Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Alternative Palestine
My sister sent me some generic article about the oppression of the poor Palestinians by the nasty Israelis. I won't bother you with it. But I think my response is on point:

While in a state of war with a stateless rabble of murderers, Israel would have to be insane to let millions of them back into areas they left voluntarily, hoping to return to a Judenrein "Palestine". The miracle is that Israel has tolerated terror attacks from Judea and Samaria and Gaza for decades. If the Arabs had won in 1948 or 1956 or 1967 or 1973, would they have created a Palestinian state? No. The Ottoman province of Palestine would have been split up among the Jordanians, Egyptians and Syrians, who would probably still be fighting over the worthless spoils. If a native "Palestinian" movement had started terror attacks on Damascus or Amman or Cairo to create Jew-less Palestine as a state, the Arabs would have massacred them to the last man, woman and child. Remember, the West Bank was part of Jordan in 1967. Gaza was "occupied" by Egypt. Israel liberated those areas and began negotiations that would have, if the Palestinian leadership had been half sane, resulted in the very first state of Palestine. But Arafat took the opportunity to miss yet another opportunity.

And how can "ethnic cleansing" exist when the "Palestinians" are not a separate ethnic group and never have been?

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Where'd that come from?
Do you have anything in your house that seems to have popped up from nowhere? In my case it's a spheroid wicker overhead lamp suspended by a chain over my reading chair that I've been using for the last five years at least. I looked up at it today and thought, "Hey, wait a minute! Where did THAT come from?"
I don't remember buying it. I never would have. Was it here when I got here? Not that I remember. I checked with the little woman: " I thought you bought it" Nope. You know the kids wouldn't have let it in the house if they had the chance. So there's only one possibility left. It snuck in by itself. It was rolling along, perched on a truck loaded with moving stuff and fell out on the corner outside my house. It rolled down the driveway and, awaiting its opportunity, popped into the garage and tried to look natural, like it had always been there. And I, foolish I, picked it up and suspended it by a hook mere inches from where I have been soaking up everything from Objectivism to flying saucer lore. It's got a complete record of all my reading, for years. And, oh yes, we all know what it is. We all know that when the time is right it will extend a scrawny little green hand from the top of the wickerwork and detach itself from the chain and roll out through the garage door and with a "pfft" take off for the sky, kick into warp drive and arrive at its home planet in mere seconds. Then, when the authorities on ssxxqplgitt see what passes for thoughts in the minds of men, then can anyone doubt they will attack? Oh, yes, they will attack and destroy and cleanse the universe of our noxious beings. But wait a minute. Back in '96. Didn't I read some Wodehouse? I did, I did! Jeeves and Wooster and Psmith! They'll read it. And, to a noid, they'll die laughing. Hey, you know what I did? I saved the universe! That deserves a Scotch.

Hell for actors

What if, after they were dead, actors and actresses had to adopt the parts that they played on Earth for, say, all eternity? It would be up to God, of course, which parts and for how long. If God liked Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life", ol' Jimmy would be running a failing savings and loan for the next few millennia, chasing after Uncle Billy, crying, "Where's that eight thousand dollars, you old drunk!!" with Lionel Barrymore chortling in the background.
Oh, how the angels would laugh. But they'd get bored eventually. Then maybe they could pick on Bogart and make him play Sam Spade alternating with Cap'n Queeg: "You're taking the fall, baby, just as soon as I find those darn strawberries!"
Schwarzenegger, may he live forever, if he does die some day, will have a peculiar burden, having to worry whether he is to play Danny deVito's twin brother, a kindergarten cop, a Martian colonist secret agent rebel or Conan the Barbarian. Now that's diversity! A most interesting moment will occur when, one hopes not too soon, Charlton Heston knocks on the pearly gates. I can see the sweat starting to form on God's massive forehead already. He has to let him in. You can't consign God and Moses to the Evil One. But if Heston does come in, how could He refrain from letting him play God some day, some time? And maybe, just maybe, the angels would prefer Heston's performance.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Rethinking the War on Terror
Scrappleface, one of the funniest sites on the web, had a great bit about the Republicans' decision to adopt segregationist policies to appease Democrats angry about the Trent Lott tempest in a teacup. I just had to drop in the following comment:

In foreign relations, the Republicans have declared that they have decided that Osama bin Laden is not really as bad as they had thought.
"After all", a party spokeseunuch opined, "he did build all those day care centers, bar-b-que restaurants and discos in the third world. If we had only done that, he wouldn't have had to attack us on September 11, 2001."

Late news that bin Laden has been captured by the Sudanese police and offered to the Bush administration for prosecution brought this response: "We don't really think we have the authority to accept him. Millions of Frenchmen have bought a book declaring that the Pentagon attack never happened and the Jews were behind the WTC attack. That's reasonable doubt as far as we're concerned. We need to get on to the real business of the country, like making sure anyone who declares he's been persecuted gets lots of money and nailing down that thirty-five hour week and six weeks of paid vacation thing the French and Germans have been so successful with."

Monday, December 23, 2002

The Kabul Declaration
Has anyone else in blogdom, or in the regular US media, remarked on this agreement in Kabul, reported by the Tehran Times involving many countries surrounding Afghanistan promising to stay out of Afghan affairs? It sounds like, skeptic that I am, that this may be a major break in the centuries, nay, millennia of interference of every Asian potentate in Afghan politics. Maybe, just maybe "nation-building" or just plain allowing the Afghans to be free of outside influence, has begun in earnest. Come on, Fisk, Pilger, Chomsky, why don't you celebrate this evidence of independence and territorial integrity in Central Asia, by Central Asians? Hope rears its shining face.
Iraqi Darwinism
Vodkapundit has been opining that if we invade Iraq and topple Saddam, we need to be prepared to hang around for years and guide the Iraqis through the strait gate and down the narrow way to parliamentary democracy, capitalism and, presumably, pressure-group politics. All they really need is capitalism and the freedom to make it work. So I posted a comment:

The same people who say we shouldn't topple Saddam unless we are willing to nursemaid the Iraqi people for thirty years would scream the loudest if we refused to leave when the Iraqis said they were ready to go it alone. And that might be in five years, or six months, after the toppling. I think we should have done a lot more "nation-building" in Kuwait after the last war. Why leave a corrupt Sheik in power? But you don't hear anyone complaining about that. The fact is we can't control the political evolution of Iraq. We would be stupid to try. What we can do is make sure Saddam has no access to nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.
I have a vision of a post-war Middle East where the Iranian students have installed a Turkish-style political system, including some power for the mullahs, and the Saudis have been dethroned. Assad in Syria and Mubarak in Egypt must also open up their political systems. The first Arab democracy is key, though. Turkey's democracy has not had an appreciable effect on Arab politics. Neither have Iran's spasmodic bouts of parliamentarianism. But a real functioning Arab democracy would spread freedom and individualism with blinding speed. The Arabs have always looked at the Turks and Persians as overlords, not models. But a true Iraqi democracy that was not seen as totally imposed by the US would make a real difference. Why, the Arabs might even realize that all of their people aren't more concerned with pushing the Israelis into the sea than they are with feeding their children and freeing their economy.
Christmas Contentment
Feeling pretty good about Christmas this year. My daughter's birthday is today. That always gets the celebrations started. We got our tree weeks ago, so the dreaded task of decorating is behind us. The house is full of food and presents. I gave myself an early Christmas present in the shape of Terry Teachout's biography of H. L. Mencken, which I am enjoying very much. I didn't know that Woodrow Wilson was such a monster. It makes sense, now that I think of it. How could anyone who could push the precursor of the United Nations and the Federal Reserve Board and prohibition be anything other than a contemptible fool?

I also finished Kary Mullis's "Dancing Naked in the Mind Field", an autobio by a Nobel winner that confirms all my prejudices about myths like global warming, the ozone hole and HIV not causing AIDS. The only jarring note in Mullis is his advocacy of astrology. Come on, Kary, we can give up all of the illusions left over from Sixties hallucinogenic fantasies. We don't have to hang on to any for nostalgia's sake. Astrology is worthless. Do you hear me? Fake, stupid, ineffective, non-functional, pointless and boring. Get over it. Go see Randi if you need help shaking the monkey off your back.
Message from the Levant

My sister in Egypt sent me a column from AlAhram by Edward Said that had a few interesting points about the Middle East. I can't find a link to the original article, so I've reproduced it below. Here's my response to her:

Well, what do you know? I actually agree with a lot of what Said has to say about Saddam and Arafat. They are thugs. And I share his rejection of suicide bombing and other attacks on civilians. But Said's basic mistake is to maintain that the Palestinians are a "people" rather than just an ad hoc group of refugees from the Arab world's obsession with destroying Israel. The security of Israel is and has been in so much doubt that it overwhelms the problems Palestinians have in getting their plutocrat mafia to share its Saudi and EU and even American wealth with them. I also disagree strongly with his picture of the "unrestrained" IDF. No army in the history of the world has been under such provocation and suffered such losses for so long and acted with such restraint. Any Arab autocrat suffering attacks from a group like the Palestinians would wipe them out to the last man, woman and child. Ditto for collectivists like Stalin, Mao, Kim, Ho, Castro and every minor Commie potentate. Also the French. I don't even want to think of what the Germans would do to them. What I find unbelievable is the leeway that leftists afford to Arafat and their shrillness towards the Israelis, who are only trying to survive. And of course, as Said well knows, the "occupation" is NOT illegal. Hostilities with the Arabs have never ceased for fifty-plus years and international law does not require a power suffering attacks from an area to allow those attacks to proceed unchallenged.
So Said is lying through his teeth as well. He and many others could well be surprised if, as I think likely, Bush manages to disarm and drive out Saddam without launching a full-scale war. Will he get credit for that if it goes well? Duh. And what other plan does Said have for relieving the Iraqi people of their oppression, which costs them far more lives every month than even the most ham-handed bombing campaign could?
Israel has freedoms, and economic success, in desperate wartime, that no Arab country has ever enjoyed. In sum, is Said blaming Arafat and the other mafiosi or Israel for the parlous state of the average Arab citizen? He can't have it both ways. I can't understand why he doesn't see that the campaign against Israel is and has been only maintained to keep thugs like Arafat in power. He should be for stopping the war orchestrated by Arafat but he can't bring himself to give up his reflexive anti-Semitism or the cherished myth of a "Palestinian nation" which has no historic or cultural reality. Otherwise, he's right. Eliminate Arafat. And Saddam and Assad and the entire Saudi royal family and Hamas and Hezbollah and Qaddafi and bin Laden, if he's not already a cinder, and the Israelis would with a great sigh of relief come to an accommodation with the Arab world and help them make their way to rationality and prosperity.

Note: I'm going to remove the Said article, because it seems to be knocking me off Blogger. I'll put it back in when I get a chance. RS.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Turkey and TAFTA

Jim Bennett has another column (via Instapundit) about Turkey and the European Union and how Turkey would be a much better fit in an economic union with the US and parts of Eastern Europe that aren't particularly thrilled with the idea of union with the declining social collectivists of Western Europe - see my Estonia post about four posts down. Maybe this idea will have some legs. I remember my sister telling me, after her visit to Istanbul last spring, that the Turks have a sphere of influence of their own in Central Asia that has unique cultural attributes. It's not Arab, not Russian, not Persian, but Turkic. With the discovery of oil and natural gas in many of the new nations with traditional ties to Turkey, we may see the emergence of a rival to the sclerotic states of the Gulf and OPEC. Perhaps in a few years the Palestinian psychosis will abate for lack of wealthy patrons. One can only hope.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

La Fee Verte

Ken Layne has an interesting link to an absinthe website with all kinds of info about the "Green Faery". The description of what happens to you when you drink a bottle is fascinating in a macabre way. I'm thinking of trying it someday. The smoked caviar and snail eggs are calling my name, as well.
So, two new hobbies to try - shooting and drinking absinthe. Just as long as I keep them separated....
Whittle-ing the anti-gun nuts down to size

Rachel Lucas has posted a long but eloquent defense of gun ownership by a Bill Whittle. It's worth the time to read and print out and pass out at your next PTA meeting or gun nut convention or Republican Caucus. I have a sudden strong desire to go to the local range and learn to shoot. Think I will.

What is it with restaurants that want you to do all the work?

For instance 1, Subway and Subway clones: I am sick and tired of ordering a specific sandwich from a menu, with a specific price on it and having people ask me what I want on it. Bread, please. Even though I know I shouldn’t, loving the Atkins diet as I do. Then fill the bread with the stuff that has to do with the sandwich you advertised. Don’t ask me if I want tuna salad when I ordered a fake crab sandwich. How many times do I have to say I want fake crab?

Then you do the work. Put on mayonnaise, mustard, relish, peppers, whatever makes the sandwich a good fake crab sandwich. Oh, OK, maybe you can ask me whether I want hot peppers or not because there are so many wussies out there who would faint if they got anything hotter than a tomato in their prissy little gullets. But that’s it! None of that “how much lettuce do you want?” nonsense. You’re the darn sandwich professional. You figure it out and do it right. Don’t do it right and I won’t be back and I REFUSE to guide you through the process, to train you in how to make a sandwich. For six bucks a sandwich you can train your own sandwich makers!

For instance 2, buffet restaurants: Terminate them with extreme prejudice. I do not want to go into a restaurant and pay ten bucks for lunch and have to work for half an hour in a kitchen putting together my own plate of food. Only in America! Oh, and maybe smorgasbrod-addicted islamofascist-coddling Scandinavia. I will not take a new plate every time I go up. I know your plan. You want to be able to bring over all your non-English-speaking buddies and let them work setting out food and clearing tables because with a buffet they don’t actually have to know any English to talk to people and serve their needs. Heck, the ones I’ve run into don’t even know the difference between a beer and a coke. All they say is “Go ahead, go ahead! Buffet for you! Leave me alone! Fill up your own plate, silly American! What you think I come all the way from Myanmar to figure out how to actually cook food the way you want it and serve it to you when you’re ready. Hah!”

Which brings me to the point. Meals should be civilized occasions. Civilized men take a civilized break and talk about civilized subjects. Like in Nero Wolfe’s brownstone. Or in that movie, “My Dinner with Andre”. Remember that? Would that movie even have been possible if Wallace Shawn and Andre had to get up every ten minutes, get a clean plate and decide what kinds of sushi to load up on and oh, yeah, let’s pile on some raspberry Jello, macaroni salad and a plate of soup. They wouldn’t have had any time to talk. These ridiculous restaurants only work because modern barbarians are more afraid of sitting at a table with nothing to talk about than anything that could happen to them at the buffet table. They’d rather ooh and aah about the six kinds of sushi than concoct an opinion about whether we should invade Pakistan or just let it implode.
Dream come true or nightmare?
Lots of stories on EU enlargement are popping up like mushrooms after the rain. John O'Sullivan has a dyspeptic view. The International Sentinel has another article, walking the sunny side of the street. The comments are interesting. The Telegraph is reporting, (via Drudge) that the EU is bulking up militarily. Sure. Give them twenty years with Hitler in charge and they might be able to take on one of our aircraft carriers. Let's see, the Ark Royal is 20,000 tons. The Nimitz is 95,000 tons. The Ark Royal can launch Harriers, subsonic but, oooh, they can land straight up and down! That's really going to help them up against F-15s!

Update - paradise in Estonia?
At least one potential Euro-borg absorbee is not that happy about the prospect. (via News Forum) And the information about Estonia's economy makes it sound decidedly like my kind of place. Maybe we can emigrate! Mmm! Lynx stew with a side of bear!

Monday, December 16, 2002

Europe is doomed - still
I'm going to keep on beating this drum until France petitions to become a state of the Union. In this story about Germany, the Financial Times is banging the drum for me (via Drudge). Schroder's tax assault on savers is seen as a threat to industry and investment in general. Duh. Why is it in times of financial crisis, governments think first about raising taxes? Oh, I know. The alternative is reducing the size of government by, in Deutschland's case, at least half, for starters, as well as lightening the regulatory load. But no. Charge right into the machineguns for the Vaterland, dummkopf!

I could have used a few more details. What is a "unitary savings tax" of 25 percent? Do they take a quarter of your savings account? Or do they tax money that goes into savings at a 25 percent rate, compared to a higher regular rate? Even I could think of ways around that. I'd just put all my money in savings and borrow on it. Net gain to the economy: nichts.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Burger imperialism
If we would only stop sending a battalion of Marines along every time a new McDonald's opens, to force people to buy the burgers, maybe the world wouldn't stop the restaurants from opening. I mean, if it were up to the free will of the people whether they bought food there, who could possibly object? If a lot of people didn't like having a McDonald's around, they could just not buy the burgers and it would go out of business and leave (see Update story). So it must be the soldiers running around forcing campesinos at gunpoint to part with a month's income for a Happy Meal that gets people upset. That's the only sane reason I can see for a country so poor millions of its people cross deserts at the risk of their lives to get to California to find jobs, for god's sake, to reject employment opportunities right in their own cities.

Update - You just can't please everybody
In another country people are complaining because McDonald's is leaving. But it only catered to the rich anyway. A school teacher had to "save up for a week" to afford a burger meal. A week? Heavens. I don't know that many people in America who go to McDonald's every week. I guess The Bush Tyranny must have decided to redeploy the burger-extortion battalions from Bolivia to Mexico. Now maybe Jose Bove or Michael Moore will lead a demonstration to force McDonald's to stay in order to save jobs.
Minor victory. I passed the MPRE, prelude to the Florida Bar examination. Of course, I took and passed it seventeen years ago in New Hampshire, but the Florida authorities made me take it over. A New Hampshire license isn't much good in Florida and anyway I let my good standing lapse by the simple expedient of not paying my NH bar dues for ten years! It's actually costing me less to register for the Florida exam than it would to reinstate myself in NH. Now on to the bar exam itself, in February. A colleague at work is kindly allowing me to study with her materials. I'm energized! Right now I plan to practice immigration law. I am looking forward to it. The challenge is to ignore the inconsistencies and outright errors of the law to get the score I need to practice. No, don't think about the drug war or the draft or the overwhelming size of government that is supported by the legal system. Perhaps I can be a force for change.
Loves his People???!!
If Mandela "loves his people" so much, why is he killing them with AZT and other anti-retrovirals? Ah, I see the key phrase: "Lots of money". Hmm, I wonder where that's going to come from? How blind can people be? But as long as they love the poor, how can they ever go wrong?

Any which way but slantwise
Hey, that's right, this is supposed to be a blog about cryptic puzzles. I did the latest from Richard Maltby in Harper's, "Quo Vadis". It's quite challenging. I thought for the longest time I was going to have to leave it undone. I hate it when that happens. But it finally "broke" and I was able to fill in every blank. The only problem is, I'm not exactly sure why I got some of the answers. I know the letters entered are correct, but I just don't get the exact explication of the clue. That's bothersome, too, because I hate to think I've actually completed the puzzle when some answers are incompletely analyzed. Guess I'll have to live with it. Wake up screaming, I will.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

How many times do I have to say it? Cyprus should become a US state and Turkey should join an expanded NAFTA. The EU is the wave of the past. Turkey deserves better.
Iron Curtain - not
This article will be used, I predict, to equate the Israel Defense Forces to the East German Stasi shooting people going over the Berlin Wall or through the Iron Curtain borders separating West Germany from East Germany during the Cold War. There's one big difference, though. The Palestinians killed were trying to get INTO a country which offered them opportunity, perhaps even survival, when they were killed by agents of the country they were trying to enter. The only similarity is that East Germans who went over the Wall, like these Palestinians, were trying to escape a collectivist hellhole. But why are the Palestinian areas so economically wretched that men would risk their lives to get out? Arafat has billions in Switzerland. The Israeli Government just gave the Palestinian Authority $35 million. As with Iraq, there's plenty of money to keep all the Palestinians quite comfortable, even if their idiot government keeps them in wretchedness by refusing to enter into real peace negotiations indefinitely.

And the reason the intruders were killed is clear. Hundreds of Jews have been killed by terrorists coming over and through borders into Israel stealthily by night. I don't blame the IDF, in this situation, for shooting first and confirming later that the intruders were not carrying weapons or wearing explosive belts. They really don't have any choice. The Stasi were in no such dilemma.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Negotiating terror
I've been reading Herb Cohen's book, "You Can Negotiate Anything" and it struck me that this war on terror is essentially a negotiation. One of Cohen's principles of negotiation is that if you know the other guy has a deadline and he doesn't know yours, you have an advantage. So maybe W's declaration of an open-ended war on terror, with no deadlines, just goals to be accomplished, is quite intelligent. Because Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein do not know our deadlines. They don't know when we have to capture bin Laden or overthrow SH. Do we have a deadline? Well, in a way. It would be good to make major progress in the war by the next election, November 2004. But even that is squishy. We don't have to capture bin Laden ever. We can keep saying he's dead. Who knows? Maybe he is. He has a deadline (so to speak!) If he doesn't show up and do something heinous in a couple of years, he's lost his power. We don't have to overthrow Saddam before the election, if we can keep him pinned down, using something like, oh, for instance, interminable UN inspection regimes.
And maybe with each day that goes by we get stronger and Saddam and Al Qaeda get weaker. Look at the latest document dump Saddam did. What did it show? They have and have had a nuclear program. Duh. But they've admitted it. They're dealing with European firms to get weapons. Double duh. But it's on the record. Major Euro-weenie embarrassment. So OK. Are we weaker or stronger than last week, in terms of negotiating position? Triple duh!

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Middle East Arms Conundrum

The Washington Post reports that a ship has been intercepted off Yemen carrying a dozen North Korean Scud missiles. So now the guessing begins. The location was interesting - "600 miles off the Horn of Africa". The ship was nominally bound for Yemen, but was it really going there? That's awfully far out into the Indian Ocean. It could well have headed into the Red Sea, like the Karine-A, or even into the Persian Gulf. Which leads to some interesting possibilities. After all, what would Yemen do with Scuds? Or even Al-Qaeda in Yemen? Fire them at US ships offshore, or at an oil tanker? From what I understand, the Scuds are so inaccurate this would be like throwing a rock at a mosquito. But it would cause a bit of terror. More likely, though, is that the Scuds were headed to Palestine, to the PLO or Hamas or Hezbollah, for use against Israel from close up. But why Scuds? They're much longer range. OK, then Iraq? In the middle of UN inspections? Would Hussein be that stupid, and that desperate for missiles? I think not.

Iran seems a much more likely destination. I can see the Iranians being very concerned about the prospect of a last-ditch Hussein spasm of destruction. Maybe they thought they could get the first lick in.

They're not telling the nationality of the patrol boat that first intercepted the ship. How about Omani? Sultan Qaboos would love to make some points with the Americans and discomfit his traditional Yemeni foes. Developing, as they say on Drudge.

Hmm. Looking back, I see that this is not the first shipment of Scud stuff to Yemen. Maybe the real story is that the shipment was stopped. Why now? Is Rumsfeld getting ticked off at the Yemenis? About time. Seventeen dead sailors testify to the incompetence of the Sa'naa government at fighting terrorists.

Update - Curiouser and curiouser

The ship that stopped the missile ship was a Spanish frigate. Spanish? Huh? Que pasa? In the Arabian Sea or Indian Ocean? And a CNN article (via Instapundit) says there's every indication it was headed for the Horn of Africa, which makes no sense. The ship bore no flag, which is weird to say the least. It went through the straits of Malacca, across heavily patrolled seas bearing ballistic missiles, with no flag, for thousands of miles without being stopped? I don't believe it.
Lott and justification

I don't like Trent Lott. Oh, not just because he's from Mississippi or because he's in favor of the drug war - what politician will say he isn't? I just think he's stupid and he's got a tin ear and he lets the Democrats get away with too much. And that makes me less free. This latest hassle about Lott's comments at the birthday bash for Strom Thurmond makes me crazy, though. It's all over the blogosphere, but Instapundit is the ringleader, as always. The basic idea is that Lott said, "We'd all be better off if Thurmond and the Dixiecrats had won in 1948." And gasps of horror arise, because the Dixiecrats were segregationists and anti-anti-lynching and all sorts of horrible things. But hey, in those days, most of the Democratic Party was too. And it changed. This seems to be what people are missing. Lott may not be saying, "Yeah, it would be better if the Dixiecrats had got in and had ruthlessly suppressed the civil rights movement and kept those otherly-colored Americans in their places."

I know a lot about 1948. I was born that year. You know what the main characteristic of 1948 is? It was one hell of a long time ago. And a lot of things have changed since then. Why, even the Democratic Party of George Wallace and Orval Faubus has become the champion of the oppressed otherly-colored. So what WOULD have happened if Thurmond and the Dixiecrats had been elected instead of the party of George Wallace and Orval Faubus - and Bull Connor? They would have changed, too. And all Lott may have been saying is that they would have managed the transition to a freer society better than the Democrats or Republicans did. And specifically I think he was saying that the government wouldn't have grown as large and out of control as it did if Thurmond had been in charge for a while. Or maybe he was saying we wouldn't have got involved in Korea or would have won the Cold War sooner or any number of other things. Everybody just jumped on the race thing.

I may be giving Lott too much credit. I am certainly not saying it wasn't politically stupid for Lott to say what he said, because it left him vulnerable to attack as a racist. But maybe, just maybe he was speaking from the heart and saying, you know, we thought some wrong things back then, but we would have handled the changes better than the establishment parties did. And God knows a lot of people would agree with him today about the competence of the Democrats and Republicans.

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Make my point for me, Mary
Mary Robinson, the UN's chief whiner on human rights, is crowing in the Boston Globe, that, now that AIDS is a "pandemic", the rich countries will "have to do something". But Mary. The West has fought its "AIDS epidemic" to a standstill. There's no risk of reinfection from the Third World to the West, especially since the HIV virus never hurt anyone. So why should the West do anything about the problems of the Third World? Oh, to avoid revolutions and chaos? But those already exist. The lack of sanitation, food and civil peace that typify the Third World are the cause of the diseases that the AIDS mafia call "AIDS". But they are nothing new. Places like South Korea, Japan, Israel and large parts of Eastern Europe have successfully climbed out of the gutter without killing their people with AZT. Robinson's article, though, is a perfect example of how AIDS hysteria is used by leftists to assert a right on the part of hopeless, helpless, tyrannized and brutalized populations to the wealth of productive democracies like the US.

This brings up a weird objection that was brought up to Peter Duesberg to stop him from pointing out the truth of the HIV virus's innocence.
"But, Peter," the establishment would say,"You may be right, but if this point is publicized, vulnerable populations will stop using condoms, will stop being sanitary and sexually restrained. You wouldn't want to be responsible for that, would you? Let's just sell them - or sell the US government to give them free - some AZT instead." OK, so I added that last part myself. Duesberg's sensible response is, (my interpretation) "If they've got TB, treat them for TB. If they've got Kaposi's sarcoma from using "poppers", treat them for that. But for God's sake don't make up a whole new scary disease. It's like the drug war all over again. When, eventually, it comes out that there is no such disease as AIDS caused by the HIV virus, no one will ever believe the medical establishment about anything again."
Hey, wait a minute. Is that really such a bad thing?

Saturday, December 07, 2002

War Corps
I wrote the following email to Eric Raymond in reply to his recent essay about a man's role in war:

Dear Mr. Raymond,

I remember the attitude I had in the Sixties about those who went to
war. I regarded them as soft, conformist idiots who didn't have the
testosterone to stand up to an obviously wrongheaded war machine.
Being drafted seemed to me to be not a certification of manhood but a
submission to illegitimate force. Looking back on it, I can see that
some actually went to Vietnam sincerely, others were too lazy or
afraid of others' opinions to resist, while more than I could have
imagined volunteered.

The present situation is quite different, I tell myself. I think I
would join up eagerly to repel the Islamic menace. As an oldster
now, I keep thinking, "How can I help"? Debating liberals
just isn't enough. I keep thinking of applying for a job wth the CIA
or Foreign Service or whoever would take me. Maybe there should be a
War Corps that over-the-hill former hippie radicals could join to
battle the new religious collectivism. Hey, maybe there is already
and it's called the Blogosphere!

Robert Speirs
Tallahassee, Florida
ABCNews has called the race for Landrieu and it looks like they're right, although I don't know where they're getting their figures. The SecState figures don't show a lock yet. CNN agrees, and Realclearpolitics.com. So I guess it's over. The Landrieu name works its magic once again and Louisiana is still safe for corruption and collectivism. What, me bitter? Why, no. I don't even care. But I feel like my favorite team just lost a game. But not a big game. Oh, by the way, Oklahoma did win, by three touchdowns.
The La. Sec. of State's website shows Terrell still 30,000+ votes behind. Drudge, though, from somewhere, has figures that show, with more precincts reporting, that Landrieu leads by only 14,000! So maybe there is still hope. Now the SecState shows the gap closing to 6,000! I guess I'll let the football game go. Oklahoma is still two touchdowns ahead with just a few minutes left, so what can happen?
Landrieu's still ahead, but in the US Rep race, Republican Fletcher has closed to within four hundred votes of Democrat Rodney Alexander. So it is possible. Unfortunately, only two precincts have yet to report in the Rep race, so it could be over anyway. More than a thousand precincts have yet to report in the Senate race.
Still steep
Terrell has a steep hill to climb with 2853 precincts reporting. Landrieu is ahead by 23,000 votes. One can only hope that some of the non-reporting precincts are in northern Louisiana, where I hear Terrell is heavily favored.
With 2530 out of 3912 precincts reporting, Landrieu has taken a 51-49% lead. They must have received some results from New Orleans or somewhere Landrieu is favored. Things can still turn around, but this does not augur well. I'll figure out why I care later. Right now, I love the emotional rollercoaster.
With more than half the precincts reporting, Terrell is still ahead, but only by 51-49%. Lee Fletcher has slipped marginally behind Alexander. It's tough trying to keep up on the Colorado-Oklahoma game and the political results at the same time, but I can't decide which I find more interesting. I'll just have to do both.
Election results
I love election nights. At least they give you the illusion something may change. Right now (9:51 PM 12/7/02) Terrell is leading Landrieu in the Louisiana Senate Race 52-48%, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State's website, with about a third of precincts reporting. Unfortunately the connection keeps getting refused, so I can't get updates. Will blog back when I get in. Drudge is posting results, too. Unfortunately I've forgotten which Representative candidate is the Republican. Fletcher is a couple of percentage points ahead of the other candidate. Back soon.

Friday, December 06, 2002

Steyn strikes again
Mark Steyn has a hard-hitting piece on the Rushdie affair and its implications thirteen years later. I remember when the fatwa came out, I rushed down to the bookstore and, with my last twenty dollars, bought Rushdie's book. No, it wasn't that great, but it was worth it just to twit the mullahs. Steyn's onslaught on the mullahs, and their British fellow-travelers, is a joy to experience. A sample:

Roy Hattersley, the Labour Party's deputy leader, attempted to split the difference by arguing that, while he of course supported freedom of speech, perhaps "in the interests of race relations" it would be better not to bring out a paperback edition. He was in favour of artistic freedom, but only in hard covers -- and certainly, when it comes to soft spines, Lord Hattersley knows whereof he speaks.

No waffling on Belgian nuclear plants
In the continuing saga of Europe's economic sepukku, Belgium will eliminate its nuclear reactors, meaning "almost two-thirds" of its electrical power generating capacity, by 2025. I guess they're going to be running those waffle irons on solar power or hot air from the politicians or, more probably, crude oil imported from the Democratic Republic of Iraq under the Hashemite constitutional monarchy installed in 2003. Pretty pathetic when a dessert serves as a symbol for a whole country!
Words, HIV and AIDS

Looking at this story from South Africa (via Google News), it’s easy to see how propaganda assuming that HIV causes AIDS is woven into the fabric of ninety-nine per cent of news stories about AIDS.

The hyperbole begins with the title:

AIDS “knows no boundaries”

It doesn’t? Then why was there no breakout into the general population in the US and Europe? Why were at least 94% of AIDS cases restricted to intravenous drug users, homosexuals, almost all male, and hemophiliacs? As Peter Duesberg says in his book, Inventing the AIDS Virus, how does a virus choose victims by sexual preference and drug use and the number of platelets in the blood? No answer has ever been given. No wonder they put the money phrase in quotes. The lead-in title in Google.News was even more blatant: “AIDS: the great equalizer”! Ah, yes, AIDS, which kills rich, poor, white, black, old, young, gay, straight, with equal ferocity. Only it doesn’t and never has. The sickening fact is that the AIDS researchers wish that HIV did act like a real virus, like the TB or polio virus, and kill everyone without distinction. Only then would their theory hold water and their careers be secure.

Knowing this, of course, the AIDS warriors must have been ecstatic to find that in Third World countries the AIDS “disease” could be said to have spread to all segments of the population. What they don’t mention is that the presence of the HIV virus has been steady in the US population for years at one in every 250 people, with a fairly wide demographic distribution. The prevalence in Third World countries is higher because sanitary conditions and overall health are lower. Yet “AIDS” is reported only for those particular groups who are and always have been at risk for serious health problems from sources other than HIV.

HIV/Aids is not just a disease affecting the poor, the young or certain population groups and provinces in South Africa.
About 5.6% of children between the ages of 2 and 14 from all population groups are HIV positive and 12.1% of the residents of formal urban neighbourhoods suffer from the disease. (emphasis added)

These paragraphs assume that AIDS is a “disease” and that HIV causes it. Why else use the slashed phrase “HIV/AIDS”? Is there any other kind? Then the concept is slipped in, entirely without proof, that HIV itself is a disease. Well it’s not. It’s a virus, one that has never been shown to cause any harm. Duesberg makes it clear that the virus itself would not ordinarily be suspected of causing harm. Another selection from the article makes for interesting reading from this point of view:

Unaware of HIV status
About 76% of those infected with the virus were unaware of their HIV status and 63% of them didn't think they were at risk of contracting the disease.

The first thing to note is that no statistics are given on how long each of these “infected” people may have had the virus in their systems. That’s because the researchers don’t know. They could have carried it from birth, for decades or just acquired it last week. But the very fact that more than three quarters of the “sufferers” didn’t even know they had the virus indicates that the virus was not killing them or even making its presence known. It would have been instructive for the survey to have determined the health status of the HIV-positives and compare that to the HIV-negative population. But that would have given the game away.

Several other interesting points emerge:

Earlier this year, the HSRC performed saliva tests on more than 8,000 people countrywide, 11,4% of which tested HIV positive.

The good news is that the total figure of 11.4 % is much lower than the scare propaganda that has been bandied about. And the fact that that statistic came from “saliva tests” makes me wonder how valid those tests are compared to blood tests. Maybe someone can inform me on that score.

These statistics form part of the results of the country's first independent and representative survey on the prevalence of HIV/Aids conducted by Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). The results were released in Johannesburg on Thursday.

What? This was the first real survey in South Africa? Then where did all those figures come from that have been thrown around for fifteen or more years? Other sources mentioned are from government “estimates” (!! I wonder which way those estimates were biased, considering that every case of “AIDS” means money for the government?) or from surveys of totally unrepresentative populations, such as young sexually active women, truck drivers, pregnant women and “sex workers”.

Dr Olive Shisana, chief researcher, said they were shocked by the inexplicable high rate of infection among children.
"Mother-to-child transmissions and sexual abuse cannot explain this. We know that some of these children were sexually active and we are investigating the possibility that contaminated needles might play a role. Urgent research is necessary."

Interesting. Why was she “shocked”? Could it be that such a “high” rate of HIV “infection” among children was not reflected in childhood AIDS deaths, as Duesberg states more than once? Why couldn’t mother-to-child transmission cause the stated rate of infection (5.6%)? Is that really so high? And why is it a problem if few – or no – children are dying of AIDS? But, no, "urgent research is necessary". And it's urgent that as much money as possible be wasted on this research. And it's urgent that as many health professionals be hired as possible at the highest salaries possible. Excuse me, but I'm going to be sick. And not with "HIV disease"!

There’s much more to be said on this subject, but I think it’s fascinating how much lockstep lip service there is to the myths of AIDS in the news media.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

How could you all be so stupid and why should we ever believe you again?
Ah, questions, questions. Does the HIV virus really cause AIDS? Why would anyone think it didn't, since so many billions of dollars have been spent on the problem and thousands and now, according to what we're told by the UN (GRRR!), millions of lives may be lost if we don't spend even more? I've been exploring the HIV-AIDS-Duesberg-Kary Mullis universe and it's pretty amazing. Go to this website and see if some of your questions aren't answered, but not in the way you thought they might be. Then start thinking about everything else your doctor ever told you and start wondering. You might want to check out the movie "The Fugitive", the 1993 Harrison Ford version, for a dramatic portrayal of what might actually be going on.
Going Canadian
Looks like Germany is adopting the latest Socialist fad: allowing the capitalists to defend your country. Hey, if this keeps up, we'll be able to use the US troops in Germany to just take over the government without firing a shot. Maybe if I play my cards right, I could get my own mountain castle in Bavaria.
More God Stuff
I put in a comment on "The Light of Reason":

If it were possible to show that the statement "God exists" is meaningless, wouldn't that be just as good as proving that God does not exist?
And if "exists" means "has physical reality" and those of "faith" do not actually contend that God physically exists in any meaningful sense, certainly not in the same way that one says "that rock exists" or even "the Moon exists", haven't they admitted that the sentence "God exists" has no meaning?
If you say that the words "exist" or "faith" mean anything you want them to, you have deprived those words of any meaning. If the "existence" of God has no consequences in the real world, then it is merely a delusion, a fancy that may give warm and fuzzy feelings but can not be analyzed or proven. Propositions incapable of proof are not intrinsically true, they are nonsense.
Posted by: Robert Speirs on Dec 05, 02 | 2:33 pm

Nobody stops Venezuela

This FOXNews.com boast might mean more if Venezuela had actually ever got started.
After reading Duesberg's Inventing the AIDS Virus, the implications of this article quoting Mandela are just mind-boggling. The SA government is going to make sure every HIV-positive gets anti-retroviral drugs like AZT which will assure that they will acquire AIDS-like symptoms. You have to wonder how blind people can be.
"The road to Baghdad no longer goes through Jerusalem," said one reporter. "It goes through Cyprus."
As I mentioned before:

I have a suggestion
The New Republic is bemoaning the EU's reluctance to let Turkey in. As I mentioned a few posts below, we could offer Turkey a clear alternative: Join an expanded NAFTA that would include a large swath of Eastern Europe. As a further inducement, the Turks would not have to be in the same economic community as Greece, their historic rival and enemy. Hmm. Then what would we do with Cyprus? Hey, it's not bigger than many of our states. It even looks a lot like West Virginia. I'm sure neither Greece nor Turkey would mind if we took Cyprus on as a new state, or, rather, two states. It's only been trouble for them. We could immediately resolve the Greek/Turkish split by having North Cyprus and South Cyprus, each with its set of politicians. After all, the Crusaders in the twelfth century used Cyprus as a base. Why can't we?

I, unlike Stephen Hayes, have a plan for Cyprus that would solve the whole Turkey/Greece problem and reassure our Turkish friends that we have their best interests at heart. Meaning we won't set the Kurds up as an independent nation. And we won't let Greece take the whole of Cyprus back. And Turkey won't have to join the listing, dead-in-the-water-with-the-iceberg-approaching EU.
Gaz moutarde
And it ain't Dijon. The inspectors have found, in WMT-free Iraq, mustard-gas shells all ready to go, apparently. And, in a "say-it-ain't-so" moment, (scroll down), LeMonde reports that the "American image" has slipped badly since 2000, especially in Islamic nations. Gee, why would that be? What could have happened in 2000 to send our oh-so-valued image among the wretched of the Arab earth skidding so badly? The French must be implying that it was our botched fraudulent attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon, which never really happened or were carried out by the Mossad or which in any case we deserved so much because of our idiot moron "cowboy" President who's attacking the earth and killing puppies for lunch. Yeah, that's it. And, oh, of course he wasn't really elected, just installed by the Carlyle Group working through the Supreme Court, unlike the free and fair and totally representative EU system. Time for lunch, although I've lost most of my appetite.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Another UN success story
Once again UN "nation-building" leaves a nation in shambles and its "peace keeping" does nothing to prevent more war. Has there been even ONE UN success story? Rwanda? Jenin? Cambodia? Sierra Leone? To go further back, Katanga, Angola, Lebanon, Cyprus? The fighting peters out after millions of dead, the blue helmets come in and screw everything up by telling the local tyrants they are being oppressed by the western imperialists, fighting breaks out again and the UN promptly packs up and leaves. Great job, Kofi.

"Who needs terrorists when you have a self-combustible democracy", an East Timorese military officer said. And a self-combustible economy, apparently. Now all they need is for the IMF to come in and lecture them on fiscal discipline. Combined with this story, I have to remember to make a note to myself not to invest in anything east of Suez. Or south of the Mediterranean. Or, come to think of it, in Europe or South America either. OK, so I'll keep it all in my savings account here.
Oh, Canada!
To continue the Canada-bashing, the vaunted medical system is running into some problems. To look on the bright side, this will mean much more business for American profit-making hospitals located anywhere near Canada. And more business for airports to accommodate the remaining Canadian Air Force plane so it can fly in high-ranking bureaucrats and politicians. And that darned population increase bugaboo that the lefties have been whining about since Paul Ehrlich shouldn't be a problem for our neighbors to the north as soon as all the patients who need anesthetists die off. Of course, it is godawful cold up there, so maybe they can lay patients out in the snow until they go to sleep and then operate on them.
More reader mail
A letter I wrote to Kim duToit and his kind comments:

December 4, 2002
Re: National Service

Growing up as a service brat, I saw everything I needed to see about the military. It put a premium on mindless subservience, rewarded ignorance and punished innovative thinking. The Service is as much a womb as college or government work or a large corporation. It tolerates incompetence and sloth and brutality from those who keep their uniforms neat and their mouths shut. As a teenager, I assumed I would go in the Air Force, but then got converted by VietNam stories and Bob Dylan to stubborn opposition to military service, which conveniently coincided with opposition to my father, a USAF officer. I managed to stay out of the draft and thought I was doing something noble and modern. OK, maybe I was arrogant and elitist.

Looking back on it, I wish I had gone in so I could speak from personal experience. I have no illusions now about the nature of the Viet Cong or the North Vietnamese. But I still think US intervention was, as Talleyrand said, "worse than a crime, a mistake". And I still think compulsory military service is unAmerican. The draft riots in 1863 and in WWII certainly expressed a lot of men's opposition. Our new highly technological military needs fewer and fewer riflemen each year. Have you heard about the new anti-artillery laser system? If that's real it changes the whole battlefield to an exercise in mopping up.

What's wrong with a lost eighteen-year-old going voluntarily into the Peace Corps? Doesn't that still exist? You never hear of it much any more. "Compulsory service to the State" still sounds collectivist to me. The benefits of military service don't justify taking away freedom and inculcating the idea that you "owe" something to your country. That's not the way it works. Free men work for their own good, not for others. I believe jury duty is also equivalent to slavery and does NOT produce any result worthy of the name of justice. Grow up and face it. Men have to find their own way. No one can hand them solutions to life's problems.

Robert S.

[Excellent letter, although I disagree strongly with some of your points. Citizenship is NOT a free ride, and taxes should not be the only sacrifice asked of citizens. Without some degree of service, it just gets taken for granted. Good grief, the ONLY compulsory service we demand of U.S. citizens is jury duty, and most can get out of THAT. Note that I did not suggest sending draftees into combat (unless they volunteered, of course), so I suspect that most of the "draft riot" worries are misplaced.
Yes, men should grow up and find their own way. But 18-yr-olds aren't men yet (we don't trust them to buy or consume liquor, for example), and there's nothing wrong with a little helping shove in the right direction. I'm reminded of the old saw, "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." A non-combat draft would do just that, I suspect.]

I wrote in response to this rant (his word, not mine!)
Commenting vs. blogging
I've been doing a lot of commenting on other people's websites lately, when I should have been blogging, importing their controversies to the greater glory of Conundrum. It's hard to avoid getting caught up in intellectual duels though, what with all the shallow liberals there are out there. I guess the battles keep me up with the latest arguments, but most of the comments I run into seem clearly wrong or vicious. How many ways can one call Bush a "moron"? Maybe someday I'll find a website where people are really looking for the truth. Wait a minute. I'm running one!

I wrote a reply to an article Wendy MacElroy wrote for FoxNews Views that touched on one of my pet peeves: the use of anything other than "he, him and his" when the gender of the antecedent of a pronoun is unknown:

I noticed, in your interesting and well-written article "Stand up for Yourself" on Fox News Views, you use "her" or "she" consistently when the gender of an antecedent is unknown. This is a bit of a breath of fresh air. I remember recommending years ago in a letter published in the New Republic that men should use "he" and women should use "she" in this situation. This practice would satisfy those who feel awkward or offended by using "he" and "his" and "him" all the time. And it would avoid the equally awkward and, to me, offensive, "he or she" and "him or her", constructions that are almost impossible to maintain through a piece of writing of any length and that distract the reader from the substance of the writing. Some use an even more annoying tactic, alternating "he" and "she" throughout the piece so you never know where you are. The only problem I see with using "she" is that you give up the historical use of "he" to mean both "he" and "she". The sudden appearance of "she" then makes one think, OK, who's this woman and when was her identity established? Perhaps in another generation those feelings won't even come up. Or maybe we'll go back to "he" and "him" and "his". I think it's cool, though, for women not to be afraid to proclaim their womanity (hey, new word!) by using "she". Women don't have to adopt male-sounding first names to sell books any more. And they certainly don't have to worry about hurting men's feelings by appearing to exclude them. I'll be interested to see if your usage spreads.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Dour Power
John Tabin (via Instapundit)has some thoughts about why the press doesn't like John Kerry. So do I:

Why are Democratic candidates always so dour? Gephardt, Lieberman, Daschle, Kerry, Gore, could not raise one smile among all of them. Mondale, Carter, McGovern and Dukakis were all also rather sobersided. Only Carter was known for his smile, however frighteningly insincere it seemed. Maybe that's why he's the only winner. They're quite a contrast with Eisenhower and Reagan and the Bushes, pere et fils. Of course there's always Nixon. Should have stopped while I was ahead!
Sometimes it's just too easy

Here's something my sister sent me, hoping to score points:

From: David Pugh [mailto:dpugh@igc.org]

Sent: Thursday, November 28, 2002 11:14 PM
To: ISM/Bayan Muna
Subject: Canadians to lead weapons inspection team into U.S.

Toronto, Canada
November 21, 2002

Canadians to lead weapons inspection team into USA

A coalition of Canadian peace groups today announced their intention
send an international team of volunteer weapons inspectors into the
United States later this winter. The coalition, Rooting Out Evil, are
recruiting inspectors through their newly launched website,
www.rootingoutevil.org. "Our action has been inspired by none
than George W. Bush," said Christy Ferguson, a spokesperson for
group. "The Bush administration has repeatedly declared that
the most
dangerous rogue nations are those

1) have massive stockpiles of chemical, biological, and nuclear
2) ignore due process at the United Nations;
3) refuse to sign and honour international treaties; and
4) have come to power through illegitimate means.

"On the basis of President Bush's guidelines, it is clear that
current U.S. administration poses a great threat to global
said Ferguson. "We're following Bush's lead and demanding that
the U.S.
grant our inspectors immediate and unfettered access to any site in
country - including all presidential compounds - so that we can
identify the weapons of mass destruction in this rogue state,"
David Langille.

Visitors to Rooting Out Evil's website are invited to sign on as
honorary members of the weapons inspection team. Honorary inspectors
can participate in the action, or they can simply lend the support of
their name as they would on a petition.

The actual inspection team that crosses the border will be comprised
prominent individuals from Canada and other countries.

The Rooting Out Evil coalition includes Greenpeace Canada, the Centre
for Social Justice, and the Toronto Committee Against War and
on Iraq, and is supported by American groups such as the National
Network to End the War Against Iraq, Global Exchange and the US
of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. They
the development, storage, and use of weapons of mass destruction by

For information:
David Langille or Christy Ferguson

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Phone (306) 664-6071

And here's my response:

Dear Martha,

It would be entirely appropriate to send Canadians to look for weapons, since they appear to have totally defunded their military under Chretien and have doubtless forgotten what weapons look like or what it means to fight for your principles and deny terrorists the
right to murder you. They are now totally dependent on US military power, paid for by the US taxpayer, to defend them. Maybe the shame of realizing they are international parasites will affect their consciences, if they still have any. The only exception seems to be when they need to use military aircraft to ferry their premier's family to hospitals in the US for medical treatment they can't get in their moribund socialist medical system. See Colby Cosh's blog for details. Oh, and I caught the egregious misuse of "comprise". Savages!


Here's a reply I tried to send to a blogger on Ariana Huffington's site who maintained that corporations who move their headquarters to Bermuda or elsewhere to lighten their tax burden should be barred from getting government contracts. He didn't want me to know his email address, I guess. His logic approximated: All corporations receive benefits from government activities, and should therefore all pay. Another problem, aside from those I mentioned in my reply, with that thinking is that government does not only confer benefits, it causes harm, sometimes great harm, including overtaxation. And a corporation that pays greater taxes is going to have to charge more for its goods or services.

"This country is being slowly bled dry"!!?

I agree - by the government and its special interest freeloaders. Corporations are the ones who create value in the first place. Every penny for defense and the idiotic social agenda comes from corporate profits. How can you say corporations contribute nothing to the country? Ever got a paycheck? That's money that came from corporate profits. I oppose corporate welfare as well as that going, through huge bureaucracies, to individuals. I just think the government should buy what it needs where it can get the best deal. Is that so radical?

Robert Speirs

Monday, December 02, 2002

I've just finished reading Peter H. Duesberg's book Inventing the AIDS Virus. It's one of those life-changing books. It's temperate, convincing and totally damning. I don't ordinarily side with those who attack corporations in the way Duesberg attacks Burroughs-Wellcome for pushing poisons like AZT and ddI onto entirely healthy HIV-positives and converting them into dead AIDS victims. But the conjunction between the interests of the medical-PC complex and government is just too obvious a stimulus to exactly the kind of dissent-suppressing behavior Duesberg describes to ignore. Maybe the last straw is Clintoon's op-ed on "World AIDS Day" yesterday in the New York Times - no, I'm not going to link to it. The ignorant savage murdering ferocity of the pomo Left is almost certainly responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands in the US. Now they are moving to Africa and Asia, since the AIDS "pandemic" has petered out in the Western world. In a wider context, the acceptance of conventional wisdom, as in the global warming, ozone layer and fatty foods scams is once again exposed as the greatest threat to health and freedom in today's world, much more dangerous than AlQaeda, even though they are all pushed by the same people, motivated by hate and envy. It's hard to describe. Go read the book. Duesberg also has a website.
The Canadian protectorate
Several essays have emerged lately talking about the decline of Canadian independence from the US. The relationship is more like that of Monaco vis a vis France than a sovereign nation in its relationship with the US, given Canada's total abdication of responsibility for defending itself. The difference is that you have to imagine that France would put up with a Monaco whose officials call the leader of France a "moron" and an "idiot" and who constantly boast of how much more moral their social system and failed healthcare system are compared with France's and which harbors terrorists that have killed thousands of Frenchmen. How long would France put up with that?

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

OK, last hijack post. BBC has what looks to be the full story. And it raises a few questions. How the heck does a guy with a history of hijacking get onto an airplane in the first place? And this guy has so little upstairs that he once tried to hijack a TRAIN! What was he planning to do with it, tell the engineer to drive to Cuba? Also, the story says he got into the cockpit with his box that he claimed was a weapon. How in the world did he make it past the security door? What is going through the minds of the Europeans? Will anyone really be surprised if someone DOES take out the Eiffel Tower? Don't you think maybe bin Laden has been reading the same stories I have? Another point. BBC says the plane was a 737. The other stories had been calling it an MD80. So, how did they get that detail wrong? All in all, this story has been quite an education in the incompetence of reportage these days. And it makes one tremble to take an airplane originating from Europe. They haven't got a clue.
Bush invades the AARP
FoxNews is reporting that the AARP, bastion of Boomer orthodoxy, is getting behind the President's prescription drug proposal. Is that a good thing? Politically, it's a disaster for the Dems, who now have one issue fewer to rant about in 2004. But if the program can satisfy the AARP can it possibly be good for the taxpayer and the economy? It would be typical for the libs to make sure the slippery slope to universal coverage was well-greased and steep. If Bush really does tie the measure to Medicare reform, though, I might not be too afraid of it. Heck, just reducing the fraud committed in the name of Medicare by ten percent would save enough money to pay for drugs for all seniors who really need them. Which is probably far fewer than anyone thinks. But that's another story. I'm reading a book right now that's making me rethink the usefulness of medicines in general. Combined with my personal experience with gout medications, skepticism is the mildest term I can come up with for my attitude toward paying doctors to prescribe anything they want.
The New York Post has a "breaking news" story, calling the incident an "apparent hijacking". Why did it take them half an hour after Bloomberg had the story? Don't they watch each other? No injuries, fortunately.

NewsForum now has the hijack story. They label it "first reports". Hah! Not hardly. But they did come up with some funny comments, not the usual shrillness entirely.
Bloomberg had, for a few minutes, an updated story saying the Alitalia flight hijacked after taking off from Bologna had landed safely in Lyon and the hijacker had been taken into custody. No one else yet has anything on the story, from LeMonde to the Tehran Times to the New York Post. Odd.
Bloomberg scoop
Why does Bloomberg have this story about a Bologna-Paris flight being hijacked and no one else does? Interesting how some outlets get news that others don't. Let's see, has Drudge got it yet? Back in a moment. Nope. NewsForum? Nope. Google News (auto-generated fifteen minutes ago!)? Nope. Hmm. Maybe it has something to do with corroboration. But does Drudge really bother with that? He could at least go with the "paper says" ploy. Wow. Now Bloomberg has taken the story down. The link still works, though. Hope the hijackers aren't headed for the Eiffel Tower.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Plague on both your houses
A poll on the front page of the New York Times is analyzed by David Frum of NRO. It purports to show that the public doesn't trust the Republicans on the environment, taxes or Social Security. It's a bit odd, though, that nowhere in the NYT article does it say that the people would trust the Democrats to take care of these matters either. Frum concludes that voters were mainly motivated by the war in voting predominantly for Republicans, and would have voted for the Democrats if the war hadn't been an issue. But couldn't it be that the voters weren't enthusiastic about either party's way of running the country? In that case, any small positive effect from the war on terror would be enough to impel voters toward the Republican side of the ballot. This view is buttressed in my mind by the reflection that if the NYT had found that people were as positive about the Democrats as they were negative about the Republicans, they wouldn't have hesitated to publish those numbers, up front and in BIG TYPE.
Cold War II
I've been struck lately by how much the War against Terror is like the Cold War. We face in Islamofascism an ideological foe that, like Communism, is intent on conquering the world, that insists on governing every aspect of man's thoughts and actions, that paints freedom as irrelevant and dangerous, that allows any means to gain its ends. Like Al Qaeda, the international Communist Party favored infiltration, subversion of the young and exploitation of racial and class hatreds to advance its agenda. It claimed the right to the body and property of every member of society. Refusal to serve the interests of "the People" was punished as harshly by the Communists as refusal to serve Allah is by the Islamofascists.
The Communists, before 1917, had no country to serve as a base from which to run their campaign of subversion and terror. But they claimed to have a natural base in the working class of every (industrialized) nation. Al Qaeda claims to have a natural constituency in every believer in Islam, spread through dozens of states, including large populations in Europe and the US. When they acquired power in Russia, the Communists immediately set out to use the power of the nation-state to spread Communism, perpetrating the myth that history inevitably would bring about the collapse of capitalism. When Al Qaeda established a base in Afghanistan, they immediately launched attacks throughout the world to fire the imagination of every Muslim with dreams of world domination and the inevitable collapse of Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and secularism of every sort. They would dearly like to have control of another country, Iraq or Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, for example, to use as a base.

The accomplishment of the Bush 43 administration in destroying the power of the Taliban emerges as much more significant than any editorialist whom I've read has yet admitted. Imagine if in 1917 the Western powers had managed to crush the Bolsheviks (hey, they tried) and propped up the Kerensky quasi-democratic government until it was viable. Chances are good the Second World War could have been avoided, since Stalin's accomodationist policies toward Hitler would not have been necessary. Russia in 1917, despite the destruction caused by the war, had all the elements necessary to put together a strong capitalist economy. With wise policies, it could have been much stronger in the Thirties than Stalin's USSR was. Also, presumably, half the officers in the Red Army would not have been purged and shot. So Hitler in 1939 might have been forced to postpone indefinitely his plans to invade Poland. Such are the stakes involved in denying Al Qaeda a nation-state to use as a base. Perhaps a hundred years from now someone on that era's version of a blog will comment about how fortunate the world was to have a George W. Bush in 2002 to take the appropriate actions to forestall the triumph of Islamic fundamentalism. I hope.
Advantage Conundrum!
John O'Sullivan, in the Chicago Sun-Times, has a suggestion that looks a lot like mine in my last post. You don't think he's been reading Conundrum, do you? I like his idea of including Norway and Switzerland. The ultimate goal is to absorb the EU completely, reducing the influence of France and Germany to levels commensurate with their production and the strength of their political and economic systems. They would be free to impose thirty-five hour work weeks and six weeks of paid vacation for part-time workers on their economies if they wanted to, but they should be aware no one would rescue them from the consequences of these insanities. A free-trade zone should be just that. No "sharing of the pain" so as to subsidize idiotic economic regimes with the productivity of hard-working free men will be countenanced. But new techniques and technology will be available, for appropriate compensation. I disagree in principle with his refusal to allow free movement of labor. That would be the best feature. Assuming reasonable immigration controls could be worked out to exclude terrorists and other criminals, why would we not want to open our job market to millions of hard-working and ambitious immigrants, and what Eastern European, Turk, even Schweizer, would not want to try working in America? Of course, no social welfare benefits would be available to such economic migrants. Also, American investment in member countries would be unimpeded, making it likely, after a reasonable time, that workers could find good jobs at home. Competition among countries for investment dollars would soon reduce and could eliminate the subsidies and foreign ownership restrictions that have handicapped so many of the world's economies. Win/Win!

Friday, November 22, 2002

I have a suggestion
The New Republic is bemoaning the EU's reluctance to let Turkey in. As I mentioned a few posts below, we could offer Turkey a clear alternative: Join an expanded NAFTA that would include a large swath of Eastern Europe. As a further inducement, the Turks would not have to be in the same economic community as Greece, their historic rival and enemy. Hmm. Then what would we do with Cyprus? Hey, it's not bigger than many of our states. It even looks a lot like West Virginia. I'm sure neither Greece nor Turkey would mind if we took Cyprus on as a new state, or, rather, two states. It's only been trouble for them. We could immediately resolve the Greek/Turkish split by having North Cyprus and South Cyprus, each with its set of politicians. After all, the Crusaders in the twelfth century used Cyprus as a base. Why can't we?
European deathwatch - or is Chirac smartening up?
In this Bloomberg article, the decline of France is chronicled, so I blithely linked to it, chortling internally about the firesale prices I would soon be able to get Beaujolais and Brie for. But, wonder of wonders, it looks like Chirac is actually trying to lower taxes and back off on that stupid 35-hour work week regulation. I don't have much hope he'll get past the collectivists' roadblocks. But at least he's looking at the right moves. Next, he should try a full scale assault on "La Zone", those largely Arab areas around the big cities where police fear to go. That might put some backbone into the average Froggie.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Biting the hand that feeds you, and brings you modern medical care
Maybe this will demonstrate to those who wish to see the futility of trying to help people who hate your guts and want so much to kill you and all people like you out of sheer spite and bitterness that they will keep themselves in poverty and disease rather than let you help. The murderous fool who did this is now, no doubt, passing out candy to Arab children. If he's caught and killed, he surely will have a great memorial service at which modern rational thinking will be blamed for his bloody-mindedness. Too bad his murderous hatred couldn't have been directed at someone who had actually done something to deserve it, like Robert Fisk.
Powell and Bush win again
William Safire and Newsday (via Realclearpolitics) agree that the inclusion, without conditions, of the Baltic trio of nations in NATO is a coup for the administration. The Russian Bear, as James Klurfeld of Newsday said, did not growl. Unbelievable, is it not, also, that Bulgaria, for decades the hardest of hard-line Soviet client states (remember Bulgarians Georgi Markov, killed by ricin and Mehmet Ali Agca, who shot the Pope?) is now a full military partner of the United States of America? And these countries joined NATO before the European Union would let them in! Maybe, as I mentioned in a comment on Sofia Sideshow, we should undercut the Common Market and induct Eastern Europe as a whole into NAFTA. And, what the heck, let's get Russia, Ukraine, everyone else, surround the darn Euroweenies. We could change the name to NAEEFTA. That would assure our supply of Russian oil and diamonds and gold. Maybe Putin would get some help resolving the Chechnya - and Georgian and Ossetian and Abkhazian - situations. Win/win!

Seriously, this is history.

Charles Krauthammer, in WaPo, lays out the changed strategic situation. In short, America dominates. We can look forward to a future where Bulgaria and Rumania have larger, more efficient and better led military forces than France, Germany or Canada. Call me old-fashioned, but history still tells us that those with credible military options get respect. The American target for Islamofascist wrath has hardened considerably. So where will the bin Ladens of the world turn their attention? "Boom! goes London, boom! Paree," to quote Randy Newman. After all, we've got a lot of new friends who, unlike the Western Europeans, will put up with little nonsense from violent fundamentalists. Now THAT's "multilateralism"!

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Perhaps we aren't fated to a future that includes a Canadian-style health care system. God knows our present system is riddled with enough government-induced inefficiencies already. This article relates the heartwarming story of how even in liberal Oregon the voters rejected totalitarian health care by a 79% to 21% margin. The big mistake the referendum pushers made was to try to do too much at one time. The real cost of the program was obvious. It would have bankrupted Oregon. And, of course, anyone in any other state who had a health problem and hadn't provided for his health care would up and move to Oregon to get his share of the goodies before it all went bust. Sometimes I am impressed by the wisdom of the people. Maybe voting's not such a bad thing after all.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Another memorial
You don't have to be a crypto-Communist Senator to get a big fancy memorial event. You can just murder innocent people who are waiting in their cars to go in to work, as this barbarian did. The only good thing is that now millions of Pakis know the penalty for killing people in Virginia is death. If that deters one or two from committing more acts of savagery, I'll put up with the stupidity of having the media treat the memorial polemics as news instead of senseless ravings. I hope Muhammad and Malvo were watching.
How long will it take the Republicans to realize that it is useless to be nice to Democrats? In the lame-duck session under way right now, the Republicans did not force a struggle on taking over full control of all committees immediately, which they could have done. They were being collegial and gracious, or maybe just plain stupid. And the Dems have now done their best to hold up the Homeland Security Bill, the passage of which was the whole point of the session. When are Republicans going to learn that politics is just war by other means? And that if you don't finish off your enemy (1991 in Baghdad, anyone?) he will just obstruct you any way he can? Who can remember the Wellstone "memorial service" without being absolutely enlightened about the way the Democrats approach politics?

Sure, I know, the bill's full of pork. Duh. They all are, especially any as assured of eventual passage as this one. Would that stop even one Democrat if it was pork sponsored by them? Duh.

Monday, November 18, 2002

Europe is doomed
So, growth is down to one percent or less, unemployment is at long-time highs, what does your government do? Get out of the way of the producers? Not if you’re a German, whose economy represents one-third of the Euro-area economy. You introduce a capital-gains tax and eliminate “tax breaks” and increase “social insurance” contributions – yep, that means taxes, too. Am I missing something, or is Al Qaeda now in control of the German government? Now if the US withdraws its troops from Germany, wouldn’t that just push the Bundeswimps into a spiralling recessionary downturn? And wouldn’t we just be so sorry to hear about that?

And Japan isn’t any better off.

Gerhard Schroder's (sorry, I haven't figured out where the umlaut is hiding on this machine) hand on the tiller of the German ship of state is a tad wobbly, according to the Economist(via Instapundit). He apparently had made a campaign promise not to do anything really stupid, like, for instance, raise taxes or "social insurance contributions". Why that would be "economically absurd" during a downturn. Why does anyone listen to what a politician says during a campaign?

Friday, November 08, 2002


David Brooks has a great article in the Weekly Standard, via Little Green Footballs, about the ultimate collectivist regime, merging Lenin and Hitler, Trotsky and Goebbels. Surprise! It's Iraq! Historical inevitability and all. It only makes sense, then, that they should be crushed by the two hundred ton historical gorilla that is Capitalism, as exemplified by the United States Armed Forces, George W. Bush and Israel! Gotterdammerung time! Twinkle, twinkle!

We win - again!!

And this is better than the election. Robert Fisk is blowing his top, beside himself (no, not two of them!!) that the US has had its way with the UN Security Council. Maybe now the conservatives will concede that Colin Powell has some real skills - and some political instincts! I'm jumping to conclusions there. He may not get credit for the new resolution that in every way surpasses anything the US was able to get out of the UN about the Iraq mess in the last eleven years. But what the heck? He's Secretary of State. The combination of Powell and Bush has turned the world upside down. Does everybody realize that the vote for the Iraq war powers resolution was considerably more lopsided than the one Bush 41 got in 1990? That the unanimous Security Council resolution (including SYRIA!! I'm still boggled) was more unexpected than Max Cleland losing his Senate seat in Georgia, less probable than Walter Mondale losing an election in Minnesota? What a week. I need a bourbon. Wild Turkey 101.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

We win!! - or something

Despite my inability to figure out a reason to vote, I still get that glow of satisfaction when the candidates I have backed publicly and secretly cheered for win. I found a fascinating bunch of comments on a Democratic-leaning website that give a well-rounded idea of the mess the Democratic party is in this morning. They literally haven't a clue. I'm not sure yesterday's results will make a difference, but at least it diminishes the possibility that I'll have to look at Al Gore or Hillary Clinton in the White House two years from the coming January 20.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Double Delusion

Despite all the ranting and threats from the pro-delusion factor, I persist in laying out my analysis of voting as a rational pursuit. Majoritarian democracy consists of two interwoven delusions. The first, as I have been saying, is the delusion that one vote counts. It doesn't. End of story. Oh, all right, if you want to go beyond that, if you are determined not to think about that topic, if you insist on taking the leap of faith and voting, because of stupidity or emotional fragility or fear of social disapproval or greed for power, let's pretend. Let's pretend you have enough political influence to sway the vote one way or the other. Should you vote Democrat or Republican? Does anyone delude himself to the extent that he thinks his political influence can make the Libertarians or the Greens or the Independents into a majority party? Let's ignore him. Does a vote - no, ok, we're pretending you've got thousands, what, maybe millions of votes? Does going for the Donks or Pachyderms make any real difference?

So now we get to the issues. What we care about:

Drug war. Democrats have to be better on this, right? The Republicans are the "social conservatives". Wrong. Bill Clinton doubled the number of people in jail for marijuana crimes. No powerful politician supports drug rights. Chucky Schumer and Joe Biden are some of the most ferocious drug totalitarians. Putting Dems into power would not change the drug war perceptibly. After all, it got going under Roosevelt - a Dem - and was cranked up tremendously under Kennedy and Johnson. The neo-Puritan consciousness purses its lips with disapproval at those skanky heroin addicts and tries to forget its hash parties in the Sixties.

Taxes Republicans, right? Sure. Under Reagan the government expanded as much as it did under any two-term Democrat. Whenever a Democrat tries to crank up taxes, as Clinton did in 1993, he gets hammered at the polls. But our wonderful democratic system allows a slow, inexorable increase in the money going to government, and therefore its power.

Political correctness Republicans will take care of this, right? Sure, they'll prevent the drift toward neo-Puritanism? They wouldn't , for instance, let a bill go through that mandates tens of billions of dollars of taxpayers' money for "disabled rights". Wrong. Bush 41 did, and he lent his support to the ridiculous Rio Summit. And the notion of "family leave" under penalty of law? Wrong again. Bush 41. The idiocies of recycling and wetlands confiscation and pollution controls never seem to get better no matter who's in power. They just keep ratcheting up, choking entrepreneurship and property rights. The present regime has not done anything to stop the war on smokers or the racism of "affirmative action".

Defense Well, surely, the Republicans will go after those Islamofascists like the Dems never would, right? Sure. Like Reagan did anything about the blowing up of the Beirut US embassy and the Marine Barracks. Like Bush 41 knocked off Saddam. Like Nixon crushed the North Vietnamese. Even Bush 43 has been hogtied by the hysterical UN-lovers and those in his own party who don't want to make the French or the Germans or the Mauritians mad. Oh, yes, Mauritius is on the Security Council this year. It's an island group in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar with fewer than one million people. Think Orlando without Disneyworld. I have no confidence at all in the Republican vision of national defense. The Republicans are cheap isolationists. The Democrats are wimpy appeasers. Neither way works very well.

Abortion Now if abortion rights are your hot button, you'd have to vote for the Dems, right? Hmm. Roe v. Wade happened under Nixon. Since 1972 Republicans have had the White House for eighteen of thirty years. The result? No change at all in abortion rights. Anti-abortion terrorism has arisen and has not been dealt with any better by Democrats than Republicans.

Crime Both Dems and Repubs have fumbled around trying to blame crime on drugs, poverty or social incivility. The improvements of late haven't had much to do with either party's policies. The bipartisan impulse, also known as the bandwagon effect, makes sure that any effective measure is trumpeted by pols of both parties. Perhaps only capital punishment is identified more closely with the Republicans than the Democrats. And capital punishment is inflicted on so few of the monsters our wonderful system has produced that it's less than a joke.

I can find no key issue on which either party would be markedly better than the other, even in the vanishingly unlikely event that one party controlled the Presidency and the House and two-thirds of the Senate. And even if I could, that issue would no doubt be balanced by another just as important that the other party dealt with better.

There's another problem. Politicians lie for a living. Even if I could doubly delude myself into accepting the system as it is, I would not vote for a pack of liars. But go ahead, delusionists, vote away. It's your "right", after all. It makes you feel good. Just keep telling yourself, "It's only a game. It's only a game!"

Political rush

Despite my previous post, I have to admit I'm a political junkie. I can think of few thrills greater than watching numbers bounce back and forth election night and having the final tally come down on your side. Why - it's almost as good as football! The great example is, of course, 2000. Living in Tallahassee, Florida, election night was something special. The Capitol was surrounded by TV trucks from everywhere, from Cairo, Georgia to Tokyo. I had a trip planned for December 5, by which time I had every reason to think the election would be long over. Of course, it wasn't. The attention of the whole world was on Tallahassee, and Palm Beach. I jetted off to Cairo, Egypt, to see my sister still not knowing who won. It was especially poignant because on election night Bush had been declared the winner, Gore refused to concede, then wasn't Gore declared the winner by someone too? Ah, how quickly memory fades. So during my journey I would, every so often, see an English-language newspaper with a headline about the dramatic battle. I followed the punches and counterpunches on my sister's internet connection and CNN World. It was weird to see the Florida Supreme Court building in front of which I walked so often featured on Egyptian news. Even though I couldn't understand much of what they were saying, I did pick up references to "Al-Bush" and, of course, "Al-Gore"! Finally, I think it was on the steps outside the fabulous Egyptian Museum downtown, I saw the Cairo News with a second-coming headline, "Bush Wins". And it was just as good as if I'd been in Tallahassee jumping up and down in front of the TV screen. I looked around at the guys in dubious suits trying to get you to hire them to guide you through the museum - " A very big museum, sir!" - and watched the whirl of crazy traffic, including horse-carts and overloaded microbuses. I knew few of these people understood how much this meant to me. I knew it shouldn't, that it didn't make any sense. But the ancient victory song sang in my blood, just as when one's tribe pulled down a mammoth after losing many men to its tusks, as when the Nazi standard was blown from the Reichs Chancellery in 1945, the same feeling as when Armstrong stepped onto the Moon and when the Berlin Wall fell, hammer blow on hammer blow. We had won. Feasting and celebration!