Saturday, March 01, 2003

The "human shields" in Iraq prove once again that the left is primarily symbolism over substance. Saddam is not a nice man they have discovered and he is not interested in protecting the lives of his people but would rather stay in power. What a bunch of Darwin award winners..
Tahoe Ski Report

Here are my ratings for the four areas we skied this vacation:

Heavenly = 8
Kirkwood = 10
Homewood = 8
Northstar =5

If anyone skis with kids and wants my impressions of the ski schools and family friendliness for 4 & 5 year old novice skiers, check out rsn.com at the forums for the respective resorts sometime next week, under the pseudonym of shesquall.

My ratings are heavily weighted towards my experiences both in and out of ski school with both girls. The exception is Homewood where I took a friend of John's, Mark, to try snowboarding while my oldest, Jordan, and I checked out the green and blue runs there, sans ski school. Homewood and Kirkwood were surprise favorites, Homewood because if its wonderful lake views, and Kirkwood because of the family-friendly mix of easy and challenging terrain and lack of lines.

John, of course, scores a perfect 5 stars in the husband category for supporting my habit and allowing me to begin the process of turning our daughters into my ski companions, while he hung out and cooked for us at the ski house. What a guy!
There is a long but very interesting essay by Walter Russell Mead in National Interest about the Jacksonian Tradition in America. Personally I am much more closely aligned to the Jeffersonian tradition but there are many admirable traits in the Jacksonian tradtion, mostly those where they overlap with Jeffersonian traditions such as the great emphasis on the individual.
(via Dean's World)
Arthur Silber has a short post on the continued destruction of the Bill of Rights. In this case the damage done to 4th Amendment protections by the Patriot Act. By all accounts the Patriot Act II will be even more destructive. I only hope that the SCOTUS has the guts to strike down the clearly unconstitional provisions of these laws.
Great line from a good column by George Will:

"IN Europe, anti-Semitism has been called the socialism of fools, which is confusing because socialism is the socialism of fools."
Read the article in the WaPo about the progress made in Afghanistan since the Taliban have been thrown out.

In a city that had a handful of shopworn eating places two years ago, a new Chinese or Italian or American hamburger restaurant opens almost weekly, as well as kebab shops by the score. Small hotels have sprung up, and a $40 million Hyatt is on the way. The food bazaars are bustling and there are downtown blocks filled almost entirely with bridal shops. Rebuilt homes are rising from the ruins, and every little storefront seems to be stuffed with bathtubs or fans or with men building and carving things to be sold.
...
While much of the money being invested today is coming from Afghans here and abroad, U.S. and international military and aid programs are surely making the expansion possible. More than 4,000 foreign troops are now in Kabul and another 9,000 U.S. and allied troops are stationed in Afghanistan, many at the Bagram air base 35 miles north of the capital. Without them, the relative peace in Kabul would not likely last long.

Several thousand diplomats, aid workers and other foreigners also live in Kabul, and the most visible part of the new business caters to their needs. It remains an open question whether the new Kabul can sustain itself when some of those relief workers go home.

But the Afghan government, along with some embassies, is working to keep and expand the international presence. The first big wave of foreigners to arrive after the Taliban fled were journalists, who often paid top dollar for homes and services. Most are now gone, but more permanent businessmen are taking up the slack. According to Commerce Minister Seyyed Mustafa Kazemi, the number of foreign firms setting up shop in Afghanistan is growing fast.

He said that in the past six months, his ministry has approved 2,600 business licenses, compared with 2,045 in the 45 years before. Many were given to foreign firms, he said, or those headed by Afghans living abroad who want to return to their homeland. These licensed businesses are the large ones that will pay all taxes and other government fees; most Afghan businesses still open without registration and beyond the reach of central government tax collectors.

It has been pointed out that the one group noticeably absent from the anti-war demonstrations were Iraqis. Amir Taheri says that Iraqis did show up but were turned away by the organizers.

The Iraqis had come with placards reading "Freedom for Iraq" and "American rule, a hundred thousand times better than Takriti tyranny!"

But the tough guys who supervised the march would have none of that. Only official placards, manufactured in thousands and distributed among the "spontaneous" marchers, were allowed. These read "Bush and Blair, baby-killers," " Not in my name," "Freedom for Palestine," and "Indict Bush and Sharon."

Not one placard demanded that Saddam should disarm to avoid war.

The goons also confiscated photographs showing the tragedy of Halabja, the Kurdish town where Saddam's forces gassed 5,000 people to death in 1988.
...
Ismail Qaderi, a former Baathist official but now a dissident, wanted to tell the marchers how Saddam systematically destroyed even his own party, starting by murdering all but one of its 16 original leaders.

"Those who see Saddam as a symbol of socialism, progress, and secularism in the Arab world must be mad," he said.

Khalid Kishtaini, Iraq's most famous satirical writer, added his complaint.

"Don't these marchers know that the only march possible in Iraq under Saddam Hussein is from the prison to the firing-squad?" he asked. "The Western marchers behave as if the US wanted to invade Switzerland, not Iraq under Saddam Hussein."

Friday, February 28, 2003

I'm really suprised that there isn't more in the press of how badly the Arab culture treats women and more of an outcry from feminists. Check out this story on how teenage girls are afraid to wear anything resembling feminine clothing in mostly Arab housing projects. NOW really makes me sick for keeping so quiet. Yes, abortion is an important issue for some women. But isn't this way more important? And yet you don't even hear a peep from these people.
I've been thinking about those "human shields" who have gone over to Iraq as a way of protest. I think these people probably are so out of touch with reality that they actually thought that if they were at a military target that the US would spare them. Or maybe they actually never thought it all the way through:

Human Shield: "Mustapha, what do I do if my government actually attacks this target?"
Iraqi: "You die."
Human Shield: "Oh. Can't we just tell everyone I was here and instead Ill be all safe in the bunker?"
Iraqi: "No, we need your burned out heep of a corpse to show the western video cameras."
Human Shield: "Honestly, I really only did this to impress this girl I was dating at Reed college. I figured, I'd come here, do a little protest, the crisis would be resolved and I would go home a hero. This is not what I had in mind at all. I don't think she'll date a corpse. Can't we just forget the whole thing?"
Iraqi: "No, if I let you go, then I'll become a corpse. I signed for you. The rule is, one American human shield, one American corpse. Those are the rules, sorry my friend."
Human Shield: "I'm such a dumbass."
Arafat is worth $300 million according to Forbes. It's amazing what one can do through sound financial planning.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Victor Davis Hanson on why Iraq is linked to Al-Qaeda in the War against terrorism.

Saddam Hussein, al Qaeda, bin Laden, Hezbollah, and others — they all talk in apocalyptic tones about Western decadence, the inability of Americans to take casualties, the need to destroy Israel, and the moral superiority of Islam. They all sprinkle here and there crazy references to crusaders, colonists, infidels, and jihad. They have all fought and killed Americans in the past, and brag that they will do so in the future — whether referring to cooked-up "victories" at "the mother of all battles" or the trenches and caves of Tora Bora.

Their real gripe is that the world is passing them all by — whether we speak in noble terms of the benefactions of globalization such as high-tech medicine and the respect that freedom conveys to the individual, or more the crass schlock of Michael Jackson's globally broadcasted sins and the addiction of video games. The millions of the Islamic world are at last trying to taste some of this far faster than their mullahs and dictators can stop them. So in the warped minds of terrorists and strongmen it is either to blow up a skyscraper or to blackmail the West with germs — or to see the slow strangulation of Islamic fundamentalism and Arab tyrannies through the advent of globalized freedom.

I've been catching up on some blogs I haven't read in awhile too. Go take a look at Philip Murphy's The Invisible Hand. He's got quite a bit of very good stuff up.
I am getting to catch up on a lot of music listening while on vacation. I've just listened to another beautiful piece by an underappreciated composer, Tomasek's Requiem. Vaclav Jan Tomasek was a Czech composer, born in Prague and almost an exact contemporary of Spohr. The Requiem was written in 1820 in memory of the victims of a flood of the river Ohre which devastated the town of Stran. Requiems have always been one of my favorite large scale musical forms and I have a very large collection of recordings of them. I like them specially because they frequently represent one of the most intimate large scale expressions of a composers emotions as they are frequently written in memory of the death of close friends or relatives. Brahms German Requiem was written after the death of his mother which is one of the reasons he chose to use the German poems as text rather than the typical Fire and Brimstone of the traditional Dies Irae. Mozarts Requiem was arguably written for himself as he knew his own death was imminent (he wrote it on his death bed). Verdi's was written after the death of his good friend Manzoni. Two of my very favorite Requiems are those by Faure and by his pupil Durufle. If you have never heard these works I would highly recommend you find recordings and listen to them in a quiet and darkened room. There are sections of both that send chills up my spine and make my brain tingle with ecstasy. Another superb but not nearly as well known is the Requiem by Gossec. Gossec was a contemporary of Haydn and was very famous in his own time, he was known as the 'French Mozart' and it is supposed that his Requiem influenced Mozart and later Berlioz when they wrote their Requiems. There are some truly Mozartian touches and even though it was written in 1760 there are sections of it that directly look forward to the Magic Flute. Other wonderful Requiems include those by Dvorak, Gilles, Cherubini (2 Requiems), Britten's War Requiem, Rutter, and even Adnrew Lloyd Webber. As well as lesser known Requiems by Howells, Donizetti, Campra, Gouvy, Clucas, Schumann, Ockeghem, Cimarosa and Gounod.

On a non-classical note, I also quite enjoyed listening the Paul McCartney's "Back in the U.S." album, which is a live performance collection from his 2002 tour of old Beatle and Wing songs.
Susskins lists seven things he's tired of hearing. Me too.
Matt Welch has some excerpts of comments made about Vaclav Havel by Noam Chomsky. Chomsky virulent hatred of America has apparently made him insane. His ranting reminds me of Golem, "Ah Stalin, my precious, bad Americans destroyed you my precious, now Chomsky very sad, must destroy evil America". He actually says "East Europe under Russian rule was practically a paradise", hmmm, how could Havel or any of the other people living there not agree with that. And if it's the case why was Chomsky living in the gulag of the Boston suburbs instead of one of those great workers paradises?
Chris Newman has a well deserved smackdown of Terry Jones. It's a horrible psychic blow to realize that one of the icons of my youth is a raving idiot.
While I am blogging I am listening to a very beautiful pair of string quartets by a highly underappreciated composer, Louis Spohr. He was a contemporary of Beethoven's (although he lived to a much older age). He was a prolific quartet composer (He wrote 36 in all, I am listening to #29 & #30). These were written in the 1830's and are fully romantic quartets. His earlier quartets are in a much more classical style but have some very revolutionary harmonies for their time. I would highly recommend them, the record label Marco Polo is issuing recordings of all of them, they already have about 9 CD's.
Mark Steyn with a great piece in the Spectator about the anti-war protesters and the relationship between radical Islam and the West.

The other day the Independent’s Joan Smith wrote a column headlined ‘It’s About Time the US Got Over 9/11’. That presupposes 9/11 is itself over — that it was just a one-off, a freak, like a bad tornado or the record-breaking snowstorms that hit New York and Washington this week. The storm has passed and normal life resumes. That’s more or less what happened after the first attempt to take out the World Trade Center in 1993: America got over it, very quickly. So they bombed it again.

Ms Smith mocks the way the 9/11 obsessives are quivering in an ‘advanced state of paranoia’. Funnily enough, this was the way her side chose to live during the Cold War, when CND were expecting the mushroom cloud any minute and Raymond Briggs made a fortune with his post-nuclear droner When the Wind Blows. In those days, only five guys had their fingers on the nuclear button — Britain, America, France, China and the Soviet Union — but because two of those fingers belonged to Ron and Maggie the Left was convinced the apocalypse was just around the corner. Now we’re at the dawn of the freelance nuke era, and the Left is positively insouciant about it.

Stephen Den Beste has a superb essay on his beliefs and the "Liberal" and "Conservative" labels. Except that I am a mathematician and programmer by training I could have written it myself (except that I don't write that well). I could barely find a single position I am disagreement with. Please follow the link and read the entire essay.
When will the NOW women march on the UN to outlaw honor killings? Yes, I know women are killed in America every day, but it's a crime here. That's for the moral equivalence crowd.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

And another Iraqi exile asks what will the protesters do if the liberation of Iraq is thwarted by their marches. I'll side with Max in saying they really don't give a hoot about the wellbeing of the Iraqis as long as they manage to diminish the U.S. in any way they can. They didn't care about the people of the Soviet Union and its captive states. They never marched against Pol Pot or any of the other totalitarian murderers of the past 50 years. But they will gladly march with International ANSWER, a group that still proudly proclaims allegiance to the memory of Stalin a mass murderer of stupefying enormity. A man who is credited with saying "one death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic."
Iraqi exiles in England expose the so-called "anti war" crowd for what they are -- anti Bush, anti American and out of touch with reality.
Damnit. I'm neutral (with what looks like a tendency towards good). At least I am still more evil than John. Maybe I can just claim that this means I am complex. Yeah. That's it.


How evil are you?
Well they may not care much about psychotic despots who murder large numbers of their own people, but the French are at least serious about their food and their Michelin rating.

One of France's most celebrated chefs has apparently committed suicide after his flagship restaurant was downgraded in a top restaurant guide.
Bernard Loiseau was found dead at his country home, a hunting rifle by his side.

His death came a week after the renowned GaultMillau restaurant guide cut its rating for his Cote d'Or restaurant in Burgundy.
Well, I'm sure this will be a big disappointment to our Lefty critic Ryan. I must say I'm a bit chagrined myself. Hopefully Max will be much more evil.


How evil are you?
It's been up for a few days, but if you haven't seen it already go read Bill Whittle's latest

We are a strong nation. We’d damn well better be, because we carry the genes and mythologies of the most confident individuals on the planet, people unwilling to endure repression, persecution and enslavement by taking a chance on a place unknown to them, except perhaps in their dreams. We have come from every country in the world, from the free and prosperous, to the hellish and horrific. Each individual immigration, from the native Indians crossing the Bering Straight, through Plymouth Rock, Ellis Island and LAX – each one an act of optimism and hope for something better.

And we are a confident nation. Indeed, the quality, more than any other, that is admired by friend and foe alike is our optimism, our sense of hope for the future. We may be condemned overseas for our many flaws, but it’s hard to argue with an optimist who is willing to roll up his sleeves. And when we, as a nation, decide to do something…it gets done. We sometimes fail. We pay the price, fix the failures, and go on. Footsteps on the moon.

Optimism and confidence colors everything we touch, from our movies and music to our skyscrapers and Space Telescopes. How else to explain the universal appeal of The American Dream, for that dream is indeed universal: freedom, safety, prosperity – and scores of other adjectives that can be summed up in that jaunty phrase, unheard of in a political document: the Pursuit of Happiness.
Good joke from The Church of the Blinding White Light of Stupidity

A rich lady from California, who was a tree hugger and a vociferous anti-hunter, purchased a piece of timber land in Oregon.

There was a large tree on one of the highest points in the tract. She wanted to get a good view of her land so she started to climb the big tree.

As she neared the top, she encountered a spotted owl that attacked her.

In her haste to escape, the lady slid down the tree to the ground and got many splinters in her private parts. In considerable pain, she hurried to the nearest country doctor. Being a hunter himself, the doctor listened to her story with great patience and then told her to go into the examining room and he would see if he could help her.

She sat and waited for three hours before the doctor reappeared. The angry lady demanded, "What took you so long?"

He smiled and then told her, "Well, I had to get permits from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management before I could remove old-growth timber from a recreational area and I'm sorry, they all turned me down."
Justin Weitz posts a translation of an article by prominent French-Jewish lawyer Arno Klarsfeld.

I am for the war against Iraq because it was taught to me in high school that, if France had stopped Hitler in 1936 from remilitarizing the Rhineland, there would not have been a Second World War.


I am for the war against Iraq because I was also taught that Edouard Daladier, returning from Paris, where he had humiliated France in signing the peace agreement which sacrificed Czechoslovakia and seeing the praise showered upon him by the Parisian press, having whispered to the Secretary-General of the Quai d'Orsay (French Foreign Ministry): "What idiots!"


I am for the war against Iraq because, if Sadaam Hussein laid out the nuclear arms which he is using all his means to acquire, he would send them at once onto Tel Aviv in order to destroy the State of Israel and would give them to terrorists to explode in New York.


Follow the link and read the rest.
Aaron has a 12 step program for overcoming Liberalism (not classical).

Step 4: Take a college level economics class
A Socialist is defined as someone who's never taken an economics class. Most Socialists have a hard time balancing their checkbooks, let alone explaining the simple concept of supply-and-demand. It's time to flush your complete ignorance of basic economics down the toilet and understand how the world actually functions. This concept will be very important for the next steps that involve communism, facts about corporations, and the inefficiencies of government.
...
Step 6: Corporations are not evil
If you're reading this article online or in an email, it's thanks to corporations. If you get some kind of paycheck, you can thank corporations. If you work for a non-profit or the government, you still have to thank corporations. The non-profit sector and the government wouldn't have any money to pay you without corporations. It is also important that you understand that making a profit doesn't equate to "greed" or exploitation. Capitalism has created the greatest society in our world's history. Even communist countries need corporations to survive, so enjoy a nice, hot cup of reality.

Step 7: The government is inefficient
If you are one of those liberals who believe the government should tax us more in order to take care of society, you need to pay special attention to this step. You need to realize that government bureaucracy will waste most of your tax dollars, while the private sector will put your money to much better use. Even most Democrat politicians understand this to some degree, which is why Hillary's socialist healthcare proposal was voted down by a majority of both Democrats and Republicans. Go to your local post office or call the IRS to ask a tax question if you need a reminder about government inefficiency.


Go read the whole thing at Aarons site.
Read Larry Millers latest entry over at the Weekly Standard.

IN THE COURSE of our adult lives, we all learn lessons about humanity that disappoint us, but, for me, this one has been stunning.

I swear, I cannot fathom the people who insist that Saddam Hussein is not going to merrily kill us and everyone he can reach as soon as he is able. What is it about some people that makes them live in this suicidal denial? I could normally shrug it off, except that now it's not just suicidal. They're going to get us all killed, and that makes it homicidal as well.

They have their mantras:
...
"Peace is good; war is bad."
I don't even know what this means. Which peace? Which war? Did the people of Europe have peace after being conquered by Hitler? Should we have dealt with him in "peace" in the interest of "stability?"

Do the people of Iraq have peace? Surely not the ones who find themselves led into a basement to find their children hooked up to electrodes. Surely not the Kurds. Surely not anyone who doesn't work for the government. Who, then? The generals on the file footage who bounce up to The Great Uncle with frozen smiles for a kiss and a chat? The soldiers of the so-called elite Republican Guard? What horrors have they all committed to earn their privileges? What does a man have to do over there to be called "elite?" One shudders to imagine. I can't help but think of the old restaurant motto from years past: "Where The Elite Meet To Eat." I wonder where they meet in Iraq. Now there's a nightspot where the waiters don't want to screw up an order. (One thing you've got to hand the Iraqi General Staff: They all have terrific moustaches. Not as well sculpted as the Saudi princes, but who has that kind of time?)

"This is just about oil."
I know facts don't matter to people whose favorite hobby is shouting, but has no one noticed that if we wanted Iraq's oil so much, all we'd have to do is make a deal with Saddam tomorrow? Oil companies aren't running policy, because if they were, that would be it: Sign a deal with the man. So why don't we? Saddam would be happy (or, at least, as happy as a guy like him gets), the left would be happy, and Old Europe would be happy. (Shouldn't we be spelling that Olde Europe?) Yes, everyone would be happy. Ah, but then we'd all have to pretend we don't know he's building a giant scimitar out of radium. Aye, there's the rub.
Just fyi, today is the 10th anniversary of the 1993 WTC bombing. You might want to be a little more careful and stay out of crowded places today. Also check out the linked article which was written in the winter of 1995/96 and makes a good case for Iraqi involvement.

Update: This is also the 12th anniversary of the end of the Gulf War.
Looks like when push comes to shove, liberals who decry racism now embrace it. Check out Maureen Dowd's tirade against Bulgarians.
The Belgian Defense Minister just wrote a letter to the Wall Street Journal objecting to their story about how the Belgian army has grown soft. The only thing he has succeeded in doing, in my honest opinion, is making people laugh out loud. He just seems like such a caricature (I'm picturing a short dark and dirty man waving his arms wildly about). If I was more conspiratorial I would think the WSJ made up the letter purely for kicks. Check out these excerpts:

Beyond the fact that the article's assertions insult my country and the men and women with a military and humanitarian vocation, I am surprised that a newspaper of this quality is prostituting itself to this level.

Prostituting itself? Because it wrote an article on the Belgian army?

Your unfair treatment of a long-term ally of the United States is sufficient to suffocate the most fervent defender of the freedom of the press. Deriding the concept of objectivity with such violence must alarm any citizen (American, European and Belgian).

But you aren't an ally of the Wall Street Journal are you? It's not like it's a state run paper. And are you saying that you no longer believe in freedom of the press because of one measly article? What a fascist. I bet his family collaborated with the Nazis (take that!).

Yes, our personnel may call in their union, because this is part of our commitment to democratic principles of active listening and well-being for our employees.

Okay, I think you just made the point of the article. Members of an army are not supposed to be employees. They are supposed to be soldiers!

Yes, the primary mission of our armed forces is to maintain the peace and to help the civilian population (Belgian or foreign), without being belligerent or being convinced of having been elected by a higher authority to keep watch over the world order.

We should ask the civilians of Congo (formerly Belgian Congo) if they want any more Belgian help. And I like the dig against the US for no reason.

Your article says that the Belgian Armed Forces have hundreds of hairdressers, musicians and other non-combatant personnel at their disposal. Musicians, however, cannot be fairly categorized as non-combatant soldiers because bands have especially been maintained for their important value in terms of public relations of the Armed Forces.

So what do you consider a combatant then? And note no argument that there are hundreds of hairdressers and musicians at the disposal of the armed forces.

Belgium has enough tactical transport aircraft in the armed forces. But we have lacked transport capability for nonstandard equipment. The A400 European program (which the Americans do not like very much because they do not have anything similar) is going to remedy this problem. The 180 aircraft that have been planned -- among them not less than seven for Belgium -- are going to endow Europe with an important capability.

Another dig at the US for no reason. Isn't your beef with the Journal?

Americans may spend 22% on equipment, but they have a global strategy and must support a large nuclear strategic posture (that is oversized for the defense of their territory but undersized to control the entire planet) which has repercussions on working and investment expenses and consequently reduces proportionally the part of personnel expenses.

Now he is implying that the US is trying to control the planet?

What argument can be used to be against the fact that somebody is relaxing at the weekend (Corporal Christiaens has a "pop singing act")? Compare this with the thousands of American soldiers who are confined in the gigantic barracks "in the middle of nowhere" for months (for instance: Fort Hood, Texas, more than 30,000 people).

I wonder why he picked Texas to make fun of? Maybe the soldiers are in the middle of nowhere because they are busy being soldiers. You know, training and shooting? Oh yeah, that's right, guns are too belligerent for the Belgian army these days. You prefer whistles.

I am an imaginary number
1i
I don't really exist

_

what number are you?

this quiz by orsa

Tuesday, February 25, 2003


I am
p

Everyone loves pi

_

what number are you?

this quiz by orsa

France announced today that it has decided to "rip up every bloody European Treaty and start again" by forming an entirely New European Union (NEU) consisting solely of itself. [more (from the Brain Trust)
Who are the antiwar demonstators and the human shields protecting? Rafat Abdulmajeed Muhammad, who was imprisoned by Hussein for 14 years for the crime of selling a roll of film to a suspected spy would like to know.

He sits alone in his bare room, waiting, and hoping that something will happen to change things.

“I am surprised to hear of all the anti-war demonstrations in the West,” he said. “I wish that the demonstrators could spend just 24 hours in the place I have come from and see the reality of Iraq.

“Fourteen lost years of my life. Nothing but bread for food — darkness, filth, beatings, torture, killings, bitterness and humiliation. I wish they could experience it for just 24 hours.”
(via Too Much to Dream)

Update: These Iraqis living in Detroit agree with Mr. Muhammad.

Update: I'm a little behind at reading our own blog. I see Max has already posted something about this.
Vacation Update

I am still on vacation which is why some of the posts may be a few days behind. The weather in Lake Tahoe has been great. Except for a little snow yesterday it has been mostly sunny with temperatures hovering around 50 degrees last week and around 42 degrees this week. My wife has had a very good time skiing and our two girls have really taken to it. Barbara thinks that our older daughter (5 1/2 years old) may have a real talent for it as she has taken to going down hills fast and fearlessly. I have mostly been relaxing, reading, blogging. There's a hot tub at the house we rented so we've spent some time in there. I went for my required couple of hours of gambling yesterday and came out ahead a couple hundred dollars. We will have some pictures of the view from our house (which is spectacular) but it will have to wait until we return since we forgot to bring the cable that connects the camera to the laptop.
Kenneth Pollack makes the case for invading Iraq in the NYT.

He has been anything but circumspect about his aspirations: He has stated that he wants to turn Iraq into a "superpower" that will dominate the Middle East, to liberate Jerusalem and to drive the United States out of the region. He has said he believes the only way he can achieve his goals is through the use of force. Indeed, his half-brother and former chief of intelligence, Barzan al-Tikriti, was reported to say that Iraq needs nuclear weapons because it wants "a strong hand in order to redraw the map of the Middle East."
...
Finally, we cannot forget that all evidence has shown Saddam Hussein to be an incorrigible optimist who willfully ignores signs of danger. Consider that on at least five occasions over the last three decades, he has embarked on foreign policy adventures that nearly destroyed him: his attack on Iraq's Kurds in 1974 (which might have ended in an Iranian assault on Baghdad if the shah of Iran had not unexpectedly decided to double-cross the Kurds instead); his invasion of Iran in 1980; his invasion of Kuwait in 1990; his assassination attempt against former President Bush in 1993; and his threatened attack on Kuwait in 1994. In each case, he took a course of action that we know even his closest advisers considered extremely dangerous.

This is the problem with Saddam Hussein. The assertion that he is not intentionally suicidal may be true, but it is irrelevant. In the end, he has frequently proven inadvertently suicidal.

Donald Sensing has an interesting discussion on blogs vs journalism and says the distinction is based on two myths: 1) the myth of journalistic accountability and 2) the myth of journalism as a distinctive profession.

There is no "accountability" of journalists in any meaningful sense. There is no equivalent of a bar exam for journalists. There is no licensing procedure for journalists. There is no minimum education level required, nor any particular special kind of training at all. Fill out an employment application, get hired at minimum wage or better, and presto, you're a journalist. Or just take a pad and pencil, call some folks on the phone and do some interviews, and you're a journalist, too. Think not? Read on.
A very funny piece by Gene Weingarten on his interview with the author of the "worst novel ever published in the English language".
Gabriel Syme at Samizdata reports that asset forfeiture laws have made their way to the UK. As in the US just possessing large sums of cash or a fancy car can be considered sufficient for siezing the property if it is considered beyond the persons 'means', the burden of proof lies with the person who's assets have been siezed to show that they were obtained legitimately. If the government believes that property was obtained through criminal activity then it should be forced to prove it in a court. Leviathan must be fed and it has an enormous appetite and little regard for personal freedom.
A day late (I'm still on vacation so my blog reading is a little behind) but Happy Blogiversary to Susanna.
The multiculturalist crowd has set it's sights on another target, mathematics. There are calls to teach "Ethnomathematics"

To redress their pedagogical grievances, these ethnomathematicians want math curriculums that place greater emphasis on the systems of previous civilizations and certain traditional cultures. Studies of state civilizations might focus on Chinese or Arabic math concepts. One study, for example, has shown how the Chinese Chu Shih-chieh triangle anticipated by more than three centuries the highly similar arrangement of numerals by Pascal that holds sway in many Western teachings of probability theory.

Now this may all be well and good in a "History of Mathematics" course, but I fail to see what advantage HS and JHS students of mathematics will gain from learning about "quipu, bundles of cotton cord knotted by Incans according to a sophisticated base-10 numeration system". Firstly, the basic premise that math "is absolutely integrated with Western civilization, which conquered and dominated the entire world" is incorrect. A good part of the foundation for modern algebra, number theory etc came to Europe from India and the Arabs. And while "African kinship numerics or Peruvian bead counting" may be interesting historical studies they will not help students learn how to solve Diophantine equations or master the mathematics, such as calculus or statistics or algebra, required for any study of modern science. As David Klein is quoted in the article:

''But mathematics is a worldwide monoculture. Look at the chalkboards in math departments at universities all around the world -- in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America. You will see the same symbols everywhere you go on this planet, except perhaps in colleges of education where fads reign supreme.'' Klein says he does spend some class time discussing the math of Mayans, Egyptians and other early civilizations. ''But ancient techniques and early discoveries in math will not take students very far who want to do something in the modern world with mathematics,'' he says.
Scientists have devised a computer that can perform 330 trillion operations per second, more than 100,000 times the speed of the fastest PC. And it's made from DNA.
There is a foot of snow in Jerusalem. Isn't this one of the signs of the apocalypse?
Phil Burnett has a story that the French Government has evidence of American troops are massed in attack formation in France. And he has the picture to prove it.
Oregon=Oceania?

Oregon is considering the feasibility of installing GPS technology in the cars of its residents to record how many in-state miles they drive as the state considers imposing car-related taxes based on road-mileage-driven versus fuel purchased.
(via One Hand Clapping)
On a more serious note, Nicholas Boles makes the case for war even if it were over oil.

There is nothing like (self-) righteous indignation to give the Left the warm glow of a Ready Brek breakfast. And nothing gives them that feeling more completely than the idea that the only reason the United States wants a war with Iraq is oil. But like all the household gods that the Left cherishes, this too has feet of clay and a head full of nonsense.

The accusation is wrong because there are several more important reasons why we might go to war: upholding the authority of the UN; the duty to protect Iraq’s neighbour; and liberating the Iraqi people from tyranny.

But the war for oil charge is not just factually wrong, it is also humbug. A war to defend open access to the Middle East’s oil reserves would be a just war – and a war fought primarily to defend the world’s poor. [more]
No Blood for Oil?

I keep hearing the anti-war protesters chant, "No blood for oil! No blood for oil!" But what they never seem to say is exactly how much oil we're talking about. Don't you think that's pertinent information? Are we talking a gallon of oil for every 10 gallons of blood? Or is it more like 30 gallons of oil for every pint of blood? Because if it's the latter, maybe a blood-oil exchange would be a good idea.

In the first Gulf War, roughly 300 brave Americans lost their lives. Assuming that each of these soldiers shed an average of eight pints of blood, that works out to roughly a pint of American blood shed per 60 million barrels of Kuwaiti crude saved from the clutches of Saddam. If you ask me, that's a pretty darn good deal. If we can manage to swing a similar trade this time around, then I say, "Bombs away." (from the Onion).

A fable by Kevin Connors over at Samizdata.

Imagine a world not too much different from what we live in today...

Let's say you have this neighbour who's never grown up from his teen-age bully days. You know he beats his wife; you can hear the screaming at night and you see the bruises during the day. But she's to terrorized by the guy to do anything about it.

But it gets worse: This guy has a bad habit of trying to move his fence over on to his neighbour's property. You don't live right next door, so he's never bothered you. But once he tried to move the fence over your friend's tomato garden. That fellow has quite a green thumb and you buy all the tomatoes you can from him at every harvest.

But further, this guys a gun-lovin' irresponsible bastard, in fact, before you really got to know the guy, you went with him to a couple of gun shows and taught him how to reload. But he has this penchant for going out in yard every now and then and randomly blowing off a few rounds. Not a direct threat to you; you're a few houses down the block, unless you go out on the street.


[more]
Check out this piece by José Ramos-Horta, East Timor's minister of foreign affairs and cooperation, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996:

If the antiwar movement dissuades the United States and its allies from going to war with Iraq, it will have contributed to the peace of the dead. Saddam Hussein will emerge victorious and ever more defiant. What has been accomplished so far will unravel. Containment is doomed to fail. We cannot forget that despots protected by their own elaborate security apparatus are still able to make decisions.

Saddam Hussein has dragged his people into at least two wars. He has used chemical weapons on them. He has killed hundreds of thousands of people and tortured and oppressed countless others. So why, in all of these demonstrations, did I not see one single banner or hear one speech calling for the end of human rights abuses in Iraq, the removal of the dictator and freedom for the Iraqis and the Kurdish people? If we are going to demonstrate and exert pressure, shouldn't it be focused on the real villain, with the goal of getting him to surrender his weapons of mass destruction and resign from power? To neglect this reality, in favor of simplistic and irrational anti-Americanism, is obfuscating the true debate on war and peace.

I agree that the Bush administration must give more time to the weapons inspectors to fulfill their mandate. The United States is an unchallenged world power and will survive its enemies. It can afford to be a little more patient. Kofi Annan, the secretary general of the United Nations, has proved himself to be a strong mediator and no friend of dictators. He and a group of world leaders should use this time to persuade Saddam Hussein to resign and go into exile. In turn, Saddam Hussein could be credited with preventing another war and sparing his people. But even this approach will not work without the continued threat of force.

Abandoning such a threat would be perilous. Yes, the antiwar movement would be able to claim its own victory in preventing a war. But it would have to accept that it also helped keep a ruthless dictator in power and explain itself to the tens of thousands of his victims.

History has shown that the use of force is often the necessary price of liberation. A respected Kosovar intellectual once told me how he felt when the world finally interceded in his country: "I am a pacifist. But I was happy, I felt liberated, when I saw NATO bombs falling."

Oh those peace loving French. Check out this article on recent French dealings with the Butcher of Baghdad.
Okay, today's op-ed does it. Kristof is officially an idiot or has a brain tumor or something, it is just such supremely sloppy work. He is trying to make the point that in 1956, during the Suez crisis, Eisenhower had promoted a peaceful solution instead of war and somehow that worked to contain the "Hitler of the Nile." I seriously have no idea where this guy is coming from. How exactly was he contained? Just 11 years later Egypt was once again threatening to push Israel into the sea, which helped precipitate the Six Day War. And six years later, Nasser's hand picked successor, Sadat, started the Yom Kippur war. Kristof calls this containment???? If Saddam and mini-Saddam end up starting two wars with neighbors in 17 years, how successful will our containment seem then? Ike's actions had the same effect as all appeasement. It didn't enable real peace, it only made the pain worse down the line. Egypt had to be defeated two more times before it was all settled. Maybe if Eisenhower had gone along with the multinational coalition that had engaged Nasser it would have actually saved some lives down the line. Oh and if you can, ask a Hungarian how much they love Ike after he let the Soviets massacre their people in that very same year without even lifting a finger to help because he was afraid of what might happen. And here are a couple of excerpts which also annoy me:

Thank God for Ike. If the hawks had been running the show then, we might still have troops in Egypt.

Hey Mcfly? We do have troops in Egypt. They are part of the UN force in the Sinai. And we are also sending billions in aid every year to Egypt as payment for signing the Camp David accords. Oh and check this part out where he defends the comparison between Nasser and Saddam:

Oh, the hawks will protest: Nasser didn't have weapons of mass destruction. Actually he did. Nasser's troops used mustard gas in Yemen.

Uh, hello. I don't have nightmares about Saddam using World War I era chemical weapons on New York. What people are scared of are the really nasty bioweapons which Nasser never even dreamed of.

Update: Deb at Insomnomaniac has some choice words for the Kristof column also. - JH

Update: Stephen Green also gives Kristof a history lesson. - JH
Check out this story of one of the people that Ryan and the pro-Saddam protesters don't care a rat's ass about:

Rafat Abdulmajeed Muhammad is a slightly built man of 45 with a distant stare and a scarred body. He lives alone in Sulaimaniyah, northern Iraq, and owns nothing but the clothes he stands in. He spends his days trying to forget the past 14 years, which he spent in the darkness of Saddam Hussein’s most infamous political prison.
Mr Muhammad’s only crime was to sell a British journalist a roll of film, but his treatment bears ample testimony to the nature of Saddam’s regime.

Mr Muhammad was an Egyptian photography graduate who moved to Iraq in 1985 and opened a small photographic shop, Rafat’s Photography, in Baghdad. In August 1989 a foreigner visited his shop and bought a roll of film. Mr Muhammad gave him his business card and forgot about him.

The next month he encountered the man again, this time in very different circumstances. Mr Muhammad, who had been arrested the previous day and charged with espionage, was sitting blindfolded in a chair in Room 18 of the headquarters of the Iraqi secret police, the Mukhabarat.

“They pulled the blindfold up so that I could see the spy I was accused of aiding,” he said. “There, standing in silence, was the man to whom I had sold a roll of film. His name was Farzad Bazoft. The Mukhabarat had found my business card in his belongings.”

Mr Muhammad never saw Mr Bazoft again. The Iranian-born journalist, who was working for The Observer, was executed for spying the following March.

The Mukhabarat never extracted a verbal confession from Mr Muhammad during the four months he was held in a tiny cell in the headquarters. He said that he was interrogated by a Mukhabarat officer named Basim twice a day, each time being whipped with cables while suspended from the ceiling, his hands tied behind his back. He had his jaw, ribs and hands broken. Sometimes he was taken to the basement, strapped into an electric chair and given shock treatment.

“I had nothing to confess to,” he said. “They said I worked for Mossad (the Israeli intelligence agency) but my only mistake was that I sold Bazoft a roll of film.”

...

He spent the next three years in solitary confinement. He was taken out of his cell twice a week for beatings. He said that in the prison basement were deep pits, each a metre wide. Up to ten prisoners deemed guilty of disciplinary offences would be dropped into these pits and kept there for a week at a time. “Many died in those pits,” he said.

Last summer Mr Muhammad had the top joint of the second finger of his left hand smashed off with an iron bar for insulting Saddam, an offence for which five years were added to his sentence.

...

“I am surprised to hear of all the anti-war demonstrations in the West,” he said. “I wish that the demonstrators could spend just 24 hours in the place I have come from and see the reality of Iraq.

“Fourteen lost years of my life. Nothing but bread for food — darkness, filth, beatings, torture, killings, bitterness and humiliation. I wish they could experience it for just 24 hours.”

Monday, February 24, 2003

And while we're in an Ann Coulter mood, there is a very funny collection of insults at One Girls Life. I've seen most before but it is always fun to look at old favorites again, such as:

2. I don't know what your problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronounce.

6. I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter.

32. Too many freaks, not enough circuses.
Ann Coulter is not one of my favorites, she is a little too over the top for me most of the time. That said, she does come up with some very funny lines (sort of like Sam Kinison, the shouting got on my nerves pretty quickly but he frequently screamed out very funny things). Anyway I got a chuckle when I read this:

To be sure, conservative radio talk show hosts have a built-in audience unavailable to liberals: People driving cars to some sort of job.
Alas, the fair Rachel is going on hiatus.
Andre Glucksmann writes about France's five cardinal sins regarding Iraq.

1. Demolition. Responding to the eight-plus-10 European states that have sided with the United States, President Jacques Chirac sealed an alliance for peace with President Vladimir Putin of Russia on Feb. 10. In so doing, he revived in Central Europe the harsh memory of three centuries spent in the shadow - or under the heel - of the Russian big brother.
With the European community divided and NATO splintering, the Franco-German duo calls itself Europe and says it speaks for 25 nations, but represents only three (thanks to Belgium). The old European couple criticizes American arrogance and unilateralism, compliments that can easily be turned back on them. Is there a more insane way to saw off the branch you're sitting on? Is there a less productive path to European unity?

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Why we can't cut taxes (via Tocqueville)

Personal bodyguards for every government employee with enough clout and a spiffy new health and fitness center for Senators which was built for an undisclosed cost. Just give me a copy of the budget (with a large truck to transport it in) and big red pen and a few weeks and I can balance the budget and cut taxes by 30%.
Tom Paine hopes that we will actually stand by the Kurds this time and not stab them in the back to get some concessions from the Turks. We can only hope that the pro-democracy builders in the administration win out over the realpolitick do-the-minimum-to-oust-Hussein-and-establish-stability group and that a free, independent and democratic Kurdistan is made a priority.
Miguel Octavio outlines the reasons the Chavez government is now a dictatorship. For all the folks who think Bush/Ashcroft/Cheney are dictators take special note on what actual dictators are like.
Bat Ye’or has a short history of EU-Arab ties and growing Arab influence over European policy.

In 1974 the Parliamentary Association for Euro-Arab Cooperation was founded to strengthen the political, economic and cultural co-operation between Europe and the Arab world. The Association had about 600 members in 18 national Parliaments of the countries of the enlarged European Union (EU), as well as in the European Parliament – and all the major trends in European politics were represented. This Association organized regular meetings with Arab leaders and politicians and served as a channel between them and the European governments, the Presidency of the European Council of Ministers, and the Commission of the European Communities. In other words, it was a most powerful Arab lobby functioning through European functionaries, built into the European institutions to influence European policy at its summit.

In the following years, this body was reinforced by a political, economical and cultural structure, named the Euro-Arab Dialogue, which united at the highest level the EC – later to become the European Union – and the countries of the Arab League. The Europeans tried to maintain the Dialogue on a base of economic relations, while the Arab countries tied the oil and business markets to the European alignment on their anti-Israeli policies. Even though some countries were reluctant to follow this path, the joint proclamations of the EU concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict endorsed the anti-Israeli points established previously by the Second Islamic Conference in Lahore, Pakistan.
Mark Steyn thinks Chirac is actually an American made robot planted to make the French look ridiculous.
Robert Mugabe approves of Chirac's policies. With Robert Mugabe, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Il all making approving sounds toward French opposition to US hegemony, France is building itself a fine little coalition.
Byron York follows the money trail that supports the "anti-war" protests. A must read if you want to know the real ideology behind Not in our Name.
Hitler was a Leftist.

We have made similar arguments here in the past, it is one of the great propaganda wins of the century to have the Left point to Hitler as the alternative to their policies when almost all of his policies were in perfect agreement with the Left. (Seeing antiwar demonstrations the one major difference which the Left seems to be coming around to is the virulent anti-semitism). As I've said before the Left-Right dichotomy is largely meaningless. The real split is between those who value individuals and those who value the state. Hitler like Stalin (and Lenin before them) and all of their Socialist descendents value the state over the individual in almost every circumstance.
Victor Davis Hanson argues persuasively that the US should start dismantling it's overseas bases and bringing troops stationed there home.

Do bases in the post-Cold War really offer strategic flexibility and serve as tripwires to cement alliances — or do they multiply political and military liabilities, as both hosts and adversaries use their presence to dictate and curb American military options? Military theorists once deprecated aircraft carriers as obsolete sitting ducks; but they amount to quick-moving runways of American sovereignty, not subject to worries over rent, blackmail, compromise, and terrorism.

True, carrier war is dangerous and expensive — but then so is bunking overnight in Saudi Arabia, basing thousands on the DMZ, being told by the Germans that we are "allowed" to use airspace actually already guaranteed under NATO protocols, and forgiving billions in debt to the likes of Pakistan. Personally, I'd rather spend $20 billion to have American workers build an additional 10 to 15 acres of aggregate floating American runways than pour billions annually into countries that either do not like us, resent both the protection and the rent, or are themselves inherently unstable.