Saturday, June 22, 2002

A little background on how affirmative action has promoted incompetents throughout government and industry.

The U.S. Forest Service achieved a formulation that was hard to improve on: "only unqualified applicants will be considered."

Here's another, more detailed and specific article.

The New York Times touts the Forest Service's excuse for the unprecedented wildfires.

They're all because we have "held Nature back" for so long. It's all because of the the bad old days when we harvested timber and protected it from burning. You know--back before the USFS promoted so many women and environazis into its management, due to a lawsuit demanding quotas and a consent decree. Now we know better than to do things like cut firebreaks and build service roads to ease movement of men and vehicles. Now we're wise enough to prescribe burns, and cover our butts with stories about how good fire is for the forest.

This should be a national scandal sufficient to get the USFS and BLM management all canned, but because they're good environmentalists who don't believe in forestry and forest products, the media will shield them and blame it all on Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl.

Meanwhile the West burns and its inhabitants will be rounded up and put on reservations, while the elite, beautiful people get the wilderness for their exclusive playgrounds, that is, unless it all burns before then.

Friday, June 21, 2002

Truth in Government!
How refreshing.

Here's more on Edmunds: - Officials find man wanted for questioning in missing girl case - June 21, 2002

This just in!
Edmunds arrested at W. Virginia hospital - Although he is said to wanted for questioning, I have to think he's a prime suspect in the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart. The fact that he was in a hospital in W. Va., however, suggests bad news for her family. I doubt that he's got her stashed somewhere alive.

Another, better written, review of Atkins v. Virginia, although it's hard to beat the two dissents.

Arafat wants to make nice. Does he now expect help from Israel to hang onto power as against Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the other groups funded by Syria and Iraq? He wants to accept Clinton's peace plan. Apparently there are no newspapers in Ramallah more recent than October 2000.

Coincidentally, I'm sure, the Israeli Cabinet has decided that renewed incursions are necessary for as long as it takes.

Man, Lileks is a good writer.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

PBS's Frontline tonight delves into the roots of the lax accounting rules that cause investors to take it in the shorts from Enron, Sunbeam and other stock collapses.
Hedrick Smith puts together a persuasive case that greed overcame honesty, most importantly in Arthur Andersen, whose founder must be spinning in his grave. There is plenty of blame to go around.

One thing that I thought was wrong, however, was the implication that tort reform somehow contributed to this. I can't see how paying huge fees to trial lawyers is good for either investors or companies. I'd much rather see these people in jail. "Chainsaw Al" Dunlap paid cents on the dollar for his sins, which did zip to make the victims whole who had bought stocks he helped inflate.

One thing I think is important to say as well is that just because some businesses buy politicians and create this kind of scandal doesn't mean that the anti-business rhetoric of the left holds any water. I think that the Andersen story will sober up a lot of accountants and auditors. I guess each generation has to relearn the same old lessons. Honesty and value are important, and if you don't understand a business model, don't buy into it.

The Supreme Court decided that mentally retarded criminals cannot receive the death penalty.

I don't much care either way, but I do find the reasoning stated by Justice Stephens is just assinine. It basically says that, since the number of states which forbid executing the retarded has grown a lot, it proves that there is now a consensus that such executions are cruel and unusual which justifies giving that view Constitutional force. In effect, he is treating the decision of 16 states as the equivalent of an amendment to the Constitution. The previous decision on this issue, Penry v. Lynaugh (492 U.S. 302), relied on the same argument, and in that it was wrongly decided.

Freedom through Suicide

This quote from Sheikh Bassem Sa'adi, the leader of Islamic Jihad in Jenin "Our people need freedom; we want to live like all the other people of the world. But for these there is a price, and that is this noble act of martyrdom."

So, if you want to live free like the rest of the world, you have to commit suicide?

The headline of this story, "Back into the Heart of Darkness," says it all. One can sympathize with the words of Kurtz, in the story by Joseph Conrad, "The horror. The horror." if not his earlier note, "Exterminate all the brutes!" This must be the hardest part for the Israelis, to hold onto their own humanity in the face of such madness.

From the Jerusalem Post: "A poll published last week by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center found that two-thirds of the Palestinians (68.1 per cent) support the suicide bombings."

Of course, given the treatment given to Palestinians who are suspected of collaboration, it is remarkable that it wasn't 100%.

Ted Turner's mouth give Fox News a boost.

U.S. News: Gloria Borger on life, liberty, and the law (6/24/02) eloquently expresses my own feelings of ambivalence and concern about how we should respond to people like Jose Padilla, and John Walker Lindh.

It is manifestly stupid to treat every suspected terrorist as a common criminal. The trial of the first WTC bombers let slip the fact that we were tapping bin Laden's satellite phone calls, with the result that we have now lost that source of intelligence. On the other hand, it doesn't seem likely that Lindh is going to be a source of intelligence, so we try him in the normal criminal courts. But what if he beats the rap? Apparently it's a lot harder to be a traitor than we once thought. It's also a lot harder to lose one's citizenship than most of us would have thought, if John Lindh or Jose Padilla can claim the panoply of rights that any innocent person has. We now have heard about many more Americans who have undergone al Qaeda training.

My own feeling, and apparently Gloria Borger's, is that we should have enough faith in our leaders to trust them to protect us against such people without abusing this power. It is a sad thing that so many commentators seem to assume that all power will be abused. Why do we assume that our judges are immune, or that they necessarily have better judgement about what is necessary to protect our people from terrorists?

This is a special situation that calls for special measures, and we shouldn't allow politics or ideologies to prevent us from using common sense. This is part of the responsibility and duty of every citizen, to support and assist the authorities to protect society, instead of putting rights above every other consideration.

Kimberly Strassel has some comments on the way officials in the USFS and other natural resources and wildlife agencies have screwed up, setting fires and planting false evidence of a species presence. Some are criminal, some are just inept, as in prescribed burns that get out of control.

The root of all this is in the increasing number of environmental ideologues employed in these agencies. How much easier would it be to fight fires if the stewards of the forests would build fire breaks and roads to allow firefighters to get to where the action is more easily.

The environmentalists, of course, blame the problem on the Smokey Bear campaigns in the past which have prevented fires and lead to overgrowth of underbrush, but then they also prefer anything to timber harvest. Sustatinable harvest and silviculture can also clear underbrush, insect infestations, dead timber, etc. and can make firefighting much more effective, but an environmentalist article of faith is that Nature does everything better and that any human activity is evil. Their answer is non-management, just let nature take its course. Let dead timber stand, even when it still has some value to forest products companies.

Ecosystems can never exist with human interaction, they aver. But aren't humans part of nature too? Don't we play a part in ecosystems when we manage them? We can be a positive player by fighting insect infestations, clearing snags and allowing only sustainable harvest methods, or we can go hands-off and let valuable timber be wasted, fires rage and threaten us. I vote for wise management.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

A Terry Eastland makes a good point that many of those who have denounced the failure of the FBI to detect and prevent the 9/11 conspiracy were instrumental in federalizing a lot of crimes that only serve to distract the FBI from its most important job. I'm not sure I agree that this had anything to do with the Bureau's failures pre-9/11, which I consider to have more to do with the PC attitude that had been inculcated during the Clinton administration.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Debra Saunders gives a dope slap to the "Not in Our Name" activists, and their sophomoric whining about the War on Terror. What is it about celebrity that makes people think their opinions are more valid than anyone else's. It must be terrible to think so highly of one's self and see someone you consider beneath you with a 70% approval rating as president.

Monday, June 17, 2002

Courtesy of Instapundit:

One of the better commentaries on weblogging I've read.

Bin Laden, an apostate and false prophet

Arrests Reveal Al Qaeda Plans (

One of the Saudis told interrogators that he knew bin Laden well and had eaten with him dozens of times over the years. He said that until Sept. 11, bin Laden increasingly adopted the mantle of a prophet, preferring to speak through senior aides rather than interact directly with his followers.

Excuse me, but doesn't Islam teach that Mohammed was the greatest and last prophet? Why doesn't this pretense of bin Laden's to be God's spokesman on earth cause him to be treated as a heretic? Where are the fatwas against him? Where are the demonstrations and burnings in effigy?