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Monthly Archives: July 2003

Link via Drudge

July 15th, 2003 - 1:14 pm

Dick Gephardt’s money-raising campaign is falling short:

Presidential candidate Dick Gephardt fell short of his fund-raising goal by more than $1 million, raising questions Tuesday about his ability to excite Democratic donors and remain a top-tier candidate.

The former House Minority leader, who hoped to raise $5 million from April to June, collected just $3.87 million

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DoHS!

July 15th, 2003 - 10:32 am

Karl Armstrong clued me in to this local story with perhaps an international angle. Read from the Colorado Springs Gazette:

Four hundred pounds of an ammonium nitrate-based explosive

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Same Old Same Old

July 15th, 2003 - 10:23 am

For those still curious about why the UN can’t be relied on, read this report about peacekeepers in Burundi, from StrategyPage’s Adam Geibel. Following a rebel attack on Bujumbura:

The 900 South African-led African Union force have done nothing to stem the violence in the capital. Welile Nhlapo, deputy head of the AU mission, told the press that they were not involved in the fighting, it wasn’t their responsibility and they would not let the situation slide into chaotic situation that they could not control. Asked what the force would do if the situation worsened, Nhlapo said he could not predict future actions.

UN peacekeepers who refuse to keep the peace. Sound familiar?

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Surprise!

July 15th, 2003 - 1:10 am

Merde in France discovers that French anti hate-speech laws don’t cover their American allies.

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5030: 5150?

July 15th, 2003 - 12:49 am

Caught this story today while reading USN&WR in my “dad chair” this afternoon, and thought it was interesting enough to hunt down on the web. The Pentagon is drafting a short-of-war plan for North Korea.

Choice bits:

One scenario in the draft involves flying RC-135 surveillance flights even closer to North Korean airspace, forcing Pyongyang to scramble aircraft and burn scarce jet fuel. Another option: U.S. commanders might stage a weeks-long surprise military exercise, designed to force North Koreans to head for bunkers and deplete valuable stores of food, water, and other resources. The current draft of 5030 also calls for the Pentagon to pursue a range of tactical operations that are not traditionally included in war plans, such as disrupting financial networks and sowing disinformation.

What I like about 5030 is that it throws Pyongyang’s strategy right back in their faces. North Korea has survived, in large part, by being unpredictable, nutty, and seemingly dangerous. If they see the victors of Afghanistan and Gulf Wars I and II acting the same way, it might — might — just get them to settle down a bit.

The other bright idea is forcing the NPRK to use up its small stores of diesel and jet fuel, which will be expensive for them to replace. There’s danger here, however. Back them up against the wall too hard, and the Dear Leader might see no choice but to lash out at the South, or even Japan.

5030 outlines a bold, but risky, scenario. But with Pyongyang’s recent nuclear saber-rattling, the risks could prove worth taking.

What’s interesting is that even at this early planning stage, details are already being leaked. Whether 5030 is ever implemented, or even real, just letting Li’l Kim know we’re thinking such thoughts should give him pause.

If the whole idea scares you, don’t worry yet 5030 is suddenly US policy, without any debate. The Pentagon draws up war plans all the time, and most of them never see the light of day.

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The Report Left Out in the Cold

July 15th, 2003 - 12:16 am

Is the Iraq-Niger uranium controversy a French plot?

Two foreign intelligence services, thought to be those of France and Italy, supplied Britain with the information for its controversial claim that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had sought uranium from Africa, the Financial Times newspaper reported Monday.

Britain made the uranium claim in a dossier last September despite being told the US Central Intelligence Agency had “reservations” about its inclusion.

The paper said its information came from senior Whitehall sources.

And this:

The French secret service is believed to have refused to allow Britain’s MI6 to give the United States “credible” intelligence showing that Iraq was trying to buy uranium ore from Niger, U.S. intelligence sources said yesterday.

Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service had more than one “different and credible” piece of intelligence to show that Iraq was attempting to buy the ore, known as yellowcake, British officials insisted. But it was given to them by at least one and possibly two intelligence services and, under the rules governing cooperation, it could not be shared with anyone else without the originator’s permission.

U.S. intelligence sources believe the most likely source of the MI6 intelligence was the French secret service, the DGSE. Niger is a former French colony, and its uranium mines are run by a French company that comes under the control of the French Atomic Energy Commission.

What kind of play do you think this will get in the US media? Not that there’s some kind of newsroom cabal plotting to embarrass the Administration, but the story is of the complicated kind that makes for great spy novels, but lousy sound bites.

(Many thanks to Nelson Ascher for both links — he’s a treasure to bloggers looking for good material.)

UPDATE: Nick Kristof and Paul Krugman both take swipes at the story, which means half of the NYT op-ed page is screaming “Bush is a liar and a cheat and it was a fraudulent war!” Stay tuned.

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You Linkin’ at Me?

July 15th, 2003 - 12:03 am

Jeff Jarvis thinks AOL blogs will be a good thing. Bill Dennis, however, is worried about trolls:

Once the AOLers learn about blogs, look for comment sections to attract even more trolls than we already have.

Personally, I plan to use IP banning to block all AOL customers. If I lose regulars, fine. That should be another incentive to switch to a real ISP.

I am not saying *all* AOLers are idiots and that they can’t operate nice blogs. I am saying that those who want to, already have the power to do so, through Blogger, and it doesn’t cost them a dime.

But as soon as AOL starts linking to blogs on its own content screens, the troll level in the blogosphere will double or triple. Count on it.

I say: bring’em on.

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The Softer Side of VP

July 14th, 2003 - 8:53 pm

Dave Barry wants you to support the arts:

This blog was just thinking how interesting it would be if a whole bunch of people submitted poems that contained a certain key poetic phrase. To see how it might work, this blog submitted a poem under the pen name of “Freemont A. Harkins,” entitled: “A Sad Day.” Here’s how it goes:

A Sad Day

i am sad, so very sad
the tears run down my nose
it was a happy day until
the dog ate mother’s toes

You can see this poem at www.poetry.com, using the search engine to search for “Freemont Harkins.” Wouldn’t it be fun if a lot of people submitted poems using a Pen Name that began with “Freemont” and incorporating the phrase, “the dog ate mother’s toes”? Then we all could search for poems written under the first name of “Freemont” — currently, this blog is the only one — and see how creative everybody was!

As Harkins A. Freemont, I subitted this dreck:

Untitled

She was lovely
Lovely like a rose
Her teeth, like thorns
Ate my mother’s toes

It’s OK to cry.

(Hat tip to Ken Layne.)

UPDATE: Read this one from e.e.freemont.

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Add Your Own

July 14th, 2003 - 12:12 pm

In response to this story, Mike M writes:

I believe we’re watching the wheels come off the big media establishment before our eyes, and it’s only a matter of time before it wraps around a telephone pole and bursts into flames. Hopefully the blogosphere will be there as a passenger-side airbag for the truth.

Can I be the power-assisted steering of flippancy?

Lileks, of course, is our anti-lock brakes of effrontery.

Glenn would be the all-wheel drive of reasonability.

Jane Galt is our traction control of tribulation.

Pejman? Why, he’s the cruise control of incorruptibility.

And John Stryker. . . well, he’s the Stryker, damnit.

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I’ll Have Whatever He’s Having — Not

July 14th, 2003 - 11:48 am

Just say no to drugs.

(Hat tip to the incomparible Acid Man.)

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Open Season on Ducks

July 14th, 2003 - 11:41 am

James Morrow, that expat Down Under, is back — only now he’s blogging for some hippie granola commune thing.

Anyway, he’s writing about booze so you know it’s today’s Required Reading.

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The Gipper

July 14th, 2003 - 11:24 am

Jane Galt wants to know who is today’s Ronald Reagan.

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The Beast

July 14th, 2003 - 11:16 am

David Warren is a writer of rare skill, and a foreign affairs analyst of even rarer subtlety. Today, however, he slides down the slippery slope on the issue of gay marriage:

Sex — what is male and what female — was written into each of them; and in extracting it, all intra-familial relations were thus abrogated. There can only be “partners”, henceforth; and as the whole notion of “parentage” was founded in the “heterosexual monopoly” on childbirth, children themselves can only have “guardians”. The common paternity and maternity of brothers and sisters may continue to exist as fact (progressively undermined by new technology). But by degrees such facts must cease to be publicly acknowledged.

This is not alarmist. No other possible course is available, in the logical wake of the “same-sex marriage” ruling. It leaves no way back. In Canada, the Charter of Rights has empowered our courts to strike down, successively, every attempt to maintain such distinctions.

The family itself has thus been driven underground. It can now exist only by the private consent of its members, on extra-legal terms. It most certainly no longer exists as a model or example, binding one generation to another.

Somehow, the inclusion of more people into legally-binding families will destroy families. I suppose shoving bourgeois constitutions down the throats of Germany and Japan after WWII diluted the power of elections and free markets.

But what most interests me is this paragraph:

They were the Jews, in ancient times, who fully realized the significance of this fact: that God “had made them male and female”. Who realized, in a theological development of the idea of marriage, the deep truth of this anthropological fact. The deep truth that men and women are necessary to the completion of each other, that “man” in the male aspect of Adam, cannot be alone. That “man” in the sense of human, was Adam completed by Eve. This is the “beast with two backs”, of Shakespeare’s droll image — the one animal in nature who embraces face-to-face.

That last sentence is revealing. If Warren wishes to enjoy and approve of nothing but the Missionary position, that’s his (boring) business. But to give it, and nothing else, God’s sanction is simple prudery dressed up in the language of the Bible and Shakespeare. Although if you read or watch his works, you’ll find that Shakespeare was anything but a prude. And while I’m no Bible scholar, I can’t imagine that all the begatting going on in Genesis didn’t involve at least a little healthy variety.

Now let’s apply Warren’s slippery logic to the rest of the paragraph. If God made us male and female, to be completed by complimentary pairing, then it must follow that gays and lesbians are lesser creatures, undeserving of protection under our laws — or God’s. No gay marriage today, and back alley beatings tomorrow? Stonings starting next week! Hate the sin, love the sinner — but no touching, please.

No, I don’t think Warren actually thinks such things — but the slippery slope descends both ways, so to speak.

It shouldn’t shock you that Warren would come out against gay marriage — it is possible for reasonable people to disagree reasonably on such a fundamental issue. What should shock you is that he has done so in such a callous and offensive manner.

UPDATE: Judith Weiss adds in the Drinks section something so good it needs posting here:

I hate it when people take the Hebrew scriptures out of context and present them as examples of Jewish law. According to the Talmud, which is as binding on Jewish law as the Torah for observant Jewry all over the world, all forms of mutually enjoyable sex are permitted between husband and wife. So much for the missionary position.

Also, polygamy was permitted under Jewish law until sometime in the Middle Ages, when the rabbis ruled that this law would be suspended for the indefinite future because it was out of step with the civilization they were living in. But few families in the Scriptures look like the stereotypical “nuclear family” (which also rarely existed in history – because of adult mortality, there were just as many stepfamilies then as now).

David Warren should do some research. But he has put his foot firmy in his mouth before, so I’m not surprised at this.

Thanks, Judith.

UPDATEDY UPDATE: Scott Wright adds his own thoughts here, and I’m inclined to agree that there is a lot of anti-gay bigotry on the Right. Let me add that I don’t believe any and all arguments against gay marriage are homophobic — far from it. But David Warren, John Derbyshire, and (to a much lesser extent) Stanly Kurtz, all fall on the wrong side of reasonableness.

HOTDAMN WE GOT UPDATES: Click on the Drinks below and read Arthur Silber‘s comments. Turns out that Western Civ fetishist Warren doesn’t know his Bible or his Shakespeare.

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Sick Leave

July 14th, 2003 - 10:27 am

Get well soon, Chris.

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George Clinton — Republican?

July 14th, 2003 - 10:22 am

We want the funk, gotta have that funk.

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Parking Is Gonna Be a Bitch

July 14th, 2003 - 9:33 am

Ralph Peters puts events in Iraq into perspective:

During the war, unseasoned journalists reported every minor exchange of fire as if it were the Little Big Horn, Part Two. Now, the obsession of reporters with every sprained ankle in our occupation force ignores the tremendous good we have done, the strategic advantages we have gained – and the potential, at last, for a measure of meaningful progress in the world’s most politically, culturally and morally backward region.

If we took the criteria for instant failure that the media and our most self-interested politicians apply to Iraq and applied them here at home, the U.S. government would be obliged to evacuate California and abandon Mississippi, since two shooting incidents in those states last week killed more Americans than did the low-level violence in Iraq.

Clearly, our 150-year-old annexation of California has been a failure – likewise, the reintegration of Mississippi in the years since our Civil War. Let’s just pack up and go home.

Really, nothing good seems to have come out of leaving the Olduvai Gorge a quarter million years ago. Shall we all just pack up and go home?

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Odd Bedfellows

July 14th, 2003 - 9:29 am

From StrategyPage, here’s an update to last week’s story about those jammed US satellite broadcasts to Iran:

US government officials, Iranian-American expatriates and communications satellite operators confirm that all US-based satellite broadcasts to Iran were being jammed out of Cuba. Loral Skynet operates the Telstar-12 satellite used by the broadcasters, which was being effected by jamming probably emanating from “the vicinity of Havana, Cuba.” Cuba’s main electronic eavesdropping base, at Bejucal, is about 32 kilometers outside of the Cuban capital.

How the Cubans are doing the jamming is another question. The jamming is simply a matter of aiming a strong signal at the satellite’s uplink transponder and overwhelming the broadcasters’ signals. An investigator told MSNBC that “you need a dish, some power, not too much. You put up a test pattern … and do a sweep and find the transponder on the satellite you want to jam. It could even be smaller than the standard 6-meter dish. It could be a small dish with a lot of power.”

Could the Cubans be getting help to do this? Since 1999, China has been operating a sophisticated electronic espionage network out of Cuba aimed at the United States by taking advantage of the Castro regime’s “electronic war against Yankee imperialism”.

Capitalist communists helping old-school Stalinists to protect medieval theocrats. Did I miss something?

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Welcome Back

July 14th, 2003 - 9:13 am

It’s about time.

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Found on Drudge

July 14th, 2003 - 1:18 am

Well, this is depressing:

A mob of about 100 Palestinian refugees stormed the office of a Ramallah polling organisation yesterday to stop it publishing a survey showing that five times as many refugees would prefer to settle permanently in a Palestinian state than return to their old homes in what is now Israel.

The protesters pelted Khalil Shikaki, the director of the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, with eggs, smashed computers and assaulted the nine staff members on duty. A female worker was treated in hospital for her injuries. “This is a message for everyone not to tamper with our rights,” one of the rioters said.

Odd, but aren’t “rights” supposed to be about letting people do what they want, rather than be placed at the mercy of the government or the masses?

There are some Israelis who refer to the West Bank as “Judea and Samaria,” and beleive they have the right to evict every last Muslim from those holy lands. They have no such right, although they might just have a justification.

Jews who call for the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in the West Bank are called racists — or worse. Palestinians who call for killing all the Jews and then forcing Palestinians from their homes in the West Bank are called freedom fighters.

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And VP Makes Six?

July 14th, 2003 - 12:43 am

Arthur says I’m an honorary member — and I am honored.

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Cheers

July 11th, 2003 - 1:24 am

Melissa has the day off, so we’re taking another long weekend. I understand there will be shopping and drinking involved, so we’ll be tired and broke come Sunday night.

See you then.

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Emesty Threekay

July 11th, 2003 - 12:56 am

Sensible reporting from Nick Kristof:

“There’s no genetic basis for any kind of rigid ethnic or racial classification at all,” said Bryan Sykes, the Oxford geneticist and author of “The Seven Daughters of Eve.” “I’m always asked is there Greek DNA or an Italian gene, but, of course, there isn’t. . . . We’re very closely related.”

Likewise, The New England Journal of Medicine once editorialized bluntly that “race is biologically meaningless.”

Take me. Dr. Sykes looked at a sequence of my mitochondrial DNA to place me on a kind of global family tree. It would have been nice to learn that my ancestors hailed from a village on Loch Ness, but ancestry can almost never be pegged that precisely, and I appear to be a mongrel. One of my variants, for example, is scattered among people in Finland, Poland, Armenia, the Netherlands, Scotland, Israel, Germany and Norway.

As someone whose known ancestry covers Germany, Austria, France, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and the old Russian Pale of Jewish settlement, I’d have to say that science has it right.

Black, white, brown, whatever, we’re all a bunch of mutts. Deal with it, pink boy.

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Not Getting It Department

July 11th, 2003 - 12:47 am

Charles Krauthammer on the Democrats’ moral and strategic confusion:

What is it that makes liberals such as Dean, preening their humanitarianism, so antiwar in Iraq and so pro-intervention in Liberia?

The same question could be asked of the Democratic Party, which in the 1990s opposed the Persian Gulf War but overwhelmingly supported humanitarian interventions in places such as Haiti and Kosovo.

They all had a claim on the American conscience. What then was the real difference between, say, Haiti and Gulf War I, and between Liberia and Gulf War II? The Persian Gulf has deep strategic significance for the United States; Haiti and Liberia do not. In both gulf wars, critical American national interests were being defended and advanced. Yet it is precisely these interventions that liberals opposed.

The only conclusion one can draw is that for liberal Democrats, America’s strategic interests are not just an irrelevance, but also a deterrent to intervention. This is a perversity born of moral vanity. For liberals, foreign policy is social work. National interest — i.e., national selfishness — is a taint. The only justified interventions, therefore, are those that are morally pristine, namely, those that are uncorrupted by any suggestion of national interest.

Now you know why I can’t vote for any likely Democratic candidate so long as we’re at war.

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Vox Populi

July 10th, 2003 - 2:41 pm

Daniel Drezner takes a hard, non-partisan look at Howard Dean’s foriegn policy proposals:

More importantly, Dean’s foreign policy views–laid out most clearly in a June 25 speech before the Council on Foreign Relations–bear a marked similarity to the mainstream Democratic candidates. All, including Dean, support some variant of liberal institutionalism–i.e., working closely with democratic allies, strengthening multilateral institutions, opposing preventive wars, and investing more in homeland defense. And Dean, like the rest of the candidates, extols Harry S Truman and John F. Kennedy as his guiding stars on foreign policy matters. In his speeches, he emphasizes the combination of their hawkishness in the face of illiberal threats and multilateralism as the preferred method for combating such threats. Dean’s emphasis on Kennedy’s prudence during the Cuban missile crisis was a constant refrain of leading Democrats in late 2002.

I worry less about Dean’s ideas than I do his mindset. Drezner explains:

Taken in toto, Dean’s worldview does give off a powerful whiff of populism.

That‘s what worries me. Other populists include Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot. If Buchanan is a populist from the right (sort of, anyway), and Perot of the center, then Dean is one from the left. Populists make for fun campaigns, but lousy leaders.

So let’s see what Dean does, now that he has all that money. It’s going to be a fun race.

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I was going to post on the latest paranoid silliness from Rick Santorum, but Andy got there first.

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Ralph Peters argues in favor of breaking Iraq up into three ethno-religious states.

No excerpts, you’ll just have to read the whole thing. It flies in the face of what I argued last year, but Peters has me halfway convinced.

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Pot, Kettle

July 10th, 2003 - 9:45 am

Here’s what “700 Club” host and former Presidential candidate Pat Robertson has to say about soon-to-be-exiled Liberian strongman Charles Taylor:

Charles Taylor, the Liberian president who has been indicted by an international court for crimes against humanity, has few remaining supporters in the United States. But one prominent American who has stuck with the West African leader is religious broadcaster and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson.

In recent broadcasts of his cable TV show “The 700 Club,” watched by an estimated 1 million households, Robertson has defended Taylor as a fellow Baptist and Liberia’s “freely elected” leader. The “horrible bloodbath” taking place in Liberia, he has repeatedly said, is the fault of the State Department.

“So we

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Live from Tehran

July 10th, 2003 - 9:35 am

The major media news blackout on Iran seems to continue.

The front pages of the web editions of The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post all carry nothing. Not even MSN‘s home page — where I have links set up to all the big international stories — is giving me anything.

A quick look at NYT‘s international page doesn’t even have so much as an AP story link.

The LA Times and Wapo are marginally better — they at least have one story each in their international sections. Of course, both stories seem to downplay recent events. Here are the ledes, first from WaPo:

The anniversary of student protests that rocked Iran four years ago passed relatively peacefully tonight, as leaderless, expectant crowds that gathered outside Tehran University and nearby parks found themselves facing riot police, plainclothes security officers on motorbikes and helicopters circling overhead.

Scanning the rest of the story, I see no explaination that “plainclothes security officers” really means “paramilitary thugs with Koranic delusions of grandeur.” But that’s what they really are.

And from the LA Times:

Pro-democracy protests against Iran’s Islamic regime drew a smaller than anticipated turnout Wednesday. While thousands of Iranians in cars and on foot created dense crowds in many parts of the capital

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Blackout

July 10th, 2003 - 2:43 am

This MSNBC story is from Drudge:

U.S. government officials as well as Iranian Americans and communications satellite operators confirm that all U.S.-based satellite broadcasts to Iran are being jammed by an unknown group or individual, possibly Iranian agents operating out of Latin America.

It’s bad enough if our words of support can’t reach Iran. But don’t really worry until and unless news stops coming out of the country.

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Dave’s Viewer Mail

July 10th, 2003 - 1:41 am

Dave Cullen is an all-’round good guy, but he’s gonna catch hell for this one, his first article for Slate. It’s about the Air Force Academy rape scandal:

[Defendant Douglas] Meester appears increasingly like a convenient scapegoat. After Meester’s Article 32 hearing in May

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