Thursday, December 22, 2005


Christmas 2005

A woman goes to the Post Office to buy stamps for her Christmas Cards. She says to the clerk, "May I have 50 Christmas stamps?" The clerk says, "What denominations?" The woman says, "God help us, has it really come to this? Give me 6 Catholic, 12 Baptist, 10 Lutheran and 22 Assembly of God."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


This is really hard to believe, but I don't discount it for a minute. The Scotsman.

The Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ordered the creation of Planet of the Apes-style warriors by crossing humans with apes, according to recently uncovered secret documents.

Moscow archives show that in the mid-1920s Russia's top animal breeding scientist, Ilya Ivanov, was ordered to turn his skills from horse and animal work to the quest for a super-warrior.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Now Fortune magazine is covering the issue of the demise of big oil. It discusses billionaire Richard Rainwater: Rainwater is something of a behind-the-scenes type—at least as far as alpha-male billionaires go. He counts President Bush as a personal friend but dislikes politics, and frankly, when he gets worked up, he says some pretty far-out things that could easily be taken out of context. Such as: An economic tsunami is about to hit the global economy as the world runs out of oil.

Monday, December 19, 2005


I really have trouble understanding Mary Mapes after watching her discuss her recent book on several talk shows. She keeps defending the CBS news report regarding Dubya's military service when all the evidence points to the fact she had no support for her accusations. Evidence does not seem to matter to her.

Reporter Brian Ross: "Mary Mapes was the woman behind the scenes, the producer who researched, wrote and put together Dan Rather’s 60 Minutes report on President Bush’s National Guard service, a report which Rather and CBS would later apologize for airing...."
Ross to Mapes: "Do you still think that story was true?"
Ex-CBS producer Mary Mapes: "The story? Absolutely.
"Ross: "This seems remarkable to me that you would sit here now and say you still find that story to be up to your standards."
Mapes: "I’m perfectly willing to believe those documents are forgeries if there’s proof that I haven’t seen."
Ross: "But isn’t it the other way around? Don’t you have to prove they’re authentic?"
Mapes: "Well, I think that’s what critics of the story would say. I know more now than I did then and I think, I think they have not been proved to be false, yet."
Ross: "Have they proved to be authentic though? Isn’t that really what journalists do?"
Mapes: "No, I don’t think that’s the standard."
— ABC’s Good Morning America, November 9.


An interesting study on media bias has appeared. It seems to indicate that the media does tilt to the left, but I assume there will be critics of the research methodology employed. Nevertheless, it does seem to be built on a more solid research framework than some previous studies.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


It would appear the author of Life After the Oil Crash is in the book-selling business, but he does raise a number of issues and problems. All resources are finite so I expect to see some major changes in our fuel options within the next 10 years.

Monday, December 12, 2005


Obviously there is a lot of debate about Holiday Tree vs. Christmas Tree; Season's Greetings vs. Merry Christmas; which store should I boycott because it is dropping any reference to Christmas in its advertising; etc. There seems to be a lot of confusion about Christmas, but I was not expecting it to be a problem in a "conservative" Southern Baptist Church. I was surprised to hear, as I was entering the sanctuary for the morning service this past Sunday. . . "Jingle Bells," played by the string ensemble. After the benediction we were sent out to face the world with "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Between the start and finish of the service, the congregation was able to sing a number of the great carols of the faith.


Last summer I posted a survey I received from the folks at Siena College asking history professors to rank the most trying times to be alive in American history. The results have come in. My votes were pretty much right in with the consensus. It is really hard not to see the civil war era as a very difficult time to be alive.

How America’s Trying Times Add Up for 354 U.S. History Professors*:

Most Trying:
#1: The Civil War Era (55%)
#2: The Revolutionary War Era (24%)
#3: The Great Depression Era (14%)

Least Trying:
#1: The War on Terror (46%)
#2: World War I Era (33%)
#3: The Cold War Era (9%)

*Also included in the poll were the World War II and Vietnam/Cultural Revolution eras.

Friday, December 09, 2005


From the Angry Bear.

What strikes me about this chart is that while spending on Defense and Homeland Security (the red line) has indeed risen quite sharply under the Bush administration, other types of discretionary spending (the green line) have risen only quite modestly, and are still slightly below where they were in 1995.

While Bush 43's budgets have clearly benefited from low interest payments (thanks in part to the low deficits and surpluses of the late 1990s, and in part to the very low interest rates of the past few years), the one other category of spending that has grown rapidly during his presidency is government-provided health insurance.

So perhaps Bush is indeed no Reagan when it comes to non-defense-related discretionary spending. But neither has such federal spending grown dramatically in the past few years. No, the only category where it seems clear that Bush has deliberately let the money flow freely is in defense. So if you think that the federal government's spending has grown too fast in recent years, turn your attention to defense spending and health care. That's where the money has been going.

I think the trends are interesting. While defense spending has surged, social security and health care costs have been on a steady climb.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Democrats are questioning the anti-war positions of Pelosi and Dean. Washington Post.


Another blogger raises more suspicions about what was exactly going on with Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson, and the CIA.

The bit about her being crippled by her public status is essentially BS - she had not been operating as a clandestine agent for years, and was moving towards an interagency liaison function (hence her appearance at the meeting with the INR chaps who duly outed her internally).

However, she may well have become radioactive. One of the many enduring mysteries of this case - why did Ms. Plame take a leave of absence (an "enforced" leave of absence, per the Daily Telegraph) around the time the SSCI report came out? This Times story dates her leave from June 1, 2004. The SSCI came out in early July, but the cognoscenti would have been aware of its contents by June.

And a quick stroll through the SSCI suggests that the Senate (and yes, I am looking at the bipartisan section voted out by the full committee) was critical of the Wilson trip in ways that may have reflected badly in Ms. Plame. Excerpts to follow.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


I have not seen the Shiite rioting in Bahrain covered in the mainstream media. Not only is Bahrain the home of the Fifth Fleet, but Bahrain is considered a moderate Arab country. It also points up the increasing militancy of the Shiites and will potentially make it difficult for Bush to deliver a democratic Iraq. In addition where is Iran at work in this increasing Shiite militancy.

Friday, December 02, 2005


Positive Liberty has an excellent discussion on whether Washington was an orthodox Christian. Washington was certainly not open about his Christian faith. Most evangelicals would expect of a follower of Jesus Christ to at least witness in some way publicly about one's faith.

Muslims in Germany

Muslim leader, Dyab Abou Jahjah, the leader of the Brussels-based Arab
European League, says: "We reject integration when it leads to assimilation.
I don't believe in a host country. We are at home here and whatever we consider
our culture to be also belongs to our chosen country. I'm in my country, not the
country of the Westerners."
[someone sent me this quote--haven't verified it}

Or consider the statement (given at a rally) of a German radical Islamist based on a National Public Radio broadcast: "Germany is an Islamic country. Islam is in the home, in schools. Germans will be outnumbered. We [Muslims] will say what we want. We'll live how we want. It's outrageous that Germans demand! We speak their language. Our children will have our language, our laws, our culture."

Thursday, December 01, 2005


For some time I have been wondering if the CIA or some group in the CIA has been out to get Bush. I am still dissatisfied with the explanations of the Plamegate affair. Now the Weekly Standard is raising the issue.

THE CIA'S WAR against the Bush administration is one of the great untold stories of the past three years. It is, perhaps, the agency's most successful covert action of recent times. The CIA has used its budget to fund criticism of the administration by former Democratic officeholders. The agency allowed an employee, Michael Scheuer, to publish and promote a book containing classified information, as long as, in Scheuer's words, "the book was being used to bash the president." However, the agency's preferred weapon has been the leak. In one leak after another, generally to the New York Times or the Washington Post, CIA officials have sought to undermine America's foreign policy. Usually this is done by leaking reports or memos critical of administration policies or skeptical of their prospects. Through it all, our principal news outlets, which share the agency's agenda and profit from its torrent of leaks, have maintained a discreet silence about what should be a major scandal.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


I have had an interest in this debate, but it has not been covered to my satisfaction. The following is from The Corner at the National Review. But I guess I will have to get an account with the Wall Street Journal to read Epstein's article.

ATTA IN PRAGUE [Andy McCarthy]Ed Epstein has stayed on the case and has done the 9/11 Commission one better: he has actually conducted something resembling an investigation into whether the top hijacker met with in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence agent five months before 9/11. Ed’s report on what he found out, after traveling to the Czech Republic and meeting with the BIS (i.e., Czech Intelligence) officials who were personally involved in the matter is featured in the Wall Street Journal this morning (registration required).

His article will not be good news for the Richard Clarkes of Clinton revision-world, who maintain that the previous administration so intimidated Saddam after the attempted murder of the first President Bush in 1993 that the Iraqi dictator foreswore collaboration with terrorists against the U.S. – a claim that has never made any sense given that top Clinton officials (including the former president himself) continue to defend their Augugst 1998 bombing of the al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan on the ground that it was a joint Iraq/Qaeda/Sudan effort to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The bottom line, as Ed puts it, is that the Atta/Prague connection remains “consigned to a murky limbo” – largely thanks to American officials leaking the possibility while the Czechs were still trying to investigate it.

But this much is known – notwithstanding the energetic effort to suppress it by some former Clinton officials, Democrat partisans, and members of the intelligence community invested in the delusion that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and terrorism. In 1998, Saddam began trying to blow up an American target, Radio Free Europe in Prague, by having Jabir Salim, his consul to the Czech Republic (but in reality, his top intelligence agent there), attempt to recruit terrorists to carry out the mission. This intelligence became known when Salim defected, and Clinton administration was so concerned about it that it took several steps to protect the facility.

Salim was replaced by Ahmad al-Ani, whom the BIS was obviously interested in – interest that only intensified when the BIS learned he was trying to access explosives and make contacts with “foreign Arabs.” It came to a head on or about April 9, 2001, when al-Ani was observed getting into a car with an unknown Arab male who was later identified as Atta – an identification that has never been disproved, despite Herculean efforts to knock it down. The Atta identification did not happen until after 9/11 (when Atta’s photo was splashed across the international press), but the Czechs were so worried about whomever al-Ani had met with back in April that they decided to take no chances: al-Ani was expelled due to suspicion of terrorism – four months before 9/11.

In the end, the FBI cannot account for where Atta was between April 4 and April 11, 2001, or how he spent the $8000 cash he abruptly withdrew on April 4 before he disappeared for a week. (They’ve pointed to use of his cellphone in the U.S. during that timeframe, but that, of course, does not mean Atta was the one using the cellphone.) Nor can the FBI explain why Atta stopped in Prague in June 2000 right before flying to the U.S. to begin the 9/11 preparations. The Czechs, meanwhile, regard as “pure nonsense” al-Ani’s protestations that he was nowhere near Prague the day he was seen meeting the man a witness has identified as Atta.

This is Able Danger all over again. The "Atta in Prague" possibility never fit the 9/11 Commission’s narrative, so it was buried with a shoddy, slap-dash investigation -- the same treatment Able Danger got; the same treatment the Clinton Justice Department's dramatic heightening of "the wall" between criminal investigators and intelligence agents got; the same treatment the internal assessment of the Clinton administration's performance in the run-up to the Millennium bombing plot got, and so on.

Meanwhile, in 1998 alone, we have $300K going from Iraq to Zawahiri (al Qaeda’s number 2); bin Laden’s famous February fatwa calling for the murder of all Americans and prominently featuring, as part of the justification, U.S. actions against Iraq; meetings in Iraq between Qaeda members and Iraqi officials in March; meetings in Afghanistan between Iraqi officials and al Qaeda leaders in July; the embassy bombings in August, after which, of all potential targets, the Clinton administration chose to retaliate against al Shifa, believed to be an Iraq/Qaeda joint weapons venture; an Iraqi member of al Qaeda (now held in Guantanamo Bay) traveling with Iraqi Intelligence to Pakistan to plot chemical mortar attacks on the American and British embassies there; and Iraq seeking to recruit Arab terrorists to blow up Radio Free Europe. Oh, and in February 1999, Richard Clarke objected to a suggestion that U-2 flights be used to try to find bin Laden because, if bin Laden learned the walls were closing in, Clarke wrote to Sandy Berger that “old wiley Usama will likely boogie to Baghdad.”

But the anti-war left is probably right. There was no connection between Iraq and terrorism. None at all. I don’t know why the right-wing nuts keep insisting there was.Posted at 07:42 AM


The Carnival of Prewar Intelligence has been posted.

Monday, November 21, 2005


Daniel Drezner comments on the failure of international relations theory to deal with Al Qaeda.

Has IR theory been irrelevant to the debates? To find out, I just spent a few hours looking at the contents of the last four years of the six leading journals for International Relations theory (International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, World Politics, Journal of Conflict Resolution, European Journal of International Relations, Review of International Studies - see the end of the post for discussion of these choices), along with the American Political Science Review. I used an exceedingly loose definition of "about al-Qaeda" - i.e. I included everything about terrorism and counter-terrorism, even if it barely touched at all on al-Qaeda or Islamism itself; and I included review essays, even if they did not include any original research.

The results were even more striking than I expected. All told, these seven journals published 796 articles between 2002-2005. I found a total of 25 articles dealing even loosely with al-Qaeda, Islamism, or terrorism. That's just over 3% of the articles. Now, there's lots of important stuff out there in the world, and there's no reason for the whole field to be following the headlines, but still... 3%?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Louis Freeh's comments at the Wall Street Journal. The Able Danger intelligence, if confirmed, is undoubtedly the most relevant fact of the entire post-9/11 inquiry. Even the most junior investigator would immediately know that the name and photo ID of Atta in 2000 is precisely the kind of tactical intelligence the FBI has many times employed to prevent attacks and arrest terrorists. Yet the 9/11 Commission inexplicably concluded that it "was not historically significant." This astounding conclusion--in combination with the failure to investigate Able Danger and incorporate it into its findings--raises serious challenges to the commission's credibility and, if the facts prove out, might just render the commission historically insignificant itself.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Christopher Hitchens has an article at Slate discussing the charges by Democrats that Bush lied about Iraq.

Norman Podhoretz's article, "Who is Lying About Iraq," at Commentary magazine.

The New York Times view?

GOP commercial!

2003 Washington Post Poll: 69% of Americans thought it was "very or somewhat likely" Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11 attack 84% thought it was "very or somewhat likely" that Saddam Hussein was trying to develop WMD.

Friday, November 11, 2005


I watched Bill O'Reilly toss "softball" questions to Mary Mapes last night. She has a new book out telling her version of the Bush national guard documents scandal on CBS and is still convinced the documents are real. One of the experts Mapes used has found factual problems in her book's account. See Memo-Gate. It looks like a "my word against yours" situation, but I am inclined to believe the document experts account.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Evidently the Kurds are starting a series of media ads "The Other Iraq." These ads praise America! The Kurds are the most forthright supporters of the US in the Middle East. However, by linking its existence to the US, Kurds are also taking great risks. The Kurds risk becoming an isolated island in the middle of a anti-American region and also become dependent on continued US involvement in the region.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


I haven't seen much evidence of radical Muslim involvement in the recent rioting in France, although I sense that there was some kind of planning. Also I tend to believe that when these kind of disturbances erupt, there are multiple causes. However, it appears that several weeks ago An Algerian Islamist organisation, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), has issued a call for action against France which it describes as "enemy number one", intelligence officials said Tuesday. Expatica However, this is an Algerian organisation which obviously causes it to focus on France.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Strategy Page has an interesting comment on why urban schools are less fertile military recruiting fields than rural schools.

The U.S. Department of Defense sees urban schools as ones of its biggest recruiting obstacles. Not because leftist teachers in some of those schools try to keep recruiters out, but because so many potential recruits have to be turned down because of the poor education they have received in those schools. While only 21 percent of Americans live in rural areas, 44 percent of the qualified recruits come from these areas. What’s strange about all this is that the rural areas spend much less, per pupil, on education, but get much better results. Part of this can be attributed to differences in cost of living, but a lot of it has to do with simply getting more done with less. Per capita, young people in rural areas are 22 percent more likely to join the army, than those of the same age in urban areas.

Monday, November 07, 2005


Stephen Schwartz has an informative article at Tech Central Station on Islam in Europe.


A couple of observations about the ongoing Muslim rioting in France: 1. I first picked this up on some blogs as I was surfing through a number I look at each day or so. I don't recall the exact time span, but it was at least 4 or 5 days before I began to see CNN and Foxnews dealing with the incidents. Perhaps some newspapers already had noted the problems, but I don't think it was a headline issue. 2. France and the rest of Europe face a tremendous challenge in coping with a rather large minority of unemployed immigrants who have not been integrated into European culture. Governments may "buy" peace, but I don't know how long this will work. For all the problems America faces, the US has done a better job (but certainly not an excellent job) of Americanizing minorities. This has not been intentional on America's part, but in part is a result of the kinds of immigrants who have arrived.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


See ( for a discussion of Jay Sekulow's lifestyle--3 homes, personal jet, limousines. . . Very disappointing if true, but mammon may have won again.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Gateway Pundit has an excellent summary of the Joe Wilson/Valerie Plame controversy. There is an audio of Wilson's speech.

Among the items said (quoting Gateway Pundit):

In this speech, Ambassador Joseph Wilson:

* describes himself as the investigator sent to Niger by the government
* details the African trip as only he is capable of
* says the government sent him there and not the CIA (a lie)
* says there was nothing to the uranium story (a lie)
* describes the US as "occupiers" of Iraq (a shocking statement at the time)
* describes a conspiracy to help Israel dominate the Palestinians
* calls the Administration warmongers and a--holes
* says Bush is in office for sex

Thursday, October 27, 2005


A jury has found the New York Port Authority negligent for building a parking garage under the World Trade Center and then not listening to warnings regarding Islamic terrorism. But in 1993 who was taking terrorism seriously? What about blaming terrorists for the 1993 bombing? Hindsight is always perfect.

David J. Dean, the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, called the verdict "an extraordinary victory." The jury, he said, clearly accepted the plaintiffs' argument that the Port Authority should have foreseen the terrorist attack, based on warnings from its own experts as early as 1985, and shut down the public parking garage.

In order to reach a verdict, at least five of the six jurors had to agree. The jury voted unanimously that the Port Authority was negligent. It found the authority 68 percent at fault for the bombing, while the terrorists who carried it out were 32 percent at fault.


Listening to NPR on the way to school this morning, I heard Harriet Miers had withdrawn her name as a Supreme Court nominee. While initially I was "underwhelmed" by her nomination, she was probably better qualified than 50% of the previous Supreme Court justices. And I really believe there is a place for a judge on the court who is not part of the "establishment" who can maybe look at issues as an outsider.

However, I don't understand how Bush could think he could get her name through. If the eminently qualified candidacy of John Roberts faced so much criticism and Democratic opposition, it doesn't strike me that a less eminently qualified candidate would make it. In this era of partisan politics any weakness will be exploited. I heard Miers' name was on the list of judges the Democratic Senate leadership gave to Bush at the beginning of this process--if that was true, was Bush misled into thinking that the Democrats would let her slide through and that Republican conservatives would go along? If so, he could have avoided a nasty fight and had someone on the bench whom I think he trusts and respects.

Now I am wondering if he will submit someone like Janice Rogers Brown and the fight will begin.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Each day brings its share of surprises. I got an email from a colleague yesterday. "The Book," as we have come to call it has a publisher!--Columbia University, East European Mongraphs. Hopefully it will be out in late 2006. It is so good to get that "checked" off the list.


I have been struggling to make sense of the Plame-Wilson affair. Now I see that some are raising the question of whether the CIA was attempting a covert operation against President Bush. I am not sure whether this is a right-wing conspiracy theory in the making or not.

Andrew McCarthy assesses the reasons the indictments might be sealed and gives as one reason: if there are national security implications, indictments may be sealed until steps can be taken to notify the appropriate officials, so they can take steps to deal with whatever the national security fall-out may be.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


The Plame-Wilson affair continues to bother me. Some of Wilson's charges have been proven to be lies. He appears to be involved in self-promotion. A whistle-blower is better off remaining reasonably neutral in the political wars and he was making charges while working in the Kerry campaign. I can't understand, if Libby and Cheney were involved, why they would use this fellow. I keep waiting for something else to come out. There is something just not adding up.

And the reporter who leaked Plame's name as a CIA employee that started it all, Robert Novak, is never mentioned in all of this!--everybody is chasing these New York Times reporters.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


I just saw the rumor mill has Vice President Cheney resigning and Condi Rice replacing him! I have been speculating about this since 2003. What a move!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


I read the following:

A gold Rolex watch thought to have been given by Marilyn Monroe to President Kennedy, inscribed, "Jack with love as always Marilyn May 29th 1962," has been sold for $120,000, the auction house Alexander Autographs said yesterday. The watch was sold with a poem titled "A heartfelt plea on your birthday," typed in black on a paper disk placed at the bottom of the gold case containing the watch. The two are rumored to have had an affair about that time.

The poem reads:
Let lovers breathe their sighs
And roses bloom and music sound
Let passion burn on lips and eyes
And pleasures merry world go round
Let golden sunshine flood the sky


I watched part of C-Span's coverage of a talk Senator Tom Coburn (R, Oklahoma) gave on 10/17 in Washington on "The Future of the Republican Party." I think it was at GWU--a lot of students were asking questions. I really haven't taken time to read much about him--some of the press coverage I have read leaves the impression that he is an eccentric conservative. Actually, I found him very down-to-earth and he expressed himself quite well. He reminded me of a blunt-talking Harry Truman. He said things that could upset all ideologues whether Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative. I am going to start following him a bit more closely. From what I heard, I don't think you can fit him into a box.


Increasingly I have a bone to pick with the media. It gets caught up in fad coverage and ignores substance. This summer was the summer of Cindy Sheehan. Now the Tri-Valley Herald has an article headline: "Peace mom slips from public stage."

Most telling is the quote from UVA political science professor Larry Sabato: Larry Sabato, professor and director of the University of Virginias Center for Politics, said Sheehan was a summer of 05 phenomenon. This is a classic (media) mode of covering controversy — its the August doldrums, and a feeding frenzy develops and they usually last a month or two and are gone.

Friday, October 14, 2005


A woman was criticized by police for using the word "fat" to describe the person who hit her.;_ylt=AojlEEjHgPjT60GTIufp3.ftiBIF;_ylu=X3oDMTBjMHVqMTQ4BHNlYwN5bnN1YmNhdA

"I was given a frosty look and told I couldn't say that. I could have said lardy, porky or podgy. But I wouldn't dare use those words,". . .


It troubles me that the elites in New York City get special treatment and earlier warnings about possible terrorist attacks.

The Homeland Security Department launched internal probes yesterday into whether its officials tipped off friends and relatives to a possible subway terror plot days before average New Yorkers were alerted, authorities said yesterday.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Islamic web sites are posting directions for building nuclear weapons.


The Syrian interior minister who worked in Lebanon committed suicide today. I doubt it was suicide. It looks like he has been eliminated by the Syrian government because his activities in Lebanon were raising too many questions and problems.

Monday, October 10, 2005


I can't believe that 60 Minutes chose Sandy Berger to attack Louis Freeh's charge that Clinton was seeking a Saudi bribe. Berger, the guy who lifted documents in his pants when preparing for the 9/11 Commission hearing, is hardly a credible character witness.

Friday, October 07, 2005


The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting article. It notes that nearly half of the Supreme Court Justices have not had prior experience on the bench. Many of them turned out to be the more famous justices.

Snobbery is no small part of the debate over Miers, analysts say. The fact that she attended Southern Methodist University rather than a top-tier law school like Harvard or Yale is seen by some as a mark against her. Yalof says that although a high number of justices attended elite law schools, not all justices did.

Lewis Powell went to Washington & Lee. Warren Burger attended the St. Paul College of Law. Thurgood Marshall attended Howard University. Hugo Black went to the University of Alabama, and Chief Justice Fred Vinson was a graduate of Centre College in Kentucky.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


I was "underwhelmed" (as one pundit put it) with the appointment of Harriet Miers as Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court, although I was not totally suprised. Days earlier I heard several people (including Jay Sekulow) raising her name on cable news shows. Sekulow had been involved in "advisory" discussions and I am sure the administration was throwing the name out to test the waters. However, I didn't sense a lot of response to her name.

With further reflection, I continue to have mixed feelings about her appointment. I really thought it should be someone who has serious judicial experience (although this has not always happened in the past). On the other hand, I don't think a Supreme Court appointee should have to come from an Ivy League law school. Maybe there is a place for a person of the people to be on the court who represents the rest of the country.

Slate had an interesting headline on its web page today: "GOP Showdown: Intellectuals vs. Evangelicals." The article is at I enjoyed reflecting on the author's statement: In this battle, the White House has clearly sided with the churchgoing masses against the Republican Party's own whiny Beltway intellectuals. By the way the person who has a lot to lose in all this is Dr. James Dobson. If Miers does not turn out to be the kind of "evangelical" he wants (and not all evangelicals agree with him politically), Dobson's judgment or political acumen may be called into question by many of his supporters.

Monday, October 03, 2005


Rod Dreher has an interesting column in the October 2, 2005 Dallas Morning News. He is critical of both Republicans and Democrats. Among his comments:

More broadly, Katrina reveals that conservatism and liberalism, as presently constituted, are unable to deal effectively with this country's deepest problems. I sense that our long national prosperity and ease have not only frayed the fabric of civil society but also have lulled us all into a false sense of security and invulnerabilty--that because things have gone so well for so long, we can live like this forever.

What do the parties offer us? Flattering half-truths and lies, especially the idea that if we just elect them and keep those evil Others out of power, we can go on living exactly as we choose and defy gravity indefinitely.

Both parties are captive to a bipartisan ideology of consumerist individualism, which basically says that self-fulfillment and maximized personal choice are the greatest good. And we, the people, enable them because we, too, shrink from the idea that we might be asked to sacrifice for the greater good or even our own good. We don't demand real leadership from our leaders because they all promise, in their respective ways, to lest us spoiled children keep raiding the cookie jar.

He recommends a book by Lee Clarke, Worst Cases: Terrorism and Catastrophe in the Popular Imagination. Clarke argues that the American public is living under the illusion that government can help us control inevitable mass catastrophes because bureaucracies are by their very nature inefficient responders.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Christopher Hitchen's take on the recent anti-war protests at Slate.


Saudi women told Karen Hughes that they were satisfied with the role of women in Saudi Arabia. Obviously this was a hand-picked audience.

"The general image of the Arab woman is that she isn't happy," one audience member said. "Well, we're all pretty happy." The room, full of students, faculty members and some professionals, resounded with applause.

Ms. Hughes, the under secretary of state for public diplomacy, is on her first trip to the Middle East. She seemed clearly taken aback as the women told her that just because they were not allowed to vote or drive that did not mean they were treated unfairly or imprisoned in their own homes.

"We're not in any way barred from talking to the other sex," said Dr. Nada Jambi, a public health professor. "It's not an absolute wall."

"There is more male chauvinism in my profession in Europe and America than in my country," said Dr. Siddiqa Kamal, an obstetrician and gynecologist who runs her own hospital.

"I don't want to drive a car," she said. "I worked hard for my medical degree. Why do I need a driver's license?"

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Glenn Renolds discusses the serious gender inbalance at American universities. For every 135 women in attending college, there are 100 men.


From the Los Angeles Times,0,5492806,full.story?coll=la-home-headlines

The New Orleans Times-Picayune on Monday described inflated body counts, unverified "rapes," and unconfirmed sniper attacks as among examples of "scores of myths about the dome and Convention Center treated as fact by evacuees, the media and even some of New Orleans' top officials.

"Indeed, Mayor C. Ray Nagin told a national television audience on "Oprah" three weeks ago of people "in that frickin' Superdome for five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people."Journalists and officials who have reviewed the Katrina disaster blamed the inaccurate reporting in large measure on the breakdown of telephone service, which prevented dissemination of accurate reports to those most in need of the information. Race may have also played a factor.

The wild rumors filled the vacuum and seemed to gain credence with each retelling — that an infant's body had been found in a trash can, that sharks from Lake Pontchartrain were swimming through the business district, that hundreds of bodies had been stacked in the Superdome basement.


I wish I could have been there to watch. In looking through pictures of the signs of protesters, the following two have to been among the strangest.

Friday, September 23, 2005


New York Times

Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, said Thursday that he had been warning the Bush administration in recent days that Iraq was hurtling toward disintegration, a development that he said could drag the region into war.

"There is no dynamic now pulling the nation together," he said in a meeting with reporters at the Saudi Embassy here. "All the dynamics are pulling the country apart." He said he was so concerned that he was carrying this message "to everyone who will listen" in the Bush administration.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Historian Immanuel Wallerstein critique of Bush's response to Katrina is at One issue he raises is whether the federal government's response to the hurricane is a sign of the coming collapse of America.

But it is the image of the U.S. that will be the most affected. When El Salvador has to offer troops to help restore order in New Orleans because U.S. troops were so scarce and so slow in arriving, Iran cannot be quaking in its boots about a possible U.S. invasion. When Sweden has its relief planes sitting on the tarmac in Sweden for a week because it cannot get an answer from the U.S. government as to whether to send them, they are not going to be reassured about the ability of the U.S. to handle more serious geopolitical matters. And when conservative U.S. television commentators talk of the U.S. looking like a Third World country, Third World countries may begin to think that maybe there is a grain of truth in the description.



The New York Times is raising serious questions about the world's ability to deal with a flu pandemic.

However, there have been some alarming developments. In recent months, the virus has been detected in mammals that have never previously been infected, including tigers, leopards and domestic cats. This spread suggests that the virus is mutating and could eventually emerge in a form that is readily transmittable among humans, leading to a full-blown pandemic. In fact, according to government officials, a few cases of human-to-human spread of A(H5N1) have already occurred.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005



Most Americans (and the press) seem completely oblivious to the dangers of the bird flu epidemic in Asia. It has the potential of being worse than the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages or the World War I flu epidemic. I have heard that up to 50% of the people who come down with it will die--the world has seen nothing like this in modern times. Evidently there are some treatment possibilities, but it takes time to develop and manufacture vaccines.

Center for Disease Control

Monday, September 19, 2005


From Scotland:

THE fast-food chain, Burger King, is withdrawing its ice-cream cones after the lid of the dessert offended a Muslim.

The man claimed the design resembled the Arabic inscription for Allah, and branded it sacrilegious, threatening a "jihad".

The chain is being forced to spend thousands of pounds redesigning the lid with backing from The Muslim Council of Britain. It apologised and said: "The design simply represents a spinning ice-cream cone."

The offending lid was spotted in a branch in Park Royal last week by business development manager Rashad Akhtar, 27, of High Wycombe.

He was not satisfied by the decision to withdraw the cones and has called on Muslims to boycott Burger King. He said: "This is my jihad. How can you say it is a spinning swirl? If you spin it one way to the right you are offending Muslims."

A Muslim Council spokesman said: "We commend the sensitive and prompt action that Burger King has taken."


Go to and find the safest place to live in the United States! I think I'll move to West Texas, or Wyoming, or maybe inland South Carolina. Actually Central East Texas looks like a pretty good place to be.

Actually so few people live in Wyoming probably no one would know if there was a natural disaster.


On the way in to school this morning I was listening to the NPR report on North Korea. North Korea is going back to the bargaining table. The U.S. and other countries are evidently using energy and other aid packages to keep North Korea from continuing its nuclear development. Evidently western countries are trying to do this with Iran and possibly other states. I haven't read all the details, but I am a bit concerned that the west thinks it can "bribe" countries into doing the right thing. Bribes always seem to have to grow as countries become more adept at manipulating the giver. When does a "payoff" as a reward become blackmail?

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Roberts can't be all bad. In fact he may turn out to be the best Supreme Court justice ever. His two favorite movies are: "North by Northwest" and "Dr. Zhivago."

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


I haven't been able to watch much of the hearing and the questionning that took place by the senators on the Judiciary Committee. When I need some information on legal issues in the news, I generally visit Ann Althouse's blog (law professor at the University of Wisconsin and liberal). Her comments don't reinforce the intelligence of the Democratic senators quizzing Roberts.

Questioning Roberts about standing doctrine, Leahy misses the entire point by not recognizing that injuries to the environment are enough to give a person standing. He blurs them into the same category as no injury at all. Roberts sincerely sorts through basic doctrine — this really is "hornbook law" — and doesn't make it excessively obvious that Leahy doesn't understand what he's trying to talk about. Leahy mumbles his way into another interruption talking about — what? — tennis star? Oh, Kenneth Starr. Oh, lord, I wish Leahy's turn was up!

Kennedy becomes extremely antagonistic to Roberts over various issues — you can refer to the transcript for the details — interrupting Roberts repeatedly and looking quite angry. Several times, Arlen Specter has to tell Kennedy to let Roberts finish. At one point, when Roberts is just beginning an answer, Kennedy seems to snap "Roberts" at him, with no "Judge" or "Mr." in front of the name, and we rewind several times to try to figure out if Kennedy was indeed that rude. I still don't know, due to Kennedy's irritating garbling. Kennedy might have some good points to get out, but his anger and rudeness thoroughly undercut his presentation.

Joe Biden begins by saying "Hey, Judge. How are ya?" Then, "Look, Judge, uh, I'm gonna try to cut through some stuff if I can." What are the chances that Roberts is fooled into thinking he's facing an amiable, jovial pal? Biden goes on at length playing with yesterday's baseball metaphor and really getting on my nerves. When will he get to a question? Finally, he gets to the question whether Roberts thinks there is a right of privacy in the Fourteenth Amendment. Good! Roberts: "I do, Senator."


There is an interesting analysis of the failed use of buses to evacuate thousands from New Orleans at In all of the recriminations, I hope that any committee or commission that researches the Katrina disaster will take into account the failures at all levels: local, state, and national. At this point I really haven't made up my mind, but I am concerned that the national press is too focused on FEMA's failures and is overlooking the role of local and state planning. It is important to have local and state agencies take some leadership in these disasters to avoid more centralized bureaucratic involvement, which does not seem to work well.

I am sure FEMA is filled with bureaucratic rivalries which spill over into other agencies and in turn is impacted by power struggles in other agencies. I have seen reports that FEMA had troops into New Orleans quicker than they did in previous Florida hurricane disasters. If those reports are true, something did not happen at the state and local level in Louisiana which did happen in Florida.

Friday, September 09, 2005


The Wall Street Journal reports:

Press reports often cite the overall size of Oil for Food at $60 billion, but Mr. Volcker's report makes clear that the real figure was in excess of $100 billion. From this, Saddam was able to derive $10.2 billion from illicit transactions. But the important point is that he was able to steer 10 times that sum toward his preferred clients in the service of his political aims. None of this happened by accident. . . .

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Rumors have long circulated that Arafat had engaged in homosexual activity. It had been reported by Roumanian intelligence during the Ceausescu regime--evidently his room had been bugged. The issue of whether he had aids was also floating around for a number of years. Now Haaretz looks at his medical report the French prepared when he died It won't stop the charges or denials, but it is a very interesting account. Also check out


This article in Slate (a magazine with a liberal political orientation) is one of the best summaries I have seen sofar regarding the problems (political, economic, etc.) related to rebuilding New Orleans. The author also gives a little history of the growth of New Orleans.

For economic and "emotional" reasons, I expect New Orleans to be rebuilt. But it will not be the city it once was.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005



This is a partial email from a police officer in a major American city reacting to the situation in New Orleans.

First of all I want to address disaster preparedness plans. In the city that I work for we have plans for all sorts of situations that may arise. New Orleans had the same type of plans. Their plan called for the evacuation of the city for any hurricane of a category three or higher. The implementation of that plan was the responsibility of the mayor. They city recognized the fact that many people would not be able to get out of the city on their own. Those who can get out on their own were to be told to pack up and leave the city. They even made maps that were available to people this past spring (free of charge). The city plan then called for using all forms of transportation available to city government (city and school busses) to transport those without transportation out of the city to shelters. They even were to use special vans for those with medical needs. This evacuation was to occur before the hurricane came into the area. It was to start 72 hours before it made landfall. The nice thing about hurricanes is that, unlike earthquakes and tornadoes, you can see them coming. The mayor did not put this plan into motion. He ordered the city evacuated, but told the people they could go to the Superdome for shelter. The people had to get themselves there and were told to bring their own food. My next question is why, if they were going to put this many people in one location, did they not provide security? Where I work they would have had the police on overtime to put as many officers as possible to protect the people. That does not appear to have happened. Why, being the mayor did not activate the city plan for evacuating the city, does he get air time with the media blaming the federal government and George Bush for not taking care of his city. This is a matter of the local and state government failing its citizens from the beginning. Much of the media has also failed to report the fact the President Bush tried to get the mayor to declare a disaster so that he could start sending in federal help. The great thing about our government is that the states and cities have say in their local government. Everything is not run out of Washington. Their are laws that keep the President from just sending troops wherever he wants. They have to be requested by the Governor. This has not been shown by the media.

I am not saying that the federal government has handled everything with perfection. The question has been raised as to why the levee had not been strengthened before this occurred. The Army Corp of Engineers had requested more money, but they have not gotten it.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


An interesting perspective blaming local planning as opposed to FEMA for much of the mess in New Orleans.

Monday, September 05, 2005


From the Jerusalem Post.


A Rove conspiracy in the New Orleans mess!

Notice how Bush, et al., are shipping the mostly black remainder evacuees from New Orleans et environs to Texas? It practially amounts to gerrymandering of a sort. Since many, if not most, of the evacuees -- certainly mostly Democratic voters -- will remain in Texas, get jobs and homes, and never return to the Big Easy, Louisiana, a purple state (Clinton '92 and '96, Bush '00 and '04) becomes redder, and Texas, a huge very red state, gains yet more population while turning only slightly less red.

Is it possible these effects are the result of deliberate design on the part of the White House political office and, namely, one Karl Rove? Otherwise, why wouldn't they be evacuating people to Memphis in purple Tennessee? Or Little Rock in purple Arkansas?

Memphis, at 392 miles from New Orleans (add maybe 60 miles to that to detour around the diabled I-55 Lake Ponchartrain bridge), is only 41 (100-ish) miles further away than Houston (351) and a LOT closer than San Antonio, Austin and Dallas, which are each a good 500 miles away. Little Rock is about as close as are Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. I understand a lot of the people who self-evacuated went to Memphis and to Arkansas, among other areas. Kind of unnatural to send the remainder evaucuees ONLY to Texas (other than Baton Rouge and other Louisiana destinations).

I can understand not evacuating eastward to Fla and Alabama, given that the direct land routes are pretty much all severed. That is not true for eastern Tennesee and Arkansas. What gives?


I know there is a controversy brewing regarding the treatment of African-Americans in the recovery efforts in New Orleans.

However, what has impressed me is how little race has impacted the response of white folks living in East Texas. East Texas has had its share of racist activity and thought. The local Democratic Party delegates to the 1972 Democratic Convention were basically a group of Wallacites.

Whites in East Texas are giving generously in so many ways to help the evacuees who are largely African-American. I am sure somewhere there is an angry white racist, but what I have heard and seen is people giving money, hugs, living space, etc. irrespective of race.

I also happened to see the following news item which seems to support my observations. A black man said: In the last week, Joseph Brant lost his apartment, walked by scores of dead in the streets, traversed pools of toxic water and endured an arduous journey to escape the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in his hometown New Orleans. On Sunday, he was praising the Lord, saying the ordeal was a test that ended up dispelling his lifelong distrust of white people and setting his life on a new course. He said he hitched a ride on Friday in a van driven by a group of white folks. "Before this whole thing I had a complex about white people; this thing changed me forever," said Brant, 36, a truck driver who, like many of the refugees receiving public assistance in Houston, Texas, is black.

Friday, September 02, 2005


I don't want to minimize the human tragedies that New Orleans faces, but at some point the government, insurance companies, and people of New Orleans and Louisiana will face the issue of rebuilding. I have always had trouble with a city that is largely built below sea-level. To protect such a city from a category 5 hurricane appears formidable (at least to me)--will it ever be totally secure and if you spend money on rebuilding such a city, it will drain money from other human needs? How do voters, politicians, and governments make such tough decisions? I know the Dutch have made that decision since the 1950s.

Some of us received an email with a proposal from a retired engineer. I can't speak to its feasibility, but I did like the idea of raising New Orleans if it is to be rebuilt.

". . . If you agree with the thought - maybe you can forward it to the people making the decisions on just how to rebuild New Orleans.

Looking at the age old problem of New Orleans, being below sea level, and now it looks like most of it is destroyed. It occurred to me that there will never be a better time to really fix the problem they have had for so many years. It was never a question of "If" but "When" a Cat 3 or higher hurricane scored a direct hit on their city and caused the problem we are seeing now..

It will cost a lot of money - to solve the problem "Correctly" but we have no assurance that after any less expensive "Solution" is installed - that another hurricane will not come through and do the same thing as Katrina did.

One solution that would solve their problem;

1 - Have the insurance companies pay off all the owners (for those who actually had flood insurance) for the total loss of their buildings.

2 - The Army Corps of Engineers must step up to the plate and state the obvious; No one will be allowed to build anywhere in the current New Orleans area because it is in a flood plane! (I believe this was done a few years ago on the Ohio River where a small town kept being flooded out.)

3 - Bring in the bulldozers and level all the buildings in New Orleans which are below sea level.

4 - Assuming the New Orleans' people will insist on rebuilding in/near their beloved city. Bring in fill* and raise the level of the "Town" to above sea level.

* The obvious question is where do you get enough fill to raise NO elevation to above sea level. Bring in the barge pumps which the gulf beaches have used for years to pump sand from the gulf back onto the beaches. Use them to pump sand/silt/mud from the gulf bottom onto barges which can the towed. Open the gates and let the water fill the city so the barges can be floated into the city area and dumped....

Bill Thrasher Ph.D., PE

Monday, August 29, 2005


The US military is seriously stretched because of Iraq and Afghanistan, and to a lesser extent Bosnia. If another serious crisis develops I don't know where the troops would come from. The army and marines are having to constantly redeploy troops to the Middle East as it is. Some say a draft might be reestablished, but I think it would take a horrendous national or international crisis for the American people to accept one.


Eric Rudolph: Olympic bomber, abortion clinic bomber, gay nightclub bomber. He has been labelled a "Christian terrorist" in the past by some in the media. In responding to Christians who have evidently been trying to witness to him since his arrest he said: They have been so nice, I would hate to break it to them that I really prefer Nietzsche to the Bible. Some Christian.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Edward Morissey at The Weekly Standard analyzes some of the problems tracing the movements of Mohammad Atta ["Rethinking Prague"]. My problem with the 9/11 Commission Report and the news media in general is that they have ignored or discounted Czech intelligence reports that Mohammad Atta met with Iraqi officials in Prague (Czech Republic) in 2001. The assumption is that Czech intelligence erred, which is possible. However, just because Czech intelligence represents a very small country does not mean that we should so readily disregard this information. Czech intelligence, while not the same institution as it was during the cold war, does have the ability and experience to conduct intelligence operations, especially within its own borders.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Mickey Kaus seems to have the appropriate explanation for the "Able Danger" warning about Mohammad Atta that was never passed on to other government agencies in the late Clinton administration. There were actually two Mohammad Atta's and U.S. intelligence was actually tracking the earlier Mohammad Atta. But as he points out, it is still possible the later Mohammad Atta [who flew a plane into the World Trade Center] might have been discovered if the "Able Danger" info had been disseminated to other security agencies.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


I discovered a very unusual anti-war web site--it comes from a libertarian political slant so it is not your usual leftist anti-war rhetoric. It has essays by Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul, but also appears to have contributors more to the left of these men.

I have started to follow the "Able Danger" controversy, but I don't think enough facts are public to be absolutely sure of what was occurring. The web site has an interesting article "9/11 Revision, Revisited. The Mystery of 'Able Danger.'" I am not convinced that the evidence supports the author's viewpoint and also it begins to move into conspiracy thinking which gives me some concern.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


The August 17th New York Times has an article detailing the warning on bin Laden issued by the State Department to the Clinton administration in 1996. [if you read it online, you may need to establish a login]

State Department analysts warned the Clinton administration in July 1996 that Osama bin Laden's move to Afghanistan would give him an even more dangerous haven as he sought to expand radical Islam "well beyond the Middle East," but the government chose not to deter the move, newly declassified documents show.

Several former senior officials in the Clinton administration did not return phone calls this week seeking comment on the newly declassified documents.

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said the declassified material released to his group "says to me that the Clinton administration knew the broad outlines in 1996 of bin Laden's capabilities and his intent, and unfortunately, almost nothing was done about it."

The NYT can hardly be accused of being an anti-Clinton bashing, conservative screed. Furthermore, the State Department is not a bastion of anti-Clinton or conservative sentiment. However, the article again raises the issue (like so many other articles and books of the past few years) that the Clinton administration was not prepared to deal with the rise of Islamic terrorism. In time more declassified documents will emerge -- I don't think future documents will be any more lenient on the Clinton administration on this issue.

Monday, August 15, 2005


For the last year or so I have been contemplating all of the corporate downsizing that has been occurring. Thousands of people are dismissed so that a company can grow and become more profitable. However, I keep wondering if all of this will damage the purchasing power of many Americans and end up creating more profit problems for a company. When this trend is combined with the huge bonuses that executives get, often for doing nothing, it is hard for me to see American capitalism as healthy.

Recently I was sent a copy of an email newsletter Whisky and Gunpowder. The newsletter was reacting to a headline: "HP [Hewlett Packard] to Slash Work Force by About 10%" and a comment by Caris & Co. analyst Mark Stahlman: "They've gotten themselves in fighting shape here. It dispels uncertainty, which had been frustrating for some in HP's engineering culture. I think this is going to give a big boost to morale internally."

The newsletter goes on to state:

Enquiring minds might be asking some of the following questions:
1. When was the last time firing 14,500 people boosted morale?
2. Would firing 20,000 have boosted morale even more?
3. Is there a "Laffer Curve" on firing people to boost morale?

Reports like these are bound to be good news for Wal-Mart. . .

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Christiopher Hitchens is interviewed at

Among the ideas raised in the interview is the issue that Republicans and Democrats would have reversed positions if the presidency were held by a Democrat on 9/11. Many seem to forget how bellicose the Democrats sounded under Clinton (although it was mostly rhetoric with little action) and how anti-internationalist Republicans sounded in the 2000 election. It was Clinton who sent troops into the Balkans against Republican criticism (troops that are still there well beyond Clinton's stated deadline for their removal).

Q - If there was a Democratic president on 9/11, would there have been a difference of opinion in the American left about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?
A - Not from people like Michael Moore (the American film director and strong critic of President Bush), who makes a perfectly good brownshirt [fascist]. Or Noam Chomsky. No, it would not. To them it would have been further proof that the ruling class just has two faces and one party. But I think, in the mainstream of the democratic and Republican parties, you would have seen an exact switch. Richard Holbrooke’s position (Holbrooke was Clinton's UN Ambassador and is a leading Democratic foreign policy thinker) would be Dick Cheney’s position. The ones in the middle would have just done a switch, finding arguments to support or criticize the war. In fact, I remember that people in the Clinton administration spoke of an inevitable confrontation coming with Saddam. They dropped this idea only because it was a Republican president. That is simply disgraceful. It is likewise disgraceful how many Republicans ran as isolationists against [former Vice-President] Al Gore in the 2000 elections. The only people who come out of this whole affair well are an odd fusion of the old left – the small pro regime change left – and some of the people known as neoconservatives who have a commitment to liberal democracy. Many of the neocons have Marxist backgrounds and believe in ideas and principles and have worked with both parties in power.

Columnist Austin Bay also comments on the interview at

Friday, August 12, 2005


Go to


According to Uncut magazine, the following music, film, etc. changed the world. See the BBC piece at

1. Bob DylanLike a Rolling Stone
2. Elvis PresleyHeartbreak Hotel
3. The Beatles She Loves You
4. The Rolling Stones(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
5. A Clockwork Orange
6. The Godfather and The Godfather II
7. David Bowie The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust
8. Taxi Driver
9. Sex Pistols Never Mind The Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols
10. The Prisoner

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


I am sometimes sent surveys on the reactions/views/opinions of history or political science professors to a variety of issues. I received one from the folks at Siena College (usually it is a presidential questionnaire) recently noting that “several of our students have expressed the opinion that “they” are living in a very difficult time. With that in mind we thought it would be interesting to find out what the experts think.”

If you are interested please vote.

Please rank the following “TRYING TIMES” in the United States History with “1” being the “MOST TRYING.” If you feel that you cannot rank all eight in order please feel free to rank as many as you can, top 3, 5, etc.]

A. Revolutionary Era

B. Civil War Era

C. World War I Era

D. Depression Era

E. World War II Era

F. Vietnam/Cultural Revolution Era

G. War on Terror Era

I won’t make any comments at this time in case I might influence anyone’s vote. But I have had ongoing discussions/debates/arguments for the last couple of years with several people on this very same issue so I will be interested in the broader responses that should arise. I will also publish the survey results when I receive them.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Read an interesting interview with Bat Ye'or at

She has written extensively on how Jews and Christians were treated by Muslims throughout the centuries. Also in this view she is critical of World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, for its pro-Palestinian and Islamist political views.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


There was an interesting interview in the July 24th Dallas Morning News of Afshin Elliam who is a Dutch law professor and Muslim (born in Iran). The Mullahs in Iran do not like him because he has been involved with human rights issues. When asked about the contribution of Dutch political correctness to the radical Islamic crisis in the Netherlands, he responded (partial quote):

“Political correctness places our young Muslims in the hands of radical imams. These young Muslims are not used to a sharp debate and, consequently, don’t have the ability to critically reflect on themselves.

In the 1990s, the Dutch political establishment tried by all necessary means to suppress all criticism of multicultural society. The idea was that Islam and the Muslims had to be protected from the dangerous European. As a consequence, no one dared to criticize the far-reaching Islamification of our cities and schools. The Muslims were allowed to co-exist with their own culture—suppressing women, abusing children and practicing religious intolerance and cultural backwardness—as a separate community in Dutch society.

Muslims extremists are also enemies of the majority of Muslim people.”

Thursday, July 21, 2005


I am drafting a paper on the Religious Right and discovered a book written in 1993, No Longer Exiles, edited by Michael Cromartie and published by the Ethics and Public Policy Center in D.C. It is interesting to see how the predictions of the past have or have not been fulfilled.

George Marsden has a short, excellent historical overview of American attitudes toward politics and religion from colonial times to the end of the 20th century. He argues that from 1896 to 1968 a "secularized consensus" existed. Marsden argues that "as mainline Protestants had blended into the secularized consensus, fundamentalists, conservative Protestants, or explicit "evangelicals" had been forced out." He believes the Religious Right's momentum will ebb. It will be challenged to maintain unity within its constituency. Given the results of the last two elections, his predictions are still waiting to be fulfilled.

Robert Wuthnow [Princeton] discusses the future of the Religious Right. He believes higher education has a "liberalizing" effect on the new generation of fundamentalists and evangelicals. He sees a large "grass-roots" leadership (which I have trouble finding). Wuthnow also credits religious television as playing a major impetus in the growth of the Religious Right.

Robert Booth Fowler [University of Wisconsin] argues that the Religious Right has failed (again this is 1993). He believes the Religious Rights has failed to influence the national bureaucracy; has not played an "agenda-setting" role in Congress (unless one wants to use its alliance with Roman Catholics on abortion as a possible influence); and has been ineffective in forming public opinion.

Corwin Schmidt (Calvin College) has done extensive studies on voting patterns of the Religious Right. His tables indicate the move toward the Republican Party even by 1993. I am not much of a statistical person, but I have come to appreciate his work because it does get people looking at data instead of just giving opinions and reactions.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Just finished reading a "national bestseller," The Lessons of Terror by Caleb Carr, military historian and novelist. It is a thought-provoking book, which, I think, will upset both liberals and conservatives in different ways. I like his definition of terror (the BBC and CBC seem to have trouble using the word or defining it). Terror is when civilians or non-combatants are indiscriminately attacked. As a result terror could be used to describe Sherman's march to the sea in the civil war or the British naval blockade of Germany in World War I. He sees waging war on civilians as self-defeating (I agree) which only tends to lead to increasing violence, but also to stronger resistance. As we know from World War II, the strategic bombing of civilian targets in World War II only increased the German will to resist. It would appear the U.S. military is doing a better job in both Iraq and Afghanistan of not waging war on civilians. Using his reasoning the violence of Islamic radicals will only turn people against them. For Carr, terrorism is war.

Some items of note:

  • During the Clinton administration's eight years, . . ., despite the fact that the natures and purpose of such global terrorist organizations as Al Qaeda were well-known, almost all federal funds requested for antiterrorism efforts were targeted at detective and intelligence work, while preemptive military strikes against terrorist leaders, networks, or bases were ignored.
  • He believes Rumsfeld is engaged in serious military reforms to bring the military up to the speed needed to fight terrorism. However, some in the military bureaucracy and especially in the Congress are want to keep doing it the old way. Military history shows that the establishment is resistant to change and as a result nations are often caught with an outmoded army or outmoded method of fighting when a war erupts.
  • He makes some interesting comparisons between terrorism and the problem of piracy in the 17th-19th centuries.
  • Those who assert that historical guilt should tie the hands of presently civilized nations do no more than peddle a strain of fatuous historical reasoning that has always been pernicioulsy recurrent.
  • Modern warfare has tended to focus on destruction rather than military victory.
  • The greaters masters and theorists of guerilla war have understood the need to maintain the loyalty of the civilian population. . .. [Mao Zedong and Ho Chi Minh] He later notes that Ho Chi Minh never sent agents into America to bring the war home to Americans. If he had, it would have created a US anger and determination that might have led to a much more determined American effort in Vietnam.
  • Dissolve the CIA--it has created more problems than it has solved.
  • G.H.W. Bush's 1990 Kuwait strategy: Yet the international coalition had taken so long to array itself against Iraq that Saddam had had more than ample opportunity to hide and relocate much of his most important equipment. Building coalitions takes time and alerts the enemy.
  • Clarity of war aims is essential.
  • Reagan's secretary of defense Caspar Windberger's 6 guidelines before sending in US troops: 1) the "engagement" should be "vital to our national interest"; 2) America should have "the ckear intention of winning"; 3) the military and political objectives should be "clearly defined"; 4) those objectives must be "continually reassessed and adjusted"; 5) the undertaking must "have the support of the American people and their elected representatives in Congress"; and 6) military action should be only a "last resort."

Monday, July 18, 2005

Valerie Plame's Political Contributions

Sometime this weekend in listening to the Rove controversy, someone noted that Valerie Plame donated $1,000 to the Gore 2000 campaign. I found a web site today which indicates this (I assume it is a reliable web site).

I don't recall if the 1939 Hatch Act has been changed significantly--as far as my memory serves me government employees may donate to political candidates and parties, but there are rules to prevent supervisors from forcing federal employees to donate to political candidates or parties. However, my concern is that she may have done this through a CIA front organization, Brewster-Jennings & Associates. If this is accurate, I do have a problem with this because it raises the possiblity of political abuse -- government organizations funneling money through dummy corporations. Of course, with CIA front organizations it may be impossible to really find out how much of this kind of thing has happened in the past.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Why can't an Episcoplian play chess? [They can't tell the difference between a Bishop and a Queen.]

Why are Lutheran men expected to make the coffee every morning? [Because HeBrews]

Why can't a nun be a nurse? [Because she can only serve one God]

Adam must have been an Episcopalian. Who else could stand by a naked woman and be tempted by a piece of fruit?

What happens when you play a country song backwards? The husband doesn't cheat on his wife, he stops drinking, and trades in his pick-up for a Prius.

Why are single women thin and married women overweight? A single woman comes home, sees what is in the fridge and goes to bed. A married woman comes home, sees what is in the bed and goes to the refrigerator.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Europe's Angry Muslims

Foreign Affairs has an article by Robert S. Leiken on "Europe's Angry Muslims."

Among the issues mentioned:

  • As a consequence of demography, history, ideology, and policy, western Europe now plays host to often disconsolate Muslim offspring, who are its citizens in name but not culturally or socially. In a fit of absentmindedness, during which its academics discoursed on the obsolescence of the nation-state, western Europe acquired not a colonial empire but something of an internal colony, whose numbers are roughly equivalent to the population of Syria. Many of its members are willing to integrate and try to climb Europe's steep social ladder. But many younger Muslims reject the minority status to which their parents acquiesced. A volatile mix of European nativism and immigrant dissidence challenges what the Danish sociologist Ole Waever calls "societal security," or national cohesion. To make matters worse, the very isolation of these diaspora communities obscures their inner workings, allowing mujahideen to fundraise, prepare, and recruit for jihad with a freedom available in few Muslim countries.
  • The uncomfortable truth is that disenfranchisement and radicalization are happening even in countries, such as the Netherlands, that have done much to accommodate Muslim immigrants. Proud of a legendary tolerance of minorities, the Netherlands welcomed tens of thousands of Muslim asylum seekers allegedly escaping persecution. Immigrants availed themselves of generous welfare and housing benefits, an affirmative-action hiring policy, and free language courses. Dutch taxpayers funded Muslim religious schools and mosques, and public television broadcast programs in Moroccan Arabic. Mohammed Bouyeri was collecting unemployment benefits when he murdered van Gogh.


Although it is a very convoluted case, it is hard for me to take the Democratic charges against Karl Rove seriously. Even if Rove leaked Valerie Plame's name, I am sure everyone on the Plame/Wilson D.C. social circuit already knew she was an analyst for the CIA. Unless it is really a deep cover, people don't hide the fact that they work for the CIA. If I were a foreign agent, my first priority would be to hit the party circuit and just listen. A foreign agent will pick up more information quicker than waiting for Novak or some other columnist to tell the American public which agency a person is working for.

Even when I have had contact with overseas embassies in Eastern Europe in the communist period, the Americans and embassy staff had a sense of who was CIA. If I knew, I am sure the KGB knew. Moreover, most analysts are not involved in running agents. For me the case becomes more serious if it is proved Plame was running agents and somehow lives or operations were involved.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Britain's Defiant Islam

James Brandon, The Christian Science Monitor, July 14th, has written an article "Britain's Defiant Islam." He covers issues in the British Islamic community that I have not seen discussed on news talk shows. The difficulty is to know the size of this minority, but it does appear to have a greater attraction to the youth rather than the parents.

Among the items he notes:

  • "Getting involved in radical Islam is an emotional thing rather than a rational decision," says Abdul-Rahman al-Helbawi, a Muslim prayer leader. "And it's not a matter of intelligence or education - a lot of these radicals in Britain are very well-educated."

  • In Dalston market in north-east London on Thursday, "Abdullah," a Muslim watch-mender and evangelist, was in a pugnacious mood. "We don't need to fight. We are taking over!" he said. "We are here to bring civilization to the West. England does not belong to the English people, it belongs to God."

  • Hours after the bombings, Helbawi logged onto an Internet chat room run by British Muslim extremists. "They were all congratulating each other on the attacks," he said. "It was crazy. They were talking about how they had won a great victory over the infidels, as if they had just come back from a battle."

  • But beyond anger, a sense of alienation often drives radical Islam. Many second- and third-generation immigrants find themselves cut off not only from their parents' cultures but also from a British one that includes alcohol and looser sexual mores. "If you don't drink, it really cuts you off from English society," says Ummul Choudhury, a London-based Middle East analyst for the Gulf Centre for Strategic Studies. "The view of the older generation is also that you do not integrate. If you do, you are told you are betraying your culture and religion."

  • "There is also a lot of racism toward white British people," says Ms. Choudhury. "It's not really something that people want to talk about, but there are definitely some things that Muslims say between themselves that they would never say in front of white people."

  • One leading analyst of the Islamic diaspora even compares the lure of extremist Islam to 1950s teens listening to Elvis in an attempt to shock their parents. "The son of a Pentecostal preacher in Brixton was recruited by the radical Muslims," says Nadhim Shehadi, acting head of the Middle East program at Chatham House. "This young man initially tried to upset his parents by becoming a rapper," says Shehadi. "But when his parents stopped objecting, he became a jihadi instead."