Saturday, April 10, 2004

EU Wants a Role in Iraq
After struggling and fighting and facing down the apocalyptic threats to world security that daily plague the war torn streets of Brussels, the leaders of the EU are trying to figure out what they can do to secure their proper place in Iraq.
"'I am definitely not arguing for a European military presence in Iraq,' [Belgian Foreign Minister Louis] Michel, whose country fiercely opposed the US-led war, said in an interview with Belgium's Le Soir daily.

'But on the diplomatic front, I think Europe has a lot to offer, particularly with regard to certain sensitive countries in the region,' Michel added."
He added:
"I think it is urgent that the council (of EU ministers) holds a real discussion about Iraq: 'What role for Europe after the war'."
Street sweepers? Britain, Spain (to an extent, now that they've turned French), Italy, Poland and the host of other countries that actually contributed to the effort have a legitimate place in the formation of the new Iraq. The rest of Europe, which stood by and let others act, can just stay where they are and continue to leave the rest of us alone. They're irrelevant.
Kerry Blasts Principles, Endorses Aimlessness
In a recent speech, Kerry criticized Bush for having an "arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy." Now, we can have reasonable disgreements about the nature of Bush's foreign policy decisions, and whether he's doing the right thing at any given moment. And it doesn't surprise me that a Democrat is criticizing Bush as reckless -- I mean, anytime a Republican offers direct action as a foreign policy option, instead of endless negotiation, someone on the left goes apoplectic (witness the reaction to Reagan's peace through strength initiatives).

What does surprise (or at least amuse) me is Kerry's comment that this is the most "ideological" foreign policy in "modern history". Well, sure. What's the point? You need ideology to form your foreign policy -- if doesn't, something else will? Will that thing be pure political expedience? If your foreign policy isn't based on some unifying principles, such as advancing U.S. interests, promoting liberty and combatting terrorism, just for example, then what do you have? Bill Clinton. And we all know how effective his foreign policy was.

Friday, April 09, 2004

We made it
I know you were worried, concerned reader, but don't fear. We made it to my parents' house, which is about a 4-hour drive. I'm making this blog from my mother's Apple iBook and I don't have any idea where anything is. I find the fact that there's no taskbar disturbing. I guess I'm just an old dog.
Out for the weekend
Don't expect much blogging from me this weekend. We're off to visit the grandparents and do the Easter thing. There's a community Easter egg hunt tomorrow afternoon, but I'll try to hold back the urge to whip the Easter bunny.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

John Kerry is a schmuck
He says this today:
"That's common sense," he said. "And here today, once again, we are asking the question, 'Why is the United States of America almost alone in carrying this burden and the risks which the world has a stake in?'"
I suppose the key word, in his mind, is "almost". Still, that's quite a thing to say today, of all days, when Japan stands with us, resolute against a threat:
In a dramatic video released Thursday, insurgents revealed they had kidnapped three Japanese and threatened to burn them alive in three days unless Japan agrees to withdraw its troops from Iraq...

Japan's government said it has no plans to pull troops out of Iraq in response to the threat, which came amid a series of other kidnappings targeting civilians.
How did this guy get the nomination?
This one belongs in the "what were they thinking" category.
One of those seasonal headlines
Isn't this one of those headlines that could be run every year, like "Snow Expected in Denver" or "Robert Downey Jr. Checks Into Rehab"?
Insipid, indeed
I see what you mean, Joe. Check this out:
Her comment about swatting flies drew a sharp response from former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey, who noted the administration made no military response to a 2000 attack on the USS Cole that took place before Bush took office.

"Dr. Rice, we only swatted a fly once ... How the hell could he (Bush) be tired," Kerrey asked. That was a reference to a 1998 missile strike Clinton ordered against suspected terror training camps.

"I think it's only a figure of speech," she replied, adding that Bush felt that the CIA was "going after individual terrorists."

[One, two, skip a few...]

Rice's appearance first turned contentious when Ben-Veniste pressed her on what was known about the terrorist threat in advance of the Sept. 11 attacks.

They interrupted one another repeatedly, the interrogator and the witness.

"I would like to finish my point," she said when he began speaking while she was.

"I didn't know there was a point," he replied.
This is the crucial point: "'The terrorists were at war with us, but we were not yet at war with them,' she said." I know I'm like a broken record, but the government cannot be expected to protect us from every terrorist attack. We can't expect that now even when we are on alert, much less before 9/11 when no one thought such an attack was possible. The only alternative is to take the war to the terrorists.

UPDATE: Victor Davis Hanson has a better way with words than I, naturally:
Everything that the world holds dear — the free exchange of ideas, the security of congregating and traveling safely, the long struggle for tolerance of differing ideas and religions, the promise of equality between the sexes and ethnic groups, and the very trust that lies at the heart of all global economic relationships — all this and more Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and the adherents of fascism in the Middle East have sought to destroy: some as killers themselves, others providing the money, sanctuary, and spiritual support.

We did not ask for this war, but it came. In our time and according to our station, it is now our duty to end it. And that resolution will not come from recrimination in time of war, nor promises to let fundamentalists and their autocratic sponsors alone, but only through the military defeat and subsequent humiliation of their cause. So let us cease the hysterics, make the needed sacrifices, and allow our military the resources, money, and support with which it most surely will destroy the guilty and give hope at last to the innocent.
Read the whole thing.
I'm listening to the 9/11 Commission as it questions Dr. Rice. The Commission members, so far, are asking stupid, insipid questions. They're more concerned, at this point, at scoring points (witness the applause by audience members) then in really digging in to find something.

Another annoying point? I'm listening to CNN Radio via RealPlayer, and the CNN voice over guy keeps talking over questions.
Another Test
Three Japanese and seven Koreans have been taken hostage in Iraq by a group called Squadrons of Holy Warriors. The group is demanding that Japan withdraw its troops from Iraq in three days, or else it will begin to execute the hostages.

This is a test of Japan's resolve, and its one of the hardest to face. If they acquiesce to the terrorists' demands, then they've opened themselves up to all kinds of blackmail in the future. If they don't, these people will likely die. Of course, it's quite likely that they'll die anyway. The terrorists will probably kill them as an example, no matter what the Japanese ultimately do.

The only response to this is to stand up and make them pay for it.
Should Be Fun
Condoleezza Rice testifies before the 9/11 commission this morning. I'm looking forward to it. Rice is one my of favorite members of the Bush team. She's sharp and she doesn't back down.

The Commission's in for it if they get too acerbic.

Update: The text of Rice's prepared remarks is here.
I'm still an ingrate
The saga continues. Today's paper contains a letter to the editor (the one titled"Illogic") from our friend John where he repeats the same argument Rodney so eloquently detailed before. He must have heard a bit of what you said, Rodney, since he acknowledges atheists are capable of being thankful to other people. It appears to upset him that we wouldn't be thankful to God, but why would we be thankful to something that doesn't exist? He says himself: "There is a certain illogic in thanking an indescribable unknown cause". Well, there you go.

John seems to believe all atheists are intolerant jerks, which is a shame. I'm beginning to wonder what experiences he's had that makes him so angry about us, as if finds the mere existence of atheists a personal insult.

UPDATE: Maybe John should consider that it's God's plan to have some atheists around to challenge his faith and make it stronger. At least, that seems to be the subtext of this article. For the record, I'm not an evangelical atheist - you can believe what you want to believe. I just think the government should stay out of it, and I would think believers would want the same thing:
The need of so many American believers to have government endorse their belief is thoroughly abject. How strong, and how wise, is a faith that needs to see God's name wherever it looks? (His name on nickels and dimes is rather damaging to His sublimity.)
Since when does faith require government sanction?

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Mosque attack
What else would they expect us to do when we are attacked from the mosque?
The fight began when a Marine vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade fired from the mosque, wounding five Marines, Byrne said.
Frankly, if it requires the destruction of the mosque in order to end the battle, then so be it. If it's being used as an enemy compound, then it has to be treated as one.
We Shoot a Mosque
CNN is reporting that U.S. helicopter fire may have hit a mosque in an attack in Fallujah. This is one of those breaking headlines, not an actual story yet (all I've got is "AP: Witnesses say U.S. helicopter fire hits mosque in Fallujah, Iraq. Fatalities reported. Details soon"). I'll post a link when it becomes available.

Anyway, this is likely an accident, as I can't imagine we'd target places of worship as part of our operations. However, when terrorist leaders routinely use mosques as cover for their activities, when they commit murders and then hide on holy ground, they have to expect that at some point, something like this is going to happen.

Of course, the U.S. will be criticized the world over, and the actions of the terrorists (the actions that invite this kind of accident) will be completely ignored.

Update: Here's the link from CNN. Apparently, we destroyed a wall surrounding a mosque compound, said wall being used as a defensive barrier for insurgents firing on U.S. troops. The mosque itself was untouched.
SNL Predicts the Future
I'm a fan of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Very witty, and it's nice to know there are people out their more clueless about fashion and decorating then myself. But is this really necessary? Let's hope it's better than the Jack Black/SNL skit.
I'm Movin' to Alaska
A new listing of the tax burden per state has been released. Kansas is 23rd, in order from worst to best. Of course, Governor Sibelius has been pushing for a tax increase, so we'll see what happens to our ranking next year.

David, Rodney, Missouri is 39th. You live in a tax haven, and you have the roads to prove it.

Surprisingly, California came in better than Kansas. So did Taxachusetts. How'd that happen?
Harvard Objectivist, the Ultimate Oxymoron
Actually, they have a website. I'm responsible for most of the content. I graduated in 1999, and I see that the only things they've bothered changing are a couple of things on the main page and the list of officers. That's good, because I'd hate to see that I'm still president, though I find it odd that nobody has bothered updating the FAQ.

It was a silly club (kind of like Camelot). Most meetings had only a hand full of people. I was the most consistent attendee, in that I attended every meeting. Usually, it was me and two or three others. Sometimes, it was just me. Those meetings were the most productive.

After I left the club kind of disintegrated, or so I heard from friends who live in Cambridge. I'm glad to see that they've come back.
EU: Sanctions for Some, Miniature EU Flags for Others
Remember how EU bureaucrats were going to go to war over EU deficits? Well, Brussels has officially told off Britain, Greece, Italy and the Netherlands. Germany and France? No one has the guts to tell them to live up to their obligations.

So, the EU doesn't have the stomach to tell Chirac and Schroeder to clean up their acts and fall in line with obligations they knowingly accepted and expect other EU members to follow, but somehow we think the EU's going to be steadfast in the pursuit of terrorism? If the EU Commission can't stand up to leaders of peaceful nations, is it any wonder they crumble in the face of real threats?
Legal, but Creepy
I don't think Google should have to remove the message filtering portion of its new Gmail service. But, I think it's kind of creepy, nonetheless. Yes, I know, I leave all kinds of electronic footprints across the internet, and the cookies overloading my computer are a goldmine of personal information. But, I have no expectation that my moves through the internet will be private. I know the cookies exist, but I can block them. I know that the sites I visit are logged at my ISP.

But e-mail, well, that's like regular mail in my mind. Somebody, or something, scanning its content and then passing it along to me makes me weirds me out. Imagine if a computer was tapped into your phone conversations, and you started receiving junk mail based on the things you discussed with your friends.

If users of Gmail are okay with that, that's their business. I will probably not use that service.
Sanctions for Everybody
Does this mean we can freeze European assets in the U.S?
Maybe the sky is falling
There's actually such a thing as the Harvard Republican Blog. Is that allowed? Cripes, the next thing you know they'll start an Objectivist club. That'll be the day.
What was I thinking?
I just realized I headlined three posts in a row with a question, which makes for a strange pattern. Ah, and I did it again! Curses!

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

A little help?
Guess not:
Iraq's major Shiite political parties, like the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, are reluctant to stand up to Sadr's militants, afraid they could lose standing for siding too closely with the US.

They're hoping that the US will deal with Sadr's people for them, leaving them free to criticize the operation if public anger grows at the civilian, predominantly Shiite casualties in Baghdad's Sadr City, the holy city of Najaf, and the southern town of Nasariyah.

The moderate Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, who stayed alive by avoiding controversy while many ayatollahs were killed by the Hussein regime, also has avoided any major statements.
How they can insist on gaining control on June 30 on the one hand, and refuse to speak out against the uprising on the other is beyond me.

UPDATE: This is especially disheartening considering the majority of Shiite's are support us.
What's in your wallet?
President Bush (no, not some schmuck in his campaign, but Bush himself - I'm sure of it) sent me a plastic credit card-like, well, card that says I'm a charter member of Bush-Cheney 2004. I have my own 13-digit member number, there's a place on the back for my signature, and it even says: "If this card is lost, please contact us at..." I feel very important.

I'd run down to Wal-Mart and see if they'll take it, but I'm afraid to put it in my wallet. I already have my Libertarian party card in there, and I'm convinced having them so close together could cause a singularity that would suck all of our existence, or at least my cash, into oblivion.
Every silver lining has a cloud?
Over at National Review Online, they have an article proclaiming the sky is not falling in Iraq:
The decision to confront the Muqtada al-Sadr's challenge to rule-of-law and liberty will cause a short-term spike in violence, but lead to long-term improvement. Iraqis see any failure to defend rule-of-law as Coalition weakness. How could the United States be serious about democracy, Iraqis ask, when we left such a challenge to rule-of-law go unchallenged? Thankfully, Iraqis now know that we will meet challenges head-on. It is a lesson that should also be understood in Syria and Iran.
But then they have another article saying that if we're not careful, it just might fall right on our heads:
Functioning courts, reliable basic services, and ongoing construction of Iraq's infrastructure would be important evidence that the government is real and working. It is only after the Iraqis can manage to meet these goals that the turnover of sovereignty can occur. If we force it before those goals are met, Iraq may end up like Vietnam.
At least this second article has a quote from an Iraqi that understands:
As one Iraqi source e-mailed me Monday, "Look what is happening now to Al Sadr and his radical followers. Why [was] Al Sadr was not arrested from day one? He killed Abdul Majid Al-Khoie [a leading Shiite cleric who favored peace] in Najaf, established his own courts, intimidated even Al Sistani, and [yet was] left alone.... As if, if you leave bad guys alone they will leave you alone."
As if, indeed.

The key question both articles ask but leave unanswered is why we hadn't taken care of Sadr a long time ago. Well, why? Was the wheel not squeaky enough?
No one had terrorism as a priority
InstaPundit is beating the tar out of the notion that Clinton thought fighting terrorism was of the highest priority while Bush did not. I think the 9/11 massacre caught everyone off-guard. While I think it's important to review events and intelligence leading up 9/11, I don't believe it would have been preventable, regardless of much of a priority Clinton or Bush made of fighting it, short of actively pursuing terrorists overseas, where they live, as we're doing now. But in the 9/10 world, that never would have happened.
Blazing speed
How fast can you type? I did better than I thought I would: 71 words per minute at 97% accuracy. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: given that I write a lot of code and documentation and e-mails and blog entries and novels (I wish), the typing class I had my first year of high school has to be one of the most valuable classes I've ever taken.

Monday, April 05, 2004

It's war
From Reason:
What is clear, however, is that what America is doing against Al Qaeda and what Israel is doing against Hamas are the same kind of thing, and that thing is not "extrajudicial killing" or "terrorism," but war. Denying that the war is a war has consequences—among them, reluctance to do what is necessary to win. A clever combatant knows that wars are won by many means (many of them nonmilitary) but that killing the other guy before he kills you is one of them. Is killing a Yassin or a bin Laden "extrajudicial"? Yes, but so is the war against militant Islamism. And our side didn't start it.
Read the whole thing, as they say.
My bold prediction
The big game is about to start. I say UConn by 12. They'll be up by as much as 25 at some point in the game, and hold on to win.

UPDATE: Hey, I came pretty close. They were actually up by 25 at one point and ended up winning by 9. That's worth a consolation prize, isn't it?
"No one knows what is happening in the capital right now"
Via InstaPundit, it would seem things are going from bad to worse in Iraq. I haven't been successful in finding any Big Media coverage of these events, either.

UPDATE: False alarm, sort of. InstaPundit has some interesting updates to the original post, though obviously I can never trust anything from him ever again. Just kidding.
Adding Bite to Blather
The EU has is thinking about creating a joint military body. The body will draw on troops and staff from across the EU's members, and ready to handle operations that the U.S. and NATO decline. Sounds great, but here's a neat quote:
"According to initial plan, 1,500-strong troop contingents would be deployable within 15 days and able to remain on the ground for a month."
1,500 isn't a bad number, if all they're going to be doing is standing around guarding wheat repositories. But, deployment lasting for only one month? Does this coincide with any realistic expectation of what military engagement should look like?
Love, objective style
Ah, yes, Joe, but I also know Ayn Rand, however she lived her private life, publicly made the case for committed relationships. She abhorred promiscuity, but by denying gays the right to marry, aren't we promoting just that? And besides that, even if some Objectivists condemn homosexuality on moral grounds, I would think they could agree that it's none of the government's business.
David, for what it's worth, back in college when I was in regular contact with a few ARI guys, though we never had a conversation directly related to homosexuality, it came up incidentally in some conversations. I got the impression that homosexuality was viewed as a denial of idenity, in that A is A dictates that men should love women, and vice versa. Any other arrangement was against the law of identity and inherently self-destructive.

That being said, I also met a few gay Objectivists who obviously didn't believe that to be the case.
All in the family
Andrew Sullivan:
When "pro-family" types talk about wedge issues, they don't often concede that one of their wedges is to split families apart. And part of the point of civil marriage for gays is to bring families back together.

I was surprised this weekend by an acquaintance I thought for sure would support gay marriage, or at least not be against it. I assumed one who's a bigger Ayn Rand fan than me would certainly understand that this isn't an issue the government should be interested in. To my dismay, he's very much against it because he thinks homosexuals are "deviants" (his word) and compared them to alcoholics and drug abusers. We were at a one-year-old's birthday party, so for civility's sake I stayed off my soapbox, which was too bad because he deserved an earfull. I could feel myself getting a bit angry about it, though, and that just wasn't the place for it.

By the way, I just popped on over to the Ayn Rand Institute to see what their official position is on this, but it seems they don't have one. Oh well.
The Fruits of Appeasement
Spain is rewarded for its appeasement.

Did anyone expect a different result? Terrorism behaves like an extortionist ring: Once you buckle to the pressure and begin to pay, they know they've got you, and they'll continue to increase the cost.

Spain was a great ally. They need to get back on track and starting taking it to the terrorists. Will they learn that playing along with their demands is self-defeating?
Consistently Inconsistent
In a previous post, I mentioned that the EU has been laying down its deficit level rules fairly inconsistently (no EU nation is supposed to have a deficit that exceeds 3% of GDC). Well, for the fourth year in a row, France will not be meeting the terms of the Stability and Growth Pact.

France, a champion of the EU, is fairly consistent in ignoring inconvenient EU treaty obligations. And they complain when we don't meet some standard of international law?
"EU Presses War on Budget Laggards"
The headline says a lot, doesn't it, about Europe?

Into the brink, men! We'll show those budget analysts!
Speaking of Jesus
What does it say about our culture that the #1 movie about a month ago was The Passion and now it is Hellboy?

Sunday, April 04, 2004

What would Jesus do?
According to the leader of Hamas, he would support suicide bombing. I've said it again and again: nothing is going to change over there until the Palestinians reject this crap.
He's not conservative either
Via TalkLeft, a poll has found that people don't view President Bush as governing compassionately. Well, good. His desire to be seen as a compassionate conservative is ruining the conservative part. Maybe he'll decide compassion isn't working for him and adopt the "Get rid of it!" platform, which is what a true conservative would want to do anyway.
I have doubts about this
Peter Jennings: religious scholar.
The Iraq war is about more than 9/11
I know I've said that before, but it bears repeating. The Guardian is freaking out because Bush and Blair talked about toppling Saddam's regime a few days after 9/11 as if it was some sort of scandal. All this tells me is that they have good long-term vision.