You'll Be Hearing About This One
Thursday, November 14, 2002
Both Drudge and Instapundit have linked to this troubling editorial in the NYT, concerning the new Information Awareness Office proposed in the Homeland Security Bill.
Personally, I'll reserve comment until I learn a little more, but at first glance it stinks to high heaven, and the Bush administration ought to be ashamed of itself for supporting this thing. (From what I can tell, the democrats don't seem to mind, either, just so long as the people spying on you are all union members).
Maybe this is not as bad as it sounds. There is a certain amount of information about people - things like criminal records, the residence status of aliens, and so on - that should be legitimately collected and centralized for law enforcement use. There is other information - medical data, reading and shopping habits, financial records - that the government has no business collecting, even if it would be of use in tracking terrorists and preventing crime.
We have a name for the sort of place where the police have access to all this stuff; it's called a "police state". If this provision is as odious as it appears, it might be time to remind our leadership what governing a free people is all about.
Cool logo, though:
Safe At Home
Wednesday, November 13, 2002
Tuesday, November 12, 2002
An interesting end-game is playing out in Iraq. I think I see where this is going...
Under the latest UN resolution, Iraq has five days - until Friday - to allow the inspectors back in. Since then, the Iraqi "parliament" (a curious word to use in a country where the leader gets 100% of the vote) has officially decided to reject the resolution. Saddam's son, on the other hand, has seen to it that the state-run press publish his opinion that the inspectors ought to be let in. Saddam himself, of course, has said nothing.
I expect that Friday will come and go without a definitive answer from Iraq. So what do we do? If we attempt to pounce on this provocation, call the UN Security Council together and talk about it for a few days, we will find that Iraq will suddenly agree to the inspections after all. We will also find that they will use this method to disrupt every step of the process, on the assumption that we will have to go through the Security Council after every tactical delay.
Our alternative is to just act, which make Saddam look like a victim and would deprive us of whatever support we would otherwise enjoy from the UN.
My call? I dunno. This is a tough one. Of course we could just go charging in, and we might have to, but it would piss away a lot of the diplomatic capital we have tried so hard to build up until now.
If it were me, I'd hit him at one minute after midnight on Friday, but I don't think Bush would do that. He's decisive, but not rash.
This is where Connie Rice and Colon Powel earn their paychecks.
FWIW, the skys over Iraq will be at their darkest when the next new moon occurs on Dec 4th...
Update: Saddam accepted the resolution.
Another Cheerful Thought
Saturday, November 10, 2002
The warnings have been coming thick and fast these last few days. Here's the latest:
Mansoor Ijaz: Major Al Qaeda Attacks Expected in Weeks
A Pakistani-American businessman who helped negotiate a deal turned down by the Clinton administration for Osama bin Laden's extradition to the U.S. said late Saturday that the terror chief's al Qaeda network is planning to launch major attacks on the U.S. and two other countries by the end of the month. Asked about a report by Interpol this week that warned: "All intelligence experts are agreed that al Qaeda is preparing a major terrorist operation," Mansoor Ijaz told Fox News Channel's "Foxwire," "Within the next two to three weeks I think we're going to be looking at something pretty tough." "We should be worried," Ijaz told "Foxwire" host Rita Cosby. "This is almost identical to the information I have.... I've been told there's going to be three simultaneous attacks; it will be three different continents." Ijaz said the U.S. and United Kingdom would be "primary targets," while the Far East or India would likely be the third target.
So, how seriously should rumors like this be taken? We've gone through several periods of speculation and concern over the past year, but so far there has not been the sort of massive, coordinated counterattack that everyone expects.
On the other hand, such an attack is almost certain to happen at some point. Are average citizens who watch the news likely to see it coming?
I think we might.
There are many thousands of people, worldwide, working at various levels of the intelligence community, sharing non-specific information with one another and passing around summaries of what they think they know. When things heat up (and they will, eventually, heat up) some of the many people on the fringes of this community may start to speak out. We may be seeing this now.
Obviously, we've been concerned about Thanksgiving (the biggest travel time in America) and the period just before Christmas (with shopping malls packed with people), and of course the upcoming invasion of Iraq only heightens concerns. I can't say I'd be surprised if we get hit within the next couple of months.
So what should we do about it?
I'd suggest three things: First, remember that even if a massive attack were to happen tomorrow, the chances of it personally involving you are remote.
Second, if you have not taken some practical steps to prepare yourself, maybe you should. Anyone can pass a CPR/Advanced First Aid course.
Third, remember that we are not going to win this fight by playing defense. Don't be afraid to stand up and let your fellow voters know that.
Thought For The Day
Friday, November 8, 2002
Sometimes, the truth of things can be so blunt, it can be hard to really believe it.
I'm a big fan of reason, compassion, and dignity. I pity anyone who would go through life without looking first to these values before resorting to force of any kind.
Civilized people expect such behavior of one another, as well they should. In fact, civilization itself can probably be accurately defined as the place where values such as these are assets, instead of liabilities.
But some people are not civilized; when they want to hurt you, you will not find your way out of danger by appealing to reason, compassion, or dignity. Violence is not turned by such things.
You'd be astonished at how many people refuse to believe this.
Hey, you! Yes, you. I've got a job for you.
Friday, November 8, 2002
We've got a bunch of prisoners here that need to be transported overseas on a C-130. Be careful! Some of these guys were part of the uprising at Mazarr-a-Sharif. Some of them are highly trained, most of them are suicidal and they will do anything in their power to kill you and your men.
You don't have any special gear to handle this sort of thing, so you'll have to improvise something out of what you have available, and you'd better get it right on the first try. But listen up:
These prisoners are extraordinarily valuable to us. We traded lives to capture these people, and they better arrive in one piece. And if any of your men get killed because you fucked this up, I'm holding you personally responsible.
So remember the lessons of Mazarr-a-Sharif and get this job done. Now.
The prisoners are provided with cushions and hearing protection. Other than the restraints, they have essentially the same accommodations as our soldiers do. (In the bottom picture, the soldiers on the right, near the back, are sitting on the metal floor, too).
Notice the Americans sitting among the prisoners are without weapons, while the guys up front are all geared up. This suggests to me that our first response to a prisoner getting to his feet would be to risk lives regaining control of him by hand, rather than just hosing him down from a distance.
Notice the leg irons on the prisoner in the top photo, bottom left. It has been (correctly) applied loosely for his comfort. Little things like this show that our people did not take advantage of the opportunity to abuse their prisoners.
Look at that last photo - talk about improvised! For some reason they couldn't put a hood on this one, so it looks like they put something together with paper cups to restrict his vision.
If this were my responsibility, I'd have had those people wrapped in so much duct tape they'd look like fucking cocoons.
Another thought just occured to me - can you imagine if the prisoners weren't tied to the floor, and you hit some turbulance on the way, spilling all your prisoners and guards into a big scratching, biting tangle of bodies? I'm surprised they didn't tape them to the cargo straps, I really am.
Update: I've seen paper-cup goggles like the one in the bottom photo used to treat eye injuries; the cups hold the bandages in place without putting pressure on the eye.
Wedesday, November 6, 2002
Normally, I'm a big fan of divided government; as a practical matter, divided government is the closest thing we'll get to small government, which suits me just fine. But this election was different.
Whoa Nellie, was it different.
Last night was, to be blunt, a humiliating rout for the democrats. Not only did they surrender the Senate and actually lose ground in the House, they lost a senate race in Tom Daschle's home state(!) and got crushed in the "Florida Rematch" they had so much hope for. Even Townsend lost in Maryland, after playing the gun-control angle in the wake of the sniper shootings. Very few people saw this coming, because it was a damned unusual outcome. Americans are supposed to be divided about the War On Terror, suspicious of encroachments on civil liberties, hostile about the economy, and besides, every President since Lincoln has lost ground during the midterms and so many of these races were just too close to call.
I can't speak for those Americans, perhaps 10 million or so, who actually changed all these close races into an unprecedented republican victory, but I can speak for myself: There's a war on, and the democrats were not dealing with it. All that other shit takes a back seat, as it should.
I'm not saying that the republicans are always right about how they are handling the war, but they are, at least, doing something. The democrats have hesitated, opposed, expressed concern; they delayed the airport security bill and the homeland security bill not because they have a better idea, but because they want union protections built in. They opposed the use of force against Iraq not because they have a better idea, but because they just don't like war, as if we could just pretend we're not fighting for our lives now, and the problem would just go away by itself.
They just don't get it. The war is real, and I honestly think many of them simply don't believe that. For too many democrats, it's still 1968 and the President wants to bomb Cambodia again. They were right, in '68, to oppose that war, but that was thirty-five fucking years ago and a lot has changed since then. This time, we are not the bad guys. This time, the threat to our cities and our people is quite immediate and real. This time, our military is not a blunt instrument that can barely defend itself against a ragtag militia in a rice patty. This time, a competing superpower is not supporting the people we oppose. This time we are doing the right thing.
Well, maybe the democrats will learn - getting knocked on your ass can be a wonderful help sometimes. I sure hope that they get their shit together, because in about three weeks they are going to start drilling in ANWR and I might really start to miss Tom Daschle...
No matter how you voted yesterday, I think it's important for all of us to recognize the real story of this election, and for all of us to pay homage to a new and important truth: I called it. I actually called it! At 7:30 in the fucking morning, I called it!
Looks like Mondale lost, too. That old fart.
Also looks like Terry Mcauliffe will be looking for a new job. Good riddance.
Instapundit offers this quote, from reader Peter Schiavo:
I think on a certain level the broad middle is afraid that the Democrats don't take terrorism seriously.
And Andrew Sullivan adds:
[...] it was a vote against the hollow negativism, cowardice and mediocrity of the current Democratic Party. They have nothing to say; and that matters.
Tuesday, November 5, 2002
1) Turnout will be higher than expected.
2) The Democrats will get their asses handed to them.
You heard it here first.
Updates, as they become available:
The democrats had three big goals today: Defeat Jeb Bush in Florida, gain in the House, and hold the Senate.
So far the only result we know is Florida, where Jeb won by a wide margin and - get this - Katherine Harris won a congressional seat! So much for the rematch...
Update: On the Senate side, Dole and Romney are both projected winners. Looks like the Senate will be in republican hands in the morning.
(Didn't somebody tell the democrats they were supposed to pick up seats in an off-year election like this)?
Well, Now It's Official
England Has Worst Crime Rate In World
England and Wales have the highest crime rate among the world's leading economies, according to a new report by the United Nations.
[...] people are more likely to be mugged, burgled, robbed or assaulted here than in America, Germany, Russia, South Africa or any other of the world's 20 largest nations. Only the Dominican Republic, New Zealand and Finland have higher crime rates than England and Wales.
[...] England and Wales had 9,766 crimes for every 100,000 people in the year 2000. America had 8,517, South Africa 7,997, Germany 7,621 and Russia 2,022.
England, Finland, and New Zealand, huh?
It's a pity they have so many guns about, and treat their poor so badly...
This Won't Last Long
Every single Playboy centerfold, from Dec 53 to October of this year.
Is this a great time to be alive, or what?
Have You Seen This Asshole?
If you have, let the FBI know about it.
Thought For The Day
GruntDoc offers some thoughtful, if depressing, advice.
(And once you're done, be sure to scroll down for the cool birdstrike photos).
Check This Out!
The Museum Of Hoaxes offers an interactive test - can you tell the real photos from the bogus ones?
I only missed three out of twenty...
(On a related note, you can often resolve a suspected hoax at snopes.com)
Parade Of The Idiots
We've had a couple of real winners enjoying their 15 minutes of fame this week. The first, an Israeli Arab, tried to hijack an El Al jetliner with a pocketknife so he could crash it into a skyscraper in Tel Aviv; needless to say, he was left hog-tied on the floor less than a minute into his personal Jihad.
Now another terrorist wannabe has made his move. He tried - and I am not making this up - to sneak a 12 inch long butcher's knife into a Miami-to-New-York flight by wrapping it in newspaper. The screener saw it on the X-ray machine.
Sometimes ordinary people get caught with guns or with belt knives when they pass through security; in almost every case, they simply forgot they had a weapon with them, an embarrassing but all too common mistake. But it's hard to imagine the innocent explanation for the meat cleaver in the newspaper... what was he going to do, clip coupons on the flight? Jesus christ...
Both of these ass-clowns are important examples of the threat we are facing. Sure, we have to worry about the well-funded, well-trained guys who can execute a spectacular simultaneous attack, but we also have to worry about the freelancers - ordinary dipshits with little or no training, and little or no outside support, who are encouraged to attack us and who take it upon themselves to execute whatever mission they dream up.
The guy who shot up the El Al terminal in California almost certainly fit this description. I believe the guy who wiped out that bus by slitting the driver's throat fit this description, too.
The bad news is that these dipshits can be anywhere. The good news is that they are just ordinary assclowns and they can be stopped cold. Both of our hijacker wannabes lasted less then a minute when faced with the ordinary security measures we already have in place. The El Al shooter was wrestled to the ground by El Al security staff; the dude on the bus got his ass kicked by the driver and died alone in the crash.
There are nearly 300 million Americans walking around the place now; I'd guess at least 100 million of us are just waiting for the chance to drop one of these motherfuckers, if we happen to catch them in the act.
I can live with those odds.
Suppose he managed to slip that big knife past security (lord knows it could happen). Be honest now... if you were a passenger on that flight, would you prefer that the pilot be unarmed?
I didn't think so.
And Now It's Hotels
[The training video demonstrates an assault where] Al-Qaida members playing the role of hostages scream -- like they are meant to represent women and children -- as they are herded together and hit with the butts of rifles while shots are fired into the air. The cameraman can be heard laughing. The "[hostage-takers]" give their commands in English, shouting "Move!" "Stop!" "Go!", while the people playing the role of hostages scream, also in English, "Oh God!" and "Don't hurt me!" Later, the hostages are moved onto the roof and executed. The hostage takers then pretend to throw their bodies to the ground.
[...] A second equally graphic video shows a series of room service assassinations. In each case, a terrorist knocks on the door calling "room service" in English. When the door opens, the guest is shot in the face.
A while back, I read an article discussing these tapes. A police trainer commented that officers who find themselves in the midst of such a situation should fight back immediately, even if facing suicidal odds; at the end of every tape, all the hostages always die.
Now It's Hospitals
Houston, San Francisco, Chicago and D.C. targeted between December and April
As I recall, the Chechens have already done this sort of thing. Twice.
You Want One
It's only two bucks:
Weird Site Of The Day
Cool. But can they build one out of a B-52?
Bin Ladin Probably Alive
OBL, renowned pederast and two-time winner of the Man Most Likely To Be Eventually Eaten By Pigs Award is probably still alive. He made an audio tape, mentioning current events, which our initial analysis suggests is genuine.
I consider this good news. I felt cheated when I thought we would never have the chance to hang him at ground zero, and let him rot off the rope.
Cool Site Of The Week
Here's how to make Google display what it thinks are the 1000 most-linked pages on the internet.
I ain't on it.
This wasn't on it, either.
You Know, I Just Don't Like The Looks Of This
TONY BLAIR will make a dramatic appeal to the nation tonight to show traditional British resolve in the face of possible suicide bombings or chemical attacks in the run-up to Christmas.
Something's up, guys.
Fucking Weenie Europeans
Looks like I just lost all my links from the EU:
The Council of Europe has adopted a measure that would criminalize Internet hate speech, including hyperlinks to pages that contain offensive content.
[...] Specifically, the amendment bans "any written material, any image or any other representation of ideas or theories, which advocates, promotes or incites hatred, discrimination or violence, against any individual or group of individuals, based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin, as well as religion if used as pretext for any of these factors."
So, when I advocate extra security profiling for air travelers from, say, Saudi Arabia, I am engaging in "hate speech" and it's a crime to link to my site.
The good news, I guess, is that this ought to cut Europe's internet off from the entire Middle East. No more Palestinian websites for you!
It's be fun to see the gasket they'd blow finding a link like this, from back in the old days before right-wing militias became such a concern here in the States.
One Election Changes Everything
Nowadays, liberals just can't get no respect...
Can You Pass The Citizenship Test?
Here are some randomly-generated questions from the test that new immigrants must pass before they can become citizens. How well do you think you'll do?
I'm ashamed of myself, I really am, that I enjoy stuff like this so much...
Oh, and this is kinda cool, too. The ones that simulate motion work really well if you use your scroll bar to move them on the screen.
And this guy has way too much time on his hands.
Phone Conversations You'll Never Hear, Part II
Imagine overhearing this one:
[Ring] Hello? Hi Dad, it's me. Hey, son, how you doing...
Yeah, so we're going to get a swimming pool put in! I'm so excited. [Shocked silence] Son, do you really think that's a good idea?
Sure... what's wrong? Aren't you concerned about your children?! What if they get in the pool and drown, or drown one of their friends! It's just not worth it!
Well, of course we'll teach the kids to swim, and we'll keep the pool fenced off... That's not good enough! You know your kids can climb that fence in two seconds and get themselves killed! There ought to be a law against this...
About time for Dad to check himself in to the Altzheimer's clinic, right?
"The risk of being a victim of a fatal gun accident can be better appreciated if it is compared to a more familiar risk... Each year about five hundred children under the age of five accidentally drown in residential swimming pools, compared to about forty killed in gun accidents, despite the fact that there are only about five million households with swimming pools, compared to at least 43 million with guns. Thus, based on owning households, the risk of a fatal accident among small children is over one hundred times higher for swimming pools than for guns."
The Centers for Disease Control could identify only 21 children under age 15 dying from accidental handgun deaths in 1996. But 40 children under the age of five drown in water buckets every year and another 80 drown in bathtubs.
You gotta wonder... what kind of irresponsible monster would keep a pool in a suburban backyard?
Quote Of The Day
Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble:
"Something worrying is going on," he said. "All intelligence experts are agreed that al Qaeda is preparing a major terrorist operation, simultaneous attacks that would not target the United States alone but several countries at the same time."
France May Have A Real Problem On Their Hands
A lot of the inexplicable crap we've been getting from the French seems a lot more explicable after reading this.
If you hate the French as much as I do, you're really going to enjoy this. If you actually care about the French, then this is a must-read.
Update: I shared this link with a well-traveled friend of mine, and he offered an interesting comment:
We might start by taking note that La Zone is not a ghetto outside a major city, it is the rest of the world outside the West.
Life is just not fair.
I have to spend all day today, you know, doing my job, which kinda sucks, while some lucky bastard got to spend all day today flying a cool-ass UAV by remote control, and he gets to send a laser-guided missile straight up the ass of a wanted terrorist, blowing him and half-dozen or so of his closest friends all over the Yemeni desert.
Now, I'm sure this guy worked hard to get where he is, and he's obviously done a hell of a good job today, but goddamnit... he couldn't possibly have enjoyed that as much as I would have.
But hey, I forgive you, dude... this one's for you!
(Titties via SH)
Update: The scorch mark is cool. Move your mouse over the image to see the outline of the car!