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April 2003 Archives

April 1, 2003

George Bush causes Mexican War: Details at 11

I know the New York Times hates George Bush, but do they really have to print letters attacking him for everything? Apparently so, because now he's to blame for Fidel Castro's' tyranny. Why is Castro's government arresting dissidents?

Essentially, because of the blundering tactics of the Bush administration, which has ordered the chief American diplomat in Havana not only to meet with virtually every dissident on the island but also to hold news conferences after the meetings in which he has been pointedly critical of the Cuban government.

The arrests are an overreaction by the Cuban government and exactly what the Bush administration hoped to provoke. One hopes the Cubans will see their mistake and begin releasing those arrested.

So the Cuban dictatorship suppressing dissent is just a "mistake"? What does that make Saddam Hussein's gassing of the Kurds, a faux pas? I'm sure George Bush is in some way responsible for that, also.

Something's missing

Dan Drezner, picking up on a theme from Mickey Kaus, examines a possible negative side effect of the war on Iraq:

Consider: if you were a dictator, and the United States was preoccupied with prosecuting a war in a distant land, wouldn't you exploit the situation by cracking down on dissent? Even if such activities garner press attention, the half-life of the story is shorter, and an American response is less likely because of the inability to get the foreign policy principals to focus on anything other than the war.
Dan notes the problem happening in several countries: Cuba, Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan, Belarus, and Myanmar. The country he doesn't mention? The one that some in the anti-war movement were insisting would exploit the war: Israel. I can't count the number of times I read Chicken Littles of the left claiming that Ariel Sharon (whom they dislike far more than Saddam Hussein) would use the distraction of Iraq to expel all the Palestinians from the disputed territories, presumably into Jordan. I feel certain this would actually make the news, even with the war going on. Big news, really. But it's quite telling that they would worry about this extraordinarily remote possibility, while virtually ignoring actual occurences of the phenomenon.

(Virtually? Yes. As I mention below, someone noted the Cuban crackdown at least enough to blame George Bush for it.)

April 3, 2003

The Great Debate

Stephen Pollard provides an excellent analysis of the debate in Washington over the future of a Saddamless Iraq. Over the last few months, many plans have been leaked to postpone democracy in Iraq, temporarily or indefinitely. Those tend to be State Department plans, and the mostly leftist critics of the US liberation of Iraq have seized on these plans to prove the ill intentions of President Bush. The Pentagon has other ideas; the crucial question now is who will win this debate. If the "moderate" State Department wins, we all lose.

Challenging stereotypes

Just think what would have happened if Bush cared about the environment:

The government announced today that an Atlanta-based pipeline company would pay $34 million in fines under the Clean Water Act, the largest civil penalty ever paid by a company in the 32-year history of the Environmental Protection Agency.
By the way, this was on page A11 of the New York Times. Where do you think a story about lax punishment of a polluter by the Bush administration would have been placed?

House of Cards

Andrew Sullivan is at it again. Today's swipe at the New York Times concerns this following correction, which appeared in yesterday's Times:

A front-page news analysis article on Sunday about the political perils faced by President Bush over the war with Iraq misattributed a comment about Saddam Hussein's government being "a house of cards." While some American officials had used the phrase to predict a shorter conflict and a quick collapse of the Iraqi leadership, Vice President Dick Cheney was not among them.

In response, Sullivan writes the following: "Amazing. Another front page Big Lie from Raines and company. Notice also the mealy-mouthed correction. Which other "American officials" are they talking about? Somehow, I suspect, if they exist at all, they're nowhere near the senior levels - which was the point of Johnny Apple's self-parodic piece. More and more, readers are beginning to realize that Raines' NYT doesn't just spin against the Bush administration on an hourly basis. It also merrily lies to keep the propaganda war going."

It wasn't just the Times which made this mistake. If Sullivan wants to read a correction that's not "mealy-mouthed," he should read this, from today's Philadelphia Daily News. I wonder why he chose the Times' correction and not the Daily News'?

April 4, 2003

Irony, thy name is...

From a letter to the editor in Salon:

What you have to confront, in yourselves and in your nation, is the Culture of Fear.

Since 9/11, fear has enslaved your country. Your leaders are doing nothing to stop it. Neo-conservatives are using it to advance their own agendas and the rest justify their own cowardice by making sure that everyone else stays afraid.

Now you are embroiled in a war which, as Gary Kamiya pointed out in his excellent article three weeks ago, will have unknowable and possibly horrendous consequences.

It has actually been one of the most common anti-war arguments that the only reason the public supports Bush's liberation of Iraq is because we're so afraid after 9/11 that we'll agree with anyone who promises to make us safer, no matter what he or she proposes. That's plausible-sounding, certainly; fear often does make people more willing to accept extreme measures. But it works both ways; everyone is operating on the fear principle. The left is coming up with all sorts of world-is-going-to-end-if-we-do-anything scenarios, and if that's not fear, I don't know what is. What's worse is that it's paralysis-inducing fear. The administration is promising us solutions to our fear; the anti-war left is simply telling us we can't act because of fears of potential consequences. Is it really surprising that the public would choose the first of those two worldviews?

He would love an American flag

One word: Wow. I'm not up on all my governmental honors, but is there some sort of medal that the U.S. can give him?

Mohammed has given up the life he knew to help a woman he met only briefly. He and his family came to this Marine base with nothing but the clothes they were wearing and a blanket. But Mohammed smiled broadly and happily talked about his role. He expressed no doubts about his decision.

"She would not have lived," he said simply. "It was very important."

Read that story of an Iraqi hero, and then go read a schmuck (it's a technical term) like Congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, who thinks we ought to stop the war now, and let Saddam Hussein remain in power. As long as we "disarm" him. Correction: as long as the United Nations "disarms" him. (Which they've proved oh-so-competent at doing.) And then ask yourself exactly what good "disarming" Saddam Hussein would do for Mohammed and his family. Or the millions of other Mohammeds in Iraq.

True, we likely wouldn't have started this conflict if Saddam Hussein didn't need to be disarmed. But once we decided that only military force would do, it stopped being about mere disarmament. How can Kucinich not understand that? Or does he just not care?

Nothing better to do with their time

Do you think the people who got so upset at the Congressmen who renamed french food as freedom food in the House cafeteria will be equally upset about this frivolity? I guess I should be glad; every minute spent on this is one fewer minute spent creating more government programs.

April 5, 2003

And the $64,000 question?

As coalition forces drive through Baghdad, where the hell are the Iraqi forces? Apparently not at their headquarters. So? Any guesses? Not that I'm complaining, mind you, but this is starting to feel like the part of the horror movie in which the creature has been shot, and people are thinking, "It can't be this easy, can it?" And then we hear the ominous music, and the cliched comment, "I've got a bad feeling about this."

Did the Iraqis fold just like the cakewalk theorists hoped? Is Saddam Hussein dead, as people have suspected he might be, and did all resistance collapse as a result? I sure as heck hope so -- but I don't want to be too overconfident here. Is there some sort of ambush coming? Are they trying to lure more of our forces into Baghdad, where they'll counterattack, causing huge civilian casualties as well as military? I just don't get it.

Followup: the above questions still remain to be answered, of course, but I'm a lot more optimistic after reading Robert Fisk's latest, where he proudly predicts that the Iraqi resistance will be difficult to overcome:

In reality, an American siege and occupation of the city would take weeks, perhaps months, but capture of the airport would allow troop-carrying aircraft to land. Since the city is 27 miles wide, an all-out assault could be an operation of epic proportions.

But the United States and Britain may be calculating that capture of the airport would provide such a shock to the regime that it would collapse within hours. The fierce fighting for Basra, Nasiriyah, Najaf, Karbala and other cities suggests that Baghdad would not succumb so easily.

Given Fisk's track record, that ought to mean that the war will be over in days, if not hours.

April 6, 2003

Intratiger battles

I don't think Virginia Postrel is a fan of Eliot Spitzer.

For what it's worth, I agree with her assessment, though since I was at Princeton a few years later, I didn't have any firsthand experiences with him. I dislike him because the same "resume-polishing student-council weenie" is now a resume-polishing Crusading Attorney General weenie, which means he skips the messy process of legislating and just uses the tort system as his personal stepping-stone towards the governor's office.

April 7, 2003

Another one bites the dust

I'm saving "Ding dong the witch is dead" for the corpse of Saddam Hussein, so I'll just utilize a nice, somber, "Good riddance" for this good news:

Ali Hassan al-Majid, dubbed "Chemical Ali" by opponents of the Iraqi regime for ordering a 1988 poison gas attack that killed thousands of Kurds, has been found dead, a British officer said Monday.
Good riddance.

April 8, 2003

Body counts

Remember all the pre-war predictions that thousands, or tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of civilians would be killed in our attack on Iraq? According to the anti-war "researchers" behind the Iraq Body Count -- people who have been known to inflate their research for political effect -- there have been about 1000 Iraqi civilian casualties since the war began. About 1000 civilians were killed in one day in the Congo last week. There is no Congo Body Count website.

This is not to say that civilian casualties in Iraq are anything other than a tragedy, but it does put the numbers into perspective. And it does put the biases of those counting these Iraqi deaths into perspective (as if they weren't obvious already). It's not civilian lives they care about; it's only whether they can blame the United States for them. These totals are amazingly low, but do we hear that? No; we hear about an attack on a Baghdad market which the U.S. may or may not have been responsible for.

I anticipate one possible rebuttal: that numbers don't tell the story of the human tragedy. When someone dies it isn't a statistic; the people at that market had families, and those families suffer even if the U.S. is being careful. Yes, yes, yes, whatever. So if it isn't about statistics, why have the Iraq Body Count at all?

April 9, 2003

Study finds laptops smaller than desktops

The New York Times reports on a new study (warning: 15MB PDF file) that claims to show that charter schools are deficient in various ways, but that actually takes features and pretends that they're bugs. The primary complaint has to do with the qualifications of teachers:

The study found that 48 percent of teachers in the average charter school lack a teaching certificate, while 9 percent of teachers in the average public school lack one. The study also found that charter schools where more than half the enrollment is black rely more heavily on uncredentialed teachers.

In these schools 60 percent of the teachers are working with an emergency, provisional or probationary certificate, according to the study. The study also found that teachers in charter schools serving low-income and minority students are paid considerably less than their counterparts in public schools.

The study found that 55 percent of teachers in charter schools run by private companies are uncredentialed and not highly experienced; 45 percent of teachers in charters run by parents or educators are uncredentialed and inexperienced.

But what the study ignores is that bypassing the bureaucratic credentialling process is part of the point of charter schools. The study, and implicitly the Times, simply take for granted that "uncredentialed" = "bad," while charter schools do not assume that jumping through licensing hoops makes one a better teacher.

What's most interesting is that the focus of this study has nothing to do with the quality of education provided by charter schools. Instead, it measures teacher credentials, and eligibilty for federal subsidies, and principals' salaries, and minority enrollment. None of that addresses student performance, of course. Shouldn't it worry more about the results produced by charter schools, and less about whether the schools are spending a lot of money?

This is my favorite (completely irrelevant) argument, though:

Critics, which include the American Federation of Teachers, say that charter schools siphon money and resources from the public school system at a time when that system is underfinanced.
Critics, who are composed virtually entirely of teachers' unions, are being disingenuous. When you hear about money being "siphoned," it sounds as if money is being taken away from education and spent on something else, like highways or swimming pools or pharmaceuticals for the elderly. But of course that's not what's happening at all. The money is being spent on education; it's just not being funnelled through the public school bureaucracy first. The charter schools "siphon" students from the public school system, so that the public schools don't need as many resources.

What next?

Is Saddam Hussein dead? Certainly it would be hard to get upset about that (though I confess that I harbor the secret desire to see him strung up from a gallows, rather than impersonally vaporized by some bunker-busters). But what are the implications if he is? It could be great; it's possible that the news of his death would lead to immediate surrender of the remaining Hussein loyalists, and/or to the cooperation of the Iraqi public in wiping out these regime supporters. That's the best case scenario. But what about the worst case? The U.S. has been systematically trying to eliminate what are euphemistically known as "leadership targets." What if there's nobody left who can order a surrender? (*) Is the U.S. going to be forced to kill every member of the so-called Saddam's Fedayeen in order to win the war? More to the point, how do we then decide when we've won?

(*) [Given the lack of coordinated military response by the Iraqi military since the war began, I've long had the sneaking suspicion that the only members of the Hussein regime who are alive are Iraqi "Information Minister" Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf and some high school intern at IraqiTV who dutifully airs archival footage of Saddam Hussein's cabinet meetings each day. And that between these two people, they're keeping up the illusion that there's still an Iraqi government.]

Any volunteers?

A fairy tale, updated. (Who wrote this? Not I. Susanna Cornett.)

A useful barometer

Earlier, I pondered how we'd know when we had won the war. Silly me; I forgot the obvious answer: look for Robert Fisk to proclaim that the U.S. success wasn't real:

While American fighter-bombers criss-crossed the sky, while the ground shook to the sound of exploding ordnance, while the American tanks now stood above the Tigris, vast areas of Baghdad – astonishing when you consider the American claim to be "in the heart" of the city – remain under Saddam Hussein's control.
(At least he finally explained, at the end of this column, why he never gets stories right: his journalistic sources walk on four legs.) So if Fisk thinks Saddam's in control, what's it really like?
Iraqis cheered arriving U.S. troops and then went on looting rampages as vestiges of President Saddam Hussein's authority collapsed.

As U.S. forces moved through one neighborhood after another, crowds of Baghdad residents seized the chance to plunder military installations and government buildings, making off with computers, bookshelves, tables, even Iraqi jeeps.

Among the buildings plundered were Iraq's Olympic headquarters and traffic police headquarters.

On Palestine Street, where the Baath party as recently as a few weeks back held rallies and shows of force, gangs of youths and even middle-aged men looted the warehouses of the Trade Ministry, coming out with air conditioners, ceiling fans, refrigerators and TV sets.

Hundreds of Iraqis cheered U.S. troops in Saddam City, a poor neighborhood in northeast Baghdad. "Thank you, thank you, Mr. Bush!" one shouted.

Remember all those people sneering at the idea that Americans would be greeted with flowers?

A step back

I couldn't resist taking a shot at Robert Fisk, but I should note that, as Centcom says, it isn't over yet. Saddam Hussein does seem to be alive, and regardless, there are still pockets of resistance, both in Baghdad and around Iraq generally. And it could be a while before that resistance is overcome, and before order is restored. And then, of course, comes the difficult but vital task of democratization. And while the worst of the danger is over, more American servicemen (and those of other coalition members, of course) will be hurt, and more will die, before we're ready to leave.

Still, it's hard not to be a little overenthusiastic, at least for a while, when I see cheering crowds in Baghdad, just as the "warmongers" predicted. Except for Jacques Chirac (and Saddam Hussein, of course), who could not feel a little joy at the sight of people roaming the streets, no longer afraid of a vicious dictator?

April 14, 2003

Open mouth, insert foot

Via Eugene Volokh and others, an interview with The Most Hated Professor in America, Nicholas De Genova. Extremely bizarre. A few observations:

  • He blames the entire incident on the media. Not for misquoting him, but just for quoting him at all. The only blame he accepts in the matter is for not realizing that a journalist might be there and might quote some of his more inflammatory comments.

  • He has an ego the size of France:
    and attacks against me are therefore attacks against the entire antiwar movement.
    Of course, many who support the war would agree with that; they'd like for him to represent the entire anti-war movement. But I think most who opposed the war would prefer to get as far away from De Genova as humanly possible.

  • This puzzling exchange is included:
    Q. Your comment about wishing for "a million Mogadishus" has attracted the most attention. I read your letter in the "Columbia Daily Spectator," which gave some more context, but I have to confess I don't see how the context changes the meaning of that statement.

    A. I was referring to what Mogadishu symbolizes politically. The U.S. invasion of Somalia was humiliated in an excruciating way by the Somali people. And Mogadishu was the premier symbol of that. What I was really emphasizing in the larger context of my comments was the question of Vietnam and that historical lesson. ... What I was intent to emphasize was that the importance of Vietnam is that it was a defeat for the U.S. war machine and a victory for the cause of human self-determination.

    Q. I'm a little hazy on the rhetorical connection between Mogadishu and Vietnam.

    A. The analogy between Mogadishu and Vietnam is that they were defeats for U.S. imperialism and U.S. military action against people in poor countries that had none of the sophisticated technology or weaponry that the U.S. was able to mobilize against them. The analogy between Mogadishu and Iraq is simply that there was an invasion of Somalia and there was an invasion of Iraq.

    Invasion of Somalia? It was a UN peacekeeping mission. What is he talking about? How exactly was it a defeat for US imperialism? A few US soldiers died, thousands of Somalis died directly, and how many tens or hundreds of thousands more died because the peacekeeping mission failed?

    Even better, though, is his claim that Vietnam was "a victory for the cause of human self-determination." Does the jackass know anything about Vietnam today, or does he just hate the US so much that he thinks anyplace we're not is a good place? From Human Rights Watch's most recent report:

    Despite promises by the general secretary of the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) to accelerate the process of reform and promote democracy, Vietnam's human rights record continued to deteriorate during 2002. National Assembly elections conducted in May continued Vietnam's tradition of single party rule, while proponents of multi-party democracy, human rights, and religious freedom were arrested or closely monitored.

    The government continued to stifle free expression and restrict the exercise of other basic human rights. Authorities destroyed thousands of banned publications, restricted press coverage of a key corruption scandal, increased the monitoring of the Internet, denied the general public access to international television programs broadcast by satellite, and arrested or detained dissidents who used the Internet or other public fora to publicize their ideas. The year saw the death of Vietnam's most well-known dissident, Tran Do, and the trial of Li Chi Quang, one of an emerging group of younger pro-democracy advocates in Vietnam.

    Officials continued to suppress and control the activities of religious groups, including ethnic minority Christians in the northern and central highlands, members of the banned Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, and Hoa Hao Buddhists in the south. Authorities made a new round of arrests of indigenous minority church leaders and land rights activists in the Central Highlands, the site of widespread unrest in 2001.

    Yeah. Some big victory for self determination
Ultimately, what it comes down to is that, like so many on the left, he likes to stir debate, he likes dissent -- except when it's directed at him. Because debate shouldn't be "narrowed," unless, of course, it's "jingoistic, patriotic hysteria." The possibility that his position was just idiotic doesn't seem to have occurred to him.

April 15, 2003

Misunderestimating again?

Whether you like George Bush or dislike him, whether you think his priorities are right or totally screwy, it seems to me that you have to give him credit. Either he's the luckiest guy in the world, always in the right place at the right time, or he's a hell of a lot smarter than anybody (even his ideological friends) is willing to give him credit for. I read this post from Kevin Drum gloating over the fact that Democrats are successfully blocking Bush's tax cuts. But they're not! They managed to stand firm so that Republicans had to slash their proposed cuts from $725 billion to $350 billion over the next decade. A victory for Democrats? I don't think so. Remember, not too long ago Democrats were talking about wanting to stop all of Bush's future tax cuts entirely. Just a short while later, they're agreeing to $350 billion in cuts.

But it's not that Democrats have compromised by agreeing to some tax cuts that amazes me; it's that they actually consider it a victory. If you just read the daily papers, Bush always seems to be making a big misstep that's going to be a public relations nightmare. You begin to think he has no idea what he's doing. And yet, when you step back and look at the big picture a few months later, he always seems to come out on top, whether it be invading Iraq "unilaterally" or insisting on dealing with North Korea multilaterally or cutting taxes.

(Note that I'm not discussing here the wisdom of Bush's tax cuts; I'm discussing the success of his approach to achieving them.)

Fun with Fisk

Why doesn't Robert Fisk just write a single column saying, "I hate Israel. I hate the United States. Did I mention that I hate Israel"? It would contain all the ideas found in his columns, save him a great deal of time, and wouldn't omit any facts that he normally includes. Somehow the question "are fugitive Iraqi officials in Damascus?" invites a long diatribe about the U.S. and Israel, and virtually nothing about whether fugitive Iraqi officials are in Damascus:

So now Syria is in America's gunsights. First it's Iraq, Israel's most powerful enemy, possessor of weapons of mass destruction – none of which has been found.
I thought the UN was going to need months to finish their inspections. So how come the U.S. was supposed to find them in three weeks -- especially when preoccupied with other matters in that time period, such as winning a war?

And note the gratuitous reference to Israel.

Now it's Syria, Israel's second most powerful enemy, possessor of weapons of mass destruction, or so President George Bush Junior tells us. No word of that possessor of real weapons of mass destruction, Israel – the number of its nuclear warheads in the Negev are now accurately listed – whose Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, has long been complaining that Damascus is the "centre of world terror".

But Syria is a target all right. First came the US claim that Damascus was sending gas masks to the Iraqi army. The Syrians denied it – but what if it's true? Why shouldn't an Arab neighbour offer Iraqi soldiers protective clothing during an American invasion which has no international legitimacy?

Perhaps because the Iraqi soldiers were fighting for a genocidal dictatorship, and as such probably shouldn't have been assisted?

And I thought we accused Syria of supplying night vision goggles, not gas masks. But if it were the latter, that would have been even worse. We weren't using gas, so the only reason Iraqi soldiers would have needed gas masks would be if they were planning to use gas. And Fisk doesn't see a problem there?

And note the gratuitous reference to Israel. Double points because he mentioned Ariel Sharon. Hey, we could turn this into a drinking game.

Then Syria was accused of sending, or allowing, Arab "volunteers" to cross into Iraq to fight the Americans. This is much harder for the Syrians to deny. I've met a few of them here in Baghdad, most anxious to return to their homes in Homs and Damascus, others – from Algeria and Morocco – telling me that they will be safe if they can reach the Syrian border because "there will be no trouble from there". But here, too, there's a whiff of hypocrisy.

Whenever Israel goes to war, there are hundreds of "volunteers" from the United States rushing to Tel Aviv to join the Israel Defence Force, and America never complains.

As Alan Jacobs points out, what's with the sneer quotes? Is Fisk suggesting that these people aren't volunteers? Were they shanghaied into the IDF?

More importantly, how exactly is this "hypocrisy?" The Syrians in question are fighting against the United States. Shooting at our soldiers. Killing them. Why exactly shouldn't we be upset about that? Why on earth would we consider this the same as Americans fighting for an ally of the United States? Why on earth would we "complain" about that?

But then comes the nastiest accusation: that members of the Iraqi regime have fled to Syria for safety. Given Syria's increasingly warmer relations with Saddam Hussein's Iraq in recent years, and the joint nature of their Baathist past – the Syrian Christian Michel Aflaq was a founder of the Baath in the days when it was a creature of both nations – it's difficult to believe that the Tariq Azizes and Taha Yassin Ramadans couldn't seek refuge in Syria.
Look! Fisk is showing off! He's providing fifty year old historical details to impress us with his in-depth knowledge, thereby attempting to obscure the fact that his current comments have no foundation whatsoever.
Needless to say, the capture of Saddam's half-brother near the Syrian border has provoked the usual rash of stories. Tariq Aziz is living in Lebanon with the ladies of President Saddam's family. Untrue. The Arabic television satellite channel interviewed the ex-Iraqi information minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf in Damascus. Totally untrue.
There's a phrase I think of when I read Fisk's work: a "rash of stories."
And also embarrassing for the Americans. For just as they failed to capture the most brutal of the Bosnian Serb murderers, Messrs Karadjic and Mladic, so they failed to find Osama bin Laden – or even Mullah Omar – and, given the failure of American intelligence in Baghdad, it wouldn't be that surprising if the whole of the Iraqi Cabinet managed to pass safely through an American checkpoint in an orange pantechnicon. But it's Syria that is being lined up for attack next, not the Saddam Cabinet.
I don't actually see George Bush looking particularly embarrassed. Do you? And the "failure of American intelligence in Baghdad?" The U.S. defeated Iraq in less than a month with almost no casualties -- contrary to Fisk's dire warnings -- and this represents failure?
And the signs were clear long ago. Take the article in The New York Times by Larry Collins – joint author with Dominique Lapierre of O Jerusalem! – which last month announced that the Syrian-supported Hizbollah resistance in Lebanon had 10,000 missiles that could fly to Tel Aviv and "leave in their wake devastation more terrible than anything Israel has ever known". The missiles are a myth – I travel the roads of southern Lebanon every two weeks and there are no such missiles, as the UN force there will confirm – but this doesn't matter.
Speaking of myths, would this be like the now-infamous Iraqi army prepared to defend its capital that only Fisk could see? So let's just say that I don't place a high level of reliance on Fisk's powers of observation. (Or logic. Does he think that the missiles are going to be all lined up out in the open on the side of the road where he can see them while he drives by?)

And what is it with the comment about "O Jerusalem!"? The book was published thirty-one years ago. Other than yet another gratuitous Israel reference, what possible relevance could it have to Fisk's story?

And of course, don't forget to note his description of Hezbollah, one of the world's foremost terrorist organizations, as a "resistance" group.

And then it will be Libya who has the most sophisticated C-B weapons. Or Saudi Arabia. Or anyone else Israel wants attacked.
Because, as we all know, J-E-W-S control American foreign policy. Bush is just a puppet.
But this still leaves the question: could Saddam and his sons and Tariq Aziz and Ramadan and the rest have passed through Syria?
Yeah, it does still leave that question. Indeed, nothing you actually said above was relevant to answering it.
Not impossible. But the idea that they would be allowed to stay seems incredible. If President Bashar Assad allowed Saddam to be a guest, it would be akin to inviting a cruise missile to his palace.
Oh. Okay, well then let's not bother to look. The Great And Powerful Fisk says he isn't there.
But Syria just might have provided a transit station for the Baath officials from Iraq. To where? My own favourite is Belarus – because its capital, Minsk, is awash in whisky, corruption and damp apartments (the first two of which would appeal to most Iraqi Baathists). Vladimir Putin, of course, would be asked to help to retrieve them and hand them over to Washington. And he would have a price, no doubt, a price involving oil concessions and Russia's already signed oil contracts in Baghdad ...
Somehow. Fisk just had to work oil in there somehow. Even if it isn't about American interest in Iraqi oil, the mention of the word taints the U.S. Somehow.

Fuzzy math

Did you know that Bill Gates and I control, between us, 97% of the operating system market share -- if you don't count Linux? That's about the logic in Amnesty International's latest report on the state of the death penalty in the world.

As in previous years, the vast majority of executions worldwide were carried out in a tiny handful of countries. In 2002, 81 per cent of all known executions took place in China, Iran and the USA. In China, limited and incomplete records available to Amnesty International at year end indicated that at least 1,060 people were executed, but the true figure was believed to be much higher. At least 113 executions were carried out in Iran. Seventy-one people were executed in the USA.
So, 81% of executions took place in China, Iran, and the US -- of which only 4.7% were in the US. Lumping them together is designed to hide the fact that China carried out virtually all of the executions listed.

But wait -- as Amnesty admits, this only counts known cases; "the true figures were certainly higher." For instance, AI's 2002 report mentions Iraq, Cuba, and Syria exactly zero times. Combined. As far as I can tell from the report, Amnesty lists only legal executions, ignoring government-sanctioned extrajudicial killings. Now, there may be some good reason for tallying things in this way -- but I can't figure out what it is. Amnesty International, according to their website, "is a worldwide campaigning movement that works to promote internationally recognized human rights." Given that, it seems pretty strange to issue a report focusing on the execution of murderers convicted via due process while ignoring mass killings. Of course, AI can prioritize however they choose, and for some reason they have chosen to attack the death penalty in all its forms, under all circumstances. But it seems to me that if they can't tell the difference between the death penalty in the American judicial system and executions in Iraq, then there's really no reason to take AI seriously.

Amnesty has had this problem for a long time; either out of a misguided desire to be evenhanded regardless of appropriateness, or out a complete moral blindness, they condemn Western liberal democracies for isolated cases of police brutality as much as they do brutal dictatorships that murder dissidents. In my mind -- and in the mind of others I've spoken with -- it just trivializes the real cases when lumped in with the silly ones.

Peace dividend

Remember all those anti-war denials about Iraq's link to terrorism? (Yeah, I know, he's not Al Qaeda, so he doesn't count. That he's responsible for the murder of an American will be considered irrelevant.)

April 16, 2003

Have a good one

Happy Passover

April 18, 2003

I fart in your general direction

Isn't the world of diplomacy wonderful? Nothing is ever accomplished, but people agree to pretend that something has been. For instance, the United Nations' approach to Cuba:

The United Nations' top human rights body kept up the pressure on Cuba over its rights record today by urging the communist state to accept a visit by a U.N. envoy to probe alleged abuses.
Ah, yes. That pressure must be overwhelming. They "urged" Cuba to -- well, not to actually do anything about human rights. They urged Cuba to talk to their envoy. Boy, that'll scare Fidel Castro. Especially when coupled with their bold decision to reject an attempt to even criticize him:
But the 53-state Human Rights Commission spurned a tougher resolution from Costa Rica, backed by Washington and the European Union, demanding freedom for about 75 dissidents recently given lengthy jail terms.
In what way, exactly, would that be "tougher?" Have we learned nothing from Iraq? The Fourth Infantry Division is tough. The 101st Airborne is tough. United Nations resolutions are not. Not even if they "demand" things.

But wait, there's more:

Knowing all of this, a bloc of African nations, led by Libya, this year's chairman of the commission, nevertheless defeated the attempt to maintain a U.N. human rights monitoring presence in [Sudan].

But this is not the only outrage perpetuated at this year's meeting of the Commission on Human Rights, surely one of the most hypocritical on record. At this session, the commission also voted against putting Zimbabwe on its list of countries requiring special observation, against making any special mention of the human rights violations in Chechnya and against an amendment that condemned Cuba for jailing dissidents. No resolutions were proposed this year on the treatment of dissidents in China.

And apparently they never got around to liberating Iraq, either. Hey, when even the Washington Post is suggesting that the U.S. may not want to be a part of the organization, you know how pointless that organization must be:
Although many found it disturbing last year when the United States failed to win election to membership on the commission, this year's experience should cause U.S. diplomats to wonder whether our presence there does more harm than good. If the commission is going to continue to act against the interests of the world's weak and persecuted, we ought not to lend it any further credibility.
But how could the commission do otherwise? That Libya is chair of the committee is well-known and outrageous. But other members include Algeria, Burkina Faso, China, Congo, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. These countries have no basis for condemning any other country's human rights record, let alone for taking action. Nor would they want to do so; it's not in their interests to set that precedent. Which is yet another reason why the UN is worthless.

Too good for politics

Medical researchers are worried that their government grants to study controversial subjects are, well, controversial:

He said the idea that grants might be subject to political surveillance was creating a "pernicious sense of insecurity" among researchers.

Dr. Sommer said that if researchers feared that federal support for their work might be affected by politics, whether it was true or untrue, it could take a toll. "If people feel intimidated and start clouding the language they use, then your mind starts to get cloudy and the science gets cloudy," he said, adding that the federal financing of medical research had traditionally been free from political influence.

Oh, poor baby. So not only do you want taxpayer money given to you by the government, but you don't even want supervision by the government. It's the extension of the concept of entitlements beyond the realm of traditional welfare: the government should act like a giant ATM, dispensing money, but should have no say in how that money is spent, because the recipients are owed the money.

The arrogance of thinking that they should be beyond politics, while accepting public money, is incredible. And of course it's based on a false premise anyway, since there was never a time when politics didn't play a role in these decisions. Indeed, this topic provides the quintessential example; the disproportionate funding levels for AIDS research is a direct result of political pressure by activist groups.

By the way, shouldn't the New York Times have found someone to defend this state of affairs, rather than writing a one-sided piece implying that a bunch of puritan politicians are sticking their noses in where they don't belong?

[Update: added the link to the actual story, since I carelessly left that out when I posted it.]

April 20, 2003

Proving a point

The old cliche is that liberals think conservatives are evil, and conservatives think liberals are stupid. The neatness of that divide has been tested in recent years, as the attacks on George Bush illustrate -- he's not just mean-spirited; he's a simpleton, too. Still, the basic cliche holds, as Charles Krauthammer humorously explained last year.

And you couldn't ask for a better example than Colman McCarthy to demonstrate why conservatives think liberals are dumb. McCarthy wonders why, in analyzing the war, the cable news networks utilized retired military officers, rather than "such groups as Fellowship of Reconciliation, Pax Christi USA, Peace Action and the American Friends Service Committee." Here's a guess: could it be because the news shows were covering a war, and the former actually know something about war?

You have to admire McCarthy for his consistency, if nothing else; most anti-war people claimed that although they felt the war in Iraq was illegitimate, they supported at least a limited response to 9/11 in Afghanistan. McCarthy, though, argued that our response to 9/11 ought to be, "We forgive you. Please forgive us." You'd swear he was an Ann Coulter caricature of a leftist, if only he didn't exist. So when Charles Krauthammer writes:

Liberals tend to be nice, and they believe -- here is where they go stupid -- that most everybody else is nice too. Deep down, that is. Sure, you've got your multiple felon and your occasional war criminal, but they're undoubtedly depraved 'cause they're deprived. If only we could get social conditions right -- eliminate poverty, teach anger management, restore the ozone, arrest John Ashcroft -- everyone would be holding hands smiley-faced, rocking back and forth to "We Shall Overcome."

Liberals believe that human nature is fundamentally good. The fact that this is contradicted by, oh, 4,000 years of human history simply tells them how urgent is the need for their next seven-point program for the social reform of everything.

Just remember that he's talking about Colman McCarthy.

Breaking up is hard to do

Should Iraq continue to exist? Most treat it as a given that the United States must build a stable, multiethnic Iraq. Indeed, the first President Bush allowed Saddam Hussein to remain in power in 1991 in large part because he was worried that Iraq would break up if he didn't, and he feared the consequences. But back then, the U.S. wasn't trying to remake the middle east; now, we are. So, given that, maybe we should let Iraq break up, according to Ralph Peters.

The key lesson of Yugoslavia was that no amount of diplomatic pressure, bribes in aid or peacekeeping forces can vanquish the desire of the oppressed to reclaim their independence and identity. Attempts to force such groups to continue to play together like nice children simply prolong the conflict and intensify the bloodshed.

We are far too quick to follow Europe's example and resist the popular will we should be supporting. If the United States does not stand for self-determination, who shall?


As we try to help the Iraqis rebuild their state, we should spare no reasonable effort to demonstrate to all parties concerned the advantages of remaining together. But we must stop short of bullying them -- and well short of folly.

Even as we aim for a democratic, rule-of-law Iraq, we must consider alternatives if we are to avoid being bushwhacked by the guerrilla forces of history.

There are many potential problems if this happens, but there are also some benefits, the most unambiguous being a free and independent Kurdistan, already versed in democracy, and (unlike some other Iraqis) staunchly pro-American. A stable, full-size, democratic Iraq that's an American ally would obviously be an even greater asset, but that may not be an option. The point isn't that we should break up Iraq, but that if it's going to happen, we should let it happen.

April 21, 2003

A modest proposal?

How to reduce crime in two easy steps:

  1. Allow prison inmates to kill each other.
  2. Okay, there actually isn't a second step. The first one should really do it.
It might be a little harsh, but don't blame me -- it's not my idea. It's Jonathan Turley's proposal. Although, for some reason, he views it as social justice on par with Brown vs. Board of Education.
Modern prison policy is based on a concept of re-creating a microcosm of a healthy, albeit controlled, society in a prison. An inmate must be compelled to comply with the standards dictated by society if there is to be any hope of breaking the common cycle of recidivism.
Good idea! And if they don't, we'll just... put them in prison?
Segregation policies may reduce racial violence, but only by accommodating racist tastes -- a dangerous form of appeasement.

If it is true, as one California prison official testified, that you "cannot house a Japanese inmate with a Chinese inmate [because] they will kill each other," then it is time that they are forced to live according to a new code. It would certainly be better that they meet in a controlled prison environment than on a crowded street.


The solution is not easy, but we must regain control of the prisons and compel prisoners to live according to our core values.

Uh, not to point out the obvious, but if they were willing to do that, they wouldn't be in prison in the first place.
It is always tempting to avoid racial tension by yielding to racial separation. However, although there may be costs to desegregation, we have learned that the costs of embracing the conveniences of racial segregation are much higher.
I'd guess this was satire, only Turley is so earnest about this that I think he's really serious. Apparently he believes that people in prison would just learn not to be criminals if we had them hold hands in a circle and sing songs to each other. Maybe if we piped Rodney King's "Can't we all just get along?" line into their cells twenty-four hours a day, they'd all become Nobel peace laureates. (Or, they'd all kill themselves to stop the pain. Thus eliminating recidivism altogether.)

I hate to keep ripping off that Charles Krauthammer piece I referenced yesterday, but it's just so good, so go read it. Turley's column perfectly illustrates the naive stupidity Krauthammer describes. He has a vision of the perfect society, and he thinks he can achieve it if only he can engage in a little minor social engineering. He has no real idea how to accomplish this, but he thinks it should be done. No matter what the costs.

Blogging history

In case you were wondering, Mickey Kaus's use of the coinage "Euromoronic" appears to be the first usage ever on the internet, according to Google.

April 23, 2003

You make the call

Incompetence, or bias? Reading this Atlanta Journal-Constitution hackjob about ex-Red Cross head Bernadine Healy, it's hard to say. Actually, "both" appears to be the most likely answer. It seems that the Red Cross paid Healy a lot of money as she left her position as head of the organization, and the AJC tries to turn it into a scandal. Why? Because the reporter didn't understand deferred compensation, and didn't bother to find out what it meant. Lynxx Pherrett explains.

Come to think of it, didn't we see a similar "scandal" with regard to Dick Cheney and Halliburton recently, when it was revealed that he was receiving deferred compensation from his former company? There seems to be a pattern here. (Well, it's only two cases, which probably isn't enough to call it a pattern. So sue me.) Some in the media don't seem to grasp that deferred compensation is not a gift to a former employee, but rather payment already earned. I suspect that bias plays a role, though -- not partisan bias, but bias against high salaries for corporate executives, particularly in the post-Enron era. There's a journalistic instinct to assume something must be wrong.

Where's Zogby when you need him?

When even Salon -- no friend to the Bush administration, to say the least -- reports that Iraqi Shiites are grateful to the U.S., you really have to wonder why the New York Times is so very desperate to portray Iraq as an anti-American hotbed? (Samples: "As Baghdad Awaits Aid, Feeling Grows Against U.S." and "But even in the Shiite south, one feels as much menace as gratitude. ... Those Americans who contend that Iraqis hail us as liberators should try traveling around Iraq. I grew a mustache to look more like an Iraqi so hostile locals wouldn't throw rocks at my car.")

Ferry Biedermann reports, in Salon:

From all parts of Iraq the pilgrims have been streaming toward Karbala for almost a week -- openly, proudly and, despite the mournful occasion, joyously. For the first time since the fall of Saddam Hussein there is a clear mass popular expression of the relief of the people that the dictator is no longer in power. "Thank you, Bush!" many of the pilgrims shout, as they give the thumbs-up to the U.S.A. The religious holiday is turning into a huge festival of liberation.
A little farther down the road, a student from Al Durra, near Baghdad, is walking toward Karbala with two female relatives, clad in black. "The road is safe," he says, "and we have the Americans to thank for it. They are our friends. They even said we could leave our weapons at home because they will defend us."
Not that all Shiites are now 100 percent positive about the U.S. presence. Outside the mosque of Ali in Najaf, a group of men from Nasariyeh is eating lunch in a hurry before moving on to Karbala. "The American soldiers touch our women when they frisk them," some complain. "They look into our homes with binoculars and they show pictures from Playboy to our children," others chime in.

Still, even this relatively disenchanted group does not want to see the Americans gone just yet. "The war has barely ended, Saddam Hussein has not been found yet, and the country has to be helped on its feet," one of them explains. Another man, who had been complaining about the frisking of women, concedes, "We wouldn't mind the women being frisked if is being done by female soldiers." This reflects the attitude of the large majority of the people on the road. There may be some complaints, but by and large people regard the Americans as friendly and they want the troops to stay and finish the job.

The "Yankee go home" demonstrations, according to Biedermann, represent political maneuvering by Shiite leaders more than true anti-American sentiment. Of course, I don't discount the possibility that U.S. screwups in post-war Iraq could lead to widespread anti-Americanism, but the eagerness of the Times to interpret every chanting Iraqi as an America-hater seems more an example of wishful thinking than reporting.

Quote of the day

From the National Review's Jonah Goldberg:

To say that I was French-bashing before French-bashing was cool would be like saying "I was using verbs before everyone else." French-bashing is eternal.
'Nuff said.

April 24, 2003

Non-sequitur of the day

Where does the New York Times come up with this stuff? From the Arts section, an article by Alessandra Stanley reviewing Monica Lewinsky's new reality show, Mr. Personality:

The invasion of Iraq reminded viewers how much class determines the makeup of the United States military; the all-volunteer army is disproportionally made up of poorer, less-educated Americans who view the service as a way of lifting themselves up in the world.
1. Say wha? I can't speak for anybody except myself and my acquaintances, and unlike the Times I wouldn't presume to try. But when I watched coverage of the war, I thought about military tactics. I thought about high-tech weaponry. I thought about weapons of mass destruction. I thought about the effects of the war on our relations with other countries in the Middle East and Europe. I don't recall a single moment when I thought, "Boy, our military's makeup is determined by class." And I haven't encountered anybody else who mentioned that, either. Which "viewers" does Stanley refer to?

2. While it's obviously true that some people join the military for the opportunities it provides for them, note Stanley's implication that patriotism plays little or no role in the matter. Why would you join the armed forces? Oh, if you're poor or stupid. Of course. It's not even that Stanley's assumption is wrong; it's the casualness with which she tosses it out, as if it's self-evident, without even a pause to consider other explanations.

3. Stanley is, of course, wrong. The military is not made up disproportionately of less-educated Americans. From a Department of Defense report published in 2000, with emphasis added:

Education Level. The Military Services value and support the education of their members. The emphasis on education was evident in the data for FY 2000. Practically all active duty and Selected Reserve enlisted accessions had a high school diploma or equivalent, well above civilian youth proportions (79 percent of 18-24 year-olds). More important, excluding accessions enlisting in the Army or Army Reserve under the GED+ program (an experimental program of individuals with a GED or no credential who have met special screening criteria for enlisting), 93 percent of NPS active duty and 90 percent of NPS Selected Reserve enlisted recruits were high school diploma graduates.

Given that most officers are required to possess at least a baccalaureate college degree upon or soon after commissioning and that colleges and universities are among the Services’ main commissioning sources (i.e., Service academies and ROTC), the academic standing of officers is not surprising. The fact that 96 percent of active duty officer accessions and 97 percent of the officer corps (both excluding those with unknown education credentials) were degree holders (approximately 16 and 44 percent advanced degrees) is in keeping with policy and the professional status and expectations of officers. Likewise, 86 percent of Reserve Component officer accessions and 88 percent of the total Reserve Component officer corps held at least a bachelor’s degree, with 24 and 30 percent possessing advanced degrees, respectively.

It's certainly true that there are few Ivy League graduates serving in the military, But there are millions of Americans who don't graduate from high school, and most Americans are not college graduates. (See the census for more detailed data.) Is the Times deliberately attempting to demean the military? I doubt it. But they have a stereotypical vision of what members of the military must be like, and it's so ingrained that they don't even realize it.

A moment of silence

As we pause to remember those brave Americans who sacrificed their lives during Iraqi Freedom, and as our thoughts also turn to the innocent civilians who were tragically killed, let's make sure not to overlook the real victim in all this suffering.

(I'd Fisk it, but I'm afraid I'd vomit halfway through.)


The most recent datum I have reports that 261 people world-wide have died from SARS. All 261 of these deaths are tragic, however, while watching and reading news reports on SARS and how Canada, the United States, and the Far East is taking precautions to prevent its further spread, let's remember that: at last count 710,760 people die annually from heart disease in the US alone and that every 10 seconds, someone dies from a tobacco related health problem. (Of course, there is some overlap in these two figures.)

So, while thinking about SARS... thinking of the 261 in the world and the 710,760 annually in this country... everybody should also be thinking about hitting the treadmill and, if you smoke, quiting. We might not yet know how to defeat SARS, but we do know how to reduce heart disease and tobacco related deaths.

Praise Rick!

The Philadelphia Daily News has found someone who agrees with Senator Santorum.

April 26, 2003

Yasser Arafat won a Nobel Peace Prize

Everyone's favorite terrorist-conspiring lawyer (alleged, of course) is back in the news:

Since its founding in 1983, the law school of the City University of New York has taken pride in its zeal to produce lawyers with a social conscience and a left-wing sense of the public interest.

Now these students have taken their training a step too far for the school's administration: they are seeking to honor the only American lawyer ever charged with providing material support to a terrorist organization.

The lawyer, Lynne F. Stewart, 63, was a natural choice to many students at the campus in Queens. Since her arrest last April on charges that she helped an Egyptian sheik to direct terrorist operations from his Minnesota prison cell, Ms. Stewart has become a cause célèbre among many left-leaning lawyers and advocates. The students say the charges against her are groundless and part of an assault on civil liberties.

Members of the graduating class presented their dean last week with a petition signed by more than half of them nominating Ms. Stewart as public interest lawyer of the year.

Students are complaining about censorship -- though the article is unclear as to whether the award has actually been revoked or whether its presentation was merely removed from the graduation ceremony -- while the school is portraying its decision as the politically safe course of action, given the school's dependence on government funding. What neither side addresses, at least in the article, is exactly what Lynne Stewart has done to earn the title "Public Interest Lawyer of the Year." As far as I can tell, all she did in the last year was (a) get arrested for assisting terrorists, and (b) circulating among the nation's law schools, complaining about it.

But if the article is any guide, it seems as if the students were acting inappropriately, abusing their opportunity to award the honor:

Some students are so angry about the dean's decision that they plan to wear tape over their mouths at graduation to signify that their statement of protest has been silenced, said Barry Klopfer, a third-year student.
The honor, presumably, is supposed to be something earned by the recipient, not something given as a "statement of protest." (Against what? And if they're protesting against her arrest, shouldn't they first wait to see whether the arrest was justified?)

(By the way, note the way it's taken for granted that "public interest" and "left-wing" are synonymous. As if there are no libertarian or conservative public interest causes?)

April 27, 2003

Blame America First

Poor planning by the incompetent Bush administration has again led to looting of priceless art.

Thieves have stolen drawings worth more than one million pounds ($1.6 million) by Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Paul Gauguin from a British gallery in a well-organized heist, police said on Sunday.
If only the U.S. was less interested in oil, this would never have happened. These crimes were obviously foreseeable, so why didn't Donald Rumsfeld do something to prevent them?

April 28, 2003

The private sector does it again

Who needs the CIA when you have the Daily Telegraph? They do it again, finding documents which show links between Al Qaeda and Iraq:

Papers found yesterday in the bombed headquarters of the Mukhabarat, Iraq's intelligence service, reveal that an al-Qa'eda envoy was invited clandestinely to Baghdad in March 1998.

The documents show that the purpose of the meeting was to establish a relationship between Baghdad and al-Qa'eda based on their mutual hatred of America and Saudi Arabia. The meeting apparently went so well that it was extended by a week and ended with arrangements being discussed for bin Laden to visit Baghdad.

I'm sure there are a myriad of reasons why these documents won't count, as far as anti-war people are concerned. I'm not creative enough to come up with them all, but "they're forgeries planted by the U.S." is probably number one on that list. I also anticipate the strawman rebuttal of "This doesn't prove that Iraq was responsible for 9/11," which of course isn't the accusation being made.

Now, I won't complain that the CIA et al. weren't able to uncover such information before the war -- indeed, it was unreasonable to expect them to do so. Intelligence is necessarily a game of circumstantial evidence, rumor and hearsay. Discovering hard evidence, convincing to skeptics (who aren't cleared to see the raw information) is nearly impossible. There are no "smoking guns" in ordinary intelligence work. This post-war situation, which provides an opportunity to actually examine foreign government documents, is unique.

What I am concerned about, however, is why the Telegraph is finding these documents now. What on earth are our intelligence agencies doing? How can these documents be lying untouched in government buildings? Why haven't they been collected? I don't expect them to be analyzed instantaneously, of course -- but why haven't the buildings been secured, so that reporters can't rummage through them at will? Criticisms of the Bush administration for not maintaining civil order in Iraq as of the day Baghdad fell sounded like sour grapes -- the people who thought the war would be harder felt the need to attack Bush for something, just to prove that Bush's plans hadn't been perfect. But now it has been several weeks since the war ended, enough time to get American forces into position and to send in teams of agents to begin sifting through the rubble of the regime, and...? Where are they?

We're not talking about clay pots or vases of mere historical importance; we're talking about documents key to administering the new Iraq, documents key to understanding the nature of the (recent) Iraqi threat, and possibly key to understanding recent or current terrorist threats. These papers provide information crucial for uncovering weapons, arresting upper-level members of Saddam's regime, constructing a Baath-free government in Iraq, and possibly capturing terrorists. And yet they're just lying around. Can anybody explain why?

April 30, 2003

Don't touch that dial

Blogging frequency may be erratic (more erratic than usual) in the near future, as I'm starting a new job. But I intend to keep blogging until they pry this keyboard from my cold dead hands. We'll have to play it by ear.

About April 2003

This page contains all entries posted to Jumping To Conclusions in April 2003. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2003 is the previous archive.

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