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Monthly Archives: October 2003

Required Reading

October 31st, 2003 - 1:34 am

Read. Krauthammer. Now.

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Minnie Me

October 31st, 2003 - 1:19 am

With any luck, maybe she won’t come home.

(Hat tip, Kate.)

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Next Week: VP is a Krugman-Free Zone

October 31st, 2003 - 1:10 am

You don’t often see me mention Paul Krugman twice in one week, but. . .

There are still some reasons to wonder whether the economy has really turned the corner.

First, while there was a significant pickup in business investment, the bulk of last quarter’s growth came from a huge surge in consumer spending, with a further boost from housing. These components of spending stayed strong even when the economy was weak, so there shouldn’t have been any pent-up demand. Yet housing grew at a 20 percent rate, while spending on consumer durables (that’s stuff like cars and TV sets)

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Friday Recipe

October 31st, 2003 - 12:40 am

Time to haul out the wok and get ready to go a little Oriental. This one is quick and fun and mostly pain-free (the chili peppers can burn a little).

Szechwan Stir Fry

You’ll need:

2 chicken breasts, skinned and boned and chopped

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Get Well Soon

October 30th, 2003 - 4:03 pm

At least, apparently, the drugs were good.

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Too Funny

October 30th, 2003 - 3:51 pm

Allah is pissed off.

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Ouch

October 30th, 2003 - 1:54 pm

Jonah Goldberg isn’t known for playing nice, and today’s column is no exception:

Even the noble exceptions of Gephardt and Lieberman

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More Alternate History

October 30th, 2003 - 12:21 pm

In response to my post below, Eric Raymond writes, “Where’s Harry Turtledove when we need him?”

Apparently, he’s hanging out at Eric’s site.

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. . . and Two to Go

October 30th, 2003 - 12:10 pm

Think the Axis of Evil is make-believe? Read:

Increasing amounts of midnight oil are being burned in Washington since last August, when North Korea began talks with Iran on an agreement to export North Korea

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Tom Clancy Drool Fest

October 30th, 2003 - 12:06 pm

From StrategyPage:

The Israeli Air Force’s Center for Weapons and Systems Maintenance is developing a special sniper’s platform that will be fitted into Black Hawk helicopters. The system should be ready in about six months. Technicians used shock absorbers and a special suspension system for the four feet long platform (usually fitted with a Barrett .50 caliber rifle), which sounds suspiciously like the stabilized camera platforms used by news helicopters. The sniper sits in a seat attached to the platform, which can be swapped out between different helicopters. The platform is expected to greatly enhance the accuracy of snipers firing from hovering helicopters, which Israelis have rarely used as shooting platforms due to the vibrations.

Now that is precision bombing.

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Get’em Young

October 30th, 2003 - 12:03 pm

Nazi Germany had the Hitler Youth. The Soviet Union had Young Pioneers. Austin Bay says that the Islamofascists have borrowed yet another page from the 20th Century’s worst killers:

Al Qaeda has its own school system. Al Qaeda-backed madrassahs serve as Islamo-fascist recruitment and training centers, with the Koran as interpreted by Osama bin Laden their core text. Graduates hijack jets and commit mass murder.

“Alternative” education, of course, challenges the terror cadres’ noxious curriculum. Thus, the terrorists wage war on “Western” education. The war on liberal education rarely makes the news because sources are so effectively silenced. Islamist terrorists use a mafioso method, personally threatening Muslim intellectuals and scholars. Here’s the offer the scholar can’t refuse: Shut up, or we kill you. In lands without the rule of law, radical guns hush rational voices.

There’s more, including how we can help Iraq build a real education system — and that’s today’s Required Reading.

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Wolf Attack

October 30th, 2003 - 11:55 am

James Joyner understands women — or at least he knows why we like’em so much.

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Tag-Team Op-Eds

October 30th, 2003 - 10:44 am

Raya Eckart sent me an interesting pair of links to op-ed stories today. First, we have Ralph Peters arguing that what we have in Iraq ain’t Vietnam:

Iraq another Vietnam? Hell, even Vietnam wasn’t the Vietnam of left-wing baby-talk politics and campus political astrology. Our Vietnamese enemies represented a mass movement. The Iraqi terrorists represent a small, bloodthirsty movement to oppress the masses.

Then this:

In 1965 Lyndon Johnson gave a speech at Johns Hopkins University titled “Why Are We in Vietnam?” Two years later, Norman Mailer offered a somewhat different version in his book “Why We Are in Vietnam.” Today, this column could be called “Why We Are Not in Vietnam.”

That graf is from. . . Richard Cohen, believe it or not.

Check’em both out.

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It’s About Time II

October 30th, 2003 - 10:35 am

7.2.

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She Might Bite His Ear

October 30th, 2003 - 1:53 am

On today’s NYT op-ed page, it’s Friedman vs MoDo.

First, Dowd:

Speaking to reporters this week, Mr. Bush made the bizarre argument that the worse things get in Iraq, the better news it is. “The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react,” he said.

In the Panglossian Potomac, calamities happen for the best. One could almost hear the doubletalk echo of that American officer in Vietnam who said: “It was necessary to destroy the village in order to save it.”

Now, Friedman:

There is this notion being peddled by Europeans, the Arab press and the antiwar left that “Iraq” is just Arabic for Vietnam, and we should expect these kinds of attacks from Iraqis wanting to “liberate” their country from “U.S. occupation.” These attackers are the Iraqi Vietcong.

Hogwash. The people who mounted the attacks on the Red Cross are not the Iraqi Vietcong. They are the Iraqi Khmer Rouge

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Alternate History

October 30th, 2003 - 1:32 am

What follows below is an open letter to Donald Sensing, concerning his disdain for French taxicabs and the outcome of the First World War.

(more…)

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Fabulous Prizes!

October 30th, 2003 - 12:54 am

From USA Today:

A senior member of Saddam Hussein’s ousted government is believed to be helping coordinate attacks on American forces with members of an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group, a senior defense official said Wednesday.

Two captured members of Ansar al-Islam have said Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri is helping to coordinate their attacks, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

That information is the first solid evidence of links between remnants of Saddam’s regime and the non-Iraqi fighters responsible for at least some of the attacks on U.S. forces and their Iraqi allies, the official said.

The first person to send me a link to a news story (newspaper, magazine or web) or op-ed piece arguing that our liberation of Iraq forced Saddam’s cronies into working with al Qaeda, will win a shiny new VodkaPundit coffee mug.

Put your entry in the Drinks section below.

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Raiders

October 30th, 2003 - 12:38 am

If you go back and re-read your Old Testament, you’ll find that the Ark of the Covenant was no prize. Everyone wanted it, since it contained the original Ten Commandment tablets, personally etched by Cecil B. Demille’s special effects department, and once held by Chuck Heston, himself. But everyone who got the damn thing ended up being sorry for it. Wherever the Ark went, disaster followed: war, disease, starvation, and, as I recall, melting Nazis.

Everyone wanted it, everyone was sorry they got it.

The quest in the Middle East these last 25 years or so has been for Weapons of Mass Destruction. Syria, Iraq, Iran — they all want WMDs for the same reason. They’re useful for scaring dissidents, threatening your neighbors, and killing Jews. Come to think of it, that’s exactly like the Ark of the Covenant.

Until Pakistan got a nuke — and Pakistan is more South Asia than Mideast — the guy with the Ark was our buddy Saddam Hussein. That Saddam had WMDs isn’t debatable. He gassed the Iranians, he gassed the Kurds, he gassed the Marsh Arabs, he was caught trying to buy kryton switches needed for a nuke, etc. But disaster soon came, in the form of Norman Schwarzkopf and the US Third Army. If you want to talk Old Testament-style Wrath of God, look no further than the Highway of Death.

(No, I haven’t slipped my rocker and gotten all religious. I’m just trying to make a point here, however badly.)

Now it looks like Saddam slipped the Ark to his Ba’ath buddies in neighboring Syria:

U.S. intelligence officials Wednesday released an assessment that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have been transferred to neighboring Syria.

The officials, in the first assessment of its kind, said the transfer occurred during the weeks prior to the U.S.-led war against the Saddam Hussein regime.

Saddam bought himself a clue. He must have figured that if his neighbors had the Ark, maybe God would go smite them instead.

Well, it wasn’t a very big clue — because he kept telling everyone the Ark was still right where it belonged. Meanwhile, we’re digging like Belloq in all the wrong places, when the Ark is really buried a little over to the west.

So was our wrath misplaced? Hardly. Even if Saddam had come clean, he’d had the Ark before and was going to try to get it back again. Besides, we needed to set somebody straight over there, and Saddam’s Iraq was a good place to try.

The point of all this is: If Syria has the Ark, do they really want to keep it? Death, destruction, and melting Islamofascists seem to follow wherever it goes.

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But Keep Your Fingers Crossed

October 30th, 2003 - 12:15 am

Stocks were up big on Wednesday, probably because the Fed’s report today on 3Q economic growth is going to be a good one. (I heard rumors on one of the news channel that the annual growth rate last quarter might have been as high as 6.1%. That’s smokin’.)

All I can say is, it’s about damn time.

We’ve had needed tax stimulus, not-so-needed (ahem) spending increases in Washington, and interest rates at near-historic lows. Offically, the recession ended two years ago, so maybe, finally, we’ll start seeing some real job growth.

And when I say “it’s about time,” I’m not harshing Bush, Congress, the Fed, or anyone else. We had the heart ripped out of Manhattan two years ago and we’ve been at war ever since — so the fact that things have been relatively good is a sign of the resiliance of the American economy, and the American people.

“It’s about time” is for all those folks who have gone far too long without finding a job.

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Allah Has Left the House

October 30th, 2003 - 12:08 am

Allah finally coughed up enough dinars to get his own domain.

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Lazy Blogging

October 29th, 2003 - 12:48 am

Another busy night and morning, so here’s some linky goodness to tide you over:

Wes Clark does another backflip.

Hey, why not just give everything west of the Mississippi to the Feds?

Bill Safire gives us “The Ecstacy Index.”

How Bush is right — and wrong — about postwar Iraq.

Deputy Mayor assassinated in Baghdad.

More space rays coming to kill your cell phone.

Say it ain’t so — Courtney Love charged with drug possession.

Discuss amongst yourselves for a bit.

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A Simple Plan

October 29th, 2003 - 12:34 am

Did you know that Iraq already has a pretty good constitution? Neither did I. The details from no less than Bernard Lewis and James Woolsey today’s Opinion Journal:

It was legally adopted in 1925 and Iraq was governed under it until the series of military, then Baathist, coups began in 1958 and brought over four decades of steadily worsening dictatorship. Iraqis never chose to abandon their 1925 constitution–it was taken from them. The document is not ideal, and it is doubtless not the constitution under which a modern democratic Iraq will ultimately be governed. But a quick review indicates that it has some very useful features that would permit it to be used on an interim basis while a new constitution is drafted. Indeed, the latter could be approved as an omnibus amendment to the 1925 document.

This seems possible because the 1925 Iraqi constitution–which establishes that the nation’s sovereignty “resides in the people”–provides for an elected lower house of parliament, which has a major role in approving constitutional amendments. It also contains a section on “The Rights of the People” that declares Islam as the official religion, but also provides for freedom of worship for all Islamic sects and indeed for all religions and for “complete freedom of conscience.” It further guarantees “freedom of expression of opinion, liberty of publication, of meeting together, and of forming and joining associations.” In different words, the essence of much of our own Bill of Rights is reflected therein.

What might be the most intriguing aspect of reviving the 1925 constitution is that it already provides a head of state who could prove tolerable to Iraq’s fractious Sunnis, Shi’ites, and Kurds:

Conveniently, the 1925 constitution provides that the people of Iraq are deemed to have “confided . . . a trust” to “King Faisal, son of Hussain, and to his heirs . . . .” If the allies who liberated Iraq recognized an heir of this Hashemite line as its constitutional monarch, and this monarch agreed to help bring about a modern democracy under the rule of law, such a structure could well be the framework for a much smoother transition to democracy than now seems at hand. The Sunni Hashemites, being able to claim direct descent from the Prophet Mohammed, have historically been respected by the Shiites, who constitute a majority of the people of Iraq, although the latter recognize a different branch of the family. It is the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia, not the Hashemites, who have been the Shiites’ persecutors.

If the idea of a Hashemite Restoration sounds familiar, it’s because it was a popular one (on certain op-ed pages and in the blogosphere) in the spring and summer of last year. Originally, the talk was about Saudi Arabia, which was originally (and unusually decently) controlled by the Hashemites.

But something tells me Jordan’s Hashemite King Adbullah wouldn’t mind having nephews crowned in Riyadh and Baghdad.

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Time Will Tell

October 28th, 2003 - 12:32 pm

Ed Lambert, himself an aerospace guy, sent this story:

After more than a decade of mergers, downsizing and layoffs, the nation’s aerospace industry is bracing for another jolt as more than a fourth of its work force moves toward retirement within the next five years, creating what experts call a “demographic cliff.”

Industry leaders say the potential mass exodus could create a work force crisis since the pool of younger replacements has been steadily shrinking for more than a decade.

Aerospace workers ages 30 or younger constitute less than 7 percent of the industry’s labor pool, compared with 18 percent in 1987, according to industry data.

Ed added that he first read about a similar problem back in the late ’70s, so maybe it’s not time to worry just yet. But how are we supposed to keep designing first-rate weapons (not to mention compete with heavily-subsidized Airbus for civilian liners), when our workforce is shrinking and Washington is limiting work visas?

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LA Is Safe – For Now

October 28th, 2003 - 10:39 am

Jim Dunnigan argues that it’s not yet time to lose sleep over North Korean nukes:

Most of the missiles available to the new nuclear powers can carry a half ton warhead. The U.S. had such warheads in service by 1954. But to do so required a lot more scientific and engineering talent than the new nuclear powers have. In addition, the bomb developers were able to test their designs. While powerful computers make it possible to do “virtual tests,” the new nuclear nations do not have access to the super-fast computers needed for this kind of testing. Perhaps more importantly, these new nuclear powers do not have access to the data from tests that were simulated, then run with a real weapon. In other words, you need to either do live tests, or have very expensive supercomputers, and the right software, to make sure your smaller warheads work. While China may have stolen a lot of the secret U.S. data on smaller nuclear warheads, it uncertain if any of that information has been passed on. In the end, you don’t have to get worried about North Korean or Iranian nuclear weapons unless there is news of smaller warheads that work.

Then again, it hardly takes an ICBM to deliver a bomb across the border into Iraq or South Korea.

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Bottoms Up

October 28th, 2003 - 10:32 am

This is gonna make for a long, fun weekend.

(Courtesy of V-Kate.)

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What’s Panther?

October 28th, 2003 - 10:16 am

Shhh – don’t show Lileks this link.

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Laugh and/or Cry

October 28th, 2003 - 10:15 am

You probably remember the old Two Cows routine about different political philosophies. “Capitalism: You have two cows, sell one and buy a bull.” Or “Fascism: You have two cows, the government takes both and shoots you.” It went on forever.

Today Kat sent me a new entry:

CALIFORNIAN

You have a cow and a bull.
The bull is depressed.
It has spent its life living a lie.
It goes away for two weeks.
It comes back after a taxpayer-paid sex-change operation.
You now have two cows.
One makes milk; the other doesn’t.
You try to sell the transgender cow.
Its lawyer sues you for discrimination.
You lose in court.
You sell the milk-generating cow to pay the damages.
You now have one rich, transgender, non-milk-producing cow.
You change your business to beef. PETA pickets your farm.
Jesse Jackson makes a speech in your driveway.
Cruz Bustamante calls for higher farm taxes to help “working cows”.
Hillary Clinton calls for the nationalization of 1/7 of your farm “for the
children.”
Gray Davis signs a law giving your entire farm to Mexico.
The L.A. Times quotes five anonymous cows claiming you groped their teats.
You declare bankruptcy and shut down all operations.
The cow starves to death.
The L.A. Times’ analysis shows your business failure is Bush’s fault.

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Car Talk

October 28th, 2003 - 1:16 am

I honestly don’t know what Daimler is doing to its American Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep subsidiary.

They killed off the Plymouth line a couple years back. What that accomplished other than to alienate customers and shrink their market share, I have no idea.

300CThey’re trying to take Chrysler upscale, with new vehicles like the Pacifica, the Crossfire, and next year’s 300C sedan. I like all three cars (although I discovered that, in person, the Pacifica looks more like a station wagon than it should. If they want to sell any, I mean), and I really like future-retro look Chrysler is pioneering. The problem is, they’re trying to charge premium prices for, well, Chrysler products. And while the 300C will have a hefty Hemi engine, the Crossfire and the Pacifica are both a bit underpowered.

Yet if they up the power, Daimler runs the risk of making too good a Chrysler, cutting into sales of Mercedes cars. And they can’t compete with GM on price. So taking Chrysler upscale looks like a big mistake.

That’s the bad news. Here’s the heartbreaking news:

Jeep has been wrestling with whether to offer smoother-riding, more carlike SUVs. The division now will try to straddle both worlds. It will keep its 4×4 models as “authentic” SUVs and will add a generation of less-rugged vehicles to compete against softer-riding sport wagons.

Making car-like Jeeps is like making broth-like stew. Sure, you can do it, but in the end, Jeep buyers will want to know where the beef is. Anybody can buy a tall Honda with all-wheel drive or a Ford Exorbitant, but Jeep buyers are a different breed. You buy a Jeep because you know what a Jeep can do: Damn near anything. What’s next — a Dodge Ram built to compete with Daewoo?

Jeep is an American icon, so it probably should come as a surprise that the Germans just don’t get it.

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He Gets Paid for That?

October 28th, 2003 - 12:40 am

Aw, hell — Paul Krugman is at it again. Read:

I wrote about why Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s prime minister

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Back in the USSR?

October 28th, 2003 - 12:26 am

Why was Russian energy entrepreneur Mikhail Khodorkovsky arrested Saturday? Bruce P. Jackson may have the answer:

This has been a year in which independent media and major independent business owners in Russia have been put out of business by the strong-arm tactics of the special prosecutor and the newly vigilant Federal Security Service (FSB), the agency that succeeded the KGB. In a climate that progressive Russian business executives compare to the fearful period of the 1950s, Khodorkovsky made the fatal mistake of expressing political opinions and having the temerity to provide financial support to opposition parties.

While this alone is insurrectionary behavior in the increasingly czarist world of President Putin, Khodorkovsky had the additional misfortune of being the last surviving oligarch. For those who have not kept up their Russian, “oligarch” is a term of art for “rich Jews” who made their money in the massive privatization of Soviet assets in the early 1990s. It is still not a good thing to be a successful Jew in historically anti-Semitic Russia.

Since Putin was elected president in 2000, every major figure exiled or arrested for financial crimes has been Jewish. In dollar terms, we are witnessing the largest illegal expropriation of Jewish property in Europe since the Nazi seizures during the 1930s.

There’s more, and it includes looks at Russia’s increasingly dirty dealings in “the near abroad” — the former non-Russian republics of the old USSR. And that’s why the whole thing is today’s Required Reading.

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