“Why do people write like this?”

Virginia Postrel asks, in response to:

[. . .]

I think you might fail to consider that religious progressives might finally awaken from their decades long slumber to answer the call against idolatry. One can cherish the “feminine” without relying on post-capitalist constructions of the “feminine” to acknowledge the embodiedness of gender. One can be LGBT friendly without becoming a materialist or a vulgar libertarian.

[. . .]

She has a point, though I suspect that few people really do write like that except in academia or related fields. For those people who do write as in the sample above, perhaps the writing style functions mainly as an indicator of group solidarity. Whereas prospective street-gang members might have to commit crimes to prove that their allegiance to the gang tops their allegiance to the law and outsiders, so perhaps are members of some academic disciplines (“disciplines”?) expected to write incomprehensible jargon to prove their allegiance to the theories and/or values of their fellow savants.

But in terms of actually communicating ideas — assuming that’s really the goal — maybe these people would be better off writing clearly and substituting some more benign ritual (urinating on fire hydrants?) to show solidarity with the intellectual pack.

Economic Policy Contradictions

Watching the markets this morning. Third-quarter GDP report comes out stronger than expected. Stock indices and the dollar take off, bonds dump. Good times seemingly ahead.

Then Treasury Secretary Snow opens his mouth, asserting disingenuously that the U.S. still has a strong-dollar policy, and carping about how China and Japan run monetary policies that actually benefit their domestic economies. The second Bloomberg article linked above puts it well:

Even as he called on China and Japan to adopt policies that might weaken the U.S. currency, Snow insisted “a strong dollar is in the U.S. national interest” because “no country can devalue its way to prosperity.”

The contradictions in Bush’s politically-driven monetary policy are difficult to avoid and are having negative consequences for the securities markets. A usually mild-mannered trader friend of mine, with whom I was having an IM exchange during the Treasury secretary’s testimony, said that the way in which Snow lies about our weak-dollar policy is disgusting. I don’t think that my friend is the only one who thinks this. Stocks and the dollar sold off during Snow’s remarks.

As of 1:00 PM EST stocks have recovered some of their losses. But the losses were unnecessary. Stock market recovery is being held back by bad policy. (Bonds stayed down during all of this. That tells you something. Either there’s going to be continued economic recovery and bonds are going to get killed, or there’s going to be a weaker recovery combined with inflation and a weak dollar and bonds are going to get killed.)

I hope that the Bush people get their act together. Snow reminds me of G. William Miller, about whom an ex-boss of mine once quipped that the T-Bill market moved 50 points whenever he opened his mouth. That was back in the days when markets were opaque enough for insiders to profit consistently from politically induced price swings. Nowadays things are much more open, bid/ask spreads are tight, and unexpected volatility of the Miller/Snow variety is at least as likely to lead to trading losses as to gains. It would be in everyone’s interest for the Bush Administration to shut up, get out of the way, and let the economy follow the path of least resistance.

The Schiavo Case

This is a terrible situation that cannot end well. The short version: woman in long-term coma, husband wants to starve her to death, parents want to keep her alive, judge invests the comatose woman with imaginary death-wish, legislature steps in to keep her alive. Much obfuscatory verbiage has been spread about the case, especially by people wielding the non sequitur “right to die” as though it were a mantra. Moira Breen cuts through the bullshit, here and here and includes many informative links. One of the best links is to an extremely thoughtful analysis by Peter Sean Bradley (scroll down to his top post for October 27 if the wretched Blogspot permalink doesn’t work).

UPDATE: Moira links to another informative post, this one by Carl Zimmer.

Technology? Glamour? — Blogging!

She's got our number!

In the city of the future, life’s necessities will be at our fingertips. . .

(Maybe that button should really be labeled: “Pizza”)

I apologize. I had intended to blog about:

-The moral hazard created by government payments to California fire victims, who are thereby encouraged to rebuild their homes in vulnerable areas.

-Or about DARPA, which, despite my carping, does a lot of useful research and has a fascinating website (via Kaedrin) that Lex is on my case to write something about.

-Or about George Bush’s possible coming dilemma: if the economy continues to improve, and the Fed resumes juicing the money supply, and Treasury keeps talking down the dollar, and gold prices keep creeping up, there could start to be a lot of inflation worries — and pressure for Fed tightening — just as the 2004 political season gets into high gear and the President is most vulnerable.

(Does anyone know of a 12-step program for photoshopaholics?)

Churchill quote, etc.

I am still in a the mood to suggest books. Having read Roy Jenkins’ biography of Winston Churchill last year, I have gone a bit of a Churchill jag. I bought a bunch of his books, and have been picking around in them. One thing I’ve noticed is that you can drop some serious coin buying his out of print books. He is one of the greatest writers I have ever encountered, and there is almost literally not a single page that doesn’t have something good in it. One I picked up is the seven volumes of his collected war speeches, which is simply awesome. If you already have a basic familiarity with World War II, you will find many good things in there. In particular, Churchill’s reports to the House of Commons on the status of the war are tremendous — Lengthy, detailed, blunt about setbacks and disasters, respectful of his audience. We have no equivalent in the United States. One small item I found this evening, just flipping around was entitled “A speech to American troops during a visit to a southern army camp in the United States, June, 1942” and reads in its entirety thus:

I am enormously impressed by the thoroughness and precision with which the formation of the great war-time army of the United States is proceeding. The day will come when the British and American armies will march into countries, not as invaders, but as liberators, helping the people there who have been under the barbarian yoke. That day may seem long to those whose period of training spreads across the weeks and months. But when it comes, it will make amends for all the toil and discipline that has been undergone. Also, it will open the world to larger freedom and to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as the grand words of your Declaration of Independence put it.

This passage reminds me of Iraq, for obvious reasons. Even in the very dark times of the early months of World War II Churchill was already looking at the Anglospheric armies as liberators.

Fortunately, instead of having to throw together an enormous army on the fly, as we were doing in 1942, for Iraq we were able to employ a very powerful military already in existence. Money well frigging spent. We went into Iraq with the best military equipment the world has ever seen. We went into World War II with a tank, the Sherman, which was basically a rolling coffin when it encountered the high-velocity guns on the German tanks. (See Death Traps: The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II.) Never again.

Political Parties II

After I recently put up a post about third parties, I ran across this excellent passage by Samuel Eliot Morison, from his Oxford History of the American People. The book is a staple at used book stores, and is frequently available for very little money. Morison is an old-time historian, basically a New Deal liberal in outlook. Anyway, Morison is basically patriotic and sensible, and tells the tale clearly and fairly, especially by contemporary standards.

Morison is here talking about Martin van Buren’s political machine in New York in the 1820s:

The Albany Regency’s political system in New York spread throughout the Union, although issues differed from state to state. Party organization in the Jackson era settled into a pattern that has changed little since. In contrast to its British prototype, which exists normally on the one level for electing members to Parliament, the American party existed in three layers, federal, state and municipal. Analysis of the Whig and Democratic parties and their successors reveals a bundle of local, sectional and class interests. Their cross sections, instead of displaying a few simple colors, were a jigsaw puzzle of radicalism and conservatism, nationalism and state’s rights, personal loyalties and local issues. Party strategy was directed toward accumulating as many bundles as possible, and statesmanship was the art of finding some person or principle common to all factions that would make them sink their differences and in union find strength.

And, I’d add, to be perfectly clear, “… and win elections.” This is the way it works and has pretty much always worked. And the question that ought to occur to anyone paying attention is this – how the heck else can you govern a continent-sized country composed of hundreds of millions of people?. I am heartened by the responses I got to the earlier post, which suggests that our ChicagoBoyz backbenchers are not attracted by the siren song of futile and counterproductive third party politics.

Bruce Schneier on Security

Lex pointed me to this thoughtful review of Schneier’s new book. I also noticed this recent column, which summarizes much of what I have learned by reading Schneier’s online newsletter. In a media world which sometimes seems to alternate between complacent ignorance and various hysterical warnings, Schneier’s contrary attitude, and his rational view of security as a series of cost/benefit tradeoffs, make him always worth reading.

Re: The Sociology of Idea Propagation

I now suspect that any body of work will eventually be misunderstood if it attracts attention long enough for the context in which it is read to be markedly different from the context in which it was first presented.

– Daniel Kahneman

Get Used To It

A well intentioned friend sent a link around about some Libertarian-type third party, talking about how the GOP could not be trusted, etc. I launched my usual response, which may be of interest to our readers:

It is always a bad idea to support a third party you like. The dynamics of the American election system force the creation of two centrist political parties, which are really coalitions of interest groups, since it is winner takes all at 51%. Any time you have a third party, it simply breaks up one of the coalitions and hands the victory to the opposing large party. This is hardwired into the system. It cannot work any other way. We have had the same two large-party labels in place for 149 years for a reason. It is better for any kind of conservative to work within the GOP, as frustrating as that often is, trying to find ways to articulate our views to other people who don’t already agree with us in a way that will gain their assent. In other words, we are stuck having to use persuasion as a way to reach and convince others and to accumulate larger groups of voters who agree with us. There is no gimmick we can use to somehow beat the system. Otherwise, we get a scenario like Perot causing two Clinton victories. I prefer to see Nader causing a GOP victory, or John Anderson taking votes away from Jimmy Carter (1980 was not that long ago …). My dream would be a strong Green party sucking the life out of the Democrats. People with strong views have often gone off after the mirage of a more ideologically pure third party. It cannot work under our electoral system and always makes things worse for the people who put their hopes in a third party. Wishful thinking of this type is imprudent and unwise and counter-productive.

The historical record, and our constitutional arrangements for elections (51% winner-take-all) allow no other conclusion.

That’s how I see it, anyway.

I got a fairly typical response, asserting that the Donks and Elephants are the same, etc. My riposte:

I disagree that the GOP “perpetuate the same social programs and controlling agenda the Democrats do” or that the “election system is so corrupt”. Both parties reflect where the public is at the moment. The parties are followers, not leaders, of the public mood. The GOP is slightly better on these issues, but not much better, because they’d lose elections if they were much better. I “trust” the GOP to act like a political party and try to win elections. I don’t think it is reasonable to want to “trust” it to do anything else.

Voting for a libertarian 3d party would send a message all right. It would turn over the power of the state to the liberal democrats whom I disagree with on almost everything. An election is a bad place to “send a message”.

“I don’t see how working within it for change could do any good”. What I see are conservatives who are in denial that their views are shared only by a small minority. Moreover, they are unwilling to find a way to articulate their views in an appealing way to make converts to their views and get more votes. Others are working to advance their views. If you don’t do so, and in a practical and effective way, they’ll win and you’ll lose. Count on it.

With an election around the corner, we can count on hearing a certain amount of whining about how the two parties present no real choice, etc. The answer – no kidding. The longer answer – find a way to make your ideas appealing, find a way to convince large numbers of people of their utility – there is no shortcut.

Book Recommendations

Recently Lex and Mrs. Lex went out to dinner with some friends. First, we went to the live band karaoke at the Hideout, which got a rave review from me on the blog. One of our companions was a transplanted Englishman, whom I promised to send a list of recommended reading to educate him about Chicago and America. The ungrateful chap has never responded. The other person was a Chicago area author and lawyer of some repute. The email I ended up sending was essentially as follows. It may be of some interest to our readers. (Any suggestions of your own, in a comment, of books in the general subject areas of American political and economic history, especially Chicago and the Midwest, would be appreciated.)

Read more

New Lisa Marr Record — American Jitters

Heads up. Take a break from worrying about China. Happy news.

Lisa Marr’s new cd is out.

But you’d almost have to be psychic to notice.

There is nothing on her website –or almost nothing. If you happen to look at “shows” and happen to notice that the last one listed says “release party” you’ll get a hint there’s a new record. But there’s nothing on the merch page on the website, so you can’t buy it there even if you managed to figure out that it existed. This is a mysterious approach. But there is a blurb about it on the Sympathy for the Record Industry site, which is where I found out about it, totally by accident, while looking for something else. And, sure enough, you can get it on Amazon. But there is no picture and there are no samples … .

This is an eccentric marketing blitz. More like an anti-blitz. Like a stealth attack or something. Maybe it is a zen approach where less is more, or one hand is clapping or a butterfly is dreaming of being a person.

But. I see that you can go to this site and hear samples or do some kind of pay-to-download thing I haven’t figured out yet.

The samples sound anywhere from good to damn good to breathtaking (“The Boy With the Lou Reed Eyes”).

My disk is already on order. I will provide a full review in due time.

Another Security Risk from China?

Bruce Schneier writes:

China is getting a copy of the Windows source code. I’ve already written about the security risks of open-source versus proprietary software. One of the problems with open source is that the bad guys get to look at the code. One of the good things about open source is that the good guys get to look at the code, too. If I were the Chinese government, I’d turn that code upside down looking for vulnerabilities, and then not tell anyone about them. This seems like a huge security risk to me, even though Microsoft might consider it a smart business move.

Good point. Microsoft probably sees China as just another customer, but from a security standpoint we should be wary. If there is any advantage to be gained here, the Chinese government will take it. The fact that we habitually view a technology as benign does not preclude someone else from using that technology as a weapon. (See, in this regard, Lex’s recent post about China’s space program.)

Israeli submarines with nuclear missiles?

This should be taken with a shaker of salt, but I think it is interesting enough to post about it. Call it a tribute to the National Enquirer if you think it is too improbable.

According to reports originally coming from the Los Angeles Times Israel can now can launch nuclear-tipped cruise missiles from German-built submarines that were delivered in the late 90s. After its smear-campaign against Schwarzenegger I have doubts about the paper’s credibility, but if true this would be good news. Due to its small size Israel has no room for error so it has to keep track of what its enemies are up to. If they knew that it can retaliate even in the unlikely case of a successful surprise attack would be a quite effective deterrent.

Der Spiegel, also not the most credible source I can think of, reports that the diesel-powered submarines can stay out of port for over four weeks and can sail over 15,000 kilometers (not quite 10,000 miles) in that time; their armament consists of ten torpedoes and Harpoon cruise missiles. The magazine also says that experts had warned years ago that Israel was planning to use the subs as platforms for nuclear weapons. Some members of the German parliament allegedly asked the government if the installation of over-sized torpedo-tubes in the three submarines of the “Delphin” class (with a diameter of 650 instead of 533 millimeters, that’s respectively about 26 and 21.5 inches) indicated such intentions. According to Der Spiegel the German defense-ministry answered that “at the end of the day the federal government can’t exclude any kind of armament”. If the reports are indeed true they were right and Israel has successfully redesigned the “Harpoon” anti-ship missile to carry a small nuclear warhead for use against ground-targets.

According to some experts Haaretz quotes these claims are bogus, which might be right – leaking false information like this and denying it afterwards is still going to keep Israel’s enemies wondering and make them think twice before they try anything. And even if it’s true a boilerplate denial is almost obligatory, to keep them wondering anyway.

And finally, this website claims, in an article that seems to be from a while back, that two of the three submarines had been paid for by the usual German financial support for Israeli defense and the third jointly by Germany and Israel. The website also claims that German and Israeli firms cooperated in the construction of the boats and blithely mentions that these specific boats also could also be used for launching nuclear weapons. Taken together with the defense-ministry’s response quoted above this would mean that the German government knew about the plans Israel had with the subs, should it turn out that there really is something to this story. A caveat: The homepage of the site has been hacked (I know this because all you can find there is “hacked…”). I don’t think that the material I quote has been maliciously put up by the hacker in question, military-themed websites get hacked on principle around here, but it’s one more reason to be skeptical.

Now here’s a quote

Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary on January 20th 1939:

“Wir müssen versuchen, die ganze Welt gegen die feigen Londoner Kriegstreiber mobil zu machen”.


“We have to try to mobilize the whole world against the cowardly warmongers in London”.

It seems a bit strange that he would write something like this in private, but the term “English warmongers” was a staple of Nazi propaganda even before World war II, so it might have been out of force of habit. He also wasn’t being ironic, the Nazis would have preferred taking over Europe without a fight, of course.

A moderate in his own special way

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad hasn’t mellowed with age:

Jews rule the world, getting others to fight and die for them, but will not be able to defeat the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has told a major Islamic summit.

“The Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them,” Mahathir said, adding, “1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews.”

He told the biggest gathering of Muslim leaders since the 2001 attacks on the United States that all Muslims were suffering “oppression and humiliation”, with their religion accused of promoting terrorism.

(Read the whole thing, it’s fascinating, in a horrifying kind of way).

This kind of insanity isn’t all that surprising coming from him. He is notorious for ranting about the evils of globalization and even his anti-Semitic screeching didn’t just come out of the blue. The man built his whole decades-long political career on the discrimination of ethnic Chinese, who serve as scapegoats for all problems in much of South East Asia (an obvious parallel to anti-Semitism). And Mahathir Mohamad wasn’t just an opportunist who went along, he was the driving force behind this policy.

Profiting from affirmative action at the expense of the more successful ethnic Chinese, few Malays complain (which would be illegal anyway). As long as Malays and Islam are securely on top in the country, the anti-Chinese riots of earlier decades won’t repeat themselves, but that is good news in a very qualified sense, for the Chinese effectively (if not formally) live in dhimmitude. Sharia law is gaining ground in the country and it looks like it might be extended to
the non-Muslim population, too.

Even so Malaysia is still pretty relaxed and tolerant for an Islamic country (at least for now), and Mahatir Mohamed is a moderate as Muslim leaders go. He’s set to retire now though, and his successor is likely to be worse. Add to this the problems of Indonesia and the Philippines to control their own Muslim extremists (not that they are always trying that hard) and the situation in the whole region looks increasingly likely to deteriorate. We might miss old Mahatir yet.

(When I posted I hadn’t noticed that Sylvain had put up an entry on the same speech a short while ago).


This is about one of Mahatir Mohamad’s possible successors:

Nik Abdul Aziz, the spiritual leader of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, was quoted by the Malay-language Mingguan Malaysia newspaper as saying that even women who wear Muslim headscarves can arouse men if they wear makeup and perfume too. The end result could be rape or molestation, the newspaper cited Nik Aziz as saying. Anwar Bakri, a senior adviser to Nik Aziz, confirmed he made the comments, but said they were reported out of context.

The fundamentalist Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party is the country’s largest opposition group, controlling two of the 13 states, where it has restricted alcohol sales and segregated Muslim men and women at supermarket counters.

It has tried to introduce criminal laws including punishments such as amputation, but these have been blocked by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s national government.

(Link via Reason)

An Army of Riflemen

Phil Carter cites to an Army Times story about how the Army is going to require everybody to be a competent warrior first, and do whatever other specialty they are assigned, second. This is something of a novelty in the Army, but much less so in the Marine Corps.

Carter is a real Army guy, and I’m an armchair warrior only. But I have been doing a lot of reading lately and a thought occurs to me which Carter did not address.

The Army, and all the services, have in recent years talked about manouever warfare, and reconnaisance pull rather than command push, and Sun Tzu and deception, surprise and indirection, and blitzkreig and aufstragtaktik, and moving away from attritional warfare. This is all good stuff. Tommy Franks ran Gulf War II on these principles, to excellent effect.

But. This approach creates its own unique burdens. If you make an effort to attack where the enemy is weak, like the German stosstruppen of 1918, and you bypass enemy strongpoints, and leave the follow-on wave to mop up, then you necessarily make all elements of the Army into front-line elements. If the tanks and heavy units are supposed to race past the enemy like water flowing around rocks to make deep penetrations, then the columns of trucks behind them are not going to be pulling up behind a trench line with a “front” toward the enemy, and unloading their supplies in a safe zone. Rather, these logistic elements will be operating in a fluid situation where (hopefully) discombobulated but still armed and alive elements of the enemy are still running around. Or, as someone put it, if you attack where the enemy is weak, then it must mean that your own weakest forces are going to come into contact with the enemy where he is still strong. The Germans in World War II faced this problem, with their armored spearheads leaving large partisan formations operating in their rear throughout the war. It occurs to me that the training and expectations of “rear echelon” troops will have to change. This raises two further issues. One, will we need to give up on the idea that women in the military are in “non-combat” roles. That seems inevitable. Two, will we need to equip our support services with more robust, combat-worth equipment, i.e. tracked and armored vehicles rather than soft-skinned trucks? This one I haven’t seen anybody write about. The Army leadership seems to be trying to take these challenges seriously. Good.

Warrior Bunnies, Chicom Astronauts

Dudes, I just noticed that Anna’s Bunny Blog is back up and running — since last month. Good stuff, and I missed the war stuff so much I almost missed the bunnies, too. And I’m just not a bunny kind of guy.

She’s got a good post about the Chinese putting a man into space: “Communists in space again? Oh great. ” But she concludes on a happy note, pointing out that Arsenal of Democracy — or AoD in her usual parlance — “the AoD owns space and can bring down whatever the enemy may send up.”

Yeah, I knew that. I wrote a post last night which I didn’t put up because it was way too ranting and angry and negative. See, I care about our readers’ feelings. I don’t always post every darn thing that I dredge out of my id.

In my first version of the post I said I wanted the Chicom astronaut to die. Kinda harsh. I don’t so much want him to die as I want the Chinese communists’ space program to fail. So, unlike Glenn Reynolds, I don’t wish them well. Bottom line, China is our long-term enemy. I think this space effort is them laying the foundation for a challenge to our control of space. (See the fascinating essay “Unrestricted Warfare” — part 1 here and part 2 here.) Nothing personal. If I were the Chinese, that’s what I’d be doing. They want to control their region, which means we have to leave. And we won’t leave if we are asked nicely, so they are going to push us. That’s how it is going to go. Stripping away our command of space is something they are working on doing. And they are very, very smart people. And they are very serious about beating us when they take us on, a process which is already underway.

This space launch isn’t the United Federation of Planets, a peaceful joint exploration of the natural wonders of unknown space. It is the instruments warming up in the orchestra pit before the curtain rises on Cold War II.

John B. Alexander‘s book Winning the War: Advanced Weapons, Strategies, and Concepts for the Post-9/11 World has got me all fired up about the need to control space. He predicts that there is going to be a collapse in the cost of getting into space and working there, and that market forces will drive this process in the near future. This will change the parameters, and be a threat to our current ascendency in the military use of space.

My wish list looks like this. I want the U.S. to invest massively in militarizing space. I want us to tear up any treaty that purports to block our doing so. I want us to deny the use of space to our enemies, including France and China. I want us to establish a permanent military presence, manned and unmanned, on the moon and at the LaGrange points. Space is the military high ground of the present and future. I want us to seize, hold and control it, and deny it completely and permanently to all enemies actual and potential.

I am glad that Anna is confident that we can do this if we need to. I’m worried that we will fail to invest, now, during the inter-war period. It will be a lot harder to take the high ground back by force at some later date. For now, I will take her word for it that the AoD can handle any challengers. I sure hope she’s right.

Email from Northern Iraq

I was recently forwarded some email from an American soldier in northern Iraq. I removed personal comments and information indicating his identity. I thought our readers would be interested:

I cannot wait to be home. I think I am all deployed out for awhile. It’s one of those things you’re glad you did it, but do not want to do it again. I guess that’s war. …Really, getting home is all that motivates me right, and of course, beating the bad guy. We’re beginning to see a lot of foreign fighters coming in, and I wonder how long Saddam’s influence will last as more and more of these guys pour in. They are for the most part fanatic types. I guess they and Saddam will be allies as long as we are here. Of course, that begs the question: do we go after them in their own countries? That is something only the American electorate can decide. Frankly, I do not think they have the stomach for that. Where does that leave this whole thing? Hopefully, the Iraqi’s can get their act together to make themselves a more viable state. Many are more than willing, and that is a good sign. Still, it is not a done deal. Let’s hope it ends soon.

Mosul is an interesting place. It is old, like many of the cities here. (Nineveh is here-capital of the Assyrian Empire) At the same time, it is in better shape than Baghdad. In fact, of all of the Sunni cities, it is probably in the best shape. How it works here is this — the Shiite cities, mainly down south around As Nasiriyah and An Najaf, they are in terrible shape. Saddam never really gave them anything. Hence, they are the farthest behind, infrastructure wise. Then comes the Sunni cities, which are mainly around Baghdad and north of the city. That is Mosul and Tikrit and those places. Generally, the infrastructure is better in those places. Finally, you have the Kurdish cities way up north like Dahuk and Irbil. Those places, free from Saddam’s influence for nearly twelve years, are much nicer, almost up to European standards. They understand capitalism and have bought into it.

In one of our towns, they had a wedding, and they bring weapons to the weddings and shoot them in the air as part of the celebration. One guy got a little crazy, probably drunk, and he shot and killed the bride and injured and the groom. The usual solution: the perpetrator pays the bride’s family for the loss. No jail. OJ should have gone here to commit his crime. (And since Goldman was Jewish, he would have been lauded as a hero.)

We have a long way to go, but we are on the right track. We’ve introduced town hall meetings here, and the local sheiks and muktars love it. They are thrilled that they can voice their opinions in a forum such as this. Let’s not kid ourselves here. We are imposing our culture on another one. I guess when you are out here, you begin to realize who we are and what we represent and why so many fear us. Our ideas are addictive. Many of these people do not want us to leave. I guess that is nice. The people who are committing these atrocious acts are few, but they are mainly foreigners and ex Baath. Baath party is like the Nazi party. It has to be expunged, its remnants destroyed. The foreigners are a different story. Their motivation centers on the fear of American culture. They fear what that means for them and their people. They are not poor. In fact, many are well off. Granted, they hire poor locals once they get here. And loyalties are easily bought here. Money is the ammunition of this conflict.

The foreign jihadis sound like the real problem. Will we allow Iran and Syria and Saudi become the Laos and Cambodia of this war? Or will we find a way to prevent enemy infiltrators from getting in? Or will we be able to create an Iraqi army and police force that can secure the border? That may be the key to the whole thing right there.

Top o’ the world, Ma!

In August Germany was the world’s biggest exporter, with an export volume of 62 billion Dollars. The United States had the second biggest export volume and Japan the third biggest.

(Sniff!) I’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank all those American consumers who helped to make this possible.

Germany had been the world’s biggest exporter for several years in the 80’s but lost this status after reunification. According to Der Spiegel first signs for a return to the top already showed up in the statistics early this year.