Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Virginia Postrel on French heat wave deaths and that solidarity called socialism:
I'm a little late to this subject, but isn't it interesting that the fabled solidarity of French socialism leaves old people alone to die from the heat as the whole country goes on vacation at the same time? Yet that seems to be a consensus view of what happened. From the USA Today report:

"BRUSSELS — More than 10,000 people, most elderly and living alone, may have died in France during this month's blistering heat wave, French health officials said Thursday. The revised estimate would make it one of the worst such disasters in modern history....
The estimated death toll has risen steadily in the past week, even as the mercury has dropped. On Aug. 14, the number of dead was estimated to be up to 3,000. Three days later, the figure was put at 5,000. On Thursday, the minister for the elderly, Hubert Falco, said "most probably" 10,000 people died from temperatures as high as 104.

The number of heat-related fatalities is 10 times as large as the record 1,021 recorded in the USA in all of 1995. The figure also dwarfs the losses this summer in Italy, where news reports estimate 2,000 died; Portugal, where an estimated 1,316 died; and Spain, where at least 100 died.

Most of the people who succumbed to the heat were elderly and living alone in apartments that typically do not have air conditioning. Critics turned on the French themselves for going on vacation while leaving aged relatives alone.

"These dramas again shed light on the solitude of many of our aged or handicapped citizens," Chirac said.

Says Virginia "At least they have solidarity about when to take vacations--none of that evil American individualism and workaholism"

See her her response to some readers criticism as well.

Monday, August 25, 2003

The Economics of Suicide Bombing. Bill Hobbs points to this acute explanation of why suicide bombing is a losing proposition:
Suicide bombing is warfare's least cost effective weapon because it puts any consideration of a negotiated settlement between the combatants out of the question. In economic terms, it destroys the Pareto optimal frontier and reduces conflict to a zero-sum game. When the passengers of Flight 93 learned their aircraft had been commandeered for a suicide mission against the White House, ordinary men like Todd Beamer rushed the cabin without hesitation or thought of survival. When faced with a fanatical enemy bent on killing everyone the battlefield choices are rapidly narrowed to either the acceptance of your own destruction or the total annihilation of the enemy. And it is the zero-sum game that Islam should fear. For the value of that game is the expected value that Islam will annihilate the world minus the expected value that the world will annihilate Islam. The natural outcome of the kamikazes was the atomic bomb over Hiroshima. Nothing else would do. The natural reaction of the passengers on Flight 93 was to fight on at all costs. Nothing else would do. And the eventual reaction of nuclear-armed Israel, Russia and India to the unlimited slaughter of their populations does not bear thinking upon. And it will not be surrender, but rather something else. That is the cost effectiveness of suicide bombing.

In case you were looking for more reasons to absolutely ignore communists, here's a piece of an interview with a Marxist scholar Eric Hobsbawm:
IGNATIEFF: In 1934, millions of people are dying in the Soviet experiment. If you had known that, would it have made a difference to you at that time? To your commitment? To being a Communist?

HOBSBAWM: This is the sort of academic question to which an answer is simply not possible...I don't actually know that it has any bearing on the history that I have written. If I were to give you a retrospective answer which is not the answer of a historian, I would have said, 'Probably not.'


HOBSBAWM: Because in a period in which, as you might imagine, mass murder and mass suffering are absolutely universal, the chance of a new world being born in great suffering would still have been worth backing. Now the point is, looking back as an historian, I would say that the sacrifices made by the Russian people were probably only marginally worthwhile. The sacrifices were enormous; they were excessive by almost any standard and excessively great. But I'm looking back at it now and I'm saying that because it turns out that the Soviet Union was not the beginning of the world revolution. Had it been, I'm not sure.

IGNATIEFF: What that comes down to is saying that had the radiant tomorrow actually been created, the loss of fifteen, twenty million people might have been justified?


No need to comment. (link via InstaPundit)

If you've never read Chief Wiggles's blog you should, it's linked over on the right. He's an intelligence officer currently serving in Iraq, and offers positive, at times heart warming, stories of the goings-on over there. Most mainstream newspapers are headlined with bad stories, cause we all know that "Iraq Slipping Away" sells more than "Group of Soldiers Help Open Iraqi Schools" He offers an insight that you won't find anywhere else, and each one of his journal entries teaches a life lesson. His determination combined with his compassion for serving the people of Iraq makes me proud to be an American, proud to have this man representing us. You should visit his old site too and read some past entries, you'll be glad you did. In the meantime here is some of his reaction to the UN bombing last week:
At times I feel that it is impossible to make sense out of such a senseless, meaningless loss of life and property. What kind of people are they anyway?

What is even more disturbing is the fact that many of these acts of terrorism are committed by non-Iraqi people, those from other countries who have traveled here for the sole purpose of disrupting our efforts to give to these people a life free from fear, bondage, and torture. As if their small random acts of violence will even put a dent in our resolve to continue in our efforts to provide security and freedom to these people.

What kind of place is it that will deliberately breed such contempt and hatred for people, hatred that knows no bounds or limitations and will stop at nothing to accomplish their goal of killing innocent human beings? People that will do such things are blinded by their own relentless hatred that they cannot even see the good that is being done over here.

Maybe our efforts for the most part are going unnoticed: the schools and hospitals that have been opened, the playgrounds and housing projects that have been started, and the many jobs that have been created. Where is all the talk about the thousands of good things that have been done? Why is the media not assisting to promote the word that many great things are occurring day after day? Where is the truth in reporting that makes good news as sellable as bad news?

(.....)I am fine, if any of you are wondering. Life goes on as usual, these acts of terrorism hardly causing us to skip a beat in the process of reconstruction. Our resolve is firm and commitment in tack, for we will succeed and be victorious.

This is the right thing to be doing; righteousness will prevail over the evil intentions of misguided hate filled people. Keep the faith. Do your part in assisting us to be able to continue until we are finished with our plans. We need your help. Tell everyone you know that we will not give in to their negative reporting and we will not give up until we are done.

Chief, I don't know how many people are reading this, but I am doing what I can to spread the word. Keep on going, you are an inspiration and your determination is making countless Iraqi's lives better. That is an objective fact.

Update: Not three hours after I accuse the "mainstream media" of not reporting good news in Iraq, InstaPundit points to this relatively good news piece from *gasp* the New York Times:
As the area around Baghdad endured a week of repeated violence, a happier scene unfolded in this city, a two-hour drive to the south.

American soldiers, without helmets or flak jackets, attended graduation ceremonies of the Diwaniya University Medical School. At ease with the Iraqi students and their parents, the American marines laughed, joked and posed in photographs. One by one, the students walked up to thank them, for Marine doctors had taught classes in surgery and gynecology and helped draw up the final exams.

(...)So far, most of the anger shown here has not been directed at Americans. With hundreds of thousands of dollars pouring into the area, the city and its surrounding areas are rapidly being restored and in some cases improved.

Since April, groups of marines have been fanning out across Qadisiya Province to oversee an array of projects intended to revive the local economy, its government and education systems, while putting Iraqis back to work.

In interviews, Marine commanders rattled off a list of local projects: 86 schools renovated; the police station, courthouse and jail reopened. Some 2,500 police officers, many of them graduates of a one-week human rights course, patrol the streets. Hundreds of local men earn $15 a week clearing weeds from local irrigation canals.

The marines are even able to go beyond immediate postwar needs and move toward strengthening the civil society. They are supervising construction of a women's shelter here, and they make regular deliveries to a local nursing home. They have even set up a Rotary Club.

"We are in lock-sync with the Iraqis," Colonel Malay said. "We want what they want."
That Halliburton controlling the media conspiracy theory is beginning to look more plausible, eh?

Friday, August 22, 2003

Da Coach! I've lived in Chicago and suburbs my whole life, but I'm a Packer fan. My dad was born a few miles from Lambeau Field and my mom grew up in Janesville, WI. I was named after Paul Hornung and I knew who Vince Lombardi was before I knew what football was. I was raised to hate the Bears, and I did, but I love Mike Ditka. Yeah, I had no good feelings when he was kickin my team's ass through the 80's but you can't be a true football fan and not love Ditka. So, like I said, I love Mike Ditka, and reading this report only reinforces the feeling:
Ditka aid: According to the Las Vegas Sun, Mike Ditka was dining with friends at the MGM Grand when he noticed four soldiers having dinner in the same restaurant. They struck up a conversation, and when Ditka learned they had recently returned from the war in Iraq, he gave each of them a $1,000 chip to gamble and bought their dinner.

Way to go Mike!

Conventional Ali? Yep, no more "Chemical Ali" as this excerpt from ScrappleFace explains:
Ali Hassan al-Majid is now officially known as 'Conventional Ali,' since it is common knowledge that Iraq had no chemical weapons program.

"The thousands of Iraqis and Kurds who we thought were gassed on Al-Majid's orders, must have died from breathing the smoke of conventional weapons or perhaps sand dust," said an unnamed Pentagon spokesman. "But Conventional Ali will still be charged with misdemeanor violations of some environmental regulations about dust control at work sites."

The Pentagon had previously said that 'Conventional Ali' had died in an air strike in April.

Today an unnamed Pentagon spokesman said, "He'll wish he were dead when he gets done serving six-to-nine months in jail for his crimes."

Here's a quote from "Conventional Ali" himself from Human Right Watch:
"I will kill them all with chemical weapons! Who is going to say anything? The international community? Fuck them! the international community, and those who listen to them!

"I will not attack them with chemicals just one day, but I will continue to attack them with chemicals for fifteen days."

(quote via Ox Blog)What? You say the UN, by not enforcing its own resolutions, did not provide de facto support for Saddam and his regime? It seems that given the above the "international community's" unwillingness to do anything actually emboldened them. Useful idiots take note, no thanks to you, he won't be doing any more of this:

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Ear Vasectomy? Reuters reports this today:
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Reuters) - A Brazilian man who went to a clinic to have an aching ear checked ended up having a vasectomy after mistakenly believing that the doctor had called his name.
A manager at the Doctor Jose Carlos de Espirito Santo clinic in the town of Montes Claros in southeastern Minas Gerais State told Reuters on Wednesday Valdemar Lopes de Moraes, 39, entered the vasectomy room when Aldemar Aparecido Rodrigues' name was called.

"He was called by the full name and yet thought it was him. But the strangest thing is that he asked no questions when the doctor started preparations in the area which had so little to do with his ear," Vanessa Guimaraes said.

"He later explained that he thought it was an ear inflammation that got down to his testicles," she added.

De Moraes, a farmer who has two children, did not want to reverse the operation, performed last week, and showed up for an ear exam on Wednesday at the same clinic.

"A local newspaper said he is going to sue us, but he did not tell us about any claims," Guimaraes said.
My first thought is all the absurd lawsuits I hear about and this guy isn't taking part?!? Then again, Brazilian doctors may not have deep enough pockets, but certainly there is the hospital, or an American that invested in Brazil nuts that one could convince a jury was negligent in some way.

My second thought is to cut him some slack and assume that, because of his ear infection, he couldn't hear whose name it was being called. Combine those circumstances with the fact that there are few things more barren of patience than a doctor's waiting room and you can see where the eagerness was born. But then you read that he never stopped them when they started preparing.... that "area which had so little to do with his ear". So I ask, what man would unquestionably allow that kind of action in his nether regions when he's in for an earache? Clearly, this is a case of modern evolution in action.

This is great. William J. Dyer links to an article that says the following [Annan's quote in bold]:

[UN Secretary-General Kofi] Annan said he was surprised to hear reports that the United Nations turned down an offer of security from U.S.-led coalition forces. He stressed that security was the responsibility of the United States as the occupying power and if it was needed, the United Nations shouldn't even have been asked.

"I don't know if the U.N. did turn down [a U.S.] offer for protection, but if it did, it was not correct and they should not have been allowed to turn it down," Annan said. "That kind of decision should not be left to the protected. It is those with responsibility for security and law and order, who have intelligence, which determines what action is taken."

Says Dyer:
(Emphasis added.) Now that we clearly know what's required of us, we'll feel free in the future not only to ignore, but to go directly against everything the UN actually says it wants, in favor of what we determine to be best.

I'm sure this newly clarified authority on our part will tickle the French delegation pink.

And that's just a follow-up comment to his own even better post.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

What to say on the bombing of the U.N. in Iraq? Well Rand Simber says the U.N. should start to examine itself, maybe start by asking Why do they hate us? Or as Glenn Reynolds points out here:
This event seems to be inducing an enormous amount of cognitive dissonance in lefty antiwar bloggers, who are responding -- as always -- by blaming the messenger. I guess it's like the Hitler/Stalin pact all over again, or something. . . . Get over it guys. You may hate Bush -- but it's not about Bush, and you're trying to make it about Bush so that you don't have to face what it's really about -- people who want you just as dead as they want John Ashcroft, and don't see any difference anyway, except that you might serve their cause as useful idiots, for a while, before they kill you, too.

Indeed! One would think this event would show the world what kind of maniacs we are dealing with, though the press seems to be generally shocked that terrorists would target the un-offending U.N. But they were targeted because they were a "soft target" that refused added security from U.S. forces even though they were repeatedly warned of the dangers. But realize this is a sign of their weakness, just as Al-Qeada has been reduced to attacks in their own back yard and against those who are their major financiers. Why don't they just cut out the middle man and start suicide bombing themselves? Yeah, I know, wishful thinking. Ralph Peters has more on the terrorists despair.
With their comrades killed, wounded or captured, their leaders apprehended (another one yesterday), their bases of support whittled away and U.S. resolve only hardened, our enemies have turned to a new, desperate strategy.

Over the past several days, the Iraqi hardliners and their terrorist allies attacked an oil pipeline and a water main. Yesterday, a terrorist drove a truck bomb into the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, killing dozens and wounding more than 100 people.

Our enemies' initial "Mogadishu Strategy" - based on the faulty notion that if you kill Americans they pack up and go home - was a disaster for them. Our response devastated their already-crippled organization. Now, with reduced capabilities and decayed leadership, they've turned to attacking soft targets. It's the best they can do.

It's ugly. But it's an indicator of their weakness, not of strength.

Demoralized by constant defeats, our enemies have become alarmed by the quickening pace of reconstruction. Consequently, we will see more attacks on infrastructure, on international aid workers and on Iraqis laboring to rebuild their country.

We'll also see al Qaeda and other terrorist groups become the senior partners among our enemies, as Ba'athist numbers and capabilities dwindle. There is more innocent blood to come.

Yet the bombing of the U.N. headquarters at the Canal Hotel was a self-defeating act. Even if it frightens the U.N. off (and it just might accomplish the opposite) the attack reminds the world yet again of the savagery of radical Islamic terrorists and the brutality of those whom we deposed in Baghdad.

Like 9/11, the Canal Hotel attack, though impressive at the moment, will prove another disaster for the terrorists.

Read the rest.

More on the Flypaper Theory. Winds of Change has a great post, with links to other great posts about the flypaper theory and how it is working. It is clear that more and more of the Islamo-fascists and dreamers of jihad against the west are making their way into Iraq. Many of them Saudis
The focus of concern for US counter-terrorist officials was at first on a reconstituted Ansar al-Islam, the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group based in northern Iraq before the war. But US officials have recently acknowledged the presence of other foreign fighters in Iraq.

Paul Bremer, the US administrator in Iraq, said recent raids, including one near al-Qaim last month, uncovered fighters "carrying travel documents from a variety of countries".

According to Saad al-Faguih, a UK-based Saudi dissident, the Saudi authorities are concerned that up to 3,000 Saudi men have gone "missing" in the kingdom in two months, although it is not clear how many have crossed into Iraq.

Saudis who have gone to Iraq have established links with sympathetic Iraqis in the northern area between Baghdad, Mosul and Tikrit, where they have hidden in safe-houses, a Saudi Islamist source said on Monday.

Gone "missing"?? Usually in an Arab country the term "missing" is code for "imprisoned, tortured, then killed" by government thugs. (Hint: This is especially so when you see the term wrapped in quotes.) In this case however it probably means they will be killed by Americans in Iraq rather than their heroes that represent that Arab Nationalist Pride they love and protect so dearly. Yes, I am increasingly frustrated about the one at a time deaths of our soldiers in Iraq, but it is clearly preferable to have terrorists attacking our well trained Marines in Iraq than targeting civilians sitting at their desks on a sunny Tuesday morning.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Here's a column on deregulation and energy markets that's worth reading. Or we could have just listened to Dick Cheney in 2001. Instead there will be cries for more regulation and surely a conspiracy theory premised on the idea that the Bush administration stole New York's electricity to give to Halliburton.

Or perhaps we could consider wind generated electricity, something that the environmentalists (who seem to view any domestic energy consumption as sin) could even approve of. Unless of course it gets in the way of a Kennedy's view:
The rich and famous have long flocked to the beaches of Cape Cod and the island seclusion of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket - a land of sailboats and quaint vacation homes.

Now some of these celebrities want to make sure wind turbines don't become a part of the scenery.

They are fighting a proposed $700 million wind farm in the Nantucket Sound that would provide electricity to thousands of homes in the area, saying the giant turbines will mar the landscape of one of the nation's most pristine areas.

Legendary newsman Walter Cronkite, a part-time resident of Martha's Vineyard, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose famous political family has a compound in Hyannis, began campaigning against the renewable energy project last year.

A few months ago (or at least I heard it a few months ago, I think it was a "best of" show) Sean Hannity had Ted Kennedy on as a guest on his radio show. He was basically hammering him on the point that Kennedy has consistently voted to support and impose environmental regulations on others without living up to them personally. A green William Bennett maybe? Anyway, Kennedy flat out ignored the questions the first few times before saying he wasn't here to talk about it, it was irrelevant, etc.
(link via Jane Galt)

I read some Iraqi advice on how those that lost power last week on the East Coast could best deal with it, most of it came off as angry.... er at least snappish. Of course it was also probably goaded out of them by reporters looking for some juicy quotes. I certainly don't want to discount their frustration, but I wish they (Iraqi's) would show a bit more patience. After all, our soldiers are getting shot at on a daily basis trying to clean up the mess they allowed Saddam to build for almost three decades. So, John Cole has some advice for them:
Here are some tips from West Virginia for the suffering Iraqi's:

1.) Quit sabotaging your god damn power transmission sites.

2.) Quit looting your damn country.

3.) Quit shooting your AK in the air out of anger, sadness, joy, jubilation.

4.) Quit shooting your AK at coalition troops and provisional Iraqi police.

Silliness, I tell you. I shall also note, when the power went out, no one went to their local Shi'a Cleric to demand protests and burnings of the American flag. They dealt with it, and tried to be part of the solution.

(link via InstaPundit)

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Josh Claybourn has a list of "first things" presidential candidates would do if elected. Much of these quotes are nothing more than populist rhetoric ranging from "eat the rich" to "free health care for everyone!" and of course "fire John Ashcroft" which isn't necessarily a bad idea save for the fact that if Bush loses the election, Ashcroft doesn't keep his job anyway. I can see the candidates all paid close attention in their Goverment 101 classes.

Bush is vulnerable on many issues I believe, but it seems the Democrats haven't figured out which one's they are. Glenn Reynolds offers advice to the Democrats all the time, but I'll only give a hint, NATIONAL SECURITY IS NOT ONE OF THEM!

Saturday, August 09, 2003

More on the Saddam/Osama Connection
Another link between Al-Qeada and Iraq? According to this report, yes.
A high ranking al-Qaeda operative in custody disclosed that Iraq supplied the Islamist militant group with material to build chemical and biological weapons, the White House said today.

"A senior al-Qaeda terrorist, now detained, who had been responsible for al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, reports that al-Qaeda was intent on obtaining (weapons of mass destruction) assistance from Iraq," the White House said in a report.
The 25 page document was released as US President George W Bush holidayed at his Texas ranch.

The Bush administration cited links between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's Baath party regime as justification for attacking Iraq to oust Saddam. The administration also insisted Saddam had chemical and biological weapons and was pursuing nuclear weapons.

The report quoted the unnamed prisoner as saying al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden turned to Iraq after concluding his group could not produce chemical or biological weapons on its own in Afghanistan.

"Iraq agreed to provide chemical and biological weapons training for two al-Qaeda associates starting in December 2000," the report said.

"Senior al-Qaeda associate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi came to Baghdad in May 2002 for medical treatment, along with approximately two dozen al-Qaeda terrorist associates.

"This group stayed in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq and plotted terrorist attacks around the world."

The report, quoting the US State Department, also says the fallen regime of Saddam Hussein "provided material assistance to Palestinian terrorist groups, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, Hamas and the Palestine Islamic Jihad".

One of the many reasons I supported the forcible removal of Saddam Hussein was because of the regime's financial support of global terrorism and the potential that his chemical and biological weapons could find their way into terrorist camps, allowing him to wage war against the United States by proxy. I don't think I ever expected to see hard evidence of close relationship between Saddam and Al-Qeada (and I expected even less that this evidence would come from a friend of the Al Gore family - see my July 14, 2003 post below) but it is becoming increasingly apparent. This really shouldn't matter to most though, unless you are one of those that believed that Saddam was made of too much morality to ever sell chemical and/or biological weapons to terrorists.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Tony Blair gave a fantastic speech to Congress in mid-July, it did not get much coverage for reasons beyond me, though who am I to complain since it happened a few weeks ago and I am just getting around to commenting on it. The speech was concise, passionate, and inspiring, Bush is lucky to have a prime minister of his quality. True, I would likely oppose much of Blair's domestic policies, but as James Lileks says, he would still get my vote:
It was a speech sung in the key of War, and reminded us that we are just midway through the end of the beginning. If that.

Blair is, at heart, a socialist; I’ve no time for half the stuff he wants and most of the stuff he’d agree to. But he’d get my vote. We can argue about the shape and direction of Western Civ after we’ve made sure that such a thing will endure. I haven’t heard every single speech Tony Blair has made since he popped on to the political scene; I don’t know if he argues for increased license fees for domestic gerbils with the same passion and force. But today he sounded like a man who knew things, who knows that the threat is still grave, and cannot understand why others seek transient political advantage in exploiting those sixteen words. The people are worried, your majesty! "Oh, let them eat yellowcake."

When I hear a speech like Blair’s, I have to check the calendar. And the calendar is usually wrong. It may say 2/23, or 7/16, or 4/30. But I know what the date is, and the date is 9/12. It’s going to be 9/12 for a long time to come.

It's almost become cliche but with good reason, 9/11 increased the stakes and changed the world. Here are some highlights from Blair's speech:
Yet even in all our might, we are taught humility. In the end, it is not our power alone that will defeat this evil. Our ultimate weapon is not our guns, but our beliefs. (Applause.)
There is a myth that though we love freedom, others don't; that our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture; that freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law are American values or Western values; that Afghan women were content under the lash of the Taliban; that Saddam was somehow beloved by his people; that Milosevic was Serbia's savior. Members of Congress, ours are not Western values. They are the universal values of the human spirit, and anywhere -- (applause) -- anywhere, any time ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police.
The spread of freedom is the best security for the free. It is our last line of defense and our first line of attack.
And just as the terrorist seeks to divide humanity in hate, so we have to unify around an idea. And that idea is liberty. (Applause.)

He continues:
The risk is that terrorism and states developing weapons of mass destruction come together, and when people say that risk is fanciful, I say we know the Taliban supported al Qaeda. We know Iraq, under Saddam, gave haven to and supported terrorists. We know there are states in the Middle East now actively funding and helping people who regard it as God's will in the act of suicide to take as many innocent lives with them on their way to God's judgement. Some of these states are desperately trying to acquire nuclear weapons. We know that companies and individuals with expertise sell it to the highest bidder. And we know that at least one state, North Korea, lets its people starve while spending billions of dollars on developing nuclear weapons and exporting the technology abroad. This isn't fantasy. It is 21st century reality and it confronts us now. (Applause.)
Can we be sure that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction will join together? Let us say one thing: If we are wrong, we will have destroyed a threat that, at its least, is responsible for inhuman carnage and suffering. That is something I am confident history will forgive. But if our critics are wrong, if we are right, as I believe with every fiber of instinct and conviction I have that we are, and we do not act, then we will have hesitated in the face of this menace when we should have given leadership.
That is something history will not forgive. (Sustained applause.)

and here he demonstates his understanding of America:
We are fighting for the inalienable right of humankind -- black or white; Christian or not; left, right or merely indifferent -- to be free -- free to raise a family in love and hope; free to earn a living and be rewarded by your own efforts; free not to bend your knee to any man in fear; free to be you, so long as being you does not impair the freedom of others.
That's what we're fighting for, and it's a battle worth fighting. And I know it's hard on America. And in some small corner of this vast country, out in Nevada or Idaho or these places I've never been to but always wanted to go -- (laughter) -- I know out there, there's a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happily, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, "Why me, and why us, and why America?" And the only answer is because destiny put you in this place in history in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do. (Sustained applause.)

It's absurd (indeed racist) to assert that Arabs in the middle east are not capable of self-governance, that they would prefer the status-quo of poverty, torture, and hopelessness currently provided by the regimes they live under. What are we supposed to do? Stay out of it? Let the middle east continue to simmer until it boils over (if it hasn't already) or until a terror group acquires nuclear weapons? They deserve democracy and freedom, they deserve an opportunity to join the march of human progress so we ALL may live in a safer and more prosperous world.

Monday, August 04, 2003

David Bernstein over at the The Volokh Conspiracy makes a good point commenting on the importance of proactive antiterrorism
In June, Fatah power broker Marwan Barghouti wrote a note from his Israeli jail cell to Khaled Mashal, Hamas's negotiator in Damascus, urging a cease-fire with Israel. Barghouti, who despite being on trial for the murder of 26 Israelis, passes for a "moderate" in the lethal caldron of Palestinian politics, observed that since the September 11 attacks, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, among other events, "have destroyed countries and movements." The Islamic militants risked the same fate, Barghouti warned.

These mostly overlooked yet critical five words — "have destroyed countries and movements" — vindicate the Bush-Blair anti-terrorism strategy, as well as Prime Minister Sharon's proactive approach to Palestinian terrorism. As the American army searches for enough weapons of mass destruction to justify anti-war critics, while the media harps on 16 words which may have been inaccurate during the verbal avalanche preceding the war, these five words prove that three decades of Western appeasement have ended — and the message is resonating in Damascus, Ramallah, Tehran and Baghdad, if not yet in London, New York and northern Tel Aviv.

I'm still a skeptic when it comes to the current "road map" to peace, but this is certainly good news and does hammer home the point that appeasing (or rewarding) terrorism only encourages terrorism.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Uday and Qusay were buried yesterday. Seems it was a hastily put together funeral, but I don't know what the etiquette is for the burial of mass murderers, I did like what Salam Pax had to say though:
The question in Aujah now is how the family is going to get the bodies back "to bury them properly". Someone in Baghdad later told me that proper burial for these two is to dig a hole somewhere in the desert and have the family look for them for years. How can they expect a proper burial for people who have denied it for hundreds of thousands? I know, we need to start dropping the hate and concentrating on our future.


Al Qaeda involvement in the attacks in Iraq are reported here. As the flypaper theory says, better that terrorists attack our Marines in Iraq than our citizens at home.


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