« May 2004 | Main | July 2004 »

June 24, 2004

All That Could be Done

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Ronald Reagan, in his second-most famous speech, said: "You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children's children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done."

In Reagan's most famous speech, he said: "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

And the lasting legacy of Ronald Reagan will be simply this, that he did do all that could be done, and in the end destroyed a monstrous and pernicious tyranny.

Rest in peace, Dutch. And thank you.

UPDATE: Pejman Yousefzadeh has a fine roundup of online reactions.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Thinking Scary Thoughts

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

The scary thing about this compelling takedown of American traitors (Communists during the Cold War, and their sympathisers among historians and foreign-affairs specialists) is that the equivalent may be happening all over again. The population of "useful fools" seems endless.

(Thanks to Pejman Yousefzadeh for the Reason link.)


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

June 23, 2004

The Roots of the Terror Wars

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Steven Den Beste links to and comments on this must-read analysis of the roots of the Terror Wars by Haim Harari. Because of who he is - really, his nationality, as he is Israeli - this will be ignored by many who should take it seriously. In brief, Harari carefully and convincingly:


The author does neglect the fundamental nature of Islam which lies at the heart of the social, cultural and political behavior of the Arab/Muslim world, and including a bit on this would have strengthened his presentation immensely. Nonetheless, this presentation is a critical step in understanding the nature of the current war, and I hope that you will read it in its entirety.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Important Question

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Does this (hat tip: Edge of England's Sword) mean that I own a part of President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary Rumsfeld (after all, I'm a shareholder in Exxon Mobil). Will Greenpeace publish instructions on how I might exercise this control?

And is there a similar map of Greenpeace? I bet there'd be a much simpler map than the one they're trying to foist on us as somehow damning, and which shows Greenpeace connected to all kinds of ecoterrorists, unreconstructed stalinists and the like.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Just a Bit Outside

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Wizbang has an excellent post, with a bunch of stories from one day's "news" of Democrats bashing President Bush for everything from slashing Federal science spending (actually, up dramatically under President Bush) to somehow making a Democrat-advocacy group hire convicted felons to register voters. The last story, though, is the kicker, that one that takes this into the realm of the surreal.

OK, I realize that Republicans are not innocent babes, but why is it that the real vote fraud (as opposed to hysterical allegations of keeping minorities from voting by "looking intimidating" at the polling places in their suits keeping track of the people trying to stuff the ballot boxes - not that I'm bitter) always seems to come from the Democrats, as well as much of the ... interesting ... interpretation of electoral law in the courts?


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Let Freedom Reign!

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Ramblings Journal has a photo essay of how President Bush and Prime Minister Blair found out that the sovereignty of Iraq had been reestablished.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

June 22, 2004

Streeterville

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

I really, truly love this country. Because, rather than in spite, of its eccentricities, there is always something great to learn, and because we bring our kids with us when we travel (I am a consultant; I travel a lot), we can teach them a lot of things they'd never get in class.

Here's what we learned today:

The area we live in is called Streeterville, and is named for Captain George Streeter. In 1886, he ran his boat aground just Northwest of where we currently live. (The East part of Chicago was built up like Holland: we are living on former lake.) Unable to float the boat, and with it silting in, he declared it an independent district, and repeatedly drove off authorities who tried to seize the "duchy". He was let off for assault with a deadly weapon, because buckshot was not considered deadly. He was let off for wounding policemen who tried to evict him, because he was considered to be acting in self-defense.

Though he eventually moved away from his boat, he continued to fight for the "duchy" until his death in 1921.


Comments

That is really funny.

Off topic a bit, do you know why O'Hare has the designation of ORD? Apparently there used to be an apple orchard there. Just something I learned in my recent job training that I found interesting.

Posted by: Brian on June 12, 2004 10:35 PM
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

"We continued in the search for the infidels, and we slit the throats of those we found among them."

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

I have not yet reached Francis Porretto's conclusion, that there are no moderate Muslims. However, I'll be the first to say that Jim Miller's MEMRI find - an interview with the leader of a recent brutal attack on non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia - shows beyond a doubt that there are some Muslims who we need to kill, because if nothing else, September 11 taught us that when our enemies say they want to kill us to glorify their god, they mean it.

And let me be clear: I certainly support killing, in cold blood and in advance of their doing anything to actively carry out attacks, any person who maintains this attitude, including the preachers of jihad and the sycophants who chant "martyrs'" names in the street after a particularly brutal act of wanton destruction. This is a war, not a law enforcement action, and the end goal is victory - which sometimes just means survival - rather than justice.

Yes, this means I'm willing to accept that innocents will be killed. Here's a news flash: innocents are being killed, but right now they're mostly on our side. My only complaint about President Bush's conduct of the war is "faster, please."

UPDATE (6/17): Francis Porretto responds, and Michael Williams responds to that.


Comments

I wouldn't say, speaking strictly in terms of private attitudes and non-religious convictions, that there are absolutely no "moderate Muslims." I would say that, however many there might be, they are completely ineffective at curbing their insane co-religionists -- basically, non-players in the direction of the Islamic creed.

We've been over the underlying dynamics of this. It's in the nature of Islam, an explicitly political belief system, that anyone who claims to be a Muslim cannot espouse "live and let live" safely, or with adequate backing from Islam's scriptures to defend his case to a militant.

As a coda: What can we expect to result from the legitimization of explicitly shari'a based courts in Canada? Will Islamic fanatics find means to compel Islamic "moderates" to use these courts against their will?

Tight border control seems more important on some days than others.

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto on June 16, 2004 04:06 AM

The jihadi preaching Mosque recruiters are arguably legitimate targets under the laws of war if they have affiliations with al Qaida or the Taliban. If someone issues a Fatwa to set in motion a terrorist operation then they are part of the command and control structure of a terror organization.

Zapping crowds of civilians with hellfire missiles however won't fly under the laws of war unless they are also *armed* civilian zealots.

Posted by: mark safranski on June 16, 2004 04:43 PM

Thanks for the link!

Posted by: Michael Williams on June 19, 2004 11:59 PM
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

June 20, 2004

The Truth and the Story of the Truth

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

It's becoming more and more clear that the mainstream "news" services are simply untrustworthy. Take the NY Times, where more than one reporter was caught red-handed making up stories, or CNN, where Eason Jordan admitted reprinting Saddam Hussein's propaganda in order to stay in the country (and hopefully repeat their blockbuster ratings from Desert Storm). Reuters and the BBC are so transparently anti-American, anti-Blair and (as far as I can tell) against freedom of any kind that one has to look out the window and verify when they report the sky to be blue. This story, from a Marine reservist returned from Iraq, points out major issues with the Washington Post's coverage of the situation in Iraq.

I long ago stopped trusting the major media, because I realized that every time they put out stories on areas where I know a great deal, they were generally flat-out wrong, and frequently appeared to be deliberately misleading to serve an agenda. If that is the case with what I know about, why should I trust their opinions or editorial choices on any other issue? It's sad that it has come to this, but at this point I take nothing reported in a major news source without a large helping of salt.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

June 19, 2004

Unhinged

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Glenn Reynolds provides an example of Jane's Law: "The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane."

Republicans don't believe in the imagination, partly because so few of them have one, but mostly because it gets in the way of their chosen work, which is to destroy the human race and the planet. Human beings, who have imaginations, can see a recipe for disaster in the making; Republicans, whose goal in life is to profit from disaster and who don't give a hoot about human beings, either can't or won't. Which is why I personally think they should be exterminated before they cause any more harm.

And...
[Y]ou can gauge the breadth of [Foreman's] imaginative compassion from his willingness to extend it even toward George W. Bush, idiot scion of a genetically criminal family that should have been sterilized three generations ago.

Mind you: these quotes are from a theater review!


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

The Torture Memo

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

If you are living under a rock, you might be unaware that a memorandum from the Defense Department was recently leaked, and in this memo techniques for avoiding the law so as to "justify"1 torture are put forth. Phil Carter has some excellent commentary. However, I have yet to see anyone make one point: whether this was actually implemented as policy, or whether it was merely advice. This renders his analysis suspect.

For example, let's say that I am SecDef Rumsfeld, and I put forth to my advisors the following propositions to defend:

  1. Advisor Smith: The government has the authority to torture terrorists whenever it wants for whatever reason it wants (and assumes the authority to define who is and is not a terrorist).
  2. Advisor Jones: The government has the authority to torture terrorists in extremis; for example, to detect a suicide squad heading for the President's motorcade.
  3. Advisor Doe: The government never has the authority to torture anyone under any circumstance.

Now assume that my advisors come back with memos, and I accept the advice of Advisor Doe, with some caveats added from Advisor Jones' memo and some additional conditions added by myself. Assume then that Agent Smith's memo is leaked.

If I am the press secretary, I might make remarks such as:

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said yesterday that Bush set broad guidelines, rather than dealing with specific techniques. "While we will seek to gather intelligence from al Qaeda terrorists who seek to inflict mass harm on the American people, the president expects that we do so in a way that is consistent with our laws," McClellan said.

White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales said in a May 21 interview with The Washington Post: "Anytime a discussion came up about interrogations with the president, . . . the directive was, 'Make sure it is lawful. Make sure it meets all of our obligations under the Constitution, U.S. federal statutes and applicable treaties.' "


And they would be "directly contradicted by the plain language of the memoranda". So it seems to me that the key question in analyzing this is what other memoranda were presented on the topic, and what policy was adopted? Without that, no analysis could be complete. (Though judgements, including most assuredly the judgement that torture is never justified, do not require any such additional evidence.)

1This is in scare quotes because there is almost never any reason for torture to be committed, and in those few cases there is still no justification in the sense of escaping responsibility. Let me clarify what I mean: should we torture a person - even a citizen - if that's what is necessary in order to save a city from, say, a nuclear bomb with a ticking timer? Yes, absolutely. But the people who make that call, and the people who obey the order and perform the torture, cannot be excused the law. They may be justified - a jury might even let them off - but they should certainly be impeached and/or tried (depending on whether or not they are officers of government) for the act. The pitfall of great power in a representative society is large accountability for your actions.


Comments

Excellent commentary and analysis.

Posted by: J at TAotB on June 10, 2004 12:22 PM

What is really frustrating is that this entire attack on methods of interrogation is based on the assumption that the Abu Ghraib abuses were part of interrogation techniques.

That has never been shown. The only people that have been saying that the Abu Ghraib abuses were connected to interrogations are the defendants themselves, hardly the most reliable sources.

Everyone else has just been taking it their stories as gospel and basing their criticism on that.

Having spent more than twenty years in the Army, I find it easier to believe that you had a bunch of sadistic misfits with weak commanders than a conspiracy of monumental proportions.

Our Army does not work like those of other countries. In other Armies all the decisions are made at the top and transmitted to the bottom. Our military is much more decentralized and independent than that. You have to remember that a Sergeant in our Army has about as much power as a Colonel in other Armies.

During my career, I might have seen my Commander once a month most of the time. My LT, if I had one, was far, far away. The rest of the time my sergeant was who I had to answer to. Of course, other types of units (I was signal)were more command intense, but that is not always the case.

Posted by: John Dunshee on June 12, 2004 08:46 PM
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Looking Back on Ronald Reagan

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

I was a young boy during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. While I was more interested and more informed about current events than most kids my age, I wasn't old enough to understand much beyond the emotional feel of his time in office.

My memories really begin to kick in around 1984. I remember the zeitgeist - the Olympics and Mary Lou Retton, Bruce Springsteen and "Born in the USA", and the ever-present shadow of Soviet Communism and the fear of nuclear war. I remember the fierce pride and patriotism that Americans felt; I remember feeling it myself. I remember a roaring economy. I remember a sense of how special we were as a nation and a realization of how important our role in the world was. I remember how we cherished that notion. And I remember Ronald Reagan.

I remember how we as a country took our cues from this man. He was a patriot in the truest sense of the word. He so obviously loved this nation beyond description and was unashamed to show it. He was an optimist of the highest order. He saw America as something extraordinary, yet with its greatest days still ahead of it. It was infectious.

I don't remember the '70's. I was barely more than a toddler when Reagan was first elected. I don't remember the presidency of Jimmy Carter. All I know is what I have long since learned - the malaise, the wretched economy, the defeatism, the idea of America in decline. It was something I could not have imagined in the '80's, can hardly imagine now. Ronald Reagan ended such pessimistic thoughts.

Ronald Reagan was the president of my childhood. He defined the presidency for me. He was the yardstick by which I measured others until early adulthood. I had always liked and admired Reagan, believed him to be a great president. As I grew up, I learned history and was able to combine that with logic and reasoning. I was able to look back on the 1980's from a different, more informed perspective. That was when I truly understood his greatness. I now understand where those feelings I had as a child came from. I can see where we were when he was elected and where we were after his second term ended. I have seen the presidents who followed - George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. I have learned of the presidents of our past. I have seen where Reagan fits in the pantheon. I realize that men like Ronald Reagan come along sparingly. I realize how lucky I was to live during his presidency, how lucky we all were as a country to have him in our highest office.

Ronald Reagan is the face of Republican conservatism. I love and admire the man as a political hero of mine. I appreciate his service to this nation. I mourn his passing. I celebrate his life. I give thanks for all he accomplished.

We have witnessed the passing of a true giant and a truly great American. As President Bush said, "That is worth our tears." I have shed several this week. But like Mr. Reagan, I believe our greatest days are still ahead of us. And that is worth a nod to the Gipper for helping to ensure those days are yet to come, rather than "a thousand years of darkness."

Godspeed Mr. President, and thank you!


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

June 18, 2004

It Takes a Village to Drug Your Child

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

I am frequently accused of being an extremist - and many more nasty-sounding things - for thinking that the US is descending into tyranny, and the rate of descent is increasing. Evidence is on my side. (Hat tip: Wizbang) The scary part of this story is how common it is. In part, this is due to the fact that teachers are required by law, in most states, to report suspected child abuse and the like, and are subject to criminal penalties for not reporting abuse, but not for reporting as abuse a non-abusive situation. The incentive reminds me of the witch trials in the Burning Times, where the judge and the accuser split the estate of the condemned: report innocence as guild and not lose or do not report guilt and lose. (This is why there were trials where, for example, the accused was bound hand and foot and thrown in the water. If the accused floated, she (or he) was a witch. If the accused drowned, the corpse was proclaimed innocent, and the judge and accuser still got to split the estate.)

If there is one area where government control of our lives has gotten so utterly out of hand as to become unbearable, this is it. When the government takes our money out of hand, it is worth fighting a political battle to prevent. When the government takes our children out of hand, it's worth killing to prevent.

I hope that we back out of this madness before events come to that extreme.


Comments

This is just crazy! Speaking as someone who has work with several doctors about medications for their child, I can say that a teacher "reporting" a parent just for taking them of meds is plain nuts. We worked for months to get a diagnosis that we felt comfortable with, we came up with plans on dealing with problems and have changed/reduced medications and doctors several times when something wasn't right. The day the state of Texas comes after me for trying to make sound medical choices for my child is a day we'll start packing up.

(Though that statement may get Pam's hopes up.)

Posted by: Mark L on June 7, 2004 08:40 PM
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Drawing a Bullseye

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Iran has been toying with drawing targets on its metaphorical chest for some time, but this time they've unambiguously done it:

"We won't accept any new obligations," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told reporters. "Iran has a high technical capability and has to be recognized by the international community as a member of the nuclear club," he said. "This is an irreversible path."

Iran must be thinking that it can cause enough instability in Iraq, with Syria's and al Qaeda's help, to keep the US busy until they can enrich sufficient materials for a nuclear warhead. That's not a bet to make lightly, and Iran's only hopes of avoiding a US invasion in the next two years are a Kerry victory or an internal revolution, both of which are at least plausible, but the latter obviously is not preferable to the Ayatollahs.

Oh, and whomever sold the centrifuge parts and magnets can expect some serious economic payback, should the US ever get serious about stopping proliferation, to the point we would sanction a European country over the issue.


Comments

Or could it be that the Bush Doctrine has the Iranians so scared that they are rushing to build a nuke in order to get the respect/free pass that, say, Pakistan gets.......

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Posted by: Neil W on June 15, 2004 06:07 AM
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

An Appraisal of the Clinton Presidency

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

I never would have thought it possible so soon after the end of his Presidency, but James Taranto and Leonard Leo have written a remarkably balanced summary of the Clinton Presidency. The summary presents both what made Bill Clinton so popular and what made him so exasperating.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

June 17, 2004

The Torture Memo - Take 2

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Glenn Reynolds has a post about the "torture memo" and it's meaning (which I discussed here as well). I sent an email to him, but since his volume is too high for there to be much likelihood of it getting out otherwise, here is the email:

You note:

I find it hard to respond to these things in terms of cost-benefit. My law school mentor Charles Black once said that of course you can come up with scenarios -- the classic ticking-nuclear-bomb example -- where torture might be justified. And you can be sure that, in those cases, if people think it'll work they'll use it no matter what the rules are. But there's a real value to pretending that there's an absolute rule against it even if we know people will break it in extraordinary circumstances, because it ensures that people won't mistake an ordinary remedy for an extraordinary one.

It seems to me that it is clear that there are moral cases where the doctrine of least harm compels the use of torture. The ticking nuclear bomb scenario is one, but let's take a more personal one:

If my wife were kidnapped, and I had in my possession someone whom I absolutely knew to have the information of where she was held, I would not stop to consider whether or not to torture the person. I would ask the question once, then cut off a finger, then ask again, and so forth. I would be perfectly willing to face the legal and moral consequences of that action in order to save my wife. Note that I don't at assume that I know something bad will happen or is happening - she might just be released unharmed. But since I don't know, and since her well-being is worth more than my freedom or even my life, I would not hesitate.

The same applies, I think, in the case of a ticking nuclear bomb. I would hope that the government agents charged with such a task would torture the person who knows, if necessary to prevent the detonation, then present themselves for trial. Sometimes the right thing to do is to break the law and accept the consequences.

You also say:

I also think that the rather transparent effort to use this against Bush -- often by people who think nothing of cozying up to the likes of Castro, for whom torture and murder are essential tools of governance -- has caused the Abu Ghraib issue to be taken less seriously than perhaps it ought to be.

There is a possibility I haven't seen discussed much: what if there were more than one memo?

Say that Secretary Rumsfeld were to ask Undersecretary Smith to write a memo justifying the use of torture just because we feel like it, Undersecretary Jones to write a memo explaining why even looking unhappy in the presence of a prisoner is unConsitutional regardless of circumstance, and other undersecretaries were asked to write intermediate position papers. Now, we don't know what policy was adopted, nor what other memos may have been written, so how can we conclude from the existence of this memo that in fact it represents ANYTHING about government policy?


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

I Don't Understand

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

It appears that the enemy has beheaded yet another person, this time a Korean man, in an attempt to sow terror in our midst. I am very sad for his family, and for the agony he must have suffered in his last moments.

There are two things here that I don't understand, though, one about the reporting and one about the man himself.

The headline of the article I linked above is "Iraqi Militants Behead Korean Hostage". It's old news that the Western media cannot call a person whose intent is to terrorize, a terrorist. It's an unpleasant situation that the press has so lost track of objectivity that they prefer willful blindness (as long as the objects of the words they use are enemies of America, Israel and freedom in general, anyway), but it's hardly shocking. So, they have called these monsters "militants" - they didn't use the quotes of course. Hmmm, OK, first, how do they know that the "militants" are Iraqi? The AP seems to accept without any doubt that they are, yet it is well-known that most of the hardcore resistance in Iraq to the government and the coalition forces comes from non-Iraqis who came there for the purpose of fighting us. I just don't understand why the media could be so sceptical of the nature of the group, but so sure of their identity: any objective analysis would put the odds at the nature and identity of the group as likely the opposite of the AP's choices.

Unless, of course, the AP has intentionally chosen terms such as this because they want to minimize the horror and revulsion naturally felt at a terrorist (one who engages in acts of terrorism, which acts in turn are "use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons."), while simultaneously making the terrorists seem like indigenous freedom fighters. After all, a militant is someone who has "a combative character; aggressive, especially in the service of a cause", and after all, sometimes we can all be militant, can't we? In other words, the only reason I can see behind the obviously deliberate choice of terms that are wrong or misleading, is that the AP is consciously "with the terrorists": they want us to lose.

It's a sad realization, even if it's one I've been coming to for a long time, that there is no logical rationale behind the editorial choices of Western "news" organizations but that they are on the other side. Perhaps I understand what they are doing, but I really don't understand why.

The other thing I don't understand is the passivity: the pleading on camera just plays into the enemy's hands; it won't spare your life. Sadly, I've seen many examples of Westerners - and of Muslims - being killed by jihadis, and what's striking is how seldom they fight back. If you know you are going to be horribly killed, why not try to run every chance you get: better to be shot trying to jump out the window than beheaded. Why not try to fight? Why would you ever sit barely resisting as they position you and begin to kill you? Yet people seem to do that. Fabrizio Quatrocchi was a brave and laudable exception. Most people just seem to sit there and take it. I don't get that at all.

UPDATE: And on the "on the other side" track, note Tom Gross' essay on BBC bias. (hat tip: Silflay Hraka)

UPDATE (6/23): Wizbang has a list of links covering the beheading of Kim Sun-Il.


Comments

Interestingly, I've been wondering the same thing lately. Why are these people pleading for their lives? Why are they sitting like sheep? I have been thinking about the Italian you mentioned. Why aren't they all going out like he did? God forbid I were ever in that situation, I certainly wouldn't be waiting for the axe to drop. If they were going to kill me, they would at least get all the fight I could muster.

Also, isn't this a great example of the importance of the ability to arm oneself? These terrorists have no trouble capturing people, because the people really can't do much to defend themselves. I'd like to see terrorists try that crap in Texas. Quite a few would be dropped in a hurry; they would have to stop and go pick on California.

Another brief rant in lieu of an actual blog post, why the heck aren't we going full bore on these people? I am so sick and tired and incredibly angry that we aren't efficiently killing massive amounts of these terrorists. I am tired of this slow pace. I want to see lots of killin' right now. Forget this overblown Abu Ghraib nonsense the press STILL can't get over (I knew when Rather and Brokaw started complaining about the amount of Reagan coverage leaving little room for other news that they were specifically lamenting talking about Abu Ghraib AD F'ING NAUSEUM!!!!), let's really piss off the press and scare the shit out of the Muslim world. Let's start leveling villages, cities, countries, regions, etc. Let's start feeding the remains of these mother f'ers to the g--damn pigs. Let's get serious.

Hell, right now on the ABC radio news they're going on about Bush and torture and Rumsfeld and dogs. EXCUSE ME, but people are getting their F'ING HEADS CHOPPED OFF!!! Am I in the Twilight Zone? Why does all this reporting take place in a freaking vacuum?

Umm, well I could go on, but I probably shouldn't. I'm just so freaking ticked off.

Posted by: Brian on June 22, 2004 10:41 PM

I'm glad you're not bitter. :-)

Posted by: Jeff on June 22, 2004 11:38 PM

Man, I knew the BBC was bad, but this is ridiculous. CNN is part of the vast right wing conspiracy in comparison. Hell, the Beeb is making "The Nation" seem moderate.

Posted by: Brian on June 30, 2004 07:39 PM
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Steph is Ranting...

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

about homeschooling and being a mother to four young boys and the things people ask you and how to answer. It's good. Go read.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

June 16, 2004

About Time

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

I don't have any personal beef with George Tenet, but after the failures of September 11 (Tenet is not responsible for that, but he is accountable in part), WMD in Iraq and some other bits of bad performance at the CIA, his resignation is welcome. Most importantly, it allows for some dissipation of the animosity between CIA and FBI and CIA and the Congress, which is all to the good in terms of actually accomplishing our goals.

On the down side, expect Leftist calls for resignations of other cabinet and independent-agency heads to increase dramatically as they smell blood (even if it's just their own).


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

In the Meantime

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Bill Roggio posted a more detailed look at the status of Iran's nuclear program (hat tip: Winds of Change), catching onto the same statement I noted here. I have been thinking a lot about what we can do about Iran, given the inevitability of the eventual success of their nuclear program (unless we stop it) and the current state of the Terror Wars and of our forces. (Certainly the UN can't and won't stop the Iranian program.)

I believe that it is time for the US to strike at Iran's nuclear capability. I do not believe we can afford to wait for the elections; I do not believe that time is on our side; I do not believe that we can wait for Israel to act.

Iran is currently building centrifuges to enrich uranium, and apparently has had some success already. High-enriched and low-enriched uranium have been found in trace quantities, and the best guess that can be made from this is that Iran is within 2 years of having a real, ongoing enrichment capability. Nuclear weapons designs of Chinese origin (the same as were used by Pakistan in its successful program) are apparently already in Iran's hands. This means that within 2 to 3 years, Iran will have a nuclear weapon, and within 5-7 years, it could have a nuclear arsenal comparable to North Korea's.

OK, so why not wait for next Spring and then invade Iran? Mainly because it is unclear that Iraq will be stable enough by that time, particularly because Iran and Syria and, to a lesser extent, Saudi Arabia are trying very intently to ensure that Iraq never becomes stable and democratic. Unless Iraq is stable, there will be a need to keep a substantial portion of our Army and Marines in Iraq; there are simply not enough troops left over to invade and occupy Iran.

If we began mobilizing the Guard and Reserves now, we would likely be able to mount a sufficient force, sufficiently equipped and trained, some 18 months from now. Needless to say, this move would be political suicide unless the President could explain the reasoning for it, and he could not do so without risking that the mission would fail to be launched, because Iran would have a great deal of time to prepare, and the Western media would have a great deal of time to bring down the morale of the voters and the public's will to support the attack.

If invasion of Iran is not possible before their program is complete, what other options are there? There are four that I see: bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities, allow the Israelis to take care of the problem, bomb Iran generally, or incite revolution. (The North Korean option - bribe them outrageously in exchange for promises that they will, at some point, decide to not assemble nuclear weapons - has been exposed as the fraud that it has always been and I therefore do not consider it a reasonable attempt at actually solving the problem. Playing "kick the can" with nuclear weapons kept Clinton from having to make hard decisions, but it's playing havoc with our foreign policy in SouthEast Asia now.)

Bombing the Iranian nuclear facilities is likely already somewhat futile. There are two problems: the critical facilities are underground - deep, deep underground - and we don't have the kind of weapons necessary to reach them. Destroying what facilities they do have above ground might buy us some time, perhaps 2 or 3 years, and so is perhaps reasonable. Certainly, if we allow more time for Iran to harden their facilities, and to complete the work for which the above-ground facilities are suited, this option will be pretty much useless. For this reason, we must strike soon if we are to have much hope, and waiting until after the elections reduces our changes of success.

We can, of course, simply wait until Israel decides to take care of the problem. Iran has already stated that as soon as it obtains a nuclear capability it will strike Israel. Israel knows this, and has probably the fourth- or fifth-largest nuclear arsenal in the world. Rather than submit to their own destruction, they would certainly use the arsenal. (What would you do in their place?) There are two problems with waiting for Israel, though. The first is that range and other factors make a sustained Israeli conventional bombing attack infeasible; at the least, they make it unlikely that such an attack would seriously hinder Iran's nuclear weapons program. The second problem is that Israel would (because of the first problem) likely strike with nuclear weapons. At the point that Israel was going to take the political and social hit from using nuclear weapons to defeat an enemy, it would be in their best interest to take out some other pernicious enemies: Syria, Hizb'allah, Saudi Arabia and perhaps Egypt spring to mind. I don't think we want to make such an attack - and the consequent near-genocide it entails - more likely.

Bombing Iran with the intent to force them to submit (as opposed to trying to destroy or hinder their nuclear program) has some merit. While the air campaign against Serbia shows that the US, given favorable conditions, can bring enough pressure to bear on a nation to cause it to surrender territory or other claims, the importance of the Iranian nuclear program is such that Iran would likely consider abandoning their nuclear program as tantamount to giving up their sovereignty and their form of government (and thus, the power of those who would have to make the decision to abandon the program). It is simply not possible to compel a stubborn enemy to surrender using only air power, though it is possible to destroy an enemy and his population from the air, particularly if that enemy sees surrender as being equivalent to or worse than its destruction.

Waiting for - even helping along - an Iranian revolution would perhaps be the best possible solution, though there's no guarantee that a new government would be either pro-US or likely to give up the nuclear program. In addition, any help given would be as likely to backfire (horribly and publicly) as to work, and supporting revolutions is, somewhat ironically, profoundly distasteful to Americans in general. Ignoring the distaste, the low probability of success is such that we cannot rely on such an option.

Given the options, I think the best course for the United States to take is to bomb all of Iran's above-ground nuclear facilities - even research labs at universities using F117s and B2s (so as to attack these targets without waiting for the suppression of enemy air defenses to be completed), to attack the enemy air defense infrastructure to allow our non-stealthy aircraft free range, and to target locations housing terrorists (such as al Qaeda and Taliban personnel and Hizb'allah headquarters). During the initial campaign, we would tell Iran in no uncertain terms that we next will attack oil export, military and leadership targets, should Iran fail to abandon - verifiably, permanently and completely, in the manner than Libya has - all of its nuclear programs. (While we're at it, we may as well demand the handover of terrorists in Iran and the cessation of support for terrorism. We're not likely to get it, but why start small?)

Such a strike also has the side benefit of concentrating Iran's attention, and thus likely reducing Iranian interference in Iraq over the short-term. And it is over the short-term that such a reduction is most needed, to allow the Iraqi government an easier birth.

This would not make us popular - as if we were anyway - but it would certainly make us safer for a little while. With complete success, should we be able to attain it, it could make us safer for a great while. And at the very least, such a campaign would reduce the eventual resistance when we finally get around to invading Iran, which would still be necessary at some point, unless the Iranian leadership suddenly completely changes their entire philosophy of life and governance. Further, even should John Kerry take office and cease actively fighting against terrorism and nuclear weapons proliferation (presumably, he would at least continue law enforcement efforts against terrorists), we may have bought ourselves enough time to last through such an administration before facing a nuclear-armed, fascist, totalitarian, terrorist-supporting, fundamentalist Islamist state which considers Israel an abomination and the US "the Great Satan".

The domestic political effect would likely be in the President's favor. Those who would most be offended at such a campaign would not support the President in any case. The President's current supporters would be more likely cheered than dismayed, and the undecided would likely (given the public response to Afghanistan and Iraq) break in the President's favor.

I hate thinking of the domestic political angle here, but the reality is that the only way we can lose this war is to lose our will, and that is a matter of domestic politics.

UPDATE (6/21): Brian James Dunn of the Dignified Rant has some very interesting and useful comments. I perhaps was unclear, in that I agree with Brian wholeheartedly that regime change in Tehran is the only long-term solution; it's what we do in the meantime that I was trying to address. If we can realistically facilitate revolution, I am all for it.


Comments

Since some of the destabilizers in Iraq are coming from Iran, we should be able to divert troops from Iraq and let them participate in an invasion of Iran.

If not, I'd still say stopping the Iranian nuclear program is more important than babysitting Iraq, and some of the forces in Iraq ought to be used in an invasion of Iran.

And if Bush moved to raise the enlistment caps, the Democrats could hardly complain, inasmuch as they'd been insisting since Day 1 that we didn't have enough troops. (Well, okay, they could complain, but it would be less coherent than usual, given their previous statements). So if we think we've got 18 months to play with, I think we could still pull it off without tipping our hand.

Posted by: Ken on June 19, 2004 10:41 PM
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

The Silent Defeat of Palestinian Terror

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

In case anybody cares, Israel's policies of disengagement from and isolation of the Palestinians, and actually killing its enemies (the top leaders of the Palestinian terrorist gangs) is working, as was foreseen. The next step, which seems to me almost inevitible, is the descent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip into internecine warfare, ripping apart the remains of Palestinian society in a last gasp for power.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

A Reason to Watch Star Trek Again?

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Two of my favorite science fiction TV series are Babylon 5 and Star Trek.

Babylon 5 is one of the best TV shows ever done, set in one of the most compelling science fiction universes ever created, with some of the most interesting characters ever put on TV. Yes, it's science fiction, but that's almost beside the point: the story is universal. Despite being set in space, in the future, with magical new technologies and thoroughly alien races, the story was real - it was plausible. The characters acted like people really act, and the events of the plot interacted with the personalities in believable ways.

Star Trek also created a compelling science fiction universe, though it always suffered from shallow characterizations. The original series had some excellent shows, exploring themes of race (Let This be Your Last Battlefield) and human relationships (The City on the Edge of Forever) and unintended consequences (A Piece of the Action) and so on in a very entertaining way. With the arrival of Star Trek: the Next Generation and its follow-ons, the stories got progressively less interesting, though, and even the universe got boring. (The Cardassians and Bajorans? Please! How unimaginative!) The preaching got out of hand as well, such as in the Next Generation, where at one point religion of all kinds was simply mocked out of hand. I have an idea, let's insult our viewers! That would make us really cool!

I watched exactly two episodes of Voyager and only one of Enterprise. They were interesting ideas, crippled by the insipid writing, unimaginative stories, retreads of past plots and utterly uninteresting characters and situations. It had become unreal - unbelievable - plastic.

If anything can revive Star Trek at this point, it is the creation of compelling story lines in an interesting universe with characters we can care about and events that don't always turn out for the best. If anyone can revive Star Trek, that person would be the creator of Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski.

(hat tip: Peeve Farm)


Comments

You didn't mention Deep Space Nine, the best of the series. It's "Star Trek Blue Collar" with a three year long war in seasons 5-7. Have you watched any of it?

Posted by: john on June 24, 2004 11:10 AM

Actually, I watched a fair amount of DS9. It was in some ways better than the other series other than TOS: it at least tried to present more human situations and characters. It never really grabbed me overall, but there were some pretty good episodes, and I like the fact that they followed a long story-arc near the end.

Posted by: Jeff on June 24, 2004 05:43 PM
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

June 15, 2004

Before the Body is Even in the Ground

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

How far have we fallen, to spit on the unburied body of a great American, simply because of political disagreements 10-30 years old? Right Wing News shows us. The least that these people can do is have the simple dignity to say nothing. But, no, for some, the concept of "enemy" is unthinkable, unless the enemy is a fellow citizen who disagrees on matters of policy and ideology. I will certainly never read Christopher Hitchens again.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

The Common Good

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Hillary Clinton, at a fund-raiser in California, said this:

"Many of you are well enough off that ... the tax cuts may have helped you," Sen. Clinton said. "We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."

That about sums up why I am forced to support Republicans so frequently: "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."

I despair over many of the Republicans' agenda items - particularly the religiously-motivated ones - and find President Bush to be a less-than-stellar standard-bearer for Reagan's legacy, particularly since he has allowed government to grow larger and more intrusive with bare lip service to stopping it. At least Bush's character is good: he's not a thief and he's not an egregious liar and he's determined to defend the US against its enemies.

But as long as this is the attitude of the Democrats, I cannot support them at all. Hillary Clinton wants to take things from me to give to others. She wants to decide whom to take from, and what to take. She wants to decide whom to give to, and how much to give. And our existence, in her universe, is to sit back and be quiet, so that she can get on with it. She wants my money, because she feels entitled to it. Even disregarding the kind of corruption that breeds, what makes her think that she knows the common good so well that she can magnanimously spread only good? Has she learned nothing from history? Does she know nothing of economics or psychology? Has she even read the Constitution?

Stupid questions, of course, she knows nothing, and thinks she knows everything, and the mere fact of my disagreement with her agenda is proof that I'm a terrible horrible person who is stupid and smirks like a chimp and kills babies and - bah! Enough! No voting for Democrats until the Republicans start posting guards inside my bedroom or outlawing non-Christian religions!

Cheney's outburst was mild in comparison to what I'm not typing right now.

UPDATE: Steven Bainbridge has thoughts on this, along with a couple of good quotes.


Comments

I think you may have misquoted Hillary. Didn't she actually say "from each according to his means, to each according to his needs"?

Now that I think about it, I may be confusing her with someone else...

Posted by: Brian on June 30, 2004 10:23 PM

She also supports the Northeast Dairy Compact, harming the common good and children for a special interest.

Posted by: Ripper on July 4, 2004 10:46 AM
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

The Danger of Anecdotes

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

I wasn't going to write about Farenheit 9/11: I don't have time to scorn Michael Moore the way it is needed. But something from The New Republic (Hat tip: Pejmanesque) got me thinking. here is the quote in question:

Moore's argumentative strategy, however, rests on tricking audiences into believing otherwise. Having laid out his mostly unconvincing cases against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and having presented compelling scenes of Lipscomb grieving, military recruiters preying on the ignorance of teenagers, and congressmen fleeing questions about their children's military service, he pulls an intellectual sleight of hand that goes by so quickly--and indeed, that sounds so logical--that many viewers won't realize they've been tricked. In a voiceover, he says (and I'm paraphrasing pretty roughly here): I've always been amazed that in America the poor and working class do most of the fighting. That is their gift to us. And all they ask in return is that we don't send them to war unless we absolutely have to. The logical connection between the two thoughts here is patently absurd. (Is Moore implying that it's okay for the poor and working class to do most of the fighting as long as they are only sent to fight in necessary wars? Would it be okay to fight unnecessary wars if the military burden were properly balanced?) But it's also central to Moore's argument. He needs to be able to place his movie's best point--the brazen immorality of Lipscomb having to grieve her son while elites make no similar sacrifice--in the service of his larger argument, which is that Bush's wars have been unjust. So he eloquently conflates them, pumps up his soundtrack, and hopes viewers don't bother to think about what he's actually done.

I am sad for Mrs. Lipscomb's loss: it is the most terrible thing I can imagine to lose a child. Several people I know - including a couple of my closest friends - have been and/or will soon be in combat postings, and none of them are poor, though they also can't be classed as "the elites". But what about Pat Tillman's mother? Doesn't she disprove the case that it's only the poor fighting and dying in this war? Pat Tillman was nothing if not among the country's elite, by income and public acclaim if nothing else.

And if one anecdote can prove Moore's case, it only takes one to disprove it.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

June 14, 2004

Who's Teaching Your Children

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

One more reason to homeschool: your kids' teachers won't be Communists unless you are.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

iDrool

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Apple can be accused of many things, but one of them is not being conventional. This is a fantastic idea.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

I Would Have Expected Survivor

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Or alternately 'Eye of the Tiger Lily'...

I can't wait to see how Stephanie reacts to this.


Comments

The link wouldn't take me to the article. But I know what it was about.

My first reaction was predictable. But now that I've had time to mull it over (and I already knew about this), I think it's pretty much the best thing they can do.

INXS is a very talented band. They don't need Michael Hutchence from a musical standpoint. But frankly, right now they need a miracle to save their career, and this kind of TV stunt JUST MIGHT get them the publicity they need.

Nothing else is going to do it. It's not that they can't revive their career on the basis of their art; it's that they won't. These guys are too messed up, and too prima-donna to simply make a good album and go on the road promoting it.

I have a friend who knows one of them, and, unfortunately, I know too much :)

Posted by: Stephanie on June 16, 2004 05:03 PM
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Focal Points

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

It has been said of war that amateurs talk about tactics, while professionals talk about logistics. There has been a lot of talk about tactics in the war on terror lately: to what extent were Iraq and al Qaeda co-operating, where are the rest of the Iraqi WMD programs dismantled before and during the war, how extensive is the Darfur genocide going to become, has Zarkawi taken over operational control of al Qaeda in the greater Mid-East, will NATO contribute troops to Iraq, and so forth. The answers are actually utterly meaningless to determining the course of the war - no more important really than Midway was to determining the outcome of WWII in the Pacific.

Since Midway was the turning point, and resulted in the gutting of the Japanese Navy, most people assume that we would have lost the war in the Pacific if we had lost Midway as badly as the Japanese did. In fact this is not the case. Japan lost 4 carriers at Midway, of the 20 total it produced from the 1920's to the end of the war (some of which were never deployed due to lack of air crews). We had 3 carriers at Midway, of which we lost 1, but produced 15 carriers (not including escort carriers) in 1943 alone (by V-J day, we had commissioned 34 CVs and CVLs, had a good half-dozen being build, and had already cancelled many more). Even if we had lost all three carriers at Midway, and the Japanese had lost none, Japan would have been outnumbered and outclassed by the middle of 1943. Similarly, how many troops are in Iraq from which nations is a sideshow: unless we withdraw because of a moral failure, the US has enough troops committed to prevent Iraq falling apart.

In this war, logistics per se is not really at issue: the US can move its forces and those of its allies about, and keep them remarkably well-supplied. The jihadis are bound to supply more like medieval armies than modern ones, foraging off the civilian societies where they take root. There are a few issues which are key to the eventual outcome, however, in the same way that industrial production and the means to move supplies are key to a total war between industrial nations:


These factors are key to the Terror Wars, and without understanding where we stand on these points, it is not possible to understand the state of the war. Sadly, our media is not well-equipped to evaluate and report these stories, because they aren't nearly as exciting as those few places where we are imperfect - or can be made to appear so. Nor are such stories nearly as likely to bring professional renown to a reporter as a hit piece on an American politician.

My I recommend Belmont Club, Little Green Footballs, USS Clueless and Winds of Change as good places to get such information?


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

June 13, 2004

It's the Economy

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Steven Den Beste has an interesting, and typically long, post about the trade deficit, why paper money is accepted, and how hard it is to control complex systems like the world economy.

The part of that which most interests me is how money acquires and retains value. Barter is easy enough to understand: I have something you want; you have something I want; let's trade.

But barter is not a useful monetary system outside of very limited cases. For example, take an economy 10 people where one wants something no one has, one has something no one wants, and the rest are involved in a series of interlocking relationships of supply and demand. How does this balance? How do people find how to get what they want with what they have? What incentive is there to produce something that's not currently produced, when only one person wants it, and what incentive is there to consume what the one person has, when he can't discount it and you can eventually get it for free by letting him starve to death? Worse, what if I have a pig, and want a comb. Either I butcher the pig, which immediately reduces its time-value to me (since it won't keep long now) and future value (since it won't get any fatter now), or I find someone who can give me lots of little things for my one pig, so that I can trade one of the little things for the comb. Then what do I do with the other little things?

Using precious metals as a store of value was useful, because it was tangible. For the same reason, you could use acres of land as your store of value (except that land is not particularly portable, while precious metals are). Ah, you say, but you can trade in titles for land, can't you? And the titles are both portable, and as valuable as the land they confer ownership of. As long, that is, as someone is willing to use armed force to protect the land from claim jumpers, and enforce contract in court should you try to keep the land after transferring the title.

At that point, a title is just paper money backed by a commodity, as our paper money used to be backed by gold or silver (you can see examples of both in the money museum in Chicago's Federal Reserve Bank). And unlike precious metals, property rights must be defended by the government to have portable value. And since it is the promise of the government to protect the titleholder's right to the land that makes the title valuable, why do you need the land?

Really, this is what the value of our currency comes down to: US paper currency is valuable because the US government is willing to accept it as valuable, and to exchange it for other items of value as necessary, and to repay every debt ever incurred by the United States. (The US has never defaulted on a debt.) In other words, what you give in exchange for a house or for lunch or for labor is nothing more than a government promise that it regards certain pieces of paper as valuable.

I still find that amazing.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

June 12, 2004

"You Don't Appreciate What Happened...Until You See It"

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

The title of this post was Aaron Brown's justification for CNN showing the images of US troops humiliating prisoners (Saddam's former torturers, thugs and enforcers, mostly) at Abu Ghraib prison. Yet this justification is very one-sided: the media's ability to suppress squeamishness and decency to convey Truth only applies, apparently, when the "Truth" reflects badly on America in general, and President Bush and his policies in particular. National Review's Nick Schulz used Aaron Brown's theme to showcase that discrepancy, but was too decent to show the truth himself, and only described it.

I feel that it is necessary to know the enemy, to understand the moral difference between them and us, to have a defense against the constant media drumbeat of defeatism and moral equivalence. As a result, I've seen some of the horrors undertaken by our enemies, and have a context for viewing actions seen through the dim and deliberately clouded lens of Western media coverage. In this post, I intend to expose the full horrors of our enemy.

Warning


Do not go beyond this point unless you are prepared to be shocked and outraged, and frankly, sickened. There is evil and horror here beyond what most people's lives have prepared them for.

National Review's article describing the contents of a video showing a few clips of torture inflicted by Saddam's loyalists. Here is the video. If you can watch this and not see a moral difference between that and what the US soldiers have done - horrible at it is - stop reading now and stay off of my property. I don't want you here.

The beheadings of Daniel Pearl, Nick Berg and Paul Johnson. Note the similarity of display between the Paul Johnson photographs and the beheading of the prisoner by Saddam's fedayeen. Does anyone doubt that the people who do this are evil? Does anyone think that this is limited to one group or subculture? Do you think they would show you more pity?

Lest you think that this method is reserved for Americans, here are a Russian soldier beheaded, a Russian civilian beheaded, and a Muslim civilian impaled.

Here is Frank Gardner, a BBC journalist, shot repeatedly in Saudi Arabia and left to die. Though calling out (in Arabic) "Help me! I am a Muslim!", the crowd standing around did not attempt to help him, even after the terrorists who attacked him had left.

War Nerd has a column on the genocide ongoing in the Sudan. (hat tip: Instapundit) This is text only, and while it describes a horrible situation, it is not as graphic as what is above. Unless you count the picture of the dying boy with the vulture waiting nearby. Basically, the Arab northerners are killing off the black southwesterners of the Darfur tribe (they've already pretty much done in the Dinkas), who are also Muslim but who are of a different racial type. This genocide will likely surpass Rwanda's ethnic slaughter of the mid-1990s, which killed about 1 million people.

So remember these when you hear people - frequently our own elected officials (I'm looking right at you, Ted Kennedy) or our own media (I'm looking right at you CNN) or our own columnists (I'm looking right at at you Christopher Hitchens) - tell us how terrible we are. I think we compare pretty damned well, myself.

In the Arab world, there is the concept of an "honor killing", where a woman who has dishonored the family is killed to restore their "honor". In many of these cases, the woman was raped, frequently by a male family member such as an uncle. Somehow, this makes the woman - or little girl - unclean and dishonored. Then her family kills her - sometimes because they are forced by social pressure and sometimes because they are genuinely outraged, at her - in order to preserve their "honor". This is sadly common in the Arab/Muslim world. Frankly, even after having to check the other images and videos in this post, I could not bring myself to post images of some of the dead girls, one as young as 7, that I found while researching this. I'm going to go off and drink heavily for a while now.

(I hope the links work: I couldn't bear to check them and thus see them again.)


Comments

You want to expose the enemy? You are just as terrible as the terrorists. You put up these death videos. Why in the hell do your worship Ogrish? Those assholes treat members like hell! You aren't exposing nothing. You are the puppets that terrorist play. You are involved in terrorism when you spread these videos around. You are sick when you mention ogrish. Ogrish is corrupt and pure evil.

Our own government tell us how terrible we are? I think the government should start sticking their noses into blogs like yours. They should show backbone and ban Ogrish. The internet should become more regulated. Everyone is more concerned about porno. I think the government should be more concerned about you and Ogrish.

If you're concerned about morality and making a point, why don't you start with yourselves? Ogrish is going to get kicked off the internet. Your blog is hypocritical. Any kid could have came in here. I think the government should be worried about death pics too.

Posted by: Tricia Minor on August 12, 2004 01:14 AM
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

My Particular Friend

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

I am very much enjoying Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels. I just finished the 14th (there are about 20) and it is the best story (the series as a whole, rather than just the 14th book) that I've read in a long time. The characters are maddeningly human (like Dr. Maturin: naturalist, music lover, unparalleled physician, lover of liberty and hater of tyranny in any form, nice guy, drug addict from time to time and it almost destroys him repeatedly and why can't he get a handle on his life!?) and the events frequently random (like when Captain Aubrey comes home expecting public acclaim and is court martialled instead because of political maneuverings connected to his radical father). In other words, it's a lot like real life.

So I was particularly thrilled when I found My Particular Friend, which is entirely themed along the lines of the Aubrey/Maturin series. Lady Aubrey is a fellow Texan, a fellow baseball fan, and an entertaining writer.

UPDATE: Silly me: I didn't realize that this was Sharon Ferguson's site. Sharon, formerly of the excellent Los Brazos Cantina (if I recall correctly), is a frequent and welcome commenter here. I gotta learn to stop posting after midnight.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

June 11, 2004

Memorial Day

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

We were moving over the Memorial Day weekend, and still have no Internet access at our new place, so this post is a day late. The citations for all Medals of Honor awarded to date are here. There are some powerful stories here - stories of heroism, pride, dedication, ability and courage. One in particular is meaningful to me, as I just moved across the street from Olive Park, named for this man:

*OLIVE, MILTON L. III

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry, 173d Airborne Brigade.

Place and date: Phu Cuong, Republic of Vietnam, 22 October 1965.

Entered service at: Chicago, Ill.

Born: 7 November 1946, Chicago, Ill.

C.O. No.: 18, 26 April 1966.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. Olive was a member of the 3d Platoon of Company B, as it moved through the jungle to find the Viet Cong operating in the area. Although the platoon was subjected to a heavy volume of enemy gunfire and pinned down temporarily, it retaliated by assaulting the Viet Cong positions, causing the enemy to flee. As the platoon pursued the insurgents, Pfc. Olive and 4 other soldiers were moving through the jungle together with a grenade was thrown into their midst. Pfc. Olive saw the grenade, and then saved the lives of his fellow soldiers at the sacrifice of his by grabbing the grenade in his hand and falling on it to absorb the blast with his body. Through his bravery, unhesitating actions, and complete disregard for his safety, he prevented additional loss of life or injury to the members of his platoon. Pfc. Olive's extraordinary heroism, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.


Pfc. Olive's bravery is not unique; nor, sadly, is his sacrifice. When someone says we cannot produce such men today, tell them we do:
As Dunham searched for insurgents who had ambushed his battalion's convoy, he approached a run-down white Toyota Land Cruiser. The driver, an Iraqi in a black track suit and loafers, grabbed Dunham by the throat, the newspaper reported. Dunham kneed him in the chest, before the two tumbled to the ground.

Two other Marines rushed to the scene, and Dunham was heard yelling, "No, no, no - watch his hand."

And then, his fellow Marines believe, Dunham placed his Kevlar helmet and his body on top of the grenade to protect his battalion mates, the Wall Street Journal said. The grenade then exploded, leaving Dunham mortally wounded.



Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Better Than I Could Have Said It

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

The Left has become the Right: the descendants of the original anti-Fascists (and in some cases the anti-Fascists themselves) have begun supporting the Fascists against the classical Liberals. The Progressives and the Socialists and the Communists have aligned themselves with the jihadis and the dictators and the genocidaires against the force in history which has done more to raise the poor out of poverty and to provide justice and social equality for all people than any other (capitalism + individual liberty, personified in the United States). There is a huge political realignment under way - in some ways it's been under way since the end of the Cold War erased the old divisions. I've tried to discuss before (here, here, here, here - oh, just go look at my archives; it's a topic I frequently address) - in the course of addressing specific issues - why I use the term "the Left" to refer to all of the above forces, but the invaluable Wretchard at Belmont Club has defined the confluence better than I ever could have.

Go read.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Humor in a Serious Time

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Karmic Inquisition has a fine post on how important the ability to laugh at ourselves is, particularly in a very serious time such as now. I'm not sure I entirely agree with Adam's thesis (that we don't laugh much at ourselves), though certainly there are some people who are 60's retread humorless drones wrapping themselves in any ideology which will piss off their parents and others who are shrill self-indulgent fit-throwers dressed up as comedians.

Still, it is a new world since 9/11, and part of being able to make jokes about a world is understanding it. It was a long time between the imposition of the Cold War and its realization, during which the subject of Nazis and Japanese as humor material was gone, but Soviet jokes didn't mean much. It will probably be some time before terrorism and Islamic radicalism are funny, and the atmosphere of threat we are under now makes self-deprecation somewhat unsatisfying.

But humor is also an endless mine of hope, and will not be absent long.


Comments

You mean, you didn't laugh your head off over Boris and Natasha????

You are right though. I think there are good humorists out there...there's just so much screaming from the Left right now that we can't hear them.

Posted by: Sharon Ferguson on June 13, 2004 11:57 PM
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Playing God

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

It must be tough to be God, in the Abrahamic conception of god. First, everyone resents the power and vision and control you have, until they need you to protect or provide for them. Second, there is not a moment where you are free from the special pleadings of multitudes to intervene in ways large and small, social and personal, and frequently in multiple contradictory ways on the same issue or event. If you intervene you are either feared or resented or, most likely, both, and if you do not you are held in contempt and abused.

How's that for a segue into an article about the workings of the international order? Robert Koehler at the Marmot's Hole has a fine essay on anti-Americanism and the US-ROK alliance, which brings up this issue.

Personally, I think the best way to abate anti-Americanism in South Korea is not through reassuring Seoul, but by letting it fend for itself. So much of the anti-Americanism simply comes from naivete about the way the world works. And South Koreans aren't to blame for this -- we are. Some of this is simply the natural result of being a hegemon -- in the end, it's the U.S. which must shoulder the ultimate responsibility of ensuring that the international system runs smoothly because we built the system. But hegemony -- contrary to popular belief -- is a team sport, and everyone's got their role to play. American policy makers, being the control freaks they are (probably an understandable malady considering 20th century U.S. history), tend toward overprotection (or over-involvement, depending on your point of view). That breeds not only resentment and contempt, but also a lack of appreciation of the general nastiness that is global politics and strategy. It's easy to condemn U.S. policies in the Middle East when you're not forced to seriously consider how the gas you just put in your Hyundai Sonata got from Abu Dhabi to the LG Caltex gas station in Seoul. If there were Korean boots on the ground in the Middle East and Korean naval vessels patrolling the Persian Gulf, however, not only would Seoul come to appreciate the difficult choices Great Powers have to make, but it might also come to understand why it is that a state like the U.S. could be concerned with the threat posed by a state like North Korea selling nukes to parties that are annoyed at its pursuit of its national interests.

Anti-Americanism in South Korea may simply be a phase in national development. When Korea was weak, it needed us, and its choices were few. Now that it's a powerful state with interests of its own, it resents the limits its relationship with the U.S. places on it while perceiving that its interests may not necessarily coincide with Washington's. At the same time, the role it has played in the U.S. global security system has been so limited that neither its policy makers nor its citizens fully appreciate the realities of international power politics, and instead see only the contradictions between idealistic U.S. rhetoric and some of the less pleasant aspects of U.S. behavior abroad.

This will only change once the relationship between Korea and the U.S. moves more toward "equality."


The US has, since WWII, been the guarantor of freedom of movement across international borders, of freedom of the seas, and frequently of peace and stability. The world combined would be hard-pressed to outdo the US alone in power projection or economic capacity or influence. Cries of the US being forced to rely on the UN primarily are made in ignorance or desperation, because the US would not find its foreign policy changed at all should the UN simply disappear, while the rest of the world would lose the collective influence the UN provides them over the US. "Legitimacy" is a phantasm intended to tie down the US, not a statement of any objective state of affairs, and the ability of the UN to influence world events exists only so long as the US believes that the UN is itself a legitimate actor on the world stage.

We are truly the elephant in the room of international politics.

And for that, we suffer the slings and arrows of the Abrahamic God: we are condemned and despised for not acting (George Bush's first 8 months in office) and condemned and feared for acting (since 9/11). It is only when we pretend to act, but do nothing, that we are merely held in contempt. The root of anti-Americanism is simply that America's benevolent shield over most of the civilized world provides the rest of the civilized world with the ability to act like petulant teenagers, and so they frequently do.

There is a cure, though, a way to provide stability and predictability to the international order, increase liberty (and thus security and prosperity) around the world, and ensure that nations behave more like adults. The United States must take the worlds unruly countries under its wing, and compel others (old Europe, S Korea, etc) to act responsibly. The basic idea is simple: treat countries based on their characteristics, require of them based on their abilities, and make the spread of free people and free markets the key goal of our foreign policy. Overall, this can be summed up into a goal of spreading liberty and rewarding or punishing nations and organizations based upon their willingness to act responsibly on the world stage.

The devil is in the details, of course, and a goal implies a strategy. (As George Will once said, when asked if supporting President Clinton's impeachment meant he supported making Al Gore president, "Who wills an end must will a means to that end.") Here is a basic (and not yet very well thought out) idea of a strategy to fulfill that goal:


In effect, this is a call for a "liberty empire", where the "empire" exists for the purpose of destroying tyranny, establishing a free state in its place, and then withdrawing to take on the next tyranny. It would not be an empire in the colonial or mercantile sense; nor would it be ruled as a tyranny itself.

I'm not certain that this is the correct path for the US to take, but I do think it should be on the table for discussion.


Comments

Great post. Are you (or any other readers)familiar with Paul Johnson? He had a great essay entitled "An Empire for Liberty" that addresses almost these exact same issues. Well worth the time to find it and read it. As for your assertions that freedom and prosperity can be brought about by rule of law, personal property, etc. (they definitely can) I would recommend any essays about the "Anglosphere." It might be as easy as we think to remake the world in our image, but it's worth a shot.

Posted by: nemesisenforcer on August 17, 2004 09:29 PM

Great post. Are you (or any other readers)familiar with Paul Johnson? He had a great essay entitled "An Empire for Liberty" that addresses almost these exact same issues. Well worth the time to find it and read it. As for your assertions that freedom and prosperity can be brought about by rule of law, personal property, etc. (they definitely can) I would recommend any essays about the "Anglosphere." It might be as easy as we think to remake the world in our image, but it's worth a shot.

Posted by: nemesisenforcer on August 17, 2004 09:35 PM
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

The "Unbiased" Media

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

I try to be very careful about naming people as enemies, because I believe that no quarter nor respite should be given to enemies: they should be killed, or compelled to surrender, and be quick about it. The BBC is coming very close to being an indisputable enemy in this war.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Milestone

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Congratulations to Mike Melvill and the folks at Scaled Composites on the successful flight of Space Ship One today, becoming the first non-governmental spaceflight.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

June 10, 2004

Flypaper and Flywheels

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

It has been said that the US presence in Iraq acts as a kind of "flypaper", attracting anti-US elements - who now have their enemy close at hand - to fight our military in the field, instead of building their strength to attack American civilians in the US itself. There is some evidence that this effect is indeed occurring. In a sense, the US is striking at the core weaknesses of Arab/Muslim leaderships: the tendency of their supporters to react emotionally and territorially; the desire of many of their subjects to have the freedom, justice and material success offered by the West; their pride/shame culture; and the almost subhuman treatment accorded to vast swathes of their populations. By pushing - hard - on all of these buttons at once, there is a possibility that the leaders - all autocratic - of the jihad will be forced to confront a fate frequently visited on autocrats: the rebellion of their subjects in the hopes of a better life. (This would, it must be noted, almost require the undermining of a central tenet of fundamentalist Islam: life can't get better because this is how god wants it to be. Fundamentalist Islam is remarkably fatalistic; it's like Calvinism with a chip on its shoulder.)

But the jihadis are not passive participants: they are actively working to bring the West - particularly Israel and the US - low, and March 11th in Madrid shows that they understand some of the fault lines in the West. Wretchard at Belmont Club brings up an example of how this might play out in jihadi planning in his fictional "memo to Osama" (here, here and here).

I believe that the most important defense that the West has so far had against the jihadis has been the very, very limited understanding that the jihadis have of the West. In a way, the West actually has fewer dangerous internal faults than the Arab/Muslim world: we allow for sufficient freedom that people generally are happier with their lives than in non-Western societies, but express less happiness with their lives. In other words, we have enough potential to change our society for the better that we get (very visibly) frustrated with any imperfections we perceive.

But it should not be thought that there are no weaknesses, and in particular that these weaknesses are less dangerous than those of our enemies. The analogy I keep coming back to is a flywheel. A flywheel spins very, very fast. The faster it spins, the more perfect it must be. A slight imperfection, harmless in a relatively slow flywheel, will tear a very fast flywheel apart, because there are huge stresses imposed on the flywheel by its own weight as it spins.

Similarly, the West "spins" very quickly in relation to the rest of the world. A news event that would take a month to be absorbed and moved past in the Arab world is barely one news cycle in the West. While Islam looks back on the fall of the Ottoman Empire (at the end of WWI) as a "current event" in many ways, we of the West can barely remember events of just 3 years ago.

As a result, fractures in the West propagate very quickly: the bombing of the Madrid trains on March 11 resulted in the fall of the anti-appeasement Spanish government on March 13. A major attack in the US this Summer, designed to cast blame on the current administration for not preventing an "obvious" scenario (in hindsight, almost everything is obvious), could cause the election to be thrown to the pro-appeasement voices in the US - and would certainly not cause any real harm to al Qaeda in the short-term if it fails: how much more active is the US going to get in the Terror Wars?

The Terror Wars are hanging in the balance right now: events could go either way. The question that Wretchard raises indirectly is whether the flywheel of the West will spin itself apart over internal faultlines, exploited by the jihadis, or whether the jihadis will be destroyed by the slow and steady erosion of their base. Whichever comes first leaves the other side in possession of the field and the initiative, and therefore is likely to decide the outcome (though it will likely be years before the outcome is evident).


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Ex Cunabula Ad Astra

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

In the far future, this event, if it is successful, may be seen as the real beginning of the human colonization of space. The reason I say this is that if private companies and investors are able to get into space in an affordable fashion, uses (by which I mean, ways to make money) will be found for being there. This would in turn lead to more people going, more ways of profiting from being in space being found, and so forth. The government cannot remove us from our cradle; it has no incentive. But private industry can.

Not that I'm excited or anything.


Comments

Private space tourism has potential as a money-maker. And if private space companies can make money, they can gradually expand their services to include more and more of outer space.

Millions of people are willing to spend a lot of money to go to space, and will accept the risk--once the procedures get ironed out and a good safety record is compiled. The market is there.

Imagine

Posted by: Booker on June 8, 2004 04:19 PM

I'd be one of them. The idea of going up and seeing the Earth from space is absolutely mesmerizing!

Posted by: J at TAotB on June 10, 2004 12:24 PM
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Love is Like Oxygen

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Via Pejman Yousefzadeh, this Telegraph (UK) article on scientific investigation of love's effect on the brain is fascinating:

The first intriguing finding is that there is a lot of overlap between the brain areas activated during feelings of romantic love for a partner, and those involved in maternal love for own children. The brain cells implicated are the same as those we know become active whenever an extremely rewarding activity is being undertaken. These are precisely the same neurological locations which are implicated when we consume food and drink we like, take drugs like cocaine, and when we are given monetary rewards. So love is indeed like a drug.

However the key result was that it's not just that certain shared areas of the brain are reliably activated in both romantic and maternal love, but also particular locations are deactivated and it's the deactivation which is perhaps most revealing about love.


The article also has a lot of interesting comments on parental love.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Blogs as News

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Someone tried to get their news solely from blogs for a week. As I noted here, blogs are not quite ready to largely supplant traditional media. However, this bit bothered me:

Rubel could do no clicking through to articles cited in the weblogs, only read what bloggers wrote.

Well, yeah, given that bloggers tend to accrete stories, building commentary and news on top of other news and commentary, you won't get much if you don't click through! It's not much of a study of the medium if you don't understand what makes the medium what it is.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Pack of Lies

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

John Patrick Diggins has written an execreble revisionist history of the end of the Cold War in an article for the New York Times. Steven Den Beste ably takes the story apart - and story is the right word here.

If we all just try to get along, and hold out our hands to everyone else as friends, then war will be a thing of the past. That's the lesson of the history of the Reagan presidency that Diggins wants us to learn.

There's just one minor problem with that: it's a pack of lies.


Read the whole thing, of course. It's long, but very worth your time.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Stupid Protesters

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Expat Yank has a post on the "war is not the answer" bumper sticker. I walk past protestors many days on my way to work. My favorite sign so far is "You can't teach democracy through the barrel of a gun". As the Germans and Japanese their opinion on that one.

Another good one is "Only peace matters". Really? More than freedom? More than life? What peace did Paul Johnson have as he was beheaded? Is the peace of the grave acceptable?

Finally (at least for now): "One year later, war is still wrong". Three years later, war is still horrible. But it was forced upon us, and many of us choose not to die. Even just looking at the Iraq war, is war more or less wrong than averting your eyes while women are beheaded in front of their children because their husband fled the country, or hundreds of thousands are tortured, mutilated and killed to satisfy the bloodlust of a megalomaniac tyrant? I suppose for some, anything is preferable to admitting you might have been wrong. After all, it's not the protestors' lives which are in danger...today.


Comments

You didn't hit my favorite from the old days:

"You can't hug a child with nuclear arms"

Just where to begin on that one...

Posted by: Brian J. Dunn on June 23, 2004 12:15 PM
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

June 9, 2004

Well, Yeah

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Best of the Web points to this AP article about the Sacagewea dollar. Apparently, the House is working through a bill to change the design. As the article notes, though, "Coin experts say the new design approach probably would spark collectors' interest. But they don't think it would help the coin become a staple of commerce. For that to happen, the dollar bill would need to be eliminated."

Well, yeah. Is this hard? Few machines which accept cash accept the $1 coins, because they are rare. They are rare because they are only barely useful. They are barely useful because you can't, for example, use them in vending machines and such. If the $1 bill were to be eliminated in, say, three years, there would be a rush to refit parking lots and vending machines and the like, and the $1 coin would be used. (And after living in Canada for a while, having $1 and $2 coins and no bills smaller than $5 actually seems more sensible to me. The combination is more useful and actually easier to carry around.)

Changing the design of the coin won't make it useful.


Comments

I have no problem with this, and while we're at it, why not phase out the penny and nickel too?
Daniel Day

Posted by: Morenuancedthanyou on June 7, 2004 10:28 PM

Well let me give you another perspective. I work as a tour guide in DC and I make $30-$60 in tips daily, mostly $1 bills. Ending the day with 50 one dollar coins would be ridiculous. Bills are easier to carry around.

Do we have nothing better to do than sit around and plot the elimintation of bills and coins? Maybe we should spend more time contemplating how to make money rather than how to eliminate it.

Posted by: phil on June 8, 2004 07:29 PM

Money seems to be a real emotional thing with a lot of people; it isn't or me. I don't think we should eliminate the penny, because it's still profitable to produce. We eliminated the mill - and about the only places you even see reference to it are in gas prices and millage rates - when it became unprofitable to produce both the aluminum and paper varieties, and the penny will go the same way eventually, but likely not for a long time.

My objection to the Congressional action is that they want to make the coin more popular, so they are undertaking to do something which will cost a lot of money to implement but will not make the coin more popular, while something that would make the coin more popular is available at virtually no cost.

It's bad government that bothers me, rather than the precise appearance or form that we use to represent the government's promise of a stable medium of exchange. And, by the way, it's because I realize that that is all fiat money represents that money - well, in the sense of currency rather than stored value - is not an emotional issue to me.

Posted by: Jeff on June 9, 2004 01:00 AM
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Reorientation

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

The military is pulling ground forces from Korea and Germany. This is something which has been under discussion for some years, and marks a realization of the end of the Cold War. Most importantly in terms of our warfighting ability, it means that we have more easily-deployable forces, because we no longer have to worry (once the move is complete) about tensions in Korea or Europe fixing those troops in place when we need them elsewhere.

All in all, this is a very good move to make, and should alleviate some of the overstretch we've been experiencing particularly since the start of the Iraq War. Remaining steps to take to truly reorient US military forces to the Terror Wars will include:


There are many other things to be done, certainly, but I see all of the above items as vital to enabling us to outpace our enemies. By raising the OPTEMPO and keeping a constant pressure on all parts of the enemy's organization, we can do a lot to collapse his will to fight and, more importantly, his support and standing among the majority of the Arab/Muslim populations, and it is to this end that we must orient the military in order to win the military fight.

Reorienting the press and the legislature will be harder.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Knowledge is no Excuse

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Reading Joanne Jacobs just makes me furious. At least we know that kids won't learn the "wrong" things, like actual facts, judgement or Western culture.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

President Reagan and the Terror Wars

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

President Reagan is sometimes said to be the first President to retreat in the face of Islamism, after the Beirut Marine barracks bombing. It's not an unreasonable case. But consider this:

What would the Terror Wars look like without President Reagan's successful efforts to destroy the Soviet Union? It's possible that absent the support of the US, the mujaheddin in Afghanistan would have been defeated, and perhaps al Qaeda as such would not have arisen. It's also possible, though, that al Qaeda or some similar group would have come up, and been supported by the Soviet Union. And if the thought of a fanatical Islamist terrorist group supported by the Soviets doesn't scare you, then either you've no sense of history or no imagination.

"What if's" are always dangerous, and one should not draw too much heat from them. Nonetheless, I'm quite glad that President Reagan made the latter scenario impossible.


Comments

This is what I whispered to my friends in -RealTime...not to sound like a 'me-too' person...

but yeah...me too...those thoughts crossed my mind too when I started hearing the bawling about how Reagan neglected terrorism.

Seems to me he did the biggest battle of all.

Posted by: Sharon Ferguson on June 13, 2004 11:40 PM

to go further on those thoughts, it seems to me that if we HAD tried to tackle terrorism while the Soviet Union was in existence, we would have been facing tense "diplomatic confrontations" that would have made the October Missle Crisis look like rehearsal...and allies like the Polish would not have been present, because Comrades would have been swift to use them as a launching point for attacks. Does no one remember just how dicey things got over the Afghanistan situation? Didn't that have some moments where the Soviets were calling our involvement there a push to start a war??? Or maybe I don't remember correctly?

It didnt occur to me just how much of a favor Reagan did for our current battle with terrorism. Reagan knocked out the biggest generator of all...and now we deal with all the little bits that have fallen away.

God Bless Reagan and God bless this country.

Posted by: Sharon Ferguson on June 13, 2004 11:45 PM
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

The Don't Torture Memos

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

It is likely that this won't get much media time: the Bush administration has released a raft of memos regarding how much pressure is permissible when interrogating prisoners taken in the Terror Wars. As I wrote (twice):

Say that Secretary Rumsfeld were to ask Undersecretary Smith to write a memo justifying the use of torture just because we feel like it, Undersecretary Jones to write a memo explaining why even looking unhappy in the presence of a prisoner is unConsitutional regardless of circumstance, and other undersecretaries were asked to write intermediate position papers. Now, we don't know what policy was adopted, nor what other memos may have been written, so how can we conclude from the existence of this memo that in fact it represents ANYTHING about government policy?

Sure enough, the government has concluded that it is more damaging to our cause to have some believe that we use torture, than it is to release the details of our policy on interrogations (which allows the enemy to train to resist those techniques). So, good job, all of you who called the President or Secretary Rumsfeld monsters: you've now made it less likely that the US will be able to obtain useful information from captured enemies. I don't think that was the intent of most of you (some I'm not so sure), but it was the effect.

I hope that at some point we can all move past the assumption that our domestic political opponents must be murderers and drug runners (of which Clinton was accused) or monsters who demand we torture prisoners and who rob the country blind (of which Bush is accused). I'm really, really sick of a political atmosphere that believes such horrible slanders, and a media which propagates them as plausible.


Comments

You called this one right on the money.

I'm just waiting for the al Qaeda don't torture memos to leak out.

Posted by: Brian J. Dunn on June 23, 2004 12:13 PM
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

June 8, 2004

Light Blogging this Week

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

Between moving (still in Chicago - different building), not having high-speed access hooked up yet at the new apartment, a major deadline at work and other such things, blogging will likely continue to be light until next week.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Time to Invoke Godwin's Law

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

The other day, in comments to this post, I castigated the Bush administration for putting out an ad which had shots of Hitler, alongside shots of several prominent Democrats. Yes, the shots of Hitler are from MoveOn (a Democrat advocacy group) comparing President Bush to Hitler, but by using such short clips of them, the association is naturally between Hitler and the Democrats. Sure, it's defensible, but we're not stupid and we can tell the intent was to take advantage of the association while being able to deny it.

However, the Democrats' response is astonishing. I got a letter from the DNC, and apparently the Kerry campaign is sending other ones, criticizing Bush for comparing Democrats to Hitler. Yes, I realize this is basically the charge I make as well, but it's disingenuous at best to castigate one's political opponents for doing something wrong, when what they are doing is showing clips of you doing the things you are accusing them of! In other words, the Democrats are saying the clips from their own advocates are morally wrong, and that is somehow the Republicans' fault. Gah! I would go on at some length, but Josh Chafetz saves me the trouble.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

June 2, 2004

Islamintern

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

I've been struggling to come up with the right name for our enemy, and failing really. (I'm not the only one; the US hasn't formally named the enemy and we've been at war for 3 years!) Clearly, neither all Arabs, nor all Muslims, nor all Arab Muslims are our enemies; this rules out using either Arabs or Muslims or Arab Muslims as the proper term.

The problem with coming up with a good term, really, is this: the actual description of our enemies is "those Muslims who act according to a particular form of Islam which requires them to make war (jihad - a war specifically to obtain the approval of god, for lack of a better definition) against non-Muslims, and encourages any brutality against non-Muslims, and in particular those who accept the strictest interpretations of Shari'a law; as well as those who support, fund and shelter them; but only in the case that those people are attempting to make war against non-Muslims outside of their home area". Clearly, some way of shortening that is needed.

Islamists is suggestive, but not definitive, because you can be an evangelical Muslim without similarly believing that non-Muslims must be killed or forced into dhimmi status. Granted that there are significant tenets of Islam which would lead an evangelical Muslim to also believe that non-Muslims must in fact be killed or forced into dhimmitude, the term is useful, and I've used it quite a bit. Plus, it has the association with Fascist and Communist as ideologies divorced from explicit religion, which is nice since the enemy perverts Islam so thoroughly.

Islamo-fascist is useful, as it combines the personal ideology with the governmental ideology, as indeed the enemy combines them. The problem is that they are not two separate complementary ideologies for the enemy, but a single all-pervading whole. For the enemy, their god mandates that they kill us, as their god mandates every aspect of life, down to the most trivial. Indeed, anything not mandated by their god is not real to them. So the term is not very accurate, since it combines two Western idea-types to approximate one non-Western idea-type.

Fundamentalist Muslims used to be the term, but really it's inaccurate in that the brand of Islam at issue is not particularly true to Islam, per se, but draws extensively from the tribal customs of some particularly brutal tribes. In particular, the Taliban were an example of this, drawing from the Pashtun tribal heritage, which is among the most horrible set of customs I've come across.

Perhaps taking it from the point of view of a common doctrine will work, which is why I believe that the US government uses the term "terrorists and those who support them" as an all-purpose designation. Of course, that's pretty clumsy, and jihadi is better, as it incorporates both those who practice jihad and those who preach it as a mandatory duty. In fact, jihadi is one of the terms I've most commonly used.

I think Dan Darling, though, has just come up with a really useful referent: "Islamintern". By analogy to Comintern, it suggests a social (and in this case also religious) and governing structure which co-ordinates otherwise unrelated (but sympathetic) groups to further the ideology of the central leadership. That just about fits the bill.

Dan's actual quote, by the way, that got me thinking on this line is:

The complete lack of mention of Abdullah Azzam here is one of the first things that comes to mind. Azzam was bin Laden's mentor as well as the spiritual leader of the Afghan Arabs who were fighting the Soviets (I believe Hamas also claims him as one of their founders) and he was the man who first came up with the idea of establishing an Islamist internationale and helped to establish connections that went beyond traditional ethno-nationalist divisions that had previously divided various Islamist groups. There is also no mention of bin Laden's prior role in assisting the Saudi government in setting up jihadi groups to fight against the communists in South Yemen, which is how he first forged his ties to Prince Turki, who was then the head of the Saudi Mukhabarat. These would all seem to be rather important details.

(The references are to the 9/11 comission report, which I believe to be so deeply flawed as to be embarrassing and useless.)


Comments

Why not simply "jihadist"?
Daniel Day

Posted by: Morenuancedthanyou on June 19, 2004 01:17 PM

The reason that jihadi is unsatisfying is because it is a reference to an individual, not a movement. The jihadis have some characteristics of a group of un-coordinated individual action, but there is an informal binding that holds them all together, and if we look at the enemy as being not only the people, but the organization, jihadi is imprecise. By using jihadi for the purpose of describing the people and the ties between them, we lose the use of a good word for describing the people as individuals.

Posted by: Jeff on June 19, 2004 06:31 PM
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

June 1, 2004

Splitting Hairs, and Texans

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

\"\;

There's an interesting discussion on Daly Thoughts about whether Texas should split into 5 states, as it is Constitutionally entitled to do. Four of the five states would almost certainly be Republican, with the fifth tending somewhat Democrat, so the Republicans would certainly have a short-term incentive in doing this. However, it won't happen.

As one commenter on Daly Thoughts noted, which state would get the Alamo? Besides, there's the fact that the things we love about Texas are usually things we love about Texas, not the particular part of the state that we are in. I love the smell of the prairie when the Spring winds are blowing, and the large amount of personal freedom that is granted and personal responsibility that is expected. I love the bluebonnets and the indian paintbrush. I love the attitude. I love the Alamo, and the Gulf coast, and the desert river with the dinosaur footprints fossilized in the riverbed. I love Austin. I love how everything is huge and new. I love the hills and trees in the trailing edge of the Ozarks. I love the way that the people are friendly and helpful. I love the almost universal patriotism and the limited whining. I love the longhorn cattle and the bison that are pastured, respectively, within two blocks and two miles of my house. I love the food. How much of this would remain in a state cut apart? Some of it, certainly, but not all.

I've thought about it - I suspect most Texans have - but I don't want to see it happen.


Comments
Post a comment
















Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack