Monday, September 30, 2002

MEMRI: Looniness of the Egyptian press
I remember how I used to read about the revisionist histories propagated by the Communist governments to prop up their failing regimes. In this case it is the Egyptian press and the Egyptian alleged intellectuals that are shovelling the manure. If these people believe this stuff, they are doomed by their own combination of arrogance and ignorance.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

The strait-jacket of current UN resolutions:
If Blix and UNMOVIC intend to abide by the structures and limits in the current resolutions it will be a tragic waste of time. If, however, he is going to hold Iraq to its concession of unlimited inspections, there may be hope. We shall see.
Gregg Easterbrook attempts to parse the practicalities of the real risk of WMD's. He makes a point in that chemical and biological warfare have not proven to be very effective in practice or even in accidents. The real WMD is nuclear and that is were most of our focus should be.

Since my hit count is so low I doubt Saddam is reading this so I think it is safe to mention this. Remember the Hoof-and-Mouth outbreak in Great Britain? It just about put the British beef industry underwater. That particular virus is so contagious that one could contaminate a single washcloth and make a tour of few cattle auctions in the States and rub it on a snout or two. I think the impact here would not be dissimilar than Britain's.

The real threat is that an enemy may come up with a form of attack that we have not anticipated properly. Like flying airplanes into a building or infecting a highly mobile herd of beef cattle.

Friday, September 27, 2002

Michael O'Hanlon does an assessment of the potential casualty count in Iraq. It includes the range from best-case to worst-case scenarios.
Wha the Bush administration is doing to science:
Bush has been quietly "retiring" numerous scientific advisers and committees. Last week the Washington Post reported that the Department of Health and Human Services pulled the plug on two expert committees, one of which had recommended more oversight for human test subjects in mental institutions. The other had lobbied strongly for the Food and Drug Administration to regulate home genetic tests that are sold to the public at great expense and whose results are almost entirely unreliable. Bush has also begun packing other committees that advise the government on issues like pollution and bioterrorism with industry-friendly scientists such as Dennis Paustenbach, the California toxicologist who was an expert witness for Pacific Gas and Electric Co. in the Erin Brockovich case.

Corporate America's puppy is making another mess someone else will have to clean up.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Why the Palestinians have become such a mess. (from MEMRI)
no matter what peace proposal Clinton presented to the Arab side, it was sure to be rejected. This is because the Palestinian issue was always the main source of legitimacy for the revolutionary [Arab] regimes that established rural or tribal military republics. The Palestinian issue was always the subject of 'Announcement No. 1' of all these [Arab military coups]. More important, it was the prop for the war declared on democracy and modernization [by the Arab regimes], an eternal pretext for the bill of divorce from the free world and for imposing various laws, from emergency laws through military laws.
They almost had it and then their Arab "friends" took over and trashed it as they have trashed so much promise in that region.
Dwight Meredith details how Mr. Bush gathers his data before he makes a decision......not! He just goes through the motions by bringing together people that already agree with the decision he has already arrived at by Revealed Truth.

(via Ted Barlow)
Looks like the military folks are undertaking due diligence in their Iraq planning by working out ways to counter deployed WMD.
The Right is again indulging one of its favorite pastimes, ie. putting words into Gore's mouth to make him look bad. The current trip is that Gore has flip-flopped on Iraq. Timothy Noah attempts to disabuse that thought with Gore Is Consistent on Iraq - A close look at the evidence.
The upshot is that the Right can only support their claims by torturing the facts. I hope they don't get away with this the way they did in the campaign. Gore is consistent. But because he isn't foaming-at-the-mouth blood-thirsty and instead shows some moral sense, they twist his words to make it sound like he is soft on Iraq. And that he isn't.
The battle has been joined. William Saletan lays out the opposing strategies.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

And the 172nd bows out. Gracefully I might add.
After looking at Tony Blair's Iraq dossier it appears to me that Saddam already possesses deployable WMD. Therefore any plan to attack him better be incorporating counters to that deployment.

But it also raises the question, "If he has them, why hasn't he used them already?" Maybe he has been effectively deterred until now. What happens to that deterrent if Saddam is fighting for his life? Sun-Tzu counsels that desparate men with nothing to lose fight much harder than men who some hope of escaping. We dare not push him into desperation until we get those weapons out of his control.
This is a new idea for transportation that could work a lot better in the smoggy urban areas of developing countries. It doesn't require fancy chemistry or materials. And a variety of power sources would run the necessary compressor stations.

Monday, September 23, 2002

Yippee! The 172nd is back online!
I hope our policy wonks read the Asia Times. Suri Dalir lays out a plan to bring Iran back into the fold. He also shows an appreciation for the difficulty of the task.
Michael Walzer makes the case for inspections backed by a credible threat of force. This is where we should be. Where we should have been 8 years ago.
Saletan deconstructs the Bush national security manifesto.
The new world is the one rationalized by Bush's manifesto: a world in which great powers wink at each other's misconduct, every threat is imminent, self-defense means pre-emptive action abroad, interests are dressed up as values, and cooperation means cooperating with the United States. We don't know what history will judge harshly about this era, but there's a good chance it'll be the compromises we embraced to rectify the mistakes of Sept. 11. Perhaps those compromises are necessary. Covering them up surely isn't.
Gotta get one of these for my Toyota.
By feeding back engine sound and inverting its waveform, they cancelled a lot of engine noise. "But before we inverted it, we found we could make a Ford Escort sound like a Ferrari," .
Some interesting developments on the robotics front. 'Personal robots' get ready to walk on the human side.
Looks like the climate change is inevitable. If we could magically fix everything the temps would still go up. Since we can't they will go up more.
Achievement of stable CO2 emissions, as required in the alternative scenario that yields minimal climate change, it is likely to require some combination of increased energy efficiencies, a growing role for renewable energies, capture and sequestration of CO2 emissions, and/or increased use of nuclear power. All of these possibilities are being addressed by the National Climate Change Technology Initiative.

Nuclear power, safe, efficient, and non-polluting. And where I live, locally grown.
It occurs to me that the Arab world has gone about their conflict with Israel all wrong. Given the blessing of all that oil money they could have established genuine centers of learning, innovation, and commerce that would have made them real players in world influence. Israel would posed no threat to them.
But they would have had to modify and adopt a moderated form of Islam. That may yet happen. But what lies between then and now may not be pretty.

Sunday, September 22, 2002

And while I'm at it, I see where Mark Steyn has taken up the cause.
I posted a link and some excerpts from Den Beste's Who is our enemy? piece on a Beliefnet discussion board specializing in Islamic Challenge and Critique. They lost no time in pulling it. Their reason:
I have deleted your post for malevalent disrespect. One of the reasons
that I did this is that you reference a highly insulting article and yet
pose no question or take no position in your post. Although this is
Islamic C&C simple posting of an inflammatory article does not qualify as

My response:
I realize it may have been hard for some people to read but it is more accurate than a great deal of material that you allow to be posted.
Did you bother the read the article? It is a valid critique of much of current Islamic culture. Wahhabism and its like has failed and it is going to remain a threat to the security of the US until it is destroyed or those portions of Islam that can not reform.
Steven Den Beste is not an ideological writer who comes to his opinions lightly. He is well-respected and has an excellent reputation.
How long will it be before someone points out that the emperor has no clothes?

My first thought was to complain about a double standard in that the Islamic participants appear to be given a fair amount of latitude when speaking critically of the West. But that would be silly. We can handle criticism. Even if others can't.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

From In Arguendo I got this link. Byrd exposes the real Bush war plan.
Den Beste usually loses me after the 2nd or 3rd page but this piece is definitely a must-read. His analysis pulls no punches. He also does a good job of putting our current actions into a much-needed larger context.
(Thanks, Jen)
Sound like that Turkmenistan-Afghan-Pakistan pipeline is going to be a go. If the peace holds in Afghanistan someone stands to make a bit of foldin' money.

Friday, September 20, 2002

According to Ronald Bailey, Leon Luow has a prescription for prosperity in the developing world, just get out of their way. It takes more effort to keep people poor than it does to allow them to build their own wealth.
The consummate list of unanswered questions about war on Iraq.
Tim Dunlop has the new Bush doctrine nailed as well as the horse it rode in on.
Victor Davis Hanson at NRO has a couple of thoughts on Iraq.

Since September 11 there has no longer been a margin of safety — or error — allowing us a measure of absolute certainty before action. Long gone is the notion that American soil is inviolable or that enemies will not butcher thousands of civilians unexpectedly and in time of peace.

Mr. Hanson seems to be saying that what has changed concerning Iraq is that after 9/11 we are more aware of our insecurity. Iraq hasn't done anything provocative. It's just that we have become more sensitive. Not only is the White House willing to go to war unilaterally, but the reason for the war is only our change of heart. Not anything that Saddam is doing differently. By this argument we simply prove ourselves to be the bullies that we are accused of being.

So the danger is not preemption per se, but bellicosity for no good reason. We must get away from stereotyped generalizations and look at specifics. Being inactive in the face of unprovoked attacks on Americans — the Iranian embassy takeover and the Marine barracks bombing are good examples — can establish precedents just as pernicious. In that regard, President Carter's restraint in 1980, in combination with a failed raid, was a far more dangerous act than President Reagan's bombing of Libya — and makes his present moral objections to preempting Saddam as disturbing as they are hypocritical.

This says that we should go to war now because previous administrations were provoked and should have gone to war then. Going to war now is not going to rewrite history (but something tells me someone is going to try).

And some bloggers seem to think Hanson is making sense. What are they smokin'?

If the past behaviors of the Bush regime are predictors, Bush and company are going to go to war anyway regardless of how bad an idea it is. Remember tax cuts for the rich people?
Joshua Micah Marshall on rope-a-doped Iraqhawks.

Flummmoxed by Saddam's latest move, Bush's Iraq hawks are desperately trying to find a way to justify an invasion anyway -- but they're just flapping their wings.
It's so sweet how Jeb Bush and the conservatives can put poor drug offenders in jail while connected offenders like Noelle get a different kind of justice. (Salon premium)

When talking about his daughter, the governor is the model of empathy. "The road to recovery is a difficult and long journey for those afflicted with addiction," he said on Sept. 10. But he took a very different tone in August 2001, when arguing against the Right to Treatment initiative. "To suggest that there should be no penalties for continued drug use," he said, "is to stick our head in the sand."
But there are two problems with Florida's system. McDonough concedes that there aren't enough drug courts to handle everyone eligible for them -- only half who would opt for drug court get in. And those offenders who want treatment instead of prison often have to find their own rehab center -- and a way to pay for it.
Hayden agrees. "I would like to think that money should not determine whether you go to jail or not," he says. "But it does. Are we talking fair? I think we're talking reality."

At least, reality Bush style.

File this in the category, why-didn't-we-think-of-this-sooner.
It's now been shown on a large scale that wildlife and development can coexist. One simply needs to be sure to allow appropriate corriders to connect the wild areas. I can forsee a new style of urban and suburban planning in which these corridor principles are implemented. Where I live there have been vacant corridors running from the river, through town and out to rural space. It was always nice to be able to walk a few blocks and encounter coyotes and desert burrowing owls. Those spaces are now succumbing to development and the critters are gone.

In light of the facts that population is shifting out of agricultural areas and productivity is generating surpluses, it might be useful to return carefully selected agricultural acreage to the wild and just leave it that way.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

For 2004, Dean is still my man.
While Paul Wright and Lileks and Jane Galt are dithering about how the inspections may play out, lets take a look at what Saddam's best move would be. He has proven to be quite predictable to me despite the uncertainty others may see.

Reading this article about Saddam's day-to-day life one can get a flavor about how isolated and paranoid he is. He is totally focussed on remaining in power as long as possible. Everything is secondary to that. It appears he has no serious ambitions beyond that. The sanctions and the constant American military pressure make it impossible for him to mount any effort at military adventurism. His only visible play has been to hand out money to Palestinian bomber families. This brings him the only international support he can muster. All he has to offer is money but not enough to mend fences with other Middle Eastern powers.

He knows that any overt resistance to inspections will be suicidal. He knows that his only hope is to recover the wealth and accompanying influence he had when he could sell his oil freely. That is more valuable to him than WMD. Any scenario involving WMD is fundamentally counter-productive to him. If he has any such capability he will put it on ice and hide it away where it very likely will not be found. Nothing will be operational and at risk of detection by inspectors.

They will tool around as long as it takes. He may even leave something out for them to find so they feel useful. Whatever they find will be sacrificed at little loss. In the end sanctions will be lifted. He will remain in power. And THAT will be his victory. In the end Bush will be frustrated and Saddam will just smile and count his cash.

And who knows? When the heat is off and there is lots of money Saddam will return to his favorite hobby.
Another reason for a regime change in the US.
Good news on the Sahara front. It seems that the desert is now in retreat. They are not sure whether its due to weather changes of improved farming techniques.
In one theory there is a prediction that electromagnetic fields can affect gravity. This theory explains that the reason we have been unable to measure the gravitational constant very accurately is that its value depends on where you measure it and the strength of the earth's magnetic field at that point. It would follow then that a proper manipulation of the magnetic field might actually reduce gravity bringing us that much closer to the worlds of science fiction.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

The Saudi media shows balanced reporting as usual.
I like Hagel's approach to the Iraq debate.
What happened to 172nd Med? Suffering from too much attention I imagine.
A laboratory case for nation building.
President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, elected in May, faces a tall order. The underlying causes for the civil war– unequal access to resources, abuse of power, and regional instability – continue to haunt Sierra Leone. Illegal diamond smuggling continues. Peace here is fragile.

Nonetheless, Sierra Leone is deemed a success story. Its transformation is a lesson in what can be accomplished with enough international attention, money, and goodwill.

Maybe Bush needs to get more nations on board in helping to rebuild Afghanistan.
No wonder men are mystified by the demands of women. What they want depends on when you ask them.
Progress: It seems that the switch from ozone-depleting CFC's is actually paying off.
As noted by the professor, steering supposedly objective government research in directions that match your agenda is a time-honored practice. But I find the Bush approach to be qualitatively more mean-spirited than his predecessors.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Gale Norton on the Bush de-Forestation Plan:
But, Gale! Clear-cutting is not the same as thinning. I'll go out on a limb here because I have not read the legislation for myself but I strongly suspect that little is made of that distinction in said legislation. Proper thinning costs the timber companies too much money. They won't do it unless required to. You make no assurances whatsoever that this is not a license to rape and pillage.
Knowing the level of expertise shown by political party functionaries at the local level, this assessment of the Democrats at the Florida polls could be accurate.
Joe Conason on Republican campaign tactics in Iowa.
Of course if they were capable of shame, they wouldn't try to bamboozle the good people of Iowa with such blatant frauds, would they?
Of course, Jeb's wildly inconsistent attitude on the issue -- treatment and privacy for his daughter, incarceration and public humiliation for everyone else -- is part and parcel of the galling hypocrisy that infects America's insane drug war on every level.
There's pandemonium in Darwin's house. Recent studies indicate that there may not be a single point origin of life that can be indentified. It seems there may have been so much gene-swapping in early organisms that the trail of true parentage is wiped out.
I went to refer to uggabugga's excellent diagram of how this thing with Iraq could play out but he didn't have an option for Saddam fully cooperating with the UN. We need an enhancement.

Monday, September 16, 2002

Charles Paul Freund has a very interesting piece on the connections between bin Laden and the ultimate father of assassins. And strangely enough it is a message of hope.
Annan: Iraq to accept inspections
An alternate universe:
conservative pundits assume that establishment media such as the Times are partisan because that's how their own journalists are expected to operate. They believe Howell Raines runs The New York Times the way they know Wes Pruden runs The Washington Times.

I think this concept can be extended to the Arab world as well. They know how their press and leadership twists and distorts the truth so they believe the Western press is behaving the same way. Actual truth and evidence notwithstanding.
Looking ahead to future trouble spots after we get finished with this Middle East act.
Keep this diagram as a reference. It will be interesting to plot the actual events against it.
This new approach to building automobiles is rather exciting.
The real reason behind the faith-based organization funding.
In an earlier post I said that Saddam's best move would be to allow inspections. Turns out Saddam may have made the same calculation
Libel alert: In other words be very careful how you choose your words before getting down to business and libelling someone.
Doug Bandow tries real hard to compare Herr Ashcroft's blatant disregard for civil liberties to the Clinton-Gore record. But his comparisons only make sense to people who believe what Rush Limbaugh says is gospel.

Well, it ain't and Bandow is pathetic.
James Phillips is wrestling with how to complete the job in Afghanistan without actually doing any nation-building.
Ordinary people, extraordinary evil:
James Waller, a professor of psychology at Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash., suggests that perpetrators of genocide -- those who commit what Waller calls "extraordinary human evil" -- aren't just ideologically committed sociopaths or else passive weaklings who've been forced to pull the trigger...Instead, according to Waller, complex forces in human nature make all of us capable of committing acts of genocide.
Something to bear in mind.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

If only this idea would catch hold with the rest of the Palestinians. I've always believed that they could make life much more politically difficult for Israel if they adhere to strict non-violence.
Somewhere out there some voices are trying to bring Islam into the 21st century (link via Quana at Eristic)

Friday, September 13, 2002

Saletan points out that all this war talk will actually have the salutory effect of getting the UN to put teeth into its resolutions on Iraq.
Maybe the pursuit of those who had prior knowledge of Sept. 11 will lead somewhere.
This piece gives a hint to why Bush is pushing the Iraq issue now.
When investing don't loose sight of these numbers.
The truth is less egalitarian utopia and more rich man's Shangri-la. The vast majority of American shareholders -- 80 percent of us -- control just 4 percent of the entire market, while the richest 1 percent of shareholders have portfolios brimming with a whopping 47.7 percent of the market's total value.
The market is hardly democratic and the little people need to watch out for the bulldozers.
Once Saddam falls the real trouble will begin.
Dahlia argues that waging war against the Taliban makes sense to rout out a regime that aids and abets terrorists, wars don't stop terrorism. The criminal model of dealing with terrorists has worked reasonably well up to now. As has the criminal system of prosecution.
I wish I didn't know about this. Flying takes more thought now.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

If this is the real Bush plan then all those terrible things the Arab press says about American arrogance and imperialist tendencies will be well-founded. And as citizens we should be ashamed that we put such people in office. But wait, we didn't. The Supreme Court did! Whew, scared myself for a moment.
The uncertain future of Saudi.
Jacoby lets loose. So Jeff what should we do? Declare war on Nigeria and Saudi Arabia? This is not clarity. It is an emotional outburst. If we are going to be constructive we need to ask the question, "Why do they hate us?" Then we need to use our power, resources, and newfound moral resolve to practice what we preach. Our motives must move more to the side of what is really right and less to the side of what-puts-more-money-in my-pocket. I grant that the fundamental Islamic jihadists are an irrational scourge but have not appeared out of nowhere. There are supported by a large group of ordinary people who see them as patriots. We have done little to counter that view. It's time we did.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

A sign of hope for the future of the Muslim world.
And the West has won.
In the long run, the terrorists have already lost.
"When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse," Osama bin Laden famously observed. He was right; he just backed the wrong horse.
Samuel Berger talks about what should govern our future actions.
Meeting these and other challenges depends in no small measure on whether and how America leads. We must prevail in our campaign against terrorism. But we can define neither all threats as terrorism, nor our only threat as terrorism. If we use our power only for self-protection, and in a manner that is self- righteous, we shall fuel the fires of resentment. If we also use our power in co-operative efforts to advance our shared well-being, our reward will be not only a better, more peaceful world but also the influence and authority we command within it.
Bush and Churchill? In the same breath? The sad thing is that Hughes really believes this. But in SLC he is preaching to the Republican choir. You have to make allowances for some folks I guess.
Paul Berman on the new international reality.
The genuine solution to these attacks can come about in only one way, which is by following the same course we pursued against the Fascist Axis and the Stalinists. The Arab radical and Islamist movements have to be, in some fashion or other, crushed. Or else they have to be tamed into something civilized and acceptable, the way that some of the old Stalinist parties have agreed to shrink into normal political organizations of a democratic sort. The solution, in short, lies in effecting enormous changes in large parts of the political culture of the Arab and Islamic world--the sort of transformation that can be achieved, if at all, only after many years or even decades of struggle, and not through any single decisive strike. It is a transformation that would require a vast range of actions on the part of the liberal world--military and commando raids when necessary and possible, constant policing, economic pressure, and much else, all of it conducted under the kind of urgent and relentless mobilization that does go under the label of "war" and not with the kind of modest activity that might fit under the mild name of "policing." Is there any serious person who doubts the need for covert action today?
Time for an Ashcroft deathwatch?

The judges' point: Ashcroft and the FBI are not to be trusted with new power when they have abused the power they already had. Finally, the court concluded, the post-USA PATRIOT policies proposed by Bush "are not reasonably designed" to protect the privacy of law-abiding citizens.

There is ample evidence that Ashcroft has lost his White House support; recent news reports promoting the anti-terrorism labors of Solicitor General Ted Olsen suggest the stage is already being set for a successor. Religious conservatives, once Ashcroft's effective claque, now bridle at his plans to let the FBI spy on religious communities and follow their financial trails. Politically, Ashcroft is a man without a country -- a liability to the Bush administration, an irritation to Congress and an embarrassment to the conservative constituencies which sponsored him.
Well, there it is. Bush's top secret briefings leave Democrats Unconvinced On Iraq War. Once again only the people that didn't need convincing were on already board. Not doing so well with the rest of us.
109 minutes

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

What the IISS report on Iraq really said

For me, this all just comes as confirmation that one can't trust newspapers to be impartial anymore, and that any attempt to create an informed opinion based on anything that is written in the media is an exercise in futility at best.
The sad state of the Iraqi military. Can Hussein be deterred? He has been.

"The troops were all very neat, with Saddam looking at them," recalls Iraq analyst and journalist Patrick Cockburn. "But when I got close, I noticed they weren't wearing gloves – they were white sports socks."
The pundits at Slate make the case for a new Iraqi ultimatum. By not following up with firm action when Saddam kicked out the inspectors in 98 we have lost any justification for using current UN resolutions as a basis for offensive hostile action against Saddam now. A new inspection ultimatum will either get inspectors on the ground making sure that Saddam limits his weapons or, if Saddam refuses to comply, will provide the clear justification for taking aggressive action against Saddam.

Monday, September 09, 2002

Hesiod gives a list of criteria justifying a regime change. I agree with him that the change is overdue.
This is an old piece but I just discovered it. Jamie Glazov makes the case for Western intervention in the Islamic world. In the war of ideas it makes sense that the West and fundamental Islam are antagonists. It also makes sense that it is a war that needs to be fought.
Echoing the professor. Christopher Hitchens is a must read.
Flight 93
While there are many short-term questions about war with Iraq that still beg for answers, there are some over-arching questions about how to bring an end to a war or terror. Jacob Sullum raises similar issues that Dahlia Lithwick raises.
The real issue is not whether we’re at war but whether terrorism is so different from other crimes that special rules should apply. If terrorism is different, it’s because of the damage it does, not because it’s carried out by foreign belligerents. Homegrown terrorists like Timothy McVeigh pose the same sort of threat, although the president would be hard-pressed to put them in a brig as enemy combatants.
International water companies should pick on someone their own size. The developing world does not need these kinds of parasites in their water.
First, the record of private water company operation in developing countries is very poor. There is little to suggest that private companies deliver "efficiencies" in this area, though they are clearly skilled at extracting enormous profits.
Progress is being made in the battle against hackerdom. A technique of stamping web data with unhackable digital signatures is on its way.

Sunday, September 08, 2002

How long is China going to fight the inevitable? A new search engine tool called elgooG tunnels under the Great Internet Wall. Works great but you need to keep a mirror handy.
Gordon Silverstein warns that it is is the interest of both Bush and Congress to have a clear declaration of hostilities before the legions march on Iraq.
It will be interesting to see how this one comes out. Erskine Bowles has plenty of substance but little style. Dole has little substance and is mostly style.
Afghanistan languishes and teeters on the edge.
the attempt on Karzai's life and his government demonstrates undeniably that there is more bad news in Afghanistan than can be tolerated--and unless the United States leads the effort to bring the central authority of Karzai's government out of Kabul, the worst news is yet to come.

And the US hangs back.
Dahlia Lithwick raises the important questions about civil liberty in a time of ambiguous conflict. The answers are still to be determined.
Bill Clinton gives his vision for a lasting peace. It speaks for itself.
Daniel Pipes presents an analysis which traces the start of Islamic terrorism to November 1979 with perfect hindsight. But we could not have anticipated the barbarism of which the fundamentalists were capable. Woulda, coulda, shoulda done it differently. But now it is tragically clear that we must meet terrorism appropriately with principled resolve. We must not fall into the trap of mere retribution but we must rise above it. We need to face up to our obligations in Afghanistan and do more to bring that nation into the mainstream of the international community. And we must aid the true voices of peace within the Muslim world.
Hesiod Theogeny points out how the administration misstated the facts about Iraqi rearmament. In the light of this it makes perfect sense for Saddam to throw open the doors to inspection. By letting inspectors have a free hand he could make real monkeys out of the American saber rattlers.

Saturday, September 07, 2002

Instapundit and I agree about how Palestinians can win. If they had pursued a nonviolent campaign they would have won a free homeland long ago. Precisely my thoughts back in one of my first postings in April.

Friday, September 06, 2002

Emily's List Hissed:
In any sort of pluralistic community, there must always be room for us to give way on the smaller issues in order to make progress on the big ones. By being dogmatic about supporting pro-choice women candidates, Emily's List sometimes "Naderizes" the efforts of the Democratic Party. When this kind of focussed support results in strengthening the opposition we all lose. Maybe they will see that and moderate their practices.
Robert S. McIntyre looks at what would have happen to Social Security if the Republicans had had their way or privatization. Given this real-life demonstration of the hazards let us be thankful that we were able to dodge that bullet. And I hope that any further pursuits along those lines get laughed out of the room.
Ratings Board, Studios Need Separate Beds

If we can celebrate movies that deal frankly--and often graphically--with the horror of war or slavery or mental illness, then we should provide the same respect to artists who grapple with sex. If not, then the board should be honest enough to admit they'd really be happier if American movies were all as infantile as a Mike Myers or Adam Sandler comedy. At least then we'd have a refreshing dose of candor, not the corrosive kind of hypocrisy that has given today's rating system the moral heft of a feather boa.

The influence of the major studios on the rating boards makes for not only inconsistent standards for ratings but poor standards as well. The meaning and value of sexual expression is diminished in our society when frank and realistic depictions are only exposed to a restricted audience while at the same time exaggerated and vulgarized versions are given a wide play. Sad.
In his response to the Robert Wright piece mentioned below Eugene Volokh misses most of Mr. Wright's points. Volokh mischaracterizes Wright as an appeaser. Wright is saying we need to take into account how our actions are perceived if we ever hope to get our message across and bring about some sort of peace. Apparently Volokh would rather completely ignore perceptions and have us make our points through use of force. But it is just that kind of brutish blindness that has caused us to fail to establish a good name in the Arab world. The terrorists are finding too much fertile ground among ordinary people who have no reason to think well of the US and our allies. We need to give them reason to think otherwise. This war is to be lost or won in the hearts and minds of the Arabic world.

Sometimes I think these problems are because we are just not smart enough. We don't have good, proven methods for peacefully introducing democracy and human rights into cultures such as those in the Middle East. This where we need to apply some of that touted American genius. We need to learn to be nation-builders (current administration notwithstanding).

Thursday, September 05, 2002

The following brought back many memories of the short time I spent in Peshawar back in '84. The culture was so different than anything I had ever experienced before but it is everyday life for those in the Tribal Areas.(Salon Premium) Living that way is pretty much unimaginable to Westerners. If we take a moment to realize how unimaginable Western life must seem to them we might understand better how they seem to be so clueless to us. Particularly in terms of individual freedom and responsibility.
From Arianna: The return of voodoo economics
There's another blast from the Reagan past that is a little more relevant to most Americans' current financial health than trickle-down dreams. Ask yourself, my friends, are you better off today, after all that tax cutting and deregulating, than you were four years ago?

Good question.
Warren Buffet has changed some of his tactics.
Gregg Easterbrook: The Sustainability Summit was handled OK.
And speaking of getting it right, Robert Wright has a superb series going about how to deal with terrorism over the long run. I think this may set the standard against we can judge our future actions.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

I have to agree with jody. It's a real lift to find a person of faith that gets it right.
By stopping sales of electric cars, GM hopes to show that future pollution limits can not be met. You see, the EV1's work all too well. Their owners love them and if that word got out we might end up with pollution levels that would make us all breathe easier. But GM really does not want that.
When the Republicans make an issue of the failure to pass a bill allowing churches to fully participate in politics be sure to remind them that if a group wants to be in politics it should expect to pay taxes. No free rides.
A Pennsylvania editor puts Ann Coulter in her place.
Ann, you're mean -- vicious, really -- which is why we do not believe that you in any way serve the public good.

On a late summer morning almost a year ago, all of us -- Republicans, Democrats and everyone else -- witnessed what hate is capable of.

Since that day, Americans have tried to remember that they are on the same side, regardless of differences in skin color, nation of origin, religion or political viewpoint. It has not always been easy because, more than ever, those who are different can seem more threatening. But we're trying because what we have in America is worth keeping.

And, Ann, you're not helping. You do nothing to elevate our spirits, to celebrate the great bond that holds us this unruly people together and makes us a nation.
Now that we know who really won the 2000 election, we can dispense with the charade that Bush is an elected president. He was appointed to that office by partisan election officials in Florida with the complicity of partisan members of the Supreme Court. So, Mr. Bush, please stop pretending that you and your policies are supported by the American people. And please stop pretending that you can talk to any other nation about having a democratically-elected government. It is quite probable that there will be a regime-change in the US before there is one in Iraq.
Homeland security at work. (Salon Premium)
to anyone concerned that the U.S. may be headed toward a civil-liberties My Lai, where our freedoms are being destroyed in order to preserve them -- the saga of Garad Jama won't provide reassurance that in this difficult time the system is "working." Indeed, Garad Jama's tale might make you wonder if behind the curtain there's really much of a system at all.
When the government takes precipitious actions without due process, it should also take on the burden of restitution when mistakes are made. The lawyers are going to get rich off this.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Bruce Bartlett at NRO

Democrats foolishly believe that they can win in November running against deficits and tax cuts. Republicans hope they do. They know too well that this never worked for them. And with inflation and interest rates at historically low rates, it is hard to see what Democrats can offer voters in the way of tangible benefits in terms of even lower rates.

Deficits are not a problem. As a share of the economy, they are very modest. Raising taxes or rescinding tax cuts — which are the same thing — would only fuel additional spending and do nothing to reduce deficits or aid the economy.

Bruce certainly has the script down. But I hope he blows his audition. And no points at all for originality.
Coming to a town near you. In Miami, second-class citizenship for homosexuals will be is the ballot. Those who wish to deny equal rights are attacking ordinances that guarantee them. If they succeed in Miami and Dade County, they will continue the fight across the country.
We can always count on the tobacco companies to take the low road when it comes to protecting profits and protecting people's health. Phillp Morris pressured Dow to force Dow's Nicorette-manufacturing subsidiary to drop the health warnings about smoking from its advertising as a condition for sealing a big sale of chemicals used in the processing of tobacco.

One is tempted to berate the immorality of the companies involved. But we must remember that corporations do not exist to be moral. They exist to make profit. It is the job of the regulators of commerce to place limits on how they go about making that money. And the best way to influence corporate behavior is through monetary incentives be they positive or negative. The optimum plan for tobacco would be to restrict their ability to attract new customers. Perhaps require that they pay surcharge on their advertising that would go to care for people with tobacco-related diseases.
Hesiod compares unregulated onling gaming to nations that have lost law enforcement authority.
This piece puts into words what I have thought from the beginning of the current administration.
Even if, for the purpose of this discussion, you accept the legitimacy of the Bush Presidency it is impossible not to be amazed by the audacity of its underlying mendacity. Mr Bush was unelected in perhaps the most contentious election in American history. Yet from the very earliest days of his administration he has acted as though he had a clear and decisive mandate. Working off an agenda that picked up from where Reagan/Bush had left off eight years earlier as though no time had passed -- and the conditions and world order had remained set in place -- they quickly established as their modus operandi the creation of well woven fictional rationalizations for policies arrived upon as a matter of faith. Rather than have the circumstances dictate the response, these people do what it is they wish and then create a reason to justify it.

It's almost like they sat down and calculated the amount of power they had and how much of their agenda they could ram through with no regard for the opposition's objections. This is a pure power play based on a presidency that is only technically legitimate. God willing this corruption of democratic principles will not stand.
A recently discovered treasure, the Democratic Underground on Coulter and her supporters.
Yes, there is something wrong if you have reached your thirties and the only political argument you can muster is insults, threats, and misrepresentation. Yes, there is something wrong when this approach to political "argument" is countenanced by the mainstream press and offered a national venue. Yes, there is something wrong with mainstream political rhetoric that can only be defended with assurances that the speaker "doesn't really mean it."

Monday, September 02, 2002

Kuwait breaks ranks on Saddam. Some reason is beginning to break out around the Persian Gulf. (courtesy of Charles Johnson)

Hmm. Looking a ways down the road, wouldn't it be interesting if the Saudis mess up big time and Kuwait ends up ruling the whole banana?