Back in 2004, I had environmental and political worries about nuclear energy. Low safety standards in Iran, evidenced for example in the extremely high incidences of road accidents, would make anyone nervous about the possibility of another Chernobyl occurring in Iran. Politically, I argued that possessing nuclear weapons would embolden the new government of Iran, which was already exhibiting an unimpressive record on democracy and human rights.
But he perceives something more threatening than totalitarian, terrorist-backing Iran:
But the events of the past two years -- most notably with what's happening in Iraq, along with last year's presidential election and other unfortunate events in the region -- has left no doubt in my mind, and in the minds of lots of secular Iranians, that the U.S. is behaving more and more like a reckless imperial force...
Does Hossein even know what an empire is? One of the key elements is tribute paid by the conquered nation to the conquering nation. The situation in Iraq is the reverse: we are paying tribute to them. We are building infrastructure that was destroyed in the war and that never existed in the first place.
...in search of new sources of energy...
So why isn't any Iraqi oil coming over to the US?
Actually, if the US government wanted to go to war for oil, it would find an excuse to liberate western Canada from its Frenchified eastern portion (retribution for harboring all those draft dodgers?) and start going after Alberta's oil sands.
...and new markets to expand to economically.
What evidence does he have of mercantilist aspirations?
Therefore, even if Iran becomes the most peaceful, secular and progressive, yet still independent state on the planet, the U.S. would be unable to tolerate it. The U.S. would seek new excuses to topple Iran's government and install their favorite instead.
The United States has no history whatsoever of toppling peaceful governments, so this is nothing more than sheer bigotry.
He has other reasons, involving Pakistan:
Moreover, a nuclear Pakistan has always been a threat to Iran and a source of instability. Radical Wahabi and anti-Shia groups such as Sepah-e Sahabeh have murdered Iranian citizens or diplomats in the past twenty years. They helped create the Taliban, which almost got into war in Iran in late in late 90s.
Update: So should we invade tommorow? No. We've got a lot of resources tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan right now. Our current policy should be containment: spy on its nuke program (and all other government and military activities), bomb nuke program facilities when discovered, nab any Iranians coming over into Iraq or Afghanistan, destroy Hezbollah. I can come up with only one way in which the United States can avoid an eventual military solution: overthrow of the mullahcracy.
Wes Vernon has a short history on the topic, spanning from the Supreme Court's 1943 stamp of approval on government regulation of broadcast media's "composition of traffic," to the Fairness Doctrine, to McCain-Feingold, to the currently-debated Fairness and Accountability in Broadcasting bill.
There's also this tale of Seattle radio talk show hosts Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson, whose voiced opposition to a proposed gas tax hike ran afoul of a statewide campaign finance law:
As the Wilber/Carlson advocacy began to catch on with the public, a consortium of tax-hungry local governments throughout the state went to court and persuaded a judge to rule that the talk-show hosts' commentaries should be counted as "in-kind" contributions to the No New Gas Tax (NNGT) campaign. The court decided that the hosts and their station KVI-AM offered free political advertising to the gas-tax opponents.
Part of the rationale for the ruling—now on appeal to the state Supreme court—was that the hosts' employer—Fisher Communications— "sent" NNGT a contribution merely by allowing Wilbur and Carlson to comment in favor of the repeal initiative (which subsequently failed by a narrow margin, thanks in no small part to the overwhelming power of the moneyed campaign by the pro-taxers). It did not matter that the KVI talkers had proponents of the tax hike appear on their program as guests, or that Fisher's media properties included commentaries in favor of sticking Washington State consumers for more money at the pump.
Back to the Fairness and Accountability in Broadcasting bill. Its chief sponsor, New York congressindividual Louise Slaughter, details the bill on her official government website:
Specifically, it will reduce the license period for broadcast stations back to four years. Eight years of operating without any oversight, we have discovered, is a license to steal.
Second, each station shall be required to hold 2 public hearings a year to ascertain the needs and interests of the communities they serve.
Transcripts of these hearing shall be placed in a public file, on the Internet, and be forwarded to the FCC as part of the license renewal process.
Third, stations will be required to report to the FCC on a biannual basis how they have covered diverse opinions about issues of public importance and how their coverage reflects the interests and viewpoints of their local community.
And last, the FCC shall take into account any failure to hold hearings or ascertain the needs and interests of the community into account when license renewal rolls around.
Slaughter has essentially two concerns: that large corporations' buyouts of local stations has led to an increasing neglect of local news coverage, and that because of the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, "critical issues of public importance were not being covered - or were appearing in such a lop-sided fashion that they were unrecognizable as the truth."
The second fallacy upon which the doctrine rests concerns the idea of "fairness" itself. As defined by proponents of the doctrine, "fairness" apparently means that each broadcaster must offer air time to anyone with a controversial view. Since it is impossible for every station to be monitored constantly, FCC regulators would arbitrarily determine what "fair access" is, and who is entitled to it, through selective enforcement. This, of course, puts immense power into the hands of federal regulators.
It gets better:
And in fact, the fairness doctrine was used by both the Kennedy and Nixon Administrations to limit political opposition. Telecommunications scholar Thomas W. Hazlett notes that under the Nixon Administration, "License harassment of stations considered unfriendly to the Administration became a regular item on the agenda at White House policy meetings." (Thomas W. Hazlett, "The Fairness Doctrine and the First Amendment," The Public Interest, Summer 1989, p. 105.) As one former Kennedy Administration official, Bill Ruder, has said, "We had a massive strategy to use the fairness doctrine to challenge and harass the right-wing broadcasters, and hope the challenge would be so costly to them that they would be inhibited and decide it was too expensive to continue." (Tony Snow, "Return of the Fairness Demon," The Washington Times, September 5, 1993, p. B3.)
For whomever is running against Slaughter in this election, you could run ads berating her for pushing legislation akin to that which Nixon used to silence his critics. Maybe you could label her a Nixon Democrat. Citizens of Arizona and Wisconsin will have to wait until 2010 to unseat McCain and Feingold, respectively.
Slaughter should be careful what she wishes for. I can think of one local issue that she would probably not like to see receive increased news coverage - gerrymandering:
What Warren is doing is positively divine, but not entirely new. He's putting a purpose-driven spin on the simplest idea: "abstinence, be faithful and condoms" (ABC) — to replace the old, hasn't-quite-worked approach — "safe sex" — with a much more promising strategy for saving at-risk people in Africa, and everyone else whose activities are liable to expose them to HIV.
I have one question: if you wait until marriage for sex and limit yourself to one partner, then why do you ever need condoms, except for birth control (for which condoms are one of the most unreliable methods)?
Someone at Sydney Indymedia has drafted a quiz to determine whether you are a Nazi (link via It Comes In Pints). Some of the questions are Aussie specific, and some are universal.
There are actually two tests. You're a Nazi if you answer "no" to at least three of these questions...
Did Howard lie about WMD?
Do you know who Rupert Murdoch is?
Do you like cats?
Did you ever believe in a conspiracy theory?
Are there aliens out there?
Did you ever use alternative medicine?
Would you kill to defend yourself?
Do you ever avoid walking in the cracks of the pavement?
They would not do it without a reason, would they?
...or "yes" to at least three of these:
Do you vote?
Do you believe in God?
Do you smoke?
Should the Monarchy remain?
Do you agree with corporal punishment for children?
Would you kill for your country?
Do you do martial arts?
Did you ever kick your pet?
Would you tell lies for your boss?
Would you join the uniformed services?
Do you like the changing of the guard?
Did you answer these questions truthfully?
That conspiracy theory question needs to be qualified, considering that Jewish conspiracy theory is a staple of Nazism.
The "yes" section could qualify as Nazis a lot of the Jews who participated in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. I suspect that very few were atheists, and that few would have turned down the opportunity to participate in free elections. If joining the insurrection is the moral equivalent of 6, 7, and/or 10, then according to the quiz, they were Nazis.
Earlier this year, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives posted the winners of their Kid's Art Contest. The agency 'requested artwork from ATF employees' children under the age of 14 that depicted what they thought their parents did at work."
Pictured above is a winning entry drawn by a 6-year-old. Ostensibly a drawing of an ATF agent investigating a church arson, the image, especially the ambiguous child-like figure on the left side, eerily calls to mind the ATF's central role in the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidians outside Waco, Texas.
The article has an image of the drawing. Check it out.
A computer hardware purchase from some time back included a coupon for a free month's membership with Rhapsody, a music download service. You can listen to music in real time and download what you want. Sounds great, but there's some catches:
Audio files are in WMA format, not MP3. Most serious audiophiles will tell you that MP3 is superior.
Streaming audio is specifically designed to play on speakers. The sound quality drops like a rock if you put headphones on.
Limited music selections. I've been unable to find selections from the earlier works of some major bands like Genesis. Yet Rhapsody has every obscure version of "Windmills of Your Mind" except for the best one, the one that Matt Drudge plays on his radio show once in a blue moon. (Can anyone tell me who recorded that one?) The movie soundtrack selection is especially wretched; you can find the theme to the original The Thomas Crown Affair ("Windmills"), but not the Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome soundtrack.
Even members have to pay to download certain songs - and Rhapsody will play only 30-second excerpts of those songs. If I want to listen to a half a minute of "Orinoco Flow" by Enya, I can get that for free from Yahoo Music.
Update: The reference to The Thomas Crown Affair was originally garbled; this has been cleared up.
Samizdata has a thread going in comments to this post. Here's my contribution:
How many bloggers does it take to change a light bulb?
A blogger sees the light bulb is out and posts on it. Glenn Reynolds links, and 6,000 follow the Instalanche. Atrios directs a "dim bulb" joke at President Bush. Daily Kos blames Karl Rove and/or the IDF. LGF responds by linking to reports about Palestinian destruction of light bulbs. Andrew Sullivan rants about how light bulbs are used as torture devices at Gitmo, and is linked (once again) by Shrill Blog. Rand Simberg and Jay Manifold blog on light pollution, and Eugene Volokh muses on the legal implications thereof. Samizdata enters a post on light bulbs and free markets, illustrated with a photo of Adriana, gazing at a light bulb while a thought bubble filled with half a dozen currency symbols hovers over her head. Michael J. Totten, the most widely-traveled of all bloggers, goes out and changes the light bulb.
That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an aeroplane - Lenny Burnside is not afraid. Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn - world serves its own needs, don't misserve your own needs. Feed it up a knock, speed, grunt no, strength no. Ladder structure clatter with fear of height, down height. Wire in a fire, represent the seven games in a government for hire and a combat site. Left her, wasn't coming in a hurry with the furies breathing down your neck. Team by team reporters baffled, trump, tethered crop. Look at that low plane! Fine then. Uh oh, overflow, population, common group, but it'll do. Save yourself, serve yourself. World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed. Tell me with the rapture and the reverent in the right - right. You vitriolic, patriotic, slam, fight, bright light, feeling pretty psyched.
It's the end of the world as we know it. It's the end of the world as we know it. It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.
Six o'clock - TV hour. Don't get caught in foreign tower. Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself churn. Lock him in uniform and book burning, blood letting. Every motive escalate. Automotive incinerate. Light a candle, light a motive. Step down, step down. Watch a heel crush, crush. Uh oh, this means no fear - cavalier. Renegade and steer clear! A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies. Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline.
It's the end of the world as we know it. It's the end of the world as we know it. It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.
The other night I tripped a nice continental drift divide. Mount St. Edelite. Leonard Bernstein. Leonid Breshnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs. Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom! You symbiotic, patriotic, slam, but neck, right? Right.
It's the end of the world as we know it. It's the end of the world as we know it. It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.
the same ingredients that made the 20th century the bloodiest in history (between 167 and 188 million killed in military conflict) are poised to make the 21st century just as deadly. The "three Es" as he calls them -- ethnic disintegration, economic volatility, and empires in decline -- when combined create a toxic soup that poisons cities, nations, and regions, and lead to violence, war, and genocide.
I got to thinking...what were the key ingredients to the 100 million deaths that occurred under Communism?
Certainly one of those factors is brutal and grand-scale slavery. This kills in one of two ways: by working people beyond their physical limits, and by creating famine through gross inefficiencies. Pol Pot's holocaust was characterized by both, killing off 25% of Cambodia. Mao's Great Leap Forward, perhaps the single greatest cause of death in human history (20-30 million), is at the very least guilty of the latter. The Soviet gulag committed the former.
In my 2003 review of The Black Book of Communism, I explained why Communism naturally evolves into a criminal state:
How do robbers with monopolistic State power behave? They enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else, of course. They also use that power to pursue whatever vendettas they may have been harboring. Communist leaders invariably turn their backs on creating a truly classless society, having made themselves feudal lords and the rest of the population serfs, but they retain the part of Marxism that calls for the destruction of the alleged "exploiter" classes. Sometimes murder is the weapon of choice. "Exploiters" are often neutralized by other means: imprisonment, forced relocation (to destroy an ethnic group cohesion by dispersing its members throughout the countryside), intimidation, brainwashing.
Under Communism, the citizen is disposable, having no value outside of his or her conformity to the State's preconditions for class identity. That is ultimately why Communism kills.
Hurricane Katrina should be a wake up call for President Bush on the need for urgent US action to tackle climate change, Friends of the Earth said today. The hurricane is one of the worst natural disasters America has ever faced and is a stark reminder of what scientists expect to happen as a result of human induced climate change.
Although there is at present no means by which to tell whether this particular storm was due to human induced global warming, the devastation it has caused is consistent with the projections generated by climate change models that suggest such storms will become more severe as the world warms up.
Computer models projecting the impacts of climate change on the weather suggest that increased sea surface temperatures caused by global warming will lead to more intense hurricanes. Research findings published in the science journal Nature  in July suggests that this is already happening. The analysis, by climatologist Professor Kerry Emanuel of the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, says that major storms in the Atlantic and Pacific since the 1970s have increased in intensity by about 50 per cent. This trend is closely linked to rises in the average temperatures of the sea surface
Hurricanes require warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs), and last year the tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures were running well above normal. Global warming was the explanation given by most 'experts' the media interviewed. And since global warming will only get worse, those SSTs were expected to just keep on increasing.
But now those same regions that had anomalously warm SSTs last year are -- gasp! -- near normal. The accompanying graphic shows large areas in the tropical Atlantic even a little cooler than normal.
This is not the only surprisingly cool SST story. A new scientific article now accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters shows that the globally averaged upper ocean cooled dramatically between 2003 and 2005, effectively erasing 20% of the warming that occurred over the previous 48 years!
The rapidity of this observed temperature change is beyond what computerized climate models can explain. This is perplexing for modelers, who tend to believe that their models contain all of the important physics of the problem.
Read the whole thing, and don't plan your vacation around computerized climate models.
"Mel is now ready to talk to a Jewish group or a rabbi. I disagree. He is a Catholic and appears to need some spiritual guidance. Perhaps he should talk to one of his own faith. Maybe Cardinal Roger Mahoney (Los Angeles cleric) could be a great help," he said.
He's right. Mel needs spiritual renewal, and that must come ultimately through his own faith. As stated in Alcoholics Anonymous' twelve steps, repentance (steps 3-7) comes before reconciliation (steps 8-9). Repentance involves God and not those aggrieved, so in Mel's case that means Catholic guidance.
Douglas (himself Jewish) recommends Los Angeles' Cardinal John Mahoney. Don't know much about Mahoney, but I know one qualification I'd want to see in Mel's counselor: a working knowledge in (and working skepticism of) Jewish conspiracy theories. The declaration against anti-Semitism in Pope Paul VI's Nostra Aetate isn't enough; the counselor must be able to address the specific ideas about Jews that have been floating around in Mel's head. And Mel needs to be up front about them, with the same degree of honesty expected in Confession.
Douglas makes a statement that has been echoed by others: "I don't find Mel Gibson anti-Semitic. He worked with Jews and has a lot of Jewish friends." I disagree, to a point. Prejudice exists in three different forms: violent hate, nonviolent hate, and snobbery. Snobs vary in the degrees of both interaction with and even amicable feelings for "those people." Sometimes prejudice is in a state of erosion in snobs. Mel Gibson is an anti-Semitic snob who can get along with Jews most of the time. He hasn't been outspoken on all his ideas about Jews, so we don't know to which degree he is now - or has been in the past - a recovering anti-Semite.
The United States did not recognize Huerta's dictatorship. The Tampico Affair worsened relations, and intelligence of a German arms shipment to the Huerta regime precipitated Woodrow Wilson's order for the United States occupation of Veracruz in April of 1914. Meanwhile, Huerta was facing a counter-counterrevolution, which unseated him in July of that year. Its leader, Venustiano Carranza, became Mexico's new president. While the US recognized Carranza, the occupation forces did not leave Veracruz until November of that year.
Carranza sought to institute political reforms, but not in quantities deemed sufficient by his one-time allies Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa. They revolted against the new government, driving Carranza out of Mexico City in 1915. The Zapatista movement dissipated in the wake of the 1919 assassination of its leader. Carranza stayed in power until 1920, when his own Minister of War and of the Navy, General Alvaro Obregon, sought the presidency for himself. Adolpho de la Huerta was made interim president; he negotiated a successful peace treaty with Villa, effectively ending the revolution. Elections were held, and Obregon was declared the winner.
During the revolution, Pancho Villa led a raid in US territory (see :
On March 9, 1916, Villa led 1,500 (disputed, one official US Army report stated "500 to 700") Mexican raiders in a cross-border attack against Columbus, New Mexico, in response to the U.S. government's official recognition of the Carranza regime. They attacked a detachment of the 13th US Cavalry, seized 100 horses and mules, burned the town, killed 10 soldiers and 8 of its residents, and took much ammunition and weaponry.
This triggered the failed Punitive Expedition, an 11-month hunt for Villa led by General John J. Pershing, who "complained to family that President Wilson had imposed too many restrictions, which made it impossible for him to fulfill his mission." Wikipedia does not tell us what those restrictions were.
Pancho Villa had committed an act of war against the United States. His men murdered American civilians and military personnel - who had not even participated in the Mexican Revolution. Our government could not let that act go unpunished, yet Pershing was not allowed to complete that task. Villa was eventually assassinated by his own countrymen in 1923, but that doesn't absolve the US of failing to bring him to justice.
The Mexican government was likewise obligated to assist the US in apprehending Villa while he was on Mexican soil. Civil war meant that Carranza was out to get Villa, anyway. Still, some sort of joint military operation could have been forged if Carranza and Woodrow Wilson had any imagination. His successors should not have forgotten the incident, and should have arranged for Villa's arrest and extradition.
Today, Israel is capitulating to something much worse than Pancho Villa. His crime (in America) was armed robbery and murder. Hezbollah's crime is something far different and far more dangerous: terrorist attacks against civilian targets. Hezbollah seeks to inspire the destruction of Israel, just as al-Qaeda seeks to inspire the destruction of Western civilization. Israel tried a ceasefire with Hezbollah once in 2000, and it lasted only six years; people are dead today because of that truce. Hezbollah must be brought to justice; it must be completely destroyed. Islamic terrorists have always used ceasefires to rearm. If Israel doesn't finish off Hezbollah, Hezbollah will kill innocent civilians again.
The Lebanese government cannot be a neutral party. If it tolerates the existence of Hezbollah on its soil, it sides with Hezbollah and its murder of Israeli civilians - not to mention its past attacks against United States citizens. Lebanon's government must go. This could be accomplished at the polls, if enough Lebanese voters figure out that, at the very least, Hezbollah's presence hinders their own prospects for long-term peace.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: But, here we have maybe 24 people who have lived in London and England and the free world for all these years that become citizens, subjects of the Crown, and yet, after having gotten to know us, they want to kill themselves to hurt us. Isn't that an even deeper conundrum here than the chemicals being used in these attacks.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: And that, Chris, that last aspect, the willingness to take one's own life. I always tell people there are guys on our team like that, too. They're called Army Rangers and Navy Seals and the Special Forces folks and the first responders on 9/11 who went into those buildings knowing, by the way, they weren't going to come out. So we have players like that on our team.
Note to Williams: American soldiers and first responders risk their own lives to save others. They don't take their own lives, except in those rare circumstances (such as falling on a grenade) when rescue means certain death. People who kill themselves in order to kill others are a different breed.
Just in time for the one-year anniversary of 7/7, a poll conducted for The Times of London indicates that 13 percent of British Muslims believe that the four Islamic suicide bombers who murdered 52 people in London last July should be regarded as "martyrs."
With a Muslim population in Britain estimated at 1.6 million, this means that some 208,000 British Muslims regard these killers with what can only be described as a worshipful attitude. Which is despicable. But Mother England, it seems, is home to an awful lot of despicable people.
"I was looking for a weapon, any weapon, because my handgun was 100 feet away, outside in my car. I made an incredibly stupid decision to follow the law, and that cost my family's lives," she says as she reflects on the massacre that ended with 24 people dead inside the Luby's Cafeteria at Killeen, a military town in Central Texas.
Hupp fought for the Texas concealed carry law, and currently serves in the state legislature - official website here.
Mel Gibson's first apology was lacking, as he avoided mentioning the specific transgression at hand. He said what needed to be said in the second apology. And he took a step that a lot of celebs don't take when in similar situations:
I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display, and I am asking the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery. Again, I am reaching out to the Jewish community for its help. I know there will be many in that community who will want nothing to do with me, and that would be understandable. But I pray that that door is not forever closed.
At Daimnation, I posted the following comment to this post:
On Hannity's radio show earlier today, William Donohue (who branded Hitchens an anti-Catholic bigot, for reasons unknown) said that Mel needs to be careful about which Jewish leaders he meets with - specifically, to avoid the ones who simply want to use him like a punching bag. He's right. If Mel is salvageable, he shoudln't reach out to paranoid blowhards like Abe Foxman who have a nasty habit of dishing out false charges of anti-Semitism. (There's plenty of the real stuff to complain about, Abe.)
Foxman doesaccept Gibson's apology, but that doesn't enhance his qualifications. The purpose of Mel meeting with Jews is to overcome his bigotry. It will not help to meet with Jews who have a track record of leveling false charges of bigotry. At the Conservative Voice, Michael J. Gaynor recounts the Anti-Defamation League's delusions about The Passion of the Christ. Foxman is also intolerant of Christians peacefully proselytizing Jews. The idea of meeting with Jews is to discourage anti-Semitism, not to put
Mel has already been invited by Rabbi David Baron to speak at the Temple of the Arts, the premier synagogue for the entertainment industry, on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. Best of luck.
Many are speculating over what this does to Gibson's career. Predictably, there isn't similar buzz about Gary Busey's future after portraying a Mengele-like Jewish-American physician in Valley of the Wolves: Iraq. (Then again, Busey hasn't had much of a career lately.) Damian Penny states that "Hollywood is actually a pretty forgiving town," but, as Elia Kazan would testify if he were alive, that forgiving nature can be quite selective. Hollywood will applaud Fidel Castro, who jails people for being gay and has his military shoot down anyone caught trying to escape from Cuba, and will lionize a Palestinian society whose vast majority wants to destroy Israel, but will a community that placed anathema on Kazan tolerate Mel Gibson?