Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Book Festival Blogging: LA Times Festival of Books April 24, 2004

One of the nice things about life in Los Angeles is the variety of thoughtful events around town. A favorite of mine is the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at UCLA.

I went last Saturday and sat in on two author panels. The first one I attended was in the morning entitled, "China in the American Imagination." It was moderated by Lisa See and the panel included: Anchee Min, Ross Terrill and Iris Chang.

See made some remarks about the author's background and the books they have written. She then let them make some remarks before tossing the session open to questions.

The following is from my notes and I hope they accurately reflect what they said!

AM: Am an immigrant to the USA after living my first 27 years in China. Happy to be on this panel with terrific writers. Lisa has helped show Americans about Chinese people. Ross has written about Madam Mao who was considered a taboo subject among Chinese for a long time. Iris has told the very important story of the Rape of Nanking. In my novels, I like to look at the Chinese sense of duty. In particular family duty to the children and the future. Yet, so much of Chinese history has been about leaders who have done the exact opposite doing things that have destroyed the future of those they rule.

RT: In my book, I examine the history of China and its relationship to the outside world. China in the American imagination could be divided into three phases: the 18-20th Century when missionaries and traders went to China. Mao took over in 1949 and pretty much China was cut off from the world and was viewed as the dangerous red dragon. Now, in the post-Mao era, there is much more contact and there is a mix of good and bad about China in the American imagination.

China has 14 countries on its borders. US + Russia + W. Europe + Japan + Brazil together have less people than China. China is big but it may collapse like the old USSR. China is trying to merge contradictions: authoritarian political control and moving toward a market economy. China has a "yin and yang" philosophy that says such opposites can be reconciled. I have my doubts.

IC: I'm an American Born Chinese (ABC). My first book was about Prof. Tsien Hsue-shen who was a Cal Tech rocket scientist who got deported from the USA and went on to develop the Chinese missile program. My second book described the 1937 Japanese military atrocity in the Rape of Nanking. My current book covers 150 years of the Chinese experience in America. I think the Chinese in the American imagination has been cyclic. There have been periods of acceptance and others of demonization. In my research I found there was great acceptance of the first Chinese immigrants. I was quite surprised at how well they were thought off and how well they did. But in 1870, the US had economic troubles and Chinese immigration became restricted and those in the US were oppressed. There were anti-Chinese riots that remain little known and remembered today.

LS: How do you see American perception of China in recent decades?

AM: I was in China as a youth. I have seen China change. In 1965, I lived in Shanghi and there was a banner that said, Long Live Chairman Mao. In 1972, there was a banner welcoming Nixon. In 1980, I remember a banner that said Build 18 million toilets! In 1990, there was a banner that said, borrowing is good.

RT: I think US views have moderated. 1950 there was hostility about the Korean War. In 1960 there was hostility over Vietnam. Since 1970 there has been no major military conflict in Asia. Since 30% of China exports go to the USA, the Chinese have incentive to avoid exteremes in viewing America and visa versa.

IC: In the 1980s, China was like a sequestered China Doll coming out and was a source of great interest among Americans. In 1990s with the fall of the USSR, China became the new enemy. The Wen Ho Lee case and other incidents fed into the fear of China. 9/11 put those fears aside for now.

Question from audience: How are Muslims doing in China?

RT: China has 30 provences of which Tibet, Mongolia and Xinjing (the province with many Muslims) are very large and have a measure of independence. They want to be like Hong Kong and have the "1 country 2 systems" kind of autonomy. It will be interesting to see if independence movements will grow stronger in these regions.

LS: What is America in the Chinese imagination?
When I was researching my book in rural China, people would ask, Americans like to adopt Chinese babies; is it true that they harvest their organs when they become adults? So there are still some strong ideas there!

AM: I was taught to hate Americans. I'm now married to a US Marine Vietnam veteran. In 1979, when I was still in China, we got to see our first black and white television. There was a program showing poverty in America by highlighting the poor in Chicago. We saw these people were fat and dressed better than us! It was eye-opening for us who had been taught that Americans were terrible.

RT: China sends its best kids to the USA to study. Yet, the official government line is to critize the USA. It seems the government will use the USA as the enemy to help keep themselves in power.

Ross Terrill's book, The New Chinese Empire -- And What It Means for the United States (Basic Books), won the LA Times Book Prize in the Current Interest catagory.


The second session I attended was in the afternoon. It was entitled, "Going Global: US Manifest Destiny."

The session was moderated by KPCC talk show host, Larry Mantle. The panel included Gerald Posner who wrote "Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11" and Neil Smith who wrote "American Empire: Roosevelt's Geographer and the Prelude to Globalization."

The previously mentioned disclaimer is repeated here: The following is from my notes and I hope they accurately reflect what they said!

LM: What do you think of the 9/11 commission?

GP: Some people though I was too harsh on the CIA and FBI and various Administrations. The hearings have pretty much confirmed the degree of failure I described in the book. UBL was simply not a priority in any administration. In 1996, in an important working group on terrorism, there were only 2 translators and only 1 who had actual experience in the Middle East. On 9/10, Ashcroft's budget increased all areas except hiring counter terrorism analysts and translators.

LM: Where is our understanding of the Islamic world?

GP: The Taliban of Afghanistan were the "ideal" Islamic state of the 14th Century. The USA never saw how far apart our view of Islam was from their own view of what they want.

NS: They are reacting to the Americanization of world culture and political economy. It is analogous to the 19th Century British dominating the world.

LM: What is geography?

NS: How do we understand the world. It is a mix of political, physical and religous factors. Map making is only a subset of geography. By the 20th Century, the world was essentially completely mapped. In the 19th Century, there were still places to be explored and so Colonialism and Empire encompassed the gaining of physical land. However, we are now in a post-colonial era and thus dominanace is through economics.

GP: In some Islamic thought, they want to see the end of the American Century. They have 2 billion people and want to see an Islamic Century. They feel it is their destiny to take over.

NS: Likewise, in the USA, the neo-conservatives want American dominence in the form of a "New American Century."

Isaiah Bowman who is profiled in my book was the geographer for Wilson and FDR. America has always had some sense of a global vision. First with Wilson then with FDR and now in today's globalization. There is an Islamic Capitalism opposing American Globalization.

LM: Do you believe that is a real threat?

GP: I'm doubtful they can be a threat. Neither is American globalization likely to be successful. The idea of Iraq having democracy as we know it is very unlikely, The Saudi's and others want to see the Balkanization of Iraq so they aren't very united.

NS: American globalization isn't the same as democratization. The USA doesn't want democracy in Saudi Arabia or Palastine because radical regimes would be voted in.

GP: I'd agree with you on that point. Thus, we often wind up supporting unsavory governments.

LM: The political right believes the US should act in its self-interest internationally while the left is uncomfortable with this. What do you think?

NS: The Wilsonian and FDR global visions failed. Part of it is that there was lot of internal opposition as well as external opposition. Today, we are in the same situation and I don't see this third attempt at a global vision being successful.

GP: 12/7 and 9/11 were unifying moments. But over time foreign wars are hard to keep up because of internal politics.

LM: What do you think of the Middle East media demonizing the USA and Israel?

NS: Anti-Bush sentiment shouldn't be confused with anti-USA sentiment.

GP: What I'm seeing is hatred of Bush and the notion that the USA are the pawn of the Jews.

NS: Anti-Jewish sentiment is real but it is separate from USA hatred.

LM: How deep is anti-Jewish sentiment?

NS: I think what they want to see is more balance in the US position in the Israel-Palastinian issue. By the way, ironically, Isaiah Bowman hated both Jews and Arabs.

GP: The problem is that some view Jihad as an affirmative duty. If today, Israel and Palastine were to have peace, there would be some who would still hate the Jews and the USA.

Question from audience: Is USA in decline? Will American democratic ideals spread?

NS: The USA claims to be spreading democracy but it is really a code word for many other things. The USA is in decline but I doubt Islam will rise to take its place. I'm not sure what will arise to replace the USA.

GP: The USA is naive about democracy in other places. The Shia who are the majority in Iraq think democracy means they should run the country. However, US democracy involves protecting the rights of the minority groups. They don't understand this.

LM: Iraq is made up of three ethnic groups. Can that be solved?

NS: The Iraq borders were drawn up by the European powers and are a very artificial arrangement. It will be hard to have a unified Iraq.

Neil Smith's book American Empire: Roosevelt’s Geographer and the Prelude to Globalization (University of California Press) won the LA Times Book Prize for biography.

Witmer siblings to take non-combat assignments

Michelle Witmer, 20 of Wisconsin was killed in combat in Iraq. Her sisters Rachel and Charity had the option of taking non-combat postings because Army regulations allow them to because they had lost an immediate family member. Today, they have decided to take that option. Excerpts:
The two arrived home April 12 to attend the funeral of Michelle, their 20-year-old sister and Charity's twin, who was killed April 9 in an attack.

Under Pentagon policy, when a soldier is killed while serving in a hostile area, other family members in the military may request a non-combat assignment.

Rachel Witmer, 24, serves with the 32nd Military Police Company, as did Michelle. The Wisconsin Army National Guard unit already has served a year in the Middle East and recently had its service extended four months.

Charity Witmer is a sergeant and medic with the 118th Medical Battalion, which arrived in Baghdad in February.

The sisters' unit commanders in Iraq had recommended that the two be given non-combat assignments.

"Both commanders asked Rachel and Charity not to return, not because these soldiers are not valid members of their units, but because they are," Maj. Gen. Al Wilkening said in a statement.

May 2, Africa Malaria Day and SIT=sterile insect technique

Saw this Reuter's item in Yahoo! Science News. Excerpts:
Sunday is Africa Malaria Day, when governments will focus attention on a disease which kills millions of Africans a year, most of them children, and costs the continent at least $12 billion in lost gross domestic product.

Bart Knols, a Dutch entomologist at the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), estimates there are "three to five hundred million cases of malaria every year on a world-wide scale, 90 percent of which occur in sub-Saharan Africa."

"Sub-Saharan Africa also suffers the major burden... of mortality," he told Reuters during a tour of the IAEA's entomology laboratories.

One African child dies of malaria every 20 seconds. People in poor, remote villages are usually unable to get treatment and so Knols's research aims to nip the problem in the bud by destroying the mosquito that transmits the malaria parasite.
The Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) is a simple idea. Scientists breed insects and expose the males to enough radiation to render them sterile. The males are then released into the environment to breed with the females, whose eggs are unfertilized and never hatch.

"The whole idea or concept is that the population would actually start to crash and eventually may actually lead to eradication of the insect, and therefore eradication of the disease and less malaria," said Knols, who has personally suffered nine bouts of malaria through working with mosquitoes.

Alan Robinson, the entomologist in charge of the IAEA's entomology unit, said the $4 million project was still in its infancy. He described it as a "high-risk project" with many hurdles to overcome before it is ready for field trials.

Over the next five years, they need to reach a point where they can produce a million sterile male insects a day

The males they breed must be robust enough to survive when released from planes into the environment and tough enough to compete with fertile males during mating. The females, the ones which bite humans, only mate once in their two-week lives.
Hope they can get it to work. Between careful usage of DTT and approaches like SIT and research effort perhaps progress will be made.

Speaking of research efforts, when I was in Botswana, some local people had high praise for Microsoft's Bill Gates. They aren't computer savvy and like their software but because they know the Foundation he set up has put Malaria and AIDS in Africa as major concerns. Here is an item about Malaria and here is their page on Global Health issues.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Pat Tillman

The label "hero" is tossed around rather too often. However, in this case, it is a proper word to describe Pat Tillman. He died in Afghanistan as his Ranger unit got into a firefight. He was an NFL player who had a contract offer in the millions of dollars. But because of 9/11, he decided to serve in the US Army Rangers.

Remarks about the news within the context of the NFL can be found here.

Malaria in the news and blogosphere

Instapundit links Juan Non-Volokh who summarizes a WaPo item on the Malaria fight being mis-managed by the UN.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Dodgers 5 Giants 4


Check out the box score and the recap!

Went to my first Dodger game of this season and I didn't "see" the Dodgers win but they didn't lose either when I left in the bottom of the 10th inning. Since it was a Friday night game I was at the end of my energy levels. Additionally, on Saturday, I am planning to go to the LA Times-UCLA Festival of Books; thus, it was time to go.

As I drove home, I heard the winning run driven in by Milton Bradley in the bottom of the 12th.

The Dodgers were down 4-1 after three innings. Last year that would probably be the end of it as the offense was so pathetic. However, this year, they are showing some life offensively and a comeback was hoped for and believed to even be probable. Indeed, the Dodgers got a run in the bottom of the 4th and then tied it up in the bottom of the 5th with a two-run homer by Shawn Green.

It was a game of high drama with playoff-like intensity.

How often do you see a 1-2-3 double play? We got that in the top of the eighth when Mota got into trouble and Martin took over only to hit a batter. But he induced a dribbler which he pounced on triggering the inning ending and tie preserving 1-2-3 double play.

How often will we see Gagne pitch two innings and get neither a save nor a win?

He came in keep things under control in the top of the 9th and 10th.

Dreifort took care of things in the top of the 11th and 12th.

Go Dodgers!

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Continuity of government

Its an arcane subject that was discussed a month ago on Nightline. The issue is what would be done if Washington DC were hit and much of the Federal Government top level staffing was lost. In the Nightline show, they discussed the plans developed during the Cold War of which some elements went into effect to some extent on 9/11 and afterward.

Today, in this Yahoo! News item reports that the House passed plans for how to reconstitute the legislative branch should an attack kill large numbers of Representatives. Excerpt:
The measure would require special elections within 45 days of the House speaker confirming that a catastrophic event had left at last 100 of the 435 seats vacant. Language was added to ensure that military personnel stationed overseas would have their voting rights protected.
The Senate has not taken up the terrorist attack issue, though Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, has proposed a constitutional change giving states the flexibility to come up with their own solutions.

Going to Dodger's Stadium Tomorrow Night!

It will be my first game of the new season. Last year, I made it out to six games and I think in half of them, Gagne made an appearance for the save. The crowd really loves the whole circus with the music and his beard and musty hat.

Some on sportstalk radio is saying, he may be traded later in the year because this is his final year as a "low budget" player. Since the new GM, Paul DePodesta is a student of Billy Ball, who believes you only pay big bucks for players when they are early in their careers and don't put out big contracts after the fact on declining years. Some are saying there is virtually no way Gagne will be able to repeat the last two years and so his trade value is the highest it will ever be.

On the other hand, Gagne is a rare relief pitcher with THREE good pitches: a high 90s fastball (occasionally clocked at 100 mph), a wicked curve and a change-up. Thus, some are saying, he will be able to replicate his amazing last two seasons for years to come because he doesn't always have to rely on the fastball to get people out.

Anyway, I leave all that for real sports nuts. I'm just a fan who wants to see the team do well and players get recognized for their contributions.

At lead off, Roberts has been stealing bases like crazy and has 12 which I think is tops in the MLB right now. He leads the teams in drawing walks and is hitting .279 which is an improvement over last year when he was out with injuries or playing with them.

Izturis has been a pleasant surprise batting second and making contact more than last year.

The big addition is Bradley in the three spot tied with Beltre with 15 RBI.

Green has been in the clean-up slot. Last year, he had a off year playing injured. He is looking better but still not up to 2001 and 2002 season stroking.

LoDuca is batting fifth and occasionally getting a break from the catcher's slot when Tracey plugs in David Ross. LoDuca will probably get the occasional day off from catching or shuttled into the outfield. He has been on fire batting .490

Encarnacion is sixth in the lineup. Not a real good average right now but tied for third on the team with 9 RBI.

Beltre is batting seventh and has been the biggest surprise. In years past, he seems to sleep walk offensively in the first half of the season and then starts booming in the second half. Well, he is off to a fast start, leading the team with 6 HR and 15 RBI with a .375 average.

Cora is in the eight place and is really on the team for defense. He has struggled at the plate.

Meanwhile, the pitching is nothing like last year as the staff ERA is midling at 4.21. Nomo remains the number 1 starter and is the willy veteran of the staff. The split-finger/forkball remains his best pitch. His fastball is now usually only in the high 80s and low 90s. ERA is high but he is 3-1.

The #2 starter is Perez who leads the team in K's with 22. Young guy who hopefully will return to the form we saw in 2002.

The new man on the staff is Weaver. Has good stuff but he has had a few bad innings and so his ERA is high.

The 4th man is Ishii and he remains erractic but somehow manages to win and is 2-1.

Veteran Lima looks to be the spot 5th starter after he did a good job in his opportunity.

Go Dodgers!

Support Spirit of America Blogger Challenge

Published a post a few days back about the work Spirit of America is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instapundit is s supporter and links over to the challenge being issued by Michele Catalano who is one of the people behind the newsblog, Command-Post. To donate as part of Michele's Coalition, go here. To just donate to Spirit of America sans blog alliance, go here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Malaria, Africa and DDT

I had the chance to visit Africa in 2003 when I went to Botswana on a Habitat for Humanity project. As such, when Africa is in the news, I usually perk up.

Thus, today I saw this item about Malaria over at Instapundit where he links
and the mistake of banishing DDT and Insta also links Postrel who is citing

Bottom line: malaria kills lots of people in Africa, DDT kills mosquitos, people are afraid of DTT ... connect the dots ... Postel writes:
Two million people a year, most of them little kids, are dying because of the West's anti-DDT superstition. Two...million...people...a...year.

Anti-DDT taboos undoubtedly kill even more than that, since the debilitation caused by malaria helps keep Africa desperately poor. But, hey, they're Africans. We got rid of malaria here, so we don't give a damn. I bet the NYT Mag gets letters from people outraged at Rosenberg's audacity in pointing out the problem.
Postrel writes more here by citing CNBC Hardball's Chris Matthew's experience with Malaria.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Woodward Interview on 60 Minutes

Certainly was interesting television. Wonder as time goes on how many of the things did Woodward get right and how much was shaded truth or wrong from his anonymous sources. Certainly, one of the more interesting revelations was the Saudi promise to raise production of oil to lower prices around election time to help Bush.

Fact or fiction?

Frum thinks it might be true but for a sneaky self-serving reason of the Saudi's. Excerpt:
But why would Bandar want to hurt Bush? Don’t a hundred conspiracy books tell us that the Bush family are thralls of Saudi oil money? Perhaps the Saudis don’t think so. Perhaps they see President Bush’s Middle East policy as a threat to their dominance and even survival. What could after all be a worse nightmare for Saudi Arabia than a Western-oriented, pluralistic Iraq pumping all the oil it can sell?

In other words, if what Bob Woodward reports is true, then the Saudis are meddling to defeat Bush, not elect him.

Moral Equivalence?

People are always dumping on the USA about Iraq: the Big MEAN Americans beating up on the little Iraqis.

I don't doubt there are some accidental deaths of civilians and perhaps even the occasional excessive force.

However, if the USA wanted to be like the Romans of old, they would just send in the B-52s and level Fallujah and not risk a single Marine life. Instead, the US Marines are holding their fire hoping against hope that they won't have to go in house to house to root out the several thousand insurgents in Fallujah.

Place your bets: what do you think these radicals would do if they had a small American town surrounded?

Here is the latest in Yahoo! News. Negotiations are ongoing and I'm hoping for the best but ready for the worst.

Hopefully, moderate elements of Iraqi society will rise up and say to the ones who want to fight to the death: NO, rather, we will rebuild a life here and now and for our children and not die in a blaze of Jihadist glory.

Otherwise, the Marines will go in. And the thing that breaks me up is that they will risk their lives not just because they are going to get shot at but they will risk their lives because they will try their very best not to kill Iraqi civilians caught in the middle.

For those who say the USA is trying to be an imperialist power: we are sure doing a lousy job of it.

And maybe the reason why is that we aren't an imperialist power and are trying our best not to be. The result: a somewhat messy Iraq. But if in the end, we hand over the country to them and they build some semblance of a free nation then they will be far better off then they were with madman Hussein at the top.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Messy Game Night: Finding Nemo

Last night, Friday, was down at church to help out with an event for 5/6th graders. The night was called "Messy Game Night." The games were all loosely based on the film Finding Nemo. There is not many things more invigorating than watching children at play. Needless to say, the kid in the adults got into the act too by the end of the night. Can't say I've seen anything like it.

The youth pastor gave a talk using Finding Nemo as a point of reference. For those handfuls of people out in the blogsphere who haven't seen the film, the Pixar/Disney film is about a father clownfish trying to find his missing son. The film works at every level as humor and drama, a fish tale for kids and adults alike. Anyway, the natural tie in to Christianity is how God is trying to find us. Jesus told parables of the lost sheep (shepherd leaves the 99 to find the 1 lost one) and the lost coin (the woman sweeps her whole house to find the one coin) and of course the powerful story of the prodigal son and of the joy a father has in finding his lost son.

Christianity has its high level intellectual elements in its theology and history. But at its core, it is a love story: of God in love with us, trying to find us and bring us back into relationship.

Spirit of America is Aptly Named

Postrel shares a column about the work being done by Spirit of America. Excerpts:
Thus spake George W. Bush this week: "The people of our country are united behind our men and women in uniform, and this government will do all that is necessary to assure the success of their historic mission." Still, many Americans who support the war don't much like sitting on their hands doing little more than watch it on TV. Some have written here, asking what they can do to help. This column will describe a real project that lets the folks at home lend a hand to the soldiers in Iraq.

Over the past year, a successful technology entrepreneur named Jim Hake has been working with the Marine Corps to help their reconstruction projects in Iraq. The Marines identify local equipment needs, and Mr. Hake's organization, Spirit of America, after raising the money, acquires the stuff, typically for schools and medical clinics. It flies directly out of Camp Pendleton in California. Jim Hake and the Marines are a coalition of the can-do, bypassing the slow U.S. procurement bureaucracy.
Jim Hake's organizational insight is to deploy the best practices of the modern U.S. economy--efficiency and speed--around the margins of the Iraqi war effort. The Amazons, Best Buys, FedExes and DHLs can get anything anywhere--fast. Why not use the same all-American skill at procurement efficiency and quick distribution to get the soldiers in Iraq (and Afghanistan) the stuff that government red tape will never provide in time?

His operation, in Los Angeles, is wholly New Economy. For past projects he's gotten the word out via Web loggers such as Glenn Reynolds's InstaPundit.com, windsofchange.net and hughhewitt.com. Mr. Hake finds low-cost suppliers on the Internet and negotiates prices. His donor network also suggests suppliers.

Earlier projects for the Marines flew over cargo planes of school supplies, basic medical equipment and toys (turns out Iraqi children love Frisbees). One anecdote: The day before the school equipment was to ship, they found that all the pencils broke easily. On a hunch, Mr. Hake made a morning call to a Staples manager in southern California. By midafternoon the Staples man lined up sources for 120,000 pencils--cheaper than the original buy. Mr. Hake bought and shipped them. Spirit of America is all-volunteer. The accounting for its projects, down to the penny, is listed on the Web site.
I just went to their site and donated. Please consider doing so too.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Witmer Memorial Service

Here is a link to WISN-12 that has the story of the service including photos and excerpts of remarks from family members, youth pastor and governor of Wisconsin.

About a month ago, one of the young people at my church who is in the Marines got his orders to be deployed in Iraq. On the Sunday before he shipped out, the pastor asked all veterans in the congregation to come forward and pray with him and his family. A number of them were gray-haired men slowed by the passage of time but they came forward eagerly to pray for and shake the hand of the young man. In some cases, they were separated by 60 years of culture and life experience but they shared a common faith and a willingness to serve. It was a powerful moment.

As I think of Michelle Witmer's story and for that matter all the brave young men and women who have sacrificed their lives in our armed forces, I can't help but think of Reagan's Point du Hoc speech which was part of the 40 year anniversary commoration of D-Day. Excerpts:
We're here to mark that day in history when the Allied peoples joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began.
Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith, and belief; it was loyalty and love.

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge -- and pray God we have not lost it -- that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Bush Press Conference

I don't know how it looked on television. I heard it on radio. As is often the case, I suspect no minds were changed. Bush could become a silver tongued orator and those who oppose his views will not be convinced. Likewise those who support his position will focus on his conviction and single-mindedness even if they are disappointed he isn't as articulate as we would all like.

Bush doesn't have the polish and command of facts that Clinton had nor does he have the stage presence and comforting voice of Reagan. However, as I see it, he exudes resolve. For those who agree with him there is a comfort in that clarity of resolve.

UPDATE: Instant reaction from Instapundit:
How will it play? I don't know how many people watched it, but I think it will reassure a lot of people who haven't paid a lot of attention. He was pretty good, and I wonder why he doesn't do this more often. Ultimately, though, the issue isn't the communication, but the way things work out. It's not the talk, but the results.

Witmer's story

Rachel, Charity, Michelle with mother Lori.
Image from http://www.news.com.au/common/imagedata/0,3600,335996,00.jpg

On Good Morning America I saw a brief feature story on the Witmers. John and Lori Witmer are parents of three amazing daughters, Charity, Rachel and Michelle. All three serve in the US Army and were deployed in Iraq.

On April 9, 2004, Michelle Witmer was killed in action. She was 20 years old.

The Witmer family web page is here.

The decision now facing Charity and Rachel is whether to return to Iraq. They are home for their sister's funeral and military regulations permit them to opt for non-combat service since a family member has died while in active service.

In this news item, the Witmer family has asked that donations in Michele Witmer's name be sent to the Missionaries of Charity, Hay AL Karrada Mahala 903-13-9, Near St. Raphel Hospital, Baghdad, Iraq. www.sistersonline.org.

UPDATE: Here is the Witmer's statement to all who have shown support. Excerpt:
In response to requests, the Michelle Witmer Memorial Fund has been established at Waukesha State Bank.  Contributions will benefit the Missionaries of Charity Orphanage in Baghdad whose ministry to handicapped children made such a profound impression upon Michelle.

Please be sure to send memorials to:

Waukesha State Bank
Attn:  New Accounts
100 Bank St
PO Box 648
Waukesha WI 53187-0648

Monday, April 12, 2004

What if?

Easterbrook speculates what might have happened if Bush acted pre-emptively in this item over at TNR. Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan who also has these great quotes from Tony Blair:

Blair excerpts:

Of course [the terrorists] use Iraq. It is vital to them. As each attack brings about American attempts to restore order, so they then characterise it as American brutality. As each piece of chaos menaces the very path toward peace and democracy along which most Iraqis want to travel, they use it to try to make the coalition lose heart, and bring about the retreat that is the fanatics' victory.

They know it is a historic struggle. They know their victory would do far more than defeat America or Britain. It would defeat civilisation and democracy everywhere. They know it, but do we? The truth is, faced with this struggle, on which our own fate hangs, a significant part of Western opinion is sitting back, if not half-hoping we fail, certainly replete with schadenfreude at the difficulty we find.
People in the West ask: why don't they speak up, these standard-bearers of the new Iraq? Why don't the Shia clerics denounce al-Sadr more strongly? I understand why the question is asked. But the answer is simple: they are worried. They remember 1991, when the West left them to their fate. They know their own street, unused to democratic debate, rife with every rumour, and know its volatility. They read the Western papers and hear its media. And they ask, as the terrorists do: have we the stomach to see it through?

I believe we do. And the rest of the world must hope that we do. None of this is to say we do not have to learn and listen. There is an agenda that could unite the majority of the world. It would be about pursuing terrorism and rogue states on the one hand and actively remedying the causes around which they flourish on the other: the Palestinian issue; poverty and development; democracy in the Middle East; dialogue between main religions.

Declassified PDB

After the Rice testimony, the WH declassified the controversial Presidential Daily Briefing of August 6, 2001. A PDF file of the famous PDB can be found over at GlobalSecurity.com.

Read the whole thing. It is barely over a page long and as vague as heck. The way people were stoking the controversy, you would have thought it was more specific.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

The Passion of the Christ

Finally saw the controversial film.

Heard on the radio that Passion of Christ regained the top spot in dollars in the movie box office this weekend. I suspect I wasn't the only one with the idea of seeing it in the context of our remembrance and celebration of Easter. I saw it on Good Friday.

To sum up: if it was just 2 hrs of a man being beaten to a pulp than it is a waste of time.

However, it isn't.

There are flashbacks to Jesus teachings which provides a sense of the Christian message. These provide some of the context of WHY Jesus had to die: He died for all of us to pay for our sin.

Gibson has also tried to set the physical suffering into the wider cosmic battle of good and evil through the device of Satan appearing as the dark clad woman. I believe that is the power of "art" at work and I found it very effective and haunting.

We also see the struggle of good and evil within the human heart. As effecting as the physical violence is, the scenes that also moved me were those small moments when you see people struggle within their hearts about what they see happening to Jesus. Those who choose good are UNABLE to stop the death of Christ but in their own way they in small ways resist evil and those scenes just broke me up.

Because of Gibson's Catholicism there is a large role for Mary the Mother of Jesus. As a "good" Protestant I don't put Mary as beyond human and "semi-divine" but clearly the Scriptures say she was there at the foot of the Cross. It is speculative as to what she might have done on the road to Calvary. However, I find his surmises to be reasonable ones and effective to advance the message of the Cross.

To be honest I don't know if a Protestant making the film could have made as powerful a film because they would have relegated Mary to a minor player. Instead, Gibson utilizes the actress who plays Mary to powerful effect. She exhibits the best qualities of a Christian. She is a participant in the cosmic struggle. The contrast could not be more pointed: the disciples at the Garden at the beginning of the film could not stay awake and keep watch with Jesus and pray for him. But Mary is THERE. She WATCHES literally and you can imagine her in silent prayer for the mission Jesus was on and thus a participant of the spiritual war. And she is human, there are moments she weakens and it is only because she is with the other Mary and John that she is able to go on. Again, so properly Christian a message that our journey of faith is NEVER alone.

The theater was a PACKED sell out crowd. I happen to be sandwiched between two burly guys and I could not help but notice they were sobbing at various points in the film. I wisely put a few tissues in my pocket because I suspected I too would be moved and indeed I was. Some of the tears came during the flogging of Jesus as I thought: He is baring the strikes for MY sin and that thought was overwhelming. I was also moved by small moments like the interactions of Jesus with the man who helps him carry the Cross. There is another with the girl who brings him water. And the interactions with Mary, the mother were powerful.

After the film ended, only 1/4 of the audience left immediately. The rest were simply too moved to move. Eventually, at the end, about 1/2 of the audience was gone by the end of the credits. I've never seen that many people stay to watch the credits. And I wonder how many were really watching the credits and how many were thinking about the film and weren't ready to leave?

Builders, People helpers, Truth seekers and Creators

As I walk through a day, I'm amazed at the variety of people around.

I see construction workers. They work with their hands and at the end of the day they see the welds done, the beams put in place, the lumber cut and put into place, the concrete poured, etc. These are the builders.

Since I work at a hospital, I see nurses and doctors in their medical garb and coats. They see people every day and listen to what ails them and use a mixture of technology and science and good old fashioned human kindness to help them get better. These are the people helpers.

I work in a laboratory and in a building devoted to research work. These people are looking for an answer to a scientific question. They do experiments. They analyze data. These are truth seekers.

Living in Los Angeles, there are people I know who work at Disney, aspiring actors, working artists, people involved in production and post-production of films. These are creators.

Of course there is overlap in all these types of people. The doctors who are helping people have to seek the truth in the numbers coming back from the lab tests to make the diagnosis. Many creative types work with their hands to produce the tangible item of their artistic vision. A good builder needs to know enough mathematics to make sure what they build will not fall down.

But I guess what I'm trying to get at is this: isn't the variety of people in this world amazing?

Friday, April 09, 2004

Belleau Wood

A few posts below, there is a letter from a Marine that refers to Belleau Wood. My knowledge of military history is pretty modest so I did a Google search and found this article. Excerpt:
Rejuvenated by success first at Cantigny (at the end of May) and now at Chateau-Thierry, General Bundy's Second Division forces followed up Chateau-Thierry two days later with the difficult exercise of capturing Belleau Wood.

Second Division's Marine Corps, under James Harbord, were tasked with the taking of the wood.  This perilous venture involved a murderous trek across an open wheat field, swept from end to end by German machine gun fire, a fact that continues to generate controversy today among some historians.

As a consequence of the open nature of the advance on the wood, casualties on the first day, 6 June, were the highest in Marine Corps history (a dubious record which remained until the capture of Japanese-held Tarawa in November 1943).

Fiercely defended by the Germans, the wood was first taken by the Marines (and Third Infantry Brigade), then ceded back to the Germans - and again taken by the U.S. forces a total of six times before the Germans were finally expelled.  Also captured were the nearby villages of Vaux and Bouresche. 

The battle ran from 6-26 June and by its end saw U.S. forces suffer 9,777 casualties, of which 1,811 were fatal.  The number of German casualties is not known, although some 1,600 troops were taken prisoner. More critically, the combined Chateau-Thierry/Belleau Wood action brought to an end the last major German offensive of the war.
Will the current battles in Iraq be the pivotal ones marking the end of the beginning of a new free Iraq or just the beginning of the end of a failed US invention?

Am obviously hoping for the former.


Side note: the news media knows nothing about history. As sad and horrible it is to lose ANYBODY in battle, what is happening is NOT anywhere on the scale of what we saw in WWI, WW2, Korea or Vietnam.

Instapundit has a bunch of links to put what is happening in some historical perspective.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Sadr vs. Sistani?

Andrew Sullivan links over to Ackerman at TNR online who offers the following analysis:
SADR V. SISTANI?: In public, Moqtada Al Sadr swears fealty to Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani. "I proclaim my solidarity with Ali Sistani, and he should know that I am his military wing in Iraq and wherever he so desires," Sadr declared yesterday. Attempting to co-opt Sistani, who's issued calls for quiet, is a smart strategy: As grand ayatollah, Sistani commands vastly more allegiance from Shia Iraqis than the 30-year old Orson Welles look-alike. But now it's looking more like Sadr is trying to push Sistani out of the center of Shia politics. Late Monday night, Sadr's forces took control of the Imam Ali Shrine in the holy city of Najaf, stationing Kalashnikov-wielding thugs around one of the most important places in Shia Islam. The Los Angeles Times reporter in Najaf observed that "the move appeared calculated to heighten [Sadr's] profile among Shiites" in a city where Sistani is dominant.
Sistani and Sadr are charting two separate courses for the Shia. In addition to the political differences between the two men--Sistani's patient challenges to the occupation versus Sadr's violence--their theological differences are irreconcilable: Sadr and Sistani espouse opposing interpretations of the role of the Islamic clergy in governance, with Sadr pushing Iranian-style "guardianship of the jurisprudent" (vilayat-i faqih) and Sistani rejecting it. Sistani is said to be singularly focused on ensuring that the Shia don't repeat the mistakes of 1920, when a violent and futile revolt against the British occupation paved the way to Sunni domination and Shia subjugation. Sadr appears to be leading the Shia down precisely this path.
It is now the stated aim of the US military forces to dismantle Sadr and his militia. Will the locals cheer this or will they rally to his defense?

The stakes are very high right now.

Are Bush critics cheering the chaos?

Any way out?

We are in Iraq and things are getting very chaotic. Is it just the last spasms before the rebirth of the nation? Or is it the beginning of more frequent and violent spasms of violence?

On KABC this evening, Dick Morris was interviewed by Al Rantel where Morris argued: keep 90,000 US troops there to prevent a Hussein-like dictator from taking over; beyond that just let the Iraqi's form whatever government they like.

Rantel asked what if civil war breaks out between the factions.

Morris said: let them slug it out it isn't any of our business as our only concern was ridding the world of Hussein.

Morris criticized Bush for trying to be too idealistic with a grand vision of a democratic Iraq.

Is there a middle path between Morris' "social Darwinism" and an American-like democracy in Iraq?

I fear that US military might and US public will is not strong enough to either prevent civil war nor birth a American-like democracy.

One can't say Bush is fighting this war for political benefit as he could lose the Presidency over this. He is hoping to draw an "inside straight" with this gamble because a democratic Iraq could shake up the region for generations to come. He is betting his Presidency on it.

Thinking through Iraq

Heard part of the Condi Rice testimony in front of the 9/11 commission. It seems that people who testify in these public hearings usually come across sympathetic as committee members often time start playing for the camera and start sounding rude and unfair.

Rice was on top of her facts and didn't seem to allow the more aggressive inquisitors to rattle her.

In the run up to the invasion, this blog space spent a lot of bandwidth citing web pages and sharing my own views. I figure it is time to look at things as they are now. As I see it, we must remain steady and not go wobbly. A free and functional Iraq is in the national interest of the USA and for the whole region.

I was certainly disappointed in the WMD intelligence shortcomings. There were other reasons for the war but WMD was widely cited and thus the lack of finding them has harmed the credibility of the effort.

Now, the question of credibility is on the line once again on the issue of how extensive is the resistence. The Administration line is that the resistence is serious but limited. If indeed the opposition is just some die-hard Baathist Sunnis and extremist Shiites and are defeated in short order, then the US position remains credible and the June 30 hand-over will be a substantive as well as symbolic day for the Iraqis.

If the intelligence on the depth of resistance is wrong and understates how many radicals there are then US forces will be in for many more battles and support for the effort will wane and Bush winds up a one-term president.

There is no doubt in my mind that opponents of a free Iraqi will try their best to disrupt things leading up to and into the June 30 handoff. I'm hoping that such opponents are relatively few and will be defeated shortly. However, facts are facts and US public support will be influenced by the degree of conflict in the next three months and how accurately the Administration describes what is happening in Iraq.

The US public may be faced with this choice in November: Bush who understated the difficulties of the Iraq war or Kerry who sounds very much like he would pull the US out of Iraq.

I don't know if Kerry has made that explicit claim but his constant calls for internationalizing the effort is essentially a call for the abandonment of the effort in Iraq.

The USA has over 100,000 troops in country. No other nation nor combination of nations could send 100,000 troops into Iraq. So calling for internationalization of the military effort is a straw man position.

I suppose internationalization could take the form of replacing the CPA with a UN-approved body of officials. However, would the UN flee if it encounters resistance? When their HQ was car bombed, the UN left Iraq.

The US maintained a strong presence in Japan and Germany post-World War II.

We need to do so for the freedom and future of Iraq and the region.

Mail from a Marine

A powerful note on Andrew Sullivan from a marine in Fallujah:
Things have been busy here. You know I can't say much about it. However, I do know two things. One, POTUS has given us the green light to do whatever we needed to do to win this thing so we have that going for us. Two, and my opinion only, this battle is going to have far reaching effects on not only the war here in Iraq but in the overall war on terrorism. We have to be very precise in our application of combat power. We cannot kill a lot of innocent folks (though they are few and far between in Fallujah). There will be no shock and awe. There will be plenty of bloodshed at the lowest levels. This battle is the Marine Corps' Belleau Wood for this war. 2/1 and 1/5 will be leading the way. We have to find a way to kill the bad guys only. The Fallujahans are fired up and ready for a fight (or so they think). A lot of terrorists and foreign fighters are holed up in Fallujah. It has been a sanctuary for them. If they have not left town they are going to die. I'm hoping they stay and fight.

This way we won't have to track them down one by one.

This battle is going to be talked about for a long time. The Marine Corps will either reaffirm its place in history as one of the greatest fighting organizations in the world or we will die trying. The Marines are fired up. I'm nervous for them though because I know how much is riding on this fight (the war in Iraq, the view of the war at home, the length of the war on terror and the reputation of the Marine Corps to name a few). However, every time I've been nervous during my career about the outcome of events when young Marines were involved they have ALWAYS exceeded my expectations. I'm praying this is one of those times.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

News via the web

With news breaking by the minute over in Iraq, the internet is where the latest is to be found. In addition to "traditional" outlets like CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, be sure to visit the blog driven Command Post that has bloggers pulling stuff from everywhere and bloggers confirming and refuting what is out there.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Working through the gay marriage controversy

Bloggers are opinionated. I'm a blogger. Therefore, I'm opinionated.

Andrew Sullivan is one of my regular blog visits. He always has a thoughtful take on current issues and more often than not, I agree.

He is one of the more articulate writers on the gay-marriage issue. He recently tackled the emotional aspect of the subject.

In the end, there is no getting around the truth of what he says about the emotions involved: it simply is. However, as a matter of public policy, we have to make choices taking into account the whole of society.

As a matter of personal ethics, I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. In my mind, it is a foundational definition just like a mother is necessarily a female and a father is necessarily a male.

In my mind this is the whole problem: do we want to redefine something that has been foundational for thousands of years?

As a single guy, I've been asked if I want to someday be a parent and my answer is yes. I'm sometimes then asked, would I consider adopting as a single person. My answer is: NO.

I have great respect for the tough job single parents have. Single parents need to be encouraged and assisted by friends and family in their lives. Most that I know did NOT willingly choose that path: sickness took away their spouse or divorce did.

But back to adopting as a single person, as much as emotionally I would love to experience the joy of parenthood, as a matter of principle, I do not believe it would be right for me as a single person to adopt. I believe it is hard enough to raise a child with a mom and a dad that for me at the outset to start off as a single parent would be unfair to the little one.

I am guessing it is legal in some (all or few) states? I'm not up on that area of the law. But if I was deciding public policy I'd be hesistant to allow single people to adopt.

Some would argue I, as a single person, should have the right to adopt. There is much emotional content to the life and choice of parenthood. Imagine the 30-40 something single career woman who faces the prospect on not being a mother. IT IS EMOTIONAL.

However, as a matter of public policy is adopting into single parenting preferable?

In my mind, that is what it comes down to in this gay marriage issue. Emotions of course are very real and not to be denied in PERSONAL interaction. But as a matter of public policy we need to make choices despite emotions and choose for society as a whole.

Whether gay people have a choice in their sexual preference is irrelavent. I suspect they have relatively little "choice" in who they are attracted to.

As a red-blooded male, I will not deny I find women like Jennifer Garner and Gillian Anderson incredibly attractive. I have essentially no choice in that fact.

As a resident of sunny and healthy conscious southern California, there are plenty of attractive women of which some wear somewhat immodest amounts of clothing while others are fashionable. In either case, I can no more choose to be attracted or not attracted to them then probably most gay folks are attracted to whoever they are attracted to.

In the end, that isn't the issue is it? The heart of the matter is what to do about it?

As a matter of choice, I would want to marry just one woman who I share compatibility in values and an array of interests. Aside from the fact that I would never actually meet Garner nor Anderson in real life, and aside from the fact they would probably not find "shy Christian Asian male nerd scientist blogger" types attractive, the choice is do they fit the bill on the "compatibility in values and an array of interests" criteria.

Thus, as a matter of emotions and personal relations, I have sympathy for the single person wanting to adopt and for the gay person wanting to get married. But as a matter of public policy, we want to write our laws to regard marriage as between man and woman as that is foundational to society. Undoubtedly, legal accomodations need to be made and those are open for discussion and a healthy debate on those lines is reasonable. But let's not change definitions that have been in place for eons.

Monday, April 05, 2004

What is Chivalry?

Here is an interesting item from Frum. Excerpt:
"Chivalry," he writes on p. 185, "is not so complicated an idea as its long and convoluted history might suggest. The compleat gentleman himself is merely a man, and perhaps we make the process of defining chivalry too difficult because we lack the faith necessary to grasp its essential simplicity. In the end, chivalry is nothing more than putting self second; it is the ultimate self-respect because in the moments that matter the compleat gentleman makes himself the servant of his God, his nation, his friends, his family, and he does so – is able to have the courage to do so – because he is governed by justice. Chivalry is justice manifest."
I like that. Hope I can strive to be like that.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

MS Walk

Tall Glass of Milk over at Drink This... is participating in an MS Walk on April 18, 2004. It is a great cause. Please consider supporting her at her donor page.

Though my concern about MS is far less personal that TGOM's, I did the Los Angeles Marathon 2001 to raise money for NMSS. I searched my files to see if I could find the fund raising letter and here is an excerpt:
Dear Friends and Family:

Some of you may know that I am planning to participate in the LA Marathon on March 4, 2001. What you might not know is that I am running on behalf of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (www.nmss.org).


That was the first question, the young woman at NMSS's Southern California Chapter office asked. To my knowledge, none of my friends or family members suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS). However, in my travels, I have met two individuals who do.

In 1999, while flying back to LA, I sat next to a young man who seemed like he wanted to converse. He occasionally had trouble forming his words. He noticed that I noticed. At that point, he explained to me that he had MS. He told me that nerve cells have a material called myelin and that in MS, myelin is damaged. As such, the brain will send signals through the nervous system but the signals get lost or degraded before reaching their destination.

He shared about his life before MS. He packed in a lifetime in a few short years not knowing that he would lose the ability to do those things. He rode a motorcycle through Central America. He served as a Peace Corp volunteer in Gabon. He lived in Israel. When he got back to America, he worked with young people as a teacher. Then he was diagnosed with MS. It has slowly taken its toll and he can only work part time.

In 2000, I was enjoying the view at Red Rock Crossing State Park in Sedona, Arizona. I saw a woman in a mechanized wheelchair and she said hello and we started to talk. She asked me where I was from and what I did. When I explained I was from Los Angeles and did medical research for a living, she proceeded to share with me about her struggle with MS. She didn't spend too much time explaining and switched back to talking about the beautiful view we had. We could hear Oak Creek burbling in front of us, we could see the blue sky behind the striking red of Cathedral Rock. The sight and sound would have to be enough for her. Life is a gift and gratitude keeps our souls healthy.

I love a challenge and thus, my marathon journey began August 1999 with the LA Roadrunners (www.laroadrunners.com) training group. When I heard about the charity tie-ins to the LA Marathon, I saw NMSS on the list and felt it was the group I wanted to run for. In Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddell remarks, "God made me fast and when I run I feel His pleasure." Well, God didn't make me fast (stubborn perhaps)! But I do feel His pleasure when I run and so will knowing that the miles will also go to a good cause.

How can you help?

Please consider supporting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. In running for them, I promised to ask friends and family to contribute to NMSS. And if you have nothing better to do on March 4, join a quarter of a million people in LA to cheer on 23,000 as we participate. Sure would be thrilled to see you along the race course or at the end! Thanks a bunch!!
TGOM's reasons are more personal as seen in her post of March 11, 2004:
Please support me on this...

In the fall of 2002, I lost my Aunt Jennifer to Multiple Sclerosis.

On April 18th I will be participating in MS Walk 2004 raising money for research for the cause and a cure for this debilitating and deadly disease.
You can support her here.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Annoy the French, Support Bush!

When I was in Switzerland, I didn't get the impression there was strong feelings one way or the other about the Bush vs. Kerry election. I suppose that is so Swiss who are the historically neutral country. However, in France, the friends we stayed with said that the French really like Kerry and can't stand Bush.

Our hosts asked me to try to get some electioneering stuff from the USA (stickers and buttons) to send to them to share with their local friends as they would probably get a kick out of it.

The French people I met in various contexts were nice people and I never felt they were hostile. I don't know if having an Asian face helps but once I spoke English, they would probably know I'm from the USA.

I suspect in either country, if I started spouting libertarian political views, I would have gotten into some heated discussions!

Travel photos

I'll be sharing my travel photos over at my other blogspot. Cities visited on the trip: Geneva, Lausanne, Berne, Thun, Murten, Blatten, Glion, Evian-les Bain, Chambery, Aix-les Bain, Annecy and then back to Geneva again. I hope to share the stories and photos in little episodes over the next couple of weeks. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Baathist dead-enders: be afraid, be very afraid

The multilation of dead Americans in Iraq will be responded to. Excerpt:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. troops on Thursday vowed to use overwhelming force to enter the volatile Iraqi town of Falluja and hunt down those who killed and mutilated four American contractors.

Marines took up positions on the outskirts of the restive town west of Baghdad where insurgents ambushed the contractors on Wednesday, but the U.S. army's deputy director of operations Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt said they would return.

"Coalition forces will respond," Kimmitt told a news conference. "They are coming back and they are going to hunt down the people responsible for this bestial act.

"It will be at a time and a place of our choosing. It will be methodical, it will be precise and it will be overwhelming."

Who is angry at who?

Is the world angry at Russia, which spends nothing on AIDS and rebuffed Kyoto? Is the world angry at China, which got a pass on Kyoto and spends nothing on AIDS for other countries?

Is the world angry at North Korea for killings its people? Angry at Iran for smothering that vibrant nation with corrupt and thuggish mullocracy? Angry at Syria for occupying Lebanon? Angry at Saudi Arabia for its denial of women’s rights? Angry at Russia for corrupt elections? Is the world angry at China for threatening Taiwan, or angry at France for joining the Chinese in joint military exercises that threatened the island on the eve of an election? Is the world angry at Zimbabwe for stealing land and starving people? Is the world angry at Pakistan for selling nuclear secrets? Is the world angry at Libya for having an NBC program?

Is the world angry at the thugs of Fallujah?

Is the world angry at anyone besides America and Israel?

Clipping from Instapundit quoting Lileks.