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 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.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Australia: The Left Begins to Reassess

Clive James, media critic, Australian, resident of England since 1962, in today's Guardian has a magnificent piece reassessing the Australian left's stand on The Important Things. He's no ex-liberal, but does a great job of showing how a liberal can see the truth, once the brain is plugged in and the light is turned on. I should be sorry at the nature of the light in this case, but I'm not. We took our hit first, and it is time for the West to demonstrate that it has the courage of its convictions. War sheds blood on both sides always. And James points out that it is liberal democracy itself, not American imperialism, that must share the blame for the current and future war between civilizations.

I would love to excerpt the text of his piece, but there is too much great stuff. If you care to see how a leftist starts upon the journey towards clarity of understanding, of abandoning feelings so one can see the truth revealed, you must read the entire article.

Link via InstaPundit.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

A Just Claim

With all of the problems facing our nation, the amount of money that the federal government spends chasing cancer patients who smoke physician prescribed marijuana who are acting in concert with applicable state laws is our national shame. I can't write material this good, so I quote the following editorial in its entirety:
Editorial: Just Claims

David Borden, Executive Director, DRC Net, 10/11/02

This past week, two of California's most vulnerable but most determined took a stand for the rights of Americans under the US Constitution. Angel McClary Raich, who suffers from brain cancer and uses marijuana to relieve pain, nausea and loss of appetite, and Diane Monson, a patient who uses marijuana for relief from chronic back pain, have sued the US Dept. of Justice and its violent anti-drug agency, the DEA, for violating the Constitution's Interstate Commerce Clause.

The constitutional violation is clear: Congress may regulate interstate commerce, the clause says, and that is the purported basis of federal drug laws. But there is simply no reasonable interpretation of "interstate commerce" that includes a ban on the growing of marijuana by patients for medical use, nor of the growing and supplying of marijuana inside a given state to patients who need it.

It's really very simple: Interstate commerce by definition means commercial activity involving people in more than one state. Intra-state commerce -- activity within a given state -- is not interstate commerce, by definition. And personal cultivation and consumption aren't even commerce. Therefore, the Interstate Commerce Clause does not apply to intra-state activities, because they are not interstate! What part of "interstate" does the DEA not understand?

It's an understandably uncomfortable issue for the DEA. The same line of reasoning renders federal drug prohibition unconstitutional in its entirety, which in turn makes the DEA's very existence an illegal act. At most the federal government might have a role in assisting states in enforcing their individual drug laws in cases where a given drug operation crossed state lines. And even that's kind of sketchy.

But given the unconstitutionality of federal drug prohibition overall, and the consequent illegality of the DEA's existence, use of medical marijuana by patients and the supply of it to them by local cooperatives must fall far outside of the federal government's purview by any reasonable reading of that clause inscribed in the Constitution long ago -- interstate commerce, and regulation thereof -- not prohibition of private intra-state decisions made by consenting adults.

The violation is a particularly terrible one, with scope reaching even beyond states' rights and democracy. Patients of all people, trying to make the best of difficult circumstances and eke out whatever quality of life they can for themselves and their families, should not subjected to raids by armed agents of the state. Patients should not subjected to denial of medicine. Patients should be protected by all means from the cruelty of the DEA law enforcement bureaucracy with its savage political and budgetary objectives.

So the patients and their supporters are saying something that shouldn't even have to be said. As their attorney, Robert Raich, told an assembled press conference, "The government has waged a civil war against sick, disabled and dying Americans." No constitution is needed to see that that civil war is evil on its face. It is time for all good people to demand its halt. Raich and Monson have made just claims.
I can only hope that they win. The time, money, and lives wasted by prohibition in this country can not be spared in these times of real war against a determined foe. Cancer patients and doctors are not the enemy. We could use those thousands of DEA agents against the Islamofascist menace that is blowing up innocents, and maybe a few thousand former jail guards could become air marshals. Which is better, jailing your crippled neighbor who grows three plants in her back yard, or having an armed good guy on every scheduled airline flight?

The plain fact is that the federal government has no constitutional right regulating private behavior. The states do, and every single one has outlawed misbehavior with drugs. It is time to stop the madness. Thank God that the feds have given freedom such a clear and easy target. The bullies from Washington have better fish to fry than disabled, terminal patients with intractable pain who waste away, because the only medicine that will give them their appetite back is prohibited by the feds, while their own state electorate has allowed them their medicine by overwhelming margins.

Jemaah Islamiya

This organization has been offered by some as an alternative to al Qaeda as the perpetrator of the Bali Attacks.
"We are sure al Qaeda is here," Defense Minister Matori Abdul Djalil said after a cabinet meeting in Jakarta. "The Bali bomb blast is related to al Qaeda with the cooperation of local terrorists."

He offered no evidence, and other officials, including some in the Indonesian Defense Ministry, criticized Djalil for pinning the explosion on bin Laden's network so soon. Some foreign diplomats have suggested the Islamic militant group Jemaah Islamiah may have been involved.
Well, let's turn to our handy dandy copy of Inside al Qaeda, by Rohan Gunaratna, considered the best guidebook to the organization within the public sphere. There are many index entries, but try one on for size:
Jamaat Islamiya was founded by Abdullah Sungkar and after his death in Indonesia Bashiyar, his closest friend, took over. Both Sungkar and Bashiyar had been Islamists for several decades and JI was formed by Sungkar after meeting Osama in Afghanistan.
al Qaeda is an Arabic word that means "the Group." This book has a dozen cites from testimony from former members on trial for their lives all over the world who all say that Jemaah Islamiya is part of the group, a member of al Qaeda. Those in the know all know this. When diplomats say that JI was the cause of the explosions, that means that al Qaeda is the culprit.

Anyone can lie. The best liars convey their lies with the truth. Diplomats are some of the best liars out there.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

A Measured and Appropriate Response

That's what the Australian government just announced after that recent bombing in Bali, the one with al Qaeda's fingerprints all over it, where most of the casualties were Australian. Always one of our best international friends, especially since the Battle of the Coral Sea. the Aussies really appreciate us for that act of solidarity, which was a U.S. tactical blocking move on the Japanese, which kept Tojo from getting any further down under than Tulagi and Guadalcanal. This is a part of their culture to this day.
Each year since 1946 Coral Sea Week has been celebrated in Australia with marches by servicemen from both countries and social functions welcoming American dignitaries. The celebrations express gratitude to the United States for its part in the battle, and the support given to Australia by America in World War II.
So, while I never for a moment thought that they wouldn't be on our side when the next dust up occurs, they are now fully involved.

Saturday, October 12, 2002

What is the Nature of Warfare?

Or, to state this differently, human relations between groups? The basis of the interaction between human beings has evolved for at least two million years, with some recent discoveries leading to a much longer term of human evolution. Civilization is only about 5000 years out of these millions, and we can be sure that Abraham, of Bible fame, was no different from me genetically than one of my cousins. The evolutionary difference between myself and a pre-linguistic caveman is in all probability negligible. The modern liberal or transnational intellectual can not possibly believe this, but it is true, whether these "brilliant minds" like it or not.

So, when we humans contemplate whether to attack Iraq or not, we use the same logical tools that a Neanderthal used when he contemplated whether to run into the next cave and kill his neighbors, no doubt in order to improve his safety or food supply, or maybe to get a few more women for his tribe. It's really very simple, and, while an intellectual argument may be made for a far more complex analysis of anything, every single thing humans want or do relates directly to the attainment or preservation of food, safety, and reproductive opportunity, and enhanced status within the group (in order to get a larger share of food, safety, and women). While this may be an unheralded statement, it can not be refuted. As Khan said: "How little man himself has changed!" As for women, they still respect only power in their mates, and have a need to reproduce and attract a dominant mate that no amount of "feminist" philosophy can change. (Now ladies, before you hate me, I do recognize that there are a few women with a male social adjustment, but is very rare childless woman who does not suffer terribly when the biological clock expires and child bearing goes out of their personal equation.)

In a previous age, wars were far less bloody. Mass murder, however has always been popular, which is probably why homo sapiens is the only member of the genus homo still alive. But the advent of modern weapons, especially artillery and aviation, have made the currently immense amount of bloodshed possible in warfare, and the efficiency with which it could be promulgated, almost unthinkable. Many Americans even deny the fact of this. When we decided to attack the Serbs we betrayed a fundamental lack of understanding of the situation. Both, or more truly all, sides of the conflict were more or less equal participants in the drive for ethnic cleansing, and the same murderous blood lust existed on all sides. How Bill Clinton decided that the Serbs were the bad guys there is beyond me. It is certainly not logical, or based on facts. But a huge propaganda machine agreed with him, so we killed Serbs to free the Bosnians, and we killed the Albanian Kosovars because, well, we must have had a good reason. And, the dirty truth is that we decided to pursue this conflict in the most morally bankrupt way possible, with high flying bombers that didn't risk American pilots, but dropped bombs all over the countryside, in a "kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out" scenario. It was a very successful effort, since the prospect of immediate, agonizing death is a great behavior modifier. Anyone who has seen a cluster bomb or B52 strike from (reasonably) up close can tell you. (I am sure that, in an earlier age, canister or grape shot had much the same effect.) So, the Serbs quieted down, Milosevic is in jail, and this situation will obtain at least as long as our bases and forces remain in the region. Nations attack only to enhance their power, not to commit suicide.

Today, the United States has an edge in military power that makes resistance truly futile. Just like the Borg, the only way to beat us is to become complicit in your own demise. The only weapon that can resist whatever the United States wishes to do, risks planetary suicide. Add the Israeli Defense Forces, the world's second greatest military power, and the combination makes the threat to Arab aspirations overwhelming. Between the USA's ability to project its force anywhere in the globe, and the IDF's ability to field more divisions and fly more planes already in the region than the USA could ever hope to project there, the planning of the Middle Eastern nations to finish Hitler's plan to exterminate the Jews is hopelessly futile, just as it was futile for the Serbs to exterminate the Muslims of Bosnia or the Albanians. Make no mistake, the three wars fought over the terrain of Israel, in 1948, 1967, and 1973, were defeats of such large and seemingly strong forces by such a small enemy, at least in terms of population and landmass, that the Arab nations have reached a point of such national impotence that their own cultures, nationalisms, and even sense of identity have become almost dormant. Go there and you will see. The only thing holding the puppeteers in power is a propaganda campaign worthy of Goebbels or Orwell. Everywhere you go in Iraq, Syria, and Egypt you see huge posters of the face of the dictator, and slogans designed to fill the void that exists where national or ethnic pride belong. These people sacrifice their children in pursuits that they know are futile! Remember the point at which the Japanese decided to go with their Kamikaze attacks; a nation willingly sacrifices its young only when it perceives the pursuit of victory to be unrealistic, and authorizes the death of their sons only to inflict some damage before the inevitable fall. The Arabs, and the Japanese in 1944 before them, know that the war has already been lost. Their only, faint hope is the election of another Clintonian Internationalist in two years, but if Bush is reelected, with his almost unequivocal support of the Jewish State, the entire governance of the Middle East will have to change. And the first place for such a change is Baghdad.

The Internationalists, Transnationalists, and the other anti-democratic movements that are gaining such favor in some American and European circles, can not stand this. They believe that their own safety and status are dependent upon weakening the USA. They believe that democracy works only for the weak. To them, the Palestinians need a state. The USA and Israel don't, as we represent the nationalistic paradigm that they are attempting to destroy. And if you don't believe me, read this.

The result of the instability that the defeat of the Ba'ath in Iraq will create in the Middle East is bound to be liberal democracy for the long suffering peoples of the Peninsula, the Cradle of Civilization, and in Egypt. This is so because the victors will be liberal democrats. Neither the USA nor Israel wishes to be a hegemon in the area, whatever the pronouncements of the enemies of freedom and democracy. The only voices that are against this outcome in the Middle East are the dictators, either those already in the Middle East, and those in Brussels and the academy who believe that the people are too stupid to make substantive decisions. They are fighting for their lives and their most proudly held beliefs, and they see, at least in the Middle East, that resistance is futile. Unless the USA is willing to unilaterally disarm, or refuse to pursue a path that will provide enhanced safety for all its citizens, can Saddam and Hamas and al Qaeda hope to survive.

Anything is possible, I've been told, but that rambunctious tribe in that cave over there has killed 3000 members of our tribe. If we do nothing, we will all have less to eat, less safety, and less status. You've got to grant this to the Euro-weenies, they have heart. They really think (or hope) that they can talk us into favoring their agenda over our own. But make no mistake; aside from a few loonies on the far fringes of the left or right in our society, they haven't a chance. Or a clue.

The Beatles

This morning, like most every morning, I woke up, did my ablutions, put up a pot of coffee, and hit the two buttons that turn on my computer and radio. On the radio there was an announcement that, due to the 62nd birthday of John Lennon, they would be playing every single song recorded by the fab five, in alphabetical order by song title. This would not impinge upon their program "Breakfast with the Beatles," which is two hours every Sunday (which I rarely miss). Sitting here, after hearing a few hours of Beatle music, their best mixed with their less good material, I started wondering if there is any other canon of musical work, with the same writer and performers, that would not have become dry and old years, even decades ago. Could you do the same thing with, say, Bach, or Beetoven, or Wagner? The Rolling Stones or Elvis or Frank Sinatra? I don't think so. Maybe a fan could sit thorough every Elvis or Frank album, but every song, in alphabetical order, robbed of complement or context that having the music grouped in some intelligent order would supply? But am I a fan? Definitely not. I have more CDs from any of the other artists I listed above than my ONE Beatles record, which I rarely play, and then never for myself. Their music still has the sort of ubiquity that I get my weekly dosage of it without effort.

The Beatles are a musical phenomenon without peer. Their music is universal and unique at the same time. And it never seems to get old. At least not yet.

UpdateCouldn't handle the commercials, and went out and bought the damn set. Yoko must need the money, the way they price this thing. But at least I can hear the whole thing, and start from the "A"s as well. Just put the first five discs on the tray. It's gonna be a great weekend.

Friday, October 11, 2002

Struggle for the Legal Tender

Even Zero Base Thinkers have to make a living, and mine derives from Television these days. Thank God it's it's an industry that's mostly immune from economic troubles (I heard that on the Sopranos). While I hate to make predictions, let me warn you, if you have children in your home, and you hated the ubiquity of Pokemon, just wait 'till you get a load of Yowies. Cute little creatures that will cover the Earth like Tribbles sooner than you think. You heard it here first. Don't say I didn't warn you. Full disclosure: If my prediction is right, I will be getting that webmaster and copy editor that I need so badly, and I'll post a lot more, and the maid will come over more often....

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Aflatoxin, Again

So the Aflatoxin debate goes on. I received a particularly cogent counterpoint to yesterday's post, debunking the effectiveness of Aflatoxin as a weapon, from Lynxx Pherrett:
Take what you read in Salon (even when reprinted on PUK) with a grain of salt, or a truckload, depending.

You probably heard about aflatoxin because it is a common mold toxin on grains and nuts.
In Florida, Georgia, and Alabama—top peanut-producing states—aflatoxin outbreaks from 1993 to 1996 caused losses averaging $26 million annually, ARS economist Marshall C. Lamb estimates.

The most potent strain is B1. It's also pretty useless as a weapon.
The classic example of the perceived short-term and long-term negligible effect on humans is this chronology of a suicide attempt using aflatoxin the Food and Drug Administration described as follows:

[A] laboratory worker ingested 12 m g/kg body weight of aflatoxin B1 per day over a 2-day period and 6 months later, 11 m g/kg body weight per day over a 14 day period. Except for transient rash, nausea, and headache, there were no ill effects; hence, these levels may serve as possible no-effect levels for aflatoxin B1 in humans. In a 14-year follow-up, a physical examination and blood chemistry, including tests for liver function, were normal.

Wannemacher and others estimate the lethal aflatoxin B1 dose for 50% of the exposed population is one to four milligrams per kilogram of human body weight. In practical terms, a 175-pound person would have to breathe in or eat an acute dose of between 80 to 318 milligrams of pure aflatoxin B1 to cause death. Compared with botulinum toxin, this dose is approximately one million times larger. Such a dose would be very difficult if not impossible to introduce into a human through inhaling a dry or wet aerosol.

And if you're worried about the effects of micro-dosages over the long term, you might just have to give up eating. The USDA limit for aflatoxin on peanuts, for example, is 15ppb -- so you've been eating peanut products at 14ppb or so your entire life.

Back to the osd report
The London Hospital’s study on the effects of aflatoxin-contaminated feed established a dose/effect relationship between aflatoxin and liver cancer in rats. Feeding contaminated nut meal to rats produced liver cancer. For example, with pure aflatoxin B1, all the rats developed cancer by week 88 at a dose of 100 micrograms per kilogram of body weight. However, cancer failed to develop almost completely when using adult mice and hamsters as subjects. In rats, aflatoxin B1 is the deadliest cancer-causing compound. However, adult mice are essentially totally resistant to aflatoxin’s cancer-causing properties because of how different species’ livers process aflatoxin. Casarett and Doull’s Toxicology, a standard textbook, states though aflatoxins have been studied and cause liver cancer in laboratory rats, the link to human liver cancer has not been proved. The wide range of susceptibility to aflatoxin B1 makes extrapolating animal data to humans difficult.

Causes liver cancer in rats--not adult mice--not adult hamsters--and how much it would take over how long to cause liver cancer in humans (children or adults), or even if it does at all, is unknown.

Why'd Saddam bother producing it. The speculation in the osd report is that it might have been because aflatoxin "is easier to manufacture than most other toxins, the Iraqi biological warfare program’s staff might have chosen to produce it to meet production goals set by higher authorities rather than its perceived biological warfare value."

Since we know that all children in the US have been exposed to corn, wheat, soybeans, rice and probably peanuts we also know that all have been exposed to some minute levels of aflatoxin--of course, since we were children, we ate the same foods, and at higher exposure rates before USDA testing, and we haven't all died of liver cancer yet.

USDA info -
The FDA will consider action if aflatoxin levels exceed:

20 ppb - For corn and other grains intended for immature animals (including immature poultry) and for dairy animals, or when its destination is not known;

20 ppb - For animal feeds, other than corn or cottonseed meal;

100 ppb - For corn and other grains intended for breeding beef cattle, breeding swine, or mature poultry;

200 ppb - For corn and other grains intended for finishing swine of 100 pounds or greater;

300 ppb - For corn and other grains intended for finishing (i.e., feedlot) beef cattle and for cottonseed meal intended for beef cattle, swine or poultry

So, maybe "[a]flatoxin is so insidiously dangerous" it's reason all by itself to eliminate Hussein (though there's plenty of other, probably better reasons), or maybe Saddam's aflatoxin is about as dangerous as "weaponized" Jello: they have to hold the victim's face in the bowl until they suffocate, but hey, it's weaponized.
Whew!! Sort of makes you pause before you believe what you read. What he says could be applied to most if not all bio-weapons. While Smallpox, Abthrax, and other biological agents have not been well tested in combat, when they have been, their effects have been of questionable effect. That's why I doubt the accuracy of the term "weapons of mass destruction." Biological weapons, in actual use, don't seem to cause very militarily significant effects. They are better used against civilian targets.

But, whatever the actual effects of Aflatoxin, the idea behind weaponizing this stuff is to slowly poison civilian populations, whether it works well or not. Its development points to a particularly virulent mental state on the part of Saddam Hussein. We can only hope that the phurry Pherrett's research reveals only one in a series of mistakes that the Butcher of Baghdad has made. Meanwhile, Lynxx, would you eat a teaspoonful of Aflatoxin in your cornflakes, just to prove to us that it is really so harmless?

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

War in Gaza?

According to The Jerusalem Post, there is a war, right now, in the Gaza Strip, between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Hamas, you might remember, is a very potent military force, largely funded by the Mullahs in Iran. Now they are killing PA police officials, and these pillars of the community are on the run in fear, not even sleeping in their own homes.

My take? Nothing could please me more. One of my rules is that, whenever an Arab is killed, and Israel can not be blamed, that is a good thing. Let them kill each other. We do not need to keep Arafat alive to keep the peace, since his idea of peace is one in which my family, and all other Jews, are dead. He makes common cause with those who would kill all Americans as well. Now they seem to be killing each other. This can only be a good thing. To those who crave stability in the region, I submit that the stability is the problem. There is no regime more stable than one in which a Dictator is in complete control of the reins of power. Go Hamas, go. If they win, maybe Gaza will finally get on the "Axis of Evil" list.


All of a sudden, Aflatoxin is in the ether. I don't remember where I heard it first, but after I saw Bill Bennett on Fox News mention it, I googled it. What I found is beyond frightening. Aflatoxin is in no way a military weapon. In fact, its use would not even be known for weeks or months. Its effects, when they become evident, seem to mostly include the development of Liver Cancer! And Iraq is the only country that seems to be the unique source for this stuff. Saddam is the only leader in history to have even conceived of using Aflatoxin, a weapon that, the joke goes, would be effective in halting the advance of infected Lieutanants from ever getting to Colonel, but could not slow down the advance or effectiveness of infantry..

I know that the link is from the Kurdish resistance in Iraq, but the same stuff was printed in the Atlantic and Slate. (many more links here. )I therefore assume that the facts are true. It is astonishing that this information is not more available. This was revealed in 1995, apparently, and today is the first I heard of it... and I read a LOT. (Actually, I heard the word Aflatoxin, but no explanation of what kind of stuff it is. And that is the very heart of this story.) The mere fact that Saddam has weaponized Aflatoxin, all by itself, if true, is reason enough to crush the regime.

The only reasonable argument against a military solution to the Saddam problem is that, in the realization of his imminent demise, Saddam will bring out the big guns, and kill more of us than he might otherwise. In response to that, allow me to paraphrase an old Hindu story. In the story, we have our hero, walking in the woods, next to a cliff. A tiger attacks him and gets our guy's face in his mouth, ready for the death stroke. The story is rendered in the form of our man telling the story to his friends. He tells how he extricated himself from the situation, by pushing the tiger off of the cliff. As he relates the story, he tells of how he slowly got his leg in position to push the tiger overboard. As he says it: "so then, slowly so as not to anger the tiger, I kicked my leg and the tiger went over the side.

The point is, when your adversary is trying to kill you, you don't have to worry about angering him. He is your most imminent enemy, with the will and the means to end your existence. There is no reason, tactically at least, to try to obfuscate from your adversary the fact that you are about to end his existence. He can't get any more angry at you, he's already about to crunch down on your vital area. His anger can not make him more dangerous. And once he is over the cliff, who cares?

Aflatoxin is so insidiously dangerous that we must put this tiger over the side. For all we know, the attack has already taken place, How would we know? This administration has proved many times over that they would not reveal the fact that we had been affected until the story was widely known already. They will not even admit that the Washington sniper shootings(N.Y. Times link; registration required), or the 13 Marine parachutes that were sabotaged, are terrorist acts. And a slow acting poison like Aflatoxin would not be obvious for months. We must act against this madman now!

Friday, October 04, 2002

Lily Pads and Frogs

My favorite futurist, Nicolas Negroponte, has described a vision of the near future in the current issue of Wired Magazine in which telecommunications and broadband internet access are forever changed in a way that makes access both more widely available and cheaper, using the viral growth of WiFi networks. I have one in my home/office, but I never realized just how revolutionary a device it was, or at least, how revolutionary the effect of the proliferation of this technology will be. While I am no socialist, this appears to be one of those times where the value of what I have will increase by giving it away. In fact, this weekend I will remove the security measures that have barred my neighbors from using my network access. Read the article and see what I mean.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Wrong Way Al

Now Al "Pod Person" Gore is saying that Bush is going the wrong way, by worrying about an insignificant thing like war and international terrorism, while the real problems he should be focusing on are economic in nature.

I have wondered in these pages about why he is acting so, well, strangely lately. I had thought that this was a maneuver designed to garner for himself the attention of his party. But as he pursues more and more bizarre behavior, I wonder if he isn't a card or two short of a deck. Folded wrong and wrapped too loose. I now believe that Jonah Goldberg was right about Al. Al Gore is a Pod Person, and his controllers are unable to simulate human responses to earthly stimuli on a consistent basis.

Maybe I'm just not smart enough to understand the brilliance behind Gore's latest tactics. Maybe I'm overestimating the intelligence of democrat voters, and Gore understands them as I will never be able to. In any event, with Gore and Lautenberg, et al, trying to discuss Social Security lock boxes, drug program giveaways, and economic "stimulus" packages, rather than the War against us that is ongoing, and our response to it, either the Donks will trivialize themselves out of an electoral victory in these mid-terms, or they will brilliantly succeed in changing the subject, and take over both houses of Congress.

Either way, we won't have long to wait until election day.

Welcome Frank

If the Republicans know what is good for them, they will welcome Frank Lautenberg, as the New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled today. It appears to me that he is not electable, judging by his incoherent "acceptance" speech, his age (78) and the fact that he has already resigned a Senate seat once. If the Republicans go to federal court to fight this substitution, they can not gain any votes; they could only lose.

The issues, as they stand, cohere completely to the Republican's advantage: the illegality of Lautenberg's substitution, his weakness as a candidate, and the smell that hangs over the entire maneuver. Bu pressing their claims in Federal court they will only attract a ripeness to their own efforts. But it is far from the ability of any politician to leave well enough alone. They may well be able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.