CHAOS MANOR MAIL
Mail 333 October 25 - 31, 2004
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I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too... I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail.
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October 25, 2004
My column today boasts of how interesting my mail is, and of course this is the time when there has not been so much.
Almost no mail over weekend due to wedding of Alex and Dana Pournelle. Start with something new:
an interesting article from slate, if you can get over the predictable/eye-roll inducing backslapping about how leftists are really the true family values champions...
the interesting thing, to me, is just how many of the scientist types I know are "do as i do, not as I say" types...which is the inverse of the "do as I say, not as I do" profile described in the article.
that is, if you say something negative about single mothers or inner cities or lesser institutions or whatnot, they will jump on you for "elitism" and "lack of compassion".
but in practice they are all about 2 parent families, scrimping and saving, working 80 hour weeks, living in safe neighborhoods. And of course they are enormously competitive when it comes to publication and institutions and whatnot.
In short, a cynic would think they might be out to handicap the competition...they reserve judgment and scorn not for bad behavior, but for *criticisms* of bad behavior. The one who is considered a bad person is not the irresponsible single mother, but the "reactionary" who thinks that might not be a good idea and says so.
i guess it's hypocrisy, but an interesting kind..."do as I do, not as I say".
An interesting observation. I need to think on this.
Subject: cindy adams
A gossip columnist for the post is not exactly my source for airline industry news...
Here's a little sample of her more relevant column work.
"And Sean Combs' nifty mom Janice, whom I met as a blonde, turned up as a redhead. I said: "Hey, Janice, change your wig?" whereupon her friend for some reason hollered at me: "That isn't cool. You don't say that. Apologize." I would've apologized, but I didn't know what for. Janice only said sweetly: "Everybody makes a change." "
As a matter of fact, I think I'm actually more stupider now after reading one of her columns. See, I can't even grammaritize right anymore.
Subject: More on Social Security and Ponzi Schemes...
It may be of interest to you and your readers that Panama's Social Security system is where ours will be in about 2030 if predictions hold out on our system. It is essentially bankrupt this year, income is less than expenditures.
I was down in Panama recently and spoke to my good friend Rafael Atencio who works for their "CSS" system. He told me that they are going to have to do two things at once because none of their administrations would touch the system or offer any solution (their most recent government under Mireya Moscoso was characterized by corruption and government officials getting wealthy on the taxpayer.
The refusal of their government to fix things is very similar to ours. Neither major political party has offered a solution that stands the test of an Excel spreadsheet (never mind your S-100 system with Basic -- my first calculation tool was VisiCalc, unless you want to include the timecode (used in television) calculator I wrote in Basic on a Radio Shack TRS80 Model 100 that I used for work -- but that didn't do much for Ponzi scheme calculation.
Panama's solution will be pretty draconian if you consider the receipt of payment a promise by a government. First, their CSS payments will be cut. Second, they are raising the number of years that one must pay into the system. Their system used to be a fifteen year system, where, if you paid in for fifteen years, you could draw a pension once you reached a certain age (I think 60). They will go to a 20-year pay-in.
Most companies that have pensions these days insist on a 20-year pay-in, so this seems reasonable. Except Panamanians in a lot of areas just don't have regular work where an employer can pay in to their CSS system. There are areas in real poverty and a laborer is doing well to get fifteen years of coffee picking before he begins to not be able to keep up with the younger workers.
Their system is different from ours in that the money actually goes into a credit account and the government does not touch it, save to borrow from it and add what it borrows back along with interest. And interest rates in Panama are higher than those in the US.
Another system I know about is that of Singapore and it's another actual savings plan. This fits in with the Asian mindset, to squirrel away money all one's life so that one may be able to live well in old age and/or pass along an inheritance. This is covered in Lee Kwan Yu's autobiography. It is not a "pay as you go" plan like ours as far as I am able to determine. Money may be withdrawn from their system for the purchase of a home (down payment) or for retirement. The government pays for disability through the same system but that comes from the government's voted line item for that means.
Clinton's idea of running up a large budget surplus might have helped. It would not have solved the problem, though, only held it off for a few years. Had the US not routinely used the Social Security fund to balance its books from the 1960s through the 1990s (until Clinton's surplus), there might have been something put away for this oncoming generation were it invested at 3 to 5% interest and that interest was compounded. But that would be treating it like a pension fund.
My older sister is disabled. She waited until she was 50 to claim disability and it was granted. She has a very rare disease called "adult onset mitochondrial disease. It is a distrophy and her entire nervous system is slowly degenerating. My mother is retired and has leukemia. My father is retired and is doing well. But my family is a net loss for the Social Security system as, with five children there are four paying in while three collect. I don't think either of my parents really have to have the monthly check were it not for the cost of insurance -- my sister does.
So if you look at the big picture, somehow the cost of healthcare (or insurance) needs to be decreased along with a means test for social security recipients or we're headed for trouble. Bush's proposal for savings accounts with catastrophic insurance doesn't work. The high-deductible insurance costs as much in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as regular $20 co-pay insurance costs when bought in a group. That's no savings -- it's a gold mine for insurance companies. Perhaps things are different where you are.
Sincerely, -Mark Hollis Editor, NBC News
I wonder why politicians are the only people in the world who do not understand that the demand for a free but valuable good is nearly infinite?
Subject: Deconstructed Derrida
It is not often that an obituary < http://www.economist.com/people/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3308320 > hits the bullseye *and* makes me laugh, but this one sure did.
On the earthly departure of Jacques Derrida, quoth the Economist:"The inventor of “deconstruction”—an ill-defined habit of dismantling texts by revealing their assumptions and contradictions—was indeed, and unfortunately, one of the most cited modern scholars in the humanities."
The obit ends, "In his final years he became increasingly concerned with religion, and some theologians started to show interest in his work. God help them."
Amen, Brethern & Sistern!
Pascal's wager? Derrida the repentant...
WARNING: READ THE ENTIRE MESSAGE BEFORE ACTING
WARNING! Danger, Will Robinson.
The below message showed up on the Linuxgazette.net TAG list this evening. This is NOT a legitimate alert, nor is it a legitimate patch. BAD THINGS will happen if you follow the instructions in the email. This is the first major phishing expedition I've seen against Linux.
Going to the site specified has it still up at this point. I'll be sending a message to email@example.com in a moment, since this site is hosted by yahoo... The whois record shows a real name and address ... this starts to feel like a joe-job.
Be warned. The people LIKELY to be fooled by a message like this are new Linux users, and especially new Linux admins, recently migrated over from their MSCE-ness.
-------- Original Message --------
Original issue date: October 20, 2004 Last revised: October 20, 2004 Source: RedHat
A complete revision history is at the end of this file.
Dear RedHat user,
Redhat found a vulnerability in fileutils (ls and mkdir), that could allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code with root privileges. Some of the affected linux distributions include RedHat 7.2, RedHat 7.3, RedHat 8.0, RedHat 9.0, Fedora CORE 1, Fedora CORE 2 and not only. It is known that *BSD and Solaris platforms are NOT affected.
The RedHat Security Team strongly advises you to immediately apply the* fileutils-1.0.6 patch*. This is a critical-critical update that you must make by following these steps:
* First download the patch from the Security RedHat mirror: */wget www.fedora-redhat.com/fileutils-1.0.6.patch.tar.gz/* * Untar the patch:/* tar zxvf fileutils-1.0.6.patch.tar.gz*/ * /*cd fileutils-1.0.6.patch*/ * /*make*/ * /*./inst*/
Again, please apply this patch as soon as possible or you risk your system and others` to be compromised.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this serious matter,
RedHat Security Team.
Copyright © 2004 Red Hat, Inc. All rights reserved.
-- Brian Bilbrey : http://www.orbdesigns.com/
... maybe they can't be called "volunteers" any more if somebody ends up being silly enough to pay them for something they'd have done for free anyway. - Linus in the Seattle Times
Subject: "Your papers please" down at the local mall
Fortune Magazine has just run a story showing how drivers licenses and the Internet are being used to track "bad" customers who return too much merchandise at clothing stores. Here is a link to the Fortune article:
Sorry, Your Return Is No Good Here
Here's how the system works:
Our signature product, Verify-1, utilizes an ASP model to provide return authorization services that are initiated by either a VeriFone or similar type platform on a retailer's POS system. A driver's license or state I.D. card is swiped through these devices to initiate a product return, and similar to credit card or check verification, the data is transmitted to The Return Exchange's host server for an approval for return authorization. We detect fraud through utilization of deterministic rules, statistical models and a shared return information database.
Missing from the Web site is any brag list of customers and names and bios of management personnel of the company. Looks like the company values its privacy. ---------------------------------------
Subject: Papers, please.
-- Roland Dobbins
To add to the mix about outsourcing...
A person where I work recently ordered a Hitachi LCD Projecter
When the box arrived, it said Hitachi, Japan... assembled in China... even the Japanese are outsourcing to China!
John Thomas Smith http://www.direct2usales.com http://www.pacifier.com/~jtsmith
The Black Watch Regiment and the Guardian newspaper. Jerry,
The Guardian, or Grauniad newspaper, as it is known after the spelling of one of its mastheads, started a campaign to get its readers in the UK to write to voters in the USA urging them to vote for Kerry. I know what my reaction to this astonishing insolence would be if an American newspaper launched a similar campaign here in the UK. It would be a common phrase or saying containing the words, "monkey", and "nuts".
An insurgent leader in Iraq is reported to have said that he is preparing "a hellish reception" for the Black Watch. Although the American forces and ordinary Iraquis will find these soldiers competent, helpful, and courteous, the insurgents might want to reflect that they are known throughout the British Army as the poison dwarves, and that there are good reasons for this.
Regards John Edwards
I do not think I would care to anger the Black Watch. And perhaps you can rent us a couple of regiments of Gurkhas?
Subject: ASAT, anyone?
-- Roland Dobbins
Reversible and irreversible actions...
Subject: An open letter. [to the New York Times]
-- Roland Dobbins
On Norton Problems
Most of the problems I have had with Norton's involved regedit.
You didn't edit your registry, recently, did you?
Both my machine and my Dad's had almost total Norton "remove and re-install" scenarios when the registry was editted (and THAT is also a project: re-installing when Nortons doesn't want to be re-installed. It takes a complete procedure and some special software from the Norton web site)
We will see. I got to the Norton tech guy just after 4PM and he had apparently gone home. Tomorrow maybe.
October 26, 2004
Subject: Hollis's Comments on Social Security
1. Don't means-test Social Security. Here in the UK, they means-test old age pensions and it discourages saving for retirement by all but the most wealthy. It's also a bit of a bureaucratic nightmare. There's a reason I've kept my retirement savings in America...
2. Don't follow the UK approach to cutting the cost of health care. They skimp on the treatment and invest in the bureaucracy. Meanwhile a third of the population have teeth pulled before they enter primary school. Instead, find where the bottlenecks are and open them up.
-- "Truth is the intersection of independent lies." (Richard Levins, 1966) Harry Erwin, PhD
I quite agree, and have for about 40 years. "Privatizing" social security by putting about 10% of what comes in into index-fund accounts that accumulate interest with only minimal taxes will help a lot. Once again, I note that my 4 years in TIAA-CREF pays me a substantial fraction of what my 40 years of paying into Social Security; there's a reason for that. While I don't mind carrying someone else on my back, I do balk at carrying 3.
Poison Dwarfs, etc.
Actually it was the Gurkhas who were called 'Poison Dwarfs', due to their fighting characteristics and diminutive size, by the Germans in the First World War.
Every year, the British army recruits in Nepal for Gurkhas. Approximately one candidate in 200 makes it through this process. The Indian army also recruits Gurkhas, but it's the British one they want to join as apart from anything else the pay is about 30 times better...
Of course when you get right down to it the Gurkhas are really mercenaries. I'm sure it would be possible for the US to work out some deal with Nepal, India and the UK to join in with its own recruiting programme, provided no-one steps on others toes.
The Black Watch, the oldest Highland regiment in the British army, were called 'Devils in Skirts' and 'Ladies from Hell' by the Germans in World War One. These German nicknames eventually spread to the other kilt-wearing Highland regiments of the British and Canadian armies. (The Canadians also have a Black Watch regiment, originally entirely recruited from Scots immigrants.)
Just as the Prussian divisions gave the British the hardest time on the Western Front, so did the Scots divisions give the Germans.
Did you notice that yesterday (October 26) was the 150th anniversary of the Charge of the Light Brigade?
Half a league, half a league, half a league onward, All in the valley of Death rode the six hundred. "Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!" he said: Into the valley of Death rode the six hundred.
An afterthought: could the Gurkhas not be considered an early example of outsourcing?
Yes, I thought that was an appellation for the Gurkhas. There was a regiment of Gurkhas in Korea, and I noticed that even the Rangers spoke of them with great respect.
My old partner at Boeing was Colonel Bagley who had been one of Patton's intelligence people after Normandy. He described some of the actions of the Scots regiments during Market Garden as they attempted to open some lines for the others. One was a charge across open ground; something no one ever wants to do, but sometimes it is needed to fix one part of an enemy line. Bagley remarked that the subaltern at the head of the charge may have been the bravest man he had ever seen. The regimental adjutant said "Oh, I don't know. Did you seen him flinch when something came close. Bad form, lets the man behind you get it, you know." It took Leo a moment to realize his leg had come off in the other chap's hand.
It may or may not be a coincidence that in my stories Falkenberg's Legion came from the CoDominium 42nd Regiment.
Mercenary Foreign Legions are always a good idea for Empires. I have never questioned their effectiveness. Nor have I questioned the effectiveness of the Brits at the Empire business; they are far better at it than we are, as they should be. What I want is for the US to be out of the Empire business; so far as I am concerned, consent of the governed is the only legitimate source of "just power" for the United States. That doesn't mean I don't think there are and have been legitimate empires; I just don't want us to be one.
I know something of how to create an empire, and govern one, and hiring good mercenaries is always a part of that. Having client states fight most of your battles is another. Paid soldiers become more and more of your establishment, as the Praetorians turn to politics. Of course the Romans learned, eventually, the Empire was no longer Roman. Interestingly, England is now learning the same thing: not only is the British Empire no longer British, but England is hard put to remain England.
October 27, 2004
From: Stephen M. St. Onge firstname.lastname@example.org
subject: Things Europeans don't understand about the U.S.
When you have have fifteen or so minutes to spare, go to http://varifrank.com/archives/2004/10/the_secret_weap.php and read that rather long post. A truly marvelous exposition of the misconceptions Europeans have about the United States, and the differences between Europe and the USA.
DELENDAM ESSE SAUDI ARABIA!
October 28, 2004
Actually, MSNBC does not report that the weapons were not there, but that they didn't see explosives, and the company commander for the 101st unit there said that they easily could have been there as they never looked at the huge complex other than a cursory look. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=578&e=3&u=/nm/20041027/ts_nm/iraq_explosives_pentagon_dc http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/10/26/iraq.explosives/
In addition, we had satellites observing weapons sites, and wouldn't we have noticed the kind of movement necessary to move 380 tons of explosives in the days before the invasion? There are also some eyewitness accounts of looting AFTER the US invasion. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/28/international/middleeast/28bomb.html?oref=login&oref=login
I don't know what happened yet, and I suspect it will remain uncertain until after the election. The question posed is, why don't we know? We were told of the site, just before the invasion, and urged to safeguard it, but we didn't even try. If we had, we could say categorically that they were moved pre-war, but since we made no effort, we are clueless. It's that fundamental failure that is the criticism of the administration "plan".
Of course, the fact the administration is not making the same statement you are, i.e. that we know the weapons were moved before the invasion is pretty indicative that that is not a certainty. But the basic point remains: Why didn't we know for sure?
Actually, what I should have pointed out is that this is not the stuff of presidential debates. Presidents are not division commanders, much less the colonels of security regiments.
As to why we didn't know, it's called friction; see Clausewitz for details.
Will Kerry now personally take charge of military operations? At what level?
It is legitimate to debate whether we ought to be in that war; that is a presidential level decision. Kerry did so for a while, realized that it was losing him votes every time he talked about it, and is now nit-picking the operational decisions. There's plenty to criticize. Much of the the operational level command in the war was dead wrong: no one expected the civilized people of Iraq to turn into Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and steal the telephone wire and urinals from the offices, and anyone who said that might happen was told he was politically incorrect and sent off to sensitivity training. But Kerry is not making that kind of criticism either; he doesn't dare be politically incorrect.
The ammunition dump issue is the equivalent of Mary Cheney so far as relevance to being President of the United States is concerned: the very fact that it assumes any importance in a presidential debate is pretty telling, but it tells against Kerry, who hasn't revealed his secret plan, nor told us how he will get more allies by trashing the ones we have. And the fact that the ammunition dump now seems to be his best issue tells me about all there is to tell about Kerry.
Had we not invaded, Saddam would have been free to do as he would with those munitions. It may be that there was a military blunder in not securing them (or in not bombing them out of existence to begin with, although that's not so easy with bunkered munitions) but if so, it was a blunder at a level well below the President of the United States. Some colonel may need to have his head handed to him; maybe even a two-star. But when you are planning a war of conquest against a power with a large army, and you are suddenly rolling to Baghdad and everything is collapsing around you, losing track of an ammunition dump is not a major issue.
I have before said that disbanding the Iraqi Army was a stupid mistake; but I have not heard Kerry say that, and that is the level at which he ought to be criticizing the operations of the war; not over an ammunition dump.
I don't like neocons much and Bush listened to them; but Kerry doesn't sound any different from the neocons, and it may be that having got his dose, Bush is cured of Wilsonianism. God knows Kerry isn't.
"No battle plan survives contact with the enemy." von Moltke
Did you see this?
"Russian special forces troops moved many of Saddam Hussein's weapons and related goods out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the March 2003 U.S. military operation, The Washington Times has learned."
My cold-warrior uniform is packed away in a box in the darkest corner of the attic - maybe that was premature.
Subject: Missing Explosives
I don't mind if you bother to publish this, but please do not use my name.
I have to take issue with you on some things:
There were too many decisions made at the executive level for me to accept that Bush shouldn't have known about the dump and done something about it. The IAEA says that the administration was warned about the explosives. It seems to me the presence of HMX was the best evidence for a nuclear program.
Debate over the war? We live in a republic, going to war is not within the scope of President's powers. Only Congress can declare war. Anything else and we lose.
Saddam free to do anything? IAEA and satellite monitoring should have made that virtually impossible. The Iraqis aren't that smart and we've been bombing the country and starving the people for over a decade.
Nothing Bush has said or done indicates he's been cured of anything including his alcoholism.
Finally, while plans may not survive contact with the enemy, fantasies of the kind that got us into this mess have an even shorter half-life.
Saddam was free to amass those explosives; and if you think they couldn't be removed from the "sealed" containers, I fear you have paid insufficient attention. Why did he throw the inspectors out?
For the rest, I certainly agree with your war powers paragraph. I have said as much myself over the past 20 years and more.
Alas, I think the Wilsonian fantasies are are prevalent on the Democrat side as the Republican. Do you recall Kossovo? We had far less reason to go there; but there we went. Incidentally, if the arms dump is Bush's fault, then is not the bombing of the Chinese news agency Clinton's?
It's called friction, and it's to be expected when you start wars. I doubt Kerry knows much about it; nor did Bush but he's learning.
If I thought the election was between the Constitution Party and the Libertarians I'd be very happy, but neither of those is going to win. In my state my vote is unimportant and I will vote Constitution. If I lived in a state where my vote mattered, I would prefer the devil I know.
Jerry, With due diffidence as someone who has followed British politics for 50 years and will form his opinion about Presidential candidates as soon as he completes his first task. As you point out It as about as sensible to blame the President for not guarding an arms dump as blaming him for an individual soldier who is scruffy on parade. However, I have heard that after Gulf One the State Department had no plan for negotiating peace with Saddam and this highly specialised task went by default to the local commander General Schwartzkof. Clearly he was a soldier of outstanding ability but not necessarily suited by training or inclination to do the work of a diplomat. Granted the war in Kuwait went much faster than the experts thought it would, but it must be a diplomatic failure that there was no contingency plan in place based on a lightning victory. Whether this is true or not it is surely negligent not to have planned for a collapse such as we actually saw in Iraq. I cannot believe that it would not have been possible to post platoon strength guards at arms dumps, government offices, museums, generating stations, water works and similar places. One would need translators, but it is not too hard to find English speakers who like dollars. Platoon strength guards would obviously be vulnerable but a mobile reserve and air support would redress this. Similarly, it is necessary to keep the local staff at work, again I would have just used dollars until the dust settled and more formal arrangements could be put in place. It is the President's job to oversee the other great departments of the state and see that they do their work properly, so I think that the President can be blamed for the overall failure of administration after the Iraqui collapse.
Am I right?
I would have shot any commander who dispersed his troops into platoon strength at that stage of the battle of Baghdad; on the spot, in front of the troops he betrayed.
Having said that, YES, there ought to have been, say, the 4th Infantry Division (or the troops who covered the areas the 4th had been assigned) available for internal security; and of course there ought to have been military police units ready to go in and take control of key places and prevent looting.
The MP's got there about the time that everyone thought Iraq would collapse, which is to say, far too late.
Look: if you want criticisms of how the Iraq operation was conducted, and denunciations of conducting it at all, see previous essays right here on this web site. I thought the invasion foolish, and badly conducted. And having said that, I don't see any hope that the Democrats would not have done something equally as foolish, or that they would do it any better. Clinton bombarded a baby food factory: hardly increasing the international popularity of the United States. And sent us into Kossovo to assert the rights of illegal Albanian immigrants into the heart and soul of Serbia; a bit as if France bombarded Washington to make us turn Philadelphia over to Haitian immigrants...
Iraq had a conceivable connection to a US national interest. Not much of one, but conceivable. The Democrats are so Wilsonian they were proud that we were intervening in affairs in which there was no possible US interest.
I don't have much of a defense of Bush and company; the neocons sold them a bill of goods complete with Chalabi the Thief, and then they dispersed the Iraqi Army instead of hiring it; but again I see no signs that the Democrats operate with any kind of theory that would make them do any different.
I would love to vote for "We are the friends of liberty everywhere, but the guardians only of our own" and "Spend the money on energy technology, not military power to intervene overseas" but no one is offering me that.
Here is a letter I do not think I will respond to:
Mike Eke Chief Accountant Floodgate Merchant Bank Ltd.
I am Mr. Mike Eke, the personal accounting officer to Late Mr. Jack Pournelle a national of your country, who uses to work with shell Development Company in Nigeria. On the 21st of April 2000, Mr. Jack Pournelle, his wife And their three children were involve in a car accident along express road. All occupants of the vehicle unfortunately lost their lives.
Since then I have made several enquiries to locate any of Mr. Jack Pournelle's extended relatives, this has also proved unsuccessful. After these several unsuccessful attempts, I decided to trace his surname over the Internet, to locate any member of his family hence I contacted you. I have contacted you to assist in repatriating the money and property left behind by Mr. Jack Pournelle before they get confiscated or declared unserviceable by the bank, where these huge deposits were lodged. Particularly, the Floodgate Merchant Bank Ltd where the deceased had an account valued at about 12.5million dollars. Floodgate Merchant Bank has issued me a notice as his accounting officer to provide the next of kin or have the account confiscated within the next ten official working days.
Since I have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives for over 2 years now, I seek your consent to present you as the next of kin of the deceased, since you have the same surname so that the proceeds of this account valued at 12.5million dollars can be paid to you and then you and me can share the money. I have all necessary legal documents that can be used to back up any claim we may make.
All I require is your honest cooperation to enable us seeing this deal through. I guarantee that this will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law.E-mail me a (email@example.com) Awaiting for your immediate response so as to discuss the joint sharing formular (WITH YOUR CONTACT PHONE AND FAX FOR COMMUNICATION AND TO SENT THE DOCUMENT OF THE FUNDS)
Mr. Mike Eke Chief Accountant Floodgate Merchant Bank Ltd.
October 29, 2004
Drilling into the various articles, it is fairly certain, based on comparisons of photographs taken during the inspectors before hostilities and the news crew's images, that this is in fact Al Qaqaa and that the munitions where there on 18 April. Even some seals were intact.
I think a few engineers could have blown that cache in an afternoon, but such is the luxury of hindsight and distance. While I always want light to shine on facts, it is more important to go forward, learn from error and be smarter than our enemies. I think Paul Bremmer was out of his mind to completely disband the Iraqi army, but it was done.
We know from experience in Japan and Europe how to hold and pacify enemy land, but we thought we were smarter than our fathers and ignored their bloody lessons at our own peril. Battle hardened American weapons, tactics and blood sacrifice have no match in efficiency and effectiveness, yet we do not have a smart pacification bomb. We still need our brothers, sons, fathers and ourselves to stink, bleed, eat dirt and pacify the conquered.
I fear that if we want to succeed in Baghdad we will need to increase troop levels and increase post war construction and nation building. We will need to make the same investments we've made in the past or more and pay for it with wartime taxes. Having my children pay for a war I've started is intensely shameful to me. If we are going to do this then let us do it right. God help us.
Fehrenbach said and I have often quoted: You may fly over a land; you may bomb it and reduce it to rubble; but you don't own it until you stand a 17 year old kid with a rifle on it.
The overlooked point in all this is that there is no way to "do it right", particularly if coupled with "God help us." God isn't going to help us rule people without their consent.
I thought we had no business going into Iraq in the first place: but once that decision was made, a cock-up like this was inevitable. More than one. Many. That is the nature of war and the nature of operations. It is called friction. Clausewitz said it: "in war, everything is very simple, but the simplest things are very difficult." Why does no one believe this, or believing it, why do all act surprised when it happens?
Sure, in hindsight we ought to have had a swarm of military police, security troops, and demolition engineers in the wake of the sharp end; but that has a price too, as you bypass armed units which then come out a maul your following support auxiliaries. Remember Jessica Lynch?
Sure, we ought to have had the 101st abandon its military objectives and take time off to secure or destroy the munitions dump. That's easy to see now. Of course I can also give you a scenario in which the cost of doing this far outweighs the gains. Military people make decisions in the absence of information; they try to take contingencies into account; but no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. Our military conquered a vast and historic nation, the graveyard of Roman armies, the graveyard of the Magi and the Persian Empire, the graveyard of Christian armies, in a month: a feat of arms unparalleled in history; and that wasn't "doing it right?"
But of course it wasn't:
"Doing it right" when your goal is to rule people without their consent requires a number of techniques. none of which we want our professional army to learn. As to Germany and Japan after WW II, the analogy is strained. In any event as early as 1943 we began training military government units in languages and customs of the people we intended to conquer and rule consent or no. We had not the luxury of that much time in this instance -- but that hardly matters because we didn't use the time we had. We had no idea of what we would do with victory in Iraq, and I for one don't particularly want our professional paid volunteer military to learn how to govern people who do not consent. I don't want empire. But no: we didn't know what we would do once we could say "Mission Accomplished" and have a victory ceremony.
But neither did the Democrats, who got us into Kosovo and nearly started a pan-Slavic war over the rights of Albanian illegal immigrants to the heart of Serbia; and that operation, conducted from 15,000 feet to keep our casualties to a minimum, has among other incidents the notable exploit of bombing the Chinese News Service, and dropping the Danube bridges to mess up the economy of Eastern Europe for a decade. (Was that the objective? Clinton, weary of being harassed by our NATO "allies" over Kosovo when it was their problem in their part of the world, went in and deliberately conducted the war in a way to make its aftermath messy for the Europeans who ought to have been looking out for their own interests? It is an interesting speculation.)
I have said this many times: the ghastly mistakes in Iraq were mostly inevitable once we sent in the troops. Friction happens. War is Hell.
And the mistakes stem from a nearly universal assumption, taught in every school in the United States, about the nature of man. No military officer dared point out that Iraq would very likely look like scenes from Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves as soon as government vanished. It was politically incorrect to say there would likely be widespread theft, rapine, pillage, and arson. Liberated humans are too noble to do such things. Within every heart burns the desire for freedom. And that Wilsonian nonsense is even more prevalent among the Democrats -- take Albright as an example -- as it is with the egregious Frum and his neo-Jacobins who talked Bush into this idiocy.
If you want to vote Bush out of office over Iraq, do it because he got us in there, not because once it was decided to go in he didn't "do it right."
If you believe the war was justified -- knowing what Bush knew at the time he made the decision, not what we know now -- then don't castigate him because he didn't "do it right." There is no way to "do it right" when it comes to ruling people who have not consented to your rule. It may be necessary for our safety. Guarding our own liberty may require conquest, and if so, so be it. But God help us if we learn to do that right.
Thank you for you article about adware and spybots. I read it with some enthusiasm since I have been infected three times in the last week by some new 'thing', installs itself as atiupdate.exe, msshed.exe, and variants.
These were not inhibited by McAfee, nor found by the latest Ad-Aware or SpyBotS&D (that I've been running for years). The firewall does catch their direct attempts to reach the Internet, but one or the other, I've discovered, uses a necessary svchost process to bypass the firewall.
I've had to get them myself by deleting files and editing the registry. I don't really know how the second and third entries happened -- I'd already turned off the preview pane in Eudora, and thought I was watching pretty carefully. Maybe some uncaught residue invites them back. The signal in every case came from the firewall, thank goodness.
To be truthful, I'm letting you know this in hopes you can refer me to more information, and maybe influence the big players to fight this. If it's getting me, who's so careful, it must be really reaching lots of others who aren't. The amount of information on the 'net is very small (and some of what I'd found is no longer a Google hit -- I should have saved the link -- it was at spywareinfo.com). Evidently came into existence about the middle of this month.
By the way, I saw a tiny typographical error in the article: in the paragraph titled "SpyBot Versus Ad-Aware", the word "complimentary" should be, I think, "complementary".
Thanks again. I've enjoyed your writing and stories for many years, never had a chance to say so before now.
Try the Norton and other on-line scans; Norton Security is the site. I have to run. Back later.
Widespread alerts for new varients for Beagle/Bagel viruses in emails. Most anti-virus vendors are sending out extra updates (McAfee has released two or three since their normal Wednesday updates).
Users should ensure they have the latest updates from their virus vendor of choice. And the usual precautions apply.
For any new readers, the "Simple Steps for Computer Security" should help:
..as does the information in your 10/18/04 column in Byte's on-line magazine.
(Hope you are feeling better...I got the usual "start of the season" cold myself.)
Regards, Rick Hellewell
These stories are encouraging in the war against Internet fraud. Readers can see the info at their favorite news sites.
"The US Secret Service Thursday announced arrests in eight states and six foreign countries of 28 suspected cybercrime gangsters on charges of identity theft, computer fraud, credit card fraud, and conspiracy."
"Internet service provider EarthLink (earthlink.com) announced on Friday that it has filed a new lawsuit in federal court in Atlanta as part of its continuing fight against spam."
Regards, Rick Hellewell
October 30, 2004
Terrorists have never had any problem obtaining explosives, and there was nothing unique about the supposedly missing explosives that would make them any more dangerous that good old reliable C-4 [C-3 in my incarnation]. I wonder that a decorated hero [albeit a Navy hero] would not know that.
Walter E. Wallis, P.E.
Palo Alto, CA
And as I said above, this sort of thing is inevitable. War is war: question the decision to go in, but the operations were done amazingly well given the task.
A different view:
I'm just getting up to speed on this 'missing explosives' issue, so I hope that this article is pertinent to the discussion thus far. Wanniski seems to have his finger on the salient issues.
1. These explosives are important because they are the only kind in Iraq that can detonate nukes.
2. The Administration was grossly incompetent in mishandling these explosives.
3. The Administration is back to the Clintonian tactic of 'Immediate Response' to valid criticisms with replies that later turn out to have utterly no basis in fact and were obviously spontaneously fabricated to defuse the immediate public reaction to the scandal. In earlier times this sort of behavior was called 'bald-faced lying.'
At any rate, here is Wanniski's article:
The Al Qaqaa Explosives
Best wishes for your improved health,
I have long been an admirer of Wanniski's economic works. I had not known he had abandoned the Bush ship. I haven't quite got there: I think (it's more a hope, I guess) that Bush has learned something from having drunk the Wilsonian neo-Jacobin neo-con Kool-Aid. It's very clear to me that Kerry hasn't. As to truth, neither side seems to pay much attention to silly things like that.
But if the worst thing that can be said is not that Bush got us into the war (and Kerry has drawn way back from saying that) but rather that the 101st overlooked some explosives, and that is the key issue of this campaign -- or Kerry actually believes that is an important issue -- then Kerry is either deceitful or an idiot. There are far more important things at stake here.
And Kerry has not denounced Wilsonian interventionism, and doesn't seem to understand that there's anything wrong with neo-Jacobinism. Bush has come within an ace of losing the election (or maybe has lost the election) over drinking that Kool-Aid. Kerry is still drinking it.
Thank-you for your thoughtful and well reasoned on-line reply to my e-mail message. I read it when you posted it and have read it again and have given it much thought. I appreciate and admire the historical and situational context that you framed your reply with.
It may be that the 101st did blow that dump:
I would not presume ask to be on God's side in such an endeavor. As Abraham Lincoln said, "Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right". We must do what is in our best interests and that usually includes doing what is morally right. Just as we struggled before the war about what was the right thing to do, so we struggle now about our future course. Whether to invade or not had to be largely weighted by the perceived threat to us and the estimated benefits of our planned actions.
I was trying to say that it would be right to tax ourselves for the cost of the war. As far as prosecuting the war and "winning the peace", I think we must go forward with our best judgment. Deciding what is right is a struggle and we must live with the consequences of our actions. I think that if we go to war, we should pay for it and if we occupy another country then we have assumed obligations that also must be paid for. We are not taxing ourselves for the cost of our actions and this will be expensive debt to service.
As to whether or not to reelect the President, I certainly will not base any part of that decision on the actions of the 101st. Making the decisions of local commanders the focus of a presidential election is not fair or constructive. I also do not judge the decisions made in the field by the command of the 101st. Certainly they would have a lot on their plate and need to remain focused on their objectives. It is up to every voter to judge the President on that matter. Part of that decision may include whether or not the President was forthright in making his case for war. This is just a part of the judgment, as are all of what we perceive and understand about his opponent.
On another subject, I thought you might be interested to know that Yahoo now has an anti-spyware program built into their toolbar. (http://toolbar.yahoo.com) I've been testing it and it seems pretty good. I use Ad-aware and Spybot Search and Destroy regularly to solve problems with the systems of friends, coworkers and family. The Yahoo program is nice because it is part of their toolbar and I find that it is easier to get people to use it. I always try to help people close to me with their computer problems and I'm always on the lookout for free or inexpensive solutions that reduce their frustration (and mine by extension).
I like free things to avoid stealing intellectual property. Open Office, Firefox/Mozilla, FileZilla and PDFCreator are some of the gems in that arsenal. While my father may not be able to wrap his mind around the fact that OpenOffice is free, he likes the word processor and I get fewer questions about it than Word. He just purchased a computer that included a license for Word and he still wanted OpenOffice because he likes it better.
Again, I hope you continue to have improved heath. Thank-you again.
Best regards, Andrew Ault
October 31, 2004
All Hallow's Eve
From ghosties and goulies and long legged beasties,
and things that go bump in the night
Subject: David Frum on Arafat's illness
Frum insinuates that Yasser Arafat is dying of AIDS because he is a notorious homosexual, and then speaks of French skill at maintaining "intimate secrets".
Egregious? Only in the sense that weekly supermarket tabloids are. From this sample of his work, I'd be shocked if Frum could effectively read someone out of the phone book.
-- Daniel Newby, firstname.lastname@example.org
Given my views on Frum I should not comment...
The Jacksonian Tradition
You quote Walter Russell Mead's article extensively, with apparent approval. Mead may describe accurately important aspects of American political psychology, but when he ascribes this to a Jacksonian tradition, I don't think that holds water; indeed I don't think the facts as he states them bear examination.
"The War of 1812 came about largely because of a popular movement in the South and Midwest...
... the Battle of New Orleans--perhaps the most decisive battle in the shaping of the modern world between Trafalgar and Stalingrad...
...Americans are capable of going to war over issues of national honor. The War of 1812 is an example of Jacksonian sentiment forcing a war out of resentment over continual national humiliations at the hand of Britain."
In reality the War of 1812 was an entirely cynical opportunistic land grab by Jackson for Canada while Britain was more concerned with fighting Napoleon. It was no matter of national honour. The grab for Canada failed and led, via the British sack of Washington and burning of the White House and so on, to British victory on points. Indeed, it's the only war America did not win until Vietnam.
The Battle of New Orleans, so far from being the most decisive battle, etc., was a total irrelevance as it was fought after the war was over. Apart from that, the only other noteworthy thing about New Orleans was that it was about the only battle in the whole war that the Americans won--except that technically it was not so much in the war as an accident.
Gee. I would have thought that treating US citizens as fodder for the press gang had something to do with the War of 1812, which we over here think of as the Second War of Independence; I thought Mr. Jefferson's Embargo in hopes of preventing war might be relevant; just as I would have thought that the battle that taught more military lessons, and was studied by all the great commanders, of the 19th Century, and affected warfare from the on was more than an incident. Wellington's regulars, led by Packenham who thoroughly understood Wellington's methods led his troops in the fine old manner.
And far from having no influence, Jackson's victory pretty well settled the irredentist dreams that still nestled in some British hearts. I grant you in a minority of hearts; but they were there.
As it happens, my family was involved in the civil government of New Orleans and remained after the sale; and of course I grew up in Tennessee where every school boy learns:
We fired our guns and the British
We fired our guns and the British kept
They ran through the briars and they ran
through the brambles
Whether or not Jackson's victory in New Orleans over Wellington's Regulars had military significance -- most military historians call it a seminal battle that changed military thought forever -- or had any political significance -- most US historians think it had a profound effect on the American psyche -- it certainly had the political effect of making Jackson, a very unlikable man in many respects, not only a viable candidate, but President of the United States, changing the US political tradition forever.
But leaving all that, I quoted Mead's article to make a point about both war and the Anglo-Saxon-Norman people, of which I am one; and if you have missed that point in an excess of Anglican zeal, perhaps I wasn't clear enough.
The quote I left out as superfluous was Lee's observation that it is good that war is so terrible, else we would grow to love it too much; and Patton said "God help me, I love it so."
Political correctness and other tools of the foxes can obscure much; but at some point the lions (if this seems obscure see Pareto) realize what is going on.
I also thought his observations on Jeffersonian vs. Jacksonian traditions to be worth reading.
Just an addendum to the John & Ken story. David Dreier is not their only "target." They are trying to send a wake up call to both major parties, and they (or their listeners) have also picked Democrat Joe Bacca to be "sacrificed." They hold each of the major parties as abject failures on the illegal immigrant issue.
Yes. Thank you for correcting that omission.
The NRCC has taken leave of its senses. As one of those who is divided between the Jeffersonian and Jacksonian traditions, I am horrified.
And for your amusement:
Subject: Kurdish Laughs
I like to keep track of Iraqi blogs, and one of them is written by an Iraqi Kurd. His blog can be found at:
Anyway, without having to go there, here's part of today's entry, where he is watching news on TV with an old Kurdish man, and the subject is the US Presidential election. Keep in mind that the kurdish word for "penis" is something like "kir":
Scenario 2: Watching news with an old man. News line: US elections. Bush Vs Kerry.
ME: This is about the US elections.
Subject: Kissinger on the collapse of the Westphalian system.
5 pages, worth reading:
----- Roland Dobbins
Indeed. Henry does an excellent job of cutting to the vital issues, although he does so in his usual rather wordy manner. Worth reading indeed.
You helped teach me the importance of getting your facts straight ( I used to think that Paul Ehrlich should be taken seriously!), so here's a minor, though perhaps important, correction to the Political Human Sacrafic story you reported on October 30. You cited the "Republican National CAMPAIGN Committee" as having filed a criminal complaint with the FEC re the John & Ken show. It was actually the National Republican CONGRESSIONAL Committee (different organization, same acronym). Sorry I didn't spot that in the first reading. For details 'from the horse's mouth,' including all NRCC contact information, see http://www.johnandkenshow.com/ .
Thanks. I thought I did say it right; slip of the fingers I guess.
But I get all those alphabets mixed up.
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