The Echo Chamber
Saturday, October 19, 2002
  11:12 PM

Blogger Jacob W. is doing a good job keeping up with the latest on the sniper this evening.

 


  10:53 PM

Barbra: She's Like...Bumbler

Why do celebrities ever enter the realm of political discourse? You would think that they would understand that their success depends to a great extent on being popular with as wide an audience as possible. Why should they go out of their way to alienate anyone?

Part of the answer is that they live in an insular world. Yes-men surround these people all day. Their entourage will entertain any harebrained idea that they have. These ideas are reinforced by contact with other like-minded celebrities and their paid sycophants. After awhile they begin to believe that anyone who has truly given thought to an issue must believe as they and everyone else around them believes.

But why should this insular world be liberal? Why couldn’t Hollywood be a group of self-reinforcing conservatives? I believe the answer is guilt. Many of these people are guilty about their success. In moments of self-doubt they may think that all they do is show up, look good, read some lines, and get a big paycheck.

I don’t want to denigrate the artistry of these people at all. I think that the massive salaries that they negotiate are usually well deserved. If the salary is not well deserved, the market will punish those executives that agreed to it (and it’s not likely to happen again).

But liberals are not big on trusting the free market, and celebrities are no exception. So what are they to think when they receive a $10,000,000 paycheck for six months of work? They may feel they haven’t done enough and must “give something back.” Liberal Hollywood has a well-oiled machine for dealing with this guilt. Liberal causes and liberal charities stand ready to establish a symbiotic relationship – money and clout for the cause in exchange for offering a feeling of self-worth for the star.

Many stars, while liberal, are smart enough to keep their politics somewhat quiet. Tom Hanks is probably left of center, but the cause that he’s chosen to most closely associate with is the creation of a World War II memorial. Not only is this a good cause, but also it’s smart politics. This is a cause that few on the left or right will disagree with.

But some entertainers are less diplomatic. Four come to mind:

In the case of Barbra, she’s too rich and, frankly, too old to worry about her audience any more. Since she’s not terribly concerned about damaging her waning career, and since it’s a free country, she can say what she likes. Of course, we are free to laugh at her when she makes a fool of herself (as she has done three times in the last couple of months). Blogger Rachel Lucas is the current “Queen of Dissing Barbra.”

Baldwin is in a full-blown career crisis. The success of Pearl Harbor was in spite of his presence. Everything else he has touched lately has been a failure. Newsflash to Alec: Tom Clancy’s fans lean to the right. You lost your chance for getting the Jack Ryan gig back because you are so incredibly liberal and loud mouthed. Even the charities are going to stop calling if you don’t have a hit soon. Concentrate on your career – which is not activism - its acting. And don't promise to leave the country if liberals have a set back. Otherwise, fans will leave the theater when you come onscreen.

Penn is interesting. With his unconventional looks he should just be a character actor. Penn: you are weird – we need more weirdos on screen, not in real life. Your desire for peace is admirable, but why don’t you start by not punching out the next photographer you see?

No advise for Woody. I don’t care for his movies or his politics. I might have denied myself some diamond in the rough by avoiding everything he’s done since Cheers, but I’ve saved myself from “Natural Born Killers,” that Hustler’s biopic, and “The Cowboy Way.” I suspect that I’m richer for it.

UPDATE: The Washington Times writes, "Hollywood takes on White House." 


  5:05 PM

Promising developments in the Sniper case. A rental van has been found with a shell casing in it. Ballistics are trying to match it now.
Also on Saturday, members of a massive task force made up of local police, FBI agents and federal firearms officials dashed about 40 miles south of Washington after a local sheriff sought help in a predawn, helicopter-backed hunt for a fugitive.

The man -- wanted for suspected weapons violations -- sped away from a police stop and eluded pursuing cars by driving the wrong way down a major highway even after spikes at a roadblock blew out the tires on his vehicle.

The shaven-headed man, wearing a white T-shirt and dark pants, then ditched his vehicle at a gas station and fled on foot, Stafford County, Virginia, Police Sheriff Charles Jett said, warning the public he was "armed and dangerous."

"We sent people down there to see if there is any connection," Joyce Utter, a spokeswoman for the sniper task force, said by telephone.

 


Friday, October 18, 2002
  11:06 AM

A Few Good Nukes

On October 3rd, Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly went to North Korea and demanded the country address U.S. suspicion that North Korea was continuing to develop nuclear weapons.

In response, the Pyongyang government accused Bush's special envoy of making "threatening remarks." The United States refused all comment on the discussions…
I would love to have been a fly on the wall for that discussion, because now North Korea has confessed that it has continued its nuclear program in spite of a 1994 agreement.

So what prompted the confession? I don’t buy NPR’s assessment (audio link) that Pyongyang is seeking to “come clean.” Was this “A Few Good Men” style confession?

KAFFEE
I want the truth.

JESSEP
You can't handle the truth!

The two principles in that movie were both part of the same military. The conflict between those two was over different views of what the military should be, or maybe “what is honor?” The North Korean confession might be more like that of a punk teenager to his parents “yeah I smoke pot, but what are you gonna do about it?”

But like Colonel Jessep, North Korea must have wanted to tell the truth.

KAFFEE:

…To win, Jessep has to tell the jury that he
ordered the code red.

SAM

And you think you can get him to just say
it?

KAFFEE

I think he wants to say it. I think he's
p**sed off that he's gotta hide from us.
I think he wants to say that he made a
command decision and that's the end of it.
He eats breakfast 80 yards away from 4000
Cubans who are trained to kill him, and no
one's gonna tell him how to run his base.

North Korea, by this confession, is asserting its sovereignty to build nukes. This of course, is in direct conflict with its 1994 agreement (which North Korea says has been nullified) and with the Bush doctrine.

I’m sure North Korea will argue that the 1994 agreement was nullified by some diplomatic slight. Of course it would have been helpful for them to have notified us at the time this purported nullification took place, but that’s not the point. They just wanted to build nukes.

The real nullification took place in 1997 when Clinton told Iraq to let the inspectors back in, Iraq refused, and he did nothing. What logical reason does a country have to keep an agreement it considers burdensome if breaking it holds no consequences? 


  8:29 AM

We had terrible news from North Korea yesterday, but we have some pretty good news from Taiwan today.

Tensions seem to be relaxing between China and Taiwan. Before allowing direct travel links to be established between China and Taiwan, China had been insisting on calling these travel links “special domestic routes.” Taiwan thought that accepting that designation would amount to surrendering to China’s “one China” policy. Now China has offered to simply call the routes “cross-Strait links.”

The Taiwan stock market shot up at the news. Economists believe that closer economic ties will improve the economies of both nations. Hong Kong appears to be the only loser in this proposed arrangement. Hong Kong has for years benefited from its “Gate Keeper to China” role. 


  8:11 AM

I'm pretty happy with the overall look of this blog now. And the permalinks seem to be working. I think I'll stay with this template for a month or so at least. 


Thursday, October 17, 2002
  3:15 PM

I've unearthed the real reason Harry Belafonte is upset with Colin Powell. Powell's cover of Belafonte's greatest hit is more entertaining than the original. 


  8:54 AM

Listening to NPR on the way to work this morning I was informed that North Korea has a nuclear weapons program, that we learned this because the peaceful North Koreans wanted to "come clean" about this treaty violation, and that it would have been better had North Korea kept this fact to themselves, presumably because we have a maniac for a President.

Instead of taxpayer funding for NPR, why don't we just send this money straight to the DNC?

The Washington Post actually has a more balanced report:

The [uranimum-enrichment program] program, which the United States believes would only be used to develop a nuclear bomb, began under the Clinton administration, according to the official.

Surprisingly, North Korea confirmed the allegation.

The title of the Washington Post story is "U.S. Source: N. Korea Says Has Nukes." I hope the title is incorrect. The story talks about a nuclear weapons program, not finished nukes. There is a big difference.

Update: Reuters is reporting a nuclear program, not the existence of nukes.

The Associated Press reports that in a previous nuclear weapons program, North Korea produced enough Plutonium to make one or two nuclear weapons.

What's to keep a poor country like North Korea from selling fissile material to Iraq? We've been told that Iraq would be six months away from having a working nuclear weapon upon acquiring sufficient fissile material. North Korea's inclusion in the axis of evil is looking more astute all the time. 


Wednesday, October 16, 2002
  11:04 PM

Tell Me You Haven't Sold Out, Rush!

I clicked over the rushlimbaugh.com tonight and was treated to this pop-up ad advertising the "Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - Allies Against Terror." Let's examine this ad:

Did you know that Saudi Arabia revoked Osama bin Laden’s citizenship in 1994?
Did you know that Saudi Arabia was home to not only Osama bin Laden, but 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers?
Through aboutsaudiarabia.net you will learn how Saudi Arabia has helped in the war against terrorism,
"Oh God, destroy the tyrant Jews. Oh God, deal with the Jews and their supporters. Oh God destroy them for they are within your power." -- Broadcast of live sermon by Shaykh Usamah bin-Abdallah Khayyat from the holy mosque in Mecca, Riyadh Kingdom of Saudi Arabia TV1, July 12, 2002.
as well as other important facts about the Kingdom
May 15, 2002 Saudi Government Daily: "You [the U.S.] Will Vanish, But We Will Remain" Dr. Mohammad T. Al Rasheed, a columnist for the Saudi government English daily The Saudi Gazette, responding to President Bush's unreasonable demand that Arab leaders cease calling suicide bombers "martyrs."
...and its diplomatic relations with the United States.
While in Saudi Arabia protecting the Saudi regime, American servicewomen are forced to wear the Muslim abiyya while off base, whether they are Muslim or not.

Ms. Pat Roush has two adult daughters who as children were kidnapped by their father and taken to Saudi Arabia. These women are American citizens who want to return to America but cannot because, under Saudi "law," they need their father's permission to do so. Their situation is not unique.

In 1991 the first President Bush visited American troops in Saudi Arabia on Thanksgiving day. President Bush was informed he could not say a Christian prayer on Saudi soil for the soldiers protecting the Saudi regime.

Enter your email address to learn more about Saudi Arabia’s efforts to fight terrorism and to receive other unfiltered information about the Kingdom.
Translation: You'll find Saudi government propaganda refreshing after constant exposure to the right-wing bias of American media outlets. 


  2:38 PM

If you’re not convinced that the Bali attacks were Australia’s September 11, read Greg Sheridan’s Op-Ed in The Austrialian


Tuesday, October 15, 2002
  1:53 PM

Should More Scientific Research be Classified?

The West, particularly the United States, is an open civilization. This fact allows us to make advances that would be impossible otherwise, but, as we learned on September 11, it also makes us vulnerable.

One specific area that should be reevaluated for safety is the area of scientific research. The light-speed scientific advances that we benefit from are the direct result of a scientific community where scientists are able to openly evaluate the work of their peers. Peer review is obviously quite limited in classified projects. But some areas of research that are quite public could be dangerous if they fell into the wrong hands.

Just this morning United Press International reported that scientists have found the molecular path to fear. These scientists from the University of California hope that their breakthrough could lead to development of drugs for the treatment of chronic anxiety disorders.

This molecular avenue was found in a region of the brain called the amygdala, an almond-shaped area near the front of the temporal cortex that is key in helping the brain regulate certain feelings, such as fear.

"It's the master area in the brain for the learning and expression of fear, so without it ... wild animals become tame and people are unable to evaluate threats in the environment," Barad told United Press International. "So it's a master switch."

---UPI link via The Drudge Report
This is an exciting development, but couldn’t this research be used to develop a drug to literally turn off fear? What would happen if such a drug were administered in mass to a large group of radicalized Islamists?

The biggest obstacle to those wishing to use suicide murderers is not, sadly, in finding people who agree that suicide bombing is morally acceptable. The chief obstacle has been finding a large enough quantity of individuals sufficiently indoctrinated with hate to overcome their natural fear of dying. If fear is removed from the equation, things could get really bad, really fast.

UPDATE: A reader, "Johns," commented that if scientists were able to erase fear, couldn't the same knowledge be used to create a weapon that causes irrational fear.

My guess would be yes, they could do that. While this would not necessarily be the best weapon for a civilized nation (terrorized people are too unpredictable), wouldn't terrorists just love to have such a weapon? 


  1:49 PM

Check out the new blog, "Conservative Nature."

This blogger has chosen to focus on environmental news and issues from a conservative point of view. 


  9:08 AM

The Sniper has Killed Again

It has just been confirmed ballistically that the shooting last night in Falls Church, Virginia was the work of the Beltway Sniper.

A woman, who was with her husband, was loading her car in the parking lot of a Home Depot.

Police said they had witnesses to the shooting and were on the lookout for a cream-colored Chevrolet Astro van with the left rear taillight out. Despite a cordon thrown around the area shortly after the shooting, the van has not been found.
There is an interesting connection with the Michael’s craft store. It is believed that the sniper’s first attempt was at a Michael’s store on October 2. He shot and missed. On October 4 at a different Michael’s store, he shot a woman who survived. Last night’s shooting was at a strip mall center that includes both the Home Depot and a Michael’s store.

Some professional snipers are unhappy that the media is using the word "sniper" to describe this person.

"I definitely know they're not snipers, because snipers don't take innocent life," said Neil Morris, who spent nearly two decades as a Marine sniper and has trained countless military and police sharpshooters from around the world. "It's the most sane, hardworking, dedicated group of people you'd ever meet in your life. And without us, there'd be a whole lot more harm in this world than there already is."
I must respectfully disagree in part. This unknown criminal kills people with a single shot from a high powered rifle at a distance and from a concealed location. While I respect the good work that Morris and others like him have surely done, that doesn’t mean that this person is not a sniper.

The word “sniper” is morally neutral. The morality of killing a person in this manner depends entirely upon who and what the target person is (or what activity the target person is engaged in), and the authority by which the sniper acts. The Beltway Sniper is either acting on his own or on behalf of a terrorist organization. He is killing civilians who are in the process of living peaceful lives. This is quite different morally from what professionals like Morris do, but this evil person can accurately be called a "sniper."

I'm glad Fox News brought this subject up, because this is a good opportunity to preemptively make a moral distinction before the moral equivalency crowd gets started. 


Monday, October 14, 2002
  3:05 PM

Bin Laden Must be Getting Lonely in His Cave

I just noticed that someone arrived at my site via a Google search for “www christian woman bikinis.”

This is weird for several reasons. First, what's with the "www?" Did this person really think that "www" is a useful search term?

Second, how did this search get him here? Until this post, I have never used the word “bikini” at this web site. How often does this subject come up in politics? The last time might have been in 1991 when then Mayor Sonny Bono banned thong bikinis in Palm Springs.

But, lastly, what was this person looking for? A catalog showing bikinis appropriate for Christian women? Call me a cynic, but I think it’s much more likely that some practitioner of a certain peaceful religion was ineptly cruising for infidel porn.  


  11:34 AM

For local perspective on the Bali attacks, read Aussie blogger Tim Blair


Sunday, October 13, 2002
  9:09 PM

Terrorists Hit Nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, At Least 187 Are Dead.

Although authorities are calling this an act of terrorism, al-Qaida has not yet been confirmed as the culprit.

Reasons that this attack was probably the work of al-Qaida:

 


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