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!