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  • Archive for January, 2005

    Government as Pimp

    Posted by Ginny on 31st January 2005 (All posts by )

    Clare Chapham’s article, “If you don’t take a job as a prostitute, we can stop your benefits”, in the Guardian was forwarded by a friend; Todd Zywicki at Volokh also comments. Some see this as an argument for keeping prostitution illegal and others as evidence of a nanny state that can’t afford to keep up welfare payments with a 10% unemployment rate. My friend believes prostitution should be illegal. I am less opposed.

    The essential problem, however, seems to me that coercion in many ways – some petty and some not – are likely to come when a state casts “safety nets” broadly. I don’t see how it can’t be coercive–if we do not have to face the bad consequences of our choices then soon the state will recognize that to survive we must not be allowed to make bad choices for which it takes the consequences. But life is full of complicated choices – is it a bad one to take unemployment pay and not work or is it a bad one to enter one of the more unattractive and dangerous professions (even ignoring the spiritual problems many might have). However, if we want the state’s money then we need to prove we “deserve” it by interviewing for jobs. And frankly, as a taxpayer, I do think that some requirements for such checks isn’t a bad idea.

    I would prefer a world, however, where people felt work was dignified and sought it without the government’s push, where people felt prostitution (even though legal) compromised them and they had a strong enough sense of self not to compromise themselves. A world where, in other words, we made our own choices and took our own consequences.

    But this brings us to another characteristic of broad state regulations: reputation and peer pressure count for nothing; everything is either approved and therefore encouraged or not – and then made illegal. Laws then govern all. Nuances that arise from peer pressure, the pressure of traditions, of our own peculiarities, of our own desire to say “I prefer not” will be submerged by what must be. We will do as we should–or someone will want to know why. This leaves little room for our petty vices and eccentric life-choices. Such a world is likely to have few compromises in the rules – only compromises in the self.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments »

    Those Idiot Iraqis

    Posted by Shannon Love on 31st January 2005 (All posts by )

    I feel sorry for those poor, deluded people of Iraq.

    Yesterday, in my ignorance, I thought their election represented another step forward for their country, and perhaps the entire region. I admired the people’s bravery in going to the polls under a threat of death.

    That was before I learned THE REAL TRUTH!

    Surfing around the web today I learned that (1) the election was all sham, (2) even if it wasn’t a sham it meant absolutely nothing, (3) even if it does mean something, it just means the absolute best that the Iraqi people can hope for is an awful state of tyranny and oppression like suburban America. (Apparently, having the option of shopping at Walmart is a horrible fate beyond all telling. I never imagined!)

    Yes, according to everyone from the kid behind the counter at Starbucks to the political-science professor who has never had a real job, the elections in Iraq are a complete waste of time, a non-event. But what about all those Iraqis who were thrilled and ecstatic to be voting for the first time?

    Idiots and dupes, the lot of them.

    I mean, they’re actually right there in Iraq! Can’t they see how awful everything is? If even the kid at Starbucks understands THE REAL TRUTH about the election, why can’t the great mass of Iraqis? Are they like brain damaged or something?

    You know, we should take up a collection and arrange to fly all these earnest lefties who understand THE REAL TRUTH over to Iraq so that they can explain to randomly selected Iraqis just how awful their lives are, how stupid they are for hoping for a better and more democratic future, that the price they paid to get to this point was too high and, oh yeah, how they were really soooooo much better off under Saddam.

    One can just images the faces of the Iraqis lighting up when THE REAL TRUTH strikes them. Even though they have personally lived through all of the events of the last 15 years, the striking intellect of the kid from Starbucks — who watches a lot of CNN — will overawe them and convince them that any hope they have for the future is just illusionary.

    I really want to see that.
    I want to film it and sell tickets.
    From a safe distance.

    Posted in Iraq | 5 Comments »

    The Transatlantic Rift

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 31st January 2005 (All posts by )

    In September of last year, I posted on the efforts of Germany, Japan and Brazil to gain a seat on the UNSC. I wasn’t impressed. Neither, apparently, is David Frum. In his piece, The End of the Transatlantic Affair, he writes:

    Over lunch at a Washington think-tank some time ago, a high-ranking German official told the room about his country’s determination to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council. The reaction? From the Americans present, indifference verging on boredom. For the Europeans, though, it was as if the official had dropped a concrete block on their toes.

    It was a fascinating moment of culture clash that demonstrates some ominous truths about American-European relations. The first truth is the traditionalism of American policy elites. Even when the evidence is thrust into American faces, it is hard for them to accept that things have changed in the old alliance. From 1947 until 1991, US-European relations were guided by the rule that America would provide the protection and Europe the deference.

    With the collapse of Soviet military power, the deal became obsolete. Yet this large geopolitical change has made little impression on American policy elites. Indeed, John Kerry won the backing of almost all of this elite by running a presidential campaign that promised that the alliance could be restored with just a few sweet words.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Europe | 34 Comments »

    I’d like to know . . .

    Posted by Jonathan on 31st January 2005 (All posts by )

    I’d like to know why we don’t use the inked-finger system to reduce voting fraud in the USA. It’s not like we don’t have a fraud problem here.

    In the early 1980s, a couple of weeks after the first election in El Salvador, I met a woman who had voted there. She showed us the ink that was still on her finger and my first thought was: Why don’t they do it that way in Chicago? It wouldn’t eliminate fraud but it would at least make multiple voting much more difficult.

    The reason they don’t do it, I am speculating, is that for any given election one party primarily benefits from fraud, the other party usually doesn’t think the battle is worth fighting (and either wants to retain the fraud option or fears the anti-fraud rules could be used against it in the future), many voters also benefit from the fraud, and the voters who don’t benefit are not well enough organized or even aware of the problem. So while voting fraud is a serious problem in the aggregate, it is difficult, at any particular moment, to get a big enough constituency together to do anything about it.

    Perhaps the Internet, by facilitating the flow of information and political organization, is increasing political incentives in the USA to do something systematic about election fraud. I hope so.

    Posted in Entrepreneurship | 10 Comments »

    Delusions of De Soto’s Delusion

    Posted by Shannon Love on 31st January 2005 (All posts by )

    John Gravois over at Slate pronounces Hernado de Soto’s ideas a failure in alleviating poverty in the 3rd world. In doing so, Gravois makes what I believe to be a common error among those of the Left: mistaking the formal system for the actual system.

    As we learned with “Privatization” and “Deregulation”, even in the 1st world, just because a politician slaps a label on some law doesn’t mean it will actually accomplish what the name implies. Just because a 3rd-world nation passes a law saying that people now have private property, and that specific individuals have title to specific lands, it doesn’t mean that the actual system works that way. If the actual system doesn’t function like something very close to a 1st-world property system then the new laws have failed to establish a working property system.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

    Parallel

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 31st January 2005 (All posts by )

    Law enforcement professionals have a wall that seperates them from their fellow man. A sucessful investigation of a crime is one that results in the arrest and conviction of the guilty.

    So that means that the only thing that matters is evidence. Stuff that will convince the judge or jury that this guy did this crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The detectives can speculate all they want, but if they don’t have something to back it up then they leave it outside the door when they walk into a courtroom. If they don’t then they’ll probably lose the case and their credibility will be questioned the next time they come in front of the judge. What’s worse is that the perp will walk and go on to commit more crimes.

    Of course, it’s an imperfect world. Sometimes a whole case is built on speculation, and sometimes someone is convicted when they shouldn’t be. We rightly see this as a miscarriage of justice, an instance when our society violates the very principles which make up its foundation. It’s where we all agree that the system breaks down.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Media | 1 Comment »

    Kerry the Equivocator

    Posted by Jonathan on 31st January 2005 (All posts by )

    Ann Althouse’s account of John Kerry’s recent appearance on “Meet the Press” is devastating. I’m very glad Kerry didn’t win the election. I don’t agree with Bush on every issue but I almost always know where he stands, and I know that he is able to make big and difficult decisions in a timely way. Kerry, by contrast, equivocates on seemingly everything. Even now, with no election at stake, it’s impossible to pin him down on the war. (I know he’s against it but what would he do? He’s never made that clear.) That the Democratic leadership saw Kerry’s habitual equivocating as a clever tactic to triangulate votes, rather than as evidence of character flaws that should disqualify him from high executive office, does not inspire confidence either.

    Posted in Politics | 3 Comments »

    “Give Me a Lever and a Place to Stand and I’ll Move the World”

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 30th January 2005 (All posts by )

    The title of this post is attributed to Archimedes, a Greek genius whose amazing colossal brain not only devised new advances in mathematics and the sciences, but also invented defenses to protect his nation.

    The quote concerns the lever, a simple device that everyone will recognize at once. In one context the quote can be taken to be nothing more than hyperbole concerning a common application of physics. But there’s something about it that always gets my heart to quicken just a little bit.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History | 5 Comments »

    DC Blog Meetup, Feb. 12!

    Posted by Jonathan on 30th January 2005 (All posts by )

    Spirited debate is the norm at ChicagoBoyz.

    The tentative plan is to meet somewhere in downtown Washington, DC, early Saturday afternoon, Feb. 12. We met at Gordon Biersch the last time we did this. I’m open to suggestions for alternative venues, and perhaps alternative times.

    UPDATE: We’re going to meet at 12:30PM in the bar at Rosa Mexicano, 575 7th Street at F St., NW.

    Posted in Announcements | 4 Comments »

    How Fast They Learn

    Posted by Ginny on 30th January 2005 (All posts by )

    Iraq the Model begins with a joyous “The People have won” and continues in celebration. In the midst is an anecdote that shows the value of disinterestedness – a portent of what’s to come (and must come in a democracry):

    The first thing we saw this morning on our way to the voting center was a convoy of the Iraqi army vehicles patrolling the street, the soldiers were cheering the people marching towards their voting centers then one of the soldiers chanted “vote for Allawi” less than a hundred meters, the convoy stopped and the captain in charge yelled at the soldier who did that and said:

    “You’re a member of the military institution and you have absolutely no right to support any political entity or interfere with the people’s choice. This is Iraq’s army, not Allawi’s”.

    This was a good sign indeed and the young officer’s statement was met by applause from the people on the street.

    We don’t always remember how in modern times, the importance of the wall between the military and the political is as important in many countries as the wall between church and state. The Iraqis have learned – what they don’t want has taught them what they do.

    Posted in Iraq | 5 Comments »

    Happy Kill a Terrorist Day

    Posted by Shannon Love on 30th January 2005 (All posts by )

    Terrorists kill to spread terror, hence the name. A terrorist attack is, by definition, an attack against random civilians for the pure purpose of intimidating a population. Basically, everybody in the terrorist targeted population is a target.

    This is a real problem from the security perspective. Even a small country or ethnic group has millions of members. If a terrorist just needs to kill a handful of them out of millions to have a successful attack, he can attack anywhere and at anytime. This makes terrorists nearly impossible to stop if they have the least foothold within a society. They get to pick the time and place of the attack.

    It is easy to be a big shot terrorist who can pick from thousands of miles of street, tens of thousands of buildings and any time over a period of months. You can strike without warning and easily escape before any authority can catch you. However, what happens to if you are forced to attack a few heavily guarded sites on a particular day?

    You die.

    I think the elections today in Iraq will serve as a lethal honey-pot for the terrorists. All the polling sites will be heavily guarded. They will have to fight prepared forces in order to strike them. No more skulking about, choosing the time and place to strike. They will have the time and place imposed on them. If they don’t fight, they will be further exposed as paper tigers.

    I predict that (1) election violence will be far less severe than most fear, because the terrorists will not like the odds, and that (2) attacks which do take place will largely fail with heavy casualties.

    (Update: Well the polls have closed, violence was low. The terrorists barely made an appearance. They suffered a huge defeat here. Perhaps we need to come up with a strategy wherein we create situations that require the terrorists to strike at specific times and places or risk losing face.)

    Posted in Iraq | 3 Comments »

    EH101 Variant Chosen As New ‘Marine Corps One’

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 29th January 2005 (All posts by )

    A variant of the venerable EH101 (EuroHelicopter 101) medium-lift helicopter, dubbed the US101, has been chosen by the US Navy for it’s next generation presidential transport, traditionally referred to as Marine Corps One. The EH101 was designed in the 1980′s by the British/Italian consortium AgustaWestland and is currently in service with several NATO nations.

    Lockheed Martin and Bell Helicopter teamed with AgustaWestland to offer the US101 against a Sikorsky/Boeing team, which was offering a variant of Sikorsky’s S-92, a similar helicopter. The US101 will be partially manufactured in the US by Bell, will incorporate GE engines, a European manufactured drive train and transmission, and British manufactured blades. Various custom avionics will be purchased in the US and integrated by Lockheed Martin.

    What a coup for AgustaWestland! You can bet your last Euro-dollar that photos of the EH101 in Marine Corps livery majestically taking flight from the White House lawn are going into their sales brochures tomorrow.

    Sikorsky Helicopter had been manufacturing the presidential helicopter fleet since the Eisenhower administration. Losing that prestigious spot had to really, really hurt.

    But I can’t say I’m surprised.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Aviation | 9 Comments »

    May I Bring to Your Attention….

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 29th January 2005 (All posts by )

    I came across a blog that I think would be of interest to everyone here. It’s Rantingprofs. It’s authored by Cori Dauber, who’s an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina.

    So what’s the subject of her blog? Cori posts about the media coverage of the War on Terror.

    From what I can see, she’s none too happy about the news media’s performance.

    Posted in Blogging | Comments Off

    Brian & George

    Posted by Ginny on 29th January 2005 (All posts by )

    Brian Lamb, replacing BookNotes with his patented interview technique on Q&A scores this week-end: an interview with Bush (8:00-9:00, repeated 11-12 both Sunday evening – E.S.T.). The transcripts and streamed viewing are up. The interview is 23 minutes long and followed by roundtable with Richard Norton Smith and Doug Brinkley.

    That interview is on C-Span I; it is preceded on C-Span 2 by BookTV’s new program, Afterwards precedes this one; for those of you who haven’t caught this new program, an author is interviewed by someone with a different (often opposing) perspective. Of course, this is not the usual neutral take of C-Span (but, then, the interviewers aren’t c-span employees, either). This week Dana Priest (of the Washington Post) will interview Melissa Boyle Mahle a former US intelligence officer, about her new memoir, Denial and Deception: An Insiders View of the CIA from Iran-Contra to 9/11.

    Posted in Schedules | 1 Comment »

    Iraqi Vote

    Posted by Ginny on 29th January 2005 (All posts by )

    Reynolds links to an especially well-written plea to bloggers of all stripes concerning Sunday’s election:

    I’d like to ask a favor: Regardless of one’s political inclination, irrespective of your confidence in the electoral process employed, or the decision to invade and occupy Iraq, no matter what the outcome, let us all stand united in our admiration for those courageous Iraqi’s who will brave gunfire, RPGs, bombs, and reprisal, to determine their own fate? For they choose to do so in bold defiance of promised violence and certain intimidation.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

    First Cousins & Democracy in Iraq

    Posted by Ginny on 29th January 2005 (All posts by )

    Mark Twain’s description of the Grangerford/Shepherdson feud and James Webb’s Born Fighting take different perspectives on a tough, independent strain central to American culture. The Grangerfords give honor to Pilgrim’s Progress and Henry Clay’s speeches; they decorate with Highland Marys and graveyard art. Their religion (predestination and brotherly love, while the guns are left at the door) echoes that hardy angularity Webb likes. But, of course, gone wrong, this can also produce a feud of honor over a pig. Gone wrong, it isn’t honor but tribalism. Faulkner, a writer of mythic and complex sensibility, appreciated the power of the passion that underlies such feuds, one he describes as “the old fierce pull of blood.” He counters it with the great ability western thought encourages: an ability to see the “other” as human, (as, indeed, burning with a spark of divinity). This leads us to transcend our blood loyalties, move from revenge to justice, from blood loyalty to national loyalty. Seeing all others as our brothers – ah, that is the great gift our tradition has given us. Webb sees the broader, more self-conscious and rational values that also permeate that tradition. But that primal urge, that fierce pull of blood, is always a part of us, a prioritizing we cannot help but feel.

    The power of the tribal loyalty Twain captures was fresh on my mind when I happened upon “Cousin Marriage Conundrum”. Steve Sailor argues that “the ancient practice [of consanguinty] discourages democratic nation-building.” Then he quotes Randall Parker.

    Consanguinity [cousin marriage] is the biggest underappreciated factor in Western analyses of Middle Eastern politics. Most Western political theorists seem blind to the importance of pre-ideological kinship-based political bonds in large part because those bonds are not derived from abstract Western ideological models of how societies and political systems should be organized. Extended families that are incredibly tightly bound are really the enemy of civil society because the alliances of family override any consideration of fairness to people in the larger society. Yet, this obvious fact is missing from 99% of the discussions about what is wrong with the Middle East. How can we transform Iraq into a modern liberal democracy if every government worker sees a government job as a route to helping out his clan at the expense of other clans?”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Iraq | 9 Comments »

    Revenge of the Uncool

    Posted by Shannon Love on 28th January 2005 (All posts by )

    So, Vice President Check goes to the Auschwitz remembrance ceremony wearing a heavy olive-drab parka over his suit.

    Oh, the humanity!

    There is apparently much gnashing of teeth among the cool kids over this supposed fashion faux pas.

    Whatever personal affection I have for members of the Bush administration comes from the fact that from head guy on down, they are a bunch of uncool dorks.

    I like that because I too am an uncool dork. Just ask my children.

    Bush can’t give a speech to save his life. I mean, he tries, but I don’t think he really ever pulls it off. I would rather have a fork scraped repeatedly across my teeth than listen to one of his speeches waiting for a gaffe or one of his patented mistimed pauses. Cheney is worse in some ways. Listening to him is like being lectured on fire evacuation procedures by the guy from accounting.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

    Does He Know What He is Holding?

    Posted by Shannon Love on 28th January 2005 (All posts by )

    Via Instapundit comes a link to a photo of a Leftwing professor who is so smart he went all the way out the other side to stupid.

    I couldn’t help but wonder if a contemporary radical-Left college professor actually knows how to maintain and shoot an AK-47? Does he own the weapon himself? Is it full auto? Is its collapsible stock legal?

    I mean, is this guy really a bad-ass revolutionary capable of taking the fight to “the man” or a 60s retread, Che Guevara-wanna-be poser?

    I think I’ll be taking bets.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

    Are flying cars too dangerous to be permitted?

    Posted by ken on 27th January 2005 (All posts by )

    A lot of people seem to think so. A good part of this perception, as far as I can tell, comes from a misunderstanding of the way society would look after the skycar came into general use.

    When people recoil in horror at the thought of cheap flying cars, they seem to envision a city much like the ones we live in with those idiots they share the road with trying to navigate our accustomed traffic density in three dimensions. They imagine millions of the things flying over a few dozen square miles of city, with cars falling out of the sky through accident or mechanical failure and inevitably crashing into a building or residence far too often for anyone’s comfort.

    All of which fails to address one fundamental question: why do cities exist in the first place?

    They exist because they drastically lower the cost, in time and money, for people to trade and socialize, and thereby drastically increase the number of people they can feasibly choose from to trade and socialize with. This leads to more competition as well as larger markets for enterprises of every kind; the latter allows products, services, jobs, and enterprises to exist that couldn’t show a profit if they were limited to serving smaller markets.

    For all of these purposes, the flying car serves not as a means of traveling within a city, but as a substitute for the city itself! Instead of shortening the distance between people and enterprises by crowding them into a city, the skycar shortens the travel time while allowing the people themselves to live hundreds of miles away from their jobs, their friends, and their favorite shops. A few dozen houses may be clumped together in a single clearing, or a single house may stand on its own, but in either case small neighborhoods and single office buildings/strip malls/large stores will be surrounded by miles of wilderness, and people will spend most of their time endangering nothing but trees or grass if they happen to suffer mechanical failure, and enjoying plenty of space between themselves and the nearest fellow traveler.

    How do we get there from here? Simple – allow ordinary people to operate skycars/aircraft/etc. anywhere except over cities. Even better, let anyone operate an aircraft anywhere if they get sufficient liability insurance – and the insurance companies will profit by setting appropriate rates and conditions. Either way, people flying their own vehicles will tend to avoid population centers, enterprises wishing to sell to or employ such people will start locating away from population centers, and as sales volume and penetration increases and prices go down, the countryside will become more desirable and large population centers less desirable as places to live, work, or operate a business.

    And the end result will be better and safer than what we have now. Against a dispersed population, most terrorist attacks, even with nuclear weapons, would yield disappointing results (a notable exception being contagious diseases). While natural disasters are not as much of a threat for us as they once were, there are potential disasters that could still exact large loss of life in today’s concentrated population centers – a direct hit on New Orleans by a hurricane being one example – that would be drastically mitigated by lower population concentrations and faster evacuation capability. Profit opportunities will open up in the development of vehicles that are easy to control safely, opportunities that don’t exist today because no one who isn’t trained to use today’s not-so-user-friendly controls is permitted to fly a craft with any controls.

    And when you get right down to it, it’s a travesty that, more than a hundred years after the Wright Brothers’ pioneering flight, practically all of us are still driving glorified Model T’s and seem to accept without a second thought that our children and even our grandchildren will do so as well. What happened to us?

    Posted in Tech | 34 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by In-Cog-Nito on 27th January 2005 (All posts by )

    Goes to the good folks at The Diplomad:

    And the 300 trucks? Notice how the UN press release rolls together IOM and UN. It would be akin to stating, “Between them the United States and Mexico have 12 aircraft carrier battlegroups.” Technically true, but . . . The overwhelming majority of those trucks are IOM’s — arranged and paid for by USAID.

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

    Score another for Niven & Pournelle

    Posted by ken on 27th January 2005 (All posts by )

    As you may know, these are the guys who wrote a novel about a comet-strike disaster – before anyone had a notion that such a strike might have killed off the dinosaurs, and more than 20 years before observations of comet strikes on Jupiter pretty much confirmed their predictions of its effects. (Update: I’m speaking of Lucifer’s Hammer)

    Now a new study suggests that another of their works (with Michael Flynn), Fallen Angels, is much closer to the truth than one might have assumed when it first came out. In the novel, the ecofanatics prevail, the use of technology and particularly energy is severely restricted, and the emission of greenhouse gases by human activity is successfully curtailed – and as a result, a new ice age grips the Earth, with parts of the US and most of Canada covered by thick sheets of ice.

    According to the article, “there is evidence that changes in solar radiation and greenhouse gas concentrations should have driven the Earth towards glacial conditions over the last few thousand years. “, but such a disaster was prevented by the release of those dreaded greenhouse gases by humans over the last 8000 years.

    Now those favoring severe restrictions on the use of energy have spent the last couple of years insisting that the evidence for global climate change is pretty rock-solid and leaping from there to the notion that their favored restrictions need to be enacted without delay to head off disaster, without ever pausing to consider the question of whether human-caused climate change represents a degradation or an improvement of the environment. If it’s caused by humans, and especially if it’s caused by humans acting to solve their own problems and make their own lives better instead of wagging their tails and waiting for their betters to give them what they need, then it must be bad. Now this assumption that H. Sapiens and all his works are a blight upon the Earth is receiving closer scrutiny, and so far it’s not looking good for the prosecution.

    I highly recommend you read both novels if you haven’t already. It’s nice to read stories and writings by people who believe that human beings using their minds and building progressively more powerful tools for solving their problems is fundamentally a good and noble activity rather than a desecration of some mythical benevolent “nature”.

    Posted in Environment | 44 Comments »

    The Long Nose of the Law

    Posted by Shannon Love on 26th January 2005 (All posts by )

    Over at the The Volokh Conspiracy Orin Kerr notes that the Supreme Court has reaffirmed that getting sniffed by a police dog does not constitute a search under the Fourth Amendment. I wonder how this will play out if technology replaces the dogs?

    There exists an emerging class of chemical detectors for which the best description is artificial noses. Like biological noses, these devices can detect a wide range of compounds wafting in the air. Some designs even use biological receptors embedded in microchips. Within 10 years or so these detectors will reach the level of sensitivity of a dog’s nose and they will fit in a handheld unit. Unlike a dog, these devices will be able to tell us exactly what they detected and in what amounts.

    Let’s call these devices eSniffers. Their existence raises all kinds of interesting legal and cultural questions. For example, at what point does the use of an eSniffer become a search under the Fourth Amendment?
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Law | 13 Comments »

    Those That Forget History….

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 25th January 2005 (All posts by )

    More than 10 years ago, the Israel and the PLO worked out the Oslo Accords. This was an agreement where Israel was to allow the Palestinians to form armed internal police forces, which were then supposed to confiscate weapons and forcibly disband terrorist cells. The PLO itself, on the verge of achieving a Palestinian state, would disband. Israel would relinquish some of the territory that had been seized for Jewish settlements, and the Palestinians would hold free and fair elections in order to form a legitimate government instead of being run by a bunch of terrorist organizations.

    This was pretty much just the first steps, though. The idea was to eventually have a nation called Palestine which would rule its own territory and leave the Israelis alone, while Israel returned the favor.

    A few of the first steps were actually completed. Some of the Jewish settlements were bulldozed and the land was returned to the Palestinians. The Palestinians were allowed to form armed internal security forces. Next step was elections.

    Didn’t happen. The newly armed secruity forces recruited and armed many more gunmen than they said they would, many of them murderous terrorists. Of course, the first thing these guys wanted to do was use their shiny new AK’s and murder even more people.

    And do you think that the “police” even tried to shut the PLO down or arrest terrorists? Don’t make me laugh.

    I’m reminded of this painful episode of naivete on the part of the Israelis because of this news item. The terrorist organization Hamas is claiming that they’ll agree to a “truce” if Israel releases thousands of Palestinian prisoners. They also want the Israelis to redeploy their troops away from Gaza. Don’t worry about Jewish civilians after the army pulls out, Hamas says, because they’ll station Palestinian police forces in order to protect them.

    Does anyone else see a pattern here? Or is it just me?

    UPDATE
    Francis Porretto says that calling a truce simply to gather strength for further hostilities is a favored Islamic tactic.

    Posted in Israel | 14 Comments »

    Perspective

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 25th January 2005 (All posts by )

    According to this news story, a high raking al-Queda operative has confessed to the bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad. He also claims that al-Queda has constructed about 75% of the car bombs that have been used in Baghdad.

    AQ has been suffering from a loss of prestige so far as radical, murderous Islamo-Fascist terrorist groups go. This is probably some has-been blowing smoke to puff up his sense of importance. Sort of like those copycat serial killers who confess to crimes they didn’t commit so the cops will think they’re such big deals.

    Still, he is a mover and shaker in AQ. There’s also no doubt that he’s one of the bad guys, a murderous punk with innocent blood on his hands. And it’s beyond question that he was captured in Iraq while up to no good.

    But that doesn’t mean anything, right? It’s like all of those angry op-eds in the NYT told us. Saddam had nothing to do with terrorism, invading Iraq isn’t really attacking international terrorism, and the current attacks in Iraq are conducted by local “freedom fighters” trying to defend their homes without support from foreign terrorists desperate to prevent the formation of an Arab democracy.

    So what was this al-Queda guy doing there? Uh…He was on vacation!

    I hear that he was thinking of going to Disneyworld instead, but he looked like a geek in those mouse ears.

    Posted in Iraq | 13 Comments »

    The Perspective of Academia

    Posted by Ginny on 23rd January 2005 (All posts by )

    An anecdote for Ralf and one not unrelated to Rummel’s latest: My husband was small talking Christmas family news with a colleague; he mentioned our oldest daughter spends every other Christmas in Germany with her husband’s parents. His colleague responded that her choice of husband must have made us happy. He replied that we did, indeed, like her choice very much. Then, his colleague made herself clearer: “You must have been really afraid she’d marry a Texan.” My husband who grew up in a small Texas town twenty miles away and is deeply immersed in a broad and tightly knit Czech-Texan family was a little taken aback. She did not seem to be joking–it is possible he misread her. But she seemed serious enough that he didn’t respond that our only complaint was that our son-in-law brought German politics with him and has not been disabused of these while living in cobalt Austin. (She and her husband bought a house and raised their children in France – where the children now live. Not all that many careers leave us free to live on one continent and get paid on another.)

    Posted in Germany | 15 Comments »