According to a poll, one in five Americans believe in alien abductions.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that one in five Americans experience mental disorders during any one year.
We are sure this is a coincidence.
"Re-publication of the cartoons has been unnecessary, it has been insensitive, it has been disrespectful and it has been wrong."In that same country, Islamists protested outside the Danish embassy. Many of them carried signs making death threats all those who “insult the Prophet”. Two counter-demonstrators, protesting in favour of freedom of speech, carried cartoons of Mohammed. The police arrested those two. None of the people carrying signs inciting violence were arrested. The country in question was Britain. This is bad news. The demonstrators were, as the Conservatives have said, unequivocally and perfectly seriously committing incitement to murder. The victims are quite rightly terrified and in hiding. Failure to prevent or punish the crime of incitement to murder, expecially when committed in a political context, is poison to a democracy. Britain is already failing Sharansky's town square test.
Iran has been given its last chance to comply, Britain's Foreign Minister Jack Straw sternly warned today:
Mr Straw said an agreement between Britain and the other five permanent members of the United Nations security council that any action against Iran should be delayed until March gave Tehran the opportunity to come back into compliance with western demands.
It will also give them the opportunity to continue their nuclear weapons programme. Which will they choose, and why?
By coincidence – or perhaps it was some sort of clerical error, Iran was also given its last chance in November 2005: ElBaradei: Give Iran 'One Last Chance' Before Sanctions:
The decision to refer Iran to the UN Security Council could come on Thanksgiving Day, when the IAEA Board of Governors has its next scheduled meeting to discuss "new information" discovered by inspectors in Iran, the officials said.
ElBaradei discussed a potential "face-saving" deal European negotiators could offer Tehran during meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in Washington
Iran's previous last chance had come in October 2004: Iran Given Final Nuke Chance:
Giving Iran one last chance to avoid the threat of U.N. sanctions, Britain, France and Germany will offer nuclear fuel and economic incentives at a meeting Thursday in return for assurances the Tehran regime will suspend uranium enrichment.
This followed their earlier last chance in September, 2003: Europe and US united in tackling nuclear Iran:
the US ambassador to the UN in Vienna, told the board: "The facts already established would fully justify an immediate finding of non-compliance by Iran.
"We have taken note, however, of the desire of other member states to give Iran a last chance to stop its evasions."
How will Iran respond to the world's consistent and united stand? And how will it respond to the next last chance it will receive, in March 2006?
Mere Rhetoric comments on the alliance between the genocidal terrorists of Hamas and the genocidal government of Iran:
The nightmare scenario has now become a reality that could happen in half a year: Iran will get a nuke, and they will give it Hamas. Hamas will smuggle it into Gaza, then into the West Bank, and then into Tel Aviv.
Of course, that is only one of several modes of attack open to Iran. Defences exist, but none is even remotely reliable enough to risk millions of lives on. A determined nuclear attack will succeed.
Millions of people will die. No doubt, the State Department and European diplomats will express their "concern" and "shock" about the "unacceptability" of this act. Who knows – maybe they'll even threaten to impose sanctions on Iran.
Actually, they won't, because at that point, two things will have changed from the present situation. One is that Iran will both possess nuclear weapons and have demonstrated a propensity to use them in a way that neither the best defences nor the most resolute deterrence could prevent. Hence half-measures will no longer seem plausible. Only the most abject appeasement or all-out war will have any supporters. The other is that the world will no longer be able to hide behind Israel. Jews – the world's perennial canary in the coal mine – will have duly died in vast numbers in order to deliver a final warning to civilisation. Civilisation will heed it, or not. Either way, the estimate of ‘millions’ dead in the aftermath is absurdly optimistic.
Today, before all that happens, there are still some other options left. Unfortunately, none of them can be guaranteed to be entirely peaceful. Unfortunately, too, the pathetic British Foreign Minister has ruled them all out in a single sweeping remark: Straw rules out threat of military action against Iran. Fortunately, the people and government of the United States are not that stupid.
Elliot Temple has detected some crude anti-capitalist assumptions, normally associated with the left, in much of the recent right-wing criticism of Google's deference to the Chinese government.
President Chirac of France, under pressure to justify the expense of the French nuclear deterrent, today revealed that French strategic missiles have been reconfigured to allow less-than-devastating retaliatory strikes. He also declared that the use of these weapons will be among France's options if “regional powers” should sponsor terrorist attacks against France.
On the face of it, this is a robust announcement and a sensible increase in France's military flexibility. But its underlying philosophy nevertheless dates back to the Cold War, and may be completely useless against the “regional power” against which it is primarily directed: Iran. Solomonia recently invited us to consider the 500,000 plastic keys that Iran imported from Taiwan in the 1980s, and what they were used for. Thus it may be that all Chirac has done is inform the criminally insane leadership of Iran that (1) no action will be taken until after any devastating terrorist attack; (2) ‘deniable’ attacks will provoke no response; and (3) any response will be strictly limited and therefore ultimately survivable (by the regime).
With Iran, there is no substitute for prevention. However, France is unlikely to suffer any consequences for this logical defect in their defence posture, because of the strategic ace of trumps that Chirac did not mention because he did not need to: France will not be the first target of any mega-attack, nuclear or otherwise. By consistently distancing itself from the United States' and its allies' war on terror, and from Israel's self defence, France hides behind those countries.
The civilisation of the West, led by Great Britain, was the first in history to outlaw chattel slavery. We should be proud of this achievement, but not complacent. Any institution that allows one person to use violence or the threat of violence to cause an innocent person to work, is slavery, and all slavery is evil. Some forms of slavery survived long after its formal abolition. For example, military conscription is slavery. So is compulsory schooling.
Now David Cameron, the new leader of the Conservative Party in Britain, has decided that he wants to make community service for school leavers compulsory. He wants to extend the period for which the government enslaves schoolchildren. And he has descended from ‘for their own good’ or even ‘national emergency’ as the ostensible justification, to ‘serving others’. In other words, from convincing oneself that the institution is something other than slavery to the insolent self-righteousness of the pre-Enlightenment slave owner who has never for an instant thought to doubt his ownership of the lives and persons of other human beings.
The Liberal party (then known as the Whigs) were at the forefront of the anti-slavery movement in the late 18th and early 19th century. Today their nominal heirs, the Liberal Democrats, have abandoned all trace of liberalism (in the original sense of advocacy of liberty). They make no exception in regard to slavery. Their leader Charles Kennedy
responded to the plan by saying the Liberal Democrat Youth Taskforce was already exporing a similar scheme.
"David Cameron wants to portray himself as a liberal but needs to be careful to attribute his 'ideas' to those who are genuinely doing the fresh thinking," he said.
Young people were forced into National Service in Britain from 1939 to 1960, so this idea is about as fresh as a fifty-year-old barrel of fish. Moreover, it is grotesque that politicians are now fighting over who is more ‘liberal’ by claiming ownership of the abomination.
Mr Cameron said that this scheme stemmed from the Party's belief in “trust and responsibility”. Obviously Mr Cameron does not trust young people with responsibility for their own lives. And we do not trust him to use power responsibly.
It is Christmas, a time at which many people celebrate the birth of Jesus, a man who was ritually tortured to death for uttering forbidden speech.
It is unclear how much of the Jesus story is true, but undoubtedly, ritual torturing to death was a horrible and widespread reality at the time. It was one of the mechanisms by which the Roman empire affirmed and entrenched the values by which it lived, namely order, deference, and obedience to authority. Such a practice is alien and incomprehensible to us. In addition to having better values, our society has utterly different, infinitely more wholesome, ways of affirming its values, does it not?
Committing suicide is a fundamental human right: if we do not own our own bodies, what do we own? Like all other rights, it is legitimate to exercise it only when this does not violate the rights of others. So the pilot of an aircraft in flight does not have the right to shoot himself if by doing so he murders his passengers. Correspondingly, they have the right forcibly to keep him alive – even if he is undergoing great suffering and is desperate to end it. Indeed, they have the right to force him, by torture if necessary, to perform his contractual obligation to land the aircraft. But the instant they have landed safely (or if they find an alternative pilot on board, or any other non-violent way of saving themselves), their right to keep him alive, or to torture him in any other way, abruptly ends.
Logically, aiding and abetting such torture – or the exercise of any other right – is also a right, since forbidding such help is tantamount to forbidding the helpless to exercise the right itself.
Whether the existing state of the law respects the right to torture in self-defence, or to aid and abet such torture, is unclear. But in most jurisdictions today it certainly does not respect the right to commit suicide, nor the right to assist in one. The justification for this position, though it has widespread popular support (just as crucifixion did in Roman times), is morally empty. It is a sort of formal obeisance to the rule that murder is wrong, in a way that contradicts the substantive purpose of that rule (which is to prevent a person's body from being used as a means to someone else's ends and contrary to his own). Nevertheless, it is supported as a symbol of our society's ‘respect for life’. It is a mechanism by which our society seeks to affirm and entrench the values by which it lives.
As part of this symbolic posturing, many people who at this moment are terminally ill and undergoing such suffering that they are desperate to die, are being forcibly prevented from doing so. That is to say, they are being ritually tortured to death.
One small further consequence of that injustice is that Dr Jack Kevorkian is still in jail in Michigan for trying to prevent a patient from being tortured – i.e. for assisting that patient to commit suicide. It is grimly appropriate that the Governor of Michigan has just refused to grant Kevorkian a compassionate parole. Despite the fact that he has harmed no one and is a danger to no one, and despite the fact that he himself is now gravely ill but wants to live, she considers it more important to leave him in the conditions that may end his life prematurely, just to set an example to other doctors whose humanity and integrity may tempt them to help their patients. She is, one might say with very little hyperbole, ritually torturing him to death.
Furthermore, note that in reality, assisted suicide is a very widespread practice. But other doctors do it discreetly and deniably. So what really landed Kevorkian in his current predicament was not so much the crime of which he was convicted, but his forbidden speech. He recklessly uttered the justifications that the others ritually deny.
May he survive his ordeal, and may he live to see the repeal of the obscene laws that he has defied.
An opinion poll in Israel indicates that 51% of Israeli Arabs who intend to vote at the forthcoming Israeli election will vote for Zionist parties. This figure should be compared with 30% at the last election.
This welcome development seems to be more due to factionalism among the Arab parties than to their voters becoming convinced of the justice of the Zionist cause. But still, it does suggest that if the Arabs in the rest of the Arab world thought like Israeli Arabs, there would be no Middle-East problem.
No, wait – yes there would. Unfortunately, in the Middle East outside Israel and Iraq, Arabs aren't allowed to vote.
By the way, only about 5% of those Israeli Arab voters say they will vote for Ariel Sharon's new party Kadima, but Druze Knesset member and Deputy Education Minister Majalli Whbee, formerly of Likud, who is now in charge of Kadima's Arab HQ, hopes to raise this to 25%.
No, we're not exaggerating. The BBC, which is funded almost entirely by an annual grant of over £3 billion from the British taxpayer, and whose Charter requires it to remain strictly impartial on political issues, has proudly announced that it is putting political propaganda into its flagship children's adventure series Doctor Who.
A Christmas Day special of sci-fi series Doctor Who contains an anti-war message, as new Doctor David Tennant tackles an alien invasion of Earth.
"It's Christmas Day, a day of peace," said chief writer Russell T Davies. "There is absolutely an anti-war message because that's what I think."
…[In the show, the British Prime Minister] says of the US president: "He is not my boss and he is certainly not turning this into a war."
A later scene echoes former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's decision to sink the General Belgrano during the Falklands conflict in 1982. … [The] Prime Minister orders the destruction of a retreating alien spaceship, a decision condemned by the Doctor.
Mark Steyn is in fine form, summarising the present situation: Iran is simultaneously acquiring nuclear weapons and pushing the envelope of how far genocidal antisemitism may be publicly advocated before any consequences set in. They are succeeding in both efforts: both the rhetoric of genocide and the physical preparations for it are becoming accepted in civilised circles as a routine and inevitable part of the international landscape.
[President Ahmadinejad] figures that half the world likes his Jew proposals and the rest isn't prepared to do more than offer a few objections phrased in the usual thin diplo-pabulum.
We assume, as Neville Chamberlain, Lord Halifax and other civilized men did 70 years ago, that these chaps may be a little excitable, but come on, old boy, they can't possibly mean it, can they? Wrong. They mean it but they can't quite do it yet. Like Hitler, when they can do it, they will – or at the very least the weedy diplo-speak tells them they can force the world into big concessions on the fear that they can.
The ultimate target of this international blackmail, the United States, which is also the nation that is, as usual, going to have to bear the cost of setting the world to rights again after that catastrophe, is for various reasons unable to act in advance to prevent it. Hence Israel is being forced into its well-accustomed stance of unilateral self-defence. Of course it would be perfectly justified in using military force to disarm Iran, as it did Iraq in 1981. Unfortunately, this seems to be impractical, since Iran has learned from Saddam's failure, and has had decades to disperse, conceal and protect its nuclear technology. An editorial by Saul Singer in the Jerusalem Post muses on the problem. He points out that the current international consensus of appeasement, led by the Europeans, is, as usual, bringing about precisely the events that it is intended to prevent.
He also points out that international pre-emptive action is not only permitted but mandated by the UN Charter:
If Europe, through the UN and in partnership with the US, simply followed the UN Charter, we would be living in a very different world today. That Charter (Ch. 1, Art. 1, Para. 1, first sentence) states the UN's purpose: "To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace...". [Our emphasis.]
Does this ring any bells? Is there a state that is a greater threat to international peace than Iran? How much terrorism does a state have to sponsor, how many member states does it have to threaten with destruction, and how far does it have to get in obtaining the ultimate means to carry out such threats before the collective obligations of free nations under the Charter are remembered?
And he concludes with an appeal to the world, and to Europe in particular:
Join us and defend yourselves. We are not your hired hitmen; don't depend on us to save you. Take your beloved international law seriously and throw the book at Iran.
It may not be too late, with common will, to force Iran to back down without firing a shot. And if it is too late for peaceful means, that shot should be fired together, legally, in the name of international peace and security.
Indeed a united world – even just the civilised world, united – would probably be able to end the Iranian threat peacefully. But we also know, as Singer undoubtedly knows too, that the civilised world is not sufficiently civilised to do this.
Absent that fantasy solution, there is still some hope. It lies in the creative thought of three groups of people. One is the military planners of the IDF. The second is the US Administration and their strategic advisers. And the third – neglected in many analyses of this crisis – is the Iranian people. They have more to lose by failing, and more to gain by liberating themselves – now – than anyone else.
A widespread conceit in the fields known as ‘social sciences’ is that if one can attach a number to something, one has understood it. In fact, understanding has to come first, for numbers can hide facts as well as reveal them. For example, as David Henderson recently commented on Tech Central Station, a press release from the Commonwealth Fund makes the following claim:
“One-third of patients with health problems in the U.S. report experiencing medical, medication, or test errors, the highest rate of any nation in a new Commonwealth Fund international survey.”
Presumably the Commonwealth Fund wants its readers to conclude that Americans get a worse deal from their health care system than do Canadians and Britons. And that this is because the US government is less interventionist in the health care market. And the natural moral of the story is that only the state can deliver good healthcare.
The American medical system may or may not make more mistakes: what the data really show depends on how alert the patients in the various countries are to this issue, and how inclined they are to regard something as a “medical error”. But in any case, the mistakes reported in America are on average less severe than the ones in Canada and Britain. So if anything the Commonwealth Fund should have concluded the opposite.
Numbers themselves do not mandate any particular conclusion. We may count as similar things that are not at all similar, such as small mistakes and large mistakes. We can only draw reasonable conclusions from measured numbers when we classify and interpret them in the light of explanations that have been tested against rival explanations. The scientific approach entails trying to understand the facts through both one's own favoured explanation and the rival explanations. Trying to pigeonhole and control people by measuring vaguely defined numbers and interpreting them as justifications for political policy is not science but scientism and it is irrational. Political opinions disguised as scientific studies are dangerous. They do not deserve to be afforded the respect due to science.
One of the wisest decisions taken by the victorious Allies in 1945 was to occupy Germany and Japan for long enough to destroy by force those aspects of their culture that had made those countries dangerous. In Europe the process was known as denazification. Among the measures taken were some that would have been immoral and unconstitutional if they had been enforced in any of the countries in the Anglo-Saxon tradition. These included:
The justification of these measures was the same as the justification for fighting the war: self-defence. The justification for inflicting them unequally on different nations was that different nations posed different threats. As the political cultures of those countries improved, the measures were gradually relaxed. Japan was granted sovereignty in 1952 and Germany in 1954/5. However, even after sovereignty, some of the measures remained in place, and a few are still in place today. For instance, Germany and Austria have laws against Holocaust denial and other ‘hate speech’. This is a good thing, for the political cultures of those countries still contain significant traces of the features that, within living memory, came close to destroying civilisation. Suppressing those features by force is still right and still necessary.
Therefore we rejoice that David Irving in Austria and Ernest Zuendel in Germany face jail for Holocaust denial. Denying the Holocaust is, in those countries, inseparable from their violently dangerous political traditions. In advanced countries such as Britain, the United States, or Canada, there are no comparable traditions. So in such countries, we oppose ‘hate speech’ laws other than for speech that threatens or incites violence.
The Daily Telegraph reports allegations that the European Commission has discovered a new mental illness which, to its relief, is rare among its employees: honesty. Portuguese diplomat Jose Sequeira says that when the European Commission mistakenly suspected that he was about to blow the whistle on a fraud scandal they got psychiatrists to declare him mentally ill:
He was put on permanent sick leave after tests found he suffered “verbal hyper-productivity” and a “lack of conceptual content” in his speech.
From this description we wonder how it could have been possible to tell the difference between Mr Sequeira and the rest of the European Commission's staff. Nevertheless, the psychiatrists managed to do so, and duly delivered the verdict that would destroy Mr Sequeria and protect the Commission from his verbal hyper-productivity. Unfortunately for them, four independent psychiatrists disagreed:
To prove that he was of sound mind Mr Sequeira underwent psychiatric tests at four different hospitals, seen by the Sunday Telegraph, all of which found nothing wrong with him. Their findings were declared inadmissible by the commission as it would accept testimony from only its own accredited medical list.
If one group of psychiatrists can interpret diagnostic criteria for mental illness to fit Mr Sequeira and oblige their employer, and if another group of psychiatrists can form the diametrically opposite opinion and deny that he is mentally ill at all, what are the implications for their profession's even more powerful, and much less scrutinised, everyday role? There, the clients might, for instance, be troubled parents, and the victim their troublesome offspring. And there may well be no major newspaper and expensive lawyers willing to spring to the victim's defence.
If the allegations of Mr Sequira and other Commission employees in similar positions are borne out, what lessons will the psychiatric profession draw? Will they make scapegoats of the psychiatrists concerned? Or will they realise that those psychiatrists were performing nothing other than their normal social function, and that the fault is systemic? Will they conclude that their subjective, purely behavioural, criteria for making diagnoses against the will of patients and at the behest of interested parties who dislike the patients' behaviour are not only an invitation to abuse, but unscientific too?
There are signs that Québec may be prepared to release Canada from its long and cruel servitude. We look forward to the day when those hateful signs of occupation (we mean the bilingual ones, of course) are consigned to the dustbin of history. Then, as Québec pursues its natural destiny elsewhere, Canada too will be able to resume its rightful place among nations.
Moral principles and theories play an important part in politics. As an example, consider the antitrust case in which the US government recently forced Samsung to cough up $330 million for ‘price fixing’.
How did Samsung come to owe Uncle Sam a third of a billion dollars?
Samsung's top competitor, Seoul-based Hynix, agreed earlier this year to plead guilty to price fixing and pay a $185 million fine. Last September, rival Infineon Technologies AG of Germany agreed to a $160 million fine. Another competitor, Micron Technology Inc. of Boise, Idaho, has been cooperating with prosecutors and was not expected to face charges.
The government accused the companies of conspiring in e-mails, telephone calls and face-to-face meetings to fix prices of memory chips between April 1999 and June 2002.
So employees of Samsung and other companies met to discuss similar decisions they all faced about the prices of commodities that they sell. There is a name for this sort of behaviour: it is called “business”. Antitrust law prohibits people from making decisions that might (according to someone's gut feeling) lead to them have a large share of the market in a commodity. It also prohibits companies from raising or dropping their prices too much. The government's thugs in suits said that Samsung and the others were raising prices “unfairly” because of their combined large market share.
However, every company in the world can raise prices unfairly by this definition, since every company offers some good or services that other companies do not. No one in the world sells Macintosh computers except Apple, and so they often cost a little more than other computers. Therefore, under this theory, Apple Computer owes the difference to the Government. In the Samsung case some memory chip companies got together to make a deal with one another about prices. The government has a gut feeling that consumers suffered, compared with what would have happened if there had been no such deal. But in the real world the government doesn't know what would have happened. Samsung might have put money into research for a new and better generation of memory chips as a result of their increased funds, to the benefit of all humankind. No computer company was forced to buy these memory chips, they could have made their own – and sold them, for that matter. They chose instead to buy the chips because they preferred doing so to that and to every other option.
Antitrust law is little more than an excuse to shake down rich companies. In reality, no employee of a company can tell whether any given action he might take will lead to his company having “too large a share” of the market. Nor can he tell in advance whether the government will deem him to be guilty of “price fixing” for making a particular business deal. So antitrust law violates the principle of the rule of law.
Antirust law also prohibits businessmen from speaking and associating to coordinate certain peaceful activities and so it curtails freedom of speech and association. Since the government uses antitrust law to punish businessmen for trading under certain terms it also violates the principle of freedom of trade.
Political principles can help politicians to select or reject policies. Principles can suggest analogies, which make particular policies tenable or untenable. In accordance with the principles we've referred to, we conclude that antitrust law unjustly criminalises people for innocuous business activities.
This might also suggest an analogy between drug laws and antitrust laws, since they violate all of the same principles. Anyone who favours antitrust laws but not drug laws, or vice versa, ought to consider this.
The Sunday Telegraph's editorial today summarises the situation: Iran is in the process of building an arsenal of nuclear weapons. With the assistance of North Korea and Russia, it has just acquired long-range missiles capable of striking Europe (to complement those it already has, which are capable of striking any of its neighbours, and Israel). The Telegraph says that the last chance of avoiding war is for the Security Council to impose ‘a more aggressive inspections regime’. But experience with the Security council before, during and since the liberation of Iraq suggests that it will take no such action. In other words, it will squander the Telegraph's ‘last chance’ – which, in any case, would be unlikely to work against a totalitarian regime determined, and adept, at concealment.
What sort of war will we get? It is unlikely that the mullahs are planning a first strike, even against Israel (though, since both their ideology and some of their own public statements rationalise and purport to justify a Second Holocaust, it would be criminally irresponsible to discount that possibility). Nor are they likely to be planning any invasions under cover of their nuclear umbrella: all their neighbours are now US allies, and any such invasion would fail humiliatingly. They see these weapons as both a symbol and a deterrent. A symbol of something that isn't true (that their state and its ideology are thriving), and a deterrent against something that could never happen except possibly under the provocation of this very policy.
So they are living in cloud-cuckoo land. The war is most likely to come at the moment when reality finally encroaches on this fantasy world. Perhaps when the Iranian people finally rise up to free themselves. At that point, the mullahs and their Revolutionary Guards and all the incumbents of the present evil regime will have nothing left to lose and are likely to try any desperate kill-or-cure gamble. Or rather, what they will see as a gamble: in fact, like the ‘gamble’ of Argentina's President Galtieri in invading the Falkland Islands, it will certainly fail, and seal their own fate. But Galtieri's fantasy, like the mullahs', blinded him to that inevitability. How much death and destruction will they wreak before that inevitable outcome?
President Bush addressed the National Endowment for Democracy yesterday. The White House called it a ‘historic’ speech, which is an exaggeration. But it was an important speech, taking the argument forwards (for instance by referring for the first time explicitly to the enemy's ideology), defining the nature of the war and current US policy. As often happens, it was under-reported and the summaries in the media were not very good. It's worth reading the speech itself.
In 1968, the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army attacked various cities in South Vietnam during the religious holiday of Tet. The Americans did not just repel the offensive, they completely destroyed the Viet Cong. However, for various reasons the Press reported the Tet Offensive as a defeat for America. This was a significant factor in destroying public support for America's defence of South Vietnam.
In Iraq, the Americans are doing a very good job of defeating terrorists and training the Iraqis to do likewise. The Press are once again distorting the news to give the impression that the terrorists are winning in Iraq. They prominently report suicide bombers killing Iraqis. But most reporters have not reported counterterrorist operations, preferring to peddle sensationalised, anti-war doomsaying instead. A recent poll has indicated that more than half of Americans think the Bush administration is losing the battle against the terrorists in Iraq. If America snatches defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq, the Press will bear some of the blame. Responsible reporters and bloggers must do all they can to counter this tide of pessimism or the Iraqis might pay a terrible price.
When we urged the rebuilding of New Orleans, we didn't mean this! A hideous plan to pour 250 billion dollars of Federal tax money – over $50,000 per citizen of Louisiana – down a bottomless pit. We were urging a spontaneous act of defiance of nature and an affirmation of human creativity. This would be the opposite: an orgy of misappropriation and misuse of the creativity of others.
Update: Here are some remarkable phenomena under way in Biloxi, Mississippi, driven by the free market and human creativity. Opportunities are being exploited and structural changes in land use are under way, such as poor people moving away from waterfront areas and rich people replacing them. There are, no doubt, many reasons for the sharp increase in many property prices since the hurricane, and not all of them are good. But many are, and overall the picture seems to be that those in the best position to know believe that the city will not only recover, but be considerably more valuable in the future than it was in the past.