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Saturday, October 27, 2001
Race Based Profiling...
How Many Times Do I Need To Respond?
Chris Mooney tries to assail the notion of profiling based solely on race in his October 23 The American Perspective web feature, "Smart -- and Stupid Profiling". His argument, added to my comments on Oct. 16, supports the need for universal screening. Unfortunately, he doesn't make that conclusion. Instead, he says:

The operative principle here should be recognition that at some point, identity-based harassment -- depending of course upon its degree -- becomes thoroughly justifiable if in fact it can be shown to help save lives.

What he means by "identity-based harassment" I'm not sure. If he means that it's OK to give increased scrutiny to people who belong to "groups" other than something as broad as "racial groups", then I want to know what types of groups that Mooney's talking about. It looks to me like he's defining one of those groups as "Muslims", which opens an even larger can of worms. "Looks alone" is problematic, but trying to guess somebody's religion is even more difficult. Mooney cites some information in his article about the religious affiliations of Arabs and non-Arabs that supports my assertion. Further, there are "Aryan" type "Christians" who pose just as much danger as Muslims.

He does admit that any screening program should be judged on it's efficacy. Having some expereince with screening people (while I was in the Navy), I can gurantee that the only method which gives you actual security, rather than a feeling of security, is universal screeening. I'll continue my mantra - everybody must get screened!

What's With This Clay?
Cal Ulmann and I have had a minor disagreement over earlier comments that I made regarding the possible source of the anthrax that was sent to Sen. Daschle's office. I was relying on a Washington Post report citing an additive. I'll admit that the report was problematic:

...treated with a chemical additive so sophisticated that only three nations are thought to have been capable of making it.

As Glenn Reynolds points out, Bentonite is a clay - not really a "sophisticated additive". What both Cal and Glenn don't mention is that the process of adding Bentonite to the anthrax - making it possible to aerosolize anthrax - is sophisticated. The folks who know say that only three entities are known to have been able to do this. "It's the presence of the chemical additives" I said in an email to Cal, and I stand by that statement.

btw: That the anthrax recieved at Daschle's office was easily aerosolized means that we can discount the story about the staff member who opened the letter then "screamed and threw the envelope in the air". That would definitely have put the spores in the air, but so would simply exposing the contents to ordinary air currents in an office space.


What About Cloning?

by Anthony Adragna
We haven't heard much about the cloning debate lately, but an item that Glenn Reynolds points to got me thinking again. What's wromg with the position that Mr. Bush has taken on cloning and stem cell research?

What disturbs me is not that I doubt the "moral seriousness" of Dr. Kass' argument, on which Pres. Bush based his decision. I'm quite sure that Kass is very serious, regardless of how laughable I find his slippery slope argument. In fact, asserting the moral seriousness of an ehticist is tautological, and representative of what's wrong with Kass' argument. What troubles me is Kass' surrender to "moral intuition" and "traditional values". Kass isn't having a discussion on what ought to be ethical, he's merely defending his own ethical judgement. And the defense of Kass (especially Kristol's via his defense of Bush) is nothing more than an implication of less than seriousness on the part of anyone who disagrees. Nevermind the fact that Kass' argument is either a tautology (everything repugnant is unethical), or a non sequitor (people find Huxley's image repugnant, therefore cloning must be unethical).

Kass, and most other defenders of moral tradition, also engage in a bit of hypocrisy in their use of the "slippery slope" argument. This issue (cloning) is said to be so serious that we must consider the slippery slope - no matter how unlikely the scenarios, and regardless of effective controls. But, why don't traditionalists apply that same logic to a practice that they defend, yet the moral implications are just as grave, and the slippery slope isn't a fictitous construct. Liberals have argued that the death penalty inevitably results in actual innocents being put to death. Conservatives counter that the legal system works, as evidenced by the recent (in historical terms) release of wrongly convicted inmates. But, again the conservatives rely upon a non sequitor - that some wrongly convicted death row inmates have been released does not prove that all wrongly convicted people are never put to death. The suggestionthat we're "downslope" on the death penalty is not unreasonable, yet conservatives tend to not consider the suggestion. A serious moral discussion in a society where de facto "moral pluralism" exists requires an examination of our intutions and traditions. Kass' "moral seriousness" a la "moral absolutism" leads down a slippery slope toward the historic Inquisition, and modern day theocracy. I'm more concerned about what man has been shown to be capable of, rather than morally repugnant images borrowed from fiction.

My problem isn't with cloning per se - I fully concur that science itself is morally neutral. What we ought to be concerned about is what people do with science. My overriding concern is the notion of "proprietary rights" in the field of cloning/stem cell/genetics. An example that I've pointed to before is the stem cell patent held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).

I start with Franklin's opposition to patents on scientific discovery in general, on the basis that anything which improves the quality of life should be freely shared. However, having lost that argument (in fact, other people made money on Franklin's "stove" because he refused to patent it), we should at least take a close look at how far we want to cast the net. The reason for pantenting anything is, obviously, to protect the "inventor's" economic interest. That's why WARF sought patent protection, but why was it granted? I understand that it's allowed, and the doctrine that allows it - I'm asking a different question: ought it be allowed?

If the patent is on the process, then I have no objections. If the patent is on a stem cell or gene that has been altered so as to make it something not found in nature, then I would also have no objection to the patent (though, I will reserve a right to object to the new product). But, if the patent is on a stem cell or gene that has merely been extracted and placed in a sustaining environment, then I must object. This last scheme is no less than claiming ownership of the basic building blocks of life, and that is a scarey proposition. This is the condition that puts us on Kass slippery slope. It's why I have reservations about ESCR & "cloning" - I just want us to deal with the question of whether or not unaltered genes & undifferentiated stem cells ought to be given proprietary protections. I don't believe that they should be "property". This is the slippery slope that leads toward clones being classed as "property", and I don't trust some future Supreme Court to uphold constitutional rights for clones after the tradition has already developed. We can strike a balance between science and ethics that doesn't involve a ban on cloning, but it requires not allowing any notion of "proprietary rights" to develop into doctrine in this context, and we should start now

It seems to me that the biotech field has been given way too much protection - the line between what ought, and ought not, be protected as "proprietary" should err on the side of not granting patents on fundamental biological components. It's not so much the idea that a specific batch of stem cells or genes might be considered property - the battle against that notion is certainly lost. The issue that troubles me is the fact that the cells themselves have been patented, granting them status as an invention. I raise the issue of property in the context of IP, and try to build a case for why considering cells & genes IP now could create serious ethical concerns when we head further down the road. Mostly though, my concern is that people in opposition (like Kass) object on the grounds that the science is unethical because it leads down the path toward Huxley's fictional vision. I would like people to recognize that the real problem is "the nature of people", not "science".

Lets' Stay Away From "Evil"
Ellen Goodman's "Evil and Blowback" addresses the two extremes - Osama is "evil"; what's happenning to us is "blowback" - in a fairly rational manner. The only problem I have is with Mr. Bush's continued referrence to "the evil one", and "the evil doers". Borrowing the rhetoric of the religious isn't a wise move in this instance, especially since we're wanting to keep religion out of the conflict. The only possible value to calling bin Laden "the evil one" may be in distinguishing ordinary Muslims from extremist militants, but we ought to be able to do this without lending credence to the notion that this is a "holy war".

Friday, October 26, 2001
National Airport Back
To Normal
Not quite, but a W*USA (DC) news story says that things are moving in the right direction. It's still not enough...

What's Wrong With Slate?
I agree with Cal Ulmann and Glenn Reynolds - Slate's redesign does suck. Actually, I'm not so upset with the new look, what bothers me is the problem that I'm having in the fray (Slate's discussion forum). I was trying to respond to another poster, but I kept getting errors messages back. turns out that the system didn't like the fact that I was using apostraphes, and another poster was having problems with quotation marks. No kidding - it wouldn't take a post because I had written "I'm" instead of "I am".

What Is The JSF?
Lockheed just won the largest military contract ever to produce the Joint Strike Fighter. What's this program all about, and do we really need it? gives a good summary on their page dedicated to JSF

Postal Workers Respond
Hey, why wait for the government to tell you that you're not safe, do what these postal workers are doing. I'm behind them all the way.

Also, Florida postal workers are suing, and anthrax has been found at the Supreme Court mail facility

Why Can't I Disagree?
Charles Krauthammer has some good words of advice in
"Go to Work, And Get Your Flu Shot":

And one more thing. Get your flu shot. Now. When flu season hits, tens of thousands of Americans are going to show up in emergency rooms thinking they have anthrax. The entire health care system will grind to a halt as alarm, safety precautions, moon suits and a zillion tests clog up the system.

It takes two weeks for a flu shot to give immunity. Get yours now, and spare our country your sniffles and coughs for the rest of the winter. Last year's flu shot was an individual convenience. This year's is a civic duty.

The only part of this piece that I take exception with is that he continues the defense of failing to survey local postal facilities. This defense is premised on the fact that nobody knows how potent this stuff is, or that it could get out of sealed envelopes. The people at Fort Detrick certainly know about anthrax, and they should have been more proactive in sharing information with other agenicies. But, USAMRIID shouldn't be blamed for the inaction of other agencies - there's no excuse for the fact that facilities which were potentially exposed to anthrax weren't immediately surveyed.

What About Begin?
Ray Eckhart asks in response to my critique of Milne:

Where do you come down on Menachem Begin and the King David Hotel?

That question lets me illustrate the difference between legitimate and illegitimate acts and targets in specific, rather than the activities of a group in general. Was the bombing of the King David Hotel an act of terrorism? I say no, and for several reasons.

The key characteristics of a terrorist act are: indiscriminate targetting; no warning; the intent to cause terror in the general population. The King David Hotel was targetted because of the presence of the British military staff, which would make it a legitimate military target. Prior to the explosion Irgun (Begin's group) had made three telephone calls warning of the explosion, one of those calls was to the King David Hotel. Begin stressed his desire that the bombing in this instance not lead to civilian casualties. The target was legitimate, warning was given, and there was no intent to terrorize civilians. It's a fine line between guerilla and terrorist, but Irgun didn't cross that line in this instance. That's not to say that Irgun never engaged in terrorism, but the King David Hotel bombing isn't an example of terrorism.

Thursday, October 25, 2001
OK, Kinsley Ain't
Funny Anymore
I share the sentiment in Mike's "Bipartisanship Etiquette", but let's get real. You know the old saw about wishing in one hand and... Mike's other hand has been overworked lately.

Not That Kinda Hawk!
Left-Wing Hawks is a thouroughly delightful op-ed piece from Kuro5hin. The only bone that I would pick is the generalization of us left-liberals as anti-war - not all of us are, or ever have been. Franklin Roosevelt comes to mind... it sould also be noted that many liberals volunteered for service in Vietnam. Our problem is that the left's vocal majority is just as unrepresentative of liberals as Pat Buchanan is of conservatives - in general. BTW, all of the "good wars" were won by liberals, conservatives have tended to leave things hanging.

Update: in re The Individual Right
Glenn Reynolds and Dave Kopel deliver a "rather long analytical piece on the Emerson decision". Just so's they know, some of us liberals fully concur, as is evident in my prior remarks.


More Inane Hand Wringing

Seumas Milne's commentary in todays Guardian, "Terror and tyranny", is another example of where conventional wisdom fails to meet reality. It's been often stated that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter", and Milne falls right into line. The argument then developes - we can't fight terrorism because we can't agree on a definition. Here's the sticking point: defining terrorism simply as "political violence" would make illegitimate certain struggles which ought to be legitimate. I agree with that point, but then I don't agree that "political violence" is an adequate definition of terrorism.

What distinguishes legitmate acts of political violence from illegitmate acts of political violence? - notice that I stress acts not motivation or purpose. Methodology and targetting! No one rightly refers to Palestian protesters as "terrorists". The label doesn't even properly apply to the Palestinians who face the Israeli Army in street fights. But, the label does apply to those who blow up school buses, discos, and pizza joints. Milne has an answer to that, too - hey, they don't have any other option left. Well, an unemployed crack addict doesn't have any option to support the habit other than stealing, so should we give up on fighting street crime? (n.b. I'm a proponent of drug legalization, but that's another story) Of course not, and Milne's suggestion is just as absurd. More troubling is Milne's assertion that we would balk at labeling thr ANC and FLN as terrorist organizations - utter nonsense. The Algerian FLN has always been cited by the US as a group which employed the methodology of terrorism, and the State Department continues to cite armed groups as well as the Algerian government for violations of international norms. The ANC is thrown in as a red herring.

Oh, it doesn't stop there. Milne goes on to cite the US' checkered past in supporting tyrannical regimes (even training some of the tyrants in how to be tyrants). That's history (see below) - what we did wrong in the past is no impediment to doing right from now on. I liked Sec. Powell's answer before a committee the other day: the cold war is over, we don't need to play those games anymore (paraphrased, of course).

But, the worst part of the argument that Milne advances is the straw man that Afghan civilian deaths makes the US action terrorism. This is based on the fallacy that any political violence which causes terror amongst civilians is terrorism. That definition is just as inadequate as calling any act political violence terrorism. When civilians are in the midst of warfare, even conventional warfare, they're going to be terrified - that's an ancillary effect of urban warfare, not a purpose. The goal of terrorism, however, is to meet an end through the use of illegitmate acts intended to cause terror in civilian populations. Surely Milne can fathom this distinction.

Milne concludes by restating the notion that oppressed people who are denied peaceful avenues are entitled to use force (a point made earlier in the piece in re Palestinian rights at international law to resist the Israeli occupation). That begs a question: are there definitions at international law for what constitutes legitimate methodologies in pursuit of valid grievances? There are precedents - the Hague Convention and the Geneva Conventions. Some countries didn't aggre with those standards, but that didn't stop the rest of us from agreeing to them.

What's Milnes final answer? Here it is - look at the actors instead of the acts, and the grievances instead of the methodologies. Milne would excuse terrorist acts committed by the ANC, but not Baader Meinhof or the Red Brigades. That answer leads us down the path of arbitrariness, and the slippery slope of hypocrisy.

I'm Not A Libertarian!...
... But I like Cal Ulmann's blog, Where HipHop and Libertarianism meet, anyway (also on my favorites list on the left of your screen). No-nonsense quick-hits on whats going on out there in the world. Here's an anti-internet tax petition that he found.

Note: Chuck Muth at is anti-liberal, and I'm anti-GOP: So what!

The Power of History
I don't usually pay any attention to George Will, but when he starts getting "historical" he piques my interest. I find his current opinion piece, "Affinity For Afghans", very agreeable. I especially like the Bernard Lewis quote:

The region, says Lewis, is difficult for Americans to understand because it is "an intensely historical community." When Americans say of something, "That's history," they mean it is irrelevant. Fourteen centuries of history are alive in today's crisis

That's not to say that the perpatrators of mass murder ought to be forgiven because they've had a rough 1,400 years, but understanding that history does give us a clue about what bin Laden et al are thinking. Knowing what he's thinking is irrelevant in the war against bin Laden, but it's important in the war for the hearts and minds of his target audience. We can't counter his message if we don't grok his message: not simply his actual words, but the cultural connotations and the historical background. It also helps to debunk some of the fallacious statements that have been made about Islam - we can live at peace with Islam minus the extremists.

Is Iraq Involved In
The Anthrax Mailings?
I think that the answer is: Not directly. But, I've been thinking over the past couple of days that the source of the anthrax may very well be inside Iraq. Even if the anthrax mailings aren't being sponsored by the "state" of Iraq, this doesn't rule out some sympathizer within Iraq as the source. According to a story in today's Washington Post, there are only three countries that could be the source of the anthrax that's being used. You figure it out.

Positive Development in Israel
I think the Israelis had it right when they decided to focus on "targeted killing" (read: assassination). Done covertly such operations are less likely to cause popular uprisings than the sight of military formations. The recent Israeli raids, while justified, were dumb. But, it looks like the Israeli army is being withdrawn, and that's good news.

Wednesday, October 24, 2001
Where Did Islam
Go Wrong?
Robert Wright's "Muslims and Modernity" is an excellent refutation of members of the punditry who have been taking facile face-value readings of the Quran, then making fallacious blanket statements. I especially like the fact that Wright echoes my comments in this post (sort of) and this one, too. (again, sort of). If the professionals are agreeing with this "quasi-pundit", then I must be doing something right.

The only place that I disagree with Wright is that he doesn't make the connection between the fact that the social conditions exists in part because the modern era fundamentalists have had too much influence (he alludes to it, but doesn't address it directly). Sure, liberalization would lead to all of those things "modern" that would transform the Middle East, and Islam itself. But, there are people who don't want to be "modern". This isn't only true in the Muslim world - just take a buggy ride through Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. This isn't a perfect analogy - the Amish are pacifists - but there is a parallel in re the desire to live in a world of anachronisms, free of any modern "corrupting" influences. But, we agree that the problem isn't Islam per se - the problem is certain "strands" of Islam led by individual Muslims who have hijacked an entire religion.

Hold All My Mail!
Well, the total In DC is now six in hospital with possible inhaled anthrax exposure. With the two previous deaths, that makes it eight. DC area postal workers are understandabley pissed - the explanation provided for why the mail facilities weren't immediately surveyed is insufficient. Anybody who has any knowledge of germ warfare knows that when those things get out of controlled environments, the protocal is that you survey anyplace that might have been potentially exposed. That wouldn't be an overreaction, that's just prudent.

Here's why I think that the need to survey the postal facilities wasn't high priority - after Congress' recent retreat everybody wants to downplay the threat. Congress' retreat was an overreaction, but surveying their chambers was prudent - DC area postal workers should've gotten the same consideration. .

And in further developments, the answer to my question from yesterday is answered in this Wahington Post story that Glenn Reynolds picked up on. If staffers got Cipro back on Sept 11, then it's a cert that the Execs got it, too. Mr. Bush's non-answer yesterday plus the info in this story tells me why Mr. Bush knows that he doesn't have anthrax

Even Islamic Specialists
Can Be Wrong
Robert Wisnovsky's Beyond Jihad - What we can learn from the religious language of the terrorists. By Robert Wisnovsky is a bit long on intellect, and way short on common sense. OK, he's got credentials, but now he needs to get a clue. Here's the bit that I take exception with:

Bin Laden's real targets are the Saudi and Gulf princes. Why is this important? We Americans tend to assume that whenever the terrorists speak of "infidels," they are referring to us and to allies such as Great Britain and Israel. That is certainly true in many cases, but in this particular case I think it is the Saudi and Gulf regimes who are in the frame. In other words, the terrorists' ultimate targets are not America's values, freedom, democracy, or material success, as we are told again and again. Bin Laden surely knows that he cannot defeat us militarily, or destroy our society, or even force us to change our policies in the Middle East through terrorist acts such as those that occurred on Sept. 11. To my mind his purpose was rather to use us as weapons against the Saudi and Gulf regimes. The carnage of Sept. 11 was Bin Laden's way of provoking us into reacting so violently that innocent Muslim lives will inevitably be lost. Only in this way, he reasons, only by forcing the Saudi and Gulf regimes to choose between their alliance with America and the deaths of Muslim civilians—now seen live and uncensored on Al Jazeera television—will the true infidelity of these sinning pseudo-Muslims be fully exposed to their populations.

There's a presumption here that bin Laden has "a (singular) real target", which he cites as the "Saudi and Gulf regimes." OK, why are those regimes targets? Could it be because of the fact that these regimes have decided to deal with the west? It's quite clear that bin Laden's disagreements with the House of Saud stem from the presence of western forces in Saudi Arabia, but bin Laden's troubles with the west go back much further than that. As I've noted before, bin Laden admitted that his view of the US as an enemy goes back as far as his involvement with the mujahadeen. Why? Because our presence in the region is an affront to his view of Islam - made worse (not better) by the fact we were helping Muslims do what they couldn't do for themselves.

Prof. Wisnovsky also asserts that, "Bin Laden surely knows that he cannot defeat us militarily, or destroy our society, or even force us to change our policies in the Middle East through terrorist acts such as those that occurred on Sept. 11." But Wisnovsky ignores the fact that bin Laden and the Taliban surely believe the fallacy that the mujahadeen beat the Soviet Union (conveniently forgetting that their successes were the result of support from the US and Pakistan ). Wisnovsky also doesn't address the broader implied goal in bin Laden's language that evokes the caliphate.

In fairness, Wisnovsky does caution that, "My observations are preliminary and my inferences tentative." I can't wait to hear what he says when he's had enough time for a "closer examination." Not that it really matters, I think that I've already got a better grip on "Ladenism" than Wisnovsky - I'll stand pat on my observations.

Oh, Canada
I remember watching a "town hall meeting" on CBC some days after Sep 11, and I was dumbstruck by some of the things that I heard. Where can you make tax deductible contributions to a terrorist organization of your choice? Canada, of course. Well, in fairness, that may not last for very long. I just read a Washington Post story citing Canadians' sense of fear. There's an interesting US-Canada parallel in the story - the evaporation of the sense of security. Canadians have awakened to the risk since joining the coalition (what the foreign press calls the "Bush Coalition"), but were they at risk before? Umm, Canada, you were never any safer from international terrorism than the US, and we both know this to be true. We didn't think that it could happen here either...

Who's the Relativist?
Here's an interesting anecdotal observation - many of the "pro-torture" people that I've been talking to (they aren't really pro torture, but are willing to make en exception in this case) are the so-called "moral absolutist" types who constantly argue for the spread of western values. Go figure...

Oh, Canada
I remeber watching a "town hall meeting" on CBC some days after Sep 11, and I was dumbstruck by some of the things that I heard. Where can you make tax deductible contributions to a terrorist organization of your choice? Canada, of course. Well, in fairness, that may not last for very long. I just read a Washington Post story citing Canadians sense of fear. There's an interesting US-Canada parallel in the story - the evaporation of the sense of security. Canadians have awakened to the risk since joining the coalition (what the forign press calls the "Bush Coalition"), but were they at risk before? Umm, Canada, you were never any safer from international terrorism than the US, and we both know this to be true. We didn't think that it could happen here either...

Good News For DC -
The nation's capitol may make the cut for the 2012 Olympics.

Tuesday, October 23, 2001
Why Can't he Simply
Be A Hero?
Glenn Reynolds points to an article about Mark Bingham, a passenger on Flight 93. I have mixed feelings about the story. Sure, Mark Bingham should be honored as a hero, but it shouldn't be a big deal that Mark Bingham was gay. What makes this aspect of Mark Bingham's life a big deal is that his actions were so incongruous with the stereotype - a stereotype that has always been a fallacy.

Prof. Reynolds makes some interesting comments about why gay men have often acted more "manly" than straight men. I think he may be on target about this notion of straight men getting in touch with their feminine side (he doesn't use those words, but that's what he's talking about). But, I think he misses the mark on gay men. I don't think that personality traits or emotional makeup are any kind of indicator of sexual orientation. Some gay men are "nellie" and others are "butch" simply because those "types" naturally occur among the male population in general. It has absolutely nothing to do with gay men not being attracted to women - it has everything to do with just trying to be yourself, something gay men have been struggling to be able to do. In addition, there is the fact that many gay men have had to work at being tough guys in order to avoid adverse action.

All of the preceding paragraph is academic argument. When are we going to stop having this argument? Maybe people will look at the life of Mark Bingham and finally decide that a person's sexual orientation has nothing to do with ability. I hope so, but the fact that he's lauded as a "Gay Hero", instead of a "Hero" who happened to be gay, still leaves me wondering whether people "get it".

Note: I originally referred to Mark Bingham as an "attendant on flight 93" - I was obviously confused. I was thinking of a local (DC area) airline employee who also died in one of the attacks of Sept 11. I was still wrong though: he wasn't an attendent, but a member of the cockpt crew Thanks to reader R. Ryan for pointing out my error.

Needless Spin
Why wouldn't Mr. Bush just answer the question? If the answer is no, then he should have said so. If the answer is yes, as I believe that it is - a non-answer usually signifies the answer that the press is suggesting - then spinning it is absurd. I'll guarantee that the president has been tested for exposure to anthrax, and anybody who believes that the non-answer means no is a naif.

bin Laden Is an ET?
Here's a good UPI story from Lebanon. It's not really news, but this Lebanese official's satement interesting:

"He is a non-territorial force," explained Salameh, meaning that unlike the Chechens or the Palestinians, bin Laden was not fighting for a single territory, but aims is to extend radical Islam to all Muslim countries. There are about 1.2 billion Muslims in the world.

"They have rented a country from which they can operate," said Salameh, referring to Afghanistan. Speaking of al Qaida, bin Laden's Islamist network believed to be operating in more than 50 countries, Salameh said, the Saudi-born millionaire, turned militant, believed Islam had defeated one super power and had now embarked upon a long jihad against the other one.

Well, Ive been saying that, but Salameh's next line is just wrong enough to make me doubt whether he really has a clue:

"It is not Reagan's Star War that defeated the Soviet Union, but the Islamic Jihad in Afghanistan. The Soviet Union did not only withdraw as a result, but collapsed," said Salameh. "Their goal is very clear -- to defeat the Americans in the Middle East, as they defeated the Soviet Union."

The myth that Islamic Jihad - the mujahadeen - defeated the Soviet Union has already been debunked. The Taliban and bin Laden haven't figured out that bit of truth yet, but we'll be happy to educate them.

Hysterical Market
More proof that Wall St. needs a psycho analyst... 'nuff said.

Who Was That Woman?
I definitely don't agree with Margery Eagan's tone in "Nothing phony about response to Hillary at fete" - Hillary is a US Senator. If I can suspend from what I once considered a duty, the promulgation of "Shrub" jokes, then the right oughta be able to be a little less snide. But as snide goes, it's a fun read.


What We Shouldn't Do

by Anthony Adragna
There's been talk recently of the FBI considering the use of questionable interrogation techniques in this war on terrorism. How credible is this talk, and is it something that we ought consider acceptable? It seems quite incredible, and it definitely is unacceptable.

The FBI's job is law enforcement, and while the techniques in question deliver results, those results don't serve "justice". They may help in prosecuting the war on terrorism, but at what cost to our principles? Some may say, "screw principle, these are mass murderers", and that's a sentiment that I share on an emotional level. However, what seperates us from them is our code of ethics - our principles - and to abandon our principles is an admission that our principles are inadequate. That would be a victory for them - unacceptable.

Would I have any problem with turning suspects over to foreign countries where such techniques are allowed? Well, I'm an ethical relativist, but I wouldn't go that far. There are certain fundamental human rights that I don't believe are "relative". That our ethical code regarding human rights isn't universally accepted is a non-issue in this discussion, because we believe that this code ought to be universal. To give in to human rights abusers when the abuses meet our needs is hypocrisy. That's a charge that the militant extremists have thrown at us for years - do we want to turn their lies into truth?

Torture and truth serum won't get us "presentable" evidence, but it'll sure give our enemies more fuel for their fires. Besides, it's just plain ol' wrong.

What We Oughta Do
An interesting series of opinion pieces in today's Washington Post under the heading "More Step We Can Take Right Now". The two worth noting are "Open Talks to End Hostility Toward America" by the former ambassador to Morocco Marc Ginsberg, and "Declare War on Pessimism" by writer/directer Paul Gilbert.

The first makes these three salient points:

• First, America is not the enemy of Islam. But terrorism is not martyrdom; it is murder and the United States has the right to protect its own citizens against those who harm innocent people in the name of Islam.

• Second, while U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is based on certain unyielding principles, it is not anti-Arab or anti-Islam and recognizes that legitimate grievances deserve to be heard and considered at the highest levels in Washington.

• Third, America is prepared to engage in a sustained dialogue to help increase Muslim-American understanding.

That's not saying that we need to talk to terrorists, but unless we get our message out on the "Arab street" the extremist propoganda gets a free ride. We've talked ourselves blue-in-the-face to the leaders in that region, it's time we start talking to "the masses".

The second piece admits to being a bit of an "idealistic fantasy", but it's a good idea anyway.

Immediate Availability
Out-of-work on-the-job trained law librarian seeking full time employment in DC metro area - that's me. Email me and I'll forward my resume.

Monday, October 22, 2001
Get Congress Out
Figuratively, that is. For years I have ranted about the federal legislature teating DC like a colony - has anybody listened? Today's Washington Post editorial "Councilman or Senator?" does a good job of debunking the myth about "the federal payment." That myth has been used by conservative legislators to do everything from forcing a name change of the capitol's airport (It was Washington National Airport, but it was changedd to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, ostensibly because "it was time to name the airport after a president". Wasn't Washington a president?), to denying the District the ability to spend funds on domestic partnership benefits.

Now, it's "emergency preparedness", and some Senate Republicans want to continue the fight over programs that DC taxpayers would fund themselves. OK, D.C. has had problems with emergency services for years, and the wake of September 11th's events is a good time to focus on the issue. However, it's very evident that nobody, not even federal tennants in the D.C. metro area, was prepared for what happened. For instance, why isn't there an active duty fighter squadron, with "alert" aircraft, at Andrews Air Force Base? After the fact, how much assistance did D.C. get from the federal government in managing a situation that was exacerbated by an en masse exodus of federal employees? Playing games with the D.C. budget isn't going to fix the problem. And playing games with DC taxpeyer funded programs is simply mean spirited.

Serving The Cause
of Peace
Or as Fred Hiatt says in his current opinion piece -"Paying the Piper for Peace". It's an excellent defense of why the "peaceniks" are wrong, and the consequences of not prosecuting this war on terrorism to its fullest.

Took Sunday off. Hope you guys didn't miss me!