Saturday, February 01, 2003

I can't believe the Columbia just broke up over Texas. What a horrible news story to wake up to. Of course there are Iraqis who are celebrating that the shuttle broke up and that an Israeli astronaut was among the dead. Anyone who celebrates this tragedy is a waste of hair.
The academic tenure system causes conformity and docility but not excellence.
According to this profile of economist Hernando de Soto in the Economist, he has two dogs name Marx and Engels so named because “they are German, hairy and have no respect for property”. (via The Corner)

Friday, January 31, 2003

Liberal bias in the university is real. The numbers given in this article make the point unequivocally. Let's get a little diversity in thought into our college campuses. (via
Over 80 German companies are suspected, accused and in this case convicted of dealing arms to Iraq in contravention of the UN embargo sanctions. Perhaps the "what's in it for me mentality" is not just a French affliction. For a country supposedly in dire economic straights why the need for so much military spending? Wouldn't this money do more good for Iraqis by buying food and medicine instead ? Perhaps we need to send a Hollywood delegation to ask Saddam the question.
Late Afternoon Musing
Most of the blog readers won't know who I'm talking about, but those who do will say "Oh! That would be great!". Someone needs to produce a Bela Fleck/Pat Metheny duet album. (I just finished listening to a great Bela Fleck album which is what popped the idea into my head). Bela, Pat and the Dixie Chicks would be quite fine too.

My personality is rated 28.
What is yours?

Others see you as fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical, and always interesting; someone who's constantly in the center of attention, but sufficiently well-balanced not to let it go to their head. They also see you as kind, considerate, and understanding; someone who'll always cheer them up and help them out.
This sounds awesome. A Guns for Tots program! I can't believe they are thinking of banning toy water guns in the city.
Mark Steyn on the 'cheese-eating surrender monkeys'

Ah, but for those with a big sophisticated Continental brain it's all more complicated than that. There are many idiotic incoherent leaders in the world, several of them francophone (hint), but Jacques Chirac is not among them. Say what you like about M. le President -- call him irresponsible, call him unreliable, throw in shifty, devious, corrupt, and almost absurdly conceited. But he's not stupid. The issue for the French is very straightforward: What's in it for us?

The answer to that may vary, but frame the question as a negative and the reply is always the same: What's not in it for France is that America should emerge with its present pre-eminence even more enhanced. France is in the business of la gloire de la republique, and right now the main obstacle to that is the post-Soviet unipolar geopolitical settlement. They are not temperamentally suited to being anyone's sidekick: If Tony Blair wants to play Athens to America's Rome, or Tonto to Bush's Lone Ranger, or Sandy the dog to Dubya's Little Orphan Annie, fine. The French aren't interested in any awards for Best Supporting Actor.

This isn't quite the same as being a bunch of spineless appeasers. As far as I can see, American pop culture only ever has room for one joke about the French. For three decades, the Single French Joke was that they were the guys who thought Jerry Lewis was a genius. I don't particularly see the harm in that myself, at least when compared to thinking, say, Jean-Paul Sartre is a genius. But, since September 11th, the new Single French Joke has been that they're "cheese-eating surrender monkeys," a phrase introduced on The Simpsons but greatly popularized by Jonah Goldberg of National Review. Jonah, you'll recall, recently flayed us Canadians for being a bunch of northern pussies, but it's a measure of the contempt in which he holds our D-list Dominion that we didn't even merit a pithy four-word sneer-in-a-can.
There must be something wrong with this quiz (I always make the right decisions):

My personality is rated 37.
What is yours?

Others see you as an exciting, highly volatile, rather impulsive personality; a natural leader, who's quick to make decisions, though not always the right ones. They see you as bold and adventuresome, someone who will try anything once; someone who takes chances and enjoys an adventure. They enjoy being in your company because of the excitement you radiate.
Lesley at Plum Crazy points out this shimmering example of gubmint efficiency and care. It seems that the Post Office has, in the last two years, lost (or have had stolen) 19,980,000 (out of 20,000,000) or 99.9% of those plastic bins they use. At a cost of $3.25 each, that comes to $64,935,000.
Zainab Al-Suwaij who escaped from Iraq through Jordan addresses whether the Iraqi people would really support the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in the latest TNR.

On March 1, 1991, I was fasting and praying with other women in the shrine of Imam Hussein. That day, I was reading prayers for illiterate women, a custom I had performed since childhood. Suddenly, a woman ran into the mosque and announced, "Our army has pulled out of Kuwait."

I burst into tears--not out of regret for the Iraqi army, but because I had hoped Saddam's regime might fall while most of his military was in Kuwait. During the Gulf war, we frequently saw young men in the street who had deserted the Iraqi army in Kuwait and returned to their hometown. Now, I worried, with the war over, there would be less reason for people to desert the army, and the elite Republican Guard would return and increase Saddam's control over the country. My hopes of freedom seemed to fade.
Two days later, on March 5, as I was having breakfast, our neighbor Umali came to see us. Umali's family was originally from Iran, and, although Saddam had expelled many people we thought were of Iranian origin years earlier, she had paid a bribe to continue living in Karbala. "They are coming!" she told me. "Who?" I asked. "The uprising fighters. They have already liberated Basra and Najaf, and now they are coming to Karbala." I didn't know who exactly these fighters were, but, as I would later see with my own eyes, they were a loose coalition of regular Iraqis of all backgrounds--soldiers who had deserted, high school students, and older people who could still remember a time before Baath Party rule--who had risen up with little organization and now were moving across the area.
Even with its guns, the army was no match for us that day. The angry crowds surged toward the soldiers' trucks and jeeps despite the rain of bullets. They swarmed en masse all over the military's vehicles and forced the troops out of their cars so that the soldiers could not possibly shoot at all the waves of rebels. Many soldiers threw down their weapons and ran off down the street, chased by the crowd. Many were caught and some were beaten; most who were captured were taken to the Imam Hussein shrine, which became a makeshift headquarters for the rebels and a detention center for army troops. I saw one older soldier who escaped the crowds banging on my neighbor's door, crying. He asked to be hidden or at least given some civilian clothes that might save him.

With the army on the run, it became easier for us to get weapons. During the Gulf war, Saddam had stored many of his weapons in places the United States and its allies would never dare bomb: elementary and high schools. Guards who used to work at the schools began emptying the school storage rooms and passing us everything from Kalashnikov rifles to grenade launchers. The guns would be necessary: Though many of the soldiers had run off, I saw that some were still putting up resistance to the rebels, and they were increasingly joined by Baath Party civilian militias and members of the town's secret police. For the Baath members and the secret police, their existence depended on Saddam staying in power, so they holed up inside Karbala's city hall and other municipal buildings and fired into the crowds in the street, maiming and killing as many people as they could. Later that night, many attempted to flee but were killed or captured by the rebels.

It also points to the needless suffering caused by the idiotic 'realists' in the Bush I administration (Colin Powell was among them) who convinced Bush Sr, to let Hussein remain in power.

By now, it was clear the Americans were not coming. President Bush had promised to help us if we rose up against Saddam, and we had believed him. But the help never arrived. American troops did not interfere as Saddam turned his helicopters and tanks against us, sending more and more regiments of his troops to Karbala. With no commerce and no help from the world, our supplies were running out, our energy was gone, and our momentum had disappeared. Troops loyal to Saddam began swarming through the city as the residents of Karbala fled. Within a few days, the uprising was crushed. Now it was about our own survival. We said goodbye, cried, and spread out on our own.

Saddam assigned the responsibility for Karbala to his son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, who quickly made an example of the resistance fighters, having troops shoot on sight anyone accused of being in the resistance. Kamel also let the bodies of those rebels shot during the uprising lie untouched in the streets as a reminder to the populace of what happened to people who rose up. I saw stray dogs approach the bodies and start eating them.
After going through the 90's spending like drunken sailors on shore leave, many states now find themselves with budget difficulties now that the economy as turned down and revenues are not what they expected. The solution most states have come up with is, of course, massive tax increases. The idea that they might actually have to roll back spending to the dark years of 1999 is just unthinkable. In Oregon where the voters have to approve tax increases, they soundly rejected higher taxes despite the shrill political scare tactics.

The failure of the proposal means cuts in the state trooper force, assistance for low-income senior citizens and the disabled, community mental health efforts and school funding, the Statesman Journal newspaper reports.

Ah, yes, no way the state can possibly make budget cuts without throwing seniors out on the street and firing police. This is because the Oregon state government like those of the other 49 states is so efficient and streamlined. This from the state where only a few months ago voters soundly rejected a massive new universal healthcare entitlement which would have added billions in additional expenditures. Do you get the idea that the politicians in Oregon are somewhat out of touch with the voters? Hopefully, they will find out during the next election along with all the tax raising politicians in the rest of the states.
In a piece called "Flogging the French" Nicholas Kristof writes:

Sure, the Poles and Portuguese may still dance with us. But if there were an extra spot on the axis of evil, the world would vote us in. Somehow, in a year's time, we've become Iraq.

I love leftist revisionism. Somehow a list of 9 countries boils down to Poland and Portugal. I guess he has to do this to prove his point which seems to boil down to that if we ignore the mighty French and Germans we are going to be left with only minor countries like Poland and Portugal as friends. What about the Spanish, the Italians, the British the Danes, the Hungarians, the Czechs and the Slovaks?

These people are trully pathetic. Maybe they are simply pissed that those European leaders chose to publish their letter in the Journal and not the Times.
More "News Analysis" hijinks from the Times. Check out their dismissal of the show of support for the US policy towards Iraq from the leaders of 9 European countries (originally 8 but Slovakia signed later):

The gravity of the problem became evident today after the leaders of eight European countries published an open letter in The Wall Street Journal and several European papers extolling the "bravery and generosity of America" and calling on the international community to take a united stand against Iraq.

In one sense, Europe is united. According to surveys, there is relative unanimity in European public opinion opposing any war.

Yet European leaders have taken widely differing stands.

Oh, so now their point is that the people of these countries aren't actually for the war, it's just their leaders. Evidence of this comes from "surveys." Not one is actually cited. Not a single one. And given the media focus on France and Germany, somehow I bet many of these "surveys" are focussed on these countries. Or are you trying to tell me that a scientific survey was done in Poland in an effort to discern public support for the US stand on Iraq? It's possible but I think I would need to see it to believe it.

Thomas Sowell discusses 'showering' benefits on the wealthy.

Big spenders and big taxers never want to face the fact that wealth is not created by government, but by the people that the government taxes. Moreover, these are seldom simply people who "happen to have money."

Most people who have money usually got it by providing other people with something they wanted badly enough to pay for it. This is never called "public service" by the politically correct. Selling people what they want, in order to get what you want, is called "greed."

It's public service when you decide what other people "really" need and impose it at the taxpayers' expense. It's public service when you create hoops for other people to jump through -- rules to follow, forms to fill out, lives to be lived as you prescribe -- all for their own good.

Given this mindset, you can see why letting people keep more of the money they earned is considered to be indulging them with benefits that the government "showers" on them. It is like subsidizing sin.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Yale Kramer explains what the Texas 'cowboys' they show so much disdain for did for them.

The invasion of southeast France along the Riviera was accomplished by the American Seventh Army, which consisted of three divisions, and these three divisions chased Germany’s Nineteenth Army out of southern France. Two of those three divisions were made up largely of cowboys from Oklahoma, the Forty-fifth, and Texas, the Thirty-sixth. The Texas division was made up of guys from little towns like Galena Park and Melissa where, for a few dollars a month, they joined the National Guard, which became federalized at the beginning of the war. The division was blooded in the brutal Italian Campaign the year before, and then in late summer of 1944 the Thirty-sixth started on its mission to free southeastern France. Starting with St. Raphael, they drove northward through Cannes, Grasse, Gap and Grenoble, places these boys had never heard of before they left home and had no plans to visit. They had worked on farms and ranches back home, in shops as mechanics, in stores as clerks, but they were cowboys at heart. Not very verbal or grammatical, they wore cowboy hats mostly, the cheap kind made of straw, and talked about everyday things, but not their cowboy values—being a square shooter, and being upright and honest men. They’d never heard of Voltaire, or Rousseau, or Chateau Petrus—but they liberated southern France, something the great French Army couldn’t do.
These are pretty funny. 'Engrish' subtitles from an Asian bootleg copy of LOTR.

They had some trouble with character names:

"I am Aragon son of Alfred"

"my name Smeedle"

"Gandolf foogray that was my name"

"my lord Gandlof foorgray is coming"


They couldn't seem to get the race of the little folks quite right:

"Did you see two hoberts with them"

"We are not oaks we are hobiks"

And my personal favorite (from the 80-100min section)

"Bring your pussy face to my ass"

For non-LOTR examples of 'Engrish' go here.
I just summed up the populations of the 8 European countries who expressed their support for the US on Iraq. According to the World Factbook (the reference guide provided by Yahoo!), I get 229.7 million people residing in those countries. If you add up France and Germany, you only get 142.1 million. So who says Europe is against us?
So Turkey has requested that NATO provide Patriot missiles in order for it to defend itself from Iraqi retaliation in case of war. Apparently France and Germany (along with those military giants Belgium and Luxembourg) are blocking the request from even being discussed!!! What traitors. Whether or not they agree with US policy towards Iraq they have a duty, as members of NATO, to defend other member nations from hostile attacks. Not sending your own tanks is one thing but stalling the deployment of defensive weapons?
Mean Mr. Mustard has posted updates here and here on his new poly-sci class with Prof. Gregor.
More from the Ivory Coast (from Little Green Footballs):

Dave Barry has a shortened script for LOTR II, for those who can't spare the 3 hours to see the whole movie.
I really am going to homeschool when I have kids. Public schools are really going down the crapper.
Brian Micklethwait proposes Micklethwait's Law of Negotiated Misery.
Looks like Schroder also has an issue with the idea of Freedom of the Press. He's a real piece of work. So why are we supposed to give a flying burrito what he thinks?
Quote of the Day

"If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America."

--Nelson Mandela

This is coming from a man who had close ties with Libya and Cuba during his term as President of South Africa. So why did the US push for him to get freed? And just so I am not misconstrued in any way, I am not defending apartheid in any way shape or form. I just think it's despicable for someone who was freed, at least partly because of US actions, to talk about the US in this way. Especially when he has a history of being buddy buddy with tyrants, dictators and just outright butchers.
Blue Ribbon Service

Anyone without access to other broadband ISP solutions should beat a path to DirectWay two-way satellite. Their customer service is absolutely great and satellite really is the best option if you need high speed access from home but can't get cable or real DSL. We just switched to cable, and even my cancellation call was handled with over-the-top efficiency and friendliness. We initially had our satellite service through Earthlink (powered by DirectWay), which was an absolute nightmare. Thank you, DirectWay.
Arnold Kling takes on economic idiotarians.

The idiotarian approach to debating economic policy is to frame an issue as a conflict between Authority Ranking (bad) and Communal Sharing (good). For example, an idiotarian treats drug company profits as evil (as if they resulted from Authority Ranking) and insists that the results of drug research belong in the public domain (to facilitate Communal Sharing). However, as John E. Calfee pointed out recently, when this policy is analyzed from the perspective of Market Pricing, we can see that it reduces research and adds to suffering, particularly in the Third World.
The archetypical idiotarian demagogue was Karl Marx. Marx did not portray capitalism as an impersonal system of Market Pricing. Instead, he viewed it as a mechanism for Authoritarian Ranking, in which the capitalist class exploits the working class. The alternative, naturally, was Communal Sharing: from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.
Malcolm Street thinks that the 'inexplicable' support given to the US by Britain and Australia is because they want a piece of US anti-gravity technology. I'm sure we'll hold back our phaser and transporter technology for the next time we need them to be our lap-dogs. (Note to Malcolm, stay away from squirrels)
Arthur Silber has a fine rant on the huge spending increases proposed by Bush in the SotU as a way to deflect Democratic attacks. This, like the steel tariff, has the stink of Karl Rove all over it and represents the worst of the Bush presidency. It harkens back to the cold, calculating, poll-driven politics of the Clinton administration.
Tim Blair provides a copy of Osama Bin Laden's State of the Union Address. (via Instapundit)
After the earlier post about Iraq being appointed to chair the UN Disarmament Conference, I decided to get ahead of the curve and suggest some UN appointments for various committees and upcoming conferences.

Saudi ArabiaCommission on the Status of Women
Iraq/North Korea co-chairCommittee against Torture
ColumbiaCommission on Narcotic Drugs
North Korea/Zimbabwe co-chairWorld Food Summit
South AfricaHIV/Aids Conference

This could only be expected after electing Libya to chair the UN Human Rights Commission, now Iraq is expected to chair the UN Disarmament Conference. And the purpose of the UN again is? Bueller? Anyone?

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

David Sims at Clubbeaux takes apart some comments by Reverend Dr. Peter Matheson. I suggested that my wife quote the first line, "Why is it that whenever any institutional churchman addresses political issues he always – always – exhibits a superabundance of naïveté, ignorance, condescension and arrogance?", next Sunday when she sees the Minister at her church with whom she has had some political disagreements in the past. She replied she would, but that despite her differences with the good Reverend she would like to still be able to attend the church.
Sine Qua Non Pundit points out this absurdity from the bureaucrats in Brussels. Farmers have 90 days to give their pigs toys, rubber balls, or other objects to play with to keep the pigs happy or face fines of up to £1,000 or three months in jail.
According to the NYPost Saddam Hussein has ordered official death certificates sent to Iraqi scientists' families as a warning against aiding U.N. inspectors. But Hans Blix saw no reason to insist that scientists and their families be removed from Iraq for questioning.
Kay S. Hymowitz has a very good article in the current City Journal reviewing the despicable lack of any meaningful outcry by 'feminists' to the treatment of women in many Islamic countries. Instead we get articles by feminists defending the forced wearing of burkhas. It is eerily similar to the silence of feminist organizations to Bill Clintons miserable treatment of women. Policy trumps principles.

As you look at this inventory of brutality, the question bears repeating: Where are the demonstrations, the articles, the petitions, the resolutions, the vindications of the rights of Islamic women by American feminists? The weird fact is that, even after the excesses of the Taliban did more to forge an American consensus about women’s rights than 30 years of speeches by Gloria Steinem, feminists refused to touch this subject. They have averted their eyes from the harsh, blatant oppression of millions of women, even while they have continued to stare into the Western patriarchal abyss, indignant over female executives who cannot join an exclusive golf club and college women who do not have their own lacrosse teams.
That this combination of sentimental victimhood, postcolonial relativism, and utopian overreaching has caused feminism to suffer so profound a loss of moral and political imagination that it cannot speak against the brutalization of Islamic women is an incalculable loss to women and to men. The great contribution of Western feminism was to expand the definition of human dignity and freedom. It insisted that all human beings were worthy of liberty. Feminists now have the opportunity to make that claim on behalf of women who in their oppression have not so much as imagined that its promise could include them, too. At its best, feminism has stood for a rich idea of personal choice in shaping a meaningful life, one that respects not only the woman who wants to crash through glass ceilings but also the one who wants to stay home with her children and bake cookies or to wear a veil and fast on Ramadan. Why shouldn’t feminists want to shout out their own profound discovery for the world to hear?
This is pretty cool. Hawkes Ocean Technologies has just introduced a new winged, two person, electric battery operated submersible acts more like a plane than a traditional submarine.
Thomas Friedman has a piece today which promotes allowing time in order to try to broker a deal in which Saddam agrees to exile. I never really knew why he would ever agree to this. It's not like you can bribe him. What exactly can you offer him that can rival running your own oil rich nation with no constitutional controls on your power. He is in effect one of the richest men in the world. And do you think threats would do it? If he leaves without a fight he will lose a lot of face and that is anathema to many in the Arab world. When was the last time you saw a transfer of power in the Arab world that doesn't involve somebody dying? Keep dreaming Friedman. And in the off chance that he does accept exile, what is to stop him from continuing to run Iraq from Moscow or Paris? If mob bosses can continue running their organizations from jail, what would stop Hussein from trying to run Iraq from outside the country?
Here is a passage from today's moderately humorous Christopher Buckley piece in the Journal on what we should have heard in the post-speech analysis:

Well, for one, when he said, "I'm going to open a can of whup-ass on Saddam Hussein." I suspect that may well become a defining line of Mr. Bush's presidency. Also, when he said that "The French can stay home and make cheese for all I care." A very strong statement. I think that will resonate with any American who thinks the French are frankly impossible.

I really do like the line about the French. Every time I re-read it I chuckle.
Yesterday after coming back from ice skating, my 4-year-old daughter complained that her legs and back were sore. At which point, my 5-year-old piped up "That 'cause you're getting old, Justine.".

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

I was disappointed when C&S announced he was closing down his blog this weekend. Apparently he has reconsidered.
Feral Living is having a Valentine's Day Limerick Contest. You can enter here.

Here's my entry:

There was an old man named Loughlin
Whos sweetheart he wanted to be boffin
So he took her to Niagra
And swallowed eight Viagra
Now they can't close the coffin.
News Stories You Won't See This Year

Protesters gathered in Baghdad carrying signs with pictures of Saddam Hussein standing in front of a large black swastika. Other protesters carried signs with slogans such as "Oil for food and medicine! Not Palaces" and "Stop using chemical weapons on the populace"

Groups of French protesters led by Jose Bove began building multiple McDonald's all over Zimbabwe in a symbolic gesture to protest the government created famine with it's complete control over food distribution channels.

In a speech, Bill Clinton announced that he had a revelation and realized what a miserable and wasted presidency he had. He apologized profusely and announced that he would leave the public stage and retire quietly back to Arkansas and pursue a quiet law practice.

In a related story, Hilary Clinton announced that she was seeking a divorce from Bill. She said in her blind hunger for power she allowed herself and her daughter to be publicly humiliated by her philandering husband for years. She announced that even though she knew her marriage to be a sham, she remained in it to further her political ambitions.

In a week of personal revelations, Al Sharpton announced that he realized he had done enormous harm to race relations, and to further his own status and political status backed policies that he knew to be harmful to the Black community. He announced that since he had managed to pick up a title of 'Reverend' from somewhere he would found a small church and help the local Black community by supporting school vouchers, convincing Black children to remain in school, find job placement programs to keep young black men out of gangs, and convince black men to marry and participate in the raising of their children.

President Chirac of France announced that the country of France felt deep regret over its sales of arms to Iraq and its aid in Iraqs nuclear program. He also apologized for French UN arms inspectors who tipped off Iraqi officials about upcoming surprise inspections. He said that France would lead the attack on Iraq to rid it of Saddam Hussein in an attempt to make amends for it's past mistakes there.

German Chancellor Schroeder announced that Germany would be leaving the EU. He said he realized it was huge mistake to cede sovereign matters to an unelected bureaucracy in Brussels. He also announced that the soft Socialism in place was strangling the German economy with high permanent levels of unemployment and ever decreasing levels of productivity. He announced sweeping pro-market reforms and massive tax cuts. German labor unions indicated their complete support.

Paul Krugman penned his last column for the New York Times this week. In it he cited his reasons. He realized that being passed over by Laura Tyson as Bill Clinton's economic advisor had left him bitter. To insure a high policy position in the next Democratic administration he became a shill for the Democratic party to demonstrate what a team player he could be. He also apologized for the $50,000 he took from Enron and said that favorable articles he wrote about Enron at the time were directly related to the money they paid him. He said he would donate the money to a fund to help ex-Enron employees.

A large group of respected scientists signed a petition praising the work done by Bjorn Lomberg. They announced that the Earth had far larger natural climatic shifts than even the worst case predictions made by computer models and that far more technologically primitive people had managed to adapt. They also said that it was an act of enormous hubris to place much faith in hundred year models of global weather patterns when they got the weather a week from now right with less than 20% accuracy.

A group of Arab students boarded buses bound for Tel Aviv saying they would act as human shields against possible missile strikes by Saddam Hussein. They said that Hussein would think twice about raining missiles on Tel Aviv if he knew not only Jews would be killed.
Japan is missing 206kg of plutonium!!! That's enough for 25 nuclear weapons. That's just great. Maybe North Korea has more than "just one or two".
Check out this picture of anti-French pro-US protests in the Ivory Coast (thanks instapundit):

Israeli exit polls show Likud with 34 seats and Labor with about 18. Last election Labor had won 25. So why exactly did they quit the coalition and then elect an extreme leftist as their head? Talk about political suicide. There is even talk about a split in the Labor party which may lead a lot of the dovish members leaving and joining a smaller more-dovish party and the rest joining Sharon's coalition.
Denny Wilson explains why the US is not a Democracy. If there were still any requirements to take civics classes in high school, most people over the age of 16 would know this already. But as a short conversation with a randomly chosen person will demonstrate, most folks are now clueless about the founders and the Constitutional Republic they formed, which is why a New York Senator (Senate: 2 seats per state regardless of population) trained as a lawyer can announce that the electoral college is an obsolete institution and should be abolished.
Big Arm Woman has a nice takedown of Edward Said over at Tightly Wound.
Christopher Hitchens has a column up at Slate on the 'cowboy' description usually thrown at Bush as an epithet.

On its own, the word "cowboy" is not particularly opprobrious. It means a ranch hand or cattle driver, almost by definition a mounted one, herding the steers in the general direction of Cheyenne and thus providing protein on the hoof. The job calls for toughness and has little appeal to the sentimental. A typical cowboy would be laconic, patient, somewhat fatalistic, and prone to spend his wages on brawling and loose gallantry. His first duty is to cattle, and he has to have an eye for weather. Unpolished, but in his way invaluable. A rough job but someone's got to do it. And so forth.
To have had three planeloads of kidnapped civilians crashed into urban centers might have brought out a touch of the cowboy even in Adlai Stevenson. But Bush waited almost five weeks before launching any sort of retaliatory strike. And we have impressive agreement among all sources to the effect that he spent much of that time in consultation. A cowboy surely would have wanted to do something dramatic and impulsive (such as to blow up at least an aspirin-factory in Sudan) in order to beat the chest and show he wasn't to be messed with. But it turns out that refined Parisians are keener on such "unilateral" gestures—putting a bomb onboard the Rainbow Warrior, invading Rwanda on the side of the killers, dispatching French troops to the Ivory Coast without a by-your-leave, building a reactor for Saddam Hussein, and all the rest of it.

(via The Corner)
According to this Bob Woodward piece, we have evidence of Iraqi concealment of WMD development and we are going to release some next week. Lock and load.....
Bill Whittle has a new piece up entitled 'War'. These pieces are becoming as eagerly awaited for as a new piece by Mark Steyn or P.J. O'Rourke. It comes with the typical disclaimer, it's long but a must read.

Those who criticize the United States from within clearly have not seen any of these horrors I have mentioned, for if they had it could not but mitigate their rhetoric, and put some perspective into their arrogant and affluent lives. Those who actually endure such daily horror as can be found in the world want one thing and one thing only: they want to come here. They want to come here NOW.

We never see these grotesque realities on US television, and yet our news media has not been shy about reporting the effects of US bombing campaigns, never missed a chance to show us the weeping civilians wailing over children lost in US air attacks, never blanched at showing charred Iraqi soldiers hanging out of tanks destroyed by our weapons.

However, by showing only our actions, by showing only what we did to Iraqis without presenting the horrors they inflicted on Kuwait, we have made an editorial decision, that being: The US is the cause of, and not the remedy to, much of the suffering in the world.

That said, in a democracy we are responsible for the actions of our military. Reporting on the consequences of our actions is disturbing and demoralizing, and yet it is well and proper that they do this. We cannot turn our backs on the actual consequences of our actions as Americans. We need to see and hear the result of our military operations, for if we do not we will lose the shock and outrage, the human compassion and decency that so often stays our hand. We, as a nation, learned in Vietnam that war is not jingoistic glory. It is also not a videogame. It is concentrated, unleashed pain, agony, grief and horror, and real people, people who love their children as much as we do, are going to suffer and die because of the actions we are about to take.

Unlike our political opponents both here and abroad, we need to fully and completely understand and accept the consequences of our position. And those consequences, when making war, are the most solemn and heavy responsibilities we can bear as a people.

Those protesting this war do not seem to get this at all. Not only have they failed to make an argument based on fact and historical precedent, they have stooped to the most childish and infantile posturing and rhetoric imaginable. Their chanting has all the mindlessness and cruelty of a kindergarten cabal; their slogans and slanders and taunts seemingly exclusively ad hominem. Watching them on C–Span for as long as you can bear, you rapidly become convinced that they have no point to make at all, other than that the United States is, by definition, the source of all evil and injustice in the world. Conscientious liberals admit in private, and indeed, more frequently in public, to the paucity of thought, the irrationality and sheer lunacy of those who march in our streets in opposition to war with Iraq. I see the absurd posturing of these suburban socialists, listen to the inane chanting from these mall Marxists, watch them return to their Lexus’ and their minivans and their SUV’s and find myself stuck with Life During Wartime running over and over in my head:

This ain’t no party
This ain’t no disco
This ain’t no foolin’ around

This ain’t no Mud Club
I ain’t got time for that now
We and two or three other nations, old and true friends who have stood by us through flame and terror, now confront a menace the likes of which we have not seen for almost a thousand years. We face an adversary in the full bloom of romance with death and destruction, an enemy willing – eager -- to spray our cities with a virus it has taken armies of scientists and doctors, working diligently through centuries of research and learning, to eradicate from the blood-soak rolls of history. We face fanatics who would bring down the entire world, themselves included, in a radioactive Armageddon, secure in their own twisted souls of the heavenly rewards of sexual gratification and revenge for their many abject failures. We face people such as this, people who are so far beyond the pale of human mercy and so corrupted by black and bitter rage that they must be killed, for nothing else will stop them, nothing – as they tell us at every opportunity.

We have blithely ignored them for many years, turned a deaf ear to their warnings and fatwahs, turned an even more blinded eye to their procession of assassinations, massacres, bombings and attacks. Despite our recent and proven record of aiding and defending innocent Muslims in Kuwait, the Balkans, and elsewhere, we have been singled out as a Satan, a nation of sub-human infidels, and been the target of slander and incitement to murder that would have shamed the most fanatical Jesuit in the Spanish Inquisition.

There are those of us who have the courage to actually listen to their unedited rhetoric, view the video records of their atrocities, and face the fact that these people are sworn to kill as many innocent civilians as they possibly can. Some of us, in the months since September 11th, 2001, have chosen to take them at their word.
We should begin by having the honesty and integrity to admit that the direct connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda prior to the events of 9/11 are tenuous and murky at best. We should also acknowledge that despite feverish claims to the contrary, Saddam Hussein is a totalitarian dictator exclusively concerned with his own power and in no way is he the Muslim Saladin he makes himself out to be. It does indeed seem likely that Osama bin laden and Saddam detest and hate each other (and soon we shall be able to refer to both of them in the past tense.) But to say that this is enough to prevent them from allying themselves against the United States is self-delusion of the highest order.

For the full horror of a terrorist nuclear attack upon the United States to come to fruition, our enemies need both the means to produce an atomic bomb and a delivery system for it.

Anyone who doubts the willingness and ability of Al Qaeda to deploy and use such a weapon has frankly not been paying attention and is unworthy of this debate. They have, in public statements, on web sites, in training videos and operations manuals, shown a persistent and desperate attempt to obtain such a weapon. We have only to look back to that clear blue morning should we have any doubt whatsoever that such people would do everything in their power to kill as many of us as possible. Let us not forget that without the heroism and professionalism of our police and firemen, and the most well-managed, successful emergency evacuation in history, that death toll that day could have easily reached twenty or thirty thousand. There is a great deal of evidence that other teams, both here and abroad, were thwarted by the quick grounding of the commercial fleet by the FAA. Who knows how many others might have been killed that day, and where? Or how many unsung victories we have won in the months since that terrible day?
To say this war is all about oil is factually identical to saying that this war is all about maintaining our society and lifestyle. If that is not worth fighting for, what is? One may find that offensive ideologically, but my experience with the people who have SPLIT WOOD NOT ATOMS on their bumper stickers have actually split very little wood in their lives. If one feels deeply about NO BLOOD FOR OIL, you must either drive a solar-powered electric car, ride a horse or a bicycle, or walk. You must remove your home from the city power grid. You must discard all plastic items. You must also abandon television, radios and movies, all of which rely on electricity generated by oil. You must forgo modern medicine, surgery and dentistry, likewise driven by oil-fired electricity at many stages. You must grow your own food.

Do all of these things, and you will have my frank admiration for your dedication to a moral cause. Do anything less and you are a hypocrite mouthing an easy lie in an attempt to strike a pose of moral superiority.

Even my excerpting is starting to get long, just follow the link and go read the whole piece.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Here is a quote from Janeane Garofalo on the war:

"These same corporate entities have an interest in war, have an interest in profiting from war. They represent corporate America. Corporate America dictates the news we are getting."

We are constantly hearing from the extreme left how the government or the media is a "tool of corporate America". Do these people actually listen to what they are saying? Do they realize they sound just as looney as those people saying how the Jews or the freemasons are running everything? If you just asked yourself "you mean, they're not?" you may want to skip this post. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Though you might be able to answer this question for me, how exactly does corporate America control everything? For this level of control there would have to be collusion on a mass scale. Do they think there is a "Big Evil Corporate Control of Everything" office somewhere? And what benefit does any individual corporation get from all this? We are in a downturn right now and I bet that most corporate heads have many more pressing issues than who the leader of some piece of crap country is. Sure the oil companies may want access to the oil, but why would an IBM, McDonald's or Microsoft care?
According to this, the reason that Iraqi scientists are afraid of being interviewed by inspectors is that some of the inspectors have been recruited by the Iraqis as informants. Yes it sounds a bit paranoid but just because you are being paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.
The French seem destined to be the voice for every stinkpot dictator. They can't even come to confront Mugabe so how can we expect them to oppose Saddam Hussein. There is no moral backbone in France just love of Francophones no matter how they behave.
Below is a picture of a protest at Davos (via Andrew Sullivan). Oh, no they aren't anti-semitic, they are just anti-zionist. What's the difference between the extreme left and Nazi's again? I think I've forgotten what the argument was for a distinction between the two.

Here is an article titled "How Many People Has Hussein Killed":

DOING the arithmetic is an imprecise venture. The largest number of deaths attributable to Mr. Hussein's regime resulted from the war between Iraq and Iran between 1980 and 1988, which was launched by Mr. Hussein. Iraq says its own toll was 500,000, and Iran's reckoning ranges upward of 300,000. Then there are the casualties in the wake of Iraq's 1990 occupation of Kuwait. Iraq's official toll from American bombing in that war is 100,000 — surely a gross exaggeration — but nobody contests that thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians were killed in the American campaign to oust Mr. Hussein's forces from Kuwait. In addition, 1,000 Kuwaitis died during the fighting and occupation in their country.

Casualties from Iraq's gulag are harder to estimate. Accounts collected by Western human rights groups from Iraqi émigrés and defectors have suggested that the number of those who have "disappeared" into the hands of the secret police, never to be heard from again, could be 200,000. As long as Mr. Hussein remains in power, figures like these will be uncheckable, but the huge toll is palpable nonetheless.

If the true numbers are anywhere close to this, how can we not go in?
Another good Lileks rant:

One of the speakers quoted in the article said we’d insulted Arab cultures: “Long after the Gulf War was over, we had arms depots outside of mosques, American servicewomen dressed inappropriately for where they were.” So women shouldn’t be in the military? No, of course they should serve. So they shouldn’t be posted to the Middle East? No, they should have the same opportunities as men. So they should wear the veil while they’re on the base? No, but we have to understand that their presence upsets the local culture. So you support overturning the governments that impose strict miserable sexist regulations on females? No, we just have to realize how they see us. And then we do what? I don’t understand the question. Once we realize that they see us as a Godforsaken culture that lets women drive cars AND planes AND wear shorts and thongs, AND dance with someone they just met five minutes ago AND have a day job operating machine guns, then what? Well, we enter into a cross-cultural dialogue that enables a syncretic process aimed at facilitating strategies of coexistence. Yes, but what if they want to kill us because we actually think that their concepts of female servitude are negotiable? Well, I don’t accept your definitions; I think we have to change the terms of the debate so violence is never an option. It’s an option for them. It’s Job One, as the Ford ads used to say - oh, look, it’s a fellow with a bomb-belt, running towards us. Should I shoot him? Violence never solves anything. It’s about to solve you, ma’am. It’s about to solve you for good.
Check out this passage from Colin Powell's speech at Davos:

The support of U.S. intelligence and the intelligence of other nations can take the inspectors only so far. Without Iraq's full and active cooperation, 100 or so inspectors would have to look under every roof and search the back of every truck in a country the size of California to find the munitions and programs for which Iraq has failed to account for.

After six weeks of inspections, the international community still needs to know the answers to key questions. For example: Where is the evidence -- where is the evidence -- that Iraq has destroyed the tens of thousands of liters of anthrax and botulinum we know it had before it expelled the previous inspectors? This isn't an American determination. This is the determination of the previous inspectors. Where is this material? What happened to it? It's not a trivial question. We're not talking about aspirin. We're talking about the most deadly things one can imagine, that can kill thousands, millions of people. We cannot simply turn away and say, "Well, never mind." Where is it? Account for it. Let it be verified through the inspectors.

What happened to nearly 30,000 munitions capable of carrying chemical agents? The inspectors can only account for only 16 of them. Where are they? It's not a matter of ignoring the reality of the situation. Just think, all of these munitions, which perhaps only have a short range if fired out of an artillery weapon in Iraq, but imagine if one of these weapons were smuggled out of Iraq and found its way into the hands of a terrorist organization who could transport it anywhere in the world.

What happened -- please, what happened -- to the three metric tons of growth material that Iraq imported which can be used for producing early, in a very rapid fashion, deadly biological agents?

Where are the mobile vans that are nothing more than biological weapons laboratories on wheels? Why is Iraq still trying to procure uranium and the special equipment needed to transform it into material for nuclear weapons?

These questions are not academic. They are not trivial. They are questions of life and death, and they must be answered.

To those who say, "Why not give the inspection process more time?", I ask: How much more time does Iraq need to answer those questions? It is not a matter of time alone, it is a matter of telling the truth, and so far Saddam Hussein still responds with evasion and with lies.
This is gonna be awkward at holidays. A Croatian woman who slept with two men at the same time has given birth to twins with two different fathers.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Funny parody about a school sued over 'educational zealotry'.

She has told us how she was subjected to a barrage of encouragement and tuition from Mr Marshall and how he would make sure that all pupils had understood what he had told them before moving on to the next topic. "It was bang out of order," the articulate teenager said, "most of the teachers just let us get on with having a fag and a laugh but he kept trying to learn us stuff. Me English is dead good anyway, so what's the point, innit?"

Not content with attempting to teach, Mr Marshall also made outlandish attendance requirements with children expected to attend "every now and then". Anyone that failed this test was immediately reported to the school's head. Even when pupils tried to communicate their frustrations to Mr Marshall, despite two near-fatal stabbings and a drive-by shooting he stubbornly persisted with his educational drive.

Via Joanne Jacobs. In an effort to prove how difficult it is to write parody these days because of the absurdity of the real news, Ms. Jacobs also links to an actual story of an Italian girl who sued to be allowed to be promoted to her final year despite flunking math because of her mathphobia. I see a more general condition emerging soon in schools all over. Flunkaphobia, the unnatural fear of flunking any subject to be quickly followed by Truantaphoba, the unnatural fear of attending school at all. Students with these conditions will of course be required by the courts to give diplomas to all of these students.
den Beste has some comments about a particularly inane editorial in Bild about the comments Rumsfeld made about 'Old Europe'.

So Rumsfeld has come in for a severe Franco-German tongue-lashing; they have deployed their most forceful scowls his direction (their most dreaded weapon internationally, as is well known). But they're running into a bit of a problem coming up with rational arguments (not that that's ever stopped them). Here's one of the more preposterous:

In an editorial, Bild reminded Rumsfeld of his German roots and the ideals of the French Revolution which inspired the United States' constitution.

"Mister Rumsfeld, hundreds of thousands of your G.I.'s fell for 'old Europe' because they freed us from the tyranny of Hitler. You are sinning against your own heroes by disparaging 'old Europe'. Your G.I.'s died for the ideals of your place of origin," Bild wrote in an editorial.

Let's see; the US Constitution was written in 1787 and was largely based on principles discussed in the US as early as 1774, if not even earlier. Many of those ideals are in the Declaration of Independence written in 1776. So how, exactly, was this influenced by the ideals of the French Revolution, which took place in 1789?

Actually, historically speaking it was the other way around: the revolutionaries in France were in large part inspired by the American example, though only imperfectly. Not to put too fine a point on it, they screwed it up. The ideals of the French Revolution led to the guillotine, Napoleon, and 20 years of devastating war in Europe leaving behind more than a million dead. France is on its, what, fifth republic since then? Something like that? (And we're still working on our first. I guess we're falling behind.)
The recent Eco-terrorism carried out by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) in burning SUV's in Pennsylvania to protest the "profit motive from killing the natural environment" emitted more pollutants than would be produced by 70,000 full-sized sport/utility vehicles in 10 years of operation. (Autoweek)
Dave Barry has got himself a blog. Now if Ken Layne can only convince P.J. O'Rourke and Mark Steyn to start one the blogosphere would be complete.
Mark Steyn explains why the Falklands War was a 'model of good sense' and why confronting dictators is a better long-term policy than appeasing them.

General Galtieri spent the last 20 years telling his dwindling circle of acquaintances that it never occurred to him the British would fight back. Who can blame him? In the Seventies, the map looked very different. The Soviets held half of Europe, had neutered most of the rest, and were advancing in every corner of the globe, from Afghanistan to Ethiopia to Grenada. The West never roused itself, except occasionally to co-operate: Cuban troops were in Africa, and Pierre Trudeau's contribution to the Cold War was to allow Castro's military aircraft to refuel in Canada. America had been humbled in Vietnam and humiliated in Iran, where the smiling eunuch Carter had allowed a superpower to be turned into a laughingstock, with cocky mullahs poking the corpses of U.S. servicemen on TV.

So why would General Galtieri have had any qualms about seizing the Falklands? Yes, it was British "sovereign territory," but the American Embassy in Teheran was U.S. "sovereign territory," and all the Peanut Peacenik had done was dither helplessly and then botch an ill-thought-out rescue mission. Why would the toothless, arthritic British lion be any different?
Well, the sources were wrong. Mrs. Thatcher liberated not just the Falklands, but also Argentina, at least from the military. Galtieri fell and democracy returned. The "humiliating defeat" of the junta tainted all the other puffed-up bemedalled tinpots by implication. And, whatever the problems of Latin America today, no one's pining for the return of the generals. Twenty years ago, the realpolitik crowd thought a democratic South America was a fantasy and that we had to cosy up to the strutting little El Presidentes-for-Life. Today, the same stability junkies tell us we have to do the same with Boy Assad and Co. They're wrong again. They always are.
The French appeasement of Islam is clearly shown in the Ivory Coast. Perhaps the reason they are not willing to confront Iraq is that ALL their soldiers are tied up at the moment. How long is it before France adopts Sharia law?
The left only sees the environmental destruction it wants to. Never the disasters caused by the dictators they protect. The marshes of Iraq were destroyed a decade ago and what have the environmentalists done to restore the wildlife habitats. .
Acidman apologizes for being an American and explains why he is a liberal.
Bigwig says that, after 58 years, the French have decided they prefer Vichy after all. He suggests that the French motto "Liberté, égalité, fraternité!" (which as P.J. O'Rourke has pointed out is self-contradictory anyway) should be replaced with a new Vichian motto "ignorez, retarde, apaisez".