Monday, August 22, 2005

Gaza's Rewards

I live in small town America. Rockford, Illinois to be exact. Our home town paper The Rockford Register Star is not known for its pro Israeli views. We get the usual newswire stuff about how the Israelis are oppressing the Palestinians.

Imagine my surprise then, seeing almost two pages in the Sunday editorial section praising Israel for the Gaza pullout and putting the ball in the Palestinian court. And who were the authors of the pieces? Not the usual Palistinian apologists. Nope. We got Max Boot. Yossi Klein Halevi. Aharon Kleinman.

The headline? Israel's wishful Gaza thinking. What was the gist of the piece? That the Israelis shouldn't expect the Palestinians to respond in kind and work to live in peace.

Max Boot was especially harsh on the Palestinians. He expects that Gaza will turn into another failed terrorist state.

If, following the Israeli pullout, Gaza becomes another training ground for Islamo-fascist fanatics - a successor to Afghanistan under the Taliban - the resulting terrorists will find the U.S. and Europe much easier targets than Israel, which is the world's most heavily defended state. Irony of ironies, perhaps in a few years enlightened Westerners will rue the day when Israel gave up control of Gaza.
That one paragraph alone is a very big dividend for the Gaza pullout.

I thought the Gaza move was a good idea when it was first announced. I think my optimism was justified. It has changed the terms of the debate.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


It looks like our government in the rush to meet a self imposed deadline for the writing of the Iraqi Constitution is planning to sell out the Iraqi people. I have covered this before so I am not going to go into great detail. Basically sharia will be the law of the land and women's rights are out the door. The rights of minority religions are out the door.

If you want the latest read The Big Pharoh.

What you need to do is contact your Rep., your Senators, and the President and give them an earful. You might also like to help clear the fog at Foggy Bottom. Links below.

House of Representatives
The Senate
The President
State Department

Instapundit has a roundup.

LGF has a word or two.

CNN is covering the story

Friday, August 19, 2005

Energy hobby horses

Why does the press get so much wrong? Even in technical fields let alone politics? Let us look at it from the standpoint of reporting on the rise of new energy systems.

I was a Naval Reactor Operator so I know a bit about energy, generators, electrical systems etc.

At the current rate of decline in the cost off wind power - wind will cost less than any other power source in 5 to 10 years. (once turbine size reaches 8 to 12 MW peak). America is the Saudi Arabia of wind. There are enough wind resources to cover our whole range of energy requirements from electricity to transportation (for that wind may have to be converted into liquid fuel) with energy to spare.

In addition solar electricity is also coming down the cost curve - although at a slower pace.

Where is the accurate reporting on these facts? Why the obsession with nuclear power? (did I mention my Naval Nuke experience?) Why the disparagement of alternative energy in half the press and messianic fervor without regard to economics in the other half? Why is our population so ill informed on these subjects? From the messianic greenies to the wind/solar is bunk folks?

The reason utilities are buying wind is because they can read a learning curve. They have been doing it since 1900. You would think that after 100 years of commercial experience the press would know some of this. Wrong.


Lack of technical people who can write is one problem. It can't be the only one.

It goes back to what I said on a previous post where I was down on drug war reporting. Reporters do not know how to ask interesting question.

BTW if a paying media organization is interested in a person who understands energy, is not blinded by philosophy, and can write a tolerable column, I'm available. Drop me a line.

Rummy's questions and the News

There is a discussion of the decline and fall of the Dinosaur Media going on at Press think.

Here is my diagnosis:

It is not even political/war reporting that is the problem.

Even on relatively content neutral technical subjects the press is hopeless.

It is not left/right bias. The press lacks a certain fundamental curiosity. i.e. Rummys questions. What do we know we know? What do we know about our ignorance? Where are we ignorant about our ignorance?

The press wants to be authorative. It wants to project an air of certainty. That leads to projecting an air of blindness.

Reporters need to respect their ignorance.

And yet so many people in this country and its press made fun of that bit of wisdom so fundamental that it trancends politics.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Killing Reporters on the Borders

There is a war on. Reporters are being targeted for violence and murder. The targeting is so effective that the reporters are no longer reporting the events that are getting reporters killed. Sound a lot like Iraq? If you said yes you would be wrong. The country in question is much closer to home. Mexico.

And what war is going on in Mexico? Haven't you heard? We are having a drug war.

NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico - A drug war is ripping apart northern Mexico, but you won't find many details about who's behind it in the local newspapers. Journalists, after their colleagues have been killed, kidnapped and threatened with death, have stopped investigating organized crime.

"It's the new trend of drug gangs: Journalists are warned, paid off or killed," said Daniel Rosas, the managing editor of the daily El Manana, the oldest newspaper in this border city south of Laredo, Texas. "Drug battles have become bloodier, and gangs have no code of ethics. They don't respect human life; why should they respect reporters?"

El Manana, founded in 1932 after the Mexican revolution with a motto to promote freedom of expression, has been self-censoring itself since its editor, Roberto Javier Mora Garcia, was stabbed to death on March 19, 2004.
Killing reporters is pretty bad. However there is worse going on:
MEXICO CITY -- Nobody wanted the job of police chief in Nuevo Laredo, a city on the U.S.-Mexico border plagued by drug gangs and violence. Finally, Alejandro Dominguez, 52, a businessman and father of three, volunteered to take the post to help his besieged city. Last Wednesday, hours after being sworn in, Dominguez was assassinated by men firing assault rifles from a convoy of Chevrolet Suburbans.
Funny this never made the national news. At least not in the sense of being given day in day out coverage. And yet:
The human cost of Mexico's aggressive war on drug trafficking is skyrocketing as the country suffers through the worst barrage of drug-related violence in years. More than 600 people have been killed this year, often in remarkably bold and bloody executions, according to national press tallies and state-by-state crime reports.

Nuevo Laredo is just one hot spot in a grisly conflict that has spread across the country. In recent months, a farmer in the Pacific coast state of Sinaloa was gunned down as he visited his parents' grave, and a father in Monterrey, in northern Mexico, was shot dead in front of his son in a video arcade. Authorities have found corpses with limbs chopped off and drums of acid they believe traffickers used to dissolve the bodies of their victims.
And yet this carnage is not being covered in depth by our DOM (Dinosaurs Of the Media). Why?

Perhaps what we see is the real truth about reporters. For most of them it is just a job. They have the courage to handle occasional danger. Permanent danger is not in the job specs.

The other truth here is that what goes on South of the Border cannot be permanently confined to South of the Border. The killing will be moving north as soon as it becomes profitable.
In a recent interview, Fox likened Mexico's "explosion of organized crime killing" to the Al Capone era in Chicago. "Let's recall Chicago in the early '20s. I mean it took years to get rid of the mafias, it took years to get rid of organized crime," he said. Fox said U.S. and Mexican authorities were working jointly to confront criminals who control "millions and millions and millions of dollars."
In the discussion of Al Capone notice anything important left out? That is right. The only way the government was able to reduce organized crime was to end prohibition. Why? Because there are two iron rules of prohibition. The harder the enforcement the harder the drugs. The harder the enforcement the harder the criminals.
Federal officials said that frequently their enemies are not just the drug cartels, but local police who have been corrupted by drug money. That problem has unleashed a growing battle between federal police officers, many of them trained by U.S. law enforcement, and their local counterparts, underscored by the recent clash in Nuevo Laredo.
Local police corrupted by drug money? You do see it in America from time to time. What happens when it becomes systematic? Well it is not good.

And what are American drug enforcers up to these days given the violence of the drug trade in Mexico? They are doing what any rational person would do: focusing on drugs in Canada.The Canadians are such nice folks, especially the pot heads; but them Mexican cartel folks? A feller could get himself killed.
"Apparently, one of [the U.S. government's] objectives, and this is unbelievably offensive, is to alter and modify Canadian criminal justice policy in relation to drugs," said Alan Young, a law professor and marijuana advocate at York University. "Whether or not this is part and parcel of that exercise I have no clue ... but they've clearly stated this is the direction they want Canada to go in."

He suggested Canada's approval of a U.S. request to begin extradition hearings against Vancouver pot merchant Marc Emery, a close friend of Mr. Young's who was arrested last month in Halifax, is another example of attempts to appease the Americans.

Mr. Emery's shop was raided after an undercover operation in which authorities allege he sold marijuana seeds at an annual profit of $3-million to customers, 75% of whom were American. The allegations also constitute an offence in Canada, but such cases have rarely been prosecuted.
In all likelyhood you have heard nothing of this unless you are as interested in the Drug War as I am.

We know from history that more enforcement is not the answer to the problems caused by prohibition. However, until we get some reporters with courage and a historical sense in America civil disorder will increase, corruption will increase, and the bodies will continue to pile up.

Welcome Instapundit readers.

For my take on the drug problem from a medical/chemistry point of view:

Addiction or Self Medication?
Genetic Discrimination

There is more on the side bar. Scroll down.

Help Regime Change Iran

Dr. Zinn needs your help.

His laptop died and he needs donations so he can keep posting to his site.

More info here.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Moral Sense

Ann Althouse who is guest blogging at Instapundit is discussing Meth Maddness and how the desire for meth "....destroy[s] one's moral sense," quoting from this New York Times article by John Tierney.

I think that the statement that "drugs destroy moral sense" fogs the real issue.

As many of you know my theory on drug use is that people take pain relievers to relieve pain. A novel theory to be sure. An intoduction to my thinking can be found here:

Addiction or Self Medication?

with some more evidence here:

Cannabinoids - the Key to many Pains?

More is available on the sidebar. Scroll down.

Now back to why drugs are associated with a reduced moral sense. Let us start from what we know: Pain destroys the moral sense. Next step is to look at the connection between drugs, pain, and morality: People taking drugs for pain are in moral danger from the pain. The drugs actually help alleviate the moral danger by relieving the pain. As a society we recreate that moral danger by keeping those in pain from relief.

I think this point is typical of the confused thinking on the subject of drugs. We ascribe the ills caused by prohibition to the drugs themselves.

We make people desperate by depriving them of pain relief and then complain when desperate people do desperate things.

Medical science is beginning to provide the clarity needed to destroy the illusions. New stuff backing up my findings is coming at the rate of about one a month. So far each new point of knowledge fits in with my theory. When the castle in the sky disappears a lot of people are going to be very depressed. A lot of other people are going to have big holes in their resumes.

In the end our Drug War is all about punishing people in pain. For a Christian nation probably the biggest mortal sin of all.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Will to Prevail

Mark Steyn did a nice piece a while back (May 2004) about what it will take to defeat our enemies. And why the language we use matters.

Let us start with what it will take to defeat our enemies.

We are in a guerilla war. That is the enemy does not consist of regular units with a chain of command but consists of irregular units, dispersed in the population, with no chain of command. Insurgencies do not have a high success rate (take the IRA, please) but they are painful and disruptive. The most notable aspect of a guerilla war is that they generally last a long time.

B.H.L. Hart in his classic book "Strategy" discusses this aspect. Guerillas are most often drawn from the criminal classes of society. Thus it is no accident that Saddam let all the criminals out of jail when he saw he was going down. He was preparing for the next phase of the war. France had a guerilla problem for 20 to 30 years post WW2 due to the underground army raised to attack Hitler's armies in France. However, the most instructive example is Spain. In Spain the Napoleon's armies were defeated by the whole country rising up in guerilla warfare. It was estimated that Napoleon's armies were losing 100 men a day to the guerillas. Far more than were lost in the battles against Wellington. However, it came at a price that is still being paid. The ETA movement, well known for its current bombing campaign in Spain, is a remnant of the Napoleonic Wars. The tail from that war is about 200 years and still going.

I think this war will be no different. Once all the state supporters of the guerillas have been defeated and peace and harmony reigns among nations, the disaffected will still cling to the banner of armed jihad. There will be a very long tail. And we are not even at the tail. Many nations are still supporting the guerillas.

Let me quote from the Steyn piece because I think it goes to the heart of the matter:

Goh Chok Tong, the prime minister of Singapore, was in Washington the other day and summed it up very well: ''The key issue is no longer WMD or even the role of the U.N. The central issue is America's credibility and will to prevail.'' In Britain, they used to say that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton — i.e., it was thanks to the fierce resolve inculcated by an English education. The war on terror will be lost in the talking shops of Washington — i.e., it will be thanks to the lack of resolve inculcated by excessive exposure to blow-dried pundits and Senate hearings. The war now has two fronts. In Iraq, the glass is half-full. In Washington, it's half-empty, and draining fast.
This war is not a test of power. You rarely defeat a super power by a head to head contest. This war is a test of wills. Which side can outlast the other.

Now that brings us to the language question. Why is the language we use so important? In a word: Morale. The word is derrived from the word moral. There is a reason for this. It is the justness of the cause that sustains when things go bad. Of course in warfare things always go bad. There is a reason medics are assigned to units in the field. In a guerilla war the most important component of a nations power is not the units in the field, as important as they are. The most important component is the home front and its will to prevail.

Let me refer back to the Steyn piece:
We always come back to that strong horse/weak horse thing. But the point to remember is that Osama bin Laden talked about who was seen as the strong horse: It's a perception issue. America may be, technically, the strong horse but, thanks to its press and its political class, the administration is showing dangerous signs of climbing into the rear end of the weak-horse burlesque suit.
I think some one on the blogs came up with the antidote. The enemy needs to be refered to as paramilitary death squads. Not insurgents, guerillas, militants, or even militia. Paramilitary death squads.

Because in a very long war words matter.

Either we have a stomach for this or we start studying sharia and plan to live under a caliph. If we intend to prevail we must buck up our morale not undermine it. In fact we must undermine the morale of the enemy. We must show him by words and deeds that he has no chance.

Update: 02:58z 7 August 2005

Ralph Peters discusses the topic in a recent column.
August 4, 2005 -- IN Iraq yesterday a roadside bomb killed 14 Marines. Two days earlier, six Marines from the same outfit were ambushed and killed. Yet those Marines were not the terrorists' primary target.

You were.

Our enemies know the Marines won't quit. But they hope you will.
Update: 12:45z 7 August 2005

I found the "paramilitary death squads" quote. It was one of the last things written by Steve Vincent:
Words matter. Words convey moral clarity. Without moral clarity, we will not succeed in Iraq. That is why the terms the press uses to cover this conflict are so vital. For example, take the word "“guerillas."” As you noted, mainstream media sources like the New York Times often use the terms "insurgents" or "“guerillas"” to describe the Sunni Triangle gunmen, as if these murderous thugs represented a traditional national liberation movement. But when the Times reports on similar groups of masked reactionary killers operating in Latin American countries, they utilize the phrase "paramilitary death squads."” Same murderers, different designations. Yet of the two, "insurgents" —and especially "“guerillas" —has a claim on our sympathies that "paramilitaries?” lacks. This is not semantics: imagine if the media routinely called the Sunni Triangle gunmen "right wing paramilitary death squads." Not only would the description be more accurate, but it would offer the American public a clear idea of the enemy in Iraq. And that, in turn, would bolster public attitudes toward the war.
Let me note in passing that Steve was killed by a paramilitary death squad that abducted him and then put five bullets in him and wounded his translator.

Words matter.

Update: 12:45z 7 August 2005

Roger Simon asks where are the stories of our heros in the MSM? There are some answers in the comments.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

National Unity

We hear so much about national unity these days and how it is so much worse than it was in WW2. It ain't necessarily so.

I'd like to quote from the introduction of a book published in 1943. "The Battle Is The Pay-Off" by Captain Ralph Ingersoll who was editor of the newspaper "PM" before he joined the Army.

Forget draft boards and legal or moral compulsions. Take the world as it is today. How would each one of us act if we were completely free agents? Would we still go to war or would we sit this one out?

We had been soldiers now for a month. That's long enough to know how tough it is for a soft civilian to march even five miles with nothing but a rifle on his shoulders and no pack, how uncomfortable it is to sleep on a hard narrow cot. It is long enough, too, to know that, man for man, in the field, soldiers who could walk not five miles but twenty miles and to whom a cot was not a hardship but a luxury, would have very little difficulty killing us.

The military phrase for a soldier's missioin is quite explicit. It is to impose one's will on the enemy. At the end of a month in the army we knew - and it was quite a startling bit of new knowledge - how weak we were, how easy it would be in a showdown for anyone to impose his will on us. If we were not yet disciplined, we already knew the value of discipline - for already we had been lost on marches, we had mock-fired in mock skirmishes on those who were supposed to be our friends. We knew, all the big talk aside, how we stank.

We also knew, fresh in the morning, marching in solid columns, swinging out from camp with our new M-1's on our shoulders, just how tough an army that was good could be. Well the German army was that good - as good as we felt in the early morning, as good as the best of our daydreams about ourselves.

All right, so that's the German army and the Japanese army too, and even the Italians must be better than we were. And there are all these armies in the world, our sworn enemies - whether we were Republicans or Democrats, bright or stupid, skilled or unskilled.

So now thinking it over, talking it over, what would we do - today - if there were no draft boards, no sudden impulses to enlist? Well this was the choice that we now understood: that either we accepted the will imposed by armies made up of stronger, tougher, better soldiers than we, or else we - first individually and then collectively - would have to create an army that was even tougher.
In the next few paragraphs Ralph goes into details about a soldiers life. Then he comes to the heart of the matter:
It was painfully obvious to the most casual observer in the summer of 1942 that Americans did not then understand. The pace of the army's training, the controversies in the papers, the crowds at the USO, the ceaseless murmuring tide of talk, talk, talk, from one continental coast to the other, the silly nonsense on the advertising billboards, the bad taste of speeches to raise money for war bonds - everywhere one turned there were symptoms. The whole American world seemed unconcious of what were the only realities to us in camp. The hardness of the ground when you threw yourself on it making mimic charges - that was real. The hard ground symbolized the truth that only hardness and discipline and self-consecration of millions could produce an army that could impose its will on the enemy who is attempting to impose his will on us.

Aching on the ground, I thought of the softness of a bed. Hungry on a cook's bad day, I thought of the dinner that I had the money to buy if I were somewhere else. And I understood the apeaser for the first time. The appeaser, I thought, was simply a more imaginitive man than I. He was simply a man who could look ahead and see the price he would have to pay for opposing the will of an armed enemy. Feeling the softness of his bed and the cool caress of the sheets and the peace that comes only with a full belly, he knew he would be content to submit to the conqueror just to be allowed to stay where he was. He understood the bargain he was making; he was prepared to rely on his wits to see that the enemy lived up to his end of it. I understood how he felt and I wished sometimes I felt the same way.
Here we are some 60 years on and not much has changed. The question is still the same. Whose will is going to prevail?

Update: 06:41z 04 August 2005

Some notes about PM magazine from Ketupa:
PM was defiantly to the Left in an otherwise largely conservative publishing milieu and, more remarkably, aimed to operate as a mass-circulation daily based on sales rather than advertising. That model seems to have been flawed and the paper expired in 1948 despite substantial support from retail heir Marshall Field III (1893-1956), who had launched the liberal daily Chicago Sun in 1941 and went on to found the Chicago Sun-Times in 1948.