Idiot Senators:

Once again proving his value to the US Senate, the (frequently mentioned today) Honorable Zell Miller was one of the few Democrats to break the party line and vote against making Iraq pay us back for reconstruction.

Why is this a bad idea? The question came up weeks ago at FreeSpeech:

Here's a reason: we have no authority to impose the demand.

International agreements like this require a treaty. Even in the case of war reparations, which are enforced upon a successor government (e.g. those required of the Weimar Republic by the Treaty of Versailles), have to be agreed upon by treaty. Congress has no authority to legislate for the Iraqi government.

A law passed by the US Congress requiring a future Iraqi government to pay us money is an empty law. It would be like Congress passing a law requiring France to disband--it has no authority, no standing to make the law. Congress could make a law requiring the President to pursue negotiations with the future Iraqi government toward getting our money back, but the Iraqi government--when it is constituted--shall be sovereign and may negotiate or not as it wills.

Of course, in the real world, we could use the presence of troops and the threat of sanctions to force them to sign. That isn't how you build a free society, though, or a friendly one. If Iraq is to be free, it must be free. If it is to be an ally, it must be treated as a friend.

That still stands. On whom are we imposing this demand? Who in Iraq has the authority to indebt the Iraqi people? The Coalition Provisional Authority? Are we promising ourselves to pay back the money out of their revenue? That is called theft, not debt repayment.

Or is it the Iraqi Governing Council? Are we giving them that kind of authority, before there is a constitution, before there have been elections? Why then have we been fighting the French at the UN over the issue of who is in charge?

This plan is dishonorable, illegal, and ill-considered. Shame on the Senate.

An Outrage:

This story is from UPI:
FORT STEWART, Ga., Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Hundreds of sick and wounded U.S. soldiers including many who served in the Iraq war are languishing in hot cement barracks here while they wait -- sometimes for months -- to see doctors.

The National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers' living conditions are so substandard, and the medical care so poor, that many of them believe the Army is trying push them out with reduced benefits for their ailments. One document shown to UPI states that no more doctor appointments are available from Oct. 14 through Nov. 11 -- Veterans Day. . . .

Most soldiers in medical hold at Fort Stewart stay in rows of rectangular, gray, single-story cinder block barracks without bathrooms or air conditioning. They are dark and sweltering in the southern Georgia heat and humidity. Around 60 soldiers cram in the bunk beds in each barrack.
The Sage of Knoxville has posted this fellow:
Dr. William Winkenwerder, Jr., M.D.
Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs
Office of the Secretary of Defense
1200 Defense Pentagon
Room 3E1082
Washington, D.C. 20301
More on Sen. Miller's Book:

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Hat tip: Southern Conservatives.

The Honorable Zell Miller, who really should be our next president, has a new book:
The book, entitled "A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat," takes few prisoners and is unsparing in its criticism. . . .

Mr. Miller ran the Democratic Party in Georgia when Jimmy Carter was governor. He himself was elected governor in 1990, and two years later nominated his friend Bill Clinton for president at the Democratic convention in New York. In 1999, he heeded his party's pleas to come out of retirement and be appointed to the Senate seat vacated by the death of Republican Paul Coverdell.

Once he got to Washington he quickly discovered that most of his Senate colleagues were out of touch with the values of the folks he knew back home in Georgia. As he pungently puts it in his book, "Today our national Democratic leaders look south and say, 'I see one third of a nation and it can go to hell.' "

Senator Miller even goes after his party's leader in the Senate, Tom Daschle. He notes that Mr. Daschle's refusal to pass President Bush's request to create a Department of Homeland Security before the 2002 elections came back to haunt Mr. Miller's colleague, Senator Max Cleland, who was defeated largely on the issue. In fact, he blames Mr. Daschle directly for the Cleland defeat, saying the Minority Leader's actions made it possible to hang a "personal albatross of partisan wrangling on homeland security" around Senator Cleland's neck.

Mr. Miller says he wrote his book because he "just couldn't help taking one more whack at trying to talk a little sense into the party I've been part of since birth." His fellow Democrats will no doubt wish he had resisted the temptation, but they'd improve their own long-term electoral prospects by taking some his criticism to heart.

It is a terrible shame that the Senator is retiring. I doubt we'll find anyone of his character to replace him.
Psychology is Poison:

By coincidence, Arts & Letters Daily linked both to the Mother Jones bit below, and to this review of a new book that supports my contention: Psychology is poison.
Mother Jones Hates NASCAR:

'Why do those NASCAR dads back George Bush?' asks socialist rag Mother Jones. 'Don't they know that his economic policies have been worse for them than anyone else?'

Mother answers the question like this:

1) NASCAR dads aren't well informed.
2) Also, the Bush administration is 'hiding economic news that would interest them'... as if somehow blue-collar workers turn to newspapers to find out if they're doing all right or not.
3) NASCAR dads have a psychological need for a father figure who will punish them and tell them what's right and wrong.

Let's set this straight right now. Even if it were all true about the economics--and, frankly, I'll start taking socialist advice about economics right after I start taking medical advice from cigarette manufacturers--that really isn't the point. Economics don't matter in wartime. If things are tough, you make do. You get by on less. You take a second job, or work extra hours.

NASCAR dads back Bush because they are patriots. They don't care what the federal government does for them: They want to know WHAT IT WILL DO FOR THEIR COUNTRY.

Not well informed? Any man knows well enough what his own situation is. A man knows whether his folk have enough, or not enough. He knows if his business is doing well or badly. He knows if his kids have new shoes. Nobody can hide any of the things he needs to know to see where he stands.

Needs a father figure? Psychology is poison, as I've always said. Psychology does nothing but give people an excuse--an excuse for why they aren't responsible for their actions, or their problems, or their inability to grasp that other people don't like them.

Well, socialists: We don't like you. We don't like you because even in wartime you can't bring yourselves to root for America. We love America. We love the America that exists right now, even though she is not perfect. Do you think we are swayed by spin from the White House about the dangers of terrorists? Our minds were made up on 9/11. It's only you who still thinks the issue is up in the air. We don't like you because you think we're ignorant for feeling that way.

Every time you say, "How can we explain ourselves better?" you miss the point. We don't like you exactly because we heard you loud and clear. I know just where you stand and why you chose that spot, and it is because you stand there that I don't care for you.

Mother Jones, take your attitude and shove it. I'll vote for a pro-war, strong-on-defense Democrat in preference to Bush. It would help if you would run one--Lieberman looks to be the best, maybe the only, card in that deck. I won't vote for a socialist, though, or anyone who doesn't look to have the stones to fight this war to the finish, wherever it leads, and win it. We can disagree on methods, but we ought not to disagree about whether there is a war, or whether victory is what we should be seeking. I don't need or want anyone to tell me what I ought to do or how I ought to feel--and least of all do I need Mother Jones.
Too Much Secrecy:

It is hard to argue with these recommendations:
George W. Bush's White House has pushed like few before it to put government information out of the public's grasp. Moves to classify documents are up 400 percent from a decade ago, to more than 23 million such actions in 2002, according to the Information Security Oversight Office, a division of the National Archives.

But despite their cloak-and-dagger reputation, several of the country's leading spies, past and present, aren't happy about the rush to make things secret. To counter far-reaching, stealthy terrorist cabals, the country needs more openness, not less, they said Wednesday at Geo-Intel 2003, a first-of-its-kind conference here on the use of satellites in war, intelligence and homeland security.

"Our secrecy system is all about protecting secrecy officers, and has nothing to do with protecting secrets. It's a self-licking ice-cream cone," said Rich Haver, until recently Donald Rumsfeld's special assistant for intelligence, now with Northrop Grumman. "We're compartmentalizing the shit out of things. It's causing a total meltdown of our intelligence processes."

Case in point: The Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, prepared a report last year for firefighters and other so-called "first responders" on how to react to a chemical weapons attack. But when the paper was completed, the Defense Department classified it, CSIS analyst Jim Lewis noted. Now, the firefighters will never get the benefit of that information.

In July, a George Mason University graduate student mapped out in his dissertation (registration required) the details of the country's fiber optic network. Using information publicly available online, he spotted vulnerable spots where terrorists might strike. The paper could have been used to shore up weak links in the country's infrastructure. Instead, the government immediately suppressed it.

"He should turn it in to his professor, get his grade -- and then they both should burn it," former White House cyberterror czar Richard Clarke told The Washington Post.

That kind of approach is all wrong, Thomas Behling, the deputy undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, told a group of nearly 1,400 spooks, geeks and defense contractors gathered in a ballroom at the New Orleans Marriott, on the edge of the French Quarter.

"Rather than putting data into separate partitions, where only a few people have access to it," he noted, authorities need to make information available "by job" to whoever needs it -- regardless of their security clearance.

"We have to change the way we classify information," added Jim Caverly, who heads the Homeland Security Department's Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection division. The old system may have "worked against the Soviet Union." But, today, the federal government "needs to make information available to law enforcement, to EMTs and to the security staff guarding the power plant."

There have been some improvements -- some -- in sharing data, satellite imagery in particular. That's partially driven by the spread of such eyes in the sky.

"Pictures that only nation-states used to have are now commercially available with a credit card," Lt. Gen. Thomas Goslin, deputy commander of U.S. Strategic Command, said. "So the rules (of classification) need to be reviewed."

This has been an odd week for the US and Syria. Syria is currently the "head" of the UN Security Council, although it is not of course a permanent member. That has put Syria in a position to condemn the Israeli/Palestine fence, and seek redress against Israel for last week's attack by Israeli warplanes, as well as future threatened attacks.

The US response has come from both her citizens, who have begun to fume over rumored Syrian assistance to our enemies; and also from Congress, which has voted sanctions on Syria. Tony Blair in the UK has added weight by saying that he understood Israel's actions, although the British were not planning a war with Syria just now. Syria, smart enough to recognize that Israel doesn't need the help, has gone on alert.

This morning, Syria announced that it would support the US resolution before the UN on the question of Iraq. At the same time, however, Syria's leader, Assad, gave a speech before the Organization of the Islamic Conference (a meeting of the leaders of Muslim nations and groups) which could escalate problems:

Those fanatics [Bush & his allies] revealed their brutal vision of human society and started to market the principle of force instead of dialogue, oppression instead of justice, and racism instead of tolerance. . . . They even began to create an ugly illusionary enemy which they called 'Islam.'
Is this a Syrian carrot and stick to move the US? If so, it's the same treatment they are getting from us. While the Congress moves to smite them, the President and his State Department must be cutting deals to get this kind of Syrian cooperation on the UN resolution. Altogether an interesting thing to watch.

Scientists in North Carolina(!) have built a brain implant that lets monkeys control a cyberarm. The transition of nervous-system impulses to instructions for electronics is the greatest problem for cybertechnology. If it's being licked, we'll have everything that William Gibson said... soon.

I give up. I'm going to link to the Nice Doggie after all, and Allah both. They deserve it--cleverness on this order deserves to be brought front and center.

The Doggie has linked to one of those personality tests I find so amusing. Psychology is witch-doctory, as I've said many times. Still, if you're curious:

INTP - "Architect". Greatest precision in thought and language. Can readily discern contradictions and inconsistencies. The world exists primarily to be understood. 1% of the total population.
Take Free Myers-Briggs Personality Test
A Patriot's Tale:

From Sharp Knife.

UPDATE: Sharp Knife has put this Hall on the blogroll there. We're glad to add a fellow patriot.

France: Please, Please Buy Our Tanks.

The Middle East Newsline has this story:
France has offered its Leclerc tank to Saudi Arabia at below cost as part of a last-ditch effort to save the main battle tank project.

Industry sources said the government in Paris has decided to violate a directive to the state-owned defense industry and offer Riyad 150 Leclercs at $3.4 billion. The sources said the price was below that of the cut-rate Leclerc deal reached with the United Arab Emirates in 1993.

Why wouldn't anyone want French tanks? It could be they're bothered by the transmission. You have heard about the transmission in French tanks, right?

It's a six speed--one speed forward, five speed reverse.