February 28, 2003

Pic Of The Day:

Look over here! Charles has one of the funniest photoshop pics I've seen in a long, long time.

Posted by Avocare at 08:43 PM | Comments (0)

Cast Your Vote:

As is our tradition on Friday afternoons, Avocare has launched our latest poll. In this edition we depart from the daily digest of Iraq/Pre-War/Pro-Peace/New-Old Europe chatter and pose a more forward-looking question:

Which Democratic ticket would you most like to see?
Cast your vote in the column to the right.

Posted by Avocare at 05:42 PM | Comments (0)

Joan Rivers To My Johnny Carson:

I'll be on holiday next week ... so from Saturday to Saturday the Avocare readership will enjoy the editorial predilections of guest-host Jeff. In a statement, Jeff said:



Posted by Avocare at 04:47 PM | Comments (0)

Operation TROOPTrax:

Michele's efforts to send CDs to our troops abroad continues to gain momentum. Do the troops a favor: visit TROOPTrax, get up to speed, and lend a hand. You'll be glad you did (as are Katherine and I).

Posted by Avocare at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

Today's Sponsor:

For today's auxiliary activity I direct you to Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.

Posted by Avocare at 08:57 AM | Comments (0)

This Sounds Familiar:

On February 20 I posted the following regarding the possibility for escalation on the Korean peninsula:

North Korea is clearly intensifying the situation on the peninsula. Initially, I think everyone agreed that the North was being obviously opportunistic: reactivating its nuclear program in an attempt to leverage the Iraqi situation and extract economic and energy concessions from the West.

But if you’ve been tracking the rhetoric, you notice a recent and disturbing trend. Statements by the official news agency are increasingly threatening. They talk with greater frequency not of a willingness to fight, but of a readiness to fight … not simply of a commitment to self-defense, but of an ominous willingness to incur a “catastrophic explosion” of conflict.

You can take this language literally or metaphorically. But match it with an effort to establish allies among NAM states and the first air incursion over the DMZ in 20 years, and you have to wonder if the North is accelerating its efforts to force the Bush hand.

The timing is obvious … but what of the trigger? Most commentators have claimed the North was simply attempting to create diplomatic pressure through the nuclear issue. But given the increasingly aggressive posturing, I have to wonder if the North will force the ultimate hand: wait for engagement in Iraq, create a hot military crisis in Korea, and force the Bush administration to rationalize the reality of a two-front war.

And on February 24th:

It may not be the next incident, but it won't be long until we read of the North firing on a U.S. reconnaissance plane or boarding a U.S. vessel in the Sea of Japan. Kim's leverage now is in actions, not words, and the Bush administration had better be planning for very strategic contingencies. Expect this situation to get much worse before it gets better.

Well, today the Washington Post writes:

Recent military moves by North Korea and the United States could increase the risk of an armed confrontation -- deliberate or accidental -- in the standoff over the North's nuclear program, according to Asian and U.S. military experts.

North Korea has begun supplementing its harsh rhetoric with unusual acts by its armed forces ...

... But other analysts contend that the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, has been forced by the failure of diplomatic efforts toward Washington to give his hard-line military generals greater authority. The missile launch and MiG incursion show that the generals are anxious to test the United States by military provocations, these analysts say.

"The North Koreans have used almost all their cards," said Toshiyuki Shikata, a professor of crisis management at Teikyo University in Tokyo. "So they will try to use the final card: They will launch a missile over Japan."

It's nice to have this confirmation ... and again, let's hope we're all wrong.

Posted by Avocare at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)

Now, Please:

It seems in-flight broadband may by in our travelling future. According to The Economist:

On February 18th British Airways began a three-month trial on flights between London and New York offering interactive broadband connections in the air, using a satellite-based system called “Connexion by Boeing”. A specially adapted 747 now lets passengers use e-mail and surf the internet. A trial by Lufthansa began in January, winning early praise. Japan Airlines and the SAS group will be next.

Posted by Avocare at 12:40 AM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2003

Fools On Parade:

Log on to the BourboCam and watch the drunken Mardi Gras chaos from the Cats Meow on Bourbon Street. Spent some time there myself, the Cats Meow. Seem to remember something about a Florida coed with a conspicuous-yet-also-discreet Gator tattoo. Ahh ... youth. High bandwidth preferred, but not required.

Posted by Avocare at 10:58 PM | Comments (0)

Daily Digest:

Links we like ...

Michele has started a movement to send CDs to our troop abroad

Jane offers her thoughts on the current warblogging ethos

Eric continues his free education on the finer points of blogging

Russelll is spot-on about learning from history and appreciating the price of appeasement

Ted Barlow comments on Fred Rogers

Speaking of whom, I will miss Fred Rogers very much. Not the man himself ... I haven't seen his show in 20 years. But I will miss his presence in the world. As long as Mr. Rogers was out there, I knew someone was teaching children lessons in kindness ... which is the legacy he left in me. To this day, when I think of Mr. Rogers, I think of what it means to be kind.

Posted by Avocare at 05:16 PM | Comments (0)

Today's Sponsor:

Usually in this space I try to direct readers to a web site that I think is quirky, unusual, or informative. Today's a bit different. For today's auxiliary activity I direct you to the Condolence Book for the Columbia and her crew for STS-107. It is a moving and fitting tribute. Spend some time there remembering what is truly important in life: daring, discovery, teamwork, love, courage, and honor.

I've been trying to write what I feel but I cannot find the words. Deep sadness but pride too. Our condolences to the families and friends of these 7 brave astronauts. You will never be forgotten for your dedication, dreams and achievements to help the human race whatever colour, age and belief. You will always be in our thoughts. May God bless you all. -- Marica Hewitt and family, Aylsham, Norwich, United Kingdom

Posted by Avocare at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

Daily Digest:

Worthy reads ...

Wonderful photo at A Life Uncommon

An excellent idea by Captain Scott for people who support action in Iraq to also commit to supporting an Iraqi reconstruction

Vicky at Liquid Courage posts a well-timed reminder about who's really taking the risk in Iraq

Samizdata offers thoughts on British conservatism

Posted by Avocare at 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2003

More On Husseinian Justice:

In December of last year the British Foreign & Commonwealth office produced a dossier entitled "Saddam Hussein: Crimes and Human Rights Abuses." It is a compelling, disturbing read that digests much of the existing research on the torture of the Hussein regime. An appendix, titled Saddam Hussein's Regime's Methods of Torture, notes that following methods of torture have all been reported to international human rights groups by the victims of torture or their families:

Eye gouging: Amnesty International reported the case of a Kurdish businessman in Baghdad who was executed 1997. When his family retrieved his body, the eyes had been gouged out and the empty eyesockets stuffed with paper.

Piercing of hands with electric drill: A common method of torture for political detainees. Amnesty International reported one victim who then had acid poured into his open wounds.

Suspension from the ceiling: Victims are blindfolded, stripped and suspended for hours by their wrists, often with their hands tied behind their backs. This causes dislocation of shoulders and tearing of muscles and ligaments.

Electric shock: A common torture method. Shocks are applied to various parts of the body, including the genitals,ears, tongue and fingers.

Sexual abuse: Victims, particularly women, have been raped and sexually abused, including reports of broken bottles being forced into the victim's anus.

"Falaqa": Victims are forced to lie face down and are then beaten on the soles of their feet with a cable, often losing consciousness.

Other physical torture: Extinguishing cigarettes on various parts of the body, extraction of fingernails and toenails and beatings with canes, whips, hose pipes and metal rods are common.

Mock executions: Victims are told that they are to be executed by firing squad and a mock execution is staged. Victims are hooded and brought before a firing squad, who then fire blank rounds.

Acid baths: David Scheffer, US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes, reported that photographic evidence showed that Iraq had used acid baths during the invasion of Kuwait. Victims were hung by their wrists and gradually lowered into the acid.

This is justice to Saddam Hussein.

Posted by Avocare at 11:08 PM | Comments (0)

Fine With Us:

The South China Morning Post has a story noting that Saddam Hussein would "rather die" than go into exile. It's a subscription piece, so I'll post the whole text here:

Saddam Hussein has dismissed a proposal that he go into exile to avoid war, as US President George W. Bush warned that a new UN resolution was not a prerequisite for military action against Iraq. ''We will die here. We will die in this country and we will maintain our honour ... in front of our people,'' the Iraqi president said in an interview with America's CBS television network.

He denied Iraq had any links with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, or that he had any intention of destroying his country's oil fields or dams should war break out. Mr Hussein also said Iraq had no missiles which exceeded UN permitted limits, implying he would rebuff a demand by chief UN inspector Hans Blix to begin destruction of all al-Samoud 2 missiles by Saturday.

The pressure on Iraq increased with the Turkish parliament expected to debate today on a bill authorising the deployment of 62,000 US troops, 255 warplanes and 65 helicopters. Military action appeared increasingly likely as US and UN officials expressed increasingly divergent views.

Mr Blix said his teams should be given ''a few more months'' and Iraq was beginning to show genuine co-operation, such as reporting the discovery of two bombs, including one which might contain a biological agent. But Mr Bush said Mr Hussein would try to ''fool the world one more time''. He said ''now is the time'' for the UN Security Council ''to honour its word by insisting that Saddam disarm''.

Predictable commentary from everyone, although Saddam Hussein speaking of honor makes my stomach churn. If he'd rather die than enjoy exile (likely at some Saudi Arabian palace), then by all means, let's oblige him.

Posted by Avocare at 06:27 PM | Comments (0)

Today's Sponsor:

For today’s auxiliary activity I direct you to the FAA Air Traffic Control System Command Center. For obvious reasons.

Posted by Avocare at 09:32 AM | Comments (0)

The Adventure Continues:

We come from the land of ice and snow, From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow. The hammer of the gods Will drive our ships to new lands, To fight the horde, singing and crying: Valhalla, I am coming! On we sweep With threshing oar, Our only goal will be the western shore!

It took me 11 hours yesterday to travel, by air, from Detroit Metropolitan Airport to the Dallas suburb of Plano, Texas. This is because of sleet, ice, and 27-degree temperatures in Dallas. Now I travel a lot … over 40 trips a year … one of the top 500 flyers in the US Airways system.

Yesterday was classic. Some highlights: 3:00 PM EST: Arrive at DTW (Detroit) an hour ahead of 4:00 PM American flight to Dallas. Learn flight has been cancelled … this morning. Typically you’d get a notification from AA telling you about your options. This didn’t happen today, likely because the world was coming to an end in Dallas due to snow and ice. Book 6:00 PM direct flight to Dallas with 8:15 PM arrival.

3:20 Get “wanded” at the security checkpoint even though I didn’t set off the magnometer. This is because today is “Continual Wanding Procedure” day, where TSA subjects every nth passenger to a wanding. Wanding occurs with no difficulties.

5:30 Log off and shut down PC for impending boarding of flight to Dallas. Realize there is no “equipment” (read airplane) at the gate. Shake fist in frustration, this time at AA’s preferred customer telephone system.

This system is like any normal voice response unit, except that it actually uses voice response. So instead of typing in 1234 for the flight number, you actually have to say “1234.” Colleen Computer then confirms your entry, saying “Let me confirm that … did you say 1234?” To which you say, “Yes.” To which Colleen says, “Arrival or departure.” To which you say, “Arrival.” To which Colleen says, “OK … so let me confirm this … you want to hear departure information for flight 1234, right?” To which you say, “GET ME A GOD DAMN OPERATOR!” To which Colleen, who is not programmed for the finer arts of cursing, says, “I’m sorry … I didn’t quite understand that. Did you say you wanted me to repeat the information?” To which you shatter your cell phone on the floor in abject disgust and blinding anger.

8:30 Land in Dallas, 15 minutes late (for my second flight). Outdoor temperature is 27 degrees. Note that the ground, tarmac, off-duty construction equipment, and everything within view is covered with a thick layer of white, frosted ice. More freezing rain expected. Notice that the aircraft is not taxing to the ramp … rather, hold short of a different taxiway. Anticipate call from Captain announcing that our gate is occupied. Taxi to another part of the tarmac to wait. Note that female commercial airline Captains are always hotties.

9:28 Announcement from Captain Hottie – “The aircraft at our gate needs to start its engines. It can’t do this until someone clears the ice from its intake vents. No one is available to do this, because all crew are deicing other aircraft. I’ll keep you posted. I’m wearing a …” … oh … wait … imagined that last part.

10:20 Arrive at gate.

10:30 Arrive at rental car bus stand. Wait 15 minutes. Watch full rental car bus drive by … driver says “Please be waiting for next bus … this bus vedy vedy full.” Ultimately board rental car bus at 11:05.

11:25 Arrive at rental car facility and notice that name is not on #1 Gold board … presume demotion to #2 Silver and get in line at Gold desk.

11:35 Enter rental car. Prepare to drive 20 miles over ice-covered Dallas roads. Lose and regain control of steering.

12:40 AM CST Arrive at hotel. Learn valet is gone for night. Go back outside to drive car to garage. Enter room at 12:51 AM CST, roughly 11 hours after arriving at DTW.

Just felt like sharing. This morning Dallas is in total gridlock, and remains under a “Freezing Drizzle Warning.” It is possible I came here for a meeting that will be cancelled. Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?

Posted by Avocare at 09:27 AM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2003

Faulty Premises:

While continuing to poke around Der Spiegel I found this story about Chirac and his current gambit. With the title The Emperor of Europe I didn't expect to learn anything new, although the authors do present a more detailed analysis of Chirac's motivations than we typically see ... all told, it's worth the read.

Of most interest, though, is this paragraph, which we find near the end of the article ... after the authors make a relatively compelling case for the Chirac strategy:

President Bush recently threatened "the game is over." But, as Chirac's chief diplomat Villepin declares time and again, "history has not yet been written." The two men are confident that they will win the game in the end, as long as Saddam acts rationally and curbs his rhetoric.

Chirac's strategy will work "as long as Saddam acts rationally." Well ... I think we know how this will turn out.

This single sentence crystallizes the entire U.S./Old Europe/U.N. disconnect ... the Europeans and U.N. are working from the premise that Saddam will act rationally ... in the form of European rationality. We, however, are not. We learned a lesson from Neville Chamberlain. Our premise is that Saddam Hussein will act rationally based on Husseinian rationality ... and if you look at his history, it's easy to see that willful disarmament does not lie within the Iraqi leader's view of self-interest. There are no contradictions, only faulty premises ... and the Europeans have yet to learn that "A IS A."

Posted by Avocare at 05:26 PM | Comments (0)

More Light On The Story:

Several bloggers have hinted at shadows of what we're all certain is a larger story ... that Germany has been more complicit in the Iraqi chemical weapons program than we have been led to believe. Raising the shades a bit more today is this brief from the english summaries page of Der Spiegel.

Amer al-Saadi, Saddam's chief negotiator in the discussions with UN weapons inspector Hans Blix, was once himself the head of the poison gas programme and used to have excellent contacts in Germany. His well situated family still lives in Hamburg. Germany had the technology, and it had manufacturers who didn't ask why Iraq needed such big fertiliser plants, so al-Saadi sent his buyers to Germany.

Nothing new here, although the fact that al-Saadi's family still lives in Hamburg and the candid description of the German's self-interest is interesting. But how about this:

At one of the meetings the Iraqis remarked: "You have so much experience with using gas to kill Jews." And asked bluntly: "How can we make use of that to destroy Israel?"

Posted by Avocare at 04:33 PM | Comments (0)

Impulses To Duty:

Work and travel will keep me from posting until tonight ...

Posted by Avocare at 06:35 AM | Comments (0)

Today's Sponsor:

For today's auxiliary activity I direct you to the premier fan site for the next U.S. National Security Advisor, George Clooney. Participate in the on-line forums!

Posted by Avocare at 06:34 AM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2003

Husseinian Justice:

Read this article in the Times Online about an Iraqi merchant's 14 years in an Iraqi prison ... for selling a journalist a roll of film. It tells you much about Saddam's version of justice:

Abdulmajeed Muhammad is a slightly built man of 45 with a distant stare and a scarred body. He lives alone in Sulaimaniyah, northern Iraq, and owns nothing but the clothes he stands in. He spends his days trying to forget the past 14 years, which he spent in the darkness of Saddam Hussein’s most infamous political prison.

Mr Muhammad’s only crime was to sell a British journalist a roll of film, but his treatment bears ample testimony to the nature of Saddam’s regime.
And there's this:
“There was no rioting in the prison, just a feeling of unease,” he said. “Then that day hundreds of men from a special unit arrived. They took all the prisoners from their cells and made them parade in the yard facing the walls. It was the first time I had been in daylight since my imprisonment.When we all had our backs to them, standing in the sun, they opened fire on us. Over a hundred men lay dead and dying.”

Oh, and there's this postscript: The British journalist was ultimately hanged for spying.

Posted by Avocare at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

North Korea Missile Test:

So much for rhetoric ... the provocation by the North continues, this time in the form of a North Korean missile fired from the northeastern coast of North Korea.

The missile traveled about 37 miles before plunging into the Sea of Japan. The news is still coming in, but this lends further credibility to the point I made here: Kim Jong Il will continue to ratchet up the tension on the peninsula until we take action in Iraq, and then he'll force the Bush hand with the very real prospect of a two-front war. Last week it was a jet crossing the DMZ, this week a missile fired toward Japan ... just days after we agree to send food to the starving nation.

Well, we can see how much that concession bought us. It may not be the next incident, but it won't be long until we read of the North firing on a U.S. reconnaissance plane or boarding a U.S. vessel in the Sea of Japan. Kim's leverage now is in actions, not words, and the Bush administration had better be planning for very strategic contingencies. Expect this situation to get much worse before it gets better.

Posted by Avocare at 09:26 PM | Comments (0)

The U.N., Thursdays On NBC:

Mean Mr. Mustard is voicing something I'm sure we've all thought of before, but never articulated -- the strange parallels between the Cosby Show and U.N. foreign policy disputes.

Whenever I hear urges to outlaw war I always recall that very special Cosby Show episode where Rudy pluckily tells a story she wrote about a happy kingdom beset by invaders who want to lord it over the peace-loving folks. They even try being nice to the conquest-minded newcomers, but that only emboldens them further to be more degrading in their aggressive behavior. It seems like quite the moral quandry for the non-violent denziens, until a little girl of the kingdom in no uncertain terms tells all the bad people that they have to "Stop it!" Of course the bad folks stop.

Posted by Avocare at 02:46 PM | Comments (0)

I Lied:

One last pre-travel post: Bill Whittle on Confidence. You'll send this one to everyone you know, just like you did with Courage.

Posted by Avocare at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

Today's Sponsor:

Given my relative panic at not being able to post for 12 hours, for today's auxiliary activity I direct you to the Bipolar Disorder Sanctuary.

Posted by Avocare at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)

And We're Back:

Because of BlogSpot system issues, I haven't been able to post since yesterday afternoon. I was highly pissed until just now ... as my colleague Jeff can attest. Imagine the frustration of watching the Grammys and not being able to post. For all my fellow bloggers (Michele, Jane, Russell) in whose comments I camped last night, thanks for acting as an outlet for my interest. Amazing how quickly independent hosting starts to sound like a good idea ...

Posted by Avocare at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2003

And Then There's This:

A healthy dose of perspective today from Thomas Friedman in the New York Times:

Because the question is not whether there will be more attacks. There will be. The question is whether we can survive them and still maintain an open society. What good is it to have Osama trapped in a basement somewhere if, by just whispering a few threats on Al Jazeera TV, he can trap us in self-sealed rooms?

No good at all, which is why the only survival purchase I've made since Code Orange is a new set of Ben Hogan Apex irons, and why my all-American survival kit would include: a movie guide, a concert schedule, Rollerblades, a bicycle ? plus a reminder to attend your local PTA meetings, Little League games, neighborhood block parties and your book club and to get plenty of tickets for your favorite sports team.

Leave the cave-dwelling to Osama.


Posted by Avocare at 11:28 AM | Comments (0)

Senseless Asshole Department:

One of the original California Condors brought from the wild into a captive breeding program in the 1980s has been found shot dead in Kern County, California. While there were only 15 California Condors left in the 1980's, there are now 79 birds in the wild in California and Arizona and 118 in captivity at the San Diego Wild Animal Park and the Los Angeles Zoo. This kind of thing makes absolutely no sense to me at all ... hopefully the moron who did this really felt nearly euphoric satisfaction. To learn more about the California Condor, go here, and to read about the release of this particular bird, go here.

Posted by Avocare at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)

Today's Sponsor:

With this news of David Hasselhoff's recent injury, for today's auxiliary activity I direct you to the "Why David Hasselhoff Is The Antichrist" home page. And to think that all this time we'd thought it was Bill Gates.

Posted by Avocare at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2003

Impulses To Duty:

Rachel Lucas is taking a break:

As for how long this break will last, probably a few weeks at least. I have five papers to write and three major projects to do for school in the next month, so I'm just going to focus on that and start blogging again when I feel like I'm not sacrificing my education and my personal life to do so. I'll still be around, commenting on other blogs and such. If something major happens in the world, I'll blog about it. This is just a vacation, not a quit.

Thanks to everyone for your patience and understanding, and for even coming to my blog in the first place. I'll talk to you again soon. In the meantime, take care.

Agree with her perspective or not, the blogosphere will be worse without her writing and I look forward to her impudent return.

Posted by Avocare at 06:20 PM | Comments (0)


Recently, Michele of A Small Victory responded to the recent spate of opinion pieces from around the globe that fall under the heading of "What is There to Like About America?" by challenging her readers to post what they like about the country, state by state. The results are wonderful, and you can see them at What's Not To Like?, a blog of the comments created by Solonor. Go read and be proud.

Posted by Avocare at 02:56 PM | Comments (0)

Today's Sponsor:

With the Grammys just a day away, for today's auxiliary activity I direct you to the Nobel Peace Prize. Zooropa, indeed.

Posted by Avocare at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

Another Sign Of The Impending Apocalypse:

It seems I can't click over to CNN anymore without finding something new to piss me off. Today's irritation: The plaintiffs have amended and re-filled the obesity lawsuit against McDonald's, accusing MCD of

deceptive practices in the advertising, processing and sale of foods, including Chicken McNuggets, Filet-O-Fish, Chicken Sandwich, french fries and hamburgers.

Plaintiff's lead counsel, Samuel Hirsch is seeking to expand the case to a class-action suit

on behalf of "hundreds of thousands of New York state residents under the age of 18" who suffer health problems as a result of eating McDonald's food.

At least he's egalitarian ...

"Contrary to what many may think, we are not looking to get rich from a large money settlement," Hirsch told CNN. "We are proposing a fund that will educate children about the nutritional facts and contents of McDonald's food."

And I'm sure Hirsch is working for a flat fee. But of course, we should sympathize with the hapless, unknowing victims. Such as Israel Bradley, father of one of the plaintiffs. This poor man

never saw anything in the Bronx restaurants that informed him of the food's ingredients. "I always believed McDonald's was healthy for my children," he said in an affidavit.

Holy Jesus ... just what the world needs, more litigiousness paired with stupidity. Somebody wake me when it's over.

Posted by Avocare at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)

The Concessions Begin:

Colin Powell has announced that the U.S. will make a new food donation to North Korea. And for those who believe the U.S. is an antagonist on the peninsula: the United States donated more than 150,000 tons of food to North Korea in 2002 alone ... more than any other country.

Posted by Avocare at 08:33 AM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2003

Susan Sontag -- "There Is Such A Thing As A Just War":

Apparently Susan Sontag's anti-war convictions don't run as deep as I thought ... at least that's what I've decided after reading this article, which Susan published in the New York Times Magazine on 2 May 1999. In it, Susan argues for military intervention in Kosovo -- on the premise that, when a leader is engaging in the extermination of his own people, just nations have a responsibility to intervene and exact a change of regime. What's more, Susan takes Europe ... and in particular the French and Germans ... to task for not being more committed to such action.

Astonishing. But frankly, it gets even better when you read the piece. Some highlights:

Stop the War and Stop the Genocide, read the banners being waved in the demonstrations in Rome and here in Bari. For Peace. Against War. Who is not? But how can you stop those bent on genocide without making war?

We have been here before. The horrors, the horrors. Our attempt to forge a "humanitarian" response. Our inability (yes, after Auschwitz!) to comprehend how such horrors can take place. And as the horrors multiply, it becomes even more incomprehensible why we should respond to any one of them (since we have not responded to the others). Why this horror and not another? Why Bosnia or Kosovo and not Kurdistan or Rwanda or Tibet?

Are we not saying that European lives, European suffering are more valuable, more worth acting on to protect, than the lives of people in the Middle East, Africa and Asia? ...

... Another argument against intervening in Kosovo is that the war is -- wonderful word -- illegal," because NATO is violating the borders of a sovereign state. Kosovo is, after all, part of the new Greater Serbia called Yugoslavia. Tough luck for the Kosovars that Milosevic revoked their autonomous status in 1989. Inconvenient that 90 percent of Kosovars are Albanians -- ethnic Albanians" as they are called, to distinguish them from the citizens of Albania. Empires reconfigure. But are national borders, which have been altered so many times in the last hundred years, really to be the ultimate criterion? You can murder your wife in your own house, but not outdoors on the street.

Imagine that Nazi Germany had had no expansionist ambitions but had simply made it a policy in the late 1930's and early 1940's to slaughter all the German Jews. Do we think a government has the right to do whatever it wants on its own territory?

And then there's this:

Not surprisingly, the Serbs are presenting themselves as the victims. (Clinton equals Hitler, etc.) But it is grotesque to equate the casualties inflicted by the NATO bombing with the mayhem inflicted on hundreds of thousands of people in the last eight years by the Serb programs of ethnic cleansing.

Not all violence is equally reprehensible; not all wars are equally unjust.

No forceful response to the violence of a state against peoples who are nominally its own citizens? (Which is what most "wars" are today. Not wars between states.) The principal instances of mass violence in the world today are those committed by governments within their own legally recognized borders. Can we really say there is no response to this? Is it acceptable that such slaughters be dismissed as civil wars, also known as "age-old ethnic hatreds." (After all, anti-Semitism was an old tradition in Europe; indeed, a good deal older than ancient Balkan hatreds. Would this have justified letting Hitler kill all the Jews on German territory?) Is it true that war never solved anything? (Ask a black American if he or she thinks our Civil War didn't solve anything.)

War is not simply a mistake, a failure to communicate. There is radical evil in the world, which is why there are just wars. And this is a just war. Even if it has been bungled.

Stop the genocide. Return all refugees to their homes. Worthy goals. But how is any of this conceivably going to happen unless the Milosevic regime is overthrown? (And the truth is, it's not going to happen.)

Incredible. I don't think the parallels between what she claims as warrants for intervention in Kosovo in 1999, and the current situation in Iraq, could be more clear. Where are your principles now, Susan? Are the Iraqi people for some reason the only citizens on Earth whom you feel are not owed the same responsibility of international justice that you articulated in 1999? Is Iraq the only nation that enjoys "no forceful response to the violence of a state against peoples who are nominally its own citizens?" Is Saddam Hussein's policy of programmatic repression and murder not "radical evil in the world?" The language you used in 1999 is far different than the language you used in the shadow of 9/11, when you wrote:

How many citizens are aware of the ongoing American bombing of Iraq? And if the word "cowardly" is to be used, it might be more aptly applied to those who kill from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, than to those willing to die themselves in order to kill others. In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue): whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards.

And then I remember ... there are no contradictions, only incorrect assumptions. And perhaps Susan's principles reflect not lofty ideals of justice, but instead a thirst for controversy and a lust for publication.

UPDATE: Pejman has some thoughts ...

Posted by Avocare at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

Today's Sponsor:

For today's auxiliary activity I direct you to the home page for the Kurdistan Regional Government. Be certain to click on the link for Halabja.

Posted by Avocare at 06:18 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2003

North Korea Update:

I’ve been tracking the North Korea situation for several weeks, and today there were several items I consider important to note.

First are reports that North Korean diplomats attempted to gain support among non-aligned states at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) meeting. In particular, the North was lobbying for support of a statement blaming the U.S. for the current North Korean nuclear crisis. (NAM is a 114-member organization of mostly developing states.) The North Koreans went so far as to try and amend the session’s closing declaration with this:

"removal of the constant threats of the US against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea constitute a precondition for ensuring a stable peace and security on the Korean Peninsula."

This created a significant disruption at the meeting, with diplomats from several nations, thankfully, deeming the language as undiplomatic and inaccurate. North Korea was using the NAM meeting as an opportunity to actively solicit allies against the U.S. as a precursor to the nuclear crisis endgame. While we can be glad for the negative response it created, we shouldn’t expect North Korea’s alignment efforts to stop there.

Second, North Korea’s state news agency continues to elevate its jingoistic rhetoric to even more disturbing levels. The most recent statement claims the situation is:

"so alarming that a nuclear war may break out at any moment."

While the press release isn’t yet on the Korean Central News Agency site, there is this language:

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of the DPRK issued a statement on Tuesday accusing the United States of persistently turning down the DPRK's proposal for the conclusion of a non-aggression treaty aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula and pushing the situation to the phase of confrontation ...

... The plan to stage month-long large-scale joint war exercises announced by warhawks at a time when the situation on the Korean Peninsula is getting tenser over the nuclear issue there goes to clearly prove that the U.S. reckless plan for a nuclear war has entered the phase of practical implementation ...

... Now the DPRK-U.S. relationship is in a dangerous state of confrontation with no gunfire. There is no place for us to step back and we have nothing to make a concession to the U.S. If the United States acts in reason, the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula may be settled smoothly. But if it continues military pressure as it is now, the present situation will lead to catastrophic explosion. Not only the United States but we have options. The U.S. warmongers should know that it is easy for them to provoke a war against us but it is impossible to survive the war.

Official state news releases like these (and in particular this last statement) are increasingly sounding not like warnings, but threats. And indeed, the statement “that nuclear war may break out at any moment” came just hours after a North Korean MiG-19 jet fighter crossed the western sea border and flew almost eight miles into Southern airspace before heading back into communist territory (same link as above).

This doesn’t sound like much … until you learn it’s the first such incursion by a military aircraft from the North since 1983.

North Korea is clearly intensifying the situation on the peninsula. Initially, I think everyone agreed that the North was being obviously opportunistic: reactivating its nuclear program in an attempt to leverage the Iraqi situation and extract economic and energy concessions from the West.

But if you’ve been tracking the rhetoric, you notice a recent and disturbing trend. Statements by the official news agency are increasingly threatening. They talk with greater frequency not of a willingness to fight, but of a readiness to fight … not simply of a commitment to self-defense, but of an ominous willingness to incur a “catastrophic explosion” of conflict.

You can take this language literally or metaphorically. But match it with an effort to establish allies among NAM states and the first air incursion over the DMZ in 20 years, and you have to wonder if the North is accelerating its efforts to force the Bush hand.

The timing is obvious … but what of the trigger? Most commentators have claimed the North was simply attempting to create diplomatic pressure through the nuclear issue. But given the increasingly aggressive posturing, I have to wonder if the North will force the ultimate hand: wait for engagement in Iraq, create a hot military crisis in Korea, and force the Bush administration to rationalize the reality of a two-front war.

It’s a frightening prospect. But if I adopt the perspective of a sociopathic dictator with a million-man army, I have to tell you … it’s exactly what I would do. I hope to God I’m wrong, and just another amateur pundit, jabbering into the ether. But it's exactly what I would do.

UPDATE: KCNA has posted the North Korean press release with the "nuclear war may break out at any moment" language. You may find it here. The statement is long, but take the time to read the whole thing. It also threatens:

The DPRK has never fired even a single shell at the territory of the U.S. if the U.S. dares start a war against the DPRK despite its warning, it will react to it with the toughest self-defensive measure.

UPDATE: And Frank at IMAO chimes in with his North Korea Top Ten list ...

Posted by Avocare at 11:55 PM | Comments (0)

One Who Remembers:

Much has been written about the parallels between the arguments for appeasement in 2003 and the 1930's ... brought to a head by Chamberlain-esque calls by some anti-war protesters for "peace in our time." But who can really speak to these similarities, save historians? Someone who was there, that's who. Like Alistair Cooke.

Now, this memory of mine may be totally irrelevant to the present crisis. It haunts me. I have to say I have written elsewhere with much conviction that most historical analogies are false because, however strikingly similar a new situation may be to an old one, there's usually one element that is different and it turns out to be the crucial one. It may well be so here.

All I know is that all the voices of the 30s are echoing through 2003. . . .

Link via LGF.

Posted by Avocare at 10:07 PM | Comments (0)

Will On The U.N.:

In today's Washington Post George Will is yet another observer who wonders if the U.N. is becoming redundant (or even irrelevant). He also offers this indictment:

Today the U.N., toyed with by France, is making more likely a war that might not be impending if the U.N. had not been so involved in dealing with Iraq 12 years ago.

Thanks to Carolynne for the tip.

Posted by Avocare at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)

Sullivan Rolls:

Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish has been great reading all week ... and today he takes it to Tina Brown in a biting and beautifully sardonic post. A highlight:

Ignore the homophobic stereotypes. (Why is it "gay" to be lacking in testosterone? Or androgynous? Or soft on dictators?) Imagine if a male writer used similarly sexist language to describe, say, Tina Brown's administration at the New Yorker. Imagine sentences like this: "Wouldn't it be better if there had been more men at the New Yorker in the '90s? And I don't mean Tina's neutered gay male flunkies. Brown's flitty attention span, bouts of editorial PMS, hysterical responses to criticism and general whorishness toward publicists and celebrities made for a very menstrual management style."

Imagine indeed.

Posted by Avocare at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

Today's Sponsor:

For today's auxiliary activity, and in light of the post just below, I direct you to the "Citizens Against Celebrity Pundits" petition at ipetitions.com. (You don't think they mean Glenn Reynolds, do you?)

Posted by Avocare at 08:12 AM | Comments (0)

Celebrity State Department, Part Deux:

Once again, the blogosphere precedes the popular press in a media theme. While we've been ranting or raving about the political verbosity of celebrities related to the possibility of war in Iraq for days now, OpinionJournal finally caught on yesterday, and today it's the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Of course, the Inquirer is my local rag ... and when Katherine called "Get your laptop ... here's your first post of the day," I knew it was going to be good. And it was indeed the perfect compliment to my morning coffee (again, Kona, not French Roast). Unfortunately, I think it's going to skew the results of my poll toward Susan Sarandon. Also unfortunate is that the on-line version lacks these quotes from the front page of the Magazine section article (Michele, take a deep breath):

"I think war is based on greed, and there's huge karmic retributions that will follow ... the best way to solve problems is not to have enemies." -- Sheryl Crow

Yes ... all those Kurdish women and children who were gassed to death in their homes simply never should have chosen Hussein as an enemy. Same for those 14 million Jews and Hitler. That would have been the "best" way to solve the problem. Perhaps they were all paying some "huge karmic retribution."

"Let us find a way to resist fundamentalism that leads to violence. Fundamentalism of all kinds, in al-Qaeda and within our government ... our fundamentalism is business, the unfettered spread of our economic interests throughout the globe." -- Susan Sarandon

Wow ... Susan was actually making sense there for a minute ... until she argued for the cessation of economic expansion and the seizing-up of the world economy. Because I'm sure failing to create a global middle-class would be a fatal blow to fundamentalism.

"The government itself is running exactly like the Sopranos." -- George Clooney

Does his ability to be moronic know no bounds? I'm going to have to run a second poll just so Clooney can win. Although, I have heard rumors that Condi Rice holds NSC meetings in the back room of infamous D.C. theater of dance Camelot.

"Yes, [President Bush] is racist. We all know that, but the world is only finding it out now." -- Danny Glover

Danny Glover calling Bush racist ... I'm sure Colin Powell and Condi Rice agree. But there are also voices from the other side of the philisophical fence ... the first I've heard, frankly (perhaps this is an indictment of the press, which I've recently learned is actually pro-conservative ;-):

"I don't need to see any smoking guns except the one that just killed Saddam Hussein, quite frankly." -- Dennis Miller

"Members of the entertainment community are always on the front lines to oppose repression. But they're also opposed to the use of force to end it, which is inconsistent." -- Ron Silver

"I just want to say to all the great men and women in the armed forces right no, and their families who let them go, 'Thanks.'" -- Patricia Heaton

"Simple logic tells you that if somebody wants you dead you have one course of action: To get them deader sooner." -- James Woods

Not particularly articulate, but certainly a point of view from Mr. Woods.

"Nations do not pass from the scene because they have too much defense, and if we have to err, let us err on that side. Defense is our greatest priority." -- Ben Stien

Not quite on-point re: Iraq, but it's always good to see Ben Stein refute Paul Kennedy. As I've written before, I respect the right of anyone to peaceably state their opinion ... but at some point you have to wonder what the hell is going on. I think we're at that point. Thank God wisdom prevails ... in this quote from John McCain:

"If Washington is a Hollywood for ugly people, Hollywood is a Washington for the simpleminded," cracked maverick U.S. Sen. John McCain.


UPDATE: Charles chimes in at LGF with a post on James Earl Jones (who shows some guts)

Posted by Avocare at 08:05 AM | Comments (1)

February 19, 2003

A Question Of Civility:

Thanks to Michele, I discovered Arthur Silber's blog today: The Light Of Reason. There's much to read here, all of which is well-written and thought provoking. This post in particular, which is about the current trend away from civility in the blogosphere and beyond, is worth the read.

A lot of people are behaving very badly. I think we are all very understandably on edge right now: the ongoing concerns with terrorism; ratcheted up alert levels (based on information that all too often turns out to be wrong); the looming war with Iraq; economic worries; and on and on. People's nerves are frayed, and tempers flare. Many of you reading this are undoubtedly familiar with the abuse that was recently hurled in Megan McArdle's direction, and her temporary withdrawal from blogging. In that case, the abuse came from the left side of the political spectrum ...

... I submit that all of this is very ugly stuff -- and that everyone should take a deep breath, step back a pace or two, and consider the impact of comments like this. And I myself am not interested in determining which "side" is more frequently rude, ill-mannered, or simply nasty and cruel. My point is that there is far too much of it everywhere. The net result is a very poisonous atmosphere, a dehumanizing of one's ideological opponents, and a lack of civilization -- the very thing we're fighting to preserve in the war on terror.

Posted by Avocare at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)

Daily Digest:

Lots of action in the blogosphere today:

Andrew Sullivan is giving the BBC hell at The Daily Dish (too many permalinks to count ... just start at the top and read down)

Michele is giving the violent anti-war crowd the hell they so justly deserve

Pejman furthers the discourse on the "Jane Galt Controversy" (note ... a long post; still very worth reading, as is the one just above it)

E.Nough is firing at Paul Krugman with both barrels

UPDATE: Kevin Drum is purging all things Franco-Germanic

UPDATE: This is a re-post, but if you haven't read Bill's essay Courage at Eject! Eject! Eject! yet you really, really should.

Posted by Avocare at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)


Thomas Friedman believes the Bush administration is being less-than-truthful, and says so in today's New York Times

I am also very troubled by the way Bush officials have tried to justify this war on the grounds that Saddam is allied with Osama bin Laden or will be soon. There is simply no proof of that, and every time I hear them repeat it I think of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. You don't take the country to war on the wings of a lie.

Tell people the truth. Saddam does not threaten us today. He can be deterred. Taking him out is a war of choice — but it's a legitimate choice. It's because he is undermining the U.N., it's because if left alone he will seek weapons that will threaten all his neighbors, it's because you believe the people of Iraq deserve to be liberated from his tyranny, and it's because you intend to help Iraqis create a progressive state that could stimulate reform in the Arab/Muslim world, so that this region won't keep churning out angry young people who are attracted to radical Islam and are the real weapons of mass destruction.

Thanks to Carolynne for the tip.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan offers his two cents on the Friedman op/ed.

Posted by Avocare at 08:47 AM | Comments (0)

Celebrity State Department:

Melik Kaylan writes this article in today's OpinionJournal, calling out celebrity activists and asking if they're now passe (YES!). Among other things, Kaylan notes:

The French poet Paul Valéry once observed that intellectuals, when they run out of serious things to say, end up by flashing their genitals to get attention. With the coming launch of her new antiwar music video, one could argue that Madonna has reversed the process. As Dennis Miller said about her in a recent interview with Phil Donahue, "After you've shown every orifice from every angle, you might have to make a political statement to get people reinterested in you." ...

... Something uneasy has entered into the contract of illusion between us and celebrities. A sharp change occurred in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when most citizens felt a twinge of nausea at the sight of an Entertainment Weekly cover. This acute aversion to hollow glitz lasted awhile, and seemed to fade, but has now revived due to the unelected tub thumping of Robert Redford, Susan Sarandon and their ilk. We enjoyed them for being mere entertainers, and then we didn't for a while--but we never intended them to be anything more.

Now I'm the first to say that everyone has the right to state their opinion, but I think this is spot on. It's worth the read, and no registration is required. Melik also posts this fantastic magazine cover from Flash Bunny (you may have seen this elsewhere, but for me it was the laugh of the day):

Posted by Avocare at 08:33 AM | Comments (0)

Headline Of The Day:

From washingtonpost.com:

D.C. Area Has Long Road Before Return to Normal

No kidding. Start with the inhabitants.

Posted by Avocare at 08:09 AM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2003

Update On North Korea And The Armistice:

As a follow-up to this post, the Korean Central News Agency of the D.P.R.K. has posted yesterday's announcement in which the North threatens to withdraw from the current armistice. You can see the original here (as well as the rest of the day's news ... there's a wonderful little piece titled Kim Jong Il sends gifts to children on remote islets), but here's the full statement:

Spokesman for Panmunjom mission of KPA (Korean People's Army) issues statement: The Panmunjom mission of the Korean People's Army is authorized to declare that the KPA side will be left with no option but to take a decisive step to abandon its commitment to implement the Armistice Agreement as a signatory to it and free itself from the binding force of all its provisions, regarding the possible sanctions to be taken by the U.S. side against the DPRK from anywhere after bolstering its forces in and around the Korean Peninsula to attack the DPRK as the AA-banned blockade against it. A spokesman for the Panmunjom mission of the KPA said this in a statement on Feb. 17.

He said: The Armistice Agreement that was signed to provide a peaceful solution to the Korean issue has been systematically ditched by the U.S. and used for the purpose of its hostile policy toward the DPRK. At a time when the situation on the Korean Peninsula is getting extremely tense due to the U.S. nuclear racket, the U.S. side is contemplating about the additional deployment of huge forces including aircraft carriers and strategic bombers in and around the Korean Peninsula in violation of the AA. The situation is, therefore, getting more serious as the days go by as it is putting its plan for preemptive attacks on the DPRK into practice with increased zeal.

The U.S. openly declared that it would continue its brigandish encroachment upon the sovereignty of the DPRK in the waters near it in the future just as it captured and searched a DPRK trading cargo ship on a voyage in the open sea in broad daylight on December 9 last year. This means that it will conduct naval blockade operations which can be seen only between the warring states during the war and this is little short of an open declaration of war in the long-run.

All facts go to clearly prove how ridiculous and hypocritical the U.S. sophism that the peace in Korea is ensured on the strength of the Armistice Agreement is. The grave situation created by the undisguised war acts committed by the U.S. in breach of the AA compels the KPA side, its warring party, to immediately take all steps to cope with it. If the U.S. side continues violating and misusing the Armistice Agreement as it pleases, there will be no need for the DPRK to remain bound to the AA uncomfortably.

The future development will entirely depend on the attitude of the U.S. side.

Posted by Avocare at 10:35 PM | Comments (0)

Kurdish War Crime Museum:

There is an interesting article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer (my local paper) about efforts by the Kurds to create a war crime museum in virtually independent Northern Iraq. The building itself is a former detention and "interrogation" center, where Saddam's minions extracted information from Kurds in exchange for torture and death. The article is interesting, poignant, brief, and worth a read.

Perhaps the most chilling material is a tape recording of the interrogation of an unknown prisoner. The tape was recovered after the compound was captured.

The 15-minute cassette will play in a tunnel, its walls covered with black paint and shards of mirrored glass, which will lead visitors toward the center's entrance. On the tape, the interrogator relentlessly hurls questions as the prisoner groans in pain, barely able to speak.

"What is Farhad's position? The one who was arrested with you," demands the interrogator toward the end of the tape.

"I don't know anything, by God," mutters the prisoner.

"How could it be that you have been in the network since 1979 and not be responsible for anyone?"

"I am dying. By God, I can't say anything. I am dying, by God. By the Koran, I am dying."

There is silence and then a new voice: "Where are his clothes?"

Posted by Avocare at 10:14 PM | Comments (0)

Powerful Avocations From Sin:

If you’re curious, I have returned. Eight tortuous hours of chipping ice out of our gutters, all the while astride an unsteady aluminum ladder. I’ll take this opportunity to thank God (social constructionists and cultural relativists are welcome to insert the name of whatever deity or French post-modernist they prefer here) for:

My emerging without injury,

Katherine, who did a fine job of keeping my spirits high through good cheer and pigs-in-blankets, and

Gore-Tex -- there's nothing better.

I’d also like to send a shout out to Drs. Stewart Adams, John Nicholson and Colin Burrows, and offer my personal thanks for their synthesizing Ibuprofen in 1961. You da bomb. Now, let the blogging begin …

Posted by Avocare at 06:52 PM | Comments (0)

Impulses To Duty:

Ahh, the aftermath of an enormous snow storm: pastoral landscapes, snow angels ... and ice dams. Huge ice dams. Ice dams that back water up into your soffits, and ultimately into your kitchen. There will be no posts for a while as I play Michelangelo with the ice in my gutters.

Posted by Avocare at 01:41 PM | Comments (0)

Today's Sponsor:

It's only fitting that for today's auxiliary activity I direct you to the english-version home page for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. As the site says, "Long live Supreme Commander!" (How'd they know about Glenn Reynolds?)

Posted by Avocare at 07:16 AM | Comments (0)

More On North Korea:

The web has some resources about the D.P.R.K nuclear program that are far more informative than the current media coverage:

The North Korea page from the International Atomic Energy Agency

An overview of the North's nuclear weapons program from the Federation of American Scientists

An excellent summary of the D.P.R.K.'s military assets from the Nuclear Threat Initiative

Posted by Avocare at 06:50 AM | Comments (0)

North Korea Threatens To Withdraw From Armistice:

That's the threat today from the Korean People's Army. From the NY Times:

North Korea's military threatened today to abandon its commitment to the 1953 Korean War armistice if the United States moves to impose penalties like a naval blockade for its suspected nuclear weapons program.

The North's state-run news media has kept the nation near a war hysteria since the nuclear crisis flared up last fall, and it was not clear if the latest statement marked a real change in policy. But the warning came from the nation's all-powerful military, the Korean People's Army.

"The K.P.A. side will be left with no option but to take a decisive step to abandon its commitment to implement the Armistice Agreement as a signatory to it and free itself from the binding force of all its provisions, regarding the possible sanctions to be taken by the U.S. side against the D.P.R.K."

Read some of the North Korean rhetoric on the "nuclear issue" here.

UPDATE: Here's a story from the AP that's more informative than the one in the NY Times.

Posted by Avocare at 06:30 AM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2003

Happy Birthday Kim!!:

While you were worrying about the snow, or the war, your favorite Marxist psychopathic dictator was celebrating a birthday! The Avocare staff extends warm birthday greetings to Kim Jong Il, still spritely at 61, and still hard at work battling the U.S. oppressors. And according to this Korean Central News Agency report, the celebration was closer than you think:

February 16, the birthday of Kim Jong Il, was significantly celebrated in Korea and in different countries of the world as a common holiday of humankind.

And you didn't even send a card.

Posted by Avocare at 10:55 PM | Comments (0)

Daily Digest:

Kevin Drum at CalPundit links to a summary of opinion polls from around the world about a possible war in Iraq ...

... and some interesting research on the quality of local news broadcasts

The Marueen Dowd ranting continues at Washingtonian (link via Pejman)

Steven Den Beste has an excellent essay at USS Clueless summarizing the current European and Iraqi diplomatic situation

Posted by Avocare at 10:03 AM | Comments (0)

Let's Keep This In Perspective:

tivMuch has been made in the blogosphere of the fact that some anti-war protests this weekend -- presumably planned and exercised by people for peace -- turned violent, such as this one in San Francisco, and well as those in Greece, London, and New York.

True, many special interest groups saw the marches as an opportunity not to articulate opposition to war in Iraq, but to promote their own agenda. And true, some of these expressed their sentiment with rocks, spray-paint, and fire -- which is patently disgusting and unacceptable behavior, but which should come as no surprise given the size and nature of the crowd.

But let's be honest: these violent incidents do not represent an indictment of the entire Left as non-rational hooligans … any more than last Fall's post-game riots in Columbus, Ohio indict all sports fans as violent thugs. Nor do they evidence a massive philosophical double-standard among the anti-war movement.

What these incidents demonstrate is that every crowd has its share of idiots ... idiots who came for the fervor of the demonstration and for the opportunity to act out their adolescent aggression. This shouldn’t surprise us any more than it surprised the police in the U.S., who on the whole exercised an admirable mix of justice and restraint.

Indeed, I feel compelled to recognize to the millions of demonstrators who saw the marches for what they should be … an opportunity to peaceably assemble, exercise their right to free speech, and articulate their personal view of the situation in Iraq. And to them I say two things: first, I disagree with your argument (and for some of you, I believe you have no argument). But second, thank you for engaging in the political discourse and for exemplifying civil behavior. Doing so is what the First Amendment is all about.

And to the violent among them, this message: You’re everything that’s wrong with America, and you have no idea what political discourse is about. And while I respect your right to assemble -- peaceably -- I have no respect for your lack of civility. May your jail cell be cold, and crowded with thugs far more frightening than you.

UPDATE: And Pejman weighs in with this ...

Posted by Avocare at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)

Current Conditions In Berwyn, PA:

It was a rough night with sleet and very heavy winds around 4 a.m. ... still sleeting now, expected to change back to snow before stopping this afternoon.

Cassidy is now totally confused.

Posted by Avocare at 08:39 AM | Comments (0)

Today's Sponsor:

Today's auxiliary activity is for readers who live between Washington, D.C. and Boston. Given today's forecast, I direct you here ...

Posted by Avocare at 08:28 AM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2003

Welcome To Ole's Ski Lodge:

The storm totals keep going up ... now the NWS is saying upward of 25 inches. Current conditions:

Luckily, Katherine kicks ass with the shovel. I also snapped this swell picture of Old Glory ...

Posted by Avocare at 07:17 PM | Comments (0)

Sunday Afternoon Digest:

Several bloggers are breaking today's post-protest ennui with strong content:

Andrew Sullivan is rolling at the Daily Dish ... the Maureen Dowd rant alone is worth the trip ...

Charles at LGF posts an interesting piece on the Saudi military ...

Asparagirl has a number of great snaps from the NY march (with commentary, of course) ...

And ditto for Michele ...

Posted by Avocare at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)

Current Conditions In Berwyn, PA:

It is ... uh ... snowing like hell here ...

Twelve to 24 inches expected. Katherine and I just shoveled the drive for what will likely be the first of three times, and are now inside ensconced in warmth (and for me, with a dram of single malt). Kate made pigs in blankets, and we're ready to hole up for the day. Cassidy, of course, is thrilled.

Posted by Avocare at 01:41 PM | Comments (0)

On China:

In an earlier post I raised the larger question of Chinese economic competitiveness; this morning, Thomas Friedman has an Op/Ed in the NY Times that links just that issue to the current Chinese position (or lack thereof) on Iraq and North Korea.

One more 9/11, one bad Iraq war that ties America down alone in the Middle East and saps its strength, well, that may go over well with the cold warriors in the People's Liberation Army, but in the real world — in the world where your real threat is not American troops crossing your borders but American dollars fleeing from them — you will be out of business.

Now which part of that sentence don't you understand?

Which part indeed. (Thanks to Katherine for the tip.)

Posted by Avocare at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)

An Extraordinary Essay:

Bill has posted an essay about Columbia at Eject! Eject! Eject! that is the Gold Standard of weblog prose. I won't try to do it justice, other than to say that at 8:44 this morning, my whole world stopped.

Posted by Avocare at 08:48 AM | Comments (0)

A Moment Of Clarity (Lengthy Post Warning):

So a mate comes over today and we decide to spend some time at the local pub quaffing a few beers and enjoying a world-class beef & cheese sandwich. We sit at the end of the bar, and it’s not long before our conversation turns to war and its portents. This particular friend is a former liberal, who’s now a conservative (but who fancies himself a libertarian--yes, one of those, as am I, I suppose). He’s also one of the smartest people I know, and a policy wonk at heart ... so I can always count on him for an insightful, substantive conversation.

So we begin to talk of the possibility of war. And we find ourselves agreeing that the US must disarm Hussein by force, if necessary. He’s thought this for some time, but the position is relatively new for me. Yes, I have a well-deserved and not always favorable reputation for being … shall I say, firm in my opinions. Nonetheless, a clear view of our policy toward Iraq has been difficult for me to resolve.

In the Gulf War I was certain we’d made a mistake in not finishing the job … that a 100-hour ground war was merely a brief First Act in a much larger play. And I was right: On 9/12, even as the smoke billowed over lower Manhattan, I knew the curtain had raised on Act 2, and that we would—and should—soon return to the Gulf. Then, as the question of inspections came before the UN last fall, I was certain that the time to act was at hand … that additional delay only increased the odds of Saddam using WMD (though likely in defense). But three weeks ago I changed my mind, based on two considerations: First, that (with the exception of Grenada-like engagements) the U.S. had never entered a war from a first-strike posture—a precedent which I was not eager to set; and second, that a regime change in Iraq was not worth more than 10,000 American lives.

Which raises what I think is perhaps the central question: what is the over-under on the American lives we’re willing to lose in Iraq serving a greater interest? 1,000? 5,000? 20,000? It's a trick question, of course: the calculus depends on how one defines our interests. And there are many definitions … which are regularly tramped before us and that run the gambit from nuclear proliferation to revenge.

I was defining our interests then primarily as limiting the proliferation of WMD, and secondarily, as pursing a policy of raining American power upon nations that foster or endorse terrorism. And my gut told me that a war in Iraq may easily produce 10,000 American casualties, which was too great a price to pay for those interests.

But over the past several weeks, I've become increasingly certain that in the face of failing diplomacy, the situation in Iraq does require force … and it is this position that we discussed over our beefs and beers this afternoon.

As often happens in a local pub, on Saturday afternoon, when the cold of winter holds men inside, the noise and libations were a catalyst for conversation … in this case, with nearby man of his early 50s. In 20 minutes of polite but opinionated discussion, he made this argument:

We are likely watching the end of a US hegemony, and my children may not enjoy my same prosperity

The ferment we’re seeing overseas in response to our position in Iraq is a function not of a desire to save Iraqi lives, but rather is a reflection of global frustration with a United States that has lost touch with a changing world

We can reverse our decline if we can better appreciate and find strategic advantage in this changing global mindset

American leadership is too immersed in their own socio-economic context to appreciate this fact, and our motivations in Iraq flow from the self-interest of U.S.-based multinational business

That said, we now are committed to action in Iraq simply from a need to preserve the credibility of American power, and he supports action in Iraq for this reason

North Korea appreciates this, has us behind the eight ball, and will successfully extract concessions as a result

If we don’t shape up soon, in 15 years the Chinese economy will kick the hell out of us

We went back and forth some … he clearly was a bit of a conspiracy theorist, and I had to remind him that Osama bin Laden is a butcher, not a Martin Luther leading a new wave of social change. Even so, this discussion … after the glasses were dry and the bill paid … gave me cause to think. Not because I was unfamiliar with the argument, but because it was so unexpected. Our local pub is not necessarily a place where one expects to find a direct summation of the day's political issues … and certainly not on Saturday afternoon, and not from a total stranger. Nonetheless, as I left the bar, I was struck by the transparency of three conclusions:

First, the U.S. is indeed entering a critical period in its history … one in which it will either adapt to and find advantage in changing global socio-economic dynamics, or continue to pursue policy from outdated assumptions. We face both supply- and demand-side sources of conflict. While disarming Hussein may address the supply-side problem of his destabilization of the region, it does not address the demand-side problem of large numbers of Muslims throughout the Islamic world finding appeal in fundamentalist doctrine. If we continue to pursue policy from our existing assumptions, we will face a more rapid decline in the next century than Britain faced in the last.

Second, we must disarm Hussein as soon as possible. Tony Blair, who has nearly total access to the U.S. intelligence apparatus, is willing to sacrifice his career out of his belief that we must disarm Hussein as soon as possible. Clinton, who was privy to that same apparatus until just two years ago, demonstrates the same certainty. Remove Bush (and all the claims about his conflicts of interest and hidden agendas) from the equation and the people who have full access to the facts are unshaken in their belief that disarming Hussein is not a national security priority, but an imperative. That is all we should need to know.

Finally, we should be unshaken in the primacy of our political principles. My consideration of these issues came about because I engaged in political discourse with a total stranger in a local pub. We did not completely agree. But we also did not lack civility. And we did not fear reprisal from our state. Neither, ironically, did millions of citizens of free democracies across the planet today as they exercised their right to voice opposition to possible state policy (while the Iraqi people for whose safety they advocate are unable to exercise this same right).

* * *

The bottom line: yes, we're in a time of hegemonic flux, and we need to focus on both supply- and demand-side solutions. And yes, we need to disarm Hussein as soon as possible--even if we must do so alone. But even as we endure social discontent in dealing with both of these issues, we should never forget that Democracy works. Our charter of political principles affords greater respect for humanity than any other. Sadly, many of those same protesters forgot that today. But I did not. I never will. Hopefully, neither will you.

Posted by Avocare at 12:28 AM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2003

Dangerous Friendship:

From the February 15 (North) Korean Central News Agency :

Friendship meeting with Iranian embassy officials: A friendship meeting with staff members of the Iranian embassy here took place at the Pyongyang International Cultural Center on Feb. 13 on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic revolution in Iran. Present on invitation were Iranian Ambassador Jalaleddin Namini Mianji and embassy officials.

Posted by Avocare at 02:19 PM | Comments (0)

Chamberlain Redux: Charles at LGF

Chamberlain Redux: Charles at LGF posts a brilliant comment about Iraq, Neville Chamberlain, and "peace in our time."

Posted by Avocare at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)

How You Can Help 3:

How You Can Help 3: Dean has arranged with the Foundation for Defense of Democracy for an online campaign for democracy and human rights in Iraq. To participate, please go to Dean's World, follow his instructions for image and code, and leave a comment noting your participation.

Why? Osama says it best:

We also make it clear that anyone who helps America, from the Iraqi hypocrites (opposition) or Arab rulers, whoever fights with them or offers them bases or administrative assistance, or any kind of support or help, even if only with words, to kill Muslims in Iraq, should know that he is an apostate and that (shedding) his blood and money is permissible (in Islam) ... I also assure those true Muslims should act, incite and mobilize the nation in such great events, hot conditions, in order to break free from the slavery of these tyrannic and apostate regimes, which is enslaved by America, in order to establish the rule of Allah on Earth. Among regions ready for liberation are Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria, the country of the two shrines (Saudi Arabia), Yemen and Pakistan.

(For the suspicious: The FDD is a bi-partisan non-profit research foundation established to further the cause against terrorism in the shadow of 9/11. Board members include Jack Kemp and Jean Kirkpatrick.) And a tip of the hat to Michele for the link.

Posted by Avocare at 12:16 PM | Comments (0)

Today's Sponsor: For today's auxiliary

Today's Sponsor: For today's auxiliary activity I direct you to your online invitation to the "World Says No To War" Anti-War March After-March Party in New York City.

Posted by Avocare at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2003

Boycott Clooney: This post at

Boycott Clooney: This post at Little Green Footballs, and the interview to which it links, sent me ranting about George Clooney ... part time actor and director, full-time moronic political analyst. Go to the link and read the article. Then you'll better understand my comments below.

Wow. THIS was truly a fantastic interview. I've always been a bit smitten with the tussled-hair, aw-shucks, puppy-dog upward-glance Clooney shtick ... now I see he's just another out-of-touch Hollywood dilettante. That’s the problem with paying intellectually average people $15 million for three months of work … they start to think that idolatry equals intellectual superiority and a responsibility for social leadership. I normally wouldn’t do this, but in the spirit of E. Nough, let’s take a look at some of Clowney’s brighter statements:

"People have different cut-off points. They can't tolerate uncertainties. They try to deal with things, and when it all gets too much they turn to religion. For the certainty of it. I don't want to piss on anyone's beliefs and I don't want anyone pissing on mine. For me, when it all gets too much, I think it's my problem, something I've got to face out. I can't dump it on God. But if you must, you must.”

Yes. Turning to faith is obviously a sign of weakness. Just ask Mother Theresa. All those years George, when she was slogging through the filth and waste of Calcutta, feeding lepers and the infirmed with her bare hands, cleaning the vomit and bile from the mouths of malnourished children, she lacked the strength to face her problems from the foundation of her own self-reliance. Weak and incapable of facing adversity, she turned toward God in resignation.

"The question is, do we go on murdering each other, or are we going to take time out to ask ourselves why we're so angry in the first place? I get mad at someone, then I find out more about why they did what they did to make me mad, and the anger disperses. We get angry because we don't have enough information."

Absolutely. Well said. Clearly, if we had simply tried to better understand his position, we would have had enough information to appreciate why Adolph Hitler felt compelled to murder 14 million Jews. We simply failed to appreciate his point of view … more exploration on our part surely would have resulted in our not having to get angry … after all, its only genocide.

“Listen to the language! 'Evil.' 'Evil'? 'Nexus of evil'? 'Evil-doer'? That's my favourite, 'Evil-doer'! What's wrong with their vocabulary: couldn't they come up with 'schmuck'?"

Of course! Political leaders should abandon the rhetoric of statesmanship … never mind the international stage and the fact that they’re establishing both policy and posterity … let the Yiddish fly! We’d all remember 1941 better if Roosevelt had said, “December 7th, 1941 … a really, REALLY shitty day.”

“Look at us," he cries, "we're the guys who marched into France and liberated them, handing out stockings and chocolate. And we've slowly become all the things we fought against. How'd it happen?"

And here it is … the line that shreds my last sinews of respect and interest. Although we once were liberators of chained peoples and the font of world freedom, now we’ve become all the things we’ve fought against. The Nazis. The Stalinists. Which should be clear to any observer … after all, the United States is well known for it’s policy of rounding up citizens, shoving them into rail cars like so much chattel, and shipping them to their deaths. Well … except those who are lucky enough to work in our slave labor camps. Thankfully, we have the book burnings and the state controlled media to occupy our time. Because “we’ve become all the things we’ve fought against.”

George Clooney … actor, director, butcher of history, and perfect example of a person who could only reach fame and fortune in America … a country from whose ideals he benefits, yet fails to understand.

UPDATE: And Lesley agrees ...

Posted by Avocare at 11:56 PM | Comments (0)

Another Way To Say Thanks:

Another Way To Say Thanks: If you missed it in the comments below, Kathy also offers this site. (Thanks, Kathy.)

Here's another one, that lets you write letters to "any serviceman" (you can pick the service).

Posted by Avocare at 06:44 PM | Comments (0)

Say Thanks: Join the over

Say Thanks: Join the over 4,600,000 people who have signed this on-line note of thanks for members of the U.S. military at Defend America. (Thanks to Katherine for the tip.)

Posted by Avocare at 04:57 PM | Comments (0)

A Slippery Slope: I've noticed

A Slippery Slope: I've noticed a startling progression in the Democratic party's presidential hopefuls ...

The 2000 Al

The 2004 Al

The 2008 Al?

Posted by Avocare at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)

Today's Sponsor: For today's auxiliary

Today's Sponsor: For today's auxiliary activity I direct you to the (North) Korean Central News Agency. Typically I only offer the link to each day's Sponsor, hoping you'll enjoy the same joy of discovery I did when finding that site. This site, however, is so astounding, and so chilling, as to almost be beyond belief. As a result, I'll provide a preview if you promise you'll go see for yourself:

National seminar on Kim Jong Il's great revolutionary exploits held: Presented there were the treatises on the great immortal revolutionary exploits Kim Jong Il performed last year under the titles "the peerlessly great man who laid a firm foundation for bringing about a turn in the building of a powerful nation" and "the lodestar of national reunification speeding up on his initiative the implementation of the June 15 Joint Declaration in the idea of national independence and with the might of the army-based policy."

... a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry clarified the Iranian Government's official stand toward the DPRK Government's statement ... saying that the nuclear issue in the Korean Peninsula was caused due to the wrong policy of the United States ...

... Palestinian Ambassador to the DPRK Shaher Mohammed Abdlah who is doyen of the foreign diplomatic corps wrote that seeing Kimjongilias in full bloom he realized how deeply the Korean people are revering Kim Jong Il ...

... the participants in the film show saw a Korean documentary film "The Great Leader Comrade Kim Jong Il Gives On-the-Spot Guidance to the Work in Different Fields." Prior to it, the participants went round famous works of Kim Jong Il and books and photos showing his immortal feats ...

... the Korean Peninsula is getting more and more strained as the days go by due to the U.S. reckless moves to launch a nuclear war there ...

Iron will of brilliant commander: General Secretary Kim Jong Il's will is growing stronger with the situation getting acute on the Korean Peninsula ...

... through the visit to the old home, youth, university students and schoolchildren from throughout the country have vowed to always share the same destiny with Kim Jong Il and prepare themselves as human bombs to defend the headquarters of the revolution ...

Note the conspicuous bedfellows and preponderance of egomaniacal, deific references. This is just a taste, mind you ... go read the rest. It's difficult to fully appreciate who we're dealing with unless you do.

Posted by Avocare at 12:36 AM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2003

A View From London: Not

A View From London: Not all our European allies have fled our side. This editorial in the Times Online makes a case against a strategy of containment.

It is perfectly fair to ask why Saddam and Iraq now constitute a clear and present danger. It is not foolish to wonder whether political tools familiar from the Cold War era — containment and deterrence — cannot be deployed again on this occasion. The suggestion that UN inspectors should be offered more time, extra resources or a stronger mandate is seductive but mistaken. The doctrine of “pre-emption”, which the Bush Administration has adopted as its rationale for war, does appear sweeping in implication, but the potential tragedies being pre-empted are on a breathtaking scale.

Posted by Avocare at 11:23 PM | Comments (0)

Laugh Of The Day: From

Laugh Of The Day: From Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish :

Dennis MIller on Donahue: the New York Times will decide to support a war as soon as they find out Saddam has opened an all-male golfing club in Tikrit.

Posted by Avocare at 07:33 PM | Comments (0)

Whatever Else You Read Today,

Whatever Else You Read Today, Read This: Peggy Noonan has posted an eloquent, somber, and compelling essay on-line at OpinionJournal. Titled Gut Time, the piece traces Noonan's journey through the debate and to her realization that now is the time for action. She also nicely contextualizes that option within the grave reality it will likely bring. With our anxiety rising and the debate heating, it's something everyone -- right, left, or center -- should read. (No registration is required; thanks to Carolynne for the article.)

We cannot expect a successful invasion of Iraq to result in a new age of peace and security. Islamic terrorism won't stop until all the terrorists themselves are jailed or killed. They will probably do terrible things again before the West decides once and for all and en masse to stop them. We are in for rough times. It cannot be said often enough that we are in the era of weapons of mass destruction. It is one thing for a Hitler to plan a war, build up his military and move strategically to get what he wants. It is quite another when a thousand little Hilters get their hands on one huge weapon and passionately, nihilistically go forth to kill. There will be plenty more heartache before the drama is done.

But we can't dodge history. History won't let us. We'll have to deal with it, do our best, lead for the good. Iraq is part of the pattern of world terror. To move against it is a gamble. But to do nothing is a gamble too. It's gambling on Saddam's future goodwill, a new reluctance on his part to use what he has, a change of heart, mind and character. Does that strike you as a safe bet? A good one?

Me either.

Posted by Avocare at 07:25 AM | Comments (0)

Today's Sponsor: This site rocks.

Today's Sponsor: This site rocks. For today's auxiliary activity I direct you to the National Monitoring Directorate of the State of Iraq, the Iraqi agency responsible for the U.N. inspection program. My favorite part: the link to the "Iraq and Disarmament" page is broken.

UPDATE: The "Iraq and Disarmament" link now works ... with content changed as part of the larger cover-up, I'm sure.

Posted by Avocare at 12:16 AM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2003

Franks To Lead Post-Invasion Iraq:

Franks To Lead Post-Invasion Iraq: The February 13 Christian Science Monitor is reporting that the head of the US military's Central Command, Gen. Tommy Franks, will rule Iraq in the initial aftermath of a US invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

A US civilian coordinator, retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, is already presiding over committees of US bureaucrats preparing to address humanitarian relief, reconstruction, and civil administration - all part of a planning effort authorized by President Bush on Jan. 20. General Franks retains overall responsibility for a war and its aftermath.

Posted by Avocare at 11:39 PM | Comments (0)

More On Heathrow: E. Nough

More On Heathrow: E. Nough at Thinking Meat posted this story about increased British military presence at Heathrow Airport. This evening on NPR Crime Correspondent John Steele of London's Daily Telegraph offered more detail: that British troops are spending much of their time patrolling roads near the airport, and in particular, the flight paths for departure from the airfield. Their primary concern: surface-to-air missiles, similar to that used in Kenya.

Click here to visit the audio clip at NPR/All Things Considered.

Posted by Avocare at 11:06 PM | Comments (0)

Shocker: This today from Deutsche

Shocker: This today from Deutsche Welle ... Germany says Bin Laden tape offers no proof of link to Iraq:

Germany has swiftly dismissed U.S. claims that a new audio tape said to be from Osama bin Laden linked the fugitive to Iraq. U.S. officials said the recording was probably genuine and demostrated that the Iraqi president and bin Laden were in cahoots. But Germany said the tape, which called on Muslims to fight the "allies of the devil," appeared to contain no such proof.

Posted by Avocare at 10:06 PM | Comments (0)

Have Blog, Will Travel: Today's

Have Blog, Will Travel: Today's afternoon entry comes to you from Avocare's Detroit Metropolitan Airport L.C. Smith Terminal office. Given the surroundings, I thought a Code Orange road dispatch would be appropriate. Some observations:

Security appears no tighter than usual ... TSA personnel are swarming all over the place, but this is not out of the ordinary.

There is no unusual display of force from local law enforcement or the National Guard.

Detroit itself appears as cold and desolate as usual ... which, if you have never been here, is damn cold, and quite desolate. If you've ever wondered how a Neutron bomb would leave a city, walk Detroit at 6:00 on a February evening.

FYI, if you have yet to deal with the people of the TSA, they are a VAST improvement over the former system of security contractors. First, there are very, VERY many of them. If anyone wondered whether GBv2.0 favored boosting employment through fiscal policy, one must look no further than the TSA. Second, they are very diligent ... that picture on the ID damn well better be you, because they're looking. Third, they are, by and large, also VERY pleasant ... not a security check goes by without at least one "How are you today" or "Travel safe" or "Thanks for flying, have a good trip."

Of course, at first this all comes as a bit of a shock if you're used to the I - hate - my - job - why - are - you - bothering - me - I'd - rather - be - somewhere - else - what's - a - terrorist methods of the prior contractors. But it's easy to get used to, with one exception: one of the reasons TSA employees act the way they do is because many -- and I mean many -- of them are seniors. And these people take their job seriously, are pleasant, and clearly confer these values upon the younger employees around them. The only problem is that when it's time for a pat-down or a jaunt through your dirty knickers, you have the very strong impression that you're being felt-up or searched by your grandmother (or grandfather) ... which is an experience I've frankly not quite gotten used to (but think I can).

Posted by Avocare at 02:57 PM | Comments (0)

The Candidates On War: This

The Candidates On War: This morning's USAToday presents a synopsis of where the major Democratic presidential hopefuls stand on Iraq. The top-line summary:

Lieberman: Go, even if alone
Kerry: Offer an ultimatum, but reserve the right to go in
Edwards (the Common Man): Go, even without the UN
Gephardt: Diplomacy if we can, force if we must
Dean: Get another UN resolution
Shaprton: Calls himself "anti-war"

Posted by Avocare at 08:43 AM | Comments (0)

Today's Sponsor: For today's auxiliary

Today's Sponsor: For today's auxiliary activity I direct you to Uranium Online. Billing itself as "the nuclear fuel eCommerce solution," UraniumOnLine is:

New York Nuclear Corporation's exclusive system to auction nuclear fuel in real time over the Internet, allowing nuclear fuel buyers and sellers to place bids live on line in both forward and reverse auctions.

Wow ... you really can buy anything over the web. They don't, however, accept PayPal.

Posted by Avocare at 08:29 AM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2003

Another French/German Motive: In the

Another French/German Motive: In the International Herald Tribune John Vinocur crafts an interesting analysis not often seen in the U.S. press: That in obstructing U.S. efforts for coalition-building France and Germany are not making a principled stand against military conflict (which none of us believed), nor are they protecting their own economic ties to Iraq (as some have argued more recently). Rather, Vincour argues that the French and German strategy is driven by a desire to symbolically assert the preeminence of the traditional European "core" in the face of EU expansion and the growing influence of nations from the South and East of the continent. Vincour writes:

The point in pressing the case now appears less the expectation of stopping a military strike against Iraq than to create a marker, a reference point for the future in Europe that legitimizes its distance from the United States - before the sheer numbers of an expanded EU or NATO make France and Germany, in their fears, just additional members of an American-oriented provincial sideshow

According to this thesis, then, it's not about principle at all ... it's about the future opportunity for continental power and EU leadership. There's more, and it's worth the read.

Posted by Avocare at 09:05 PM | Comments (0)

From The White House: Ari

From The White House: Ari Fleischer answered a series of questions about the tape during today's White House press briefing PRIOR to its release. You can read the briefing transcript here.

Posted by Avocare at 04:14 PM | Comments (0)

Update & More Of The

Update & More Of The Tape: White House offered a nondescript statement ... no press release at whitehouse.gov yet. CNN's resident experts are increasingly confident this is OBL, within the appropriate contextualizations of when it may have been made, and if it may have been spliced together.

And only one has said this: that OBL's tapes have historically coincided with Al Qaeda attacks.

Wait ... a new excerpt --

We want to let you know and confirm for you that this war is the US and the infidels leading with its allies and friends ... first, we are with you and will fight in the name of God. This is not for the leaders or nations to win, but this is for God winning. God said that those who believe and fight in the name of god ... what you need to do is fight those that believe in Satan. Two, we want to remind you that victory comes from God only ... all we need to do is be prepared and be willing to fight for Jihad ... God will forgive all your sins. [verses from the Koran] ... those that oppress and don't deal fairly with people like those who drink alcohol ... these all are infidels that should be fought in the name of God [more examples from the Koran] ... you should do a good deed before you fight ... it has become apparent through our fighting of the US enemy that they are focusing so much on the psychological war through their propaganda machine and airstrikes ... this is a reflection of their being cowards because their soldiers know that their government are oppressors and have no cause to fight ... they are fighting for the businessmen, including those in the White House ... they have old animosities toward the Middle East, including George Bush the senior ...

Posted by Avocare at 03:57 PM | Comments (0)

And More Of The Tape:

And More Of The Tape:

Killing the infidels is a good thing that will get thee to heaven. And finally I will ask you and myself to pray to God and to stay together and unify our forces ... I remind myself and you that we should always pray and as God said stick together and unite as this is the only way to victory.

Posted by Avocare at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)

More Of The Tape: It

More Of The Tape:

It doesn't matter whether the communist party or Saddam [join to fight] ... they should go for Jihad against this crusade... they should take arms, because this is their duty as Muslims...God said they should pick up their arms and should kill all those who are infidels and who do not believe ... Muslims should have a clear ideology when they fight for God. The prophet said those who fight so that the word of God is the highest .. that is who will end up in heaven ... if the Muslims and communists get together to fight the crusaders, that's OK.

FYI, by communists OBL means the Baathists.

Posted by Avocare at 03:34 PM | Comments (0)

More Of The Tape: In

More Of The Tape:

In the name of God, this is a message to our bothers, Muslims in Iraq ... peace be upon you ... [a verse from the Koran] ... we are following very carefully the preparation of the crusaders to invade the Iraqi land and taking the wealth of the Muslims and installing a regime that has Tel Aviv and Washington on its head to run you ... [for] the establishment of a greater Israel, God forbid. ... we also want to ask the good Muslims to help in any way they can to join the forces and get them together to overthrow the leaderships that act as a slave for Amercia ... Jordan Nigeria, Morroco, Saudi Arabia ...

Posted by Avocare at 03:26 PM | Comments (0)

Some Of The Tape: From

Some Of The Tape: From CNN, to my fingers, to you.

In an earlier speech I had mentioned the bunkers and the way they build them. If you look back at the old battles we fought bravely ... and here I'm going to mention a little bit about this old battle ... and how the bunkers they built turned against them ... we had built some bunkers that were built very close together ... each was for three people to diminish the loss of life. Then the position was attacked ... we were attacked on October 27 very extensively ... then things got a little bit better in the middle of Ramadan.

The punditry is saying OBL is dispensing advice to the people of Iraq.

Posted by Avocare at 03:19 PM | Comments (0)

He Should Know: Khidhir Hamza,

He Should Know: Khidhir Hamza, former director of Iraq's nuclear-weapons program, is claiming inspections are a total waste of time (reg required) in today's Wall Street Journal. And throughout his editorial he makes a strong argument that this is indeed the case. Among the more interesting comments:

My 20 years of work in Iraq's nuclear-weapons program and military industry were partly a training course in methods of deception and camouflage to keep the program secret. Given what I know about Saddam Hussein's commitment to developing and using weapons of mass destruction, the following two points are abundantly clear to me: First, the U.N. weapons inspectors will not find anything Saddam does not want them to find. Second, France, Germany, and to a degree, Russia, are opposed to U.S. military action in Iraq mainly because they maintain lucrative trade deals with Baghdad, many of which are arms-related.

... Put simply, surprise inspections no longer work. With the Iraqis' current level of mobility and intelligence the whole point of inspecting sites is moot ... yesterday's news that Iraq will "accept" U-2 surveillance flights is another sign that Saddam has confidence in his ability to hide what he's got.

And then there's this:

What has become obvious is that the U.N. inspection process was designed to delay any possible U.S. military action to disarm Iraq. Germany, France, and Russia, states we called "friendly" when I was in Baghdad, are also engaged in a strategy of delay and obstruction.

In the two decades before the Gulf War, I played a role in Iraq's efforts to acquire major technologies from friendly states. In 1974, I headed an Iraqi delegation to France to purchase a nuclear reactor. It was a 40-megawatt research reactor that our sources in the IAEA told us should cost no more than $50 million. But the French deal ended up costing Baghdad more than $200 million. The French-controlled Habbania Resort project cost Baghdad a whopping $750 million, and with the same huge profit margin. With these kinds of deals coming their way, is it any surprise that the French are so desperate to save Saddam's regime?

Germany was the hub of Iraq's military purchases in the 1980s. Our commercial attache, Ali Abdul Mutalib, was allocated billions of dollars to spend each year on German military industry imports. These imports included many proscribed technologies with the German government looking the other way. In 1989, German engineer Karl Schaab sold us classified technology to build and operate the centrifuges we needed for our uranium-enrichment program. German authorities have since found Mr. Schaab guilty of selling nuclear secrets, but because the technology was considered "dual use" he was fined only $32,000 and given five years probation.

Meanwhile, other German firms have provided Iraq with the technology it needs to make missile parts. Mr. Blix's recent finding that Iraq is trying to enlarge the diameter of its missiles to a size capable of delivering nuclear weapons would not be feasible without this technology transfer.

Russia has long been a major supplier of conventional armaments to Iraq -- yet again at exorbitant prices. Even the Kalashnikov rifles used by the Iraqi forces are sold to Iraq at several times the price of comparable guns sold by other suppliers.

It appears we should follow the money.

Posted by Avocare at 02:29 PM | Comments (0)

The New Iraqi Tie To

The New Iraqi Tie To Bin Laden: In response to questions today C. Powell stated that a message has surfaced believed to be Osama bin Laden claiming a "partnership with Iraq." Source and credibility are still fuzzy, but here are two very recent takes on the story: the Washington Post and CNN Europe.

UPDATE--Just In From CNN: Al Jazeera now says it does have a statement from Osama bin Laden, which it intends to air later today. In the statement, OBL supposedly claims "partnership" with Iraq and asks that Muslims "show support for Iraq." It will be interesting to see how this adds to the mix ...

UPDATE: Al Jazeera will air the tape (it is an audio, not video tape) at or near 3 PM EST today.

UPDATE 2:53 PM EST: And apparently now they're going to wait ...

UPDATE 2:57 PM EST: And now they're back on for 3 EST ...

Posted by Avocare at 01:58 PM | Comments (0)

New Code Orange Airspace Restrictions:

New Code Orange Airspace Restrictions: If you've been over to A Small Victory, you can see that