Ah, yes, California:

The Golden State screws us again:
Shorn of LaLaLand [that is, California], in May America would actually have seen a net gain in employment - an extra 4,500 jobs - but then the monthly figures from California came in - another 21,500 layoffs - and drove the national figure down again. Meanwhile, if you drive in California, your vehicle registration just tripled: if it was 200 bucks last year, it's 600 now.
Thanks to Mr. Steyn for that.
Ah, the Turks:

On April 24th, US forces captured a dozen Turkish commandos who had come to Iraq to cause mayhem:
The Turkish Special Forces team put up no resistance though a mean arsenal was discovered in their cars, including a variety of AK-47s, M4s, grenades, body armor and night vision goggles. "They did not come here with a pure heart," says U.S. brigade commander Col. Bill Mayville.
Now another team has been caught. This time they are rumored to have been planning to carry out an assassination:
Turkish government officials said about 100 American troops raided a Turkish special forces office in the northern Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah, detained 11 soldiers, and took them to Kirkuk.

The Hurriyet newspaper said the detentions followed reports that Turks were planning to kill a senior Iraqi official in Kirkuk. While there was no word on the identity, the city recently elected a Kurdish lawyer, Abdulrahman Mustafa, as its mayor amid concerns that the new administration may favor one ethnic group over another. The city is divided between Arabs, Kurds, ethnic Turks and Christians and has been the scene of ethnic tensions.

Turkey rejected any suggestion of a plot.
I've Seen This Movie:

Send in the Marines? I can't think why, when we will surely need them elsewhere soon enough. The threat of the Marine Corps is lessened tremendously when they are already bogged down somewhere else. With only two US Army divisions available to deploy for combat operations, it seems that even a few thousand Marines might be better kept for other purposes.

Additionally, I'm against going just because the UN said we should. I think the lesson of the last year ought to be that the UN be roundly ignored on all matters. Unless we have a pressing national interest, we ought not to go. Besides, the press reports from there are turning purple. Leftists who long for the US to be the army of the UN, and never act otherwise, have begun to really hype Liberia since the UN vote last week. Doesn't this lurid AP report sound like the movie Casablanca crossed with Aliens?

Liberia, fraught with danger and drunk killers, awaits U.S. forces
By Jonathan Paye-Layleh, Associated Press, 7/4/2003 19:57

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) Trapped in Liberia's besieged seaside capital, more than 1 million desperate, hungry residents and refugees dream of American troops coming to the rescue disarming rebel and government fighters locked in a vicious civil war.

Yet ending Liberia's nightmare is being weighed against the cost of U.S. intervention that would put American soldiers between AK-47-toting gunmen for whom mutilation and summary execution is commonplace.
Another reason to avoid Liberia: president Charles Taylor is being described as "indicted war crimes suspect" Charles Taylor. Ya'll remember that Bush, Blair, and Gen. Franks are also "indicted war crimes suspects." The ICC and similar organs are trying to use things like this to build legitimacy behind the idea that international bodies can violate national soverignity in order to seize people that the UN/ICC/whoever has voted to indict.

Pretty rich, you say, a defense of national soverignity coming from a guy who favors using the USMC to knock of tyrants anywhere we please? Touche. But you must understand that I support the old order, whereby national--presumably, democratically accountable--governments hold the power to choose war or peace. The international order is antidemocratic, as you must have noticed by now. Far better for matters of such importance to be in the hands of the people, not career bureaucrats drawn from the ranks least likely to understand or feel inclined to use force in a firm, just fashion. There are plenty of folks in those bureaucracies with ranks and titles, but damn few who understand what nobility is about.

One thing I do like to see though: Charles Taylor hopped pretty quickly in response to that US warning that he had 48 hours to step down, didn't he? The decapitation strike may not have gotten Saddam, but it put the world's tyrants on notice. Come the 49th hour, the bombs can already be on their way.

Our Predecessors:

Many of our Islamist enemies have come to consider "Crusaders" to be just another word for "American" or, at best, "Coalition." So it's interesting that on the 4th of July the Israelis broke into a cistern that was built by the real Crusaders.
A Bolt from Heaven:

An evangelist calls upon God for a sign, and God delivers:
A member of the First Baptist Church said a guest evangelist was preaching repentance and seeking a sign from God when lightning struck the steeple.

Ronnie Cheney called the incident "awesome, just awesome!"

Cheney said the lightning traveled through the microphone, blew out the sound system and enveloped the preacher, who wasn't hurt.

Afterward, services resumed for about 20 minutes until the congregation realized the church was on fire. The building was evacuated.
This reminds me of the movie about the life of Sergeant York, wherein a bolt of lightning knocks a drunk Alvin York off of his mule just by the church. However, that was Hollywood. One has to leave the metaphysics aside for a moment and just take it in--it is an awesome story.
All hat, no...

Cowboy hats on the runway in Milan. It's supposed to be a 'virile' symbole of an 'American tough-guy image.' Well and good. My hat is a Stetson, one that belonged to my grandfather before his days ran out, and now belongs to me. Don't reckon he ever expected to be setting the style for the Milanese fashionable, but he was certainly a tough American guy.
Dirty Bombs:

Dirty bombs are the terror weapon that provides the greatest danger to the U.S. economy:
On 13 June, a Thai national was arrested in Bangkok with a large quantity - reportedly 30kg - of caesium-137, a radioactive isotope that could be used in a radiological weapon (a so-called 'dirty bomb'). Narong Penanam confessed he had smuggled the radioactive material into Thailand from neighbouring Laos. He was detained in a sting operation by officers posing as potential buyers.

It is believed that the suspect's intended customers - possibly the Southeast Asian terrorist network Jemaah Islamiah - were planning to target US interests in Thailand, perhaps the embassy or other diplomatic premises. US customs officials had asked the Thai police to investigate uranium trading in Thailand, which they suspected was bound for terrorist groups in Iraq or North Korea.

It is not clear if the 30kg seized in Thailand included the weight of the case as well as the caesium-137, which could turn out to weigh as little as 100g. Regardless of the amount seized, the arrest highlights the continuing problem of nuclear smuggling.

The use of even a small amount of caesium in a radiological weapon would necessitate an expensive decontamination operation and, apart from injuries caused by the actual explosion, could cause a rise in cancer cases in the long term. Uranium, however, would have to be highly enriched for use in even a crude nuclear device.

On 18 May it was reported that during a routine raid, Georgian police seized strontium and caesium in boxes from the boot of a taxi in the capital, Tblisi. The police suspect the substances were being smuggled into Turkey. A device made from that radioactive material could contaminate a 500-600m radius.
The damage to the US economy from 9/11 was as great as it was because of the disruption of the airlines. Although a massive amount of communications equiptment went down with the two towers, America's communication system is remarkably capable of regeneration. The shutting down of the airlines for a full day, though, created transportation problems for every industry in the country. The main trouble was not the transportation of people, but of goods: factories ran short, orders were not delivered, every industry was disrupted in shockwaves.

A similar, but worse, effect is possible with dirty bombs. Major airports could be shut down, not for hours, but for weeks. Sadly, some of this disruption could be handled: the falloff of air traffic since 9/11 means that there is excess capacity in the airports of the country. There would still be a stern depressive effect upon the economy at a point--the airlines--where we are still limping.

DPRK Nuke Test:

This page has been arguing for months that a nuclear weapon test by the DPRK was coming. Once they've tested a nuclear weapon in an underground location, they'll have thereby irradiated enough material to make many more bombs, thus making the point moot as to their uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing plants. Now, Kenneth Quinones, one of the Clinton Administration's negotiators who worked with the DPRK, says that he agrees. Such a test may well come, he says, by the end of the year.
A brilliant letter:

From Mark Steyn's mailbag. Steyn himself is all too frequently praised on this page for me to pretend to evenhandedness, but this letter written to him by one of his readers deserves to be widely reprinted:
WMDs were the main reason to remove Saddam Hussein, but none were found yet. As his removal was unwarranted and in blatant breach of many UN charters, wouldn't it be fair, at least as an interim measure, to install a tyrant in Iraq, until the weapons are found?

I'm sure North Korea or Cuba could lend one, and some of Pol Pot's cronies are still around.

This way, we can, at least partially, redress the gross injustice forced upon the Iraqi people.

Kalman Dee
Canberra, Australia
Readers might want to see Steyn's obit for Strom Thurmond, while there.
Pravda is of two minds:

Today's analysis of the Iraq situation (emphasis added):
The war against the occupation force is turning into some kind of a religious struggle; under these conditions the situation in Iraq may become less stable and predictable.
Elsewhere in Pravda, this report on regimental priests, under the subhead (emphasis added) "Are faithful soldiers more predictable?":
A seminar of the subject "Vicarial service in present-day army" was held in the Russian city of Ryazan on June 24. The seminar was organized by the RF Defense Ministry and the Moscow Patriarchate Department for cooperation with the armed forces and law enforcement structures. Main goals of the seminar are to determine objectives that the Orthodox Church pursues while working in the army, to find out the instruments it uses at that or plans to employ in the future.