Saturday, March 22, 2003

Vincent at Insignificant Thoughts points out this piece of idiocy from some blogger named Jak in Vancouver.

In the heart of Imperial Amerika, where the rich-folks'-Constitution claims that freedom of speech is an inherent right, there are pro-war signs in Mississippi stating: "Support the US or keep your mouth shut."

Since Jak is from Canada perhaps he doesn't quite understand the purpose and structure of the U.S. Constitution but since this same type of idiocy is parroted by U.S. born and bred leftists let me take out the Cluebat and explain. The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights says

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

This like the other amendments in the Bill of Rights are a list of restrictions on what the government, specifically only the Federal government may do. Judicial thought in the last 100 years or so has moved toward a direction of full application of the Bill of Rights to the States also through the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment:

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Previously states were not considered bound by the Bill of Rights although most State constitutions had similar provisions. But the point is that these are limits on government action not on individuals. It does not prevent campuses from instituting speech codes (unless they are government run) nor does it prohibit employers from limiting what employees may say while on the job nor are calls to boycott the films of an actor with whom you disagree an assault on the First Amendment or the actors free speech rights. And it most certainly has nothing to do with a protesters sign telling other protesters to "shut up". He is just exercising his free speech rights.

That said, we live in an open and pluralistic society that values free speech and civil discourse and social pressures tend to keep even private attempts at limiting speech at bay. But that is not to imply that free speech is the right of people to say whatever they want without any consequence.

And while we're defending DDT use, Elizabeth Whelan has an article detailing the overstated and unsustantiated claims for the dangers of PCB's.

Take, for example, the ongoing regulatory and legal wrangling over PCBs, synthetic chemicals used, because of their insulating, flame-retardant nature, as coolants and lubricants in transformers and other electrical equipment. (PCBs, which were disposed of legally in rivers , were banned in 1979). Any review of the scientific literature will reveal that (a) PCBs at high dose are toxic and carcinogenic in rodents and (b) no human study — including workers who were very heavily exposed, and individuals, including pregnant women, who ate substantial amounts of fish with measurable levels of PCBs — has ever shown any major significant long-term negative health effects.

Studies at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have shown that even those workers with PCB blood concentrations much higher (300 parts per billion) than the national background level (10-20 parts ppb) did not manifest any health effects PCBs at very high dose can cause a severe,temporary form of acne — but that is it.
(also from Jon Ray)
A good article detailing the incredible damage done by worldwide bans on DDT which in turn were caused by shoddy and incomplete scientific work. Can you say 'K-Y-O-T-O'.

But over the years, mainstream scientific opinion has absolved DDT of many of its supposed sins. Indeed, the Stockholm Convention partially backfired because it brought to light a slew of studies and literature reviews which contradicted the conventional wisdom on DDT. Like nearly any chemical, DDT is harmful in high enough doses. But when it comes to the kinds of uses once permitted in the United States and abroad, there's simply no solid scientific evidence that exposure to DDT causes cancer or is otherwise harmful to human beings.

Not a single study linking DDT exposure to human toxicity has ever been replicated. In 1993, Mary Wolff, an associate professor at Mount Sinai Medical Center, published a small study linking DDT exposure to breast cancer. But numerous follow-up studies with human subjects--including one large five-study review comparing 1,400 women with breast cancer to an equivalent number of controls--found no evidence for the link. David Hunter, an epidemiologist at Harvard University who ran one of the follow-up studies, says of the breast cancer connection, "the studies have really put that idea to rest." Similarly, various studies have contradicted initial concerns that DDT might cause myeloma, hepatic cancer, or non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
(via Jon Ray)
Carnival of the Vanities #26 is up at Wylies.
Iraqi conscripts are shooting their officers to avoid fighting American and British troops.

IRAQI conscripts shot their own officers in the chest yesterday to avoid a fruitless fight over the oil terminals at al-Faw. British soldiers from 40 Commando’s Charlie Company found a bunker full of the dead officers, with spent shells from an AK47 rifle around them.

Stuck between the US Seals and the Royal Marines, whom they did not want to fight, and a regime that would kill them if they refused, it was the conscripts’ only way out.
(via lgf)
Mark Steyn comments on the war so far.

It's interesting how much was clarified in the first hours of the war. On Thursday, the Palestine Liberation Front released a statement announcing the identity of the first verified casualty: PLF "1st Lieutenant" Ahmed Walid Raguib al-Baz was killed in Baghdad, "while confronting the treacherous US air bombardment on Iraq".

The PLF is the terrorist group that, among other triumphs, hijacked the Achille Lauro back in the 1980s and pushed Leon Klinghoffer, a wheelchair-bound American Jew, into the Mediterranean.

What was a PLF terrorist doing attending a war council of Saddam's inner circle in Baghdad? Well, I leave that to all the experts who've assured us that Baghdad has no ties to terror groups.

That was just the first of several myths to fall in the opening shots. If Hans Blix and Jacques Chirac are really interested in continuing with inspections, some of those missiles the Iraqis insisted they no longer have are now available for inspection in the sand on the Kuwaiti side of the border.

Friday, March 21, 2003

I just read two pieces back to back decrying our woeful lack of education spending. This from "Women Against Military Madness":

Give youth (and all of us) a future. The "voluntary" military works by limiting the choices available to young people. The lack of job programs, dwindling K-12 education budgets, and the escalating cost of college guarantee a population of young people without viable choices other than the military.

and this spew from Ted Rall:

Decades of budget cuts in education are finally yielding results, a fact confirmed by CNN's poll of March 16, which shows that an astonishing 51 percent of the public believe that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) was responsible for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Normally I would just ignore this, but seeing these almost one after the other I had to pause and think, "This couldn't possibly be true? Could there have actually been decreases in K-12 education spending in this country. So a quick google led me to this report (pdf) from the US Dept of Education which seems to be the definitive source for these types of statistics. I extracted these from their table "Historical summary of public elementary and secondary school statistics: 1869–70 to 1998–99" on pages 80-81.

K-12 Enrollment36,08745,55041,65140,54346,539
Daily Attendance32,47741,93438,28937,79943,187
Total Instructional Staff1,4572,2862,4062,9863,694
Total Expenditures (Current $)15,61340,68395,962212,770355,859
Total Expenditures/Pupil in ADA (Current $)4719552,4915,5508,118

There seems to me a pretty constant increase in the constant dollar expenditure per pupil to me. I don't see any evidence of the horrid budget cuts mentioned by the two reliable sources above. True the rate of increase which was running at 8.3% a year in the 80's slowed to about 4.3% a year in the 90's. But this hardly seems tragic, in fact it would seem that a good deal more could be cut from the growth of education budgets. At 8.3%/year the education budget would take up all of GDP (increasing at 3%/yr) in about 65 years.
I'm sure we will be seeing large protests over this any minute. Er, maybe not.

HAVANA -- Fidel Castro's agents arrested some of the government's leading critics in an escalating crackdown that has netted at least 65 dissidents accused of working with U.S. diplomats to undermine Cuba's socialist system.

With the world focused on the war on Iraq, Cuban authorities began looking at higher-profile opponents Thursday evening, picking up Raul Rivero, the island's best known independent journalist.
The ruling clerics in Iran are nervous about regime change next door, the folks living under their rule, however, are celebrating.

It will be a good thing to have American troops in Iraq. Perhaps that will bring change to Iran," said Namin, a lanky engineering student strolling to class.

"Maybe that will put more pressure on the regime here." Unlike fellow Muslims in the Middle East or their predecessors 23 years ago who seized the United States embassy, students today are not seething with anger against America and are unmoved by the government's daily references to "the enemy" in Washington.
Some analysts say that if Iraq emerges as a more open, democratic society than Iran, the conservatives will find it hard to suppress dissent or fend off calls for fundamental change to the theocratic system. The potential revival of Shia theological centres in Iraq could also provide an alternative platform for more moderate Islamic clergy in Iran who have called for limits on clerical political authority.
(via Dean's World)
Uh, oh! Now we're in trouble.

Iraq to File U.N. Complaint About Attack
Apparently, in addition to selling them weapons, the French have also been training Iraqi troops.

Quote of the Day

"We have a bad impression of the human shields. Some of them are crazy."

--An Iraqi Foreign Ministry official, who requested anonymity.
Gary Kasparov has a good op-ed in today's WSJ on war critics and their historical brethren.

Past war-time leaders have similarly faced critics, nonbelievers and those who would appease evil. Much has been said about the dismissals that similarly greeted Winston Churchill's warnings of the destruction Hitler would unleash. As a long-time student of American history, I am struck also by the parallels with another Republican Party leader who was pilloried for launching a war that his critics claimed was reckless: Abraham Lincoln.

At the time of the Civil War, his critics were numerous and viscious, the ultimate price of war was terrifying and peaceful alternatives were on the table. Indeed, despite the overwhelming battlefield success of union armies his democratic opponent Gen. George McClellan mounted a strong presidential challenge in 1864 on a platform of immediate peace and reconciliation, abjuring intervention into the affairs of the southern states. Democrats then, not so unlike those of today, were more concerned with slavery in economic terms than the underlying principles that animated Lincoln.

But there are crucial differences between the challenges that confront today's war-time leaders. Their detractors are highly organized and have access to a broadly sympathetic media. I wonder if Lincoln would have preserved his 10% lead in the popular vote had the public then had CNN reporting live from Atlanta. When the media take at face value mass demonstrations in Iraqi cities to support our "beloved Saddam" one tries to imagine whether anyone would have given similar credence in Lincoln's time to a parade of black slaves on the streets of Richmond demonstrating in support of the Confederacy.
What makes today's demonstrators and anti-Bush media so implacable is that their actions are underpinned by a grossly inaccurate reading of history that emerged from the left-wing movements of the last century. The belief system and indeed vocabulary of this movement have become woven into the fabric of modern political discourse. Thus news readers speak of Cuban "President" Fidel Castro and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, but Chilean "dictator" Gen. Agusto Pinochet.

In the mental history book of many of those opposing American action in Iraq, there is no page on the sacrifice of 38,000 American soldiers who perished in the Korean Peninsula. There is no chapter on American protection of Taiwan, saved from Mao's blodbath by U.S. warships. Though there are plenty of lessons offered on the dirty "imperialistic" war in Vietnam, there is no mention of the fact that the U.S. withdrawal from Southeast Asia opened the gates to the unspeakable horrors of Pol Pot's genocide in Cambodia and the massacres and mass exodus in South Vietnam. (One might even argue that the tragedy that befell the people of Southeast Asia was a direct result of the success of the anti-war movement.)

In these circles, it's unfashionable to talk about the true origin of the Arab-Israeli conflict, of the naked aggression of Arab states in 1947 aimed at the elimination of all the Jews in the region. Or that the policy of Arab spiritual leaders targeted moderate Arabs as well as Zionists. That policy was successfully inherited by the so-called liberation fighters in Algeria, another cruel and dirty war. No injustice by French troops there could be compared to the mass liquidation of innocent civilians, both Muslim and Christian, executed by anti-colonialist fighters after their departure 1962. Similarly, it is taboo to speak of the wrongdoings of Salvador Allende or the Republican terror sponsored by Stalin's secret service in the Spanish Civil War.
An indictment of the way Canada is governed. The politicians never suffer.
You can go here to send a note of thanks to the folks fighting.
U.S. To Submit New UN Resolution

(2003-03-20) -- The U.S. has submitted a new inspection proposal to the UN Security Counsel. It has asked for Hans Blix and his weapons inspection teams to be placed in Kuwait at the Iraqi border to identify whether the Scuds flying overhead constitute any breach of Iraqi disarmament agreements. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, indicated that the U.S. wanted to give inspections one last chance to work.
According to this article in the WashTimes, intelligence reports indicate that Saddam's eldest son Uday has been killed.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Two vials of the toxin ricin were discovered at a railway station in Paris. Once again the French discover that their duplicity and appeasement do not keep the hordes at bay. Someone said a definition of insanity is doing the same things and expecting different outcomes. (via Barrel of Fish)
Sorry for the lack of posting, my life has been trully hectic lately. Plus I have a cold. So I found this story about an anti-war protest in San Francisco today. Check out this excerpt:

The roving protesters also stalled firefighters trying to respond to emergencies, fire officials said. Firefighters also assisted police in some cases by using bolt cutters on protesters who had locked their arms together in metal sleeves.

That's just great. Why don't you keep firefighters from doing their jobs. Do these idiots realize that they are risking, not only the firefighters lives, but the innocent people who are at the other end of the fire alarm? And they call themselves humanists.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

I love Jackie Mason:

An Italian, if he meets you in a dark alley, person to person, will kill you even before you can commit suicide -- especially if you are fooling around with his wife. But put Italians together in an army and they are not so hot. Confronted by an enemy army, rather than fight, they sit down, have a little vino, some pasta, take out an accordion, sing a few songs and then give up.

France is the only country that ever lost two wars to Italians. The French have gotten the surrender business down to a science. To save time, they figured out a way to surrender even before a shot is fired. Nobody ever aimed even a bow and arrow at Paris but the Germans looked like they were going to do it and the French immediately gave up the city. The last French general who won any wars was Napoleon, but he was not a Frenchman, he was a Corsican. The first Muslims to ever defeat a western army since the Crusades were the Algerians, who kicked the French out of their country. The only war France ever won was the French Revolution and that's because they were fighting against themselves.

In the Second World War, when the Americans liberated Paris it was a culture shock to French women finally to be sleeping with men who didn't call them "Fraulein." We all remember that the French shaved the hair off women who had slept with the German occupiers, but they had to stop the hair cuts since the country was about to go into the history books as being the only nation of bald-headed women.
Arnold Kling examines past US attempts at regime change.

An interesting thing happens when you sort the conflicts by whether or not we achieved victory, as measured by regime change. Here is the list of victories and defeats, using that metric.

Regime Changed Regime Unchanged
Dominican Republic North Korea
Grenada Viet Nam
Panama Cuba
Serbia Iraq
Afghanistan Somalia

Do you notice anything? I am struck that in every case in which the United States effected regime change, the conditions improved (and I'm not even counting the defeat of the Axis Powers in World War II or the fall of Communism at the end of the Cold War). The countries were clearly better off in terms of human rights, representative government, and economic prosperity than they were prior to our intervention.

In contrast, where we failed to achieve regime change the result has been a humanitarian disaster. Dire poverty, thuggish regimes, and not infrequently genocide.

(The importance of regime change leads me to go back and find cases where the United States was implicated in regime change, even though we did not send combat forces. These would include Iran in 1953, Chile in 1973, and Nicaragua in 1990. The benefits of "regime change in absentia" are not as clear-cut, but our preferred government seems to have proven better than the alternatives.)

The conclusion is inescapable. Douglas MacArthur was right. There is no substitute for victory. Based on our track record, regime change instigated by the United States is one of the greatest success stories of the past half-century.

Indeed the data suggest to me that if the goal of our foreign policy is to maximize world well-being, we should launch a global campaign of regime change brought about by military force. Nothing we could do in terms of trade policy, bilateral aid, or multilateral assistance has anywhere near the potency of regime change.

The foregoing notwithstanding, I am afraid that I must stop short of advocating sending our military on a world regime-change tour. I do not doubt the power of the evidence that this would be a blessing to humanity. However, I am not ready to sign on to the notion that our goal should be to maximize world well-being. Instead, I lean toward looking after our own national interests. Other countries can just stew in it, for all I care. Unless they aid and abet terrorists, my inclination is to leave them alone.
The Zimbabweans are starting to fight back.

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- A national strike called to protest Zimbabwe's increasingly authoritarian government shut down businesses and disrupted transportation services across the country for a second day Wednesday.

After violence in Harare a day earlier, police reinforcements were deployed in Bulawayo, the second largest city, where shops and banks were closed, state radio reported. Factory owners in Harare reported fewer workers showing up at their jobs Wednesday.

My fellow citizens, events in South Dakota have now reached the final days of decision. For more than twenty-four months, the White House and other branches of government have pursued patient and honorable efforts to pass legislation and nominate federal judges. The South Dakotan regime pledged to work in bipartisan cooperation as a result of the 2000 election.
The South Dakotan regime has used politics as a ploy to gain time and advantage. It has uniformly defied logic and consistency in all facets of policy. Over the past few months, radio talk show hosts have been slandered by South Dakotan officials, bugged the US population, and systematically deceived gullible New York Times’ reporters. Peaceful efforts to shut up the South Dakotan regime have failed again and again -- because we are not dealing with a rational man.

from John Lemon's Barrel of Fish
The London Times is reporting that

Masses of Iraqi soldiers are deserting and senior members of President Saddam Hussein's ruling family circle are defecting as the countdown to a British and US invasion reaches its final hours.
Daniel Kruger makes the case for colonialism and imposing 'Western' values.

Slavery was to the British in the 19th century what terrorism is to the Americans in the 21st: a blight on the earth, fostered by renegades and despots, and an affront to civilisation. Yes, yes, we were complicit in its first stirrings — establishing plantations in Virginia and Jamaica, funding Saddam against Iran — but that simply fired our resolve to stamp it out once we realised our error. The slave trade was outlawed throughout the British dominions in 1834, and it was simultaneously decided that no one else should be allowed to practise it either. For the next 30 years the prime duty of the Royal Navy was to eradicate the slave trade on the high seas.

By and large Britain did this duty alone. Overwhelmingly the most powerful nation on earth, she chafed at the restraints of international co-operation. She did lead a sort of alliance against slavery, with a handful of ships from America and France, but in reality Britain did the work, often ignoring diplomatic sensitivities by attacking slaving stations on sovereign territory, or stopping and searching ships flying neutral colours. The Americans in particular, the hypocrites of their day, were more a hindrance than a help: they bleated about British ‘unilateralism’ and protested about the need for ‘international law’, while all the time her entrepreneurs were running their own slave ships between Africa and the Southern states. One thinks of the French, urging the ‘UN route’ while Total-Fina schemes to win Iraq’s oil contracts.
Africa’s problem today is not the after-effects of colonialism but another, more pernicious Western export: socialism, and its related grievance culture. Friedrich von Hayek, in his epochal The Constitution of Liberty (1960), regretted how the African elite of the independence years came to learn the ways of government at the LSE and Oxbridge, for they simply picked up the fashionable dogmas of the day. They took back to their countries not the ideas which had made Britain great — free trade and an open society — but those which were, even then, encompassing her decline: nationalisation and big government.
Let there be no talk of ‘imposing’ ‘Western’ values here. As President Bush says, the values of liberty are universal, not Western. They only seem Western because the West has applied them most successfully, and grown rich on the proceeds. Liberty might just as easily have flourished in the Korean peninsula or at the junction of the Tigris and the Euphrates. Then it would be Koreans and Iraqis, to the dismay of limp do-gooders among them, exporting ‘Eastern’ values to us, the benighted nations of the world.

Poor countries are poor because they don’t have property rights, independent banking systems and incorruptible judiciaries; because their governments are not subject to the rule of law and don’t pay their debts. Of course, the prescription is easier to write than to fulfil: as Russia found after 1990, rebuilding a country blighted by decades of totalitarianism takes more than a team of consultants from the World Bank. De Tocqueville, in his snapshot of American democracy, described a country which had been many years in the making. But as in America, as in Sierra Leone, the seeds of liberty can be planted; the natural instincts of all people for growth and prosperity and peace will flourish of their own accord. Why should the Left get to call themselves idealists? Why, more to the point, should they get to call themselves liberals? Pray that the doctrine of the hedgehog prevails, and we will see the realisation of Thomas Jefferson’s dream: an ‘empire of liberty’.
(via Pejman)
The Periodic Table of Haiku

1 Hydrogen

two-thirds of water
a big part of all of us
and the bones of stars

(via IpseDixit)
The WaPo has an article about Hussein's heirs, those lovable knockabouts Qusay and Uday.

Uday, 39, controls newspapers and radio stations in Iraq, and runs a paramilitary force that commands loyalty and fear. Author Kenneth Pollack called him "unstable" and "sadistic." The wealthy operator of a large smuggling organization, Uday took eight assassins' bullets in 1996 and lived.
Qusay is considered the more formidable foe and the one more trusted by their father. Last weekend, Saddam Hussein designated lieutenants to oversee four quadrants of Iraq, reserving the most important region -- including Baghdad and the family base of Tikrit -- for Qusay.
Daniel Pipes explains why the left defends every evil left wing dictator and terrorist.
Some valuable help in deciphering some new government warning signs at their website. Very funny. (via Volokh)
Oooh, Thanksgiving must be a fun time at the Sarandon household. It seems her mother, Lenora Tomalin, is a Republican and big-time Bush supporter. I wonder what they talk about as Tim Robbins cuts the vegetarian mock-Turkey. (via CountryStore)
Debka is reporting that deputy prime minister of Iraq, Tariq Aziz has been captured by Kurdish forces while trying to escape Iraq.

UPDATE: Washington Times is reporting that he appeared at a press conference in Baghdad to deny rumor.
While, understandably, everyone is focused on Iraq and Husseins atrocities, let's not forget the antics of our old pal Bob "Starve 'Em and Beat 'Em" Mugabe. I wonder what the 'peace' crowd would do if a few planes flying over Iraq got lost and 'accidentally' dropped a few GBU-15's on the Zimbabwean presidential palace.

Rape is being used as a political weapon by the youth militia and other groups allied to Zimbabwe's ruling party, according to human rights workers and church groups. Investigations by the Guardian reveal allegations of politically motivated rape against opposition supporters.

According to victims' testimony, members of President Robert Mugabe's militia are also forcing young women to be their concubines with impunity.
"It was surrounded by security guards so we could not get out," she said. "There were hundreds of us. We were fed horse meat and rotten food. They woke us up at 3am and we had to run 20 kilometres. Then we had to do 200 press ups and other exercises. If anyone failed to do so, they were beaten. We had to chant slogans and sing Zanu-PF songs.

"They taught us the history of our country, starting from colonial slavery, and they told us we should hate whites. We slept in large rooms, the men and women together. We were raped by the boys. I can't even count how many times by how many different men. If we complained to the camp commander, we were beaten and they would call us sell-outs to the MDC [the opposition Movement for Democratic Change]."
Juan Gato has a glossary of terms, the true meaning of which he has only learned over the last year. A sample:

Opposition to United States policy. Often expressed in simplistic terms.

Wearing costumes.

Doing what the French want.
If you're having any difficulty imagining what the government can't regulate, check out A new government site where you can comment on proposed regulations. If that isn't enough for you click on the Federal Register. A quick random search brought the following:

Raisins Produced From Grapes Grown in California; Reduction in Production Cap for 2003 Diversion Program

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.
ACTION: Interim final rule with request for comments.
SUMMARY: This rule reduces the production cap for the 2003 diversion
program (RDP) for Natural (sun-dried) Seedless (NS) raisins from 2.75
to 2.0 tons per acre. The cap is specified under the Federal marketing
order for California raisins (order). The order regulates the handling
of raisins produced from grapes grown in California and is administered
locally by the Raisin Administrative Committee (RAC). Under a RDP,
producers receive certificates from the RAC for curtailing their
production to reduce burdensome supplies. The certificates represent
diverted tonnage. Producers sell the certificates to handlers who, in
turn, redeem the certificates with the RAC for raisins from the prior
year's reserve pool. The production cap limits the yield per acre that
a producer can claim in a RDP. Reducing the cap for the 2003 RDP is
expected to bring the figure in line with anticipated 2003 crop yields.

And this is only a very short section of the reg. It went on for pages and pages, discussing such things as the Raisin Diversion Program and the Regulatory Flexibility Analysis.

Where would we be without our local Raisin Administrative Committee. Obviously regulation required for the well-being of the nation.
The NYT has an article about libertarian efforts to get the Supreme Court to overturn a Texas sodomy law.

The message is one of freedom from government control over private choices, economic as well as sexual. "Libertarians argue that the government has no business in the bedroom or in the boardroom," Roger Pilon, vice president for legal affairs at the Cato Institute, said today, describing the motivation for the institute, a leading libertarian research organization here, to file a brief on behalf of two gay men who are challenging the Texas law.

The quote from Dana Berliner, a lawyer from the Institute for Justice, pretty much sums up my thoughts on the matter:

"If the government can regulate private sexual behavior, it's hard to imagine what the government couldn't regulate..."
Richard L. Garwin, a senior fellow for science and technology at the Council on Foreign Relations, has a good article in the MIT Tech Review on the threats posed by bioterrorism, dirty bombs and nuclear weapons with some suggestions for dealing withn them.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Once again Ronnie Reagan was right...trees cause pollution. What's interesting in this article on the scientific report is the way the environmentalists just refuse to believe anything that doesn't fit their template of what needs to be done. Their smug self-righteousness is revolting.
More detail on those so-called "anti-war" activists. It is obvious that we are not only at war with Islamofascists and brutal dictators but also Marxists and Anarchists. For those who believe Saddam would not assist the Islamo-terrorists how do they explain the common cause between these groups other than for their hatred of America.
Prof. John Lemon (pseudonym) relates a personal anecdote demonstrating the high quality of university academics these days.

At a recent academic conference, I was sitting in the hotel restaurant enjoying the buffet (I love hotel breakfast buffets). Next to me were a group of 3 scholars. Being alone , I couldn't help but listen in. Here are the highlights of what was said. Realize that what they were saying was sincere; this wasn't a joke. And these scholars were in their late 40s at least, so they should know better.

* One of the scholars did not know she would be charged for making long-distance calls from her hotel room. [Hmmmm...get a cell phone, eh?]

* A direct quote in reference to a discussion about how culture affect us: "People don't choose words, their words choose them." [Bonus prize for anyone who can tell me what that actually means in a manner that is rational and coherent.]

* They asked if they could split an "all-you-can-eat" buffet. Seriously. The waitress had to explain that it doesn't quite work that way, and they seemed surprised.

* In reference to how well a class was going, one professor said "the non-feminists won't do well." [Now there's a class I would like to teach; one where I can turn in the grades without having to do any grading.]

* They didn't leave a tip, in cash or on the bill. [Power to the People!]
An interesting take on German army capabilities. Perhaps they won't support the U.S. is because it would expose how truly weak they are militarily.
Jeff Jacoby delivers a eulogy for the UN.

While the League of Nations fiddled in the 1930s, Italy invaded Abyssinia, Japan conquered Manchuria, and Hitler's armies marched into the Rhineland. The League's fecklessness helped bring on the deadliest, most destructive war in history. The United Nations in its fecklessness prolonged the Cold War and acquiesced in the rape of nations from Tibet to Bosnia. Given the chance, it will fatally compromise the war against international terrorism and its sponsors. Bush doesn't intend to give it the chance.
Jonathan Rauch discusses the administration policy on North Korea and the reasons for it's avoidance of bilateral talks (and, yes, contrary to comments made by some pundits, the administration does have a North Korean policy). (via Heretical Ideas)
See, it isn't about oil after all. It's because the US want's access to the Stargate in southern Iraq.

This study provides an exopolitical analysis of the policy dimensions of an historic extraterrestrial presence that is pertinent to Iraq and a US led preemptive attack. It will be argued that competing clandestine government organizations are struggling through proxy means to take control of ancient extraterrestrial (ET) technology that exists in Iraq, in order to prepare for an impending series of events corresponding to the 'prophesied return' of an advanced race of ETs. The Columbia Space Shuttle may well have been a high profile victim of such a proxy war intended to send a message to US based clandestine organizations over the preemptive war against Iraq.
An independent archaeologist that discusses a direct link between the ancient ET presence in Sumer (southern Iraq) and current US focus on the regime of Saddam Hussein, is William Henry. Henry's main thesis is that there existed in Sumerian times a technological device which he describes as a 'Stargate', that the Anunnaki/Nephilim used to travel back and forth from their homeworld and the Earth, and also how they travel around the galaxy. (18) Henry focuses on the following scene described by Sitchin's interpretation of a cuneiform tablet of an Uruk ritual text:

Depictions have been found that show divine beings flanking a temple entrance and holding up poles to which ringlike objects are attached. The celestial nature of the scene is indicated by the inclusion of the symbols of the Sun and the Moon.... depicting Enlil and Enki flanking a gateway through which Anu is making a grand entrance. (19)

Rather than a simple temple scene involving the chief Anunnaki of the Sumerians, Anu and his two sons, Enlil and Enki, Henry proposes that the above scene represents a transportation device used by Anu and others from the elite Anunnaki. If so, then such a device is most likely located in the Sumerian city of Uruk which was the founding city of the Sumerian civilization and the home of Gilgamesh, the famed king of the Epic of Gilgamesh. (20)
(via RWN)

Uh, huh...and don't forget that Tony Blair is helping us to get our anti-gravity technology.
Ralph Peters comments on war expectations in the NY Post.

Any difficulties and delays in the march to Baghdad will not signal a lack of competence, although there will be plenty of media pundits ready to criticize our fighting men and women from the safety of TV studios. The unexpected is the stuff of war, and it always has been.

That said, I'm no pessimist. We're going to fight a brilliant war. And while we all know the old saying about no plan surviving contact with the enemy, it's also fair to say that plenty of our enemies are not going to survive their first contact with our plan.

Still, Saddam may use weapons of mass destruction. He may slaughter civilians by the tens of thousands as he attempts to slow us down and excite world opinion against the continuation of our campaign. He certainly will attempt to use the population of Baghdad as a massive human shield. He doubtless will try to stage-manage atrocities. He may blow dams to inundate river-crossing sites. And the weather knows no allegiance.

Also make sure to read his longer piece in American Heritage.
Cato has compiled a pocket guide to smart bombs.
An unsigned piece in the Arabic News is calling for the US to be kicked out of the UN. Finally a policy position in the Arabic News I can support. Hopefully the Saudi's will make up the budget shortfall after the US leaves. (via Peppermint Patty)
Paul Johnson discusses the changing face of international diplomacy.

At the heart of the new diplomacy will be, of course, what Charles De Gaulle then (and Jacques Chirac now) bitterly called "Les Anglo-Saxons" -- America and Britain, whose common culture and attachments to freedom and democracy make them not just allies, but "family." Building on this sure foundation, the U.S., as the sole superpower, will make its arrangements with other states on an ad hoc basis rather than through international organizations.

We have to face the ugly fact: Internationalism -- the principle of collective security and the attempt to regulate the world through representative bodies -- has been dealt a vicious blow by Mr. Chirac's bid to present himself as a world statesman, whatever the cost to the world. France is a second-rate power militarily. But because of its geographic position at the center of Western Europe and its nominal possession of nuclear weapons, which ensures its permanent place on the U.N. Security Council, it wields considerable negative and destructive power. On this occasion, it has exercised such power to the full, and the consequences are likely to be permanent.
There is an interesting article in the Jerusalem Post about Hussein's war strategy.

Over the weekend, elements of the Fourth Army Corps, "Saladin," were moved close to the border with Iran, although there is no threat of an attack from that direction.
By sealing that border, Saddam wants to leave the would-be refugees no escape route except toward the south, that is to say in the direction of the coalition forces. At some point, he may use the threat of chemical weapons, or even such weapons themselves, to foment panic among the population and thus force it to flee toward Kuwait.

The idea is that the coalition forces would be swamped by hundreds of thousands of panic-stricken Iraqi civilians who need to be cared for.

The second goal of Saddam's war plan is to hide his best and most loyal forces behind units of the regular army.

In a sense, he is using the Iraqi Army as cannon fodder. His hope is that the regular army will bear the brunt of the inevitable sacrifices, but will succeed in inflicting significant casualties on the coalition forces.

The third goal of the plan is to maximize civilian casualties in the hope of shocking world public opinion, especially in the US, into even stiffer opposition to the war. This is why Saddam has positioned almost all of his best assets in densely populated areas. Anti-aircraft guns, heavy artillery pieces, and tanks are stationed inside cities, including in mosques, hospital courtyards, and school playgrounds.
(requires free registration)
British Labor MP Ann Clwyd has a piece in the London Times describing witness statements taken by her organization Indict to provide evidence for legal cases against specific Iraqi individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Warning the descriptions are graphic and disturbing.

All these crimes have been recorded in detail by the UN, the US, Kuwaiti, British, Iranian and other Governments and groups such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty and Indict. Yet the Security Council has failed to set up a war crimes tribunal on Iraq because of opposition from France, China and Russia. As a result, no Iraqi official has ever been indicted for some of the worst crimes of the 20th century. I have said incessantly that I would have preferred such a tribunal to war. But the time for offering Saddam incentives and more time is over.

But some in the anti-war crowd want the ICC to indict that great butcher Tony Blair for war crimes if Britain aids the US in getting rid of Hussein.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Well SUV's are old hat it's now American water use that's to blame for world problems. Let these people rule the world and we'll be living in caves with Osama, unwashed,underfed and immobile. I think they'll have to take the water hose out of my cold dead fingers when I run out of ammunition. Is there any doubt now that these peoples' aim is to destroy our way of life and I don't even play golf.
Churchill knew them then and now...
We must regard as deeply blameworthy before history the conduct...of the Labour-Socialist and Liberal Parties, both in and out of office, during this fatal period. Delight in smoothing-sounding platitudes, refusal to face unpleasant facts, desire for popularity and electoral success irrespective of the vital interests of the State, genuine love of peace and pathetic belief that love can be its sole foundation, obvious lack of intellectual vigour in both leaders of the British Coalition Government...the strong and violent pacifism which at this time dominated the Labour-Socialist Party, the utter devotion of Liberals to sentiment apart from reality...the whole supported by overwhelming majorities in both Houses of Parliament: all these constituted a picture of British fatuity and fecklessness which, though devoid of guile, was not devoid of guilt, and, though free from wickedness or evil design, played a definite part in the unleashing upon the world of horrors and miseries which, even so far as they have unfolded, are already beyond comparison in human experience.

--Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm
French corruption and Iraqi oil. The plot thickens. After the sweet heart oil deals between France and Iraq are exposed the world will discover illegal arms sales by the French to Iraq. How many African dictators is the French oil industry bribing. Not having the French on your side is like not having dirty hands.
A prophetic indictment of Hans Blix that should be read by everyone
Marian L. Tupy skewers some commonly held misconceptions about international economics.

At its birth, foreign aid was seen as a large-scale charity. The Marshall Plan was thus understood as an American gift to the war-ravaged continent of Europe. No European felt "entitled" to it or implied that the creation of the Marshall Plan was an American "duty" or "responsibility". Moreover, the plan was always meant to be a short-term relief with a maximum duration of four years. As such, the plan stands in stark contrast with the open-ended foreign aid programs in the underdeveloped world today. Though the benefits of the Marshall Plan are still debated, the ineffectiveness of the subsequent foreign aid programs is unambiguous. In Africa, for example, there has actually emerged an inverse relationship between foreign aid and development. For decades aid has served to postpone necessary economic reform and to preserve the hold on power of some of Africa's most unsavory dictators.

Part of this transition from short-term relief of disasters to long-term subsidies of failed states rests in a plethora of theories purporting to explain why developed countries should transfer their wealth to the underdeveloped ones. Past "exploitation" of the colonies is often credited with making the developed world rich. That is plainly not true. Britain, for example, had become the richest country in the world long before she acquired any significant colonial possessions. Other rich countries, Switzerland, Norway and Finland among them, never had any colonies. Similarly, former colonial status is often associated with poverty. But both Canada and Australia used to be colonies. Today, these two countries are very prosperous. Then there was the "periphery theory". This theory maintained that the world was permanently divided into the rich core and poor periphery, where the former exploited and impoverished the latter. The spectacular success of previously poor countries, such as Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Chile showed this view to be mistaken.
The NY Times finally admits (sort of) that Paul Ehrlich, darling of the enviro-doomsday folks, was wrong. But it does manage to end the article on an ominous note anyway:

In the second half of the century, the entire world's population should start declining, if these demographic projections prevail. That could present a more affluent world with problems that are the mirror image of what Paul Ehrlich once worried about.

Gee, I wonder which of his failed predictions tipped them off. Perhaps one of these:

  • "The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s the world will undergo famines . . . hundreds of millions of people (including Americans) are going to starve to death." (1968)

    Well hundreds of thousands of people in Zimbabwe and North Korea may starve but it has nothing to do with ecological disaster.

  • "Smog disasters" in 1973 might kill 200,000 people in New York and Los Angeles. (1969)

    Nope, air quality is even better in LA.

  • "I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000." (1969)

    Maybe he is predicting England joining the EU, but if so he got that wrong too.

  • "Before 1985, mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity . . . in which the accessible supplies of many key minerals will be facing depletion." (1976)

    Nope, most are in greater supply than ever.

Or perhaps the bet he lost to Julian Simon (which Simon would've won a second time, but Ehrlich refused to play again). I would like to know if Ehrlich ever actually made a prediction that did come true.
(via Hit & Run)
Wired has a wish list for 2013. Some of the stuff looks really cool!
Human events had a group of conservatives put together a list of government programs which should be abolished. The Top Ten plus about another 20 honorable mentions are listed here.

Like the old joke, "What do you call 50,000 lawyers under the sea? ... A good start."

One interesting thing about the list is how many of them were started by Richard Nixon. The vitriolic hatred the left had for Nixon always puzzled me, he is responsible for far more of the Great Society programs than Johnson was.
The Telegraph has a piece on Donald Rumsfeld, and his exceedingly rare (and refreshing) ability (for someone in politics) to actually say what he means without deferring to polls or focus groups first.

When I last wrote about Rummy in this space, it was a few days after September 11 and I mentioned two salient facts: 1. He was the only Cabinet Secretary whose offices were attacked, who lost members of his staff, and who helped pull the injured from the rubble; and 2. Before that date, he was widely seen as an anachronism - not just a Bush Sr retread like Cheney, but a Nixon-Ford throwback.

The New York Times' elderly schoolgirl columnist Maureen Dowd mocked him as "Rip Van Rummy". In the last 18 months, she's become Rip Van Dowdy, and he's more relevant than ever. The comparison with Powell is instructive. Everyone understands that the State Department is full of striped-pants appeasers who think the thing to do is roll over for the House of Saud and justify it as realpolitik. But the Defence Department isn't ideal either - Rummy inherited a bunch of Clintonian generals locked into an outmoded Cold War structure. The difference is that, unlike General Powell, Rumsfeld's fixing the problem - and, as the Washington Post would say, change is following.

(via Country Store who indicates it is by Mark Steyn but the byline was inadvertantly left off)
Mike has some predictions about the war over at Cold Fury.
Henry G. Manne makes the case for legalizing insider trading in todays WSJ. I have come out in favor of this position on this blog in the past and for similar reasons that Prof. Manne points out. The two main points are that it makes the market more efficient by increasing price discovery, and the second is that it is not clear who the 'victim' of this 'crime' is. The second point is the more controversial one as people find it an affront to fairness that insiders can make money on priviledged info. Here is a link to an older post I made on insider trading. The comments have some point-counterpoint, the Manne article also addresses the points made by the defenders of the law.
Headline of the Day:

"California's Democrats leaning left"
Here is a lesson they shouldn't have to teach in school: When a bulldozer advances towards you, get out of the way or you end up roadkill. Even the average squirrel has more sense.
The New York Times used to whine about overpopulation, now they are worried about population growth rates plummeting. Will they make up their minds already? Next they will start writing about how global cooling is a problem.
Oh here is a shocker:

Libertarian - You believe that the main use for
government is for some people to lord it over
others at their expense. You maintain that the
government should be as small as possible, and
that civil liberties, "victimless
crimes", and gun ownership should be basic
rights. You probably are OK with capitalism.
Your historical role model is Thomas Jefferson.

Which political sterotype are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
Bob Herbert has a piece titled "With Ears and Eyes Closed" where he is lambasting Bush for ignoring the risks of a war with Iraq because W. made up his mind long ago:

We're about to watch the tragedy unfold. The president, who's wanted war with Iraq all along, has been unwilling to listen seriously to anyone with an opposing view. He's turned his back on those worried about the consequences of a split in the trans-Atlantic alliance that has served the world well for better than half a century. He's closed his mind to those who have argued that pre-emptive warfare will ultimately make the world more — not less — unstable.

Mr. Bush has remained unmoved by the millions of protesters against the war who have demonstrated in the United States and around the world. If any one of those millions has had something worthwhile to say, the president hasn't acknowledged it.

Oh and Bob Herbert has always had a completely open mind when it came to the war with Iraq and with W.. Also, from another point of view, it's the French and Germans who are causing a split in the trans-Altantic alliance as the majority of NATO countries are behind us. Oh and ignoring millions of high college age student protesters? Come on now. You'd ignore them to if you actually talked to any of them Bob. And as this post pointed out, about as many people saw "Kangaroo Jack" as protested the war. You can get millions of people to do anything these days.
Dave Barry tries to patch up relations between the US and France.

Yes, relations are at an all-time low. The French view us as a bunch of fat, simplistic, SUV-driving, gum-chewing, gun-shooting, mall-dwelling, John Wayne cowboys who put ketchup on everything we eat, including breath mints. Whereas we view the French as a bunch of snotty, hygiene-impaired, pseudo-intellectual, snail-slurping weenies whose sole military accomplishment in the past 100 years was inventing the tasseled combat boot.

Sadly -- as is so often the case when people resort to vicious stereotypes -- both sides in this dispute are 100 percent correct. But the fact that we hate each other, with good reason, does NOT mean we can't be friends! After all, the United States and France have a close relationship that dates back to the Revolutionary War, when we were helped in our struggle for independence by a French person whose name we will never, ever forget, as long as we have Internet access to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

(via Poliblog)
George Will has a good piece on how the UN is a bad institution:

With India already the most populous democracy and soon to be the most populous nation, with its population growing more in a week than the entire European Union's grows in a year, why exactly is France (population 60 million) a permanent member of the Security Council? What of the largest Latin American nation (Brazil, 176 million), or the largest East Asian democracy (Japan, 127 million), or the largest Islamic nation (Indonesia, 231 million)?

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Pop stars are having an anti-war concert in London. Nothing particularly newsworthy about that, except that according to this story the 'Proceeds will go to the Stop the War Coalition and the Campaign against Nuclear Disarmament.' (see last line). At least they've finally revealed their true purpose.
"Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed ; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than live as slaves." - Winston Churchill, "The Gathering Storm."
(courtesy of Andrew Sullivan)
There are an increasing number of incidents of open defiance by opponents of Saddam Hussein.

Open acts of defiance by opponents of Saddam Hussein's regime have intensified in the past week, with saboteurs carrying out attacks against Iraq's railway system and protesters openly calling for the overthrow of the Iraqi dictator.

The most blatant act of sabotage took place 20 miles south of the north Iraqi city of Mosul when members of the Iraqi opposition blew up a stretch of track on the Mosul-Baghdad railway, causing the derailment of a train.
place in Kirkuk, where an estimated crowd of 20,000 marched on the Ba'ath party's main administrative headquarters demanding Saddam's overthrow. Three posters of the Iraqi leader were torn down and a grenade was thrown at the government building. One senior Ba'ath official was reported killed in the attack.

There were also unconfirmed reports that another demonstration by Iraqi Shi'ites in the holy city of Kerbala last weekend was violently suppressed after the intervention of militiamen loyal to Saddam.

Gee, could there be dissatisfaction with Saddam's government? Didn't he get 100% of the vote?
Mark Steyn has another great column in the Spectator.

...It’s the European argument today: just as the 20th century belonged to America, so the 21st will belong to Europe, a Europe that cannot — and, indeed, disdains to — compete with the Yanks in ‘aggression’ (military capability) or ‘materialism’ (capitalism red in tooth and claw), and so has devised a better way. We’ve all had a grand old time these last few weeks watching M. Chirac demonstrate his mastery of ‘the arts of peace’ and his ‘lofty moral character’, but it would perhaps be fairer to choose a more representative Euro-grandee to articulate the EUtopian vision. Step forward, Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen, who said in London last year that ‘the EU must not develop into a military superpower but must become a great power that will not take up arms at any occasion in order to defend its own interests.’
...As Matthew Parris put it last week, ‘We should ask whether America does have the armies, the weaponry, the funds, the economic clout and the democratic staying power to carry all before her in the century ahead. How many wars on how many fronts could she sustain at once? How much fighting can she fund? How much does she need to export? Is she really unchallenged by any other economic bloc?’

My colleague is falling prey to theories of ‘imperial overstretch’. But, if you’re not imperial, it’s quite difficult to get overstretched. By comparison with 19th-century empires, the Americans travel light. More to the point, their most obvious ‘overstretch’ is in their historically unprecedented generosity to putative rivals: unlike traditional imperialists, they garrison not remote ramshackle colonies but their wealthiest allies. The US picks up the defence tab for Europe, Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia, among others. As Americans have learned in the last 18 months, absolving wealthy nations of the need to maintain their own armies does not pay off in the long run. This overstretch is over. If Bush wins a second term, the boys will be coming home from South Korea and Germany, and maybe Japan, too. So the EU will begin the second decade of the century with an excellent opportunity to test Mr Lipponen’s theory: it can either will the means to maintain a credible defence, or it can try to live as the first ‘superpower’ with no means of defence. In other words, the first victim of American overstretch will not be America but Europe.

There's a very interesting interview with military historian and strategist Ralph Peters in the American Heritage magazine.

There are certainly times when we desire stability in international politics, but in the underdeveloped world an obsession with stability means preserving failure and worse. Overvaluing stability is a heritage of the Cold War, over the course of which we rationalized our support of some very cruel regimes and we deposed elected governments we didn’t like. You could justify it in terms of the greater struggle. But you can’t justify it now.

What I wrote was that the shah always falls in the end, Saddam always turns on you, and the Saudis always betray you. If we support evil, the long-term price is almost always too high. And now we don’t have to. Since 1989, or ’91, depending on how you want to date it, we’ve been the only superpower. We haven’t thought about what we’ve been doing.
Well, if you look at the 1990s, America has been defending the legacy of czars, emperors, kaisers, and kings. It’s ludicrous. The greatest democracy in history defends borders drawn by European imperialists in Berlin in 1884 and 1885 or at Versailles—and for that matter, some drawn at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. When we say that borders are inviolable, that we always respect sovereignty, we pretend that somehow humanity has achieved this magical state where existing borders are perfect. Well, they’re not perfect. For example, mightn’t it be better if there were border changes in Afghanistan, if its northern and western territories became part of a marginally greater Uzbekistan and Iran? These territories weren’t always Afghan. I’m not saying such changes would be for the better. I’m saying at least think about these options. In Washington, D.C., and the State Department especially, we won’t even think about them. It’s sheer inertia.
The other crucial American advantage is the fact that over the past 150 years American women have fought their way into the workplace and the educational system. This means that today America operates on a wartime basis every single day in terms of our utilization of human capital. Rosie the Riveter is in the boardroom, she’s on campus, she’s flying jets off carriers. The numbers aren’t hard to understand. This is grade-school math. Because of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, because of Susan B. Anthony—and the Pankhursts in England—the American economy is booming. Greenspan’s done a good job, but it was really the feminists who put us over the top.

Look at our tremendous openness to the utilization of human capital, the multiple revolutions that have occurred in our lifetimes and are still developing, the opening of our society to women, to minorities, to old people. Traditionally the role of old people in societies has been to consume resources, mind the kids, and die. Yes, they’re romanticized as imparting wisdom, but in fact they’re drooling in the soup. In America today they’re healthier and they’re active. My father-in-law is one of my heroes. A former marine, a Korean War vet, a workingman, he worked hard all his life, built a good life for himself and his family. His wife worked too. Now he’s formally retired, but he works with Habitat for Humanity, he drives a volunteer ambulance, and he still works part-time for his company when it needs him. He’s about 70 and still contributing. This is happening at a time when in Europe if you lose your job at age 50, you’re probably not going to get another one.
In countries where there’s a struggle going on for the soul and future of Islam, the jury’s still out. I’m actually increasingly optimistic. But I do believe the last couple of centuries demonstrate that cultures that oppress women, that don’t have freedom of information, that don’t value secular education, that have one dominant religion that infects the state and has power over the state, and whose basic unit of social organization is a clan, tribe, or extended family are just not going to compete with the West and especially with the United States. So I’m extremely pessimistic about the old Islamic heartland.

I personally feel that we’ve made a grotesque mistake aligning ourselves with the most oppressive of the Arabs, with the Arab world’s Beverly Hillbillies. Other Arabs built Damascus, Córdoba, Baghdad, Cairo. The Saudis never built anything. The fact that they came into their oil wealth was a disaster, not for us but for the Arab world, because it gave these malevolent hicks raw economic power over the populations of poor Islamic states, such as Egypt. The line about Al Qaeda that’s absolutely true is that Saudis supplied the money and Egyptians supplied the brains. So Saudi money, spent to support their grotesquely repressive version of one of the world’s great religions, has been a disaster for the Arab world.
(via Assume the Position)