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Sunday October 19, 2003

(Packers taste like cheese)
The Game: Rams vs. Green Bay
The Time: Noon Central
The Line: Dunno

Friday October 17, 2003

So why is it so wrong to refer to the United States as a Christian nation. After all, according to the CIA factbook, we're 84% Christian.

United States: Protestant 56%, Roman Catholic 28%, Jewish 2%, other 4%, none 10% (1989)

At least there is no requirement (under penalty of death) to adhere to a certain religion, unlike some other countries.

Saudi Arabia: Muslim 100%

I've linked to Daniel Pipes often and generally agree with him as he is one of the few voices who seem to understand the underlying dynamics in the Middle East and in Islam. That said, I don't agree with his premise here:

Most notably, Ahmad Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, is urging for Iraqis at least partially to take over the finance and security ministries. This has met with wide support, enhancing Chalabi's popularity. The Financial Times reports that his "proposals on sovereignty strike a chord among ordinary Iraqis, who feel the best way to get the country moving is the return of control."

So major a change in direction has unpleasant implications for Washington.

It raises questions about American staying power; forfeits much of the credibility that came from the successful war against Saddam Hussein; risks throwing away a chance of victory; and permits Arab, European, and Democratic critics to crow. Worse, it will be noted that sustained violence against US troops works, perhaps inviting further attacks on US forces elsewhere.

These are valid reasons not to pull out but they lose their pertinence if one expects, as I do, that the mission in Iraq will end in failure. I predict that unhappy outcome not due to shortcomings on the American side but by calculating the US motivation for being there versus the Iraqi motivation to remove them.

From this pattern, I draw a rule of thumb: unless a non-Muslim ruler has compelling reasons to control a Muslim population, it will eventually be worn down by the violence directed against it and give up. Note that the US government has already given up twice in recent years, in Lebanon and Somalia.

The US-led effort to fix Iraq is not important enough for Americans, Britons, or other non-Muslim partners to stick it out. That is why I advocate handing substantial power over to the Iraqis, and doing so the sooner the better.

All I can say is, wow. Pipes' position is more closely aligned to the French position save for two salient points: 1) it is much more reasoned and 2) takes into account U.S. interests. But that doesn't mean he's correct. Far be it for little ol'e me to disagree with the preeminent Daniel Pipes, so here's Victor Davis Hanson's take:

I don't envy our president, who must convince Americans to act with their heads and think of the future when it is so much more tempting to listen to their hearts in the present. The liberation of Iraq was a brave and necessary task and may prove the most seminal event in world history since the fall of the Berlin Wall, doing for the Arab world what the transition to democracy in Spain and Portugal did for millions in Latin America. And a year from now, after Iraq gets used to consensual government, the present frenzied critics of our efforts will be proven as embarrassingly wrong as they were once humiliated in their prognoses of defeat in the recent three-week war. We know that, and in addition can only appreciate the amazing accomplishments in Afghanistan and Iraq during our horrific two-year odyssey since 9/11. But also, like cliffs on the shore, we are battered daily by the surf of negativism from the major newspapers, television networks, and opposition politicians, whose pounding slowly erodes the public's once resolute defiance.

So Pipes believes that our will to succeed, and thus the mission in Iraq will ultimately fail, while Hanson asserts that all our critics will be proven wrong as Iraq gets used to consensual government. Both agree that our critics and our enemies are working to reduce our resolve the only difference is the outcome. I hope Hanson is correct.

Tim Blair has more on the imminent threat theme. Jonah Goldberg also roasts this canard and points out what I had alluded to in my Monday commentary:

Indeed, numerous Democrats, including Senators Kennedy and John Kerry, opposed the resolution authorizing the use of force precisely because it wasn't hinged to an imminent threat from Iraq (Kerry ultimately flip-flopped and voted for the resolution anyway). Senator Robert Byrd even offered an amendment requiring that imminence become the standard for war. After a debate, he lost.

In other words, Kennedy & Co. objected to the war before it was launched because Bush wouldn't say the threat was imminent and now they're peeved because Bush "lied" when he said the threat was imminent. That's laugh-factory logic.


Well, that's probably not how this will be portrayed in the Western media:

The most momentous event in the politics of climate change since America's decision to shelve the Kyoto treaty occurred recently at the United Nations' World Climate Change Conference in Moscow. Russian officials stated that Kyoto makes no economic sense and Russian scientists put the lie to the claim that the science of climate change is settled. As a result, Russian President Vladimir Putin administered the last rites to the dying Kyoto process. This is a major development, though largely unheralded in the Western press. Instead, the Western reaction has been one of denial.

Largely unheralded in the Western press. I simply cannot understand why. (that's sarcasm, bud.)

I like this article, if only for the quotes from Democrats:

Sandy Berger, Clinton national security adviser, Feb. 18, 1998: "He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has 10 times since 1983."

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Dec. 16, 1998: "Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region, and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."

Madeline Albright, Feb. 18, 1998: "Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face."

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Oct. 10, 2002: "There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years."

Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., and others, in a letter to President Bush, Dec. 5, 2001: "There is no doubt that ... Saddam Hussein has invigorated his weapons programs ... In addition, Saddam continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies."

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's remarks:

"Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them."

"They invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy, so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others.

"With these they have gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power.

"We cannot fight them through brawn alone, we must use our brains, also."

"1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews"

And according to this CNN piece, CNN claims that the Prime Minister suggested the use of political and economic tactics, not violence, to achieve what he called a "final victory", because he said this:

"In today's world, we wield a lot of political, economic and financial clout, enough to make up for our weaknesses in military terms,"

Hmmm, so Jews rule the world; they invented human rights so that persecuting them would appear wrong; they cannot fight them through brawn alone; final victory? (doesn't this sound suspiciously like "final solution"? -- ed.) This sounds very non-violent to me. Kidding. My take is that this means they are willing to use any means at their disposal to defeat the Jews. Perhaps CNN just envisions a little friendly economic competition?

Thursday October 16, 2003

So what was the bright light in the sky?

Jonathan Burnett, 15, was photographing his friends skateboarding in Pencoed, Wales when one of them noticed a colorful fireball in the sky. Burnett snapped a picture, then sent it to NASA scientists and asked if they knew what it was.

Robert Nemiroff and Jerry Bonnell, who run NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD), posted the photograph on Oct. 1 and wrote that "a sofa-sized rock came hurtling into the nearby atmosphere of planet Earth and disintegrated." They called the picture "one of the more spectacular meteor images yet recorded."

Problem is, it turns out, there was no meteor.

Marvin Olasky gives us his take on Limbaugh's drug problems.

And here's a look at the life of an Oxycontin addict and his subsequent recovery:

Ashamed and completely alone -- by my own choosing -- I began looking for the easiest way out. I tried to follow my doctor's advice and taper down gradually. But I always reached a point at which my body seemed to refuse to go any lower.

It wasn't really a matter of willpower. My body seemingly needed something as much as it needed food and water. So I then researched rapid detox and a less addictive substitute -- buprenorphine -- and anything else that could get me out of this jam.

I now realize though that the single greatest misconception I had was that getting through the physical withdrawals would solve the problem. Withdrawal involves acute muscle pain, sweats, chills, vomiting and hyper anxiety.

Horrible as they are, far, far worse are the insomnia, profound depression and lethargy that linger long after the withdrawal ends. I didn't sleep for weeks. Compounding this is an indescribable lethargy and depression for which, as far as I know, there is no known treatment.

This will probably evoke much sympathy for illegal aliens, but to my way of thinking it's an excellent reason why we should more closely monitor our borders and stop this wave of illegal immigration. After all, it's the only compassionate thing to do. Excerpt,

It is a lonely place to die, out in the soft sandy washes. The desert floor, with its volcanic rock, can reach 160 degrees. Most people go down slowly.

Blood starts to seep into the lungs. Exposed skin burns and the sweat glands shut down. Little hemorrhages, tiny leaks, start in the heart.

When the body temperature reaches 107, the brain cooks and the delirium starts.

Some migrants claw at the ground with their fingernails, trying to hollow out a cooler spot to die. Others pull themselves through the sand on their bellies, like they're swimmers or snakes. The madness sometimes prompts people to slit their own throats or to hang themselves from trees with their belts.

Here's what the Imams are saying:

"Al-Aqsa Mosque, O Muslims, is not just a Palestinian, Arab, or Islamic cause, but also a world cause. There will be no security or peace on earth unless the Palestine question is settled justly by returning Al-Aqsa Mosque to its rightful owners." "The world," he adds, "will never enjoy security unless our children enjoy it here in Palestine. We hear statements by the little US President. We hear unfair and tyrannical statements in which he says Israel has the right to defend itself. These statements carry destruction for the United States itself." "From this place," the imam says, "we warn the American people that this President is dragging them to the abyss."

The imam says: "If Israel has the right to defend itself, then the Palestinians also have the right to defend their blood and children. We have the right to defend our houses, which are being demolished right now in Rafah. We have the right to defend our children's blood, which is being spilled right now in Rafah."

The imam defends the girl who carried out the Haifa operation, saying: "We have to defend our rights, land, and sanctities by all legitimate means. The terrorist is the one butchering innocent people there in Iraq and Afghanistan. The terrorist is the one butchering our brothers and children now in besieged Janin, Tulkarm, Ramallah, and all the villages of Palestine. They are the real terrorists."

The imam concludes with this prayer: "O Lord, protect our people in Rafah, Janin, and the whole of Palestine. O Lord, protect our sons and youths and spare their blood. O Lord, O Avenger, take vengeance on Your enemies, our enemies, and enemies of religion. O Lord, take vengeance on the Jews and their supporters. O Lord, take vengeance on the Jews and their allies. O Lord, take vengeance for the blood of our martyrs. O Lord, take vengeance for our deported people."

Wednesday October 15, 2003

Listening to NPR on my way to work today, I heard about this:

A massive explosion ripped apart a U.S. diplomatic vehicle Wednesday, killing three Americans and wounding one in the first attack on a U.S. target in three years of Israel-Palestinian fighting.

It seems those rascally Palestinians detonated a remote control bomb as the three car convoy was passing. Funny that this attack on Americans in the Gaza Strip occurs soon after Howard Dean declares that we should not take sides in the conflict. But I digresss. Of course the NPR spin referred to the "cycle of violence" and the recent Israeli incursion into the town of Rafah in the Gaza Strip. The reporter commented on all the destroyed homes in Rafah. So many destroyed homes. Those mean Israelis. They just come into town and destroy homes. The NPR reporter never once stated the reason for the incursion. Tunnels. Tunnels. Tunnels.I found myself yelling at the radio (I gotta stop doing that). These tunnels are used to smuggle weapons, drugs, rockets, prostitutes, weapons, terrrorists, arms, etc. into the Gaza Strip. The openings to these tunnels are located in homes. NPR might not report it, but here's Haaretz:

Sources at the Southern Command said yesterday that the IDF will blow up the two remaining tunnels discovered during the Rafah campaign in the coming days. The IDF already destroyed a third tunnel used for arms smuggling.

Additional IDF incursions in the area are expected to be conducted at a later date. The army's assessment is that at least another 10 tunnels are in operation. According to the Southern Command, the first stage of the operation was a "positive start" in the renewed effort to deal with these tunnels.

It turned out that the intelligence information the IDF received about the tunnels was quite precise. However, there were technical difficulties in locating the openings to these tunnels - especially when some of the tunnels had several openings.

You can read much more about the Rafah tunnels here.

Update: The Israel National News has more on the darkness at the end of the Rafah tunnels here. Excerpt,

By now, we've all heard about the complex system of tunnels that the Palestinians have developed in order to smuggle sophisticated weaponry into Gaza. But why is it that the media rarely speaks about the origins of these tunnels? Do they simply sprout out of nowhere? This is the land of miracles and wonders, but somehow I doubt that these tunnels are spontaneously generated and spew forth AK-47 assault rifles at will.

This leaves us with the following feasible options: a) The tunnels and the factories producing the weapons have their origins in Hell; b) The entrance point of the burrows, as well as the source of the deadly contraband, is Egypt; or c) All of the above

David Bedein clearly shines the light of truth on the sham that is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Excerpt,

At a time when the issue of the Palestinian Arab "right of return" is so widely discussed, it must be stressed that it is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that runs the Palestinian Arab refugee camps and determines the "right of return" policies of those camps. As such, the UNRWA is the only UN refugee agency whose purpose is to keep refugees in nomadic tents rather than to facilitate their movement into decent and permanent housing conditions. And fully 95 percent of its budget emanates from the leading democracies in the world.

Canada chairs the committee that oversees the RWG (Refugee Working Group) of 38 nations, which in turn oversees the annual distribution of half-a-billion dollars per annum to UNRWA. The U.S. contributes close to one-third of the UNRWA budget.

Throughout its 52 years of existence, UNRWA has actively promoted the idea that Arab refugees from the 1948 war and their descendents must have the "right to return" to Arab villages lost in 1948, although these villages no longer exist.

... The fact that the Arab states caused the Palestinian Arab refugee problem in the first place has been completely forgotten. Had the Arab states accepted a Jewish state in 1948, Israel would have had to cope with a Jewish state whose population would have been 50 percent Arab at the genesis of the state of Israel.

What is also forgotten is that an almost equal number of Jewish refugees had to leave Arab lands where they lived for thousands of years. Israel moved Jewish refugees out of transit camps as soon as possible, into permanent housing. This sharply contrasts with the UN policy to keep Arab refugees in "transit" camps for more than 55 years, under the specious premise and promise of repatriation to Israeli Arab villages that no longer exist.

Also, see this from UN Watch:

Every year since 1977, the Division for Palestinian Rights has organized a meeting on November 29 in New York, Geneva and other UN locations, to give a platform to speakers from the PLO, the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices in the Occupied Territories, and others. They accuse Israel of the most heinous of crimes: genocide, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, and terrorism. This Day of Solidarity with the Palestinians promotes hate, not peace. It all happens under UN auspices and is paid for by the UN. Only the Palestinians have a UN Day of Solidarity. Only Israel suffers such discrimination at the UN.

If you don't read Walter E. Williams, you're missing something (wisdom, really)

Here's some inside info in the "Get Arnold" smear campaign at the LA Times which was published just before the election:

"Toward the end, a kind of hysteria gripped the newsroom. I witnessed a deep-seated, irrational need to get something on this guy [Schwarzenegger]. By Wednesday before it was published, I counted not fewer than 24 reporters dispatched on Arnold, and this entire enterprise was directed by John Carroll himself."

"Carroll launched the project with the words: 'I want a full scrub of Arnold.' This was fully and completely and daily driven by Carroll. He's as good as his word on being balanced and trying to make this paper more balanced, he really is. But not when it came to Schwarzenegger. Carroll changed completely. It was visceral, and he made it clear he wanted something bad on Schwarzenegger and he didn't care what it was."

"The air of unreality among people here was so extreme that when they did the office pool, of something like 113 people who put in a dollar to bet on the outcome of the recall and on who would be chosen governor, only 31 bet 'yes' on recall and 'yes' Schwarzenegger to win. All you had to do was read a poll to know how wrong that was, but inside this place only about 25 percent of the people could see the recall coming."

Wow, I'd hate to be this guy.

HIS HEAD WAS DOWN. His body was tense. Security guards grabbed his arms and sprinted this Cubs fan from his field-side seat up the concrete Wrigley Field stairs, while other fans he passed hurled the epithets of what's now his life sentence.

"You idiot ...."

" ...want to kill you ..."

"... cost us a World Series ..."

Beer flew at this anonymous John Cub. Curses rained on him. Two security guards intercepted one fan who came sprinting down the concourse, screaming, his veins popping from his neck, "Let me at him! Let me at him!"

Update: Here's what Moises Alou says:

''I feel sorry for the guy,'' said Alou, who thinks he had an excellent chance to catch the ball the Marlins' Luis Castillo hit into the first row of the stands down the left-field line and perhaps short-circuit what turned out to be an eight-run eighth inning in the Cubs' horrific 8-3 loss. ''Every fan in every ballpark goes for the ball. He wants a souvenir. Hopefully, he won't have to regret it the rest of his life if he's a Cubs fan. Hopefully, we can take that burden off him tomorrow.

''I think I had almost a 100 percent chance to catch the ball. I had a clear shot at it. I was in the middle of the play, I jumped and I thought I had timed it perfectly. My glove was right under the ball. All of a sudden, I felt a hand on my glove and felt another hand under the ball. Fans, they don't go to school to be taught about what balls to touch and not to touch.

FYI: (from MSN Money)

The 10 most dangerous jobs Occupation Fatalities per 100,000
Timber cutters 117.8
Fishers 71.1
Pilots and navigators 69.8
Structural metal workers 58.2
Drivers-sales workers 37.9
Roofers 37
Electrical power installers 32.5
Farm occupations 28
Construction laborers 27.7
Truck drivers 25

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics; survey of occupations with minimum 30 fatalities and 45,000 workers in 2002

Monday October 13, 2003

I was late for Sunday School yesterday. The reason: Sen. Jay Rockefeller. I spent 10 minutes yelling at the TV during Rockhead's interview on Fox News Sunday. The transcript is here. Tony Snow did an excellent job of highlighting the falsity of Rockefeller's words--not that the Senator seemed to notice. Check out this statement by Rockhead:

What I keep having to remind myself is that we went to war in Iraq based upon an imminent threat which was being caused by weapons of mass destruction. The intelligence community told us they were there. The Bush administration told us they were there. There was an imminent threat, and we went to war. We did not go to war to bring democracy and prosperity and peace to Iraq. That was not part of the arrangement. That was not part of the vote. It was all about weapons of mass destruction and the imminent threat of America getting attacked. (emphasis added).

Rockefeller was reading from the playbook and Snow was ready. This idea, that the administration had said Iraq was an imminent threat as justification for the war, is completely untrue. But that doesn't stop Rockefeller (or CNN or the New York Times) from endlessly spreading this error. As Tony Snow points out, here's what the President said in his State of the Union Address:

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words and all recriminations would come too late.

And Senator Jay Rockefeller's beautifully articulated response:

Tony, if you listen to that as an average American person would, you and -- at least myself included, that is talking about the danger of an immediate attack. And, in fact, the intelligence committee, the one thing they did not say was that there was -- we were in danger of being attacked in this country.

Ok, I have my average American person (John Deere) hat on. To my way of thinking, President Bush clearly said that we cannot wait until the threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge. He clearly implies that we cannot wait until the threat is imminent. In fact, Bush was talking directly to those anti-war types who said that we cannot launch a preemptive campaign unless there was an imminent threat and made the point that once the threat is imminent (how do we know when that is?--ed.), it's already too late.

This is actually kinda fun. Here the esteemed Senator from West (by Byrd) Virginia digs the hole a bit deeper:

And the whole problem was that there was a danger of attack. If the word imminent threat wasn't used, that was the predicate; that was the feeling that was given to the American people and to the Congress, whose vote the president clearly was trying to argue or to convince during the course of that State of the Union message.

Tony Snow then quoted an excerpt from an October 10, 2002 speech by Sen. Rockefeller:

"There's been some debate over how imminent a threat Iraq poses. I do believe that Iraq poses an imminent threat."... "But I also believe that after September 11th, the question is increasingly outdated. It is in the nature of these weapons and the way they are targeted against civilian populations, the documented capability and demonstrated intent may be the only warning we get. To insist on further evidence could put some of our fellow Americans at risk. Can we afford to take that chance? We cannot."

Asked about the reversal, Rockefeller says this:

That's correct. And that is what I felt at the time that I cast that vote, based upon the intelligence community's analysis of the situation, particularly weapons of mass destruction, and what the president said in his speech.

But wait. First, the State of the Union Address was on January 28, 2003. Over three months after Rockhead's speech. Is the esteemed Senator clairvoyant? Second, Senator Jay Rockefeller is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. He saw the intel. He saw the analysis. He agreed with the President. Now, there can be some questions as to how good was the intel, but those questions should be aimed at improving methods and procedures and assets, not at second-guessing the decisions made on that information. In the real world, you have to make the best decisions you can based on the best information available. Rarely is this information entirely accurate or exhaustive. That's why decisions carry risk. Rockefeller went even further in his speech on October 10, 2002 to say this:

"But this isn't just a future threat. Saddam's existing biological and chemical weapons capabilities pose a very real threat to America now. Saddam has used chemical weapons before. He is working to develop delivery systems like missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles that could bring these deadly weapons against U.S. forces and U.S. facilities in the Middle East."

So what we can say is that, based on the information available at the time, Senator Rockefeller agreed with President Bush's position, except for one point: Senator Rockefeller believed that the threat from Iraq was imminent, while President Bush did not.

So, that's why I was late for Sunday School. Go read the whole thing. Rockefeller wins the Gold Medal in mental gymnastics: ("I fully felt that he (Bush) would be able to get help from the United Nations. And it turned out that he didn't really make that much of an effort and hasn't since."). Tony Snow shows off his equestrian skills: (Whoa, whoa, whoa.). It's really quite a hoot.

(Falcon tastes like chicken)
The Game: Rams vs. Atlanta
The Time: 8:10 p.m. Central
The Line: Rams by 11