1.09.2003

I've Moved!!!! .

Thanks to an extremely generous offer by Mathew and Vicky, of Blogmosis, I have moved to a new location. You can find it at occam.blogmosis.com. Please update your links, favorites, and blogrolls. The site has been redesigned (by Mathew) and I am learning this Movable Type thing a quickly as I can (again, thanks to Mathew) I hope you will come on in and take a look around. For those of you still on blogspot, Mathew and Vicky are still looking to sponsor a few more blogs, though space is limited. To inquire: gnosis-at-blogmosis.com

1.08.2003

UNconscionable

Claudia Rosett points out that there is no better way to see how misguided UN policies can get, than to look at the way they treat Palestinian "refugees" and compare that to how they treat other groups of refugees. Like the North Koreans, for example, who get no help from the UN, and in fact usually get sent back to North Korea.

While we all worry that North Korea may be able to build as many as five nuclear weapons within a year, is that many? Pop quiz- how many can we build in that time period? Frank Gaffney has the answer, and it may surprise you.
Though there are still plenty of chicken littles out there, it seems that the only natural resource we are in danger of running out of is us. Michael Fumento reports that the world population is likely to start dropping precipitously in the next few decades.
A couple of speeches and symposiums by Daniel Pipes have been cancelled at colleges around the country, under pressure from some of his academic enemies, who have been accusing him of "McCarthyism" There is simply nothing better than unintentional irony.
Fran├žoise Giroud (Translated by Douglas Gillison) writes of the roots of European attitudes towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in The Shoah They Can't Swallow ("Cette Shoah qui ne passe pas").

With remarkable rapidity (starting with the first stone of the second Intifada), a striking reversal has come about. At last! We're allowed to speak ill of Jews!
Even if that old brigand Arafat talks twaddle, saying there was never any Jewish temple in Jerusalem, the Palestinian cause is unimpeachable. In the end, a Palestinian state has to be created and be able develop in respect and peace. We'll never say otherwise - save one proviso: murdering civilians every day, women, children in packs by means of suicide-men trained for this end does not arouse sympathy, even if this seems not to bother anyone among the many who know of only one guilty party in this awful conflict: Israel.

It's a powerful look at the psyche of the apologists. The link is to the very good site called simply "Watch," take a look around while you're there.

1.07.2003

In the past few weeks I've read something like fifty or sixty news and opinion articles about Korea, and a few of them stand out. Together I think they offer some answers to the questions, Why now? What do the North Koreans want? Why is the Bush administration ignoring Korea? What exactly are the options facing the administration, and wouldn't it be better if we faced them now?

First , why now? Well, obviously we're a little busy with Iraq, but it's really about more than that. North Korea is in crises. They're starving, literally. While there have been food shortages there for a while, they are now not even able to feed their military. The suspension of fuel shipments to them is causing them further crises. For all the trouble we have ascertaining Kim's motives, we can be pretty sure of one thing, he wants to remain in power. So what are his options? War? Whatever the devastating effects Kim can cause, for the South or elsewhere, it would be hard to imagine his regime still being in place afterward. But again, he's facing a crisis, so what can save him? The answer is, interestingly, us. We are the only ones that can save him, because only we have the food and oil that he needs, and have shown the willingness to give it to him. But we've stopped giving it to him. So he needs to get the shipments of oil and food started again, and he (rightly) assumes that as a founding member of the "axis of evil" any aid we send will come with conditions that will be aimed at weakening his grip. So he needs some hand to play in the negotiations that will invariably take place, and even more importantly, he needs to get us to negotiate in the first place (why would we want to?). So we get belligerence. And threats. As Steven Den Beste writes

It is a truism of negotiations that if one party is up against a deadline and the other is not, the one in a hurry is at a disadvantage…

What they're trying to do right now is to create panic. They are in deep trouble and their clock is ticking. Given that they actually are running out of time (and fuel oil, and food, and damned near everything else) then it is clear that it's to their advantage to try to make everyone else feel as if time is running out with as many provocations as they possibly can come up with. I believe that the cessation of fuel oil shipments is what set this crisis off; North Korea may well grind to a halt soon from simple inability to generate energy. As their fuel supplies dwindle, they are trying to force rapid movement by us; they are trying to make us feel as much urgency as I believe that they feel.

David Warren says something similar:

The aggressive stance is a desperate bid for survival, rather than any practical aspiration to hegemony. The politburo in Pyongyang may be crazy, but it is too pre-occupied with immediate survival to even think about offence. Even the conquest of the South is beyond its practical aspirations. It might be able to annihilate the South, in an act of murder-suicide, but it could not possibly conquer and then govern the South.

I think that is a pretty clear argument for why this is happening right now, but what to do? I think their public nonchalance shows the administration sees the situation this way, but ignoring it is not a good long-term solution. I in this high-stakes poker game, they're bluffing, because that's their best chance of winning what they want (food, oil, remaining in power). So, how do we call them on it? Warren thinks that we'll eventually give them what they want, and then remove our troops from South Korea (removing some of their leverage over us). One of the fundamental reasons why he's probably right is the question of whether we actually have the stomach to starve them, because that is one of the steps we'll have to take if we're going to break the regime.

William F. Buckley:

This leaves Mr. Bush with responsibility for enhancing starvation in North Korea, and this appears to run against the moral grain. Granted, the United States has never undertaken to feed every country in the world that is short of food, but to withhold grain as a matter of policy is something more merely than the question of acknowledging that in many countries food is scarce.

So we cave, as uncomfortable that may seem. But treating this as a problem that we must solve immediately is foolish, we've got to keep an eye on them, but not lose track of what we're doing in the Arab world, which is far more of a threat to us. It's not for the long haul either. Eventually we'll have to do something;Warren writes enigmatically:

There may, just may, be a technological solution to this problem in the near future -- to the problem of neutralizing an enemy's strike capacity without risking millions of lives -- between one and three years down the road. I am not at liberty to go into it; and besides it is of no use until it is ready.

Could he possibly be talking about this stuff?
Mark Steyn has a lot to say on the subject of ID, and those five guys we're supposed to be looking for.

The FBI didn't know they were looking for Mr. Asghar. They thought they were looking for Mustafa Khan Owasi, under whose name they released the photograph of Mr. Asghar. Mr. Owasi is one of five highly suspicious men Americans were urged to be alert for in the run-up to New Year's Eve. They may or may not have entered the United States using false British passports, or Canadian, or some other form of documentation. But what we do know is that they're Arab, unless they're Pakistani or some other nationality, and that they crossed over the Ontario/New York border, or possibly the British Columbia/Washington border, or via some other route entirely. Or they may not be in North America at all. But, if they are, they look like the guys in these photographs, except for the one of that jeweller in Lahore who's never been to the United States.

So, wherever you are on the planet, keep your eyes peeled for five guys who look like the sort of guys who, if they were going to use fake picture ID, would use the kind of fake picture ID with a picture of this particular jeweller from Lahore on it.

I'm not sure I agree completely with the point of this one, but I can't argue very well while I'm giggling, so he's got me.

1.06.2003

It's hard to run a tight ship at terrorist organizations these days. (Ali: How much did we pay for these desks? Mohammed: Didn't you get the memo?) James Robbins on Al Qaeda's organizational problems, and the troubles of one of their internal auditors.

1.05.2003

Anne Bayefsky writes that the UN General Assembly doesn't agree on much, except when it comes to Israel. Last week, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on Palestinian children. This brings the number of resolutions on the human rights of children to three: one on the rights of the child, one on the "girl child," and one on Palestinian children. The Palestinian children, it seems, didn't fit into either of the first two categories.

1.04.2003

Max Boot says that everyone, from Arafat, to the Arab world, to the Israeli left is exploiting the Palestinians. An interesting take.
Joel Mowbray on the reasons why getting rid of the (double) taxation of dividends is a good thing, and why merely reducing it by 50% would be far less then half as good.

The only variable at this point is that the White House may only propose a 50% cut in the dividend tax because of the “cost” of the full monty. But as ATR’s Norquist explains, killing the tax is an easier sale to make because “eliminating the dividend tax is a principle, but cutting it in half will come across as special pleading, asking for a favor.” And in the new political reality where there are more stockholders than jobholders at the voting booth, eliminating the dividend tax is one principle the President would be smart to fight for.

Exactly. The reason to get rid of the tax is it's unfairness, and the biases it creates in companies and investors. The benefits to taxpayers are just gravy.

1.03.2003

Victor Davis Hanson has a message for senator Patty Murray; It’s Not the Money, Stupid! Just a little more evidence of a liberal who doesn't get the idea of evil, looking for other ways to explain it.
Christopher Hitchens takes another step on his journey away from the hard left with this piece on the necessity of the word "Evil"

Everybody knows that morality is indissoluble from the idea of conscience and that something innate in us will condemn murder and theft without having to have the lesson pedantically inculcated.

What kind of leftism is that? I'm starting to get suspicious that Hitch isn't a leftist at all. One of the major ideological divides between the "right" and "left" political wings in this country is their respective views about the nature of evil. See for example this recent Dennis Prager article. Or, better yet, check out this book by Thomas Sowell, I couldn't recommend it highly enough.
If you want to read nine pages of horsesh*t, read this interview with Kaddafi's son. It was on NRO so I kept reading through endless annoying stuff like this part, after he claims his father is not connected to the Libyan government in any way:

Taheri: So how do things work in Libya, how are decisions made? How can your father, who has no position whatsoever, pick up the phone and tell any official to do anything?

Kaddafi: In Libya we have a system called the Jamahiriyah for which there is no adequate word in any of the Western languages. It didn't even exist in Arabic and was coined by my father to denote direct rule by the people. In this system, nobody orders anybody to do anything. Matters are discussed at all levels and decisions are made collectively. Of course, when my father expresses his views on any subject people listen because they have confidence in his wisdom.

But then, suddenly, I was rewarded for my efforts…

Taheri: Libya still features on the list of states sponsoring international terrorism as established by Washington…

Kaddafi: Yes. And that is just another sign of American ill will towards Libya. We had very positive relations with the United States until Ronald Reagan became president and initiated cowboy diplomacy. Under President Jimmy Carter, Libya was one of the most attractive places for U.S. investments, especially in the energy sector. Carter's brother even worked for us as public-relations adviser. Carter was the best president the Americans have had in a long time.

That's got to make you smile.

1.02.2003

David Asman, an anchor for Fox news, writes about how his son is earning his citizenship. A touching story, that belies the Rangel fantasy that we need a draft so all segments of our society can feel invested in our military's successes and failures. (Peggy Noonan wrote a touching article a while back on some similar stories.)

As for Rangel, he might be interested in this piece, de-bunking the idea that black enlisted men will suffer disproportionately in any war. It turns out, in a war, it's the middle-class white kids who are at the greatest risk. Rangel's piece is a joke though, because he says everything but the real reason he is suggesting the draft. He is just trying, cleverly, to pretend that we need one. What he wants is for everyone to be clamoring about the reasons for, or against, a draft, and to just assume that it is something that would help us militarily. It has nothing to do with a draft; it's all about Iraq. I personally am not dead-set against a draft, in the very remote possibility that we might actually need one, but we aren't anywhere near the point where it would even be helpful, let alone necessary.

Update: Laurence Simon agrees that a draft is a bad idea, but he misses some of the evolutionary benefits.

1.01.2003

The Hammer of The Gods, Will Drive Our Ships To New Lands

Eric Lindholm , the man behind the Smarter Harper's Index, is starting a blog, which can be found at vikingpundit.blogspot.com. Judging by his past performance it should be a must-read. It's going right on the blogroll. Drop by and take a look around.

Frederick Grab on the difference between a fact and a "factoid," and why some of the things you know are simply false. Like, say, the idea that there is a place called Palastine.
Xu Wenli ,one of the founders of the democracy movement in China, is visiting America, and he has some insights on the source of our freedoms.

Seeing people of all different colors walking peaceably along the same New York streets provides one insight. I know that there has been much strife and sorrow in the history of the United States and the world because of differences: religious, political, racial. But in responding to the call of democratic beliefs, people come to realize that democracy is not merely a political system but a way of life. Only when people respect freedom, human rights and the many things that make them different, only when they realize that democracy is as essential as bread, air and water -- only then has constitutional democracy truly planted its roots.

He's no de Tocqueville, but it's a good piece.
Words to live by
To begin a journey of 365 days, you must first do something about your hangover.
(today's Guindon cartoon caption)
Happy New Year!

I actually have a few posts I've been wanting to make, but at this point I'm going to wait until I'm sober.

12.30.2002

Max Boot on what it means to be a Neocon. This is part of what the WSJ has been calling an "occasional series" on Conservatism. You can find links to the rest of the series at the bottom of the page. I would highly recommend the pieces by Fukuyama and Scruton, if you're looking to read on.
David Warren remarks on how uneventful the past year has been, and while much happened behind the scenes, most of it passed under the major media’s radar.
The lawsuits that have been popping up recently against fast food companies have been an obvious attempt to follow the path laid down in the last decade’s crusade against the cigarette companies. Most people haven’t taken them very seriously, because, after all, what have the food companies done that was so scandalous? The cigarette people were supposed to have knowingly sold a dangerous product while making it as addictive as they possibly could, right? But food companies? Laughable.

Well here it comes. Shannon Brownlee, in The Washington Post, writes the first (that I’ve seen) of what is sure to be many arguments that attempt to give some intellectual covering fire to the plaintiff’s attorneys. She argues that the food companies have in fact been guilty of cynically manipulating the average American into becoming a porker. The food companies are perpetrating this nefarious plot by, get this,…selling food cheaply. Those sneaky bastards!

12.29.2002

As the McCain-Fiengold restrictions on political speech go before the Supreme Court this year, George Will wants you to remember that the influence of money in politics is not as great as some would have you believe.
I know many of you have already seen this, but I need to point it out to those of you who haven't, Read this wonderful essay by Bill Whittle on the word "Empire," and what it means when it is referring to the U.S. Bill is the author of "Guns and Freedom" which I linked to a little while back. He now has his own blog, called Eject! Eject! Eject!, which I hope means we will be hearing from him often.
David Warren writes a summary of the Korean situation that paints a pretty scary picture. The Koreans are acting very feisty, says Warren, and though we'd like to let some other countries in the region handle this one, it's turning out that Russia, China, and Pakistan aren't really "with us" in the "with us, or against us" sense.