Saturday, April 12, 2003

Denbeste analyzes the meaning of the Iraq war success on the Israel/Palestinian conflict.

Stardate 20030412.0241

(Captain's log): One of the critical but non-obvious things which changed a couple of days ago is that one of the biggest supporters of the Palestinian Intifada just went bye-bye. Saddam paid $25,000 to the family of every successful suicide bomber to hit Israel, but there was other less public support for the Palestinians, monetarily and in other ways. There's a good reason that the Palestinians were visibly pro-Saddam during the war; they knew who their friends were.

Unfortunately, that particular friend is either dead or on the run, and in any case isn't going to be funneling any more money or weapons into the West Bank or Gaza. And in coming weeks, the other major sources of funds and weaponry for the Intifada will get messages from the US that we'd be pleased if they would knock it off.

Even terrorist war is expensive. As war goes, it's cheap, but it isn't free. And the major terrorist groups among the Palestinians also spend money on things like schools and food for the areas they control, as well as paying the salaries of a lot of people and greasing a fair number of palms, which is a major reason for their popular support.

The only thing that's kept it going has been substantial subsidies from Iran, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Iraq's funding is history, and with the distinct possibility of a revolution in Iran soon, that source, too, would end. As to the Saudis and Syrians, they will be "encouraged" to "cooperate". Once that funding ceases, the political balance of power among the Palestinians will change.

Which means that the resources available to groups like Hamas and Hizbollah, and even Fatah, to permit them to buy loyalty from the Palestinian civilians, will decline. Actually, with the fall of Saddam it's already going to decline, and as we start working on the other nations it will decline even further. And their reputation and power will decline with it. In the long run, this is going to contribute more to the "roadmap to peace" than any silly external agreement sponsored by the Russians and Europeans.

I think there's still going to be an international effort in that direction. But Bush hasn't forgiven Arafat, and the "roadmap to peace" is going to require certain concrete steps from the Palestinians before they get rewarded with any kind of autonomy or homeland.

Bottom line: complete cessation of all attacks on Israel, and total and public abandonment of the "right of return"; real elections; Arafat out of the government; reduction in corruption and graft. There will be a timeline to creation of a Palestinian state but only if the Palestinians do these things first. That's going to be Bush's bottom line to participate in the process. And everyone knows that without American buy-in, no such effort can succeed.

This week's victory in Iraq is the most important event in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle in the last 20 years. The chance for peace between them has never been greater. This is actually the best thing that's happened to the Palestinians in years, even though they don't think so yet. But it's going to begin a process leading them to abandon the struggle to try to destroy Israel, and a process of beginning to fundamentally accept that they will have to coexist with Israel. Only then can peace come.


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The anti war crowd is anti free choice. As these nitwits from International ANSWER and Voices in the Wilderness explain Iraq and the rest of the world must not be able to choose what kind of life they wish to live but must be protected from American style liberty. Did they ever complain about the destruction of the Marsh Arabs habitat by Saddam. Of course not, it was done by a so-called "socialist" dictator. But KFC and McDonalds that's real evil to them. These people are totalitarian to the core as well as racist I bet if you question them they would rather the North Koreans continue to starve under their psychopathic dictator than allow in western style food or heaven forbid GM grains.
If you haven't already read Eason Jordan's (chief news executive at CNN) admission that CNN did not cover the horrors of Saddam's Iraq even though he knew full well what was going on here it is.
Question? What is the purpose of a news agency; To keep its station office open at all costs or to provide news? What else do they know and won't tell?
What we all knew about the shooting at the El Al counter in Los Angeles last year is confirmed by the DOJ...it was an act of terrorism.

Friday, April 11, 2003

Here is the latest leftist spin on the war, if Iraq was such a huge threat how come we beat them so easily. So in other words, in their minds if the war takes a long time then they were correct in opposing it as it would have saved American lives, if it was short then they were right in opposing it as Iraq was never really a threat. I just love how they want to have their cake and eat it too.
John Lloyd, ex-editor of the New Statesman, takes the British Left to task for their implicit support of Hussein. (In of all places, the Guardian)

A large part of the British left - and the left elsewhere - has made a fundamental mistake. In opposing the invasion of Iraq, it has shown itself incapable of thinking through not only the nature of the world as it is today, but also its own claims to be the leading force in making the world better. The more vehement sections of the left have succumbed to the comfort of violently rhetorical attacks on the US and have led the world in creating an image of Tony Blair and the Labour government as US poodles, incapable of articulating a British national interest.

The crimes of Saddam Hussein's regime - its support for terrorism, its aggression toward its neighbours and its brutality against its own people - are dismissed either by referring to the left's own past protests against it, or to reminders that a slew of western, especially American, political and corporate leaders did business with, and supported, that regime.
...
Will the end of the war and the effort to rebuild decent government in Iraq change the view of the left? It would seem unlikely: the anti-US reflex is too ingrained, the dislike of Blair too great.

Yet the left's programme now should be to argue in favour of committing resources to those multilateral agencies that work, and to seek agreement from those forces everywhere in the world that are committed to democratic (or at least more responsive) government and to an observation of human and civil rights. The aim, as the US political scientist Michael Walzer has put it, should be a "strong international system, organised and designed to defeat aggression, to stop massacres and ethnic cleansing, to control weapons of mass destruction and to guarantee the physical security of all the world's peoples".
Andew Breitbart has a good column on the obsequious fawning over Cuban 'President' for life, Fidel Castro, by the Hollywood Left.

Perhaps they don't know any better, as they return with Cuban cigars and fawning praise: "It was an experience of a lifetime" (Kevin Costner); "he is a genius" (Jack Nicholson); a "source of inspiration to the world" (Naomi Campbell). But people who should know better make the pilgrimage too. Director Steven Spielberg, founder of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation and winner of an Academy Award for illuminating the horrors of the Holocaust, described his meeting with Castro in November as "the eight most important hours of my life." Never forget, indeed.

This week, as reported in Newsweek International's Global Buzz column, a pack of New York media VIPs, each willing to pony up $6,500 for travel costs, are set to jet to Cuba with Yoko Ono to meet with the Bearded One, just as his crackdown hits overdrive. Slate's blogger Mickey Kaus shrewdly comments: "It's especially ironic that press and publishing executives are paying an enormous premium to meet with a man who is busy jailing journalists and writers for being journalists and writers."
Just remember...43% of the population will believe any statistic you make up and 54.61% will believe it if you add extra decimal places to imply added precision (even if your margin of error is +/- 20%)
Late Show with David Letterman: Top Ten
Top Ten Things Iraq's Information Minister Has To Say About The War

10. "We're pulling down the statues of Saddam to have them cleaned"

9. "Don't believe that stuff you see on CNN...or NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox or MSNBC"

8. "If you ask me who the winner is, it depends on what your definition of 'is' is"

7. "Iraqi television is off the air because we didn't want you to have to sit through 'Becker'"

6. "Do you know of any job openings for a lying weasel?"

5. "Wolf Blitzer and I are engaged"

4. "Iraqis are in the streets celebrating Cher's 40 fabulous years in show business"

3. "Incoming!"

2. "Saddam's not dead -- he's just out with a case of the shingles"

1. "War? What war?"
Check out this very good piece on how the US military is a much better fighting force now than in had been just 12 years ago:

The war in Afghanistan, however, saw three innovations that would alter the way America fights wars. First, high-tech smart bombs were combined with high-tech command, control, communications, and intelligence. A new generation of unmanned Predator drones flew over the battlefield, scanning the terrain with digital cameras and instantly transmitting the imagery back to command headquarters. Commanders would view the imagery, look for targets, and order pilots in the area to attack the targets. The pilots would punch the target's coordinates into the smart bomb's GPS receiver. The bomb would home in on the target. Total time elapsed: about 20 minutes. By comparison, in Desert Storm, the process of spotting a new target, assigning a weapon to hit it, then hitting it, took three days.

The second new thing about the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan was that it was truly a "combined-arms" operation—a battle plan that involved more than one branch of the armed services, working in tandem. This had never really happened before. Often using the new high-tech drones as the communications link, Army troops on the ground called for strikes from planes flown by Air Force pilots. Some of these planes, such as B-52 and B-1 bombers, had been built 30 or 40 years earlier to drop multi-megaton nuclear bombs on the Soviet Union. The notion of using them to drop 2,000-pound conventional weapons, in support of ground troops, would have appalled an earlier generation of Air Force generals.

...

Operation Desert Storm was really two wars—the air war and the ground war—each fought autonomously and in sequence. Gulf War II was an integrated war, waged simultaneously and in synchronicity, on the ground, at sea, and in the air. The vast majority of airstrikes, from Air Force bombers and attack planes as well as Navy fighters, were delivered on Iraqi Republican Guards, in order to ease the path of U.S. Army soldiers and Marines thrusting north to Baghdad.

Another new thing, which started in Afghanistan and continued in Iraq, was the systematic inclusion of the so-called "shadow soldiers," the special operations forces. The 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act, which was best-known for giving new authority to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also made special ops a separate command, with its own budget. (Before then, each branch had its own special-ops division, which tended to get the big boys' leftovers, in terms of money, equipment and everything else.)

Gen. Schwarzkopf didn't think much of special ops, so didn't use them in Desert Storm, except toward the end of the war, to go hunt for Scud missiles in Iraq's western desert. In Afghanistan, these forces were central. They could be parachuted into the country in small numbers, set up airfields, and develop contacts with rebel leaders. The information about Taliban targets, which the Predator drones transmitted back to headquarters, usually came from a special-ops officer riding on horseback with a laptop.

We may never know how much special ops have been doing in Gulf War II. Certainly, these forces were in the Iraqi capital days or weeks before the war began, scoping out targets and lining up contacts. They were in the western deserts again, hunting Scuds and preparing airfields. They were in the north, training Kurds and securing oil fields. They were probably accompanying, and perhaps advancing, the 3rd Infantry and 1st Marine divisions all the way from Kuwait to Baghdad, scouting targets and transmitting their positions to the air commanders back at headquarters.


Arnold Kling outlines some of the steps required to revitalize the Iraqi economy.

The main point of this essay is to stress that the rapid privatization of assets is not a panacea. In the former Soviet Union, where the work ethic failed to take hold, the benefits of privatization were dissipated by criminal behavior and corruption. We should learn from that example in the reconstruction of Iraq. In order to work, capitalism requires ethical foundations. Only when the ethics of work, public service, and learning have been cultivated can we expect a successful conversion to a modern capitalist economy dominated by the private sector.
23nd New York International Orchid



Just an update to the post from yesterday. I went to the show yesterday afternoon and it was magnificent. It was also, amazingly, very un-crowded. It was much worse last year. Again, I strongly recommend that you go and walk through if you leave near NYC. For those of you who don't here are some other places to see some photos:

Internet Orchid Photo Encyclopedia
The Orchid Photo Page
The Complete Orchid Picture List
Orchid Mall List of Orchid Photo Sites
I know I've seen this before, whether it was in an email or here I really can't remember this early in the morning and I'm too lazy to look it up. Anyhoo, check out these sex tips from Donald Rumsfeld especially the one about premature ejaculation as it actually sounds like him (via Andrew Sullivan):

Dear Secretary Rumsfeld: My husband has a problem with premature ejaculation. Is there something I could do to make him last longer? —Ellen Shapiro, Knoxville, Tennessee

Secretary Rumsfeld: I'm just going to say this once. There is no such thing as premature ejaculation. There is ejaculation, and there is non-ejaculation. If your husband is ejaculating, then count your blessings. Congratulations, you just had sex. That's what men do—they ejaculate. All this business about, "Oh, henny penny, my husband is a premature ejaculator!" is just a lot of twaddle and claptrap. You say it enough and pretty soon, believe me, he won't be ejaculating at all.
The chief news executive comes clean on stories of Iraqi oppression that he has been holding back for the sake of the safety of his Baghdad bureau:

For example, in the mid-1990's one of our Iraqi cameramen was abducted. For weeks he was beaten and subjected to electroshock torture in the basement of a secret police headquarters because he refused to confirm the government's ludicrous suspicion that I was the Central Intelligence Agency's Iraq station chief. CNN had been in Baghdad long enough to know that telling the world about the torture of one of its employees would almost certainly have gotten him killed and put his family and co-workers at grave risk.

Working for a foreign news organization provided Iraqi citizens no protection. The secret police terrorized Iraqis working for international press services who were courageous enough to try to provide accurate reporting. Some vanished, never to be heard from again. Others disappeared and then surfaced later with whispered tales of being hauled off and tortured in unimaginable ways. Obviously, other news organizations were in the same bind we were when it came to reporting on their own workers.

...

I came to know several Iraqi officials well enough that they confided in me that Saddam Hussein was a maniac who had to be removed. One Foreign Ministry officer told me of a colleague who, finding out his brother had been executed by the regime, was forced, as a test of loyalty, to write a letter of congratulations on the act to Saddam Hussein. An aide to Uday once told me why he had no front teeth: henchmen had ripped them out with pliers and told him never to wear dentures, so he would always remember the price to be paid for upsetting his boss. Again, we could not broadcast anything these men said to us.

Last December, when I told Information Minister Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf that we intended to send reporters to Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, he warned me they would "suffer the severest possible consequences." CNN went ahead, and in March, Kurdish officials presented us with evidence that they had thwarted an armed attack on our quarters in Erbil. This included videotaped confessions of two men identifying themselves as Iraqi intelligence agents who said their bosses in Baghdad told them the hotel actually housed C.I.A. and Israeli agents.

...

Then there were the events that were not unreported but that nonetheless still haunt me. A 31-year-old Kuwaiti woman, Asrar Qabandi, was captured by Iraqi secret police occupying her country in 1990 for "crimes," one of which included speaking with CNN on the phone. They beat her daily for two months, forcing her father to watch. In January 1991, on the eve of the American-led offensive, they smashed her skull and tore her body apart limb by limb. A plastic bag containing her body parts was left on the doorstep of her family's home.

I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me. Now that Saddam Hussein's regime is gone, I suspect we will hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told freely.


Thursday, April 10, 2003

In a state where getting a concealed carry permit for a handgun is nearly impossible, the anti war pacifist Sean Penn has one and obviously carries guns in public..
Quotes of the Day

I love Dennis Miller

"As far as Peter Arnett goes, how am I to read Peter Arnett as reliable -- when he has that atrocity of a comb-over on the top of his head?! He's got four hairs left. He's swirling around like some follicular dairy cream. You know, this guy is dangerously close to having to pull hair over from some other guy's head. Hey, Pete, you're not fooling anybody! We know you're bald. Your head is as empty on the outside and it is on the inside."

...

"I went down and took the United Nations tour the other day -- and even the guide book is spineless!"
While the American and European elite fawn over Castro the people of Cuba suffer. Go to the street and ask the anti war protestors if they support Castro, I'm certain you will find them overwhelmingly in favor of the dictator. The protests in NY and San Francisco were organized and heavily supported by International ANSWER...a group dedicated to the Marxist/Stalinist world view and suporters of Castro, the North Korean tyrant among others. For these so-called intellectuals the only protest allowed is their protest. Still Jimmy Carter, the Hollywood left and the Noam Chomsky's of the world see no evil in Castro... their totalitarian streak runs deep..
Victor Davis Hanson does a short fisking of MoDo.

I confess that her writing has long bothered me, always in times of national duress reflecting an elite superficiality that is out of touch with most of us in the America she flies over. It is not just that for the last two years she has been wrong about Afghanistan, wrong about the efficacy of the war against terror, and wrong about Iraq — despite yesterday's surprising sudden admission that "We were always going to win the war with Iraq." The problem is more a grotesque chicness that quite amorally juxtaposes mention of tidbits like alpha males, Manhattan fashion — and her own psychodramas — with themes of real tragedies like the dying in the Middle East and war's horror.
...
It might be neat between cappuccinos to write about leaders getting "giddy" about winning a terrible war, or thinking up cool nicknames like "Rummy," "Wolfie," and titles like "Dances with Wolfowitz," but meanwhile out in the desert stink thousands of young Americans, a world away from the cynical Letterman world of Maureen Dowd, risk their lives to ensure that there are no more craters in her environs — and as a dividend give 26 million a shot at the freedom that she so breezily enjoys.
(via Occam's Toothbrush)

Ouch!
An enlightening piece from the Moscow Times. It shows that the Russians are still living in the past both economically and militarily. Their military is obviously a joke and the Generals incompetent. They are also not our friends and should be treated accordingly.

"Last week it was disclosed that two retired three-star generals -- Vladislav Achalov (a former paratrooper and specialist in urban warfare) and Igor Maltsev (a specialist in air defense) -- visited Baghdad recently and were awarded medals by Hussein. The awards were handed out by Iraqi Defense Minister Sultan Khashim Akhmed"

"The worst possible outcome of the war in Iraq for the Russian military is a swift allied victory with relatively low casualties. Already many in Russia are beginning to ask why our forces are so ineffective compared to the Brits and Americans; and why the two battles to take Grozny in 1995 and 2000 each took more than a month to complete, with more that 5,000 Russian soldiers killed and tens of thousands wounded in both engagements, given that Grozny is one tenth the size of Baghdad."
Dave Barry makes a powerful argument for simplifying the tax code and proposes a way to get it done.

The question is: What can we, as citizens, do to reform our tax system? As you know, under our three-branch system of government, the tax laws are created by: Satan. But he works through the Congress, so that's where we must focus our efforts.

Here's my proposal, which is based on the TV show Survivor: We put the entire Congress on an island. All the food on this island is locked inside a vault, which can be opened only by an ordinary American taxpayer named Bob. Every day, the congresspersons are given a section of the Tax Code, which they must rewrite so that Bob can understand it. If he can, he lets them eat that day; if he can't, he doesn't.

Or, he can give them food either way. It doesn't matter. The main thing is, we never let them off the island.


I'm all for it, where do I sign?
A Canadian Political Science Professor exposes the mindset of the elite and their propensity for totalitarianism.

"These experts believe they have a privileged insight into politics and history. They possess a certain frame of mind that is skeptical of common sense, dismissive of ordinary people and prefers the unexamined certainty of their own ideological constructions - such as that America is a retrograde imperialist power, and hence its motivations are always suspect - over simple truths that human longings for decency, respect, freedom and peace are universal.

From such certitude it is only a small step into that seductive world of thinking and acting where an anti-democratic elite, suspicious of freedom, knows what is right, or deserving for the multitudes.

The French writer, Jean-Francois Revel, discussed this matter in his wonderful little book The Totalitarian Temptation.

Revel observed: "It seems to me that the totalitarian temptation is really driven by a hatred on principle of industrial, commercial civilization, and would exist even if it were proved that people in that civilization were better fed, in better health and better (or less badly) treated than in any other. The real issue lies elsewhere: money is sinful, the root of all evil; and if freedom was born of economic development, then it too suffers from that original sin." Salim Mansur, Toronto Sun.
Looks like we have just found an underground nuclear facility with radiation levels that are "off the charts":

Marine nuclear and intelligence experts have far found 14 buildings that have high levels of radiation, an embedded reporter from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Thursday, noting that some of the tests have found nuclear residue too deadly for human occupation.

The Marine radiation detectors go "off the charts" a few hundred meters outside the nuclear compound, where locals say "missile water" is stored in enormous caverns, the correspondent, Carl Prine, reported. Prine is embedded with the U.S. 1st Marine Division.

"It's amazing," Chief Warrant Officer Darrin Flick, the battalion's nuclear, biological and chemical warfare specialist told the paper. "I went to the off-site storage buildings, and the rad detector went off the charts. Then I opened the steel door, and there were all these drums, many, many drums, of highly radioactive material."

This underground discovery could still test to be perfectly legitimate and offer no proof of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. The CIA encouraged international inspectors in the fall of 2002 to probe Al Tuwaitha for weapons of mass destruction, and the inspectors came away empty handed.

"They went through that site multiple times, but did they go underground? I never heard anything about that," physicist David Albright, a former IAEA Action Team inspector in Iraq from 1992 to 1997, told the Tribune-Review.

"The Marines should be particularly careful because of those high readings," he told the paper. "Three hours at levels like that and people begin to vomit. That leads me to wonder, if the readings are accurate, whether radioactive material was deliberately left there to expose people to dangerous levels.

"You couldn't do scientific work in levels like that. You would die."

Capt. John Seegar, a combat engineer commander from Houston, is currently running the operation in Al Tuwaitha. "I've never seen anything like it, ever," he told the Tribune-Review. "How did the world miss all of this? Why couldn't they see what was happening here?"
Christopher Hitchens says all the anti-war slogans have been vindicated:

So it turns out that all the slogans of the anti-war movement were right after all. And their demands were just. "No War on Iraq," they said—and there wasn't a war on Iraq. Indeed, there was barely a "war" at all. "No Blood for Oil," they cried, and the oil wealth of Iraq has been duly rescued from attempted sabotage with scarcely a drop spilled. Of the nine oil wells set ablaze by the few desperadoes who obeyed the order, only one is still burning and the rest have been capped and doused without casualties. "Stop the War" was the call. And the "war" is indeed stopping. That's not such a bad record. An earlier anti-war demand—"Give the Inspectors More Time"—was also very prescient and is also about to be fulfilled in exquisite detail. (via new blogger, and old mystery writer Roger L. Simon)

Read the rest...
Kurdish fighters have seized Kirkuk. Normally I don't post this kind of stuff, leaving it for the folks at Command Post, but in this case I wanted to point out an interesting historical footnote. In many writings and interviews, Saddam is said to have viewed himself as a modern day Saladin, the Muslim leader who united much of the Arab world and retook Jerusalem from the Crusaders and who is considered one of the greatest Muslim leaders in history. Unlike Saddam, however, Saladin was reputed to be a fair and magnanimous leader. Someone who united the Arabs rather than massacred them, who earned the respect of Richard the III who surrendered Jerusalem on the condition that Christians be given free passage to it.

This quote from Writer Rene Grousse, should indicate Saddam's complete lack of resemblance to Saladin.

"It is equally true that his generosity, his piety, devoid of fanaticism, that flower of liberality and courtesy which had been the model of our old chroniclers, won him no less popularity in Frankish Syria than in the lands of Islam"

Oh, and by the way, the reason for this post ... Saladin was a Kurd.
Michelle has a fine little rant about the claims of the loony left that the scenes of jubilation in Baghdad yesterday were all staged, part of a huge US propaganda plot. Keep this in mind when the fighting is over and the coalition forces turn their attention to finding Saddam's WMD stashes. The groundwork is already being laid that any such finds will be US plants. Remember to believe that Iraq has no WMD you have to believe that such weapons which were unaccounted for in 1998 when Iraq expelled inspectors were destroyed subsequently and that while out from under the inspectors eye in the intervening 5 years no new weapons were manufactured. And you would believe this because of... Saddam's great respect for international accords?
Lileks is in top form today with a column on Iraqi liberation.

I’m not stupid enough to think that we’ve just created a nation of 22 million wannabe Americans. But tonight parents can look down at their children in bed and believe they will have better lives. Not just hope for it, but believe it. Some of us call that the American Dream - hold the scare quotes, please - and we pray for the day when it’s no longer an American concept but a universal birthright.

Whatever you think we should do to get to that point, you have to admit that the sound of a cast-iron skull striking the pavement is a good way to start. And if you don’t it’s because you see some other false god on the podium, pointing at an empty heaven.

Men never seem taller than when they stand next to the prone remainders of a toppled tyrant. Someone someday will do a study of the statues the West pulled down. How they all showed a hard face to the dawn. How they all fell face first.
23nd New York International Orchid

For those of you who live in or near NYC, the annual Orchid Show at Rockefeller Center begins today. I have a modest collection of orchids which I raise (I will post some photos on the site soon as many are starting to bloom). They are truly wonderously beautiful things as you will see if you manage to get to the show. I will be going this afternoon.

PS. Also check out the orchid photos at Miguel Octavio's site, Devil's Excrement. He lives in Venezuela where he can keep them outside and has a huge collection of about 1500. I keep mine in a solarium in my house so I only have about 60.
Andrew Sullivan has a nice collection of war predictions.

VON HOFFMAN AWARD II: "In Baghdad the coalition forces confront a city apparently determined on resistance. They should remember Napoleon in Moscow, Hitler in Stalingrad, the Americans in Mogadishu and the Russians at Grozny. Hostile cities have ways of making life ghastly for aggressors. They are not like countryside. They seldom capitulate, least of all when their backs are to the wall. It took two years after the American withdrawal from Vietnam for Saigon to fall to the Vietcong. Kabul was ceded to the warlords only when the Taleban drove out of town. In the desert, armies fight armies. In cities, armies fight cities. The Iraqis were not stupid. They listened to Western strategists musing about how a desert battle would be a pushover. Things would get 'difficult' only if Saddam played the cad and drew the Americans into Baghdad. Why should he do otherwise?" - Simon Jenkins, the Times of London, in an article called - yes! - "Baghdad Will Be Near Impossible to Conquer," March 28.
Bob Herbert is scraping the bottom of the barrel. After starting his column whining about groups like the Defense Policy Board like some right wing nut would the Council of Foreign Relations, he finishes with:

Those who dreamt of a flowering of democracy in Iraq are advised to consider the skepticism of Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to the first President Bush. He asked: "What's going to happen the first time we hold an election in Iraq and it turns out the radicals win? What do you do? We're surely not going to let them take over."

14 years ago one could have also asked, "what's going to happen the first time we hold an election in Eastern Europe and it turns out the Communists win? What do you do? We're surely not going to let them take over."

Well it did happen, most notably in Poland in 1993. But the structure of the government, with an enforced constitution and checks and balances kept their victories from re-establishing totalitarianism. As long as we do the same in Iraq, I'm not terribly worried. Hell, Turkey has had Islamist governments win general elections but those government's haven't even cancelled Turkey's military cooperation with Israel.
Home Front Update

We have news that my cousin Roger will be shipping out immediately. He must have made a good impression during his training. He writes back to his office,

"I arrived at MacDill yesterday after a hectic week at Ft. Benning. I was pulled off my old job and reassigned to a new directorate called Special Operations Command, Central, or SOCCENT in military lingo. I'm attached to their intelligence staff, called a J-2 section. That was enough of a surprise for me, but when I walked in the door, I was greeted with a "Oh, so YOU'RE captain Brown." And without even a handshake, someone picked a phone and called their travel office to make flight reservations for me."

Pray for Roger's safe return in mid-July.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Duh!

"We discovered that all what the (Iraqi) information minister was saying was all lies," said Ali Hassan, a government employee in Cairo, Egypt. "Now no one believes Al-Jazeera anymore." (via Right Thinking)
Palestinians seem to be upset with the fall of Baghdad, partly because they were hoping Saddam would win and also because they had been led to believe by the Arab media that the Americans were being slaughtered.:


"I invested a lot of money in buying a satellite dish and a new TV set because I wanted to watch the day the battle for Baghdad begins," explained the bearded shopkeeper. "I was sure that this was going to be one of the great battles of the century, where an Arab army would inflict heavy losses on the invading crusaders. I feel as if a dagger has been stuck in my heart when I see American soldiers strolling in the heart of Baghdad."

...

Some Palestinians chose to vent their anger on the Arab media, especially al-Jazeera, Abu Dhabi and al-Arabiya TV stations, for broadcasting lies about the developments on the battlefield. "For the past three weeks these stations gave us the impression that Iraq had the upper hand in the fighting against the US and British forces," complained Yahya al-Natsheh, the owner of a boutique in al-Bireh, the twin city of Ramallah.

"Where is the liar [Iraqi information minister Mohammed] Sahhaf," he asked rhetorically. "He sounded and looked so confidant when he told us that the Iraqis were slaughtering the crusaders and mercenaries at the gates of Baghdad. Everyone believed that the Iraqis were cleverly luring the Americans and British into Baghdad, which was supposed into a huge graveyard for the crusaders."


Two words: ha ha.
He may or may not be dead, but Saddam is still posting to his blog:

:: Wednesday, April 09, 2003 ::

Okay, I will admit to having suffered some... "minor" setbacks during the last several hours. But this is merely a temporary situation while I and my forces, who I am sure are still out there somewhere, regroup. For the time being I am staying here, where I am safe for the moment. Please forgive me I fail to share my actual location with you, my friends and fellow members of the Micheal Moore fan club. Incidentally, I found his website, but does anyone have an email address for Mikey? I want to see if he has a room I can rent for a couple of months. It would be purely temporary, you understand.
Then we'll drive the invading hordes from our borders. And you can be damn sure I'm charging 'em for those statues they destroyed. And I'm not talking about some kind of depreciation value nonsense here. They're paying full replacement cost.
Then we'll invade the US and free the American people so that I may enslave them.
And when we get there, I've got dibs on Britney Spears....
:: Saddam "No Nukes" Hussein 9:18 PM [+] ::
Jonathan at As It Should Be has a very interesting essay defending the virtue of selfishness and decrying the vice of sacrifice.
Brent at The Ville has scored an interview with David Horowitz, founder of Frontpage magazine.
Michael Lewis offers suggestions on how to properly annoy the French.
From Scrappleface:

Looting Suddenly Stops in Baghdad

(2003-04-09) -- The looting in Baghdad stopped suddenly today as Iraq's largest organized crime family disappeared from the city.

Thousands of Baghdad residents entered government buildings in an attempt to retrieve some small portion of what had been stolen from them for the past 24 years.

"I got a big vase from one of Uday's offices," said one local woman. "It can never replace the family members Saddam took from me, but all of this stuff belongs to the people and it was taken from us without our permission."
David McWilliams has an excellent editorial in the Irish Sunday Post defending Pax Americana.

In 1948 a civil war erupted between the Muslim and non-Muslim peoples of this region. Historically,the smaller non-Muslim group had lived in peace with their majority neighbours, but in 1948 they seized their chance. The newly founded UN, based on an earlier British promise, gave them a new state. As the civil war raged and pogroms ensued, ethnic cleansing on a monumental scale erupted.

The British did what they did best, and partitioned the country. The majority Muslim areas of the protectorate were divided in two - a large Muslim state and a small sliver of over-populated land created, wedged between the mountains and the sea. This small pathetic piece of land is now among the poorest places in the world, characterised by desperation and Islamic fundamentalism.

The bigger Muslim entity was cut off from its hinterland, with only tiny access to the ocean. Beside it, a new, democratic but non-Muslim state emerged, absorbing displaced refugees from far and wide. These two states have been involved in three major wars since 1948. The borders are today the most heavily policed in the world, with two huge standing armies eyeballing each other over disputed territory.

Where am I talking about? No, it's not Israel and Palestine. It is the far more worrying conflict between India and Pakistan.
Peace between these two huge states, and the attendant economic development in the region (particularly in India), is just one huge positive of the current United States grand plan - which is being sorely tested by the war in Iraq and the subsequent European reaction. It would be wise to recap how positive, in comparison to other historic hegemonies, the American leadership of the world has been.
...
By providing security for Britain, France, Germany and Japan, by defending their interests in far-flung places like the Gulf, and by intricately involving them in a system of mutually enhancing alliances, Washington prevented any of the old powers from ploughing their own furrow. This global policy, which is known as "reassurance", has cost the Americans billions of dollars. It has also facilitated unprecedented levels of economic, political and social cooperation among the states of western Europe with the EU and east Asia with ASEAN. Make no mistake, without the US security blanket, the EU would never have evolved into the peaceful structure it is now, of which Ireland is a member and from which it benefits greatly.
...
Underneath this American military umbrella, the economies of Europe and Asia have flourished at unprecedented rates. The system that the US has fostered has led to enormous improvements in the standard of living for most of us. Politically, Ireland has been able to express itself in Europe, feeling like an equal at the top table. Do you think this would have been possible in an EU dominated by the military aspirations of France, Britain, Germany, Italy or Spain? No way, Jose.

Our increase in living standards has been the result of cherry-picking from both the European and American way. By attracting foreign investment on the one hand, and taking advantage of the European pool of savings on the other, we have profited in ways unimaginable only a few years ago.We have moved from a society of emigrants to one of immigrants. Historically, this has always been a good sign. The technology transfer from the US to Ireland has also been unprecedented in the past few years. All this has been possible because of, not in spite of, American hegemony.
(via RWN)

Read the whole thing...
Lee Harris defends something that you would not think needed defending, "heroic decency".

For the past couple of days, ever since I heard about him, I have been thinking about Mohammed.

This is the name that has been given to the man who guided American Special Forces to the hospital in which Jessica Lynch was being held by the Iraqis, and where, without Mohammed's intervention, it is quite probable that she would have died, alone and terrified.

We all owe Mohammed our profoundest gratitude. Not merely for saving the life of one of our soldiers and one of our daughters, but for demonstrating the immense difference that the heroic decency of one single man can make.


Heroic decency has an odd ring to our ears, and well it should have. Decency, in our world, is taken for granted; it marks the standard by which our conduct is judged to be adequate and acceptable, and certainly not the standard by which it is judged to be heroic and inspiring. If we fail to be decent, we are rightly condemned; but if we just manage to be decent, no one thinks to praise us. And why should they? We live in a society where acts of decency usually cost us little or nothing.

Mohammed and his family do not live in such a society. And that is what made his act heroic. Because in the Iraq governed by Saddam Hussein and his henchmen, the simple act of saving a fellow human being from pointless and unmerited suffering is regarded not as an act of humanity, but as an act of treason. And far from costing Mohammed nothing, such simple decency could have easily have cost him the lives of his own children. And that is what makes it heroic. How many of us would have done the same?


Read the rest...
John Hawkins has a collection of quotes about the 'Iraqi quagmire' at RWN. Here's a sample:

- "'Rumsfeld says we can't write the history yet. Perhaps, but I think we're close. The US-British plan was to blow up small bits of Baghdad and fool the Iraqis into believing they had the resolve to actually fight a war. They weren't fooled. Both sides dug in, to a stalemate. Eventually the American-led force withdrew, after thousands of casualties at the hands of terrorists from all over the Middle East, leaving Iraq to be ruled by a strengthened Ba'ath Party. In the aftermath, the world lost its last remaining superpower (which was mostly a public relations idea in the end)" -- Dave Winer on March 28, 2003.
US congressman Dennis Kucinich has proposed the creation of a "US Department of Peace" to be headed by a cabinet-level official.

The proposed legislation calls for a department that would advocate non-violence and peace education. It would support international disarmament treaties and help resolve potentially violent conflicts around the world, Kucinich said.

The Department of Peace would also promote non-violence as an organizing principle in our society, and would generally seek to "help to create the conditions for a more peaceful world," he said.


And this is different from the Department of State how? Just what we need another large federal bureaucracy to suck in tax dollars and issue memos critical of the US. Isn't that what the UN is for? I can't wait to hear the rest of Kucinich's presidential platform. Let's just hope he gets the nomination, can you say 'Dukakis'?
Perhaps he was visited by the ghost of Michael Kelly, but Richard Cohen actually has a sensible column today in the WaPo.

Just recently the government of Fidel Castro arrested about 80 dissidents and almost instantly brought them to trial -- if it can be called that. Foreign journalists and diplomats were excluded from the proceedings, in which 12 of the accused face life sentences. All of them are undoubtedly guilty of seeking greater freedom and on occasion meeting with visiting human rights activists. In Cuba, those are crimes.

Castro is probably relying on the fact that the United States is occupied elsewhere, and as usual, he needs scapegoats to blame for the dismal state of the Cuban economy. But he can rely also on the unswerving naivete and obtuseness of the American left, which consistently has managed to overlook what a goon he is. Instead, it concentrates on his willingness to meet with American intellectuals and chatter long into the night. He is, apparently, good company.
...
So I would like to hear some moral outrage about Castro. I would like to see the vilification of Cuban Americans cease. They have as much right to lobby the government as do, say, Jewish Americans on behalf of Israel or Greek Americans on behalf of Greece. I'd like to see anyone interrupt one of Fidel's marathon soliloquies to ask about human rights violations.

Fidel Castro is a thug and a fool. Those are constants, unaffected by an inconsistent U.S. embargo -- why Cuba and not China? -- or by the fact that some of his American opponents are political troglodytes. To someone in a Cuban jail, it hardly matters that Castro reads books or that he gushes revolutionary rhetoric -- goop about "the people." The people are impoverished and oppressed.
(via Eleven Day Empire)
James DiBenedetto is referring to Saddam as Schroedinger's Tyrant since he is simultaneously being reported dead and alive. Mmmm, physics joke.
Amish Tech Support defends Iraqi's letting off a little steam in a fine, full-flavoured rant:

These people have been taught to hate America and Jews for 12 years.
They have had all their country's wealth spent on Saddam's splendor, nothing on them unless they licked his boots.
They have been murdered, tortured, and rapes by the thousands by Saddam.
They are hostages to their own despot-ruler.
Bush 41 and Clinton wussed out when it came to freeing them from Saddam, instead just tossing a few weapons and ignoring the calls for help when Saddam's pathetic troops massacred them.
Babies have been kept in freezers so that they can be counted multiple times for the UN nitwits to count.
People are unburied out of cemeteries and put on display or tossed about as "carnage" of Coalition attacks.
They have been lied to for 12 years how the world views them as a people.

Suddenly free, without the despot's evil laws around their throat, without the world nattering about and arguing itself into stalemate about freeing them, they go a bit wild.


the rest...
Carnival of the Vanities is up at Solonor.
MoDo is delusional:

Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney were determined to lead America out of its post-Vietnam, post-Mogadishu queasiness with force and casualties, to change the culture to accept war as a more natural part of a superpower's role in the world.

Being a Russian Jew, paranoia comes pretty naturally (how else do you think my family survived living in that area? They fled at the first signs of trouble). But that is too much even for me. No intelligent human being would want to start a war simply to "toughen up" their populace. And if you remember Maureen, we didn't start the war on terrorism, those bastards flying those planes did.
James Taranto has this excerpt from a September interview with Scott Ritter about the children's prison which was just liberated.

The prison in question is at the General Security Services headquarters, which was inspected by my team in Jan. 1998. It appeared to be a prison for children--toddlers up to pre-adolescents--whose only crime was to be the offspring of those who have spoken out politically against the regime of Saddam Hussein. It was a horrific scene. Actually I'm not going to describe what I saw there because what I saw was so horrible that it can be used by those who would want to promote war with Iraq, and right now I'm waging peace.

Now my question is, like the UN inspectors who refused to give asylum to the people who ran to their cars a few months ago, did it ever occur to any of these UN employees to issue a formal protest about a prison which housed toddlers to pre-adolescents? I guess as long as the UN got their cut from administering the Food-for-Oil program they were content.

Update: Read Lileks comments today on the children's prison.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Now we get confirmation... Russia was against the war because of its OIL contracts with the Butcher of Baghdad. I bet the fraud trials of the French oil company ELF will turn up some juicy tidbits about their corrupt practices both inside France, where they have already admitted to making illegal campaign contributions, and elsewhere.
Check out this picture of my sister and my niece, Emma:

Best of the Web brings something very interesting up that I had forgotten about:

In an Arab city, a bomb hit a home where a terror-sponsoring leader was believed to be. The bomb killed more than a dozen people, including the leader. Baghdad yesterday? No, Gaza last July. The target, Salah Shehada, was a top Hamas terrorist. As we noted at the time, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer complained: "This heavy-handed action does not contribute to peace."

We asked: "If Americans knew Osama bin Laden was hiding in a particular house in Afghanistan or Pakistan, would we let him go rather than risk killing civilians?" It was premature at the time to raise the same question vis-à-vis Saddam Hussein. But yesterday four American bombs delivered the answer.
Russell Wardlow (aka Mean Mr Mustard), suggests a new way to deal with Saddam (if he isn't already dead). I think it violates the Geneva Convention though.

GREETINGS AND GOOD DAY MISTER SADDAM HUSSEIN!

I REALIZE YOU ARE BUSIED MAN WITH COALITION FORCES AND THEIR BOMBINGS AND SOLDIERS KNOCKING AT THE STEP OF YOUR DOOR, BUT ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MYSELF: I AM GEORGE BUSH OF WASHINGTON D.C. IN THE AMERICAN UNITED STATES, AND I AM MAILING YOU WITH UTMOST CONFIDENTIAL AND TOP SECRET BUSINESS PROPOSITION OF GREATEST MAGNITUDE TO BE PROSECUTED WITH REQUIRING MAXIMUM CONFIDENCE.

WE ARE TOP OFFICIAL OF UNITED STATES FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WHO ARE INTERESTED IN REMOVAL OF FUNDS FROM HIGHEST CONGRESS BUDGET MONIES TO INTERNATIONAL AREA. IN ORDER TO COMMENCE THIS BUSINESS WE SOLICIT YOUR ASSISTANCE TO ENABLE US TRANSFER INTO YOUR ACCOUNT THE SAID TRAPPED FUNDS.

THE SOURCE OF THIS FUND IS AS FOLLOWS: DURING THE LAST REGIME OF UNITED STATES HERE IN AMERICA, GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS MAKED MANY CONTRACTS BEING OVER-INVOICED IN VARIOUS COMMITTEES. THE PRESENT CITIZEN GOVERNMENT SET UP A PANEL OF REVIEW AND WE ARE HAVING IDENTIFIED MANY INFLATED BUDGET MONIES WHICH ARE CURRENTLY NOW FLOATING IN UNITED STATESIAN CENTRAL BANK OF AMERICA FOR PAYMENT.


Read the Rest...
Check out the fake personal that a friend of mine wrote (he should not be allowed to get bored). And he already got two responses from interested women!:

I'm a 25 year old 6'7 Aussie. Blond hair, green eyes, well built and am stark raving mad with a scorching case of syphalis. I threw my back out trying out for the national rugby team, so I'm here to take a little vacation and nurse myself back into shape.

I'm looking for a tall, thin, busty, syphalitic blond who wants to be my naughty nurse. You must enjoy warm enimas, double fisting and having quarters bounced off your ass. I've got a whole lot of cash to burn, so I don't mind sending a bit of it your way. One lady at a time is fine, but I prefer to have more. Trust me, I can keep a lot of girls happy!
Quote of the Day:

"Iraq has now already achieved victory -- apart from some technicalities."

--Iraqi ambassador to the Arab League

Again thanks to Little Green Footballs
About 150 children have just been freed from jail in Baghdad by the US military. Their heinous crime? Not joining the Baath party youth branch. And some had been in jail for five years. I wonder if Bob Herbert will write anything about them. Don't worry, I'm not holding my breath (thanks to Little Green Footballs).
The WaPo has an interesting profile of Paul Wolfowitz, one of the primary architects of the administration's Iraq policy.
Fred is amazingly rant-free this week. In fact he is sounds downright Arnold Kling-like as he discusses copyright issues.
Here is another great headline "Migratory birds could lose their way in war clouds over Iraq". Who comes up with these stories? People are dying and this reporter is caring about birds possibly getting lost?
I love this New York Times headline, "Public Seems to Tolerate War's Death Toll". I bet what happened was that they went out trying to write a story about how people are horrified by the US death toll but could not get enough quotes to that effect to justify that spin on the story.

Just to put things into perspective, we have lost 88 lives. That is less than one half of a plane crash. And unlike a plane crash, these deaths have meaning and purpose.
James Taranto reports in Best of the Web that the story about Martin Savidge that Max referenced a few days ago was a hoax.
Check out military historian John Keegan on Saddam's war plan:

Saddam's war plan, if he had one, must be reckoned one of the most inept ever designed. It made no use of the country's natural defences. All advantages the defence enjoyed were thrown away even before they could be utilised.

Iraq presents a considerable military problem to the invader, particularly one obliged to attack from the sea, as the British found in 1915-17. The point of entry, in the Gulf, is very narrow. Beyond, the terrain stretches away for 800 miles to the Turkish border and, although the central plain between the Tigris and Euphrates is almost as flat as a billiard table, the topography nevertheless presents major obstacles to an attacker making his way north at frequent intervals.

The key objectives are the cities, and most of them, Baghdad in particular, are protected by large water barriers. Saddam's correct strategy would have been to group his best forces in the south, to oppose the Anglo-Americans as far from the capital as possible, and then to conduct a fighting withdrawal up the valleys of the great rivers, leaving devastation behind.

The port facilities at Umm Qasr, Iraq's only deep-water harbour, should have been sabotaged at the outset. Then the bridges across the Tigris and Euphrates should have been blown in a step-by-step retreat, to keep the coalition out in the desert to slow its progress and to force it into the laborious and potentially costly procedure of emergency bridging.

The Americans had, presciently, brought several large bridging units with them, the best-equipped capable of constructing a ribbon bridge 800 metres wide, but they have not been required. Instead, the Iraqi defenders either abandoned the existing bridges intact or conducted the most feeble of efforts to deny them to the enemy.

Thus, instead of fighting to delay the American advance to Baghdad, Saddam allowed the two leading American formations, the 3rd Infantry Division and the 1st Marine Expedition Force, to arrive within striking distance of Baghdad very quickly indeed. Not only was space, the most valuable of all dimensions in an effective defence, surrendered without a fight.

So was the second most important, time. It is not only outside observers who have been bewildered by the Iraqis' military behaviour. So must also have been the coalition high command. The Iraqis have ignored every rule of defensive warfare.

They have also handled their troops in an illogical fashion. Saddam had on paper nearly 400,000 soldiers at his disposal, consisting, in descending order of quality, of his Republican Guard of six divisions, his regular army of 17 divisions and his paramilitaries, including the Fedayeen irregulars and the Ba'ath Party militia, totalling perhaps 30,000.

In orthodox military practice, the Republican Guard, less perhaps a portion held back for last-ditch defence, should have been committed first, to blunt the coalition onset. The regular army should then have been committed to reinforce the Republican Guard when and where it achieved success. The paramilitaries should have been kept out of battle, to harass the invaders if the regular defence collapsed.

Saddam has fought the battle the other way around. The regular army was committed first, south of Baghdad, and seems to have run away as soon as it saw that the fighting threatened to be serious. The Republican Guard was then brought forward to hold the approaches to Baghdad and has been devastated by American air attack, its armoured units in particular being offered up for pointless sacrifice.

The only serious resistance appears to have been offered by the units least capable of meeting the coalition troops on equal terms, the Ba'ath Party militia, effectively a sort of political Mafia equipped with nothing more effective than hand-held weapons.


Just like Stalin, Saddam is supposed to have purged his military right before a major war. It shows.
There is a good piece on the SARS hysteria in the New York Times:

The statistics of the disease, however, scarcely suggest the need for the restrictions being imposed on travelers, which are slowing trade and hurting tourism around East Asia. (Yesterday, Continental Airlines said it was suspending some flights to Hong Kong.) The disease is routinely described as "highly contagious." If it were, there would now be tens of thousand of sufferers in this crowded city of 6.8 million. But there have been only 883 cases, or one in 80,000. Most have been within three clusters — one housing block and two hospitals that treated early victims.

Even among the infected in Hong Kong, fewer than 15 percent have needed intensive care. The mortality rate has been around 4 percent, the norm here for pneumonia, which kills 2,000 to 3,000 people a year. The vast majority of the deaths have been elderly people and those with chronic illnesses. To warn against visiting Hong Kong and Guangdong seems curious when there are more widespread or virulent diseases like dengue fever and encephalitis in the Southeast Asian tourist havens of Thailand and Malaysia.
Now this is as stupid as the idiotic 'Freedom Fries' nonsense. German linguists want Germans to use French words in place of their popular English equivalents in protest at the war with Iraq.

A campaign launched by the group Language in Politics proposed swapping English words such as "ticket" with "billet" or "briefing" with "communiqué".

Prof Armin Burkhardt of Magdeburg University, who heads the group, said: "This is a political demonstration through language against a war that we don't support," adding that he had no intention of encouraging German-French separatism.
(via Command Post)

And why don't they just use German words?
Joke of the Day

A lady came up to me on the street, pointed at my suede jacket and said, "Don't you know a cow was murdered for that jacket?" I said "I didn't know there were any witnesses. Now I'll have to eliminate you too".

Monday, April 07, 2003

Matt Ridley defends new technologies against the neo-Luddites of the world in the Guardian.

If you debate the new genetics in Europe and America these days you get asked the same question in two different ways. The average European says, with dread: "How do we stop people doing x?" The average American says with excitement: "When will I be able to do x?" For x, read "test myself for future dementia risk," "change my unborn children's genes," or even "fill my blood vessels with nano-robots to enable me to live to 150".

To the jaded European palate, the American attitude seems silly and irresponsible. Caution should be the watchword for all new technology. I beg to differ. I think the American optimism is necessary and responsible. It is the European pessimists who are in danger of causing real harm. Caution has risks, too.
...
I am not arguing that all new technologies are risk free. Reproductive cloning, for example, carries a 30% risk of producing a bodily deformity, 15 times the normal rate. To use this technology on human beings is wrong precisely because it is unsafe.
...
For the past century the world has got steadily better for most people. You do not believe that? I am not surprised. You are fed such a strong diet of news about how bad things are that it must be hard to believe they were once worse. But choose any statistic you like and it will show that the lot of even the poorest is better today than it was in 1903. Longevity is increasing faster in the poor south than in the rich north. Infant mortality is lower in Asia than ever before. Decade by decade per-capita food production is rising.

Here at home, we are healthier, wealthier and wiser than ever before. Pollution has declined; prosperity increased; options opened.

All this has been achieved primarily by that most hated of tricks, the technical fix. By invention, not legislation.

My point? Simply this: if you asked intellectuals at almost any time since Malthus to talk about the future, they would have been pessimistic and they would have been wrong. The future (actual) has consistently proved better than the future (forecast).


(via The Agitator)
Gotta love Scrappleface. According to his site, coalition troops just found a large cache of LSD:

"After listening to recent statements from the Iraqi Information Minister, we had suspected there were large quantities of LSD in the building," said an unnamed Pentagon spokesman.

Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf called on the United Nations to address the "immanent humanitarian medical crisis."
"There is no way I can do my job effectively without this essential medication," said Mr. al-Sahaf. "Without LSD, I cannot stand up before the people and say 'Be assured, Baghdad is safe, protected. Iraqis are heroes.'

Mr. al-Sahaf said the 'medicine' helps him to see Abrams tanks as gentle lavender camels and Bradley fighting vehicles as enormous pansies and petunias.
Palestinians are now boycotting US and British products as a protest against the war against Iraq. Oh that'll show them. Listen, I'm all for using voluntary boycotts as a way of showing someone you don't like their policies. But you know the victims of your boycotts are supposed to notice that you are boycotting them for it to have any effect. Otherwise you are just hurting yourselves for no reason. Oh never mind. We are talking about the same people who mastered the art of mindlessly sending their own kids to their death for the sake of blind hatred.
There is a very interesting interview with philosopher Andre Glucksmann.

Europe is trapped by complacency and an all too human desire for oblivious contentment, says a leading French philosopher. This helps ensure the success of the nihilistic terror and extremist ideology exemplified by al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein. Nobody wants war – but genocide is worse than war.
...
Socrates asked: what do a beautiful woman, a beautiful vase and a beautiful bed have in common? His answer: the idea of beauty. My question is: what do extremist ideologies like the communism or Nazism of yesteryear and the Islamism of today have in common? After all, they support ostensibly very different ideals – the superior race, mankind united in socialism, the community of Muslim believers (the Umma). Tomorrow, it could be altogether different ideals: some theological, some scientific, others racist. But the common characteristic is nihilism.

The root element is the attitude that anything goes, particularly when with regard to ordinary people: I can do whatever I want, without scruples. Goehring put it like this: my consciousness is Adolf Hitler. Bolsheviks said: man is made of iron. And the Islamists whom I visited in Algeria said that you have the right to kill little Muslim children, in order to save them.
Where are all those caring Hollywood types when Cuba shows it's Stalinist stripes? Oh, that's right, they don't give a hoot about human rights or freedoms as long as a Marxist is in power. Let's start the clock and see if Ed Asner, or Spielberg or any of those who love Fidel and hate the Patriot Act say anything about these closed-court sentences.
My Alma Mater, Penn, aka the "Jewish Ivy", is having an openly anti-semitic speaker at commencement. Of course it's okay because he is black.
The New York Times has gone back to whining about the Augusta National Golf Club. Few cared before the war, does anybody care now?
I woke up this morning and saw that we are supposed to have "Heavy Snow" here in New York today. I no longer want to simply throw global warming protestors into the East River. I want to send them to Baghdad, dressed in Iraqi Republican Guard uniforms, with AK-47's superglued to their hands so they can't surrender. Schmucks.

Sunday, April 06, 2003

As Steven Brill is finding out you had better not challenge any "liberal" premises about the Administration...especially the they're all stupid theme. It's becoming clear that the Left is even more arrogant than the French and equally as reprehensible.
Where is the UN? Where are the handwringers who complain about the U.S. but never do a thing to stop massacre after massacre. Are not these Africans human? And,worthy of some protection. Will the heroic Belgians who chase the ghosts of Pinochet and Kissinger ever face up to the monsters of today in the Congo ( formerly the Belgian Congo) and Zimbabwe to name but two. The UN has or perhaps always was a group of pampered conversationalists whose only contribution to the world is the support of fine restaurants in New York and elsewhere around the world.
A new report challenges the concept that "global warming" is leading to the highest temperatures ever. It was warmer during the middle ages a study by climatologists indicates.