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"So. Our ancestors clawed their way out of the caves, fought behemoths with their bare hands; survived earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, meteor showers and plagues, all so their descendents could sit on the road and wail."
- Pundita

Sunday, February 16, 2003
North Korea is "
sure of winning Nuclear War with U.S."
Gee doesn't the world feel like a safe place when lunatics have nuclear weapons? Wouldn't it feel even safer if Saddam Hussein had nukes too?

posted by Rachel 2/16/2003
. . .
Stolen from Instapundit:
Tony Blair:
"But there are also consequences of "stop the war".

If I took that advice, and did not insist on disarmament, yes, there would be no war. But there would still be Saddam. Many of the people marching will say they hate Saddam. But the consequences of taking their advice is that he stays in charge of Iraq, ruling the Iraqi people. A country that in 1978, the year before he seized power, was richer than Malaysia or Portugal. A country where today, 135 out of every 1000 Iraqi children die before the age of five - 70% of these deaths are from diarrhoea and respiratory infections that are easily preventable. Where almost a third of children born in the centre and south of Iraq have chronic malnutrition.

Where 60% of the people depend on Food Aid.

Where half the population of rural areas have no safe water.

Where every year and now, as we speak, tens of thousands of political prisoners languish in appalling conditions in Saddam's jails and are routinely executed.

Where in the past 15 years over 150,000 Shia Moslems in Southern Iraq and Moslem Kurds in Northern Iraq have been butchered; with up to four million Iraqis in exile round the world, including 350,000 now in Britain.

This isn't a regime with Weapons of Mass Destruction that is otherwise benign. This is a regime that contravenes every single principle or value anyone of our politics believes in.

There will be no march for the victims of Saddam, no protests about the thousands of children that die needlessly every year under his rule, no righteous anger over the torture chambers which if he is left in power, will be left in being.

I rejoice that we live in a country where peaceful protest is a natural part of our democratic process.

But I ask the marchers to understand this.

I do not seek unpopularity as a badge of honour. But sometimes it is the price of leadership. And the cost of conviction.

But as you watch your TV pictures of the march, ponder this:

If there are 500,000 on that march, that is still less than the number of people whose deaths Saddam has been responsible for.

If there are one million, that is still less than the number of people who died in the wars he started."
Read the whole thing, it's spectacular. I love Tony Blair, even if he is a socialist.

posted by Rachel 2/16/2003
. . .
Bill Whittle has a tear-jerker of a
eulogy for the Columbia crew. He talks about fear and courage and love.

"I’ve thought a lot about courage in the last few years. And what I’ve come to realize is that behind courage is a greater emotion still, and that emotion, not surprisingly, is love.

Think about it. Think of the infantryman who throws himself onto a hand grenade. Perhaps love of country brought him to that time and place. Certainly he loved his family, his wife and children. And more than that, even, he loved his own life, his chance to watch his sons grow into honorable manhood, to give his daughter away in a small church on a Sunday morning. All of this love may have given him the courage to come to the place where he would face that grenade, but it was his love of his buddies that overcame all of that in that one instant where the heart rules the mind and courage rises unbidden from its mysterious, deep harbor.

Actions like these, time and time again, leave me speechless and dumbfounded. And yet they are commonplace in times of great peril. I have sat in silent awe of the firemen that rushed into those buildings – and of all the firemen, everywhere, that do it every day. I think of passengers on an airliner who would, in that one moment of desperate courage, decide on the spot to fight hardened murderers who had spiritually and psychologically prepared themselves for years, to advance on their slashing box cutters, to break into the cockpit and push those controls forward, to stop the men from righting the plane, kicking and biting and punching as the ground filled the windows. I think of that kind of courage and am struck mute at the love those people bore for the rest of us. I gape in awe, like I did that day when I was a little boy, at the kind of society that can generate that common courage.

And in this imperfect, flawed nation of ours, perhaps more than anywhere else on earth, I think about the courage it takes to be poor, to face that sickening knot of worry and despair that comes with not having the money to pay your bills. For there is no more steady and enduring courage than that of a poor family, especially a single parent, who fights a never-ending battle of brutal hours at miserable pay, of perennially unrealized dreams, and of the desperate, numb agony of disappointed children. For people like that, who force themselves to work two jobs while we sleep, to avoid the temptations of crime and dependency while surrounded by luxury and wealth the likes of which man has never known…well, that is dogged courage of a sublime nature that passes all understanding.

If courage is love coming to the rescue, then what do we make of people who willingly put themselves in great danger? How are astronauts any different than bungee jumpers or other thrill seekers? Are men and women like that simply adrenaline junkies, people who do not feel really alive unless they face danger and death at point-blank range? Do they indeed flirt with death? Because if they do, then that is not courage but rather a dark and filthy addiction. What kind of people do these things, and why?..."

"Courage is not the absence of fear. It is taking action in the face of fear.

And I know courage is the stern face of love because I love to fly more than I fear being killed while flying. I do everything I possibly can to reduce the risks, knowing I can never eliminate them all. There comes a time when I can honestly tell myself I’ve been as careful as I know how to be, and then, and only then, is the time to strap in. I’ve made the risks and the fear as small as I can. The joy stays as large as it ever was..."

"We have -- we here today – have lived our lives more free of fear than any humans in history. No other generation comes even close. We have conquered the diseases that have taken our children from us, slain hunger to the point where the number one health risk to poor Americans is obesity. We have a stable government, a functioning society, and teams of highly trained and magnificently skilled rescuers only three button-pushes away. Fear is not something modern Americans have had to face very often.

And when we are afraid, we seem to fear the most unlikely things: plane crashes and terrorist attacks. Nothing baffles me more than listening to a 340 pound smoker, a person who will drive drunk, without seatbelts, talking about how they are going to die in a commercial jetliner.

Terrorists worry me, but they don’t frighten me. The worse thing they can do is kill me, and despite my best efforts to the contrary, that’s going to happen regardless of what they may scheme and fantasize about.

Terrorism can never, never destroy this nation. They may kill thousands of us, perhaps even take one of our cities – cities they could never build, filled with people they can never be. Perhaps it will be my city. Perhaps it will be me. But if they do, life will go on. Some things are bigger and more important than our own lives. America can survive the loss of a city. America can survive the loss of all her cities. Because our image and idea of America lives in our hearts, and as long as there are Americans alive in the world, America will survive..."

"The scales of Joy and Fear somehow balance. On its final mission, the Challenger Seven never got to space, and her crew died not long after she cleared the pad and climbed into memory.

But the crew of Columbia had a much larger helping of joy – sixteen days in orbit, almost a hundred sunrises and sunsets, playing weightless choo-choo trains through narrow tunnels and tweaking gravity’s tail good and long and hard – and the Columbia Seven would be destined to pay for that by several minutes of knowing that they were about to die."

Go read the whole thing.

posted by Rachel 2/16/2003
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