Monthly Archives: February 2002

New Clues Suggest Bin Laden Is Alive on Afghan Bor…

New Clues Suggest Bin Laden Is Alive on Afghan Border

If he is alive… does it really matter? I mean, I want him dead, but in terms of al-Qaeda, ObL is effectively dead. He can’t give orders, or even communicate — except in a low-level, messenger-service way, with notes or a smuggled tape. He’s no longer nearly as much of a popular figure. And eventually he will die, if he doesn’t get medical attention.

We need to remember that this isn’t a war against Osama; it’s a war against terrorism generally and al-Qaeda specifically. Osama without al-Qaeda is just one sick man, but al-Qaeda without Osama is still dangerous. If the choice is between continuing to hunt Osama or going after al-Qaeda affiliates in Africa or Southeast Asia, we need to choose the latter.

Olympic blast suspect still haunting officials

Olympic blast suspect still haunting officials

If you see this face, shoot to kill.

Eric Robert Rudolph is probably America’s most successful domestic terrorist. Oh, McVeigh killed more, but he was a flash in the pan, and the Unabomber lasted longer but he was a small-timer. Rudolph’s reign of terror included the 1996 Olympic bombing, bombing of an abortion clinic and of a gay bar, and finally another abortion clinic bombing — one in my hometown of Birmingham in which a police officer was killed.

A lot of people think Rudolph is dead; since he went into the North Carolina woods to hide, he hasn’t been seen. If he is dead, we’ll probably never know about it. If he isn’t… Well, he’ll be back.

Iranian Courts Target Reformist Legislators (washi…

Iranian Courts Target Reformist Legislators (

Iran’s a lot different from the other members of the Axis of Evil. The other two are governed by cult-of-personality figures and are pretty much absolutist. Iran has essentially two governments running in parallel; the courts are part of the religious authorities, who are still supreme there. And in an effort to remain supreme, the courts are trying to take down members of the civil government.

We can not get involved in Iran right now; this is just about the only element of Administration foreign policy I’m dead set against. History appears to be on the side of the (democratically elected) civil government, and the ayatollahs are fighting a delaying action. But if we start getting involved there, it will strengthen anti-Americanism — and that means strengthening Islamic extremism.

Oh, we could take over Iran, no problem, if we so desired. The US military is that strong. But eventually, we’d pull out, and Iran will face another two decades or more like the last two.

Georgia death cases rife with errors

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Georgia death cases rife with errors, critics say

Confession time… The whole death penalty debate? I don’t much care. I don’t think it makes much difference in crime rates. I don’t know what’s worse, life in prison or execution. There are a few guys I’d like to see hanging from a rope (Osama, of course; Eric Rudolph; Ted Kascinski maybe) but I wouldn’t be broken up about it if they wound up spending a few decades in jail instead. (Of course, Osama in jail is probably too dangerous and he’d have to die to protect American citizens.)

What does concern me — a little, I’m not broken up about it — is the way that the death penalty is applied. The study reported here takes up my concerns: the racial bias in death penalty decisions, the use of the ultimate punishment when it probably isn’t justified, and the cheapness of the states, which (in particular) leads to incompetent counsel for indigent defendants.

What bugs me more than anything else is the way in which my particular state has chosen to put people to death. Alabama, like Florida but unlike its other neighbors, has chosen to stick with the electric chair. The chair should be considered cruel and unusual punishment; there’s no question but that we only use it because it’s painful, since it’s more expensive, harder to maintain, and less reliable than lethal injection.

Poultry Industry Quietly Cuts Back on Antibiotic U…

Poultry Industry Quietly Cuts Back on Antibiotic Use

I link to this story because it touches on something that’s been disturbing me, the growing number of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. It’s a potential public-health nightmare, and the poultry industry was hastening it along by feeding antibiotics to chickens.

Scientific Report Roils a Salmon

Scientific Report Roils a Salmon War (

Before the property-rights crowd gets all excited, the report doesn’t actually say that there wouldn’t be any harm to the salmon, only that there’s no scientific justification. Basically, until the salmon start dying, you can’t say that the lack of water will kill them….

I’m going to ask my sister, the Communist Trial Lawyer, what she thinks; she knows environmental law and used to live in Oregon.

My personal philosophy is that People Come First. But (there’s always a but) I can’t see destroying an ecosystem, or kill off an entire species, for mere short-term economic benefit. For one thing, there’s usually a long-term economic benefit to keeping the ecosystem running. Ask Atlantic fishermen if they wish their ancestors had fished a little more carefully. Exploit the world, but cautiously.


Enron Specter Haunts World Forum

Enron Specter is, of course, Arlen’s brother…

One problem mentioned in this story is that developing nations might look at Enron and generalize from it, and decide that capitalism is more fragile than it really is. The US loses some of its authority for making economic suggestions this way, even though our economy is far more successful than anyone else’s has been of late, Enron or no.