Monday, May 31, 2004

Oil. My Precious.

I'm sure you've heard enough about the Saudi hostage crisis elsewhere. Let's look at the bigger picture: oil. From the Washington Post:
The attack came at a time when Saudi Arabia has vowed to use its vast capacity to bring down prices... Saudi officials announced that they would immediately increase production to about 9 million barrels a day from about 8.5 million, and raise output even further to whatever level was demanded by the market. The Saudis are the only member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries capable of making such promises. Oil wells and refineries nearly everywhere else are producing flat out to meet growing global demand. [However] the Saudis contend that they could easily ramp up production to 10.5 million barrels a day or more.
The attacks didn't target the infrastructure, just the executives who manage it. Still it was close enough to cause serious concern. The attack "came in the nation's eastern zone where the bulk of the kingdom's oil is piped to a densely-packed network of refineries and export terminals on the Persian Gulf."

How long until they attack either the infrastructure or a tanker at sea? I bet if they can punch a hole in the USS Cole, they can damage a tanker.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Saudi Update 2 - Saudi Revolution Watch

Middle East Online reports the al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Khobar.
"The heroic mujahedeen in the Jerusalem Squad were able, by the grace of God, to raid the locations of American companies ... specializing in oil and exploration activities and which are plundering the Muslims' resources, on Saturday morning," said the statement signed by "the Al-Qaeda Organization in the Arabian Peninsula. They have so far managed to kill or wound a number of crusaders, God's enemies. We will give details later, naming the heroes of our blessed squad," it said.
This came after an earlier statement claiming "an urban guerrilla war of assassinations, kidnappings and bombings."

With that we're starting the Saudi Revolution Watch, an ongoing series of posts tracking the collaspe of the Saudi regime. I'd start a pool but it's probably illegal to place bets on the overthrow of a so-called American ally. Let's start by clarifying the situation.

King Faud, the figurehead ruler of the Kingdom, is the 83-year-old son of the founder of Saudi Arabia. He had a stroke several years ago and is now incapacitated. However, as long as he is alive the Kingdom can avoid a costly power struggle among those who would be king. He has three living brothers.

Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz, Crown Prince and First Deputy Premier, is 80. Prince Sultan, Minister of Defence and Second Deputy Premier, is 76 (and the father of the Ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar). Prince Nayef, Minister of Interior (read internal security), is a spry 70. Together these three men run the country. How long can that go on? (order your Prius now - there's a 10 month waiting list.)

In April a car bomb outside a police headquarters kill 148. On May 1, gunmen attacked an office of ABB killing 5 Westerners (2 Americans). Now today there are at least 6 dead. Will the Saudi regime last the year? Will it last until the next presidental election in 2008? Will it last the decade when the (living) brothers Saud will be pushing 90? (no betting please)

Saudi Update

CNN reports that the insurgents have taken an unknown number of hostages. The American who was killed was an official at the US Embassy.

There are two groups of gunmen, one group disguised in Saudi police uniforms. The second group threw a genade into a school bus, killing the boy, an Egyptian.

Saudi Shooting Rampage Leaves 1 American Dead

Saudi security forces (is that an oxymoron yet?) are battling insurgents (should we call them the resistance?) after a shooting spree in an expatriate residential area leaves at least 6 dead - 1 American, 2 other Westerners and an unidentified 10-year-old boy. This is the second attack on Western workers in May.

These attacks are one under-reported reason for rising oil prices. The Saudis can't pump and transport their own oil with Western technical expertise (this is after 50 years as the world's number one oil producer. of course they don't clean their own houses or pick up their own trash either. they have Filipinos and Thais for that.)

DEBKAfile says that this is the first in a series of attacks against Saudi government and US targets.

Video of UN Terrorist Ambulances

On my earlier post I mentioned that there was video of Palestinian gunmen using a UN ambulances as a getaway vehicle. Here it is (click on the View Document link. your media player opens automatically. it's one minute eight seconds long.) The video was shot by Reuters on May 11 in Gaza, a day of violent clashes between Hamas and the Israeli military. An Israeli armored personnel carrier was blown up the same day. (You'll hear gunshots throughout the video but there isn't any graphic violence.)

This is an ambulance marked with the UN and Red Cross symbols, flying a blue UN flag, with its lights flashing. To use this vehicle to transport troops is a clear and flagrant violation of the Laws of War. If Israel shoots this ambulance you can bet your sweet ass they'll be castigated by the so-called International Community, called Nazis, accused of commiting genocide and all the rest. But what are they supposed to do? Let ambulances run around, moving masked gunman at will? Arrgh!

British Convert Pleads Guilty to Terror Plot

Here's yet another important story you probably won't see in the Big Media. Jack Roche is a convert to Islam on trial in Australia. He abruptly changed his plea last week.
The 50-year-old Englishman pleaded guilty Friday to conspiring to bomb the Israeli Embassy in Australia in 2000 — a plot that was never carried out. He is to be sentenced Tuesday, and could face up to 25 years in jail.

Roche told the court the idea for the embassy attack came from al-Qaida; he said he also had pledged allegiance to Jemaah Islamiyah, an extremist group that seeks to create an Islamic state in Southeast Asia.
[This is the group responsible for the Bali bombing that killed 88 Australians.]

Roche said that in April 2000, when he had been a Jemaah Islamiyah member in Australia for two years, bin Laden's deputies assigned him to form an underground cell here by recruiting Australian Muslims. He also was told to plan the bombing of the embassy in Canberra, he said.

During his trial, Roche said the Sydney mosque where he went weekly was akin to bin Laden's office in Australia.
Terror groups around to world are linked together. They cooperate on projects. They share intelligence, people, and resources. This is a global war, not a political trick.

Friday, May 28, 2004

American Ass-Face

It looks like American Taliban John Walker whatever-he-calls-himself (currently rotting in the Big House) was not a unique case. This leaky bag of wet shit, Adam Gadahn (formerly Adam Pearlman), is another American youth who has joined the enemy. Same fucking story too. Confused young man from an affluent area of California (surprised?) converts to Islam as a teenager and through a series of whacky misadventures ends up as a terrorist. He is currently one of the most wanted men in the country.

We will see more of these dicks in the future. The same thing happened in the 1970s. Spoiled pencil-neck geeks from the heart of pampered suburbia filled with self-righteous anger at the Western world for not being utopia and seething with hatred at its citizens for not being angels take up arms against the nations that gave them everything. Remember the Weather Underground? (By coincidence a documentary on the 70s era terrorist group just came out on DVD. It's worth watching. I was surprised how often the former members used the word 'cult' to describe the group.) They, along with Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army, were the quintessential examples of this phenomenon. Remember the Red Brigades? The Baeder-Meinhoff Gang? The Japanese Red Army Faction?

It’s largely forgotten now, but in the 70s home-grown Marxist groups waged a low-level terror campaign throughout Europe and the US. Robbed banks, hijacked planes, kidnapped and assassinated the Prime Minister of Italy. Shot up the airport in Rome. Violent clashes with police were a common event. Indeed Germany’s current Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, was caught on camera beating a fallen German cop 25 years ago when he was a radical tough.

The Wraith predicts that over the coming few years you will see more young radical Americans “convert” to Islam as a statement of their radicalism. And it will really shock parents who have grown tolerant of face piercings and tattoos. It’s Radical Chic, 21st Century style. Not all of these dumbasses will become terrorists, just as all of the faux-Marxist posers didn’t build bombs. Many of these people will be as sincere in their Islam as the 70s radicals were in their Marxism, which is to say not at all.

Nevertheless some of them will join the ranks of our enemy. Unlike the 70s, today there is a large, organized, well-funded network of determined terrorist who will sacrifice their lives and the lives of others to kill Americans, the more the better. These weak minded kids, drunk on their own anger, may inadvertently become pawns in schemes far larger and more complex than they can imagine. Islamists will not hesitate to exploit these useful American idiots at every opportunity.

I’ve already linked to a long article about Palestinianism at UC Berkeley, the Mecca for the spoiled and angry. The kaliffa has replaced the Che t-shirt for stylish radical youth. Here’s a great example, laughing it up as he supports Hamas.

Imagine - in order to shock his oh-so-tolerant parents and to out-radical his extremist roommates, Toby, the “nice boy down the street,” will throw out his hacky-sack, his Phish t-shirts and his bong, come home from college and announce that he is now Ahmed Muhammed. He’ll get up early, spread a small rug on the well-maintained and expensive backyard, and pray to Allah, as they do in Qatar, for the destruction of Christians and Jews.
"O Allah, destroy the usurper Jews and the vile Christians. O Allah, destroy the Jews. O Allah, pour your anger on them. O Allah, destroy them."

A great example Palestinianism among American youth

Israel assassinated Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, founder of the terrorist group Hamas, earlier this year. (This is the first photo on the blog. Pretty cool huh?) Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Olympic Watch Update

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Greek PM admits Olympic security problems

That's the first step, right, admitting you have a problem.

Gore vs Gore

What a difference 20 months makes.

"Nevertheless, Iraq does pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf and we should organize an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction. Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power." Gore 9/23/02

But didn't he just scream something about somebody not being a threat? Did I not hear that right?
(quote thanks to Iraq Now)

Bombs Found Near NATO Assemby

The NATO Parliamentary Assmeby (whatever that is) opens in Slovakia tomorrow. Today the police found two time-bombs and another explosive near the site of the assembly.

But all that terror warning stuff is just politics, right?

Call to Prayer Starts Tomorrow in Hamtramck MI

For those who haven't been keeping up with this story, a summary. A mosque in Hamtramch MI, a small city inside Detriot, asked the City Council for an exemption to the noise ordinance to allow them to announce the call to prayer 5 times a day over loudspeakers. The exemption passed unanimously.

Local citizen, understandably pissed off about this, started a petition to force the Council to reconsider. They easily got enough signatures. Early this week they submitted the petition to the City Council. The Council reaffirmed its support for the exemption. Now the issue goes on a city-wide ballot for a vote. In the meanwhile the subject of the exemption in question, the Al-Islah mosque, is supposed to cease from the loudspeaker prayer. Nope. The mosque says it will start the call to prayer over loudspeakers tomorrow.

This should get more attention than it does. Last week the Dept of Justice sided with a 12 year old girl in Oklahoma who wanted to wear the hijad to school despite the fact that the dress code prohibited hat and head covering. Now the call to prayer. Always a exception or an exemption or some for of "special accomdation" for their religion.

Try applying for an exemption to a noise ordinance for a non-religious purpose. Good freaking luck. Try applying for an exemption to the school dress code for a non-religious reason.

To put it plainly - this sucks. Watch for more developments tomorrow.

Palestinian Terrorists Use UN Ambulances - Caught on Tape

Here is a photo of masked gunman using an ambulance as a getaway vehicle. No shit. Apparently Reuters has a video of a similar (or the same) event.

These are the kind of people Israel is fighting. The use of ambulances for military purposes is strictly prohibited by the oft-cited Geneva Convention (as is al Sadr's use of mosques as ammo dumps and snipper's nests). Where's the outrage? Who's planning the protests? Oh, I forgot, no one. It's okay when Islamists break the sacred Convention; it's a moral disaster when we do.
(thanks to little green footballs and watch for the photo link)

Gore Gets Riled Up

First, note to Al: try decaf. You’re gonna blow an O ring with that yelling.

For those who didn’t see the clips of his speech, it was something. The text is available here, but it’s not the same without Al’s voice and self-righteous indignation.

Before I go on I will say that agree with him when he calls for George Tenet to resign as head of the CIA. I’ll go even further. I think Tenet, all his direct reports, and all their direct reports should exit stage left. The CIA is clearly in over it’s head trying to gather intelligence on the Islamo-fascists. I wouldn’t object to disbanding and reorganizing the whole effort. Now on the Gore’s comments.

He was extremely critical of how the administration has handled the War on Jihad. Hello, Pot, this is Kettle. You don’t have to be a bloodthirsty warmonger or even a supporter of the war in Iraq to notice that the Clinton/Gore record fighting al Qaeda was abominable. Al Qaeda bombed two of our embassies in Africa on the same day. Embassy grounds are considered our national soil. They killed American citizens and foreign employees. What did Mr. Angry do? Clinton launched missiles into deserted training camps and bombed an unaffiliated pharmaceutical factory. That’s it.

Then al Qaeda attacked a US naval vessel. They killed 16 American sailors. Clinton/Gore – nothing. Gore was running for president at the time. I don’t remember him even saying that we should do something. He was as silent then as he is vocal now.

These are all clear acts of war under any definition. These were not merely crimes. But neither Clinton nor Gore put forward any response. In his speech yesterday he said, “In my religious tradition, I have been taught that ‘ye shall know them by their fruits’”. Ok, what were the fruits of 8 years of Clinton/Gore: the growth of the largest and best funded anti-American terror group in history, its establishment in a friendly country, the ongoing training of thousands of terrorists, the execution of some of the most elaborate terror attacks up to that time.

When Clinton/Gore took office in 1992, bin Laden was just a Saudi exile living in Sudan; a man whose glory days of jihad seemed behind him. By 2000 when Clinton/Gore left office, bin Laden was the head of a sophisticated, organized and determined terror network closely intertwined with a radical national government, dedicated to waging war on Western civilization. That the fruit, Al.

Bush has certainly made mistakes, but errors of omission are still errors Al. You’re on thin ice on the terror debate. Stick to taxes.

He said the Bush was “stirring up hornet's nests that pose no threat whatsoever to us.” Who exactly never posed a threat to us? The terrorists who killed our ambassador to Jordon in October, 2002, 18 months before the war in Iraq? The terrorist who twice attacked our troops stationed in Saudi Arabia before the war in Iraq?

The Iraqis? Evidence of some level of Iraqi collusion with al Qaeda is increasing. Just this week they discovered that an Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, who was at January 2000 al Qaeda meeting in Malaysia is also listed as a Lieutenant-Colonel in a paramilitary group run by Saddam's son Uday, known as the Fedayeen. He was stationed in the Iraqi Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and worked at the airport. He may have been at the meeting without the knowledge of the Iraqi military. As more documents are translated this will get clearer.

Leaving that aside, Al, here’s the real reason we invaded Iraq. Because we could. Let’s flashback to 1942. The US had just been bombed by Japan in a surprise attack. What was the first country we invaded? Italy? Why? Did Italy pose a direct threat to the US? Hardly. Italy could barely occupy Libya. Did Italy directly support Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor? No. Japan didn’t need Italian support. Do you think Mussolini even knew about it before hand? Unlikely; at least not to the degree required by a criminal trial. So why the hell did we invade Italy? Because we could. It was a strategic move against the Axis powers and it positioned us to fight the Nazis.

But you’ll say, Italy was an ally of Japan. Sure, on paper. But in today’s world nations, especially those involved in terrorism, don’t go out and have press conferences announcing their alliances.

We invaded Iraq, not just because of WMD or because they were breaking UN sanctions. We needed to invade an Arab / Muslim country to frighten the shit out of them. (It worked to some degree with Libya.) We needed to position ourselves to directly threaten other hostile powers: Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia.

The hornets nest didn’t need stirring. The bugs were already swarming.

Did Bush and company fuck up the occupation? It certainly could have gone better. There aren’t enough troops. The plans weren’t clear or well thought out. Communication is for shit. The borders aren’t secure. But our previous efforts, firing missiles into rocks, blowing up unrelated and/or empty buildings, issuing harsh but vague statements but not following through, that just wasn’t working.

If you have a better idea I’d like to hear it. But the option of doing nothing is off the table.

Whiney Babies Whine and Whine Some More

Gas prices too high? I know, let’s take some oil out of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. That’ll lower gas prices.

Hey! Put down that nozzle jerkweed! It’s the Strategic reserve, not the convenience reserve. Think prices are high now? How high will they be if Islamists sabotage the Saudi pipelines? Or over throw the Saudi government? Shit, you will long for the days of $2 gas. You’ll sit around and wax nostalgic for $2.50 a gallon gas when it’s $10 or $20 or it’s being rationed by the government.

The reserve exists to deal with a serve oil crisis, not to lower prices so it’s cheaper to take your girlfriend to the mountains in your Dodge Ram 1500. Get a Prius, bozo.

People sometimes say “we are addicted to oil.” That’s sort of right. But we aren’t addicted like to a recreational drug. We aren’t smacked out of heroine. We aren’t crack junkies or even pot heads. We don’t use oil just because it feels good. We need it. We are addicted to oil like someone addicted with a life-threatening illness is addicted to his medicine. We need oil to live. Literally. Without imported oil, life grinds to a halt. Nothing moves. People die. So suck it up buttercup. It ain’t getting any cheaper.

This is Fucking Serious

Yesterday, the FBI and the Justice Dept made an announcement that there was “credible” intelligence of possible attacks this summer. Everyone who says that this was a political ploy can lean over and kiss my hairy Wraith ass.

We have enemies. These people are dedicated and determined. This is serious shit; it’s not some silly talk-show handjob nonsense. They are not trying to make a political point. They are trying to kill us. They have said so over and over again. They are not hiding their intentions. Why don’t you believe what they say? Do you think the Spanish are laughing? Or the Jordanians? Was that politics?

Jihadis will kill themselves to kill us. Islamist leaders have said that they want to kill 4 million Americans. Why don't people believe them. These men don’t make jokes. There is no fun in Islam.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Welcome to 1915

We are living in the equivalent of early 1915. Let me explain.

I’ve been reading The Great War in Modern Memory. It’s about the profound effect that World War I had on Western culture. It was a watershed event; the end of one era and the beginning of a new one. The war changed the way people write and think and interact. The Western world that existed before the war was destroyed and the modern world as we know it was born. Afterwards, Western consciousness had changed. It didn’t just change the political landscape. It changed the vocabulary, the clothing, and the behavior of Western, and especially European, people. It changed art and literature. No one thought about royalty or religion in the same way as before the war.

The author, Paul Fussell, writes that when the war started, people assumed that the moral and social world of 1914 would continue on after the war. It didn’t. He quotes Hemingway who wrote that words like honor and glory and fatherland are obscene when compared to the list of town destroyed and lives lost. Millions of lives. Fussell says that if Hemingway had tried to express this idea before the war, no one would have known what he was talking about. It was quite literally unthinkable.

Everyone from the Prime Minister to the young volunteer soldier expected a war of cavalry charges and grand Napoleonic battles. What they got was thousands of miles of trenches and barbed wire; a static landscape of mud and rats and artillery barrages. Before the war, Fussell writes, no one had yet put the word machine with the word gun, or the word chemical with the word weapon. The war gave of numerous term of horror and pain: “No Man’s Land”, entrenched, lousy (meaning with lice). The list goes on and on.

Empires fell. Kaisers, czars and sultans were deposed and fled or were executed. As bin Laden laments, the Muslim caliphate was abolished. The war cast the European aristocracy into oblivion. What little remains today is a ruin compared to the mighty edifice of the 19th century. The modern vestiges of this aristocracy are at best ceremonial, at worst tourist attractions. The idea of Progress through Industry was crushed as people witnessed the industrial might of nations turned into weapons that boggled the mind. The horse as a military instrument, a warrior’s companion for millennia, was finished, and replaced by the tank.

I believe that the War on Jihad is similar to the Great War, not in the weapons and tactics, but in the effect it will have on our culture and our consciousness. We all assume that the moral and social universe we inhabit will survive the war intact; that life will be as it was before; that people after the war will be like us – think like us, act like us, use our vocabulary and accept our assumptions. Perhaps they won’t. Perhaps the War on Jihad, like the Great War, will change Western culture in ways we cannot yet foresee or even imagine. Perhaps the War on Jihad will affect not just the way we think about war, the military, and security but also concepts that we consider relatively stable, such as human rights, privacy, the role of religion in society, the moral limits of self-defense. Perhaps the moral and social conditions that will prevail after the war we would today find incomprehensible or even repugnant.

People don’t know they are living in the end of an era until they have passed into the beginning of the new one.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Our Complex Problem 2 - Foreign Troops

“Bringing in more and more varied foreign troops couldn’t hurt. I mean, Iraq needs as many troops as possible to stabilize the situation. And we need more foreign troops to take the heat off of us.” Let’s work with this.

Would more troops make Iraq safer or would they provide the Islamists with more targets? In places where we are confronting a large organized force (Najaf or Fallujah) it seems like the more troops the better. But what about the suicide bomber I wrote about earlier. How do more troops stop him, short of a real police state? More check points? Besides pissing off your average Iraqis and slowing everything down, how does this make Iraq safer? Soldiers at checkpoints do two things: they stop and inspect vehicles and they shoot vehicles that down stop. More checkpoints means more places for a bomber to blow himself up and kill foreign soldiers. And more checkpoints means more opportunities for nervous soldiers to shoot civilians who don’t stop, don’t stop fast enough, behave erratically. Also remember that US troops are the best trained in the world. Would Russian troops do any better? Or Vietnamese? Care to wager on that?

What if we got some Arabic speaking troops into Iraq? Couldn’t they help us get better information from the local people? Arab troops in Iraq? What are you smoking?

It’s certainly possible that more foreign troops in Iraq, courtesy of a fancy UN Security Council resolution, could enhance security. But there’s three issues with this no one talks about:

1] Realistically, the vast majority of any UN sanctioned mission would still be American, The Brits and Italians are already there. Everyone else would provide a token handful of troops.

2] The more governments that are ‘on the ground’ the harder it is to arrange any kind of concerted effort. Wesley Clark writes about this from when he was leading the Kosovo bombing, Each target had to be approved by each member of the coalition. Each target. And that was a bombing campaign. There were no troops on the ground. How do you think such a convoluted command structure would respond to the mutilations in Fallujah? Or the al-Sadr taking over Najaf?

3] Some foreign troops may cause more trouble than they are worth. Much more trouble. First, Iraqis would refuse any troops from Iraq’s traditional enemies, Turkey and Iran. Second, Iraqis, as Muslims, may resist troops seen as anti-Islamic, such as Russia (because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the ongoing Russian war on Chechnya).

Third, some troops may reduce violence in Iraq by ‘exporting’ the violence elsewhere. Hypothetical example: troops from Nigeria or India manning a checkpoint I mentioned earlier, shoot and kill a car filled with Iraqi women who did not stop at the checkpoint (the US shot some women in the last days of the war in this same scenario). News of the accidental shooting spreads around the globe. Both Nigeria and India have restless Muslim minorities. Riots break out in those nations, killing several people. Things can easily spiral out of control. Is it worth destabilizing other nations just to get 1000 soldiers in Iraq and another name in the coalition? (If you think I’m exaggerating remember that there was a riot in Nigeria over a newspaper article about a beauty pageant. You don’t think there would be a riot over Muslim women killed by Nigerian troops. Do a Google search on Muslim Riot India and see what you get. Point being that there are a lot of people looking for an excuse to incite religious riots. And these riots have a way of sparking reprisals. ) In short, foreign troops, just like American troops, will make mistakes and occasionally civilians will get hurt. Imagine Abu Ghraib if the perpetrators were French. How do you think the Muslims in France would react?

Fourth, there’s the possibility of troop on troop violence. Not friendly fire but purposeful killing of one coalition member by another. Think I’m joking? It happened in Kosovo recently. On April 18 a Jordanian peacekeeper killed 3 Americans and wounded 10 others. "He just opened fire on them," Napolitano said in a telephone interview. "It lasted about 10 minutes." Jordan has 120 officers in Kosovo. ” the dead assailant, Ali, is being investigated for connections with Hamas.”

Fifth, there’s the distinct possibility that troops from certain countries may actually sympathize with the Islamist fighter and help them, as illustrated above. Would we actually trust Indonesian troops to help us hunt down jihad warriors? Would you trust Pakistanis to watch the backs of our boys in Najaf? Would you trust them to guard a UN compound? (You may remember how efficient and reliable Pakistanis troops are from watching Black Hawk Down. They brought in the tanks to rescue our Rangers. Didn’t see any tanks did you? Exactly.)

More troops may help but they certainly bring with them a set of risks and they will create problems that we don’t currently face. Remember that when you hear people praising “the multilateral approach” or “consensus building.” Foreign troops are not the panacea that some people make them out to be.

Our Complex Problem 1 - Security and Defending

On an earlier post I wrote that during this election both parties will spout simple answers to complex problems, which is understandable as a vote-getting tactic. People like simple answers and they hate complex problems. So let’s reach into the Simple Answers Box and pull one out, shall we.

How do we stop the violence in Iraq? Answer: make the reconstruction / nation building effort more international. Get a UN Security Council resolution. Bring in more foreign troops from more varied countries. Sounds reasonable, right. Let’s look at some of the ramifications.

First, the UN was in Iraq but jihadis blasted the headquarters and killed, among others, the Special Envoy. Then the UN pulled out. The jihadis have learned a valuable lesson: the UN can be frightened away. Hit them hard enough and they will run. If the UN opens a new HQ, why wouldn’t the jihadis just blast them again? But we’ll have more security to prevent this kind of thing, right? Israel has some of the tightest security on the planet, yet suicide bombers still get through. Iraq’s long desert borders are very difficult to control completely (we can’t control our own borders). We can’t turn Iraq into a police state (actually we could, but that is politically unacceptable). Suicide bombers are very difficult to stop. Bringing in more foreign troops would give the jihadis more varied targets (we look at this later).

Ultimately this problem is larger and more complex than just Iraq or Israel or even our own homeland security. Military technology and the suicide bomber tactic give an advantage to attackers and put defenders at a disadvantage. The problem of attack and defend is an ancient one.

Walled cities, castles, citadels, used to be virtually impregnable. In order to defeat an enemy residing in such formidable location an army would lay siege to the fortresses for a long time, straving them into submission. Years if necessary. (Despite the movie Troy, in the Iliad the Greeks spent 10 years sieging the city and then they only won by trickery). The technology and tactics of warfare favored the defender until the invention of the trebuchet and the catapult and other medieval siege weapons. Basically these hurled heavy projectiles into the stone walls until they crumbled. The siege weapons could be moved. The fortification couldn’t move; they were large stationary targets. The attackers set up the weapon outside the range of the defenders arrows and hurled stone after stone at the fort. Advantage offense. Other evolutions in warfare furthered the offensive advantage. Think of Genghis Khan. His Mongolian horseman conquered thousands of miles of territory in a generation, something undreamed of in earlier times. Why? Something to do with horses, horsemanship, and horse based weaponry. Think of Napoleon’s army slashing across Europe in the first few years of the 19th century.

Flash forward to the First World War. Huge battles fought and tens of thousands of soldiers killed so one side could gain 1000 yards (Napoleon’s troops would march that between snacks). Or more often over nothing; both sides ending where they started. What happened? The invention of the machine gun, barbed wire and improved artillery technology combined with the tactic of fortified trench warfare gave the defenders an advantage. Sixty thousand men would die in a night as they stormed the trenches, caught in the wire, mowed down by machine guns and artillery. Wave after wave. A generation of European youth, drowned in mud and metal. They were using Napoleonic tactics to fight a 20th century war. It didn’t work.

By World War II other technologies, the airplane, the tank, personnel carriers, etc, gave the advantage back to the attackers. Unfortunately the French had spent a fortune developing a system to beat trench warfare, the infamous Maginot Line, a long series of stationary forts. The Germans drove around it and raced right through it. The French were fighting trench warfare in an era of the blitzkrieg. It didn’t work.

Today technology has again combined with tactics to give a powerful advantage to the attacker, this time the suicide bomber. How to stop this is one of the great questions of our time, as the question of how to win trench warfare would have been in 1915. It’s a serious and complex issue. The UN Security Council can’t answer it. Neither can the French or the Germans. I’m not saying that this cannot be solved. I’m saying that we aren’t even facing the real problem. We are asking the wrong question.

Major Media Make up Quotes and Get Caught

The Iraq Now blog caught several major media outlets making up quotes, misquoting the source and producing generally sloppy, misleading reports. He finds fault with the New York Times, Agents France-Press, Reuters, the Independent and two other British rags. Basically they made up a quote from whole cloth (we call that fiction) and misquoted the rest of Major General Mattis's press conference. A great example of just how lazy these reporters are.

Six news sources quoted the General as saying, "Bad things happen in wars" but it appears nowhere in the verbatim transcript. Then they juxtapose other quotes out of context so that it gives the impression he is referring to one thing when in fact he was referrring to another. Sad.

Our Stupid Election Season

This one will be dumber than usual. Both parties will promise easy solutions to very complex problems. This is no different than any election. However, because our problems are more complex they will offer easier solutions. Sometimes they will offer solutions to the wrong problems, treating the symptom instead of the cause. It’s discouraging I know. Even after the past month, the race is basically tied. Here’s my rundown.

Bush: he will curl up into a ball, repeating a few variations on his mantra, “Stay the course. Security. War on Terror. Tax cuts. Stay the course.” From what I can tell his basic strategy is to simply survive until November. Bush will rely on Kerry’s robotic demeanor, his campaign’s general incompetence and hope Nader steals enough votes so that Bush can win by default. Call it the Stamina Strategy. It’s a pitiful, to win by not losing, but so far so good. He could pull a surprise, like appoint a different VP candidate, but surprises require a level of imagination that I doubt is available to the Bushies. They’re largely plodders. But Bush is a ‘disciplined campaigner’, which means he’s good at repeating things over and over without sounding like a too much of a dick. And he has plenty of money. Look for lots of negative ads. Old campaign advice: If you can’t say something good about your candidate say something bad about the other guy. Look for about a million tv ads that boil down to “Things Could Be Worse.” If there’s not another terror attack, his surrogates will try to find a subtle (or not so subtle) way to take credit for it. If there is another terror attack, look for a “Bush Will Get Those Bastards” message and the implication that Kerry doesn’t have what it takes to fight terror, "Another Democrat with no balls."

Kerry: can someone have anti-charisma? This guy makes Gore look like Ashton Kuchner. And he’s dull. He gave a speech criticizing Bush’s ‘Leave No Child Behind’ policy. The Daily Show referred to Kerry’s speech as ‘Leave No Child Awake’. What little personality he has comes off as pompous, stiff and verbose. When he speaks he uses bizarre syntax and takes far too long to make a point. Here’s a good example, about abortion and the Supreme Court:
"I will not appoint somebody with a 5-4 court who's about to undo Roe v. Wade. I've said that before. But that doesn't mean that if that's not the balance of the court I wouldn't be prepared ultimately to appoint somebody to some court who has a different point of view.”
Whaaa? Three negatives? Remember, he said this. People didn’t read it, they heard it. He really talks like that. calls these Kerryisms. And his campaign staff is in constant disarray.

Still, the race is more or less even. Kerry’s strategy is to not make an ass of himself, fly under the press radar and let Bush keep shooting himself in the foot. Call it the Unpopularity strategy. Kerry hopes that Iraq and Administration infighting will bleed Bush to exhaustion, and drive up his negative numbers more than Bush can drive up Kerry’s. Kerry knows he will never be popular but he can be less unpopular than Bush. It’s the political equivalent of a war of attrition and we know how those turn out: everybody loses but one side loses more.

Did I mention Kerry was in Vietnam? I for one have Vietnam fatigue (see earlier posts). He won some medals 30 years ago. What does that have to do with squat? Is Kerry going to reenlist and fight in Afghanistan?

Nader: who votes for this guy? Right now he’s polling 3 or 4 % in some states. That’s enough for Bush to win. I imagine his strategy as a kind of 'Let’s Fuck Everything Up and Hope for the Best' or 'the Worse It Gets The Better Things Will Be'. If Kerry can’t neutralize Nader, it could cost him the election. Nader wants to pull out of Iraq in six months. That could become more popular if things get worse over there (and they will).

It’s going to be quite a comedy. Bush repeating the same 10 words over and over. Kerry taking half an hour to remind you he was in Vietnam and both supported and didn’t support whatever issue is at hand. Nader making sentimental and ludicrous promises. Repeat. Over and over. For the next 5 months.

Sexual Exploitation by Troops, UN Troops

Several bloggers have referred to this story in the British paper The Independent. Young Congoese girls have become prostitutes to UN "peacekeepers" in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Teenage rape victims fleeing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo are being sexually exploited by the United Nations peace-keeping troops sent to the stop their suffering.

The Independent has found that mothers as young as 13 - the victims of multiple rape by militiamen - can only secure enough food to survive in the sprawling refugee camp by routinely sleeping with UN peace-keepers.

Testimony from girls and aid workers in the Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp in Bunia, in the north-east corner of Congo, claims that every night teenage girls crawl through a wire fence to an adjoining UN compound to sell their bodies to Moroccan and Uruguayan soldiers.

Remember, this is the UN, the internationally recognized arbiter of legitimacy and behaviour. Will the same press who flaggelated the US military over the prison scandal castigate the UN over this? Are the lives of these Congoese girls worth less that Iraqis? Is it an atrocity to humiliate an Iraqi man while it is not newsworthy to force a young rape victim into sexual servitude? And there are several other stories like this from other parts of the world. Our troops, dispite there faults, are among the most well-behaved soldiers in the world.

If anyone sees this story in the US press, please leave a comment.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Hijab Not Islamic says Amir Taheri

Readers may know that the Wraith is very anti-hijab. I have long considered the hijab (the hair-covering fabric worn by some so-called devout Muslim women) an offensive politcal symbol. A recent article about the hijab controversy in France mentioned that the French refer to the hijab as "the flag on the head." This article from scholar and biographer Amir Taheri says that the hijab was invented in the 1970s for political reasons. Here are some quotes:

"Muslim women, like women in all societies, had covered their head with a variety of gears over the centuries. These had such names as lachak, chador, rusari, rubandeh, chaqchur, maqne'a, and picheh among others.

All had tribal, ethnic and generally folkloric origins and were never associated with religion. (In Senegal, Muslim women wear a colourful headgear against the sun, while working in the fields, but go topless.)

Muslim women could easily check the fraudulent nature of the neo-Islamist hijab by leafing through their family albums. They will not find the picture of a single female ancestor of theirs who wore the cursed headgear now marketed as an absolute "must" of Islam.

This fake Islamic hijab is nothing but a political prop, a weapon of visual terrorism. It is the symbol of a totalitarian ideology inspired more by Nazism and Communism than by Islam. It is as symbolic of Islam as the Mao uniform was of Chinese civilisation. It is used as a means of exerting pressure on Muslim women who do not wear it because they do not share the sick ideology behind it. It is a sign of support for extremists who wish to impose their creed, first on Muslims, and then on the entire world through psychological pressure, violence, terror, and, ultimately, war. The tragedy is that many of those who wear it are not aware of its implications."

Think about this the next time you see the hijab (and if you look for it you'll see one soon enough).

The whole article is here.
Amir Taheri: Islamic headgear is not essential

Sunday, May 23, 2004

This Sort of Thing Doesn't Happen in America, Does It?

Anti-Semitism is alive and well but not in places where you might expect it. Only ignorant, trailer-trash skinheads are anti-Semites these days, right? Like Ed Norton in American History X. Sorry kids. Anit-Semitism's home is now among the so-called highly educated. like at University of California Berkeley. Here's an article about it. East Bay Express - Berkeley Intifada, As students embrace the Palestinian ...

Berkeley, the site of such highly intellectual signs as

"It's the Jews, stupid", "Israel lovers are the Nazis of our time", "Die, Juden" and the classic "FUCK JEWS" and statements like, 'Are you a Jewgirl?' and chants of "Allahu akbar".

This is one of a handful of the elite public universities in the nation.

Wedding is Bullshit says Army

Yahoo! News - U.S. Says No Evidence of Wedding at Site: Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, coalition deputy chief of staff for operations, showed slides of military binoculars, guns and battery packs that could be used to trigger roadside bombs found by U.S. troops at the site.

"'There was no evidence of a wedding: no decorations, no musical instruments found, no large quantities of food or leftover servings one would expect from a wedding celebration,' he said. 'No gifts. The men were almost all of military age.' "

Plus they found a Sudanese passport. That's a long way to travel for a 'clan wedding' in the desert.

Long Hot Summer Update

Will Islamists try to do to our elections what they did to Spain's? Some people think it is a serious possibility. There's more from US News and World Report. Suspicions about a new terrorist attack have U.S. spies scrambling (5/31/04)

Friday, May 21, 2004

More Bombs in Turkey and Italy

More bombs found in Istanbul, this time near a McDonald's. Bombs also defused outside a McDonald's in Rome. Coincidence? News 24 Houston | 24 Hour Local News | HEADLINES | McDonald's targeted in bomb incidents in Turkey, Italy

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Victims of Saddam's Regime - The Mass Graves

If you haven't seen this site before you should. It's 56 pages of photos with little or no commentary. The pictures say it all. Iraqi Sites Guide - The Mass Graves

Christopher Hitchens on Michael Moore

I was flipping channels last night when I ran across the always delightful Christopher Hitchens on MSNBC. (For those of you unfamiliar with Hitchens, he's a British political journalist and writer for Vanity Fair and, generally from the Left, but after 9/11 he became a staunch anti-jihad figure. Concerning Islamist terrorists, he once said in the New York Times, "You want to die for jihad? I'm here to help.") He's witty and mean and well-educated. First, he mauled the hapless Bianca Jagger, chewed her up and spit out the gristle. Then the host asked him about filmmaker Michael Moore, currently wallowing in French applause at the Cannes film festival for his anti-Bush conspiracy flick.

Hitchens called Moore "a promiscuous opportunist" before lunging after his real target, his European fans. His voice dripping with irony and contempt, he said, "As a sophisticated European, I must say that the joke is on the sophisticated Europeans who think Americans are fat, stupid, vulgar and ambitious and have chosen as their spokesman someone who embodies all these traits."

You gotta love this guy.

Olympic Bomb Watch (yes again)

The Command Post links to this story. It looks like a bomb was found undera car at a Land Rover dealership near Athens Greece. Here's the Reuters link: Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Rocket Launcher Found Near Ga. Station

First they found the 'military flare' wired to a cell phone in a men's room at the Atlanta airport. (They still haven't arrested anybody for that.) Now they find a 'rocket launcher' on a train track eight miles from the airport. But don't worry, there is no cause for alarm. Yet. Yahoo! News - Rocket Launcher Found Near Ga. Station

Sarin Update

Further testing has confirmed the sarin artillary shell. Two troops exposed to the gas showed symptoms of nerve gas but are not seriously hurt and are back on duty. The Command Post has a good definition of this kind of binary shell. The reason these men aren't dead is that the shell was not fired by artllery. When fired from artillery the shell spins and heats up causing the two chemicals (the binary part) to mix and form sarin. When the shell exploded by the side of the road not enough of the chemicals mixed to cause a lethal dose.

But the interesting news is here: AlterNet: Iraq's Weapons Are Past Expiration Date Alternet, a leftist ant-war website, had this to say about Iraqi chemical weapons on May 8, 2003: According to Ritter, the chemical weapons which Iraq has been known to possess – nerve agents like sarin and tabun – have a shelf life of five years, VX just a bit longer. But the truth of the matter is that Iraq’s WMD may have even less of a shelf life than Ritter now claims – and the U.S. government knows it.

That would place this shell in the 1999-2003 range (assuming it was not manufactured in the past year). It gets even more interesting. The US didn't even think Iraq had binary weapons like this. Ever. The Iraqis had a small number of bastardized binary munitions in which some unfortunate individual was to pour one ingredient into the other from a Jerry can prior to use. These guys are against the war. They have no reason to exaggerate.

The website had this to say about Iraqis use of sarin.
While they had not mastered the art of manufacturing binary munitions in which the mixing of the precursors occured on firing at the time of the invasion of Kuwait, they had developed a simple process for generating the agent immediately before use: a warhead or shell would be given a partial fill of isopropanal (and often cyclohexanol, a precursor for the related nerve agent GF, sometimes known as cyclosarin) and stored along with plastic containers of methylphosphonic difluoride (DF). Shortly before the munition was to be used an Iraqi soldier would be provided with a gas mask and would pour an appropriate amount of the DF into the munition.

So no one thought the Iraqis possessed binary chemical artillery technology. Either this is the first evidence of a more advanced Iraqi chemical weapons program that previously imagined or, more ominously, this shell is not Iraqi. Which would be worse?

The Meaninglessness of "Vietnam"

Marge: This is the worst thing you've ever done.
Homer: You say that so much it's lost all its meaning.

This is essentially how I feel about the Vietnam analog, as in the oft-used phrase "It's another Vietnam." For people my age and especially younger, everything has always been "another Vietnam." When I was in high school, El Salvador and Nicaragua were going to be another Vietnam. The 1991 Gulf War was to be another Vietnam. As was Afghanistan; it had already been Russia's Vietnam and it was Vietnam for the British Empire in the 19th century before Vietnam was even Vietnam for America (if that makes any sense). And of course, Iraq is now yet another Vietnam. (Here's a test. Google "Vietnam" and "Iraq" and you get nearly 4 million hits. Google "Vietnam" and "Cambodia", it's next door neighbor and a country Vietnam invaded, and you get less than 3 million hits.) As Homer said, You say that so much it's lost all its meaning.

Why is every war or conflict always inevitably compared to Vietnam? Two reasons.
1. The Boomers and Vietnam. Members of the Baby Boomer generation are power holders in the Old Media, tv, radio, and print, and Boomers are obsessed with the Vietnam War. It was the foreign policy event that defined their political consciousness. (The corollary domestic event is the Civil Rights Movement. These two struggles also gives them icons of heroism, JFK, MLK, RFK, and villainy, Nixon. Note that Clinton and now Kerry seek JFK comparisons and one of the anti-Bush best sellers is called "Worse Than Watergate.") Vietnam is much more than just a symbol of defeat for the Boomers in the media. It is the Worst Case Scenario, the Heart of Darkness. (Just as the Civil Rights Movement is beyond reproach as the Just Cause.) Since the Boomers have no positive foreign events to balance against Vietnam and since the Civil Rights Movement had no real foreign policy implications, the tendency is to view every overseas exercise of American power as Vietnam until proven otherwise. Remember the invasion of Afghanistan? The New York Times used the word "quagmire", Boomer code for Vietnam, to describe our situation in Afghanistan 12 days after the invasion began. Twelve days. Similar comparisons were made when our troops were stopped by a sandstorm during the invasion of Iraq. This was in the first two weeks.

The prison abuse scandal has brought out the full arsenal of Vietnam comparisons. The "My Lai Massacre". The grainy black and white photos of prisoners shot point blank, the naked girl fleeing napalm. "Unwinnanble." Anything less than a nearly instant and miraculous victory with zero civilian casualities and no criminal abuses by any military personnel brings forth the V word. In other words, to Boomers Vietnam is war.

2. Our lack of historical memory. The historical memory of Americans is about a week and a half. Millions of people have only the vaguest idea of life prior to cell phones, internet porn, and Friends. (the humanity!) We compare every military event to Vietnam because it really all most American's know of warfare. September 11 is often compared to Pearl Harbor but that's the extent of our collective memory of World War Two defeats (and, fortuitously, a Ben Affleck vehicle came out just months prior to 9/11, impressing millions of teenagers with the idea of horrible surprise attacks). We've seen Saving Private Ryan and some WWII documentaries of the History Channel but WWII is largely a black and white blur: bombers, Churchill, beach landings, the mushroom cloud, and we win, the end. The setbacks and the long horrible battles are not remembered by the man on the street. No one compares Iraq to Okinawa or Guadalcanal. No one compares Hussein to Mussolini or Iraq to Fascist Italy, which is a more apt comparison I think. (I'm reminded of another Simpsons episode. The school year ends and all the children rush out of the school. The history teacher stands in the doorway waving the history textbook. "But you don't know how World War Two ends!" he yells. The kids stop and turn around. "We won!" And the kids skip home to chants of "U-S-A!")

One example of this lack of historical memory was especially evident during one particular episode on the anti-Zionist left. In 2002 after the Israeli army moved into the West Bank to stop repeated suicide bombers who had caused hundreds of Israeli civilian casualties, certain Leftist referred to the Palestinian city of Jenin as "Jeningrad." Whether this comparison was meant to evoke the 900-day Nazi siege of Leningrad or the Battle of Stalingrad, which cost almost 2,000,000 lives, was unclear, even I think to the Leftists themselves. (The UN says 52 Palestinians were killed. Israel says 26 Israeli soldiers were killed.) In anti-Zionist demonology Israel is often compared to the Nazis, making "Jeningrad" even more absurd since the Nazis withdrew from Leningrad in defeat and an entire German army was surrounded and surrendered at Stalingrad, whereas the Israelis accomplished their mission and left Jenin on their terms. But these nuances don't matter to the anti-Zionists. "Jeningrad" just sounds sinister, man.

Americans don't generally think in historical terms to times beyond living memory much less to before television footage. (That's why there are so many WWII documentaries and so few of wars before that. What would we look at? Still photots? Paintings? Maps? Yuck?) Who would think to compare Fallujah to Verdunne or the siege of Vienna or Najaf to Vicksburg or Chickamauga? Who compares Iraq to Korea, with Iran and Syria playing the roles of the USSR and China? I'm not saying these are comparisons that I agree with (they're not) but who would think to make them and who would understand what they meant? News consumers don't want to have to look up what the hell things mean. They need quick and clear comparisons. They need shorthand. Hence the V-word.

Well, enough is e-fucking-nough. If you want to say Iraq is going badly, compare it to the Union at Second Bull Run or the Confederates at Gettysburg. Compare it to Gallipoli (it was a Mel Gibson movie after all). If you think the prison scandal is an atrocity compare it to the British internment camps during the Boer War or the Confederate POW prison at Andersonville. But stop comparing everything to Vietnam: you say that so much it's lost all its meaning.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace

"Find what strength you have to terrorize your enemy and the enemy of God" - Yasser Arafat on Palestinain TV, May 15 2004

Long Hot Spring

Bombs Jangle Nerves Hours Before Blair Turkey Trip

Call me an alarmist. Call me a pessimist. Call me a glass-is-half-empty kind of guy, but when you call me that, duck to avoid the flying debris and shattered glass. Last week I posted the events that will make our long hot summer, and one of them, the NATO summit wil be held in Istanbul. Well, it looks like Turkey, surprise surprise, did not quite catch all the mad bomber jihadis, yet. (But their top men are on it. Who? Top men.)

Blair flew to Turkey for a six hour tour, a six hour tour, and 4, count 'em, 4 bombs exploded at British owned banks. (No one was hurt.) A welcoming gift and a reminder from the same fun crowd that devastated a British bank, the British consulate and a synagogue last year. Now you know why Tony's trip is not the two day excursion originally planned.

Don't worry about the Islamists, though. They aren't that many of them. They're just well-organized, have access to bombs and can plant them apparently at will.

"Why can't you watch this?" asks 14 year old

Three teachers suspended over execution images Why not indeed?

One teacher played an audio tape and showed still photos of Berg's decapitation. Another permitted students to view the video on a computer. The third gave the students the Web address where they could watch it, presumably after school. He was put on leave.

This is why I'm not a teacher. We can't show high-school students who we are fighting. We can't show them the nature of our enemy. We can show them horrible car accidents in drivers' ed class. They can watch historic violence from past generations, WWII films and Holocaust footage, but God forbid! they would see an American only a few years older than themselves murdered last week because, well, just because. These actions may have "violated policies barring the display of unsuitable material in the classroom."

WMD Update 2

I love Yahoo's understated healine - Sarin-Filled Munitions in Iraq Worry U.S. No shit! It's freaking nerve gas!

But I thought David Kay said that Iraq didn't have stockpiles of chemical weapons. "Kay, in a phone interview with The Associated Press, said he doubted the shell or the nerve agent came from a hidden stockpile, although he didn't rule out that possibility." Not from a hidden stockpile, then from where?

It was unclear whether those responsible for the attack knew it was a conventional or chemical round, the official said. The 155-mm shell did not have markings to indicate it contained a chemical agent, the official added.

Let's review that again. The shell did not have markings to indicate it contained a chemical agent. So, either there are an unknown number of unmarked shells mixed in with tens of thousands or millions of conventional shells and these Baathist thugs just happened to stumble on one, or they know how to identify them and planted this one on purpose.

Then there's this classic piece of AP prose. "The existence of a sarin-filled munition thus could become the first indication that Saddam's regime had not destroyed all banned weapons." I like the "could". Under this logic the pictures from Abu Grieb could become the first indication of prisoner mistreatment.

WMD Update

Sarin, Mustard Gas Discovered Separately in Iraq
Sarin is a nerve agent. Mustard gas was made infamous by its use in WWI. Where the hell did this stuff come from? Either,a) from stockpiles that were in Iraq or b) from outside the country. Either way, this is evidence of a small vindication for the administration (though perhaps so late as to be meaningless). I suspect there will be more of this to come.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Shariah TV - in Britian

This is not a joke. Channel 4, a prominent British tv channel, has a program titled Shariah TV. (thanks to LGF)

I happen to be listening to a radio interview with members of Monty Python, which is creating a kind of cognitive dissonance. Shariah TV sounds sooo much like an old Python skit that I can almost remember it. I don't know whether to laugh or run screaming.

Why You Should Never

Put Your Face on the Internet. This website gets funnier as you scroll down. (thanks to Instapundit)

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Wars for Oil

Iraq was definitely a war for oil. I remember the signs, "No blood for oil". No wait, I'm getting it mixed up with the war in Afghanistan. That was a war for oil. Hold it, they were both wars for oil. Man, this is getting confusing. Wasn't the war in Kosovo a war for oil? I get that confused with the NATO troops who are in Macedonia for the oil. And the invasion of Somalia, that was for oil. Don't forget the first Gulf War, also for oil. Ok, so after a decade of wars for oil, it must be, like, cheap? Plus, the Saudis made that not-so-secret deal with 'oil barons' Bush and Cheney to keep prices down during the election year. So oil's like, a nickel a gallon. Right?

Holy shit! Oil's not cheap. Oil prices hit a record today. Dude! somebody lied to me. When I find that guy...

"Tourists Looking Through Telescopes"

That's how a reporter with the British newspaper The Spectator describes the tv reporters in Iraq.
Iraq is so dangerous now that hardly any television journalists venture out of the Al-Hamra or the Palestine Hotel, where lager and post-barbecue spliffs help relieve the tension of being in a war zone. There are insurance problems and the brooding, ex-SAS bodyguards forbid any excursions. The dirty little secret is that the endless ‘stand-ups’ you see on your screens are based on no reporting at all. Into this journalistic vacuum it is all too easy for the prejudices of the press corps — tourists looking through telescopes — to flow more freely than ever and the resulting reports to be distorted and incomplete
And what are those prejudices you ask. While sitting around the pool he has a discussion with a US reporter.
Not only had she ‘known’ the Iraq war would fail but she considered it essential that it did so because this would ensure that the ‘evil’ George W. Bush would no longer be running her country. Her editors back on the East Coast were giggling, she said, over what a disaster Iraq had turned out to be. ‘Lots of us talk about how awful it would be if this worked out.’

Dirty Bomb Watch 2

Some people may think I'm an alarmist nutbag with the Dirty Bomb Watch. Well, perhaps the story of the Radioactive Boy Scout will change your mind.

In 1995 a 17 year old high school student attempted to make nuclear device in a shed in his mother's back yard. Using information from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, he compiled the americium-241 from 100 broken smoke detectors and the lithium from a thousand batteries to build a "neutron gun" in an attempt to make uranium-233. It failed. But he didn't give up. Next, he tried to make a "radium gun." He collected the radium from old clocks he found in antique shops and junkyards. This too failed. Again the kid didn't give up.

He got an idea from an old physics textbook. He combined the americium-241 with the radium and a few other elements, wrapped them in aluminium foil and duct tape. No one had any idea that he had build a crude breeder reactor in the backyard. It only ended when the boy himself got worried about his "experiment". It was getting really hot and giving off radiation. The backyard shed required a $140,000 SuperFund clean up effort.

But I mean terrorists wouldn't think of this, right? I mean that was 9 years ago. Terrorist aren't as smart as a high school boy scout. They couldn't build a device just a little more efficient, one that gave off a little more radiation and a little less heat. They couldn't build it in a rented house near an airport or a mall or in an apartment building in a densely populated neighborhood of a large city. They couldn't turn on the device, leave town, and pay the rent through the internet from Riyadh. Surely someone would clue in. Surely someone would notice men buying lots of smoke detector and batteries and old clocks. Surely some government agency is tracking unusual radiation levels in US cities. Surely secret agents would swoop down and bust open the doors and stop this before people started getting radiation poisoning.

Of course the would dear reader. And stop calling me Shirley.

David Letterman, Political Strategist

Gas prices are up, the stock market is down, Iraq is a mess, and John Kerry is saying to himself, 'How am I going to beat this guy?' - David Letterman, Monday night.

This is from a USAToday article about the Kerry campaign. I posted similar thoughts earier. The fact that the race is basically tied after the past few weeks is probably the only bright spot in Bush's life right now.

Denial is Now a River in Greece

Another bombing in Athens. (This is the second in two days.) A separate bomb at a British bank was found before it exploded. This is very similar to the 3 explosions last week at an Athens police station, but this time someone claimed credit. The group called 'Revolutionary Struggle' (very creative) warned "wealthy Western Olympic tourist" and said the Games were a "war."

But don't worry. The Greek government isn't. Last Friday, a Greek Minister dismissed the police station bombing as "meaningless."

Makes you wonder what he considers meaningful.

"Measuring Distance in Kilograms"

This is from Those Who Forget the Past: The Question of Anti-Semitism quoting Ali Salem, an Egyptian playwright, on hatred:
It's very difficult to understand the machinery of hatred, because you wind up resorting to logic, but trying to understand this with logic is like measuring distance in kilograms.
I highly recommend this book, an anthology of essays about contemporary anti-Semitism. The next time you're in a bookstore, get a cup of coffee and just read the introduction. It's easily worth a twenty minutes of your time.

Long Hot Summer

Let's look ahead to some prominent events that may be targets for terror attacks or other forms of organized violence. All of these events will see tens of thousands of protesters and will receive global media coverage. All of these events are perfect for assassination attempts.

June 8-10, the G8 Summit in Savannah GA - This is a meeting of the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the US. In addition, this year the EU will be represented by President of the European Commission the President of the European Council. Wow, what a tasty target for nearly anybody. It's almost too tempting. I mean, any armed group wants to kill one or more of these guys. Plus, the rather small city will be overrun with media and protesters. I don't think anything will happen though. The meeting is offshore and the Coast Guard and other military/security organizations have been working hard to protect this one. The chances of some organized violence in town, similar to the Seattle events in 1999, are higher.

June 28-29, the NATO Summit, Istanbul Turkey - This is a juicy one, even more tempting than the G8 because of the location. Bush, Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac and at least 12 other Western leaders will attend. Don't forget, the Islamists hate Chirac for the French ban on the hijab in public schools. It's not like they are fond of any Western leader for that matter. Earlier this month Turkey foiled one plot to bomb the summit. But that was probably it, right? I mean, they caught the one and only. Didn't they? But don't look for any Western style protests here. The Turks don't take that shit.

July 26-29, the Democratic National Convention, Boston MA - Obviously a media spectacle. One building filled with every important Democrat in the nation: governors, senators, congressional representatives, celebrity leftists, and thousands of more or less ordinary people. Twenty-four hours news coverage from the biggest names in the business. If you're an Islamist hoping to get an attack caught on video and shown across the globe, this is a rare opportunity. Look for some classic protests. This is a college town after all so expect the full-on protest freakshow. Guys on stilts wearing Ariel Sharon masks. Giant puppets. Maybe some effegy-burning. My favorite Stalinist group, ANSWER, plans a protest on Sunday July 25, part one of their two-city tour against the "Twin Parties of the War Machine". (isn't that an old Iron Maiden album?)

August 13-29, the Olympic Games, Athens Greece - The Mother of All Targets, a terrorist wet dream. And as a bonus, it's in Greece, a notoriously disorganized country boarding two Muslim nations. Financially and population-wise Greece is the smallest nation ever to host the Games. Can the jihadis pass this up? Things have changed since 1972 and I don't think it will be as easy as it was then. (To see just how simple it was for the PLO to murder 2 Israeli atheletes and take 9 others hostage watch the Academy Award winning film One Day in September The PLO pretty much just walked right into the Israelis' rooms. Unbelievable but true.) However the cost-benefit ratio of almost any attack is in the terrorists favor. There will be so many cameras in town that even a simple car bomb that doesn't hurt anyone has a good chance of being caught on video and broadcast worldwide about a million times. This is a great opportunity for villians to spread panic and get publicity if nothing else.

August 30-September 2, the Republican National Convention, NYC - Holy shit! GWB, Cheney, every important Republican, perhaps Bush Sr. And it's in New York. What more can you say? You could hardly pick a worse location from a security standpoint unless the convention was in Cairo. Even the police will protest in front of the convention. If the Democratic protest goes well, look for a little NYC-Boston rivalry to kick in and for the New Yorkers to up the ante. Bigger puppets! More masks! Rhyming chants! ANSWER is back for this one, part two of the War Machine tour, Sunday August 29. (They seem to like Sundays. I guess they have to be back busing tables at the vegan breakfast joint on Monday morning or maybe at an 8am Anti-Colonialism seminar at Columbia or just getting high in Mom's basement and listening to Das Kapital on tape.)

Stay tuned kids. It's a long hot summer indeed.

Media Double Standard Watch 2

This is from the Boston Globe.
Poor Nick Berg. The anybody-but-Bush crowd isn't going to rush to publicize his terrible fate with anything like the zeal it brought to the abused prisoners story. CBS and The New Yorker couldn't resist the temptation to shove the Abu Ghraib photos into the public domain -- and the rest of the media then made sure the world saw them over and over and over. But when it comes to video and stills of Al Qaeda murderers severing Berg's head with a knife and brandishing it in triumph for the camera, the Fourth Estate is suddenly squeamish.
I want to remind you that this editorial is from the Boston freaking Globe, a notoriously liberal newspaper, the biggest paper in the capital of a notoriously liberal state. This is John Kerry's hometown paper. It continues.
(T)he CBS News website continues to offer a complete "photo essay" of naked Iraqi men being humiliated by Americans in a variety of poses. But the video of Berg's beheading, CBS says, "is too gruesome to show." No other network and no newspaper that I have seen shows the gory pictures, either.

What exactly is the governing rule here? That incendiary images sure to enrage our enemies and get more Americans killed should be published while images that show the world just how evil those enemies really are should be suppressed? Offensive and shocking pictures that undermine the war effort should be played up but offensive and shocking pictures that remind us why we're at war in the first place shouldn't get played at all?

Yes, Virginia, there really is a gaping media double standard. News organizations will shield your tender eyes from the sight of a Berg or a Daniel Pearl being decapitated, or of Sept. 11 victims jumping to their deaths, or of the mangled bodies on the USS Cole, or of Fallujans joyfully mutilating the remains of four lynched US civilians. But they will make sure you don't miss the odious behavior of Americans or American allies, no matter how atypical that misbehavior may be or how determined the US military is to uproot and punish it.
And it's not like people don't want to see the unedited images. The site with the video that I linked to earlier actually went down due to the flood of hits. Yesterday blogs by Andrew Sullivan, Instapundit and Little Green Footballs all reported record hits. Little Green Footballs claims that the search terms that led to those hits indicate that people were looking for the video or images from it.

I don't think that CBS, CNN or the rest of big media will change their so-called editorial policies, but it is nice to know that I'm not alone in seeing this double standard.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Remains, Martyrs, and the Unclean

Israeli forces are battling Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, attempting to recover body parts of soldiers killed yesterday. From the New York Times
A caller to a Gaza City radio talk show today said: "Look, our martyrs smell so beautiful, but their body parts — they stink. It's because they are criminals." The caller was identified as "Mahmoud, father of a martyr."
Don't dismiss this caller as a nutbag similar to the kind of people who call radio shows in the U.S. He is expressing a theological view of the uncleanliness non-Muslim bodies supported by Ayatollah Khomeini.
The whole body of a non-Muslim is unclean, even his hair, his nails, and all the secretions of his body. The body, saliva, nasal secretions, and prespiration of a non-Muslim man or woman who converts to Islam automatically become pure. As for their garments, if they were in contact with the sweat of the body before conversion, they will remain unclean.

This is remarkable for its rigorous irrationality. Note the attention to detail regarding pre-convertion clothing. Once you accept the premise then the rest follows. We are not fighting crazy people. They have an elaborate world-view, one in which you dear reader, and your sweaty clothes, are filthy.

The Deeper Difference

Rather than regurgitate another civics lesson about the democracy and the rule of law, I want to focus on a deeper difference between the abuse of prisoners and the beheading of Nicholas Berg. As far as I can tell, no soldier at Abu Ghraib ever shouted the Lord's Prayer while hitting a prisoner. No soldier ever justified his or her behavior by appealing to Moses or David or Jesus or Peter. I don't believe any soldier cried out John 3:16 while striking anyone or claimed he was defending Christendom (a word we almost never use anymore).

Contrast that with the video of Berg's murder and the text on the website that hosted it. The text itself mentioned "Allah" at least 11 times, "Islam" and "Muslim" 8 times each, and quoted the Koran at least once, "O you the prophet incited the believers to the fight." (I think that is 8:65 also translated as "O Prophet! urge the believers to war".)

Contrast that to the five hooded men on the video screaming, not yelling or shouting but screaming, "Allahu Akbar" while they sawed into Berg's neck.

That is the difference.

"The Good, the Bad, and the Media"

Online editorial cartoonists Cox and Forkum once again hit the nail on the head.

Media Double Standard Watch

I'm not alone in seeing a double standard in the media regarding graphic images.

Andrew Sulivan wants to start an internet campaign against it.

InstaPundit writes Publishing images that might inflame Arabs against Americans is responsible journalism. So is not publishing images that might inflame Americans against Arabs.

Exactly. More to come.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Israeli Body Parts Held Hostage by Terrorists

Hamas and Islamic Jihad are holding the dismembered body parts of Israeli soldiers, hoping to exchange them for Palestinians in Israeli jails. From the Jerusalem Post:
Arab television stations al-Manar, al-Jazeera, al-Arabia, and Abu Dhabi, as well as foreign networks, broadcast footage of masked, armed Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists parading the streets of Gaza displaying body parts of the dead soldiers.... Al-Jazeera showed Islamic Jihad members holding up the head of one of the soldiers.
This is the second story where Islamist thugs have displayed the dismembered parts of their enemies. Coincidence? What motivates such behaviour? It's one thing to kill an enemy. That is to be expected. But to gleefully fondle dismembered parts of their bodies is beyond my comprehension.

CNN Edits Quotes

Note CNN's ongoing story here. CNN quotes extensively from the tape and the web statement but they do not tell you that the murders screamed “Allahu Akbar!” — “God is great” as they cut Berg's throat. Why not?

You can register your displeasure with CNN here.

Nicholas Berg, 26, Beheaded by Jihad

A video of his murder was posted to an Islamist website. Berg is show on his knees with his hands bound behind him while one of five masked men claiming to be terrorist Abu Mus'ad Al Zarqawi reads a long statement. As they murder Nicholas Berg, the men scream in Arabic, “Allahu Akbar!” — “God is great.” They then hold his head up for the camera.

The Northeast Intelligence Network has a translation of text from that website. Here are some quotes:
Then you kill the polytheists where you find them and you take them and count them and place them where they can be seen.

And you see the slaughter, your fighting brothers suspend the head of this unbeliever on one of Baghdad bridges so that they teach a lesson to others from the infidels and serves as a witness to the honour of the Muslims.
The Northeast Intelligence Network links to the actual, unedited video but warns that It is a gruesome video, and will almost certainly offend you and make you angry. As it should.

This entire thing plays out just like the Daniel Pearl murder in Pakistan. The statement he read about his mother and father and where he was from, the video camera, and of course the method of execution.

Nicholas Berg was not a soldier or a member of the armed services. He was 26 years old.

A Lesson in Complexity

To demonstrate how complex the Middle East is, let's take a common, even mundane occurrence and unpack all the different players and motives.

Hezbollah shells or fires rockets into northern Israel. It's so common that it hardly makes the news. I know what you're thinking, 'another guerilla attack on Israel, how freaking complicated is that. Aim and shoot. Done deal'

Hezbollah isn't just a terrorist group. It's a Shiite religious movement and "the largest and most prominent political party in Lebanon." (Imagine if the Republican Party merged with the Baptist church and fired rockets into Canada.) Why is Hezbollah attacking Israel, when a May 2000 U.N. report certified that Israel had withdrawn entirely from Lebanon (in compliance with U.N. Resolution 425)?

Syria has occupied Lebanon since the 1970s. The Lebanese government is a puppet of the Syrian dictatorship.
By the year 2003, approximately 30,000 Syrian troops and 25,000 intelligence members were deployed in Lebanon (that is 1 Syrian soldier for every 50 Lebanese).
The Syrian regime is passively approving if not actively encouraging Hezbollah in the intermittent shelling/rocket campaign against Israel.

But wait, there's more. Where does Hezbollah get it's money and supplies? Iran. Iran created Hezbollah in the aftermath of the Lebanese civil war and Israeili invasion in the early 1980s and continues funding and supplying the group to this day. Hezbollah receives “substantial amounts of financial, training, weapons, explosives, political, diplomatic, and organizational aid from Iran and Syria,” the State Department reports.

So every time Hezbollah shells Israel it is with the support and approval or on the outright orders of Syria and/or Iran. This is just one little example of one type of event, and a rather simplified example at that. Stay tuned.

Indigenous Europeans Dying Out

That's not alarmist rhetoric, just demography. It's called negative momentum.
In Europe, where older generations are larger than younger ones, negative momentum arises as subsequent generations have fewer potential mothers. Thus, even if women begin having more children, a tendency to decline can persist for decades, simply because there are fewer women of childbearing age.
"Negative momentum has not been experienced on a large scale in world history so far. It is now like sailing against a current running toward population shrinkage and aging."
Not only are women having fewer children but they are having them later in life. Thus the indigenous European population shirks dramatically over the next several decades.
Perhaps we should put Swedes and Italians on the endangered species list.

UK Islamists Threaten British Lord

This wouldn't be news except that the man in question is Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, the first Muslim in the House of Lords. He has had two 'official' death threat issued against him in that ever-popular form, the fatwa. Why would jihadis want to kill a high-ranking Muslim? What on earth did this guy do?
The first fatwa against Lord Ahmed is understood to have come at an al-Muhajiroun meeting after he was declared guilty of apostasy, abandoning his faith, a crime which is punishable by death.

Well, apostasy is a serious crime for Islamists. The guy must be bad.
Lord Ahmed has openly called for Islamic militants, such as Abu Hamza and Omar Bakri, to be kicked out of the UK and has also been an outspoken critic of the teaching in some mosques around the country. He called for imams to be tested in English language and culture and said many clerics were preaching extremism.

This lead Bakri to issue the second fatwa last week. You might remember Bakri as the sheikh encouraging the now infamous Butt-Martyr, Hassan Butt. Bakri has a thing for dead Muslim men, either by their own hand or by his. (thanks to DhimmiWatch)

Is Assassination Al-Qaeda's Next Tactic?

The Northeast Intelligence Network thinks so. They monitor and translate Islamist communications including on-line magazines and message boards.
Al Qaeda has been highly focused on assassinations in recent weeks, with articles by Saudi Al Qaeda leader Abu Hajir Abdul Aziz Al Moqrim outlining the techniques to be used in a successful assasination. Based on the extensive coverage given to this topic, it is likely that there will be additional assassinations in the near future. The death of Chechyan rebel leader Abu Al Walid several weeks ago was memorialized in Voice of Jihad, and in that article the author vowed that Al Qaeda would seek revenge against the Chechyan leaders for Abu Walid's death.

Of course assassination doesn't have to mean Hollywood style high-powered rifle stuff. The Chechyan President was killed with a land mine planted in the stadium where he sat. The bombing of the UN HQ in Iraq last summer killed the UN top envoy. Was that assassination by truck bomb? In effect if not intent. You have to admit it's both frightening and cost effective - use large explosions to kill political leaders (and anybody nearby). We should look for more of this in the near term.

Al-Sadr to Brits: You're Mine, Bitch

Sheikh Abdul-Sattar al-Bahadli, Muqtada al-Sadr's top aid in Basra, the southern city controlled by British forces, offered rewards for capturing and killing British soldiers. Then he told his followers at Friday prayer that
“Any Iraqi who takes a female soldiers can keep her as a slave or gift to himself.”

Some prayers.
That is the mind-set we are up against. Slavery. Think about that. Of course you won't see this on CNN. They're too busy with 19 hours of prison abuse and 5 hours of Kobe. That's 24 hour news. Plus to actually quote the pro-slavery sheikh might be seen as anti-Islam.

"To Be Honest, I Don't Want To Die"

An 18 year old Palestinian on a suicide bomb mission changed his mind and went to the Palestinian police to have the bomb vest defused.
Fearing they were about to be blown up, five security officers scattered in all directions, shouting at the youth, who looked about 14 but was actually 18 years old.

It turned out that the youth wanted someone to defuse the explosives.

Instead of being the mindless Islamic Jihad murder-bot, the young man actually had a very human reaction to having a bomb strapped to his chest. "I kept thinking of myself, of my family, and to be honest - I don't want to die." Keep thinking those good thoughts kid. I just hope we don't read next week in the back pages that he's been kill by his Islamic Jihad recruiters.

Monday, May 10, 2004

The Golden Age of National Unity

My big question goes like this. Let’s say we “fail” in Iraq, whatever that means. To me it means that after we leave or flee or are driven out, Iraq is not a stable country with some form of participatory government (it’s never going to be Switzerland, but some kind of citizen participation.) Basically, regime change fails as a policy. Then there is an attack in the US – simultaneous explosions, a chemical attack, a dirty bomb. What do we do?

Some on the left will say, will say “do nothing”; that we deserved it, or that there is no one to retaliate against or that we can demonstrate our strength through restraint. Others, possibly including me, will hold signs saying "Bomb Mecca.” What will we do? The sane middle ground between capitulation and scorched earth will have been discredited. Clinton tried pinpoint strikes against a terrorist command center and Bush tried regime change. Both failed, so what’s next? If we can’t kill terrorist leaders with laser-like precision and we can’t reshape an Arab Muslim country into a stable, consensually self-governing one, then we are left with two even more terrible choices.

How easy will it be to resist the call to lash out against someone, anyone, when cesium-137 is spread all over downtown Chicago? (or the Mall of American was filled with nerve gas? Insert your own personal nightmare here.) And how hard will it be to devise a measured response? Think the country is divided now, after the next attack, the past year will be remembered as a golden age of national unity.

Surprises in Store

Let's say Kerry pulls his head out of his ass and wins. The Europeans and the American left are in for a real surprise because on the issues they care most about, Bush and Kerry aren’t that far apart. Kerry may have a more acceptable tone, although I’d argue that he is just as inarticulate as Bush but in an opposite way. (Bush stammers and uses simple terms, “evildoers”, “dead or alive” etc. but Kerry uses far too many words to say something equally as vacuous. He has a bigger vocabulary but few convictions.)

I mean, what’s Kerry gonna do with Iraq? Pull the troops out Jan 21st? Not bloody likely. Out of Afghanistan? Nope. Release everyone from Guantanamo? Don’t think so. Stop the tightened visa program? Stop freezing terrorist assets? Make nice with Syria or Iran? Invite Arafat to the White House for a sleep over? None of the above. I think the American left will shit. I can already see the “KKKerry” signs they will hold during the marches. In a way it would be good for the left and the Europeans to have Kerry elected and carry on essentially the same foreign policies. Then they will see that Bush may have made the wrong impressions, used the wrong terms, had the wrong style, but the broad scope of American foreign policy is what it is. Learn to live with it.

New Books

Burned Alive
The first published account by a victim of ‘honor killing’ in an Arab land, in this case the West Bank. She was 17 and suspected of having sex before marriage. Her brother-in-law poured gasoline on her and set her afire. Burned over 90% of her body and left for dead she was saved by a European aid-worker and flown to France where she now lives. She’s married and has 3 children.

Blood From Stones: The Secret Financial Network of Terror
A reporter from the Washington Post details how one atrocity funds another. Diamonds from Liberia, blood diamonds mined in slavery-like conditions, are sold on the gray market via Belgium to Saudi Arabian and Pakistani charities which in turn send fiancés to Al-Qaeda and other terror groups.

Cold Terror: How Canada Nurtures and Exports Terrorism to the World
That’s right. Our Canadian friends are doormats for Islamist terror networks. Lax immigration policies and a powerful desire to accommodate these immigrants, whether legal or not, has helped the Great White North become a center for financing, recruiting, and arming jihadis.

21st Century Whigs

Let me get this straight. The war in Iraq is increasingly unpopular. The prison abuse story is in its second week of blanket, morning to night, full media coverage. The economy is weak, as is the stock market and the employment numbers. The Vice-President is one of the most unpopular men in the country from a state with few electoral votes which the President would win in any case. Nearly every newspaper and commentator including the Army Times are calling for the Secretary of Defence to resign. Indeed his only supporter appears to be the reviled Vice-President. The best seller list is filled with book detailing how the administration is incompetent and/or corrupt. Most foreign leaders except Tony Blair (who may be even more unpopular at home than Bush is here) has a difficult time disguising their contempt for the President and his Cabinet.

Yet Kerry is dead even with Bush in the latest tracking poll. Holy shit. What more does Kerry want? Pictures of Bush making out with Method Man? He can't pull ahead of Bush even after the past 3 weeks of Congressional testimony, scandal, prison photos, Fallujah pull-backs? How can he not be beating Bush?

Look, if the Democrats can't beat Bush under these conditions, they should declare themselves the Whig Party of the 21st Century and fold up their big tent. If they can't beat Bush with all this, then they can't beat anybody.

Dirty Bomb Watch

As you can probably guess, I think some kind of radioactive attack is inevitable, maybe in the US, maybe in Europe, maybe in the Mid-East. (Jordon narrowly averted a recent plot to use a massive bomb and poison gas that aimed to kill "80,000 people.") Apparently there is so much radioactive material used in medical facilities and various industrial sites that it cannot all be guarded or cataloged, much less accounted for.

In case you weren’t keeping up, last week Ukrainian officials caught three people trying to sell 350 pounds of cesium-137.

The LA Times has an article on this subject today. (registration is required but it's free) Here's a quote.
A computer simulation by the Federation of American Scientists found that detonating a device containing 1.75 ounces of cesium in Lower Manhattan would distribute radioactive fallout over 60 square blocks.

Immediate casualties would be limited to people hurt by the blast, but the simulation suggested that there would be cases of radiation sickness and that relocation and cleanup costs would reach tens of billions of dollars.
Sleep well.