Saturday, January 24, 2004

Flimsiest Reason for Not Voting a Candidate

…I can't choose Al Sharpton
Because it doesn't rhyme with anything, even Tawana Brawley…

Best Eulogy

But when y'all asked me to start rhymin'
So one lone Democrat would be climbin'
I stared at the screen
And felt really mean
And could only think: I miss Paul Simon.
You'll have to go to the blog yourself to see the winners.

STOP THE PRESSES! NICK EBERSTADT DOESN'T TRUST THE NORTH KOREANS (and thinks that those who do are dupes).
It looks as if Pyongyang's shakedown artists have judged their international market correctly. Western and Asian diplomats are whipping out their calculators to figure the new price for postponing a North Korean nuclear breakout. Last week, Beijing lauded North Korea's "further willingness" to "stop nuclear activities"; in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell hailed the offer as "a positive step" that "will allow us to move more rapidly toward the six-party framework talks." Lost in this feel-good chorus was any apparent recollection of the original objective of talks with the North: namely, to hold Pyongyang to its earlier promises to scrap its nuclear program completely and forever.

As North Korea's neighbors prepare to be fleeced, one may wonder: What keeps this con going? It's not that American and Asian leaderships are invincibly ignorant. They've just bought into a variant of La Grande Illusion (as such thinking was called in France in the late 1930s). The notion that the Kim regime has absolutely no intention of ever giving up its nuclear capability—at any price, for any reason—is too terrible to face. Better to play pretend, even if this means being bilked in return for fake "breakthroughs" and bogus "accords."

MORE KOREA-RELATED BLOGS. If I ever get around to it, I'll put them up on my sidebar. For now, if you want more stuff on Korea from a variety of approaches and viewpoints, see

The Rathbone Press

Mingi's Jibber Jabber


Kamelian X-Rays (The Infidels new blog)

There's plenty more but that's enough for now. If I get really ambitious, I might add some Korean-language blogs to the mix as well.

Teachers not only preach the social contract, they also are supposed to live by it like everyone else. High-stakes testing may be a bad idea, but the law was passed by our elected representatives. Teachers who don't like the law might consult the moral theory of civil disobedience to figure out what to do. That theory, in a nutshell, holds that it's okay to violate an unjust law - as long as you've taken every step within the system to change the law and as long as you publicize your violation of the law. Secretly falsifying test score data doesn't meet that test.

Yet if all this sounds like a compelling case for why cheating by teachers is indefensible, consider the real world.

Say you are a principal at a terrible urban high school. Most of your kids are ill-equipped to learn. Many live in poverty with one parent; others don't speak English as a first language. Nearly all went to bad elementary and middle schools. Some of these kids get over the bar on standardized tests. But a good number do not, and the odds run against turning this around. You don't have enough teachers for smaller classes and your best teachers leave for higher paying jobs in the suburbs. You lack up-to-date textbooks and computers and, sometimes, even chalk for the blackboard.

Now along comes a new law that tells you to improve test scores. But it doesn't pony up enough cash to improve your school or mandate key reforms, like allowing you to easily fire incompetent teachers. The law stipulates that if your student body does badly on standardized tests you'll be punished by a reduction in funding. In theory, the law gives students the option to get out of your failing school and into another school. In practice, this is a joke. Most of the other public schools also stink, and many of the kids' parents don't have the initiative or savvy to take advantage of the law anyway.

Maybe you agree that high-stakes testing is a necessary part of any long-term education reform agenda. Still, as you see it, honestly reporting your school's test scores can only lead to one result in the near term: An even worse education for your kids. You don't like to lie or cheat -you believe that educators must be role models -but you don't see any other good choices.
I find this to be somewhat compelling, but in the end I agree with the following:
If Gandhi were in the principal' shoes, he wouldn' fabricate test scores. He would leave his job to fast in front of the White House, or chain himself to the front door at the Department of Education.

And if I were the principal? I would tell the truth and write my elected representatives. The bottom line is that educators simply cannot turn into big-time cheats. We can't our destroy our schools to save them.

Friday, January 23, 2004


Thursday, January 22, 2004

LATEST POLLS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: The Scrum's got 'em (and it is looking better and better for Kerry).

LIVE BY THE INTERNET, DIE BY THE INTERNET. The "Dean Scream" is making its way around cyberspace at the speed of light and morphing as it goes.

UPDATE: As long as we're piling on Dean, check out Letterman's Top Ten Reasons Why Dean lost in Iowa (thanks to Vodkapundit for the link)
Top Ten Howard Dean Excuses
10. "The Iowans turned it into a popularity contest"

9. "People don't seem to find shouting 'Presidential'"

8. "Weekend before the caucus, wasted 55 crucial hours marrying Britney Spears"

7. "By mistake, campaigned in Ohio"

6. "Due to fatigue on campaign trail, kissed hands and shook babies"

5. "Dennis Kucinich stole one percent of my vote"

4. "Saddam Hussein endorsement didn't help"

3. "In retrospect, shouldn't have opened speeches with 'Yo Mama' jokes"

2. "Bad idea to keep asking self, 'What would Dukakis do?'"

1. "Majority of voter base stayed home to watch 'My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance'"

UPDATE: And then there's this.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

HUGH HEWITT OFFERS SOME ADVICE FOR HOWARD DEAN (scroll down past the stuff about Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats). He even gives Dean a draft of what should be his first speech at Thursday's debate. Snippet:
"On Tuesday night I spent 15 seconds trying to fire up my volunteers who had a disappointing night Tuesday --congratulations John and John, but overconfidence is a dangerous thing, as I've learned-- I spent 15 seconds pointing at signs and recognizing people from faraway states who'd driven thousands of miles in some cases to stand on corners in sub-zero temps, and I fire them up and try to show that I am not down for the count because they're not down for the count, and television, radio, Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh and your network, Brit, try to turn me into a deranged psycho. Fred Barnes called me cracked, for goodness sake. I've been a medical doctor treating crisis cases in emergency rooms for twenty years, and a governor making life and death decisions for ten years, and the American media, threatened by my message that big corporate interests are out of control--and there is no bigger corporate interest than Fox-- decides to marginalize me using a quarter minute of tape."
There's more and Dean might do far worse than to listen. However, I suspect that images/sounds like this will end up being far more powerful than anything Dean might say in New Hampshire. Even as I recognize that focusing on one moment in Dean's campaign is unrepresentative and unfair, I can't help but laugh at another Lileks masterpiece. If others in the country are like me, Dean is probably toast.

A WALTER DURANTY FOR NORTH KOREA? Tasty Manatees thinks that WaPo reporter Glenn Kessler might qualify. I would probably differ somewhat. No one, at least no one I've ever heard or read, is presently arguing that there is no privation, starvation or oppression in North Korea. Kessler is merely channeling what Pritchard and company saw in P'yongyang: more signs of dynamism and change than they saw in previous visits. I doubt that either Pritchard or Kessler would argue that this translates into denying the existence of malnutrition and starvation in other parts or North Korea. If either assumes that signs of change in P'yongyang automatically mean that the domestic crises in North Korea are over, then they would be going too far. But I don't see either one making that assertion here.

FLYING YANGBAN STUMBLES INTO A WARZONE IN SEOUL. It sounds as if he made it out without injury.

TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION: Japanese telecom carriers unveil the "bone phone"
Japanese telecom carriers, pioneers of internet-capable and picture-snapping handsets, have now come up with the world's first mobile phone that enables users to listen to calls inside their heads - by conducting sound through bone.

The TS41 handset, manufactured by electronics firm Sanyo, was put on sale by the Tu-Ka mobile phone group this month, drawing healthy demand from customers who want to hear calls better in busy streets and other noisy places.

The new phone is equipped with a "Sonic Speaker" which transmits sounds through vibrations that move from the skull to the cochlea in the inner ear, instead of relying on the usual method of sound hitting the outer eardrum.

It won't be long, I'm sure, until someone goes the next step an implants a voice-command activated cell phone in their skull. Why bother with hands, dialing, holding up to the ear etc.?

Alas, fiscal conservatives don't have anywhere else to turn, according to this study by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation. To the contrary, based on their campaign platforms, NTUF found that every one of the contenders for the Democratic nomination would increase spending even more than it has grown under President Bush.


KOREA LIFE BLOG TAKES A TRIP TO THE YONGSAN ELECTRONICS MART (and has the pictures to prove it). Not surprisingly, he notes that "There must be a hundred places here to buy the same exact things. Profits must be really slim," and finds himself wondering: "Can't they combine shops and lower costs?" Indeed.

JACK PRTICHARD ON HIS VISIT TO NORTH KOREA (NYT; free registration required).
On Jan. 8, North Korean officials gave an unofficial American delegation, of which I was a member, access to the building in Yongbyon where about 8,000 spent fuel rods had once been safeguarded. We discovered that all 8,000 rods had been removed.

Whether they have been reprocessed for weapons-grade plutonium, as Pyongyang claims, is almost irrelevant. American intelligence believed that most if not all the rods remained in storage, giving policymakers a false sense that time was on their side as they rebuffed North Korean requests for serious dialogue and worked laboriously to devise a multilateral approach to solving the rapidly escalating crisis.
I wonder if Pritchard would use similar language about evidence about the DPRK's HEU program. "Whether the DPRK is actually using the centrifuges obtained from Pakistan to enrich uranium is irrelevant. What is important is that they could be doing it, so we're running out of time."

Now there are about 8,000 spent fuel rods missing --evidence that work on such a deterrent may have begun. It is just the most recent failure in a string of serious North Korea-related intelligence failures.

When North Korea claimed in 1998 to have launched a three-stage rocket to put a communications satellite into orbit, American intelligence initially denied the rocket had this capacity; and then, days later, confirmed the North Korean claim. That same year United States intelligence insisted that Pyongyang had embarked on a secret underground project to duplicate its frozen nuclear weapons program. Eight months later, an American inspection team visited the underground site to find that American intelligence was dead wrong. Then there was the intelligence in the summer of 2002 that indicated the North Korean regime was on the brink of collapse. That reporting was later recalled as faulty; but not before the damage was done.
American intelligence has clearly not done well in North Korea (or Iraq for that matter). One wonders, though, whether the DPRK is manipulating our anxiety about the validity of our intelligence to exaggerate the progress in its nuclear program in order to extract more concessions. I used to be of the opinion that the DPRK sincerely wanted nukes for their own sake, for purposes of security and prestige. Now, I cannot help but be more doubtful and skeptical of P'yongyang's claims. A viable test of a nuclear weapon would remove all doubt. Moving some fuel rods doesn't.
American policy in North Korea is hardly better than American intelligence. At best it can be described only as amateurish. At worst, it is a failed attempt to lure American allies down a path that is not designed to resolve the crisis diplomatically but to lead to the failure and ultimate isolation of North Korea in hopes that its government will collapse.
Hawk engagement anyone (more here)?
This administration must step out from behind China's diplomatic skirt and take the lead in resolving this crisis before Pyongyang creates a real nuclear deterrent. As it is now, North Korea is calling the shots.
"behind China's diplomatic skirt?" A shot at Bush's masculinity I guess but a pretty lame one. Bush's "no giving in to nuclear blackmail" forced the DPRK to drop its demand for bilateral talks and a non-aggression treaty. P'yongyang has attempted to "call the shots" by doing things like inviting Pritchard to North Korea to frighten him into writing NYT editorials but will Bush listen?
I am concerned that the next round of six-party talks will fail and Pyongyang will withdraw from the diplomatic process. It may then declare that it has developed all the nuclear weapons it needs and that it does not intend to make any more.

China, South Korea and Russia (and perhaps Japan) may well accept this new status quo, arguing that the actual threat is minimal and further nuclear activity has been suspended. And it is easy to see why this new status quo would appeal to them, given the instability that could result if the worst-case scenario of United States policy--which is to say, isolation, sanctions and possible military confrontation--comes to pass. The fragile multilateral coalition on which the United States is relying would dissolve.

The result would be a region even more dangerous than it is today; and America and Asia are even less secure now than they were a year ago. How many nuclear weapons does North Korea have to make before this administration gets serious about its policy in East Asia?
This gets at the heart of the matter. I suspect that this may actually be a likely future, perhaps the most likely. Most, Pritchard included I presume, would agree that this future is better than the doomsday military confrontation with artillery attacks on Seoul scenario. The real question is, then, is there a better future that has a reasonable chance of succeeding? Can a negotiated settlement be reached that would include an inspection regime comprehensive and intrusive enough to remove the doubt that North Korea will continue to clandestinely develop nukes while at the same time gobbling all the carrots we have to offer? I doubt it. Kim Jong Il is not likely to pull a Gadaffi anytime soon. So while Pritchard's projected future certainly isn't the best of all possible worlds, it may be the best we can get.

GWEILO DIARIES ASKS "WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE?" at North Korea's release of the South Korean POW some 50 years after the fighting in the Korean War ended.

SOTU: I listened to it on my drive home on NPR. I found myself enjoying Robert Siegel's whispered don't-distract-the-golfer-as-he-lines-up-for-this-crucial-putt play-by-play: "only half the audience stood up to applaud that line." After the speech however, Daniel Schorr's instant reaction made me suspect that he had just been awakened from a nap.

I thought the speech itself was uneven at best.
--Some good lines on the war on terror but still desperately clinging to the Kay Report's "WMD-related program activity" (or some such circumlocution) in Iraq.
--Praising tax cuts and economic growth but not even acknowledging that the growth has yet to be felt in some sectors (manufacturing jobs etc.).
--The call for professional sports to crack down on steroid use was positively Clintonian, or to be more precise Dick Morrisian. Focus on silly little things that don't really mean much but project a sense of concern and potential accomplishment and make people feel good.
--Bush tap-danced around the gay marriage issue.
--My instant reaction to Bush's claim that his budget will reduce the deficit by 50% in five years (or something like that) was that Paul Krugman will probably have a heyday slicing through what is likely to be fuzzy math on the budget. As of this morning, Krugman hasn't weighed in, but he already--surprise, surprise--criticized the SOTU before it was even delivered (much like many of the Demoratic presidential campaigns). UPDATE: Krugaman may not have run the numbers yet, but others have. And, surprise, surprise, they don't add up.

I watched the Democratic response on tv (or should say I half-watched it while eating dinner and chatting with my wife). Pelosi had a deer-in-the-headlights delivery that for me seriously distracted from anything she might have been saying. Daschle spoke mostly in soothing generalities that said everything and nothing.

So, in the end, I'm left the way I have been for the last three years. I don't really like Bush but can't seem to find a credible alternative.

The blogosphere was, naturally, all over the SOTU. And, as usual, the coverage is more comprehensive and in many cases more interesting than that of the talking heads on tv. Examples:

Nick Gillespie provides condensed versions:
The super-condensed version:

Things are good, though terrorism is a threat to America and so are kids who take steroids and gays who want to marry each other. The housing market's never been better. I have a 10 year-old pen pal named Ashley who's swell.

Here's the Democrat's response by Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Tom Daschle.

The super-condensed version:

Pelosi: The nation is strong, though not as strong as if a Democrat were in the White House. I remember John Kennedy's first inaugural address and I'm no John Kennedy.

Daschle: We need to become what Republican Newt Gingrich used to call an "opportunity society"--the sort of place of where even Democrats can be elected president. The job market sucks and even illegal drugs are too expensive.

Hobbsonline can't get Tom Petty out of his head.

Instapundit reliably adds his thoughts and rounds up many reactions

Mickey Kaus noticed the line that got the most (or at least the longest) applause of the night. I had noticed it too, but had forgotten it by this morning:
Did you notice the huge ovation Bush got for ... community colleges? I think it was his biggest applause line of the night, practically. Why? Because there must be at least one of these institutions in every congressional district, run and supported by respected local leaders, and they have tremendous lobbying power.

Meteor Blades, apparently, didn't listen to the speech at all. Rather, he (she?) read through some depressing alternative descriptions of the state of the union.

OxBlog analyzes everything in the speech including the average time of applause. He adds some interesting thougts:
Thoughts: This is not a cautious speech - Bush makes one reference to bipartisanship, and instead defends his foreign policy record assertively, argues directly to the people of the country that he should be allowed to finish what he has begun, and appeals unapologetically to his most core constituencies on domestic policy. This is a speech which is meant to launch a re-election bid, not one intended to put forward a new program or to call for cooperation across the aisle.

* I'm struck by how much of a State of the Union address is formulaic: it simply wouldn't be a State of the Union if the president didn't say "the state of the Union is strong," read a letter that a young child wrote to him, and ask that God continue to bless America - these tropes are as much part of the annual ritual as the Sergeant of Arms of the House calling out "Mister Speaker, the President of the United States."

Scrappleface notes that the real action took place at the dinner before the SOTU address.

Stephen Green has at least 35 SOTU-related posts. Whew!

Monday, January 19, 2004

STATE OF THE UNION SPEECH is coming up. The Center for American Progress offers a dictionary for those who wish to decode certain words and phrases that may appear in the speech. Examples:
Accountability: The stick that dangles the carrot of federal funding.

Affordable Healthcare: (1) Healthcare for the healthy and wealthy. (2) More taxpayer money for private health insurers.

Ally: A nation or leader which helps us but gets nothing in return. (See Tony Blair.)

There's plenty more. Even I am usually not this cynical.

UPDATE: This serves as an example of what I see as the amplification of political partisanship in the U.S. If one looks at actual policies of the past two presidents, one finds a great deal of convergence: Clinton ended "welfare as we know it," strongly supported NAFTA and other free trade agreements and balanced the budget. Bush gave farmers more subsidies than Clinton ever dreamed of and gave $400 billion worth of prescription drug benefits to the elderly. Rather than seeing these developments and policy initiatives as examples of how the American political process produces solutions that may not satisfy the ideological extremes but represent significant compromise, both sides still see themselves as siding with the angels in the face of irredeemable evil. Sad.

WILL THE REAL JOHN KERRY PLEASE STAND UP? I find myself nodding in agreement with this assessment.
(It's partly a testament to Kerry's complete lack of identity--even after 1,000 years in the Senate--that nobody really knows what the hell the guy is about, other than having touched the hem of JFK's garment as a boy, getting shot in Vietnam, and marrying the massively rich widow of a dead senator cum ketchup heir. Indeed, Kerry's bizarre series of tough-guy stunts--e.g. riding a Harley on The Tonight Show--is a nearly open admission that the guy is a cipher who is desperate to create a public persona; I half expect him to bend iron bars and explode a hot water bottle with lung power during the Iowa caucuses).
I never saw much about Kerry that inspired me while I lived in Massachusetts. And ever since I heard that the medals he through over the wall in protest of the Vietnam War weren't actually his, I have had little incentive to change my mind. Protesting the War, especially from Kerry's position of experience, was an entirely appropriate thing to do. But if you are going to protest the war and publicly take part in a symbolic exercise of rejecting the honors given you by the government, then go ahead and really do it. Don't keep your own medals to proudly display on your office wall when others really do throw theirs away. Anyway, enough silly venting for today.

In fact, I have the habit when I'm driving of turning on these radio call-in programs, and it's striking when you hear the ones about sports. They have these groups of sports reporters, or some kind of experts on a panel, and people call in and have discussions with them. First of all, the audience obviously is devoting an enormous amount of time to it all. But the more striking fact is, the callers have a tremendous amount of expertise, they have detailed knowledge of all kinds of things, they carry on these extremely complex discussions...

...And when you look at the structure of them, they seem like a kind of mathematics. It's as though people want to work out mathematical problems, and it they don't have calculus and arithmetic, they work them out with other structures...And what all these things look like is that people just want to use their intelligence somehow...

Well, in our society we have things that you might use your intelligence on, like politics, but people really can't get involved in them in a very serious way -- so what they do is put their minds to other things, such as sports. You're trained to be obedient; you don't have an interesting job; there's no work around for you that's creative; in the cultural environment you're a passive observer of usually pretty tawdry stuff...So what's left?

...And I suppose that's also one of the basic functions it serves society in general: it occupies the populations, and it keeps them from trying to get involved with things that really matter. In fact, I presume that's part of the reason why spectator sports are supported to the degree they are by the dominant institutions.
Sounds like vintage Noam.

The UN world food programme (WFP) has been forced to cut off food aid to 2.7 million North Korean women and children during the country's harsh winter due to lack of foreign donations, a spokesman for the agency said today.

The WFP received new promises of aid from the US, the EU and Australia after warning in December of an impending crisis, but those supplies could take up to three months to arrive
I'm sure this will go down well in P'yongyang.

DAILY KOS HAS THE LATEST IOWA POLLS. Looks like Dean or Kerry to finish first. Does it matter? Should it matter?

THE CHEATING CULTURE. I've been meaning to take a look at this book for a few weeks now. Cheating is, obviously an endemic and important problem in universities. My general sense is that those who regard cheating in school as a serious issue are shrinking in numbers and based on the blurbs the book would appear to bear this out. Now, I just discovered that the author, David Callahan, has a blog. Some snippets:
In jury selection for the Martha Stewart trial, prosecutors sought ordinary New Yorkers fed up with lying by corporate leaders. The government will also be on the lookout for such jurors in impending trials involving WorldCom, Enron, and Healthsouth. Yet while many Americans are angry about corporate scandals that have cost investors dearly, such ire may not be enough to lead jurors to condemn former executives who previously led upstanding lives. American society is filled with what a sociologist once called "law-abiding lawbreakers" -- or cheaters if you drop the tongue twisting. And plenty of ordinary jurors, strangely enough, may actually be able to relate to the sins of fallen corporate titans.


Most of us will never get the chance to loot a big company or cash in on insider stock tips. But millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens routinely break the rules for a little extra something. Lawyers overbill clients, doctors take dirty money from pharmaceutical companies, homeowners carve out illegal apartments in their basements, car owners lie on insurance claims, legions of taxpayers make up deductions, and on and on.

This is nickel and dime stuff compared to multi-billion dollar frauds. Still, jurors who break rules in their own lives may hesitate to cast the first stone. Jurors won't relate to zipping around in private jets, but they will connect to that very human impulse to cheat for extra gain when you think no one will ever know. Or to lie under pressure to make a problem go away. Or to cut corners because you believe that everyone else is doing the same thing.

Check it out.

HOW DO WE KNOW WE'RE WINNING? Winds of Change asks the question of how should we measure progress or its absence in the war on terror. Given the predilection of our leaders and potential leaders to resort to sound-bites (it is an election season after all), I think it is a worthy task to try to consider slightly more precise, detailed and nuanced answers to this question. The comments to the post are filled with suggestions ranging from the commensensical (if a bit vague):
Signs the War on Terror is going well.

1. Multiple Middle-Eastern nations moving toward pluralism & tolerance. (Iran hopefully soon, who will be next?)

2. Forces of moderation emerging among the Palestinians and gaining real political influence.

3. A true Arab success story (hopefully Iraq). By this I mean a country embracing some basic free market principals, and rapidly becoming prosperous relative to their neighbors - an "Arab tiger", if you will.

Signs the War on Terror is not going well.

1. More terrorist attacks - particularly if they are supported by states claiming plausible deniability and getting away with it.

2. The dictators in Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. using the war on terror as an excuse to "crack down" when the real intent is simply to strengthen their grip on power. We will never win the hearts and minds of their people if this is how this plays out.

3. The cynics being proven right. Ethnic fighting or civil war in Iraq and Afghanistan "prove" that democracy in the Middle East is a quixotic fantasy.
to the more precise:
Signs the War on Terror is going well:

1. Serious reform of the Pakistani education system combined with successful diplomatic engagement with India to defuse Kashmir as a major issue. Once Kashmir is taken care of, the byzantine domestic Pakistani considerations of maintaining the two dozen or so jihadi outfits will no longer apply and can be crushed in turn by the current military government there. Ideally, Musharraf will eventually relinquish power after a decade or so or will retain the position of Maximum Leader until his death, after which time a new Pakistani democratic system can be formalized.

2. A grassroots resurgence of traditional Sunni Muslim orthodoxy against innovations introduced by Wahhabism over the last 200 years ranging from the idea of military jihad as an individual rather than state duty, an end to the "fatwa shop" mentality, and above all else the formulation of a moderate counter-ideology that will serve to at the very least marginalize the kind of anti-Semitic and anti-Western mantras that are currently all too familiar in the Arab world.

3. The establishment of a successful democratic government in Iraq that respects both ethnic and religious pluralism. Once preliminary reconstruction efforts are completed, the US should serve to protect the moderate Shi'ite clergy like Ayatollah Sistani and others in An Najaf and Karbala to serve a counter-balance to the Khomeinists in Qom.

Signs the War on Terror is not going well:

1. Simultaneous non-conventional nuclear attacks by al-Qaeda using bombs supplied by rogue elements in Pakistan, VEVAK in Iran, or purchased from North Korea in US, European, and possibly Russian and India cities. The kind of total war envisioned by Michael Totten ensues.

2. Al-Qaeda successfully triggers a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. Pakistani state is destroyed in the aftermath and India suffers heavy casualties. Millions die and the end-result is that al-Qaeda makes off with a sizeable chunk of Pakistan's nuclear assets.

3. France's efforts to ban headscarves combined with rising xenophobia stirred up by Monsieur le Pen's National Alliance (among others) caused the Algerian immigrant population in France to begin a full-scale Islamist insurrection that quickly spreads to other countries.
to the rather bizarre:
signs that we are actually fighting a war on terror

1) bush gets shitcanned
2) bush gets sent to the hague for his war crimes
3) bush gets hung like the nazi he is

signs that the war on terror isn't going well

1) bush gets to continue his war for oil for another four years
2) the zionist occupiers in isreal don't get buried under radioactive debris
3) anyone but Dennis Kuchinich wins the DEMOCRAT nomination

Any more suggestions?

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