Saturday, August 25, 2007


Finally, the aftermath of Saigon's fall is rarely dealt with at all. A gruesome holocaust took place in Cambodia, the likes of which had not been seen since World War II. Two million Vietnamese fled their country — usually by boat — with untold thousands losing their lives in the process. This was the first such diaspora in Vietnam's long and frequently tragic history. Inside Vietnam a million of the South's best young leaders were sent to re-education camps; more than 50,000 perished while imprisoned, and others remained captives for as long as 18 years. An apartheid system was put into place that punished those who had been loyal to the United States, as well as their families, in matters of education, employment and housing. The Soviet Union made Vietnam a client state until its own demise, pumping billions of dollars into the country and keeping extensive naval and air bases at Cam Ranh Bay.
The author: James Webb, now a Democratic senator from Virginia.

They'll Have To Come To America To Do It

“After we’re out,” he said, “if al Qaeda wants to kill Americans they’ll have to come to America to do it, where our troops will be enjoying a well-deserved rest at home and time with their wives and children.”

The Awful Truth

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“My great concern is that one day the United States is going to desert me. They always desert their friends.”

Two Observations Re Fisking Fisk ... Concluded Lugubriously

Two observations come to mind.

First, we know why there is now a colloquial verb in English "to fisk."

Second, The "Even I" of Fisk's title should read "Especially I."

These are sad times in the West, but the inevitable wages of a quarter-century of elite postmodern thought.

The Long View

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I guess if you take a long enough view everything works out in the end. The Holocaust was a success for the Jews because it led to the establishment of Israel. Stalin and the twenty to forty million deaths he caused? Hey, have you seen the USSR today? Capitalists. Case closed.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Question

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Sebastian Mallaby calls this "irrationality" on the part of investors. Instead, I think of it as a breakdown in trust of the financial intermediation process. This breakdown is occurring not so much at the level of the average consumer, but among large institutional investors. Money managers who a year ago were willing to accept low risk premiums for securities are no longer willing to do so.

The question now is whether the financial markets will establish a new equilibrium soon or whether there will be further shocks leading to further increases in the risk premium, leading to more shocks, etc. If the equilibrium scenario unfolds, then Mallaby is correct and there are many bargains available to investors. But that could turn out to be a "picking up nickels in front of a steamroller" strategy if the adverse scenario were to unfold.

Still Us

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Basically, men in space suits were scrubbing virtually every interior surface by hand and dismantling it by hand.
The details of this public-policy morass are no exception in the post-9/11 world. They are the norm. The hyper-complex requirements and mindset reflected in the public record over 130 Liberty St. mirror the endless debate and litigation we've also layered into efforts to surveil and prosecute terrorists.

Yes, partisanship plays its part, but intellectual hubris and self-regard plays a larger part. We've got a society that's smarter than ever, but maybe too smart for its own good. Whether the problem before us is national security, the environment or protecting baby, we compulsively drive the system now to develop the most exquisite, complex procedures, which allow us to think ourselves both perfectly safe and ethically perfect.

We have met the enemy, and he is still us.

The Moss Of Will

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To today’s “progressive”, the mold on their ideas looks like penicillin. To time, it looks only like the moss growing on an old slice of marble rye.

Which is why the consensus view of truth that underpins progressive ideological belief is so absolutely crucial: because all it takes to create “truth” is complicity; and if such can be made to take the place of any kind of agreed upon ground from which to engage in dispassionate criticism (in the past, Enlightenment empiricism and rationalism served us well), will alone becomes ascendant.

And will is really no more than ego projected onto the world by power, whether that power be rhetorical or something more obviously resembling totalitarianism.

Let's Face It ...

The Yezidis have never declared war on anyone. They are the closest thing Iraq has to Quakers. Perhaps al Qaeda massacred the Yezidi refugees because they were a soft target, and because terrorists need body counts to be credible. Perhaps the Yezidis were killed because they are “infidels.” But does it even matter? Al Qaeda has no alleged grievances against the Yezidis, who have no political power and no militia, and who do not participate in sectarian Muslim rivalry. Even Saddam Hussein left them alone.

... If this was a sane world, everyone would just link arms and put AQ in a funny farm. But it's not, is it?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Another Finger Wagging Shocka

I've written before that pursuing partisan blame for 9/11 is a waste of time. It gets in the way of determining where failures occurred and developing the proper approaches to avoid them in the future. The truth is that the issues that created these failures stretched back for years, probably decades in terms of interpretation of intelligence law.

However, it gets difficult to remember that when former presidents essentially lie about their roles on national television. Given Clinton's unique history, this prevarication and self-aggrandizement comes as no surprise, but it is still pretty disappointing. It leaves the historical record muddied, right up to the point when independent investigations reveal the truth. Worse, his shouted fabrications contribute to the partisan atmosphere.

QOTD 070822

“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane."

Stirling Engines

Stirling engines. This was my first thought on reading this week’s important news, that the Russians have resumed long-range bomber flights over both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, for the first time since the Cold War.
And unearned wealth has been, for as long as history records, a great corruptor. It enables the holders to do things that nature would normally constrain; to take what they want without the trouble of labour, or even theft. It enables them, specifically, to forego the development of the moral restraints of people who must earn their livings, or husband what they’ve inherited.

We have only to look at the Arab and Muslim world -- at the vast energy reserves of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Indonesia -- or at contemporary Venezuela -- to realize how profoundly corrupting this unearned wealth can be.
I mention them because, we have got to find a way to flourish, in the West, without the slightest dependence on Arab, Russian, or anybody’s, gas and oil.
Don't get me wrong, I think he's spot-on about the corruption. And how I wish we could turn on a dime and switch to alternate energy sources. But even a crash program that wrenched us though dislocation and depression to get there wouldn't be fast enough now.

And worse yet, even if we did it, the Euros and Chinese would keep them in the green. Energy itself is fungible.

The Gentle Occupation

Remember when the world-wise, honest, well-meaning Europeans used prudent, multilateral diplomacy rather than American-style brute force to resolve that pesky little Kosovo problem? Apparently, it didn't take :

New talks between ethnic Albanians and Serbia are likely to fail, the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, said in a report, adding that the EU's failure to form a common position on Kosovo's independence would have "very disturbing consequences for Europe."

Will You Live In The New Killing Fields?

Zawahiri later returned to this theme, declaring that the Americans "know better than others that there is no hope in victory. The Vietnam specter is closing every outlet." Here at home, some can argue our withdrawal from Vietnam carried no price to American credibility -- but the terrorists see it differently.

We must remember the words of the enemy. We must listen to what they say. Bin Laden has declared that "the war [in Iraq] is for you or us to win. If we win it, it means your disgrace and defeat forever." Iraq is one of several fronts in the war on terror -- but it's the central front -- it's the central front for the enemy that attacked us and wants to attack us again.

Unlike in Vietnam, if we withdraw before the job is done, this enemy will follow us home. And that is why, for the security of the United States of America, we must defeat them overseas so we do not face them in the United States of America.

You Are Likely An Ostrich

This, I think, was a very important part of my education - learning to kill an animal. I regard this as an important part of everybody's education. I think the fashionable attitude is one of the many foolish things in this world. If you want to eat meat, somebody has to kill it I think everybody ought to have to do it, and not just once but many times. Because one of the things that I was imbued with, by this farm family, was a horror of cruelty - not of killing, but of cruelty. If you are going to kill an animal, you have to kill it instantly and as painlessly as you can.
It's a disgrace to do otherwise.
Killing is part of life, you see - one of the things that has to be done.

Say It Ain't So Jimmah!

Presidential disaster Jimmy Carter agreed to have the U.S. underwrite the communist takeover/redistribution of property in Zimbabwe in 1980.

Of course, the communists at the Beeb call it land reform.
Cutting to the chase, Mugabe and his revolutionaries took property away from white owners and gave it to his buddies. During the negotiations of all this with the British government, who wanted to get out of that mess, they needed a sucker to write some checks to make it all happen.

Enter Carter.
Today, as a direct result of Carter's contributions to the effort, Zimbabwe is falling apart. They have approximately 5,000% annual inflation, life expectancies in the 34- to 37-year range, and thousands hungry and leaving every day.

And today the left sees Carter as some kind of hero.

On Christian Suicide

If Islamia has sunk into the grip of a poisonous ideology—the ideology of jihadism—the Christian West (Spencer actually says “Judeo-Christian,” but that is just a lagniappe) has been seized by an even more destructive ideology: globalization.

The second ideology has in fact been the great enabler of the first.

a great enabler of globalization has been the Christian tradition. If all men are brothers, heathens only a little less enlightened than Christians, they why should not a Pakistani, or a Somali, or for that matter a Mexican, come to live in the U.S.A.? Why should not ten million of each do so? Would it not in fact be un-Christian to refuse entry to those tens of millions? It beggars belief that anyone should hold such a civilizationally-suicidal view, but many Christians do—the current President of the United States, for example.

More Ferry Stuff

Seattle authorities are obviously on edge. A ferry was evacuated this morning when a suspicious package was discovered in the men’s room; it turned out to contain sparklers.

And Dr. Sanity Is Even More Pissed About It Than I Am

Those who commit such acts are vermin. They feed off of death and destruction. They glory in nothing but death. Once perhaps, when they were children they were human. But they long ago abandoned all humanity for their particular utopian delusion. Now they teach innocent children to hate as they steal their souls from them. They are nothing more than subhuman troglodytes; remnants of a medieval culture that should have died a thousand years ago. The complete, total and irrevocable extermination of this kind of evil and its adherents MUST be the goal of anyone who is civilized.
When you are in the presence of true evil, you have only one real choice. You must face it coldly, ruthlessly and with unswerving determination and loyalty to Life.

Welcome To The Paradise Of The Macho Islamic Warriors

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Five-year-old Youssif is scarred for life, his once beautiful smile turned into a grotesquely disfigured face -- the face of a horrifying act by masked men. They grabbed him on a January day outside his central Baghdad home, doused him with gas and set him ablaze.

It's an act incomprehensibly savage, even by Iraq's standards today. No one has been arrested and the motive remains unknown.

The Real Gun Nuts ...

Four years later, Britain still can't figure out why disarming the victims has created a spike in gun-related violence. When criminals have a near-certainty that they outgun potential victims, it removes the most immediate disincentive for an attack. Instead of rethinking the entire idea of criminalizing law-abiding citizens who only want to defend themselves, now British authorities want to criminalize law-abiding citizens who won't volunteer testimony about criminals.

And they don't stop there. The Telegraph reports that one candidate to be the next Metropolitan police commissioner wants to press charges against victims of gun violence who are too terrified of reprisals to testify. That's correct; they want to arrest the victims they've disarmed. He's already ordering police to "stop and search suspects regularly", which at least sounds as if British police have started to conduct searches without any probable cause to find guns.

... are the British authorities of course. Sad.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The (Iranian) Devil's "Fashion New"

Hairstylist: Some people dye [their hair]. Some are heavy metal fans, and others are devil worshippers.

Reporter: Devil worship originated in England in the 19th century. It is supported by Jewish and America capitalists. Drug use and depraved sexual rituals are part of the daily life of devil worshippers.

Reporter: What is your hairstyle called?

Iranian youth: The “fashion new” model.

Reporter: “Fashion new”? That’s not on my list. I am preparing a report on types of hairstyles.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Question

Question to Truthers:

If your theory were correct, wouldn't a super-efficient ruthless government cabal wipe you out rather than allow you to gather in protests and build websites?

How Long Before ...

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SEATTLE – The FBI is asking for the public's help two identify two men who have been seen acting strangely aboard Washington State ferries recently.

The FBI released a bulletin late Monday, including photographs of two men. One of them shows the men side-by-side and the other is a solo shot of one of them. They were snapped by a ferry employee who thought the pair acted suspiciously.

... CAIR and the ACLU sue the people who took these pictures?

War And Peace

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We must abandon the naive faith that with enough money, education, or good intentions we can change the nature of mankind so that conflict, as if by fiat, becomes a thing of the past. In the end, the study of war reminds us that we will never be gods. We will always just be men, it tells us. Some men will always prefer war to peace; and other men, we who have learned from the past, have a moral obligation to stop them.

Days Gone By ... Never To Return

Even Democrats used to see things this way. For example, President Truman once remarked that “God has created [the United States] and brought us to our present position of power and strength” in order to defend “spiritual values -- the moral code -- against the vast forces of evil that seek to destroy them.”

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Thus, questions remain unanswered. Shall Pakistan's voter rolls be cleansed to guarantee a fair election? Shall Musharraf be named president by the existing electoral college prior to national elections? Shall corruption charges against Bhutto be pursued? Shall the two-term limitation for prime minister be lifted for her? Shall Bhutto return before the election, which Musharraf opposes?

Bhutto was kept busy in New York by the American news media that ignored her for years but now craved interviews. It is not internal Pakistani power struggles that interest Americans. "The war on terror must be won in Pakistan," she told me. She wants to make Pakistan a democratic ally in that war, confronting extremists in the madrassas "that brainwash our children into intolerance."

Don't Laugh

300,000 years BCE, In a bright sunny day, a few Homo sapiens are taking preperation for hunting. These early people are hairy but not slow-witted as some future archaeologists may think.
They are smart enough to find colors from nature. These early Michelangelos are making red color from Iron oxide, and black from manganese or charcoal, left over from the cooking fires.

Invention, Art and Music are the icons of human race. People of future will proudly recall their ancestors for not becoming extinct. These civilized minds of uncivilized age laid the foundation of humankind.
Year 2004 AD, in a remote village of an Islamic country, a group of students is chanting a chorus. No, they are not singing or reciting a poem. Singing is prohibited in this classroom and it’s an unforgivable sin.
He never laughs. Laughing is an unacceptable behavior in Islam and it’s against Mohammad’ teachings.

Life ... And Death...

In fact, when the
Islamic regime falls, as it eventually must, Iran is likely to become
the first country to see massive, voluntary renunciation of Islam.
Millions of people, especially young urbanites, will turn to the
Bahai faith,
since it is an indigenous Iranian religion.
In Algeria,
where the Islamic radicals haven't taken over (yet) but have wreaked
unimaginable havoc, the indigenous Berber minority, already alienated
from the Arabized majority for ethnic reasons, is increasingly turning
to Christianity. The behavior of the fundamentalists has led many
in the Berber heartland of Kabylie to conclude, in the words of
a newspaper account translated last year in The
Middle East Quarterly
, that "Christianity is life,
Islam is death."

On Recognizing Train Wrecks

I've commented in the past on the newfound interest not just to win whatever the debate of the moment is, but to drive one's opponents before you from the field in doing so, etc. etc.

I think this is a moral and political train wreck, because more than anything the core of our political system is that the losers are expected to play along with the understanding that they continue to be part of the system. We don't do purges, and that's a good thing.

Here's Atrios today:

Is Tom Friedman a Bad Person?
All signs point to "pretty hideous human being, one which all good people should shun."

So today, Atrios is the winner of the first Moon Unit award, which I'll give out to people who think that gagging someone - with or without a spoon - is an appropriate political response.

Did I Forget To Mention Iran?

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Rather than engage the political question of what to do about Iran, I want to point to the military reality that their involvement creates. What we are seeing here is not a national liberation movement by Shi’ites against Americans come to be viewed as occupiers. What we are seeing is a divided Shi’ite Iraq, engaged in deadly infighting; with Iran backing some of the groups in a bid to control Iraq, and meanwhile also using them to wage proxy attacks against the United States. A national liberation movement directed against us would be a cause for despair indeed; less so the situation as it is. We can debate separately how we deal with Iran, but when we have dealt with them, a large part of this issue will resolve itself.

There You Have It

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WELL, GREEN IS THEIR COLOR: "Climate Change Protestors" attack Jews, hoist Palestinian flag.

UPDATE: Heh: "Lefties would make much more progress with the bourgeoisie if they promoted only one revolution at any given rally. We prefer to pick and choose our causes, rather than having them bundled together like pre-loaded software we do not want."

I like this: Leftism as Microsoft Vista -- promises a lot but doesn't deliver, and is kind of bossy. Meanwhile are rightie politics like Linux? You know, fairly efficient, but requiring more work than most people are willing to put in?

Slave Girls?

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V. 3 goes on to say that if a man cannot deal justly with multiples wives, then he should marry only one, or resort to “the captives that your right hands possess” – that is, slave girls.

Slave girls?

“I am afraid,” he said, “that after a long time has passed, people may say, ‘We do not find the Verses of the Rajam (stoning to death) in the Holy Book,’ and consequently they may go astray by leaving an obligation that Allah has revealed.” Umar affirmed: “Lo! I confirm that the penalty of Rajam be inflicted on him who commits illegal sexual intercourse, if he is already married and the crime is proved by witnesses or pregnancy or confession.” And he added that Muhammad “carried out the penalty of Rajam, and so did we after him.”
Next week: When to beat your wife, and what you should do first.

The State Of Rogues

What’s more, Aviation Week and Space Technology published in a June article that an American reconnaissance satellite discovered an Iranian mock-up of the Karbala compound where the attack took place. It reported that “The U.S. believes that the discovery indicates Iran was heavily involved in the attack, which relied on a fake motorcade to gain entrance to the compound.” Aviation Week added, “The duplicate layout in Iran allowed attackers to practice procedures to use at the Iraqi compound, the Defense Department believes.”

‘Rogues’ within a state – as some have tried to characterize lethal IRGC/Quds Force actions in Iraq - do not build entire mock-ups, coordinate and train foreign actors, and supply vast amounts of precision-milled shaped copper EFP’s without the acknowledgment of their state apparatus.

When a state’s military conducts regular attacks upon another, it is by definition an act of war.

The Constant Rerun, Mugabe Edition

What have the African nations done about this disaster? Typically, nothing. They just held a conference where the leaders of Zimbabwe's neighbors applauded and feted Mugabe, even while talking sotto voce about the need for change. The Southern African Development Community has shown themselves to be cowards in confronting one of the most incompetent dictators on that or any other continent, apparently content to see Zimbabwe's people starve as opposed to confronting Mugabe.

Africa, unfortunately, is a constant re-run. At some point, we're going to have to insist that Africans deal with Africa.

Welcome To The Reformation

Like the followers of Martin Luther and John Calvin, Islamic reformers reject the interpretations of generations of scholars in favor of seeking the word of God directly in scripture. Normative Islam follows one or another school of interpretation of scripture, known as a Madhab. Careful study leads students to understand that God's word is often nuanced. Nuance is not the stuff of reform. Salafi reformers argue that Muslims should ignore generations of sages, read the Koran and Hadith for themselves, and act on the truth they find. A popular Salafi quote from the early Islamic jurist Abu Hanifa reads: When a passage (Hadith) is found to be authentic (saheeh) then that is my path (Madhab).

We're in the middle of the Islamic Reformation. What we need is an Islamic Enlightenment, where Islam gets relegated to the personal and not the political. Few Muslims outside of the West appear interested in arguing for that, unfortunately.

Some interesting comments on Churchill as well (the roots of his ill-fated partitioning of Iraq no less). Click through and RTWT.

Just Talking I'm Sure...

The US military command in Baghdad says it's tracking a band of Iranian Revolutionary Guard far away from home. Fifty members of the IRG have made their way to the area of the Iraqi capital, and the assumption is that they're not there as ambassadors of peace and love:

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, whose command includes the volatile southern rim of Baghdad and districts to the south, said his troops are tracking about 50 members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps in their area -- the first detailed allegation that Iranians have been training fighters within Iraq's borders. "We know they're here and we target them as well," he said, citing intelligence reports as evidence of their presence.

Who's Sicko Now?

Yet in Iowa, three days after professing the greatness of Sicko, Edwards insisted he didn't know anything about the Cuban health-care system. ABC News enhanced the audio of the earlier quote, and Edwards can be heard saying that he hadn't quite gotten to the end of the film -- but how dense does Edwards have to be to know that Cuba has a government-run system? In Cuba, the government controls every industry, and insists that the health-care system is their greatest success.

"Is it a government-run system?" Where has Edwards lived for the last 48 years? If he doesn't know that the Cuban government is a totalitarian system that runs everything, what else doesn't he know? Is he aware that Iran is a theocracy? Does he think that Syria is a liberal democracy? Can he even find Cuba on a map?

Always Happy To Talk ...

Ledeen begins with the observation that every administration since Ayatollah Khomeini's seizure of power in 1979 has negotiated with the Iranians. The mullahs are always happy to talk.

The current negotiations are thus part of a well-established pattern. If anything, there is far less reason for optimism than in the past, since our knowledge of Tehran's war against us -- notably in Iraq and Afghanistan -- is broader and deeper than before. The Europeans' failure to make any progress at all in their diplomatic efforts to convince Tehran to abandon its nuclear weapons program should further convince an honest observer that the mullahs intend to build an atomic arsenal and use it against us and our allies.

As Jonathan Swift put it, you cannot reason a man out of something that he did not reason his way into. The Iranian war against the U.S. rests upon fanatical convictions, and Tehran has no interest in resolving it at a conference table.

... until we can kill you all of course...

Reasons My Ancestors Left Norway (Part 32365)

“It’s difficult to make plans for the prison terms when we have no idea who will show up and who won’t,” said Ellinor Houm, director of the Norwegian Correctional Services, section for eastern Norway.

With fewer criminals showing up here than in any other part of Norway, Houm’s in charge of prisons with many empty beds. So far this year, every fourth criminal has not bothered to turn up at the prison gates in eastern Norway.

Predictably, difficulty in planning prison occupancy is the least of the Norway's problems: Surber cites Interpol data to show that Norway's crime rate, and the crime rate across northern Europe generally, is now double that in the United States.

I'm pretty sure that when my ancestors lived there, Norway's attitude toward criminals was a bit more practical. But much of Europe has succumbed to a liberal ideology that renders it more or less defenseless against civilization's enemies.

Cuba AWOL Again!

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The Dionne quintuplets were born on May 28, 1934, to a humble, French-speaking couple in a farmhouse outside of Callander, Ontario, Canada. They were identical sisters and for the first 10 years of their lives, the five girls were the No. 1 tourism attraction in Canada.

Then came free health care for all Canadians. Which is why the four identical Jepp sisters were born in Great Falls, Mont., instead of Calgary this weekend. The Canadian parents flew 325 miles to get to an American hospital. . . . I’m sure most Canadians like their health system. Just remember, though, that Canada’s backup system is in Montana. Americans spend 15% of their income on health care. That’s why Great Falls has enough neo-natal units to handle quadruple births — and a “universal health” nation doesn’t. After all, they didn’t fly Mrs. Jepp to Cuba, did they?