Thursday, February 05, 2004

Its Not FUNNY, DAMMIT!: More Reader Letters 
Here's one from a reader in Australia:

Seatbelts are one of the few things that actually save lives
on the road, and the road is one of the biggest killers. It is
not funny if you are not wearing seatbelts.

I repeat, it is NOT FUNNY.

This is decade-old technology, proven to save lives. If
there is some reason why the seatbelts don't work, then
please specify why not, and what the options are. [If the seatbelt only fits around a soldier in a kevlar and loincloth, It may
be less risky to ...sit only in kevlar and loincloth. This calculation would
be done with probability and statistics. Maybe there are
other options available too, e.g. wearing the seatbelt under
the jacket.

Thanks for the helpful suggestion. I'll be sure to pass it on.

Another reader--after chastising me on the whole 'i before e except after c' thing (whose idea was that, anyway?), has a great point:

On the post re the oil vouchers, everyone's been too burned with documents
out of Iraq to publish them without very good confirmation. George Galloway
has collected quite a sum from the Christian Science Monitor because they
didn't confirm what seemed very plausible documents. The uranium story about
Niger has everyone thinking as well. Too many Iraqis chased cash from Saddam
with forged paperwork in the past.

I think a healthy scepticism is in order, of course. But just the fact that these papers have been unearthed--and the process of verifying and substantiating their contents, is a story in itself.

The New York Times had no problems going after the Whitewater scandal, and tying it to Bill Clinton, on much less. Millions of dollars later there turned out to be nothing there.

So all of a sudden they have scruples?

Suppose the oil voucher list was actually dated 1984, and included Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

You think the New York Times wouldn't have picked it up?

Another reader, by way of noting the absence of Germans on the oil bribe list, writes in with another good question:

I still don't understand Germany/Shroeder's motivation for aligning with France/Russia & China before the war. Ideas?

I've got a couple of ideas: Germany had a lot of their warlike nature pummeled out of them after WWII, and it's going to take another generation or two for them to return to their usual baseline of endearing belligerency.

So there's still quite a bit of political hay to be made for German politicians to cater to a pacifist crowd. Their motivations can be honest, or they can be cynical, it doesn't matter. But if you recall, Schroeder was running for reelection last spring, and certainly wanted to motivate the voters on the left side of his base, which remain suspicious of the same western powers which so callously saved millions of West German women and girls from systematic rape at the hands of horny, vengeful Bolsheviks in 1945, while at the same time having the imperious temerity to rebuild their economy and infrastructure.

Further, Germany no doubt shares an interest with France in becoming a counterweight to American power, although the French are still the ones with the UN Security council vote. Nevertheless, Germany and France can both benefit from a strong and assertive European presence in the chaotic world arena. And so we may see a continued assertion of European power for its own sake.

The weak dollar doesn't make them very happy, either.

Splash, Out


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