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Monthly Archives: December 2002

One Last Thing

December 31st, 2002 - 12:10 am

Have a safe and happy New Years, kids.

And if you just have to drive drunk, set the cruise control for three miles over the speed limit and keep the dots on the road lined up with your driver-side headlight.

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Back After These Important Messages

December 31st, 2002 - 12:01 am

Still no time for real blogging here, but this item is too important for you to miss.

I first noticed Paul Krugman five or six years ago, when he was producing important and interesting articles for Slate magazine. To give you an idea of how long ago that was, Microsoft still thought they could get people to pony up twenty bucks a year to read the thing. (Then again, what do I know? I’m one of the suckers who paid. Anyway.)

Krugman caught my notice for being one guy with a really nervy suggestion on how Japan could get out of its deflationary spiral. And he had a radically simple solution: Inflate the currency. Start printing yen like they were Tom Clancy novels with pictures of nekkid wimmins in them. Let the presses run 24/7 and just scare the bejeebus out of people into spending some money now, today, pronto, before today’s yen becomes tomorrow’s toilet paper.

Talk about priming the pump. The Japanese economy would still need some painful restructuring, but at least it would get moving again. And the pain would be more bearable if people could see there was some kind of hope on the horizon.

Of course, that was long before Krugman started working for the New York Times and became a shrill little hate-monger.

Until today. Oh, some of the shrillness is still present, but he’s talking sense about deflation again — this time the risk of it in this country:

But like corporate malfeasance, deflation has turned out to be something that can happen here. It’s by no means a foregone conclusion: Federal Reserve officials assure us that they can and will steer us away from a Japanese-style black hole. But we’re close enough to such a black hole that it’s already warping our economic space.

Yes, I know I’ve harped on this issue again and again on this page, but it means more coming from someone like Krugman, who is (or at least used to be) a well-respected thinker on this most-intractable of all macroeconomic troubles.

Again, I don’t mean to cause any fear; the odds of us getting into a situation like the ’30s or modern Japan are slight — but the risk is real. If you’re an investor, read Krugman’s column, then think hard about eliminating all the debt you reasonably can and increasing the cash/decreasing the equities in your portfolio.

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Quickie

December 30th, 2002 - 10:38 am

Just a random thought before I get back to work on the house:

It was the US cut-off of oil (well, and scrap metal) to Imperial Japan that “forced” Tokyo into attacking Pearl Harbor, in the vain effort to get us to negotiate some sort of settlement recognizing their interests in China and elsewhere.

We’ve now cut off much of North Korea’s oil — the free stuff they’ve been getting from us since the 1994 agreement is about all that cash-strapped nation is able to afford.

As Steven Den Beste wrote, their clock is ticking. Pyongyang, like Tokyo in 1941 and Germany in 1914 is “an army with a nation attached to it.” What happens if that army thinks its lifeblood is choked off?

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Time Off

December 28th, 2002 - 9:44 am

Yes, I’m on vacation. A working vacation — but no time to work on the blog. Looks like we’ll close on the house in under three weeks.

Wow.

Back on January 2nd.

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December 22nd, 2002 - 11:28 pm

Yet another sign of impending war: the White House is letting Pentagon hawk Paul Wolfowitz speak in public. In America. In the Washington Post.

It never fails to amaze me that junior high school pecking-order shuffles and re-shuffles are often the best way to read the policy tea leaves in the capital city of the world’s most powerful nation. And yet it rarely fails to be true.

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And to All a Good Night

December 22nd, 2002 - 11:16 pm

Merry Christmas, kids. Unless there’s a coup in Baghdad, or some other big news, don’t expect to read much new here this week.

But I will take a moment to mention that the other prospective buyers couldn’t get their contingency removed, so — barring some unforeseen and unlikely financing trouble — we’ll be in a new house in three or four weeks.

Cool.

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About Damn Time

December 20th, 2002 - 9:50 am

Overslept, and the first email I see is an ABC News alert telling me Lott has resigned as SML.

Better’an coffee, kids.

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A Quick Fisk

December 20th, 2002 - 12:37 am

Bill Quick is wrong. Let’s go point-by-point.

We’ve established the principle that we will (must?) bribe self-interested or openly inmical nations for their permission to defend ourselves.

Wrong. We’ve shown cash-strapped Russia that we won’t sell them down the river. France, as usual, is just along for the ride. But just because the French will get theirs is no reason to paint Putin into a corner.

We’ve established the principle that the United Nations has a veto over any US use of force, even in self defense.

Wrong. Without UN permission, we’ll go in anyway. With UN permission, we’ll have finally bent that organization to our knee for the first time since the 1950 outbreak of the (First?) Korean War. Bill is further wrong in trying to pin UN-boosterism on anything he’s read here. I think the nicest thing I’ve said about the Security Council is that it’s something close to a tragic necessity.

We’ve established the principle that the feelings of the Saudi princes are much more important than the safety of Americans, apparently because almost no Americans speak English as well as the Saudi ambassador to the US.

There’s a lot of truth to this one. No one with a functioning brain particle or three is happy with our continued good relations with Saudi Arabia — although Riyadh is coming around a bit and relations are not as cozy as they once were. Yet Bill seeks to sort me in with the White House Saudi appeasers? Wrong.

We’ve established that “Axis of Evil” doesn’t really mean “Axis of Evil.” More like “Axis of Naughtiness” (unless you have nukes, in which case we probably won’t call you anything at all any more).

Wrong. One down (sometime in 7-9 weeks) and two to go. The one best solved by war will have been solved by war. The one best left to internal revolt will be (ahem) revolting. The one that needs to be managed will still be being managed. War in Iraq isn’t desirable (no war is) — but it is necessary. Bill here seems to make a mistake similar to the anti-war loons who argue that if we need to invade Iraq then we need to invade North Korea, Iran, Rwanda, France, and Berkeley.

We’ve established that even if we should by some chance happen to invade Iraq and topple Saddam, we will still have to get permission from a laundry list of international organizations and nations to pursue the War on Terror any further.

Wrong. We won’t invade Iraq “by some chance.” Hitler didn’t stumble into Poland by mistake, nor will 3rd ACR race up the Tigris just to see what’s on the other side. And what is this laundry list? There’s the UN, and. . .um, help me out here. NATO? Nope, they already invoked Article V. The OAS? Don’t recall ever asking them much. Microsoft? Kissinger Associates?

We’ve established that the entire notion of “rope-a-dope” was ludicrous in the first place. The whole point of the supposed strategy was to so confuse Saddam Hussein that he wouldn’t be prepared when our might military fist struck him (in, presumably, complete surprise). In fact, everybody from Saddam’s janitor on up will know when the US finally lumbers into action – if it ever does.

Wrong. Rope-a-Dope (for which I’ve already apologized) originally applied to Arafat — then it just grew. And what’s this about the US military lumbering into action? Whatever this next operation ends up being called, it’ll make Desert Storm/Saber look like it was done in slow-motion. Regardless, if Saddam is half as confused about Bush’s intentions as Bill seems to be, then it’s working just fine.

We’ve established that we will kiss the Arafatian ass, and prevent the Israelis from whipping same, although we will send spine-tingling frowns in Yassir’s direction, all in the name of creating “support” in an Arab world that hates us, for our always coming, never arriving Iraq attack.

Wrong. Who is this Arafat person of whom Bill speaks? Even news junky that I am, I sure don’t see him much anymore. Sure, I’d prefer him dead — but apparently Israel isn’t yet ready to take that step. And, frankly, if keeping him oh-so-nominally in charge a while longer makes things easier for us, then I suppose it’s best he keeps sucking air.

Here’s the second graf, saved for last:

Which means there is at least some chance that those who unswervingly predicted such an attack, especially the “rope-a-dopers” will have the same chance as a stopped clock of being right – and for the same reason.

This site’s first “unswerving” prediction was that war would not start before August or September. Back in July, I stated (in the Drinks) that any guess would be merely a guess. Things looked close to a go in October, but deployments, weapons production (we’d still like more JDAMs and cruise missiles), and domestic politics didn’t add up to war.

But now as various reports come in, it becomes obvious that barring a Baghdad coup, the war — already started — will begin in earnest sometime shortly after the New Year. February 1, 1pm EST, is my best guess. Could be sooner, could be later, although I’d guess no later than mid-April.

In any case, even if Bill’s stopped watch analogy is correct, it’s still arguably better than being wrong the entire time, and for mostly the wrong reasons.

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Sleep Tight

December 20th, 2002 - 12:30 am

Atlanta doctors are refusing to take the smallpox vaccine. Bigwig at Silfay Hraka has the story:

Not giving the vaccination also has side effects. One of them is the giant target you just painted on Atlanta. At the very center of that target is Grady Memorial, the place you’re ostensibly trying to protect. If I’m a terrorist, and I know for a fact that the people who would normally treat the disease I’m going to spread are defenceless against it, who do you think I’m going to attack first?

The only scary detail Bigwig left out is that Atlanta’s airport is one of the world’s busiest. One vial for Atlanta General, the other for ATL.

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Toot

December 20th, 2002 - 12:21 am

Senators Biden and Hagel, just back from Iraq, write that

Although no one doubts our forces will prevail over Saddam Hussein’s, key regional leaders confirm what the Foreign Relations Committee emphasized in its Iraq hearings last summer: The most challenging phase will likely be the day after — or, more accurately, the decade after — Saddam Hussein.

If that sounds somewhat familiar, it’s because you read it here first.

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The Betting Line

December 20th, 2002 - 12:10 am

From today’s Guardian:

With the deployments currently under way, President George Bush could go to war soon after January 27, when the chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, is to report to the UN security council on the progress of the inspections.

The new moon over Iraq will come on February 2, I’m told. Expect the shooting (or at least the announced start) to begin around 1pm EST on February 1.

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It’s Fun to Be Right III

December 20th, 2002 - 12:00 am

The Professor already linked Tom Holsinger’s fascinating new essay, but one passage stuck in my head:

It is now possible for the United States to strike effectively on the ground throughout Iraq’s strategic depth at the onset of hostilities.

The United States does not have the heliborne forces to hit everywhere at once, but can hit almost anywhere with about an airmobile division equivalent on the first day (the “inside-out” plan with a real punch). That, with the usual overwhelming airpower and a second, air-transportable, division flown into captured airfields on the second day, is more than enough to shatter potential Iraqi resistance immediately, even without a reinforced corps advancing up the Euphrates from Kuwait. We might not use this plan, but certainly have the capability now.

Some readers of this post of mine complained that the US doesn’t have enough helicopter airlift to make it work. (Excuse the fact that at a late hour, I’d switched the 82nd and the 101st — I’d gotten it right in a previous discussion of the “rolling” or “two-stage” invasion option. One problem with blogging, as Norah Vincent mentioned, is that there’s no editor to catch those little errors.) Are the doubters about American mobility a little less doubtful now? As amateur as I am, Holsinger is professional.

Anyway, we have the airlift. Many of our assets are in place; more are moving into theater. The rhetoric — even from Colin Powell — is ratcheting up. Brace yourselves.

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From the Desk of Jane Galt

December 19th, 2002 - 1:39 pm

More on gun control, this time on the importance of keeping on target.

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It Does a Body Good II

December 19th, 2002 - 1:38 pm

You want to repeal the booze tax? Why, Glenn, I never knew you cared!

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Patience, Young Padawan

December 19th, 2002 - 1:35 pm

This afternoon’s headlines:

Powell: Iraq in ‘Material Breach’

SC National Guard To Be Called Up

MO National Guard to Help Air Force

Area Army reservists ordered overseas

U.N. Ambassador Decries ‘One More Act of Deception’

Straw issues fresh warning to Iraq

US paves way for Iraq war

War and rumours of war cast pall over Iraq

Twelve Indicted in Alleged Iraq Money-Laundering Scheme

Move along. No war plans to see here.

Although I know some are still whining, “I want my Iraq War and I want it now.”

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LVIP*

December 19th, 2002 - 12:33 pm

Now this is funny.

*Link Via InstaPundit.

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Blix Blinks?

December 19th, 2002 - 11:58 am

Hans Blix isn’t exactly on board, but there’s a porter holding his luggage and he’s eyeing the boat from the gangway.

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Check It Out

December 19th, 2002 - 11:47 am

The 50 Most Loathsome People in America — but I can’t remember where I found the link.

Michael Moore, Bill O’Reilly, and you all made the list.

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Personal Note

December 19th, 2002 - 11:44 am

Just got off the phone with Pete Browning, our real estate agent. The sellers of the house we want just made a reasonable counteroffer. Barring our competitors selling their home over the weekend, it looks like we’ll be out of the VodkaCondo by mid-January.

Hell, Melissa doesn’t even know yet — she’s away from her desk right now.

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Good Catch, Jonah

December 19th, 2002 - 11:39 am

Saw this link on The Corner, and it will be all over the blogosphere by this afternoon.

Warning: It’s not for the squeemish.

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Read the Whole Thing

December 19th, 2002 - 11:12 am

Why we read Krauthammer:

A man who has no use–let alone no feel–for colorblindness has no business being a leader of the conservative party. True, if Lott is ousted, he might resign from the Senate and allow his seat to go Democratic, thus jeopardizing Republican control of the Senate and undoing the great Republican electoral triumph of 2002.

So be it. There is a principle at stake here. Better to lose the Senate than to lose your soul. New elections come around every two years. Souls are scarcer.

Since I’m not much of a Republican or a conservative, I’m perhaps even less concerned than Krauthammer about the Senate Republican majority — although as a hawk, I see it generally as a mostly good thing. But Lott has got to go.

Just one quibble. Early in the piece, Krauthammer identifies Pat Buchanan as a Goldwater Republican. Please. Buchanan was once a Nixon Republican, with all the negative connotations you can think of. Now Pitchfork Pat exists at the fringe of fringes, where the Loony Left and Radical Right become as one.

Let’s not tarnish Barry’s mostly-perfect legacy with Buchanan’s stink.

UPDATE: Predictably, Jonah Goldberg disagrees with Krauthammer on the bigger issue dividing neo, paleo, and traditional conservatives.

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Pot Calling the Kettle Lilly-White

December 19th, 2002 - 10:03 am

Reason‘s Charles Paul Freund reveals that the last real segregationist racist in the White House was a Democrat. Namely, the much-admired (by the Left), Woodrow Wilson:

What Wilson’s election meant to the South was “home rule;” that is, license to pursue its racial practices without concern about interference from the federal government. That is exactly what the 1948 Dixiecrats wanted. But “home rule” was only the beginning. Upon taking power in Washington, Wilson and the many other Southerners he brought into his cabinet were disturbed at the way the federal government went about its own business. One legacy of post-Civil War Republican ascendancy was that Washington’s large black populace had access to federal jobs, and worked with whites in largely integrated circumstances. Wilson’s cabinet put an end to that, bringing Jim Crow to Washington.

I suppose Wilson’s low-minded racism was forgivable, since he was a high-minded multilateralist.

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Give ‘Til It Hurts

December 19th, 2002 - 9:56 am

Tim Blair has discovered a new way to make his blog profitable.

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It Can Happen Here

December 19th, 2002 - 9:40 am

Norah Vincent, writing in the LA Times, has some thoughts on the blogger libel suit in Australia:

Though libel law has always applied to Web content, most bloggers have flown beneath the radar, making it possible to disseminate their sometimes injudicious remarks with virtual impunity. And most of the time that has been a good thing because, unlike in the gated confines of print newspapers and magazines whose hand-picked and bowdlerized letters sections abrogate reader feedback, anybody can participate in public debate on the Net. One-man bands such as Instapundit, Kausfiles, andrewsullivan.com and a hundred smaller operations are spicing the debate, keeping the media powers honest and putting our free press through its paces.

But there’s a flip side to this. As much as the blogosphere is full of brave and vital input, it’s also full of the careless, mad and sometimes vengeful ravings of half-wits who will say anything, especially about established journalists and writers, just to attract more attention to their sites. This can get ugly when content is unregulated.

Begging the question, who or what is to do the regulating?

Sadly, Norah’s own blog remains under the table. A victim, perhaps, of the same forces she half-praises?

I shouldn’t get on Norah’s case about this, really. I respect her as a person, writer, and a thinker. She’s right that libel law should and must apply to the blogosphere, especially as more people tune out the major media, and tune into more personal news sources.

But I still don’t understand why and American writer should be held to Australian (or French, or Chinese) libel standards, something that would never be allowed to happen to an American newspaper or cable station.

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Stomach Flu Be Damned

December 19th, 2002 - 9:13 am

Just in time for Christmas — a new Screed!

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VodkaPundit: Architectural Critic

December 19th, 2002 - 1:10 am

Why do most of the proposed replacements for the WTC look as though they’ve already been attacked by terrorists?

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Frankie Says Relax

December 19th, 2002 - 12:49 am

In early 1945, as the Russians closed in on Berlin from the east and the Anglo-American armies enlarged their bridgehead on the Rhine, Hitler gave The Loser’s Order to his Armaments Minister, Albert Speer.

What I call “The Loser’s Order” is the last gasp of any failed dictator — scorched earth. Hitler decreed that every factory in Germany, every bridge, every rail station, every mine, and every thing still standing of any possible value was to be destroyed. Farms would burn, homes would tumble, civilians would die in the hundreds of thousands.

Why? Just so Hitler would get the last laugh over his enemies, no matter the cost to his so-called “master race.”

At great personal risk to himself, Speer made sure Hitler’s order wasn’t carried out. Speer

was especially opposed to Hitler

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Synchronize Your Watches

December 19th, 2002 - 12:00 am

Can someone please tell me what night during the last week of January and the first week of February there will be no moon in the skies?

That’s the night it looks like the war begins.

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New Leadership?

December 18th, 2002 - 12:15 am

Tom Friedman is looking for a new kind of Democrat:

Right now the Bush bumper sticker reads: “You Can Have It All: Guns, Butter, War With Iraq, Tax Cuts & Humvees.” This is nonsense. America has never won a war without the public’s being enlisted and summoned to sacrifice. Is there a Democrat ready to push for a crash oil conservation program and development of renewable energy alternatives

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What Are We Waiting For?

December 18th, 2002 - 12:09 am

It doesn

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