Saturday, May 18, 2002

Draining the Swamp

Michael Ledeen asks So How Come Nobody�s Been Fired Yet? The answer is that Bush doesn't believe in firing people except for disloyalty.

There's saying that when you're up to your ass in alligators, it's not the time to worry about how to drain the swamp. Now, I submit, we have the alligators under control, and the swamp still needs to be drained, wetlands or no wetlands. Nevertheless, I don't think that it makes any sense to can all the people it took so long to select and get through the Senate approval circus.

I think all of us were shocked by how feckless our secuity apparatus turned out to be, but the problem seems pretty obvious. Do we really need a bunch of Congressional Hearings to tell us that the CIA, NSA and FBI need to share information and that there needs to be a mechanism for "connecting the dots," the worst cliche since "the terrorists will have won."

A few preliminary points:

1. This is not a coverup, nor a potent political issue for the Democrats to use this fall. Let them try and they will be reminded that there were plenty of warnings ignored by the previous administration.

2. Hearings seldom yield useful solutions. Remember the great reforms we got after Watergate? Neither do I.

3. There aren't a whole lot more Donald Rumsfelds around to hand this to. The problems aren't hard to see. Let's let Ridge, Mueller and their counterparts at CIA, NSA and whatever other agencies are involved be tasked to fix them. They're running out of time.

4. Don't expect the clues to be as obvious as they will after the fact. The best results are likely to come from a small group of eccentric and creative bright people with good access to info. The current system specializes in shooting down theories rather than developing them and checking them.

Friday, May 17, 2002

They don't make hate speech like they used to

Modern insults have been dumbed down to "[bleep] you!" and calling people Nazis. We were better at namecalling that this in the third grade. Where have all the rich and colorful insults gone?

And then there is the following problem: San Francisco State "fosters an environment where, basically they're so against endangering free speech that it ends up fostering an environment of hate speech, almost." You're know you're carrying the non-judgmental thing a little too far when you have rules against hate speech but are afraid to apply them to Palastinian racists for fear of being thought racist yourself.

UPI says Jordan is secreting helping prepare for Desert Storm II I wish they'd kept quiet about this. Does the phrase, "Loose lips sink ships" ring a bell? It's a heartening rumor, but I'd prefer that it wasn't being spread all over the internet.

From Best of the Web Today

'Social Explosion' in Iran?

Ayatollah Ebrahim Amini, a conservative Iranian cleric, warns that his country may be on the verge of revolution. "Society is on the threshold of an explosion. If popular discontent increases, society an the regime will be threatened," warned the ayatollah. He's no "moderate," either; he sits on the Assembly of Experts, the panel that chooses Iran's "supreme leader."

Can you imagine what would happen here if Congress tried to call itself the "Assembly of Experts?" A healthy disrespect for politicians is the beginning of wisdom.

This essay by Bret Stephens about the roots of French anti-Americanism is interesting and erudite, but I think the real cause is less recondite. They hate us because they were once a superpower, but lost their position of dominance through and mismanagement of their own affairs. They indulged in colonialism instead of the nation building lead by the U.S. in Germany and Japan. They squandered their inheritance on a mess of socialist pottage, and it galls (gauls?) them that we unsophisticated rubes with just barely 200 years of nationhood have eclipsed them.

They shouldn't take it so hard. After all, France did produce de Tocqueville. They should read his writing some time.

Life Imitates Cynthia McKinney

Washington is in full scandal mode over the old news that the president had generalized warnings of terrorist threats in August 2001. As I watch Ari Fleischer defending the administration's reaction to the Democrats' adoption of the McKinney tactic, I realize that things are much worse for them than I had thought. First, it was the charge that Bush was misusing his office because the RNC was offering a photo taken on Air Force One in exchange for contributions. Now it's the wild charge that the president could have prevented the 911 attacks and failed to take action.

The shame of the Washington Press Corps is in full flower today. NPR this morning was beating this story like a drum, even though it's own reporters noted that there was nothing to it, the headlines were all that Congressional leaders were calling for investigations.

We should be able to rely on the press to tell us what's important to know about, but instead of treating this as another piece of political baiting, they act like its Watergate II. If the people have a right to know, they also have a right to know when a story is nothing new or nothing to worry about. The Moussaoui story has been given new life by the Phoenix memo, but it's still old news. Why is everybody acting like we just learned that the intelligence and law enforcement agencies failed us on 9/11/01? Been there, done that.

Michael Medved, yesterday, had it right. When the bomb went off in Oklahoma City, what was everybody's first thought? Arab Terrorists. When we first heard about the attacks on the WTC, everybody knew immediately who did it. WE WERE WARNED. It was in the media. They had already tried to blow up the WTC in 1993, and we should have known from the past decade of terrorist attacks that another was possible at any time. But nobody wanted to think about it. These terrorists had gone through dry runs at Logan Airport. They had been noticed, and commented on to airline personnel, but STILL, NOBODY DID ANYTHING!

Instead of trying to make political hay for the Democrats, the press ought to asking itself why it didn't do any more investigative reporting and warning us of this danger. If this was an intelligence failure, it was even more a failure of the media to keep this danger before our eyes.

Watching reporters badgering Ari Fleischer, trying to make something out of these latest charges by Daschle, Gephardt and Clinton, makes me sick. How have the press responded to the most recent alerts? With a big yawn, and complaints that they aren't more specific.

I don't think it's true to say that nobody could have seen this coming, as some are saying, but making George Bush a scapegoat is despicable, when Congressional leaders had the same information as he had.

What we should be up in arms about is that our airport security is still abysmal, that we've allowed our fixation on civil liberties to prevent us from defending ourselves.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

The New America - Dispatches Note the item about Politically Incorrect being replaced by Jimmy Kimmel. Jimmy Kimmel? I quit watching Win Ben Stein's Money because of that twerp. How he continues to get attention is beyond me. He's not funny, just rude and sophomoric. But, judging by the Budweiser commercials, there must me a market for that.

InstaPundit.Com "Give me money without a boss and I'm happy. Come to think of it, that pretty much describes being a professor."

Tell that to Cornell West!

This piece by Bill Bradley and Paul Jansen, is a perfect example of the central planning, or technocrat, mentality. Charities can't be left autonomous. They must be marshalled to meet the needs of the socialist vision.

I've just started Hayek's The Road to Serfcom, and realized that he is making the same points as Barry Goldwater in Conscience of a Conservative, that government solutions deprive us of freedom. I often wonder if the founders of the great charitable foundations were to come back and see how their wealth was being used, they'd be very upset.

Monday, May 13, 2002

Norman Borlaug (link requires subscription) writes that Africa is in danger of starvation because of environmental political correctness. He is working to help third world nations adopt high yield agriculture.

He writes:

There are people telling us not to raise the yields. Some of them say that modern food is not as healthy as yesterday's, though science can find no lack of nutrients and, all over the world, the people eating modern crops are growing taller and living longer. There are some who still fear that more food encourages population growth, though food security has helped bring Third World fertility rates 80% of the way to stability.

. . . Africa desperately needs the simple, effective high-yield farming systems that have made the First World's food supply safe and secure, and kept its wild species from extinction: chemical fertilizers, improved seeds bred for local conditions, and integrated pest management (with pesticides). Without those basics, Africa is likely to see tens of millions more undernourished children by 2020 -- even after it clears a whole Texas worth of wildlife habitat for additional cropland.

The environmental movement is more interested in power than it is in people and in realistic solutions.

From OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today:

"London's Telegraph reports Saddam Hussein 'has offered the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat a safe haven in Baghdad in the event of Israel forcing him into exile.' Something tells us Yasser won't be rushing to accept that offer."

Maybe he should be given "safe haven" in Halabja.

Sunday, May 12, 2002

A Nation Like Ours by David Gelernter, points out the affinity betwen the United States and Israel, and why europeans don't undertankd it.

Get Saddam

I watched 60 Minutes tonight, which I generally avoid. It seemed to be an entire program of blog fodder--a story on doctors asking their patients if they have any guns in their homes (guns as a public health problem); a report on Hugo Chavez, who looks like he deserved to be overthrown, if only the rebels hadn't beein footls; and, most disturbing, a report on present conditions in "HALABJA 14 YEARS LATER -- Iraq may be the next battlefield in the war on terrorism because of chemical weapons Saddam has � gas he used in 1988 on the people in the Kurdish town of Halabja. Ed Bradley reports on the genetic effects of that attack."

After watching the last, I feel ashamed for what the U.S. did for these people (nothing) and anger that the world is bickering over the Palestinians when these people have suffered worse than genocide. Their gene pool has been corrupted, and the British doctor who has documented the atrocities done to them and tried to help them now has a price on her head from the Iraqi regime. We cannot not overthrow these grues too soon. The lucky ones in Halabja were the dead. This report should be shown to all of our troops before we attack, and this should be our war cry, "Remember Halabja!" And when Saddam release the videos of Iraqi civilians killed by our bombs, we should show this to the world. Let them see the deformed children, the miscarriages, the survivors with horrible nerve damage and weird mutagenic diseases.

We don't need to wait for him to get nukes. The nerve gas is all the excuse we need.