July 31, 2005

Stem Cell Facts

Posted by TMLutas

I've thought that it would make a devastating case to lay out the many treatments in active use derived from adult stem cells versus the zero treatments available from embryonic stem cells. I've not got off my lazy butt to do it but others have and the current count seems to be 65 adult stem cell treatments to 0 embryonic stem cell treatments. Where would you like to put the next marginal federal research dollar?

July 30, 2005

So It's Democracy After All

Posted by TMLutas

For quite some time, people have been wondering whether President Bush's pro-democracy calls are just lip service or a real change in US foreign policy that the US is prepared to pay a price to sustain. The key area, many thought, would be in Central Asia where we were cutting deals to create a network of bases in order to get a handle on Central Asian terrorism and also to supply operations in Afghanistan.

The evidence is now in and it looks like the naysayers have some apologies to hand out. Uzbekistan is so cross with us over our promotion of liberty and democracy that they're willing to forego a fairly serious chunk of change ($15M since 2001) and plunge relations into a deep freeze. Perhaps they fear that the pressure the US is putting on the regime is working well enough that an isolated Uzbekistan is considered better than an Uzbekistan under different, more democratic management.

July 26, 2005

Quiz time

Posted by TMLutas

My computer geek score is greater than 98% of all people in the world! How do you compare? Click here to find out!

HT: Llama Butchers

July 19, 2005

Stupid Is as Stupid Does

Posted by TMLutas

Countercolumn calls Anarchangel stupid for Team Infidel Koran urination. I think the criticism is irrelevant, and ultimately mistaken.

I don't know Anarchangel's intelligence. He might actually be stupid, for all I know. I somehow doubt it. Whatever his intelligence level, he's exposing an Islamist psychological warfare operation, one that most of us have slowly given in to without murmur, without protest, and for too many without even realizing it as it happens.

The aim of jihadists is for us to become dhimmi, to pay the head tax and agree to ritual humiliation, to agree to pull our own punches and only play defense spiritually, religiously, culturally. We can fight among ourselves over whether Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox is the true Church but woe to us if we examine islam with the same critical tools we apply to our own faith. Even worse, woe to those who would mock Islam, whether artistically as Theo Van Gogh did or in a bit of popular culture with target practice and bathroom breaks.

Muslims are going to have to live with the fact that 5/6ths of the planet doesn't think much of their holy book. If they think that they can pass death sentences over offensive speech and cow the rest of the world, they will find that koranic verse toilet paper is going to get quite popular.

On a personal note, I count myself among the cowed. I self-censor this blog because I have a family and won't put them at risk by pushing hard enough to get my own fatwa. That's why I talk about making a movie about mohammed instead of actually doing a 10 minute quicktime short. The latter is guaranteed to generate a fatwa if it circulates widely enough and I won't take the step. I don't think that there would be enough police to protect me.

July 17, 2005

Piss Koran

Posted by TMLutas

I've long wondered what would happen if somebody did the islamic equivalent of "Piss Christ" in an articulate way. Well, I wonder no more. There's a fatwa out on "Team Infidel" for Koran desecration and the FBI called the leader and warned him, his family, his present and past employers, and his associates to take anti-terrorist precautions.

This guy is brave, heavily armed and unwilling to back down. Whether or not what he's done has been in good taste or not, it's certainly within the law. He could have gotten the same reaction by just making a movie about Mohammed and showing an actor playing the historical figure. In fact, if I didn't have small children, I'd love to shop a script around to see if anybody in Hollywood would take the role.

Murderers = Traitors

Posted by TMLutas

Here's a thought, if Democrats can say that Republicans "want to kill us" then calling Democrats traitors just became fair game. Maybe the Democrat party will repudiate Begala. Maybe this will make him an unemployable pariah. I don't know how the liberals would pull it off. After all, Julianne Malveaux hasn't been kicked to the curb after calling President Bush "evil" and a "terrorist". She's still got her semi-regular USA Today gig as far as I know.

The problem is that once people start tossing around the word treason, things will get even uglier. The Republicans are taking shot after dirty shot in the shorts for the sake of the country but it's unrealistic to expect them to do that forever. If the overheated rhetoric on the left doesn't get toned down, at some point somebody beside Ann Coulter is going to pick up the banner and call the Democrat party the party of treason. May the day reputable Republicans do it never come.

July 16, 2005

Moderate Islam On the Move

Posted by TMLutas

I was very heartened by USA Today article which tells me that the moderate muslims are starting to get their act together. Unfortunately, they're moving glacially slowly and are not coordinating adequately yet.

British Muslim leaders said they were drafting a fatwa that would strip any bombers of the right to call themselves Muslims.
Unfortunately, this clashes with an equally promising development.
A conference of 180 top Muslim religious leaders issued a statement last week forbidding that any Muslim be declared an apostate. Bin Laden has frequently done this to sanction the death of Muslims he believes are too lax in their faith.
They will eventually sort it all out and pick an approach but it's painful to realize how slow a process this is likely to be. I hope that they have enough time to get their act together.

July 12, 2005

Where's Atta?

Posted by TMLutas

It struck me that an entirely promising line of questioning has gone largely unmined in dealing with islamic moderates. If they are muslims, they believe in Heaven and Hell. So where is Mohammed Atta right now? What is the resting place of a soul that was convinced he was going to get his 72 virgins, did not commit martyrdom, but rather the entirely condemnable crime the self-proclaimed muslim moderates no doubt already said he did. They either say he's in Hell and remain consistent in their moderate statements or they are caught in a lie and exposed as fake moderates.

For those who place Atta in Hell, a further question is warranted, what is the final spiritual destination of an imam that would lead a man into such error, assuming he did not repent his ways? Furthermore, how should such preachers be treated by the muslim community, their Ummah on earth where they are spreading their falsehoods and leading men into Hell? Should they be permitted to preach in the mosques and lead others astray?

Finally, what is the proper role that the civil authorities should take to mosques that not only do not condemn such false imams but let them lead their prayers and spread their poison? Should these houses of false worship be treated as mosques or are they something else? If they are something else, what is it and what should be done about them?

It has been 4 years since 9/11/2001. I've followed the international discussion on Islamism with great interest. I have yet to see any muslim moderate explain the theological consequences of Islamism. It's a shame because reputable clerics explaining that these people are going to Hell are the best immunization against the seductive promises of martyrdom and glory by Semtex.

July 11, 2005


Posted by TMLutas

NARAL claims that it's about "choice". Now they're advertising a Screw Abstinence party. They claim that funds will be spent to promote sex education and the full range of choices. Apparently, those choices are not going to include abstaining from sex prior to marriage.

HT: The Corner

Clinton's Starting to Scare Me

Posted by TMLutas

I'd hoped that Hillary Clinton's turn to the center might hold a bit, might even bring the Democrats back to some sort of policy sanity for awhile.

Foolish me.

Writing in the Washington Post and teaming with the unpromising liberal dinosaur Carl Levin, Hillary just lost her mind over North Korea. Before I get to that, a little history.

The Clinton administration negotiated seriously with North Korea so that it would stop its progress towards nuclear weapons in violation of its treaty obligations. The product of those negotiations, the "Agreed Framework" was supposed to have kept us from the nightmare of a NE Asia nuclear race with S. Korea, Taiwan, and Japan all needing to build a bomb to deter N. Korea. The Agreed Framework failed. We had detected one of their nuclear initiatives, the plutonium one. They had been running two in parallel and their uranium program continued apace. The 1 to 2 nuclear weapons that were produced out of that uranium program are what stays our hand while Pyongyang shamelessly tramples on their NPT and Agreed Framework commitments today.

Senator Clinton praises the Agreed Framework agreement and wants us to move back to the days when we were being hoodwinked by the N. Korean government. That's bad policy no matter how you slice it.

What really got my goat was this section, blasting President Bush's insistence on multilateralism

This is about more than the stability of the Korean Peninsula and the fate of South Korea and U.S. troops stationed there, important as those things are. What is at stake is the stability of Northeast Asia and, arguably, the global economic and political order. The administration must get serious. It doesn't matter who is at the table as long as we and the North Koreans are there, and as long as both sides negotiate with seriousness and urgency. The administration must inject both into the process.

This is insulting to the other 4 parties in the 6 party talks. The PRC, S. Korea, Japan, and Russia are being written off as irrelevant powers who don't matter whether they show up or not and who have no independent beefs with N. Korea. The non-nuclear among them, S. Korea and Japan, are supposedly going to go nuclear if N. Korea doesn't pull back and disarm but their presence at negotiations is a mere asterisk, unimportant. Gratuitously insulting major regional and world powers is not a good way to maintain or improve the US' standing in the world.

Beyond that, if Hu and Kim sat down over some dim sum and kim chee and hammered out an agreement that would verifiably get rid of N. Korea's nuclear weapons and dismantle its programs, would it really bother anybody here that the US was not at the table? I wouldn't lose a moment's sleep over it and would tip my hat to the savvy PRC diplomats who could think far enough ahead to see what an increase in world stature that would mean for their country.

The US seems to be promoting a system of regional powers that keeps their areas reasonably well running with a US supplied backstop. Nigeria is being promoted for that role in Africa, for example. Iraq needed to be a US show because there are no remotely acceptable regional powers as of our decision date to invade Saddam's Iraq. In NE Asia there are plenty of contenders for the role. That's why including all of them in talks is important. We don't want to be a world policeman. We don't want to infantilize serious nations and serious governments. It's too expensive and dangerous to boot.

HT: The Dignified Rant

July 08, 2005

Useless Sex Offender Registries

Posted by TMLutas

Illinois engages in criminal stupidity by putting non-sexual offenders on its sex offender list. The purpose of this registry is to make it easier for parents to protect their children. If you live near an offender, you know to move away, drive him out, or keep special watch on your kids. By polluting the registry with false hits (the "offender" in this case apparently only wanted to chastise a silly girl who darted in front of his car and almost got killed for her carelessness) it renders the list nearly useless and you have to dig through trial transcripts to sort out whether you really should be worried.

The police failed, the girls parents failed, the prosecutor failed, the jury failed, and the judge failed to stop this madness. It's just too sad.

HT: Professor Bainbridge

July 07, 2005

Pray for London

Posted by TMLutas

London has been bombed, likely by terrorists, likely by Al Queda. I pray that the injured will pull through, that the dead have a quick trip to Heaven and that justice will swiftly find the perpetrators.

July 06, 2005

War Crime Reporting

Posted by TMLutas

In an otherwise entirely admirable article, Christopher Hitchens misses a stitch:

I call your attention to a report in the London Independent from Patrick Cockburn, published on Dec. 1, 2004. I should say that Cockburn is an old friend of mine, an extremely brave veteran of Iraqi reportage for three decades, and no admirer—to say the very least—of the war or the occupation. He reprinted a letter from Naji Sabri, Saddam Hussein's foreign minister, to his supreme leader. It is dated five days before the fall of Baghdad. In the letter, Sabri expresses concern that world opinion is receiving an impression of too much fraternization between Iraqis and American forces. A cure for this, he argues, is "to target their vehicle checkpoints with suicide operations by civilian vehicles in order to make the savage Americans realize that their contact with Iraqi civilians is as dangerous as facing them on the battlefield."

The missed stitch in talking about Sabri's letter is that the tactic described is a war crime. It's as damning a piece of evidence as anything that ever came out of the Nazi archives. The consequence of such crimes are morally and legally assigned to the side that intentionally mingles with civilians, that fights without uniform, and that does its best to ensure that civilians do not have the sanctuary that the rules of land warfare were developed to create.

It bears repeating, time after time after time, that these actions are war crimes. It also bears repeating that the customary penalty for these sorts of crimes is death. The perpetrators of these crimes are equivalent to the worst of mass murderers.

It is a propaganda action of the enemy to make us forget that these are war crimes. It is psychological war against the population of Iraq and the populations of the coalition forces fighting for Iraq to take on the guilt for these civilian deaths. It is the plain duty of the media to give context to these reports and ensure that we do not forget the truth. The laws of war that create sanctuary for civilians by requiring soldiers to wear uniforms are there to save civilian lives. When those laws of civilian sanctuary are violated, the side that violates them bears the blame for subsequent civilian deaths. Force protection measures that lead to extra civilian lives lost due to war crime actions of our enemy are the fault of the enemy.

July 05, 2005

Walking the Line

Posted by TMLutas

Just a little vignette from a very good Iraq report series .

More than half of the patients in the hospital were Iraqis. Among the other half was a Romanian civilian who had been providing security until he got shot in the leg. Now, he was in healthy spirits, but in that Romanian way—looking askance with slightly raised brows as if to say, "I am skeptical, cynical, and clever . . . and I expect to suffer a thousand lies for every blade of truth, and I will drink you into submission and you will tell more than you intended you fool!" Actually, he seemed a pleasant fellow.

Oh, how true, how very, very true.

Why the PRC Will Invade Taiwan

Posted by TMLutas

I think that Brian Dunn is doing good work in raising the alarm that the PRC could invade Taiwan. I also think he's getting the motivation wrong. The PRC has a pretty good deal going. If they could keep things as they are, they likely would. Thomas Barnett's connectivity thesis does have validity. Where it breaks down is when actors do not behave rationally. The problem is one of transparency or, more accurately, lack of transparency.

If the PRC is much less stable than we think it is. If the leadership sees itself getting ousted because the money to subsidize the great economic frauds of the SOEs is running out, it is a realistic possibility that they will take Taiwan for the money, cut loose the SOEs, and blame their resultant recession on the inevitable economic boycott that the rest of the world will impose on the PRC. Since so much manufacturing is based out of China, they are probably in for only a temporary period of economic isolation.

A few window dressing changes of leadership and things could get to normal pretty quickly. How would the US react if the KMT were legalized after a forcible Taiwan takeover and a third to a half of the Communist party cadres left to join the KMT? The two, after all, are no longer at war. They also both agree that Taiwan is part of China.

This fanciful scenario entirely depends on very secret data, the actual state of the PRC's economy and the regime's ability to surf the discontents of a peacefully rising China. Frankly, I'm not sure anybody on the North American continent (official or unofficial) is really sure what the fracture points are.

July 04, 2005

Happy 4th of July

Posted by TMLutas

To all Americans and those who hold a soft spot for us, I wish you a happy 4th of July and a hope that we honor the sacrifices that made today possible. It's 229 years since the declaration of independence was unanimously signed in Congress by the 13 united states of America. May the USA have many more happy birthdays to come and may they all come finding her a free, democratic republic.

July 02, 2005

Will the Jihadis Go Away if We Do?

Posted by TMLutas

Donald Sensing has a good article on the subject of military compulsion, how combat is a great deal about compelling your enemy to do what you want them to. As an endnote, he chides Callimachus for saying

We can be building up a strong and stable Iraq. Or we can be setting up a permanent battlefield there to draw in jihadis (the "flypaper effect") and fight them there because it's better than fighting them there.

But not both. If we are deliberately attempting seriously to do both, we're making a mistake.

Donald Sensing replies that a strong Iraqi that is stable is an important part of the flypaper effect. Even more, it is essential to the effort.

I think that Donald Sensing is right because I think that if we pack up our bags and go away, the jihadis will not. The flypaper backing is stuck to Iraq and the flypaper strategy can only be abandoned by an islamist government takeover. Given that reality, setting up Iraqi flypaper as we have will give us a bonus effect after we leave the bulk of our forces or even leave entirely. The jihadis will continue to go after Iraq until it falls. After all, they have not stopped attacks on the government of Saudi Arabia because US troops have left that kingdom.

The diplomatic bonus for the US in the islamic world is significant. Iraq can only cease to be a major focus for jihadi efforts if other countries join it as free and democratic nations, whether as constitutional monarchies or as republics. Thus, for their own national security and apart from any feelings of national gratitude for liberation from Saddam, Iraq's policy on muslim democratization and liberalization is pretty much fixed in a position that is favorable to long-term US goals as long as the current government stands and islamists remain a violent force.

If the Iraqi government is not strong, if Iraq is not stable, the diplomatic bonus we have bought with 1700+ casualties will be short lived, ephemeral. We've paid the piper let us at least enjoy the tune.

July 01, 2005

Ending the Republic

Posted by TMLutas

It looks like Phil Carter kind of forgot for a moment what system of government the US runs. In an article on a VA funding shortfall he closes off with this sentiment.

The VA should not have to go, hat in hand, to Congress to ask for more money to care of them.

That's just wrong. The executive, in its entirety, has to go for every penny to the legislature. That's a fundamental part of our system of government. If it didn't have to, the legislature could just go home because it has no practical means of enforcing its will except through the power of the purse. Independent funding means no meaningful oversight or control of the executive. Without that, the republic is merely a fiction and we have an elective dictatorship.

A product of BruceR and Jantar Mantar Communications, and affiliated contributors. Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's half-informed viewpoint on the world.

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