3/01/2003

LET'S ALL GO TO PILGERLAND! It certainly beats reality! Mark Steyn takes us all for a ride...

"Spend two weeks, a month or 30 years at PilgerWorld, the assisted-care vacation facility for the elderly Left. At PilgerWorld, it's always 1975 and the Yanks can never win! Don't worry, you won't need a lot of money for expensive rides, because you won't be going on any! Instead, you'll spend many happy hours just standing around watching the Americans go on them while you make condescending cracks. "Thrill to the amazing 'Quagmiratron' as a high-tech digital state-of-the-art rollercoaster of blundering Marines comes rocketing down into a big pit of icky goo and gets stuck there for the entire afternoon while know-it-all Guardian columnists hector them on their lack of an 'Exit Strategy'! (Executive Package includes sudden departure by helicopter from the roof of the compound.)"

GUARDIAN COLUMNIST DEFECTS TO THE WEST! Julie Burchill has jumped the wall completely, and is even now being debriefed at an MI6 safe house.

But I'm not prepared to wear the pro-war straitjacket I've been handed without having a good old hissy fit. And a bit of name-calling never goes amiss, either. So may I just single out for salutations, on the "anti-war" side: Pop Stars For Appeasement, Dancers Against Democracy, Actors For Apathy, Fashionistas For Fascism and Jugglers For Genocide. All of them united under that flaccid flag of convenience, Show-Offs For Saddam.

Just give us the layout of the editorial offices of the Al Guardian, a list of your contacts there, and the names of any other potential defectors. You did the right thing. Welcome to freedom.
Huh?
How did we get a referral from Mark Steyn when there's no obvious link to us on his page? Wonders of the Internet, I guess.

2/28/2003

Aww Crap... there go my plans to eat the garden pests, pad my croch with socks and badly perfom a subservient job with a superior attitude.
Dissent
So, I drop by the Imperial Palace to take a look at the pearls of the day, and come across the Emperor's delight at the approval of arming airline pilots. It fills the subjects with joy when the Emperor is pleased. Oops, hang on a second, what if the subject isn't pleased? Hmm. Guess there's only one thing to do - blog it. Before I go any further, a couple of points -
  • This is not a Second Amendment interpretation based opinion
  • This opinion does not revolve around B-grade Hollywood horror flick scenarios of destruction raining from the skies
So what's yer frikkin beef, pilgrim?
It is this - the issue of providing aircrews on airliners with a last ditch defense against hijacking, the discussion very quickly itself hijacked and devolved into an extension of the ongoing pro/anti gun argument, with the battle lines drawn according to that playbook. I'm still awaiting any indication of a solid, rational discussion of
  • 1) The nature and scope of the problem (also known as threat analysis)
  • 2) the possible options available (to include lethal as well as non lethal, with an exploration of the advantages and disadvantages of both)
  • 3) the concept of employment for the measure or measures selected as candidate solutions (exactly how will this work)
I've posted on this topic before in other venues, and my views on it haven't changed too much. Also haven't seen any growth or evolution in the discussion along the lines I've mentioned - for all appearances, its been a strictly partisan food fight, straight down the line. So, what about these three major issues I've got with the whole thing? First, the nature and scope of the problem. Quite a lot of the discussions seem to start with the given that future airline takeover attempts will be along the lines of the 9/11 tactic - fanatics armed with crude weaponry physically overpowering the flight crew, then doing whatever. That's a fine scenario to start with, but a few of the other variables have changed. Never again will a plane load of passengers sit idly by at the appearance of an apparent fanatic attempting to even interfere with the flight crew. This is evidenced by the reaction of the passengers of flight 93, when they learned the rest of what was happening that day. It is also evidenced by the reaction of the passengers on the Air France flight when Richard Reid tried to light his shoes - those people literally beat the crap out of him. There have been additional incidents where flight attendants had more than enough assistance to subdue unruly passengers over the past year. As I mentioned in Misha's comments section, overpowering one or two armed guys is a much more appealing and simple prospect when compared to subduing 20 or 30 angry people knowing they are fighting for their very survival. Might it be said that the issue has been overcome by events? Possibly - but counting on a passenger uprising to overcome a takeover attempt is not option number one. Making it option number one would fall into a trap that many pro-arming advocates slog through without realizing it. When the military engages in it, it is said they are 'fighting the last war.' We've already seen a change to the tactics - from taking over aircraft, to simply trying to destroy them in flight. Might we see the same things again, or is it more likely they will attempt something new and different. Probably. Secondly, the possible options available to help flight crews maintain control of their aircraft in a 'last ditch' situation. So far the discussion has centered on only two possible options; the arming of the pilots, and securing the flight deck doorways. Other possibilities, most of them non-lethal, are usually quickly dismissed as probably ineffective against a determined hijacker. Possibly, for some of the tools available. Some tools, which are not in common current usage, have not been considered. Some tools, in current usage, but for other purposes, have also been overlooked. Something as simple as, say, a roll of duct tape. Its usage would be obvious for securing a subdued hijacker to a seat. Of the former, methods not discussed, it would be greatly revealing to explore the employment of some of the non-lethal technologies currently under study by DARPA, for DoD use. Some of these are as far beyond the pepper sprays and stun guns used by today's police forces as the B-2 is beyond a B-17. As to the advantages versus disadvantages, I would lean towards the adoption of a non-lethal based solution, but certainly by no means on humanitarian grounds, or the primarily the grounds that the lethal option primarily being discussed might 'poke a hole in the plane.' Actually, I'd be more concerned about the possible damage to critical electrical or hydraulic systems that a high speed projectile might inflict. But more to the point, the reason is this - dead men tell no tales. I'd much rather have one or two live captures that could possibly be persuaded to talk, than 1000 corpses, with the hope that the forensic trail might lead back to their instigators. Thirdly, the concept of employing 'last ditch defense' onboard a targeted aircraft. By this, I do not simply refer to the rules of engagement or guidelines for under which circumstances the pilot should come out, with his weapon. Nor do I refer to the 'shoot/don't shoot' decision point. What I mean is the assignment of the role and responsibility to take action in a situation where the control of the aircraft is in jeopardy. Everyone points to the pilot, because 'they're in charge.' True enough, but that is an oversimplification that overlooks the other members of the crew. The flight attendants in particular. One of the big problems I have with the thought of pilots with guns isn't the concept of pilots with weapons. That isn't the issue. My biggest issue with it is that the pilots are the wrong crewmember to be assigned the job. We would in essence be asking the two individuals already with the highest task load, and greatest level of responsibility, to do yet one more thing. Something that could be done by other trained crewmembers, who don't also have the responsibility of ensuring the plane stays in the air. An attempted hijacking could most definitely be classified as an in-flight emergency. During an emergency, where should the pilot be? Flying the damned airplane! That's rule number one in an emergency - fly the plane! And you can't fly the plane if you're running around in the cabin confronting bad guys. Train the flight attendants. There are a lot more of them than there are flight deck personnel on most airliners of any substantial size. And they'd be in a much better position to be 'in tune' with a developing situation, at least more so than someone being called over the interphone with only a verbal shout for assistance. In conclusion. Arm the pilots? Fine, if it helps you sleep better at night, congratulations. If it gives you piece of mind when you walk down a jet way towards a waiting aircraft, just dandy. But keep in mind - it was only one solution, and a knee jerk one at that, and it just might not afford the level of protection you're counting on. But something better wasn't even a part of the consideration. Happy aviating, everybody.
BEFORE WE ALL GO TO WAR... ...I've decided to relax and enjoy the few remaining days of peace, by wallowing in the twin obsessions of the fin de siecle 1990s - making money without working for it, and celebrity. These are all neatly wrapped up on one fun package over at BBC3, with their Celebrity Stock Exchange, CELEBDAQ. They give you an imaginary 10,000 pounds, and you buy "shares" in individual celebrities. The usual laws of supply and demand kick in, prices rise and fall, and at the end of the week shares pay dividends based on how much publicity the celebrities received in a wide variety of UK publications. If you've invested in someone who suddenly gets a ton of publicity, like Ulrika Jonsson whenever she writes a book or attends the opening of an envelope, or mentions the coach of the English soccer team in public, you get more money. Uh, for American readers, Ulrika Jonsson is....oh god, I can't expose you to her, it's all too horrible. But if you're ever in the UK and you find yourself dating a bubbly Scandanavian ex-weather girl, DO NOT DUMP HER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES! Let her dump you, it's the only way to retain your self-respect and sanity. I've gone for a thousand shares in Jennifer Lopez, a blue-chip stock if ever there was one, 500 in Russell Crowe, because it's been a few weeks since he punched someone and I know he's bound to snap sooner or later and there's the wedding coming up (I hope), 300 in Colin Farrell, because he's bound to do something silly at some LA nightclub the way he's partying these days, and 352 in Kylie, because she's, well Kylie. It's all very silly and ephemeral and 90's. But I reckon we could do with a little light relief. If any of you decide to play the game, let's all hear about it in the comments section, tell us who you picked and why. Help take our minds off other things for a while.
The Tale of the Engineer that Went to Hell. So an engineer died as we all do in time and being an engineer he went to heaven because that’s where all engineers go. Unfortunately when he got there it turned out that St Peter had finally succumbed to two thousand years on the job and had ducked out to take leak leaving the screening job to a minor official who had previously worked at immigration at Heathrow. And this guy was a little flustered and misread the ledger and sent the engineer to hell. Well the engineer got to hell and quite frankly didn’t like it. It was hot, he couldn’t understand what anyone was saying, the trains wouldn’t run on time, the beer was warm and he couldn’t work out how many Euro’s there were to the dollar and he kept getting ripped off. But being an engineer and the master of his own destiny he set about correcting hells problems. He fixed the air-conditioning first and immediately people were less grumpy. He built a French to English translator and found he could understand almost everyone there. He hacked into the world stock markets and discovered the true value of the Euro and switched to using beads, axe heads and blankets instead. Well the devil was quite taken with the guy after he got his first cold beer curtesy of the new refrigeration unit the engineer had built. So the devil had him doing all kinds of jobs making hell run more efficiently… then Peter got back – ok it had been a while but the guy hadn’t taken a break for two thousand years so cut him some slack alright. Well Pete discovered the mistake and he got on the blower to hell right away, for a change his call was connected immediately. Err hi, listen Beelzebub you’ve got one our engineers there, we need him back. Sorry Pete can’t do it, this guys handy, I’m getting 357 channels now and I’m not paying for any of it. Hey dude that’s an engineer, you know we get all of them. Just give him up, kay. Bite me Pete, gotta go Sienfields on. CLICK Well Peter was not happy, but there was only one thing for it. He went to see God. He explained the situation and God was on it. Immediately he picked up… THE RED PHONE (dramatic chord!!!!… yeah sorry about that, God is kind of cheesy that way. Seen to many C.B. De Mille flicks or something.) ITS ME. Announced God when the phone was answered. Yes I know, he even speaks in caps lock, how pretentious is that. But its God, what are you going to do. Wassssuuuuuuuuuuuuuuupppp!! Came the less than awed reply. LISTEN YOU HAVE AN ENGINEER, YOU WILL RETURN HIM UNTO ME OR FACE MY WRATH Ummm nope God fumed. He’d always had trouble with this one but when you’ve already sent the guy to hell your disciplinary options are limited. GIVE ME MY ENGINEER He intoned, with a tasteful John Williams brass section backing him up. Nah. At a loss for options God finally snapped, GIVE ME MY ENGINEER OR I”LL SUE YOUR FORK TAILED ASS!!!! And where the fuck are you going to get a lawyer from?” CLICK If you want a moral to this story, its never let immigration officals from Heathrow decide who should be let in and who should be kept out.
The Queue Forms on the Left Stupidity should be cured says the discoverer of DNA. Please step this way Mr Fisk, Mr Chomsky, Mr Pilger, Ms Streisand, Rabbi Lerner, Mr Benn, all members of the Green Party, Your Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, all white guys with dreads, etc. I'm sorry Mr Chirac, some things are just beyond medical science.
Sign of the Apocalypse:

I agree with Bill Clinton!

Courtesy of Mr. Andrew Sullivan's "Thought for the Day."

"What if [Saddam] fails to comply and we fail to act, or we take some ambiguous third route, which gives him yet more opportunities to develop this program of weapons of mass destruction? ... Well, he will conclude that the international community has lost its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction. And some day, some way, I guarantee you he'll use the arsenal." - president Bill Clinton, 1998.

AudioBlog?
Noticed this on the Blogger home page, and thought I'd give it a spin. Powered by audblogaudblog audio post I think I'll stick to typing for now...
Why war?

Ok, kids, let's analyze Bush's reasons for wanting to spread democracy throughout the Mid-east. Why, exactly, would he want to do that? What could his thinking be?

1) He's doing it to protect the American people from the Islamofascist threat.

2) He's doing it for altruistic reasons - bringing democracy to the oppressed peoples of that region.

3) He's doing it because he's owned by the oil companies, and an American Empire in the Mid-east would be great for business.

I don't think anyone, no matter what you believe is "right," can deny that the Mid-east is a threat. I think that how we should deal with this threat is certainly a matter of debate (not to me, but to some), but the threat part seems pretty clear cut. I think the first reason, protecting us from terrorists, is George's driving force. I think that the result of this War on Terror will be the liberalization of the Mid-east, but that's our goal simply because it's the best way to protect ourselves. We're not doing this because we care about the people over there; we're doing this in our own self-interest.

We're going to be the steamroller of democracy; this is a war to protect us, first and foremost. A nice side effect of this will be the liberation of the Mid-east region. Remember, right now the hatred for us in the Mid-east has been generated by their general failure as a culture. This has been thoroughly and brilliantly discussed here. They live their lives according to The Book, while hedonistic America is full of sin and greed, yet she thrives. This is unacceptable to them. More than just being unacceptable, it's an abomination. Combine this with a state-run, anti-American media in many, if not all, Mid-east countries, and we have the present hatred of the "Great Satan."

The only way to defeat this hatred is through democracy and all that she entails. Equal protection under the law, free speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly. A large part of this war will be winning their hearts and minds. These are the things we must bring to our enemies. If we can't do this, we might as well pack it in right now, because anything short of this will be a total failure, and many people will die in vain.

No blood for oil! This has been the cry of the anti-war crowd for a long time. The problem is, it just doesn't jive. If this war were for oil, why didn't we keep the captured Iraqi fields in southern Iraq back in '91? Why don't we take Kuwait's fields? Or Saudi's? We've had troops in both of those countries for over a decade, I'm sure if we really wanted to, we could fabricate a reason to take them. "Big Oil" sure as hell doesn't want a war in the Mid-east - it's bad for business. They like stability. It matters not to them what form this stability takes, as long as things are nice and stable. Oil companies don't mind dictators running oil-producing states. (Why did the oil companies lobby for the end of sanctions against Iraq? They wanted to buy oil, they don't care about WMD or oppressed people - they care about oil.) They don't care whom they buy their oil from, as long as they can buy from someone.

If all we greedy Americans care about is oil, then someone please explain to me American intervention in Kosovo, Somalia and Afghanistan. How were those about oil? Why did the US oppose loosening restrictions on Iraqi oil trade during the 90's while France lobbied for that exact action? Why does the US continue to support oil-free Israel against the wishes of Arab nations who have it? South America supplies the US with just a bit more oil than does the Mid-east, but our policy re: Venezuela has been very hands-off of late, despite the havoc their internal conflicts are playing in the international oil market - why? The long-term effect of securing the Iraqi oil fields would be to drive down the global cost of oil, thus reducing the profits of the very oil-men to whom Bush has sold his soul - why would they want that?

So, unless I'm missing some sort of major conspiracy, it would appear that we're going to liberalize the Mid-east solely for our protection. A very nice side-effect of this liberty will be just that - liberty for the Mid-east people. Seems pretty straightforward to me - unless, that is, I'm in fact being too simplistic.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Preparations Update
By Den Beste. He mentions at the end something to the effect that if Russia and/or France issue a veto in the UNSC, all 250,000 troops will immediately pack up and head home. Well, to quote that sage character Al Borland
I don't think so, Tim
The Rush to War Via InstaPundit

2/27/2003

Useful info
A really ugly story has surfaced from the State of Maine. Apparently, teachers with anti war viewpoints have given servicemen's kids a hard time. While one such incident of a teaching professional not being able to keep their political views out of the classroom, particularly when it can be harmful to specific children is one too many, it now seems there are at least 15 reports of such incidents from across the state. This is totally disgusting, and absolutely unacceptable. It is also unacceptable for mid-level bureaucrats to start playing the 'cover our butts' song and dance. I gladly join with Misha, and urge everyone to make use of the contact information he's compiled. I plan to make use of these links to express the viewpoint that this isn't a 'more sensitivity' issue, but rather a 'zero tolerance' issue. If some of the teachers in the State of Maine have a hard time keeping their political views from splattering all over kids already probably worried enough about whether mommy or daddy is going to come back on two feet or in a bag, then the state should have a hard time continuing their employment.
Can't seem to make up their minds... After a couple of months of
Hey! Yanqui Imperialist Running Dogs! You now pay attention to Great Ju Che Ideal Workers Paradise of Democratic People's Republic of Korea! Hey! You listen? You Listen! We demanding your attention! Hey! HEY!
So, ok, what exactly is it you guys think you're up to? And now, this...
Hey! Yanqui Imperialist Running Dogs! You NO LOOK AT Great Ju Che Driven Workers Paradise. You make Yanqui Air Pirates go away! Yanqui Air Pirates make Great Leader very angry! You no look at us!
Sheesh. What the hell do they expect? Update CNN picked a really lame picture. Here's a better one
AND ITS GOOD NIGHT MOTHER FOR TEAM NEW ZEALAND (This post has an R16 rating) For those of you following the Americas Cup racing, NZL82 is now a smoldering ruin settling low in the waters of the Hauraki Gulf having suffered a minor gear failure in the form of the mast snaping. To quote from the on board mic's "Awww shit... FUCK" CRRACKKKK "shit! shit! shit! Fucking uselless peice of"..... after that the crew started swearing a bit with a few choice words about the quality of their boat. Sounds like the guys are not too thrilled with their boat which suffered tripple failure in race one including having more water in the boat than on the outside. In races two and three Alinghi just plain sailed the living piss out them. Race four saw Team NZ head out with a jury rig splash guard to try and keep the water on the outside. Alinghi was sailing away from them again when after taking two hard wave hits NZL82's mast decided not to play anymore and went bye bye. The pumps are working as we speak so either they took some hull damage or they were taking on water from the start and the extra weight was too much for the mast. Full points to Alinghi for sailing a faultless regatta with considerably more professionalism and dignity than Team NZ. Assisted in no small part by their Skipper/Tactician combination of Coutts & Butterworth who know how to win an Americas Cup on the Hauraki Gulf having done it for Team New Zealand in the last Americas Cup. Team NZ have been reduced to using a Frenchman as their tactician, never a good combination, Frenchmen, boats and Auckland Harbour. Alinghis bigest concern now is where the hell to keep the cup since they don't actually have a ocean to defend it on, the only flaw in their planning. Audio link
Media in a Rut? A man ”with a history of mental problems” was mauled by a tiger at the Wellington zoo after climbing into the enclosure. So climbing into the enclosure is not a normal everyday activity for the sane and rational, thanks for the heads up. Our tree hugger media seems to be so in a habit of characterising events that this one was a “vicious and unprovoked attacked”. I shit you not they were dead serious about this. I’m just surprised they didn’t accuse the tiger of “unilateral action”, even though half the monkeys were cheering him on. The other half were wearing berets and eating cheese at the time… and I have no idea where they got those little white flags though. Unbelievable, next they’ll be accusing the tiger of being a dangerous breed and demand sanctions. Come on TVNZ for fucks sake buy a vowel will you, its getting old. This particular tiger has trouble with big chunks of raw meat and has to be fed mince, I say it’s nice to see him back on solids. I wonder if Sarandon and Penn will form a human shield to protect the tiger from the public. I’d pay to see that. Six year old Rokan - I knew him when he was just a little buddle of fluff of only 100 lbs or so.
Its Alive
The McCarthy posting has taken on a life of its own. Original and updated additions is here.
Whaaaa?
I think we've been Hacked! Who was that masked poster? Hey Mikey! We like it!
Clowns in Baghdad!

My family is crazy. As evidence of this, my uncle Francis, who is in the seminary, proposes that we send Special Forces dressed as clowns into Baghdad. The reasoning is that Hussein and his buddies will be so thrown by the appearance of clowns on unicylces, that we will achieve total tactical surprise.

I like it!

Human Shields

My aunt is a flaming leftist. As such, she of course has some very "interesting" friends. One of her friends, Charlie, was a Medal of Honor recipient for his actions during the Vietnam War. Charlie is in Baghdad at this moment serving as a human shield. While I certainly wish no harm to come to Charlie, at the same time, I think he is an unbelievable fool and will feel absolutely no sympathy for whatever happens to him. He's basically committing suicide, and for what end?

It boggles my mind that some people are so against Bush, they are not only willing to risk their lives, but to support a dictator like Hussein. This makes no sense to me. Does Charlie not realize what his actions are supporting?! How can he pretend to call himself "peaceful" when he's lending support to a murderous thug? Does he not understand the danger that Iraq and the Islamofascists pose to the rest of the world?

There's just no reasoning with people like this. None.

HeeHee!

I love this. I just absolutely love it when liberals get really whiny when people don't want to hear their "message." What's even more cool, is that they just don't seem to understand why most people no longer care about what they have to say. Americans are sick and tired of hearing from leftists who want to blame us for the wrongs done to us. It's a little bit like blaming the victim of a rape.

"If you wouldn't have worn that short skirt, Susie, you wouldn't have been raped."

"If America weren't so American, it wouldn't have been attacked."

Am I the only one who sees the hypocrisy in this?

Anyhoo, Donahue seems to think that he was wrongly fired by MSNBC. Whatever. But this just made my day:

Meanwhile, the Web site www.allyourtv.com posted a commentary on Wednesday by Rick Ellis saying that he had been leaked an internal NBC study that described Donahue as "a tired, left-wing liberal out of touch with the current marketplace."

Tired, left-wing liberal out of touch with the current marketplace. Man, oh man, it just rolls right off of the tongue. In fact, it's worth repeating!

Tired. Left-wing. Liberal. Out of touch.

Sweet.

THOMPSON VS SHEEN!

I really like this.

Revival of McCarthysim
Maybe. But as Jonah Goldberg argues, its not necessarily be the bad thing that the usual apologists would have you believe. Jonah's basic point? Sure, McCarthy was a flaming jerk, but that particular flaming jerk happened to be mostly right about Communist infiltration and operatives. His mention about a continued 'argument' on which was worse, Nazism or Communism, brings to mind a comment Michele made on Donahue's lamentation about having better ratings in comparison to the rest of the MSNBC prime time lineup
That's kind of like saying the dog-shit flavored ice-cream is selling much better than the elephant-dung flavor
Seems to fit for that pointless argument as well. ::Update:: Of course, since Jonah wrote this to be inflammatory, someone was likely to rise to the bait. Looks like one of the first is Kevin Drum from CalPundit.
I'm not sure anyone really denies that there were indeed communist spies in the United States back in the 50s. The problem with McCarthy - and McCarthyism - wasn't that he uncovered lots of communist spies, but that he didn't uncover many communist spies. While other, more careful investigators had some success, McCarthy himself was extraordinarily unproductive.
So the gripe seems to be not that McCarthy was after communists, but that he wasn't very good at it. But that isn't Kevin's point.
It's not McCarthyism to accuse a communist of being a communist. It is McCarthyism to accuse someone of being a communist who has only a vague association with communist friends, groups, or ideas.
So Kevin's gripe is that of false accusation, and the needless ruining of lives and careers. Seems fair enough, although, in hindsight and with the newly uncovered/declassified evidence available, the 'abusiveness' of McCarthy et al no longer seems so much like abuse, but as just flimsy case building and/or intemperant presentation in more than a few cases. He continues
What we're afraid of is a repeat of the climate of hysteria McCarthy created, where far more innocent people had their careers ruined than were ever actually convicted of any treasonous behavior, where the old saying was turned on its head and ten innocent people were ruined for every guilty person who was sent to prison.
Now lets see. Avoidance of hysteria would be a good thing, so the question arises - ten innocent smeared for every conviction? Seems a bit hysterical a claim, given the evidence of the past couple of years. He readily admits that the evidence that there were a lot of communists running about is basically correct, but puts forth the 'it was all a witch hunt and so horrible we cannot repeat it' stance. Interesting when early on he opined, referring to Jonah's piece and some work by Glenn -
I can't tell if they are being deliberately dishonest or if they really don't get it.
Its fair to say that the same could be pondered concerning Mr. Drum. ::Update (2):: Some interesting thoughts from a pundit around to see the phenomena first hand - Ayn Rand's, quoted by Arthur Silber. Pretty illuminating, and it cuts a lot of the left wing ballyhooing about the issue right off at the knees. Go now, read.
A NATIONAL TARTAN FOR NEW ZEALAND A good idea, yes? But this being 21st century, Labour-dominated, PC-to-the-max, Dear Leader Helen worshipping Aotearoa, the first people we consult with are...you guessed it - THE MAORIS! About a TARATAN!

It took years to discover what a national tartan would look like, association president Frank MacKinnon said. "Consulting Toi Maori Aotearoa (Maori Arts New Zealand) was the first thing we did." Clan New Zealand colours are green for the land, blue for the ocean, brown for Maori, black for our sports, and red for early European settlers. "There is a close resemblance between the tartan kilt and the traditional Maori kini-kini made from dried flax," the New Zealand Tartan Company's brochure said. Miss Clark said in consulting Maori "we have gone about this in a very New Zealand way".

Link via NZPundit. I can't satirise this! It's impossible! My McMurray ancestors are all leaping up and down, waving claymores and howling in Gaelic in my subconcious, for all the good that'll do. My Maori ancestors are probably laughing fit to bust. I need a drink - half of me wants to get drunk, but the other half doesn't want to pay for it [rim shot].
I LOVE IT WHEN A PLAN COMES TOGETHER Or at least when we all start sounding like each other. Have a look at DenBeste's latest and see if you could tell, without looking, if it's him or Victor Davis Hanson writing.

The battle lines are drawn. The war is on. There are two sides in this war and there is no common ground between them.

One of my favourite descriptions of Victor Davis Hanson was written last year by Andrew Northrup, and it bears repetition.

If you are going to be a hawk, why be half-assed? Why make some candy-ass proposals about how to assemble a coalition and apply diplomatic pressure and use surgical strikes, when you can bellow from the crenellated walls of your Fortress of Blood that the armies of democracy will wash away all who oppose them like a dark tide? And why talk about modern politics and warfare at all when Perecles or Thermistecles or Triceratops offers a perfect object lesson in why America is the fucking tits, and is going to pound your sorry democracy-hating ass until my fist breaks. I think Mr. Hanson should consider taking some TM classes, and possibly a mild tranquilizer, but I hope he doesn't. [Note: This is not in any way an attempt to exorcise myself of the nightmare I have where, night after night, I am a novice hoplite, sea-sick and terrified aboard my trireme, as Prof. Hanson screams in my face about the glory of Athens. We are about to attack the evil Persians, when I realize I am naked, and I don't know how to use my sword, and I'm late for a math test that Prof. Pythagoras said was half my grade. Also, all the Persians look like Jimmy Carter. I awake, drenched in sweat, only to find that I am clutching in my hand a piece of my sunken warship, still wet with the Aegean waters of 25 centuries past! Dear God, just give me one night of peace!]

Yeah, that happens to me all the time too. Mmmm...wash away all who oppose us like a dark tide..... Andrew Northrup is a liberal, but he has a brain which is capable of recognising the awful truth. For one thing, he can't stand Robert Fisk.

As if the people of the Arab world didn't have enough problems, now they have to contend with the withering scorn of Robert Fisk: What on earth is it with the Arabs? Of all people, they – and they alone – are likely to suffer in this American invasion of their homeland. They – and they alone – have the will and the ability to understand that this US military adventure is intended – as Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, frankly declared last week – to change the map of the Middle East. What on dirt, indeed. Like a Pioneer 10 of self-parody, Mr. Fisk has now moved far beyond the the usual dizzy orbits, and is drifting off, bravely, hyperbolically, where no fool has gone before. You silly, silly man.

Andrew is on hiatus from blogging at the moment - there's some cryptic remark at his site about having to work on some sort of top secret orbital atomic death laser at the behest of Dick Cheney and the Masters of the Universe (which by the way would be a great name for a rock...oh, Dave Barry's job's still taken is it?). But in the meantime, he lets us in on How Democrats Make Political Decisions. It's revealing.

From now on, whenever anyone asks me my opinion on any political issue, I am going to throw my hands in the air, say "I delegated that", and motion in the general direction of Washington, D.C. The outcomes of any policy decisions will be evaluated after the fact, on a ten-point scale, just like on "Are You Hot?" When voting time comes around, I will add up the candidate's scores, make appropriate adjustments for style and degree of difficulty, compare these scores against the median score for all politicians (both for the modern era and over history; for America and world-wide), compute an overall political competance differential (OPD), and then vote Democrat.

JAMES MORROW VS BARRY JONES The quiz kid goes down like a sack of spuds in the first round!

"War will lead to a coalition between moderate and fundamentalist Muslims," which is in a way good to hear, since it means Jones is willing to lump everybody - not just dumb 'mericans, into monolithic groups, despite evidence to the contrary. "The UN is likely to be damaged." As Steven Den Beste is fond of saying, this is a feature, not a bug - at least in my book. "The clash of civilisations will continue," to which I say, bring it on. I'll bet my quantum physics, Renaissance art, and cheap global air travel against your sharia law and Koranic memorization any day of the week. And win.

2/26/2003

Oops
We missed our input to the Carnival of the Vanities, but hey, head on over to Kesher Talk and check it out anyway, if you haven't already.
Live from the Sandbox
Where there's a will and a blogger, there's a blog. You want an on-scene perspective, go get your fill from LT SMASH. It doesn't get much more honest than this, folks.
I didn't come here looking for a thrill. I'm here because there is a hole in the ground in New York, where a couple of the world's tallest buildings used to be. I'm here because I knew some of those people in the Pentagon. I'm here because my seven-year-old nephew has nightmares about terrorists. I'm here because whether Saddam is responsible or not for those terrorist attacks, he has the will and is developing the means to do much, much worse. I'm here because if History teaches us anything, it is that evil men cannot be deterred by sanctions, containment strategies, diplomacy, resolutions, or weapons inspections. I'm here because I don't believe in appeasement. I'm here because someone has to be. I'm here because I was called. I'm here because I have a job to do.
Or this
The sunrise this morning was beautiful. There was dust in the air on the eastern horizon, magnifying the sun into a large, bright orange orb that seemed almost too big to lift off the ground. I was almost too busy to notice. Almost, but not quite. I paused for a few moments, to soak it all in. Then I got back to work. We're sharpening the sword. We are by no means perfect in our execution, but every day we get a little bit better. And every day, there are more of us. I pray that God will show Mercy to anyone who stands in our way. Because we won't
Go and read what else the man has to say...
Aw Crap
MEMRI has a translation from an Islamist website claiming an attack, possibly by Al Qa'ida, within 'about ten days', apparently in the US. The text indicates the team(s) is or are in place, awaiting a 'go' signal. Can't help but wonder if its a real telegraph of a punch, or just some pretty blunt information warfare in action. Guess we'll know in 'about ten days.' Bastards. (via LGF)
Well, at least there's this
Most of the time driving around I listen to NPR. This is the result of choosing between listening to brain numbing music, or brain numbing discussions, or listening to the odd sounds of the car and wondering what is about to wear out and break that's making THAT noise. Sometimes, there is something on that doesn't make me into a hazardous driver due to the eye rolling caused by this or that ridiculous statement. Such as this question: What do you get when you combine a digital camera, a website, and too much time on your hands? One possible answer (in the Jeopardy format, of course is) How Much Is Inside?. Includes Vegamite! SPOILER ALERT - no, he didn't win the Suburban...
TURNING THE TABLES Now that Belgium has decided it has the right to put Ariel Sharon on trial for the crime of...well, being Ariel Sharon, and is talking about hauling other Israeli military figures into its courts for the crime of defending their country, maybe it's time to consider going on the offensive. Jack Engelhard has a modest suggestion.

I am talking about an Israeli court, a Jewish court, to judge humanity. Perhaps something called "The Israeli Criminal Court For Crimes Against The Jewish People." This court wouldn’t be in The Hague or in Brussels, but rather, in Jerusalem. Given the history of Crusades, Inquisitions, pogroms, Holocausts and today’s relentless terrorism, plus the media’s own pogrom, I think such a tribunal is entirely legitimate. Never before have the nations had to formally answer for their crimes specifically against the Jewish people. Why not? If Israel has to answer, why not them? Let’s call them in, and for once, let Israel be the judge. Start with Belgium, and let that nation answer for its war crimes in the Congo, Rwanda, and Somalia, where millions were put to starvation, torture, rape and murder. Bring in the families and supporters of Arab suicide bombers. Bring in all the clerics who call for jihad. Subpoena them if you have to. Bring in France for its Paris Roundup of 1942 and the 72,000 Jews it handed over to the Nazis, and which still supports the Nazis who today go by a different name. Bring in those British newspapers that call for the dismantling of Israel, and that Oxford poet who demanded that all Jewish settlers be shot and killed. Bring him to Jerusalem.

In an ideal world, this would actually happen.
ATTACKING IRAQ WOULD BE ILLEGAL I'm afraid the Australian legal fraternity are bearing down on us, waving writs and shrieking about something called "international law". Yawn. Wake me for the victory parade, okay? Uncle, over at ABC Watch, takes them apart nicely, so I don't have to.

Even if the use of force can be justified, international humanitarian law places significant limits on the means and methods of warfare. ... Intentionally launching an attack knowing that it will cause "incidental" loss of life or injury to civilians "which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated" constitutes a war crime at international law. I somehow guessed we'd get here; the US government is comprised of war criminals. The military objective of disarming Iraq could not justify widespread harm to the Iraqi population, over half of whom are under the age of 15. The use of nuclear weapons in a pre-emptive attack would seem to fall squarely within the definition of a war crime. Did you see that? Just before you could ask what they meant by "widespread" they nuke you. What a shut-your-face that was. But even without the nukes: Estimates of civilian deaths in Iraq suggest that up to quarter of a million people may die as a result of an attack using conventional weapons and many more will suffer homelessness, malnutrition and other serious health and environmental consequences in its aftermath. Whose "estimates"? And why "up to" rather than the best estimate? This are standard rhetorical devices employed by political shonks. Is that what you are, professors? What about the 'estimates' that 'up to' ten million Iraqis will be dancing in the streets when the Saddamite dictatorship falls? And the lives saved by ending those UN sanctions. Not to mention the two million Saddam-generated corpses, who have no rights.

The eminent legal personages who have lent their august reputations to this pile of steaming dreck that would attract a fail mark in any decently-run first year law course are listed below. If you are ever accused of a capital crime and one of these geniuses turns up as your court-appointed lawyer, you might like to consider saving everyone a lot of time and just ask for the lethal injection straight away.

Don Anton, senior lecturer, ANU; Peter Bailey, professor, ANU; Andrew Byrnes, professor, ANU; Greg Carne, senior lecturer, University of Tasmania; Anthony Cassimatis, lecturer, University of Queensland; Hilary Charlesworth, professor and director, Centre for International and Public Law, ANU; Madelaine Chiam, lecturer, ANU; Julie Debeljak, associate director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law; Kate Eastman, Wentworth Chambers, Sydney; Carolyn Evans, senior lecturer, Melbourne University; Devika Hovell, lecturer, University of NSW; Fleur Johns, lecturer, Sydney University; Sarah Joseph, associate director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University; Ann Kent, research fellow, Centre for International and Public Law, ANU; David Kinley, professor and director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University; Susan Kneebone, associate professor, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law; Wendy Lacey, lecturer, Adelaide University; Garth Nettheim AO, emeritus professor, UNSW; Penelope Mathew, senior lecturer, ANU; Ian Malkin, associate professor, Melbourne University; Chris Maxwell QC, Melbourne Bar; Tim McCormack, Red Cross professor and director, centre for military law, Melbourne University; Sophie McMurray, lecturer, UNSW; Anne McNaughton, lecturer, ANU; Kwame Mfodwo, lecturer, Monash Law School; Wayne Morgan, senior lecturer, ANU; Anne Orford, associate professor, Melbourne University; Emile Noel, senior fellow, New York University Law School; Dianne Otto, associate professor, Melbourne University; Peter Radan, senior lecturer, Macquarie Law School; Rosemary Rayfuse, senior lecturer, UNSW, Simon Rice OAM, president, Aust ralian Lawyers for Human Rights; Donald Rothwell, associate professor, Sydney University; Michael Salvaris, senior research fellow, Institute for Social Research, Swinburne University; Chris Sidoti, professor, Human Rights Council of Australia; John Squires, director, Aust ralian Human Rights Centre, UNSW; James Stellios, lecturer, ANU; Tim Stephens, lecturer, Sydney University; Julie Taylor, University of WA; Gillian Triggs, professor and co-director, Institute for International and Comparative Law, Melbourne University; John Wade, professor and director of the Dispute Resolution Centre, Bond Univer sity; Kristen Walker, senior lecturer, Melbourne University; Brett Williams, lecturer, Sydney University; Sir Ronald Wilson, former High Court judge and president, Human Rights Commission.

I think we're supposed to be impressed. Well I'm not. If a million otherwise intelligent people believe a stupid thing, it's still stupid.
And in Breaking News ... remember how I said if I got killed on the train on the way into work I'd like someone to smack Dear Leader Helen in the facial region? Well I take it all back, no ones trying to kill me on the way to work, they're evidently planning to whack me on the way home. I don't have a link for you yet because its only just happened but the police prevented my train leaving Wellington station this evening on the grounds they were a tad concerned about it blowing up at Waterloo station. We were all bussed home and weren't charged for it, which kind of bummed me because I'd spent $10 on a day rover and only got $4.50 out of it. There were cops all over the place at Waterloo and a reasonably large area surrounding the station was closed off, but nothing appeared to be a bloody great big smoking hole in ground so I'm picking hoax. Thumbs up to Tranzmetro and Cityline for working around it and just getting people moved, thumbs down to the erection on my bus who felt the need to bitch about every minor delay and how he had a long day and deserved to be taken directly home. Hey arsewipe, be thankful you don't live somewhere where it happens every day and the bombs are real. Hey Helen, hows that anti-war stance coming along, working out for us?
WHERE'S A SOUR APPLE TREE WHEN YOU REALLY NEED ONE? America is an experience I have yet to fully taste, if indeed any one person can comprehend it. All I have to go on is a couple of weeks in New York City, Richmond, Norfolk and Hampton Roads in Virginia, and Ithaca in upstate New York. I have only skimmed the surface, but I know for a certainty that, like a killer cyborg from the future, I'll be back. America is an unusual country, in that it doesn't exist for no particular reason. Most nations are there because they're there. Britain is an island, France is there because that's where the Franks ended up, Spain is on a peninsula, Russia is what was left when everyone else had taken the good bits...you know, a nation exists because of a geographical feature, an ethnic identity, it was moved two hundred miles westwards on the direct orders of Stalin after WWII, that sort of thing. Not the United States. It's here because of the power of an idea - Freedom. America is, essentially, a dream, a dream as yet unfulfilled. Martin Luther King said that, but it might as well have been Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, John F Kennedy or some as-yet unborn citizen. A country that exists because of an ideal! Imagine that. The only other country I can think of that comes close to this is Israel. New Zealand exists because...uh....a whole bunch of do-gooder Victorian busybodies decided to build a utopian society on the other side of the planet using nothing but timber and good intentions. Results of the experiment are expected momentarily. And Australia - well that's a very special place. Its inhabitants went through a rigorous screening process, being individually selected by a Magistrate. America doesn't always live up to the ideal that gave it birth of course, it's a real place, and as the first modern democracy, the people run it. This seldom leads to any good, as any democratically elected leader will tell you if you pour enough alcohol down their throat and there are no TV cameras recording their comments. But America still keeps coming back to itself when it stumbles, because those ideals are on public display absolutely everywhere. The flag is displayed in schoolrooms, and flies from every public building, and plenty of private ones. The founding documents of the nation such as the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the menu at Katz's Deli in the Lower East Side can be practically memorised by schoolchildren. Which is why, when I was being driven down Monument Avenue in Richmond by Meryl Yourish, I became enraged at what I saw. Statue after statue extolling the patriotic virtues of the top Confederate Generals of the Civil War. Men who, had they won, would have extinguished the dream of the United States, kept the ghastly institution of human slavery in place for who-knows how much longer, and brought on their country everlasting shame and ignominy. Until it inevitably collapsed economically and morally. I know, I'm a stranger in someone else's front parlour, and when grandad brings out his photo albums about the wonderful times he spent with the other guys in his army unit, my job is to listen politely, nod, and make approving noises. But not if his old army unit was the Waffen SS, and the photos show him standing cheerfully over a pit full of freshly killed women and children. I'll pick up the cake fork, smile, say, "Excuse me". And plunge it into his eyeball with as much force as I can muster. The good folk of Richmond, with their gentle manners and southern politeness, seem to be proud of the Lost Cause, and have gone out of their way to honour men who deserve none. They acted in good faith? They had good motives? They were patriots defending their homes? Please allow me to state for the record just how much I don't care. Damn them and their "honour"! They would have killed America and all it stands for! That's the only thing that matters. Jefferson Davis, ladies and Gentlemen - in all his Southern oratorical frenzy. The statue, not the guy looking glum at the bottom - that's me trying to bite my tongue. The monument drones on about patriotism, freedom, honour, love of native soil, political principles...it made me sick to read it, and to think that they bring schoolchildren there to learn about "The War of Northern Aggression 1861 - Present Day". There's another statue I saw in America. I only glimpsed it briefly from the train as it pulled in to Washington after crossing the Potomac. It's of another Virginian, but one who I can't help thinking might have some harsh words for Jeff Davis. It's Thomas Jefferson, and on the marble rotunda above his state are these words.

I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.

Davis and Jefferson may be Virginians. But in my opinion (and I'm a damned furriner) only one of them has the right to be called an American.
BIRTHDAY GIRL Cassandra hits 20. Go on say happy birthday, she loves the attention. She's also getting married in a couple of weeks. Just use the comments section, not everyone has a web-site or wants their email shared with the world wide stalkers web.
"HERE NOW ARE THE NUMBER OF THE SLAUGHTERED FRENCH..." I'm not sure which is the more amusingly Francophobic - William Shakespeare or Jonah Goldberg. One the one hand we have the popularisation of Goundskeeper Willie's "Cheese-eating surrender-monkeys", and on the other, this:

Submission, Dauphin? 'Tis a mere French word. We English warriors wot not what it means.

John Derbyshire (and what an honest, red-faced, beef-eating name he bears!) has fun going into the roots of Anglo-Saxon rage at Frankish treachery at NRO. Go read it, it's a hoot and a half.

...frog-bashing requires no actual excuse, and can be enjoyed at any time, with the support of no less an authority than the Swan of Avon. When the French actually do go out of their way to vex the Anglosphere, as they did recently in the U.N. Security Council, there is no reason to restrain ourselves at all. All those jokes you have been hearing this past few weeks about French treachery and pusillanimity — "French rifle for sale; almost new; only thrown down in surrender twice..." — have a long and respectable pedigree. Go ahead, enjoy yourself. Did you hear that the French government has banned fireworks at Euro Disney? They are afraid that the sounds of the explosions might cause soldiers at a nearby French army garrison to surrender.

All this is perfectly innocent fun, and part of an established tradition of pouring mocking derision on the French that goes back possibly to Julius Caesar and Vercingetorix. Speaking of which, did you know Great Caesar has his own blog? It's rather instructive on methods of dealing with the troublesome inhabitants of the province of Gaul.

The Carnutes expected the siege of Vellaunodunum to last much longer, and so they were surprised when we appeared at the gates of their town after just two days' march. We arrived late, however, and weren't able to attack that day. The townspeople attempted an escape during the night. I had forseen this, and had ordered two legions to remain under arms all night. So we were able to foil the escape, and now Cenabum (also known as Orleans) is ours. Rather than garrison it or trust the inhabitants to stay out of trouble, I've rewarded my hardworking men by letting them plunder and burn the town. All the inhabitants will be sold as slaves - I'll let my soldiers handle it and keep the revenue themselves. Posted by Julius Caesar at 01:58 PM

And for an insight into how the national character hasn't changed much since the Legions brought the concept of taking a bath every now and then to the barbarous inhabitants, have a look at what happened a bit later in the campaign.

We marched on to Noviodunum, a town of the Bituriges. The siege had barely begun when representatives came out to beg for their lives. As I want to keep up the pace of my offensive and get to Gorgobina, I granted their request. We were in the process of disarming the Gauls when a massive force of cavalry appeared on the horizon. The Bituriges thought they now had a chance of resisting so they grabbed back their weaponry and fought. Luckily the centurions got their men out of the town without a single casualty, and I ordered my Gallic cavalry to meet Vercingetorix's force while this was happening. The Gallic horsemen faltered, so I decided to test my new German bodyguard. They charged out ferociously and broke the rebels' line, but I had ordered them not to follow if the enemy retreated, so they returned with barely a scratch on them. Now the townsmen changed their mind again. They rounded up those they felt were responsible for the previous about-face and handed them off to us. Fair enough.

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose, unless I'm very much mistaken It's an interesting blog, well written, and Big Julie certainly lets us in on what he's up to. Quite a few lessons for posterity. It's not just about Gaul either - check out the archives on The Belgae Revolt. Now there's a phrase you don't hear very often these days.

2/25/2003

Hey, what do you know! Ilana has found a way to send Saddam a gift!
Saddam Challenges Bush to TV Debate!! Is there and old and very racist joke tucked away in here that uses words like "knife" and "gunfight"?
Odd
But I find myself in the strange position of having read something that DenBeste published, and thinking he's wrong. Well actually, not that strange. The direction Steven heads with this post is one he's commented on previously - that the shennanigans at the UN are wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong. Perhaps. My point of disagreement with Steven is to the import which he assigns the theater of absurd on the Hudson, and the result of the blathering in the UNSC actively charting the course of American actions over the next 30 to 90 days. My bet is that they will not, as I see little evidence of any significant impact to this point. The basic goal has not changed. We've pointed to the fence in left field, and for the past few months we have been firmly stepping into the batter's box, planting our feet, and adjusting our grip on the bat. My thoughts are that it is all filler, something to do in the meantime. A distraction. Theater. While Steven may have already reached the conclusion, and be firmly of the opinion that the UNSC, and the UN itself have outlived their usefulness, have already passed into irrelevancy, and are therefore a waste of our time to dawdle around with; It does serve the purpose of being an outlet for the whining and flailing of those that will get the shaft and don't hold Iraqi diplomatic passports - namely the French and the Germans. It also serves as a source of false hope to occupy the attentions of a regime that has for the past 11 years used all of these pieces and parts to its advantage. Change the course of US policy dealing with Iraq? Maybe if this was the last administration, not this time around. If there is any discussion about the UN within the administration, I'd be far more comfortable wagering that such discussion is on how many more chances to give them to redeem themeselves from being exposed as obviously neutered. To be blunt, the discussion of the utility of a useless organization for influencing useful idiots. All the banter about this president being 'stupid' and overly simplistic does blow right past one key observation. The part about simple. The more complex a plan or contraption, the more opportunity for it to fail or perform in ways other than expected. The KISS principle. We intend to disarm Iraq, you can help, or not. Simple. Has that message and stated goal been altered one bit? I think not. ::Update:: Andrew Sullivan points out why. To put it in these terms, the French are bluffing. We are not, and haven't been.
(Via Instapundit)
And now, for something different
MEMRI is a great resource for news from the Arab and Muslim world, offering direct translations from a variety of sources; articles and speeches, from periodicals, news media, and as has become an almost regular fixture on LGF, summaries of the Friday sermons from the larger state sponsored mosques in the Muslim World. Its easy to skim through the MEMRI content offerings and come up with a tremendous haul of vitriolic, anti-western, anti-Semitic bile; the Islamic media is absolutely awash in it. But there are signs of other perspectives, on occasion. And these occasions seem more and more frequent, which is encouraging. This item is an example: Egyptian Opposition Daily Condemns Suicide Martyrdom Operations. What isn't clear is the circulation or reach of such messages. Is this a widely read publication? Or is it cranked out on a mimeo machine and furtively handed out by a fearful minority underground? By the unflattering appraisal of official Egyptian policy, its not hard to imagine the authors and editors becoming objects of unwelcome and unfriendly 'official attention'. In this article, while it is promising that the author, Egyptian attorney Ahmad Shawqi 'Iffat, absolutely slams the practice of Palestinian Suicide bombings, he restricts his criticism to the act itself, but it seems a given that the Palestinians are dealing with an 'enemy', not neighbors. MEMRI has also produced a number of articles here, here, here, and here, that feature Iraqi bluster juxtaposed against Saudi and Egyptian condemnation of the current prelude to War, placing the blame for the crisis squarely on the head of Saddam Hussein. This acknowledgement that Saddam is the actual agent provocateur in this instance is encouraging, however, on closer reading, the condemnation itself seems to stem from the perspective of Saddam giving the West an excuse to come in and raise a ruckus. The Saudi solution is rather simplistic, that Saddam should just off himself, so everyone can go back to the status quo. Now, while these are not ringing endorsements for western action in Iraq, the are significant in that they acknowledge the fact that Saddam is the responsible party. That concept in itself casts further doubt on the fear of the 'uprising of the Arab street' against a war. Not that all this points to a future of wine and roses. There are significant and troubling differences of outlook and perspective to that of the west expressed in all of these articles. But there is hope, in that they do not seek the most common escape of laying the blame for Arabic/Islamic problems on the doorstep of the West. Just trying to maintain a positive attitude about it all, folks. Feel free to use the comments and let us know what you think about it.

2/24/2003

TERRORIST ALERT Credible Cyanide Threat Made. Those of you used to getting these sit easy. In response to the New Zealand Governments strong Anti-War message to the UN the threats have been directed at us here. Could it be that Dear Leader Helen's assertion that joining in a war on Iraq could attract terrorist action was just plain fucking WRONG. The constant running down of our military including the complete elimination of our air force strike ability has given the bad guys the impression that we might be easy meat? Could our policy of accepting young, unaccompanied Islamic male "refugees" not actually be in our interest? Could the aprehesion of a terrorist cell in Mt Albert prior to the Olympic games have been a warning? Is it possible that Keith Lockes recomendation that we should put our fingers in our ears and go "la la la la" is not going to be an effective deterrent? YA THINK??? The threats are considered to be credible by the NZ Police who have issued warnings that the threats made in letters mailed from within New Zealand to the US Embassy, the UK and Australian High Commissions in Wellington should be taken seriously. One of the letters contained a sample of cyanide just in case we might mistake it for some form of Green Party humour. Specifically threats have been made regarding food and "public transport". We apparently should be on the look out for traces of white powder in our food, or nausea and vomiting, death from choking is a real give away too. They didn't mention what we need to look out for on public transport, apparently our clue will be getting ripped apart by an explosion where the standard drill is to scatter ourselves over a large area. If I get killed on the train in to work someone please go and punch Helen in the face for me. You may have trouble getting in because the security at parliment has been increased for some reason. I have to go add a few items to my school bag now.
So, what are you just sitting there for?
Get your bee-hind over and wish the Newlyweds well! Go on! Mr. and Mrs. Castel-Dodge, congratulations. Best wishes for many, many years of happiness for you both.
M3
After you've checked out Whittle, cruise on over and take a peek at 'A child's Fantasy', Mean Mr. Mustard style. Cosby, but no Jello Pudding...
Confidence
Bill Whittle offers this wonderful explaination of the phenomena. On a side note, Bill is musing about compiling his online works, with some he has not yet offered up, for a compendium on dead tree. Something like that might actually make me hit one of the buttons at Daily Pundit...

2/23/2003

Iraqis finding uses for Idiots
And oh lawdy, shock and surprise, they aren't the uses the idiots planned to be useful for. Seems the useful idiots wanted to shield those hotbeds of targetting activity around Baghdad on the Ultra-Double-Top-Secret Targetting list, which we'll share here since its no longer Ultra-Double-Top-Secret, since the useful idiots spilled the beans, and it has been declassified -
  • Hospitals
  • Orphanages
  • Suburban Baghdad Houses
  • The Al Rasheed Hotel
  • Babylonian Ruins on the outskirts of the City
Sources close to the meeting between the shields and their Iraqi 'hosts' are rumoured to have reported this reaction from the Iraqi minder (note, loose translation from Arabic, possibly not exact literal utterance)
List? Those morons call this a list? Don't those shitheads know the Americans never bomb these places? Are they really that effing stupid or just cowardly media whores?
That's a question I'd care neither to try and answer, nor wager on.
North Korea Lots of peaceniks, noodniks and general no-brain-little-diks have said, and I quote, "How come America isn't going to war with North Korea? They've got the bomb and they're threatening the world....this just PROVES it's all about oil." Many real people may think an invasion by NATO and Europe would be justified just to free the people from tyranny. There are a number of difficulties to this approach: 1. North Korea is not in breach of any UN resolutions at the moment; 2. North Korea is technically in a state of war with South Korea and any invasion would trigger the treaty obligations of China and (possibly) Russia (I am not sure about the Russian treaties' status following the collapse of the USSR); 3. North Korea has nukes and is crazy enough to use them; 4. North Koreans support their government, and particularly the "Dear Leader" Kim Jong Il. I know this last point is hard to comprehend after what what we have learnt but, believe me, it is true. I was staggered when I arrived in Pyongyang to find that Kim Il Sung (The Great Leader) had elevated the cult of personality to an actual religion. The ordinary people literally worship their leader as God. They are happy (really happy) to starve so that he can feast, they are happy to live the lives of mediaeval serfs while he lives the life of an indolent rich 21st Century habitue. Two incidents from my time there will serve to illustrate the nature of the country and the regime: 1. I was at an exhibition of folkdancing (why do all Communist States insist on this stuff?) and it was colourful and even quite interesting for the first 20 or so minutes. So I took a photo, or at least I attempted to. As I aimed the camera, a hand reached out and I was entreated to ensure that the photo did not cut in half the huge oversized photo of Kim Il Sung on the wall - that would be, I was told, disrespectful. What would happen if one was disresprectful to the Great Leader I asked. My interpreter was aghast. How could anybody be disrespectful to the Great Leader? Has he not given us all of this? Does he not keep at bay the murderous Japanese and the Imperialistic Americans just by his presence? Has he not provided for us all that we have? Including even the provision of the Dear Leader as his successor? 2. We were staying in the Hotel Koryu (twin towers, tallest building in DPRK, gauche) and myself and one other chap decided, after three hours of the folkdancing and no end in sight, that we needed an early night. We could see the hotel from where we were, about a kilometre and a half on a brisk winter's night. We started to walk back and they sent the army out after us! We were picked up in a jeep full of armed soldiers who drove us back to the hotel. We were not allowed to walk the streets alone as the Great Leader had declared that all visitors must be treated with respect and allowing us to walk lacked respect. When I actually met Kim Il Sung - at a banquet where he and the top table ate off gold plates with solid gold chopsticks while the rest of us plebs had to make do with silver for the fifteen course abomination that included snake, cat, dog, and several unidentifiable things (although the 100 year old ginseng root preseved in fermented honey was an interesting experience) - he was a short fat man with an enormous goiter on his neck. The banquet took place in a hall with a sort of mezzanine terrace above us, this was peopled by armed men with their weapons trained on us at all times that the Great Leader was present. While he was there no one could enter or leave the room, when he left everything was over. We were supposed to meet Kim Jong Il but he never turned up to any of the planned meetings (I have since found out that this is his normal practice). All this was in 1986 and things were not nearly so bad then as they are now - but I saw elderly women sweeping the snow from the streets with handmade brooms and I saw party apparatchicks ride those same streets in chauffeur driven Mercedes limousines. I spoke with students from Benin who were studying there and who told me of people who disagreed with the Kims simply disappearing overnight. When our flight out (a chartered Ilyushin 61 from the Aeroflot fleet) took off to take us back to Moscow everyone on board cheered as we were flying to the freedom of the USSR! North Korea is a dangerous and deranged patient but, until it asks for help we cannot make any helpful medical interventions. In this state, the "cure" would be worse than the condition. I'm afraid that, once again, the Americans seem to have their foreign policy towards this country spot-on. George W. is batting a thousand so far in my book. David
A Couple of Notes Arising from the Comments. This is just general information about the southern weirdos that work this site so you may want to skip it. Australia and New Zealand are two separate countries, even more sperate than the US and Canada. There is a very large body of water between them. The flags are similar, a blue ensign with a Union Jack canton, the Australian flag has an astronomically correct southern cross in white seven pointed stars and the New Zealand flag has a four star southern cross in white bordered red stars. People of Australia are known as Aussies, individually addressed as “hey Oz, show us your shackle marks”. New Zealanders are Kiwi’s. A kiwi is a native bird of New Zealand NOT a fruit. Kiwifruit was the name used for marketing purposes for what was locally known as a Chinese gooseberry. The term ANZAC refers to a military formation of the First World War when the divisions of both nations were formed into a corps during operations in Gallipoli, Australian New Zealand Army Corps, ANZAC. It has now become part of the language and is some times used to collectively describe the people of both countries, especially troops. It is also a class of frigate, components of which are made in both countries with assembly in Australia. A number of these ships are presently either en route or on station in the Gulf. ANZAC Day (25th April) is a national memorial day in both countries. The contacting section consists of the header and a series of individual contact buttons, the header itself is not hot. You are welcome to contact any or all of us, results may vary. Tom/Bruce is Jewish, I am not. If this confuses you because we are brothers then all I can say is a lot a people have been waiting for the next instalment of how & why he converted for a long time. Extend digit that man. I'm not a Christian either in case you just slotted me into the next default setting. The shop is open 24/7 and proceeds, such as they are go to trying to keep me in school where I pervert the minds of fellow students away from the direction the peacenik tutors are trying direct them. So warm and cosy here on the dark side. Hopefully this has helped make you stay here Silent Running a little easier to navigate if not less surreal.
AN INDEPENDENT KURDISH STATE Actually we already have one. It's a functioning secular, democratic state. I sincerely hope that whatever deal has been done with Turkey to secure a northern front for the war hasn't stabbed the Kurds in the back. Again.

According to the Treaty of Sèvres, concluded by the Allies with Turkey in 1920, the Kurds were promised an independent state; this promise, however, was not kept. Of an estimated 20 million Kurds in the early 1990s, more than half lived in Turkey, the rest in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and the former republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Since 1925 Kurdish revolts have occurred in Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. In 1970, after more than eight years of almost continuous war, the Iraqi government promised the Kurds autonomy over a region in north-eastern Iraq. The implementation of this pledge in 1974 fell far short of Kurdish demands, however, and the civil war resumed. The rebellion collapsed in 1975 after Iran withdrew its support, as part of a border agreement with Iraq. Thousands of Kurds were killed (some by the use of chemical weapons), and hundreds of Kurdish villages were destroyed by Iraqi troops in 1988, after Kurdish guerrillas sided with Iran in the Iran-Iraq war. In March and April 1991, immediately after the Gulf War, another Kurdish uprising was crushed by the Iraqi government. More than 1 million Kurds fled to Turkey, Iran, and the mountainous areas of northern Iraq; about 600,000 Kurds remained in refugee camps in northern Iraq under United Nations (UN) protection in 1992. Microsoft® Encarta® Premium Suite 2003. © 1993-2002 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Poor bastards, if anyone deserves freedom it's them. They've been betrayed by almost everyone, after having been promised a state in 1920. It'd be the height of hypocrisy for us to start our campaign to liberate the Arab world by cynically betraying the one functioningArab democracy in the region. And the Kurds themselves are well aware of the possibility of yet another back-stab.

Two weeks ago, the independent Kurdish newspaper Hawlati did a survey in which respondents were asked, "Do you trust the U.S. to protect Kurdistan?" in the event of a war with Saddam. "Fifty-five percent said no," I was told by Aso Harti, the gutsy editor of this pioneering paper. A prime reason for this skepticism: the Kurds fear U.S. officials will let Saddam gas them again. For six months, Kurdish leaders have been asking the United States to help them prepare for the possibility that Saddam may attack them with weapons of mass destruction. They have repeatedly requested mobile clinics, gas masks, antibiotics like Cipro, and antidotes to biological agents such as atropine, all of which they are lacking. Help has been promised, but nothing has arrived yet. And war may be only a few weeks away.

I get the impression that nothing has been decided about what's going to happen to Kurdistan after the war. Certainly the messages the Kurds are getting seem to imply that the Turks aren't going to be allowed to occupy the oil producing region, or the main cities.

"The message was that Turkish troops are going to cross the border. The Kurds were notified formally. But they are to stay in an unspecified border area and they can't stretch down to any city," said the source, who asked not to be named. Khalilzad also told the Kurdish leaders that their militia forces should also keep out of cities such as Kirkuk and Mosul, the major cities on the edge of the autonomous zone the Kurds have been running in northern Iraq since 1991. "The message to the Kurds is 'Don't get any ideas, don't take Kirkuk and don't do anything silly'," the source said.

So, the US is apparently telling everyone not to make any sudden moves, keep your hands where we can see them, and just move real slowly and carefully, okay? We got you covered, don't try any cute moves. As soo as we've decided your fate, we'll let you know. This is what happens when you run an empire - you might as well get used to it, there are similarly hard choices to be made before all this is over. It doesn't get any easier.