Tuesday, December 31, 2002

This is more of the continung behavior of the current administration that leaves me with little respect for them. I can remember a time when I was disgusted with a fellow named Nixon while the rest of the world seemed to be giving him high marks. I was right then and there is plenty of evidence that I am right now.
Bush concluded 2002 with the same dishonesty that defined his economic policy throughout the year—a mendacity that ranged from denying the tax cut had anything to do with the re-emergence of the deficit to arguing that the terrorism insurance bill would create 300,000 construction jobs.

Monday, December 30, 2002

Dark matter may not be real. Our Newtonian physics may be wrong. A small tweak to the gravitational constant for gravity at very long distances may be all that's needed. Milgrom's adjustment accurately predicted how stars would move around in a galaxy before astronomers were able to measure their motions.

It occurs to me that this may also have implications for the attempts to detect the elusive gravity waves.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Move along folks,nothing new here.
Frist looks from afar like a decent, generous man with humanitarian instincts who doesn't always let decency, generosity, and humanitarianism get in the way of his ambition. ("A humanitarian who doesn't let it get in the way" might be the definition of a "compassionate conservative.") He won his seat from an incumbent Democrat by using TV commercials full of racial innuendo. Frist is undoubtedly a better person than his use of those commercials would suggest. Does that make them better or worse?

Thursday, December 26, 2002

This is sad and in the end tragic if this is the best Islam has to offer to the world. I sure hope the world of Islam is able to get its act together and present a better face. If not, it will eventually be lost. Or they will plunge the world into the another Dark Age.
Watch out, Patty. They are coming after you.
Sarah Wildman points a senator who has a worse record on race than Trent Lott. From the anti-racist right, nary a peep.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

A new front for the Taliban, the NWFP.
Some actions, however, have a distinctly Taliban feel to them. In Peshawar, cinema owners were forced to tear down billboards deemed obscene, and cinemas that play pornographic films were shut down. State officials have also forced all public bus drivers to remove cassette players and destroy music cassettes, and also talk of changing the weekly holiday from Sunday to Friday, the traditional day of Islamic prayer. More ominous, state police have begun to lodge new cases of blasphemy against those who are thought to have offended the Holy Koran or the name of Allah. Human rights advocates argue that such blasphemy laws are often used as retribution against political enemies.
Tim Noah examines the discrimination consequences of the Bush faith-based executive order. No surprise, if you are a religious charity you can discriminate all you want.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

The lunacy of the conservative tax avoiders in getting to be too much even for them
"They're saying the burden on the top is too high," says Friedman of the conservative position. "But they're missing the fundamental reasons for that. The wealthy are taking a larger share of the income. Their incomes are too high."

Sunday, December 22, 2002

This guy, Spitzer, is one to watch. He succeeded where the Feds failed in reforming how the securities world does business.
Saddam's excellent strategy continues. Unfortunately. Every time the Bushies get close to the line, he just gives them a little more rope. The lynching will be self-inflicted when they find nothing.

Friday, December 20, 2002

Tom Holsinger is too clever by half. His pseudo-invasion scenario has too much political risk. If we were conducting hostilities Hussein would be all over it maintaining that it was 10 times bigger than it actually is. Up to now I can give our armed forces credit for strategic ability but the administration has proven itself to be no more strategic than a pack of bullies.
Mickey Kaus thinks Noonan's article is good. I think it is lame.

The fact is that segregationists found a home in the Republican party. The conservative approach to racial issues gave them a cover under which they could retain their racist attitudes. Nonracist conservatives let that be because they needed the racist votes. The ambiguity served that purpose. Southern racists tended to also be the southern power structure and wealth. So, Peggy, don’t get all principled with us. The Republicans made a tacit deal with the Devil and you know it. That’s what is really generating the flap. Lott’s remark has made it impossible to hide that man pulling the levers behind the curtain.

The fear of some blacks that some whites do not accept them fully is well-founded, Ms. Noonan. Not a phantom that you can pooh-pooh away. They are not hallucinating but if you think their fears are groundless, you may be.

Trent Lott, personally, is not the issue. Removing him from power is not the solution to the problem. But removing what he symbolizes from power is the issue. And the onus is on the Republicans because they have permitted the racist ambiguity to continue. It is the task of the Republicans to not only denounce that ambiguity in no uncertain terms but to purge themselves of the racists that have used it to their continued political survival. It’s past time for the Republicans to toss their racists out into the cold.

They will lose some power and money in the process but the upside is that they will allow people of all races to reconsider the merits of the conservative agenda without being repelled by any implied racist code. Let the racists form their own party and compete independently for America’s hearts and minds. The race card that you say the Democrats like to play is a card that the Republicans keep dealing to them. Don’t deal it and they can’t play it. This cancer is much deeper than Senator Lott. If the Republicans boot him and do nothing else they will have dealt the Democrats a winning hand for every election to come.
Don't centralize the security effort. Decentralize it.
America doesn't need huge centralized databases that track each and every citizen. What it needs is decentralized intelligence. And that means extensive training for law-enforcement and government personnel on the ground, across the country. The country needs Customs personnel who know what to look for at the borders, like the officer in Port Angeles, Wash., who noticed a suspicious driver trying to enter the U.S., investigated further, and found a load of bomb components intended for attacks on Millennium celebrations.
America needs flight-training instructors like the one in Minnesota who alerted the FBI to Zacarias Moussaoui's alleged desire to learn to fly a plane but not to land one. The country needs alert passengers on airplanes, like those who noticed and took down shoe-bomber Robert Reid on American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris.

Go with what works. Don't take away privacy and still fail the test of security.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Insh'allah. As God wills.
Liar, Liar, Pants on fire! Cigarette companies could have made a product that was less likely to start fires decades ago. That would have saved up to 1000 lives a year. The companies said that the consumers didn't like the fire-safe cigarettes when their own studies showed that consumers couldn't tell the difference. But then their business isn't saving lives, it's killing people. They should be sued out of existence. And the horse they rode in on.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

While Ron Bailey believes Gore may be laying low to improve his chances in '08, I wonder if he is looking to play some sort of supporting role as on appointee of the 2004 Democratic administration.
This article addresses what we should really be doing in securing our transportation system. We shouldn't worry about spending tons of money and suffering inconvenience to make sure every single aspect of the system is secure. We need to have overlapping layers of defense where each is pretty good but not necessarily perfect. The idea is to deter attacks. If the terrorist need only have sufficient reason to believe that he might be detected as to deter him from trying. You can slow traffic down all over town by setting up speed-trap camera boxes but you only need to have a few cameras. The uncertainty in the perpetrator's mind is the most effective deterrent.

There is no point in trying to protect against or weed out every possible opening for terrorists. That is a traditional approach to transportation security, but it is expensive and demonstrably ineffective. The new strategy should rely instead on layering and interleaving various defensive measures. With layering, each safeguard, even though it may be inadequate by itself, reinforces the others. A layering strategy will not only protect against vulnerabilities in transportation security, it will also deter terrorists by creating uncertainties about the chances of being caught.
It's unfortunate Gregg Easterbrook didn't read the preceding article about quantum gravity before he penned this one about science and faith coming together. Nor this one about life in space. With quantum gravity we have a universe that appears seamless because of the plethora of "observers" whose views all run together. With life viable in outer space it opens up the possibility even more that the peculiar circumstances that created life may not have happened on this planet. With the whole universe to work with, the origin of life becomes less unlikely and therefore less miraculous.
Are you ready for quantum gravity? A potential physics breakthrough.
Who would have thought that the study of the deadly Ebola would result in a new and beneficial way of delivering gene therapy? Until now, the viral delivery packets containing the therapeutic genes had to be injected since digestion destroys them. But how do you can't inject into the lungs. Now they have created a viral shell similar to Ebola that is even better at penetrating cell walls. Fill that shell with good genes and it can be inhaled and be effective.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

This would make an interesting pursuit.
If society can force drug addicts into rehabilitation because they're a danger to themselves and the public, then we should be able to compel religious fundamentalists to undergo treatment as well.
I have seen a video clip making the rounds that was shot from a gun-camera on an AC-130 gunship as it attacked an Al-Qaeda site in the middle of the night. They start the attack by taking out some trucks that clearly had munitions in them judging from the secondary explosions. As the trucks attempt to scatter they get picked off one after another, all the time the ship keeps its fire clear of a nearby mosque. When they run out of truck targets they take out a warehouse behind the mosque and settle down to picking off the few remaining individuals as they run down the road in the dark. At the end the gunship focuses its attention on a cave entrance that gets turned into rubble.

You don't want to be on the receiving end of a weapon like that.
Hesiod connects the dots on the shady shenanigans that produces the Eli Lilly protection clause in the Homeland security bill. Key players include Mitch Daniels and Bill Frist. Hmmmm.
David Brin has an excellent piece on the cultural context of LOTR and an interesting alternative way of approaching the mythology.
The scientists now have enough tools to begin developing an understanding of the biological basis of the placebo effect.
Males and females are not created equal when it comes to pain.

Males are better at tolerating pain than females because of a key difference in how the sexes transmit pain messages, researchers have found.

A protein called GIRK2 plays a major role in pain sensation and drug sensitivity in males, but is not as important in females. Removing GIRK2 means the sexes become equal in their ability to withstand pain, experiments on mice showed. Taking account of this difference could in the future lead to far more effective painkillers for women.
Not only does this budget busting thing not work very well, if it worked perfectly there will never be any targets for it!
My boat for the America's Cup, OneWorld, advanced to the Semifinal repechage. They must beat Oracle in a series of races to advance to the Finals where they would face Alinghi. They shouldn't have any trouble with Oracle but Alinghi will be tough. That Swiss boat has been dominate in all its races up to this point.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Jennie's off on a rant defending her guy Lott. In her universe only Dems could be critical of the great statesman. Unfortunately, she hasn't seen that the Republican criticisms are doing the most damage. Buy a clue, Jen.
The animated characters in The Two Towers look so realistic because each has a mind of its own.
A hint of sanity breaks out among the Palestinians.
John Derbyshire is sometimes way off the mark but he may have this right. There are two prevailing views of the potential of China. Both may be partially right.
I don't believe China will be a colossus in the foreseeable future; I don't think she will be an angry, disintegrating rogue state, either. The greatest probability, it seems to me, is that China will become a sort of larger version of Mexico during that country's 70 years of one-party rule: self-absorbed, just stable enough to hold together, with huge disparities of income but enough general prosperity to stave off revolution, ruled by a corrupt and incompetent political class.
Salon summarizes Bush's message to California. Your environment doesn't count as much as Florida's.
Timothy Noah compares the sins of Thurmond to the lack of smarts demonstrated by Lott.
Thurmond's refusal to treat segregationism as anything worse than an outdated fashion may have helped convince Lott that he, too, would never have to make a similar accounting for his own (far milder) segregationist past. Conceivably Lott could have dodged that bullet just as easily as Thurmond did. But Lott wasn't smart enough to grasp something Strom understood even in his dotage: If you don't want to apologize for something you did that was truly awful, try not to discuss it at all.
Some of these new underwater turbine designs are interesting.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Link courtesy of LGF. There is a news photo making the rounds in Pakistan supposedly showing an American soldier patting down a female Afghan villager in a search for weapons. What those using that picture fail to see is the hair pulled back to a bun under the helmet and the broad hips. The soldier is a woman! In that part of the world woman soldiers are no easier to imagine than a visit by space-faring aliens. Our troops have adapted to this reality. Now before conducting a search of female villagers, our soldiers strip down to their sports bras so there is no doubt about their feminine gender. It probably does a number on the male villagers as well.

Friday, December 13, 2002

A good article on Norman Borlaug, the unassuming father of the Green Revolution that may have saved a bilion people from starvation. While eco-types dream of a future when sustainable agriculture will lighten man's footprint on the planet, Borlaug and his methods has kept mass starvation at bay for the last couple decades.....right here, right now. The article also pokes a few holes in the assumptions about the harm that may have been done by the Green Revolution. It may not be perfect but it is what is working.
It seems that there is some dissention in the Republican ranks. Many libertarian-minded folks are waking up to the dark side of this administrations homeland security plans.
I went to a High School Jazz concert last night in which one of my boys was playing. It was a combined concert in that each of the area schools did a set. All the performances were well done and it was nice to see how well some of these young musicians could play. You could tell that they were new to improvisation but they did pretty good, nonetheless.

But what was worth the price of admission was what happened after all the school bands performed. Another band took the stage that was made up of the instructors of the high schools as well as some of the music staff of the local community college thrown in. These were people who had been band geeks most of their lives. They loved music so much that they were willing to accept careers as small-time school instructors just to stay in music. And they played. Boy, did they play. Tight and clean. Solos were passed around like fast breaks on a basketball court.

The best part was in the eyes of the students in the audience as they watched and listened. As students they had just begun to understand the thrill and skill that makes good jazz. And here they were seeing it demonstrated by their own teachers. For a few of them it may have been the spark that convinces them to work hard enough to make a profession out of music. For the rest it was a demonstration that it is OK to be a band geek. If they can learn to make music like that it is all worth it.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Auntie Pinko lays out what should be the framework and rationale for the Democratic economic policy.
The juggarnaut rolls on. Maybe losing the midterm elections will indeed turn out to be a good thing. Even the inattentive masses will not be able to ignore the damage wreaked by this power-drunk administration.

On stealing from the poor to give to the rich: In an act of reverse Robin Hood effrontery, the president helped defray some of the cost of his nonstop campaigning with an accounting trick that allowed him to dip into the coffers of the Office of Family Assistance by piggybacking campaign appearances onto trips ostensibly made to talk about welfare reform. That's right, money meant to assist poor families was used to help elect politicians who believe that, even with all the problems facing this country, cutting taxes for the rich should be job No. 1. These, of course, are the same Scrooges who did nothing to stop the unemployment benefits of 800,000 workers from expiring during the midst of the holiday season. Ho, ho, ho, poor people!

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Jim Kalb has a good piece on the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It needs to be revisited and rewritten. It would be nice if there were a realistic set of agreed-upon universal human rights that the international community could genuinely use. Many of the rights are in the UDHR are socialist agenda items that American would find abhorent. Americans tend to think in terms of rights that protect individuals from their government. The socialistic items are in terms of what individuals can demand of their governments. But the only way governments can provide for such universal entitlements is by appropriating resources from its citizens. So ironically, the best way to provide for maximum freedom is to minimize entitlements. In America, there is no ground floor of minimum entitlement but a patchwork of charities and welfare for those at the bottom of the ladder. Some, invariably fall through the cracks. I think it would be more appropriate to establish a bare minimum entitlement safety net such that the laziest or least capable adult in the country has sufficient nutrition to maintain life, a bare minimum of housing, and a minimum standard of medical care. Children should have a sufficient entitlement that they have reasonable chance of becoming productive citizens instead of lifetime burdens on the state. One could call this tempered liberalism. Individuals still have incentive and opportunity to succeed or fail in the economic world but with a safety net that puts a limit on the damage of complete failure. In regards to children, it would remove a great portion of the underclass that develops due to inescable poverty. Right-wingers and libertarians should note that the any benefit received in this plan by those who are far enough up the ladder to not use the safety net translates into more income to inject into the economy or help mitigate their share of the taxes.
I went to this article expecting to read at least an attempt to construct a rationale for the Bush tax cuts. Instead it's just a pep rally with no substance. You would think that a national publication like USA Today could do better. Guess not.
The next task for the global community after we get big terrorism under control will be to deal with regional conflicts fueled by high profile natural resources.
Joe Conason has the goods on the real Trent Lott.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Daniel Gross on Snow. President Bush appoints yet another phony businessman.

Snow is leaving the company with more debt than it has had at any time in the past seven years. Today CSX has difficulty generating sufficient cash to meet all its obligations. And this is the man President Bush has hired to manage the nation's debt? As Jesse Eisinger sharply notes in today's Wall Street Journal: "Mr. Snow is clearly a guy who understands deficit spending."
Excitement on the water. OneWorld and Prada change the lead 5 times with OneWorld faster upwind and Prada faster downwind. Prada tries to gain an advantage by forcing OneWorld to luff but manages to break their spinnaker pole in the process. Even when OneWorlds spinnaker blows out on the last leg Prada can not catch up. In the other race Alinghi and Oracle have quite the dogfight at the start. Oracle gets across the line first with better speed but Alinghi got the favored right side of the course. Alinghi was able to use the right-of-way to their advantage in the ensuing classic tacking dual to lead by 48 seconds at the finish.

Monday, December 09, 2002

Watch out for the next big economic bubble, China

Ultimately, China's economic facade probably will crack. And, when it does, the consequences may be disastrous. Any decline in foreign investment could depress growth. Rising unemployment could lead to social chaos. (The number of labor protests quadrupled between 1993 and 1999.) Nicholas R. Lardy, a China specialist at the Brookings Institution, predicts that the rising burden of non-performing loans could make the country's entire banking system insolvent by 2008. This banking crisis could lead to millions of Chinese trying to withdraw their life savings from banks, followed by panic when they realize the banks are insolvent and have no backing for their deposits, and potentially massive social turmoil.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

The way they get away with this is by doing things that are simply beyond belief.

But in a town where knowledge is power, and where there is no shortage of people willing to take credit for even the most minute accomplishment, there has been a sudden outbreak of people playing dumb. Official Washington is observing a code of omerta that makes the Sopranos look like the loose-lipped gals on "The View." In other words: Nobody's seen nothin'.

Here are the clues we have to work with: Over the Veterans Day weekend, GOP negotiators from the House and Senate hunkered down to finalize the details of the elephantine security bill. At some point -- no one is willing to say when -- someone -- no one is willing to say who -- inserted the Lilly provision -- though no one is willing to say why.
Saddam's WMD report

Just for fun, I predict that Saddam will confess to a few weapons that he will give up for destruction. The real weapons, if any, have been mothballed and hidden in anticipation of fairly long period of international heat. If Saddam can keep the people that know from talking these weapons will not be found. Eventually the inspectors will go home giving Iraq a clean bill of health. There will be no evidence upon which to base continued sanctions and the sanctions will be lifted despite American protests. Saddam and Iraq, Inc., will be back in business without any nosy supervisors. Then and only then will Saddam restart his program for acquisition of WMD. The Bushies and the American superpower will have been rendered impotent. Saddam, having successfully slapped Bush in the face, will have enourmous status in the Arab world.

Although that would be the ultimate irony -- if Iraq really had no weapons of mass destruction, but we went to war anyway.
When not blogging in my spare time I've been following the races for the Louis Vuitton Cup. My money is still on OneWorld since it could bring the America's Cup into my neck of the woods. I doubt that the judges will scratch any boat over design secret issues. These things need to be settled on the water. The best boat should take the cup. If secrets are stolen it just levels the playing field. You still have to win the races.
With all the hitech automobile ignition systems out there it had to happen someday.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Bush administration becomes a victim of the law of unintended consequences.

But perhaps the Bush administration's rule changes really are not about economics. In conservative circles logging is a bellwether issue, a club with which to beat Bill Clinton, the Sierra Club, and the heavy hand of government in general. Logging is a kind of religious issue: Conservatives take it on faith that cutting down trees is good for business. But the economics of the West during the past 20 years argues that it isn't.
At the risk of taking on the esteemed professor, I have to speak up about this. Recently Al Gore has remarked that it looks like FoxNews is shilling for the RNC. Bob Somerby of the Daily Howler has assembled some pretty convincing evidence to prove that contention.

Glenn Reynolds posits that the ascendancy of FoxNews is a reflection of the tastes of the marketplace. The diet of the left-of-center news perspective served up by the broadcast networks never set well with lots of folks, but until recent years there was no other news source. Reynolds holds that this section of the market is larger than mainstream media ever expected and it has found a home in Fox. His position is that the reason the RNC's talking points get such a hearing is that a great number of people already want to hear them. It's not a conspiracy, just market forces at work.

While the professor says that Al was only half-right, I contend that the professor may only be half-right as well. There is a constituency that is pre-disposed to what Fox has to offer. Somerby's analysis makes it clear that what Fox indeed offers is strongly driven by the RNC agenda. This is only natural since that agenda is the preferred provider for Fox's right-wing audience as well.

The problem I have with this is that information offered by the RNC is shot full of out-and-out lies (as Somerby demonstrates in his articles). Not only do we have a major news source that plays fast-and-loose with the facts, but we have a population that wants to believe this drek! That's what really toasts my biscuit. Might as well be living in Saudi Arabia! For crying out loud....
A new and plausible theory for the origin of life has been announced by the Royal Society. It implies that life may be possible on any wet and rocky planet.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Generally one should take Daniel Pipes with a grain of salt, but I think he has a good point on the influence of Saudi money on the American political system.

The tie is premised on Americans - Democrats and Republicans alike -accommodating the kingdom's wishes and in return, being plied with substantial sums of money, either at the time or after they leave government service.

A culture of corruption, in other words, pervades the upper reaches of the White House and several departments; it does not, however, extend to Congress, perhaps because the Saudis do not understand the workings or importance of an elected body and so have not tried to buy it.

Effectively fighting the war on terror urgently requires the passing of legislation that breaks up the cozy power-money nexus in the executive branch by making sure that U.S. officials cannot tap into Saudi funds after they retire from government service.

Such laws should be high on the new Congress agenda when it convenes in January.
A clear-eyed look at the history of Islam shows that the peaceful side of Islam has never been a predominate characteristic of that culture. That's not to say that someday it may become so. Those apologists who are trying to make the case that Islam is peaceful and can get along with other religions would do better to look to the future. They need to reform Islam starting today and repudiate its aggressive and violent history.

There is a dire need for some courageous, meaningful movement in Islam to emerge that completely renounces the active Islamic institutions of jihad against the infidels, and dhimmitude, openly acknowledging the horrific devastation they have wrought on non-Muslims for well over a millennium, through the present. Nothing short of an Islamic Reformation and Enlightenment may be required, which completely secularizes Islam, and acknowledges non-Muslims as fully equal human beings, not "infidels", or "dhimmis".
Krugman get's it.
But the right's ambitions have no limits, and nothing moderates can offer will appease it. Eventually the public, which actually benefits from most of the programs the right is determined to abolish, will figure that out. But how fast voters figure it out depends a lot on whether moderate politicians clearly articulate the issues, or try to escape detection by sounding like conservatives.
This is why Islamic moderates are not speaking out. The exercise of free speech can be fatal. While this example appears in an extreme regime, the practice of bringing down violence on dissidents seems to much more the rule across the Islamic world than the exception.
The coming Kissinger-Rumsfeld bout should be fun to watch.
The difference in how we treat our own religious nutballs and how the Saudis treat theirs is that we laugh at ours while the Saudis kowtow to theirs.
Bob Somerby is laying into the national press corps about how they have become shills for the RNC. Gore was right in 2000 when he said he played a pivotal role in the creation of the internet. And Gore is right when he said that the Washington Times and Fox News are RNC mouthpieces. It's those guys that are lying to us. How much longer will our "objective" media be essentially irrelevant?

In fact, it’s the American people who really need help—protection from their press corps’ misconduct. But don’t expect that help to come from within the press corps itself. All our pundits played some role in the twenty-month War Against Gore. We keep waiting for some brave soul to speak. But right now, their money is still spending good, and the press corps’ relentless dissembling moves forward.
Leboutillier has a explanation of why they chose Kissinger. Kissinger is so desperate to get access to the Oval Office he will do anything they ask. He will produce the report the White House wants, regardless of the actual evidence.
My Saddam prediction still seems to be holding. Expect him to cooperate fully with the inspections. They will find very little. Before long the folks that want to do business with Saddam will begin to push for lifting of the sanctions as will he. Bush will be denied his casus belli. This is Saddam's best hope of survival. He knows it. The Bushies don't seem to have a clue (no surprise there).

If Bush invades anyway, American foreign policy will be put in a hole that will take a decade to climb out of and Saddam wins a Pyrrhic victory. If Bush declines to invade, Saddam wins by having sanctions lifted. When sanctions are lifted Saddam becomes a hero to his people by perversely regaining the thriving economy he gambled away with the Kuwait invasion.

If we are serious about a positive outcome we must come up with another way. Saddam remains in power his Stalinist grip on his people deprives them of any power to change things. We must corrode that grip. Saddam doesn't do this all by himself. He needs a mass of willing and committed henchmen. They should be our targets. Perhaps we should offer amnesty, protection, and self-bounty for any of his thugs who want to defect and talk. The lure of a better life may be just the thing to bring about the collapse of his regime from within. It doesn't have the flashy video clip opportunities of a full-fledged war but it has got to be cheaper. As a bonus we win by killing with kindness and Saddam pathetically loses. Isn't that what we all want?

Monday, December 02, 2002

While there may be no overt strings attached to Saudi money for Islamic institutions, the sheer presence of these sizable donations can be influential. Who would want to offend such a source of support? Rather like soft-money campaign contributions it would appear.
Update: Or federal funds for education or highway construction.
From Time, Inc., Rebuilding Afghanistan, One Bridge At a Time.
There are 13 CHLC (Chiclet) teams bird-dogging 300 projects reconstructing Afghan schools and infrastructure. But more important than even that they are demonstrating the content of American character face-to-face in a place where rumors and lies about Americans fly freely. The compassion, integrity, and fortitude demonstrated by these people on the ground may be the biggest gift we have to give to the Afghans. What the Russians could not conquer by force of arms, Americans will restore to health by dedication and compassion.

No wonder the Taliban and al-Qaeda hate the Chiclet teams. "Every one of us in Chiclet-5 has a price on his head," the Colonel says. "There are still al-Qaeda and Taliban out there. We see them shadowing us, looking for any weakness they might be able to exploit. We know they're going to come after us: it's not a matter of if, but when." He smiles. "But I'll tell you something, when they come they'd better be loaded for bear. Because we're good. Real good."

A young Hazara man in the bazaar offers his own verdict: "Do you know the American soldiers?" I tell him Yes, I do. "Could you please tell them, they should never leave. They should stay here forever."