September 30, 2001

U.S. Gifts to the Taliban

Recycled LinkThat story about the U.S. giving $43 million to the Taliban? It's false:

The truth is contained in the transcript of a briefing given by Secretary of State Colin Powell, who on May 17 announced the $43 million grant; it was aimed at alleviating a famine that threatened the lives of four million Afghans. Far from handing the money over to the Taliban, Powell went out of his way to criticize them, and to explain the steps the United States was taking to keep the money out of their hands.
" We distribute our assistance in Afghanistan through international agencies of the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, " Powell said. " We provide our relief to the people of Afghanistan, not to Afghanistan’s ruling factions. Our aid bypasses the Taliban, who have done little to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people, and indeed have done much to exacerbate it. "

Isn't it just like that wacky corporate-owned conservative media to slant a story like that? Thank god for the alternative press.... This is exactly the kind of misrepresentation I hope to avoid in WOIFM.

Link from Glenn.

Posted by wasylik at 08:39 PM

Good Reading at Instapundit

Lots of good reading over at InstaPundit. Glenn uncovered a Michael Kinsley article noting that racial profiling and affirmative action are two sides of the same coin.

You can believe (as I do) that affirmative action is often a justifiable form of discrimination, but you cannot sensibly believe that it isn't discrimination at all. Racial profiling and affirmative action are analytically the same thing. When the cops stop black drivers or companies make extra efforts to hire black employees, they are both giving certain individuals special treatment based on racial generalizations. The only difference is that in one case the special treatment is something bad and in the other it's something good. Yet defenders of affirmative action tend to deplore racial profiling and vice versa.

While Kinsley thinks that discrimination is sometimes "justifiable," I don't. Both racial profiling and affirmative action are deplorable.

Racial profiling is based on a logical fallacy: since criminals are X times more likely to be of a particular ethnic background, police are therefore justified in treating all members of that ethnic category as if they were criminals. But, just because (for exmaple) all the hijackers on Sept. 11 were Middle Eastern does not make all persons of Middle Eastern descent hijackers. But racial profiling is an official sanction for our society to think and act that way. It's no different than if Congress passed a resoluion stating that X group are lazy, and X group are dishonest, and X group are drunkards, and X group are organized criminals.

What liberals and racial apologists often choose not to see is that affirmative action works the same way. Just because some group members have more or fewer advantages than members of other groups, does not mean that the every member of the group is. Like racial profiling, affirmative action functions rest on group assumptions without regard for individual circumstances. That fact flies in the face of our Declaration that "all men are created equal," and more importantly, our Fourteenth Amendment guarantee that American's laws will protect each American equally without regard to race. Anything less is the moral equivalent of treating a person as a criminal based on his ancestry.

Posted by wasylik at 08:21 PM

September 28, 2001

Rudy III?

Rudy might go for three. Rich Galen reports:

The Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, has asked the remaining contenders in the race to succeed him for permission to remain in office for six months. Two of them have agreed to something on the order of three months allowing Giuliani to remain until the end of March, 2002.
According to Mullings sources, the Mayor met with conservative leaders on Wednesday night to explore the possibility of end-running the two-term limit by allowing him to run on the Conservative line. Some observers believe that Giuliani could run as a write-in and, according people close to the discussions, Terry Gray, who is the Conservative Party's candidate, might agree to withdraw and allow Giuliani to run as a write-in.

I don't know much about New York's term limits law, but I do know that Rudy Giuliani's popularity is so high right now that he would almost certainly win in November. If he runs and wins, that's basically a death knell for term limits laws everywhere. While I'm no fan of term limits laws, I'm not sure if this is really the best way to kill them.

Posted by wasylik at 10:09 AM

September 27, 2001

More art by Eliza Gauger

More art by Eliza Gauger.

Posted by wasylik at 07:20 PM

Open Reagan

Sean thinks we should re-open the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. I agree.

The airport has remained closed primarily because it is too close to D.C. to be considered safe by some in the administration. But I think that re-opening Reagan National Airport is no more dangerous than re-opening Dulles or BWI. The irony, after all, is that the Flight 77 that returned to hit the Pentagon came not from Reagan National but from Dulles.

In order to pose a similar threat, flights using DCA (the FAA's designation for Reagan National Airport) would have to be under control of a hostile pilot - in other words, hijacked again. Clearly, flights departing DCA pose little to no risk over that of flights leaving any other airport in the region. A hijacker would need at least a few minutes to take control of the plane, probably more now that before Sept. 11, and in those few minutes, the flight would have passed far outside the immediate danger zone. Also, because flights departing DCA are shorter flights, they have less fuel on board, making them less useful to hijackers as tools of destruction.

Arriving flights are a different story. They could, in theory, be captured by hijackers before arrival, veer off at the last minute, and hit targets close by, like the White House, Capitol, or the Pentagon. The way to make flight arrival at DCA safe, then, is to ensure that arriving flights are under control of the pilot at all times during approach. It would not be difficult, for example, to have the pilot provide "all clear" codes during the approach. Any flight which fails to prove itself under friendly control would be treated as hostile and would not be permitted to enter the airspace. If the pilot cannot provide a code for any reason, the flight should be diverted to Dulles, where there are few potential targets nearby.

Not hard to do. Let's get on it.

Posted by wasylik at 03:45 PM

The Most Dangerous Place In the World

"The most dangerous place in the world is between a mother and her children."

You can buy the t-shirt. All profits go to charity.

Posted by wasylik at 11:58 AM

September 26, 2001

red Light ot Traffic Cameras

Earlier this month, a California judge threw out hundreds of tickets issued based on automated red-light camera evidence:

The ruling by San Diego Superior Court Judge Ronald Styn was the first of its kind in the nation. The ruling only applies directly to about 300 motorists fighting their tickets here. The judge threw out the tickets, saying evidence provided by the cameras was "so untrustworthy and unreliable that it should not be admitted."

Hey... Doesn't Halcyon Styn live in San Diego? And isn't his dad a judge? Cool.

Posted by wasylik at 08:26 PM

Stewart and Letterman on 9/11

Recycled LinkHit-or-Miss pointed to the video of Jon Stewart's monologue on the Daily Show when he first returned. I thought Letterman's speech was moving, but Stewart really had me choking up.

Posted by wasylik at 08:13 PM

Lura in Irish Terror

Lura has a great point - fighting IRA terrorism would go a long way towards de-fusing the Christians v. Muslims subtext of the anti-terrorism struggle. And morally, the IRA is no better than, say, the Palestinian terrorists who walk into pizza parlors and blow up civilians under the pretext of defending sovereignity. Yes, civilians often die in war, but in times of peace, choosing civilians as a primary target is simply inhuman.

Posted by wasylik at 12:57 AM

September 25, 2001

ABA Examines NLP

The American Bar Association examines trial lawyers who use neurolinguistic programming (NLP) to persaude.

Posted by wasylik at 08:39 PM

IRA in the Crosshairs?

Last Friday night, four of us prepared to walk into our local Irish pub. As I showed my ID and paid my cover, a thought hit me.

"Oh my God," I said to my friend, who is proud of her Irish heritage, "We just declared war on the IRA Wednesday night, didn't we?"

Suddenly, little things about President Bush's speech which had been nagging at me like a loose tooth made sense. That's why America has "no truer friend" than England. That's why Tony Blair came over to join in strategy sessions - an unusually strong show of support even for a situation like this. We've made a deal with them to help root out their own terror problem.

Our President said, "Our war on terror begins with Al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated." Well, who was he talking about? Surely IRA factions fit this description - even if they confine their activities to one enemy, they conduct large parts of their fundraising here, and certainly some their weapons as well. And like Al Quaeda, the IRA has focused attacks primarily on civilian targets.

Troubles in Northern Ireland have been heating up for the last several months and seem about to come to a head. And now, more than ever, the United States can offer great aid to Great Britain in ripping out the IRA by the roots, since so much of their strength is here in the States. In return, Great Britain can serve as our cheerleader overseas, helping to keep our shakier allies in line with the cause. They can offer intelliegence in places where ours might be spotty. They can teach us anti-terrorism tactics and even lend specialized troops.

After the initial waves in Afghanistan subside, start looking for America to take a stronger stance against the IRA both here and abroad. Watch as the IRA's tendrils in Boston and elsewhere get cut off, or maybe you won't be able to watch, if these operations are those the President referred to as "covert operations secret even in success."

Now, of course the President didn't come right out and say this last Wednesday night. But assuming that the IRA is now in America's crosshairs, a lot more of what he has said and done makes sense.

Posted by wasylik at 03:55 PM

Repenting for Gore

Recycled LinkA former rabid Gore partisan repents: I Was Wrong About Bush.

How wrong I was. Since the murderous terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush has come alive in a way I did not think possible. It was as though the attack on America--which he rightly called an "act of war" from the start--gave him a focus and clarity I had not earlier seen.
I must sadly admit that Bill Clinton, for whom I voted twice, could not have delivered that same clear speech last Thursday. His almost compulsive need to please all sides would have prevented him from casting the issues as starkly or as unequivocally.

It's fair to say that our current President is a better man now than before this test arose - certainly that has been the way he presented himself.

Link from Reductio.

Posted by wasylik at 02:10 PM

September 24, 2001

Clinton: Missing Isn't Sex Either

Bill Clinton recently claimed that his 1998 attack on Osama bin Laden missed him by that much. Byron York discovers that it wasn't even close.

In an interview with National Review Online, retired general Anthony Zinni, commander of U.S. forces in the region at the time, described the 1998 cruise-missile raid as a "million-to-one-shot."
"There was a possibility [bin Laden] could have been there," Zinni recalls. "My intelligence people did not put a lot of faith in that....As I was given this mission to do, I did not see that anyone had any degree of assurance or reliability that that was going to happen."

The only dead-on target hit was the PR distraction from Clinton's troubles at home.

Posted by wasylik at 12:59 PM

Das Boot

A 23-year-old ensign shares a moving story of support from abroad.

Posted by wasylik at 11:17 AM

September 23, 2001

Republicans for Civil Rights

Glenn Reynolds discovers that, contrary to common wisdom, Republicans like Dick Armey, J.C. Watts, and Bob Barr are serving as guardians of civil rights in the debate on how to fight terrorism.

Posted by wasylik at 09:55 PM

Leary Firefighters Foundation

A few years ago, several Boston firefighters perished fighting a blaze. One of them was the cousin of comedian Denis Leary. He created the Leary Firefighters Foundation to aid the families of those left behind. Now, the Foundation is expanding its reach to aid those families of firefighters who were lost on September 11. Unfortunately, they are not yet accepting donations via the web, but you can mail them a check.

Posted by wasylik at 08:00 PM