Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Axis of Evil: Is It Real?

Last night I saw Michael Ledeen claim yet again that the Axis of Evil is more a real than a rhetorical device. (The transcript is not available yet. When it is, it will reside here.) He claims, and I agree with him, that the "Axis of Evil" is a real alliance between these three powers. Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, are acting in concert against us, and furthermore that we are now seeing an escalation of the war against our civilization that might, within the next few weeks, burgeon into an actual two-front war... that when we move against Iraq, North Korea will move against Seoul.

This presents us with a rather frightening possibility. Especially since North Korea does not fit neatly into the Islamofascist mold. It would be much simpler to be able to believe that the coming conflict is some sort of a modern Crusade: Christendom against Islam. The addition of the godless North Koreans makes the conflict quite a bit wider than that.

This is not the first time that Ledeen has said more or less the same thing. In March, on NRO, for instance. At that time, I agreed with Ledeen that Iran's people were the greatest hope in the region, but that the Iranian regime was capable of most ominous action. Now, 10 months later, Iran seems to be the more quiescent of the three evil powers. They are, however, working hand in glove with the other two powers that make up the Axis. They are certainly working with Iraq in the Middle East conflict. They may be working with Pakistan and its Nuclear program. The missing piece of the puzzle is in delivery systems. That is North Korea's strong suit. They are medium range missile experts.

It is easy to wargame a total defeat of Iraq in a few weeks. But North Korea is prepared to attack Seoul with massive force. There are estimates that they could launch over a million rounds of short and medium range missiles and mortar rounds against the South within the first 24 hours of any attack. We have tens on thousands of American troops there in their fields of fire right now. Get your seat belts tightened folks. This could be a really rough ride.

Monday, December 30, 2002

Conservatives and Race

In the aftermath of the Trent Lott resignation it is interesting to note the difference between the Conservative and the Liberal reactions toLott's words. At first the Democrats were content to say nothing, possibly in the hope of having the issue fester for months, to their political advantage. On the other hand, possibly they were disinclined to bring the subject up considering their own record of the subject. Why, only last year Robert Byrd, Democrat icon used the term "nigger" in an interview, and his past language has betrayed more than a little bias against the black race in America (he was a former Grand Kleagle in the KKK), so the dems might feel just a little hesitant to start such a fight. But once the battle was joined, they demagogued the issue to death.

But the pressure on Lott to resign came from the right. As told by John Leo it was entirely Republicans who put the pressure on. This is not a question of which party or side of the political spectrum the rascicts reside in. That is clear for all to see. What I see in all of this is that only one side is expoliting the issue in such a politically tawdry way. Yet the blacks continue to give their votes to the left. This is something that I will never understand. This is a group that votes in a bloc more monolithic than the 2nd amendment people do, and look at the political power of the "NRA." If the black voters would just get a clue as to how the political system works in this country, they could hold either party hostage to their issues. Instead they just reliably vote for the donkey, so the Democrats give them nothing (they have no reason to), and the Republicans have no reason to give them anything, since they will harvest no votes that way. Still, no civil rights legislation moves without Republican votes.

It's really quite sad. This group, so vibrant and so much an intrinsic part of this great nation (their ancestors have been here longer than most whites') refuses or is unable to fully participate in the national politics. They have leaders who make a business of crying victim, and the rank and file, the great majority of whom are not on the receiving end of the government largesse given in their name, just go along and support the party that treats them like second class citizens.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Turkish Attack on Iraq Imminent?

According to Debka.com, an attack by 70,000 Turkish troops on Mosul and Kirkuk is imminent. From their website:
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Wednesday, December 25, Talabani is to be joined in Turkey by his former rival and fellow chief of the Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq, Massoud Barzani, head of the Kurdish Democratic Party-KDP. Together with Turkish political and military leaders and US representatives, they will try and hammer out an historic Turkish-Kurdish accord based on a text drafted in Washington.

Its key elements are:

A. The Kurdish autonomous government of northern Iraq will grant 70,000 Turkish troops of the 2nd and 3rd Corps free passage through its territory for the Turkish push towards the big northern Iraqi oil cities of Kirkuk and Mosul.

B. While transiting this enclave, Turkish troops will show every respect for Kurdish autonomy, thereby also conferring tacit recognition on the part of Ankara.

C. The Turkish contingents will seize control the two oil cities with the support of Iraqi ethnic Turkoman units, who will be said to have risen up against Saddam Hussein’s domination of their region. For the moment, the Kurds will not press claims to Iraqi oilfields.

D. Turkey will then proceed to create an autonomous Turkoman entity stretching from northern to central Iraq up to the approaches to Baghdad.

E. The United States and Turkey will foster political, defensive and economic cooperation between the Kurdish and Turkoman self-governing provinces and guarantee their security. This clause indicates that a portion of North Iraq’s oil revenues will be channeled to the Kurdish province.

In advance of this conference, the Turkish army was placed Tuesday, December 24, on a high state of preparedness and the 2nd and 3d corps deployed along the Iraqi border in battle array.

According to DEBKAfile’s military sources, the successful outcome of the three-way parley on this document will open the way for a possible Turkish invasion of northern Iraq and its advance on the oil cities without waiting for the general American offensive to begin on other fronts.
While one can gainsay anything found on Debka.com, they are not a bunch of web wildmen. They have presaged some serious movements in the past. Believe them or not, it makes good reading. The entire article can be found here.

Turkish Attack on Iraq Imminent?

According to Debka.com, an attack by 70,000 Turkish troops on Mosul and Kirkuk is imminent. From their website:
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Wednesday, December 25, Talabani is to be joined in Turkey by his former rival and fellow chief of the Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq, Massoud Barzani, head of the Kurdish Democratic Party-KDP. Together with Turkish political and military leaders and US representatives, they will try and hammer out an historic Turkish-Kurdish accord based on a text drafted in Washington.

Its key elements are:

A. The Kurdish autonomous government of northern Iraq will grant 70,000 Turkish troops of the 2nd and 3rd Corps free passage through its territory for the Turkish push towards the big northern Iraqi oil cities of Kirkuk and Mosul.

B. While transiting this enclave, Turkish troops will show every respect for Kurdish autonomy, thereby also conferring tacit recognition on the part of Ankara.

C. The Turkish contingents will seize control the two oil cities with the support of Iraqi ethnic Turkoman units, who will be said to have risen up against Saddam Hussein’s domination of their region. For the moment, the Kurds will not press claims to Iraqi oilfields.

D. Turkey will then proceed to create an autonomous Turkoman entity stretching from northern to central Iraq up to the approaches to Baghdad.

E. The United States and Turkey will foster political, defensive and economic cooperation between the Kurdish and Turkoman self-governing provinces and guarantee their security. This clause indicates that a portion of North Iraq’s oil revenues will be channeled to the Kurdish province.

In advance of this conference, the Turkish army was placed Tuesday, December 24, on a high state of preparedness and the 2nd and 3d corps deployed along the Iraqi border in battle array.

According to DEBKAfile’s military sources, the successful outcome of the three-way parley on this document will open the way for a possible Turkish invasion of northern Iraq and its advance on the oil cities without waiting for the general American offensive to begin on other fronts.
While one can gainsay anything found on Debka.com, they are not a bunch of web wildmen. They have presaged some serious movements in the past. Believe them or not, it makes good reading. The entire article can be found here.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

The Case for the Empire

It may be Christmas, but the thirst for geo-political tinkering runs deep in certain circles (mine). When "Attack of the Clones," the latest episode of the Star Wars movies came out, the Weekly Standard ran a remarkable article examining the political aspects of the battles represented by the ouvre. It resides here. Rather that excerpt the article, I reccommend that you read it all. It looks at the Star Wars series from a dispassionate point of view, and by the end, I bought the idea that the Empire is the good guys.

See if you can resist the logic of this thesis. It goes to one of the points that I am very fond of making: Where you stand depends upon where you sit.

Friday, December 20, 2002

Trent Lott

This whole Trent Lott thing has been amusing to me. This guy makes an innocent (to him) comment at his friend's birthday party and it gets blown all out of proportion to the facts. In the hypocrisy laden gestalt known as Washington it gets turned into a career-killing faux pas. Then the animals start making their jungle noises designed to extract the most career-enhancing juice posible from the still warm corpse of their colleague. All very funny. But, some of the noise is just too much to bear.

The Democrats have made an art form out of race-hustling. They have become so successful at it that they now garner over 90% of the black vote. This from a party that gives nothing to the blacks, with the exception of some food stamps, and creating an atmosphere in which a sizable cohort of the African-American population is destroyed from the standpoint of being equipped to successfully assimilate into mainstream America. It is galling to listen to such a useless piece of human garbage as Hillary Clinton saying things like: "If they think that having one person stepping down cleanses them from a generation of exploiting" blah blah blah, when she represents the party of the race-baiters, and is married to maybe the best exploiter of black pain ever to come down the pike.

I attended the New York City public schools in the 1960s, so my familiarity with blacks should be obvious. In any case, I will not defend or otherwise characterize my understanding of them, or detail how many black friends were at my wedding or any other bona fides I may have, to be able to claim to be qualified to comment on the bad deal that the blacks get in this country. Hello, but the Indians get a bad deal as well. The Catholics are getting a hard time lately, and the Jews have had a rocky time until the last few decades. But no group that I can think of has had so much of the crap that is poured on their existence administered by their putative "friends," as have the blacks by the Democrats, their "protectors." They don't need protection. They are quite qualified to hold up their own end. But as long as so many of them buy into the lie that "whitey" owes them something, they will continue to have a hard time getting ahead. As long as a group as powerful as the Democrat party can prosper so richly from making the black race in America a victim class, they will continue to be victims. And as long as they give their votes to the party that has become their own worst enemy, without asking for (or at least getting) anything in return, their prospects will continue looking dim. The shamelessness with which the Democrats abuse and exploit them is truly disgusting.

CSPAN Viewers Can Teach Us Too

One of the best current affairs shows available on video is CSPAN's Washington Journal. On this program, they have some of the best, albeit less well known, guests, as well as call ins from some of the better-informed callers in the talk industry. These callers are, for the most part, political news junkies, and therefore offer more informed questions and observations than most callers on other media (i.e. radio talk show callers and newspaper letter-to-the-editor writers). There are, to be sure, a few loonies who call in, but mostly this program is a place where one can get a feeling for the mood in certain (more informed) quarters of the nation. I tune in this program often, in particular to hear the liberal opinions, although conservatives are in abundance here as well.

One fellow this morning expressed astonishment that Richard Nixon received about one third of the black vote in 1960, and ascribed this result to the fact that JFK was Catholic. This statement betrays two common misconceptions, one is that Nixon was conservative, and two was that the black vote was always owned by the Democrats.

Under Nixon, central government spending rose from 20 percent of the gross domestic product to 22 percent. Military spending dropped from 9 percent of GDP to 6 percent, while spending on the entitlement programs that form the backbone of the welfare state soared. The last balanced budget this country has known until the 1990s bubble economy occurred in Nixon's first year in office. Subsequently, budget deficits began to steadily rise, creating the overwhelming portion of today's national debt. Nixon instituted wage and price controls, and presided over the formation of the EPA, BATF, and the first Earth day, while overseeing full school desegregation and signing the Endangered Species Act. This seems, in retrospect, to be rather a more liberal record than even FDR could boast. He was seen as a conservative mostly by his political opponents.

Add to this the greater truth that, historically, blacks form a more conservative voting bloc that whites generally. Until recently, the Republican party has been the party of rights for minorities, from the abolition of slavery to the Voting Rights Act. Only leftist demagoguery has cast the right in the rascist light that illumines it today. Even as, under a Republican president, three of the most powerful Americans are of African origin, this misperception continues. Even an innocent remark at a friend's one hundredth birthday is used as "proof" of the Republican rascist zeitgeist.

Sometimes I think that without misunderstanding, there would be no understanding at all. So much of our national debate is founded upon misperception and spin that it is difficult to differentiate the truth from the lies, While we have more sources on information that ever before, it is a full time job to digest it all. Luckily, you, my readers, have me as a resource, and I can help you do just a little of the zero based thinking that we, as informed mambers of the polity, need to do in order to keep abreast of the range of issues that are important to us all. Me, and maybe a hundred others, and we have a chance of making sense of it all. All of the sites on my blogroll, to the left (!?) of this post, deserve your support, or at least the time it takes to read us.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Vacation Over

Just returned from a week in beautiful midtown Manhattan. The land of my birth, old friends, and a realization that there is more money to be made there, per square foot or any other way you want to measure it, than anywhere else on the planet. I stayed in the A.C., saw a friend off into matrimony, and rekindled some good old friendships. Ruminated on the fact that friendship is a renewable contract, but there is no option written into the contract that makes the renewal automatic. Maintaining a friendship takes effort. Maybe even work. And people change. Even me.

But I realized two things. Old friends are worth the effort. And I have the best marriage. To the best girl. There is.

Sorry to be so personal. I know it's not my style. But I just had to get this out. Later, or tomorrow, I will get back to correcting the ills of planet Earth. But right now, it is good to be home. It is good to be married. Weddings tend to reinforce one's own feelings about the institution of marriage. When I was a confirmed bachelor, I would have felt sorry for the wedding participants. Today, I feel lucky to no longer be one of the singles. Watching Sex and the City actually makes me feel sorry for the characters. And anyone else who is jealous of the tawdry, lonely life those harridans lead. Sixteen years ago, they would have been my dream dates. Any one of them.

I'd better stop before I get icky. The thing about being a Reactionary Conservative is that the old values run strong in my blood. And I love my wife. I love being married. To her.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Prohibition Repealed!

Today, Thursday, December 5, is the 69th anniversary of the repeal of Alcohol Prohibition. National Prohibition ended a little after 5:00pm EST, when Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the Constitution. Repeal of Alcohol Prohibition heralded a dramatic drop in the homicide rate -- which was ultimately erased, unfortunately, by escalating enforcement of drug prohibition and the other sequelae of prohibition, i.e. the huge profits and lawlessness that are the inevitable results of this type of government intrusion. The same thing happens when cigarette taxes rise to a high enough level. Ditto on the prohibition against fireworks in my home state of New York. Organized crime steps in. Personally, I came face to face with the mafia at the age of ten, when I went to chinatown to buy firecrackers. After buying some from a Chinese fellow, a big hulking stereotypical Italian fellow demanded money from us, because we had bought from the wrong guy. In South Carolina, no licensed fireworks dealer would sell to a ten year old child.

Today, due to prohibition, children find it easier to buy drugs than cigarettes or beer, since the vendors of these legal items refuse to sell to underaged children. Dope dealers have no such compunction. Why is it that many of those who fervently believe that "when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns," and thus are against overly restrictive gun laws, are in favor of laws that put the distribution of such dangerous substances in the hands of the most irresponsible element of our society. It can't possibly be in order to make drugs unobtainable, since that goal is unattainable. Hell, drugs are even available IN PRISON, where the most effective prohibition possible is in effect.

Drug abuse is a medical problem. Drug prohibition is an unconstitutional condition that sustains the Mob and those elements of the law enforcement and legal professions that depend upon it for revenue and power. Approximately one third of our law enforcement, penal, and judicial resources are dedicated to drug prohibition. This is money and effort that could be better used for real problems in our society. While a libertarian such as myself would just rescind these expenditures, big government law-and-order conservatives should jump at the chance to imprison more violent criminals, and tax these substances to gain the revenue to further increase the size and intrusiveness on Big Brother. Orwell foresaw this in 1984, where the plebes are allowed their legal intoxicants. (or was that Aldous Huxley's Brave New World?)

The only rational reason to support drug prohibition is the fear that drug abuse will increase if legal restraints are lifted. While that might be true, we don't really know. If a small fraction of the money presently spent on the punitive approach were spent on public education and public health aspects of the problem, it would make a difference. As long as we as a society refuse to even debate the question in a sober fashion, let alone try out some alternatives (rememver state's rights?), we will remain ignorant of the true cost of this benighted policy.

Monday, December 02, 2002

Is Bob Barr Reborn?

About twenty five years ago, when I was in the insurance business, my partner Nick thought that we should rep the products of a company which was run by a disreputable character. When I asked Nick why we should get involved with such a person, Nick said "Mike, every scumbag is reborn in the next deal." Nick and I split up over this issue, and Nick got rich, while I had to wait a couple of decades, and a couple of careers, for my ship to come in. Since then I have been painfully aware that, indeed, it is possible for a scumbag to be reborn, to change in response to new conditions.

Enter Bob Barr. Regular readers know that Barr is my poster child for scumbaggery in the political class, since he has a penchant for supporting many of my favorite issues, bolstering our freedoms and serving as a bulwark against those who would, for instance, expand property forfeiture rules or restrict free speech, while at the same time he is the most cynical of Drug Warriors, who believes that all constitutional protections should vanish if the defendant is accused of altering his consciousness. He clearly believes that anyone who uses illegal substances should be serving a life term at hard labor, and he has manipulated the power of the state to realize this result. He was the driving force in the effort to avoid even counting the result of the election of a medical marijuana initiative in Washington D.C. For this and other reasons, he was denied renomination to the U.S. Congress. With a 73% voting rating from the Libertarians, he was nonetheless opposed by them for his drug war activities.

Now that he is unemployed, he can be expected to do what they (almost) all do: cash in. But sly Bob has surprised me. He has joined the enemy (his enemy at least) by accepting a consultancy with the American Civil Liberties Union! Plans for exploiting his access do not, of course, include his working on securing our cognitive freedoms, which the ACLU is heavily involved in, but they will use him on informational and data privacy issues. While acknowledging their congruence on past issues:
The ACLU and Barr found common ground several times during his stint in Congress, including mutual opposition to a national ID, the Justice Department’s Carnivore Internet snooping system, the proposed "Know Your Customer" banking regulation, and the controversial Operation TIPS citizen-spy program. Just recently, Barr was able to persuade the House to pass a bill requiring federal agencies to consider the privacy implications of new regulations.
they make no mention of his implacable opposition to any non-punitive approach to the problem of drug use and abuse. Bob Barr and the ACLU have been on different sides of many debates, but when they want to buy access to the corridors of power, they go to the source. They clearly have taken Nick's advice, and concluded that this scumbag has been reborn in this new deal.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Hit or Miss?

Over at Dean's World I have been getting raked over the coals this holiday weekend, and I thought that you, my loyal reader, should see a little of the coloquy that is over there. But if you choose not to click, I present here some of the words I have laid on Dean's readers. Some thoughts on freedom for this Thanksgiving, 2002.
I must have failed to communicate properly. I decry the imminent coming of the social conservative groundswell. Personally I can think of nothing better than a return to states rights, so I can find a state to live in. That's why I moved to the Pacific Northwest in the first place. My own children go to religious school. That is my choice. I support Bush to keep my country and my people free.

I believe that Roe v. Wade was a mistake, and the federal government has no business meddling in the abortion debate. States should be free to pass laws that range fron allowing infanticide to a total abortion ban. I wouldn't want to live in either place, but you should be allowed to if you want.

But anyone who believes that those who espouse social or Christian conservativism will not be pushing their agenda hard as a result of the recent election missed something crucial that happened during the Reagan years. When the Sharks thrive, the Remora also grow strong. Reagan's popularity was reflected in boldness of action by those who would bring back the 1950s.

Don't get me wrong. I am a reactionary conservative, but I want to bring back the 1850s, with its more constitutional rendering of freedom and states rights, not the 1950s, with Eisenhower, HUAC, and the government testing people with nuclear fallout and LSD without consent.

But Dean, I never said, as you put it, "Bush is evil, Republicans hate liberty," because I believe that Democrats are even more evil, and truly hate liberty. What I do believe is that Bush is a politician, and a fundamentalist Christian one at that. We must expect him to use his power, and attempt to amass more of it, as well as to appease his base. Lovers of liberty face a Hobson's choice: vote for Republicans, or vote for losers. Either way, freedom loses. But the Democrats are no choice at all. Just imagine where we would be if Gore, Clinton, Mondale, Dukakis, Gephardt, or Daschle had been in charge on 9-11-2001. We would still be studying the "root causes of terrorism" and asking the Taliban for permission to investigate the "cowardly criminals" who had attacked us. And attacked us. And attacked us again.

Part of freedom is allowing others to have private practices that we might find abhorrent. There might well be states where women don't have the vote, alcohol is banned, polygamy is allowed, and, yes, slavery is extant. I don't know if anybody would live there, and the rights of slaves would have to be respected, but who are you to tell someone how to live their life. There is evidence that convicts being released from decades of incarceration, of whom we are expecting a bumper crop in the future, would willingly accept such a living arrangement. If I wanted to get a job from which I could not be fired, where my master pays all of the bills, in an ideal society, I should be allowed to do so. This may be far fetched, but as a matter of philosophy, I support the right of humans to pursue their own happiness in ways I may not agree with. You think I should be grateful that you will allow us to keep alcohol. I believe that citizens should have the right to their own life; to live it as they choose, including the right to end it when, where, and how they choose, given that they don't interfere with someone else's right to do the same.

What I admire about 1850s America is that the government left the people pretty much to themselves. You could build a house according to your own standards of construction. Grow whatever crops you wished. Buy whatever you wanted. Hire whomever you felt was qualified. Fire whomever you felt like firing. Rent your house to whomever you liked. Tell your secretary that she looks pretty today without giving her ammunition for blackmail against you tomorrow.

The truth is that the world I envision is not the 1850s or the 1950s, but the very best 2050s that we can fashion for my children and grandchildren to live in. I am a reactionary, not a time traveller. I want to bring back the good old days in the context of tomorrow.

Now, why can't we all just get along?
Of course, the comments and posts I am responding to above make this more of a debate than a rant. Click on over to Dean's any time for a good read. I hang out there a lot myself.

Monday, November 25, 2002

WhoseTen Commandments?

Politics makes strange bedfellows. Tonight I'm ready to sleep with Pat Buchanan and a bunch of Southern Baptists. The controversy revolves around the Ten Commandments. The courts command that these simple words represent an establishment of religion, and thus must be purged from our public places.

Would anyone object if The Code of Hammaurabi were posted on the courthouse steps? Of course not. And that's 282 laws, also inspired by a God, name of Marduk. Magna Carta is already posted in many courthouses, and is considered the basis of our codified system of laws, and was promulgated by a King with Divine guidance and permission, not to mention authority. But it's not in the Christian Bible! The Ten Commandments are, and the display of ANYTHING that is in the Bible will cause... what? Morality might break out?

Jews, Christians, and Muslims all recognize these laws as holy commandments, it's true. And the Hindus make do with only seven, but those cover the same territory. Buddhists never complain about religion, as they eschew even the existence of an almighty being, and mostly keep their opinions to themselves, but there is not a single commandment that is not congruent with the teachings of Gautama, or the Tao. So is it who must be protected? With the possible exception of the rule against adultery, who would contest the fact that these are (at least nine) rules that we could all use?

In a courthouse, of all places, display of the precursors of the laws that are upheld therein are completely appropriate. Are the Atheists and Secular Humanists really offended by this material? Why? and, more important, why should their offense to these simple rules trump the greater need of all of the rest of us to believe in something so grand?

This case is not over yet. If the Governor backs the Judge, and the marshals are given the order to remove the Ten Commandments, what will G.W.Bush, born-again Christian, do? Those Marshals work for him.

It sounds to me like we might have a little clash of civilizations right here in the good ole U.S.A. Actually not. One civilization, against so-called progressives who eschew the thought that there could ever be a being greater than themselves.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Kabul Recovers. Slowly

The people of Kabul, a place I know well, are some of the most self-sufficient in the world, living in a laissez faire economy that the most devoted libertarian would love... in theory. All of these American Randians and Anarchists, Posse Commitatus and Harry Browne Libertarians, have a philosophy that sounds really good to the really fit. Survival of the fittest always has sounded like less of a good idea to those who feel a little more, well, marginalized. Now, go and read how those under the margin deal with it. They actually seem to be holding up quite well, considering, but they could use a little help.

These people are just like you and me. Racially polyglot, but primarily white skinned, dark haired, proud people (There is a theory that the Pashtuns are descended from the Jews). They know that the world owes them nothing. They make do with whatever they have, and thank God for what little they can obtain. Many live on bread and tea. And they survive, some even thrive, under conditions that would make many Americans commit suicide.

Our Army on the scene is ready to help with the reconstruction of the infrastructure. Yet president Bush remains uncomitted to this. It is the one area where the democrats are ahead of the president in the war against the anticivilization contingent. The Pentagon says:
"Since September 11, I think everyone understands that we have a stake in the future of Afghanistan that is not simply nation-building for the sake of the Afghan people, it's security-building to prevent terrorists from returning," the senior official said. "That's not a mission we ever thought about before for the United States.
Meanwhile in Congress, they voted $3 billion for Afghan reconstruction, more than Bush asked for, and much more than he seems intent upon spending.

We, who are so fit, who have so much, must make a bigger contribution to the plight of the Afghan people. Whether through charity (my choice) or encouraging our government to spend more (which should warm the heart of all of you liberals out there) we, who consider ourselves so civilized, must make a greater contribution. Just read this excerpt:
But much of the internationally pledged aid has yet to materialize, Baz complained, while tens of thousands of Kabulis remain in highly vulnerable conditions that will only worsen this winter. At least 100,000 of them, like Kandi Gul, are squatters living in abandoned ruins that provide little more than shelter from the wind. "My son spends all his time looking for work, and I'm too old to go out," said Gul, whose relatives recently squeezed into one room so an even more desperate family could share their drafty abode. "We have no future here, but we don't have enough money to go back to Pakistan either," she said. "Only God is keeping us alive ."
Whether from enlightened self interest, or a personal desire to show a little rochmonis, we all have to do something. Anything. And soon.

... [Update] Dan Hartung of lake effect has some suggestions on where to send money. I republish it here without comment or endorsement other than to say that I have no reason to doubt Dan.

There is relief, and there is reconstruction. The choice is every individual's to make, of course, but here are a few:

Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund from the World Bank link

America's Fund for Afghanistan's Children, the one trumpeted by Bush during the war last fall, and administered by the American Red Cross; for the most part it has purchased food and supplies which are sent there. link

US-Afghan Reconstruction Council is a clearinghouse that lets you direct your funds to specific regions of the country or aspects of reconstruction. link

Afghans 4 Tomorrow is a group representing professional class Afghan expats, which sends most of its money to schools. link

If corruption is your main concern, think in terms of tangibles -- school supplies aren't very convertible, for instance. Construction of things like highways and buildings isn't going to be corruption-free (nor is it, necessarily, anywhere), but at least a highway can't mysteriously walk off.

Saturday, November 23, 2002

Freedom vs. Order

There is a great debate today between republican conservatives and the libertarians and young conservatives who gave them the power that they have today. As a person who believes in freedom, it pains me to say that my side is about to lose this debate. Power is about to trump freedom, and the conservative movement will be the loser.

On one side we have the social conservatives, supply side, free market conservatives, and old time Republican party hacks like Rush Limbaugh and Bishop Hatch. These people are the ones who reflect the current republican party future. On the other side are the young conservatives, who can not bring themselves to be called conservatives or even republicans, but so abhor the democrats that they refer to themselves as libertarians. Add to that believers in small government and constitutional freedom who find a lot more to vote for on the libertarian side of American politics, but would rather vote for a republican winner that a libertarian loser. This is the group that is about to realize just how great a mistake they have made.

In the end, the republican party is a party of statists, who, just like the democrats, feel that there are a host of problems that can be cured if only the government, THEIR government, has a little more power. There are differences here, but, from where I sit, they are trivial. The big idea is that, in order for the government to acquire more power, we the people must give some up. Today Jonah Goldberg outlines how we should be happy that we are as free as we are, which, to me, sounds just like the argument that slavery was a wonderful transition time for the blacks, since that is how they paid their passage to the New World.

It may be a disappointment to see what a statist Goldberg has become, but it is not that at all. He his showing his republican feathers at the time that his party has achieved great power. The republican agenda is heavy on prayer in schools, restricting a woman's freedom over her bodily functions, and military strength as a route to world domination. Now, don't get me wrong. I like world domination. Especially when it is my side that dominates. But, like sausage, the process of its genesis is unpalatable. Mandating weapon systems that the military doesn't want and abandoning old allies who become less useful as time goes on are all a part of world domination, and it sucks. Sometimes I read Harry Browne describing how we should have stayed out of the wars of the 20th Century and it sounds right. Of course, as a Jew I applaud the entry of the U.S.A. into WWII, but as a rational thinker I realize that his thesis is correct: if we had sat out the 2 World Wars, Korea, and Viet Nam, we would be a much freer and safer people today.

In the same issue of National Review Randy Barnett explains that the republican party should give a little more of what libertarians want. Fat chance. Bush is every bit the statist and prohibitionist that Clinton was. His agenda of military conquest is incompatible with personal freedom for Americans, and his determination to pursue a war without end promises to give the government more power every year it continues, whichever party is in charge. For there is very little difference between the two great national parties.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

How I Dealt With D.A.R.E.

My son is now in the sixth grade, and had some problem with DARE, when the program was offerred in the fifth grade. He claimed that they made him act out scenes where he was made to feel like an idiot, such as wearing his clothes inside-out and acting out little passion plays where drug users were caricatured and lampooned. He also reported that the police officer who ran the class was not telling him the truth, as his mother and I had related the truth about drugs to him. I did a little research and found out that the program is permissive i.e. they must seek out parental permission, by law. They did not do so at his school and, I gather, rarely ask for this legally mandated permission. I went to the school and presented them with a letter revoking "any implied permission" for his participation in the DARE program. Not surprisingly, they complied immediately, asking no potentially embarrassing questions.

The result has been entirely positive. Every time the DARE officer came to his class, he was released to the library, and was able to do his homework. His classmates were jealous, as I was able to hear on one occasion. And the experience made him proud of his dad for sticking up for him, which any parent of a pre-teen boy can use a little of. The other parents I discussed this with mostly gave me an "attaboy," plus some of "where did you find the guts," but none followed suit, so far as I know.

My own objection and fear about the DARE program is about the misrepresentations and lies that the police, who are the instructors of the program, spread regarding drug use. The children were told that ALL drugs are bad, and are not medicines, which are good. Not explained, and left for the impressionable young to find out for themselves, is that this is a bald lie. Medicine would be in the stone age if not for Morphine, and my State (Washington) is one that has made Marijuana legal as a medicine. Some kids in the class take Amphetamines for certain learning disorders and discipline problems, etc.

When will the Drug Warriors realize that lies just don't cut it in the real world. I will bet anything that my son will be better prepared to deal with the realities of drugs than any kid whose parents allow the schools to render instruction on this very important subject in an untruthful, immoral way. My son's teacher explianed to me that she considered my wife and me to be her "partners" in the raising of my child! It is frightening to think that there may well be parents who have turned the raising of their children over to the Secular Humanist teachers, and also to Police who are not trained or credentialed to teach children.

What is so wrong with telling a child the truth? Such as, drugs make you feel good, and usually will not turn people into homicidal maniacs upon first use. What is wrong with relating the truthful reasons that drug use is bad, and must be avoided if at all possible? I can truthfully relate to my sons that drug use starts out as a pleasurable moment, followed by falling grades, inability to achieve one's goals, and ultimately to jails, institutions, and an early death. This way, what I tell them will be verified by what they will eventually see in the schools that they will attend as they get older. They will be armed with the most powerful tool for dealing with life: knowledge. The truth. I believe that my sons can make the right choices if they are armed with the correct tools with which to do so. Telling kids that they will turn into thieves and rapists upon smoking their first joint will not survive their first contact with a non-raping, non-stealing marijuana user. Moreover, knowing that I told them the truth about first use will encourage them to believe what I told them about further use. Some of these kids have already told me that DARE was a joke. I believe that drug abuse is very serious. I can not allow something so serious to be left to teachers and cops, especially when their approach is based on lies and making jokes about drug users. And that is what DARE is apparently all about.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Was J.F.K a Dope Fiend?

Slowly, historians extract bits of information about major figures, and the past acquires more and more context and texture. Now we hear about how:
Racked with pain, President John F. Kennedy turned to a cornucopia of drugs - including painkillers, stimulants and anti-anxiety pills, his secret medical records reveal. Historian Robert Dallek got unprecedented access to documents from the last eight years of JFK's life for his upcoming biography, "An Unfinished Life." He found that at various times Kennedy took codeine, Demerol and methadone for pain, the stimulant Ritalin and anti-anxiety drugs meprobamate and Librium
Some may be sanguine about this, but today, anyone who is on uppers, downers, and tranks, all on the same day, is considered a "dope fiend," a term of art meaning someone with a very significant substance abuse problem. Barbiturates and methadone, in particular, have come under federal regulations over the last few decades that would put anyone who is being prescribed such a pharmacological regimen under Drug Enforcement Administration scrutiny. A single doctor prescribing these three substances to a single patient today would very likely lose his license.

Now, personally, I think that these government regulatiuons over cognitive freedom are obscenely intrusive and unconstitutional, but I wouldn't hire a person taking this melange of dangerous and addictive substances to manage my mail room, let alone to a position where his judgement would make a difference to the profitability and survival of my company. Now I can understand why JFK played russian roulette with all of our lives in his handling of the Russian missile threat in Cuba. The Testosterone alone is nototious for its psychotomimetic properties, causing a condition called in the vernacular as "'roid rage'" meaning a certain volatility of behavior. Add to that uppers in the morning, tranks in the evening, seconal at night, and methadone all day and his substance abuse really explains a lot. To me at least.

Saturday, November 16, 2002

What Next for Afghanistan?

Regular readers of this space know that Afghanistan and its people inhabit a special place in my heart. The Afghan people are warm and kind to strangers, regardless what you may have heard. They are not war mongering loonies, just people like you and me who want nothing more than to be let alone, to live their lives and raise their children. But today, they are being left alone by the West, and our worst fears about the region may be about to be realized. As we learned in Viet Nam (did we really learn?) one can be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to failing to support our friends.

It isn't even money this time. After Taliban fell, the international community pledged billions of dollars in aid to the war-ravaged country. But the Bush administration is failing to lean on our allies to ensure that they pay up. The result of this penury may be a disaster, not only in the region, but for all of the enemies of Taliban and al Qaeda world wide. The results of the recent Pakistani elections were a disaster for freedom loving people everywhere, with religious fundamentalists winning widely, but especially in the border areas of Baluchistan and the Northwest Territory. President Musharraf may be in mortal danger, as he has survived six assasination plots already. An Islamofascist government in Pakistan is bad news for us, but worse news for Afghanistan, as the loonies taking over in Pakistan feed the insurrection in that impoverished land. Which would bring us right back to where we were last year, with total lawlessness giving our enemies a base from which to operate against us.

Reports from the once and future war zone are not encouraging, unless you are a Taliban fan. And it seems that, rather than a return to Taliban rule, the long sought Pashtunistan may now become a reality. In case you are wondering, that means a country made up of the south and east parts of Afghanistan, plus the western part of Pakistan, with Pakistani Nukes and North Korean missiles to deliver them. If you liked Taliban, you're gonna love Pashtunistan. And its happening right now, because we in the West refuse to pay the bills for food, medicine, and a few roads and bridges, plus of course an army and police force for the Afghan nationalists currently in power in Kabul. Exactly one year ago, Indian columnist Rajinder Puri wrote this:
Hordes of Pushtuns stream into Afghanistan from Pakistan to fight the war. A bigger number streams into Pakistan from Afghanistan to escape the war. With each passing day the Afghanistan-Pakistan border gets more blurred. It could soon disappear. If that happens the ethnic realities of Afghanistan will assert themselves. A government, any government, imposed on Afghanistan by outside powers, would then start to fall apart. The world will recall and recognise that Afghanistan is an artificial nation. Different tribes, speaking different languages, in a remote and rugged territory, were cobbled together into a nation. This was done at the end of the Great Game played in the nineteenth century by Imperialist Britain and Tsarist Russia pursuing their respective interests.

As a medieval, tribal Afghanistan, battered by history, staggers into the twenty-first century, nationalist aspirations are bound to assert themselves separately in the various ethnic groups. The Pushtuns are Sunni Muslims with a tribal history that precedes Islam. They are known as the Beni Israel ? the sons of Israel. Israeli researchers of the Amishav Organisation, investigating the Diaspora, have confirmed that Pushtuns are ethnic Jews.

The Pushtuns inhabit southern Afghanistan up to the Hindu Kush mountain range that divides it from the north. They are most densely clustered in the Jalalabad and Kandhar regions. The Taliban do not reflect the Pushtun ethos or attitude. But with the help of Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, they have used terror to usurp power and subvert Afghanistan.

The Pushtuns have a long and honoured tradition of money-lending that is anathema to fundamental Islamic tenets. The true icon of the Pushtuns was Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, compatriot of Mahatma Gandhi. He demanded an independent Pushtunistan free from theocratic Pakistan. As the big powers led by America attempt to create a modern, multi-ethnic Afghanistan, they will eventually confront a resurgent Pushtun nationalism. The world might then have to reconcile itself to the division of Afghanistan.

This is a tragedy in the making, that is of such importance for the world that it can not be underestimated. The cost of this thing only goes up. As they say, pay now, or pay (much more) later. The Afghan people do not want a continuation of war, or the breakup of their country. A little help today might save us an awful lot later.

(For a more detailed vision of the post Taliban South Asian and Middle Eastern world read this.)

Friday, November 15, 2002

Nancy Pelosi, Conservative Catholic

That's what she said. In liberal San Francisco, says the new democrat leader of the House of Representatives, she is seen as a liberal conservative. This is the level of veracity that we can expect for the next few years. This from a pol with a 100% rating from the liberal interest groups. I have always said that anyone with a 100% rating has a serious neuronal deficit. If one's brain is plugged in and the switch is turned on, there is a tendency in human mentation for a certain variation, an individuality of thought. There is no difference, in my view, between political and religious fundamentalism. The fundamentalist mind set betrays a loyalty to a movement that requires the abandonment of independent thought. The requirement is a commitment to a set of "beliefs" that allows no questions, or variations from a rigid set of committee determined norms. Fundamentalists do not allow, in themselves or in others, independence of thought.

How does such a mind deal with unique situations? Isn't this the basic reason that the left has been unable to deal with the Terror Threat? On 9-11 we were presented with an event that challenged us all with a sea change in the world as we had come to know it. Until September 10th, 2001, we had been starting to believe that history was over, that war and endless conflict had been replaced with prosperity and long life. Our great problem for the new century was going to be bringing the more benighted parts of the world up to our exalted level. A movement was brewing to conquer and civilize Africa, for God's sake! And now, all of a sudden, we have to grapple with being under attack. With a paradigm shift in which the citizens of the most powerful and safest nation in the world were the targets of a new kind of warfare. And the liberal fundamentalists had no idea how to respond. Love, peace, and happiness were no answer to bloodthirsty fanatics that were eager for entry to their whorehouse heaven, and the ticket that they needed was our blood on their hands. Independent thought was needed. Pelosi and her ilk are incapable of independent thought. Their herd mentality could only think to run, hide, and blame themselves.

The right, in its response, answered with a strategy born of its own fundamentalism, to be sure. G.W.Bush is a religious fundamentalist himself. But that is a debate for another day, and I have written about this before. But for the purpose of this essay, suffice it to say that we can thank God that the right's impulse to smite their enemies was exactly the right response. Irrespective of how it was arrived at, the only way to fight a foe who has the moral certainty of a religious fundamentalist is with a little moral certainty of our own. We must fight, or we surrender. Liberalism wants us to negotiate with the monster. Nancy Pelosi, the new leader on the democrats, is the poster girl for liberalism. The American electorate must, and shall, deny power to such a mindset. Choosing Pelosi may prove to have been a tragedy for the democrat party. It certainly gives We the People a clear choice.

Thursday, November 14, 2002


Since I decided to profile, in this space, some of the lesser known blogs I have been astounded by the sheer quantity of great work that is being done out there. I for one am not surprised that this body of work is done by hobbyists; the opposite is true. Hobbyists are not hacks, and have little entrenched interest to protect. When a blogger screws up, well, he just screws up. There are no editors to complain about it, no subscription department to threaten one with Armageddon. We can't be fired, but we do have to live up to our own expectations, and I, for one, have a very high standard for myself. That is why we are so quick to issue corrections and link to alternative points of view. If the work doesn't stand up, so what... just blog on. (I never remove a post to this site) Learn and grow, get better, or not. Maybe practice makes perfect, maybe practice makes permanent. But one gets plenty of practice writing a blog!

There are, of course, quite a few bloggers who maintain their blogs in some measure to support, by symbiosis, their regular writing gigs. But even there the work has a quality that the paid word can not surpass. Compare the blogs of, say, Lilleks or Sullivan with their paid work. Very different, more relaxed, still more the flavor of a hobby than a career. And, there's nothing wrong with a certain mixing of one's hobby with one's career. I, for instance, have begun instituting blogs as a communications medium in my real career. I have no dreams that anyone will be paying me for my writing, at least not for a very long time, and lots more practice. (Now, if I could only learn how to type, I could practice more!) But I have no compunctions about taking what I learn here and making a buck on it. I do, however, have somewhat of a problem with trying to make money here. Maybe I would if my stuff was a bit better. I don't mind if others manage to make some dough. I have been known to leave tips, and have bought a fair few books through bloggers' Amazon accounts. But one can go too far in the quest for the legal tender. For a sample, click on over to Daily Pundit. Please. I know that Bill can use the money, and he has threatened to stop blogging if he can not figure out how to make a buck at blogging. And, if you know what you are doing, the ads on Bills blog are optional anyway. His blog is not. I stop in at Daily Pundit every day.

Jim Miller's Political Blog has one of the best, most concise roundups of the most popular, or, at least, the most necessary blogs out there, here. Those offerings which I choose to review here, in this space, are the more esoteric, deeper, less necessary but more enjoyable.

Can We Believe DebkaFile?

I have been reading DebkaFile for years, and have found that their reports have mostly been correct, but a little edgy. I am loath to accept things that I read there unless they are confirmed in other, more mainstream, sources. But they have been consistently reporting, for weeks now, the presence in Iraq of American and British forces. In recent posts here and here you can read about battles raging in the Tigris and Euphrates valley, and their coverage of this and similar actions go back to September 20th. Items such as this
One Iraqi response to heightened US-UK-Iranian military activity in the southeast has been to set fire to the marshes. The flames seething under the surface have produced belching black clouds that are carried by wind south and east to threaten an ecological disaster on a scale recalling the Kuwaiti oil well fires Saddam set in 1991.

The black haze limits visibility for US spy satellites and reconnaissance planes tracking Iraqi troop movements, impedes US-UK aircraft and helicopter bombing sorties against Iraqi forces and obstructs airborne support for the US-led ground forces in the field.

Our sources in Tehran report that the black smoke has reached Iran’s southern oilfields and is slowing down production.
are typical. What are we to make of such reports? Debka is shielded by references to "our sources in Teheran" and "Debka's military sources" so they have plausible deniability (has that statement become a cliche already? Thanks, Ollie.) and can not be taken to account for what they say. Other sources, such as Strategy Page point to the "operation Early Victor '02" exercise, which allows that 1400 U.S. troops are in the region, but seem to account for their location as being within Jordan. The mainstream media cover this subject not at all (if I missed something, let me know. So, what are we to believe?

For one thing, Debka accurately revealed the presence of American and British special ops troops in Afghanistan long before anyone else had the story. But they also had Chinese soldiers fighting on the side of the Taliban, and foresaw a million man Russian Army prepared to enter Afghanistan. If the Chinese were there, I have not read of it elsewhere, and if a million Russians were planning to be peacekeepers, they ended up staying at home.

What is clear is that Debka is either a source for intelligence, disinformation, or misinformation. Take your pick. probably all three are true from time to time on this site. Still, it can make for interesting reading....

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

What Are The Democrats?

I was pondering just this question when I came upon this piece by Joe Klein in Salon this morning that gives more than a few clues as to the answer. The article is in the form of a letter from Klein to Robert Reich, who last night on O'Reilly was beside himself trying to get Bill to define "Left" for him, as if he himself didn't know. The short form: today's democrats exist solely as a counterpoint to the republicans. The Democrats are, at least lately, a coalition of leftists, socialists, unionists, and so-called "new democrats" who are really well at home among the republicans, but just can't bring themselves to say so. Thus, when Klein says:
Some say move left. Some say move right. Both are right and both are wrong. If we're to have a vaguely interesting national debate, the Democrats have to move forward—away from the boring, tiny, and tactical issues, and language, and interest groups that the party has championed in recent years. This will mean a change in style as well as content. Above all, it will mean an extremely risky change in focus from the beloved and reliable geezers to the edgy, cynical, apathetic young people. The electorate has to be expanded. But the most valuable cache of votes isn't to be had in the poor neighborhoods....
What he is revealing is that the donks will say and espouse more or less anything that will allow them to tap into a suitably large group of voters.

Meanwhile, Klein admits that:
The Republicans are never so masochistically introspective; they never seem to question their essential beliefs, even when they get clobbered
which means that Klein recognizes that the GOP does have a core set of beliefs that vary little, whether they prove to be tactically effective or electorally disasterous. Of course, flush with last week's big victory, expect the pack to move incrementally toward the right. Don't, however, expect that they will abandon any of their core constituency groups, the way B.J.'s DLC abandoned the hard left and the welfare moms.

Still, it is gratifying to see the sort of self-flaggelation that the dems are going through today. Thank goodness that such advice as this
Last week, Nancy Pelosi—the very sort of political anachronism the party should studiously avoid—launched her campaign for House minority leader with a self-delusional whopper: "The Republicans are the party of the special interests," she said. "The Democrats are the party of the people." What nonsense. It was the Democratic Party's obeisance to its special interests—specifically, to the public employees unions, the trial lawyers, and the AARP—that helped lose the election. Organized labor forced the party's disastrously witless position against the homeland security bill. The trial lawyers insisted that punitive damages be included in the terrorism insurance bill. The AARP has backed the Democrats' foolish and expensive prescription drug plan. (The Republican plan, which targets only those seniors who can't afford to buy their medicine, is, literally, far more progressive—as you know, Bob, a version of this plan has been successfully implemented in Massachusetts.)
will be ignored by the party leadership.

The disaster for the democrats was engineered by those who valued electoral tactics over core beliefs. It seems that we can expect more of the same. It's a good thing, too. Otherwise, the party could splinter into its various constituencies and, thus fractured, would no longer stand as an effective opposition to the republicans. If the right had the nation in the same kind of control vise-grip as the left has had for the last few decades, the effect would be just as bad, IMHO.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Weepy Docs Prognosticate

A group of British political doctors, who call themselves Medact, predict over four million casualties in any war with Iraq, according to Reuters this morning. I mention it here not because I question their motives, although I do, and not to question their competence to make this prediction, although they admit on their web site that they are incompetent to make this prediction, but rather I wonder how it is that such a meaningless press release is made public by Reuters and Yahoo news, and has already been picked up by Cox News service, and no doubt will receive much wider distribution as time goes on.

If you read the press release, all you will find is a depiction of a worst-case scenario, in which Iraq launches a WMD attack on Israel "and perhaps other countries," and receives a nuclear retaliation from Israel, or perhaps another country.

Medact, the British affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize, is in no way qualified to make these predictions. They boast absolutely no experts in military strategy on their staff, but declare that they are an organization dedicated to spreading information on "the catastrophic consequences of atomic warfare." If we need to listen to doctors bloviating on this subject, do we need to allow Mayor Rudi Giuliani to perform surgery upon our appendix? Or get General Al Haig to do a root canal on one of our molars? I guess so, since these are the same people who protected B.J.Clinton's right to act as a gynecologist upon interns in the White House. If doctors can do politics, politicians must be qualified to do medicine.

In fact, no one is qualified to make such predictions. There are too many variables to even make an educated guess. This is just a story that they are telling. Why do they stop at four million casualties? I'll tell you why. They are in denial about the Iraqi threat. Their judgement plan can only see our side using the nukes, and refuses to factor in the much greater probability that the Arabs are the ones most likely to use nuclear arms. One nuke in New York or Washington could easily blow their prediction out of the water, but illuminating the reality that the world is facing today is not the point of this organization. Only white Christian western civilization is capable of such destruction, in their world view. This we know. What we will find out, in the next few days, is which news organs are willing to be complicit in their pacifist campaign. The only problem with pacificism is, it presupposes that one's foe is civilized. Our's is not.

Friday, November 08, 2002

Character Counts

Neil Cavuto on Fox News made a statement at the end of his show tonight that is priceless. It's too good to excerpt, so I quote it here in its entirety.
Simpleton. Moron. Twisted syntax. Dumb ideas.

Those were some of the kinder things said of the president. Not "this" president. I'm talking president Ronald Reagan.

He was also dismissed as an intellectual lightweight.

He was also lampooned as a puffed up idiot.

He was also crazy like a fox.

You'd think the so-called intellectual elite would wake up. The people you dismiss today have a way of running circles around you later.

I'm not taking sides here, just making a point. When arrogant people make disparaging remarks, watch out. They're not only rude, they're wrong. And they're mean.

Did Ronald Reagan ever once rip their syntax? Did he ever once make fun of their predictions, or once demean them for their views?

The same applies to President Bush.

After all the hurtful things written and said, did he ever once call them clueless? Ever once call them vapid? Ever once call them not up to the job? No, he did not.

Here's something the elite don't get, but the good people of this country do.

Character counts. Being decent counts. Understating yourself counts. Trudging on when others are carrying on counts.

Not boasting, or carping, or criticizing, or demeaning, or snickering -- all that counts.

This isn't a Republican issue. Or Democratic one. This is a human issue.

Tables have a way of turning on those who think they know, but don't. Versus those who say they don't know, but do.
Members of the intellectual elite that Cavuto references in the piece should take this to heart, but they won't. Cavuto, like Bush and Reagan, are beneath the radar of those who consider themselves the elite. These men are far too decent to be counted among the elite. Far too real. These elites consider themselves better than the rest of us. But they are not better. Just separate.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Election News: The Good and the Bad

Now that the election is over, we can sit back and ponder the good, the bad, and the ugly news in American politics contained in the election results. First, the good news. The B.J.Clinton wing of the donkey party is the big loser, so therefore we should be hearing less from the likes of Terry McAuliffe and B.J. himself, and more from the looney left part of the party represented by Ted Kennedy, Charles Rangel, Barney Frank, and Hillary Clinton herself. The donks will have to be true to their base, which is a most appropriate appellation considering that their appeal is to the baser instincts of humans such as class warfare, serving the "victims" and "minorities," (such as women and women, who are neither a minority nor victims), and depicting lovers of freedom and a return to constitutional government as lovers of pollution, death to all non-farmyard species, and a certain glee at the suffering of the downtrodden.

What's so good about this "good" news? In my opinion, this turn of events shall serve to afford the American electorate a cleaner choice between the parties, a rhetorical divide that has been blurred in this last decade of minimal difference between the donkeys and the pachyderms.

The bad news is that, with the donks moving to the left, the packs will be free to pursue their true desire, which is a bigger, more powerful government of their own design. Today, Jonah Goldberg in gloating over his party's victory, says
The first thing the GOP should do is get the homeland-security bill and the terrorism-insurance stuff taken care of right away.
In case you forgot, the Homeland security bill will create the largest federal bureaucracy ever conceived, and "terrorism insurance stuff" is code for taking an insurance product that is available on the free market and attaching to it a government program with a bureaucracy to determine "fair" rates and subsidize the premiums.

If there is a philosophical difference between the democrats and the republicans it is too subtle for me to discern. At most there is a difference of style, which is, in my opinion, put into the debate as a way to attract votes, rather than a philosophical desire to make government smaller or to make our people more free.

And that's what makes it so ugly. these are our choices. Any candidate that is attractive to someone like me is marginal at best. Even when a good candidate manages to get elected, it is only a matter of one or at most two re-election campaigns before he is submerged into the incumbent party, or, like Jesse Ventura (who is far from my ideal candidate) retires before he becomes part of the problem.

I will have to be satisfied with an election result that is less bad than we might have had. And I am. Very much so.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Pre-Election Day Musings

As I sit here on the eve of the 2002 elections, I can't help but wonder what it all means. Whether the Donks extend their lead in the Senate or lose their plurality by one seat or two, does anybody really see a diffeence? OK, the passsing of control to the GOP will grease the skids for some judges to be confirmed. But history shows that the party in power can not predict how its nominees will perform once ensconced on the federal bench. The single party that almost all of our elected legislators are members of is the party of incumbency. But:

All of this needs to be taken in context. In Reason magazine online this month, there is an article about the different approach of the government to violent crime. England is about to take steps to protect the public:
Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government plans to combat crime by extending those "restraints on personal liberty": removing the prohibition against double jeopardy so people can be tried twice for the same crime, making hearsay evidence admissible in court, and letting jurors know of a suspect’s previous crimes.
Wow. They already have repealed the right to refuse to testify against yourself, they have video cameras everywhere, run by and managed by the police, and they are amassing a DNA databank of as many citizens as possible, with a goal of getting DNA on file for "everyone."

So we can quibble about the lack of choice in our elections. But, with that magnificent document, the Constitution, to protect us from the venal, self serving members of the incumbent party, no matter who we elect today, it could be a lot worse.

Friday, November 01, 2002


Over 200 years ago, Scottish historian Alexander Tyler, studying the Athenian democracy, made these observations that have always fascinated me, for their (hopefully mis-) application to today's America:
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.

"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back again into bondage."
It is to be hoped that Tyler's observation will not finally apply to our great nation. But when one looks at today's fight between those who would vote themselves largesse (the Donks) and those with their finger in the dike (us) it would seem to be an evenly matched battle.

Today's leftist actually believes that they have no ideology, that their wholesale reclassification of huge groups of Americans into a victim class worthy of largesse from the public treasury is pure common sense. The fact that the poor and the downtrodden do not benefit from cash giveaways is lost on them. I saw a black leader on television last night forced to argue forcefully that his people were inherently inferior, in that they could not succeed without cash and affirmative action.

It is a sad state of affairs, and I don't know what the final outcome will be. But make no mistake; leftists and other enemies of freedom believe that they are right, and that it is we who are the evil ones. They believe that any trick or device is warranted in the pursuit of their vision of equality, which I call class and race warfare. They believe that any wrong has a government solution. Not a community solution. Not a religious solution. Not a family solution. If a teenager misbehaves, if a family is poor, if the public schools fail, these misguided fools actually believe that the government can fix things. The fact that government has failed over and over again to fix anything remotely like this does not convince them of their folly.

They must be defeated. That is why I support Republican candidates for office. I seldom agree with them. But they are the only contenders for power who support even limited freedom. They are the only party that recognizes that there is evil extant internationally that must be stopped. When I watch the Clintons and their ilk at a memorial service, delirious with the power that the death of their friend may bring them next Tuesday, I fear for the future.

Strange as it is to hear me say it, vote Republican. Please.

Blog Reviews

The blogosphere is a crowded place, with a lot of great stuff to read. While the Professor is a great place to start, there are tens of thousands of blogs and other sites that are worthy of eyeball time. Almost all blogs have a blogroll of sites that the writer recommends, but there is very little context, so one is left to following links, or going to sites that are dedicated to review. My readers don't come here for reviews, you come here for a fresh look at issues. In that vein, I plan to present here, from time to time, a review of sites that I consider outstanding, and well worth your time. Feel free to submit sites to me that you think might be worth a look and, if I agree, I will spread the word. I'm looking for sites that are not only excellent, but new or little known. That said, allow me to present:


This site is apparently from Amsterdam, with a decidedly economic and European point of view. If you like to read about European politics through the lens of economic policy, you will love this blog. While the writer, "qsi," bemoans his increasing verbosity, the site is peppered with wonderfully concise observations, like:
And with any politically-driven process, rational economic decision making, as it might happen in a free market, goes out the window in order to advance the Grand Schemes of politicians.
There's an excellent exposition of the reasons why the Euro is doomed:
The strains on the euro have been there right from the start, but tectonic plates of European politics and economics are close to producing an earthquake. It's not going to be the Big One yet. To throw in the towel so soon after the euro's creation is politically unthinkable, even if it were economically rational to do so.
Here you can read examples of how a nominally capitalist liberal democracy, such as Holland's, can stumble on their lawmakers' incipient socialism, such as this:
In a an amazing display of economic illiteracy, the Dutch Labour party proposes a new law that would force banks to maintain branches in rural areas. The wave of rationalization and consolidation means that many smaller branches are being closed by the big banks. In a mind-boggling display of statist thinking, the Labour party want to force banks to keep a minimum of branches open, with at least one branch per three kilometers or 10,000 inhabitants.
There is plenty more here, such as the impending crackup of the Pin Fortyn government, a nice bit on how the Saudi economy is about to implode. All of this comes with a plethora of links, and a strong dose of good humor along with all of the good sense. Very well written, if you can put up with his English strain of english, with their propensity to screw up all of the collective plurals. While I would dispute that he is verbose, he is prolific; if you click of the link, be prepared to read the whole thing.

Friday, October 25, 2002

Chechens In Custody

Once again the application of Zero Base Thinking gives its practitioners advance warning of the news. Since these Chechen fighters are not suicidal fanatics, when the Russian troops invaded the theater, none of the Chechens felt the need to detonate their explosives, but instead returned fire. While they were prepared to die, they were motivated to fight. No "seventy two black eyed women" in a whorehouse heaven for them. They lost the fight in a tactical defeat, but perhaps a strategic victory in the war for Chechen independence from Russia.

Now we watch the spin, as the different sides in the geopolitical debate of the run up to the next battle in the war of civilizations. It will be interesting to see our leaders attempt to convince us that this was the work of al Qaeda. It works for domestic opinion, nudges Russia in the direction of the USA's war plans, and allows the rabble rousers to whip up a frenzy of fear in the theater-going public. I wonder which pundits will reveal this one for what it was.

Saddam Gets Religion

Today Saddam Hussein, secular dictator of Iraq, issued a statement urging the Chechen fighters in Moscow to wage jihad instead of a struggle for national independence. Just as I deduced yesterday, the Chechens are not pursuing jihad after all. Their's is a struggle totally separate from the current clash of civilizations, and does not target Americans. Saddam is clearly afraid that this action will push Russia into the arms of our side against Iraq, and he is quite right to be.

This would be, if not for the context of human suffering, almost funny. Iraq and Chechnya, both nominally Muslim, secular states, are both claiming the mantle of Islam, trying to appear to be fundamentalists in order to gain the support of the Islamofascists. Indeed,
"The tyrant of the age, namely Zionism and America, and not Russia, or China or India are our enemies," Saddam said. He added: "Don't make them hate us and Muslims because of this." ... Describing Baghdad as the guardian of Islam, Saddam said he was making the plea "in order not to let Zionists and Americans take over the land of Islam." Saddam said the Russian Orthodox Christians had not been as zealous against Muslims, "not now or during the Soviet era." The Iraqi ruler said that by ending their siege, the Chechens would "make an accomplishment not only for yourselves but for Arabs, Muslims and humanity at large."
And the Chechen women participating in the raid wore Chadori, or Islamic robes similar to Burqa head-to-toe wrappers, in their early appearances. Of course, as time wears on, images coming out of the theater show the women in combat garb, as they get down to the grim business at hand.

So the truth seems to be, as much as the Islamic fundamentalists falsely attempt to paint their struggle as one reacting to American policies, the real struggle against a nation's oppressive, hegemonic foreign policy is the one that pits the Chechens against the Russians. The war against us is Jihad, the desire to annihilate us for what we are, not what we do.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Chechens in Moscow

So now Chechen rebels have taken a theater and about 800 hostages in Moscow. Reports are pointing out the links between the Chechen rebels and al Qaeda. This is clearly a case for some Zero Base Thinking.

The Chechens are not Arabs, and have little history of jihad or suicide attacks. They are well known as some of the bravest and most aggressive fighters in the world. While many of their attacks have been of a type, manner, and brutality that the death of the attackers would seem likely, they always attempt, and usually succeed, to escape. This is a significant difference between them and Arab al Qaeda operatives. Add to that the belief that the leader of this raid present in the theater:
A Chechen rebel Web site as said the hostage-takers were led by Movsar Barayev, the nephew of warlord Arbi Barayev, who reportedly died last year. The hostage-takers were referred to as "smertniki," a word that in Russian refers to fighters who die for a cause.
Al Qaeda raids never include commanders or planners, or children of commanders, only soldiers. It is also suspicious that their web site uses the word "smertniki," which really means one who is already dead. Their use of this word sounds like a misdirection play to me, designed to give them just a little extra edge when the time comes to get away.

Then, consider that these are not Islamists, they are Chechen nationalists. Consider:
"I swear by God we are more keen on dying than you are keen on living," a black-clad male said in the videotaped broadcast. "Each one of us is willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of God and the independence of Chechnya."
The rhetoric sounds Jihadi, but is really nationalist, which makes it anti-Jihadi. The outcome al Qaeda professes and craves is a single Islamic theocracy dominating the planet. Their rhetoric in Palestine is primarily "Jews out" not "Palestinian State." Arab Jihadis do not respect national boundaries, except as a necessary, temporary, state on the way to the Islamic paradise. And finally, history has left little love between the residents of the Caucasus and Arabs. When Islam was the great civilization that enslaved all who resisted, the Caucasus supplied many of the slaves that drove the Arabian (later Ottoman) economy. Even after the Arabs cornered the world market in African slaves they continued to raid the Caucasus and take (or buy) as many Caucasians and Slavs as possible. Remember that the word "Slav" is the root for the word "slave" in both English and Arabic.

There are other reasons to not compare this attack in Moscow with 9-11 or Bali. The Russians have given Chechens more than enough reason to attack. They don't have to imagine insults like bin Laden has. American troops saved Saudi Arabia from Iraq, at the behest of its leaders. Jihadis claim to hate us for that. On the other hand, Russia has killed uncounted Chechens over political control of Chechnya. Chechens hate Russians with, if not good reason, at least plenty of reason. Russians have killed and dominated them for centuries. Their hatred is focused. This is seen in the Chechens claiming that they will release non-combatats: "one of the Chechens promised citizens of countries "not at war with Chechnya" would be released." The hatred of the Jihadis is diffuse; broadly based hatred of "the other" for merely being different. Otherwise, why does America not get a pass for saving the Bosnian Muslims and the Kosovar Albanians from the Christian Serbs?

There is an entire racial and racist angle to the Jihadi story that even I shy away from. But in the end, if one denies the real differences between people, many of whom come from racial and cultural experiences, one is crippled from gaining an accurate perspective. Politics and geopolitics are very racially based, and to deny the cultural differences between us is to live with one's head in the sand. Stereotypes exist because many members of certain groups reflect them. The murderous hatred many Chechens feel for Russians is real. While very few Chechens could give a rat's ass over American troops in Mecca, many of them would kill Russians for the pure joy of it. Few Chechens share the desire to convert the world to Islam, but they are not above, or afraid, to use the tactics of those who do.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Afghanistan Improving

In spite of all the gratuitous remarks one can read about how hopelessly bad things are in Afghanistan, Colin Powell on Sunday said that two million refugees have returned to the country, and today at George Washington University Abdullah Abdullah, the foreign minister, said that 1.6 million refugees have returned from exile, and one million have returned from internal displacement, to their homes.

All the pundits and the media can spin the story of how crummy America is all they want: even if these numbers are wrong, it seems certain that many refugees are returning home to Afghanistan. Things are improving, and Americans should feel proud.

It is true that we deserted the Vietnamese and the Iraqi dissident factions after our wars there were over, but somehow, we are doing rather better in Central Asia. Without casting aspersions or assigning political credit, we have brought a measure of liberty to a usually forgotten corner of the planet.

According to DEBKAfile, bin Laden and Ayman Zawahri have surfaced in Yemen and Saudi Arabia (there is no exact border between the two countries, as it stands in the largest area of unremitting sand desert on the planet), so it seems that they are out of Afghanistan as well. If true, this adds up to a situation where the slime have left, and the families are returning. As I said, we should be proud.

Friday, October 18, 2002

I Couldn't Have Said It Better

I came across this mind-blowing excerpt from a letter to the editor from the Daily Australian. I'll let it stand on its own:
The root of all the vilification hurled at the United States is the accusation that it is always acting out of arrogant self-interest. This accusation is not merely hypocritical (is there any country expected to act against its national self-interest?) but it also confuses the crucial issue. The crucial question is not whether the US acts for its self-interest (every country should) but what is its self-interest? The answer will tell who should welcome its power, and who should fear it. The US is not the Roman Empire. Its wealth is not derived from imperialism and slavery but from capitalism and productivity - the productivity of free people working independently for their own benefit. Its unprecedented wealth is not the product of conquest, plunder or obedient hordes, but of its free productive population and their ability to trade. Consequently it has nothing to gain from war except the elimination of threats to those freedoms. The US is the first country in history to subordinate the state to its citizens' rights, and this is the secret of its wealth and power. It is not America's might that makes it right, but its protection of those rights that makes its might. Freedom-loving people have nothing to fear from a US using its power in pursuit of its interests - in fact, we rely on it. That is what protected us from the fascists and communists last century, and that is what will protect us from the terrorists and tyrants this century.
Link via Techno-Merc

What is it About Harry?

Recently Harry Belafonte has said some disparaging things about Colin Powell. Why would a prominent black man disparage one of the most accomplished black men in American history? A man who could have been the President or V.P. if he had been willing to play the game. The problem with Harry is that he's a has-been, and has no other way to get back into the limelight that he craves. He is not by any means the only socialist black man with too much time on his hands, but he DOES garner a certain amount of respect, and we need to hear him.

White rascists believe that blacks are inferior to whites. The DNA evidence tells us just the opposite, they are more advanced, in evolutionary terms. The DNA variability of Africans is much greater, meaning they are the descendants of many ancient strains of humanity, over hundreds of thousands of years, while whites and Asians are all descended from a few families about 40,000 years ago. Blacks (some of them) are obsessed, however with the history of the last thousand or so years, when most of humanity has enslaved them, all over the globe, from time to time (especially the Arabs).

It is beacuse they have grown beyond tribalism, I submit, that causes this disconnect. Most other ethnic groups stick together. My doctor, lawyer, accountant and wife are all Jews. Many blacks suffer from "black envy" which means that they prefer to not patronize black owned establishments; and black racism, where they discriminate against each other based on the darkness of the shade of each other's skin.

While Harry puts down Colin Powell and Clarence Thomas, and probably dislikes Condoleeza Rice for much the same reasons, I'd bet a lot that his doctor, lawyer, and manager are white. The tragedy of the black race in America, for at least the last 50 years, is of their own making. 700,000 whites died to free the slaves, so it can't be us. And when one of their own tribe ascends to high power, spokesmen from the African-American left condemn the fact that, in order to achieve greatness in America, he assimilated, just like the rest of us. The Jews and the Slavs (from whom the word "slave" derives) transcended their slave past by working hard and not reaching too far (until lately). Blacks should be proud to have Republican members, not angry or ashamed.

Jemaah Islamiya: Who?

On Tuesday in this space I revealed that the experts in al Qaeda consider Jemaah Islamiya to be an arm of the terrorist group. Today, the news sources are reporting that Islamist cleric Bashiyar is wanted for questioning, is hiding in hospital, is a holy man, yadda, yadda, yadda. Let's establish something right now. Islam has no clergy. Sorry to tell you, media gods, but this dodge is a fraud. Calling inhuman monsters cleric doesn't change what they are. The Qaran is crystal clear in demanding that no man is above another in the eyes of Allah, and any believer can lead the prayers. Words like mullah, ayatollah, pir, and the like are sobriquets of respect, but there is no ordination, no standards, no organization to appoint, train, or otherwise confer special status upon these people. These men appoint themselves, and gather followers as they may.

This particular cleric has been revealed as a subhuman monster who is complicit in bombings, shootings, and mayhem going back years, including a string of thirty bombings of Christian churches in Indonesia in the so called Millenium Bombings, Christmas 2000, that occurred soon after Ayman Zawahri and Mohammad Atef met with Bashiyar in Irian Java. Luckily some of the bombs failed to go off, but the 30 that did killed 18 and seriously wounded 82. The impotent response of the Megawati government to the Millenium Bombings is given as a principle reason for the growth of al Qaeda operations in Indonesia in 2001 and 2002.

I get this stuff from a book that is, alas, not online (Inside al Qaeda by Rohan Gunaratna) but UNC has Ambassador Ronald Palmer's article since July. Of course, check out FAS.org here. So how is it that everyone but the mainstream media knows this, but they have it as a cleric, a man of the cloth, who is suffering terribly at the hands of the meanies? This bombing in Bali is the work of al Qaeda. This guy Bashiyar, or Ba’aysyir as some have it, is the ringleader. If Megawati won't, or can't do anything, expect more, much more, in Indonesia. Luckily for us, the majority of Indonesian Islamists can be satisfied with the imposition of Sharia (Islamic Law) in Indonesia. Happily for them, the antiwar left in this country wants to give them that victory. But now, the Australians are fully involved. I can hardly wait to see just what their "strong, but measured response" will be.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Gun Control in Iraq

I have a proposal that just might get the Idiotarian left on the war wagon. These people seem to regard gun control as the holy grail of domestic policy. Why not just extend this concept to Iraq? Why are these paragons of civil behavior unwilling to extend their do-goodism to the benighted masses across the sea?

The simple answer is that, in Iraq, the only guns are in the hands of the myrmidons of Saddam's government. The Iraqi people have been disarmed for decades. In fact, the Idiotarian left would like nothing better than installing the Iraqi government right here, in the good old USA. The only change they would make is a change of dictator to, say, Noam Chomsky or Barbra Sreisand.

How is it that these people, some of them quite intelligent, think that gun control is the answer to anything? Quick answer: It's a liberal feeling thing. They feel, therefore they don't have to think. They pride themselves on the fact that they don't know, nay, they refuse to learn, anything about firearms. They even create articles based upon falsified data in peer reviewed journals purporting to demonstrate the evil of guns and gun people.

Take the recent D.C. shootings. Today's N.Y.Times has a "news" piece (these days virtually any news piece in the NYT requires the quote marks) on the shootings in the D.C. area. In it there is this telling item:
His weapon can be accurate across 500 yards, say ballistics specialists who found he is using high-intensity .223-caliber bullets of the sort designed to bring down soldiers or large game on the run.
Go ahead and google this if you want, but I did, and after an hour of looking I can't find a single "ballistics specialist" who agrees with this statement. What I found is that this cartridge is considered a short range (up to 400 yards) round suitable only for small game, what is referred to as "Varmints" in the gun world. Military sources I perused universally seem to regard the adoption of this cartridge as a mistake, only praising its propensity to wound, rather than kill, as conveying a military advantage.

Even the N.Y.Post refers to a "Kruger Mini 14" which is, beyond referring to my own personal favorite varmint rifle, a garbled version of the name of its creator. Luckily Bill Ruger recently died, so he does not have to see his name mangled in print. Notwithstanding the Post's right lean, misspelling the name of one of the greatest gun designers of all time, a man whose name stands with Garrand, Browning, and Kalashnikov, when they would not, could not, misspell the name of any worthless politician, is very telling of the antigun bias that members of the media serve.

I would like to see a hunt organized, composed of members of the media, hunting Brown Bear, "on the run," armed with Varmint rifles. I'm sure the Grizzlies could use a good meal.