Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Iranian Uproar

The uproar about Iran brought up something interesting.  For the last decade or so, Iran has been easily able to supply Hamas and Hezbollah with chemical and biological weapons, and it has not done so.  So there may be hope yet for peace and reconciliation.

Ahmadinejad, the former student radical, is growing older.  Maybe we should just wait until he morphs into a neocon.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Nuclear-Free Iran

For 40 years, the US watched and spied on the Soviet Union, wanting to know absolutely everything about the Soviet nuclear program. Some of the things the US wanted to know is: Where are the warheads? How big are they? What are they made of? What sort of protection do they have?

A little background. The idea behind CAT scans, tomography, was first implemented in 1972. High density materials (like Uranium) can be detected by muon radiography. This US government lab article on detecting nuclear contraband may be helpful. The US has been putting up satellites for about 30 of the 40 years it was trying to spy on the Soviet Union. It doesn't take a genius to ask: Can we make some sort of CAT-scan of the earth to try to find nuclear materials from space? If the CAT-scan (tomography) analogy doesn't persuade you, think about side-looking radar and sonar. Or the related system, Synthetic Aperture Radar. Just use these technologies as examples of what you can do with math, physics, and a lot of money.

The question is naive but opens up a myriad of questions and possible technologies for finding nuclear materials. And not only from space. The US has stealth aircraft. Would the US put a muon detector or other device in a stealth aircraft and fly it over Iran some night? You bet it would.

If you can't find the weak effect of a small warhead with one aircraft, how about a fleet of drones? Or a fleet of satellites crossing over Iran day after day? Could you build a stealth satellite? For a billion bucks? I think so.

The specific technologies mentioned are speculative. I'm just trying to get across the idea that it's possible to do something like it. Has the US spent a billion or so over the last 40 years on secret means of detecting nuclear materials? I think so. Maybe ten billion. What could be more important?

Politically, the upshot is that the US very probably has technology and information that Iran can barely guess at. As a practical matter, I don't think the Iranians, or anybody else, can regard the location of their nuclear materials as secret. Bunkers? The Soviet Union had all the bunkers they wanted, and the US knew it needed to counter them.

Don't be surprised if the US destroys all the Iranian nuclear warheads one night. If they do it, the US should put Palestinian markings on the bombs. Deny everything. Say the Palestinians did it.

Hamas Visits Iran

Hamas leader Khaled Mashal visits Iran and gets some moral support. Financial support may follow. Maybe Mashal is arranging for a nuclear warhead. The Russians are not making headway in their attempt to negotiate nuclear issues with Iran. The French have come out and announced that they think Iran is working on a nuclear weapon. Both Iran and Hamas want to destroy Israel, sooner or later. The Israelis take this seriously and won't take this lying down. War is a possibility.

All the bad news about Islam, the cartoon Jihad and the burning cars in France, make Islam look bad right now. At a time when Hamas is looking for friends. Israel is angling to destabilize or replace the Hamas government. And analysts are trying to explain away the Hamas victory.

Muslims want respect but portray themselves on TV as nuts. They'll fix that. There is enough Islamic money and smarts to know how to put together a good PR package. This Palestinian site is evidence enough for that. Even the name, "This Week in Palestine" is smart and trendy and western. Fits right next to People magazine. The spit and polish will wend it's way to Pakistan and the riots will be replaced with some imitation of Ghandi or MLK. The essence will be the same. Keep that in mind. But sometimes, you become what you pretend to be. The Muslim craving for respect could morph into a new appreciation of multi-culturism, or freedom, or something. Maybe. We live in interesting times.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Hamas in Charge

Hamas is trying to figure out what to do next. So are the Israelis. If they both wait and see long enough, we might even have peace.

Kadima and Likud will compete to show who's tougher (but also, who's smarter). Labor may join in. The other parties might also try. It will all be for show. Don't worry if they threaten this or that. Wait until after the elections to see what they do.

Hamas is going to have a hard time. Compromise at least verbally or lose funding. Will verbal compromise be enough? And is it in Israel's interest to keep the Palestinian economy afloat or to try to sink it? And how can Hamas make it be in Israel's interest to keep it afloat? Wouldn't anarchy serve Israel better? Even a little anarchy? I think so, even though anarchy is dangerous.

A good, solid, financial crisis may give Hamas plenty of excuses yet weaken them at a critical time. Israel can make it happen. Will it? Should it?

But then, when things get tough (and sooner or later they always do) Hamas is going to be tempted to respond with a Koranic crackdown (cover your head twice, ladies!) or a military adventure. There's a limit to how much they can crack down on their constituency, so if unemployment gets worse, or something else goes off the rails, Hamas might try a small war to distract the masses. Small wars become big wars. That's where some of the danger lies. And those aren't the only sources of conflict. Ideology is still the strongest motor in the region.

Is a "Final Status Solution" possible? Well, only Nixon could go to China and maybe only Sharon could "Disengage" out of Gaza. Perhaps only Hamas can sign a treaty? By this logic only Netanyahu can sign for Israel -- so he's the peace candidate?

If Arafat was really afraid for his life over signing the Clinton-Barak offer, can Hamas survive a similar deal? The trouble with treaties is that as soon as you see the opposition is willing to sign you begin to think you could have gotten a better deal. That seems to be a problem in the Middle East, anyway.

Everything is new again and the possibilities for war and peace have widened. Whichever side makes the best moves will likely profit. Israel has more friends than Hamas and would like to keep it that way. The Palestinians early elections might give time for Hamas to get organized and try to interfere in the Israeli elections. While the Israelis are still forming their new government Hamas might have already started making their moves. We'll see.

A Palestine that voted for Hamas can never give Israel real security. Neither Israel nor anyone else will believe that the Arabs recognize the Jewish State. So I think Israel will not be generous and trusting in any negotiations, should they occur. Decades of rejectionism and now an Islamist government probably mean a tough road ahead.

If Hamas feels they have the backing of a nuclear Iran, everything could change. If Hamas now feels that such backing will come soon, it will stall for time. Perhaps that is what Hamas is doing. On the other hand, the Israelis say that the reason for the reduction in suicide bombings is not that Hamas has stopped trying, but that the IDF is so good at stopping them.

The Peace Process drove off the Road Map some time ago and is off in the woods somewhere, contemplating it's navel. If Iran goes nuclear, Peace will be a martyr.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Nuclear Iran

There's a pathological behavior that's sometimes called Suicide by Cop. This is the situation wherein a person attacks an armed police officer in such a way as to have no hope of surviving. I think the guys running Iran these days are expecting to be killed by Israelis or maybe by Americans. It will fulfull their paranoid expectations of global Zionist domination. Or something.

They could be a tad smarter, and they might be inviting attack for some more nefarious purpose. Maybe they think they have a counter-attack already prepared. On the streets of New York this was called Cruisin' for a Bruisin'. What was it called in your town?

The Iranians do have a history of supporting suicidal behaviors. Cultural or Genetic -- what do you think?

Man as Meat

We've heard of man bites dog. This is a little more serious. Lions in Tanzania have developed a love of humanity. For dinner. Oh, the End Times must be near...

Foiled Attack Suppressed by MSM?

According to mostly right-wing sources, the Italians have foiled a terrorist attack against the US. And the world media is apparently reporting it but the US media is boycotting the story! The right-wing explanation is that the story will prevent the impeachment of George W Bush on the NSA-wiretapping issue. Sounds very strange...

According to Daniel Pipes article, the arrest was back in November. The terrorist group has a pretentious name, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat. Why not.

An attack that has been prevented, with no convictions and apparently no explosives or weapons found, might just not be big news. But then why was it big news outside the US? Or was it? (adnkronos article). This Italian article emphasizes that the Italians only have wiretaps, nothing else. That may be key. In the US the crime would probably be one of "Conspiracy".

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A (Nearly) Blank Post

Somebody commented on an erroneous post so I'm loathe to delete this.

Those Purple Fingers

I've been thinking about those purple Iraqi fingers and what it all means. Naomi Klein has nailed the cynical interpretation. Since the Iraqi's will "...have that vote completely ignored", it's all, what, a waste? Bring back Saddam? Naomi doesn't say.

What's happening isn't that George W Bush is a great man, or that the Iraqis love him. The Iraqis see that this is one chance to get democracy. A chance that won't come again. And they are grabbing it with both hands. Clearly, Iraqis mostly hated Saddam. It is now possible that Iraq will end up as a genuine democracy. This would be a stupendous achievement. Of course, as Klein told us in 2004 "The idea that the United States could bring genuine democracy to Iraq is now irredeemably discredited." I think it's been re-credited. Not guaranteed, of course.

Democracy is a very imperfect system. In 1964 the US voted for the peace candidate, Lyndon Johnson, over the hawk Barry Goldwater, and the peace candidate won. I think we can safely assume that the US citizenry did not get what it wanted. The Americans elected and then re-elected Nixon and didn't get what it wanted then, either.

The Muslims of Iraq undoubtedly have the "Right" to live as Muslims. Of course, this means women do not have the same "Rights" as men. Do the women of Iraq have the "Right" to live as second-class citizens? As you can see, I am in a difficult area here. I guess the Iraqi men have the right to oppress, as we would quaintly call it, the Iraqi women. As in Saudi Arabia, for example. There, by the way, it is illegal for any Saudi citizen to be a Christian or a Jew. I guess they have the right to do that. But I won't grant them that right.

If we believe that the Iraqis have the right to not be murdered and to vote to select their leaders we are certainly putting our values onto their society. Why then don't we force them to grant women's rights? Or equality for other religions? One reason may be that the Iraqis agree with us on the issue of voting and staying alive, but not the others. Women are only 50% percent of Iraq but the Kurds and Shiite are more like 80%. If Iraq were 80% women the whole story would be different. Quite different. This could only happen after some horrible war or bio-engineering disaster. Or both. But you'd sure see some feminism out of the Bush White House, wouldn't you?

Anyway, to get back to the topic of the post, it is apparent that to do great things you don't necessarily have to be a great person. Just do what George W Bush did; tie himself to the coattails of a great historical force -- the will of the people to rule themselves. And it is apparent to me that George W Bush, whom I voted against, is doing a great thing in Iraq.

There are those who would naively define a great person (or great man) as one who accomplishes great things. I think we are all above that now.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Terrorism

The word "Terrorism" is terrible. It's confusing. It refers to actions that don't scare people ("Terrorize" them) as much as make them angry. If emotion is your key, these people should be caused "Angrists", not "Terrorists".

Different bureacracies have different definitions of terrorism. If I have one definition and you have another, then am I communicating when I used the word? Terrorism is a method, not an enemy. You cannot make war on terrorism any more than you can make war on mechanized warfare or the cavalry charge.

The link in the article title defines terrorism thus:
The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.
This sounds an awful lot like their definition of war:
War is a state of widespread conflict between states, organisations, or relatively large groups of people, which is characterised by the use of violent, physical force between combatants or upon civilians...
The Institute for Counter-Terrorism definition is:
The deliberate use of violence against civilians in order to attain political, ideological and religious aims.
The ICT definition would define as terrorist every pilot of a heavy bomber in the Second World War.

Terrorism is a method of warfare. Osama bin Laden and Yasir Arafat are a type of warrior. They wage war not on behalf of nations but on behalf of non-governmental organizations. I've seen terrorism defined as "Acts of war by NGO's". This is extremely close to perfect but then George Washington was waging war on behalf of a government that did not yet exist, as do all revolutionaries. Washington's army was very standard, formations of musketmen and so forth. Washington had raiders but that was secondary. Washington commited acts of war as an "NGO" but it wasn't terrorism.

When the government of Syria killed the Lebanese politician Hariri with a bomb in the street, was that terrorism? State-backed terrorism isn't usually the same as war by an NGO. Perhaps if Syria had created an NGO which waged war on its behalf, it would be terrorism? Hard to tell, here.

Lots of definitions of terrorism focus on the attacks against civilians. But during WWII the Allies bombed the cities of Germany and Japan mercilessly. Think of Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo, and Hiroshima. Also think of Coventry and London. We don't call that terrorism. The aim of war is to change a nation politically or in policy. That is the aim of terrorism. Terrorism is War, plain and simple.

Okay, not so plain and simple, but terrorism is war. It isn't mechanized warfare, nuclear warfare (so far), cavalry warfare, biological warfare or usually even guerrilla warfare. But terrorism is warfare.

The only word that is worse is "Militant". In the US, the "Black militants" were Angela Davis and Stokely Carmichael and other people like that. These people were sweethearts compared to todays "Militants". The word does not fit. The word "Military" fits much better.

During the Second Intifada, the Israelis lost about a person a day to the violence, on average. The Palestinians lost about three times that. This is a slow kind of warfare. Probably both sides in that conflict lost more people to traffic accidents than to the war. The war they call "Terrorism" is Slow War. It's a better name than "Terrorism".

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Blogger Fixed?

It seems too quick, but the preview button is back and the screen seems a lot easier to navigate. Yet very familiar too. Was it a screen change or pilot error?

Paris Riots

The Paris riots consist mostly of burning cars. This will lower the profitability of French auto-insurance companies. That is, if the French have auto insurance companies. Who knows?

So, is there some rich Saudi, about to buy an auto-insurance company, who wants to lower the value temporarily so he can buy it more cheaply? Somebody has to ask. Did anybody short sell the stock of insurance companies lately? All those cars will need to be replaced. Check on the locations of the sons of auto dealers, too.

If this investigation doesn't produce a prosecution, maybe it will produce a screenplay.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Blogger Stinks!


  • Create a blog here on blogger.com

  • Make a new post

  • Fill in the title and a little text

  • Go up and hit "Create"

  • It's gone.

  • Your text is gone.

  • It wouldn't have been that hard to issue a message.

  • And if you do save it, you can't preview the text before posting.

  • There's no preview button.

  • But you can view posted articles. Well, I can just look at my blog for that!


So there's no way to see if what your post looks like without showing it to the world. After creating a post, to fix it up before somebody sees it, you have to:

  • Go back to the edit posts window (delay)

  • Enter your article (delay)

  • Make the changes (unavoidable)

  • Publish (delay)

  • Go back to the blog and hit refresh (delay)


That's five steps when two should do it -- Make the changes and just save it, refresh the browser of the view window.


I'm angry because I had a good post on Terrorism and the things people write about it. But now it's gone because I hit the wrong button and blogger did a stupid thing. Erasing the users text is a no-no without a warning. Even Microsoft knows that.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Where's Osama?

Big quake in Pakistan. Right where Osama is hiding. Too bad, really. If he's buried we may never be able to prove it. I wonder how Waziristan is doing, in general.

Do you think that the quake could have been caused by the same homosexuals who caused the flooding in New Orleans? I think the main sinner is Osama. Let's see those mullahs wiggle out of this one. Now that they've blamed the flooding on sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. The other religious doom-sayers should be having a field day, though. Soon, you just wait.

You know, it being the holy season for Jews, it just might be the right time to repent. I mean, you can't be too careful. Right?

Of course, it could be those pesky tectonic plates. But what do they have against Osama?

And when we send in the military to help, as Musharraf is asking, could they just happen to run into Osama? Now, if you're a real conspiracy nut, you'll put two and two together and realize that the US caused the quake in order to send in the troops to...

Or you could just google for "HAARP" or "tectonic weapon" and keep yourself busy for hours.

Maybe al-Queda was working on a tectonic weapon and it went off too early, like that guy in Oklahoma. I can't resist quoting Craige McMillan at World Net Daily about that Oklahoma explosion outside the stadium:

Of course, we shouldn't jump to conclusions. Lots of people commit suicide by strapping explosives around their waists and blowing themselves to bits outside crowded athletic stadiums during packed games at our nation's universities, right?

So, it's conclusively proved: Osama caused the earthquake with a combination of sin and technology.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A Note About Iraq

Iraq is not Vietnam. Saying "Iraq is the Arabic word for Vietnam" is like saying Ecuador is the Spanish word for Latvia.


And the war in Iraq is different from the war in Vietnam. The only common factor is that the US is involved. The main difference in the wars is that in Vietnam the communists had infiltrated the South Vietnamese government at all levels. All levels. And the group of loyal Vietnamese surrounding the US had a nucleus in the Catholic community, a minority. The Vietnamese communists (Viet Minh) were respected. In Iraq, the Sunni are a minority and the Baathists are hated; and the Islamists despised.


And, of course, Vietnam is mostly jungle. Iraq is a desert. Vietnam had Ho Chi Minh. Iraq has Zarqawi. The South Vietnamese were not able to survive without US support. The Iraqi Shiite and Kurds can survive, nearly on their own.

9/11 Anniversary

I've been watching and reading the numerous 9/11 memorials and anniversary blogs and thinking about them for a week. I learned about the attacks from the web that day, and had to go find a working TV, mine was on the fritz. Eventually I saw the video re-run and was shocked. My first two thoughts on the building collapse was that this provides a wide-open door for the Russians to do whatever they want in Chechnya, and that the killers got real lucky with the structural damage and probably hadn't expected to take down either building.


I remember thinking that if I were a writer, or blogging, back then, I'd have written "This is an act of transcendental stupidity — whoever did this is going to be crushed." It was and they were. Oh, al-Queda isn't dead yet, but the Taliban is barely breathing and Osamas group is on life support.

Later on, as numerous Muslims around the world started claiming that the act was so un-Muslim that the accused Saudis could simply not have done it, I was skeptical. Now, I think this is a good thing. It's good they think the 9/11 attacks are such a bad idea.

9/11 made President Bush look better. And this anniversary comes along in the middle of the Katrina disaster, and Bush looked absolutely idiotic. I don't hate the man, but he's not qualified to be president of the United States.


About me:
I moved a little further to the Right, or at least a little further away from the Left, on 9/11. But wasn't until a year or so later that I realized this, as I listened to the Left temporize and make excuses for the Islamists. Later, in the 2002/2003 time frame, I tried to find something on the antiwar and counterpunch websites that made sense regarding Bush's impending war in Iraq. I couldn't find it. That's when I realized that I was probably not even left of center anymore. At least on foreign policy.

And the irony is in the observation that the Left has moved Right, supporting the Islamofascists, and that what's repelled me. So I had to move Right to stay Centered.

On that violent day in 2001, we did not know what to make of flight 93 crashing into the Pennsylvania countryside. Now, we do. One of the side-effects of the heroism of flight 93 is that a lot of Afghans are alive today who would otherwise be dead. If flight 93 had crashed into the White House or the Capitol the anger of the US and it's military might have sent it crashing through Afghanistan like Sherman through Georgia.

The President, you'll remember, was in Florida, reading to children or being read to, as the case may be. Not too bad a time for remedial instruction, I suppose. The President didn't move too fast back then, but only Michael Moore counts it against him. With Katrina we all count it against him.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

British Nuts

Regarding the warrant against Israeli Maj.-Gen. Doron Almog, as described in this Guardian article. I'd simply like to say that thinking in that manner would make a war criminal of every Lancaster pilot. For that matter, it would make a war criminal any of Britains WWII generals that used artillery on the European mainland.

The primary method of this sort of anti-Zionism is to deliberately confuse war and peace. Acts that would be unacceptable in peace are normal in war. The behavioral standards of British citizens in peacetime are applied to a wartime situation. But only to one side, the Israelis.

Britain also has a new breed of holocaust deniers running around loose. They want to dilute and then erase a holocaust memorial day in Britain. I really ought to fly over there and diagnose their illness in greater detail. But I can tell from the other side of the water that the root of it all is radical Islam.

So does the anti-Zionism arise out of anti-Semitism or does the recent spate of anti-Semitism arise out of anti-Zionism? Hint: Arab violence toward Jewish immigrants arose before the creation of the state of Israel. Islamic attitudes to the "descendants of pigs and apes" are very old.

Katrina

The bitter-enders: I'll bet some of those who just wouldn't leave were guarding large stashes of cocaine or other contraband. You just can't bring it to the Superdome, can you? The argument against this is that coke dealers aren't poor, they could have gotten out. But there's a tradition of riding it out in NO. So even though I'm sure some of the coke dealers did hightail it, some of the staybehinds were probably dealers.

The School Buses: Where were the drivers, did they evacuate? Where were the keys? Were there preplanned rescue routes for the school buses? How did they plan to take care of the drivers families?

The Levees: Overtopping was expected by Sunday and Monday, but outright failure was a surprise.

Staying behind: How many times can you evacuate and come back to find things okay, before you decide to ride things out next time?

In General: We now see that the city was doomed, it was only a matter of time. I did not know the city was under sea level, myself.

Real Estate: What, if any, was the role of local real estate businesses in lowering public awareness of hurricane damage potential? If the city council (or whatever they have) is dominated by real estate interests, how could they have ever considered moving or depopulating the city? Real Estate prices would have sunk out of site. An irreducible (?) conflict of interest?

The Mayor: Does he have any constituents? Does he have an office? Does he have a budget? What bank holds the city bank account? Can he write checks? Where is the checkbook? When is his term up? Who will run for mayor of New Orleans? Who is allowed to vote?

And will the residency requirement for voting need to be changed to permit returning refugees to vote?

What did they know and when did they know it? Hint: The capital of Louisiana is Baton Rouge.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Ronald Reagan RIP


The coverage is threatening to last as long as his administration. How many times can you view the same flag-covered casket?

Ronald Reagan was a controversial disputatious president, and pretending he was a widely loved grandfather is just, oh, revisionism. Firing the air traffic controllers was not a genial thing to do. It was hostile, dangerous and mean-spirited. Waging illegal war against Nicaragua was not "Conservative", it was unwise. Ronald Reagan completely missed the importance of Islamic radicalism, trading arms for hostages and appeasing the Islamic terrorists in Lebanon after they attacked US troops! Exactly the wrong thing to do each time he dealt with radical Islam.

More than a few people had to ask themselves whether the obvious forgetfulness that President Reagan displayed during his term might not have been early Alzheimers. It's a terrible thing to say, of course. But hard-headed honest people have to have noticed.

There is no objective way to tell whether the Reagan administration brought down Soviet Communism. They might have, it's just that nobody can prove it one way or the other. If they were such geopolitical geniuses, why does Chinese Communism still exist? And Cuban Communism, for crying out loud. It seems more rational to surmise that something inside the Soviet society made the difference. After all, the B1 bomber and the Star Wars Defense apply to Cuba as much as to Russia.

Do try to remember that the sobriquet "The Great Communicator" was given to him by his enemies. And that when Reagan came into office, there was no social issue called "Homeless people", because the streets were not filled with bums and people sleeping in doorways.

That Prison Scandal

It's an evil place.

I don't understand the scandal. Why put hoods on people you want to humiliate and show the faces of the guards? Anonymity lends dignity. You can always claim you weren't involved if your face is hidden.

Here's a link to an article more about the US. Or make yourself sick with this this BBC slide show.

We knew that the enemy was not following any Geneva Convention nor any rules of war and so the anti-terrorists armies were playing by ear, as it were. Especially or mainly in Afghanistan.

But the war in Iraq started out as a war against a regular military. With uniforms and all that. So we did not expect the same behavior. Although the whole "War on Terror" approach to Iraq should have given us a big hint. We didn't get the hint. Seymour Hersh reports that a Special Access Program (a secret program) in Afghanistan was extended to Iraq, creating the problem. Seymour Hersh is also fallible, and his story is disputed, so a complete diagnosis will have to wait.

Alan Dershowitz has begun an effort to write new laws for the new kind of anti-terror warfare in which we find ourselves. See this article in the Baltimore Sun. But Dershowitz's effort has little relevance to the use of photographed sexual humiliation, dogs and maybe murder that went on in Abu Ghraib. Except to note that there are prisoners who are neither prisoners of war nor regular criminals, and the existing international laws of war and treaties on the conduct of war do not address these newer realities.

The Pentagons lawyers had begun to try to work out the new rules for handling prisoners in nonstandard wars, see this New York Times article on the legal memos. Neither the Taliban or al-Queda have ever signed on to the Geneva treaties, so the question was genuine. Likewise for the irregular post-war conflicts in Iraq in 2004.

For all that, those photos and the practices they document shock the system but do not defy rational analysis. The Iraqis and the various Arab governments do not seem to be reacting as strongly as some Americans thought they might. Current practices in much of the Arab world, like that under Saddam Hussein, are so much harsher that these particular American sins just don't get those juices flowing...

There's a "Rational analysis" that argues that the big difference between Arab and US culture, on the emotional level at least, is in the approaches to sexuality. And that the "Proof" of western corruption, in the mind of Arabs, has always been western sexual attitudes, which are simply beyond the pale to the Arabs. But that for the same reason, the sexual construction of the Arab male makes him vulnerable to psychological pressure of a sexual nature. So why not? It's got to be more moral than breaking their bones, right? It is easy for us who are not involved to moralize. It is equally easy for us to dream up drastic scenarios in which information of a ticking-bomb nature needs to be extracted to save the Iraqi nation and bring about world peace or some other utopian idea.

If, counterintuitively, it should turn out that it is rational and effective, and necessary to subject Iraqi prisoners of the insurgency to sexual degradation of that sort, we can count on not knowing about it in the future. As we can be sure that loose photos will not be sent around to the media.

There just isn't much a citizen can do, except to let the media and the government know that the whole issue is of greater import than Jaylo's nth marriage, and that the sale of of newspapers and the election of politicians may ride in the balance.

More Fingerprints of God

God exists. Deal with it.

So much of modern thought and belief is an attempt to avoid being a responsible adult. To just party hearty and let the future take care of itself. Not to put on a hair shirt, but somebody has to be an adult. And the adults aren't doing it very well.

Life isn't supposed to be as miserable as we can make it. Circumstances make it hard enough. And God makes the circumstances. But God asks us to restrain some of our impulses, to pray, and to recognize God. And it's just so easy to try to dismiss those ideas.

The anti-God pressure sometimes looks to be so strong that the only people resisting it become fanatics. This is a loss. But it's also an error. Simply believing in God can look like fanatacism if you're embedded in the more sophisticated parts of modern culture. Like the Universities, or the publishing business. Believing in God does not make you a fanatic or a fundamentalist.

You may not believe in God. After all, He's not obvious. I really can't offer you much besides saying "Trust Me". And though I am sincere I know you'll toss out that suggestion as fast as you can read it.

And I can't say I have scientific proof. People have tried. There was a promising argument a hundred years ago that the eye could not have evolved. Okay, so it turns out the other way around. The eye could have evolved.

So I'll just pose a puzzle: Fingerprints. How did fingerprints evolve to be different even among twins? And be so easily left behind due to the oily residue?

As science and modernity began their ascendance, challenging older religious dogma so effectively, a material crime-fighting technique was discovered that helped keep people, otherwise freed from the restraining bonds of religious ideology, from running wild. Fingerprints. Medievel thieves and rapists were afraid only of God and witnesses. No witnesses, no testimony. As God seemed to fade behind a cloud of materialism, materialism brought forth new witnesses. First among these is the humble fingerprint. You see, DNA is more powerful but it has to be different for each person, in order for it to function. It wouldn't be DNA if it was all the same. But if we all had the same fingerprints, we'd grip just as well. So any inquiring mind has to ask, why are they different?

Fingerprints are miraculous. Their uniqueness has no objective function except that of helping the authorities control the excesses of human behavior. Humanity discovered fingerprints just about the time that Godless Communism was invented, when improved transportation and industry (from Godless Capitalism) enabled more anonymity for citizens in cities. Coincidence? I think not.

Like I say, it isn't a scientific proof of anything. But maybe you'll agree it's a fair question.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Heroin and Other Drugs

There are a lot of people in jail in the US and the whole world for using heroin. This is interesting because heroin makes people drowsy, docile, harmless and inoffensive. The addictive nature of heroin is only a social problem when the drug is difficult to obtain. We are all totally dependent on oxygen and water but we don't need to commit crimes to get the air we breathe or the water we drink. And don't think we are morally superior because we aren't criminals. If air were $5 per breath we'd all be stick-up artists...

The user of pharmacologically pure heroin suffers problems only after decades of use. The liver may not stand up to long term heroin addiction and life may be shortened. This is a relatively minor problem, compared to the problems caused by other drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

Overwhelmingly, the problems occur only because heroion is illegal and would not occur if heroin were legally available:
  • Illegal heroin is impure and is therefore medically dangerous.

  • Illegal heroin is expensive and motivates addicts to commit property crimes and prostitution.

  • Illegal heroin fills the jails with expensive-to-maintain criminals that create a heavy tax burden.

  • The war on drugs corrupts our government and law enforcement officials.

  • Heroin is more of gateway to other drugs because it is popular in the criminal subculture.

  • Illegal heroin spreads AIDS and other diseases because addicts are forced to share needles. Legal heroin could be sold in single-use injectors.

  • Illegal heroin fosters an atmosphere of street crime and mugging that pollutes human relationships, promotes racism, and wreaks economic devastation on cities.

There a couple of caveats that must be understood. First, people don't like dealing with addicts on a day to day basis. It might be necessary to segregate the addict population from the general public with a new form of civil commitment.

Also, the situation with other drugs differs. Cocaine, PCP, crystal meth and even ecstasy are stimulants and encourage or stimulate all sorts of anti-social and dangerous behaviors that society will not tolerate. Sexual stimulants in the age of AIDS constitute chemical warfare agents. Even marijuana can act as a stimulant (especially to eating and to sex) and is in a different class.

Heroin isn't good for you. I don't recommend it or use it. But taking the profit out of heroin should reduce it usage, not increase it. The problems of the Dutch, who have effectively decriminalized heroin, are related also to their decriminalization of marijuana and of prostitution, and the particulars of Dutch society. At the very least, more study is needed.

The situation in the black community in the US is probably influenced by decades of exceptionally poor medical care, especially in the last half of the 19th century and the earlier decades of the 20th century, a period when opiates were available, the black community were no longer slaves and drug education truly primitive. Painful conditions were treated in an ad hoc manner. The presence of sickle cell disease, which is very painful and was undiagnosed for centuries, probably contributed to the culture of drug use, especially of pain killers, such as opiates. Sickle cell disease occurs in about 1 in 500 black births, which seeded the society with a population in significant pain for no known reason. An increase in the availability of good medical care should also reduce drug addiction.

The Religion of Peace

If a bunch of nutcases, holding aloft sacred copies of Winnie the Pooh, had killed 3,000 New Yorkers one day in September, we would go to war against the Winnie-the-Pooh sect, and win. Some pointy-headed intellectual would point out that indeed the book Winnie the Pooh was Peaceful. So what! We aren't interested in the true meaning of their religion, or even whether it is really peaceful. We need to take care of the cult that did the killing. And in fact the Quran has a lot more violence than Winnie the Pooh, but that's a blog for a different day.

Seize the Oil Fields / The Power of Ideology

The sensible next step for the Imperial USA, would be to simply seize the oil fields of Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Let the local Arabs and Persians return to their original state of harmless poverty. It's solution to Islamic Terrorism. Eventually, Osama will run out of money. No money, no bombs. After all, we are at war.

It wouldn't be a very nice thing to do, of course. The radical students at our finer Universities would have a fit. And the UN would explode. But the material benefits would more than compensate. And we could give the Europeans a cut, to quiet them down. That's all it will really take. Instead of appeasing the Arabs, they'll appease the Americans. Anybody with oil.

The point isn't that it can happen. It can't happen, it's politically unacceptable in domestic US politics without some larger provocation. Morality and all that. Private property, of all things. A President who seized mideast oil fields would be forced to return the property by an outraged Congress. It's just that the failure of the US Empire to seize the mideast oil fields is such a glaring deficiency. It's a deficiency in the administration of the world economy (from the Imperial point of view). And it's a deficiency in the theory of the left, which is always complaining how terribly Imperialist is the US. And it's a deficiency in the imagination of the public, that nobody has suggested it until now.

The US can't keep South American drugs out of the country. The US can't keep Mexican illegals out of the country. The US can't keep terrorists out of the country. Do we think we are keeping foreign money out of the country? Anonymous political contributions, anyone? How about all those soft money campaigns? Internet fund raising my foot. Corruption is an American tradition, fortunately, so are crusading prosecutors.

President Franklin Roosevelt made a deal with the Saudi Royal family in February 1945, and for some unknown reason the deal has held. What realpolitik reason could there be for the West in general, and the US in particular, to send shiploads of money to the mideast? The Iranians build nukes and support the terrorism of Hezbollah and Hamas. Saudi Arabia builds the worldwide radical Muslim movement and funds politicians, professors and media all over the developed world. And Iraq (until recently) built weapons, invaded many of its neighbors and supported Palestinian terrorism, at least.

The Muslims must look at this Western largesse in the face of the hostile blowback it creates and conclude it's just a miracle of Allah. After all, God gave oil to the Muslims (including Indonesia), didn't He?

In practical terms, the money paid for oil is a massive society-wrenching subsidy. If crude oil were a commodity then competition between the various suppliers would drive the price down to subsistence levels, supported at the bottom only by the cost of production. Instead, billions of unearned dollars goes to unreconstructed social primitives who make mischief as if there is no tomorrow. What happens to Islamic Radicalism when the oil money dries up? Wouldn't that be wonderful?

The Key
The key to winning a war against a superior force is to convince the superior force that there is no war. It's just vandalism, or "Troubles", maybe even "Terrorism". But not war. If there is no war, then don't fight. War is bad, so don't fight. It's only a few troublemakers, so don't wage war. Do anything but defend yourself. Think small, think inside the box. We're only losing a few dead -- we have millions. Maybe we can pacify them by understanding them. Keep on funding your enemies in the interest of "Market Stability" and "Engagement". Wait until the Melting Pot Effect takes hold. War is Peace. There is no war. Ignore the war behind the curtain. Do not fight. Keep those payments coming. The best defense is diplomacy. Forty dollars a barrel and climbing. Forget that we are paying our enemies. Prince Bandar is our friend.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Gaza Plan



Sharon says he wants to get the Jews out of Gaza and then just surround the place, so they can't import weapons. I guess that's a kind of peace. Could have fooled me.

If getting out is such a great idea, why didn't he do it three years ago? Or why not just do it right away? On the other hand, if Jews really do need to live in Morag or Netzarim in Gaza, why not kick out the Palestinians to make the place safer? The Palestinians couldn't be any angrier, could they?

Perhaps all I can do on the Gaza question is prove I don't understand the issues. If only Sharon and Arafat could prove they do understand the issues...

Did Sharon think that Likud would vote up his plan, and it failed because he was out-maneuvered? How does a small group of "Settlers" out-maneuver the head of the country in an election that Sharon wasn't forced to call? I can think of some conspiracy theories, but nothing that makes any sense. Sometimes people just make mistakes, but this one is hard to believe.

I don't think Sharon or Likud has any plan to evict the Palestinians from Gaza, so why is everything so complicated? Did they have an eviction plan three years ago? They'd have to have been crazy. So obviously, control of Gaza was a negotiating chip three years ago, to be given for consideration. So why abandon it now? Has the Israeli negotiating position gotten so much stronger that they don't need Gaza anymore?

The other approach is to assume Sharon has no intention of giving away Gaza for no payback, but is trying to move the "Peace Process" along while he is in power. That is, Sharon wants to bring the Palestinians to the bargaining table. What would negotiation get him that he couldn't just take? Peace, I guess. So Sharon is pulling out of Gaza because he thinks the Palestinians want peace. This is not something I can believe without a great deal of proof. Like I said, all I can do is prove I'm confused about Sharon and Gaza.

There are other considerations I'm not qualified to analyze. Killing off the leadership of Hamas can be seen as an attempt to strengthen the leadership of the PA (Arafat) and might even have been done at his suggestion, for all we know. If Sharon sentences Gaza to hell and lets Arafat be the White Knight that rescues it, would that put Arafat back in the top spot? Is that worth anything to Sharon?

What should Israel do about Gaza?
There isn't a good solution. Economic integration or interaction with Israel is the obvious thing to do, but has two big drawbacks for the Israelis. One, it makes the Gazans stronger and more prosperous, which will not necessarily make them more peaceful. Two, it leaves holes open for bombers and other infiltrators to get through. If there is no economic tie to Israel, and the borders are closed to prevent infiltration of people and weapons, then Gaza becomes a hell that can only be escaped. Maybe that's what Sharon is hoping for, a mass exodus from Gaza. But where to? Doesn't Sharon's plan to bring the Egyptian Army into closer contact to the Israeli border mean that transfer to Egypt is less likely?

Blogging is Working


Work is what you do when you need something to change. Like your income. Or the state of your domicile. Or the world. It isn't something you do if you don't anticipate a result. Blogging is working, unless you just like to type. The sensuous feel of the keyboard under your fingers? Blogging could be a way to avoid doing other work, of course. Like washing dishes. But after a while blogging would seem like just another chore, so work avoidance won't cut it for long.

So you have a right to know why I'm blogging -- it's not the money. I'm trying to improve the world. I think I can, if I work hard enough.

I want to live in a better world. Don't we all?

Plain English


Plain English is better than l33t jargon, made up words or puzzles. Insults never teach. Telling you what you already know is a waste of time. It's hard to consistently be new and interesting, but my only tool is myself.