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Friday, December 12, 2003

Whither the Peace-Weenies

Peace protestors scoff at the notion that one of our major goals in Operation Iraqi Freedom was to establish a free and consensual government in Iraq. And yet it was. Presently, Iraq is our unsinkable aircraft carrier exactly where we would want one. But a prosperous and free Iraq would be a much more important ally against terrorists.

Over the next few months and years, we'll have the opportunity to watch as Iraq meets many major milestones on its path to the free world:

  • First voluntary armed forces
  • First new constitution
  • First national elections
  • First peaceful transition of power
  • First squadron of Strike Eagles

After the last milestone, expect evil governments like Syria and Iran to get real quiet like. As a mostly Arab country, Iraq has the kind of credibility and ability to cry havoc which beleaguered Israel sadly lacks. Mind, I'd not be surprised were the two naturally freedom-loving allies to put their heads together on the subject of external threats.

If you add friendly governments like Afghanistan, Turkey (once it comes to its senses), Kuwait and the Emirates, you'll see the Middle eastern balance of power shifting inexorably against the terror masters. Free Iraq is not just the keystone of this strategy, it's also a vindication of the doctrine of pre-emption. As we take the fight to our enemies, we'll see a sharp reduction in the number of countries who think it's cool and popular to call themselves as such.

What would these developments mean for the modern peace movement? I say: total refutation. People will compare pre-emption against appeasement and judge for themselves who was right, and who really had the more sensitive conscience.

The folks at Anti-Anti War agree, and speculate on what will become of the peaceweenies:

Once Iraq starts to stabilize (and again, it may take some time for that to happen, but happen it will), the benefits will be apparent to all. Freed of its cruel and oppressive dictator, and protected by a semi-permanent U.S. military presence, Iraq will eventually become a Western-style representative democracy that will transform the Middle East. Capitalism, trade with the United States and the West (and Israel), increased revenues from oil, and the prosperity that comes with it, will increase the standard of living for virtually all Iraqis. There will be talk of a "Mesopotamian renaissance" (you heard it here first). Iraq will attract international capital and investment, eventually tourism. Its universities will mold the brightest minds in the Middle East. Iraq will become the envy of the rest of the Arab Middle East, and will eventually come to influence and encourage democratic/secular movements in other Arab countries.

And the anti-war movement? Most who bought into it will deny ever having done so. Many will even claim to have been pro-war. At that point they'll have other causes to worry about anyway (which, it should be added, will be equally self-indulgent and inane). The rest of the world won't care much. The anti-war movement will have become irrelevant, a mere footnote in history, if the history books mention it at all (unlike the Vietnam anti-war movement, which is still glorified). At best, the anti-war folks will be looked at as a fringe democratic movement that was (correctly) ignored by the Bush administration. At worst, they will be exposed as dangerous anti-social lunatics, more concerned with their own narcissistic fantasies than with the well-being of other human beings. Very few, if any, will admit to having marched in candlelight vigils in protest of a war that saved civilization in the Middle East.

Yes, that's right. Do any Democrats still flaunt their vote against Operation Desert Storm? Will they wear their opposition to the establishment of a Free Iraq as a badge of honor?

To be sure, an unredeemable few will. But the bulk of them will find themselves suddenly hoarse when an another Iraqi exchange student delivers a valedictorian speech.

A Free Iraq is not just an important goal in our war against the terrorists, it's a major moral victory over the forces of appeasement. Plenty of peaceweenies are on record as against it. Never let them live it down.

Is this the End?

David Frum on the US/European friendship:

It is always hard for the human mind to adapt to the fact of change. For half a century, Germany has been a firm and faithful ally of the United States; France, an often annoying but still ultimately reliable friend. It’s natural to hesitate to absorb the evidence that these relationships may be coming to an end--that Germany is edging away from the old alliance and that France has for reasons of its own opted to pursue a policy of rivalry and even hostility to the United States. But if it is natural to hesitate to accept unwelcome new realities, it is dangerous to deny them. In Iraq, France was Saddam Hussein’s ally, not America’s--and France now wishes the United States, Britain, and the rest of the coalition to fail in Iraq, not succeed. It is useful for the French government and others to be made aware that Americans have observed this hostility--and that America’s future policy toward France and others will take this hostility into account.
(National Review)

Al Qaeda intended the second day of infamy as the herald of a clash of civilizations. Old Europe's nominally on our team, and definitely on the enemy's hit list. What explains Old Europe's behavior? I've come up with a few ideas, but none really seems to fit:

  1. Discretion. Old Europe has chosen butter over guns, and is horrified to learn that soft power won't work against islamokazes. So they're choosing the better part of valor...
  2. Free riding. Since the Americans are going to save the world anyway, why spend your own blood and treasure if you don't have to?
  3. Balance of Power Politics. Even if the Americans win, they'll be a spent force. And if they lose, they won't be a super power any more. Some lucky country will move into that vacuum, and it might as well be a European one.

I don't like any of those suggestions any more than do you. But might they apply? After all, there is no third-way to confront suicidal fanatics who want to destroy Western Civilization and convert the world into the umma, by the sword if necessary. You try talking to them (tip: bring a gun and have an escape plan).

The only other explanation I can imagine is probably the ugliest. In Old Europe, the number of jealous, America-hating leftists has reached critical mass. There are still fine people across the pond, but they're outnumbered by others who more than anything want to see us taken down a peg and taught a lesson in humility.

To be sure, we have some of those people here, too. Most of them vote for Nader or the Democratic candidate. We'll see how strong a showing they can make next November.

Let's say none of my answers applies. Is there an explanation which exonerates Old Europe? If you can think of one, by all means use the comments. On this one, I'd prefer to be proved wrong.

But if I'm right, I'm glad we still have all our old maps.

Bomb Scare

I was late to work this morning, but I had a very good excuse:

WASHINGTON - Several bomb threats brought portions of the Metrorail system to a halt on Friday, causing delays for thousands of commuters.

Investigators were questioning one man from northwest Washington, FBI spokeswoman Debbie Wierman said, but the man had not been arrested or charged early Friday night.

Authorities also abruptly canceled a lookout for a vehicle that had been widely broadcast during the day. Wierman declined to say why.

Some stations on the Orange and Blue lines were closed at about 8:30 a.m. after police received a call that explosive devices had been placed near the rail tracks. The stations remained closed for about six hours when police gave the all-clear.

The caller told investigators that there could be as many as three packages, but only two were found, said Sgt. Joe Gentile, a D.C. police spokesman.
(WTOP News)

Imagine being stuck in a tunnel under the Potomac for twenty minutes, and not knowing the reason why. (Actually, the announcer gave a few details, but certainly wasn't going to say anything to us about a bomb threat.)

All things considered, I think the folks at WMATA handled the threat as well as they could. Especially considering the threat was announced during the morning rush hour. It's clear they've been rehearsing emergency scenarios, because they were on the ball today.

I'll resume grumbling about Metro some other day. But for now: good job guys.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

All About the Oil and the Money

Steven Den Beste links to a piece by a "progressive" on the subject of the Iraqi reconstruction contracts. Here's what the progressive thinks:

Bush, who desperately needs to repair America's standing in the international community, is only trashing that standing further as he acts like some little Mafia don in the handing out of territory.
(The Progressive)

I think the author has got it completely wrong. America went into Iraq for truth and justice (and pre-emptive self-defense). We also righted a wrong we committed when we halted Operation Desert Storm in 1991. We toppled an evil tyrant and pledged to leave the country looking better than we found it. Our prestige is enhanced.

I hope I'm not going out on a limb here, but it would seem that the opponents of Operation Iraqi Freedom are the ones who need to repair their standing. After all, they're the ones who provided aid and comfort (and moral support) to a fascist regime. Now they're on the outs with the world's largest economy and only superpower. That's not prestige; that's humiliation. Perhaps a little humility would be a suitable tonic. But don't hold your breath:

Old Europe’s head has exploded with rage, and I say good! Old Europe is mad and in the midst of throwing a temper tantrum, its arms flailing and feet dragging the floor. France, Germany and other countries too self-absorbed, politically inept and globally backward to help support the War on Terror in Iraq, are just shocked that the Pentagon has barred countries who opposed the war from bidding for some of that $18.6 billion in reconstruction contracts.


Of course, the countries not on the list are so narcissistic that they simply cannot comprehend why bidding is restricted to those countries that made the liberation possible, that worked with the United States to remove a tyrannical dictator. Contracts to rebuild the nation naturally belong to those who stood up to the incessant bullying of France, the threats from Germany, and still stood by our nation, going so far as to send their sons and daughters into harm's way to stand with us and with the people of Iraq, because it was the right thing to do.

It doesn’t surprise me that countries like France and Germany don’t understand the concepts or loyalty, compassion, courage and commitment. Instead, they behave like the Great Entitled—those who believe, simply because of their own absurd vision of themselves that they deserve what they want, and they want everything. Forget about having to work for it. Forget about standing by your “allies.”


Not all countries are equal. Iraq has served as an indicator of which countries have courage and integrity, and which do not. France is unworthy, and should never, never, get one paw on the tax dollars we have pledged to make Iraq free and functional.
Germany should be ashamed of itself—if any country owes the lives of its sons and daughters to help make the world a better, freer place it is Germany. They, too, should never get a single American reconstruction dollar.

Then we have countries that didn’t even have the guts to take a position. The Pentagon list also rightly excludes those countries which found it suitable to stand by and watch and say nothing. Sweden, Ireland, Austria, and Finland, all neutral countries, are out. Good, good, good and good.

It shouldn’t be too surprising, however, that Old Europe would declare their exclusion as unfair. Their world, like leftist worlds everywhere, are unused to repercussions for moral failures. I must say, the United States has in part facilitated that mentality. For far too long we have made nice with Old Europe. I think it’s due in part to our romantic nature, to say nothing of our personal ties with the Old World.

We are Americans first, but we love our ancestors and a world which has indeed helped to make the United States move from a dream to a reality. But sentiment should go only so far. My heritage is Italian and Irish. I’ve been proud that Italy stood by us, and ashamed that Ireland did not. I accept that.

I’ve also noted the UN reaction when it faced an attack in Iraq and suffered a loss of life. With the spine of an earthworm, they turned and ran. What a wonderful message to send the Iraqis.


I have no qualms whatsoever knowing that some of the tax dollars I pay will be going to winning bids for these countries to reconstruct Iraq. They deserve it, with every drop of blood shed by their brave citizens, we owe it to them. They have earned it with every tear shed by loved ones in their home countries. How dare the Old Europe, comfy in their cowardice, declare that they, too, deserve our money.

I’ll tell you what they deserve--to learn a lesson we should have taught them years ago: their free ride is over. They are not entitled to anything. There are repercussions to their actions, and self-absorption will not be rewarded. This is the new message from a new America—one which will not let the Old Europe attempt to destroy the world again.
(Front Page Magazine)

Yeow, Ms. Bruce, that was both barrels!

Like you, I expect French perfidy. It's who they are and what they do. And like you, I'm shocked that the Germans are following the French lead. We expect so much better from them. Remember the Lutjens?

About two hours ago the junior officers were called to the bridge to conduct Shiphandling drills. We were about to do a man overboard when we got a call from the LUTJENS (D185), a German warship that was moored ahead of us on the pier in Plymouth, England. While in port, the WINSTON S CHURCHILL and the LUTJENS got together for a sports day/cookout on our fantail, and we made some pretty good friends. Now at sea they called over on bridge-to-bridge, requesting to pass us close up on our port side, to say good-bye. We prepared to render them honors on the bridgewing, and the Captain told the crew to come topside to wish them farewell.

As they were making their approach, our Conning Officer announced through her binoculars that they were flying an American flag. As they came even closer, we saw that it was flying at half-mast. The bridgewing was crowded with people as the Boatswain's Mate blew two whistles- Attention to Port- the ship came up alongside and we saw that the entire crew of the German ship were manning the rails, in their dress blues. They had made up a sign that was displayed on the side that read "We Stand By You." Needless to say there was not a dry eye on the bridge as they stayed alongside us for a few minutes and we cut our salutes.

Here's to hoping that decent Germans will command a majority at the next national election. For me, that day couldn't come soon enough. My Rammstein CDs sit on the shelf, and every day I pass by them and wistfully walk away.

Look: thanks to Bush's bidding restrictions, the reconstruction of Iraq will be a quintessentially American story. Naturally, that guarantees a happy ending. But it also means it will be imbued with a heartwarming theme from beginning to end. If you look closely, you can spot it right now.

As we and Old Europe bicker over Iraq, note that the conflict is identical to the plot of The Mouse That Roared

The fact is that there are few more profitable undertakings for a country in need of money than to declare war on the United States and be defeated. Hardly an acre of land is forfeited in such wars. It is usually agreed, to be sure, that heavy industries and other installations and activities which could be used in future wars are to be dismantled, destroyed and their reestablishment banned. And it usually evolves that this is not done, because it is decided that to follow such a plan would either wreck the economy of the defeated nation, or make it incapable of defending itself against other foes. In either or both cases, the Americans would feel called upon, such is their peculiar nature, to help out at their own expense.

Again it is usually decided that the nation and people which lose to the United States shall be made to suffer national and individual hardship for the aggression. And the ink is no sooner dry on such agreements than the United states is rushing food, machinery, clothing, money, building materials and technical aid for the relief of its former foes.

Once more, it is always laid down that the defeated armies must be disbanded and never again be allowed to reform. But, a little later, it is discovered that these armies are in an oblique but nonetheless definite manner essential to the security of the United States itself. Either the defeated enemy must have an army and navy and air force of its own, or the Americans must remain there in an indefinite occupation.

Americans, particularly American soldiers, do not like to remain long outside their own country. And in a matter of months, or at most years, the United States is first requesting and then begging its former enemies to raise an army to defend their own territory. It is not unheard of that these defeated foes are able to state the terms under which they will raise an army for their own policing and defense. Those terms have involved the payment of large sums of money by the United States, or the extension of generous credits, revision of trade agreements in favor of the defeated nation, return of shipping, rehabilitation of factories destroyed in the war, and even the gift of the equipment needed for an army.

All in all, as I said before, there is no more profitable and sound step for a nation without money or credit to take, than declare war on the United States and suffer a total defeat.
(Brothers Judd)

Just as in almost every other American war, once the fighting stops, the Yanks open their pockets and begin the wholesale distribution of candy bars. This phenomenon is so unique and special, it even inspires new religions (PDF link). So its understandable that Old Europe (with its notorious sweet tooth) is left with a bitter taste in its mouth.

Let's keep a little perspective. In wars not fought by America, people argue over who gets what swag. In Iraq, we're arguing over who gets the largesse, or lagniappe, not the plunder.

After all, when it comes to looting Iraq's heritage, we reserved that honor to the indigenous population. What could be more tactful?


Eric Peters writes in the American Spectator:

Speed Kills? Sure, if you're a nation of incompetent drivers. Ask the Germans.

Lack of skill -- not "speeding" -- is the fountainhead of America's traffic problems. If you disagree, then you've got to explain how it is that the Germans routinely drive much faster than we do -- yet miraculously have lower overall accident and fatality rates. If "speed kills," how come it's less deadly if you're German? Is it the water? Or is the skill level of the average German driver higher? And if it is higher, how come? Are Germans truly the Master Race -- on the road, at least -- or do the German authorities simply expect more, in terms of demonstrated skill and experience behind the wheel, before they turn 'em loose on the Autobahn?

Go to the head of the class if you guessed it's more demanding licensing requirements and skills testing -- not anything special about the Germans themselves.

It takes a lot to get a first-time driver's license in Germany -- as much as 25-45 hours of Fahrschule instruction, on the road, in a real car -- culminating in an extensive written and practical test. The cost to pay for the necessary schooling (at an approved Fahrschule) and so forth costs about $1,500-$2,000. They don't mess around. As a result, the road competence of the average German driver is much higher than that of the average American driver.
(American Spectator)

It's true: the Germans are better drivers. I discovered that fact while watching the James Bond film Octopussy.

You remember the part I'm talking about, right?

Bond's racing his car to get to the circus and defuse the nuclear bomb. Chasing him are a bunch of West German Polizei in their zippy German cars (BMW's, I think). They're weaving and darting, and more than a match for our hero. One even gets sideswiped and flipped around: no matter, he just continues the chase in reverse gear.

But when Bond passes through the gates of the US military base, the Germans back off and let the US M.P.s take over. In their lumbering Crown Vics, they lurch and screech and generally smash themselves into the nearest available object.

It's a funny scene, but one with a message. Received loud and clear!

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Left Behind

The Hitch on the Left:

Watching the towers fall in New York, with civilians incinerated on the planes and in the buildings, I felt something that I couldn’t analyze at first and didn’t fully grasp (partly because I was far from my family in Washington, who had a very grueling day) until the day itself was nearly over. I am only slightly embarrassed to tell you that this was a feeling of exhilaration. Here we are then, I was thinking, in a war to the finish between everything I love and everything I hate. Fine. We will win and they will lose. A pity that we let them pick the time and place of the challenge, but we can and we will make up for that.

As to the “Left” I’ll say briefly why this was the finish for me. Here is American society, attacked under open skies in broad daylight by the most reactionary and vicious force in the contemporary world, a force which treats Afghans and Algerians and Egyptians far worse than it has yet been able to treat us. The vaunted CIA and FBI are asleep, at best. The working-class heroes move, without orders and at risk to their lives, to fill the moral and political vacuum. The moral idiots, meanwhile, like Falwell and Robertson and Rabbi Lapin, announce that this clerical aggression is a punishment for our secularism. And the governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, hitherto considered allies on our “national security” calculus, prove to be the most friendly to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Here was a time for the Left to demand a top-to-bottom house-cleaning of the state and of our covert alliances, a full inquiry into the origins of the defeat, and a resolute declaration in favor of a fight to the end for secular and humanist values: a fight which would make friends of the democratic and secular forces in the Muslim world. And instead, the near-majority of “Left” intellectuals started sounding like Falwell, and bleating that the main problem was Bush’s legitimacy. So I don’t even muster a hollow laugh when this pathetic faction says that I, and not they, are in bed with the forces of reaction.
(Front Page Magazine)

Yuck. But they're still the loyal opposition, right?

Most of the leftists I know are hoping openly or secretly to leverage difficulty in Iraq in order to defeat George Bush. For innumerable reasons, including the one I cited earlier, I think that this is a tactic and a mentality utterly damned by any standard of history or morality. What I mainly do is try to rub that in.
(Front Page Magazine)

Well of course they are. And Democrats wonder why nobody trusts them with national security.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003


Meet Francis:

(Washington DC HBS)

As you can see, Francis is a striking orange dwarf mix boy. Just the perfect color for the fall season. Francis is a teenage boy so he is full of energy and likes to explore. He loves to be petted and will bring his head up to meet your hand in mid air for a good pet. He is a medium sized rabbit about 4 pounds. Just a delight to be around.
(Washington DC HBS)

A delight. That's a good bunny. And he's pretty close to Portsmouth, VA. Hint hint.

And while I'm on the subject of bunnies, a word about toilet training might be in order.

Of all possible pets, bunnies are the easiest to toilet train. Here's the FAQ. Here's my two cents:

All bunnies like a safe place to go. The safest place in any room is the spot where 270 degrees of the hostile world is obscured by walls. In other words, bunnies like to go in corners.

When you bring home a new bunny, put a litter pan (filled with generic clay cat litter) in each of the room's most obvious corners. See which ones your new friend likes to use. You can subtract the rest later. And that's about all you need to know about toilet training pet bunnies. Is it really that simple? Yes, you're taking advantage of a bunny's natural instinct to be secure and unobtrusive.

Now that you've toilet trained your bunny, you'll want to become his newest and bestest friend. Is that a tall order? Hardly.

All pet bunnies hail from Europe, where they live in social groups in underground warrens. Naturally, they like to establish a pecking order to see who is boss. For bunnies, the ladder is ranked by who grooms who. At the top sits the royal bunny, who is groomed by everyone.

If you want to groom your bunny, pet him on his head. A bunny's forehead is a spot difficult to reach with one's own paws. To clean (or simply pet) a bunny's forehead is to offer a measure of respect. Bunnies love this kind of attention, and appreciate your gesture of deference. Keep stroking your bunny's head (from the nose to the ears) and you'll make a new friend real quick like. That's all there is to it.

You now know how to raise a friendly, toilet-trained bunny. If you can manage to hide all wires and power cords (which look like delicious roots and branches), you can invite a perfectly behaved new friend to add an extra bit of joy to your life. Go for it!


James over at Hell in a Handbasket discusses an odd entry in his website's referral log:

Seems that someone just clicked on over to this blog after running a search on AOLSEARCH UK.
(Hell in a Handbasket)

Stop the press! America Online offers internet connections in the UK. Now that is too funny. It reminds me of Theodore Dalrymple's latest shocker:

Last week, a friend related a story that demonstrates how completely entertainment does, or at least can come to, dominate a child’s sense and knowledge of reality. His next-door neighbours left their 11-year-old daughter alone in the house for a few minutes and she, growing frightened, suddenly feared that a fire had broken out. She decided to call the fire-brigade, and dialled the emergency number. The number she dialled was 911 — the American emergency number.

She did not know that the emergency number of her own country was 999: she knew only the number of the country in which she truly lived, at least mentally, namely TV-land, which bears a closer resemblance to America than to anywhere else, but is not of course the real, living America, only the screen version of it. If there had been a real fire, she would have been done to a crisp, thanks to her habit of watching TV.
(UK Spectator)

That's how global cultural domination is done!

Rebuilding Iraq

Old Europe need not apply:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Citing national security reasons, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has ruled that prime contracts to rebuild Iraq will exclude firms from nations such as France and Germany that opposed the U.S. war.

In a policy document released on Tuesday, Wolfowitz said he was limiting competition for 26 reconstruction contracts worth up to $18.6 billion that will be advertised in coming days.

"It is necessary for the protection of the essential security interests of the United States to limit competition for the prime contracts of these procurements to companies from the United States, Iraq, coalition partners and force contributing nations," Wolfowitz said in a notice published on the web site

The move is likely to anger France and Germany and other traditional allies in NATO and the U.N. Security Council who are being blocked out of prime contracts after their opposition to the war. They may bid for sub-contracts.

But the decision will placate countries such as Britain, Italy and Spain, which provided troops to Iraq but whose companies were excluded from the first round of deals that went to U.S. firms.

The contracts cover electricity, communications, public buildings, transportation, public works and security and justice. Additional contracts are also being awarded to oversee those projects.
(Yahoo News)

Too bad, so sad. Try again next Summer, when Free Iraq takes over issuing RFBs. Maybe they'll see things your way. I won't hold my breath.

Monday, December 08, 2003

How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Global Warming and Love the Panama Canal

Via the Drudge Report comes a story about how global warming threatens to drown cities at or near sea level.

Global warming could submerge three of India's biggest cities beneath the sea by 2020 unless the crisis was brought under control, an Indian scientist warned yesterday.
"If the warming continues, there will be about half to one metre increase in sea level by 2020 and cities like Bombay, Calcutta and Madras will be completely submerged," said Rajiv Nigam, a scientist with the Geological Oceanography Division in the western Indian state of Goa.

Well if a scientist said it, then it must be true. Right?

The idea that industrialization leads to a rise in the sea level has always struck me as a fanciful notion. And I think the Panama Canal completely refutes that theory.

In the early nineteenth century, people began building steam engines in factories and locomotives. With their boilers warmed by coal, these engines emitted lots and lots of greenhouse gasses. In the early twentieth century, America built a huge canal in Panama, with large structures sitting just above sea level. Over the next ninety years (and up to the present day) we have continued to industrialize. According to the advocates of global warming, our activities should have influenced the oceans as yeast influences bread.

So let's take a look at some pictures of the Panama Canal. Rather than steal bandwidth, I'll offer links to photographs on the condition that you go visit them. Let's focus on the Gatun Locks (on the Atlantic side). Why? Because the Caribbean tidal ranges are much smaller than those on the Pacific side (approximately six inches versus three feet).

Here's a picture of what appears to be a Great White Fleet-era warship approaching the first lock. Note the waterline on the slipway. The photograph doesn't have a date on it, but we can probably safely guess that it was taken between 1913 (completion of the canal) and 1941 (US enters World War II). I'd say it's probably dated closer to the former.

Here's a picture of a bunch of World War II destroyers in the middle of the three Gatun locks. I'd say it was taken during the war (1942-1945). In the background, you can see the inlet, and you can see the waterline on the slipway.

Here's a page from a recent photo-essay describing a trip through the Gatun locks. Check out the picture at the bottom of the page. Note the waterline on the slipway.

After comparing those pictures, I can't discern any change in the waterline on the lowermost lock at Gatun. After almost a century of greenhouse-gas pollution, Gatun sits as high above the water as it did when it first opened for business. But according the these guys, in the next fifteen to twenty years, the oceans will rise as much as a meter. Oh really?

Panama Canal is another of the US Arsenal of Democracy's gifts to the world: like GPS and the internet, it's available to everybody. It's also the canary in the coal mine in the debate over global warming. After all if the oceans were set to rise, wouldn't both environmentalists and greedy capitalists unite in their desire to keep it from sinking under the sea?

Because the business end of the Canal is built at sea level, and because it's a money-making operation, the folks who run the place have been measuring the sea level for nearly one hundred years. If the sea were to rise, they'd be flooded out of business. Or they'd be preparing to raise the threatened sections. That they are not is an illuminating observation.

If you get the chance to visit the panama Canal, go. It's a really neat place. Go ahead and take the standard tour -- it's fascinating stuff. And don't forget to ask the guide what steps the Canal will take to accommodate the incipient surge in sea levels. Don't be put off by the guide's quizzical look. He's probably never heard of the theory of global warming. What does he know?

Sunday, December 07, 2003


And how did you mark the anniversary of the original day of infamy?

Forgot? No problem, you still have time to pay your respects.

While it's important to mourn the dead, it's also useful to find the silver lining. In the case of Pearl Harbor, there are at least two.

1) In response, we invented American Sunshine: the single most effective tool to deal with suicidal fanatics and enforce the Pax Americana.

2) Without American Sunshine, there would be no Godzilla. Think about that, you anti-nuke cultural philistines.


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