Friday, May 24, 2002

Den Beste laments that we're apparently dropping the idea of going after Iraq.

I hope he's wrong. For one thing it isn't going away, and it isn't going to get easier if we wait. I've just assumed that we're waiting to rebuild our inventory of smart bombs and cruise missles. There are reports that we've already got special forces in the area getting their bearings.

The most important reason not to back off, however, is that it will make it harder to keep the "moderate" Arabs on board.

These people believe that it is their duty to God to rule the world, to impose Islam (submission) on the rest of them. However, they are not crazy. They now know that they can't always win against the West. But we gave some of them the idea that we could be attacked with impunity by doing nothing time after time after time. Now 3,000 civilians and the skyline of NYC have paid the price.

There is not nearly enough attention being paid to the advice of Bernard Lewis, who for my money has had the most accurate comments on this whole thing, because he knows the Middle Eastern mind and he is not constrained by ideological or national loyalties. He says that the Arabs respect resolve, and see "coalition building" as weakness.

My view is that they will never like us, because we are not going to submit to sharia or acknowledge Islam as the supreme religion. We aren't going to drop our support for Israel, either. We shouldn't bother trying to placate them or win their friendship. We should let them know that we are done with our dithering and negotiating. There are no terms but the ones we dictate. That is what Arabs, who have tribal, Bedouin roots, understand and respect. They will cooperate only as long as we are resolute. If they see us weakening or becoming distracted, the support we've had so far will disappear like the dew.

We can't risk giving them the impression that we're not determined or that we can be deterred, whether by Arabs or our weak-kneed allies.

James Taranto asks "Did the FBI blow it?"

Yes, it did. What has taken so long for the press to figure this out. The facts about Moussaoui were known last September, yet the outrage is only being expressed now, when campaign season is starting. The press is really behaving partisanly here.

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Is it just me, or do the Washington Police seem kind of Keystonish?

"Hey, I saw a show on the Discover Channel about how entomologists can help investigate crime scenes."

"Get me an entomologist."

As if the time of death will crack the case.

It must have been that Salvadoran, Guandique, that they already inteviewed and cleared in this case.

Yep, now that Condit has been cleared . . .

Debra Saunders gives a Swiftian critique of Gray Davis' procurement practices.

Will Wilkinson via, talks about rational ignorance, and points out why it occurs. I find it alarming, however, that people choose ignorance, not because it isn't rational but because it's a violation of a sacred duty of citizenship. It's even more alarming that people want to do away with the rituals of democracy that build the sense of patriotism and duty that is so essential to a functioning democracy, such as the Pledge of Allegiance, memorizing the Gettysburg Address and the national anthem.

However hokey it is, we need those rituals and flags, so that we don't lose our government of the people, by the people and for the people" not to foreign conquerers, but to our own laziness.

Duane D. Freese shows how far we've gotten from our basic principles by suggesting that cloning should be banned until the proponents prove it shouldn't. The basic rule of freedom is that you're presumed to be free to act unless and until you prove that you're not dangerous.

It's a very compelling argument. Why should any regulation or prohibition be allowed without a showing first that there is a real threat of harm, not just a science fiction scenario. Brave New World is, after all, still fiction.

Indian Leader's Threat of War Rattles Pakistan and the U.S.

This reminds me a lot of the situation in Israel. We have to ask ourselves how we would react if some group of radical Mexicans attacked one of our military bases--actually, how we did react to the raids by Pancho Villa. I don't know what we would do if Mexico were a nuclear power.

It would be a tragedy if these two countries end up killing millions because of a terrorist raid. We live in an age where some people think they can bring on the apocaplypse by such tactics, and are dead sure that God is on their side. We have learn that our erstwhile enemies may be our best allies against our or their militant terrorist minorities.

What are the limits of honor and pride, and how much of this kind of thing should anyone endure? We turned the other cheek to bin Laden time after time, and we merely emboldened him. Now we've just reversed that strategy, but we seem to think everyone else should do as we say, not as we do.

I think we should pull out our diplomats, but if they want to duke it out, it will be an object lesson for them both. If Musharraf want what's best for Pakistan, he'll start consolidating his troops and suppress the radicals ruthlessly. However, he might be assassinated for doing so. So I won't judge him too harshly whatever he does.

Last night on Special Report Brit Hume interviewed Ralph Peters about the problem of counterterrorism. He opened with a clip of Donald Rumsfeld noting that the U.S. is alone, or one of very few nations, in having no domestic intelligence agency. Thanks, Frank Church.

Peters very sensibly pointed out the differences between the FBI, as presently constituted, and the way a domestic counterterror agency should function, including some points I have made recently about the stultifying effect of bureaucracy on rapid and creative intelligence gathering and assessment. He also said that Tom Ridge's office is unlikely to be more than a cheerleader unless he gets budgetary authority over the other agencies and some real power. We should listen to this man. He has a new book, Beyond Terrorism. Oh, to be a professor with access to a good university library and Lexis-Nexis!

The transcript should be up in a couple of days.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

I just watched a documentary called Allies at War, about the relations between FDR, Churchill, and DeGaulle. DeGaulle was arrogant and annoying, amd refused to submit to the directions of Roosevelt and Churchill. FDR was dismissive of DeGaulle and the Free French and kept insisting on trying to work with Vichy, which infuriated the loyal and proud French. He even tried to get DeGaulle removed as the leader of the Free French. DeGaulle, in his turn, wrote about allying with the Soviets and Germans after the war against the Anglo-Saxons. I couldn't decide whether a FDR or DeGaulle was the bigger jerk. FDR treated Churchill and DeGaulle as his subordinates and expected them to take orders. I can see why DeGaulle would resent that. What is amazing is how humble Churchill was in dealing with Roosevelt. Apparently the present aversion between Yanks and Frogs is due to the childish behavior of the leaders of the Free World Back during WWII. It made me sure that the Lord was on our side. I doubt these three could have won anything on their own, although Churchill and Eisenhower were bright enough to overcome the deficiencies and arrogance of the others.

The Modern World comes to Bahrain, sort of.

As Arafat Critics Close In, Deputies Vie in the Wings

Arafat is pretty old, and he's got Parkinson's. Here's an article about his potential successors.

It would be good for somebody to intervene to knock heads in this "potentially violent power struggle, . . . pitting different generations of Palestinian fighters against each other." If we really cared about the Palestinian people, we'd do it, but we're so unnerved by the charge of interfering in their internal affairs that we'll just stand by and watch the nightmare proceed. If their Muslim brothers cared about them, they'd do something, but that would be contrary to Muslim courtesy. Besides, people in this region will hit you with truck bombs if you try to keep the peace.

They're finally fed up with Arafat. If they were smart, they'd kick out the entire P.A. and all the terrorist groups, as well. Apparently, it's better for women, children and the elderly to suffer so that the men of Islam can get on with the work of making everyone miserable, poor and dead.

the Kolkata Libertarian thinks Musharraf is not the rational proto-democrat we're counting on.

I sent this:

I hope you're wrong about him. I can't say. But, at least he's rational enough to know that he wasn't going to get anywhere siding with bin Laden against us. He must also know that a nuclear war isn't going to put a star by his name in Pakistan's history.

He is riding a tiger, and he knows it. I have to wish him well and pray for him. But if it goes south, it will be the fault of the Pakistani peoples, not Musharraf. Like Muslims everywhere, they need to learn that their religious solidarity cannot include terrorists. If they don't police their own societies, the rest of the world will do it for them with great suffering and destruction for all concerned. They need to learn the same lesson as the Germans and Japanese in WWII, hopefully before they have to learn it in the same way.

Eric Alterman would get more respect if he didn't have a Bugs Bunny grin. Does he really look like that?

I've seen the links to him on Instapundit, but I never went to his site because he sounded like a fool. Today, I did, and my initial diagnosis was confirmed.

Item one: "Thanks to all zillion of you who wrote in with notes of encouragement," You like me! You really like me!

Item two: "This 'What Did He Know and When Did He Know It?' is significant and central . . ." Really? And why have the Democrats dropped it like a hot potato?

Item three: ". . . isn�t Drudge a dick for doing that story on David Brock checking into a mental institution last summer?" No, I don't. Brock has asked for this with his persistent martyrdom complex and efforts to profit by it.

I like what Andrew Sullivan has to say about Eric Olsen's criticisms and the "blogger community" and our obligations to it. The talk about a blogging foundation, and blogging ethics, yadda, yadda, yadda, seem to miss the whole point of blogging.

If I didn't have depression, I'd probably be able to read more widely and eclecticly, but then that's what I read other bloggers for. And living in Southeastern Utah, it's hard for me to get to news before the rest of the "community." So my little blog will always sound a day late and a dollar short, and my best comments will appear from email I send to other bloggers, on their sites.

All any of us have to work with is our own experience and reactions. To expect us to footnote everything we react to is kind of like telling us to shut up.

The Militia is us. This is about the Second Amendment, but it reminds me that the Shoe Bomber was subdued by the Fligh Attendent and the other passengers, and Flight 93 was prevented from carrying out its mission by passengers who figured out what what happening faster than the FBI did.

So forget whether the pilots need guns, why can't passengers carry them? If it were widely known that a quarter of all airline passengers were carrying firearms, it would stop hijacking permanently, and would probably stop the problems with unruly passengers.

This wouldn't prevent bombs planted in luggage, but it would prevent planes being used as terrorist weapons.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Saudi Press changes term for suicide bombings Instead of "maryrs" they'll now be called "suicides." Will it change anything? It might give them a reason to crack down on funding for Palestinian bombers.

I love this story! Calfornia will impose controls on carbon-dioxide emissions from automobiles." I can see a mass exodus to Oklahoma, and everywhere else, coming. I wonder if they'll put the same restrictions on human beings, who exhale carbon dioxide.

I've thought for a long time that we should have passed all the environmentalist agenda 30 years ago. By now, they'd be so discredited, no one would listen to them. Maybe California will do the same thing for us.

James Woolsey's take on what is needed to improve our counter-terrorism efforts. I agree with him that there are too many people with access to intercepts.

He points out the fact that a few individuals with different information were able to foresee the attacks of 9/11, which confirms my belief that bureaucracy the problem. Intuitve flashes of insight will seldom making through all the levels of assessment involved in "normal channels." The problem is that there is a vast amount of informational to be sifted. Also the people who forsaw the last attacks may be blind to signals of the next one.

It's obvious that we need a new approach and that we need to be creative and not allow the past to restrict the future. Mr. Woolsey has provided some key ideas about how this should be done.

Monday, May 20, 2002

USS Clueless - Warrior engineering and soldier marketing

Den Beste is right and wrong. He's right about Dell and wrong about Microsoft. Dell competes. Microsoft wields power ruthlessly and forces its products on the market.

His point about Apple being too ideological is true. If Steve Jobs were smart he would have ported MacOS to the Intel platform a long time ago, but he wants to control both the hardware and the software. Maybe he thinks it will be more stable, that way, but that hasn't been my experience.

If Jobs were a real competitor he wouldn't have squelched licensing of the Mac architecture. If Gates were a real competitor he wouldn't need to wield the OS like a club. His product would succeed on its merits, not because it was the only one you could get bundled with your computer.

This "Where do you want to go today?" is like "All Animals are equal." It doesn't reflect the true concerns of the people in charge.

Salon | Women's Ways of Bullying

I found this after reading a story on The Daily Standard, about Bryn Mawr backing out of cooperating with an academic seeking to write a history of the school.

It strikes me again and again that Feminism is not really about oppression as much as it is about power.

The whole concept of power, however, as accepted by most people is wrong, and Satanic. Consider this from the prophet Joseph Smith:

34 Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?

35 Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men [and women], that they do not learn this one lesson�

36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.

37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man [or woman].

38 Behold, ere he[she] is aware, he[she] is left unto him[her]self, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.

39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men [and women], as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.

41 No apower or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood [or position], only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile�

43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

A Failure to Imagine Tom Friedman says that we need an "Office of Evil." I thought this was what Tom Ridge is supposed to be doing.

I think that this problem calls for more than just a new office. You can't reorganize away the problems that gave rise to our failure to detect and prevent 9/11. The bureaucratic process with its levels of review effectively prevents any true insight from making its way up to the top. Each person's job consists of showing his own brilliance by finding things wrong with some underling's suggestions. Only a few exceptional individuals are willing to give credit to someone whose success could cost them.

Friedman's piece changes direction halfway through, however, and turns into an attack on Bush for failing to cover John Lennon's Imagine. I guess when you work for the NYTimes, you can't help this kind of Kum By Yah sentimentality, but I really thought Friedman had more sense.
If we have an office of evil, it needs to be top secret and very small. It's main mission should be to scan all the information coming in for specific kinds of clues and bypass the normal bureaucratic processes of review and evaluation, taking them directly to the top. It cannot be allowed to be subjected to jealousy, intimidation and judicial interference, and it should not be allowed to engage in law enforcement. It's sole object would be to identify potential threats without the confusion caused by layer after layer of "assessment" which often blunts the information to the point that it loses its meaning and urgency.

Sunday, May 19, 2002

It's becoming clear that Bush is not going to get any appeals court nominees confirmed without reversing the majority in the Senate. It might be a better option overall to seek a constitutional amendment overriding Senate rules and requiring that all nominees be given a vote by the full senate and no filibusters.

The Simpsons has jumped the shark. If there was any doubt, tonight's season finale clinched it. Lately the episodes have seemed like they were written by high schoolers, or even worse, network executives. It's as if the producers no longer understand what made the show funny to begin with and think that stupidity and absurdity are funny. Tonight's episode was about Homer getting sentenced to death for a murder he didn't commit. Then, at the last instant, it's revealed that the whole thing was a bizarre new reality tv show on Fox.

Recent shows have been tone-deaf, incoherent and confusing crude insults of religion or other institutions with satire. It's like watching a clever and funny comedian develop Alzheimer's.