Friday, September 27, 2002

Two Terrifying Predictions

Eugene Volokh has some interesting speculations on NRO today regarding Saddam Hussein and nuclear deterrence – written in Hussein’s voice and set during the first presidential term of Hillary Clinton in 2009. Normally writing a column in the voice of another person or dated in the future is an annoying exercise, but this one isn’t bad. It’s tough to tell, however, which development is most uncomfortable to contemplate; Saddam’s nuclear arsenal or a second Clinton presidency.

Office of Orwellian Imagery

As Jesse Walker pointed out in the October issue of Reason, it seems the graphic designers in the Bush administration are trying to tell us something. Case in point: the seal of the new Information Awareness Office, a part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The seal depicts a pyramid surmounted by an eye casting its glowing gaze over the entire earth. Now DARPA has done lots of great things, including creating what would eventully become the Internet, but their choice of symbols is downright creepy. See also the animated logo the U.S. Patent & Tademark Office is using to symbolize their commitment to homeland security - also featuring a disturbing eye, this time peeking throug a keyhole.


Friday, September 20, 2002

If Not Now, Then When?

The New York Post is reporting that Saddam Hussein has devised a “doomsday scenario” wherein Al Qaeda suicide bombers would detonate biological weapons in major U.S. cities in the event of a land invasion. This will of course be used as a reason why we can’t now take the risk of invading Iraq. Perhaps, but at the very least it should be acknowledged as a vindication of everyone who said that the UN weapons inspections of the last 10 years were worthless. They didn’t stop Hussein from developing and perfecting the very weapons of mass destruction with which we are now being threatened. If the U.S. lets Hussein get away with playing the UN resolution-and-stall game for another decade, it may be multiple-warhead ICBMs rather than biological dirty bombs we’re confronting.


Saturday, September 14, 2002

Notes from Underground

The UK has at last come up with a solution for the reeking problem of late night drunks and their urgent bladders. The UriLift is a toilet (raised by hydraulics and not psychokinesis, as the name might imply) that spends the day below street level but rises to duty above the sidewalk when he sun goes down. Its Dutch developer states with admirable clarity that the goal of the UriLift is to "provide a unique solution for indiscriminate urination." Such solutions are, of course, no small matter, as any number of neo-Brecthian absurdist melodramas have recently pointed out.


Monday, September 09, 2002

Primarily Political

Tomorrow’s twelve state primaries will decide the fate of several high profile candidates. Elizabeth Dole will be trying to fend off six opponents to replace Sen. Jess Helms and become the Republican Hillary Clinton, and former attorney general Janet “Butcher of Waco” Reno will be fighting Florida lawyer Bill McBride for the chance to be defeated by Jeb Bush in November. In local news, the city is faced with an unusual election as both serious candidates in the Democratic primary are running as write-ins . Current DC mayor Anthony Williams was barred from appearing on the ballot (though obviously not from running) because his campaign workers committed election fraud, while his main opponent, the Rev. Willie F. Wilson, joined the race too late to qualify for ballot status.


Saturday, September 07, 2002

Next up, an Article on the Swing Revival and Cigar Bars

As usual, the national news weeklies can be counted on never to be more than 18 months behind in reporting on a new trend. In this case, Newsweek’s version of the blog-trend story is surprisingly restrained, with only a mild whiff of official-journalist condescension: “…thoughts and experiences that range from the somewhat profound to the stultifyingly banal.” As if the same couldn’t be said of Newsweek feature stories. The story goes on, like most do, to cite A. Sullivan, Mickey K., and Jim Romenesko. The authors also go on to quote Rebecca Blood, however, a decision I question, especially after reading Siduri’s Pigdog Journal review of Ms. Blood’s The Weblog Handbook. Treacly and inane, indeed.


Friday, September 06, 2002

Penny for Your Thoughts, Millions for Your Grief

A new report on the United Way’s September 11 Fund is being issued today, detailing where the $336,000,000 that has been spent so far has gone. Despite early criticism leveled at some of the private charities, especially the Red Cross, the non-profits seem to have done an honorable job of getting help to people who have suffered. Also out this week is a Fortune magazine story on Ken Feinberg, the director of the federal government’s September 11 fund. Congress offered the families of victims federal money in exchange for not suing and bankrupting American and United airlines, and now it’s Mr. Feinberg’s job to see who gets what money. Announced payouts have so far averaged $1.36 million, which has angered some previous terrorism victims, such as survivors of those who died in the Oklahoma City bombing, who did not receive any federal compensation for their losses.


Tuesday, September 03, 2002

No Time to Go All Wobbly

Iain Duncan Smith is do doubt pleased that, as per his challenge in yesterday’s Sunday Times, Prime Minister Blair has now promised to publicy detail the evidence that Saddam Hussein is a menace to the UK. Blair seems reassuringly unfazed by Iraq’s latest offer, delivered in Johannesburg by the oleaginous Tariq Aziz, that they are willing to welcome UN weapons inspectors back into the country.


Sunday, September 01, 2002

The Winds of Justice Visit Punjab

Death penalty opponents will no doubt be conflicted, but the rest of the world should be pleasantly surprised that at least some crimes against women in Islamic countries are punished severely after all. Six men were sentenced to die early today for their part in a gang rape of Pakistani woman Mukhtiar Mai. The rape was originally sanctioned by Mai’s local tribal council, which ruled that it was just retribution for an alleged affair between Mai’s brother and a sister of one of the attackers. According to Pakistani Law Minister Khalid Ranjha, the decision as the first time in Pakistan's history that tribal jury members, as well as perpetrators, have been punished: "It is a straight message that we are very firm on these issues." Eight other jury members were acquitted.

Blair on the Spot

Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith is doing his best to point out the peril to his countrymen of leaving Saddam Hussein in power. In today’s Sunday Times he challenged Tony Blair to publicly explain the threat that he believes Iraq poses to UK, an explanation that would then assumably create a demand for an effective solution, i.e., support for a US-led invasion. Smith seems confident that the evidence of Iraq’s perfidy is strong enough that even Blair would have to admit that Hussein threatens British citizens almost as much American ones: "Anyone who believes that Iraq lacks the ability to strike or denies that this capability is growing is deliberately ignoring the evidence or willfully misconstruing it."

Propaganda. The Anti-Drug.

The claim that profits from the sale of illegal drugs in the U.S. is funding Islamic terrorism post-9/11 has struck me as little more than a dishonest PR windfall for federal drug warriors, as showcased in the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s television ads launched earlier in the year. The feds are no doubt wagging their fingers we-told-you-so style today, however, as the DEA has allegedly discovered a meth operation operating in Chicago and Detroit that was funneling profits to Hezbollah. It should be remembered as Asa Hutchinson has his day in the sun, though, that this was the first time the DEA has found any evidence of a connection between U.S. drug sales and any Middle East terror organization – several months after the government’s TV ads began presenting the link as an indisputable fact.