Aaron Hanscom

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Battle for Spain's Future

National Police officers arrested four persons yesterday, three Spaniards and a Syrian, in relation with an Islamist terrorist cell in Madrid. The police operation was still in progress Wednesday night, and at least one firearm was confiscated. The Syrian arrested is the brother of a man acquitted of terrorism last September 27, and the three Spaniards apparently collaborated in the cell's financial network.

Monday, March 27, 2006

La Jolla Bound

Cathy Seipp writes about her daughter's acceptance to UC San Diego, where I graduated from in 2000. Like Maia, I was shocked and ecstatic to learn that I was accepted by UCSD. I would have spent four years in Boulder, Colorado-- and not lovely La Jolla-- had I been rejected.

Maia's first UC choice was San Diego, which was also the last to let applicants know about admissions. I felt terrible seeing her sitting tearfully over the computer, trying to access UC San Diego's busy server the day the school sent out its yeas or nays. The record so far wasn't promising, even though I know she's a good and enthusiastic student who'd do well anywhere. And UC San Diego, where she applied as a Russian/Soviet Studies major, is more selective than UC Santa Barbara.

But she got in. Go figure. And the one good thing about the pit of teenage despair is that it has a flip side: utter teenage jubilation.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Good Stuff

This is very funny. Make sure you read Laksin daily.

Clarence Page is so right throughout most of this piece on the plight of young blacks. But the "honest alternatives" he craves are staring him right in the face.


James Woolsey thinks Matt Stone and Trey Parker can help us win the war on terror. They're already a big help on the domestic front.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Time Out

An unconditional surrender is quite different from a permanent ceasefire. The former happens when an enemy has been defeated to such a degree that the futility of its cause begins to outweigh the delusions of grandeur that once kept it fighting. The latter is very often just a call for a breather; a hudna, as it is known in Islamic law. The Basque terrorist group, ETA, has opted for the latter. Jose is the expert and has all the latest news. I've dusted off an old piece I wrote about the terrorist group and posted it below. The Saturday I refer to was just a few weeks ago.

Fifteen years ago 12 year-old Irene Villa lost both of her legs in a bombing by the Basque terrorist group ETA. On Saturday, she elegantly expressed why hundreds of thousands of Spaniards were braving the freezing cold and rain of Madrid to protest their Socialist government. “We want to make sure that [the government] does not negotiate with murderers and that terrorism is not seen as a way to achieve a political end," she said, with other victims of ETA at her side. Unfortunately, the Spanish prime minister has a habit of listening less to the victims of terrorism than to the very terrorists themselves.

Bombs planted by ETA have been exploding in Spain on a regular basis since the March 11 train bombings in Madrid. While the general feeling after the worst terrorist attack in Spanish history was that the terrorist group would lay low for a while so as not to lose any of its already slender support, the election of Socialist prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has proven to be as big a boon for ETA as it was for the
Islamic terrorists themselves.

The tragedy is that ETA had been at its weakest state since its campaign for an independent country began more than 30 years ago—a campaign which has been responsible for more than 800 deaths. ETA’s reduced military capacity was primarily due to the aggressive anti-terrorism policy of former Conservative prime minister José María Aznar. After a 14 month ETA ceasefire (which ended in November 1999 following negotiations with the terrorist group and Aznar’s own government) turned out to be just a ploy to buy time to regroup, Aznar learned that dialogue costs lives and vowed to relentlessly pursue the terrorists to the full extent of the law. There have been more than 650 arrests of ETA operatives by Spanish and French police since 2000. The 2003 Spanish Supreme Court decision to outlaw the political party Batasuna for its affiliation with ETA was also a big victory for Spain.

The Anti-Terrorism Pact agreed to by Conservatives and Socialists in 2000 was just as important in demolishing ETA. By “agreeing not to disagree” both major political parties in essence denied the possibility of negotiating with ETA unless it renounced violence and laid down its weapons. It was Zapatero’s breaking of this pact that has allowed ETA to rise from the dead. As Aznar said in a recent interview: “Every time a terrorist is offered the possibility of negotiation, he thinks ‘it is possible for me to win this battle.’ When you are strong, you never offer negotiations, but when you are weak you talk about them all the time.”

Zapatero wasted no time after his election victory in showing ETA that Spain was in fact weak and willing to negotiate. The terrorist group responded to his suggestion that the time was right for talks with 13 bombs in nine different Spanish cities in just four days at the end of 2004. This didn’t stop Zapatero from continuing the political debate about whether his administration should negotiate with the terrorists. In May 2005, right before Parliament was set to vote on a motion by the Socialists requesting the green light to dialogue, ETA set off four bombs in different Basque towns. Zapatero failed to mention the bombings in a speech just hours following the explosions.

The situation continued to worsen. After the Socialists and its leftist parliamentary allies finally approved the talks proposal, 53 people were injured when an ETA car bomb exploded in Madrid. ETA celebrated Spanish Constitution Day in December 2005 by detonating five bombs along Madrid highways. And over the last 12 days ETA has set off three bombs targeting Basque companies.

Unfortunately, Zapatero’s willingness to dialogue with ETA and Batasuna has precipitated other threats to Spanish unity. A Catalan statute of autonomy has recently caused Spaniards to fear the possibility of eventual Catalan independence. Why, Catalan separatists undoubtedly wonder, should we stop at partial autonomy when the Spanish government is willing to engage in negotiations with ETA?

After the parliamentary resolution allowing negotiations with ETA was passed, the Conservatives accused Zapatero of “betraying the dead.” Some 850,000 Spaniards agreed when they took to the streets of Madrid to protest. Victims of ETA attacks and their relatives held signs reading “No negotiations in my name.” Zapatero was unmoved. However, after the violent protests by Muslims over the Danish cartoons, the prime minister was affected enough to write an op-ed for the International Herald Tribune calling on the West to be more sensitive.

On Saturday, Zapatero once again dismissed the concerns of the hundreds of thousands demonstrating against his policies and stated they should not adopt the tone of the Conservative opposition. It seems that terrorists and their supporters are the only ones who really know how to earn his attention—through violence.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Otherwise known as the "Bomb Them Back To The Stone Age" doctrine. It is mentioned favorably in this excellent piece by John Derbyshire, aka Andrew Sullivan's crush. Derbyshire writes:

Postwar Germany and Japan were wrecked societies to which we had applied the “Bomb Them Back To The Stone Age” doctrine (hereinafter BTBTTSA) that Rich (Lowry) sneers at elsewhere in his article. The allies in the wars against Napoleon did not have BTBTTSA available to them, but French revolutionary imperialism had been defeated — twice! — as thoroughly as it could have been. And the case that Iraq is not Vietnam has been made so many times, it does not bear repeating.

(Why, by the way, does Rich sneer at BTBTTSA? Does he think that some other policy would have brought democracy to Germany and Japan? It is true, as he says, that we did not employ that doctrine against North Vietnam. There were excellent reasons for that, though — this was the Cold War, and the USSR was North Vietnam’s patron. Suppose we had employed BTBTTSA against North Vietnam? Does Rich think that the Vietnam War could not have been won by BTBTTSA methods? I am sure it could have; I think any war could be won by BTBTTSA. At this point in history, the American people would not tolerate a BTBTTSA strategy; but we tolerated it in the past, and might again in the future. Why does Rich scoff at THWTHs for the “instinctive favor” we display towards BTBTTSA? It is, as Japan and Germany showed, a most efficacious war-fighting strategy, surely deserving the favor of anyone who thinks seriously about war.

I can hear the claps from the Ayn Rand Institute now. Just last week, I heard its president, Dr. Yaron Brook, speak at UCLA. He expressed frustration over the Bush Administration's concern for building a democratic Iraq. Our only goal, Brook said, should be to utterly destroy our enemies. If that means dropping a nuclear bomb on Iran (he wasn't sure about the necessity of going that far), so be it.

The ultimate fate of Muslims doesn't much bother Derbyshire either, provided they don't kill us in mass numbers. As he puts it: "...the spectacle of Middle Eastern Muslims slaughtering each other is one that I find I can contemplate with calm composure." Derbyshire believes that very soon most thoughtful neo-cons will outgrow their fanciful notions of spreading democracy throughout the Middle East and embrace a more "Jacksonian" foreign policy. No more wars tainted with naive idealism, thank you very much. Henceforth, only military engagements with strictly punitive or monitory goals.

Oddly, I hear a lot of liberals supporting this line of thinking. "If we are going to fight the war, then let's at least go all out," they tell me. Granted, these remarks are made confidentially in personal conversations. I don't anticipate Nancy Pelosi making a press conference any time soon demanding that we start "bombing mosques if the bastards are holed up inside." But I do think that the French/cartoon/fill in the blank riots are starting to wake people up to the fact that we need to be a tad more ruthless in this war. Victor Davis Hanson has written on this in the past, saying that it is a good thing for our enemies to think we might be a little nuts.

So I agree with a lot of what Derbyshire has to say, but I think he underestimates the ability of the Muslim world to join the free and modern one. It will happen--especially if we help.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Kicking Footballs Not Allowed

Back in January I wrote a piece on parenting, or the lack thereof, for the Los Angeles Daily News. The phenomeon of parents trying so hard to be their children's best friends should be worrisome to us all. As I said then:

Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that parents are acting more and more childish at a time when they are striving so hard to become their children's best friends. The tragic irony is that precious childhood seems to have been replaced by premature adulthood. To put it another way: Our kids are losing their innocence all too soon.

What's to blame for this?

In a 2004 City Journal essay titled "Who Killed Childhood?" Theodore Dalrymple observed that "overindulgence in the latest fashions, toys, or clothes, and a television in the bedroom are regarded as the highest - indeed only - manifestations of tender concern for a child's welfare." This trend reached its apogee late last year with a $10 million bat mitzvah for the daughter of a New York defense contractor, at which performers such as Don Henley, Aerosmith and 50 Cent performed.

What happens when children are given everything their little hearts desire? When the only boundaries they are aware of are those they cross on a summer trip to Europe? When they never hear the word "no" or have to utter the word "please"?

I see the answer every day in the classroom: Children with no self-control and an appalling lack of respect for others. Their outward show of defiance is usually a subconscious plea for structure in their lives.

Of course, too much structure is a recipe for disaster as well. Ellen Scolnic discovered that after an incident on the playground at her son's elementary school:

I forgot the incident until a few weeks later when a large packet arrived in Andy's backpack. Evidently, committees had been formed, irate parents alerted, and the expert assistance of psychologists, counselors, and administrators enlisted. Eight pages of "Recess Rules for Appropriate Behavior" were written, copied, folded, and sent home with every child. It lay on my kitchen table staring at me, daring me to stick my tongue out and sneer back at it...

So you can understand my skepticism as I opened the packet of rules for recess behavior. Sure enough, the first page was a thorough outline of what would happen to pint-size offenders. After the punishments came the rules. Pages and pages of detailed instructions on how to play:
"On the swings, don't swing too high. Don't walk in front of swings. Don't share swings. Do not kick footballs. When playing soccer, the ball may not be kicked in the air. Do not head or throw the soccer ball."

Do not make up any games yourselves, I added to myself. Imagination is forbidden. You are only 7 years old.

Forbidding childhood pleasures is another reason why children are losing their innocence at an all too early age.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Anti-War Protest in Hollywood

Welcome Michelle Malkin and Instapundit readers. I hope you'll stay for a moment and have a look around.

My wife took these photos at Hollywood and Highland today. The protest was coordinated by A.N.S.W.E.R. I don't think any words are necessary to convey the level of thought on display.

More from Hollywood

And More


More pictures from Hollywood.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Unveiling a Professor's Radicalism

My latest piece for FrontPageMagazine can be found here.

Update: I wonder if Professor LeVine (that's a capital "V", thank you very much) would find the "Iran Freedom Concert" at Harvard University to be as inflamatory as the cartoon unveiling at UC-Irvine.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Please don't miss the latest gem by Sue Diaz. You'll be left speechless when you're done, I promise. Just a sample:

That's not to say Roman's initial 15 months as an infantryman in the Sunni Triangle were easy. No one's time in Iraq is easy - not by a long shot. But in light of "that day in December" and the region's escalating violence and instability, my son's first deployment now seems like a march in the park.

I've continued, as I did back then, to drop a card or a letter in the mail to him a couple times a week, along with an occasional care package. But the only communication we've had from his end in the months since Christmas has been a brief phone call with a bad connection, two short e-mails (one about his bank statement), and a recent late-night conversation with his dad on Instant Messenger. My husband initiated it when he noticed on his computer screen that Roman had signed in online.

"Is that you, Roman?" he typed, clicked, then waited for an answer.

Finally it came. "Hey! What's up, Pops!"

"How are you, Roman?"

"Eh, I'm alright. How are you?"

Their "hellos" behind them, a few lines later my husband asked, "Do you want or need anything from over here?"

"No, I'm good."

"How about some chicharrones or pickled pigs feet?" (Convinced, apparently, that the way to a soldier's heart is through an eclectic assortment of pork-based snack foods.)

"No, really, dad. I'm good."

"Need any extra armor?"



"No. It's going to warm up soon."

And so it went. A fatherly offer here, a quick "no" there. Interspersed with small bits of small talk about the Olympics, rumors of a recent troop visit by Jessica Simpson, and at the end, a sudden, "Dad, I gotta go."

The next morning my husband shared with me their conversation, and coupled with Roman's silence in recent months, the gist of it all seems to me to be, "Mom, Dad. For your sake and for mine right now, don't love me so much."

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Never Forget

Jose has it covered.

Another O.J.

Don't piss him off:

Although the great national pastime has been short on heroes for years, save for Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles and a few others, Bonds’s ascension to the home-run heights is particularly distasteful. He has long been one of the surliest, most obnoxious athletes in professional sports, foul-mouthed, childish, and arrogant. He’s also a poor winner, constantly rubbing opposing pitchers’ faces in it by standing still at home plate and admiring each home-run ball as it sails over the fence.

And he’s no prince off the field. Game of Shadows quotes his mistress, Kimberly Bell, as saying she began saving her voicemail messages from Bonds after he threatened her life. She says that on one occasion when she was late meeting him for a tryst at a hotel he put his hands around her throat, put her against a wall and said, “If you ever (expletive) pull some (expletive) like that again I’ll kill you. Do you understand me?”

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Larry Elder

It was quite an honor to hear Larry Elder read my latest article on his radio program today. In case you missed it, the article can be found in the Guest Writer column on his website.

Monday, March 06, 2006

School Choice

From my Orange County Register piece:

According to a recent newspaper story, tuition at some of the most elite private schools in Los Angeles County has hit $25,000.

Harvard-Westlake, the high school I graduated from in 1995, looks like a bargain by comparison at only $23,850 per student next year. Perhaps the $1,150 in savings can be given as gas money to the teenagers who have to make the journey to the Studio City campus from as far away as Malibu. Parental stories of trekking miles to school in the snow will soon be replaced by even-harder-to-believe stories like my own: driving through four different ZIP codes to get to school.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Back to School

What I saw on my journey to UC-Irvine.