October 04, 2002


last night may be connected to this week's shooting spree. Or it could be the usual DC violence.

If it is connected to the five earlier fatal shootings, I think it makes terrorism a lot less likely. Wednesday's and Thursday's shootings occurred at rush hour times; last night's was at 9:20, well after rush hour, so it seems to fall out of the earlier pattern. I'm not a profiler so I'm mostly guessing, but a terrorist would want to maximize both opportunity as well as coverage, and the first six shootings (including the one miss and the five murders) fit this pattern nicely. The latest shooting seems even more random, making it less likely to be a terrorist.

Then again, police are looking for two white males--a shooting-driving team--which does still sound more like a terror operation than a killing spree, to me anyway.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:38 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


, the Congressmen who recently called President Bush a liar from Saddam Hussein's back yard, have been claiming ever since that they are "Vietnam War veterans," as if that would somehow mititgate their idiotic near-treason last weekend.

Not so, though: Both served during the Vietnam War period, but remained stateside the entire time.

To put this into perspective, let's look at it this way: I was in the military when it undertook several operations. The military was active in Somalia, Haiti, the former Yugoslavia, still peace-keeping in Korea and even still bombing targets in Iraq. But I was in peaceful Japan during all of this action, and am therefore not a veteran of any of it. If I tell you I'm a "veteran of Somalia," to you that means that I was there and took part in the operations there. I'd be lying, to inflate my own record, even though I was on active duty when the Somali operations took place.

That's what Bonior and McDermott are doing--lying--and it's a disgrace.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:45 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


: Six men have been charged with trying to travel to Afghanistan, after 9-11, to become trained al Qaeda fighters and anti-American terrorists.

One is even alleged to have joined the US Army Reserves to get American-style military training, to use against America.

UPDATE: Five of the six arrested are US citizens, and the arrests were made in Michigan and Oregon.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 03, 2002


: Curiously, Baltimore isn't in full panic mode tonight despite the apparently random murders of five people last night and this morning. The local call-in radio show I normally listen to, Ron Smith, dealt extensively with it, as caller after caller wanted to speculate or offer information or just try and understand it. At the same time, local outdoor school events were cancelled in Baltimore city and county. But, while the local media is giving the story the prominence it deserves, they're not jumping to rash conclusions or hounding the police unecessarily, at least that I can see. So I'd say people are here are justifiably concerned but not panic stricken, which is a good thing.

Are the killings the acts of a terrorist? Susanna Cornett, who knows a great deal more about murderers than most, doesn't think so and offers reasons based on her extensive research into crime and murder, particularly the serial kind. She's convincing--if you haven't checked out her piece yet, you owe it to yourself to do so.

One thought occurred to me as I looked at the timings of the killings--they all occur around what amount to rush hour times. If you count the first incident, the shooting out of windows at a craft store, the attacks began at 5:20 pm Wednesday and ended at 6:04 pm Wednesday, prime times for people to be out and about. Then the killer(s) laid off all night when most people have settled in for the evening, only to return this morning and resume killing at 7:41 am. They broke off at 9:58 am, when most people have gotten wherever they're going to go for the day. Then the killer(s) seem to have vanished. They seem to be working for target-rich times, yet able to escape with ease.

Contrary to Susanna's thinking, though, I believe that there's more than one killer at work here. Several of today's killings happened within an hour. This suggests to me a driver-shooter combination, allowing the shooter to get into position, pick and kill a target, then flee to a waiting car that's already in gear and ready to go. Also, one witness claims to have seen white box truck at one of the incidents, with 2 occupants inside. If the truck turns out to have been connected, you have two operators, or at least the beginnings of another John Doe #2 mystery.

None of this adds up to a locked up case favoring terrorism. Just one hard fact about the attacker(s) might be enough to tip the scales one way or another, though.

But terrorism or not, the killer or killers are still out there, and I believe they haven't gone very far though they've had the opportunity. Call it a hunch, but I think they're hunkered down in the area for a few days, and will leave once things cool down a bit. If it's just a serial/spree killer at work, they're probably enjoying the media coverage. I also think they'll strike again, though not necessarily in this area.

If this is terrorism, the message seems to be a simple one: We're all targets, without regard to race or gender.
Posted by B. Preston at 08:00 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


: InstaPundit's legions of readers are offering some good observations, from how smart the attackers were to use a white van in suburban DC (the area is overrun with white vans--government, delivery, and so forth--in fact there's one outside my window right now, but fortunately it's the big FedEx truck that always show up around this time) to speculation about the Post's motive for not including any physical descriptions of the attacker(s) at all.

It would be easy at this point to just jump off the cliff and say that this is terrorism. It sure looks like terrorism, and is having the effect of terrorism around here today. But it's still too early to say definitively that is in fact terrorism. It could be freelancers who have some gripe with the US, or a lone nut who happens to be a good shot, or it may turn out that the killings aren't as random as they seem today.

But here's a list of relevant facts:

--thus far, the victims all seem unrelated
--the killings all took place within 10 miles of one another, suggesting the same perpetrator(s) committed all of them
--witnesses apparently saw a white van with either purple or black lettering in the area of more than one of the crimes
--the shooter(s) exhibited skill, in killing with one shot, and in not wounding anyone else at the scene
--the shooter(s) exhibited skill in target choice and circumstances, in killing five people within 16 hours without getting caught or deterred
--thus far there seems to be no motive other than hunting and killing random individuals
--this all fits with training that al Qaeda operatives received in Afghanistan's training camps, aimed at small-scale big-impact attacks. They were trained in drive-by shootings via truck as well as motorcycle. I haven't heard anything about these killings being drive-by yet, but it stands to reason that a mobile assassin who seems to be a skilled marksman would keep moving as much as possible.

It sure looks like terrorism. Whoever did this knows what they're doing, whether they're al Qaeda terrorists or not.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


, but a gunman did open fire at the UN today. Security did catch him after he fired off a few rounds and dropped leaflets, which read:

"In a shinning and civilized 21st century, most people in the world enjoying peace and freedom. North Korea however is groaning under the weight of starvation and dictatorial suppression. They don't have even the most basic of human rights since all things body and spirit plants and plows belong to one named greatest general Kim Jong Il," it said.

It was signed: "A citizen of UN, Steve Kim, Oct. 2, 2002."

I don't know about you, but I'd never call myself a "citizen of UN." No way, no how.

The gunman apparently didn't intend to hurt anyone:

Michael Hovey, who was at the United Nations for meetings Thursday and also witnessed the shooting, said the gunman did not appear to be aiming at the building or at any individual.

He described the gun as a silver-covered pistol.

Hovey said the shooting took place after he saw the gunman standing by the large ornamental pool outside the Secretariat building but inside the compound.

"He held a handgun in the air and fired five shots. And then he threw the handgun onto the ground," said Hovey, executive director of The Hague Appeal for Peace, a nonprofit organization that deals with peace education.

"Then he just walked over the wall, grabbed some papers, threw them in the air and then sat down. Within a minute the security guards surrounded him."
Posted by B. Preston at 04:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


It's easy--just conduct a scientifically valid poll showing that America is popular there. The mullahs will stuff you in jail in no time.

We're winning in the "Persian street."
Posted by B. Preston at 04:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


in the DC area terrorism? Here's all that we know so far, which isn't enough to rule terrorism in or out. We don't know who did it, so a motive isn't available yet.

But--they do fit into the type of thing that sleeper cells may have been trained to do. There is a history of terror operatives living in the area--several 9-11 hijackers lived in nearby Laurel, MD, and a cell may have been broken up in Baltimore last month.

I'm suspicious. Then again, I'm pretty much always suspicious.

UPDATE: Dean of Blogs4God lives right in the middle of all the killings, and is regularly updating his blog as the story moves. You're in my prayers, Dean.

One thought that's occurred to me is the fact that all victims were killed by a single shot. This is the one piece of evidence thus far that seems not to fit al Qaeda's MO. They do use pistols, rifles and assault weapons, but they're not exactly conservative when it comes to shot counts. Firing fewer shots would reduce the likelihood of getting caught on the scene, though.

Whoever is behind this, one thing is for sure--they know their way around a firearm.

UPDATE II: A reader writes in to speculate that the killings, when mapped, form an arrow that points south toward DC. Which they do. Seems too clever to me, though...
Posted by B. Preston at 01:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


says the Dems need to develop their own national security strategy instead of merely reacting to Republican thinking. It would serve the country well if both major parties had something coherent to say about the government's most basic duty, which is protecting citizens. We would only profit from such a healthy debate, if it were to take place.

But I don't think it will, any time soon.

Because I think that the current baby-boomers at the top of the Democrat party do have a coherent vision for national security, but it's not one that will win over any but the hardest left ideologues and will earn the party the very unflattering label of being soft on defense. The strategy is on display, though, most recently in Baghdad, where three Dem Congressmen gave shameful performances before Iraq's ruthless regime, and Britian, where former President Billy Jeff Clinton denounced President Bush before a meeting of Tony Blair's Labor party. Not only did Clinton's speech shock Blair, but probably weakened him with his party, which had only recently come around to his hawkish stance on Iraq.

And it weakened our alliance with the UK, in raising fresh doubts there about American resolve, as well as weakening Bush's hand. All around, another fine performance from the man from Hope, er, I mean Hot Springs. And it does reflect a strategy, which he even outlined for us: America should not dominate the world. Even if America is the strongest force for freedom and liberty, we're simply too strong, and have too great an advantage.

So Clinton and his ilk have set out to weaken us. I'm not being paranoid here--I served in Clinton's military and saw first-hand what he did to it. I remember that he sold some of our top technology to our emerging competitors in China for campaign dollars. And I remember that he only approved the use of force when American's national interests were not at stake. When we were attacked during his tenure, he offered no more than token responses.

So there's the strategy, and it's obvious why they won't just come and try to sell it: it'll never fly. So they keep it under wraps, and offer only seemingly incoherent responses to everything the Republicans come up with. Good luck, Mr. Hart, in convincing your fellow Dems to change. I don't see it happening.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 02, 2002


: Hamas has set up an internet site that teaches would-be human bombs how to build the necessary stuff to carry out their missions.

Here's a thought--remember the guy that secretly took over the alneda site a while back? He could work wonders, maybe wipe out Hamas altogether, with a similar snatch and a few, um, alterations to the site's contents.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: I have to say, the New Jersey Senate situation is enough to make a drunken cynic out of the likes of Mother Teresa. Professor Volokh has pulled together a nice look at what transpired from a lawyerly point of view.

From a layman's perspective, I have to wonder now why we bother passing laws at all. What are laws for? In the case of elections, laws are put in place to provide some sort of guideline to determine who's a legitimate candidate and who isn't, what qualifications one must meet to hold office, and when paperwork and legal requirements must be completed. The laws give us a framework to conduct elections in an orderly, civilized manner. Without election laws, we could easily devolve to mob rule.

In the present case, the law seemed clear--candidates dropping out of the race for reasons other than death or dire need within 51 days of the election would not be replaced on the ballot. That law seems to have been struck down, but was not replaced by the court with any other standard. Further, the reason given for striking down the law--to maintain competitiveness between the two major parties--seems flimsy. For starters, the founding fathers never wrote parties into the Constitution at all, so it's tough to find a legitimate reason to then abrogate the law to favor the two biggest parties. Around the nation the major parties have gerrymandered Congressional districts for the express reason of limiting competitveness within the districts as well to help stifle third party chances of success. The major parties have done this in full view of the public and the courts. To say now that free competition should necessitate breaking the law is absurd. Truly free competition is anathema to the present two-party system.

So I ask again, why do we bother passing laws at all, especially laws relating to politics? Senator Torricelli created the situation in New Jersey by his brazen acts of bribe-taking. The Democrats exacerbated the situation by first not holding him to account, and then by endorsing him as their standard-bearer in the coming election. The law never seems to have entered either Torricelli's or his party leaders' minds. Now, having quit the race for one reason--partisan advantage--the law again is rendered meaningless in favor of what strikes me as a thin read of reasoning.

I also think this decision has the chance of setting a terrible precedent. What is to stop parties now from planning for last-minute switches for the purpose of hiding a candidate's flaws or intentions from the voters? A party may now run a candidate through the primary, then switch to a second candidate which may seem at first blush qualified but who will not have had to go through the full campaign cycle and therefore close scrutiny of today's elections, but whose election pays off some interest group to which the party is beholden. Today's decision may make it easier for party bosses to exercise a very undemocratic control over the democratic process. Today's decision could also inspire even more cynicism, as voters' power in the primary process may be reduced. Primaries may become meaningless altogether, of both parties try to follow today's court action. More fundamentally, the legitmacy of our elections rests on the notion that laws are followed which have been set in place prior to the election at hand, with the intent of removing the possibility of writing election laws on the fly as contests are decided, to favor one side and harm the other. It's hard to see how the nation benefits from today's ruling, which appears to run opposite that very basic idea.

But what do I know? I'm just a layman, who's a little more jaded than I was yesterday.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:56 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


: Let's hope this isn't true: A former FBI anti-terror consultant thinks bin Laden's minions have 20 suitcase nukes.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


"picked on," I can probably take more of it. What can I say--the guy does his homework and caught me using "feminazi" 6 months prior to blasting liberals for calling Repubs "Nazis" all the time.

Then again, not to quibble much but "feminazi" is a Rushism, shorthand for describing the usually wackier side of the feminist movement--the "We're fierce, we're feminist and we're in your face!" types. It's actually meant to be funny, and to tweak the very folks who are always calling Repubs the German variety. Nazi has a very specific meaning--warmongering, Jew-murdering, goose-stepping goons with a not-so-secret desire to take over the world--and liberals who use the term to smear Republicans know exactly what they're doing.

Still, ya got me. Fair 'nuff. Glad you liked my Civil War post, by the way.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:50 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


Tobacco settlement money extorted "won" in all those jawdropping settlements a few years ago didn't go to anti-tobacco programs as the pols promised they would.

Shocking, isn't it. I'm sure you're as crestfallen as I was to hear that our pols have been less than honest with us. I mean, didn't we all expect that more than 6% of the $246 billion that the state governments stole "won" back in '98 would go to fight that devil tobacco? I for one expected the politicians to take all that money and even add to it from their own pockets, just to keep the smoking menace from consuming all of us.

So where did all those dollars go, er, other than in the pockets of big time lawyers?

The unprecedented lawsuit against the tobacco industry was meant for states to collect Medicaid expenses accrued from treating its citizens with tobacco-related illnesses. Gross said states that didn't participate in the lawsuit benefited from the settlement windfall. However, since many states' budgets are strapped during these tough economic times, Gross said many state capitals are using their tobacco settlement dollars for other short-term issues.

"These settlement dollars aren't the same as what comes from parking meters," Gross said. "They're turning to it as a way to make ends meet and appeal to middle-class voters."

To fund pill giveaway schemes and other big-government nonsense aimed at buying your vote. What a crock.

Makes me want to fire up a big old Nicaraguan and just get mad for a while.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:25 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


have apparently hand-designated Frank Lautenberg to succeed? no--oppose? no--um, well, whatver the heck it is that they think Lautenberg can do since the Torch pulled out of the NJ Senate race.

Let's pause for a second--is there anything less "democratic" than pulling a last-minute switcheroo that removes a candidate that the party's primary voters clearly preferred, simply because that candidate is sinking against his general election rival? Hey Democrats--they're called elections. E-L-E-C-T-I-O-N-S. They're when people actually vote for stuff, and hope that said stuff is actually carried out. Look into them.

Henceforward, everyone should strike the -ic when describing the "Democratic Party"--because there's nothing remotely democratic about that organization anymore. It's a parasitic fraud, a house of canards, a banana republic junta without the guns. The Democrats are now monarchists, hand-picking and then crowning their preferred heir to a Senate seat without regard to what the voters may actually intend.

They base their convention representation on racial quotas. They want all workplaces to be based on racial quotas. Their last president famously put together a cabinet that "looked like America," though America turned out to be mostly full of old white men even in his cynical view. When election laws, passed by legitimate legislatures and signed by legitimate governnors, don't suit them, they want to tear those laws to shreds. And what they can't win at the ballot box, they try to force through the courts. Remember the ever-shifting standard for counting hanging chads, so long ago down in Florida?

Now, New Jersey has a hanging election. There are whispers that New Jersey may have a cancelled election, if the party elders think they can get away with it.

Good God Almighty, what a spectacle we now have before us. A Senator, holder of the public trust, got caught taking a truckload of bribes. The briber went to jail, but since said Senator's party controls the Senate, he got off with a reprimand amounting to "Don't get caught again." So the Senator runs for re-election, wins his party's primary, but his ethics problems just won't go away. They dog him from one end of the state to the other, but his party comrades aren't troubled by that. The Senator's poll numbers, on the other hand, cause much gnashing of teeth--he's losing to an unknown. In fact, the party leaders swoop in to shore him up, claiming that even the ethically-dead Senator is still soooo much better than the other guy because, well because the other guy is from that unmentionable political party. But it's to no avail; the poll numbers continue to sink down the black hole of public disapproval. That ethically clean rival is set to trounce the tainted Senator, maybe handing the Senate over to the rival party. The Democrat party leaders can't have that, whether the voters want it or not. Democracy be damned.

So the flagging Senator gets the word like Nixon once did--get out. We don't know who delivered that word, but it doesn't matter. It's the thought that counts.

And the Dems, desparate to cling to power, hatch a plan to get a sympathetic court to overturn state law expressly designed to prevent their very actions. They appoint not a successor or a rival, but simply another, to stand in the Senator's place in the hope that this other can beat the rival. The voters didn't make this choice. On election day, the voters can't give the Senator another term, or an appropriate boot into retirement. The voters have been robbed of their voice, thanks to a party's desire to maintain power.

It's not a very democratic party after all, is it?
Posted by B. Preston at 01:18 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 01, 2002


Before you think I've completely lost it, hear me out. Here's the logic: One of the current Democrat anti-war mantras is that Saddam doesn't have the bomb yet, and may not for some time--a few months, a year, maybe longer. Therefore, some Democrats argue that we shouldn't attack Iraq--Saddam just doesn't have the weapon that so worries us, so we have no right to get him. This leave out other WMDs, but that's beside the point: This anti-war argument hinges on the presence, or lack, of nukes in Iraqi stores, because nearly everyone agrees that he has bio-chem weapons squirreled away somewhere.

Follow the logic a bit further. If we know Saddam wants nukes and is working on them, and the likelihood is that he'll use them either in anger or as a deterrent against us, what should keep us from acting in our own interests and taking him, and his nuke program, out? In this strain of anti-war thinking, the very fact that he doesn't have them is the show-stopper. So presumably, the moment we can prove Saddam has the bomb, we get the green light for invasion.

Thereby triggering nuclear war.

A cornered Saddam will try to use whatever weapons he has at his disposal, so long as he has one commander and one unit loyal to him that knows how to fire the nuke. I'm sure he can find one, somewhere, who'll do whatever he wants, and all it will take is one. So if he has a nuke going in, and he knows we're closing in on him, he'll probably use it--if only to blow himself up as our troops get within earshot. Out with a bang, not with a whimper.

I don't think the anti-war folks have thought all the way through their rhetoric yet.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


really thinking about resigning?

I don't buy it--especially not if his son Uday is the chosen successor.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:09 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


: My latest is up over at National Review Online.
UPDATE: JunkYard readers respond:

I think that one thing these al Qaeda guys may or may not have considered is that if these acts are committed as you describe, the American people may well consider their traditional means of protection inadequate, that there is no reasonable way to sort out which people are committing these acts, and that the only reasonable means of protection is to abandon the "Islam means peace" mantra and begin exacting justice (whether it is just or not) on all who fit the profile.

This is all the more reason that mainstream Muslims (if there are any such people) should start policing their own communities and rooting out al Qaeda themselves. They are certainly in a better position to determine who is who than us whitebread suburbanites. Inaction on their part, followed by attacks like those you describe, will certainly result in vigilantism, and the slaughter of innocents is bound to occur.

JM, Virginia

I think most Americans already consider the current intel and counter-intel aparatus less than adequate to handle the terror threat. I certainly do--it just doesn't inspire trust when so many stories come out, so often, detailing some new screwup by the INS, FBI, CIA, TSA, etc, while new terror attacks such as the July 4th LAX shooting get dismissed out of hand as unrelated to terrorism. It's taken the government over a year to even begin to deal with one of the most obvious airline security fixes--arming pilots--while its first reaction was to conduct body cavity searches on octagenarian Congressmen. So I think citizens will have to be responsible to a great extent for our own security.

I do hope vigilantism doesn't result from this, as the vast majority of Muslims aren't liable to become terrorists. But, had "moderate" groups like CAIR not jumped to criticize the US at every turn since 9-11, they might have the credibility to be able to police their own communities. Given CAIR's limp anti-terror response and its knee-jerk criticism of the war effort, such self-policing seems out of the question now.

Other readers have pointed out, rightly, that al Qaeda's tactics could impact the gun debate. Their attacks are designed to hit soft targets, and get the job done before any law enforcement or military units can respond. Armed citizens could make the difference in hostage situations. States with tight gun laws may be forced to liberalize concealed carry laws, which would not only help combat terror but ordinary crime as well.

One point that should be made is that the type of attacks in the article require two things, in addition to the initial training: personnel and the means to coordinate them. Coordination is the easy part--cell phones, pagers, instant messaging, web sites and email can do the job. But al Qaeda needs several sleeper cells active and geographically dispersed to carry out its multi-pronged strategy. It looks like two such cells--one in upstate New York, the other in Baltimore--have been rolled up recently. Supposing those arrested do turn out to have been sleepers, we've probably made a good dent in what al Qaeda can do. But we still need to stay alert and help the police if we see something suspicious. There may still be scores of these sleeper cells around the country, as well as Europe.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:10 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 30, 2002


divides the blogosphere house. Sarge started it, complaining about the title of a book about the CW, The South Was Right. Mike at Cold Fury replied that Sarge was mostly wrong, that slavery wasn't the only cause of the war. The confusing thing is, though Sarge rips the South for its pro-slave ways, he also rips Union Gen. Sherman, presumably for the "March to the Sea." It's called total victory, Sarge. Sometimes an army has to do what an army has to do. Without such a thorough show of force, the South would likely have devolved into years of guerilla warfare after Lee's surrender. In fact it did anyway to some extent, as violence continued in small pockets for years. Eventually former Confederate soldiers (and Democrats, politically) formed the Ku Klux Klan and set out to terrorize the freed slaves.

We may have to display martial force on such a scale again, in the very near future. Are we up to it? I digress...

Here's my take, as someone with a degree in history and a bit of a passion about the Civil War: slavery wasn't the only cause, but it was the major cause, and without slavery there would have been no Civil War at all. Slavery, contrary to popular wisdom today, was not on its way out in the South. While most Southerners didn't own slaves, and therefore most Confederate soldiers had no slaves of their own, the South's economy was built entirely on the slave engine as well as the Southern mystique, which included dominance of master over slave. Without slavery, the South had no serious labor force. The North had abolished slavery--not the slave trade, but actual slavery--having found it morally repugnant. Many slave owners themselves also found slavery morally unjustifiable, but continued to own them anyway, rather like today's "pro-choice" people who claim to oppose abortion on moral grounds but nevertheless think that abortion should remain legal. They're splitting legal hairs where lives are at stake, lost in a moral fog. But I digress.

In the years prior to the War, the South's grip on power had been loosening as more Western states came into the Union, states which kept outlawing slavery. The Democrats were by and large the pro-slave party, with its power center mostly in the South. The Whig Party was the opposition, and dissolved over the issue of slavery, divided between radical abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison, pragmatists like Lincoln and other more "moderate" forces--moderates in this case, like most, unwilling to take a stand one way or the other. From the Whigs' ashes rose the Republicans, founded around one issue--destroy slavery. Lincoln became the Republicans' compromise candidate for President in 1860 and won. But he had no plan to dismantle slavery, seeing it as a problem that could be reduced and eventually phased out. The Southern hotheads seceeded, leaving Lincoln little choice but to fight to preserve the Union. To the South, Lincoln's election meant that the abolitionists were coming for their slaves, maybe not today but eventually. The South seceeded, not to express states' rights, but to preserve slavery.

Slavery had dogged the US since before its founding, and crept into the formulation of the Constitution. It became a problem every time a new state entered the Union, and forced a compromise in 1850 aimed at neutralizing it. That pact failed, the South seceeded, war ensued and the North won.

The South was most emphatically wrong, and I say this as a loyal Texan temporarily transplanted north. Had I been around, I would have gone with Sam Houston, Texas' founder, former president and, at the onset of the war, governor. He was also a fine field general, responsible for whipping Santa Anna's Mexican Army and winning Texas its independence. Houston opposed secession, warned his fellow Texans that they were courting disaster, and ended up deposed. He was right; his fellow Texans and the hotheads that dominated the South were wrong. Those who play up the states' rights angle at the expense of the slavery issue are wrong, too. Slavery wasn't the only cause, but it was the prime mover.

By the way, those wistful for the Confederacy should consider: CSA President Jefferson Davis was not a nice guy. He hated compromise, detested debate and was openly hostile to most democratic norms. As the war wore on, many Southerners came to see their government as too weak to prosecute the war. Had the Confederacy won its independence, it probably wouldn't have lasted long as a democracy. It would either have fallen apart after a couple more waves of secession, or turned into a dictatorship as Davis fought to hold it together. Not good outcomes either way.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:32 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


shootings at LAX? Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, the Egyptian who killed two at El Al's ticket desk, admitted in 1992 during his INS asylum interviews, that he had ties to terrorist groups. The INS failed to investigate, and let him in the country anyway.

Then he violated his visa in 1995, but was never prosecuted. Instead, he and his family were granted permanent resident status.

Why do we even have an INS, if it's going to do inexcusable things like this?

To his credit, Atty Gen John Ashcroft wants answers:

The Times says that INS handling of the Hadayet case prompted Attorney General John Ashcroft to order the agency to conduct an investigation into possible links between asylum seekers and terrorist groups last week. Ashcroft directed the INS to review all existing asylum cases to determine whether possible terrorist links had gone unexamined, as in the Hadayet case. He also demanded that the agency find out whether any disciplinary action was taken against those involved in handling his case — and if not, why not, officials said, adding that Ashcroft was "furious" about this.

Let's hope Ashcroft's fury translates into changes at the INS. If it's going to keep letting terrorists in, and keep failing to prosecute visa violations, we might as well save our money and just dismantle INS altogether.

(thanks to Chris)
Posted by B. Preston at 10:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


why so many lefties are quicker to attack their countrymen than actual dangerous enemies who want to kill innocent people. I got a few responses, and most can be summed up thus:

The answer is that they don't actually have any principles. They only have a
method. Their interest lies in keeping the status quo so that they might
continue to apply the "method" and remain in business, or power if you
prefer. Similar to the way that Jesse Jackson is not interested in equality
for blacks. He is interested only in Jesse Jackson.

I think this answers it well, if partially. Power and the lust for it seems to be at the root of the majority of the left's actions domestically. They've never seen a government program they didn't like, mostly because all government programs of necessity increase government power, and most decrease individual power accordingly. Well, I take that back--the left tends to dislike the military and intelligence agencies, which do count as government programs. Those programs make America a world power, something the left doesn't seem to like.

But there seems to be some other component to the left's distaste for their fellow Americans. Many, possibly most, hard lefties harbor a near visceral hatred of everything to their political right--I see it nearly every day. On my way home from work, for instance, I pass a small billboard advertising GOP Congressman Bob Ehrlich's candidacy for Maryland governnor. Thus far, lefties have called Mr. Ehrlich "Ehrlichman," thereby tying him to Nazi Germany as well as the Nixon Administration (in which Ehrlich had no role), and they've called him a racist (his opponent called him that to his face last week in a debate), and campaign ops have called him a Nazi. That billboard says "Ehrlich-Steele--Leadership for Maryland." Steele refers to Michael Steele, Ehrlich's running mate; the phrase is their slogan. Someone defaced the sign over the weekend, scrubbing out the "Leadership" part and painting "FASCISM" in its place. A few weeks ago I wrote about a little "peace" rally that I passed on the way home. That "peace" rally featured the destruction of one of Ehrlich's other campaign signs--the protesters simply dismantled it and tossed it into a busy street without regard to the harm it might cause there.

I think that this hatred of political opponents is a relatively new phenomenon in American life, probably post-60s, and resides almost entirely on the left. Yes, we've had our squabbles great and small, but even during those fights each side retained some sense of the other side's humanity. Opposing generals during the Civil War would often meet under truce and have dinner together before engaging in battle the following day. And yes, some on the right are just as hateful as their lefty counterparts, but it's the hard left that has found the most allies in academia and the press, allowing them to wield influence out of all proportion to the quality of their ideas and their actual numbers.

Today's hard left simply hates--treats as subhuman--its political opposites, which seems to include anyone who doesn't agree entirely with their vision of the world. It is partly about power, and it's partly about passion, but I think it also has a deeper root. They're principled all right, but their principle seems to be totalitarianism. The hard left doesn't just want to amass enough power to enact social programs or get the US under the Kyoto protocol, it wants to stamp out all political opposition and establish itself permanently. It can't do that via an honest debate--American's won't support it--and it can't do it by thinking of its opposition as generally good but wrong--it must strip its opposition of all humanity, smear it, treat it with nothing but contempt.

Its end game seems to me to be a dismantling of US power, economic, military and moral. To that end, the hard left seeks to build social programs and a regulatory framework to stifle our natural, capitalistic system. To that end, the hard left blames America for every ill in the world while excusing our vicious enemies any sin. To that end, the hard left tries to impeach and destroy its political opposition at home by any means necessary, since that political opposition favors a strong America in every regard. As we get closer to war and the Congressional races seem to favor the Republican candidates, expect the hard left to get more desparate and therefore more extreme, and they'll probably pull their Democrat Party with them.

I think it's going to get ugly here in America and around the world for the next few years.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:40 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


has the blogosphere abuzz tonight. It will be fascinating to see the Dems try to circumvent election law--again--just to maintain their tenuous hold on the Senate. And it may work. Their candidate for the Senate in Missouri died in 2000, yet they kept him on the ballot and a sympathy vote got the man's widow in. The law nearly posed no problem for them in 2000 in Florida--no need to get into all that mess again, but suffice it to say that the laws on the books on election day should hold through all counts and re-counts, but the Dems wanted to twist the law into a pretzel in order to shoe-horn Gore into the White House. And they almost did it.

Now, since the Torch isn't resigning his seat, the Dems can either do nothing and lose the seat (not an option), have the Torch, um, extinguished (probably under consideration in some corners), or just run roughshod over the law. Guess which option I'm thinking they'll take.

As for Torricelli himself, what a disgrace. The man abused the voters' trust--he accepted bribes, then let the guy who bribed him take the entire legal fall. Here are his own words on his predicament:

I am a human being, and while I have not done the things that I have been accused of doing, I most certainly have made mistakes. There will be those who have concluded that those mistakes bring justice to this moment because there's a price to be paid. When we did become such an unforgiving people? How we did we become a society when a person can build credibility your entire life to have it questioned by someone whose word is of no value at all? When did we stop believing in and trusting in each other?

He sounds so sincere, so nice. But just a few paragraphs earlier, he had this to say about his Republican rival:

Simply because I'm making the decision today, do not think that I fight any less hard or I could be any less combative. Doug Forrester does not belong in the United States Senate.

Chutzpah, that. The man who took a bribe says his opponent doesn't belong in the Senate. Goodbye, Torch. Good riddance. You're a Democrat to the bitter end, smearing your opponent with the mud swallowing yourself.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


the US gave Iraq its start in the bioweapons business. Iraq got them by lying about their intended use. Which brings up at least one very obvious conclusion--they lied to get them so they'll lie to keep them.

This does not in any way absolve us from the ability or responsibility to act against Iraq now. In fact, if we stupidly gave them the weapons, we have that much more responsibility to see that they aren't used against anyone.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


may have been killed because he was chasing one of 9-11's planners. Former CIA case officer Bob Baer says he provided Pearl with unpublished information relating to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, one of the terrorists that the US believes planned 9-11. Baer was in possession of information about Mohammed, and took it first to the CIA to see if he could get them interested:

Baer sent this information to a friend in the CIA Counter-terrorist Center who forwarded the information to his superiors. Baer heard nothing. "There was no interest," he said.

Baer said he was frustrated and called Pearl. Baer said he told Pearl he had a hot story on terrorism and the fact that a U.S. ally like Qatar was actually working against the United States when it came to bin Laden.

Baer said to his annoyance, Pearl did not begin to work on the story. Nothing was done until the day of the Sept. 11 attacks when Pearl called to talk to Baer. Baer said he gave Pearl all the old information he had and new information he had since obtained -- for example, that there are files on Mohammed in the Qatari Embassy in London.

Baer said he and Pearl then "began to work together" -- in other words, Pearl would get info and check it out with Baer and Baer would feed Pearl what he was getting. It was "a joint project," said Baer. Baer was giving direction, but Pearl's contacts were not confined to Baer.

After Pearl's murder, Baer said, he took his information about Mohammed to the Justice Department, but again, as with the agency, he never received a call nor did the department express any interest.

Why isn't our government intensely interested in this story? Who do so many of these background incidents end up pointing to bureaucratic intertia instead of some pro-active response of some kind? It's hard to have much confidence in our counter-intel efforts.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:45 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


: Al Qaeda may be looking at attacks on October 2 and 7, according to Col David Hackworth's Soldiers for Truth group. Their reasoning is that al Qeada likes to hit on dates of significance to it, and Oct 2 marks the anniversary of Sheikh Omar Abdel al-Rahman and Ayman al-Zawahiri for their roles in the 1993 WTC bombing. Oct 7 coincides with the start of the US campaign in Afghanistan last year.

Hack's group speculates that al Qeada may attack the American League playoff game in New York on Oct 2, or a Monday Night Football between Green Bay and Chicago.

I'll have a bit more to say about what kinds of attacks al Qeada may stage in the near future.

(thanks to Dave)
Posted by B. Preston at 09:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


: UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's left-leaning Labor Party has voted to support his position on Iraq, and rejected a vote to renounce the use of military force. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw sees things clearly:

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the threat of force was the only reason Saddam has said he will accept inspectors.

"To throw that threat away now and accept Saddam's words would be to let this tyrannical dictator off the hook," Straw said, closing the debate.

"The best chance we have of resolving the crisis peacefully is by the toughest possible stand, which makes clear our readiness to use forces if the international will continues to be defied."

It's sort of common sense, really: If a person only understands force, and you want to get that person to do something that's against his wishes, threatening to use force might get that person to do what you want. If only the elected Democrats--many of whom famously served in various wars--understood this rather basic life truth, we might be able to get Saddam to disarm without firing a shot. We might even be able to get him to leave that way, though that's unlikely.

But the Boniors and McDermotts of the world, in their appeasment strategy, actually make a bloody war more likely by weakening the hand that we can play.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:21 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


, but unfortunately even the reamer didn't get his facts right. First, the good stuff. Cartoonist Ted Rall, whose idiocy last fall is probably responsible for a couple hundred hawkish blogs popping up, gets his sorry backside fact-checked by The Comics Journal's John Giuffo. Guiffo pretty much destroys what was left of Rall's credibility. For instance, Rall has insisted since about three hours into the Afghan campaign that it was a failure and achieved nothing. Giuffo fact-checks:

First of all, he ignores the $4.5 billion in international aid to Afghanistan that wouldn't have been sent had the Taliban remained in power. The Ahmed Rashid books he cites ad nauseum should have taught him that the Taliban were known for pushing aid organizations out of the country for such "violations" as being Christian. The World Food Program reports that food aid is now successfully reaching 6.6 million people in Afghanistan. According to UNICEF, who, coincidentally, also voiced opposition to the bombing campaign at first, the international aid agency is now able to go forward with the "biggest logistical operation for many years" in Afghanistan. In an aid update from January, UNICEF workers immunized 572,000 children in Kabul during the first two weeks of 2002, "six times higher than the total immunization coverage in 2001." They also vaccinated over 700,000 children against measles during the first two months of 2002, in a country where, as Nicholas Kristof pointed out in the Feb. 1 New York Times (hard to miss, Ted), "virtually no one had been vaccinated against the disease in the previous 10 years." That alone will save the lives of at least 35,000 children each year. Kristof also quotes Heidi J. Larson of UNICEF saying that she expects maternal mortality rates in Afghanistan will halve as a result of improved health care over the next five years. That's another 112,000 children and 7,500 pregnant women saved each year. So, contrary to Rall's rhetoric, the lives of women in Afghanistan seem to be improving in at least some ways "that matter." Consider that more than 1.5 million schoolchildren have been enrolled in Afghan schools this year ... double the number of children in school last year. All of the girls, who the Taliban prevented from attending school, are going to school for the first time in their lives. It's safe to say, then, that not everyone in Afghanistan is fueled by a desire for revenge against the United States.

It is, as Christopher Hitchens has said, the first time in history a country has been bombed back out of the Stone Age.

There's much more, and it's mostly good. But then, I suppose to prove his bonafides with the anti-fact left, Giuffo's wheels come off. You can't get a lefty to give an honest take on Bush. I'm convinced it's impossible. Here's Guiffo, with my rebuttals in italics:

To be fair, I should deal with Rall's portrayal of the Bush administration. It's on the topic of Bush that Rall most often approaches something that could be described as resembling humor. His characterization of "Bush Deux" (my personal favorite, although Rall prefers the more Naderesque "Resident Bush") as a banana-republic dictator is obvious but effective. America should not forget how a presidential candidate and his network of cronies and friends seized power in the closest thing to a coup this country has ever experienced. Closest thing to a coup we've experienced? How about the assassination of a Republican President to help his Democrat VP ascend, which helps the assassins' friends? Ever heard of Abe Lincoln (GOP), killed by John Wilkes Boothe (Confederate sympathizer), whose actions raised Andrew Johnson (Democrat and sympathetic to the South) to the presidency? I'm not saying Boothe killed Lincoln purely to get Johnson raised, but the facts of that case make it far closer to a coup than anything that happened in Florida in 2000. Lefties don't read much history, do they. Floridian voter rolls were purged of Democrats. In Democrat-controlled counties? Police blocked polling sites in some of the state's black areas and sent many voters home. In Democrat-controlled counties--and those turned back were recent Caribbean immigrants and likely GOP voters. Jews voted for Buchanan. Because they were too stupid to understand the butterfly ballot--and in Democrat-controlled counties. Illegal overseas military ballots were rammed through with a patriotism plunger. Illegal? Huh? And Antonin Scalia was riding shotgun in the getaway car. What the %^$& was the Florida Supreme Court--the one denouced for its actions by its own Chief Justice--doing? They sure weren't ruling on the merits. And why is this rougue court conveniently overlooked in all lefty restrospectives of the Florida debacle? Oh yeah, because it refutes their case entirely. Bush ain't legit, Yes he is and it's good and proper to get angry at that. Get over it. Angry is what Rall does best, so Bush is what Rall does best. His gags on the Chimp-In-Chief can, on a good day, make one laugh. If obvious ad hominem attacks are your thing, I suppose so. When he imagines Bush at his personal daily war briefing, we can see the stupid-George jokes coming from a mile away (Ha-ha! He called it the Southern Alliance!), but they still leave us satisfied. Of course, Rall doesn't buy into the empty-headed notion that wartime puts the president beyond criticism, so it's neither intellectually dishonest nor improper that he should pick on the spoiled rich kid. It makes you wish he would stick to ripping on him. Or maybe just stick his...never mind.

It's a shame Guiffo had to go off on that rant. Otherwise, it's a fine, well-written trashing of Ted Rall.

(link via Instapundit)
Posted by B. Preston at 05:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Rep. David Bonior and Rep. Jim McDermott may go down as the two most irresponsible members of our government after their Hanoi Jane-esque trip to Iraq, highlighted by McDermott's assertion that President Bush will lie to get the US into war. And he said this on foreign soil, the very foreign soil we may soon attack. Shameless, irresponsible, practically treasonous...

On the other hand, the two have proven this blog right about one thing: Democrats.com is no fringe group, as some suggested when I initially went after them. Their ideas are at the heart of the Democrat Party's internal war debate. If their take on the war wins that debate, the US will either cease fighting the war, or will go into it with one hand tied behind our backs.

Who's politicizing the war? Who politicized it first?

The Democrats.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


may rejoice today.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, an Iraqi national with copious ties to terrorism, may be just the link between Saddam and bin Laden that the Bush team has been looking for.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 29, 2002


Many Palestinians are bitter, having achieved only abject poverty, detention in Israeli jails, injury and death in the uprising. Israeli troops are firmly in control of most of the West Bank and lead daily attacks in the Gaza Strip to destroy militant cells that are still fighting the war. Western and Arab nations have largely lost interest in helping Arafat's government. Cynicism has grown to a point that many reform-minded Palestinians say privately that Arafat promoted the intifadah less to defeat Israel than to deflect domestic discontent over graft and corruption within the Palestinian Authority.

Israelis say they will never again offer Palestinians a deal as generous as the one tabled at Camp David in 2000, which offered Palestinians 90 percent of the West Bank and the entire Gaza Strip. The talks between Arafat and then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak fell apart largely over irreconcilable claims to Jerusalem and the right of return to Israel for Palestinian refugees.

The growing violence that followed and the Israeli response to it effectively blocked the goal of political independence. Popular resistance evolved into a series of suicide bombings and daily gun attacks against Israelis, launched by terrorist cells belonging to radical Palestinian groups including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, for whom the intifadah became a means to annihilate Israel.

These groups remain strong, despite Israeli assassinations of their key military leaders and arrests of hundreds of their members.

But the groups' success is why the intifadah no longer has any possibility of achieving its original goals, said Col. Jibril Rajoub, former commander of Arafat's West Bank security services, whom the aging leader fired this summer. Rajoub said he warned Arafat early on that attacks on Israeli civilians, arming resistance fighters, using Palestinian-held lands to harbor terrorists, and using government security services in the battle would backfire.

Read that last bit again. Not that anyone reading this blog finds it surprising, Rajoub admitted that Arafat was behind even the most violent of Palestinian terrorist groups. Arafat armed them, harbored them, used his government security servies to fight Israel, and apparently orchestrated attacks on Israeli civilians. That should be the last nail in Yasser's coffin, if you ask me.

(thanks to Dave)

UPDATE: 60 Minutes will air proof that Saddam has been behind the intifada, funding and training terrorists to carry out attacks against Israel. The report is based on documents Israel seized during the last house arrest of Arafat, which also show that Yasser did what his former security chief claims: funded, harbored, trained and controlled anti-Israel terrorists.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack