Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Friday, September 27, 2002

The Latest Blog Humor has a nice parody of those Nigerian spam scams. Vegard Valberg would approve.

The first section of this James Lileks post illustrates the absurdity of the Euroweenies who tell us not to fight people who are out to kill us.

Rand Simberg does a little War on Terror satire, too.

And Scrappleface pokes fun at Belgium (found this on Live from Brussels, believe it or not).

The OED Gets More Words

The Oxford English Dictionary has been updated, with "Jedi" and "Klingon" (already recognized by Blogger Pro's spell checker) among the new additions. I have not found Internet confirmation of this, but WBAP talk host Mark Davis say that "bootylicious" has also received official recognition from the OED. I guess "shagadelic" can't be far behind.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Colin Powell on Iraq

Even Colin Powell is calling for a regime change in Iraq.

Looks like the Margaret Thatcher stem cell implants are starting to take, but further observation is necessary.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Resisting the State

The recent arrest of a Catholic bishop by the Chinese government represents just the tip of the iceberg of the oppression of religion in the People's Republic. The presence of religion means that citizens are looking to something outside the state for at least a portion of their sense of meaning and purpose; the totalitarian state demands absolute authority over that role and will do everything to eliminate the competition. China has an official Catholic church, but one that is Catholic in name only and is totally compliant with the state. (Think Quisling.)

Catholics, and Christians in general, aren't the only victims of Chinese antireligious persecution. Tibetan Buddhists and Falun Gong are also among those oppressed by the Communist regime. I don't have any suggestions as to how these people can resist this Communist state, but they must do it together. Just because religions can't agree on how humans should relate to the divine doesn't mean that they can't find common ground on how humans should relate to each other. Even on this issue many divisions exist, but all recognize that a government that dictates how its citizens must pursue meaning and purpose must be opposed. Like competing businesses, competing religions don't pray every day for each other's growth, but they know (or should know) that any government allowed to stamp out one is a threat to all.

I hear the sounds of gunfire
At the prison gate
Are the liberators here -
Do I hope or do I fear?

- Rush, "Red Sector A".

Monday, September 23, 2002

Condoleeza Rice on Iraq

A recent story from Financial Times is getting some attention:

The US will be "completely devoted" to the reconstruction of Iraq as a unified, democratic state in the event of a military strike that topples Saddam Hussein, said Condoleezza Rice, US national security adviser.

There's no mention of any detailed plans the Bush administration has up its sleeve (I imagine Condi Rice and company are playing that hand very close to the vest), and no hints as to how receptive they are to the MacArthur Plan. The first question many will ask is how much this will cost the taxpayers. As I stated here, rebuilding Iraq should be funded with its oil reserves. Iraq will need repairs to wartime damage, some infrastructure it didn't have in the first place (because Saddam was spending most of his oil money on personal luxuries and WMD), and a military presence to protect the nation from aspiring dictators from within and aspiring invaders from without.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

A One An' A Two

VodkaPundit's Steve Green has a song for us.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Better Law Enforcement Through Chemistry?

Blast from the past: NewsMax contributor Jack Wheeler tells his readers that more than just CS gas was pumped into the Branch Davidian compound. Yet another reason to cheer Janet Reno's crashed gubernatorial hopes.

Speaking of Embargoes...

Twenty-two Cuban artists were unable to attend Wednesday night's Latin Grammy Awards due to new security rules. Cuban officials complained.

I have just one thing to say: how do we expect to make it easier for Cubans to defect to the US with security rules like this?

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Ending The Cuban Trade Embargo

The embargo was a bad idea from the start. JFK enacted it to pressure the Communist regime. In practice, it plays into Castro's hands, giving him a scapegoat on which to blame Cuba's economic woes (ignoring the facts that Cuba can trade with a bunch of other Western countries). If the embargo is dropped, he will loot the people a little less, give them a few handouts, and claim that the absence of US trade was the real cause of their poverty. I predict that few who do not already believe this to be the case will buy into Fidel's sleight-of-hand. In conversation Jay Manifold once relayed someone's idea that easing the embargo could begin by first allowing the export of fax machines, computers, and satellite dishes. Open those electronic doorways to the West.

This recent NewsMax news bite in the "Inside Cover" section got me to thinking of another justification for easing the embargo. Following is the key passage, from a letter written by Jeb Bush to Jesse Ventura, concerned about the Minnesota governor's plans to visit the island gulag:

"Moreover, Cuba is a bad credit risk. Even the European Union, with many current and former Castro allies among its members, complained to the Cuban government about "delayed payment, excessive government fees, and inconsistent and sometimes outlandish rules." France, Spain, Italy and Venezuela have suspended official credits after being left holding the bag filled with millions of dollars in IOU's."

Yeah. Let's get trade going as soon as possible. As soon as Castro misses one payment, we send in the, er, repossessors. That'll be one less sponsor of terrorism to worry about.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Two Hundred And Fifteen Candles

On this day in 1787, the Constitutional Convention agreed on the final draft for the US Constitution.

At the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. Martin Luther King said the following:
"In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
 photo US-Constitution.jpg The United States of America was the first nation in the history of humanity founded on the principle that all people from the highest official on down are equally subject to and equally protected by the law. In other nations that ideal would gradually transform monarchies, but on these shores they would be instituted at a country's birth, free from the obstacle of an entrenched autocracy that would impede its growth. The Founders had never before witnessed a society in which liberty and justice were respected fully; they understood these concepts with greater clarity than most of their contemporaries, but not with exact precision. They devised a mechanism through which successive generations could incrementally bring the law into greater conformity with the demands of liberty and justice. True, some freedoms that were taken for granted two centuries ago have been eroded, but others that did not exist then are now a part of the American landscape. We must relearn the lessons of yesterday, celebrate the freedoms that are already in place, and keep watching for clues that will draw us closer to the Dream.

Monday, September 16, 2002

Tom Clancy and Homeland Security

Last Saturday night I went to see The Sum of All Fears. It was an enjoyable action film, despite timeline inconsistency (Ben Affleck's Jack Ryan is now an unmarried CIA rookie embroiled in events that happened after The Hunt for Red October) and one big honkin' plot hole (neo-Nazi mastermind Richard Dressler, played by Alan Bates, comes up with a nefarious scheme to bring the US and Russia into a nuclear war, but doesn't let the audience in on how this will benefit the splintered - and virtually impotent - neo-Nazi cause).

The film was completed before 9/11. Many viewers undoubtedly thought of the attacks of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as they watched this movie. I didn't think of the attacks as much as I did about the intelligence failures that made the attacks possible. The film hinges on an investigation into the source of a nuke attack and a race to get the findings to the President in time to avert nuclear war. Ryan encountered great difficulty getting his information to President Fowler. The CIA had no contingency plans to ensure that if its director is killed, agents can still get vital intelligence delivered to the President during a crisis. How could this problem have been averted? By hiring more government agents? Ryan's problem was not that there weren't enough people - there were plenty of government agents getting in his way - but that there weren't enough official channels for people like him to speak through.

Message to Tom Ridge and the intelligence community: aside from the need for certain types of field agents, it's not a manpower problem - it's a communication problem. Officials who rely on intelligence data for carrying out their jobs are in the dark about relevant information that's been uncovered by others, especially those working in other departments. Start figuring out how to get the right people talking to each other - and out of earshot of Patrick Leahy.

Saturday, September 14, 2002

I D-Don't Want T-To Be C-Caesar!

I always did identify a bit wit Claudius; you should see the size of my book collection (no Etruscan histories, though). This quiz, courtesy of Eve Tushnet, confirms it


You're not the fool everyone takes you for. You put on a show to stay under the radar. Underneath your bumbling exterior, you are a shrewd and calculating person. You don't enjoy being in the spotlight, but you can take charge if absolutely neccessary. But trust no one, not even your best friend, because you never know who might betray you.

You were portrayed by Derek Jacobi.

Which I, Claudius Character are You? created by
Shiny Objects

Best Comeback Line of the Year

Pejman Yousefzadeh (pronounced just like it's spelled) excerpts an enjoyable NPR interview.

Update: Pejman has updated his post, reporting his discovery that the cited interview is an urban legend.

Some Pranks Are Not A Good Idea

Jay Manifold offers a little friendly advice.

Rebuilding Iraq

I found this UPI release by James Bennett through this Iain Murray post. Here are some comments on some of the author's points.

Guarantee external frontiers. Or in other words, don't carve up Iraq. Bennett's concern is that the natives should be secure in knowing "that they are guaranteed protection against foreign incursions." In an earlier post I stated that much worse things could happen than Turkish annexation of the Kurdish portion of Iraq. While true, it occurs to me that if we give Turkey some Iraqi territory, its neighbors - at least three of which finance terrorism (Syria, Iraq, Saudis) - will want "their" share. It's bad enough that we gave Stalin a slice of Germany; let's not repeat that mistake.

Turkish occupation may also be detrimental to the Turks themselves. While an independent Kurdistan might inspire growing separatism among Turkish Kurds wishing to join their part of Turkey to the neighboring state, it is also true that annexation of Kurdish Iraq could inspire existing separatists to bring their cause to Turkey's newly-acquired province where there are more potential recruits - not to mention oil fields that they could seize. Several points need to be made to the Turks:

  • The cost of keeping hold of a huge Kurdish-populated province exceeds the proceeds they can reap from the oil fields.

  • An intact, peaceful Iraq opens up opportunities for trade. More trade means more tax revenue for the Turkish government.

  • An intact, peaceful Iraq may influence a decrease in tensions among Turkey's own Kurdish population. Two things must happen: the new Iraqi government must ensure equal rights for all, with no ethnicities being more equal than others, and Turkey must act likewise, instituting any democratic reforms that will bring it closer to that goal. Our diplomats need to communicate to the Turks that they are not being singled out regarding the issue of civil rights, that all nations have room for improving their enforcement of such rights, and that such improvements benefit social stability, making a nation safer and stronger. (If the Turks would in turn ask the US delegation to push for stricter adherence to its Fourth and Fifth Amendments, they would make a lot of friends over here.) If Kurds in both countries see that they can have a reasonable degree under a non-Kurdish (or partially Kurdish) government, they won't be likely to incite rebellions.

Think Switzerland, not France or Germany. Switzerland, like Iraq, is a multiethnic nation, and at one time those in the former didn't get along too well. Key to bringing these factions to peaceful if not "mildly suspicious" coexistence is its decentralization of power. The nation is divided into cantons, each of which has a great deal of autonomy. This allows each faction to pursue its own interests without having to worry about other factions forcibly getting in the way. In the United States we sometimes call this "states' rights." The meaning of this poorly-worded phrase is that states have one set of jurisdictions and the federal government has another, the latter being smaller in scope than the former. (At least that's how it works on paper.) Whether by the Swiss model or some other, decentralization of power is vital to any nation.

When in doubt, privatize. Simply the economic application of decentralization.

The Golden Rule. He who has the gold - or oil - makes the rules. Bennett says that the oil fields should not be privatized until the occupation government leaves, which would occur when "the new cantonal governments demonstrate a reasonable track record of operation and the confederal congress re-establishes Iraq as an international actor. Just as occupation of Germany and Japan eventually ended, so must Iraq's." Makes sense to me. We will need to do a lot of rebuilding, and we should pay for it not with taxpayer funds but with, er, liquid assets. Hey, maybe we can finally stop buying Saudi oil.

Friday, September 13, 2002

The Latest War On Terror Battle Cry

"Give me liberty or give me your death" - said by Matt Drudge on tonight's "Sean Hannity Show."

Thursday, September 12, 2002

The Blogosphere Remembers

Iain Murray and Amy Welborn convey their personal thoughts.

Josh Clayborn posts some related links.

Steve Green remembers the 8 AM call (warning: some PG-13 language). His blog VodkaPundit will be added to my permalinks. His bio is here.

James Lileks echoes the sentiments of Mike Antonucci: it's clobberin' time! His blog The Bleat will be added to my permalinks. His bio is here.

Cato Institute senior fellow Brink Lindsey is on board with Lileks and Antonucci. His blog will be added to my permalinks. His bio is here.

Jay Manifold writes on citizenship.

Suman Palit debunks exaggerations of anti-Muslim backlash and prophecies of America's doom.

Some of Glenn Reynolds' readers are thinking of Tolkien. Another of his readers quotes Beowulf. Glenn reflects on his first blogged reactions from a year ago. In this post he links to this animated Beetle Bailey cartoon.

Samizdata shows how the "real England" marks the day.

Maarten Schenk. shows a photo of early New Yorker reactions to the attack. He also shows a photo of the one time the rest of the world (well, most of it) showed solidarity with America, and links to an article about one corner of the world that never did.

Rand Simberg keeps it simple. His blog Transterrestrial Musings will be added to my permalinks. Can't find a bio; he is a space enthusiast and has been published by Fox News.

Eve Tushnet quotes a Philip Larkin poem that speaks of new beginnings.

Vegard Valberg maintains radio silence.

Anne Wilson lifts a prayer.

Pejman Yousefzadeh cites historical quotes, shows photos and political cartoons, and writes from the heart His blog PejmanPundit will be added to my permalinks. His immensely eloquent (and immense - heehee) bio is here.

Bjørn Stærk, whose site was originally named "The World After WTC," reports various Nordic musings. Last year he blogged about this poem; this excerpt appears on the left-hand margin of his site's home page:

Remember, remember 11 September
Murderous monsters
in flight
Reject their dark game
And let Liberty's flame
Burn prouder and ever more bright

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

December 7, 1942

Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency wrote this special commentary on how Americans commemorated the first anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

And from the ashes we can build for another day
    - Moody Blues, "The Story In Your Eyes"

 photo WTC-Smoke.jpg

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Tuesday, September 10, 2002

If You Want A Job Done Right, You've Got To Do It Yourself

One of the inevitable questions that pops up when the issue of toppling Saddam Hussein is what to do with Iraq once we've taken it. Turkey wants to annex the northern third; aside from wanting the oil fields there, our NATO ally wants to prevent the possibility of an independent Kurdish nation arising from the remains of Iraq, wishing not to encourage separatist movements among its own Kurdish population. Considering that Turkey is the freest Muslim-majority nation in the world, a lot worse could happen. William Safire likes the idea.

So what do we do with the other two-thirds of Iraq? I'll answer with a question: what did we do with the last non-Western nation we conquered? That would be Afghanistan, which we placed in the care of a local constabulary more unstable than the average Dennis Hopper character. How that high-stakes gamble will pay off is yet to be seen. What about the one before that? That would be Japan, which the US ruled through Douglas MacArthur for a time after WWII. I believe that Iraq should be handled likewise, for the following reasons:

  1. Japan had been a feudal empire longer than most nations, having little experience with democratic institutions, although even under monarchy some such reforms had taken place prior to the war. Iraq has absolutely no experience with representative government in its history. Those who truly understand and respect individual liberty and the Rule of Law are the best candidates for setting up institutions based on those principles.

  2. In addition to Turkey, Iraq borders five dictatorships - Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria. Part of our long-term mission must be to destroy the institution of monarchy. Some people will champion freedom because they care about other people; others will do so because it makes their lives more comfortable - freedom decreases strife, thus increasing commerce. Let's give the neighboring petromonarchies a taste of peace and prosperity in a Muslim-majority nation right across their borders.

Then there's the question of putting the right person in charge of Iraq. Somebody with Ron Paul's political philosophy and David Hackworth's military savvy would do a good job.

Update: I'll add a couple of more reasons for placing Iraq under MacArthur-style US trusteeship. First, Afghanistan's stability is not essential to keeping the Middle East from exploding; Iraq's stability is. (Was there any time during the past twenty years when the situation in Afghanistan could be accurately described as "stable?") Second, if we're really committed to stamping out terrorism, we will eventually have to go against the regimes of terror sponsors Syria and Iran, politically or militarily, directly or indirectly - and Iraq is right next door to both to these satrapies of evil.

And don't even think of giving the UN a role in democratizing Iraq. The majority of the governments of this world (hence the majority of UN members) hate democracy, and many democratic governments have warped ideas of the concept. UN-sponsored political reform makes as much sense as putting Andrea Yates in charge of a day care center.

Sunday, September 08, 2002

Putting Communism Into Perspective

This post by Samizdata crewmember Adriana Cronin describes a "griefometer" created by this outfit to measure "how grief-stricken it is appropriate for you to be, given that you never actually met or knew any of the dead." Brian Micklethwait, another Samizdata contributor, blogged a response that includes this remark:

Now, this griefometer is just a silly game, isn't it? A bit sick perhaps? Well, consider this: 100 million killed over 80 years is about 3,422 per day.

Or one "World Trade Centre".

Every day for 80 years.

What's really sick is that the communists' ideological soulmates infest almost every academic institution in the western world. And I am still waiting for them to apologise.

One World Trade Center every day for eighty years. That sentence would carry a lot more punch if the people who gloss over the crimes of Communist regimes past and present didn't tend to blame the US for 9/11.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

Irony Alert

WorldNetDaily contributor Hal Lindsey - yes, that Hal Lindsey - frets that liberals who make false apocalyptic predictions are never held to task.

"The fainthearted liberals who are always making such dire predictions of disaster for every bold move the U.S. makes in its own defense are never penalized when they are wrong. When their predictions prove wrong, as they do almost all of the time, nothing is ever said about it. They are never censored or called to task for their irresponsible - and potentially destructive - actions."

Laugh at the irony all you want, but keep two things in mind. First, Lindsey's WND article is sound. Second, comparing his foretelling to that which he criticizes really is comparing apples to oranges. Lindsey was trying to interpret prophetic scripture under the assumption that certain modern events represented fulfillment of certain signs of such prophesies. The "fainthearted liberals" were engaging in a different sort of prognostication, that which is the stock and trade of appeasers. They believe that thugs must be coddled and sweet-talked so they won't bother us. They make dire predictions that if the forces of civility stand up to the forces of evil, the latter will react more nastily to the former than they would have if they had been coddled and sweet-talked. They do not realize that the forces of evil are determined to steal and murder, and that nothing short of the imprisonment or death of the "axis of evil" can prevent this.

The worst thing to come out of Late Great Planet Earth was the raising of a lot of false hopes. The worst thing to come out of political and military appeasement is Nazi and Imperial Japanese conquest, 70 years of world communism, Islamofascist terrorism - and over 160 million corpses.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

The Cost of Appeasement

Josh Clayborn's recent post illustrates how compromise can be fatal. His discussion of the four possible outcomes of the 1981 budget debate demonstrate the cost of appeasement. The Republicans were pushing for fiscal sobriety, or at least a lower blood alcohol level, metaphorically speaking, than that preferred by the Democrats. If the GOP stuck with principle, the Dems could either support or oppose the proposals. The Republicans win the PR war either way; either they get the proposal passed, or they don't but they make the Dems look bad. If they appease, the Dems win either way; either they go along with a largely intact GOP proposal and take credit, or they watering it down immensely and successfully pass themselves off as the more fiscally sober party.

Appeasement means two things: problems don't get fixed (or get fixed only partially), and people who know how to fix the problems become less politically influential. This is what happened to the Republicans since the 1996 election; they appeased Clinton on most legislative matters, and Clinton took credit for reforms he opposed when the Democrats ran the House. This is what happened to France in 1939; it appeased Hitler, and he watered down the sum total of French-ruled acreage immensely.

The moral here is that solving a problem requires fighting against those whose ideas, intentionally or not, perpetuate the problem in question. This is especially important when the obstructionists believe the problem to be a good thing, and even more so when they are the problem. The War on Terror, for instance, has all these elements present: the terrorists, the apologists for terrorism, and the well-meaning fools who think they have the right answers but don't. The proper solution calls for the destruction and/or surrender of all terrorist forces in the short run, and the eradication of monarchism and totalitarianism in the long run. Appeasing to any of the three obstructionist factions means that the terrorists ultimately shape policy, which means that their wars continue while we sit on our hands. Just look at what happened to Israel after Oslo was signed - or to France and Poland after Neville Chamberlain declared "peace in our time."

Monday, September 02, 2002

Remember the Reason for the Season

FrontPage Magazine contributor Lowell Ponte writes about Labor Day.

Sunday, September 01, 2002


Jay Manifold reports some unusual sightings. No, they're not crop circles.

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