Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Islamic law strikes again 

A Saudi man inherited some money when his father died. Then he got a sex change operation. Now other relatives are demanding a hunk of the inheritance on the grounds that daughters are entitled to half as much as sons. According to Allah.
His family spurned him and applied for the father's estate to be redivided, taking into account his new sex. "They filed a suit even though I am still considered a man and am legally male in Saudi Arabia. I do not know what to do or how to change my sex legally," he said.

Changing sexual identity is not unknown in Saudi Arabia, where the operation is referred to as a sex correction. Cases are studied first by religious scholars, who decide whether surgery is religiously permissible. It is available only to those with an "inter-sex" condition: people born with some characteristics of the opposite sex.

This is, perhaps, the most powerful anecdote I have ever seen that supports the proposition that people who medically alter their gender do so out of compulsion, rather than out of preference or ideology. While it is a difficult to imagine anybody changing their gender on a whim [but see Steel Beach, by John Varley, for a different view - ed.], if a Saudi man goes through with a sex-change operation, you know he really needed to do it.

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Waxing the bad guys of Fallujah 

A buddy of mine is a retired B-52 navigator, and still has friends in the military. He sent me this aerial video showing the delivery and impact of two 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a cluster of insurgents in Fallujah a couple of weeks ago. My friend described the details in the screen as follows:
Close air support in Fallujah at its best. Some Marines were pinned down in a building in a Fallujah neighborhood. Terrorists throughout the city heard about it and were rushing to the area to try and take the Marines out.

The Marines called in air support and the first responders were Air Force F-16's. This video shows a group of guerrillas rounding a corner onto the street leading to the Marines. The F-16's altitude appears in the upper right corner. In the lower right corner is the countdown until the bombs impact. The cross-hairs in the middle indicate where the pilot is directing the laser spot to guide the bombs. The number just to the right of the crosshairs is the length of one of the arms of the crosshairs on the ground in meters.

The bombs are two 500lb laser-guided.


UPDATE: A commenter who has seen the video elsewhere reports that it actually dates from some time ago, before the fighting in Fallujah:
The missile strike occurred some time ago as insurgents were leaving a clandestine meeting in a mosque after midnight. This is low light level imagery captured with CCD technology. You can tell from the night/reflective characteristics of the imagery, and from the CCD code on the display.

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Advice for out-of-state drivers 

Not from New Jersey? Parkway Rest Stop has some excellent advice for out-of-state drivers, including particular -- and well-targeted -- suggestions for our neighbors to the east and north west. And yes, Jim actually uses the word "farookin'".

UPDATED: To correct a fairly fundamental brain-fartish typo.

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Monday, November 29, 2004

Rumors re Rather 

RatherBiased is reporting that Dan's resignation came after CBS top brass received a preliminary report of the independant commission investigating Memogate. Amazingly, since I am not the most plugged-in guy, I actually have a small rumor to add to the mix.

This afternoon, a college classmate of mine who is also a producer of a news division show on a major non-CBS network and who once in his or her past worked for CBS News (such person, the "TigerHawk Source"), reported that he or she had heard that the evidence contained in the aforementioned preliminary report included emails from Dan and others on the show that revealed, shall we say, malice aforethought. Basically, the TigerHawk Source -- who characterizes his or her information as "rumor" -- says that these emails reveal a clear intention to nail the President. The TigerHawk Source believes that the final report will include these emails, or at least refer to them in detail. I further note for credibility-assessment purposes that the TigerHawk Source really dislikes the President and his administration, and actually has some sympathy for the plight of Mr. Rather.

For what it's worth.

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New Jersey's inside baseball (via email) 

I'm listening to a Trenton political insider tell a small group of people
about NJ politics. Key points:

1. Jon Corzine may announce his candidacy for the governorship as early as
Thursday of this week, but soon in any case.

2. Acting Governor Richard Cody may run as well. Corzine's fortune is
daunting, but Cody is not afraid of it. He shouldn't be, insofar as he has
his hands on both the Senate and Drumthwacket.

3. McGreevey has left the state with a $5 billion structural deficit
(notwithstanding TigerHawk's twelve percent marginal state income
tax rate), and Cody's management of that problem will signal his intentions
for next fall.

Most of this is pretty obvious, I suppose, if you follow New Jersey
politics, which I only do in passing.

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Is the New York Times the newest 527? 

Patterico catches the New York Times editors cutting and pasting DNC talking points, and then shreds them substantively. The folks who edit the editorial page should be embarrassed, but, bien sur, won't be.

CWCID: Professor Bainbridge.

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Fooling Harvard 

Both George W. Bush and John Kerry would agree that this is extremely entertaining. Almost, but not enough, for me to start chanting Boolah! Boolah!, or whatever it is the Elis yell when they do something they think is good.

Via Andrew.

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Meet Michael Jordan's big brother 

He's the highest ranking non-commissioned officer in the United States Army, and he's going to Iraq.
Separated in the height department from his baby brother by nearly a foot, Command Sgt. Maj. Jordan appears to have set the example for him in the heart department.

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Sunday, November 28, 2004

Donkey blogging 

Meet Xoti, the miniature donkey foal. Xoti is the newest member of my father-in-law's barnhold, is about six months old, has teeny-weeny hooves, and is no bigger than many dogs. And he's cuter than a cat. According to me. Posted by Hello

Xoti's name is a play on words. Fame and kudos to the reader who figures it out.

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The negotiations with Iran... 

From a certain perspective:
(2004-11-26) -- After a week of tough negotiating by France, Germany and Britain, the Islamic Republic of Iran has conceded to reduce the size of nuclear warheads it will use in the eventual bombing of Paris, Berlin and London.

"Iran blinked," said French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier, who is a man. "We have achieved everything we wanted in these negotiations. Our capital cities will be spared to a certain degree and Iran has pledged to stop enriching uranium, while retaining 20 operating centrifuges, and continuing to process plutonium. This is a great victory of diplomacy."

A spokesman for Iran's President Mohammad Khatami said, "The Europeans are vigorous negotiators, and we have made deep concessions. The eventual survivors in Paris, Berlin and London will express gratitude to Allah when they compare their lot with the fate of Jerusalem and New York."


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MoDo and her brother: psychoanalyzing the psychoanalyzer 

This blog does not normally comment on Maureen Dowd's columns, leaving those fun and games for others. However, today's column is an exception, partly because it was substantially written by her brother. Basically, MoDo reports back from Thanksgiving, having spent it with her decidedly "red state" family:
I've been surprised, out on the road, how often I get asked about my family. They're beyond red - more like crimson. My sister flew to West Virginia in October to work a phone bank for W.

People often wonder what our Thanksgiving is like.

It's lovely - if you enjoy hearing about how brilliant Ann Coulter is, how misguided The New York Times's editorial page is, and how valiant the president is as he tries to stop America's slide into paganism.

Well, you have to agree that Ann Coulter is brilliant, at least in the "brilliant!" sort of British sense of the word.

In any case, this morning she published an amusing email of her brother, which has a lot of suggestions for the various courses of action disappointed Democrats might take ("To Bob Shrum: Cut your fee" being the most obvious and least obnoxious of the lot). Various bloggers have suggested that the "Times hired the wrong Dowd" [UPDATE: A point echoed on Imus this morning.] and that MoDo should "split her fee." All well and good. Who could be against some kudos or even some lucre for brother Kevin?

I wonder, though, if we have not finally gotten a glimpse into the Dowd psyche. She, more than any other pundit with a comparable megaphone, delights in explaining the behavior of politicians -- particularly Republicans of the Bush persuasion -- in terms of their alleged psychological demons. Dubya had to exorcize his father's fatal decision not to march to Baghdad, or live down the rumor that it was brother Jeb carried the family's hopes and dreams, and so forth (not being a big Dowd cataloguer, I may have picked poor examples of this tendency, but I am correct in substance).

Is turnabout fair play? Is it now possible to wonder that the liberal Dowd with the "red state" family is vanquishing her own demons? Is Ms. Dowd projecting? Is it that she is warding off her own family every time she puts her fingers on the keyboard, so that she (naturally) assumes that others go to war for the same reason?

She buried the lead.

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Saturday, November 27, 2004

Are you a fan of Geena Davis? 

If so, Kim du Toit has a special treat for you.

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The world at war 

Islam is at war virtually everywhere that it shares a border with another civilization. Is this because the rest of the world wants to destroy Islam, or because Islam is not compatible with the wonderfully varied world in which we live?

Via The Tall Glass of Milk, who make the case that unlike unrequited love, unreciprocated tolerance kills.

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Skywriting at Tora Bora 

As previously reported, I am working my way through George Friedman's book, America's Secret War, which I cannot recommend highly enough. I am not the only person who thinks this -- Professor Bainbridge discussed the book and a review of it yesterday.

Apart from the broader insights of the book, on which I will report at some future date, Friedman includes all sorts of fascinating anecdotes from the war on Islamist jihad. One of his stories recounts the events of December 13 and 14, 2001, when Afghan proxies and American Special Forces were closing in on Tora Bora. In a series of transactions that eventually gave rise to John Kerry's famous "outsourcing" attack on the Bush Administration's handling of the war, General Zaman, one of the leaders of the Afghani "Eastern Alliance" supposedly hunting al Qaeda, suddenly announced that he had negotiated a cease-fire with al Qaeda that would start at 0800 on December 13. This set off intensive bickering and negotiations among the Afghan forces attacking Tora Bora from the north, and enraged the Americans who organized the attack:
While everyone watched, Americans called in a new round of air strikes on Tora Bora, letter al Qaeda -- and Zaman -- know that the U.S. was not honoring any cease-fire. As important, they were letting Zaman know that the money he undoubtedly collected from al Qaeda for calling the cease-fire was his death warrant with bin Laden, who would now see him as having taken the payoff without having delivered. Zaman was now completely dependent on the United States.

The United States did something even more startling. A B-52 bomber flew over Tora Bora. It started releasing white smoke, and traced a figure eight in the air - representing 8 a.m., the time the ceasefire was to start. The bomber then traced two other letters: NO. A B-52 bomber had played skywriter over Tora Bora, letting al Qaeda know that whatever deal they thought they had was null and void.

Imagine what an amazing sight that must have been, to see a B-52 spell out American defiance in the air over Tora Bora. Of course, the history buff inside me wishes that bomber pilot had written "nuts," but you can't have everything.

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Friday, November 26, 2004

The blogging of Nikki Mize 

The father of a young Ohio woman named Nikki Mize has posted a remarkable web journal -- essentially a blog but in forward chronological order -- of his daughter's recovery from severe thermal and maxillofacial injuries. It is a remarkable story, and it includes a tremendous amount of detail about the surgeries required and the specific medical devices used. Still, the most impressive thing about the blog is the tremendous optimism with which both the blogger and his daughter contend with her terrible injuries. Nikki and her father are in many ways even more remarkable than the medical miracles performed by the surgeons who are reconstructing her.

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Rotten to the core 

Kofi Annan's son appears to be implicated in the oil-for-food scandal:
[F]or fully more than eight years, from 1995-2004, the secretary-general's son was in one way or another on the payroll of Cotecna, which for almost five of those years held a crucial oil-for-food inspection contract with the U.N. Secretariat.

While we at TigerHawk have never been big fans of corruption of blood, one cannot help but wonder whether Annan's gag order, which really is indefensible, isn't there to protect his family and cronies.

Why is the oil-for-food gag order indefensible? The United Nations should be the most transparent organization on the planet. After all, its staff has immunity from prosecution and its constituents are all the people of the world, so what possible argument could there be against full freedom-of-information? Why would the United Nations have any legitimately secret dealings? Is there any question that it is a profoundly corrupt organization without the least shred of credibility? How can an organization of thieves be called upon to police the kleptocracies of the world?

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Thursday, November 25, 2004

What really happened in Fallujah 

This slide show graphically depicts what happened in Fallujah. I've only gotten half way through it on account of being dial-up boy, but the part I've looked at is a lengthy catalogue of the atrocities committed by the insurgents, including their extensive use of mosques as fighting positions.

CWCID: USS Neverdock. Indeed, Marc has lots of interesting stuff up on Fallujah, Palestine and the GWOT.

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Free Willy, Finding Nemo, and the spread of invasive species 

Thanksgiving was very nice, partly because it included my sister and her husband, both entomologists at Montana Western University. The TigerHawk sister is an expert on "invasive species," which are non-native species of plant or animal that alter the local ecology. The "cane toads" that are torturing Australia are a presently famous example.

In any case, somewhere between bloody marys and dinner my sister passed along an interesting factoid -- apparently popular movies with an "animal liberation" theme, such as Free Willy or Finding Nemo, motivate people to free their pets, which inevitably result in the introduction of invasive species into the local ecology. After the release of Finding Nemo, for example, people released their tropical fish locally, no doubt in satisfaction of pleas from their spoiled children. Scientists have now seen fish in reefs off of Florida that properly belonged on the other side of the world. It remains to be seen whether any of these released species will change the ecology of their new home.

Who would have thought that animal lib pop culture would have such unintended consequences? We live in a fantastically complex world.

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Happy Thanksgiving! 

I'm in Virginia, and will indeed be hanging with the 'Villain for much of the weekend. Unfortunately, though, I'm a dial-up dude this weekend, which makes for painful, agonizing blogging. So blogging will be sporadic until Sunday, unless circumstances change. But change they might, so stop by from time to time.

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Good news for the Beach Boys 

'California foxes back from brink of extinction' - headline, Associated Press.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Mos Eisley on the East River 

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. -- Ben Kenobi

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Cassandra, fare thee well 

One of my favorite bloggers, Cassandra at I Love Jet Noise, is retiring. I will miss her writing tremendously, feel that I have suffered a personal loss (as strange as that is to say) and very much hope that her absence will be temporary.

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Hawkeyes lock up Ferentz 

"Captain" Kirk Ferentz has put an end to speculation that he will be leaving the Iowa Hawkeyes anytime soon. Two Big Ten Co-Championships in three years have apparently convinced Ferentz that he can win at Iowa, and he signed a contract extension that will pay him a base salary of approximately $1.2 million, a host of incentive bonuses, and keep him under contract through 2012. Hawkeyes everywhere breath a large sigh of relief.

Anyone who follows the Hawkeyes closely knows what they have in Ferentz. He inherited from Hayden Fry a program that had been hollowed out as a result of Fry's impending retirement, and faced fans bitterly disappointed that the new coach was not former Hawkeye star Bob Stoops. After a 1-10 season in 1999, Ferentz had few converts. 2000 was a little better, as the Hawkeyes went 3-8, winning Big 10 games against Michigan State, a ranked Northwestern team, and against Penn State in overtime, finishing the season well. In 2001, the Hawkeyes returned to a bowl game, defeating Texas Tech in the Alamo bowl after a 6-5 regular season that saw them hold their own against the cream of the conference. It all gelled the next season when the Hawkeyes ran the table in the Big 10, finishing 11-2 and playing USC in the Orange Bowl.

Ferentz has managed this through consistent and outstanding player development, and game tactics that expose the weaknesses of his opponents. He is humble, gracious, and runs a clean program, and the Hawkeyes are damn lucky to have him.

Having served as offensive line coach under Hayden Fry in the 1980's, Ferentz is also part of the impressive coaching tree that has grown from Fry's Iowa program. Other former Fry disciples include Barry Alvarez at Wisconsin, Dan McCarney at Iowa State, Bill Snyder at Kansas State, Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, Mike Stoops at Arizona, and star Wisconsin defensive coordinator and former Hawkeye Bret Bielema, expected to be a head coach very soon. The Hayden Fry legacy just gets more impressive as time passes.

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So when did Yucca Mountain explode? 

'Vegas becoming Hawaii's "ninth island"' - headline, A.P.

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Not liking Democrats 

Andrew Sullivan, who voted against Bush this year having supported him in 2000, has speculated that one of the reasons for Bush's victory was widespread revulsion at the public face of the Left:
A large part of the pro-Bush vote - especially among blue state residents - was a vote against the left elite and the cultural attitudes it represents in the public imagination. It was a vote not so much for Bush or his often religious policies (or even the war on terror), but against the post 9/11 left, against Michael Moore and political correctness and Susan Sontag and CBS News, among a host of others.

I agreed with this when he wrote it, but Sullivan has published an email from one of his readers that is unusually, er, clear in its framing of the problem for Democrats:
You nailed it, dude. You just fucking nailed it. I grew up in redneck America - John Ashcroft's hometown, no less - but I've been a chai latte-drinking, Times-reading, wine-scrutinizing-metro-scum pig living in the northeast ever since I got my law degree ten years ago. So I think I know "both sides" of this country pretty darned well. The Democrats didn't lose this election because of the GOP's gay bashing - the polls bear that out. And they didn't lose because 51% of Americans are cross-wielding bigots who want to roll back our civilization to the fourteenth century. Follow the principle of Occam's Razor - all things equal, the simplest explanation is the best. As applied here, that means the Democrats were not entrusted with the keys to the White House because there were just too many Americans who don't like and don't trust the Democratic Party. That's why they lost this election. That's why GOP voter id equaled - for the first time ever - Democratic voter id. That's why Daschle lost his Senate race. That's why the GOP has six more Senate seats than it did 25 months ago.

Let me say it again - the Democrats lost because they are not liked and they are not trusted. That, and really nothing else, was the verdict of this election. And for what it's worth, shitting all over the 61 million pitchfork-wielding imbeciles who didn't vote for them probably isn't their path back out of the wilderness, emotionally gratifying though it may be.


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Iowa loves Hawaii 

The day after beating Louisville, Iowa beat 15th ranked Texas 82-80. It was a nail-biter.

Tonight Iowa faces 11th-ranked North Carolina for the championship of the Maui Invitational. May they drive their enemies before them, and hear the lamentations of the Tarheels.

Win or lose tonight, the Hawkeyes are off to a great start.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A hundred flowers bloom 

'156 parties to run in Iraq elections' - headline, A.P.

Some Arabs, at least, understand democracy and think that it can flourish in the Middle East. The Sunni insurgents fighting to oppose it understand what it means to be outvoted, and the Iraqi citizens registering political parties understand the path to power in an honest republic.

Do not let anybody persuade you that Iraq cannot have successful competitive elections. If that were the case, Iraqis themselves would not be blowing themselves up to oppose it, or risking their lives to support it.

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The Hawkeyes trash 12th-ranked Louisville, 76-71. I assume we'll hear more from the 'Villain later.

Meanwhile, Princeton lost a close one to the Cowboys in Laramie in double overtime, 64-59.

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A letter home 

It is incredibly humbling to walk among such men. They fought as hard as any Marines in history and deserve to be remembered as such. The enemy they fought burrowed into houses and fired through mouse holes cut in walls, lured them into houses rigged with explosives and detonated the houses on pursuing Marines, and actually hid behind surrender flags only to engage the Marines with small arms fire once they perceived that the Marines had let their guard down. I know of several instances where near dead enemy rolled grenades out on Marines who were preparing to render them aid. It was a fight to the finish in every sense and the Marines delivered.

Read the whole thing.

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Monday, November 22, 2004

The United Nations abuses prisoners 

When Americans do it, we hear and read about it incessently, as well we should. When the United Nations does it, the press by and large takes a pass. Consider the following report from the Congo:
The United Nations is investigating about 150 allegations of sexual abuse by UN civilian staff and soldiers in the Congo, some of them recorded on videotape, a senior UN official said today.

The accusations include pedophilia, rape and prostitution, said Jane Holl Lute, an assistant secretary-general in the peacekeeping department.

Ms Lute, an American, said there was photographic and video evidence for some of the allegations and most of the allegations came to light since the spring.

As the article makes clear, the facts surrounding these allegations have been understood since May. Where's the outrage? Is it possible that the mainstream media buried this story because it destroys the argument that the United Nations is a more legitimate guarantor of the peace than the United States?

The mainstream media has virtually ignored one of the most horrific financial and humanitarian scandals in the history of the world, and it has carefully failed to report that the United Nations has been abusing prisoners on at least the scale of Abu Ghraib. Is this because the United Nations is sacrosanct to the Western left, or because of the globalist media's rank anti-Americanism, or because of the cynical desire of the press to sustain the U.N. as a counterweight to American power, or because the media just does not care what happens to blacks? If not one of these, one wonders what the explanation for the disparity in coverage might be.

CWCID: Tim Blair.

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Big 10 Champion Hawkeyes 

As predicted on this site back in August, the Iowa Hawkeyes clinched their second Big 10 Football championship in three years, a title shared with Michigan who will advance to the Rose Bowl by virtue of their defeat of Iowa in Ann Arbor back in the first week of conference play. Most experts picked Iowa to finish behind Michigan, Ohio State, Purdue, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan State.

Iowa secured it's 7-1 Big Ten record by defeating 9th ranked Wisconsin 30-7, and thus claiming the Heartland Trophy, a large bronze bull, which goes to the winner of the series beginning this year. The Hawkeyes again combined a stellar defense and strong kicking game with the remarkable playmaking ability of Sophomore QB Drew Tate to make up for the complete absence of a running game. As of now, Iowa is expected to play in the Capital One Bowl on January 1st against the runner-up in the Southeastern Conference (likely Georgia, Tennessee, or LSU).

Given the injuries and inexperience on this Hawkeye squad, this remarkable season represents an even more impressive feat for Captain Kirk Ferentz than his talented 2002 squad which came out of nowhere to win the conference and go 11-2 overall. To the chagrin of Iowans everywhere, Ferentz will once again be on everybody's short list for coaching vacancies in college and the NFL. Should he stay, the Hawkeyes look well positioned to succeed again next year.

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Give to our soldiers 

Kate has a long post filled with the ways and means you can send some holiday cheer to our soldiers. What are you waiting for?

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The Fallujah trap 

Debka's weekly newsletter (Nov. 19), which a friend forwarded to me, argues that the "leakage" of insurgents from Fallujah before the attack was an American trap, sprung in Mosul:
As the US-Iraqi Fallujah offensive goes into its eleventh day, some hard facts glint through the pile of chaff obscuring the operation. For one, the immediate impression of several secondary fronts springing up out of the Fallujah offensive - and fought by small groups of rebels, foreign Arab and al Qaeda combatants - is misleading. According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources, those groups were allowed to retreat from Fallujah and “guided” towards Baqouba, Mosul and Ramadi. There, US and Kurdish forces were lying in wait to trap them and are now wiping them out...

The American tactic was in fact to push the insurgents out of Fallujah in any of four directions: south to Latafiya and Iskandariya; west to Ramadi; east to Baqouba or north to Mosul.

The Marines made sure of an open corridor or two in all the battle sectors they encircled. Their purpose was to siphon the enemy out of the city for two reasons:

A. To accomplish their mission with greater speed and minimum casualties.

B. To cut down on difficult urban, door-to-door combat by emptying the city. The enemy was expected to be easier to pick off outside Fallujah while they were in flight and in disarray.

Here's Debka's map:
 Posted by Hello

What is the scissors graphic for?
One blade will lie between Fallujah and Baqouba; the second from Fallujah to Latafiya.

In the weeks to come, the two blades will come together, sweeping up the pockets of resistance in their path – foreign Arab, Iraqi and al Qaeda insurgents. American planners hope this action will clean out the area bounded by Latafiya and Iskandariya in the south and Baqouba and Ramadi in the northeast and west - right up to Baghdad.

According to our military experts, American strategists have their sights on two goals:

1. Baghdad’s virtually insulation against terrorist attack, a pre-condition for stable government, especially after the January 27 general election.

2. The division of Iraq’s heartland and Sunni region into two sectors: In one, the southern environs of Mosul, Haditha, al Qaim and other parts of Anbar province and Tikrit, insurgent warfare is not expected to disappear although its pitch will be reduced. The second - from Fallujah to Latafiya and including Baqouba and the Diyala province, southeast of Baghdad - will be rid of rebel violence. Cleaning it out is a vital element of the Fallujah offensive and intended to make sure that the Sunnis of Diyala Province turn out for the vote.

Sunni participation is important to the legitimacy of the vote in January. Perhaps, though, it is not as important that all Sunni jurisdictions vote, at least right away. According to Debka, the objective of the Fallujah campaign is create a significant safe zone within the Sunni triangle so that a clean election can occur for a significant proportion of the Sunni population, even if there are areas that are not secure enough to vote.

Debka is often interesting and often arrestingly wrong, so take all of this with a grain of salt. However, this analysis rings sufficiently true to my ear that I thought I would pass it along.

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Obama on Imus 

I heard about ten minutes of Barack Obama's interview on Imus this morning during my blissfully short commute. He is one very impressive guy -- indeed, I turned on Imus in the middle of the segment and was listening to Obama and thinking "smart guy" even before I understood who he was.

In any case, I picked up a couple of things from the interview. First, Sen-elect Obama came out strongly for charter schools, which is a huge issue for me and a thumb in the eye of the teachers unions. True, he did not support vouchers, but for a Democrat that is a third rail -- the equivalent of coming out in favor of partial-birth abortions for a Republican.

Second, Obama made a lot of thoughtful observations about progress in race relations in this country, and particularly said that he thought that "those who say there has been no progress" are not being helpful, because they destroy the hope that race relations can improve.

Third, he was funny when he might have been sanctimonious, which is a wonderful trait in a politician. Imus asked Obama about the racial questions swirling around the Monday Night Football kerfuffle, and whether the reaction of the public would have been the same had Halle Berry dropped her towel rather than Nicollette Sheriden. Going from memory here: Obama said the reaction would be different, but only because nobody could possibly object to seeing Halle Berry in a towel.

This guy is going places.

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Sunday, November 21, 2004

A very mean blogger 

This is so wrong.

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Confirmation class 

The TigerHawk son had his first confirmation class today, whereby he will qualify, we suppose, for admission into the Episcopal Church in his own right. Unfortunately, it did not get off to the best possible start. Devotee of George Carlin that he is, the TigerHawk son had a question for the very nice seminary student teaching the class, which he helpfully labelled in advance as "a little bit blasphemous": "Can God make a rock so big that he himself can't lift it?"


Fortunately, the teacher correctly identified this as the oldest one around. Indeed, it long ante-dates Carlin's classic debut album Class Clown, in which that comic master posed the very same question.

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Jihad "unspun" 

You really can't appreciate the creeps we are fighting against until you read some of their propaganda. I'm sure most of it is in Arabic, but for the worst in English nothing tops Jihad Unspun. According to Jihad Unspun today, for example, Iraqi insurgents hit an American base with chemical weapons, and killed more than 270 of our soldiers. The attack, reported nowhere else in the press, was in retaliation for alleged American use of chemical weapons, also reported nowhere else:
This attack came as a response to the American chemical attack on Fallujah a few days ago. At press time, there is not one word in mainstream press about this large scale attack. Curiously, a quick search on Google netted virtually no information at all on the Iraq war – a war that is taking American lives daily.

If this is what they're writing in English, you can imagine what the Arabic propaganda looks like.

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Conspicuous consumption 

In New York City, you can now spend $800 for a haircut. According to Mr. Orlando Pita, the hairdresser who charges this price, it isn't about value:
"Your hair is one of the first things people notice about you," he said. "You can spend a lot on clothes, but you wear your hair every day. The luxury market is not about needs, or 'Is it worth it?' It's about 'What can I spend?'

Apparently Mr. Pita sells his services to the likes of Jennifer Connelly, Naomi Campbell and Kirsten Dunst. Didn't Mr. Pita just call them stupid?

Cheek-by-jowl with people who spend their money so wastefully and, therefore, arrogantly, is it surprising that so many New Yorkers begrudge the Bush Administration's income tax cuts?

The creation and accumulation of wealth is noble, and we should not tax it excessively. The wasting of that wealth or its display in pursuit of one-upmanship is deplorable. Frankly, Mr. Pita's customers should be ashamed of themselves.

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Combat air controllers 

Regular readers know that I've been working my way through George Friedman's book, America's Secret War. The book is filled with random interesting points, including the following description of "combat air controllers," who were the eyes of the Air Force in the Afghanistan campaign:
Combat air controllers were the critical military specialty for the United States in Afghanistan. In a very real sense, the entire campaign rested on a handful of men drawn from the Air Force and Naval Aviation whose specialty was calling in air strikes. There were never more than a few dozen of these men deployed in Afghanistan, but they were the ones who enabled airpower to be effective. Calling in an air strike consists of more than simply designating the target. It also requires a selection of munitions appropriate to the target, a vector of attack to minimize the chance of friendly casualties, rapid damage assessment, and so on. Sometimes a laser designator is used to pinpoint the target for laser-guided munitions. Sometimes when he lases the target, the target shoots back. The combat air controller not only has to be skilled at his own trade, he also has to be able to operate as an infantryman. He walks to his target.

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Basketball violence and a secret thrill 

It didn't start in Detroit. Here's a more, er, nostalgic look at basketball fisticuffs between the Rockets and the Celtics 25 years ago.

I have a confession to make: deep down, I enjoy a little sports violence, and I think many normal middle-American males who would not themselves throw a punch secretly agree with me. How else to explain the incessant rebroadcasting of the video from Detroit, and its omnipresence in the blogosphere? Millions of us are fascinated, and not because of the revulsion we feel when watching, say, a decapitation video from Iraq. We are fascinated because we are not so different from the Romans, and every now and then we want our circuses to get a little crazy. If the price is a couple of fat lips and some thrown beer, what's the big deal? And don't give me that the children might see something ugly. The children will get over it, as they always do.

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Saturday, November 20, 2004

Tactical rooting 

For perhaps the first time in my life, I cheered for Ohio State to beat Michigan, one of my alma maters. Why? Because my childhood love of the Iowa Hawkeyes dominates my law school loyalty to the Wolverines, and a Buckeye victory was necessary for Iowa to have a shot at the Big Ten championship. Of course, the Buckeyes did win, setting up the Hawkeyes to take out Wisconsin later in the afternoon. So my two Big Ten schools, Michigan and Iowa, share the conference championship. And my father-in-law -- a Madison grad -- owes me ten bucks, to boot. Heh.

It turns out that Ann Althouse, a graduate of the University of Michigan, was also hoping for Ohio State to win, 'ceptin' she wasted her disloyalty on the false promise of Badger glory. It is tough to get nothing for the treason in your heart.

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'Brain Area Found to Be Smaller in Cocaine Addicts' - headline, A.P.
Exactly what the finding means is not yet clear, but several pieces of evidence suggest that reduced volume in the amygdala may predispose a person to cocaine addiction, the study's senior author told Reuters Health.

No matter what they tell you, size matters.

'Who Smokes the Most Dope in Europe?' - headline, Reuters.
Swiss teenagers smoke more cannabis than their peers in every other European country, a survey said Thursday, casting a pall over the country's prim and wholesome image.

Perhaps the famed Swiss neutrality comes from apathy, rather than geopolitical savvy.

'Cattle Tracking Tested to Protect Food' - headline, A.P.

'Cause cows are even sneakier than foxes.

'Dolphins valuable to U.S. in Arabian Gulf' - headline, A.P.
The dolphins deployed as underwater sentinels to the Arabian Gulf region by the U.S. Navy last year have been valuable in protecting coalition ships and piers against terrorist attacks, a Navy spokesmen said Friday.

Who needs NATO when you have the cetaceans?

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Double standards 

Jane Novak:
The video of the soldier shooting is proof, we are told, of America’s evil. And the kidnapping, torture and murder of Mrs. Hassan is then proof of what?...

All tactics of the insurgents are excused. Hide among civilians. Justified. Wear civilian clothes. Justified. Shoot from a mosque. Justified. Feign death to draw soldiers in (the way one Marine died the day before the incident). Justified. Wave a white flag as a ploy. Justified. Booby-trap dead bodies. Justified. That’s just Fallujah.

Moving outward — Deliberately killing Iraqi civilians daily. Justified. Bombing churches. Justified. Bombing cafes. Justified. Using schools and mosques as arsenals. Justified. Attacking the police. Just fine.

The rules of war don’t apply to the insurgents, only the Americans. And if one horrible act occurs at the hands of one American soldier, the world howls.

The Western press does not hold Arab fighters to the same standards as American soldiers because, in its heart, it has contempt for Arabs. If it respected them it would expect that they observe some rules of war, even in asymmetric combat. The Arab press does not hold Arab soldiers to the same standards as Americans because it is a tool of, or at least beholden to, Arab dictators and clerics who are terrified of even merely plausible elections in Iraq. It is as simple as this.

CWCID: Dean.

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Friday, November 19, 2004

The Opportunist 

John Kerry said today that bin Laden's October surprise cost him the election. The conservative blogosphere is up in arms, heaping scorn here, here, here and here, among other places.

The snorting righties pretty much all make the same point -- that Kerry is grasping at an explanation that does not reflect poorly on his candidacy or his character. They are probably right, in that any excuse that preserves his viability in 2008 is probably just fine with Kerry.

Nobody has observed, though, that Kerry's comments hurt the interests of the United States and all democracies opposed to al Qaeda. Whatever might be said of bin Laden's purposes in releasing the tape just before the American election, it is hard not to believe that at least one of his objectives was to promote the impression that he could influence America's vote just as al Qaeda tipped Spain's. Indeed, the timing alone accomplished bin Laden's purpose -- we do not have to know which candidate bin Laden actually favored for him to claim credit for influencing the outcome, since each candidate essentially argued that he favored the other.

Kerry, in whining that bin Laden's tape cost him the election, is reinforcing the worldwide impression that bin Laden can and will determine the fate of western governments. He has increased bin Laden's stature for no reason other than to deflect the blame for his own defeat. It does not matter in the least that he is probably right.

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Even men who aren't yet 50? 

'Kentucky to Probe Private Clubs Membership' - headline, Associated Press.

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The press and Justice Scalia 

Heidi compares the press accounts of Justice Scalia's day at the University of Michigan Law School with her own observations. Heidi's case is a fairly clear example of how the MSM distorts reporting by promoting controversy rather than writing on interesting but unsensational matters.

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On the red-eye (via email) 

Notwithstanding numerous lifetime vows never to take the red-eye again, I
always forget how much I hate it and the next thing I know I'm living the
cotton mouth, sore back reality. Damn.

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Thursday, November 18, 2004

Sen. Charles Grassley on pharmaceutical regulation 

Re Vioxx, heard on MSNBC this morning:
The fact they pulled the drug from the market is proof there was something wrong with the approval process in the first place.

Chuck Grassley is a good senator who is not prone to making inflammatory statements in the interests of populism, but this is idiotic. It may very well be the case that Merck took too long to pull Vioxx -- the trial lawyers and juries will have the final say -- but if we only approved drugs with no side effects whatsoever we would never have another new drug in this country. Some problems just do not turn up as statistically significant until millions of people have taken the drug, the adverse events pile up, and a specific study can be designed and conducted to prove the connection. No Congressional oversight, vigilence at the FDA, or corporate compliance initiative can overcome the problem of rare but catastrophic side effects in pharmaceuticals.

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Strategic libel litigation 

The NY Post reports that John Kerry is preparing to sue John O'Neill, who is the author of Unfit for Command, the leading Swiftie progenitor, and Kerry's lifelong enemy. While public figure plaintiffs have a very difficult time bringing these suits in the United States -- they have to prove an actual intent to make a false statement -- this case might be a good way to put the Swifty allegations to bed so that they cannot be resurrected in 2008. Even if Kerry cannot prove his case to the high standard of New York Times v. Sullivan, the discovery required to prove New York Times "actual malice" might uncover all sorts of nasty communications -- emails and such -- among O'Neill and his fellow travellers. If this evidence exposed O'Neill as a dark and evil guy it would destroy whatever credibility he has, and he will have a very hard time getting leverage on his story the next time around.

Of course, if by some chance Kerry were to prove both false or misleading statements and actual malice, he will have destroyed O'Neill and motivated the resentful Democratic base all at once. The downside risk that he might lose ("truth" being a defense to the tort of libel) is probably not a downside risk, because if he doesn't deal with O'Neill the guy is going to find a way to get him again next time.

And, besides, there can be no doubt that John Kerry hates the guy's guts. Short of pistols at noon (to which O'Neill might actually agree), a litigator like Kerry probably thinks that bringing a lawsuit will bring him some peace.

The TigerHawk suggestion: John Edwards should represent him!

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Portraits worth a thousand words 

According to Stratfor($), something's going on in North Korea, and it's not because they hired a new decorator:
South Korea's Yonhap news agency cited a Seoul source with "good connections" in the North as saying that North Korea is removing pictures of Kim Jong Il from public places. This follows an Itar-Tass report on Nov. 16 that, at a recent reception in North Korea, there was only a "light rectangular spot and a nail in the wall" where the portrait of Kim once hung next to the one of his father, Kim Il Sung. Yonhap also cited Norbert Vollertsen, a German based in Seoul who advocates human rights in North Korea, as saying his sources in the North also confirm pictures had been removed, dating as far back as August.

If the large-scale removal of Kim's portraits is indeed taking place, it poses some interesting questions on the status of the reclusive regime. Is there a significant problem with Kim, physically or politically? Is there a massive political change coming in North Korea? Or is it something less drastic, but perhaps no less significant?

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Just disappointment 

 Posted by Hello

But where are the grapes?

CWCID: The Cripple.

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There's a lucky man out there... or a very tolerant wife 

This site just got hit with a Google search for "Iowa Hawkeye lingerie". Unfortunately, we don't have any here.

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Barton's Crossing 

Betcha didn't know that a TigerHawk cousin, Clifford Hart, is a playwright. The talent runs deep in our family.

On Saturday night last, we went into New York to see his latest work, Barton's Crossing, at the Cherry Lane Theater in the West Village. It is a funny and stressful play about a group of friends that come to terms with the compromises they have made in their lives. The center of the story is a playwright (say it ain't so!) who had written an idealistic and well-reviewed play years before, but had since given it up to live an apparently conventional, rigid life in Miller's Crossing, an affluent Stepfordesque suburb in suburban New York (think Westchester or Connecticut). His old friends from back in the day come out to visit Barton and his wife, and the contradictions in their lives begin to unravel. Suffice it to say that I laughed hard and suffered the rising of my hackles from stress all at once, watching these friends struggle with their feelings about the choices they have made.

If you live in the New York area and are looking for a good play this weekend, you should check it out. Tickets are available here.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Why did this happen? Because this also happened. The tactics of the enemy are to blame for the civilian casualties inflicted by American soldiers. If the enemy wore uniforms and fought by the rules of war, there would be virtually no innocent deaths in Iraq.


UPDATE: Israel is also investigating its soldiers, in this case for treating Palestinian corpses disrespectfully, as well it should. It is instructive that these isolated cases of abuse on the part of the United States and Israel receive such condemnation in the press, both Arab and Western, even though the nations involved act responsibly by investigating and prosecuting the offenders. At the same time, neither the Arab nor the Western media seems the least bit interested in condemning far more barbaric acts by Arab soldiers, which are never investigated or prosecuted. Is this because the press has such contempt for Arabs that it never even entertains the idea that they should be held to the laws of war? If this is not the explanation, what is it?

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Biting our tongue 

'Trojans come from behind against Beavers' - headline, NewsNet5.com (Corvallis, OR).

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Abolish corporate personhood (via email) 

I actually just saw this bumper sticker on a luxury SUV tooling around
Denver. I am well aware that lots of people, particularly on the left,
believe that corporations should not be considered "persons" under the law.
They don't like the idea that corporations have rights under the law or
Constitution. But I've never until now seen this complex question reduced
to a bumper sticker.

I always wonder what people are thinking when they talk about stripping
corporations of legal defenses. For instance, if you agree with the idea
that corporations should not enjoy protections accorded to persons under
law, I trust you also believe that, say, Time Warner or Gannett should enjoy
no protection against, say, warrantless searches or restraints on

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Joe McCarthy and the war on al Qaeda 

I am in Denver for the night, settled into a room with some high-speed Internet access, and very happy about it. That's not the point of the post, but I know many of you have been concerned about my travel situation, so I'm coughing up an update.

As previously reported, I'm in the middle of George Friedman's excellent new book, America's Secret War, a dispassionate survey of the geopolitics of our war on Islamist jihad that I cannot recommend too highly. The book discusses the strategic and tactical challenges al Qaeda posed in the method of its attacks on September 11. Among Friedman's many interesting arguments is the point that our peculiar history of dealing with covert enemy operations makes it particularly difficult for us to hunt down al Qaeda cells located within the United States:
The U.S. already had experience in dealing with the possibility that covert Soviet operatives had penetrated the United States during the Cold War and had handled it so poorly that it traumatized an entire generation and caused U.S. intelligence and security services to shy away from anything that reminded them of that period. The ultimate legacy of Joseph McCarthy is that he left the United States institutionally and intellectually incapable of coming to grips with Al Qaeda on a domestic level without reviving a deep national nightmare.... [McCarthyism] ... defined what was impermissible in dealing with conspiracies. McCarthy became the negative standard against which all counterconspiratorial actions were judged. Al Qaeda was certainly a conspiracy. Fighting Al Qaeda became hopelessly entangled in the collective memory of McCarthyite excesses.

Friedman devotes a few pages to tracing the history of Soviet espionage in the United States during the Cold War, including Stalin's use of Communist Parties in the West, including in the United States, as tools for the recruitment of spies that would not only collect intelligence within the United States but which would wage war from within when or if the United States and the Soviet Union met on the battlefield.
What was required was a surgical tool to distinguish between members of the Communist Party who were simply engaged in political agitation [which was protected by the Constitution] from members who were agents of the Soviet Union. Another tool was needed to distinguish between former members who simply changed their mind about communism and former members who had been ordered to go covert. Unfortunately, no such tools existed. What happened instead was pure chaos, the issue being seized upon by political opportunists on both sides.... Both sides conspired to create an intellectual, moral, and security circus. Because of McCarthyism, the U.S. became increasingly incapable in dealing with deliberate covert conspiracies that arose in subsequent decades.

This tension between our need to hunt down covert operatives and our fear of McCarthyism has come to a head since September 11.
The problem with September 11 was that it was indeed a conspiracy. Even worse, it had to be assumed to be an ongoing conspiracy. Somewhere in the United States, there were men planning additional acts of mass murder. Moreover, this was not a randomly selected group of Americans. It was a group of Muslims. Not all Muslims were in Al Qaeda, but all members of Al Qaeda were Muslims. With some exceptions, Muslims can be recognized as Muslims, in the sense that in the United States, most have ethnic characteristics as well as religious beliefs.

Friedman concludes by describing the impact of the McCarthy era on the institutional structure and culture of the CIA, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, which remained deeply reluctant to pursue al Qaeda as if it were a conspiracy among extremist Muslims ("FBI agents hated assignments for monitoring political groups, since they had frequently ended careers.").

If you buy Friedman's argument, and I by and large do, it is then interesting to consider how differently we might be fighting the war on terror had there never been a Joe McCarthy. Would anybody actually think there was anything wrong with the Patriot Act, for instance? Would we find it so necessary to fight the war with our soldiers abroad if we were more willing to risk imprisoning or harrassing innocent people at home?

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Blogger vengeance: The Hotel St. Regis, Houston (via email) 

I arrived late last night in Houston, was met by a car hired by an
investment bank, and taken to the St. Regis Hotel, a far "nicer" crash pad
than we usually stay in on company business. I unpacked my stuff, got out
of my suit, and settled down to do some work. Only to discover that the
f*#*ing high-speed Internet access is down. At least in my room. Atrocity
number one. And there wasn't even a premium wireless option -- amazingly,
there is no wireless network in this hotel. Bizarre in a place that charges
almost $300 per night.

This morning I got up at 4:30 on account of the time zone difference, and
hunted around the room for the little coffee-maker that would be in the
corner of the bathroom sink in any lower rent hotel. No such luck. My only
coffee option is a room service delivery for like a billion
dollars. Or I can wait until the dining room opens at 6:30. Even Starbucks
opens earlier than that.

I really do not care that the furniture is nice or that the sheets are
expensive. I really only want two things: functioning high speed Internet
access and a cup of coffee when I wake up in the morning. If you want
either of those things, stay away from the St. Regis Hotel in Houston.

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Monday, November 15, 2004

A disturbing thought (via email) 

I am aboard CO 1611 to Houston ("George Bush airport" the pilot reminds us),
reading George Friedman's excellent book America's Secret War: Inside
the Hidden Worldwide Struggle Between America and Its Enemies
. In
discussing the attacks of September 11, Friedman considers commercial
airliners "as strategic weapons":
Aircraft are essentially long tubes attached to giant explosives
-- jet-grade fuel. Commercial airliners and their passengers were once
referred to as prepackaged hostages. They sit in a long, metal tube,
strapped into seats without space to move, and when it is airborne, there
are no usable exits. Normally there are only two or three people on board
who know how to fly the plane, and if they are killed, everone


This pre-packed hostage is going to order up another drink, thank you very

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What do Arafat and Charlottesvillain have in common? (via email) 

A loaded question to be sure. Never fear, TigerHawk co-blogger and brother,
Charlottesvillain, shares with the departed Arafat only one thing: their
birthday, August 4th. Heh.

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Light blogging 

TigerHawk is back on the road, this time on a whirlwind tour that includes such red state bastions as Houston, Dallas, Denver and Phoenix. If I see anything weird or interesting I'll keep you posted. And, as always, here's to hoping that the 'Villain shakes off the other distractions in his life to bring you the latest and greatest from central Virginia.

UPDATE: I just learned from the TigerHawk mother that the 'Villain is on his way to Singapore, so I will have to sneak in a little blogging notwithstanding the heavy travel schedule. No problem.

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Sunday, November 14, 2004

Famous Iowans 

Surprisingly, "famous Iowans" is not an oxymoron, but a regular feature in the Des Moines Register, a prime example of what another Iowa-expat I know calls "Iowa propaganda." If you're from Iowa (acid test question: What is The Big Peach?) but have lived elsewhere, you know what I mean.

In any case, click on the alphabetical listing on the right sidebar of the "Famous Iowans" page. You can check out the Iowa creds of anybody from Felix Adler to the Wright Brothers (who lived in Cedar Rapids for a time). Heh.

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The law of sexual harrassment and free speech 

One of the assistants to the writers of the situation comedy Friends, a show featuring sexual innuendo in every episode if not every segment, is suing because the writers of the show talked a little dirty when they were scripting it up. That this case was not tossed out on First Amendment grounds is asinine, and reveals the threat that "hostile environment" (i.e., no battery, no quid pro quo) sexual harrassment claims pose to freedom of expression. We now allow allegedly offended employees to shut down speech that we otherwise would consider beyond the reach of the law under any circumstance. Why? Is the interest in protecting the sensibilities of these thin-skinned people more important than a freedom that we have fought, labored and litigated to protect? I don't get it.

Eugene Volokh has an extensive round-up of the tension between employment discrimination law and freedom of expression. Bookmark it, in case you ever say the wrong thing at the office.

UPDATE: Walter Olson posted on this case last month, and included various useful links.

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Dawn reports that the Pakistani army has captured a "huge" arms cache in a network of six caves in the tribal province of Waziristan. That would be the same Waziristan where senior al Qaeda operatives are thought to be holed up.

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Cookies for our soldiers 

Strolling around Princeton this afternoon, having dropped the TigerHawk daughter off at a birthday party, I happened upon a table staffed with Girl Scouts hawking cookies. Since we have already done our bit for this year's cookie drive I was prepared to cruise by without another thought, but then I saw a sign that offered to send any cookies I might buy to our soldiers in Iraq. They even had sticky labels so we could write a little note for each box.

Ten bucks later, three more boxes of Girl Scout cookies will be winging their way to Fallujah, or wherever. And anybody who has ever had Girl Scout cookies know that they are manufactured to stay "fresh" for a long time, so even if the Girl Scout - Pentagon interface isn't functioning smoothly we can estimate they will remain edible many moons hence.

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Defining a mandate 

Triumphalist righties have been arguing that the President's margin of victory in the popular vote amounts to a "mandate." Apart from spin benefit, I've not been sure what that claim is supposed to achieve, except perhaps to claim the high ground on initiatives that the White House might propose and Congress might oppose. But what if the Democrats have their own mandate in the Senate? Brendan makes the interesting point that the Democrats had a margin of victory in the aggregate popular vote for the Senate that is comparable to Bush's in the presidential race. But is this a valid comparison? After all, the aggregate popular vote for the Senate addresses only 33 or 34 states, not 50. Obviously, if these races were distributed more disproportionately among "blue" jurisdictions, Brendan's point would prove exactly nothing. However, if they were disproportionately in "red" states, Brendan would be on to something. On this Sunday morning I lack the energy to figure out whether the distribution of those votes nationally supports Brendan's argument or undercuts it. Maybe I'll update later.

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Saturday, November 13, 2004

Floyd is ours 

Iowa 29, Minnesota 27.

Why doesn't Iowa fall into Missouri? Because Minnesota sucks.

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Congratulations are in order 

Join me in congratulating the Volokh Conspiracy's Orin Kerr, who has been recommended for tenure at George Washington University Law School. I happen to deplore the entire idea of tenure for law professors (and most other professional school professors), but since it is out there to be had and since bloggers should stick together in these things, congratulations are in order. I'm against tax-free municipal bonds, too, but that doesn't stop me from buying them.

The arguments for and against tenure are many and I do not have the energy this Saturday morning to hash them all out. Suffice it to say that the only argument for tenure that makes sense to me is this: We have a social interest in encouraging intensive specialization in certain topics that may nonetheless go in and out of fashion. In order to motivate people to devote their lives to a particular narrow topic -- say, the political society of France during the late Middle Ages -- we need to guarantee that they will not be discharged simply because academic tastes change. That guarantee, delivered in principle after proof of academic accomplishment, is tenure.

Since, however, virtually all professors in professional schools (law, business, medicine, engineering and so forth) do not devote themselves to a truly narrow academic specialty and can and often do find alternative or supplemental income from the private sector, I cannot imagine why any university would want to limit its flexibility to sever professors that become academically unproductive or terminally boring. 'Nuff said.

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This is what the Arab world calls news 

US troops are reportedly using chemical weapons and poisonous gas in its large-scale offensive on the Iraqi resistance bastion of Fallujah, a grim reminder of Saddam Hussein’s alleged gassing of the Kurds in 1988...

“They use chemical weapons out of despair and helplessness in the face of the steadfast and fierce resistance put up by Fallujah people, who drove US troops out of several districts, hoisting proudly Iraqi flags on them. Resistance has also managed to destroy and set fire to a large number of US tanks and vehicles.

“The US troops have sprayed chemical and nerve gases on resistance fighters, turning them hysteric in a heartbreaking scene,” an Iraqi doctor, who requested anonymity, told Al-Quds Press.

It's hard to see how CBS News, BBC and al-Reuters missed this.

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Getting fired at CBS 

Rob A. wonders what it takes to get fired and what it takes to keep a job at CBS News:
Just so we're all clear on this: They won't fire the producer who pursued a story for four years which ultimately resulted in the broadcasting of obviously forged documents procured from a mentally unstable publically-known Bush-hating guy in order to advance a slander against the President of the United States...but it will fire a producer who pulled the trigger 5 minutes early on the death of a major international figure interupting the end of the tertiary CSI series.


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The political history of Star Wars 

Oxblog reports that the trailer for Episode III is out. Of course, the entire TigerHawk family knew this before reading Oxblog this morning, because we went to see The Incredibles last night -- the most entertaining animated flick in an age, by the way -- and saw the trailer there.

In any case, David Adesnik tackles the chronology gap between Episode III and what we now call "Episode IV," but which back in the day was known simply as Star Wars. The gap:
[T]hat in the interval between Episodes III and IV, which is clearly less than thirty years, the entire known universe has forgotten about the Jedi so much so that they believe the Force to be a myth. However, the trailer for Episode III includes the famous speech from Episode I in which Obi-Wan describes how Darth Vader, his pupil, hunted down and murdered all of the Jedi, thus ensuring that they -- and the force -- would be forgotten.

Hmmm. There's more.
Now, you might say that Ben is hundreds of years old, which is why he alone remembers the Jedi. But that would mean that Vader himself is also hundreds of years old and the two of them are the only ones who remember the Jedi and believe in the force. (This scenario gets more complicated when we learn about the Emperor's background in Episode III, because he clearly remembers the Jedi, too.)

As a student of both politics and history, Adesnik thinks these explanations do not wash. Wouldn't Vader run around bragging on whacking the Jedi, if only to enhance his reputation? The historian in Adesnik wonders how such a technologically advanced society could "forget" such a fundamental part of its past.
Face it: Vader clearly has a hard enough time preventing R2-D2 from shuffling around with records belonging to the Rebel Alliance. What are the chances he could get rid of everything else?


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Friday, November 12, 2004

Aerial views 

I'm sure that I'm the last person in America to play around with Terraserver, but on the off-chance that TigerHawk's elite but technologically average readership has within its ranks readers even less cluey than me, I pass it along with the highest recommendation. Click through and play around with the various options for locating your home, a friend's home, or your favorite vacation spot or national landmark from high in the sky. Very cool.

Here's an aerial shot of the house in which I grew up, on Third Avenue in Iowa City:
 Posted by Hello

To the east (right) of the cul de sac is the Herbert Hoover Elementary School, and the big open space to the north is Iowa City High School.

So cool, I'm adding it to the list of links following the blogroll on the right.

CWCID: Brendan.

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Just minutes after a California jury declared Scott Peterson guilty of the murders of his pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn child, Conner, French President Jacques Chirac called Mr. Peterson "a man of courage and conviction like the late Yassir Arafat."

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Sucking the fun out of life 

The unholy conspiracy of trial lawyers, neurotic parents, insurance companies, and the historically pinched, tiny minds of public school administrators is conspiring to suck the fun -- virtually all of it -- out of the school day. Today's crushing of the fun: Deirdre Faegre of West Covina, California has been suspended. For doing cartwheels.

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The Battle for Floyd 

Tomorrow the Iowa Hawkeyes will attempt to extend their 5 game Big 10 winning streak in the Metrodome, where they will face the Minnesota Golden Gophers for Floyd of Rosedale, a highly prized bronze pig. For those not in the know, the rivalry between neighboring Iowa and Minnesota is particularly fierce, and goes well beyond interscholastic competition. (For instance, it has been said that by ceding the northern tier of counties to Minnesota, Iowa would improve the collective IQ of both states).

As the Des Moines Register notes, the Hawkeye and Gopher football programs are going in different directions. Minnesota opened the season 5-0 and had Michigan on the ropes before letting the game get away from them in the final minutes. They have gone on to lose 4 out of 5. Iowa, meanwhile, has been slowly improving after a mediocre 2-2 start behind a stout defense and the emergence of QB Drew Tate.

Two years ago Iowa clinched its Big 10 football title (shared with Ohio State) in Minnesota, finishing that year with a perfect 8-0 record in conference play. The Iowa crowd was estimated at 40,000 and made a spectacle of itself by storming the field and tearing down the goal posts on the opponent's field, a humilating gesture that Gopher fans are not likely to forget tomorrow. The Hawkeyes have not played their best football on the road, but Captain Kirk Ferentz will ensure they are not looking ahead to next week's game with undefeated Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes will slow down the Gopher running attack and Tate will make hay in the dome. Predicted score: Iowa wins 24-21.

Meanwhile, another big game transpires in my new home town of Charlottesville, where the Hoos host the stumbling Miami Hurricanes, losers of two in a row. There is plenty at stake (although in the ACC they don't seem to play for cool rivalry trophies such as Floyd, Paul Bunyan's axe, and the Old Oaken Bucket) as Virginia has a chance to take control of the ACC with victories against Miami and Virginia Tech next weekend. Alas, I do not foresee a Miami 3 game losing streak. Predicted score: Miami wins 31-24.

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The end of regulatory transparency 

Eliot Spitzer is demonstrating that any attorney general with enough brass and ambition can destroy transparency and consistency in federal regulation of business, be it securities exchange regulation, broker-dealer regulation, or the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Our national prosperity depends on transparency and consistency in federal regulation, but that does not matter to Spitzer, who is willing to exploit his office and the size of his state's economy to discipline any corporation and humiliate any federal regulator that comes to his attention. Even if one agrees with Spitzer's immediate ends in any particular case, he has tremendously undermined the credibility of federal regulators, which is not to anybody's benefit. How? If federal regulators cannot deliver certainty in their regulation, then businesses will be far less willing to surrender to federal oversight without a fight. Why not resist federal regulation if there is no prospect that it will effectively preempt separate regulation by the fifty states?

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Email of the day: The World War II analogy 

A very astute reader sent me email over the weekend. He sees similarities between the war on Islamic fascism -- which he and others call "World War IV" -- and World War II. France's historical and contemporary geopolitical ambivalence is particularly telling:
I don't ordinarily spend a great deal of time thinking about France and French politics. It's basically a weak and irrelevant country, except it is a pretty place to visit and the food is a treat. It's sad to say that France only becomes geopolitically relevant when it behaves badly or stupidly. It has long been forgotten that the French were actually our enemy for most of WWII under the political leadership of the Vichy (i.e, French Nazi) government and Petain. I suppose that they were relevant then. The Germans found the architecture and food charming too. Let's not forget that not a building in Paris was blemished by the Germans, while London was subjected to endless bombings. Paris was and is much more pleasant than Stalingrad and Berlin. Is Chirac Petain? If you asked that question of a full time elite jouranlist, would he understand what I am asking? Could he spell Petain?

Maybe there is something to this. Chirac is clearly appeasing his Arab population at the expense of his relationship with the US, Israel, the UK and other European countries. While it is not shocking that he has to deal with this political reality, at some point he gets exposed. It was politically clever for him to break with the US on Iraq, but at some point the cost gets very high. If, for instance, his main ally in this position, Gerhard Shroeder (my goodness, the German analogy holds up), get chucked out on his ear, Chirac will be pretty lonely in his stance. It looked good for awhile -- Aznar is voted out in Spain for Zapatero, Chirac has momentum. But suddenly John Howard wins, Bush wins and Blair looks good again. The German and French economies suck wind...maybe Chirac doesn't have staying power. Can he resist the American position forever?

Thus far, Ariel Sharon has demonstrated the keenest understanding of history, and a willingness to refer to it. Recall his reference to the fact that "Israel will not be Czechoslavakia." That reference undoubtedly had Peter Jennings calling history professors to figure out Sharon's meaning. He meant Israel won't be sold out as a token of appeasement without dragging alot of people down with him, as Chamberlain sold out the Czechs to Hitler. It was a message to Bush and Blair more than anybody.

A couple of years later, he tosses out a recommendation to his French/Jewish brothers that they might want to consider purchasing some real estate elsewhere. He's telling us that he thinks Chirac might sink the French ship in favor of the Algerians and Moroccans. Throughout history, states have at some point scapegoated their domestic Jewry because it has been a convenient sop - and those states have paid a big price for their bigotry. Right now France is the finest example of a state about to drown itself in this folly. Let's watch it play out. Does anybody seriously think that the North African Muslim underclass in France will uplift French economic, social and intellectual society? I guess there is a price to be paid for French colonialism.

It is increasingly extraordinary to me how this Islamofascist War (WWIV) is playing out as a dramatic reenactment of WWII, but within tighter political guidelines and with far casualties on both sides. Of course, this time we have far better allies, as some of our former enemies have changes sides, Japan being the best example. Italy started out on the winning side this time. But the geopolitical ambiguity of the French and Germans is the most interesting element here. When will they roll over?

That is a damned good question.

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I'm getting tired of telling you 

Read The Belmont Club every day. Today Wretchard continues his examination of the wider war for the Sunni triangle. If you have not already done so, read yesterday's installment first. 'Nuff said.

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Thursday, November 11, 2004

Les Invalides 

A few hours after I left Paris yesterday, the French threw a ceremony in honor of the nine soldiers killed in the Ivory Coast. In the United States we have such ceremonies at Arlington, but in France they have them at Les Invalides. Here's a photo of the ceremony in the courtyard. Posted by Hello

Les Invalides, more properly known as L'Hotel Nationale des Invalides, was built more than 300 years ago by Louis XIV as a home for injured soldiers of the French Army. Today, however, it is the home of the Museum of the Army of France, for my money the most interesting museum in Paris (a minority view, I admit, but one I have held since I first visited Les Invalides at the age of 14). It is also the ultimate resting place of Napoleon, whose statue you can barely make out in the middle arch on the second floor, looking out over the soldiers of France on parade.

Want a better look? Here's a picture of the same courtyard, only with TigerHawk children instead of soldats. Took it in 2002 during the family vacation in Paris. Napoleon lurks in the shadows above our oh-so-martial children.

 Posted by Hello

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Rising sun 

Meanwhile, while the world's looking at Fallujah, the Japanese and the Chinese are playing a bit of cat and mouse in the Sea of Japan. According to Stratfor (subscription only):
Japanese Defense Agency Director Gen. Yoshinori Ono ordered Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) aircraft and surface ships to interdict and track a suspicious submarine spotted in the early hours of Nov. 10 in Japan's territorial waters near Miyako and Ishigaki islands in Okinawa prefecture. By the time the ship was dispatched, the submarine already had left Japan's waters, but still was being tracked by a Japanese P3C maritime patrol aircraft. Japanese Defense Agency officials suspect it was a Chinese nuclear submarine.

The incident is significant for two main reasons. First, it demonstrates the continuing evolution of the role of Japan's self-defense forces. Second, it reflects the growing tensions between China and Japan. Both the timing, coming amid a war of words between Tokyo and Beijing as to whether China is a military threat to Japan, and the place, near a proposed location for more forward-deployed Japanese and U.S. military aircraft, suggest that no accidental straying across amorphous maritime lines occurred....

On Nov. 7, Japanese media released information on a September Defense Agency report that postulates three scenarios in which China attacks Japan. The report, constructed by the committee on defense capability, is part of a broader defense review that will ultimately lead to the revision of the National Defense Program Outline. Beijing reacted strongly to the report, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue issuing a stinging rebuke Nov. 9. "The parties concerned should give up their Cold War mentality and work to promote peace and development in Asia, and the world as whole," Zhang said. Beijing accused Tokyo of trying to meddle in the Taiwan issue, and said such comments and actions are an affront to China's territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Japanese media reported in October that U.S. Marine aircraft and Japanese F-15C aircraft could be moving from Okinawa to Shimoji, an island in Okinawa prefecture further west -- and closer to Taiwan. In early November, there were reports that Tokyo was considering setting up an electromagnetic wave-detecting station on Miyako Island capable of intercepting communication signals from Chinese warships and aircraft. These same islands are where the suspected Chinese submarine was spotted.

The "growing tensions" between China and Japan go a long way to explaining why Japan has been so supportive -- by Japanese standards -- of the American effort in Iraq.

UPDATE (8:30 am Friday): Diplomatic ramifications.

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The Ivy League basketball season is upon us 

SportsProf (who else?) has the, and I mean the, definitive blog post on the topic.

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The face of our enemy 

According to Muslim clerics, American and Israeli "apes and pigs" poisoned Arafat. Watch the video.

UPDATE: I don't believe "we" did kill Arafat, by the way, but is there any doubt that we would have been well within our rights if we had? Here is an incomplete timeline of his many crimes. (CWCID: USS Neverdock)

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Help them leave 


CWCID: Mover Mike.

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When Tony Blair comes to Washington this week, he will be urging Bush to stick by his pledge to help create a Palestinian state.

Good. A solution is long overdue. It is a good cause in its own right. It is not a simple way to end violence or appease Islamism, since the Islamists will promptly declare war on any Palestinian state that falls short of an entirely Muslim entity.

But John Kerry would never even have come close to saying, as Bush was the first president to say, that a Palestinian state was a good idea.

If Bush is remembered for kicking out the keystone of Arab rejectionism, in his first term, and then helps Palestinian statehood in his second, he'll be remembered as a historic president.


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Today is Veteran's Day.

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New Jersey Governer James McGreevey leaves office with a mandate.

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The Sunni triangle campaign 

Read Wretchard today.
Every campaign has a political dimension. The campaign in the Sunni Triangle is probably aimed at convincing the enemy that resistance is now futile and their best hope lies in participating in the new Iraqi government through elections. Personally (speculation alert!) I doubt it can achieve as much. The campaign will absolutely gut the enemy as a guerilla force, but it will not be enough to prevent them from terrorizing Sunni politicians who may wish to participate in the coming elections. But this will only postpone unconditional Sunni defeat for another year because a terrorist enforced boycott will mean that Kurds and Shi'ites will dominate the new administration and most importantly, its Army. By next year, the regular Iraqi Army will be a far more potent force and the Sunni insurgency a far weaker one. But that's the old sad human story; to miss the chance when it comes and pine for it ever afterward.

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They pulled the plug 

Arafat is dead. Or pronounced dead. It seems like they pulled the plug:
Neither his doctors nor Palestinian leaders would say what killed him.

Not surprisingly, TigerHawk is not a Muslim and does not know much about Islam, so I read this to mean that they pulled the plug. Having just returned from France where the press had been claiming for most of the last week that Arafat was more brain-dead than usual, I did not consider myself to be leaping to a conclusion here. Mrs. TigerHawk, however, says she read that Muslims do not talk about the deaths of specific people in clinical terms, either as a matter of religious requirement or culture. True?

In any case, Abu Mazen is now Chairman of the PLO. He appears to be somebody with whom the Israelis and the Americans can work, or at least he has seemed to be in the past. Here's to hoping that Bush pushes hard for a settlement with real stability.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

I forgot another anniversary 

But Fausta remembered.

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What do Vermont and South Dakota have in common? 

They are the only states in which George Bush received a smaller proportion of the popular vote in 2004 than in 2000.

Now, before my center-left friends start flogging me for triumphalism, I should add that I am not sure what this means. It is not, in any case, an artifact of Ralph Nader's weakened candidacy, because it deals not with the spread between Bush and his Democratic opponent but rather Bush's vote as a proportion of the whole.

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Free upgrade! 

I am a pig in shit. They apparently sold my seat to a disreputable-looking
student, so to resolve the overbooking they kicked me up front. That does
not happen very often on flights from Europe, so I am grateful. It is a good

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A newspaperman and the father of a Marine 

An editor with a son in Fallujah:
The boy I carried in my arms and spooned ice cream with at midnight is now the man lined up to battle the bombers, murderers and beheaders. Our women soldiers are also in harm's way. But the burden of an assault is for infantrymen, armor and artillery: combat arms soldiers. Grunts at the front.

On eve of battle, I see my son sleeping. His picture moved on The Associated Press and a few days ago was the "Marine Corps Times Picture of the Day." A huddle of Marines, exhausted after a night mission. And my son's angle of repose so similar to his sleepy lull on the way home from a camping trip in the Sierras.

He is all of them, to me, and all of them are our sons. They have put it all on the line for us. Like the men on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Like the men on Iwo Jima and those other Pacific atolls.

The editor, Dennis Anderson, reflects on the editorial decisions of the mainstream media, mirroring my thoughts last night as I watched Larry King twist hankies over the dismissal of juror number 7:
When I was watching Scott Peterson's pursuit amid preparations for deployment as an embedded journalist, my son was in high school attending the prom. A little more than a year later, in his first adult decision, he is in the gathering storm.

Every time I see the seemingly endless saga of the accused wife killer, all I can think is, "You mean this thing was going on before Baghdad fell?" The Peterson drama drones on, and in that time, a boy has grown to manhood and now stares at the dragon's teeth across the blasted, battle-scarred heath.

Meanwhile, if Mr. Anderson wants the latest and best analysis of the situation on the ground in Fallujah, he should read Wretchard this morning. He is fascinating, as always, but today's post is particularly rich for the tactically-inclined.

From DeGaulle, about to board. See you soon.

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Heading home 

Barring an unexpected setback deriving from divine or French irritation with yours truly, I'll be leaving for the airport in a couple of hours, and on a plane home in five. Tired.

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Tiger basketball 

Four starters returning. Prince round-up here.

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George Bush, the Western left, and religious fanaticism 

So here is what I want to say on the absolutely crucial matter of secularism. Only one faction in American politics has found itself able to make excuses for the kind of religious fanaticism that immediately menaces us in the here and now. And that faction, I am sorry and furious to say, is the left. From the first day of the immolation of the World Trade Center, right down to the present moment, a gallery of pseudointellectuals has been willing to represent the worst face of Islam as the voice of the oppressed. How can these people bear to reread their own propaganda? Suicide murderers in Palestine—disowned and denounced by the new leader of the PLO—described as the victims of "despair." The forces of al-Qaida and the Taliban represented as misguided spokespeople for antiglobalization. The blood-maddened thugs in Iraq, who would rather bring down the roof on a suffering people than allow them to vote, pictured prettily as "insurgents" or even, by Michael Moore, as the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers. If this is liberal secularism, I'll take a modest, God-fearing, deer-hunting Baptist from Kentucky every time, as long as he didn't want to impose his principles on me (which our Constitution forbids him to do).


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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Capital wants to be free 

I'm spending a lot of time haunting conference rooms in French law firms, and when I can't take it anymore I read the various promotional materials lawyers tend to leave lying around for clients to read. One big firm is among the sponsors, which include the Ministere de L'Economie des Finances et de l'Industrie and various other French agencies, of a conference coming up in a couple of weeks: Colloque franco-israelien sur le capital-risque. That would be "workshop on Franco-Israeli Venture Capital." The very idea of French "venture capital" is a bit novel, but that it should be directed toward Israel as a matter of industrial policy is fascinating. It just goes to show you that the French will trade with anybody!

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