Sean's Blog

A Guide To Online
Opinion And Current Events

Saturday, February 22, 2003

The Opinion Journal has a couple of funny tidbits today:

"The Associated Press reports from Montpelier, Vt., that some bookstores are purging their sales records lest the government use them to combat terrorism. "The Patriot Act approved after the 2001 terrorist attacks allows government agents to seek court orders to seize records 'for an investigation to protect against international terrorism,' " but some booksellers apparently think their customers' privacy is more important than the lives of terror victims. The AP quotes one customer:

Peggy Bresee was in Bear Pond Books recently to buy War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy as birthday gifts for a son who lives in Utah. She had the store purge the purchase records.

"It really does make me feel so much better," she said. "They're protecting those of us who are readers. It matters."

In case any FBI agents are reading this, that's B-R-E-S-E-E, and Bear Pond Books is at 77 Main Street in Montpelier."

This one's the best:

"Marc LaCloche was behind bars for first-degree robbery at New York's Clinton Correctional Facility (note: many potential jokes there) and he decided to take advantage of the prison's vocational-training program to learn a trade. The New York Post reports LaCloche "spent 1,200 hours in prison learning to cut hair." When he got out, he applied for a barber's license, which the state denied because he has a felony record."

Human shields are deploying around Baghdad. These people are willing to die for Saddam Hussein. Wow.

Friday, February 21, 2003

God Bless Google. I wanted to prove that I had said something very similar to what Jonah Goldberg says in his latest piece, but since Blogger is having some "issues" I didn't think I would be able to link to my piece. It's no masterpiece, but here's my piece (thanks to Google) from January 1, 2003. Here's a sample of what I said:

"The Democrats will not have a counter point to Rush Limbaugh and others until fundamental changes take place within their party. In many cases they are prevented from honestly discussing the issues because to do so would create a devastating rift within their party. I don't see anyway out for Democrats. They can't logically and reasonably address many issues."

Admittedly Goldberg says it much better than I ever could. Here's Goldberg on why Democrats will continue to have trouble countering conservative voices on TV and radio:

"But the problem for liberals is that they are terrified of offending anybody in their own massive Coalition of the Oppressed. That pretty much leaves white Christian men, rich non-liberals, and maybe a handful of right-wing Jews and conservative women. And, I'm sorry Al, there's just not enough material there to be entertaining. Liberals have been feeding off of Whitey for so long they can see their reflections in the bones, they're so picked-clean. If Franken thinks that there are millions of people who want to listen to the same tired and lame laments about white folks every day for three hours, he's nuts."

Goldberg's point is direct. I never really said what he said, but I was hitting all around it. I get some credit for being in the ballpark don't I?

I saw John Podhoretz on The O'Reilly Factor tonight and decided to read his op-ed in The New York Post. It's a piece about the arrest of Sami Al-Arian, the University of South Florida professor who was featured on O'Reilly just after the September 11th attacks.

Podhoretz gives Al-Arian's defenders hell:

"The Times' Nicholas Kristof fell for Al-Arian's line of malarkey as though he were one of the dopey girls on "Joe Millionaire." Kristof's ludicrous column of March 1, 2002, describes "Professor Al-Arian" as "a rumpled academic with a salt-and-pepper beard who is harshly critical of Israel (and also of repressive Arab countries) - but who also denounces terrorism, promotes inter-faith services with Jews and Christians, and led students at his Islamic school to a memorial service after 9/11 where they all sang 'God Bless America.' "

"Eric Boehlert of expressed outrage that the Fox News Channel had taken out after Al-Arian. He described Al-Arian as an "innocent professor" and added that 'media giants, eagerly tapping into the country's mood of vengeance and fear, latched onto the Al-Arian story, fudging the facts and ignoring the most rudimentary tenets of journalism in their haste to better tell a sinister story about lurking Middle Eastern dangers here at home.'"

Good for Podhoretz. The indictment is pretty explicit and Al-Arian will have a tough time beating the charge.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

I know this is not the sort of thing I usually blog about, but I have something stuck in my craw. It's a personal issue and maybe venting here will make me feel better. Or maybe not. Anyway.

A woman I work with has poisoned our working relationship. Here's my version.

Today my boss came to me and told me that he had gotten a message that I was not filling out my paperwork. Since I am learning a new job, it seemed possible that I had forgotten something. I mean we have so much paperwork to do that it would be easy to forget something. So I asked if there was something specific that I needed to be aware of and he said no that he had simply gotten a message that said I was not filling out my paperwork. I was a little confused because the way he made it sound, I was being accused of not filling out ANY of my paperwork. Eventually, a co-worker and I figured out what I had forgotten to do and we figured out who had left the message that I was not filling out my paperwork.

I thought that there had been a misunderstanding. I thought that maybe my boss had misunderstood the message. No. Later this afternoon the person who had complained to the boss came to me and said, "You are not filling out your paperwork." Again, there was the accusation that I was totally ignoring all the paperwork that we are required to do. She did not say, "You forgot to fill out one thing." She said, "You are not filling out your paperwork."

I have worked with this woman for more than a year. I thought we were friends enough so that she could come to me and tell me that I had forgotten one thing in the blizzard of paperwork that we have to deal with on a daily basis. I would have thought that she would been kind enough, understanding enough, decent enough to cut me some slack since I am training. Apparently not. Why did she do this? I think it's because she is angry because I said her job is easy. I didn't say that to be mean. I told another co-worker who was anxious about having to learn this same job. Apparently I wasn't sufficiently respectful of how hard her job is.

My boss is a really good guy and I like him. He wasn't upset with me and we quickly put the matter behind us. But now if he has to come to me again because of something I forgot, well, now I am becoming a problem. This woman set off alarms unnecessarily. She involved our boss when his involvement was not needed. We could have sorted this out easily enough without him, but I pissed her off. Now we will always have this between us because I would be a fool to forget about this incident. Who knows what will set her off next time.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Wow. A Mexico state (would that be Mexico, Mexico?) referendum reveals that 85.4% of the respondents favored capital punishment for certain crimes. Only 800,000 of eight million eligible voters actually took part, but the large percentage of support for the death penalty is still surprising. President Vicente Fox condemned the result.

Speaking of the death penalty. This reminds me of public opinion in Europe. Many people in Europe actually believe in the death penalty:

"In fact, opinion polls show that Europeans and Canadians crave executions almost as much as their American counterparts do. It's just that their politicians don't listen to them. In other words, if these countries' political cultures are morally superior to America's, it's because they're less democratic."

"But public support for the death penalty runs only slightly lower in Canada than in the United States: polls consistently show that between 60 percent and 70 percent of Canadians want it reinstated."

"In Britain, the world headquarters of Amnesty International, opinion polls have shown that between two-thirds and three-quarters of the population favors the death penalty--about the same as in the United States. In Italy, which has led the international fight against capital punishment for much of the last decade, roughly half the population wants it reinstated. In France, clear majorities continued to back the death penalty long after it was abolished in 1981; only last year did a poll finally show that less than 50 percent wanted it restored. There is barely a country in Europe where the death penalty was abolished in response to public opinion rather than in spite of it."

"Referring to France, a recent article in the UNESCO Courier noted that "action by courageous political leaders has been needed to overcome local public opinion that has remained mostly in favour of the death penalty." When a 1997 poll showed that 49 percent of Swedes wanted the death penalty reinstated, the country's justice minister told a reporter: 'They don't really want the death penalty; they are objecting to the increasing violence. I see this as a call to politicians and the justice system to do more.'"

I was always lead to believe that Europe was 100% opposed to the death penalty; as if it were outrageous to belief that ANY European would EVER favor the death penalty. I see that is just not true. It's clear which Europeans are opposed to the death penalty: intellectuals.

Sadly, the same thing happens here. Most Americans want the borders defended and illegal immigration stopped, but since our intellectuals are opposed to it nothing will change.

I am so tired of hearing about the coming war with Iraq. It's time to get on with it.

With that said, though, I am glad in one way that it is taking so long. People are still taking sides and every day a new leftist (or Pat Buchanan right winger) steps forward to profess his opposition to the war against Iraq. I am making a mental list. I will not forget who has chosen to support Saddam Hussein. Yea, I know. They would never admit that they are supporting Saddam Hussein, but that IS the choice they have made. Whether the protesters admit it not, they are directly abetting Saddam Hussein. Saddam even featured this past weekend's world wide protests on Iraqi television which proclaimed, "anti-war demonstrations in dozens of countries signaled an Iraqi victory and 'the defeat and isolation of America'...."

I can't wait to rub their smug, morally vacuous noses in it. I have all the most prominent Hollywood stars who opposed the war on permanent speed memory so I can remind them, each and every time they stick their heads out of their holes after all is said and done, of how wrong they were. I will take special pleasure from it in fact. I can't wait for the smiling faces of the Iraqi people to be featured on CNN or Fox News so those who opposed their liberation from that evil man can see for themselves the joy and freedom they argued so feverishly against.

I can't wait! Some people like Woody Harrelson and Sean Penn deserve to have their faces rubbed in it. Barbra Streisand needs to be reminded how she put her politics ahead of America's safety and security. Nelson Mandela deserves to be horse laughed at for his stupid anti-Americanism. France, the whole country, deserves to be ridiculed for the rest of century. Germans deserve contemptuous disgust and derision. But my main targets will be the rich and famous such as Oliver Stone, Martin Scorsese, and Janeane Garofalo. No doubt these people will be hid under a rock until the dust settles, but I will remember. I will remember and when they stick their heads up to rehabilitate their careers I'll remind them of just how opposed they were to American security and Iraqi liberation. I'll remind them that they supported Saddam Hussein. I can't wait.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

A friend sent me something very interesting in an email. It's about the post-World War I weapons inspections of Germany:

"Keep this in mind the next time the French say Inspections Can Work:

On 11/11/1918 the French, British and Americans defeated Germany to end WW1. The signing of the Treaty of Versailles allowed the French to conduct inspection in Germany to insure they would never again re-arm themselves for war.
From 1918 to 1936 the French conducted full inspections on Hitler's Germany.
They found nothing.
They failed to find guns, cannons, tanks, ammo, warplanes or battleships.
They thought they were safe until 1936 when the Nazi's supplied the Fascist side in the Spanish civil war.
Then the French realized, too late, that Germany had fooled them and hid their weapons from the French inspectors.
From 1936 to 1939 the chose to appease Germany and along with England's Chamberlain secured a piece of paper saying Hitler wouldn't go to war.
They had achieved.....'peace in our time'.

In 1940 Germany invaded France and in 3 weeks ended the French Republic.

It wasn't until 1944 that the United States, and her Allies, freed France from the Nazis.

Think about it..."

Why I haven't heard anyone make this very argument to show the historical record of weapons inspections is beyond me? What's particularly stunning is that France is making the case for weapons inspectors in Iraq considering their own experience with weapons inspections. The French, more than any other country, should know better.

I did some nosing around and found a couple of articles that people might find interesting. The first is a devastating piece by George Will titled, "The Inspections of WWI":

"In 1919, Andre Tardieu, a French diplomat charged with implementing the inspections, had written to Colonel House, President Woodrow Wilson's adviser, anticipating reactions to whatever the inspectors reported. He said the ``pacifist element'' in many nations would ``be quite naturally inclined to deny reports disturbing to their peace of mind.'' So they would ``more or less consciously espouse the cause of the German government, which will deny the said reports.'' He added:

``Germany will deny. The governments will discuss. Public opinion will be divided, alarmed, nervous, and finally, the League unarmed will have brought to pass in the world not general peace but general uncertainty ...''

Wow. This is almost exactly what is happening now.

I found another piece on Iraq and the weapons inspections dated June 11, 2000. This article was featured in the Los Angeles Times and it was written by Charles Duelfer. The article is titled, "How Baghdad Divided The Conquerors."

Here's an excerpt from the piece:

"We have been here before. After World War I, the Allied powers dictated strict disarmament and monitoring obligations to Germany in the Versailles Treaty of 1919. An international organization called the Inter-Allied Control Commission was created to implement those provisions. Inspectors were sent to Germany to verify compliance with weapons, manufacturing and manpower limitations. They endeavored to obtain accurate declarations from Germany of postwar inventories and supervise required destruction activities.

The German military and, in particular, the elite officer corps, dealt with the Control Commission. Masterminded by the clever and driven Gen. Hans Von Seeekt, the inspectors' efforts were frustrated through deception and concealment systems, to preserve prohibited weapons and production. The Germans conducted weapons development abroad and illegally sustained a trained officer and troop base to rapidly expand its army once Allied attention waned.

The German government argued that the inspectors were too demanding and acted as spies. They pleaded that the requirements to demobilize contributed to unemployment and caused the suffering of innocent civilians. They argued that the destruction of many weapons factories was unnecessarily severe, since they could produce civilian products. The German Army created "army peace commissions," nominally instructed to help the work of the Control Commission, but, in fact, set up to provide surveillance of the inspectors and warn of upcoming inspections. UNSCOM experienced all the above.

As Germany resisted disarmament inspections, disputes among the Allies grew over German compliance and the need for enforcement. German obstruction was countered forcefully--once with an Allied ultimatum, in May 1921, which threatened occupation of the Ruhr if Germany did not provide improved cooperation. Temporarily, Germany improved.

But disputes continued among the Allies, with France assuming the more forceful position. Paris argued that enforcement was necessary and even sought to occupy key cities unilaterally. Britain was more anxious for a political solution, to be free of the problem so it could focus on other issues.

Thus, Germany successfully divided the Allies. The senior British member of the Control Commission, Brig. Gen. John Morgan, wrote that the German officer corps wore the commission down, "'by a policy of continuous evasion of our demands until British ministers . . . would turn a deaf ear to all our reports, convinced that either Germany was disarmed or, if she was not, never could be."

Damn. The left is even despicable than I thought.

Monday, February 17, 2003

Thomas Friedman in The New York Times explains why China should care more about events in Iraq:

"China has to think clearly. If there is just one more 9/11, or if North Korea lobs just one missile our way, it will lead to the end of the open society in America, as we know it, and also constrict globalization. Because we will tighten our borders, triple-check every ship that comes into port and restrict civil liberties as never before, and this will slow the whole global economy.

Now the last time I checked, China had decided to base its growth on manufacturing for the global market and in particular for the U.S. market, where you now send 40 percent of your exports — 40 percent! — and where you just racked up a $100 billion trade surplus. One more 9/11 and your growth strategy will be in real trouble (unless you plan on only exporting duct tape), which means the Chinese leadership will be in real trouble."

That makes sense to me, but I can't help but feel that China would align themselves with France instead of the U.N. or the U.S. France is screwing themselves and I think China would do the same thing just to stick it to the U.S. So maybe it's not such a bad thing that China feels that "they don't have a dog in this fight."

I have been too sick the past few days to do much reading. I have been on a mostly NyQuil diet which, for anyone who has never used it, is the greatest cold medicine ever mostly because it allows you to sleep right through the sickness. I don't know what I would do without it.

I woke up this morning to call into work, but I found out that the ice storm (?) had created a situation where I didn't actually have to call in. I was thankful, but if I was well enough I would have gone to work.

I feel the medicine kicking in again so I am thinking I will go back to bed shortly to sleep for a few more hours. But first I want to do some reading and perhaps post something besides this.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Tony Blair is a great leader. Blair doesn't enjoy the same support for war against Iraq that President Bush has yet he continues to stongly support disarming Iraq. Blair's position flies directly in the face of public opinion in the U.K. even though that may be changing.

History will favorably compare Tony Blair with the likes of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher because of his foreign policy.

Via Instapundit. Here's yet another link (scroll down to "Post-U.N. Sanctions Development Plans") that details the flurry of contracts the Iraqi's have signed with France, Russia, and China in the past few weeks and months:

"As of October 2002, Iraq reportedly had signed several multi-billion dollar deals with foreign oil companies mainly from China, France, and Russia. Deutsche Bank estimates $38 billion total on new fields -- "greenfield" development -- with potential production capacity of 4.7 million bbl/d if all the deals come to fruition (which Deutsche Bank believes is highly unlikely). Iraq reportedly has become increasingly frustrated at the failure of these companies actually to begin work on the ground, and has threatened to no longer sign deals unless firms agreed to do so without delay. Iraqi upstream oil contracts generally require that companies start work immediately, but U.N. sanctions overwhelmingly have dissuaded companies from doing so. Following the lifting of U.N. sanctions, Iraq hopes to increase its oil production capacity to over 6 million bbl/d or higher.

In recent weeks and months, Iraq reportedly has signed a flurry of deals with companies from Italy (Eni), Spain (Repsol YPF), Russia (Tatneft), France (TotalFinaElf), China, India, Turkey, and others. According to a report in The Economist, Iraq has signed over 30 deals with various oil companies, offering generous rates of return ("on the order of 20%") as part of its "Development and Production Contract" (DPC) model. Iraq introduced the DPC in 2000 to replace the previous "Production Sharing Contract" (PSC) arrangement."

France, Russia, and China are motivated to defend Saddam by the promise of lucrative post-sanction oil and weapons contracts.