Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

 
Sunday, March 31, 2002

Playtime is over, back to work

Playtime is over, back to work I was looking over the local alternative weekly newspaper, the Metro Pulse when I came across an opinion column by a Mr. Massimo Pigliucci. Mr Pigliucci is an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Tennessee, and a regular contributor to the Rationalists of East Tennessee web site. The column concerns the war on terror and is entitled Those who Understand Bin Laden Seeing that title, I of course had to read on to see what the man had to say. Sorry for the lack of a link; a new edition of Metro Pulse has been issued, and the archives on their site is very limited. Remember, as I go through this, Mr. Pigliucci claims to be a rationalist.

Warning: this article is not an exultation of terrorism or a defense of Bin Laden. But the very fact that I have to start with this disclaimer is a sad commentary on the state of freedom of opinion and speech in contemporary U.S.


Now hold on a minute. We have a man who is voicing his opinion in a column which he was paid to write, an opinion which, based on the title of the column, will be an opinion which runs counter to the current political climate, and he is complaining about the lack of freedom of opinion and speech. Was he forced to write that disclaimer by the editor of the Metro Pulse, or the publisher of the paper? Of course not. He wrote it to establish a moral high ground, i.e., if the reader disagrees with his opinion, then the reader must support censorship and thought control.

Continuing:

The U.S. government, on the one hand, insists in calling this a "war" against terrorism (even though, technically, only Congress can declare war---and it hasn't); but, on the other hand, it refuses to treat its prisoners as POWs


What's the difficulty? It's not a declared war; they aren't prisoners of war. Congress has authorized all actions taken to date, so where is the problem? We are engaged militarily, against an adversary who struck first, on our soil. What would you like to call it, a 'negotiation through force' against terrorism? Doesn't really sing, does it?

Worse, since the Taliban were obviously a ridiculously puny enemy for the mighty U.S., we are now looking for additional ones, and Bush nonchalantly threatens Iran, Iraq, and North korea, lumping them together under the laughable label of the "axis of evil." Never mind that it is difficult to see communist North Korea plotting together with Islamic fundamentalists (or, for that matter, mortal religious enemies Iraq and Iran working with each other).


Wow. You'd think a professor, even a biology professor would be a little more versed in history. How closely did Japan and Germany work together during WWII? Were their economies compatible? How about their basic philosophies, forms of government, or religious beliefs? Yet those two nations nearly ran the table in the 1940s. As for Iran and Iraq never working together, if the good professor would check back just a decade ago, Saddam Hussein sent most of his air force to Iran prior to Desert Storm, to keep it safe from the US attacks.
More importantly, Iran, Iraq and North Korea do not have to become allies in order to become a combined threat. North Korea is still working to develop nuclear weapons. If they are successful, does Mr Pigliucci really think that they won't use them against the US unless they've formed a formal alliance with Iran and Iraq? President Bush recognized that with a minimum amount of interactions between the three countries he named, the threat they represent would increase geometrically, not just arithmetically.
By the way, does anybody remember how we were being warned that we couldn't beat the Taliban without heavy losses and years of effort? Now it is obvious that the Taliban was 'ridiculously puny.' First we aren't strong enough, then we are too strong, and we get criticized either way.

I am most certainly not missing the Taliban. Heck, I think somebody should have kicked there asses long ago. I have no sympathy for people who use religion to subjugate women, annul civil rights, and destroy priceless historical monuments. What I am questioning is the assumption that, just by bombing people, we will solve our problems.


If that was all we were doing, then Mr. Pigliucci might have a point. However, we aren't just dropping bombs. We are feeding refugees; we are trying to help Afghanistan form a stable government; we are going after the lifeblood of the terrorist organizations, their funding; we are investigating world wide with the help of our allies, and closing down the places where the terrorists can go and get support; we are sharing information with other countries, and they with us, resulting in thousands of arrests, and who knows how many lives saved from attacks thwarted through a stoppage of funds, or the arrest of a conspirator. In short, we are doing one hell of a lot more than dropping bombs. Mr. Pigliucci wants to ignore all that we are doing and oversimplify our effort in order to discredit it.

The war on terrorism will never be won, just like the equally misnamed and misconceived "war on drugs." That's because to solve these problems we first have to understand their roots. Until we acknowledge that human beings will always go after the easy pleasure of drugs and that people outside the U.S. (especially in the Middle East) have a justifiable rancor against America, we will not make progress on either front.


Ahhh, decadence, thy name is Pigliucci. People are going to use drugs because it's fun. Why fight it? By the way, not all humans go after the "easy" pleasure of drugs. I guess they are the real problem. But that certainly is an interesting argument. Let's try it on a few other illegal activities.
  • Students are going to cheat on their exams to get the easy grade. Why fight it?
  • People are going to cheat on their taxes. Why fight it?
  • Men are going to rape women. Why fight it?
  • People are going to kill each other. Why fight it?

Of course, now, over halfway through the column, we find that Mr. Pigliucci lied to us when he said he wasn't going to defend Bin Laden. By according Bin Laden and his associates a 'justifiable rancor', Mr. Pigliucci is suggesting that the actions of terrorists can be at least partially justified by the actions of their target. In other words, if a girl wears a sexy dress on campus, she has contributed to her own rape.

I know Mr. Pigliucciu is going to accuse me of failing to make the 'subtle distinction' between motivation and justification, but here's the thing: The people who died on September 11 did nothing to deserve the death that Bin Laden saw fit to give them. Bin Laden himself was not wronged by any of those people, nor was he personally wronged by the United States. If his motivation was some inchoate rage against the presence of the US, and he felt that this rage was justification for the slaughter of 3000 inoocents, then he needs to be put down like any other rabid animal.
But let's take Mr. Pigliucci's side, for the sake of argument. What has America done to provoke such a violent rage?

Where does the anit-U.S. acrimony come from? If you don''t know, you haven't paid attention. Even the European allies of the U.S. have repeatedly taken action against what they see as the cultural and economic imperialism of Americans, and if you add the extreme poverty, ignorance, and religious fanaticism of many people in Middle eastern countries, you have the perfect recipe for disaster.


That's it? Cultural and economic imperialism? That explains the slaughter of over three thousand? Surely you can do better than that, Mr. Pigliucci. Cultural and economic imperialism....hmmm. If the folks around the world like to watch our movies and eat our fast food and buy our products more than those they make at home, maybe that says more about what is available in their countries than about American imperialism. McDonalds and Coca-Cola don't force their way into other markets, and once there, don't hold guns to people's heads to force them to buy. It's called the marketplace. People buy what they like. People adopt behaviors that appeal to them. Perhaps Mr Pigliucci would be happier if we restricted what people could see, and hear, and buy, so that they wouldn't be unduly influenced by the vibrancy of American culture.

As an evolutionary biologist, Mr. Pigliucci should be familiar with the concept of competition, where the stronger replaces the weaker. This concept applies to cultures just as it does to organisms, albeit with different mechanisms, and a greatly contracted timescale. Cultural evolution does not equal imperialism. We don't force our way of life on anybody.

I also note the elitism in Mr. Pigliucci's assessment of the Middle East. Only one problem. Most of the terrorist's leadership cadre come from upper middle class to wealthy families and are usually well educated. They use the poor as foot soldiers, playing on their ignorance, inflaming their hatred and fanaticism with religious rhetoric, but what causes they're hatred? We're back to Osama now. Why did he hate America so much that he wanted to detroy thousands of lives? What motivated his to feel such rage that he felt justified in unleashing such carnage? Let's assume Mr. Pigliucci is right and it was American foreign policy which set Bin Laden off, particularly our support of Israel. Do we renege on our commitments, abandon our national interests to appease the wishes of a madman? Of course not; that course of action would be folly.

But it takes a much more serious commitment, and the art of making subtle distinctions, to address the problem seriously. It requires a radical revision of American foreign policy, and perhaps even a bit of a self critical attitude toward the sacred cow of free-market capitalism.


And here, Mr. Pigliucci exposes himself. Capitalism is the evil here. That's why America is a target. As long as we turn a profit, as long as we create wealth, as long as we continue to produce in abundence, we will be targets. We aren't targets because of 'cultural and economic imperialism.' We're targets because of our wealth.

Finally, I did a little research on Mr. Pigliucci. Mr. Pigliucci is an Italian citizen with a permanent residence in the U.S. He's lived here for about twelve years, but has not become a citizen, choosing instead to remain a resident alien.

Mr. Pigliucci, I'm speaking to you directly now. People leave their homelands only because there's something missing there, something they need that they can't find. They travel until they find whatever it was they were looking for, then they settle down. Whatever you were looking for, you found in America. Maybe it was a job, or an educational opportunity, or a better lifestyle. America has fulfilled her promise to you sir, but you are repaying that hospitality with scorn.

You have every right to be here, and every right to voice your opinion, and if you can pocket a little change doing so, well then, that's the free market capitalism that makes America great. But as long as you hold a green card, you are a guest here, and it is very rude for a gueast to criticize his host, even if that criticism is well founded and well intentioned. If you want to be taken seriously, then do one of two things. Either go back to Italy, and then tell us why we are wrong, and why you couldn't stay, or stay here, become a citizen, and work from within to improve your new home. I'll still believe you are wrong in almost every particular, but I will respect your opinion as coming from a fellow American, rather than the whining of an ungrateful houseguest. Right now, you remind me of the Yankees who come to Tennessee to live because it's so much nicer here, then spend hours complaining about how they handled things much better up north. It's time for you to put up or shut up.

Posted by Rich
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Friday, March 29, 2002

Vistory is ours!

Vistory is ours! My friends, a scurrilous outrage has been averted through the power of the blogosphere! Yes, Terry from possumblog has graciously (sort of) admitted defeat, and added Lewis Grizzard to the list of nominees for the Croix de Grits.
I spoke to Mr. Grizzard, and told him about the honor thus bestowed upon him, and the tremendous victory for all pulseless persons. When I asked him how he felt, he was quietly humble.

Posted by Rich
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Playing down the Titannic

Playing down the Titannic I know some of you are wondering how after the gloom and doom posts of yesterday, where I basically conceded that the world we know is about to end, and a very nasty transformative period is about to begin, how I can turn around today and mess around with some frivolous posts about dead humorists and phoney lipless kazoo playing orphans.(You did know he was phoney right?)

The coming war has been building for generations, and appears to be inevitable. We in America have the mistaken impression that history is over, that today represents the ultimate world order, that the way things are now is the way things will stay. Unfortunately, we are waking up from that pleasant dream to some ugly realities. History is today. America is no more eternal than was Athens or Rome or Constantinople, and borders are still nothing more than lines scrawled in blood on the earth.

It boils down to this: I'm not the captain of the ship; hell, I'm not even a crew member. With this blog, I've assumed the only role open to me right now; I am the court jester. I work to entertain you, to intrigue you, to excite you, to move you, to piss you off, to make you laugh, to make you cry, because that is all we have in this world. Whatever we build will crumble and be forgotten in time. Whatever we feel remains part of us forever.

So, I'll go on playing my songs as the water creeps higher. I'll sing to you about the icy cold of the sea, but also about the warm sunny beaches. I'll show you love and hate, treachery and redemption, courage and cowardice, brilliance and stupidity. I'll tell you the truth as I see it, and we'll pass the time away until the water gets too high to continue.

In the end, I'll do all that I can to make things a little better, and it won't make a bit of difference. I know that, but do it anyway.

Besides, if I quit, the terrorists win.....*grin*

Posted by Rich
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Time for a first

Time for a first Over to the left is a small button with the word "Donate" on it. This is commonly referred to as a tip jar, and it allows you dedicated people to show your appreciation for the work I put in around here.

But there's more to the story than that.

If that was all there was, I wouldn't waste your time talking about it, but you see, little Timmy is an orphan, and he needs an operation. Without that operation, it is doubtful whether little Tony will ever play the kazoo again. He was in a freak sno-cone machine accident and the result was a tragic lip disfigurement.

I went to visit little Andy in the hospital just last week, and he told me how much he wanted to play the kazoo again. Tears rolled down my face as that frail weak little voice asked me, "ahn yuo hellt nhe?"

I said, "Little Tommy, you precious child, I shall do everything in my power to see that you play the kazoo again. A new light of hope flared up in little Bobby's eyes, the childish belief that a grownup can fix anything.

And so now I turn to you good people, and ask that you help me help little Petey play the kazoo again.

I'll be back in a minute. I suddenly feel the need to wash my hands.

Posted by Rich
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Rejection and discrimination

Rejection and discrimination All right folks, fasten your seatbelts and make sure your tray tables are locked in an upright position, because I am well and truly miffed!

The folks behind possumblog have decided to reject my nomination of Lewis Grizard based on the mere fact that he happens to be 'vitality challenged' at the present time. This is an outrage that must not go unpunished! Metabolic rate discrimination should have vanished a long time ago, but here we see it is still perpetuated in our beloved South. We protested against aparthied in South Africa while practicing our own brand right here. After all, the dead represent a plurality if not an outright majority in the South, and deserve to be treated with the respect their numbers deserve. Instead, we see them being held down and excluded. It's enough to make you sick.

I tell you, we must act forcefully now to root out this prejudice and treat our dead with the same respect and reverence as our Yankee brothers. Hell, in Chicago, they revere their dead so much, they still let them vote! And here we are, denying Mr. Grizzard the chance to win an honer, merely because he hasn't drawn a breath for a couple of years. I've held my breath for as long as two minutes; I guess that means I can't run for President now.

I think it is time to mount a write-in campaign, and inundate Possumblog with letters demanding that the nomination of Lewis Grizzard be honored. If all six of my regular readers do this, I'm sure Terry will see the error of his ways.

Or at least get a good laugh out of it....

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, March 28, 2002

Interesting tidbit

Interesting tidbit from the Idler:

Saddam Hussein's appetite for weapons of mass destruction is well-known; his taste for women from the Western hemisphere less so. Executive Secretary of the Foreign Chamber of Commerce in Brazilia Roberto Gianetti da Fonseca has created a sensation with the publication of his memoirs "Memorias de um trader " ("Memoirs of a Trader.") In 1981 Fonseca accompanied a Brazilian trade mission to Baghdad which was renewing a contract to supply meat to the Iraqi government in return for continued access to Iraqi oil, a critical concern for the Brazilian government. In the middle of negotiations, Fonseca was startled when Hussein himself showed up at the trade talks. Hussein insisted on three conditions for the negotiations to go forward. First, he wanted Brazil's civilian ambassador replaced by a serving military officer, preferably a general. Secondly, he wanted more access to Brazil's burgeoning defense industry with increased supplies of missiles, tanks, and other military hardware. Last but not least, "tell President Figueiredo that I will order the release and return of the Brazilian women who are now here being kept by the delegation members who visited Rio de Janeiro during the last Carnival, but I don't want any fuss made about it." Fonseca was startled to learn that Iraqi "delegates" were holding six Brazilian women as virtual slaves.


Posted by Rich
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Cos drops the ball

Cos drops the ball When President Bush went to Congress to get authorization for a military response to 9-11, there was one lone holdout in the House. Barbara Lee, a Democrat from the 9th Congressional district in California, which includes Berkeley, was the lone NO. Her obstinance has been rewarded, according to this FoxNewsstory.
She has gotten help with that effort by increasing her status and practically guaranteeing that she doesn't need to worry about re-election in California's liberal 9th Congressional District, home to Berkeley and Alameda County.

Though Lee faced death threats and hate mail after her controversial congressional vote, she also received accolades and donations. Singer Bonnie Raitt and actor Bill Cosby are among the celebrities who've helped boost Lee's national profile and political war chest.


Bonnie Raitt has a new album coming out in 2 weeks. I hope it joins Gosford Park on the dungheap of history. I really enjoy her music, but she won't get the chance to recycle my money to Barbara Lee.

Which brings us to an interesting point. I know a lot of people who say they don't care about an artist's politics; all they care about is their art. That would be great if the artists themselves didn't care about politics, or kept it out of their art. But that is rarely the case. Look at how many Hollywood actors feel the need to actively support and promote causes or political ideologies. Whatever possessed Alec Baldwin or Whoopie Goldberg to think they have the right to use their influence as celebrities to advance a political agenda?

Now, I'm not calling for some kind of political gag rule on actors; that would be constitutionally indefensible. What I am saying is that if these performers feel the need to espouse political opinions and ideology and trade upon their celebrity to do so, they must be willing to lose revenues from people who disagree with theri position. Going one step further, if those who disagree with the celebrity organize a boycott of the artist's performances, that too is part of the price.

Posted by Rich
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Grim news from Israel

Grim news from Israel As most of you probably already know, another suicide bomber struck in Israel yesterday, killing 20 and wounding over 100. As we learned earlier this week, that's another $25,000 from Saddam Hussein to the family of the bomber.
The attack took place during a ceremony marking the beginning of Passover, a Holy season which commemorates the liberation of the Jews from Egypt. Oddly enough, the international press has been strangely silent about this aspect of the attack. I say strange because these were the same folks castigating the US for continuing the afghanistan campaign over Ramadan, an Islamic Holy season. I can think of two reasons for this puzzling silence:
  1. The press is biased towards the Palestinians at best, or openly anti-Semitic at worst
  2. The press are, as a group, elitist and racist, expecting a higher standard of behavior from the 'civilized' western nations, and more tolerant of barbarism from the 'ignorant savages' in the Middle East.

Neither chose puts the press in a favorable light.

The EU has revealed their prejudice once again in their seeming neutrality:
"I am horrified at the level of violence reached. Civilians on both sides are by now the main victims of a conflict situation which they never chose to be part of," EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said in a statement.

Solana thus equates military strikes on known terrorist facilities with the deliberate targetting and murder of 20 people attending religious ceremonies.

Question: Why did the Holocaust occur in Europe?
Answer: Because nobody there really gave a damn about stopping it.

It seems that attitude still holds true today. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm sure that many Europeans deplored the Holocaust while it was occurring, and did everything in their power to stop it, just as there are many today who deplore the actions of the Palestinians, and see them for ehat they are. But most of what we hear coming out of the EU and the European press is sickeningly favorable to the Palestinians.

President Bush, in the meantime, is still publicly clinging to the hope that he can line up Arab support for his campaign against terrorism. The time is reapidly approaching when he will have to admit publicly what he must already know, or at least suspect privately:
We are watching the beginnings of World War III.

Events have begun to move with a ponderous momentum like a ship colliding with a pier while docking. The velocity is minor, but the momentum causes a spectacular amount of damage. Attempts to appease the Palestinians have done nothing to reduce the momentum. In fact, they may have added to the momentum by encouraging the Palstinians to press harder for more concessions. Every concession which has been made by the Israelis has been answered by more bombings, more suicide attacks, more Israeli bodies blown apart in the street. This naturally causes the Israeli people to demand swifter and harsher reprisals, and more stringent security measures. The Sharon government is in danger of losing support not because they've been too harsh and aggressive, but because they've not been agressive enough in the eyes of many Israelis. It seems evident that within a short period of time, Israel will be forced to go to war against Palestine, and her backers in Syria, Irag, and Saudi Arabia.

As for the Suadi Peace Plan, as I demonstrated below, it was a non starter to begin with. With the collapse of the Arab Summit, it is made even more irrelevant.

So, the Middle East is all set to cascade into full blown warfare, and drag the rest of the world along with it.

Is there anything that can stop it?

Short of an asteroid impact wiping out al life on our planet or the Second Coming, I don't think so. The double ought decade is going to be the bloodiest in history.

Posted by Rich
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My nomination for the Croix de Grits

My nomination for the Croix de Grits Earlier, I supported Fred Thompson as my choice for the inaugural award, but as I was writing up my reasons, I was struck by another, more worthy candidate. (My bookshelf collapsed and one of his books hit me in the head. Coincidence? I think not.)

This would have to be a posthumous award since he died a couple of years ago, but my vote goes to Lewis Grizzard.

Here's an excerpt from his biography, maintained here:

It was Mr. Minter, his mentor and professional father figure, who first encouraged him to write a column. "What the hell would I write about?" he asked. But one day, he tried it. He rolled the paper into his old manual clunker and he hit a key and wrote a column. It was a task he would repeat afterwards for upwards of two decades. Steve Enoch, his friend and manager in later years, tells a story about a lady of the evening who approached Grizzard in a bar in Mexico. "I make you very happy," she is supposed to have said, "for one hundred American dollars I do anything you want!," whereupon Grizzard shouts, "Thank you Jesus! It's a miracle!" pulls out a hundred dollar bill and says "Here. Go upstairs and write my next column." Grizzard likened the pressure to top oneself day after day in print to "being married to a nymphomaniac... it's a whole lot of fun for the first week."

Every blogger that's been around more than two weeks knows exactly what Lewis meant.

That was Lewis' gift; he knew us, and could talk to us and about us.

My first exposure to Lewis was the book When my Love Returns from the Ladies room, Will I be too Old to Care? I was a young man, just starting out dating a lovely young lady, and this issue was at the forefront of our relationship. What does a man do when his date has left the table to go to the ladies room? You're sitting there, feeling awkward with nothing to do and no-one to talk to. You would welcome the return of the waitress who couldn't stay away from your table long enough to allow you to finish a single bite of your meal without interrupting you to ask if everything was OK, but she is bound by Female Law 137.2 to stay away from your table while you wait for the eventual return of your date. When I saw Lewis's book, I knew that I had found my master, the man who could explain everything about women and the world. Of course, as I read, I found out that Lewis was just as befuddled as I was, but it didn't seem to matter. Instead of a master, I had found something even better; a friend walking the same road I was.

I went out and bought more of his books, and the titles alone were worth the price:

  • Chili Dawgs Always Bark at Night
  • Shoot Low, Boys-They're Ridin' Shetland Ponies
  • If Love Were Oil, I'd be a Quart Low
  • Don't Sit Under the Grits Tree With Anyone Else but Me
  • Elvis is Dead and I Don't Feel So Good Myself


Inside the covers, I explored taverns and honky tonks on the side of the freeway where a barmaid is willing to fix breakfast for a couple of out-of-towners. I watched a local pool stud whiff on the break, and watched the room go still with surpressed laughter. I watched a young boy being taught that giving involves sacrifice, even though he didn't understand the lesson until years later. I met a woman sending her son back to the Marines after his first leave. I met a homeless man with a quiet dignity that shattered the stereotypes I'd always believed in. I met a father who came back from the war tormented and broken, unable to handle the burdens on his soul, but who still believed that America was worth fighting for.
Daddy, it embarrasses me when you sing our national anthem so loudy.
Son, it embarrasses me when you don't.

I met the wife and mother who watched him go, driven away by his demons, then started a new life with nothing but courage and her young son. I met Kathy Sue Loudermilk, Ludlow Porch, Cordie Mae Poovy, and 'my boyhood friend and idol Weyman C Wannamaker Jr, a Great American.'

Lewis wrote about the people of the South, and about what makes it a special place. He blasted those who attacked her through cliche and stereotype, making fun of our lifestyles, the way we play, even the way we talk without ever taking the time to actually get to know what southern culture truly is. But Lewis was more than a southern humorist; he was a humanist. He told us of the pain, disappointment and loss of his three failed marriages and we all, Reb and Yank, could understand that. He told us of the unsung heroes which surround us every day. He told us about the joy of a good dog, and the sorrow of losing him. He told us about ourselves.

I hope that someday I am able to write with even half the flavor and honesty of Lewis Grizzard.

Posted by Rich
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I Hate it when that happens!

I Hate it when that happens!

Dudley Moore isdead.
Actor Dudley Moore, an unlikely Hollywood heartthrob in "10" and "Arthur" as a cuddly pip-squeak whose charm melted female hearts, died today. He was 66.

Moore died at 11 am EST (0300 AEDT) at his home in New Jersey, said publicist Michelle Bega in Los Angeles.

He died of pneumonia as a complication of progressive supranuclear palsy, she said.


Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, March 27, 2002

This is a bit outside of my field

This is a bit outside of my field of expertise, but for a very readable, personal account of the Battle of Kontum, go here. The link was sent to me by Air Force Major John Heslin, and the website was written by his father, Lt Col John G. "Jack" Heslin, US Army, retired.

Major Heslin writes:
However, in the short excellent recap "Vietnam Revisited," comparing the French and American experiences in Vietnam, the author discusses three critical mistakes made by the French in the 50's and repeated by the US in the 60's: first, a flawed definition of victory; second, an underestimation of the Vietminh's mobility; third, the unforeseen ability of the Vietminh to create effective fire.
These are points worth raising, comparisons worth making, with today's asymmetric battle against terrorists.


Of the three concerns raised, the first two are evident in the new war. What is victory, and how do we achieve it? It's easy to say "the eradication of evil," but that is just a bit nebulous to be used as a basis for strategy. Do we need to capture or kill Osama, or just render him ineffective? Is al Qaeda the only group we are targetting, or should we go after all identified terrorist organizations?

Second is the question of mobility. We are operating at a tremendous disadvantage. Because they don't have a homeland to defend, the terrorists can vanish in the face of any attack. We've seen this, both in Tora Bora, and during Operation Anaconda. We had a foretaste of this tactic during Desert Storm. The Iraqi army surrendered faster than we could take them into custody. This was not a sign of cowardice, but a successful strategy to minimize Iraqi losses when confronted with an overwhelming force. Rather than fighting, they withdraw, retaining the capability to inflict more damage at a later date. Our adversaries are like a swarm of bees without a hive. We can't take them out by destroying the hive, and it is difficult to fight a swarm.

As for the third concern, I don't think we have seen any capability on the part of Al Qaeda/Taliban soldiers to create an effective field of fire. I even question whether they should be called soldiers. Our forces are well prepared to deal with any military actions that they may come up against, but I don't know how well prepared they are to counter terrorist/geurilla type actions. Should our adversaries adopt those tactics, then we could be in for some very long nights.

Posted by Rich
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Blackmail is blackmail

Blackmail is blackmail no matter what the supposed justification. This quote comes from an amplification of a story I commented on yesterday.

"The real problem is they are publicly-traded companies, and they cannot afford the publicity. It’s a form of shakedown, extortion. The companies today are completely different from the companies they are talking about in the past; the people who will get the money are people who aren’t slaves," said scholar David Horowitz, who recently released Uncivil Wars: The Controversy over Reparations for Slavery.

But Joyce A. Ladner, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institute and author of The New Urban Leaders, said even if they don't succeed, the suit will have made its point.

"This case does two things, it educates the larger public about the role that institutions played in slavery," she said, and it "redresses old grievances" by tying specific harm to companies and the government.

"These lawyers — and they are some of the finest legal minds in America — know that this is basically a frivolous lawsuit that will not succeed, but to the extent that they can stir the pot and get us to talk about this and maybe create this fund for scholarships and maybe get an apology from Congress, they will have accomplished their purpose," Napolitano said.


"...create a fund for scholarships..." Interesting when even the suporters of the suit realize there is no merit, but still believe they'll get something out of it.

By the way, I apologize for the racially insensitive term "blackmail" used to head this story. I wish to change the term to "African American Extortion Process." See, I can be politically correct when I want to be.....

Posted by Rich
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Those wacky french

Those wacky french IN a move worthy of a Twilight Zone episode, the French government has asked the Justice department to forgo the death penalty in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only man indicted in relation to the 9-11 attacks.
Gilles Sainati, of the French Magistrates' Union, said France should threaten to withhold information about the Al Qaeda network of Usama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks, if that information would help to convict Moussaoui.


Here's a hint for all you french folks. If the man is guilty, he's dead. If you withold information that could convict him, you are guilty of aiding and abetting a known terrorist. I think we've made it clear to the world what the penalty for that is.
But don't worry. We won't come after you. You're not worth the effort.

Posted by Rich
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It’s called a clue.  You might want to look into it.

It's called a clue. You might want to look into it. Speedy gonzales is not welcome at the Cartoon Network.

The rapid rodent has been deemed an offensive ethnic stereotype of Mexicans, and has been off the air since the cable network became the sole U.S. broadcaster of old Warner Brothers cartoons in late 1999


Oddly enough, there is one place to catch Speedy Gonzales on TV:
But Speedy boosters shouldn't expect to see their furry hero anytime soon, at least in the United States, Goldberg said. But there is a place where Speedy can still be found zipping across TV screens — and, presumably, where the crude stereotypes he embodies don't touch a cultural nerve.

That place: The Cartoon Network Latin America, where, ironically enough, Speedy Gonzales is "hugely popular," Goldberg said.


I think we should force the Cartoon Network Latin America to take Speedy Gonzales off the air, because of the offensive portrayal of Americans as personified by Sylvester the cat.

Posted by Rich
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Bait and Switch

Bait and Switch Crown Prince Abdullah is getting a lot of media attention for his proposed peace initiative, which offers complete normalizations of relations between Israel and the arab nations in return for an Israeli pull back to the 1967 boundaries.

Or does it?

It seems that the idea floated by the Crown Prince has changed drastically. The text of the draft proposal may be found here.
The Arab summit calls for:

_ complete withdrawal from the Arab lands occupied in 1967, including a full withdrawal from the Syrian Golan and from all the lands that are still occupied in south Lebanon, to the borders of June 4th, 1967.

_ acceptance to reach a fair solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees that will be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. Resolution 194.

_ acceptance of an independent sovereign Palestinian state on the Palestinian lands occupied since June 4, 1967, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (news - web sites), with holy Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with U.N. Security Council resolution 1379.

In return, the Arab countries assert the following:

_ to consider the Arab-Israeli conflict over and to reach a treaty to cement this between them (the Arab countries) and Israel.


Looks like the right of return has quietly slipped back into the picture, which is an automatic deal breaker as far as Israel is concerned. Go here to read the text of resolution 194. One excerpt:
11. Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible;

Instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation, and to maintain close relations with the Director of the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees and, through him, with the appropriate organs and agencies of the United Nations;


Not only does the Arab plan call for the right of return, it also calls for Israel to pay compensation for the refugees who decide not to return. Interestingly enough, Resolution 194 also calls for Jerusalem to be placed under UN control, not installed as the capitol of Palestine.
8. Resolves that, in view of its association with three world religions, the Jerusalem area, including the present municipality of Jerusalem plus the surrounding villages and towns, the most eastern of which shall be Abu Dis; the most southern, Bethlehem, the most western, Ein Karim (including also the built-up area of Motsa); and the most northern Shu'fat, should be accorded special and separate treatment from the rest of Palestine and should be placed under effective United Nations control;

Requests the Security Council to take further steps to ensure the demilitarization of Jerusalem at the earliest possible date;

Instructs the Commission to present to the fourth regular session of the General Assembly detailed proposals for a permanent international régime for the Jerusalem area which will provide for the maximum local autonomy for distinctive groups consistent with the special international status of the Jerusalem area;


This would appear to conflict with the claim of the Arabs that Jerusalem should be the capitol of Palestine according to U.N. Security Council resolution 1379. I looked up this resolution. It says nothing about Jerusalem, but instead deals with "Children and armed conflict." In fact, a search of UN Security Council resolutions turns up nothing which states that Jerusalem should be the capitol of Palestine.

Well, maybe the Crown Prince was confused. Let's continue on with this draft of the proposal.

When Abdullah first floated this idea during an interview with Thomas friedman, he used the term "full normalization" of relations with Israel. This term has a very specific meaning, which includes the exchanging of ambassadors, the establishment of embassies, all predicated on the acceptance of Israel as a legal entity. Naturally, there is strong resistance to this proposition among Arab states, and we see in the draft resolution, that the term does not appear. Instead, we get the mealy-mouthed, "to consider the Arab-Israeli conflict over and to reach a treaty to cement this between them (the Arab countries) and Israel."

Quite a large step back from the initial proposal.

As I commented here back when the story first came out, the proposal is another smoke screen on the part of the Arabs in an attempt to look like they are interested in peace.

To make things worse, it looks like half the Arab nations will not be represented at the conference. Must not want to be seen agreeing or disagreeing with the proposal.

Posted by Rich
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