Minutiae
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"Chuck Norris doesn't read books; he stares them down until he gets the information he wants out of them."
- ChuckNorrisFactsdotcom

Tuesday, July 15, 2003
Thank you Jesus.

posted by Rachel 7/15/2003
. . .
A nice
summation of the african uranium hysteria. (pilfered from instapundit as usual.)
"According to Krugman, the Bush administration is to be held accountable both for not being sufficiently alarmist with respect to intelligence estimates prior to 9/11 and then for being unduly alarmist with those same intelligence estimates after 9/11.

Think about the absurdity and hypocrisy of this for a moment: Krugman wants to vilify the Bush administration for not piecing together scraps of intelligence, speculation and theory to "predict and prevent" a one-in-a-million terrorist attack scenario and then turn around and vilify the administration when they take seriously intelligence reports - reports that the British government continues to stand by even to this very moment - that Hussein attempted to purchase material to make a nuclear bomb.

The ridiculousness of this part of Krugman's argument does, I think, put a nice highlight on why this issue may not damage President Bush the way the Democrats hope and may even backfire on them in a big way.

Rather than offer up a clear cut case that "BUSH LIED!", what the Niger/uranium story does indicate explicitly to voters in this country is that if there is even the slightest indication that terrorists or rogue regimes around the world are trying to get their hands on WMD's, President Bush is willing to act swiftly and forcefully to take them down and defend America. This stands in stark - and I mean STARK- contrast to Howard "Let's Send Troops to Liberia but Not Iraq" Dean and most of the rest of the Dem presidential hopefuls."

posted by Rachel 7/15/2003
. . .
Another article on the ever-fucking Department of Homeland Security and mission creep.
"In other words, beware of bureaucratic opportunism, masquerading as antiterrorism. Now Tom Ridge is proving me right, with a new plan to pervert Homeland Security from its antiterror mission to an unrelated one: "The initiative, dubbed Operation Predator, will target pornographers, child prostitution rings, Internet predators, immigrant smugglers and other criminals."

What can we learn from this? Two things. One is that the Department of Homeland Security apparently thinks the War on Terror isn't important enough to occupy its full energies anymore, and that -- in the interest of bureaucratic survival -- it's branching out into the kind of operations that have generally been associated with, well, ordinary law enforcement, even if the targets, in this case, are foreigners.

I suppose that should be a relief, since it suggests that, at least in Tom Ridge's mind, we have little to fear from Osama's ilk anymore. On the other hand, I'm not comforted, because it proves that lesson two is alive and well: any powers confided to bureaucrats in the service of vital objectives will quickly be abused in the service of other, less important purposes.

Back when the Department of Homeland Security was first being discussed, we were told that such a department was necessary to ensure cooperation among diverse federal law enforcement agencies. Critics and skeptics feared that it would soon be turned from an antiterror agency into a general purpose federal police force, something that Americans have traditionally rejected. Ridge's mission-creep has made clear that the critics and skeptics were right all along.

Since Ridge has, with this initiative, essentially admitted that Homeland Security is no longer urgent enough to occupy the Department of Homeland Security, let's abolish the Department, and pass the savings on to the taxpayers. Not only will this save money, but it will serve as a salutary warning to future Tom Ridges that overstepping the bounds of a mandate is politically dangerous.

I'm not naive enough to think that this will happen, of course. But on the other hand, I regard this proposal as damning evidence -- if any more were needed -- of Tom Ridge's irrelevance to questions of domestic security. And I think that it should also serve as an important reminder that you can't trust bureaucrats to do what you think they ought to be doing, and you can't trust bureaucrats' political masters to do that, either.
This needs to be nipped in the bud.

posted by Rachel 7/15/2003
. . .
I don't know,
this seems like it could lose a lot of the charm of the Farmer's Market. Not to mention making the stuff more expensive.

posted by Rachel 7/15/2003
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Grrr. Grrr. Grrrr. No no no!
Bad Idea! Assholes. Once you establish any database you lose control over how it gets used. (Small example: hunting and fishing permits are now used to track down deadbeat dads.) I don't oppose that particular usage but it demonstrates how things can be expanded upon. It's called mission creep and it's a real bad thing in politics.

Databases have no morals. They just are. And once they exist anyone can use them. The germans used punch card IBMs to register and track Jews before they ever built concentration camps. Later, that data sure made it easier to round them up and process them through the camps.
"Like any efficiency-driven organization, the Nazis were big on technology. It wasn't just to order and track office supplies--they had to keep track of all the Jews in concentration camps. And to do that, they used IBM equipment."
Now this may sound way-out-there loony, but remember: the Jews didn't resist because they couldn't believe it could happen, and Hitler came to power legally. Now imagine the difference between the technology and the sheer amount of data then and now.

There is no sure guarantee that the government won't ever label you an enemy. It's happened many many times in human history and nothing make the US immune. Imagine such a database and how it might be used if arab terrorists nuked a US city.

Now call your senator.

posted by Rachel 7/15/2003
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Dude,
this guy is cuckoo!

posted by Rachel 7/15/2003
. . .
Good news from Iraq.
"Iraq's new, 25-member governing council presented itself to the Iraqi people yesterday in a ceremony orchestrated to soothe doubts about its independence from the US-led civil administration.

The members -- ranging from Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a fiery Shi'ite leader, and Ahmed Chalabi, an exile leader in a tailored suit, to a veiled female obstetrician and a southern sheik known as ''the Prince of the Marshes'' -- urged Iraqis and all Arabs to remember Saddam Hussein's atrocities and put their faith in incremental movement toward self-rule.
...
The council's first act, announced by a black-robed, elderly Shi'ite cleric, Seyyid Muhammed Bahr al-Uloom, was the abolition of all Ba'athist holidays -- to be replaced with a new holiday on April 9, the day American troops moved into Baghdad.

''Saddam is headed for the dustbin of history. There is no room for him to come back,'' said al-Uloom, who headed Shi'ite resistance from London until Hussein's fall. He urged Arab media, who have been highly critical of the occupation, to visit ''the mass graves littered throughout this country.''

Baghdadis, who had been waiting for the announcement, gathered around televisions and radios. In a newspaper office downtown, designer Hamid al-Gailani wept in front of his colleagues, out of a combination of happiness and sadness at the end of many decades of dictatorship.

''I felt that we had gone back to the year 1930. I feel that Iraq has started back from zero,'' Gailani said. ''We have wasted 75 years waiting to taste freedom.''
...
In its final form, the council included 13 Shi'ite Muslims, granting them a majority stake in the government after years of repression by Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime. Five members are Kurds and five are Sunni Muslims, one is Turkmen, one is an Assyrian Christian. Three council members are women. More than half are exiles or Kurdish leaders who were excluded from a role in the government under Hussein's regime.

The top British official in the administration, John Sawers, said the coalition ''helped to bring them together,'' but he added that the final product had been developed by members of the group, who ''were the ones persuading each other.''

''The overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people are represented,'' Sawers said. ''What we're seeing today is the marginalization of the people who benefited by the tyranny of the Iraqi people.''

Behind the graceful presentation of the council yesterday lie vast gaps in ideology and identity, as Westernized exiles and technocrats take their place beside fundamentalist Shi'ite clerics. Some expressed unfettered joy and declared the announcement a watershed in Iraqi history. As members answered questions after the inauguration, Chalabi ebulliently thanked ''President Bush, the US Congress, and the American people.''
...
As they learned the names of the council members, Iraqis expressed a mixture of skepticism and cautious hope. Gailani, the newspaper designer, said he was upset by the preponderance of exile leaders, like Chalabi and Adnan Pachachi, who had been abroad during the painful years of sanctions.

''I don't know them,'' he said. ''Lots of them were wearing ties by Yves St. Laurent, Armani . . . I've seen their shoes. They're European.''

But others felt the first swell of optimism that the raft of problems facing Iraqis -- chief among them the lack of jobs and security, as well as electricity shortages -- would be solved soon.

Sami Shanan Sanid, 58, a goldsmith, heard the council members' names on the radio.

''These seem like well-educated people,'' he said, standing on a sweltering street corner. ''First of all, they should handle the security issue and rebuild the service sector.

''But I'm optimistic. It's better than it was in the time of the regime.''
It sure as hell ain't perfect but it's improving. A few months since children were thrown in jail for drawing unflattering pictures of Saddam and they've got the first beginnings of a democratic governmnet. Yay Iraq! Hopefully they'll build a secular democratic system relatively free of corruption. Then we can get outta there and let them get on achieving. They're lucky, unlike Afghanistan they've got money to build with and a large number of educated people.

posted by Rachel 7/15/2003
. . .
I'm tired and it's late. There are a million things I could do if I went to bed in time to get up early tomorrow. The problem is that there're so many interesting things to be doing right now. If I go to bed too early I just lie there thinking. Do other people have that problem? (Doesn't count if you have a schedule that dictates when you have to go to sleep and when you must get up.)

posted by Rachel 7/15/2003
. . .
Grrr. Makes me
angry.
"While President Bush was telling Africans they can count on the United States in their struggle against AIDS, the House moved Thursday to approve only two-thirds of the money available in 2004 for a global HIV-AIDS prevention and treatment act Bush signed in May.

Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Arizona, chairman of the House subcommittee in charge of foreign aid, said the AIDS money was up considerably from this year and he was confident that Congress would live up to its promise to spend $15 billion over the next five years to fight AIDS abroad. But he said that spending $3 billion in the first year was unrealistic when the program was just getting off the ground.

Kolbe's House Appropriations foreign operations panel on Thursday approved $1.43 billion to fight AIDS and other infectious diseases for the 2004 budget year starting October 1. Another spending bill on the House floor Thursday would add $644 million, bringing the total to just over $2 billion, up about $500 million from this year. The White House itself had only asked for $2 billion."
Less is worse but anything is better than nothing. 2 billion is still better than 300 million. As I think to myself everytime the Powerball jackpot gets up there: I'd love to win the jackpot but even winning $100 would make my life a little bit nicer. In light of all the worry over the budget and the economy I can't be totally angry, (though certainly the money would be there somewhere were the politicians motivated enough.) We'll see what happens next year.
(Thanks to Thad for pointing that out. Though I suspect his take on the matter differs from mine.)

posted by Rachel 7/15/2003
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