Friday, October 31, 2003
Hindsight is 20/20: The Associated Press is reporting that a helicopter spotted the flames that would become known as the Cedar Fire and called for water drops that could have extinguished or hindered the spread fo the fire in those initial hours, but the request was nixed because the call came minutes after state safety regulations barred flights.
Pilot Dave Weldon told The Associated Press on Thursday that he saw state firefighting planes on a nearby airstrip as he approached the mountains at 110 mph. He called down for help because his dispatcher had relayed reports of smoke in the area, but he got no response.
That was around 5:45 p.m. A few minutes later, he spotted smoke from the fire, then only about 50 yards on each side and not spreading.
As he steadied his helicopter against wind gusts, Weldon's concern mounted. Just before landing, he called for backup, asking another county helicopter to speed to the scene with its 120-gallon water dump bucket. And he urged the dispatcher to contact state firefighters and renew his request for air tankers.
The problem was that under state safety guidelines, no flights can go up into waning daylight. On Saturday, the cutoff was 5:36 p.m., said California Department of Forestry Capt. Ron Serabia, who coordinates the 12 tankers and 10 helicopters now battling the 272,000-acre blaze.
The sun set that day at 6:05 p.m.
The helicopter with the dump bucket flew within five miles of the fire, before state officials told it to turn back, Weldon said. The air tankers never took off. Weldon was told crews would attack the fire in the morning.
"We were basically just offering our assistance fighting their fire, and they turned it down," said Weldon, who with his partner delivered the hunter to law enforcement officials who cited him for setting an unauthorized fire. "I was frustrated about it, but I wasn't surprised."
Weldon said the county helicopter wouldn't have been allowed to drop water after dark and said that it alone couldn't have done the job, but he thought a well-placed drop from the air tanker might have extinguished the flames.
This news, of course, is drawing some outrage and second-guessing from the usual quarters -- talk radio mainly -- but it does illustrate the occasional problems with "safety regulations" and zero-tolerance policies. The regulations become a substitute for individual judgment. On the flip side, the reason regulations are put in place is because of an individual's poor judgment in the past.
The more likely lessons learned from this week's fires will be related to environmental/endangered species regulations and forest policies that prevent the clearing of brush and the thinning of forests.
Thursday, October 30, 2003
Panther problems: It's not really gloating, but I would like to point out to all of the Mac fanatics that every operating system has its problems.
Denial isn't just a river in Egypt: Economic numbers are much better than expected, and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman cautions that this growth rate cannot be sustained.
There's really little doubt that the economy cannot sustain an astronomic 7.2 percent quarterly growth in the GDP. So Krugman's not really going out on a limb, but there's also an admission in Krugman's piece:
Bush can do nothing right when it comes to the economy -- nothing.
If the economy remains in the doldrums, then it's because of Bush's tax cut and the government's out-of-control spending.
If the economy improves, then it only does so in spite of Bush's tax cut and other economic policies -- and even then it doesn't matter because the government's running a deficit.
No need playing Krugman's games, when there's no way you can win.
On a related note: Random Jottings has evidence of what it calls a "factual error" in last Friday's Krugman column. If the "error" were counter to Krugman's bias, I'd label it as such. Unfortunately, but predictably, the "error" is to the benefit of Krugman's bias -- so I'd label it a "lie."
Will Krugman correct this, ignore it, or attempt to spin it?
The lawsuits are starting: On Fox News' "Hannity and Colmes" a couple of weeks ago our favorite New York Times columnist Paul Krugman accused Don Luskin of being a "stalker." Luskin went on a week later and asked for a formal apology.
Of course, that's not gonna happen.
Well, Luskin's first salvo over the "stalker" slander has apparently hit one of the loony left's (and Krugman's) favorite bloggers, the anonymous Atrios, based on comments contained in this post.
Now, I suspect that Krugman got a similar letter with regard to his televised comments, or can expect one shortly, but there's no word on that from checking any of the usual sources.
Frankly, Atrios isn't worth bandwidth it took to e-mail that letter to him or the time a paralegal spent filling in the blanks on the form letter -- it's a waste of money.
Krugman is another matter, I think a libel suit against Krugman very well could be successful.
I do want to address one thing, however, that Atrios and his defenders are attempting to use as evidence that Luskin is a stalker.
Atrios points to this article from last May entitled "We Stalked. He Balked. The Truth Squad is getting to Mr. Krugman"
Now, I don't know that Luskin wrote the headline. It's not uncommon for someone other than the author of a piece to write the headline -- it's how just about every newspaper works. I don't know if it's how NRO works.
But if you read the article, you can see where the headline came from, it came from a reference to this response from Paul Krugman to some of Luskin's criticisms regarding Krugman's math problems.
If anything, this early reference is just more trouble for Krugman -- evidence of "malice aforethought" when it came to his Fox News interview.
Once again, Atrios just isn't worth it.
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Publicity withdrawal: Former President Bill Clinton, in an effort to keep himself relevant and in the news has taken to telling whoppers to get the media to notice him. First, Clinton has been telling anyone who will listen that he warned his successor, George W. Bush about Osama bin Laden and Bush ignored his wise counsel.
Then, earlier this week Clinton apparently told the British press that he knew about Tony Blair's heart ailment, because Blair had told him about it several years ago. Unfortunately for the ever-increasingly irrelevant former prez, Blair didn't know he had a heart ailment several years ago -- and therefore obviously couldn't have discussed it with Clinton.
In the coming weeks, expect Clinton to:
- To have told Bush about the 9/11 attacks months before they occurred.
- To have claimed to warned NASA about the problems with the shuttle fleet that resulted in the loss of the Columbia.
- To have known that Lee Harvey Oswald was going to assassinate JFK weeks before it occurred.
- To have known Saddam Hussein had no WMDs when he bombed Iraq in 1998.
Clinton shouldn't go away angry -- he should just go away.
Mahathir and Krugman are in cahoots: In Tuesday's column, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman sought to defend himself against charges of anti-Semitism and distance himself Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Well, Mahathir let the cat out of the bag when he told reporters that Bush lied -- a theme common throughout the majority of Krugman's writings.
THE President of the United States lied.
That was Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's latest riposte in the continuing exchange over whether he was ticked off by the American leader over his remarks that Jews ruled the world.
"It's the biggest lie. If he had rebuked me, I'm quite sure I would have rebuked him also," the combative Malaysian leader told reporters here after arriving home from Papua New Guinea yesterday.
Mahathir's answer tells you, more than any New York Times column, about the link between the anti-Semitic leader of Malaysia and America's most dangerous liberal columnist.
Fires update: When I drove into work today, I was amazed by the amazing amount of smoke as I passed through the Mira Mesa and Miramar areas. Even with the fire burning dozens of miles to the east, the smoke was so thick that every car had its headlights on -- it was as dark as a night with a half-moon.
Currently the fire is nearing the the community of Julian -- famous locally for its apples and apple pies. By the time those of you on the East Coast read this, Julian may already be little more than ashes.
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Fire update: It's ugly out there. Word in the newsroom is that Julian, a really nice little town, is in imminent danger of being wiped out by the blaze. Palomar Mountain is also being evacuated. Though the fire is apparently turning away from Escondido, the smoke there today was worse than yesterday.
As I drove down from Escondido to the Union-Tribune offices in Mission Valley the smoke was incredibly thick. It was about as bright as midnight with a half-moon. All cars had their headlights on and I could even see some evidence of the fire's passage near the state Route 163.
All county schools will be closed again tomorrow due to poor air quality. On one of the local radio stations they were saying that the air quality was basically off-the-scale bad -- more than twice what is considered the worst possible.
Human rights in North Korea: There are none, and that's the point. Melanie Kirkpatrick has an excellent piece on South Korea's complicity in trying to keep the evil in the North quiet.
Bleachers: If you haven't checked out John Grisham's latest novel -- get it. Bleachers isn't one of his legal thrillers, instead it is the story of Neely Crenshaw, who returns to his hometown as the town's legendary football coach lays dying.
The coach is loved for the success he brought to the small town, and hated for the way in which he obtained it. His players, through the decades, have loved him, hated him, respected him and feared him. As they sit on the bleachers, his former students reminisce and relive the glory days, and the dark days.
The book isn't quite 200 pages, but it's a great read -- well worth the $12 it's selling for on Amazon.
Look! A victim!: New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, under immense fire for his column last week when he sought to explain Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad anti-Semitism, comes out with a defense -- sort of.
First, Krugman tries to rewrite history. Last week, Krugman explained that Mahathir's anti-Semitism was Bush's fault. This week Krugman uses a technique taught him by Mel, the cook on "Alice": The best defense is a good offense.
Smear tactics aside, the thrust of the attacks was that because anti-Semitism is evil, anyone who tries to understand why politicians foment anti-Semitism — and looks for ways other than military force to combat the disease — is an apologist for anti-Semitism and is complicit in evil.
Yet that moral punctiliousness is curiously selective. Last year the Bush administration, in return for a military base in Uzbekistan, gave $500 million to a government that, according to the State Department, uses torture "as a routine investigation technique," and whose president has killed opponents with boiling water. The moral clarity police were notably quiet.
Krugman wasn't trying to explain why Mahathir was fomenting anti-Semitism, he was attempting to blame Bush for Mahathir's anti-Semitism, an outrageous, partisan political attack that deserved much of the outrage that it generated.
As others have pointed out, Krugman's explanation for Mahathir's remarks was also flawed. Krugman said the statements were designed to keep the Muslim majority in Malaysia satiated and prevent them from targeting the ethnic Chinese minority -- the ones that actually drive the Malaysian economy.
That explanation rings hollow because Mahathir is stepping down soon from his position of power and really has no reason try to curry public opinion -- it gains him no political advantage. No, Mahathir made those hateful statements because he believes them. The leaders of other Muslim nations applauded him because they believe them.
Krugman claims that we, his critics, have no right to attack him because we were silent when Bush, with the approval of Congress (Krugman always seems to leave that other branch of government out, so focused is his Bush-hatred), gave $500 million to Uzbekistan in return for a military base.
An argument can be made here for some realpolitik, but I won't. I truly despise some of the moves made by United States government over the decades in dealing with brutal dictators and corrupt regimes -- Saudi Arabia and China would be at the top of my list.
But Krugman's friends on the left would prohibit us, at some future date, from taking any action to change that regime, because we once supported it. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
I was also amused by the fact that Krugman uses the fact that he's Jewish to defend him against any charges of anti-Semitism. Sorry, but that in itself is not a defense.
Krugman also goes back to his lame attack on the Bush Administration for failing to distinguish itself from what Krugman sees as the oppressive, wrong-headed government of Ariel Sharon.
Why won't it give moderate Muslims a better argument against the radicals by opposing Ariel Sharon's settlement policy, when a majority of Israelis think that some settlements should be abandoned, and even Israeli military officers have become bitterly critical of Mr. Sharon?
The answer is that in these cases politics takes priority over the war on terror. Moderate Muslims would have more faith in America's good intentions if there were at least the appearance of a distinction between the U.S. and the Sharon government — but the administration seeks votes from those who think that supporting Israel means supporting whatever Mr. Sharon does.
Of course, the Bush administration does criticize Israel, but Krugman seems to want to continue his on willful ignorance on the subject.
From Sept. 8, 2003:
While putting most of the blame for the breakdown on Palestinian terrorists, Powell also criticized the Israeli bombings even as he called them "self-defense activities."
"To kill one Hamas leader but to wound nine children or 10 children in the course of this, who will grow up to become Hamas leaders or Hamas killers later - they have to consider the long-term consequences," Powell said on ABC.
Condoleezza Rice also joined in the condemnation:
3. POWELL, RICE CRITICIZE ISRAELI ATTACK… Two senior officials of the Bush Administration have criticized Israel’s failed attack on Hamas leadership. Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice both called the strike “counterproductive.” Powell told a Sunday news program that Israel “will have to consider the long term consequences of this policy [of targeted assassinations].” Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the newspaper Yediot Aharonot on Sunday that the policy would continue and that terrorist leaders are “marked for death.” Powell also made it clear that the Administration opposes the expulsion of Yassir Arafat from the region as a number of members of Sharon’s cabinet --including the Foreign Minister -- are calling for. But he reiterated that the U.S. will not deal with Arafat.
And even from as far back as 2001, though rightfully criticized in National Review:
Israel suffers its worst terrorist act in the current spate of violence — 20 youths killed at a beachfront Tel Aviv disco. Secretary of State Colin Powell urges Israel not to retaliate and continues to criticize Israeli settlements.
Criticism of Israel does occur, it just suits Krugman's argument that it doesn't.
When facts are inconvenient for Krugman, he just ignores them.
The latest ffire numbers: As reported by the local ABC affiliate:
- Cedar fire: 206,664 acres burned
- Paradise fire: 30,000 acres burned
- Otay fire: 45,291 acres burned
- 881 homes destroyed (San Diego County only)
- 12 deaths
The firefighting cost has been estimated at about $100 million and the damage is in the billions of dollars.
Monday, October 27, 2003
Fire photos: I can't get too close -- though if I wanted to I'm sure I could use my Union-Tribune ID to bluff my way past the police lines -- but the Paradise Fire here in the Escondido area is still going strong.
The Wild Animal Park has been closed and the California Condor exhibit has been evacuated.
The closest fire area is probably about 2-3 miles away from my condo, but there is apparently little danger right now.
This is the road leading to the San Diego Wild Animal Park.
This picture was taken about 2 p.m. today. The air quality is bad just about everywhere in San Diego County.
This is the intersection of East Valley Parkway and Hidden Trails Rd. About an hour after I passed by the fire really flared up in this area.
Ashton Kutcher says: Sen. John Edwards, you've been punk'd!
Jay Rockefeller redux: After his embarrasing performance on Fox News Sunday two weeks ago, Jay Rockefeller tries his hand at coherence, consistency and credibility again, this time on "Meet the Press."
Once again, Rockefeller takes aim at George W. Bush, turns the gun around and shoots himself in the foot.
Rockefeller argued that the Bush administration was not doing a good job of "winning the hearts and minds" of Iraqis. Rockefeller constrasted U.S. soldiers still heavily armed in the Baghdad area with British soldiers in Basra who, a couple of weeks after the cessation of hostilities, "the took the helmets off, they haven't got too many incidents down there."
Let's try to explain this to vice chairman of the Senate's intelligence committee: In Basra, the population is largely Shiite, a brutally repressed majority under the Saddam Hussein regime. For people there, the coalition victory over Saddam really was a liberation.
Baghdad, and its surrounding areas is different, senator.
It's called the Sunni triangle for a reason. A larger portion of the population in that area benefited from Hussein's regime (to the detriment of their countrymen). The overthrow of Saddam was not so much a liberation for them as it was a swift kick in the rear out of the corridors of power. For them, the new Iraq is an enemy that must be fought and (dream on) destroyed.
That is why it's ... what's the word ... stupid to try to draw a comparison between the two.
Welcome to the real world, Sen. Rockefeller.
Fire's still burning: But all the local stations have gone off the aire for the night -- I guess that's a good sign. Check out the San Diego Union-Tribune Web site, it's got a ton of good information. The numbers at this time:
- At least 11 dead
- 250,000 acres burned in Southern California
- 800+ homes destroyed in So. Cal
- Up to 300 homes destroyed in San Diego County
- 11,000 homes countywide without power
Practically every local school district has canceled classes for Monday.
The San Diego Chargers vs. Miami Dolphins game has been moved to Sundevil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. (Sorry your tickets are no good Dan.)
Many stretches of area freeways are still closed -- including stretches of Interstates 8 and 15.
This will be a very interesting couple of days.
Sunday, October 26, 2003
San Diego is burning: Forget Sunday football. The local TV stations are showing football -- at times -- in a small picture-in-picture.
At the time of this writing:
10 12 people dead
- 4 separate fires
100+ 250+ structures destroyed
- I-15 is closed
- Highway 52 is closed from I-15 to Route 125
- Several electricity transmission lines down
- 800+ firefighters fighting the fire
- 96,000 acres burned
The San Diego Union-Tribune's Web site is up and down -- getting battered by hundreds of thousands, and probably millions of hits.
Outside my condo, smoke can be seen to the south and east:
It's tough to get a handle on the scope of these fires. Maps they're showing on the news are completely useless. The Union-Tribune's map isn't a whole lot better. I know the fire is within just a few miles of my home -- the news occassionally mentions that the Paradise Fire nearing Escondido proper coming from the Dixon Lake area.
The sun's just gone down, and the view from in front of my condo complex in Escondido includes the front lines of the Paradise fire (flames are highlighted in the white box):
Friday, October 24, 2003
Tucker's book: Just got finished reading Tucker Carlson's book "Politicians, Partisans, and Parasites." It's a fun book, but at 192 pages in length, it's just not worth the $24.95 list price. Amazon's selling it for $17 and change, but it's probably not worth that much either -- wait for the paperback. (But if you're gonna buy it, buy it here and support Hoystory.)
Carlson's book is the kind of book everyone would like to get paid for writing -- it's really easy to do: Just write about some things that have happened to you. The book is just a series of anecdotes -- little or no research required.
Of course, the problem for the rest of us is twofold.
First, you've got to get famous enough to be able to sell your stories to a major publishing house.
Second, you've got to meet/know weird/strange/interesting people.
Carlson's book is certainly a fun read, but it shouldn't be mistaken as some sort of "conservative" book -- I think liberals would enjoy it too.
Correcting Carlson's error: There is one factual mistake in Carlson's book. Carlson recounts talking with Arizona Sen. John McCain about the "movies" McCain did while a POW in Vietnam. McCain complained that they were just about to begin performing Stalag 17 when the Vietnamese came and took three of his actors -- to be tortured.
Carlson then describes the basic plot of Stalag 17 as being prisoners plotting to escape by digging tunnels. Unfortunately, that movie was The Great Escape. In Stalag 17 they escape by cutting through the fence.
Scanning the wires: When I have a few spare minutes at work, I'll often scan the wire feed coming into the newsroom. This is a raw feed that you really can't access anywhere on the Web. As I was checking out the op-ed wire coming in last evening, I noticed today's editorials from The New York Times had arrived.
And then it struck me, when I saw the slug for this editorial, that Maureen Dowd has taken over the entire Times editorial board.
The slug: EDIT-RUMMY-NYT
There's enough room in the slugline to spell Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's full last name.
I just thought it was interesting.
Duranty's Pulitzer: When word came earlier this week that Columbia University professor Mark von Hagen had completed his report on Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Walter Duranty with the suggestion that the prize be revoked.
For those unfamiliar with him, Duranty parroted Soviet President Josef Stalin's propoganda and covered up a forced famine in the Ukraine that led to millions of deaths.
My first instinct was that the Pulitzer board should not rescind the award, but that The New York Times should disavow it. The Times would state that the award was undeserved. When listing their Pulitzers won, Duranty's name would not appear. When counting up the total, it would always be one less.
My concern was that a move by the Pulitzer board to rescind the award would set a precedent that might be used in the future to punish unpopular journalists by revisionist historians.
Well, after reading the aforementioned article, I've changed my mind -- because of comments made by Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger Jr. and Bill Keller.
Mr. Sulzberger wrote that the newspaper did not have Mr. Duranty's prize, and thus could not "return" it. While careful to advise the board that the newspaper would "respect" its decision on whether to rescind the award, Mr. Sulzberger asked the board to consider two things. First, he wrote, such an action might evoke the "Stalinist practice to airbrush purged figures out of official records and histories." He also wrote of his fear that "the board would be setting a precedent for revisiting its judgments over many decades."
In an interview last night, Bill Keller, the newspaper's executive editor, said he concurred with Mr. Sulzberger.
"It's absolutely true that the work Duranty did, at least as much of it as I've read, was credulous, uncritical parroting of propaganda," said Mr. Keller, who covered the Soviet Union for The Times from 1986 to 1991.
And yet, Mr. Keller added, "As someone who spent time in the Soviet Union while it still existed, the notion of airbrushing history kind of gives me the creeps."
Airbrushing history? Putting a footnote next to Duranty's name and "Rescinded, 2003" at the bottom of the page isn't airbrushing history.
What is airbrushing history is the Times continuing to count Duranty's prize list of Pulitzers won.
Not the sharpest tool in the shed: GOP Rep. Deborah Pryce was quoted on Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume making the following statement while visiting a hospital in Iraq yesterday.
The effects of the embargo are widespread. There are fewer nurses trained, there are fewer doctors trained, and the medical equipment shortages obviously a problem in his eyes. So we obviously need to address those things.
It's unclear who the "his eyes" refers to, but it is likely President Bush.
But that aside, the sorry state of Iraq's hospitals is not the result of the U.N. embargo. It's Saddam Hussein's fault, and his alone. That should be clear to everyone by now.
Thursday, October 23, 2003
No blacks allowed: There was little mention of it on the news last night and only relatively short and buried articles in major newspapers on yesterday's confirmation hearing for D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Janice Rogers Brown.
Brown is a liberal Democrat's worst nightmare: a conservative African-American woman.
As usual, the best source of information on the judicial nomination "process" is National Review's Byron York.
In short, it doesn't matter what Brown's experience, qualifications or background is, who and what she is means she's destined for a filibuster.
In the end, what was striking was how little Democrats seemed inclined to dig into the actual questions involved in the cases Brown has decided; each time Brown delivered a crisp defense of her reasoning, Democrats simply moved on to another sound bite. It was as if Durbin and his colleagues had chosen to make a series of short-form attacks, get the hearing out of the way, and then move on to the more serious matter of filibustering Brown's nomination.
What the Democrat party is doing to the nomination process with these unprecedented filibusters could very well destroy the strength of the federal judiciary. Today, the Democrats bar anyone with conservative views from the appellate bench. Tomorrow, Republicans bar anyone with liberal views. The end result is a federal judiciary with a bunch of lukewarm moderates and little in the way of impressive legal thought.
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
No liberal media networks? It probably wouldn't surprise liberal Democrats if the Republican National Committee scheduled a fundraising tour of Fox News studios. After all, Fox News is obviously a right-wing, pro-GOP network. Being professional journalists, Fox officials would never allow this to happen, but the very idea that Fox is somehow on the GOP's side and would even be considered for such an event would have Democrats screaming.
That didn't happen; this did.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported today that local Democrats had scheduled a fund-raising tour of the local PBS station.
The San Diego County Democratic Party had scheduled a "fund-raising" visit to the station, on the campus of San Diego State University, for late yesterday afternoon.
For $25 a head, local Democrats would get a tour of the station, enjoy some refreshments and meet with Gloria Penner, host of KBPS [sic] radio's "Editor's Roundtable" and KBPS [sic] television's "These Days Special Edition."
Democratic Party Chairman Kennan Kaeder said no political candidate would benefit from the proceeds, but the money – in addition to paying for refreshments – would go for overhead at the party's Kearny Mesa headquarters.
KPBS canceled the tour after hearing it had been touted as a fund-raiser.
Yeah, there's no "liberal" network out there.
On Crossfire: I'm not a devoted watcher of CNN's Crossfire (or as Henry Hanks often refers to it as: "Colossalfailure"), but right now they have on Hussein Ibish and Jerry Falwell -- talking about "religious extremism."
Of course, the religion in question isn't the same one that sends kids into pizzarias to blow themselves and others up. Nope, it's Christianity.
Anti-Semitic apologist: Don Luskin digs up some dirt on New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. It appears as though Krugman's Tuesday column isn't the first time he's defended or excused anti-Semitic comments from Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
On a related note: Last Friday, Paul Krugman accused Don Luskin of "stalking" him.
Krugman's getting a little paranoid, Luskin's not a stalker, he's a critic. You'd think that a columnist for the Times would know the difference.
Evidence of Evil: The Wall Street Journal's Claudia Rosett has an excellent article previewing a report due out today from the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.
For those "sensitive" internationalists who suggest we only make Kim Jong Il meaner when we refer to his totalitarian regime as "evil," the report promises to be the equivalent of being struck with a clue-by-four -- repeatedly.
In another interview, a former prisoner, a 66-year-old grandmother, identified as "Detainee #24" to protect relatives still perhaps alive in North Korea, describes being assigned to help in the delivery of babies who were thrown immediately into a plastic-lined box to die in bulk lots. The report notes: "The interviewer had difficulty finding words to describe the sadness in this grandmother's eyes and the anguish on her face as she recounted her experience as a midwife at the detention center in South Sinuiju"--one of the sites shown in detail in the accompanying satellite photos.
When that evil regime finally falls, the world will be shocked at the human torture and misery that has occured in North Korea.
Stability should not be the goal in the region. The goal should be the freedom of the all the Korean people. Anything that keeps Kim Jong Il in power any longer also increases the suffering of millions of innocent Koreans.
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Facts? We don't need no stinkin' facts: The Viking Pundit spied another example of Democrats going the extra mile (lying) to justify their victim status.
At least he's predictable: New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's latest screed takes aim at Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's outrageous comments at a summit meeting of Islamic states. But Mahathir's comments are only a symptom -- the cause is (surprise!) George W. Bush.
Mahathir claimed that the "Jews rule the world by proxy" and that they must refocus their energies on non-Koran learning, i.e. science, business, etc., if they are to succeed in their goal.
"For well over half a century we have fought over Palestine. What have we achieved? Nothing. We are worse off than before," he said. "If we had paused to think, then we could have devised a plan, a strategy that can win us final victory."
What sort of "final victory" is Mahathir talking about? Anyone not suffering from rectal-cranial impaction can figure it out.
In contrast, Krugman's reading of Mahathir's speech (and he acknowledges reading all of it), treats the anti-Semitism as a throwaway line designed to pander to his own Muslim majority. Well, that last link and read it yourself. (Sorry to send you to an Indymedia site, but it's the best I could do on short notice.)
It's worth reading the rest of last week's speech, beyond the offensive 28 words. Most of it is criticism directed at other Muslims, clerics in particular. Mr. Mahathir castigates "interpreters of Islam who taught that acquisition of knowledge by Muslims meant only the study of Islamic theology." Thanks to these interpreters, "the study of science, medicine, etc. was discouraged. Intellectually the Muslims began to regress." A lot of the speech sounds as if it had been written by Bernard Lewis, author of "What Went Wrong," the best-selling book about the Islamic decline.
Yes, there's criticism directed at some Muslim clerics, mainly that their direction to the Muslim faithful to abhor the acquisition of knowledge has left those countries backward, fifth-rate powers. Why is that bad? Well, it's bad because that's prevented them from being able to kill all the Jews and dominate Europe.
We must build up our strength in every field, not just in armed might. Our countries must be stable and well administered, must be economically and financially strong, industrially competent and technologically advanced. This will take time, but it can be done and it will be time well spent. We are enjoined by our religion to be patient. Innallahamaasabirin. Obviously there is virtue in being patient.
But the defence of the ummah, the counter-attack, need not start only after we have put our houses in order. Even today we have sufficient assets to deploy against our detractors. It remains for us to identify them and to work out how to make use of them to stop the carnage caused by the enemy. This is entirely possible if we stop to think, to plan, to strategise and to take the first few critical steps. Even these few steps can yield positive results.
Mahathir sees a coming Muslim renaissance as a period of time where they can work to eventually becoming world powers -- and use that power to subjugate their enemies (i.e. any non-Muslim).
Krugman, predictably, then uses his enormous foreign policy expertise to determine that George W. Bush is to blame for Mahathir's anti-Semitic comments.
When times are tough, Mr. Mahathir also throws the Muslim majority rhetorical red meat.
And that's what he was doing last week. Not long ago Washington was talking about Malaysia as an important partner in the war on terror. Now Mr. Mahathir thinks that to cover his domestic flank, he must insert hateful words into a speech mainly about Muslim reform. That tells you, more accurately than any poll, just how strong the rising tide of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism among Muslims in Southeast Asia has become. Thanks to its war in Iraq and its unconditional support for Ariel Sharon, Washington has squandered post-9/11 sympathy and brought relations with the Muslim world to a new low.
Let's examine Krugman's "logic." (And ignore the fact that Bush has not been unconditional in his support for Ariel Sharon.)
Mahathir makes a speech where he argues for progress in the Muslim world -- more learning like that which is common in Western democracies. (Let's leave aside the destruction of Israel which is a subtext and goal in that argument.)
Bush destroys the most backward Muslim regime on the planet, the Taliban, the kind of Muslim religious thought that Mahathir is attacking in his speech.
Bush destroys a corrupt Iraqi regime, frees the people to use the country's oil wealth for all and not just for Saddam's cronies. Iraq now has the possibility of becoming all that Mahathir would like all of the Muslim world to be.
And all of this is to blame for Muslims hating America?
(It's interesting to note in Mahathir's speech that he singles out two groups as having oppressed Muslims worldwide: Jews and Europeans -- not Americans.)
Do they hate us for saving Muslims in Kosovo? Do they hate us for saving Muslims in Bosnia? No. Please ignore the Saudi Wahhabis behind the curtain. Nothing to see here.
Krugman then mounts an attack on Lt. Gen. William Boykin who is apparently not allowed to express his religious beliefs in a church.
And bear in mind that Mr. Mahathir's remarks were written before the world learned about the views of Lt. Gen. William "My God Is Bigger Than Yours" Boykin. By making it clear that he sees nothing wrong with giving an important post in the war on terror to someone who believes, and says openly, that Allah is a false idol -- General Boykin denies that's what he meant, but his denial was implausible even by current standards -- Donald Rumsfeld has gone a long way toward confirming the Muslim world's worst fears.
Somewhere in Pakistan Osama bin Laden must be enjoying this. The war on terror didn't have to be perceived as a war on Islam, but we seem to be doing our best to make it look that way.
Boykin or no, there's not much that can be done about the perceptions of the people who already hate us. Those Muslims who already believe the current conflict to be of religious in nature will use Boykin's comments for their own ends. Those Muslims who do not will dismiss them.
It's ridiculous to try to link the United States to a rise in anti-Semitism around the world. But for Krugman every bad thing in the world is Bush's fault. It's nice to know that there are at least a few constants in this world.
Monday, October 20, 2003
When protesters attack: Evan Coyne Maloney has video up from the pro-Palestinian conference and rally earlier this month at Rutgers University. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad.
My favorite line on the video, from one of the pro-Palestinian Nazi hatemongers, referring to Maloney:
Woman: What he is really doing here is intelligence gathering.
Not bloody likely. Not in that crowd.
If it had been said on Fox News...: about a liberal, then this would be all over the media and the liberal blogosphere as evidence of those hateful Republicans.
Unfortunately, this time it was a liberal talking about a devout Christian -- so it's OK.
Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio: “Now they’ve got this guy who’s head of the intelligence section in the Defense Department who’s being quoted as telling various groups, while he’s in uniform, that this is a Christian crusade against Muslims. I mean this is terrible, this is seriously bad stuff.”
Colbert King, Washington Post editorial writer: “The other thing about Boykin, he got it wrong. He said God put George Bush in the White House. The Supreme Court did it.”
Totenberg: “The Supreme Court put George Bush in the White House.”
Charles Krauthammer, syndicated columnist, joked: “It was 5,000 yentas in Palm Beach who couldn’t read the ballot. If that was not an act of providence, nothing is.”
Gordon Peterson, host: “By the way, he was showing pictures of Somalia, Mogadishu and there’s a black mark in the sky and he said 'these are demons who controlled this thing.’”
Totenberg: “Well, I hope he’s not long for this world because you can imagine-”
Several voices reacted in unison, drowning her out, including Peterson: “You putting a hit out on this guy or what?”
King: “Are you Reverend Pat Robertson?”
Totenberg: “No, no, no, no, no, no!”
Peterson: “What is this, the Sopranos?”
Totenberg: “In his job, in his job, in his job, please, please, in his job.”
Yeah, right. When I use the phrase "not long for this world" I'm talking about someone's employment, too.
Where did this come from?: While I don't agree with everything in it, today's New York Times has a surprisingly reasonable editorial calling on Democrats to take a position on American foreign policy post-9/11 that is something more substantive than: Bush is wrong.
The candidates also need to tell Americans where they stand on the larger issue of preventive war. The prewar intelligence failures in Iraq and the failure, so far, to find threatening unconventional weapons strike at the basic premises of Mr. Bush's alarmingly novel strategic doctrines. What alternative ideas do the Democratic contenders have for handling threats like North Korean, and possibly Iranian, nuclear weapons programs and for dealing with countries that give aid and sanctuary to international terrorist groups? And what would they do to keep Afghanistan, the scene of America's first post-9/11 war, from falling back into chaos with a revived Taliban?
It is in the nature of modern campaigns to offer sound bites rather than substance. But voters have a right to ask for more and to press the Democratic candidates to present real alternatives to Mr. Bush's policies in Iraq and beyond.
I'd be interested in hearing answers to those questions too. The American people deserve at least two serious parties, and right now the Democrats couldn't be any more unserious.
The editorial also makes another important point:
Last week Congressional Democrats challenged Mr. Bush's request for $20 billion for reconstruction in Iraq. One of their leading demands, converting some of the money into loans, picked up enough Republican support to prevail in the Senate. Unfortunately, it's a terrible idea. Turning aid into a loan dumps more debt on a country that is already sinking in it. It's also the worst kind of election-oriented pandering that only serves to hide the true costs from voters.
When you're getting hit on this loan idea from the left and the right, then maybe it's something you might want to reconsider. It shouldn't make it out of conference, but if it does, Bush hasn't been known to use his veto -- ever. This would be a good first one for his presidency.
Sunday, October 19, 2003
Religion of Peace/Death cult update: A poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research finds that 75 percent of Palestinians supported or strongly supported the Oct. 4 suicide bombing of a restaurant in Haifa that killed 21 people.
No roadmap can succeed as long as the Palestinians embrace a culture of violence and destruction.
Candidate of opportunity: If the economy had never tanked and the Iraq war and its aftermath had been flawless, would former Gen. Wesley Clark be a Democrat? Or would 2007 come and he would seek office as a Republican?
Well, it appears as the good general was offering effusive praise of the GOP administration as recently as January 2002.
It appears as though this revelation just reinforces Clark's credentials as a Clintonian Democrat -- polls and perceived political opportunity trump character and deeply held beliefs.
Friday, October 17, 2003
Nyah nyah nyah nyaaaah! I can't hear you: When good economic news comes out, does Krugman address it? No, like a little child being told something he doesn't want to hear, he puts his fingers in his ears and whines the same ol' song.
Krugman, who has yet to win a Nobel Prize in economics, quotes George Akerlof, who has one a Nobel Prize in economics, apparently in an effort to create a liberal counterpoint to Sunday's OpinionJournal piece by a trio of economists (including a Nobel Prize winner) touting the benefits of tax cuts.
The majority of Krugman's column is just a rehash (nothing new here) of his Aug. 5, 2003 column where he accused the Bush administration of politicizing the Treasury Department by cherry-picking examples of how some typical Americans benefit from the Bush tax cuts. (For a review of that article, follow this link.)
In his latest screed, Krugman accuses the that dim-witted evil genius George W. Bush of designing his tax cut so that his rich friends got a lot of money and
two four six a select few in the middle class get a decent tax cut -- and everyone else gets "The Shaft." (Scroll down to Season 1, Episode 5)
Krugman suggests that this dastardly deed has been done to make the repeal of the tax cuts politically hazardous -- good.
Thursday, October 16, 2003
60 Minutes II -- corrections to be made: Well, I've got the 60 Minutes II piece on the "sexed up" Iraq intelligence and there's really no surprises in the statements coming from former State Department analyst Greg Thielmann. After checking out some background helpfully provided by Robert Musil, what CBS managed to come up with is the same ol', same ol'.
As I mentioned below, CBS perpetuates the idea that we went to war with Iraq because the threat was imminent -- despite the fact that it is demonstrably untrue.
There is at least one correction that CBS is going to have to make with regard to the "Niger-is-the-only-country-in-Africa-so-when-you-say-Africa-you-mean-Niger" claim.
Reporter Scott Pelley replays Bush's infamous 16 words from the State of the Union speech and then follows-up with:
After the war, the White House said the African uranium claim was false, and shouldn't have been in the president's address.
Wrong. From a CNN interview with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice more than three months ago:
RICE: When we got to the State of the Union, there were -- first of all, a lot of time had passed, several months. There were reports in the [National Intelligence Estimate] about other African countries. There was the British report that talked about the efforts to get uranium in Africa.
The British, by the way, still stand by their report to this very day in its accuracy, because they tell us that they had sources that were not compromised in any way by later -- in March or April -- later reports that there were some forgeries.
Now, we have said very clearly that the information went in on the basis of a number of sources, but we have a different standard for presidential speeches, which is that we don't just put in things that are in intelligence sources. We put in things that we believe the intelligence agency has high confidence in, and that's why we have a clearance process.
BLITZER: They didn't have high confidence in this ... That's why we had to pin it on British intelligence, as opposed to U.S. intelligence.
RICE: The British intelligence report, as far as we knew, was a report that was underpinned by reporting that was solid. We sent it out to the agency for clearance, said, "Can you stand by this?" They said, apparently, that's inconsistent. I'm understanding now that the sentence is accurate.
As George Tenet has said, accuracy is not the standard. Of course, the sentence was accurate. But we were asking about confidence. And George Tenet rightly says that the agency cleared the speech, it should not have been cleared with that sentence in.
The White House has never admitted that the intelligence was false, and to this day both the White House and British Intelligence stand behind the report. The only admission was that the fact shouldn't have been in the State of the Union speech because our intelligence agencies couldn't verify it.
Will CBS correct this error? I won't hold my breath.
Book review: I recently finished reading Bob Kohn's "Journalistic Fraud: How The New York Times Distorts the News and Why it Can No Longer Be Trusted."
On the whole, the book is well written and documented. Kohn identifies many different methods of injecting bias into news stories, nearly every one of them masterfully accomplished by the Times. It could easily be used as a textbook for aspiring journalists on how not to write.
The weakest contention in the book is Kohn's claim that the Times links "bad" things a Republican president's administration does to the president himself, while linking good news only to the specific agency.
Kohn identifies several instances where the Times could have given Bush credit for a certain accomplishment, but instead gave it to the government agency (which he ultimately heads). He also identifies instances where Bush is blamed by name for failures of various agencies (which he ultimately heads). Kohn also illustrates that the Times characterized events just the opposite way when Clinton was president.
While Kohn identifies various incidents that could have been categorized differently, there's not nearly enough evidence to come to the conclusion that this is a standard operation procedure at the Times. A serious Lexis-Nexis search and the accompanying wealth of data that would provide would be more convincing. The Times may do what Kohn claims they do, but in this case, the evidence is less than ironclad.
Kohn's book is well worth reading, because it shows you how journalism can be skewed -- at any newspaper. Editors at the Times would be well-advised to read it and think about what they're doing to what was once America's greatest newspaper.
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Like Disneyland for adults!: Today's Wall Street Journal has a great article on a machine gun shoot at Knob Creek Gun Range in West Point, Ky.
After reading the piece, I want to go out and fire a .50-cal sniper rifle -- talk about fun!
There they go again: Tonight's "60 Minutes II" features a State Department career foreign service officer who claims that the U.S. intelligence regarding Iraq was "sexed up" a la Andrew Gilligan.
But that's not all, if you watch the video preview (follow the link above and look for the video link on the right), CBS newsman Scott Pelley asks the former State Dept. official, Greg Thielmann, if Iraq posed an "imminent threat" to the United States.
Thielmann responds: "No. I think it didn't even constitute an imminent threat to its neighbors, at the time we went to war."
Scroll down, Bush never made the case for war against Iraq based on an "imminent threat" -- but too many in the media are preoccupied with dishonestly attacking the Bush administration. I'm set up to record tonight's episode -- we'll see just how unfair and unbalanced it is. The video preview suggests that it will be very unfair and unbalanced -- not to mention dishonest.
Luskin on Krugman: Don Luskin catches New York Times columnist Paul Krugman practicing deception once more.
So Krugman hand-picked a "model" that confirmed his prejudices. But does it? After spending a few minutes playing the role of Joseph Wilson IV and "drinking sweet mint tea," I found that Krugman had sexed-up his hand-picked "model." First I downloaded the Lehman press release Krugman cited. It turns out that Lehman never claimed to have "appl[ied] the same model" to the United States. It only stated that "the developed countries...are exhibiting large economic imbalances." Nothing whatsoever was said to the effect that the US's "imbalances" are any worse than those of any other country. Rather, the US is "conspicuous" only because "any financial crisis could cause considerable spillover effects to the rest of the world." I obtained the full September 1 2003 report on Damocles -- no different.
Next I called Lehman's UK-based Chief International Economist Russell Jones, the author of the report on Damocles. He'd seen Krugman's column -- I could hear the sound of his eyes rolling all the way from London. He told me "Krugman can be somewhat twisted and bitter on occasion. This analytic tool was not intended to be applied to developed countries. Damocles gave him an in to write a piece he wanted to write. He's making a career out of this kind of thing."
Strong words from Jones, who told me at the same time that Krugman is not wrong, in principle, to be concerned about the US's "rapid accumulation of debt," and that indeed the US scores poorly by Damocles' standards. But he firmly admonished, "to apply this to the US is not that relevant."
While Krugman has still not acknowledged any of the good economic news that has come out in the last several weeks, he has made a move to cover his a$$ should (horror) the economy improve to the point that even he must acknowledge it.
Still, there's no question that the U.S. has the resources to climb out of its financial hole. The question is whether it has the political will.
Of course, political will is code for electing a Democrat president in 2004. As the past few years have demonstrated, there is little any Republican, let alone President Bush, can do right in Krugman's eyes.
Krugman is also on a speaking tour touting his new book, "The Great Unraveling." The book is little more than a collection of Krugman's Times columns, which can be read for free here.
In a recent speech/preach to the students/choir at the University of Wisconsin -- Madison, Krugman is quoted as having made a couple of interesting statements.
Krugman half-jokingly claimed he feels safe challenging the administration in his columns because he can retreat to his academic career.
"I can always go back to just being a college professor, in England, if necessary," he said.
Contrast that attitude his during an interview with Germany's "Der Spiegel" last December.
KRUGMAN: What it is peculiar is that, when I arranged my column with the New York Times in Fall 1999, I actually thought I would provide good-tempered comments on the specifics of the New Economy. Instead of that, I find myself once again the lonely voice of truth in an ocean of corruption. I sometimes think that I will end up one day in one of those cages in Guantanamo Bay [laughter]. But then I can always seek asylum in Germany. I hope you'll take me in case of emergency.
The good news is that Krugman no longer holds irrational fears of Attorney General John Ashcroft and possible imprisonment as a enemy combatant. The bad news is that he still believes that the government actually has power over the Times hiring and firing practices.
Krugman ended his lecture on a more hopeful note, asserting the strength of the American economy can pull the nation through prolonged financial strain.
"The U.S. has the resources," he said. "The budget deficit is not large compared to the overall national economy."
It's surprising that Krugman made that statement, since he has been loath to report or acknowledge any economic possibility other than disaster.
Different day; same old song.
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Brother can you spare a dime?: Perhaps the only thing sadder than seeing a blogger do his monthly banging of the tip jar (hint, hint), is seeing a wealthy, egotistical multimillionaire ask for money.
That's right, Arianna's campaign is still $235,000 in debt and she wants you to fork over some cash. The woman who hasn't paid income taxes in the past couple of years because she's suffered substantial losses (when you're wealthy thanks to your divorce settlement, you can fritter the money away) wants hard-working Americans to fund her little PR campaign.
It's funny, this woman wanted to be governor. She wanted to "run" the world's fifth-largest economy. Yet, she can't seem to manage to create any wealth in her own life. What was her plan? To have California marry Germany and then divorce and hope for a large settlement?
Monday, October 13, 2003
Hooray for Tony Snow: On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Jay Rockefeller attacked President Bush for alleging that there was an imminent threat to the United States from Iraq.
Snow, then confronted the senator with a clip from this year's State of the Union address, where President Bush said:
Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late.
Rockefeller: Tony, if you listen to that as an average American person would, you, at least myself included, that is talking about the danger of an immediate attack. And in fact, the intelligence committee, the one thing they did not say was that there was, we were in danger of being attacked in this country.
Snow: I'm sorry. We've done a lot of research on this, and the president never said, and we've been looking for it, because a lot of you and your colleagues have said he talked about an imminent threat. And he never did. As a matter of fact, the key argument, was it not, that you can't wait for it to become an imminent threat because then it's too late.
Rockefeller: No. The argument, Tony, was based upon, I was there and I heard the speech, very close, and he was talking about weapons of mass destruction -- biological, chemical and nuclear -- and that was more or less signed off on by the intelligence community. Which raises a whole 'nother set of questions. And the whole problem was that there was a danger of attack. If the word "imminent threat" wasn't used, that was the predicate, that was the feeling that was given to the American people. And to the Congress whose vote the president clearly was trying to argue, or to convince during the course of that State of the Union message.
So, it doesn't matter what the president said, all that matters is that we (the American people and, apparently, much of the Senate) suffer from extremely poor comprehension skills. Yeah, he didn't say a threat was imminent, but he used the word, so we were confused.
Of course, Fox News' crack researchers didn't stop there. Rockefeller digs himself a deeper hole after Snow dug up an Oct. 10, 2002 speech by Rockefeller himself.
There has also been some debate over how "imminent" a threat Iraq poses. I do believe that Iraq poses an imminent threat, but I also believe that after September 11, the question is increasingly outdated. It is in the nature of these weapons, and the way they are targeted against civilian populations, that documented capability and demonstrated intent may be the only warning we get. To insist on further evidence could put some of our fellow Americans at risk. Can we afford to take that chance? We cannot!
Back to Snow:
Snow: What made you change your mind?
Rockefeller: That's correct. And that's what I felt at the time I cast that vote based upon the intelligence community's analysis of the situation. Particularly weapons of mass destruction. And what the president said in his speech. But the situation turns out not to have been quite like either the intelligence community or the president indicated. And that would be a vote that I would probably not make today based upon the revelations that there don't appear, at least to this point, to be any weapons of mass destruction. I've heard David Kay a number of times now. He has not indicated that. He's talking about perhaps they were all burned up or gotten rid of.
Work your mind around that one. Rockefeller didn't change his mind, but he did. But he didn't. But he was deceived. But it didn't matter. But... But....
That's more flip-flops than you'd see on a summer day at any San Diego beach.
But it gets better. Snow quotes again from the same Rockefeller speech.
But this isn't just a future threat. Saddam's existing biological and chemical weapons capabilities pose a very real threat to America now. Saddam has used chemical weapons before... He is working to develop delivery systems like missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles that could bring these deadly weapons against U.S. forces and U.S. facilities in the Middle East.
Well, at least that much is true, isn't it? Nope, Rockefeller continues the backpedaling.
Snow: And that, indeed, is what David Kay reported to Congress last week, is it not?
Rockefeller: No. It is not. David Kay did not report that degree of possibility at all to the Congress. And he actually was very clear in his public statements, forget his intelligence committee statements, he was very clear about that. He was not certain about it. He said we had a lot more work to do. It's going another six to nine months to find out if he had these weapons of mass destruction or not.
But as Andrew Sullivan pointed out after Kay made his first report to Congress and the public, it is 100 percent true.
From Sullivan's blog:
* A clandestine network of laboratories and safehouses within the Iraqi Intelligence Service that contained equipment subject to UN monitoring and suitable for continuing CBW research.
* A prison laboratory complex, possibly used in human testing of BW agents, that Iraqi officials working to prepare for UN inspections were explicitly ordered not to declare to the UN.
* Reference strains of biological organisms concealed in a scientist's home, one of which can be used to produce biological weapons.
* New research on BW-applicable agents, Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin were not declared to the UN.
* Documents and equipment, hidden in scientists' homes, that would have been useful in resuming uranium enrichment by centrifuge and electromagnetic isotope separation (EMIS).
* A line of UAVs not fully declared at an undeclared production facility and an admission that they had tested one of their declared UAVs out to a range of 500 km, 350 km beyond the permissible limit.
* Continuing covert capability to manufacture fuel propellant useful only for prohibited SCUD variant missiles, a capability that was maintained at least until the end of 2001 and that cooperating Iraqi scientists have said they were told to conceal from the UN.
* Plans and advanced design work for new long-range missiles with ranges up to at least 1000 km - well beyond the 150 km range limit imposed by the UN. Missiles of a 1000 km range would have allowed Iraq to threaten targets through out the Middle East, including Ankara, Cairo, and Abu Dhabi.
* Clandestine attempts between late-1999 and 2002 to obtain from North Korea technology related to 1,300 km range ballistic missiles --probably the No Dong -- 300 km range anti-ship cruise missiles, and other prohibited military equipment.
Snow is much too nice. Rockefeller is either a liar or an idiot. I'd bet on liar. Seriously, what else can be said about this man's statements?
There are issues here that can be debated, and then there are simple truths.
The simple truth is that Iraq's WMD capabilities were there and were hidden -- and that David Kay reported just that.
The simple truth is that Iraq was working on UAVs and missiles that could threaten his neighbors and U.S. forces in the region -- and David Kay reported just that.
To deny these facts and to attack the president based on that willful deceit is outrageous. Sen. Rockefeller is placing partisan politics above the security of the United States and the troops on the ground in Iraq.
*UPDATE* Fox News' official transcript can be found here.
Sunday, October 12, 2003
Music and the DMCA: The Digital Milennium Copyright Act is the hammer that has often been used to threaten computer science academics and researchers who study digital locks on DVDs and increasingly, music CDs.
As I mentioned earlier this week, a graduate student pointed out that SunnComm's new copy protection technology can easily be thwarted by simply turning off Windows' autoplay feature.
Well, that was Wednesday. On Thursday, SunnComm whipped out the good ol' DMCA and threatened civil and criminal lawsuits against the grad student for telling people about the "shift" key on their computer and its various uses (i.e. disabling Windows' autoplay feature).
On Thursday, SunnComm CEO Peter Jacobs said the company plans legal action and is considering both criminal and civil suits. He said it may charge the student with maligning the company's reputation and, possibly, with violating copyright law that bans the distribution of tools for breaking through digital piracy safeguards.
"We feel we were the victim of an unannounced agenda and that the company has been wronged," Jacobs said. "I think the agenda is: 'Digital property should belong to everyone on the Internet.' I'm not sure that works in the marketplace."
Yeah, the "unannounced agenda" is unadulterated stupidity. You spend tens of millions of investors' dollars on a software management technology that can be disabled by pushing the "shift" key?
Well, after Thursday's temper tantrum, SunnComm backed off its threat of a lawsuit.
SunnComm CEO Peter Jacobs acknowledged his threat to file a lawsuit was a mistake. "I felt the researcher has an agenda, which he does," he said. "But that's not relevant, and I learned that...The long-term nature of the lawsuit and the emotional result of the lawsuit would obscure the issue, and it would develop a life of its own."
Jacobs refused to divulge the reasons for his change of heart, saying only that "when the original firestorm cleared and we had a chance to poll the different organizations (including customers, advisers and shareholders) I started to have a different picture on how to resolve the issue."
Yeah, no lawsuit looks like a better "picture" than a failed lawsuit.
Pro football: The line on today's San Diego Chargers game: BYE by 2 1/2.
Friday, October 10, 2003
Big news on the economy: Headline: "Jobless Claims Lowest in Eight Months."
So, when good economic news hits, what can you be sure of? Well, like death and taxes, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman will ignore it.
Krugman comes out today with a defense of name-calling, oddly titled "Lessons in Civility." The column is mainly a hodge-podge of probably the most tame of the zingers being fired back and forth.
However, there are a couple if things that I would like to address:
But conservatives are distressed because those liberals are so angry and rude. O.K., they admit, they themselves were a bit rude during the Clinton years — that seven-year, $70 million investigation of a tiny money-losing land deal, all that fuss about the president's private life — but they're sorry, and now it's time for everyone to be civil.
I don't think any conservatives consider the Whitewater and related investigations "rude." A brief reminder for Krugman:
- Number of Whitewater related convictions: 15 (including the sitting governor of Arkansas)
- Number of times Hillary Clinton said "I don't recall" or its equivalent in a statement to a House investigating committee: 50
- Number of times Bill Clinton said "I don't recall" or its equivalent in the released portions of the his testimony on Paula Jones: 271
According to Krugman, Clinton's lying before a grand jury is just a result of Republicans' "incivility." Nope, no fraud, no perjury here. And would the investigation have lasted as long as it did if those billing records hadn't taken two years to turn up? Clinton was impeached. In the words of your allies: "Move on."
Indeed, angry liberals can take some lessons in civility from today's right.
Consider, for example, Fox News's genteel response to Christiane Amanpour, the CNN correspondent. Ms. Amanpour recently expressed some regret over CNN's prewar reporting: "Perhaps, to a certain extent, my station was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News." A Fox spokeswoman replied, "It's better to be viewed as a foot soldier for Bush than as a spokeswoman for Al Qaeda."
Honestly, I've got no idea why Krugman included this in his column, other than believing that Fox News is right-wing, therefore what would otherwise be considered a little professional rivalry now becomes a right vs. left attack.
I didn't really comment on Amanpour's comment at the time, but speaking as a professional journalist, if she's allowed her reporting to be affected because she feels intimidated by the administration and a rival news organization, then it's time for her to retire. What is perhaps more shocking than her statement, is the fact that she'd make it where anyone else would hear.
While Krugman, expectedly, minimizes Democrat transgressions and maximizes Republican transgressions, he also demonstrates the early onset of Alzheimers (oops, there I go being a big-meanie).
Still, some would say that criticism should focus only on Mr. Bush's policies, not on his person. But no administration in memory has made paeans to the president's character — his "honor and integrity" — so central to its political strategy.
I remember hearing/reading something to the effect that someone had promised the American people "the most ethical administration in history."
Let the name-calling continue.
Thursday, October 09, 2003
Democrats debate: I've got a recording of the Democratic Presidential debate replaying right now. The most stupid question/gimmick thus far is from a woman who apparently only speaks Spanish. The woman asked, through a translator, what the candidates proposed to do to help the "Spanish economy." What was apparently was meant was Latino/Hispanic businesses, not what they would do to help Spain's economy.
The responses were not particularly on point -- how could they be? The economy is so inter-connected that there can really be no (legal) plan that a candidate could propose that would address only the "Spanish economy."
Where do they come up with these things?
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Record companies strike again: In their effort to slow the proliferation pirated music over the Internet, the music industry has tried a two-pronged strategy: Sue and secure.
The RIAA has sued a 12-year-old and a grandmother, along with hundreds of others, for allegedly downloading music over the Internet.
Meanwhile, record and technology companies have been teaming up to restrict how you use music that you have rightfully purchased. Unfortunately for record company bigwigs, it appears as though the "sue" part of the strategy has been effective than their technology efforts.
One of the industry's earliest efforts was aimed at barring consumers from playing CDs in their computers. If they can't be played in the computer, perfect digital copies cannot be made. The industry did this by placing a track of digital gibberish around the outermost edge of the disc. "Dumb" CD players would ignore the gibberish, but computers would wig out trying to read it. Unsuspecting consumers (especially Mac users) started screaming bloody murder, mainly because, especially in Macs, there was a distinct possiblity that the computer would crash -- causing people to lose whatever unsaved work they had.
Of course, it didn't take long for people to figure a way around that: a way that required a felt-tip pen. Merely blacking out that track of digital gibberish allowed the CDs to be played in the "smart" computers as well as the "dumb" CD players.
Well, in the months since that low-tech method thwarted the industry's high-tech copy protection the industry appears to have thrown more of its precious cash down the proverbial rathole.
A Princeton University student has published instructions for disabling the new anticopying measures being tested on CDs by BMG--and they're as simple as holding down a computer's Shift key.
I'm sorry, but is this seriously the best that you can do? Here we are, the most technologically advanced civilization in the history of the world, and you geniuses create a digital "padlock" that can be opened by just pulling on it? You didn't really spend money on this, did you? I mean I've got a anti-copying technology that's just as effective that I'd love to sell you.
I'll sell mine to you for $0.01 for each CD that you use it on.
The technique was confirmed by BMG and SunnComm Technologies, the small company that produces the anticopying technology. Both companies said they had known about it before releasing the CD, and that they still believed the protection would deter most average listeners' copying.
"This is something we were aware of," BMG spokesman Nathaniel Brown said. "Copy management is intended as a speed bump, intended to thwart the casual listener from mass burning and uploading. We made a conscious decision to err on the side of playability and flexibility."
Speed bump? That's like putting a twig in the middle of the road. You might notice it, but this isn't going to deter squat.
The hilarious thing is looking back at News.com's lead from their Sept. 12 article on the aforementioned copy protection scheme.
For the first time in the United States, BMG Music will release a music CD that's loaded with anticopying protection, a move that opens a new round of technological experimentation for record labels. [emphasis added]
Yeah, it's "loaded," except that you can disable it all by holding down the "shift" key.
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Two types of arguments: Arnold Kling over at Tech Central Station pens an open letter to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman urging him to become "part of the solution, not part of the problem."
For example, suppose I were to say, "We should abolish the minimum wage. That would increase employment and enable more people to climb out of poverty."
There are two types of arguments you might make in response. I call these Type C and Type M.
A hypothetical example of a Type C argument would be, "Well, Arnold, studies actually show that the minimum wage does not cost jobs. If you read the work of Krueger and Card, you would see that the minimum wage probably reduces poverty."
A hypothetical example of a Type M argument would be, "People who want to get rid of the minimum wage are just trying to help the corporate plutocrats."
Paul, my question for you is this:
Do you see any differences between those two types of arguments?
I suspect that Krugman does see the difference between the two, but his blinding hatred of President George W. Bush doesn't allow him to argue in this fashion. Krugman is
psychotic psychic, he knows what's going on inside every conservative's head. He knows that we're all evil, and spend our spare time drowning puppies. Why should he actually try to make an argument that doesn't simply impugn conservative character?
A nice effort, Mr. Kling, but don't hold your breath. Krugman didn't get where he is by being honest and reasonable.
*UPDATE* Don Luskin adds the D-type argument -- deceptive.
Do-not-call redux: A three-judge panel today put on hold a district court decision that found the FTC's do-not-call list to be an infringement on telemarketers free speech rights.
According to the media reports, it appears as though the appellate court used logic similar to mine to come to its conclusion.
"We conclude that the public does have strong privacy and expectation interests that weigh in favor of granting this stay," the three-judge panel wrote. It added that the justifications for the registry -- to prevent abusive and coercive sales practices and protect privacy -- are substantial interests appropriate for government action.
"We find it relevant that the national do-not-call list is of an opt-in nature, which provides an element of private choice," the panel wrote. "The list is not invoked until the homeowner makes a private decision to invoke it."
Here's looking forward to peaceful nights.
Media madness: Flipped over to MSNBC as both Fox News and CNN were in commercial breaks, and watched as Chris Matthews and friends all agreed: California is a middle-of-the-road state, "like New York."
Yeah, and The New York Times editorial page is centrist.
Exhibit A in the case against an out-of-touch media elite.
Polls close: At 8 p.m. the polls here in California closed. The networks took a deep breath, and they all immediately made their calls. Gray Davis out. Arnold Schwarzenegger in. Prop. 54 down.
The first set of absentee ballot returns has Davis being recalled 63.4 percent to 36.6 percent and Schwarzenegger with a majority of the . Absentee ballots typically trend more conservatively than the rest of the votes, so expect those numbers to change.
Facts and myths: Sacramento Bee columnist/blogger Daniel Weintraub debunks a plethora of myths about today's recall election here in California. If you've followed the election closely, many of them will come as no surprise. But at least one was news to me:
Myth: Many of the paid circulators were convicted criminals bused here from out of state.
Fact: None of the circulators were bused to California by the campaign. A few who do this kind of work for a living came from other states, as they do for any major ballot initiative. Two of the petition circulators had criminal records, but they worked only briefly for the recall campaign before quitting to go to work for the Davis campaign, gathering signatures on petitions supporting the governor. [emphasis added]
Of course, the real question is: Were the two crooks in question Davis campaign plants? Did they take those jobs at the behest of the Democratic Party so Davis partisans could make exactly that claim? It's unlikely, but this isn't the first time a political party has engaged in dirty tricks.
Get out and vote: If you're in California, today is recall election day. If you're registered and want to vote, go out and do it. If you're apathetic and uninformed -- stay home.
Democracies don't have 100 percent voter participation. Never have, never will. Why? Because part of being free is being free not to vote.
Hoystory endorses: When this recall election qualified for the ballot, I was opposed to recalling Gray Davis mainly for long-term political reasons. The people of California had just re-elected him -- and they deserved the government they got. Sometimes that's good, sometimes that's bad.
I believed that Davis and the Democrat-dominated legislature had not caused enough damage to the state to create enough voter outrage to toss the whole lot out. I thought that by the end of Davis' second term, the state would be in such a sorry state that Republicans would not only take the governor's mansion, but the state legislature as well. (That was probably a pipe-dream in this very left-leaning state.)
That was two months ago.
Since then, Davis has signed a measure he once opposed -- giving driver's licenses to illegal aliens. Something that, in the wake of 9/11, is a danger to the security of the nation. Yesterday, he signed another which places a huge burden on businesses in California, requiring those with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance for all their employees.
[An aside: In the previously mentioned article, it's telling that joining Davis on the stage as he signed the bill was Castro-supporting, anti-American actor Danny Glover.]
Davis' full-speed-ahead pandering in an effort to save his political career lost him my "no" on the recall vote. There are times when a politician must take a stand against special interests and for the people. Davis has not been able to make that political calculation. Davis hopes that by signing the driver's license legislation he will get more Latino votes. What is likely to happen is that it will turn many more non-Latino voters against him.
I will be voting "yes" on the recall.
As for the second question on the ballot, I'll be casting a vote for Tom McClintock. McClintock is an intelligent man who knows how Sacramento works. He'll be able to accomplish much -- and do it right.
Originally, I was going to vote for Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante. But his campaign has convinced me that his governance would be too disastrous for the state.
First, Bustamante refused to distance himself from MEChA, the Hispanic equivalent of the KKK.
Second, he held a press conference where he proposed government regulation of gasoline prices in the state -- a truly insane idea. Bustamante hasn't mentioned it lately, but he hasn't disavowed it either.
Third was Bustamante's admission during one of the debates that, yes, the government had spent too much money and his solution was to raise taxes.
As for Schwarzenegger, well, character matters. He's not really a Republican as they are commonly defined (though the "Republican" tent is definitely larger than the "Democrat" tent), instead I would classify him as a conservative, blue-dog Democrat in the mold of Georgia Sen. Zell Miller. If there weren't a real conservative in the race, Schwarzenegger would get my vote as part of the lesser of three evils.
The propositions: Prop. 53 would require a certain percentage of the state budget to be set aside for infrastructure repairs and improvements. The thought is a good one, but it contributes to an ever-growing problem in the state. So much of the state budget is protected by these set-asides that the government is hamstrung when making the budget. Priorities have been set by the public (largely because they believed that the politicians couldn't be trusted to make the right decisions) and it makes tough budget decisions impossible to make.
Vote "no" on Prop. 53.
Prop. 54 prohibits the state government from collecting many different types of racial data. Opponents of the measure argue that the lack of racial data will hurt medical research and efforts to prevent racial profiling by police. I would encourage opponents of the measure to check out this article by Peter Kirsanow of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission on the subject. The most interesting part of the legislation is that it basically has a self-evisceration measure embedded in it. To quote Kirsanow:
But any serious deficiencies (in collecting needed racial data) would likely be completely remedied by paragraph (b) of the initiative - the mother of all exemptions. That provision permits the collection of racial data whenever the legislature determines that to do so serves a compelling state interest and the governor and two-thirds of the legislature approve of such collection. If a deficit of racial data causes a significant health risk, the legislature will quickly determine that collection of the necessary information is a compelling state interest. Indeed, while the prudent inclusion of the "compelling state interest" exception in Prop. 54 makes good sense, it may eventually become the exception that swallows the rule: If Prop. 54 passes on October 7, on October 8 the hundreds of special interests that oppose the measure will be in Sacramento lobbying for their pet compelling-state-interest exceptions - and since Gray Davis, the leading candidates to replace him (excepting Tom McClintock) and virtually all Democrats in the state assembly oppose the initiative, it's a safe bet exceptions will proliferate.
I'm urging a "yes" vote on Prop. 54 for two reasons:
First, it sends a message that we are moving beyond a race-conscious society.
Second, any real, serious, negative impacts from the proposition can be easily exempted by the legislature (and probably will).
"Yes" on the recall.
"No" on Prop. 53.
"Yes" on Prop. 54.
Latest recall commercial: Just caught the newest Dianne Feinstein anti-recall commercial. A couple of things struck me:
First, there's no mention of any names. Not Gray Davis -- he's "this governor." Arnold Schwarzenegger also got a mention -- he's "this governor's" "opponent."
Second, it casts the recall as a Davis vs. Schwarzenegger -- a tactic Davis has been trying since the polls started to show that his recall was likely.
The other amusing thing in the past week and a half or so has been the trailing Davis' challenges to Schwarzenegger to debate and criticism that he only participated in one debate.
Flashback one year ago, and a frontrunning Davis did the same thing to challenger Bill Simon that Schwarzenegger is doing to him -- ignoring him.
Monday, October 06, 2003
Defending Dershowitz: This is probably one of those signs of the forthcoming apocalypse, along with dogs and cats living together, but I'm flabbergasted that Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz is being accused of "plagiarism." Dershowitz's latest book, "The Case for Israel," is a point-by-point apologia for the continuing existence of the state of Israel.
I finished reading the book yesterday, and the right of Israel to exist is likely one of the few points I'll ever agree with Dershowitz on. Dershowitz's book is well-sourced, well-organized and is an excellent read and good to have sitting on a shelf when you encounter Palestinian terror apologists and anti-Semites. My only disagreement with Dershowitz is his assertions that the Israeli government has occasionally overreacted to Palestinian terror attacks. I think Israel's mistake has been to react too tenatively to the terrorists.
Follow the link above and check out the Amazon.com reviews -- there are 1 stars and 5 stars but not much in between. The 1-stars are all anti-Semites and pro-Palestinian terror apologists. It's scary to read some of those "reviews."
So, what about the alleged plagiarism by Dershowitz? Well, the charge itself just shows you how far the pro-Palestinian conspiracy will go to discredit their accusers.
Norman G. Finkelstein first accused Dershowitz of plagiarism last Wednesday, when both professors were on a talk show called “Democracy Now!” to debate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The charge has also surfaced in the October edition of The Nation, in a column called “Alan Dershowitz, Plagiarist,” which cites Finkelstein’s research.
In an interview this weekend, Finkelstein accused Dershowitz of “wholesale lifting of source material” from Joan Peters’ book, From Time Immemorial, in which she argues that Jewish settlements predated the arrival of Palestinians in what is now Israel.
Finkelstein wrote a book contesting Peters’ argument—which he dismisses as a “monumental hoax”—and says he is therefore very familiar with her text.
He said that when he read Dershowitz’s book he recognized a lot of material—more than 20 quotes cited to primary and secondary sources—which mirrored the quotes Peters selected for use in her 1984 book.
Finkelstein argues that even though Dershowitz attributes those passages to their original sources, he should not have relied so heavily on Peters’ work.
What Finkelstein is really accusing Dershowitz of is "research." While researching a book he is writing, he references another book, checks out its sourcing and cites some of the same sources. He doesn't actually quote the intermediary book, because he's only used it as a kind of card catalog. Finkelstein provides no evidence of the kind of plagiarism (i.e. real plagiarism) that got the late Stephen E. Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin in trouble.
Dershowitz is the target, not unexpectedly, of an anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic hate campaign.
He's also laid out a challenge:
When he (Dershowitz) spoke on MSNBC’s radio earlier this month, he pledged $10,000 to the Palestinian Liberation Organization if someone could “find a historical fact in my book that [one] can prove false.”
I'm not going to hold my breath that anyone will actually be able to come up with such an instance, Dershowitz has done an excellent job.