home, how to put together an explosive belt and blow herself up together with the enemy soldiers. Anyone who has a car must make preparations and know how to booby trap it and turn it into a car bomb… In the past they would say [to us in Libya]: 'Why do you train the women? It is not logical that the woman will go out to the battlefield…' Today the face of the battle has changed, and the arenas of fighting have moved to the place where the woman is…
We must train the women how to booby-trap the car and blow it up among the enemy, how to blow up the house so it falls on the enemy soldiers. Traps must be prepared. You have seen how [the enemy] check[s] luggage. These suitcases should be rigged so that when they open them they blow up. The women must be taught how to booby-trap their clothes closets, booby-trap their purses, booby-trap their shoes, booby-trap the children's toys, so they blow up on the enemy soldiers.
William Raspberry Speaks The Truth
Holy shit, Batman!
An Attitude Gap
Speaking frankly and helpfully about the academic achievement gap between black and white students is a lot harder than it ought to be.
It is particularly hard if it is true -- as I believe -- that the gap has less and less to do with racism and more and more to do with the habits and attitudes we inculcate among our children.
I can almost feel the resistance from black Americans to the notion that there is something cultural about the underachievement of black students.
Almost as palpable is the easy conclusion on the part of many whites (and I'm not talking about racists) that if black people would just buckle down as other disadvantaged groups have done, many of their problems would evaporate.
And yet -- how hard this is! -- the buckle-down crowd may be closer to the mark.
Fish Started A Fire?
I thought this was going to be some kind of weird sci-fi story until I read it.
Fish caused fire at Japanese house
TOKYO (AFP) - Tropical fish are believed to have caused a fire at a Japanese house, fire brigade officials said, warning against the use of electrical plugs near fishtanks.
"It is an extremely rare case, but fish are believed to be the culprits," said an official at the Nogata fire station in Tokyo.
Alas, it wasn't a fish conspiracy. It was an electirical fire caused by a fish tank.
Friday, October 10, 2003
Maybe Honesty Isn't The Best Policy...Parents: Special ed kids used as janitors
OLYMPIA, Washington (AP) -- Special education students were told to pick through recyclables and haul trash without pay as part of a Washington high school's Work Experience Program, and some of their parents are outraged...
...School officials said many special education students will do janitorial work after high school, so they believe the tasks are appropriate.
You got to admire the bluntness.
Innovative Progressive Government: Your Tax Dollars At Work
Now what could be wrong with this idea?
The $9 million plan that the court just blessed calls for Seattle to build a 75-unit apartment building and then stock it with chronic alcoholics.
Said tenants would get free, or reduced, rent, along with meals and access to alcoholism treatment.
The only rub is that those with the alcohol problem will not only be allowed -- nay, encouraged! -- to drink in their new apartments, they'll also be allowed to invite others in to drink with them!
What's next? An "honor bar" in their rooms?
From Best Of The Web:
(Colman) McCarthy's belief that peace can only be achieved through peaceful means is what drives him; it underlies every facet of his being. It is, for example, the foundation of his peace studies courses. Post-9/11, after suicidal terrorists attempted to kill as many people as possible with planes turned into bombs, does anyone honestly believe that "evildoers" can be stopped with peace, love, flowers, and not voting? McCarthy does. His courses examine the roots of aggression in the many forms they take--racism, sexual assault, poverty, patriotism, war. In each case, he argues that violence can be defanged with pacifist resistance.
"Peace through peaceful means" also explains McCarthy's classroom management style. He calls homework, tests, and grades "forms of academic violence." So, while he typically assigns two papers a semester and asks students to read essays by pacifists such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Leo Tolstoy, and Catholic social worker Dorothy Day, he doesn't require them to do anything. They don't even have to sit through his class if they don't want to be there, he tells them. And at the end of the course, McCarthy lets students choose their own grades.
Who could be taken in by such rubbish? Teachers, that's who:
McCarthy reluctantly wrapped up his speech at the 45-minute mark and was mobbed by several teachers who wanted to buy his books. Another group gathered in the back of the room to discuss what they'd just heard. While agreeing that McCarthy's in-your-face comments wouldn't fly with most school boards or parents, they excitedly talked about how radical pacifist ideas could enliven their own classes.
An elegant-looking teacher in her 40s wandered up and joined the conversation. The truth, she said conspiratorially, is that when you close your classroom door, you're in charge and there's a lot you can get away with. The others nodded in agreement.
Suddenly, the teacher registered with alarm that a reporter's tape recorder was running. She declared that her comments were off the record and abruptly walked away from the group. Reconsidering their candor, one by one other teachers in the circle requested that their comments, too, be considered off the record. Peace may have a chance in America's schools. But at least for now, the revolution will not be broadcast.
I worry that I am going to have some real problems with people like this when my sons reach school age.
I Hadn't Heard This Before....
In one poll, the Saudi daily Okaz asked people if they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: "Iraq, and the people of Iraq, are today better off than they were in the past." 66 percent of the respondents "strongly agreed" and another 17 percent "agreed." Only 17 percent disagreed. One hundred percent of respondents disagreed with the statement: "It is possible that Saddam Hussein will return to govern Iraq because he is preferable to the Western coalition." In analyzing the results of the poll, the paper concluded that a majority of Iraqis are pessimistic about the conditions in the short term, but optimistic about the long-term situation.
The results of this new poll are interesting.
But it is fascinating that the Saudi-controlled newspaper cares about the opinions of the people in Iraq, while the Saudis deny their own people the right to speak out.
The Saudi people certainly notice this discrepency too.
Changes are afoot in this region.....
Thursday, October 09, 2003
Why I Love This Country
Things like this:
Bobby Jindal's Rise
Louisiana's next governor may be an Indian-American Republican.
California isn't the only state with an interesting governor's race this year. Republican Bobby Jindal, the son of immigrants from India who placed first in Louisiana's all-party primary for governor Saturday, was so unknown in the state that he wasn't even included in the first statewide poll on the race last January. But the former Rhodes Scholar will now face a runoff on Nov. 15 against Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat.
The 32-year-old Mr. Jindal he had already impressed many in the state's elites with his intelligence and administrative ability. He became the head of the state's health-care system at age 24, director of the Breaux-Thomas national commission on Medicare at 26, president of the University of Louisiana system at 27, and a top adviser on health policy to President Bush at 29...
...He is the rare policy wonk who can easily make the transition into politics. In his first month after he announced, he raised $538,000, he appeared constantly on talk radio shows touting his conservative agenda, and he steadily rose in the polls to eclipse all other Republicans. He won 33% in Saturday's primary, with Ms. Blanco finishing second with 18%.
The young Mr. Jindal faced enormous skepticism that a person with dark skin could succeed in Louisiana, a state in which David Duke was the runner-up for governor just a dozen years ago...
...But the candidate has already confounded experts who predicted he would never make it past the primary. "What he's done so far has been amazing," says Wayne Parent, a political scientist at Louisiana State University. Mr. Jindal scored points by touting his political inexperience: "I'm not a politician, I'm a problem solver." His impressive machine-gun like recitations of how he would shake up state government and attract industry became the highlight of candidate debates.
He treats his Indian background as an overall plus but won't trade on it. He left the space for "race" on his qualifying papers blank and attacks the division of people along racial lines. "I'm against all quotas, all set-asides," he says. "America is the greatest. We got ahead by hard work. We shouldn't respond to every problem with a government program. Here, anyone can succeed."
Mr. Jindal certainly has. He was born in Baton Rouge in 1971, shortly after his parents moved to the U.S. His father took a job as an engineer at Exxon so that Bobby's mother could earn a degree in nuclear physics at Louisiana State University. At the age of four he dropped "Piyush" as his first name in favor or "Bobby" after a character on "The Brady Bunch." He was raised a Hindu but converted to Catholicism at Brown University. He was admitted to medical school but dropped plans to be a doctor after winning a Rhodes Scholarship. His academic background in health-care administration impressed Gov. Mike Foster, who named him to head the state's $4 billion Department of Health and Hospitals. Mr. Jindal imposed budget discipline and rooted out so much fraud that he was able to turn the state's $400 million Medicaid deficit into a surplus.
I love immigrants. Oddly, they remind Americans who we are.
Anyone who says immigration is bad for the US ought to get to know some of the people I work with. They are brilliant.
The Nobel Prizes are currently being awarded. Americans are doing quite well, winning prizes in physics, economics, chemistry and medicine.
But look closely: most of those winning weren't born in the US. They came here to do their brilliant work (an exception to the "brilliant work" part comes when you get to the horrid Nobel Peace Prize, which has been an Award-A-FoolTM prize for years.)
The US is like a baseball team that many of the best players want to play for.
I say let them in.
Philly's Corrupt Mayor Is The Last To Know
Sure, John Street padded the city expenditures with money for his friends.
Longtime unskilled acquaintances found themselves in lucrative city jobs with foggy job descriptions, yet were still unable to come to work or explain what they did for a living. Other luckless buddies suddenly found themselves as presidents of minority firms awarded no-bid contracts for work that never seemed to get done. His wife was given a plush office and wonderful perks, but her only qualification seemed to be that she was married to the mayor. Yeah, he admits he took money from his campaign coffers and took his family on an expensive European excursion. And oh yeah, workers from his campaign have nasty habit of firebombing people they don't like.
But John Street is no crook. Integrity matters with this man.
Finally, the FBI is looking into the stink around this mayor.
Yesterday morning, agents raided a small financial firm run by two Street supporters, including one of Philadelphia's most prominent Muslim leaders. Under Street's administration, the firm got a no-bid city contract to collect delinquent taxes.
Last night, Street told reporters he had done nothing wrong.
"My integrity is very important to me," he said.
Sure it is, John.
In the statement, Street said lawyer Arthur Makadon, whom he described as "my friend and adviser," had been told by the U.S. Attorney's Office that Street is not a "target of any federal investigation."
That does not necessarily mean that federal authorities are not interested in the mayor. Target is a specific term federal prosecutors use to describe someone who is likely to be indicted.
In a telephone interview, Makadon would not reveal anything further about what he had learned from the U.S. Attorney's Office about Street's status.
Street released his statement after Richard Manieri, spokesman for Philadelphia U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan, said authorities had told the mayor where he stood.
"We have stated very clearly to Mayor Street and his attorney the mayor's status in this matter," Manieri said yesterday. He would not elaborate.
Yes, John. You ARE being investigated. Understand?
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Peters hits the nail on the head:
Recently, I visited Germany to speak with our soldiers, many just back from Iraq. The situation depicted in the media was unrecognizable to them. They'd just left a country where every indicator of success was turning positive. Yet the media insist we are incompetent and failing.
The Kurds are prospering. The Shi'ites no longer live in fear. Even most Sunni Arabs feel relieved that Saddam's gone. The mullahs are behaving. Local markets are busy and full of goods. The electricity's back on - more reliably than before the war. Schools are open. Oil's flowing. The Iraqi media is booming, boisterous and free. The Governing Council has convinced previously hostile factions to cooperate. Iraqis provide more and more of their own local security. And the torture chambers are closed.
What do we hear from Iraq? Another soldier killed. The rest is silence.
Of course, things still could go badly. Even if we do everything right, we may find, in the end, that the Iraqis aren't ready for prime-time. Iraq ultimately may fail because the Iraqis fail themselves.
But for now the signs are encouraging - especially given the run-down quality of the neighborhood we're helping to redevelop. Yet hopeful signs are grudgingly reported - if at all - while every attack upon our soldiers is depicted as another nail in our coffin.
Reporters, on whom we rely as our eyes and ears abroad, have refused to consider the implications of their activities. They enjoy their power, even as they deny its existence.
Whatever Happened To Bob?
He's still got class...
Torricelli charged with leaving scene of accident
LAMBERTVILLE, N.J. - Former U.S. Sen. Robert G. Torricelli has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident this summer, but he contends that his former wife was the person behind the wheel.
US soldiers, frustrated by "mounting casualties" and "increasing" hatred from their Iraqi hosts, have resorted to TORTURE to extract information from unwilling children. Behold, the dreaded airplane ride:
Saturday, October 04, 2003
A Day We Should Remember
Forgotten by just about everyone, yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the "Black Hawk Down" incident in Mogadishu. The American public witnessed dead US soldiers being dragged through the streets of Somalia by gleeful tribesmen.
Support for our intervention in East Africa quickly collapsed, but it was only a humiliating retreat from an insignificant part of the world, an incident that would be quickly forgotten.
But the world was watching, and that incident put the gleam of victory in one terrorist's eye:
We also believe that our battle against America is much simpler than the war against the Soviet Union, because some of our mujahedin who fought here in Afghanistan also participated in operations against the Americans in Somalia - and they were surprised at the collapse of American morale. This convinced us that the Americans are a paper tiger.
Osama Bin Laden
We should remember this whenever anyone says we should pull out of Iraq.
(Thanks to Little Green Footballs)
Friday, October 03, 2003
CDC Criticizes Gun Control
A federal review of the nation's gun-control laws finds no proof that they work
No study was necessary here. We need only look at Britain or Australia. Both countries have enacted some of the strictist gun laws in the world (at least for democracies: dictatorships always have the highest level of gun control).
Crime has exploded in both countries, as armed criminals find easy prey in an unarmed population.
GUN crime has almost trebled in London during the past year and is soaring in other British cities, according to Home Office figures obtained by The Telegraph.
And in Australia:
Australia's gun legislation was the most up-to-date in the Pacific region, the survey said, with average annual firearm imports dropping 66 per cent since gun laws were tightened in 1996/97 after the Port Arthur killings.
However in the 2001/02 financial year Australian customs officials seized 812 illegally imported firearms with hundreds of thousands believed to have made it onto the market.
And from 1999 to 2002 the number of robberies involving firearms in Sydney's most populated areas rose by 34 per cent, while handgun homicide has grown from 13 to 50 per cent since Martin Bryant killed 35 people at the Port Arthur tourist site in Tasmania in April 1996.
One particular type of crime - home invasions - are particularly common. A home invasion happens when a thief breaks into a house, subdues the owner and takes what he wants (steals everything of value, rapes the women...etc).
This particular type of crime in the US is relatively rare: convicted criminals say that nothing scares them more than confronting an armed homeowner.
Could there be a connection?
Thursday, October 02, 2003
Not A Good Choice Of Words, Arnold.Schwarzenegger: 'I have behaved badly sometimes'
Recall campaign front-runner Arnold Schwarzenegger -- following newly published allegations of sexual impropriety -- said Thursday that "wherever there is smoke, there is fire" and that he "behaved badly sometimes" on rowdy movie sets in the past...
...Schwarzenegger vowed to be a "champion of women" if he is elected governor of California.
Didn't Clinton have that ambition too?
Why We Fight
Bill Whittle describes the war against terror:
It is a fight to the death for and against a culture that can build marvels like skyscrapers and airliners, acts of technological and creative daring, and fill them with individuals of every nation and religion and color united by their desire to work hard and get along with one another, people who have traded in machetes and blood feuds for letter openers and water-cooler gossip. We are fighting a nihilistic force, a force that creates nothing and would destroy this entire world for their place in the next if given the means, a force that hijacks – both literally and figuratively -- these miracles of industry, creativity and compromise and brings them down in blood and fire and ruin.
It is a fight that we cannot avoid. Despite the bleats of terrified apologists and appeasers, this is not a fight against what we have done, but rather a war against who we are and what we believe and represent. That is why we must remind ourselves, daily remind ourselves, that all these miraculous things we take for granted are not the natural state of man, but new and terrifying ideas for millions of people shackled to the past, ideas that must be fought for and maintained by force if need be. Maintained by power, the vast power generated by freedom and creativity and cooperation.
CNN.Com: How The Cookie Crumbles
When cookie-lovers open packages of their favorite snacks, some of the biscuits are often in bits.
Now scientists say they know why -- and it has little to do with the way cookies are packaged and transported.
Instead, laser tests carried out by British physicists found that cookies -- or biscuits, as they are known in Britain -- often develop "fault lines" a few hours after baking.
Uh, no shit.
Cookie Dough: gooey and smooth.
Cookie: hard and brittle.
There is some science there (different rates of cooling for different parts of the cookie), but it isn't that complicated.
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Global warming may be real.
I'm willing to concede that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are increasing (probably due to human activity) and that this gas plays a role in trapping heat at the Earth's surface.
But it is also known that the Earth was much hotter 500 hundred years ago, and this was not an ecological disaster. Also unknown is what role the biosystem will play in response to increased CO2 concentrations. Some research suggests that it will flourish and help mitigate the problem.
Still, global warming may be real. And if it is, there is nothing that we can do about it.
"Solutions" like Kyoto (if it is implemented) will create an oil glut, and the lower prices will encourage poorer nations to use this cheap energy. Not only will they fill the air with CO2, they will do it in the dirtiest and least efficient ways possible (You think your local power plant pollutes, wait until you see what 10 million West African kersosene stoves can do).
We will burn every drop of cheap oil before we will find renewable power alternatives financially attractive.
So I admit to being something of a global warming agnostic, and stories like this are the reason why:
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- About 160,000 people die every year from side-effects of global warming ranging from malaria to malnutrition and the numbers could almost double by 2020, a group of scientists said.
The study, by scientists at the World Health Organization (WHO) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said children in developing nations seemed most vulnerable.
"We estimate that climate change may already be causing in the region of 160,000 deaths...a year," Professor Andrew Haines of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told a climate change conference in Moscow on Tuesday.
Blaming malaria and malnutrition deaths on "global warming" is, at best, extremely bad science.
At worst, it is politically-motivated environmental alarmism masquerading as science.
When are people going to learn that stupid studies like this actually discredit your cause?
More Evidence That Bin Laden Is Dead
New Al Qaeda Terror Chief in Persian Gulf
Ah, The Onion
The perfect antidote to stupid studies....
Philly Chases Its Tail
And now for an upbeat story from the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Philadelphia students get a scholarship guarantee
Philadelphia public high school students who want to go to college - and who have the grades - will no longer be held back by lack of money.
What could be a dream come true for thousands of the city's 10,700 seniors was announced yesterday - a four-year, $40 million plan to pay up to $3,000 for each eligible student whose freshman-year funds fall short.
Mayor Street and the Philadelphia School District pledged the scholarships over the next four years for about 9,600 seniors in public schools and 1,100 more in charter schools. Most of the 4,000 city students who attend college each year require financial aid.
Who knows where the cash strapped city finds the money? At least the officials acknowledge that the program is likely to grow more expensive as more students find out about it, leading to more debt for Philly.
"It's a problem we'd like to have," an official said.
Debt is problem you already have, sweetheart.
Left unsaid is why an unemployed art major dropout from the Community College of Philadelphia is any better than what we have.
The real problem is that Philly is full of unmonitored children who couldn't point their father out in a police lineup.
There is a blind faith on the left that if we can just get these kids into college, colleges will somehow sort it out.
I beg to differ.
Anyone who could have paid some money for his own college education won't do so once this program is in place: it is - like most government programs - a disincentive for someone to pay for himself.
As a result, most of these scholarships will go to kids who were going to college anyway. And now they can do so on the taxpayer's tab!
The poor kids, as usual, will be left behind.
Why doesn't someone target a program like this DIRECTLY at poor kids, to give them hope and a desire to work?
That has been tried too. In the early 80's, a philanthropist named George Weiss tried to do just that, paying not just for college but for all the tutoring that 112 very poor children needed to get them there.
Nothing seemed impossible at that moment;not even the notion that 112 children from this tragically blighted pocket of Philadelphia could beat the odds and go to college. Twelve years later, George Weiss, who could not attend the announcement himself because of a bad back, has spent more than $5 million on these students, for tutoring, counseling, social services, and college expenses. By some analysts' reckoning, what he's gotten for his money, so far, eleven Bachelor's degrees, two Associate's degrees, and seven vocational certificates isn't much.
No, it was a huge disappointment. The students' rates of incarceration, truancy, graduation attendance were indistinguishable from neighboring high schools, unblessed with such generous scholarship programs.
Philly doesn't need more government programs.
The most important thing a student needs to succeed is a motivating factor that no one can put a price on. Preferably, two of these motivating factors.
We call them parents.
UPDATE: And now it gets even more ridiculous: Private schools want to join Phila.'s scholarship plan
Private school students with good grades are even more likely to be going to college, and more capable of doing so on their own dime.
But their parents pay taxes too. And Philly is using their taxes to get into the scholarship business! Why shouldn't their kids get a shot?
Once again, my cynicism with Philly's big government heavy-handedness is justified: this program is going to cost a lot of money and it will not help anyone.