August 31, 2002


was also once a flight school student in the US.

(thanks to Chris)
Posted by B. Preston at 11:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


has been complaining, rightly in my view, that the FBI has been going around dripping out information about him unfairly when they haven't charged him with any crime and they claim to have 30-odd other "persons of interest" under scrutiny in the anthrax hunt.

But what about this term, "person of interest." Where did it come from? Hatfill and his lawyers seem to think it's a new invention of Attorney General John Ashcroft, and the press seems to think the same thing. But one of my readers did a quick Google search on the phrase and came up with this passage, from the testimony of one Jerry Berman before the Senat Judiciary Committee on May 11, 1995--in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing:

As Representative Abner Mikva pointed out in hearings leading up to the passage of the Privacy Act: " The harm comes when the ordinary citizen feels he cannot engage in political activity without becoming a 'person of interest,' without having his name and photo place in a file colloquially, if not officially, labeled 'subversive.' "

Berman is referring to the Privacy Act of 1974, and the Mikva quote therefore preceeds the passage of that act. So, I don't think anyone can logically blame Ashcroft for inventing the phrase "person of interest." The concept is not new, and doesn't describe a new legal classification--it just means that law enforcement is interested in an individual but doesn't yet consider them a suspect in a crime.

None of which excuses the leaks that have damaged Hatfill, who's been charged with nothing and isn't even officially a suspect. Has the FBI already forgotten about Richard Jewel?
Posted by B. Preston at 11:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


One more time, at least, so here goes: Most of our enemies are Arabs. Most of them are also male, between 18 and 45 years old, travel alone on a one-way ticket with little or no luggage, and usually can be found to be carrying a weapon of some sort when trying to board a plane. Looking for hijackers on the basis of the data points I've described is in no way similar to Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt's locking up (and stealing the property from) Japanese-Americans during World War II. There's just no similarity between the two at all. No one who advocates looking for terrorists on the basis of a profile, which is no more than a guide to finding them before they board a plane and try to KILL PEOPLE, is advocating locking up all Arabs and taking their stuff away from them. NO ONE. If they did, I'd be among the first to condemn it. Got it?

I'm so sick and tired of hearing mealy-mouthed liberals whine that every freaking thing the government has tried to do since 9-11 is a threat our fundamental liberties. Getting killed because the government failed to look for terrorists in the right place--that's a threat to your fundamental liberties because you're too dead to enjoy them. Looking for mostly non-citizen males who fit a few narrowly-defined characteristics is just common sense, something the vast majority of liberals apparently lack.

Political correctness is going to get us all killed someday. I wish I were joking.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:36 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 30, 2002


is going on over at Daily Pundit, where Billy the Quick has signed onto an outfit called Blogging Network. The Network's idea is to get bloggers to move into its digs, where for the same fee we're paying to Blogger/Blogspot we get similar services, but we also get a little cash--each month, half of the fees stay with the Network's owner while the other half gets distributed among the network's blog corps based on traffic. For instance, if InstaPundit and I were the only bloggers in the network, he'd get 99.9% of the distributed cash, and I'd get that last .1%. Still, that .1% has to be more than I'm getting to blog now, which is nothing more than the satisfaction of coming up with a witty headline or really driving some point home in a way that no one else had thought of yet. That's powerful satisfaction actually, and when combined with the other great bennie of blogging--the interaction with readers kind enough to post a comment or two or email me about something I've written--it makes blogging seem more like a conversation with bright, interesting people and less like the sound of one hand typing.

So what's the downside of the Network? It's a subscription-based enterprise--Quick's readers will have to pony up $2.99 a month to read his premium content. On the upside, you get all the Network's blogs for that one fee, and you even get to put up a blog yourself if you want. If lots of good blogs go inside the Network, $2.99 isn't a high price. But the downside is that sites outside the Network can't link you without sending their readers through a registration process that will cost them $$$, so as a consequence most outside sites won't bother. That would've killed me--I venture to say that most of you found me during the whole Jose Padilla thing, when I got linked by some heavyweight sites, or from other pieces I've written and had published elsewhere. If you'd had to go through a subscription process to get to me that first day, you'd have just clicked away and never thought about this little site again. An additional downside seems to me to be the BN model itself. The revenue spread is based on traffic. If InstaPundit and I are the only two sites, why should Glenn bother to link anything I write, no matter how much he might like the piece? By providing a link to me, a fellow BN blogger, Glenn's literally taking money out of his own monthly check and sending it to me. With just two sites, he's still likely to link me, but if you get into the thousands, this model seems to me to provide a disincentive to link other sites within the Network. Blogs live and die by links--I see a future where fewer and fewer blogs link among themselves if they're all in this Network, which basically destroys the community spirit of the Blogosphere.

The other downside is that the vast majority of blogs will probably always remain free. Those that jump the wall into the BN risk leaving their readers in the free range, where they'll just find another blog to read that they don't have to pay for. What do you think? I can tell you right now that I don't see taking the JYB behind the Blogging Network wall. Would I like to get paid to do something that I actually like better than my real job? (Did I say that? I've got to keep my mouth shut...) Of course I would, but I have a hard time seeing how the Blogging Network model will work.

Along the lines of getting paid to do this stuff, you may have noticed the Blogads strip on the left. The idea is that advertisers will eventually catch the drift about the popularity of blogs and begin to see them as places to hawk their wares. The Blogads strip gives them a pretty cost-effective way to reach lots of eyeballs on lots of blogs. I like this model better than BN, since it puts the burden of pay on advertisers as opposed to the readers, who mostly check into this blog and others as a hobby and source for ideas but not to the commitment level that paying for it seems worth the bucks. And it keeps me from having to get people to jump through hoops to get to my stuff. I want to make that as easy as possible, because at the end of the day blogging is about getting ideas out there, getting some writing done each day, getting some feedback on my ravings, and keeping tabs on the progress of the war, life, etc. I can't imagine a scenario where it would be worth it to me to make it harder for you to hear what I've got to say, whether I make a buck or not.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:52 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


continues to give our side useful information, when he feels like it. This part, about dirty bomb suspect Jose Padilla, naturally caught my eye:

The up-and-down nature of Zubaida's interrogation was referred to in a declaration by Michael H. Mobbs, a Defense Department adviser, that was released Tuesday as part of a Justice Department filing in the case of Padilla, who is being held as an enemy combatant in South Carolina.

Zubaida provided the initial rudimentary information that the Brooklyn-born Padilla and an unidentified foreign associate had met during the fall of 2001 in Afghanistan. Padilla, who turned to Islam during a jail term in Florida and in 1998 moved to Egypt, offered to conduct terrorist operations inside the United States, according to U.S. officials.

Zubaida did not believe the information he provided his interrogators would lead to Padilla, but U.S. authorities obtained confirmation of the story and more information from Padilla's associate, who also had been captured, the senior official said. Thereafter, Zubaida attempted to recant the information, but by then it had been corroborated by other sources, the official said.

First, it doesn't sound at all like Padilla was ratted out on purpose, which was some of the speculation early on. Second, al Qaeda has to some extent been compromised. Our interrogators seem to have been able to wriggle useful information out of these capture operatives, and put it together into a decent picture of the organization's plans. It's good news for our side, bad news for theirs. It also means that we have to hang onto those prisoners at Gitmo as long as we can.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Usama bin Laden is dead, likely killed at Tora Bora in December. Their neighbors in Afghanistan, meanwhile, say he's still alive and hiding in the no-man's land on the two nations' border. And here you see the incentive that is Usama bin Laden--Pakistan wants US troops to do the job and get out of town, lest unrest at home reach a critical stage. If bin Laden is dead, the US has less of a reason to hang around. Afghanistan, on the other hand, is an embryonic state that desparately needs our help to stay in power, so the incentive is to have bin Laden alive and a continuing threat in order to keep our troops in country. Once we leave, if the Afghan regime isn't sufficiently strong and popular, it will fall quickly. Hamid Karzai won't last long if that happens, and his end would make clear that the US isn't a dependable ally.

While I think that UBL is a rotting corpse, I believe we should stay and help Afghanistan get its act together. There's evidence that the Taliban is still a serious threat there, and truth is Afghanistan just needs the civilizing influence of a few world powers for a while or it will revert to its Mad Max ways. We'll need a mini-Marshall Plan, along the lines of what Doug Turnbull proposed recently--a public works project to bring Afghanistan into at least the 19th century if not the 21st. Just making sure they have clean water to drink and roads to drive on will go along way to making more friends than enemies there.

(thanks to Dave for the original link)
Posted by B. Preston at 07:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: I love this piece by admitted lefty John Powers. I'll offer up one real quick reason that right wingers have more fun--we're allowed to. For lefties, and don't tell me I don't know what I'm talking about because I'm surrounded by them daily, fun is a guilty thing. You can't just eat a good steak without somehow, in the edge of your consciousness, think about all the bad things about being a carnivore--you know, something had to die, cows take up a lot of space and excrete greenhouse gasses, etc. There are lots of other fun things a lefty can do without remorse, such as bashing Christians, and, well, bashing Christians, but most other everyday, life-affirming types of fun are beyond the left's Inquisitive ways.

Ok, I'll give you a twofer--here's one more reason we have more fun. Political victory isn't necessary to put bread on the table. The vast majority of righties have real jobs that pay the bills, even the ideological ones tend to work at corporations large or small, or own their own businesses. If we lose an election or a House bill or whatnot, we're still going to have that job tomorrow. For too many lefties, the political has become the universe, and if they don't keep the ball of state rolling their way they'll be out of a job. If Greenpeace-niks can't keep global warming front and center, or if PETA people can't guilt you into doffing your fur and eating veggie burgers, they're done. And as a result, there's never an end to any issue they champion, and never any time for the self-mockery or internal criticism that is so common on the right. They end up taking themselves far too seriously.

Lots of people fear us righties, thinking we'll establish our own form of Sharia if you give us the chance. Truth is, it's the left that's far more likely to do that. The right's too busy making a buck and laughing at Phil Donahue. Not watching him, mind you, just laughing at him.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:02 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


, and racial profiling may have made the difference. That aspect of the story is so politically incorrect, I don't expect it to make too many newscasts.
Posted by B. Preston at 02:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


The Palestinian security chief is calling for an end to suicide bombings against Israel. I can't imagine that Hamas et al will actually listen, but at least some in the PA's "leadership" are starting to move in the right direction. In this case, the guy actually said that the attacks are against international law--a war crime, in other words.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:48 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 29, 2002


wouldn probably not like to thank the little people for a richly descriptive award given to it and a couple of other NGOs in Jo'burg. Due to their absence at the award ceremony, the "acceptance" speech was delivered by someone very familiar with Greenpeace's, um, efforts:

Barun Mitra of the Sustainable Development Network (SDN), a coalition of non-governmental organisations which believes, among other things, that sustainable development is attainable only through free trade, officiated at the symbolic handing-over in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

Mitra denounced the three NGOs as parasites which "prey on the blood of the poor" and did not help to improve agricultural productivity in the Third World.

"They are not interested in famine or poverty. This lot is concerned only about their own interests.

"They sit here at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in their rich man's hotels and romanticise everything," he said.

(via InstaPundit)
Posted by B. Preston at 08:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Welcome Russel Henderson, Ran Leonard and Stephen Gordon, whose links are on the left just above the recommended readings part.
Posted by B. Preston at 08:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


is in some ways a referrendum on President Bush. Florida was where the 2000 election showdown took place; presidential brother Jebb is the current governor; former Attorney General Janet "Dance Party" Reno is running for the office in a red pick-up truck. Fortunately for both Bushes, Reno isn't the only idiot on the Democrat slate.
Posted by B. Preston at 08:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


should change its name to The Middle Eastern Holocaust Denial Society. They deny that Arabs perpetrated 9-11, now they deny that the Nazis murdered millions of Jews. The only thing left is for us to deny them sovereign countries.
Posted by B. Preston at 07:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


One Russian senator thinks we'll attack Iraq.
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August 28, 2002


: Susanna Cornett casts "ethicist" Peter Singer on a reality show opposite a hungry alligator, and enterainment ensues. I'd upgrade the cable to see that.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: In "The Last Good War" post a few bits down, I mentioned that I think the Bush team could've engaged in a little inter-alliance diplomacy that might be helpful, and that I don't think has taken place. But I didn't explain what I meant, so here goes.

The ultimate end game for the Bush administration in the war must be, has to be, killing off Arab and Islamist terrorism once and for all. Anything less is really unacceptable. I believe ending terrorism entails breaking the enemy's will to fight; otherwise, the war literally never ends. And we can break his will to fight. It will take lots of things to do this, from military action to financial and economic action to diplomacy, but it can and must be done.

And that's where I think the Bush team is not doing so well. I'm not talking about the reaction we're getting from the Arabs--they're the enemy, and they're naturally opposed to us doing anything that will harm their cause. But thus far, Europe has for the most part been playing the role of neutral observer. Yes, they took part in the Afghan campaign, but with the exception of Britain they were relunctanct to help, quick to criticize and slow to acknowledge victory. I've also written why I think this is the case--Europe hasn't had its 9-11 yet. I pray that it never does, but I also pray that it doesn't take another 9-11 for them to see the light. Islamism is every bit the threat to them that it is to us--with Europe's present immigration policies, maybe more. Europe will need to recognize reality eventually.

In Iraq, which is likely the next overt phase of the war, there are two goals--ending Iraq's WMD program and regime change. The first can happen without the second, but ultimately the regime change must happen if the end of Iraq's WMD program is to be permanent and if we hope to begin changing the climate in the Middle East--breaking that will to fight. Where I think the Bush team may be dropping the ball is on the question of Iraq's WMD program. The Gulf War cease-fire mandates inspections, which ended when Saddam unilaterally decided he wouldn't submit to them anymore. Some say the inspectors were thrown out, while others (mostly anti-war types) insist that they left of their own free will. That's a semantics game--the inspectors left because their host was uncooperative, and the US and Britian went on a bombing campaign quickly thereafter to try and pry open the doors once more. We have, today, this minute, the legal justification to get inspectors back into Iraq, but Saddam won't let them back in. There is therefore an obvious case to be made that he has something to hide--why else risk another war with the United States?

The diplomacy, assuming that the State Department will actually support the rest of the administration's policies, should take the form of persuading the allies on one point which can be easily demonstrated by referring to the cease fire agreement--let inspectors in immediately and allow them unfettered access to all suspected sites. In order to persuade Saddam that we're serious, we must back the demands with the credible threat of force, and from a united alliance of the most powerful nations on earth. In this way, we could conceivably convince the allies that we're enforcing international law in mandating Saddam's compliance, and the threat of force is the stick we're using to do that. This tactic has the advantage of being grounded in something Europe supports--international law--and gives us the legal justification to use force if Saddam doesn't comply. And it's a tactic that shouldn't be starting now--it should've begun last fall when the first mutterings about regime change began drifting out of Washington. If successful, the allies get on board and commit themselves to engaging in all options to enforce the law. The likelihood remains that Saddam will not comply, and inspectors will not get the access they need, because he does in fact have a WMD program to hide. Then the threat of force becomes reality, and the allies are with us, and regime change ensues.

While we Americans rightly pride ourselves on our independence and our ability to pretty much take on all opponents and solve all problems, we would do well I think to try and get our allies on board. My criticism stems from the fact that I don't think this approach or anything similar was tried--I think we just figured that the old Gulf War alliance would reassemble itself for a second run at Baghdad. Truth of the matter is, though, that the Bush 41 team had to twist arms, cajole and even threaten our allies to get on board for the first Gulf War. Since that time, that alliance has unravelled as the years have passed and Saddam has slowly built up sympathy for the "starving Iraqi children," who if they're starving it's because of his own policies, not ours. He has been able to twist the truth around to benefit his side, and in the past few years we haven't done much to refute him.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't be willing to go it alone if we have to. We should be willing to do whatever it takes to end the Islamist threat. My point is that it would be better if we had our allies with us, and I think we may have blown the opportunity to get them on board when it would have been easiest.

UPDATE: This article backs up most of what I've been saying.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:06 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


: Here's an excellent editorial on James Baker's recent editorial concerning Iraq. Highlights:

"We should frankly recognize that our problem in accomplishing regime change in Iraq is made more difficult by the way our policy on the Arab-Israeli dispute is perceived around the world," Baker writes. "We cannot allow our policy toward Iraq to be linked to the Arab-Israeli dispute, as Saddam Hussein will cynically demand, just as he did in 1990 and 1991.

"But to avoid that, we need to move affirmatively, aggressively, and in a fair and balanced way to implement the president's vision for a settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute, as laid out in his June speech. That means, of course, reform by Palestinians and an end to terror tactics. But it also means withdrawal by Israeli forces to positions occupied before September 2000 and an immediate end to settlement activity."

Let's see if we've got this straight. In order to avoid any effort at "linkage," there must be linkage. So as not to fall into Saddam Hussein's trap, the US must fall into the trap.
--- tying a prospective war against Iraq with a resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the US would only encourage Palestinian terrorism, since the continuance of the crisis here would mean delaying a US attack. No serious person can believe that idealism alone prompts Saddam to issue $25,000 checks to the families of suicide bombers, or train Palestinian terrorists at his Salman Pak facility near Baghdad. He's also getting something for his money: namely, a distracted American administration, with the likes of a James Baker serving Baghdad as an unwitting accomplice.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: They make nice to our faces, while praying for our destruction behind our backs. No, this story isn't new, but it's worth a reminder. We really don't have any allies in the Arab world. None. It's high time we accept that fact and act accordingly.

So what does that mean? We need to get into our heads the fact that breaking their will to fight us is the end game. However we accomplish it, we must break their will to keep attacking us. They've really been nipping at us since 1979, and for the most part our responses have been less than serious. There was a brief period, in 1986, when we did stand up to the terror mastermind of the day and managed to cow him, but those days are long gone and the terrorist leaders that replaced Khaddafi are far more imaginitive than he ever was.

We have to break the Arab will. We have to demonstrate that their fanaticism and violence is a dead-end for them. To quote Kerry Livgren, the evil that can come from the heart of a man must be answered in kind until it disappears. We will have to hit the Arabs harder than they can possibly hit us. It's the only way I see to stop them.

(thanks to Dave for the link)
Posted by B. Preston at 10:14 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


is as thick as pea soup out there today. Usama bin Laden is hangin' out with his homies on the Afghan-Pakistan border. No, wait--he's turned up in Baghdad, kickin' it with Saddam.

I coulda swore I bought coffee from him at 7-11 this morning. That Usama is one hard dude to pin down.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:09 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


: Lately I've been thinking quite a bit about our allies in Europe and their backstabbing ways. Or, at least, their apparent backstabbing ways. The country most often associated with trying to slip one between America's ribs when we're not looking is France, and it's a reputation that's largely deserved. But, something else has occurred to me that I thought I'd post just to toss it out there.

The US didn't really get into World War II until things looked pretty grim for the allies in Europe. France had been overrun by Hitler's juggernaut, and Pierres across the country had already grown accustomed to playing parking attendant for German tank divisions. The Brits in 1940 stood alone against a murderous barrage from Nazi bombs; they lost many thousands. During that time, we in the US were conducting the lend-lease program to help arm French resistance and the British military, but weren't really doing much else. Most Americans considered the war a European affair. It wasn't until the Japanese sunk most of the Pacific Fleet that the US mood changed. Pearl Harbor made it our war, too.

It may be that our current war is in some ways a reversal of that last, noble war. We've been attacked first on our home soil, so we're naturally outraged and will go to great lengths to keep it from happening again. Not having been attacked directly, Europe just doesn't see the threat the way we do. The British do to some extent, but even in our best ally there's a real reticence to get into a war that they don't yet see as their own.

So, maybe it's time to cut the allies a little slack. Yes, they can be feckless, and yes, they often seem to take stands at odds with the US just because they can. But in the end they'll probably be there for us in one way or another. It also wouldn't hurt if the Bush team engaged in a little friend-to-friend diplomacy to make a strong case that taking out Islamofascist regimes isn't just about revenge--it's about survival. The Bushies would also do well to tear down the stability fetish and try and get our allies to see the despotic Middle Eastern regimes for what they really are--hopeless and brutal, and a threat to the democratic nations of the world.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:33 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack


when it comes to those infamous last-second pardons. I don't like this at all, to be honest. It seems to me that this will end up being another of Clinton's actions that, while he got away with it, the action itself will reverberate through the country for years to come.

There's not much debate that Clinton badly abused his pardon power--in fact, there's much to suggest that he actually sold that power to the highest bidder. But we don't know, because the information is being kept under lock and key by the Bush administration. Judicial Watch, the group formerly known as a conservative watchdog group until it went after a conservative president with zeal equal to its pursuit of the HillBilly administration, wants to pry loose all the stuff that led up those pardons, and the American people really do have a right to know if the process was as corrupt as it seems. In defending the secrecy, the Bush team is attempting to hold in place precedent that goes back a ways, but in doing so they're also enabling Clinton. It's thorny either way you go, but I come down on releasing the information because I do think we need to know what happened and if there's a way to prevent it in the future. Well, there was one way, but that would've involved actually convicting Clinton for the crimes he committed in office prior to the pardons, but let's not go there.

And either way, you're likely to set bad precedent. Release the information, and you probably will have a chilling effect on the level of candidness a president will receive in counsel. Keep the information secret, and we'll never know whether the Clinton pardons were as bad as the smell they gave off.

Basically, the pardons are one more way that Bill Clinton screwed over his successor and mangled the laws of the land. Thanks, Bill. We've come to expect nothing less than the worst sort of behavior from you, and you seldom disappoint.
Posted by B. Preston at 02:24 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


is just about set to crucify or hang 88 people who've been convicted of an assortment of crimes relating to ethnic violence. Two of them are 14 years old.

(thanks to Dave)
Posted by B. Preston at 01:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 27, 2002


: That's all the ratings that Phil Donahue can muster. It's the lowest possible rating a TV program can receive. How the mighty blowhard has fallen.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:37 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


I've gotten quite a bit of email about this piece, much of it disagreeing with my assessment of the chances that China will invade Taiwan in the near future. Most of those disagreeing with me take the position that mainland China lacks the troop transport capability to sustain an attack on Taiwan, which is 100 miles off the coast. The problem with that view, at least to me, is that it takes only one dimension of the possible conflict into account. Here is a fairly detailed look at the China-Taiwan standoff, that takes many of China's possible tactics into account. One thing it doesn't take into account, and neither did the piece I wrote, is the Olympics. China has, in recent years, taken Macao and Hong Kong peacefully back into its domain, leaving Taiwan as the only major historically Chinese territory outside the mainland's rule. Beijing will host the Olympics in a few years and having Taiwan back in line by then would be a huge boost to the country's creaky Communist regime; the US (Taiwan's defense benefactor) stands a small but not insignificant chance of getting snared in a Middle Eastern war in the next few months; the mainland strongly wants to "reunify" with Taiwan, and has been ratcheting up the pressure on Taipei as Taipei has become increasingly vocal about outright independence.

It's a confluence of events worth monitoring.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


, a woman of faith. I know some of you out there will find her public affirmation of faith disturbing, even frightening, but I find it heartening. Especially this part:

I try always to not think I am Elijah, that I have somehow been particularly called. That's a dangerous thing. In a sense, we've all been, to whatever it is we are doing. But if you try to wear the imprimatur of God — I've seen that happen to leaders who begin too much to believe — there are a couple of very good anecdotes to that. I try to say in my prayers, "Help me to walk in Your way, not my own." To try to walk in a way that is actually trying to fulfill a plan and recognize you are a cog in a larger universe.
I think people who believe in a creator can never take themselves too seriously. I feel that faith allows me to have a kind of optimism about the future. You look around you and you see an awful lot of pain and suffering and things that are going wrong. It could be oppressive. But when I look at my own story or many others that I have seen, I think, "How could it possibly be that it has turned out this way?" Then my only answer is it's God's plan. And that makes me very optimistic that this is all working out in a proper way if we all stay close to God and pray and follow in His footsteps.

Faith properly applied is a humbling thing, not a cause for self-righteous chest-thumping. Condi gets that, and it's a good thing for her and the country.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:36 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack


meeting in South Africa for the purpose of ending famine and saving the earth? Why, you have a big, gaudy, hideously expensive feast within a few yards of the starving masses you're there to save.

[Chef for the British delegation] Desmond Morgan declared: “Money is no object.”

The chef is in charge of meals at Johannesburg’s five-star Michelangelo Hotel, where world leaders and other VIP delegates are staying during the “save the planet” conference, which opened yesterday.

While people are going hungry at shanty towns just a couple of miles away, Mr Morgan told how he had stocked up with an extraordinary array of delicacies and fine wines.

It includes 5,000 oysters, more than 1,000lbs of lobster and other shellfish, buckets of caviar and piles of pâté de foie gras.

He has also got in more than 4,400lbs of fillet steak and chicken breasts, 450lbs of salmon, 220lbs of a tasty South African fish called kingclip — and more than 1,000lbs of bacon and sausages.

The huge bill is paid for by taxpayers of participating nations including Britain.

Mr Morgan said: “Whether they want Beluga caviar, foie gras or bacon sandwiches — we have it all.

“In my experience, heads of state don’t decide what they want to eat or drink until the last minute.

“So I have to make sure I have everything they can possibly want.”

Vintage champagne, fine wines, spirits and liqueurs have been flown in from around the globe so the VIPs can wash down their meals in style.

And you'd have to cut down a few of those trees you like to hug, too--gotta make room for those limos:

But in another ironic twist, hundreds of trees have been felled around the conference centre so fleets of limousines will have unhindered access.

Yup, no doubt about it, we should take this earth summit stuff real seriously.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:19 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 26, 2002


attacked President Bush's motorcade with rocks outside Portland, OR last week. Odd that we're just now hearing about it.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


I'm not the boy-band type, they seem like they're hopped up on estrogen injections, and frankly I think their music is atrocious. But I'm glad that one of them is training to go to space. Sure, he's paying millions that I'll never have, but once upon a time technology that we take for granted today was the exclusive property of the very rich. Cars--the first ones went only to the rich. Computers--ditto. Televisions, microwave ovens, refrigerators, washers and dryers--ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto, and ditto. But today America's "poor" own most of these things. Lance Bass' little trip to space means that someday, perhaps, the average Joe can go to space. So I'm cheering for him, because I want to go too.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Bravo to the General Assembly of the World Psychiatric Association, which voted to keep an eye on China's abuse of psychiatric evaluations to destroy Falun Gong. They want to send in a team to investigate the 500 complaints that the ChiComs have used psych evals to imprison Falun Gong members (which I wrote about here). Apparently China's psychiatrists don't like being used by Beijing's autocrats as tools for repressing religion--all of China's delegates to the meeting supported the move. They're gutsy, and right.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: The FBI is reportedly working with Pakistani forces who have a history of human rights abuses. My first reaction upon reading this story was "Duh. It's not like we can choose to work with choirboys over there." But then another thought occurred to me--we probably are working with choirboys over there. After all, what do their religious schools, the madrassahs, teach week in and week out? Violence, hatred for the West, death to us kaffirs, and so forth. Truth is, find the meanest guy in Pakistan and he's probably been front and center in his local madrassah for the past decade--a real, live Islamofascist choirboy, in other words. If they had choirs, that is.

But on a slightly more serious note, that the FBI has to work with unsavory characters should come as a surprise to no one who has their head more than a foot above ground--pretty much the entire Pakistani government sports various stains of past abuses. Further, it was the Clinton policy of no longer working with the dirtier elements that led, in some measure, to our utter blindness prior to 9-11. So we should be working with them; we have to. We don't have a choice, if we want to catch the bad guys.

Predictably, human rights groups are already out with warnings that if the FBI works with anyone who does anything bad, then the FBI people are just as guilty. That, my friends, is why sensible Americans detest the International Criminal Court. We know good and well that it's just a situation like Pakistan that will lead, if we submit to the ICC, to human rights abuse charges against our people who are just doing their job trying to protect the world from murderous goons. And it goes without saying that none of the murderous goons in question would ever face charges in the ICC. Root causes, illegal settlements, oh pick your excuse, because those same human rights groups that criticize the US will be there to help the real abusers get off scot free.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: I guess I'll weigh in on the whole "you can't support military action unless you've been in the military" debate. It's a ruse to silence political opponents in my opinion. All Americans have the right to an opinion, no matter how well or ill-informed we may be. And if you can persuade others peacefully that you're right, more power to ya. The Hagelian line of thinking, in addition to being utter nonsense, introduces an unintended slippery slope. I was in the military for four long years. But I never saw combat. I came close once--I reported for duty at Yokota Air Base, Japan in August of 1993, right around the time the Somalia operation was ratcheting up. Within a week of my arrival, one of our engineers got shipped over to Mogadishu, and the call went out for broadcasters (of which I was one) to volunteer. At the time I was single, fresh in the field and to be honest, didn't like my job at Yokota. I was a writer/creative type, and they had me pushing buttons on this robotic system that kept our TV shows running, and I hated it. So I almost volunteered for Somalia. Before you go thinking I'm making myself out to be some potential hero, I'm not. I was a non-combat troop who reported on the actions of real combat troops. I wouldn't have been involved in that raid that cost us 19 good men in October 1993. I'd have been back at the base, probably spinning cd's or editing some video package for Air Force News. My life probably would've turned out very different, but I'd likely have left Somalia in one piece.

But that's the thing--I was in the military but never saw action. I participated in lots of exercises, even fired lots of big guns (the combat units let us reporters do that when we made them look good on TV), but I never was in harm's way. Here's the slippery slope part. According to Hagel and a few others, today it's just those who've been in the military who can have an opinion. But what about in the future? In another crisis where opinion is against the doves, they might try to restrict it to just those who've seen actual combat. Well, we have nearly an entire generation of troops that have never seen combat now. The Gulf War was 11 years ago; most military types stay in between 6 and 15 years, with the majority of retirements happening at 20. Short-termers like me have to be replaced more often than long-termers, and more often than not the short-termer is replaced by another short-termer. Since initial enlistments can vary from 2 to 6 years, it's fair to say that most of those in the services today weren't in during the last real war, the Gulf War, and even in the Gulf War the majority of active duty and reserve troops were serving elsewhere. And sure, we've had conflicts since then, but they've been low-intensity, small-scale affairs. There were several conflicts when I was in, from Somalia to Bosnia, but I never got into any of it and neither did most servicemembers. So eventually you could get to the point where even mid-level officers haven't seen combat, if we're not there now. Will they also be disqualified from opining on the merits of a given war? And what about reservists, or National Guard troops? They're in the military but not really of the military, since most of them never serve on active duty. Are they qualified to opine or not? And I've been out of the military for five years. What's the cutoff before my opinion is no longer worthwhile in Hagel's eyes--5, 10, or 20 years? Hagel himself has been out a long time--at some point do you think he'll stop chiming in about whether to use the military or not? Not likely.

Besides, our Constitution doesn't say anything to support what Hagel et al are saying. Just to take one example, the Constitution spells out the qualifications one must meet before running for president. It talks about citizenship, age and so forth, but doesn't say a single word about prior military service. If the Commander in Chief can serve without military service (or even after actively dodging military service, then lying about it while having infamously "loathed" the military as a young man), can't others offer up an opinion, even on military matters, without having served? Of course they can--the first amendment and common sense say so.

In my opinion, this canard is an attempt to shut down the hawks of all types, starting with any that they can intimidate into silence. It's shameful behavior, and they should know better. Sadly, I think they do know better, but they don't care. If it works, they'll just keep doing it.

And by the way, I was in the military, still know people either in the military or connected to the military, and my service is more recent than pretty much all of Congress and probably just about everyone in the other two branches (excepting the military, naturally), and I am about as hawkish as they come on Iraq. We should destroy Saddam, and the sooner the better. So take that, Chuck Hagel.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:49 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


, Islamofascist maniacs have beheaded an elderly nun. Sister Cecilia Hanna, rest in peace. Your killers won't.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


, this time accusing President Bush of acting like a gangster.

There are few more sickening sights than
George W Bush wearing a lapel pin bearing an image of the American flag. Bush
and his creepy henchmen can wrap themselves in nationalistic symbolism all they
want, but these right-wing thugs aren't patriots. They may pledge allegiance to
the flag, but they despise the republic for which it stands."

A fitting charicature from a hack cartoonist. This time around, Ted's got a little big-gun backing: is endorsing this sickening Rall column in today's e-mail newsletter. Please, whatever you do today, read Rall's ridiculous piece and think about a political party that endorses such tripe. It's full of all the old canards--the Gitmo prisoners are being "abused" in "dog pens" under the "blazing tropical sun" (where the median temperature is something like 86 degrees). Rall accuses America of watching the whole thing with "aggressive disinterest" (if you can figure out what that means, drop me a line).

He's a one-note wonder, Ted Rall. But his book about his distorted view of the Afghan war is in its second printing, so he's playing that one note all the way to the bank.
Posted by B. Preston at 02:14 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


because the US just dumped a suspected Palestinian terrorist in Beirut. He'd been arrested here; jettisoned there after a couple other states declined him.

[Shia leader Nabih] Berri called for an immediate investigation to determine how a U.S. plane, rented by the U.S. immigration authorities could "storm Beirut airport, dumps its load and take off as if nothing happened."

I like this story. It shows a gutsy side of the US that we don't often see--we don't want terrorists and really don't have enough evidence for an outright conviction, so we fly 'em whence they came, making sure to annoy the recipients along the way. I also like what it implies for Yasser Arafat's near future. Though I'd like to see him dusted, a kick-out from the West Bank would be a decent substitute.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Read this. And think again.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:07 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


: It seems the Brits have a nice new weapon to use against Saddam: the e-bomb, or "radio frequency weapon." Though it isn't through development yet, our guys are interested in deploying it asap because of its unique ability to zap electromagnetic stuff similar to the electronic pulse that results from a nuclear blast. Used in Iraq, the e-bomb could criple Saddam's refrigeration and other electronic systems, rendering his WMD stockpiles harmless or at least undeliverable. According to the same story, there's very good reason to want to disable the Iraqi WMD capability, as it's quite extensive:

The Iraqi chemical warfare arsenal is known to include:

The nerve agents Sarin and VX. Colourless and tasteless, they cause death by respiratory arrest in one to 15 minutes.

Blister agents such as mustard gas. Severely incapacitating, they damage tissue, causing extensive large blisters.

Psychoactive agents such as Agent 15. Symptoms include dizziness, vomiting and hallucinations lasting for days. Biological warfare agents produced by Iraq include:

Anthrax. Symptoms initially resemble that of a common cold and are only identifiable in the fatal phase. Once this begins, vomiting, severe head and joint pain, and respiratory distress will lead to death in one to three days.

Botulinum. Causes botulism. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhoea, paralysis of the throat and convulsions, followed by death due to respiratory arrest.

Aflotoxins. Poisons produced by fungi and mould, they have the capacity to cause liver cancer.

Ricin. Inhalation leads to weakness, fever and pulmonary oedema within 24 hours followed by death.

Clostridium perfringens. A bacterium which causes gangrene.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:51 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 25, 2002

STEVE HATFILL, the FBI's uncharged "person of interest" in the anthrax killings,

may be taking the NY Times and columnist Nick Kristof to court for what Hatfill alleges is sloppy reporting. Specifically, a Kristof column says that Hatfill took, and failed, three polygraph tests--Hatfill says he's only taken one, and that he passed that one. While I hate to see lawsuits arise from reporting, if Kristof's reporting is as erroneous as Hatfill indicates then it's a worthy suit. No one, including the Times, should get away with just making stuff up.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:29 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


: Blogger Mark Butterworth and I recently got into a little offblog conversation about the obscure band The 77s, of which I have been a fan for years. Mark once worked with the 77s' frontman Mike Roe, and after some back and forth about Roe, Mark sent me a cd of his music, which includes the material Roe worked on. It's cool stuff, so I just wanted to thank Mark for sending it along and letting me enjoy it. If anybody out there is looking for a solid guitarist, Mark's your man. The guy can play.

He can also write: He sent me a copy of his book Brightness Springs. You can buy your own copy off his website, and it's worthy reading.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


now have some catching up to do. Note to self--never, ever, irritate Claire Berlinski.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


: Here's the latest "proof" that UBL is still breathing. Note that a) the handwritten letter is undated, and b) that it fails to mention anything currently going on. The pages are also numbered in a different color ink, possibly indicating that someone else organized them. If al Qaeda wants to convice the world that Stinky is still alive, they'll have to do better than this.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


: a medieval kingdom that could use a little destabilization.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

No Title

GOT HIM. Now, they'd better let our people interview him. After the Khobar Towers bombing, which killed 19 airmen, the Saudis never let our investigators talk to any of the suspects. That was unacceptable then, and unacceptable now.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: This story, which alleges that Saddam ordered Abu Nidal murdered after Nidal refused to train al Qaeda fighters in Iraq, only deepens the mystery to me. Why would Nidal refuse to train them? Why would he refuse to attack the US? Why would Saddam kill him in Baghdad, and in such a way as to confirm he'd been Iraq's guest for several months?

Don't get me wrong here--I said from the moment I'd heard of his death that Nidal was likely killed by the Iraqi government, and that it probably had something to do with al Qaeda or Sept 11. I just still don't think we have the whole story here.

One thing the story does point to, assuming that Saddam did want Abu Nidal to train al Qaeda terrorists, is that Usama bin Laden is dead. Which, come to think of it, may answer why Nidal didn't want to train al Qaeda. It may be that Saddam was, in effect, trying to get Nidal to become the new head of al Qaeda in trying to get him to train them. Nidal may have refused, not wanting to become America's new #1 enemy after seeing what we had done to the Taliban and fearing a US invasion of Iraq in the near term. Saddam doesn't take "no" for an answer from anyone, and had him killed. Saddam is lots of things--evil, sadistic, a megalomaniac--but he isn't terribly savvy when it comes to handling his temper or world opinion. He may have figured he could easily dispose of Abu Nidal without the world ever knowing about it. But with a legendary terrorist like Abu Nidal, word of his death would get out somehow. It did, and here we are, with a few new truths staring us in the face: Saddam may be taking the reins of al Qaeda's remnants, which he wants to wield against us.

We may have a golden opportunity here to turn one against the other--set al Qaeda against the Iraqi government. Both are paranoid and insular. Both are extremely violent. If we can convince either one that the other has been compromised, we can turn them against each other and let them tear each other apart. It can be done--that's how the CIA dismantled Abu Nidal's original terrorist organization.

(thanks to Dave and Chris for the link)
Posted by B. Preston at 12:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack