Wednesday, June 30, 2004

"Free Weeds"

William F. Buckley Jr. ran a column named free weeds on National Review.

Legal practices should be informed by realities. These are enlightening, in the matter of marijuana. There are approximately 700,000 marijuana-related arrests made very year. Most of these — 87 percent — involve nothing more than mere possession of small amounts of marijuana. This exercise in scrupulosity costs us $10-15 billion per year in direct expenditures alone. Most transgressors caught using marijuana aren't packed away to jail, but some are, and in Alabama, if you are convicted three times of marijuana possession, they'll lock you up for 15 years to life. Professor Ethan Nadelmann, of the Drug Policy Alliance, writing in National Review, estimates at 100,000 the number of Americans currently behind bars for one or another marijuana offense.


Critics of reform do make a pretty plausible case when they say that whatever is said about using marijuana only for medical relief masks what the advocates are really after, which is legal marijuana for whoever wants it.

That would be different from the situation today. Today we have illegal marijuana for whoever wants it. An estimated 100 million Americans have smoked marijuana at least once, the great majority, abandoning its use after a few highs. But to stop using it does not close off its availability. A Boston commentator observed years ago that it is easier for an 18-year old to get marijuana in Cambridge than to get beer. Vendors who sell beer to minors can forfeit their valuable licenses. It requires less effort for the college student to find marijuana than for a sailor to find a brothel. Still, there is the danger of arrest (as 700,000 people a year will tell you), of possible imprisonment, of blemish on one's record. The obverse of this is increased cynicism about the law.


So, what do my readers think of this issue?

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Monday, June 28, 2004

Early Iraqi Handover

Early Iraq Handover Surprises Rebels and Reporters, reports Reuters.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Dogs sniffed for explosives, mobile phones were impounded and U.S. officials bombarded reporters with contradictory orders and scant information just moments before Iraq (news - web sites) formally regained sovereign powers.

Journalists had been hastily summoned for what was billed as U.S. administrator Paul Bremer's last news conference before a handover not due until Wednesday, but the confusion and tight security suggested that something extraordinary was afoot.


Two days early, Bremer was to dissolve the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), end more than 14 months of U.S.-British occupation and turn over control to an Iraqi interim government led by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

An explosion echoed over Baghdad about 90 minutes before the ceremony in the heavily fortified Green Zone compound, which contains CPA headquarters and some Iraqi government offices.

There in a small room sat Allawi, Interim President Ghazi al-Yawar, Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih and Iraq's top judge, Medhat al-Mahmoud, sipping tea or coffee with Bremer and his deputy, British special representative David Richmond.

On a table between Bremer and Allawi, both in dark suits, stood the Iraqi flag, inscribed 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Greatest) in Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s handwriting, along with a vase of flowers.

"This is a historic day, a happy day, a day that all Iraqis have been looking forward to," said Yawar, wearing traditional Arab robes, in the first of several brief speeches.

Allawi said his government now felt "in control of the situation, in control of the security situation."

Bremer, apologizing for his lack of Arabic, read a short letter noting the demise of the coalition authority he headed for 13 months, the end of occupation and the assumption of "full sovereign authority" by Allawi's government.

"We welcome Iraq's steps to take its rightful place with sovereignty and honor among the free nations of the world. Sincerely, L. Paul Bremer, ex-administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority," he concluded, to laughter and applause.

Smiling officials rose to their feet as Bremer handed the letter to Mahmoud, the judge, who then handed it to Yawar.

U.S. media officials had dropped some obscurely worded hints that the transfer of power might take place before June 30 -- "Game day will be in the next few," said one email Sunday.

But the timing was known only to half a dozen senior coalition officials the night before, a senior official said.

Bremer said Allawi had asked for the transfer of power to be brought forward because Iraqis were ready to take control. But surprising anti-U.S. insurgents who have staged a bloody campaign of bombings, assassinations and other attacks before the handover was also a motive in the change of plan.

"It was a consideration," said a senior military official. "It has a beneficial effect that we will take advantage of and the Iraqi security forces will take advantage of."

Another official in the U.S.-led coalition said Allawi's request to accelerate the handover was security-related.

"He made it clear to Ambassador Bremer that he was considering his overall security strategy when he proposed that sovereignty be handed over as soon as possible," he said.

Shortly after the ceremony ended, Bremer headed for the airport and left Iraq in a C-130 transport plane.

There was no word on his immediate destination but one official said Bremer would eventually go to Washington to rejoin his family and then go on holiday at their home in Vermont.


So, Iraqi sovereignty has been handed over early? At least we didn't give a chance for those idiot terrorists to wreck it. What is the loony left going to say... we couldn't wait to get out of there we left two days early, and Bremer is gone.

Lets hear a round of applause, and wish the Iraqis good luck in with their new government.

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Thursday, June 24, 2004

German 'Samurai' on the Loose in Woods Near Berlin

German 'Samurai' on the Loose in Woods Near Berlin.

BERLIN (Reuters) - A camouflage-clad German man wielding a samurai sword attacked at least seven hikers in forests west of Berlin, performing sword tricks before ordering them to leave the woods, police said Friday.

They suspect a 46-year-old local man who trained in martial arts and survival skills in camps in Papua New Guinea and Vietnam to be the attacker.

"He's dangerous and has been hard to find because he wears camouflage," said Catrin Feistauer, spokeswoman for the Nauen police department. Police have used infrared cameras mounted on helicopters to try and track him down.

The man pushed two elderly people off their bikes and, flashing his sword, shouted at them to leave the forest. He later tried to drive a young couple out of the woods. No one was seriously hurt.

"It's frightening because the violence level has increased each time," Feistauer said.


On a side note, I'm feeling rather uninspiring as far as posting goes.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Some comments on Chomsky...

Just a few words on his words.

Iraq, in contrast, is at the heart of the world's major energy reserves, which is why the US invaded in the first place. So anything that happens is likely to have major effects.

I really don't believe the war for oil shtick. Kat did some analysis of the financial and numerical realities of 'war for oil' that I found interesting, over at the Middle Ground.

Some of these likely consequences are much too little discussed. That includes the reasons why the US simply cannot permit authentic sovereignty and democracy in Iraq. One reason, which gets a little attention, is that an independent and democratic Iraq may well move towards accommodation with Iran. And it might stir up movements towards independence in Shi'te parts of Saudi Arabia nearby -- which happen to include most of the world's major oil reserves. That could possibly even lead to a Shi'ite bloc controlling most of the world's energy. The US would never tolerate that.

Seems to be we are barreling down that road of 'authentic sovereignty and democracy'. Gosh, whats he going to say once we actually turn the power over to them. I completely understand our troops will be in there, but they've got the say on kicking us out.

As for his crackpot theory about an alliance with Iran, I really don't understand why he'd think that. Iran has been trying- sending foreign fighters and aid- to keep Iraq from becomming democratic, more or less signaling that they know a democratic Iraq will work contrary to their own goals. Otherwise, Chomsky has some inflated view of Arab nationalism that dictates that Iraqis completely despise us and could think of nothing greater than to foil us and our dastardly plans.

If anyone is going to move for secession, it would be the Kurds, which like their own self-rule and feel threatened by a government of Shiites and Sunnis. But, leaving that aside, I wonder why the US would be antsy about an Iranian/Iraqi (which is admittedly firmly in fantasy land) Shiite alliance? While he seems to want to emphasize the "Shiite" part, I only got to "Iranian" before I said 'bad idea'. Somehow he overlooks the fact that the Iranian government is run by totalitarian mullahs who would like nothing more than to obtain multiple nuclear weapons. But the US's real interest against Iran is the oil. Yeah.

Even more serious, and scarcely discussed to my knowledge, is that a free and independent Iraq would presumably assume its natural role as the leading state in the Arab world: huge resources, educated population, virtually approaching first world standards before the wars and sanctions. As such, it would naturally want to counter the regional superpower, by now almost an offshore military base and high-tech adjunct of the US. That means it would rearm, probably also develop WMD to counter Israel's huge WMD capacities and military force, now being enhanced significantly by the Bush administration.

Because Iraq is an Arab state, it would automatically want to instantly become warlike and aggressive? It almost sounds stereotypical. He also assumes that Israel would be threatened... or that Iraq would feel threatened by Israel. Left out is the reason why they should feel threatened, other than anti-semitism. Unless of course he can actually characterize Israel as imperialistic, aggressive and threatening, which is just plain nonsense. Iraq has no reason to challenge Israel.

As long as the US and Israel refuse to recognize elementary rights of Palestinians, and persist in vicious repression, the Arab and Muslim worlds will be enflamed, and a free Iraq would become their natural leader. The US will do almost anything to prevent that.

It all comes back to the Palestinians, doesn't it? Because the second the Palestinians are 'recognized their elementary rights' everything will go right in the world. Saudi Arabia will quick being an oppressive regime, along with Iran and every other neighbor in the area.

Lets be honest. The 'Arab street' doesn't care about the Palestinians. If they did they'd really try to help them, not use them as pawns to play off of Israel to keep their anti-Semitism and own horrible treatment of their own people just out of sight. Incidentally, the only country in the region that gives Muslims full voting rights is Israel, not any other country.

I'm sorry, but Chomsky for all the raving about how special he is, just doesn't seem that imposing to me.

Going on, though. This one too:
Questioner: Given that the arms race was a disaster for the Soviet Union economically and of little advantage militarily, why did the USSR engage in it?

Being that Soviet-style communism was a complete disaster, and of little advantage, why did they engage in it?

What it did to them economically is exactly what Khrushchev predicted, and presumably what JFK and his advisers had in mind when they turned down Khrushchev's call for sharp mutual reduction of offensive military forces, and his significant unilateral steps in that direction: stagnation, and an end to significant socioeconomic progress, in fact decline relative to the vastly richer West.

Yes, those Soviets always negotiated in good faith, and we just blew it. I think someone needs to clue Chomsky in on a little something... the USSR wasn't going to be achieving any 'socioeconomic' progress anytime soon. Somehow he manages to mention that the West was rich, I'm sure he's got a good reason for that, and he isn't just plugging that to imply guilt.

I think one can make an argument, like yours, that the USSR should have simply let itself fall far behind the US in offensive military capacity, and hope for the best. With their experience, and what they saw happening right then -- with the enormous "missile gap" (in US favor), the purposeful humiliation at the missile crisis, JFK's military buildup and sharp increase in intervention and support for military dictatorships -- it's not too surprising that they chose the suicidal course of trying to match the US in military terms.

It should have, but when have power-hungry rulers ever lost the chance to try a grab at power? I think he glosses, or rather omits, the Soviet manpower advantage, which was vastly larger than ours. Oh my goodness, Soviet 'humiliation'? Does this guy take himself seriously? Obviously, given our route, they were driven to a tragic extreme. Yeah. Reality check. What the hell was our policy called? Containment? How does he think Soviet and communist influence was spreading, except by Soviet funding and intervention on their own. Its wrong for us to support dictators, but the dictators themselves (the Soviets) get a free ride.

The far more interesting question, both as seen from Mars and (crucially) as seen from here, is why the US leadership, with the applause of elites, continued massive arms build-up, and is now hysterically worshipping the class A mass murderer and torturer who drove it farther forward in the 80s.

Hrm. Here is a quick run down of the arms-race. The Soviets build nukes. We build nukes. The Soviets build nukes. We stop building nukes. The Soviets build nukes twice as fast. We resume building nukes. Regardless of whether we built nukes or not the USSR was still going to build them. And anyway, if we just 'gave peace a chance' and didn't build any weapons the Soviets would have dropped their program and peace would prevail. Hah. Internally the Soviets weren't peaceful, and neither were they externally. What they desired was not war, but the fruits of war. By allowing them to accrue the advantage in military offensive power we'd allow them to gain the fruits of war without war itself. While we were rather far from them, millions of Soviets weren't far at all from Europe, which became the central strategic battleground between the two powers.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Unfairenheit 9/11

Check out this review at slate by Christopher Hitchens. He really sticks it to Moore, and even quotes that Orwell essay on nationalism.

To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery.


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Friday, June 18, 2004

Anti-war, pro-peace

So, the multitude shouts in the thick of a protest... 'make love not war'! Or 'give peace a chance!'

Yes, peace. Thats what they (at least they claim) are for. But what exactly is peace?

Or do they mean something else altogether. Something akin to peace, but not quite it. An ugly half-brother of 'peace' that we prefer to hide in the basement and not speak of.

See, are they for peace, or against war? Thats really the fundamental question. It sounds trivial, but I assure you it is not.

When it comes down to it, they- that is, the protestors and blanket opponents to war- are anti-war.

What is war? Merriam Webster defines it as a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations . For our purposes, that is the best definition.

Peace, on the other hand is defined as: a state of tranquillity or quiet, a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom, harmony in personal relations as well as a state or period of mutual concord between governments.

War is certaintly the opposite of peace. But there are things that clearly oppose peace that are not present in war. To sum it up: where there is war, there is no peace, but where there is no war there is not necessarily peace.

To charge that there was 'peace' in Iraq is, in and of itself, a silly thing. There has been no peace in Iraq for years on end. We in no way broke the status of peace in Iraq when we invaded.

To the protestors. They ask for peace, but do they truly want peace in the fullest sense? Or just the lack of war? Peace is something deeper than simply lack of war. Peace is something you have within yourself, between your friends, within your country and between countries. These people... do they truly want to work for peace? Have they patched up disputes with their wives? Are they done 'not talking' with their old friends? Are they 'at peace' with themselves?

Peace, in the fullest sense of the word, is something that exists from the bottom up, not the top down. Adam Smith wisely realized that the general welfare was the result of the aggregate sum of each individual welfare. Only when people truly attain peace can peace be achieved (if it can be achieved at all).

Instead, we have a cheapening of the word peace. When we think of peace do we think of people who protest for 'peace and justice'? Now those are words more synonomous with 'surrender' than peace. And, wait a second. Peace and justice? Where did the justice go? And, wait a second again! Those two things aren't just thrown together haphazardly. Maybe they actually go together!

If you want peace, work for justice.- Pope Paul VI

There you go. Peace isn't just seen as something independant of justice, but something quite emphatically dependant on justice. If you want peace, work for justice...

Was there any justice in Iraq? Could 'peace' possibly exist there? Its just a mockery to claim that it could.

Instead, justice is thrown by the wayside. You know, justice is simply one of those Old Testament keywords, gloom and doom, angry God, lots of divine wrath.

But justice is a powerful theme.

Is it just that people should live in the crudest oppresion for their whole lives? Is it just that people should be subjected to the cruelest and most sadistic torture? Is it just that people be subjected to rape, murder and theft?

How can any society attain peace where there is no justice? How can any society attain peace when in the stead of justice is a gaping hole of injustice?

I just wanted to clear one thing up. They are anti-war. Not pro-peace. Peace is far broader and more profound than simple absence of war. I'd like to think of myself as pro-peace, I really would. I can't quite make that statment for my opponents.

Let justice surge like water, and goodness like an unfailing stream.- Amos 5:24

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Thursday, June 17, 2004

Links and stuff...

How do you like your protestors? I like them fried!

Where no man has gone before... Bert Rutan seeks to be the first person to put a privately funded vehicle into space. Wretchard points out that if he does this, that he will have done what individual countries like the UK, Germany, France and Japan have never done. Here is to the democratization of space!

And Abu Ghraib is our top story?

Tick, tock, tick, tock. The question isn't if we are going to have to intervene, but when we are going to have to intervene in Iran, it seems.

The British View. But Downing Street said Saddam had created "a permissive environment" for terrorists and al-Qaida operatives were in the country during his time in office.

Rebel Cleric Signals End to Shiite Insurgency in Iraq Radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr sent his fighters home on Wednesday in what may mark the end of a 10-week revolt against U.S.-led forces that once engulfed southern Iraq and Shi'ite Islam's holiest shrines.

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Adult Stem Cells

Read this article on stem cells and preventitive measures.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Detective work...

SDB does some interesting dectective work on an email someone sent him. Don't people know that you don't send stuff like this to the most ruthlessly pragmatic man on the internet? I can't help but laugh.

Anyway, toward the bottom, and somewhat off the main topic he says this:
Quite frankly, I suspect "Jeremy Huggins" and the rest of Micah's fanboys do view them as equivalent. Remember, a lot of people on the loonie left also think that the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal is morally equivalent to the attack on the US on 9/11, and that Abu Ghraib demonstrates that we (the US) are just as bad as al Qaeda. Actually, to read what some of them say, Abu Ghraib proves that we are worse. al Qaeda just killed people. The guards at that prison humiliated those prisoners. (The horror!)


And it sparked my memory of something I saw on Sunday. I think it was Fox News, anyway, they were interviewing Senator Biden. I respect Biden, mostly when I've seen him he has been reasonable and well thought out. But he said something that kind of... stuck... in my head. He basically stated (paraphrase) that Abu Ghraib made him the angriest he had been in a long time. But, I thought it out for a second. Initially, it makes perfect sense. But what was the last thing that made him that 'angry'? Logically, we can only arrive at 9/11. So, its good to know that democrats put Abu Ghraib and 9/11 on the same level of 'angry'.

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Thursday, June 10, 2004

Taiwan's Doom

WND has an article titled "China to attack Taipei in 2006?"

This is another contentious spot on the globe, that (unfortunately) will have to be dealt with. Of course, that means US involvement (unless we want a Taiwanese massacre).

A top Taiwanese defense official and an expert on the Chinese military both said yesterday Beijing is ready, willing and able to attack the island soon.

Intention and capability. When both are present, it is a lethal combination. The question is, to what extent does their capability extend, and to the nature of their intention.

I haven't thought much on this issue. But, I might ask, how would we go about solving this?

I don't think we want to get involved in a hot war with China. But, if China was to attack Taiwan, how would we respond? It is not likely that either solution- refusing to fight, or aiding them militarily- would be feasible. So we have to explore the different pathways before that time comes. Maybe we can take a detour somewhere along the way.

Now, I would assume that China would not directly attack US interests, and vice versa. While China may attack Taiwan, would they do so if the US provided actual military assistance (i.e. ships and troops), to be stationed around Taiwan? Could the danger of hitting the US preclude an attack?

Or, perhaps, we would have to execute an anti-blockade strategy. Taiwan's island location opens itself to its gravest vulnerability. It can easily be cut off from the world. Berlin style airlift? That might be a little chancy, but it would avoid as much as possible military conflict.

Still, we have to factor in the recent War on Terrorism (especially the Iraq War). China may view it as especially dangerous to attack the US now that we have gone into Iraq. Remember, he's just as afraid of you as you are of him. What I'd give to get inside of their minds for just a moment.

Now, I just wanted to breach this topic briefly. Now, what else is important? What else will we be doing in 2006/2008? Well, by then Iran might be a problem. I find it likely that we will instigate a revolution, mostly because of the recalcitrance of the Iranian government in pushing forward its nuclear activities. So, I suppose that Iraq will have quieted down, and that the next Middle Eastern hotspots will be Saudi Arabia (although this is conditional on whether or not its leaders take terrorism seriously) and Iran.

It may be helpful to look into the future to see the landscape, if we want to try and perceive how the world stage will play out. Heck, speculation is really fun anyway. Any thoughts? I'd appreciate them all.

Note: I'll have the Reagan thing tomorrow, maybe. I decided not to post it today.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2004

The Iraq You Don't Hear About

Over at Blackfive there is a great post titled The Iraq You Don't Hear About.

Side note: I've got an idea for a post about Reagan, but I probably won't be able to write it for tomorrow, so expect it on Thursday.

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Sunday, June 06, 2004

Speech from the 40th Anniversary of D-Day

I was considering putting this up, even before the news of Reagan's death came. Now, it is all the more fitting that I do put it up. Ronald Reagan, speaking at the 40th anniversary of D-Day, at Omaha Beach.

June 6, 1984
Omaha Beach, Normandy, France

We stand today at a place of battle, one that 40 years ago saw and felt the worst of war. Men bled and died here for a few feet of -- or inches of -- sand, as bullets and shellfire cut through their ranks. About them, General Omar Bradley later said, "Every man who set foot on Omaha Beach that day was a hero."

Some who survived the battle of June 6, 1944, are here today. Others who hoped to return never did.

"Someday, Lis, I'll go back," said Private First Class Peter Robert Zanatta, of the 37th Engineer Combat Battalion, and first assault wave to hit Omaha Beach. "I'll go back, and I'll see it all again. I'll see the beach, the barricades, and the graves."

Those words of Private Zanatta come to us from his daughter, Lisa Zanatta Henn, in a heart-rending story about the event her father spoke of so often. "In his words, the Normandy invasion would change his life forever," she said. She tells some of his stories of World War II but says of her father, "the story to end all stories was D-Day."

"He made me feel the fear of being on the boat waiting to land. I can smell the ocean and feel the seasickness. I can see the looks on his fellow soldiers' faces -- the fear, the anguish, the uncertainty of what lay ahead. And when they landed, I can feel the strength and courage of the men who took those first steps through the tide to what must have surely looked like instant death."

Private Zanatta's daughter wrote to me, "I don't know how or why I can feel this emptiness, this fear, or this determination, but I do. Maybe it's the bond I had with my father. All I know is that it brings tears to my eyes to think about my father as a 20-year-old boy having to face that beach."

The anniversary of D-Day was always special to her family. And like all the families of those who went to war, she describes how she came to realize her own father's survival was a miracle: "So many men died. I know that my father watched many of his friends be killed. I know that he must have died inside a little each time. But his explanation to me was, "You did what you had to do, and you kept on going."

When men like Private Zanatta and all our Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy 40 years ago they came not as conquerors, but as liberators. When these troops swept across the French countryside and into the forests of Belgium and Luxembourg they came not to take, but to return what had been wrongfully seized. When our forces marched into Germany they came not to prey on a brave and defeated people, but to nurture the seeds of democracy among those who yearned to be free again.

We salute them today. But, Mr. President [Francois Mitterand of France], we also salute those who, like yourself, were already engaging the enemy inside your beloved country -- the French Resistance. Your valiant struggle for France did so much to cripple the enemy and spur the advance of the armies of liberation. The French Forces of the Interior will forever personify courage and national spirit. They will be a timeless inspiration to all who are free and to all who would be free.

Today, in their memory, and for all who fought here, we celebrate the triumph of democracy. We reaffirm the unity of democratic people who fought a war and then joined with the vanquished in a firm resolve to keep the peace.

From a terrible war we learned that unity made us invincible; now, in peace, that same unity makes us secure. We sought to bring all freedom-loving nations together in a community dedicated to the defense and preservation of our sacred values. Our alliance, forged in the crucible of war, tempered and shaped by the realities of the post-war world, has succeeded. In Europe, the threat has been contained, the peace has been kept.

Today, the living here assembled -- officials, veterans, citizens -- are a tribute to what was achieved here 40 years ago. This land is secure. We are free. These things are worth fighting and dying for.

Lisa Zanatta Henn began her story by quoting her father, who promised that he would return to Normandy. She ended with a promise to her father, who died 8 years ago of cancer: "I'm going there, Dad, and I'll see the beaches and the barricades and the monuments. I'll see the graves, and I'll put flowers there just like you wanted to do. I'll never forget what you went through, Dad, nor will I let any one else forget. And, Dad, I'll always be proud."

Through the words of his loving daughter, who is here with us today, a D-Day veteran has shown us the meaning of this day far better than any President can. It is enough to say about Private Zanatta and all the men of honor and courage who fought beside him four decades ago: We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.

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Saturday, June 05, 2004

The Second Civil War

FH has been conducting a series on a possible 'Second Civil War'. I was going to comment directly, but it was getting a little long, so I'm posting it here.

Check this for a nice look at the country and its divisions. The vast majority of the country's counties went to George Bush in the 2000 election, and that advantage might very well be amplified due to post-9/11 realities.

Main divisions would be within states such as New York and California. It would be nearly impossible to win (for the Progressives) because they could be quickly isolated from the rest of the country, and, they would face stiff opposition from the gun-toting Orthodox in their midst. This is the most important problem for the Progressive minority in other areas.

Orthodox majorities won't have much to fear from their Progressive minority due to an advantage in their own areas, which would generate a sum greater than the numbers. Quite simply, the cost of instituting a revolution for the Progressives would far exceed the possible returns in such areas.

Thus, the Progressive rebellion would have to seek to splinter parts of the United States. They would seek to annex singular states (but important ones) to their cause. Most likely NY and CA, as I mentioned. However, the actual boundaries of states would not be congruous to their support. For instance, it is unlikely that the radicals could take even half of New York. Stiff opposition would be inevitable in the more heavily conservative Western New York, and Long Island. Even California itself would be fractured into only a fraction of its size, as mostly only the sea-bound counties would even think of rebelling.

The biggest problem for the progressives is that most of the liberals that do own guns are finding themselves more and more estranged by such movements, and would not likely see revolution as a solution. Which leaves the more radical elements to contend with the rest of the moderate and conservative nation. I could see parallels to terrorism in this possible war. (It isn't that far-fetched to see anarchists doing suicide bombings, they're practically already there.)

I can see, following the war (a quick one, to be sure), being somewhat bloody, as desperate radicals make terrorist-style attacks. Really, terrorism only exists as it grew out of opponents that could not compete militarily deciding to not take a battlefield they would surely lose (also for demoralization, which would be a key goal too). And they fit the bill perfectly. It would take some short occupation by armed forces, and perhaps some systematic destruction of radical elements.

Generally, I see a citizen-fueled counter-attack quickly neutralizing the minor pockets of resistance from the Progressives. It would take a fairly short seige, most likely aided by the now arriving armed forces, to force the end.

Of course, this is fantasy-land analysis right now. I can't remember who to attribute this quote to (maybe from Reagan), but he said that what the Soviet Union wanted was not war, but instead, the fruits of war. By keeping war as a losing proposition, it will not be fought.

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Thursday, June 03, 2004

Saddam/Al Qaeda links?

No. The left says they don't and never did exist. So pay no attention to the man behind the curtains! (don't pay any attention to this either). Anyway, Saddam being connected to Al-Qaeda, its just Bush and the neo-crazies, you know, and the Jews. So, really. Don't pay any attention to those links.

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Pat Buchanan- around the corner, off the deep end...

Lost his marbles... etc.. etc...
Apparently, Nader should appeal to conservatives.

I'll try to dispel some of the moonbattiness, but it won't do much good. Theres too much to go quote the whole thing, unfortunately.

Pat Buchanan: Let me start off with foreign policy—Iraq and the Middle East. You have seen the polls indicating widespread contempt for the United States abroad. Why do they hate us?

Who cares what the hell they think of us. Like that should be a condition for our actions. Aw, why do they hate us? Idiot. Is this Pat Buchanan or Nim Chimpsky?

Ralph Nader: First of all, we have been supporting despots, dictators, and oligarchs in all those states for a variety of purposes. We supported Saddam Hussein. He was our anti-Communist dictator until 1990. It’s also cultural; they see corporate culture as abandoning the restraints on personal behavior dictated by their religion and culture. Our corporate pornography and anything-goes values are profoundly offensive to them.

Yeah we have. Or did you forget that the Soviet Union killed millions of its own people and had nukes pointed at us for years, along with conventional forces far outweighing our own. Then again, Europe would make a nice parking lot, if you'd prefer we didn't prevent the USSR's expansion. And if we didn't support Saddam? I'm sure there would be a lovely Iranian super-state in the region instead. What a better alternative! Way to think things through, jackass. And, this is the kicker... get this... we are the ones abandoning restraints on personal behavior- but the dictators get a free pass on torture and murder.

The other thing is that we are supporting the Israeli military regime with billions of dollars and ignoring both the Israeli peace movement, which is very substantial, and the Palestinian peace movement. They see a nuclear-armed Israel that could wipe out the Middle East in a weekend if it wanted to.

Ah yes. The Palestinian 'peace movement'. That vaunted peace movement that acutally seeks to secure peace- by obliterating the Jews and pushing them into the sea. Note the last sentence. Israel could wipe out the Middle East anytime they want to. But have they? Despite several defensive wars against numerous Arab nations, they still haven't wiped them all out. And if Israel didn't have nukes? How long till every Arab state makes another coalition to try and perpetrate another holocaust? But no, when Palestinian suicide bombers blow up, flowers and kitten pop out!

They think that we are on their backs, in their house, undermining their desire to overthrow their own tyrants.

All while murderous swine like Arafat and Saddam and all those other bastards are the ones on their back, in their house, and undermining their ability to overthrow them.

RN: The subservience of our congressional and White House puppets to Israeli military policy has been consistent. Until ’91, any dictator who was anti-Communist was our ally.

Yeah. Soviet Union- ~20 million killed. Communist China ~65 million killed. Khmer Rouge- ~2 million killed. North Korea- continues to this day. I could go on and on. Yeah, its so, so evil to do everything you can not to let the most dangerous, murderous and evil political system expand beyond where it already is. Only 100 million people killed under it, what are you afraid of it? And notice, right after the end victory of the cold war, we stopped with the dictator policy.

PB: Let me move on to Iraq. You were opposed to the war, and it now appears that it has become sort of a bloody stalemate. You said you would bring troops out of Iraq within six months. What if the country collapses and becomes a haven for terrorists? Would you send American troops back in to clean it up?

Yes. Cars explode on every street, terrorists shout and scream and do ninja attacks all night long, and all law and order has disintegrated. Quite a bloody stalemate. Plus, assassin monkeys are reportedly being employed by the enemy.

RN: Under my proposal there would be an international peacekeeping force, and the withdrawal would be a smart withdrawal during which there are internationally supervised elections. We would have both military and corporate withdrawal because the Iraqi people see the corporations are beginning to take over their economy, including their oil resources. And we would continue humanitarian assistance until the Iraqi people get on their feet. We would bring to the forefront during the election autonomies for Kurds, Sunnis, and Shi’ites. So this would not be like a withdrawal in Vietnam where we just barely got out with the helicopters.

International peacekeeping force. And who the hell is going to provide those troops? Well, the US, and GB and Australia and... wait. They're all there already. Don't tell me seriously that we need the French troops. Internationally supervised elections? Oil-for-palaces UN is precisely the organization I want overseeing the elections with complete authority. The bastards already decided its OK to screw over Iraqi children once, and I don't think they'd give a damn beyond their own petty interests. But, for peace of mind, the UN is overseeing the elections right now. Autonomies for the different factions? Sure, if we want one of them merging with nearby states and augumenting their fascist neighbors. Thanks, but no thanks. I also see something about oil... blah blah blah... corporations... blah blah blah. Yeah, and while we are pulling out our corporations, why don't we 'pull out' the hundreds of billions of dollars in aid we are generously giving them?

RN: Well, that is what representative government is for, to counteract the excesses of the monied interests, as Thomas Jefferson said. Because big business realizes that the main countervailing force against their excesses and abuses is government, their goal has been to take over the government, and they do this with money and politics. They do it by putting their top officials at the Pentagon, Treasury, and Federal Reserve, and they do it by providing job opportunities to retiring members of Congress. They have law firms that draft legislation and think-tanks that provide ready-made speeches. They also do it by threatening to leave the country. The quickest way to bring a member of Congress to his or her knees is by shifting industries abroad.

Representative government is to ensure everybody's rights, not to take a stick and force people to give up their rights. The goverment is the ultimate arbiter of disputes, not a bully to use force at its indiscretion to interfere with my rights. Or rather, big business realizes that the government can remove competiton by passing laws (i.e. using the antitrust stick, etc...). Even Adam Smith knew that you can't always trust businessmen in politics, because they will want to use the government to destroy competitors. But hey, you take out the stick once to use it on the supposedly bad corporations, and their leaders will use that same stick to bludgeon their competitors to death. Its your weapon Nader, and its no more righteous in your filthy hands than in a business leader's hands. The rest of your drivel represents a rudimentary understanding of economics that even I surpass.

Concentrated corporate power violates many principles of capitalism. For example, under capitalism, owners control their property. Under multinational corporations, the shareholders don’t control their corporation. Under capitalism, if you can’t make the market respond, you sink. Under big business, you don’t go bankrupt; you go to Washington for a bailout. Under capitalism, there is supposed to be freedom of contract. When was the last time you negotiated a contract with banks or auto dealers? They are all fine-print contracts. The law of contracts has been wiped out for 99 percent of contracts that ordinary consumers sign on to. Capitalism is supposed to be based on law and order. Corporations get away with corporate crime, fraud, and abuse. And finally, capitalism is premised on a level playing field; the most meritorious is supposed to win. Tell that to a small inventor or a small business up against McDonald’s or a software programmer up against Microsoft.

No it doesn't, you dimwit. Shareholders are not entitled to complete control of the company. And where do you think they got the idea of running to nanny from? Huh? Where else, look in the mirror in the morning. And yes, contracts are readily made. Or do you want to waste your time haggling over corn in the grocery store? Its this simple- trade is the mutual agreement of two parties. You could always ask them to provide their product/service for less, and they could say no. Hence, without mutual agreement, no trade goes through. Corporations get nailed for crime, Mr. Nader. Or have you not seen the Bush admin. actually bring charges against them? Level playing field? My ass! Why the hell do you think they can't compete? Because Mcdonalds or Microsoft have a better product. And you know what, knocking down the efficient competitors only ruins the whole system. But then again, that is what you're after, isn't it?

Giant multinational corporations have no allegiance to any country or community other than to control them or abandon them. So what we have now is the merger of big business and big government to further subsidize costs or eliminate risks or guarantee profits by our government.

Businesses cannot do jack shit without appealing the the wants of consumers. Big businesses can only do anything by appealing to the wants of many consumers. So, yes, they have their whole allegiance to the people who are their customers. And where the hell does he get off thinking that governments reduce cost? Government can't take a damn cent off of the cost of anything. Sure they can subsidize it, but it comes out of my pocket- a zero sum game.

Part of the problem involves NAFTA. The flood of cheap corn into Mexico has dispossessed over a million Mexican farmers, and, with their families, they either go to the slums or, in their desperation, head north.

In addition, I don’t think the United States should be in the business of brain-draining skilled talent, especially in the Third World, because we are importing in the best engineers, scientists, software people, doctors, entrepreneurs who should be in their countries, building their own countries. We are driving the talent to these shores—

Cheap food actually helps people. Like all those starving people you supposedly champion. The whole purpose of economics is to make things more efficiently. Capital not invested in food can be used in other, more productive places. And, we brain-drain? Tell the Mexican government to give their people full rights, and see how effective the brain drain is. Brain drains come in response to repressive policies, not unfair economics.

My goodness... its keeps going on. I think I'll finish it tomorrow. Or maybe, I won't. It just hurts my head...

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Can't you hear that roaring?

What is it, you ask? Its the economy stupid! Haha.

Analysts See Strong U.S. May Job Growth

Economists believe more than 200,000 jobs were created last month, building on the 625,000 added in March and April, as employers geared up to meet robust demand after three long years of layoffs and tepid hiring.

200K ain't bad. Jobless recovery?

``I'm swinging for the fence this week,'' said ClearView Economics president Ken Mayland, predicting 300,000 jobs were created last month. ``There's just every indication that the labor market is improving very dramatically.''

300k sounds nice, I'm going with this guy.

Despite the predicted job gains in May, few analysts expect the unemployment rate to decline from April's 5.6 percent, since news of the improving labor market likely lured thousands of discouraged Americans back into the workforce to seek work.

And where do they suppose these 'discouraged Americans' went when they no longer held jobs? They still have to feed themselves and put a roof over their head. You can't simply 'drop out' of the workforce. That is, unless you have enough money to support that, or more likely, mom and dad to fall back on. Young workers can get out of the workforce. Adults can't.

The boost in hiring has brightened the campaign trail for Republicans, but with 1.5 million jobs gone since Bush took office, 250,000 would need to be created every month until the November election to erase that deficit.

I remember Kerry's dull voice intoning about two million jobs lost. 250k per month? I'm up for it.

Now its time to change the perception that Democrats know how the economy works. I'll leave that up to the more than able American people, who will let the superb economy speak for themselves.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2004

The Nature of America

Its the USA. Its 2004. We are in the middle of an expensive- both in lives and dollars- war. The constant blaring of the media is almost deafening. Bad news cascades down on bad news, and they all seem to be jockeying to shatter the will of the American people.

But, we need to dig deeper than the superficial facade, so convientently put into place by enemies and detractors. We need to dig. Deep. We need to see, to really see what America is like.

The Spirit of America is a humanitarian service, run and maintained by Americans. First, goodwill was showcased by an outpouring of supplies. Frisbees, school supplies and medical supplies- all give to the Iraqis by the Marines. The Frisbees, you see, had printed on them "Friendship" in English and Arabic. Friendship.

But Spirit of America did not end there. Music was forbidden or restriced under previous rule. Spirit of America donated thousands of dollars for musical instruments for Kurdish kids. The plaque presented to the village leaders read: Friendship. Music is a language of freedom and friendship. The people of America present these musical instruments as gifts of friendship to the people of Iraq. Friendship.

They also provided Dental Kits, soccer jerseys and toys for children. The common theme? "A gift of friendship from the people of the United States to the people of Iraq." Friendship.

Now the Marines are doing something just as- if not more- important as any other of their work. Marines and Seabees are training Iraqis as carpenters, electricians, plumbers and masons. Now SoA needs funds to buy tools for these professions.

America is a great nation- not because of its military might. The strongest and most able military occupies Iraq. And yet, the American people, and American soldiers are magnanimous to the Iraqis. We seek not only to remove the danger of Saddam- our own selfish interests- but to help the people of Iraq. Not just to remove a problem, but to prevent it from every growing again. And we can only do that the best way we know- with kindness. With friendship.

We will not only put the Iraqis on their feet, as evidenced by the latest SoA initiative- we will teach them to fish. So that they may stand on their feet, with dignity, the dignity that free men deserve. To fend for themselves, in times of need, not to coddle them limitlessly, but to observe a relationship with our brethren as grown adults- of mutual respect and admiration. We wanted to stand them on their feet so much, so much, that we have funneled billions of dollars to their country. So much, that we have sent envoys to foreign nations, asking them to remit the debt of the former regime.

Americans do not wish to stay in Iraq. We are not occupiers by nature. In this sense, we are isolationists at heart (please don't hit me with a deluge of comments! let me explain!). Americans have a profound love for their own country, and a contentment with it. Other countries simply exert no pull on us. We are fine just to stay at home, to tend to our house and family.

Americans have long had the ability to exert their influence. And when we have, quite frankly, we haven't liked it. Since the post-World War II period, we have had even more chance. Particularly after the Cold War was won, we emerged as a hyperpower. And yet- the country with the most overwhelming force has not succumbed to imperialism.

Sure, there are those that charge America with imperalism. But lets be honest. You ain't seen nothin' yet. You think America was angry after 9/11? You think American military response has been too large? I think some people fail to grasp what the USA could do if she were truly angry.

But, that tag of- isolationist- falls short. And indeed, it has an almost dirty connotation now. But I think it captures the essence of the American mindset. You leave me alone, I leave you alone.

I don't think anyone, since the start of the Iraq War, hasn't had doubts. I know I have. And it is tough. Everytime you see or hear that another serviceman has died. Everytime you hear that some innocent has been killed. It stings. And after a while, it starts to numb.

The basic truth is that we care deeply for our soldiers, and for other people too. There is this prevailing myth among the LLL that conservatives love war. There is this myth that we don't care when our loved ones die. There is this myth that we take delight in suffering and death and destruction.

But you and I know that isn't true. Why? Because we have felt it. No one, and I repeat, no one loves war.

But Americans are not stupid. We would like to live by that tenet- you leave me alone, I leave you alone. But it doesn't work.

We tried it prior to World War II. Didn't work. We tried it before 9/11. Didn't work.

"Suppose they gave a war, and nobody came?
Why then, the war would come to you!" -Bertol Brecht.

And indeed, it has.

Reluctantly America goes to war. But we realize that there is more at stake, and that we cannot perpetually keep our heads in the sand. (For, if we do not act, then who will?) There are two types of sin. Sins of commission and sins of ommission. We have been guilty of both. But the more subtle, and often more egregious, is the sin of ommission.

Consider this picture. Fifteen years down the road. An alternate reality if you may.

Iraq has not been invaded. In the several years preceeding this event- or lack thereof-Iraq became increasingly less stable. The United States and Great Britain, both countries which were operating the no-fly zones, were forced to abandon their posts. There was no support for wide-spread military invasion, and the policy of the no-fly zone could not be supported.

America was seen as a paper-tiger, unwilling to enforce its goals. Saddam's thugs continued to the north to finish the work that they had left off at last time, culminating in a deadly act of genocide. Already, tens of thousands of Iraqis were being killed in normal order each year, this was merely a statistic, as Stalin would put it.

Saddam's dementia was increasing in his old age, and the vacuum of power was quickly being filled by Ansar Al-Islam, and radical Islamists gained increasing control on the country.

Next door, Iran waited. In late 2006 they gained nuclear capability, and thus prevented many overt military actions in the immediate area. Their breeding of Islamists continued unabated, now with a deadly radioactive arsenal with which to leverage sway. There was no hope at revolution. They were disheartened by the pull-out of American forces, and even if they tried, they would likely be crushed.

In Saudi Arabia Islamists gained more and more power in the workings of government. Subsequently, oil production was suffering. Neither Iraq nor Saudi Arabia were reliable sources of oil.

We didn't take the fight to the enemy, but they surely took the fight to us. How many terrorist attacks have been perpetrated in recent history? Many. Some more significant than others. Our bluff has been called- big time.

Libya also has nuclear weapons. And they are agitating the powers with threats. In fact, the nuclear web of terror perpetrated by AQ Khan has not been uncovered. Who knows where all that stuff has gone. We sure don't. We just hope it doesn't show up- surprise, surprise!- on our doorstep one day.

And, to our great distress, our hands are now tied. Several Middle Eastern states have nuclear capability. We could invade Saudi Arabia or Iraq, but that would be risky. After all, both are shaky oil suppliers, and one move could crash our economy, not to mention our tanks. Islamists are being cranked out at a rate of who-knows-how-many. And it doesn't look to stop. We have no power to prevent an Iranian superstate. Things are... well, things are looking bad. Israel? I forgot to tell you. Israel no longer exists.

Now lets pull back. Maybe my predictions are amiss. But, ask youself, would the long-term strategic position of America, and the wellness of Western Civilization be in better or worse position if we did not act? Politicians talk about debts mortgaging the futures of our sons and daughters. No one talks about their poor policy mortgaging the well-being of our whole way of life.

And somehow, knowing how dangerous the Middle East could and can be, I see Iraq as being responsible. Imagine if we took no action? Responsibility.

Thats why we aren't isolationists. We have the requisite love of country and of peace- but we have the moral undergirding not to have a stick-our-head-in-the-sand attitude. And, Americans have wanted to be isolationists, but we've realized that that philosophy is basically untennable. The ugly history of fascism and communism compelled us to be proactive in our views. And the ugly history of Islamofascism will do, and has done the same thing.

The sense of duty has long been with America- though danger awaits, the willingness to send her sons to die for freedom.

And thats where it culminates. To say friendship, or responsibility, or duty is to downplay freedom. That has been the driving force of our country. And it is not an overstatement to say that our aformentioned traits derive from that. Or at least from the virtue that freedom represents.

Freedom does this funny thing. It instills more love for freedom in those that have it. It makes people prosperous and happy. And, its one of those few things (along with love) that only becomes stronger the more you use it. (Except love, contrary to leftist logic, won't stop a nuke from exploding in NYC). So, its natural for people who have benefitted so much from freedom, to love it all the more (and even to expect other people to love it and benefit from it!).

Of course, my essay is circuitious. It isn't very well though-out, or planned. And, I can't say it has many salient points. But I wanted to write about America- my America, as it is, not as people say it is. For its faults, I wouldn't have any other.

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Every war with fascism is our business.

Marek Elderman, of Poland.

I want to quote parts of it, but I'd just end up quoting all of it. Go and read it, its good.

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