The Therapy Sessions
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
The coming PR offensive
I like to think that if something makes sense, it will happen.
It is clear that the public attitude toward the war in Iraq is changing. Despite the fact that we are fighting Al Qaeda and killing them in large numbers, despite the fact that our military position is dominant and has not changed, despite our knowledge that an Iraq resembling democratic Turkey is the biggest fear of our deadliest enemies, it appears that our backbone is turning to jelly.
Many are actually arguing for retreat to our safe refuge across the sea. We will let Iraqis be Iraqis, and wait to be attacked again.
They are aided by our news media, which declares that the Iraq project has failed - every day.
They have a distinct advantage in that our Iraq mission is a long term endeavor: it can fail at any time, but it will be decades before we know whether we have succeeded at anything.
Bush's polls are going down, but surprisingly, not by as much as one would expect after the constant pummeling of bad news.
I think that a PR counter-offensive is coming.
It is widely known (on the internet, at least) that our soldiers are disgusted by the way the media is covering this war.
I've heard this message from soldiers in Iraq again and again.
And again, from this morning's Philadelphia Inquirer:
I am a command sergeant major in the U.S. Army and have been serving my country for 22 years. For the past eight months, I have been in Iraq.
I am wondering why the only news that is broadcast on all the networks here and probably in the states pertaining to Iraq is all negative. The death and destruction of innocent people as shown is far from the whole truth of what is happening. The majority of those Iraqis who have died from our weapons are the enemy. They are the ones trying to stop this country from moving forward and establishing an infrastructure and functional society that has freedom of choice.
I have heard the message of soldiers like Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Carroll in Ramadi. So have many others. I am sure that some of those are involved in the Bush campaign.
Once again, I don't care much for Bush. If it wasn't for the war, I can't say with certainty that I would vote for the man. (I can say with certainty that I would not vote for Kerry).
But this war is important.
Wars usually hit rough patches, and they usually have unintended consequences. But it is vital that the US not be seen to bail out. Such reluctance to fight will be the best recruiting tool Al Qaeda could ever hope for.
Bush's people will hear people like Kevin Carroll. I predict we will see him, and others like him, on the TV this summer.
Not on the news (don't be silly).
They will be on Bush's campaign commercials. Large numbers of soldiers, telling us their impressions of Iraq, the war, and the job they are doing.
As shocking as it is to liberals, among soldiers, support for Bush and the war remain strong. It will get out an important message, and it will do an end run around the media - which has a dangerous tendency to believe that only its words can be considered truth.
Sure, Iraq is unstable. Soldiers and civilians are being killed, and at times the war seems impossibly difficult with an uncertain conclusion. This is true, and it is the only side our enemies (Syria, Iran, Al Qaeda) want us to see.
But there is another side: Iraqis begging us not to leave them to the Baathist wolves, thanking us for removing a monster, playing soccer with and working alongside our soldiers.
It's nation building, and as pragmatist, I recoil at that term.
But I fear World War III is looming in our future, and I see our nation blissfully ignorant of the peril that lies waiting in Arabia.
It is tyranny - in its larval form, yes - but empowered by more destructive weapons and its suicidal tendencies.
Hitler would have been overthrown and World War II prevented if the French had countered his early advances with a single platoon of soldiers.
But the French were sick of war, and they made it known to the tyrant. Hitler took his message, and he advanced.
Let us not follow the French example.
We need to defuse Arab hostility. We can only do this by forcefully opening their most closed society so that the weak have a voice. It sounds like a long shot, but there are no better ideas. The staus quo is untenable, and it was the status quo that gave us 9/11.
Most Iraqis are sick of war, and they want stability. In an evolving democracy, they will have a voice.
Those who think we can give up on Iraq and get our on peace and stability, I remind them that it is Al Qaeda's most firm goal to kill millions of Americans.
And I know my country: one million dead Americans will mean 100 million dead Arabs.
There is no peace through retreat.
There is only one bloody, sweaty, terribly sad way out: Forward.
A note: I will be gone until Tuesday. No blogging or e-mail.
Some people should just stay away from beer. It only leads to regrets.
Funny as hell. Thanks to Claudia.
The Bush-Bin Laden connection
Another Michael Moore charge goes down the drain: Democratic Party darling Richard Clarke claims responsibility:
Richard Clarke, who served as President Bush’s chief of counterterrorism, has claimed sole responsibility for approving flights of Saudi Arabian citizens, including members of Osama bin Laden’s family, from the United States immediately after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
In an interview with The Hill yesterday, Clarke said, “I take responsibility for it. I don’t think it was a mistake, and I’d do it again.”
Most of the 26 passengers aboard one flight, which departed from the United States on Sept. 20, 2001, were relatives of Osama bin Laden, whom intelligence officials blamed for the attacks almost immediately after they happened.
Clarke’s claim of responsibility is likely to put an end to a brewing political controversy on Capitol Hill over who approved the controversial flights of members of the Saudi elite at a time when the administration was preparing to detain dozens of Muslim-Americans and people with Muslim backgrounds as material witnesses to the attacks.
Now that's wishful thinking.
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
A Philadelphia story
This is a wonderful Philadelphia story.
Last week, our public transportation bureaucracy released that its police had found a sophisticated motion detector along the railroad tracks.
Powered by a nine-volt battery, the Optex 1000 series sensor uses radio waves to transmit an alarm at motion up to 50 feet away. A similar device and a handheld alarm together were offered for sale on the Internet yesterday for about $125.
It issued warnings to passengers, stopped some trains and got the FBI involved.
Terrorism? Come one, this is Philadelphia:
"It was in a perfect place if you wanted to get some sleep and be alerted if your boss is coming," SEPTA security chief James B. Jordan said of the sensor at a news conference yesterday. "He knew the route his supervisor would be walking across the yard."
...The longtime union electrician - his name was not disclosed - was apparently chagrined to learn that the device he stowed in gravel near rails in West Philadelphia had set off an FBI investigation, sparked a flurry of media coverage late last week, and jarred SEPTA riders edgy since the Madrid train bombings in March.
So, he turned himself in to the FBI, Jordan said.
"It appears to be a case of employee misconduct rather than a threat of terrorist activity," Jordan said, adding that the worker remained on the job pending an inquiry. "I think he is about to begin taking vacation time immediately."
SEPTA even bungled the investigation:
The news came as SEPTA continued to examine how its police department handled the sensor, which was found by a Regional Rail conductor May 5. Far from where the public rides trains, the device was discovered near train storage tracks in the Powelton yard, near 30th Street Station.
The SEPTA police officer who confiscated the device on May 5 inexplicably stowed it in his locker for a week, smearing any possible fingerprints, before turning it over to a SEPTA police special-operations unit on May 12, Jordan said in an interview. SEPTA then immediately alerted the Philadelphia police bomb squad and the FBI.
"A guy in Paris saw a pit bull attacking a toddler. He killed the pit bull and saved the child's life.
Reporters swarmed the fellow.
"Tell us! What's your name? All Paris will love you! Tomorrow's headline will be: 'Hero Saves Girl from Vicious Dog!'"
The guy says, "But I'm not from Paris."
Reporters: "That's OK. Then the whole of France will love you and tomorrow's headline will read: 'Hero Saves Girl from Vicious Dog!'"
The guy says, "I'm not from France, either."
Reporters: "That's OK also. All Europe will love you. Tomorrow's headlines will shout: 'Hero Saves Girl from Vicious Dog!'"
The guy says, "I'm not from Europe, either."
Reporters: "So, where ARE you from?"
The guy says, "I'm from Israel."
The next day the headlines read: 'Israeli Kills Girl's Dog!'
Thanks to All AgitProp, all the Time...
Backward Niger? Who'd have guessed?
Retarded news out of Niger today: the mayor of the capital Niamey is on a witch hunt:
'Given the rumor which has been circulating for at least three weeks now of strange apparitions stalking people, notably young women, I have ordered all the elderly chiefs of Niamey to resort to the traditional sacrifices, with qualified people, to stop this curse,' Niamey Mayor Jules Oguet said Monday.
Some local marabouts -- Muslim religious leaders who are often credited with magical powers -- have dismissed the apparitions as conmen trying to extort money from frightened people, but Oguet was taking no chances.
The article also ends in a shocker:
Niger, where the majority of the population is Muslim, is one of the poorest countries on earth.
Gasp! Who could have thought that a country run by people who believe in witchcraft could be one of the poorest on the planet!?
NOW WHERE'S MY BROOM?
Thanks! Warren Ellis via Burnside.
1. Which political party do you typically agree with?
Typically, I agree with the Republicans - smaller government, higher growth, strong foreign policy - but I truly believe that George Bush has been disaster for fiscal conservatives like me.
But whenever the Republicans are bad, the Democrats are worse.
2. Which political party do you typically vote for?
Republican, but I vote Libertarian when the election is a blowout.
3. List the last five presidents that you voted for?
Michael Dukakis (oops!), Bill Clinton, Nobody in 1996(I voted, but I couldn't bear to vote for any of the top three candidates for president), and George W. Bush.
4. Which party do you think is smarter about the economy?
Libertarian. The Democrats seem to always be baffled, and lately the Republicans seem to have joined them in a reverance for big government programs.
The real problem is that most people have a limited understanding of economics: the importance of trade, the limitations of government, and the foundation of economic growth.
5. Which party do you think is smarter about domestic affairs?
6. Do you think we should keep our troops in Iraq or pull them out?
I think the country must come to terms with the fact that we must stay.
This war is bigger than Bush, and it is bigger than Iraq.
This is the most important war we have fought since World War II, and we must win it.
What victory will look like (will Iraq be democratic?) I cannot say.
7. Who, or what country, do you think is most responsible for 9/11?
We are not dealing with states anymore.
9/11 was perpetrated by the international death cult know as Islamic Fundamentalism.
The stateless quality and the suicidal fanaticism with which they pursue their goals is why they are so dangerous. Throw nukes into the mix, and they could be fatal to society.
They are undeterable, and they cannot be ignored.
8. Do you think we will find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
We found programs. That is significant.
As for the stockpiles, I believe that they were smuggled out of the country.
We will find them when they are used.
9. Yes or no, should the u.s. legalize marijuana?
Tax the hell out of it, and use the proceeds to pay for all these retiring baby boomers and all of the expensive programs they keep voting to themselves (while billing my children).
Maybe the baby boomers who steal money from others and spend the money on dumb programs to soothe their consciences will smoke a ton of that legal pot and die early deaths from lung cancer.
10. Do you think the Republicans stole the last presidental election?
No. The won fair and square, by the rules. But with an election that close, everyone always wonders if the rules themselves were fair to begin with.
I think they were.
11. Do you think Bill Clinton should have been impeached because of what he did with Monica Lewinski?
12. Do you think Hillary Clinton would make a good president?
Jesus God no.
13. Name a current Democrat who would make a great president:
Just being in that party taints you: you have to bow down before the trial lawyers, the unions and the minorities, and they end up calling a lot of the shots.
Try being a leader when you have to kiss Kweisi Mfume's ring.
Maybe Ed Rendell? For a Democrat, he's better than most.
14. Name a current Republican who would make a great president:
John McCain. But he has to can all that Campaign Finance Reform BS.
That is a waste of time.
15. Do you think that women should have the right to have an abortion?
Yes. But I hate the issue. There is simply no room for compromise or argument, so therefore it bores me.
16. What religion are you?
Christian, but not very good at at.
17. Have you read the Bible all the way through?
No, but I've read the New Testament.
The Old Testament is just a little too weird for me.
18. What's your favorite book?
William Manchester's American Caesar
Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Tom Wolfe's Bonfire Of The Vanities
Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime And Punishment
19. Who is your favorite band?
Radiohead, Stones, Doves, South, Screaming at Motorists, Coldplay, The Promise Ring, Spoon, Sonic Youth....
20. Who do you think you'll vote for president in the next election?
No real choice.
21. What website did you see this on first?
Q and O
Monday, May 24, 2004
Scared Straight - the program that tries to scare kids away from a life of crime - finally hits on a successful campaign.
Very inappropriate in light of the Abu Gharib scandal. But funny.
Interesting story, but an appalling headline, from Joe Kelley:
Teen appeals school ouster for pie facial
The parents of a Danbury High School honor student are appealing the 80-day expulsion he received after winning a contest that allowed him to throw a pie in his principal's face at a school assembly.
Blake Molnar, 15, a sophomore at the Ottawa County school, has not attended classes since April 30, when he pushed the aluminum tin filled with whipped cream into Karen Abbott's face. Ms. Abbott told Danbury Township police that her face, neck, and nose hurt because of the incident, and she asked that the boy be charged with assault.
I agree with Joe: these kinds of "throw a pie at your principal money raising affairs" - are an invitation to this sort of thing.
I'm surprised that this doesn't happen more frequently.
I can just see myself as the kid, being egged on by all my friends, to get the principal good.
Better to overdo it and become the school hero...
Hit your principal with a pie contests? What a dumb idea.
The Man Who Saved the World Finally Recognized
Sirens blaring, warning lights flashing, computer screens showing nuclear missiles on their way, one man in charge of a red button labeled “START” - that’s start a retaliatory strike — and a roomful of people at their terminals and switchboards waiting for him to push it. Sound like a typical Hollywood Cold War cliffhanger?
It was indeed just like in the movies, says the man who was poised over the red button over twenty years ago, except “in the movies, Hollywood specialists and directors can stretch a little situation into half an hour. In our case, from the time I made the decision to when it was all over, it was five minutes max.”
Stanislav Petrov was a Soviet army officer monitoring the satellite system for signs of a U.S. attack, the year was 1983, and his instructions, if he detected missiles targeting the Soviet Union, were to push the button and launch a counter-offensive.
He didn’t. Minutes later, no missiles came; months later, the frightening data across his monitor was determined to have been a system glitch. Today, the Association of World Citizens is calling him “the forgotten hero of our time,” a title befitting the man whose responsibility had been to start World War III.
From Rick (again)...
Suicide bomber versus tank
Bradley Fighting Vehicle 1, Suicide Bomber 0. Final.
Strategy Page via Rick.
In good company...
This puts Michale Moore's Cannes award in perspective:
CANNES, France (Reuters) - A pair of flatulent bulldogs were picked Friday for the top dog award at Cannes.
The 'Palm Dog' prize for best canine performance in a film has become a regular feature at the festival, running alongside, albeit at a respectful distance from, the Palme d'Or award.
Warning signs from Italy
Bad economic future for Italy?
What else is new?
Italy has been limping along for much longer than Europe in general, but Europe is working to catch up.
A good dose of Italian-style socialism should do it:
Italy's economic growth has been 25 percent lower than that of the EU average during the last 15 years - and that gap has widened of late. The economy is projected to grow less than 1 percent this year, compared with 1.6 percent for the EU as a whole and 4 percent for the United States.
Among Italy's major problems is one of the world's lowest workforce participation rates, 59.6 percent, compared with an EU rate of 69 percent. This high level of what some experts call "disguised unemployment" is fueled by a lack of women in the workforce and a pension system that allows workers to retire in their 50s with annual payments of nearly their entire salaries.
Another issue is labor rules. It is risky to fire anyone, because they can bring lengthy and expensive court proceedings to get their jobs back. Berlusconi liberalized those rules a bit in what may be his most far-reaching reform effort, but experts say Italians remain steeped in a "job for life" ethos.
Unions claim to represent 60 percent of the workforce, and Italy is one of the few places in the world where workers still march in the streets flying the red Communist flag with hammer and sickle.
But it's not just labor. Italy's public sector is among the world's most bloated, while its private economy is dominated by small and medium-size businesses that have used their political clout to erect high barriers to competition...
...Garelli's survey measures such factors as tax burden, regulation, labor rules, government efficiency, and quality of infrastructure. Anyone who spends time in Italy can see why the country is falling behind on those measures, why entrepreneurialism is stifled, and why foreign companies swallow hard before attempting to enter the market.
All it takes is a trip to the post office, where people wait in line to pay bills in cash because utilities do not accept checks. Or a ride on Rome's dingy, overcrowded two-line subway system, which makes London's oft-criticized Underground look like the model of efficiency and comfort.
Liberals like to point to Europe as a collection of gleaming welfare states. The press works with them, and it rarely reports stories like this.
Europeans are clearly proud of their system and its policies, but they can't understand why they keep falling further behind the US. They boast about their socialized medicine, but they'd rather not think of their ageing populations, high public sector debt, and stubborn unemployment.
Government policies are at the root of these things.
The Democratic Party wants to copy many of these failed policies: increased protectionism, more social spending and higher taxes.
The Republicans want somewhat higher social spending, a little protectionism and TAX CUTS.
Both parties are insane.
At the heart of these policies is risk avoidance:
"Italians prefer to fight to preserve what they have, rather than to take the risk of something new," he said.
Letting the market sort things out sounds cruel, but it works.
Those who believe market forces don't apply in - say - medicine should be forced to explain why medical inflation keeps rising as political controls increase (to me, a clear sign that government control is inhibiting price signaling).
Would price signaling work with something like surgery?
A few years ago (1999) I got lasik for my eyes. It cost me about $4500, and most of that was out of pocket.
Today, the same operation, same facility, with improved equipment costs about $1800.
In contrast, the birth of my first son (C-section in 2000) cost $11,000 (!). The birth of my second son (normal delivery in a different hospital, 2003) cost $22,000 (!). Cost to me? Nothing. Insurance handled it all.
I think the main difference between the two is that in the former, people usually pay out of pocket, eventually depressing costs: the same way it works with any new electronic gadget that comes on the market.
In the latter case, some mysterious third party picks up the tab and costs don't really matter. In my case, insurance paid part of those huge birth costs to the hospital. I paid a small copay.
People who say that health is more complicated than anything else ignore the simplicity of basic ecomomic law: Efficiency increases when price signaling is allowed to function.
The free market works fine to keep costs under control in every other sector of our economy. I don't see shy medicine is different than food, housing or labor.
As for the global fixation with big government, eventually annoying economic reality will intrude.
It will just come first Italy, second to Europe and finally to the US:
"Italy is going to reach a situation where, suddenly, people are going to realize they are going full speed into a wall. The problem is, they may not realize it until they hit it."
So it will be for everyone.
Saturday, May 22, 2004
Letter from Iraq
A Marine sees what defeatists don't
Just weeks ago, I read that the supply lines were cut, ammunition and food were dwindling, the "Sunni Triangle" was exploding, cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was leading a widespread Shiite revolt, and the country was nearing civil war.
As I write this, the supply lines are open, there's plenty of ammunition and food, the Sunni Triangle is back to status quo, and Sadr is marginalized in Najaf. Once again, dire predictions of failure and disaster have been dismissed by American willpower and military professionalism.
War is inherently ugly and dramatic. I don't blame reporters for focusing on the burning vehicles, the mutilated bodies or the personal tragedies. The editors have little choice but to print the photos from the Abu Ghraib prison and the tales of the insurgency in Fallujah. These things sell news and remind us of the sober reality of our commitment to the Iraqi people. The actions of our armed forces are rightfully subject to scrutiny.
I am not ignorant of the political issues, either. But as a professional, I have the luxury of putting politics aside and focusing on the task at hand. Protecting people from terrorists and criminals while building schools and lasting friendships is a good mission, no matter what brush it's tarred with.
Nothing any talking head will say can deter me or my fellow Marines from caring about the people of Iraq, or take away from the sacrifices of our comrades. Fear in the face of adversity is human nature, and many people who take the counsel of their fears speak today. We are not deaf to their cries; neither do we take heed. All we ask is that Americans stand by us by supporting not just the troops, but also the mission.
We'll take care of the rest.
Maj. Ben Connable is serving as a foreign-area officer and intelligence officer with the 1st Marine Division.
In November, it will be a real shocker to the Left when the majority of our military in Iraq votes for Bush.
It will refute the image that the Meida is trying to convey: our hapless soldiers are mere cannon fodder, desperate to come home.
Most of the opinions I've heard from the Gulf have been more like Major Connable's.
Thanks to Claudia.
Friday, May 21, 2004
Steven Den Beste via Baldilocks:
Sometimes a man with too broad a perspective reveals himself as having no real perspective at all. A man who tries too hard to see every side may be a man who is trying to avoid choosing any side. A man who tries too hard to seek a deeper truth may be trying to hide from the truth he already knows.
That man described above sounds like many of my college professors.
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Kerry revives '92 election theme to attack Bush:
Too many people have been sort of cast aside -- no health insurance, no ability to get child care for their kids, no ability to find a job that fits what they were educated for, no ability to get ahead even though they're working harder,' the senator told the audience of about 150.
Kerry is switching gears now that the economy has created half a million jobs in the first half of 2004.
Sure, we're creating jobs, just not the right jobs.As if government had control over such things.
But this line sticks in my craw: "no ability to find a job that fits what they were educated for."
It hints that Kerry is completely unaware of another (obvious) problem in higher education: many college graduates did not spend their time in college preparing to do any kind of job.
People should be free to study what they wish: Ceramics, Women's Studies, flute playing, African culture, Radio, TV and Film (RTF - "rather than fail"), but blaming the president because the economy is not behaving like a liberal arts institution is another matter.
In college, an art major is equal to an engineering major.
In the job market, that equality ends. English majors always have problems finding jobs that will pay them to read Shakespeare, even when the economy is roaring. People doing hiring don't care what a 23-year-old thinks about much of anything; they want to know what she can do.
The sooner students understand this, the better.
Perhaps Kerry has been spending too much time around intellectual elites to understand this.
Withdrawal from Korea?
From The Marmot's (Final) Hole via Instapundit: U.S. Studying Plans For Almost Complete USFK Withdrawal
As the U.S. pushes for reductions in U.S. troops in Korea, the Congressional Board Office concretely studied three USFK reduction plans and reported them to the U.S. Senate, the Munhwa Ilbo reported Thursday.
Keeping U.S. ground forces at their current strength of 27,000, but moving them to rear positions south of Ye Olde Han; Slashing the total number of U.S. ground forces in Korea roughly by half to 13,000; withdrawing nearly all U.S. ground forces from Korea, leaving behind only about 1,000 men.
Granted, the South Koreans - like the Europeans - live lavishly under free defense, provided by Americans.
But the South Koreans haven't completely sold their armed forces for scrap like the Euros have. A number of South Koreans realize that they live next door to a nutjob.
It would nice to remind them of their responsibility for their own defense, but I don't know if this strikes me as such as a hot idea. It sends the wrong message to Kim Jong Il and to tyrants around the world: when the going gets tough, the Americans get lost?
It doesn't sound right to me.
The Sex Corps
From The Marmot's (Final) Hole: Sex soldiers combat sexual frustration among Japanese women
Kim says his experience as a sex guidance counselor has showed him the number of sexually frustrated women in Japan appears to be increasing continuously, which is where the Sex Volunteer Corps comes in - literally.
"Most of the women who come to me for help are married. And an overwhelming number of them married young, gave birth quickly and have never known any man other than their husband. Their husbands tend to regard them only as mothers instead of women and they've been sexless for years," Kim says. "Women like these are sexually frustrated, with some even seeking medical treatment for their condition. What they're going through, though, isn't something you can fix up just by prescribing some sort of medicine. What they really need is sex."
Kim's Corps, then, becomes the core of the solution for these troubled women...
"...Most of them have been career-oriented types who've submerged their femininity to try and compete on a level footing with men. But there're also a lot of married women who were virgins when they wed, usually to husbands who had also never experienced sex before, and then they simply lost the chance to ever make love together and the years went by," Kim tells Asahi Geino.
For these women, the men's weekly says, Kim's Corps are offering a physical type of medical treatment.
Wow, what a job.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Only one shell
Yes, so far they have only found one shell containing sarin in Iraq...that's nothing.Joe Carter would beg to differ (via Rick):
For all those who would downplay this finding, I offer the following lesson in “terror math”:
It takes 1 drop (100 mg) of sarin to kill an average person.
The artillery shell that was found contained 3 to 4 liters of sarin.
1 drop (mg) equals 0.0001 liters (1/10000 of a liter).
3-4 liters equates to roughly 50,000 drops, enough sarin to kill 50 thousand people.
Obviously, it would be impossible to distribute 50,000 drops of sarin in an effective enough manner to kill tens of thousands of people. But consider this:
The artillery shell that was found contained enough sarin that it could be divided up into 16 separate doses.
Each dose could kill 3,000 Americans, the number that died on 9/11.
From that single artillery shell, 16 "new 9/11s” could be attempted.
Many, if not most, would likely fail. But how many would succeed? How many American deaths lay waiting in that one “WMD?” One shell, sixteen “9/11s”. Now ask yourself how many more deaths are waiting in shells that were “overlooked” or “misplaced?”
The terrorists don’t need “stockpiles of WMDs.” To accomplish their goals, a handful of artillery shells is all that is required. For, unlike critics of the war, the terrorists know how to do the math.
I had to rush to Merck Index to confirm all of Joe's numbers, and they are roughly accurate. Military grade Sarin is nasty stuff.
Now where did those stockpiles go?
Oh, I know what the media is saying: Saddam voluntarily disarmed and just didn't want to tell anyone.
Or perhaps, his advisors had been lying to him all along.
Both assume - optimistically - that the threat of these weapons is gone.
I'm more inclined to believe that Iraq was swept clean, and the stuff is either in Syria, Lebanon or - more frighteningly - in the hands of Al Qaeda.
Remember, it only takes a little bit: a sinlge truck could hold enough to kill millions, if Al Qaeda can find a way to disperse it.
Unlike our media, I prefer to proceed to conclusions with caution here.
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Good old Teddy...
Teddy Kennedy can always be relied upon to make an ass out of himself:
"On March 19, 2004, President Bush asked, 'Who would prefer that Saddam's torture chambers still be open?'' said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. 'Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management: U.S. management.' "
Well Teddy, your Arab friends - ripping a page from their 14th century public relations playbook - have decided to go on a charm offensive:
An al Qaeda-linked Web site posted video Tuesday of an American man in Iraq speaking briefly before being beheaded by his masked captors.
The Abu Gharib scandal shows Americans at their worst: minor physical and psychological torture, similar to a bad hazing incident in a college fraternity. For that, the perpetrators will endure national shame and some probable time in Leavenworth.
On display on Al Jazeera are the people we fight, proudly displaying a degree of depravity to which Americans will never sink.
Once again, America is urged to follow rules that the Arabs ignore.
After viewing this murder, my faith in the US and its cause is restored.
We are fighting the right people. At the right time. And in the right place.
This war is the most important war we have fought since World War II, and we must win it.
Ted Kennedy can go to hell.
Walled off and seething
Israeli barrier 'saving lives':
'IT'S working and it has proved its purpose every day,' Lieutenant Colonel Shai Brovendeer says, lauding the efficiency of the barrier Israel is building in the West Bank to prevent Palestinian attacks.
During a guided tour of the barrier in the northern West Bank, Brovendeer is striving to present to foreign journalists what Palestinians have dubbed the 'Apartheid wall' in the most favourable light.
Since Israel started erecting its controversial barrier in June 2002, 230km have been completed, essentially in the northern West Bank.
The last suicide attack in Israel took place in March 2004. There have been only four since the end of October last year, despite the killings of Hamas leaders Yassin and Rantisi, each of which brought warnings of devastating future attacks.
Two years ago, there were several a month, every month.
Who could not applaud a nonviolent action that has stopped so much violence?
Oh, why do I even bother to ask? The UN condemned the wall, most of Europe disapproved, and the Arab World seethed (do they ever do otherwise?). They say that it's a territory grab, and they are partially right.
But I couldn't care less. Arafat was offered practically all the land that Israel is now taking, and he turned it down. In rejecting a deal, Arafat single-handedly doomed the most dovish government Israel is likely to have for the next decade.
As a gift, he got Sharon.
Nice work, Yassir.
But Arafat wasn't just being stubborn.
What the Left seems completely unable to understand is that Yassir Arafat can never make peace with Israel. He has painted himself inot a corner, and his only power is derived from his oppostion to Israel.
In order to bolster that power, he has invited some really unsavory people to help him out: Hamas and Hezbollah are always there with suicide bombers to help him make political points. But now that he has these "friends," Arafat couldn't get rid of them if he wanted to. And he is finding that often they are calling the shots.
If Arafat would have made peace with Israel and accepted Barak's terms(against the wishes of Hamas), he would have been dead in a month. Too many of his current "friends" will never live in peace with Israel. They have committed themselves to its destruction.
So Arafat continues his "intifada" and Israel builds its wall. On its own terms.
But Israel holds the cards. When the wall is complete, those same forces that help keep the heat on Israel will be looking for something to do. When they find that there aren't good Jew-killing opportunities available, it is very likely that they will turn on Arafat.
The end result of Israel's wall may be a Palestinian civil war.
It couldn't happen to a nicer people. In a recent opinion poll, 70% of Palestinians said that Israel had no right to exist.
That is, the Palestinians choose war.
How fitting it would be if they only got war with themselves.
For some reason, I can't seem to post....but, it's strange...People can see my posts and some even comment on them. I can see my posts through the blog editor, but whenever I open my blog, the latest posts are from last Thursday.
It appears that main page and my archives pages have become switched!
I hope Blogger can help with this!!!!
Monday, May 10, 2004
Bush scores with the lovable Arabs
Bush Apology Sparks Torrent of Global Goodwill
IMAMS: 'YOU HAD US AT 'SORRY''
Washington - The recent apology of US President George W. Bush for abuses by American military prison guards continued to reverberate around the globe today, as the White House was again inundated with with a flurry of 'apology accepted' notes from world media, governmental leaders, and Islamic fundamentalist clerics.
Typical of the responses was a personal note from Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad, who wrote 'aww, dude, you know I can't stay mad at you,' saying that the apology had prompted him to immediately dismantle his country's secret nuclear weapons program. In a postscript, Assad added, 'good luck to the Rangers this year.'
'Now was that so hard?' joked Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat in an email to Bush. 'Now get out of here ya knucklehead, before we have to do one of those awkward man-hugs.'
The apology also prompted an outbreak of gratitude in the Arab street, as hundreds of thousands of Muslims took to the streets Friday in an impromptu demonstration of thanks. In Gaza, a cheering crowd estimated at 30,000 waved American flags and banners reading 'No Prablem Bosh' [sic], while in Damascus throngs gathered in the Square of the Martyrs chanting 'U-S-A, U-S-A'.
'I used to dream about dying in a glorious fireball of martyrdom,' said Ali Ahmed Amoud, 23, a marcher in the first annual Infidel Appreciation Days parade in Nablus. 'But that apology was so nice and sincere, it just seems kind of petty to keep nursing a grudge.'
I read The Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjorn Lomburg about a year ago. I think it neatly sums up the way environmentalists think that socialism will solve the world's real and imagined environmental ills.
And it effectively demonstrates the way certain problems are exaggerated for political effect.
I believe that the globe is getting hotter.
I believe that human activity is playing a role in this.
But I don't believe that we can do anything about it.
Kyoto is a band aid, and it is not a very good one at that:
Lomburg explains part of the problem:
If politicians were to see The Day After Tomorrow and act on its agenda, what would happen? Implementing the Kyoto agreement on climate change would cost at least $150 billion each year, yet would do no more than postpone global warming for six years by 2100. That is to say, it would cause temperatures to increase slightly more slowly - the temperature we would have reached in 2100 without Kyoto, we would now reach in 2106.
But there's more...
Even if - and no one suggest this is possible - we were able to get the developed world to use 50% less petroleum in twenty years - what would we get?
Less demand would mean LOWER PRICES...uhh.. which would stimulate DEMAND elsewhere.
Since the cheap oil could no longer be burned in the US or Europe, the oil would be burned in the developing world - nations like China and India, who realized long ago that Kyoto would hamper their economic growth and secured themselves exemptions to its provisions.
These nations, incidently, have long burned fossil fuels in manners that are not very efficient. Cheap abundant petrol would merely encourage this. And emissions controls? They don't need no stinking emissions controls.
Kyoto is dumb idea being promoted a solution.
Even if it was adopted, it is doomed by its framers' own faulty grasp of ecomomics.
I never liked Robert Reich, Clinton's squirrely Secretary of Labor. Reich was known for squawking about how the government should promote business, raise taxes to invest in infrastructure and regulate businesses to fight income inequality.
But in the Clinton years, government was largely laissez-faire and income inequality increased (as is common during boom years). Clinton's huge stimulus bill - which Reich trumpeted as it went down to defeat- was nothing more than a pork-laden gift to Congressional Democrats.
After the bill sank, government lost interest in stoking the economy.
The economy - predictably - boomed.
Reich was proud of the boom (like most politicians he thought it had something to do with him).
But in reality, the boom took place because Washington ignored Reich and others like him.
The Labor Department doesn't really do anything, so Reich just trailed along for the ride, representing nothing more than the bone that Clinton threw to the left.
But sometimes he can smell truth, particularly when he is discussing the Democrats:
Democrats have built no analogous movement. Instead, every four years party loyalists throw themselves behind a presidential candidate who they believe will deliver them from the rising conservative tide. After the election, they go back to whatever they were doing before. Other Democrats involve themselves in single-issue politics but these battles have failed to build a movement. Issues rise and fall, depending on the interests at stake.
As a result, Democrats have been undisciplined, intimidated or just silent. They have few dedicated sources of money, and almost no troops. The religious left is disconnected from the political struggle. One hears few liberal Democratic phrases that are repeated with any regularity. In addition, there is no consistent Democratic ideology. Most congressional Democrats raise their own money, do their own polls and vote every which way. Democrats have little or no clear identity except by reference to what conservatives say about them.
This is very true.
The Democratic Party has become an odd coalition of trial lawyers, unions, teachers, peace activists, environmentalists and minorities who aren't really sure what they want.
Unlike the party of JFK, today's Democrats have no coherent vision. They just know they don't want Bush.
This may account for the weakness of their candidates. The last few weeks should have been diastrous for Bush. His opponent - any opponent - should be beating him by double digits.
But Bush and Kerry are still neck and neck.
Part of it is Kerry: he is a terrible candidate: somber, ponderous, pompous and all over the place on the issues.
But part of it is the message.
There is no message. Kerry has so many groups in his party that in order not offend any of them, he must avoid saying anything of substance.
Result? He is a boring hodge-podge of focus group-tested catchwords and soundbites.
In some ways, Bush deserves defeat. He betrayed my trust with his flip-flops on trade, subsidies and Medicare. The Medicare fiasco alone makes me want to kick the man in the nuts. Other people are upset about the war, but I think Bush's foreign policy is his strong suit.
Events will determine who gets elected.
But in the end, it won't really matter too much.
Kerry could win, but I think its unlikely that the Democrats would be taking us anywhere.
That's good. Because they don't know where they're going.
(thanks to the Moderate Voice for the link to Reich article)
Thursday, May 06, 2004
See no evil
Larry Elder: The curious lack of curiosity about WMD:
Week after week after week after week,' said Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., about President Bush's rationale for going to war with Iraq, 'we were told lie after lie after lie after lie.' Were we?
Jordan recently seized 20 tons of chemicals trucked in by confessed al Qaeda members who brought the stuff in from Syria. The chemicals included VX, Sarin and 70 others. But the media seems curiously incurious about whether one could reasonably trace this stuff back to Iraq. Had the terrorists released a 'toxic cloud,' Jordanian officials say 80,000 would have died.
Anybody report any missing WMD in the region?
A scene from fatherhood...
"Come here, Tyrannosaur T-Rex. I'm gonna rough you up!"
With a roar, Daddy makes his move.
With just a few ounces of effort, mightly superdad reduces the son to a flailing giggling mass of arms and legs.
But the son refuses to surrender....
Careful! WATCH IT!
But it's too late: mighty dad suffers a quick, crushing kick to the kryptonads.
Daddy goes down as the power drains from his body. He sinks, limp and powerless to the ground. Time stands still. There is a ringing in the ears, shortness of breath, and watering eyes.
Son is on Daddy's back, beating a dead horse.
"Daddy, Giddy up! Come on, Daddy!"
"Daddy's done playing, Sean. Daddy has to rest."
Daddy crawls to the bed, where he thinks for a long time.
All the while, Son pesters:
"Daddy, you feeling sick? You gonna puke?"
Oh, the joy of being a father.
Wednesday, May 05, 2004
Presidential Candidate John Kerry Opens Door for Rival Sharpton to Address Democratic National Convention
In what may be a surprising move to some political circles, Democratic Presidential Candidate Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) has issued an invitation to former Democratic Primary rival Rev. Al Sharpton to address this summer's Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Oh please! God, make it true!
Somewhere in Oklahoma:
Earl: Betty Sue! Come quick! I do believe the Democrats have Don King speaking!
Betty Sue: Oh Earl, that's not Don King! That's that Al Sharpton fellow! He's the new voice of black America, at least in the Democratic Party.
TV: "Where is my forty acres and a mule?! Where is Michael Jackson's forty acres and a mule?! Where is Kobe's....
Earl: My word!
N Korea offers US pledge on weapons (via Tim Blair):
North Korea, probably the world's most secretive and isolated nation, has offered an olive branch to the US by promising never to sell nuclear materials to terrorists, calling for Washington's friendship and saying it does not want to suffer the fate of Iraq.
Attempted paddleboat theft!
Article via Tim Blair:
Aussie soldiers wake each day to the sun rising over Saddam's personal lake, recline on his gilt-trimmed furniture and marvel how one man could squander so much of his country's wealth.
The Australians remain on full alert, however, for stealthy paddle boat raiders:
'One night while we were sitting around here on picket (guard duty) about 11pm I noticed a row boat out on the water and behind the row boat I could see a head moving towards us,' [Sergeant Mark Dowling] recalled.
'The person I was with shone a torch on him and said 'what are you bloody doing mate'.
'He (an American soldier) looked at us and said 'I just thought it was a nice night for a swim' and swam off.
He was obviously trying to steal our paddle boat.'
Iraq The Model via Everything I Know Is Wrong
I was surprised when I saw that the reaction of Iraqis to the subject of prisoners abuse by some American soldiers was not huge as we all expected to see, even it was milder than the one in other Arab countries and especially than that in the Arab media.
I mean about a month ago, we had considerable reactions and somewhat large demonstrations in response to the killing of Hamas leader, and in the mid of maniac reactions from Arab media and people, the absence of large demonstrations and outrage on the streets of Iraq becomes really strange and give rise to questions. Why the Iraqi people are not really upset with this issue?
Is it because of the firm and rapid response from the American officials to these terrible actions?
Or is it because the Iraqi people lack compassion with the majority of these prisoners?
Could it be that the Iraqi people and as a result of decades of torture, humiliation and executions, took these crimes less seriously than the rest of the world?
Or have the majority of Iraqis finally developed some trust in the coalition authorities and in the American army, to sense that these actions must be isolated and will be punished?
I can’t say I have the full answer but I guess it’s a combination of a little bit of all the above.
As pleased as I am about the Arab World's new concern with human rights, I can't understand why they aren't more appalled by this
It was also learned that the terrorists not only murdered the 34-year-old mother of four who was eight months pregnant along with her children, but then ran up to the vehicle and took a video of the results of their actions, filming the young victims as they bled to death.
Oh, it must be because the victims were Jews.
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
He won 'Nam!
$25 million in ads point up the Democrat's war service
John Kerry is betting $25 million on two Vietnam veterans, hoping their testimonials in two new 60-second TV ads will energize his presidential campaign the same way they helped turn around his flagging campaign in Iowa four months ago.
He served in Vietnam?
Seriously, does anyone NOT know this yet?
It has become some kind of a joke, watching Kerry weave his Vietnam experience into his current view on farm subsidies. It's beyond parody. Pathetic.
Is there anything else to this guy? What has he done in the last 35 years?
Confusion in Iraq
I'm not sure what is going on in Fallujah. It doesn't make sense to me. I tend to think that Ralph Peters is right.
We must not only win, we must be seen to win, graphically and decisively.
'Experts' warn that we mustn't alienate the hard-core Sunnis or the fundamentalist Shia's. Wake up and smell the cordite: They're already alienated. They'll never love us. So we'd better make damned sure they fear us.
The Battle of Fallujah isn't about one city. It's about the future of the entire Middle East. Despite the low number of casualties in historical terms, this could prove to be one of the decisive battles of history in its long-term effects.
We must win. If the enemy fights from mosques, level the mosques. If they fight from hospitals, gut the hospitals. If they open fire from orphanages, turn them into blackened shells. We cannot allow terrorists any sanctuaries. The men we face - and the watching world - interpret our decency as weakness.
We may learn this too late.
I like this line from Sortapundit:
Glenn Reynolds says:
"I can't read the award winning Sortapundit. It just makes me feel I've wasted my life. "
Monday, May 03, 2004
It's about time...
Somebody finally had this idea: Minnesota Seeks Ban on Junk Food Stamps
I'll go that one further: food stamps should not be used for processed foods of any kind. No frozen pizzas, no wing dings, and no chicken dinners at the supermarket.
Food stamps are not meant to be a subsidy to Tyson Foods, Kraft and Frito-Lay.
But that is how our generous government is using them.
You want to get government help with food? Here's a sack of rice, a pound of cheese, a bag of apples and some potatoes.
You can do the processing yourself.
Make that several things...
From Kem White
A statement from Michael Jackson's new defense attorney after today's arraignment:
"This case should not be about lawyers or celebrity. This case is about one thing only. It’s about the dignity, the integrity, the decency, the honor, the charity, the innocence, and the complete vindication about a wonderful human being named Michael Jackson."
OK. So the new guy can't count.
Saturday, May 01, 2004
The blogs of May
This month, I'm going to be checking out these blogs:
Bill's Comment Page
The Moderate Voice
A Frustrated Liberal
the fourth rail
The World's Greatest Deliberative Body
Weapons of Math Destruction