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Sunday June 8, 2003

This is very depressing. Excerpt,

Cannibalism is increasing in North Korea following another poor harvest and a big cut in international food aid, according to refugees who have fled the stricken country...

...Another witness, named only as Lee, 54, said he feared that his missing grandsons, aged eight and 11, had been killed for food. As he searched widely for them, they boys' friends said they had vanished near a market.

I understand why President Bush has a deep hatred for despots such as Kim Jong-Il. Don't you?


For my money, nobody has a better grasp of the political, religious, and socio-economic realities in the middle east than Daniel Pipes. Go read him. Excerpt,

Hardly; WMD was never the basic reason for the war. Nor was it the horrid repression in Iraq. Or the danger Saddam posed to his neighbors. Rather, the basic reason was Saddam's having signed a contract with the United States, then breaking his promise.

Well, first I say Pipes is all that and then I disagree with him. I think the fact of the matter is that we had numerous reasons for going to war against Iraq. Sure, Saddam broke his promises, but so have numerous countries (some even are our allies)--so that's not a sufficient cause. We also went to war for humanitarian reasons, for "war on terror" reasons, for WMD reasons and probably for some political reasons. Different reasons were stressed at different times depending on the audience. While breaking of a promise may indeed be an important part of the equation, it's not the only variable.


Well, of course I couldn't read all of this story from the LA (-LA) Times, since I haven't bothered to register. But I did grab the main bullet off of Lucianne.com:

BAGHDAD -- Saddam Hussein's intelligence services set up a network of clandestine cells and small laboratories after 1996 with the goal of someday rebuilding illicit chemical and biological weapons, according to a former senior Iraqi intelligence officer. The officer, who held the rank of brigadier general, said each closely guarded weapons team had three or four scientists and other experts who were unknown to U.N. inspectors...

More and more these days, various internet sites want you to "register". Crimeny, I get enough spam email as it is. I haven't yet registered for the LA (-LA) Times (and probably never will). If I ever have a deep and abiding yearning to hear or read the views of the far left I can just go buy a Saint Louis Post Dispatch or watch big 3 network news, or PBS, or NPR or ... Sure, I've registered at the Times, some others too--I think Opinion Journal, Jerusalem Post, can't...seem...to...remember... that's my Captain Kirk voice. Got one the other day wanting me to register to read an article in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Come on.


Friday June 6, 2003

My muse, my inspiration, my raison-d'etre...Lileks. As usual though, he's full of crap. No, just kidding. Excerpt,

Press them on the issue, and they believe the WMD will turn up somewhere. Under the sofa, perhaps. Maybe they rolled under the fridge. Weapons of mass destruction, car keys -- they're always in the last place you look.

In the long run, it's not what we don't find in Iraq. It's what doesn't happen.

No more mass executions. No new prisons for children. No bonus checks for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. No Terrorism 101 classes at Salman Pak. No electrodes applied to the daughter of a man who talked to CNN. No daily potshots at allied aircraft. No sudden sluice of fear in the hearts of the Kurds when the government trucks appear on the horizon. No miserable thuggish satrapy in the middle of the Middle East, thumbing its nose at the United Nations and the United States.

He's exactly right and he writes with great humor. However I think it's important to find the WMD's for this reason: We know they existed, we know they could do unimaginable damage in the wrong hands, we need to be sure that they are secured.

Update: Now even the Iranians have acknowledged that Saddam had been hiding his weapons of mass destruction. Excerpt,

"Yes, we agree with the Americans. Our intelligence indicated that Iraq did possess weapons of mass destruction and was hiding them from the UN."

The source, who requested confidentiality, went on to say that the big question is: "What did the Iraqis do with these weapons?"

While Teheran does not know where these weapons may be today, there is a strong suspicion that some may have filtered onto local black markets.

"We know other items once under military control (such as broadcast transmission equipment) have found their way onto the black market," says the official.


click on image to see full size

Nope, I didn't feel it here in Saint Louis. Excerpt,

The 4.5 magnitude quake (search) hit shortly before 7:30 a.m. near Blandville, about 25 miles southwest of Paducah, and was felt in towns from Illinois to Arkansas.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (search), the quake was centered about 6 miles below the surface.


The Orlando Sentinel obtained a draft of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's report. NASA's not going to look very good. Excerpt,

NASA's poor risk management, questionable policy decisions and constant budget battles were among the root causes of the shuttle Columbia accident, according to an upcoming report by the board investigating the mishap.


Alan Caruba has some strong opinions on the religion of peace Islam. Excerpt,

The Koran is a guide to war. Thievery was the way Muhammad supported himself as the self-proclaimed prophet and conquest was the way Muhammad and his followers initially spread Islam. The United States, a target and a victim in this Jihad, is waging war to end the Islamic dream of domination. In this it has been joined by many nations, including those that are Islamic. This should be seen as a hopeful sign.

I believe this century will be remembered as the one in which Islam began its long march to extinction. It will be defeated in its terror war and it will be defeated because many will abandon a "religion" that is repelled by modernity, denies human rights, and revels in the blood of its victims, calling their killers martyrs.


All those interested in the health care debate should read this. Excerpt,

America's most expensive health care problem is mental illness. I'm not referring to depression, schizophrenia, or other commonly-diagnosed psychological disorders. I am talking about the neuroses that cause us to remain attached to a complex system of corporate and government involvement, rather than relying on individuals to make their own choices about health care and health insurance.


I know, I know, I promised a Hillary-Free zone. But this next item is touted as the the antidote to Hillary's new book. Excerpt,

How to Destroy a Village: What the Clintons Taught a Seventeen Year Old addresses the likely consequences of the dichotomy between the Clintons legacy and the mainstream teaching of parental values. It leads to a conclusion that all too often parents prostituted those principles, turning a blind eye to the scandal while sending confusing mixed messages to their progeny. For children the waters were muddied as to right and wrong. It was a time that exposed the hypocrisy of parental guidance, demonstrating compromised standards, preaching lofty goals while falling short themselves.

The book connects the dots between the post bubble economy, corporate corruption, terrorism, the Clinton scandals, and ultimately their place in history. It projects a whole new dimension to the debate from the perspective of a young person coming of age at the end of the millennium. It deals with the future, not with the past, by extrapolating lessons learned during the Clintons heyday on to the rising generation. It relates how many catastrophic problems this Nation faces today can be attributed to the Clintons' neglect, indifference and malfeasance. Hillary was not only there, in many ways she was in charge. In fact Hillary may be even more dangerous to the social order than her husband. Mr. Clinton stood for no principles, except what is best for himself. While he was willing to bend on any issue at the whim of the latest poll, Hillary is an extreme ideologue whose agenda places no limits on government's reach.


Although I totally agree that Uncle Yassar is the one pulling the strings and making the decisions. I don't think that because of the size of his picture in the paper but because of what both Arafat and Abu Mazen have actually said. Methinks they're trying just a little too hard over there at WorldNetDaily.

But this isn't really too much of a surprise to anyone, is it? If you say yes, I'm gonna come over there and hit you with a dummy stick. Excerpt,

The militant Islamic group Hamas says it is breaking off talks with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas on ending its attacks on Israelis. "The dialogue has ended," Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi, a Hamas leader told Reuters. He said Abbas made unacceptable commitments at a U.S.-led summit with Israel in Aqaba, Jordan, on Wednesday.


Victor Davis Hanson has it exactly right in his analysis of pre-September 11, 2001 foreign policy and its utter fecklessness. Excerpt,

Seasoned diplomats lectured that superpowers must act carefully and predictably, allowing friends and enemies to know in advance the parameters of their behavior. A certain caution arose in the United States during the last 20 years that held that we had a special burden not to overreact to provocations and must always work within the framework of multilateral consensus. The conventional wisdom admonished that we were too powerful or perhaps too civilized or even polite to respond to every annoyance.

Because our diplomatic experts so often graduated from our elite universities, they believed that before shooting back it was always wise to examine the social and economic conditions read Western exploitation that might have encouraged such anti-American behavior in the first place. Moreover, we usually were willing to implore our clients to let us spend billons of dollars on them and risk in their defense thousands of American lives....

...If I had been a terrorist in the 1980s and 1990s, I would have sized up the rules of the contest something like this. Kill or take hostages at no more than ten or so Americans at a clip, about every other year. Big operations like killing hundreds of Marines in Beirut or taking embassy hostages in Teheran or blowing a crater in the USS Cole would be possible, but only if they were cloaked in general Muslim radicalism and purportedly independent of state sanction. Or, such mayhem could be carried out on the home soil of an Islamic state without much law and order, ensuring that American reprisals would not be deemed logical by strict cost-benefit analysis....

...If I were a Western European government in the post-Cold War era, I would slash my arms budget and spend less than one percent of GNP on defense. I would use the savings to increase social entitlements and adopt a utopian worldview befitting both my country's wealth and absence of military power: Only in conjunction with the U.N., the EU, or NATO should America act militarily; in contrast, Europe should never resort to force, even if it means 250,000 departed souls hours from Berlin or Rome. Talk is cheap, arms are not.


Thursday June 5, 2003

I remember when Surgeons General were outspoken and made the news: C. Everett Koop and Dr. Jocelyn Elders quickly come to mind. Anyone know who the Surgeon General is now? Perhaps that's why Richard Carmona said this. Excerpt,

Richard Carmona, the surgeon general of the United States, has said he would support the abolition of cigarettes and all tobacco products, the first time that such a senior public health official has taken that kind of stand over the industry.

Well, at least that's a more ethical position than those would castigate the industry and take all their money. After all, nobody makes more off the tobacco industry these days than the government.


Things are still not all rosy in Afghanistan. Excerpt,

About 40 guerrillas opposed to Afghanistan's US-backed transitional government were killed yesterday in one of their biggest battles with pro-government forces since the Americans toppled the Taliban in late 2001.

The seven-hour fight, in which at least six Afghan pro-government fighters were also killed, underscored the country's instability. It came as interim President Hamid Karzai held talks with Tony Blair in London yesterday to lobby for more support.

At least now the Afghanis are fighting for themselves and it's not solely the Americans.


An unbelieveable quote about the Bush presidency from Bill Clinton: "I think the President should stay for two consecutive terms". Well, he did actually say all those words, just not in that particular order. Oh yeah, and he wasn't referring to the Bush presidency.

Hey, maybe I could write for the Times, or maybe the Guardian. Check out this MINOR clarification:

A report which was posted on our website on June 4 under the heading "Wolfowitz: Iraq war was about oil" misconstrued remarks made by the US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, making it appear that he had said that oil was the main reason for going to war in Iraq. He did not say that. He said, according to the Department of Defence website, "The ... difference between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil. In the case of North Korea, the country is teetering on the edge of economic collapse and that I believe is a major point of leverage whereas the military picture with North Korea is very different from that with Iraq." The sense was clearly that the US had no economic options by means of which to achieve its objectives, not that the economic value of the oil motivated the war. The report appeared only on the website and has now been removed.

Making it appear that Wolfowitz said it was the main reason for going to war? They just conveyed the wrong perception? It was all really so very nuanced: Wolfowitz: Iraq war was about oil. Yes it appeared to say that because that's what it actually said. Sheesh. That couldn't be a reporter with an agenda, could it? I'm sure that would never get past my editors, oh nevermind


Wednesday June 4, 2003

Congressman J.D. Hayworth is introducing legislation to reduce our UN dues--Bully! Excerpt,

What's more, U.N. dues are supposed to be based on ability to pay. Yet there are a dozen countries that in 2003 will pay more in dues than China's $24 million even though it now has the world's second largest economy. The Chinese are clearly getting a lot of bang for their U.N. buck. So are the Russians. Their 2003 assessment is a paltry $19 million, less than Canada, Holland, Australia, and tiny Switzerland.

I am therefore introducing legislation in the House that would limit the U.S. contribution to the regular U.N. budget to no more than the highest amount paid by any other permanent UNSC member. The rationale is simple: Our veto power should cost us no more than what China, France, Russia, or the U.K. pay for theirs.

The U.S.'s 2003 assessment for the U.N. regular budget is $341 million. Under my bill, we would pay no more than France, which has been assessed the second-highest amount, or $100 million. This proposal would not effect U.S. payments to the U.N. for peacekeeping operations, voluntary programs, or membership organizations. It would only affect the U.N. regular budget. Even at this reduced amount the U.S. would still contribute over $1.4 billion to various U.N. programs, far more than any other country.


Amnesty International accuses the US of torture! Excerpt,

Despite claims to the contrary by U.S. officials, "the use of foul and demeaning language, lack of career and educational opportunities, denial of a fulfilling arts and crafts program, and like psychological torture are prohibited under international law," the group said in a statement.


THIS IS A MARTHA AND HILLARY FREE ZONE!!


Yeah, yeah, there's all sorts of hoopla surrounding the Peace Summit. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see peace in the Middle East, but I don't think this plan is realistic. The hatreds of the Palestinians run too deep. They are inculcated from an early age and reinforced throughout life as evidenced by the winners of this writing contest for Palestinian schoolchildren. Excerpt,

"My heart has turned into a sad block of pain. One day I will buy a weapon and I will blow away the fetters. I will propel my living-dead body into your arms, my father, and you will gather me into your hands."


One was just not enough, so the Boston Globe had to have two editorials slamming the President's tax cut. The main beef in these editorials is that the tax cuts only go to those who pay taxes. Excerpt,

The tax cut President Bush signed last month has been revealed as even more flawed and lopsided than it first appeared. It is time to see the new law for what it is: a massive redistribution of wealth. Bush and his allies in Congress have awarded billions to the very wealthiest Americans while leaving middle-class Americans the crumbs. More than half of the $350 billion tax break will go to the richest 5 percent of the population; the bottom half of the population will get an average of just $100 a year.

First, the top 5% of wage earners pay over 50% of all income taxes. The top 50% of wage earners pay over 95% of all income taxes.

Second, to my way of thinking, a redistribution of wealth is taking money from wealthy and giving it to the poor. Redistribution of wealth is not allowing the wealthy to keep more of their money. But, most importantly, redistribution of wealth is not taking money from the poor and giving it to the wealthy, precisely because the poor, by definition, have very little money. This cut does not take anything away from any person. It merely allows those who are already paying the most to keep some of their money.

At least the folks at the New York Post have it right.


Excellent timing from the Boston Globe as they explain that it's a Grim Time for Iraq's Street Children from the Blame-it-all-on-America crowd. Excerpt,

Homelessness and child abuse existed before the US occupation, but so did a system, however flawed, that Iraqis understood and accepted. Now that system has been destroyed, and the problems have been exacerbated by the US-led conflict.

Perhaps they haven't heard of the recently uncovered mass grave of children (some buried with their dolls) in Iraq. Yes, I think that would qualify as a flawed system, but understood? accepted?

And, of course there's this semi-quote:

Whatever happens at the House of Mercy, a much bigger, broader effort will be needed to keep children who have been traumatized by three major wars and 12 years of sanctions in the last 20 years from becoming ''a maladjusted, psychopathic generation,'' said Dr. Hameed, the psychiatrist.

Yes, you see how terrible the sanctions were. Forget the fact that we found boatloads of cash and gold in Baghdad. Forget about the oil-for-palace program. Forget about the Iraqi doctors who have stated that every death (no, not the murders) of an Iraqi child was used by Saddam for propaganda purposes. We were terrible for not ending the sanctions.


Tuesday June 3, 2003

Jonah Goldberg has some clear thinking on the costs of diversity (ohmigod, "costs of diversity", surely you didn't say "costs of diversity") in the National Review Online. Excerpt,

Diversity is another of those words we imbue with all nobility and goodness without question or reservation. And that's nonsense. If diversity were always and everywhere good we would be clamoring for more midgets in the NBA. We would demand that mobsters get jobs at the FBI and we would consider it a grave problem that not enough blind men and women! were applying to be crossing guards, snipers, and surgeons.

Buried deep within: excellent usage of defenestrated.


Excellent piece--read it all.

The ultimate decision to make banned weapons the focus was in no small part due to the insistence of critics. The question was echoing everywhere, "Is it support for terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, or the persecution of the Iraqi people?" "Bush can't decide," they mocked.

The answer is, "all of the above and more". There was no reason to believe that Saddam had disarmed and every reason to believe that he hadn't. His continual attacks on coalition aircrafts and obstruction of inspections were violations of the Gulf War cease-fire. Our open-ended presence in Saudi Arabia, required to keep Saddam "in a box", was inflaming the Muslim world, not to mention tying up needed military assets. There was little doubt before or after the liberation of Iraq that his government was involved in terrorism. Terrorist training camps at Salman Pak and in northern Iraq, and operatives like the late Abu Nidal throughout the country proved this....

...Limited resources and strategic realities make it impossible to save every oppressed nation, but in Iraq we could save 25 million people from the most brutal dictator this side of Pol Pot. Saddam's crimes far exceed those that took us into Somalia and the former Yugoslavia. And it is beyond debate that there was greater national security rationale with Iraq then with either of these media-driven deployments.


Here's Ward Connerly's take on the UC Davis Change Of Ethnicity Form. So that's how Michael Jackson did it!


Here's some good ammo for those who claim that the Bush administration tends to, er should we say, prevaricate. From National Review Online. Excerpt,

What seems particularly galling to liberal writers is the notion that Bush is getting away with his lies even as his predecessor was flayed for lesser offenses. "If a Democrat, say, Bill Clinton, engaged in Bush-scale dishonesty, the press would be all over him," Drake Bennett and Heidi Pauken wrote in a recent issue of The American Prospect. "Unless the voters and the press start paying attention, all the president's lies will have little political consequence except to certify that we have become something less than a democracy."

What's going on here? Certainly George W. Bush, like every other politician, has said things, sometimes in off-the-cuff remarks, that were wrong. But was he lying? Like Bill Clinton? As appealing as the idea may be to the president's opponents, a look at the record shows that the charges just don't stand up to scrutiny.


Peter Maass now knows what a small world it really is. Excerpt,

The day after I returned to New York, reunited with my cable modem, I checked out a friend's blog that linked to an Austrian interview with Salam Pax. I clicked to it. Salam Pax mentioned an NGO he had worked for, CIVIC, and this caught my attention. I knew the woman who was in charge of CIVIC; she stayed at my Baghdad hotel, the Hamra. Salam Pax mentioned that he had done some work for foreign journalists. We traveled in the same circles, apparently. He also mentioned that he had studied in Vienna. This really caught my attention, because I knew an Iraqi who had worked for CIVIC, hung out with foreign journalists, and studied in Vienna. I clicked over to his blog.


It just seems so clear to me that this is right. Excerpt,

After using America's military to achieve a brilliant success in Iraq, President Bush is intent on using his new-found clout in the region to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. But the means he has chosen is renewed negotiations and a new diplomatic "road map." This effort is as misguided as every failed Middle East peace plan of the past--because there is no "road map" for achieving peace by negotiating with terrorists.