Saturday, June 26, 2004

Al Jazeera - Terror's Mouthpiece

The terrorists in Iraq are now holding Turkish citizens and, you guessed it, are threatening to behead them if Turkey does not pull out of the Coalition. (Thank you, Spain.) And yet again, we hear about it through a tape received and broadcast by Al-Jazeera TV. What is it with this station? Do they have some sort of anonymous drop-box out there that says "Deposit your terrorist films here"? Or is it something more sinister than that?

I say that Al-Jazeera's not just the lucky recipient of all the beheading tapes they can swallow. Their anti-Coalition, anti-American, anti-anything-that's-not-Arabs-victorious attitude had made them into something far different than a "news" organization. They're the propaganda wing of Terrorists-R-Us. They actively seek stories, footage, and relationships with these terror groups and make damn sure they get their say on the air. Frankly, I would not be surprised at all to find out that the cameramen shooting the beheading footage and the (yeah, right) "negotiation" offers are in fact Al-Jazeera employees.

I think Al-Jazeera knows full well not only who those terrorists are, but they know where they are. They know where they're holding these people and they know that they have no intention whatsoever of releasing them. The only difference this time is that the men they've taken this time are most likely Muslims themselves. Not, of course, that this has slowed them down much in the streets of Iraq where they've killed hundreds of their fellow Muslims over the past few days. Al-Jazeera has been the cheerleader for this violence and has made sure to be seen as the outlet for terrorists to spread their hate as far and wide as they can. They're involved, and we should find out exactly how. That's right: I think a raid on Al-Jazeera's offices are in order.

Now before anybody starts screaming "freedom of the press", let's get 2 things very straight here. First, and way, way foremost: even the phrase "freedom of the press" that gets bandied about so eagerly is pulled from the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. That's a document that applies to citizens and organizations of the United States. So feel free to apply the concept to any other countries citizens you'd like. Such application has no basis in the laws of this land and as regards those other countries' citizens, the protections granted by that document... Do. Not. Apply.

Second, as I've already stated, their actions have made it clear that they are no "observant bystander" in this conflict. I've seen it mentioned that there's no way we'd have allowed a Nazi camera crew to set up shop on the cliffs overlooking the beaches at Normandy so they could broadcast everything the Allies were doing there June 6, 1944. The reason is simple: they would have let the enemy know all the movements we made and they would have participated in actions against us. Al-Jazeera does no less. They shouldn't be allowed to do so any more than we would have Nazis 60 years ago. And they should not expect to enjoy the protections granted news organizations in the West.

We need to know where these cowardly, murderous bastards are. Let's go find out from the people who so clearly know.

And next up in the latest round of Microsoft vulnerabilities...

In case you've been living completely off-line over the last 24-36 hours, you already know that there's been a new breed of attack going on on the Web. "Hackers" have been cracking into highly popular web sites through the use of some well-known Windows Internet Information Server (IIS) security holes and implanting malicious code on the pages. The code itself then uses 2 security vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer to redirect a user to a Russian-based web site where spyware gets uploaded to the user's machine. The spyware is a keystroke recorder designed to keep track of all data entered by the user, including passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers, and the like.

Here's the important stuff for you: the attack does not read like a virus, so your anti-virus software will not find it. There is no patch from Microsoft for these holes they know to exist in Internet Explorer. No word whatsoever from MS about fixing, them either.

Personally, I got tired of this kind of event about 4 months ago and started looking for alternatives. I found them. The browser is called Mozilla Firefox and the e-mail program is called Mozilla Thunderbird. Firefox has features IE doesn't have and MS doesn't seem to want you to have, including tabbed browsing which is a personal favorite. Thunderbird is a POP3 e-mail client with anti-spam features and everything the average user will ever need.

Don't take my word for it, though. Here's what the Washington Post reported today on the topic:

Space HereThe attack takes advantage of several recently discovered security flaws in Microsoft's Internet browser and Internet Information Services Web software. Microsoft released a patch in April to fix one security hole in its Internet browser; the company is still working on a patch for the other flaw, which security researchers publicly detailed less than two weeks ago.

CERT recommends that Explorer users consider other browsers that are not affected by the attack, such as Mozilla, Mozilla Firefox, Netscape and Opera. Mac, Linux and other non-Windows operating systems are immune from this attack. For people who continue to use the Internet Explorer, CERT and Microsoft recommend setting the browser's security settings to "high," but that can impair some browsing functions.
Space Here

CERT, by the way, is the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team. These folks know their stuff.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Moore's a liar and a thief

In his headlong rush to put out yet another movie hack-job of the truth in an effort to gleefully offend as many people as he can, Michael Moore has managed to commit copyright violation at the same time. Moore's newest waste of celluloid titled Fahrenheit 9/11, subtitled the "temperature at which freedom burns" is making use of a title he has no right to use. Ray Bradbury, the author of Fahrenheit 451, says the title of Moore's work infringes on his copyright.

Space Here"He didn't ask my permission," Bradbury, 83, told The Associated Press on Friday. "That's not his novel, that's not his title, so he shouldn't have done it."


Bradbury, who hadn't seen the movie, said he called Moore's company six months ago to protest and was promised Moore would call back.

He finally got that call last Saturday, Bradbury said, adding Moore told him he was "embarrassed."

"He suddenly realized he's let too much time go by," the author said by phone from his home in Los Angeles' Cheviot Hills section.
Space Here

Nice going, scumbag...

Update: And lest you think my thoughts on the man and his - work - are merely part of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy &trade, have a look at the column by Vanity Fair author Christopher Hitchens.

Aerospace History in the making (UPDATED!)

It's scheduled for 5 minutes from right now. At 09:30 this morning, DC time, SpaceShipOne will launch. This is the privately funded effort by Scaled Compositites to put people into space as part of the X-Prize. And they're doing it without government funding or support.

Go baby, GO!

Update: And they have done it!!! According to the reports, the launch was a spectacular success:

Space HereMOJAVE, California (CNN) -- Rocket plane SpaceShipOne reached an altitude above 62.5 miles (100 km) during its brief flight Monday morning, making it the first privately built craft to fly in space, controllers said.

The space plane was carried aloft to about 50,000 feet by the jet White Knight.

From there SpaceShipOne launched into space.
Space Here

Is it just me, or does it seem like the world's possibilites have just expanded?

Saturday, June 19, 2004

WaPo making it obvious again (Updated: NY Times, too.) (Updated again

On the Washington Post home page today, there's a story about Clinton's memoirs, a big headline about all the mistakes the Administration has made in Iraq ("Iraq Mistakes Loom Large"), one about the terrorist leader the Saudi's killed yesterday "...After Hostage Beheaded", a story about conjoined twins in Virginia who were separated surgically, and - important stuff here! - a farewell to the cicadas of brood X who have done their thing and shuffled off.

Not one story there about the amazing news from Russian President Vladmir Putin. The leader of the former fellow superpower, the largest single country on the planet, comes out saying he personally advised our leader of Iraq planning terror attacks against us during a very critical period and the supposedly premier newspaper of the Nation's capital can't be bothered to run a headline? What, this isn't newsworthy?

Not at all. Just doesn't play well into the "Bush Lied! Bush Lied!" story they want to sell.

UPDATE: While I personally don't read the New York Times, I am aware of the Times' massive power to inform, or misinform, huge sections of the public. The fact that literally all the major television news outlets take their lead from the Times merely compounds the problem. So the editorial the Times has put out saying that the President is lying about the connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda is a particularly heinous one given that it's basis is itself a lie. I direct you to the Power Line, a blog I just heard about this evening, and their fine write-up of the issue. They do the reporting of the facts that the Times is supposed to do.

UPDATE: I finally found where the WaPo put the story - on Saturday, it was on page A11. A story of this magnitude and they bury it. Good work, boys.

Putin told US Saddam was planning attacks

After yesterday's release of the 9/11 Commission report, I've been hearing and seeing a lot of folks ranging from satisfied to downright smug pointing to that 1 conclusion in the report that the Commission had found "no credible evidence" of collaboration between Al Qaeda and Saddam with regard to the attacks on 9/11. At first I was planning on simply letting it pass, since the record is quite clear that the Administration never once said there was such a collaboration. In fact, President Bush said quite specifically that he had no evidence of a link between the 9/11 attacks and Iraq. So the point is really a non-argument since the concept that Saddam was somehow responsible for 9/11 was never advanced by the Administration. Ever.

What was claimed was that Saddam and his government were supporting terrorist organizations and were, themselves, a threat to the US. Note the distinction, please. Not that Saddam was responsible for 9/11, but that he was supportive of terrorist organizations and was planning threatening actions on his own. That was a reason cited as justification to go to war, and that was loudly decried as baseless lies by the Left. So, how about some independent 3rd-party confirmation that this was going on?

Russian President Vladmir Putin good enough?

As is being reported all over the place, Putin has stated publicly that his Special Services people became aware of plans made by Saddam's government to launch terror attacks against the US. They told the Bush Administration of this information between 9/11 and the start of the Iraq war. While the actions in Afghanistan were progressing, the President was doing his job: looking to the future and making the best decisions he could with the information available as to how to best guarantee America's security. With this information on his desk, the decision to attack Iraq becomes much less the scatter-brained deal many on the Left seek to paint it as.

All of this assumes Putin's not lying, of course. So let's examine that. Why would he lie? He was one of the big 3 staunch opponents to the war. Russia had millions in trade going with Saddam's government and promises of lots more. Let's not forget, shall we, that Russia and Russian companies were high on that list of groups receiving big gifts of oil from Saddam. (A story our media has woefully undercovered. It makes Bush's opponents look bad, after all.) Russia was basically sidelined as an effective force in the world events over the last year or so as a result and the relationship between he and President Bush soured significantly as a result of Russia's stance in the UN. (Recall that President Bush spoke very warmly about Putin just after taking office.) There's just no motive for Putin to lie publicly like this when it does nothing but bolster the case in favor of attacking Iraq. It sure doesn't help him any and it makes his previous resistance - along with that of France and Germany - seem even less reasonable. I can't imagine what such a lie would gain him.

State-sponsored terrorism - and that's what Saddam's plans, as reported by Putin, amount to - is exactly the kind of threat President Bush spoke of when he said he was going to go after the terrorists wherever they were. It is also a recognized act of war and the concept of self-defense most certainly allows a preemptive attack against a foreign power engaged in such planning. Had we known the Japanese were planning to bomb Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 (and been able to launch such an attack), we would certainly have been within our rights to attack that force while it was in preparations in port. We would not have had to wait until that morning and then tried to fend off the attack. Iraq is no different excepting only the method of the attack. They were planning an attack, we found out about it, we moved to defend ourselves.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Muslim Challenge to the Islamist State of Mind

Worth a read, definitely. Tashbih Sayyed is the editor-in-chief of Muslim World Today and Pakistan Today, California-based weekly newspapers, president of Council for Democracy and Tolerance and adjunct fellow of Hudson Institute.

Space HereI am convinced that the only way to save the Muslims from being permanently consigned to the dustbin of history is to destroy the basis of anti-Semitism from the Muslim traditions and liturgy. And this can only be done by exposing the Islamist agenda. Muslims have to be informed of the real reasons of anti-Semitism by creating an alternative source of information and education from within the Muslim community. Only a Muslim challenge to the dark ideology of Islamism can undo the damage done to the Muslim mind.Space Here

I tend to agree. Once a real, open dialog is established - in two directions - then it becomes less a case where only a Muslim can do the job. Until then, however, I think he's onto something. In any case, you should definitely read the whole thing.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

It's called "Shot Down" for a reason...

The 9/11 Commission is reviewing the response to the 9/11 attacks by the military and other agencies today. Already key in several media accounts is the fact that the pilots of the intercepting fighters that day didn't get the go-ahead to shoot down the civilian aircraft until after Flight 93 had already crashed in Pennsylvania. While the impact of Flight 11 on the north tower of the World Trade Center was, for all practical purposes, unstoppable, there's going to be some serious focus on Flight 77, which impacted the Pentagon. It did so 30 minutes after Flight 11's strike. The 9/11 Commissions' questioning appears to be implying that the military did not respond in a timely fashion and that if they had, Flight 77 might have been intercepted.

Have a look at the terrain Flight 77 flew over to get to the Pentagon.

If you've looked at the picture, that interesting looking figure at the left is Dulles International Airport. (You can see the major runways running parallel to each other. There's a 3rd runway extending off up and to the left. The terminal is between the 2 major runways.) The Pentagon is actually just off the right side of the image (sorry, it's too small to be noted if the image is widened enough to see both.) Feel free to look closely at what is between those points. That's right: lots and lots of homes, businesses, and people. The towns of Sterling, Reston, Herndon, Tyson's Corner, Falls Church, Alexandria and Arlington are all in there. If there's enough room anywhere in there for a plane to land normally, I don't know where it is, and I live out here.

So imagine some F-15 or F-16 putting an AIM-120 up the tailpipe of a Boeing 767 loaded with literally tons of aviation fuel. Just where do you think that's going to go? That's right - down. And likely down in a big spray of debris. Pilots know this and their training is such that they will avoid taking out a target over a civilian population if there's any way to avoid it. That little thought process doesn't stop in the cockpit, either. It goes right up the chain of command. All those people making that same calculation takes time. And when the order comes down, that also takes time. More than enough to allow those terrorists to do their evil work.

I hope the Commission is truly interested in finding the facts and less about assigning blame. Their mandate should be less about pointing the finger and more about giving us something serious to prepare with.

Asymmetic War, Asymmetric Reporting

Deborah Orin is the Washington Bureau chief for the New York Post. She wrote a great op-ed piece regarding the unbalanced reporting going on about Iraq, with some special regard to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. She articulates well on some of the reasons why, as well.

Space HereJune 16, 2004 -- THE video only lasts four minutes or so — grue some scenes of torture from the days when Saddam Hussein's thugs ruled Abu Ghraib prison. I couldn't bear to watch, so I walked out until it was over.

Some who stayed wished they hadn't. They told of savage scenes of decapitation, fingers chopped off one by one, tongues hacked out with a razor blade — all while victims shriek in pain and the thugs chant Saddam's praises.

Saddam's henchmen took the videos as newsreels to document their deeds in honor of their leader.

But these awful images didn't show up on American TV news.

In fact, just four or five reporters showed up for the screening at the American Enterprise Institute think tank, which says it got the video via the Pentagon. Fewer wrote about it.

No surprise, since no newscast would air the videos of Nick Berg and Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl getting decapitated, or of U.S. contractors in Fallujah getting torn limb from limb by al Qaeda operatives.

But every TV network has endlessly shown photos of the humiliation of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. troops at Abu Ghraib. Why?

"Because most [journalists] want Bush to lose," says AEI scholar Michael Ledeen, who helped host the screening of the Saddam video.
Terrorism is sometimes called asymmetric warfare — America had to adjust to new tactics to deal with small bands of terrorists who were able to turn our airplanes into weapons against us. Now it turns out that we also face asymmetric propaganda — where the terrorists gain a p.r. advantage precisely because what they do is so horrific that our media aren't able to deal with it.
Space Here

Excellent point. She mentions that neither the Pentagon nor the media themselves have figured out a way around the issue but that they must find a way. Harping on the actions of a few idiot soldiers and some careless commanding officers simply because you can show those pictures, but refusing to even speak of, let alone show, the actions of Saddam's minions is simply unjustifiable for an industry allegedly committed to bringing us the facts. Again, from the article:

Space Here AEI spokeswoman Veronique Rodman, puzzled by the minimal interest in the Saddam torture video, is sure that if it was a video of equally horrific torture committed by U.S. troops, the press would find ways to show or report it.

Reporters have to face up to the fact that right now, if we highlight the wrongs that Americans commit but not — out of squeamishness — the far worse horrors committed by others, we become propaganda tools for the other side.

This isn't to argue in any way against reporting the Abu Ghraib scandal. But reporters have to face up to the problems — and find ways to achieve a more balanced account.
Space Here

It's precisely this kind of activity - becoming the (possibly) unwitting propaganda machine of the enemy - that allows comment's like Sen. Kennedy's totally unsupportable charge that the prison had merely re-opened under new U.S. management. Because the American public is only peripherally aware of the attrocities that went on at Abu Ghraib before we even got there, Sen. Kennedy's viewpoint is given more credence and weight than it deserves. As Ms. Orin says, the press needs to face up to the consequences of their unbalanced reporting and do something about it.

Brought to you by the search for balance the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy &trade

Monday, June 14, 2004

Say wha-, huh?

Oooookay, I'm clearly not getting the point. As reported on CNN:

Space HereWASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush praised his predecessor's "energy and joy" Monday as the official portraits of former President Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton were unveiled in a lighthearted ceremony at the White House.

The Clintons received a standing ovation from guests in the East Room of the executive mansion before the paintings by artist Simmie Knox were revealed.

"President Clinton and Sen. Clinton, welcome home," Bush said.

Clinton said it was a great honor for him, his wife -- now a U.S. senator from New York -- and their family to return to "this wonderful place we called home for eight years."

Bush's introduction, he said, "made me feel like a pickle stepping into history."
Space Here

I'm afraid I just don't get the reference, here.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

The Liberal Bias hits the Sunday Funnies

This morning's perusal of the Washington Post is being cut short by our efforts to put our house on the market. We're having an open house today and I don't have the time to really read the paper as I usually do. Still, there's time for the highlights: the front page (the whole section, really), some highlights from the business section, Parade magazine, the Washingtonian magazine, and - of course - the comics. I absolutely love Zits by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman. Toss in Pickles by Brian Crane, too. I read many of the rest, too and one that caught my eye this morning was Non Sequitur by Wiley. (Sorry, can't tell you if that's the first or last name.) The comic this morning features Wiley's attempt at being clever through acid sarcasm in the form of a "superhero" called "Obvious Man." Seems this guy charges into action whenever someone seems to be "buying" a conservative viewpoint and trots out the latest left-wing claptrap about it - which usually amounts to little more than an ad hominem attack on the conservatives who espouse the idea - and leaves the reader with the impression that his spew is a "no duh" moment. Anyone who doesn't agree with him by the end of his little sermon is clearly a moron.

This morning's serving of "if you're a conservative, you're likely too stupid to read anyway" deals with Sean Hannity's new book Deliver Us from Evil. OK, primary caveat here, and listen well to this one: I have not yet read this book. That means I haven't read it. At all. Reviews, yes - book, no. I am completely confident, however, that Mr. Hannity did not say in the book that he felt we should repeal womens' voting rights, re-engage the slave trade, remove the rights of workers to unionize, nor repeal all federal environmental protections. He most certainly did not say we needed to revoke the Constitution of the United States. Yeah, I haven't read it, but I'm so completely sure he didn't write any of those things as a serious proposal in that book that I'll lay $100 on it. Oh, but if you read the strip from Mr. (Ms.?) Wiley, you'll certainly be left with the impression he did. And here's the fun part: the character is asked point blank whether Mr. Hannity actually said any of those things. Obviousman merely comes back with a smug "Want me to read you the title again?"

Yes, Mr. Obviousman, I do. I want you to pick up that book that your author probably didn't even read all the way through and read me that title again, word for word. Where in "Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism" do you pull out Mr. Hannity's voice saying "Well, she-UUUUUTE, boy! What these here YOOO-ited States of MURICA needs is to get us that big ole, honkin' SLAVE TRADE running 'gin. And git those wimmen outta that there votin' booth while your'n at it. Tell 'em to git their cute little bee-hinds back in to the kitchen where they's BELONG!" But no, Mr. Wiley will just sit there and put on that "I'm so superior" smile on his face while he just says "Want me to read you the title again?", the - (ahem) - obvious implication being that any book with that kind of title clearly is suggesting all of that.


Of course, a real discussion about the issues Mr. Hannity is bringing up in his book is something the Left simply can't bear. Mr. Wiley's cartoon is some full-color proof that they've become the other side of the coin they seek to cast conservatives as: unyielding, narrow-minded idealogues immediately dismissing in as coarse a language as they think they can get away with anyone with the temerity to think differently than they do. It's on the nightly news, it's in the entertainment TV, it's in the print media. And now, it's in the comics, too. Such progress.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

The Republican Majority for Choice

If that sounds like a misnomer, then you've been duped by the very vocal minority who have hijacked the Republican Party over the past several years. Hardly surprising - and in no way your fault - since there's been literally millions spent and thousands involved in keeping the myth alive and well.

What brought this to my attention was a memo sent to me from the (newly renamed) Republican Majority for Choice. In a survey completed by the research firm American Viewpoint, it has been revealed that 73% of Republicans support a woman's right to choose, contrary to what you're hearing almost daily in the news. The survey was conducted in May 2004 and asked 1,006 American adults for their opinions on the matter. Read the story over at Republican Majority for Choice for further details.

So why are you just hearing this now? Think about it - who benefits by telling you this? Certainly not the anti-choice, ultra-right factions who are responsible for the "Republican=Outlaw abortion" message. And equally not the Democratic Party, who has been the direct beneficiary of the stream of Republicans who have left the Party in disgust at what it's become. Opponents of other Republican viewpoints have had no reason at all to correct the myth since it's not only "not their fight", but it also makes for a convenient method to villify Republicans in general and make all of their viewpoints easier to attack.

I am trying to get some of the raw results, if I can, to post here. At the very least, I'd like a bit more information about how the survey was conducted. After all, I don't want to accept this at face value simply because I like what I hear. But like it I do, and I find a lot to hope for in this news.

UPDATE: Well, the news has certainly had an effect on the RMC. When I sent them an e-mail to get some details for the survey, it got bounced from their provider (Earthlink) because of a "quota violation" on their e-mail account. Something tells me their message has generated a lot of interest! More as I get it....

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The NBC interview with the President. See what NBC didn't want you to see.

I found a link on Oh, That Liberal Media to the blog of the New England Republican. He watched the NBC/Browkaw interview of President Bush and notes that NBC made some rather telling edits when they aired it. Definitely worth a read if you're interested in the whole interview.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Student to sue University for not catching his cheating fast enough

Yeah, even writing that headline felt weird. It is, however, true. Student Michael Gunn at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England, is a plagiarist. For 3 years he's completed his assignments in various classes by searching the Web and downloading content which he then turned in as his original work. The University has recently begun using a program designed to spot such activity and when it raised a flag on Gunn's work, they checked. They confirmed he was plagiarizing the stuff and advised him that he was receiving no grades for his coursework.

Seems he thinks they should have caught him sooner and wants to sue the school for damages.

Yes, that's right. He knew that he was plagiarizing material but he's the victim. He's bent out of shape because the school managed to catch him cheating the day before his final exams. So close, Mr. Gunn, so close. Another week and you might have been out of there. However, need we point out that had Mr. Gunn actually done the assignments himself, this would not be an issue? That there is no accepted deadline to call a cheating liar a cheating liar?

There are exceptions to every rule and justifications to break laws. I cannot accept that an individual can be the wronged party when the damage done to him is inflicted as a result of catching him in the act. Had he not been breaking the rule, the rule would never have risen up to bite him. Go ahead and let him sue, however, just make sure that he's liable for the bills when he loses the case.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Honoring the WWII vets properly...

In the WSJ (6/4/2004), David Gelernter has relevant advice on how to teach children about World War II:

Space HereIf we cared about that war, the men who won it and the ideas it suggests, we would teach our children (at least) four topics:

• The major battles of the war. When I was a child in the 1960s, names like Corregidor and Iwo Jima were still sacred, and pronounced everywhere with respect. Writing in the 1960s about the battle of Midway, Samuel Eliot Morison stepped out of character to plead with his readers: "Threescore young aviators . . . met flaming death that day in reversing the verdict of battle. Think of them, reader, every Fourth of June. They and their comrades who survived changed the whole course of the Pacific War." Today the Battle of Midway has become niche-market nostalgia material, and most children (and many adults) have never heard of it. Thus we honor "the greatest generation." ...

• The bestiality of the Japanese. The Japanese army saw captive soldiers as cowards, lower than lice. If we forget this we dishonor the thousands who were tortured and murdered, and put ourselves in danger of believing the soul-corroding lie that all cultures are equally bad or good. Some Americans nowadays seem to think America's behavior during the war was worse than Japan's--we did intern many loyal Americans of Japanese descent. That was unforgivable--and unspeakably trivial compared to Japan's unique achievement, mass murder one atrocity at a time....

• The attitude of American intellectuals. Before Pearl Harbor but long after the character of Hitlerism was clear--after the Nuremberg laws, the Kristallnacht pogrom, the establishment of Dachau and the Gestapo--American intellectuals tended to be dead set against the U.S. joining Britain's war on Hitler.

Today's students learn (sometimes) about right-wing isolationists like Charles Lindbergh and the America Firsters. They are less likely to read documents like this, which appeared in Partisan Review (the U.S. intelligentsia's No. 1 favorite mag) in fall 1939, signed by John Dewey, William Carlos Williams, Meyer Schapiro and many more of the era's leading lights. "The last war showed only too clearly that we can have no faith in imperialist crusades to bring freedom to any people. Our entry into the war, under the slogan of 'Stop Hitler!' would actually result in the immediate introduction of totalitarianism over here. . . . The American masses can best help [the German people] by fighting at home to keep their own liberties." The intelligentsia acted on its convictions. "By one means or another," Diana Trilling later wrote of this period, "most of the intellectuals of our acquaintance evaded the draft."

Why rake up these Profiles in Disgrace? Because in the Iraq War era they have a painfully familiar ring.

• The veterans' neglected voice. World War II produced an extraordinary literature of first-person soldier narratives--most of them out of print or unknown. Books like George MacDonald Fraser's "Quartered Safe Out Here," Philip Ardery's "Bomber Pilot," James Fahey's "Pacific War Diary." If we were serious about commemorating the war, we would do something serious. The Library of America includes two volumes on "Reporting World War II," but where are the soldiers' memoirs versus the reporters'? If we were serious, we would have every grade school in the nation introduce itself to local veterans and invite them over. We'd use software to record these informal talks and weave them into a National Second World War Narrative in cyberspace. That would be a monument worth having.
Space Here

I was brought to the article by a discussion of the curriculum at public schools any more and how they have turned history into a synonym for social history. Home schooling for my little girl is looking better every moment.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Former President Ronald Reagan dies at 93
Half Staff

Ronald Reagan has died at his home today, after a long battle with Alzheimer's. The reports say at least 2 of his children were with him, with a 3rd possibly there or still enroute. My sympathies to President Reagan's family and friends. Rest in Peace, sir.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Cassini-Huygens nearing Saturn

Saturn from Cassini

The Cassini-Huygens probe is on final approach to its rendezvous with Saturn at the end of this month. Next week, it's scheduled to pass by one of Saturn's moons, Phoebe. Read about the approach here and about the mission in detail here.

"Oil-for-Food" scandal investigation not fast enough, say Iraqis

Seems the mood in Iraq (from the locals, that is) is that the investigation into the blatant graft and rampant fraud that was the UN's "Oil for Food" program isn't moving fast enough. I'm with them on this one. It's amazing how our vaunted media has managed to drag out the abuse of prisoners into nearly 8 weeks of outraged stories but has managed to forget all about probably the largest scam of our time. This story from Fox News is the 1st I've heard about it since the publishing of that lovely list of names by an Iraqi newspaper back in February. The list showed a very interesting collection of people who were benefitting quite nicely from gifts of oil from then-dictator Saddam Hussein. Lots of French officials, lots of Russian officials, the UN administrator of the project, etc. Now if that list had contained Dick Cheney's name, we'd have been hearing about this 24x7.

What's the holdup?

Private spacecraft set to launch

SpaceShipOne, carried aloft by the White Knight launch aircraft, will make an attempt at the X-Prize on June 21. The ship is a project by Scaled Composites under the direction of Burt Rutan to answer the challenge of the Ansari X-Prize which will award $10 million USD to the team that puts a privately funded ship into space.

The team has already completed a record-breaking test flight where SpaceShipOne reached 40 miles. The June 21 flight will attempt a suborbital space flight to an altitude of 62 miles.

Which part of "cease fire" are they not getting?

CNN reports that the US military is, once again, fighting with Al-Sadr's militia in Sadr City. This after the cleric once again agreed to a cease fire. I understand the need to play things carefully but I worry that letting them continuously break agreed-upon cease fires without really coming down hard on them - and I mean big-time hard - is giving them the idea that we're not ready to get the job done. Of course, the military may be doing exactly that, and effectively too, and I'm just not seeing stories on it. Wouldn't be the 1st time.