March 31, 2003
Sigh. I miss Bob. (scroll
Sigh. I miss Bob. (scroll to More From The Desk Of Me.)
Yes, that is a true story. I seem to think it happened shortly before I decided to start my comic. Speaking of which, there's another similar undertaking in the works. Can't tell you too much about it yet. But lo, it approacheth.
Posted by Matt at 9:58 PM
BREAKING NEWS: Pakistan to Declare
BREAKING NEWS: Pakistan to Declare Al Qaeda Terrorist Group.
No, that isn't in the "Do you have anything to declare?" sense...
Posted by Matt at 4:27 PM
Bob sends along this thoughtful
Bob sends along this thoughtful essay from Bill Whittle, about just how important this war in Iraq could be. It's long, but it's well-written and thought-provoking in an imaginative way that will encourage you to think beyond the short-term of our actions, and the real horror of what might have been had we not decided to act. It's got all sorts of interesting history tie-ins, too.
But of one thing I am absolutely certain. Despite all the switches in the rail yard, there is a flow and a direction to history that cannot and will not be denied.
It is the slow, uneven, grasping climb toward freedom. There are markers on Little Round Top, on the beaches at Normandy, and in the sands of Nasiriyah that show us where men have fought and laid down their lives, and willingly left their wives without husbands and their children without fathers, all for this idea. It is an idea bigger than they are, bigger than self-centered movie stars, bigger than cynical and bitter journalists, bigger than Presidents and Dictators, bigger, in fact than all human failure and miscalculation.
It is the idea that people – all people – deserve to live their lives in freedom.
Posted by Matt at 3:46 PM
Hey, if this is the
Hey, if this is the new breed of suicide-bomber, bring 'em on.
Posted by Matt at 2:41 PM
Iraq Pummeling the US, says
Iraqi forces have killed 43 Coalition soldiers over the past 36 hours and will fight "day and night" to repel the invaders, Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf told reporters.Every time this guy's gums start flapping about the stunning victories his armies have inflicted upon the coalition forces, I smile. Why? Two reasons.
He said Iraqi forces had also destroyed four Apache helicopters, two unmanned US drones and 28 armoured vehicles and tanks.
First, statements like this provide opportunities for the Coalition of the Shrilling (the communist/socialist/anarchist/anti-globalist/anti-captialist/environmentalist bloc in America and elsewhere) to expose themselves for who they really are. They're not against war, they're against American power. They're against the American way of life, and they pretty much spend all their time having meetings and rallies to discuss how to bring down the free republic we live in. (Did anyone else find it odd that A.N.S.W.E.R. was founded on the Saturday after 9/11? They saw the writing on the wall -- that the attack on New York and Washington would only make us stronger.)
But back to the relevant point, you're bound to hear someone repeat Aziz's words as if the man were delivering 100% UN-certified truth -- but in the next breath dismiss the reports from CENTCOM as if they were Nazi propaganda. I understand skepticism; that's healthy and necessary. But the one-sided adherence to Iraq's party line isn't thoughtful or reasoned. It's mindless. And it gives further credence to the theory that they just, quite simply, hate this country and everything that it stands for.
Second, all this blustering is gleefully reminiscent of the rantings and ravings of Mullah Omar and bin Laden. It smacks of desperation and overconfidence. The Iraqi leadership must know in some part of their hearts that they're screwed. And the more that fear starts to set in, the more they'll inflate their paper victories. And I hate to say this, but if this stuff gives the die-hard Saddamites more will to fight, the more the better. We need these guys to fight hard because we need to finish them off. It would not be a good thing if the Republican Guard surrenders. We'd be obligated to allow them to live -- and sooner or later, that would cause far more problems down the road in post-Saddam Iraq. Thus: the more of them we destroy, the more complete our victory, the more secure the future state of Iraq will be.
Posted by Matt at 1:42 PM
Good news on the North
The pipeline shutdown, officially ascribed to a technical problem, followed an unusually blunt message delivered by China to its longtime ally in a high-level meeting in Beijing last month, the sources said. Stop your provocations about the possible development of nuclear weapons, China warned its neighbor, or face Chinese support for economic sanctions against the regime. [...]
"We can't afford to shield North Korea any longer," Zhu Feng, an international security expert at Beijing University, said in an interview last month. "There is increasing recognition here if North Korea is finally armed with nuclear weapons, it will be a big threat to China."
Posted by Matt at 1:06 PM
You've probably seen this commercial:
You've probably seen this commercial: You see two guys fishing, listening to the radio. You hear the news guy finishing up his report, and then passing it off to the weather guy for a quick rundown of the day's forecast. Then "Chopper Dave" breaks in with the morning traffic report, from high above town in the SkyOne chopper. "I love Chopper Dave," says one of the guys fishing.
Little do they know that Chopper Dave -- and all the other voices -- are just some twentysomething guy sitting in a drab cinderblock studio with no windows, doing voices into the mike and reading the information provided to him by his SuperTel Wireless phone (or whatever the company is). Technology! Huzzah!
And now, after that lengthy but necessary setup: Life imitates art. Or, rather, a commercial.
Posted by Matt at 12:57 PM
March 30, 2003
Stephen Den Beste has discovered
Stephen Den Beste has discovered a perfect analogy that describes how the press has been handling its war coverage: point spreads. No, seriously, it really makes a lot of sense:
But the reporters are also engaging in the same kind of phony handicapping that goes on in coverage of the primaries. Yeah, the Americans are moving their columns and only facing minor harassment, and the Iraqis are getting their columns destroyed, but the point is that the Americans were supposed to do even better than that. Irrespective of the absolute situation, they didn't beat the point spread. They didn't do as well as they should have.Imagine a football game. And Texas is supposed to beat Baylor by 56 points. But for whatever reason, Texas doesn't beat the spread. Maybe they were up 35-0 at the half, and Mack Brown decided to give the starters a break. The second and third strings muster only another two touchdowns in the second half. Or, even if the first string stays in, maybe they hold back because they don't want to expose themselves to unnecessary injury. So they only score 49 points. You can come up with about a dozen or so reasons why Texas might not beat the spread, but still completely defeat the inferior Baylor football team. But if they don't win by at least 56 points, the win will still feel like a loss to some people.
The gist seems to be that the pre-game expectations are, to some degree, arbitrary and only relevant in terms of how the outcome is perceived. While I don't think Bush/Rumsfeld/&Co ever said this war would be a cakewalk, I think it's safe to say that they didn't adequately prepare the expectations battlefield before launching the war (and I'm guessing that there was a large part of them that hoped it would be a cakewalk, so I can understand why they didn't sufficiently talk down the expectations for this war). Anyway, these expectations are important. I'd rather see us play down the possibilities of easy victory, and then sock it to 'em, than the other way around.
Posted by Matt at 9:18 PM
Holy God. Now, investigators believe
Now, investigators believe that the hospital was a den of horror rather than healing and was used by the fanatical Feyidah militia as a staging area and headquarters. Inside, the leathernecks found one room that was equipped with a bed and a car battery, indicating that it was used to electrically torture prisoners.No comment would be appropriate.
Posted by Matt at 11:09 AM
And still more: When we
When we finally made it to Safwan, Iraq, what we saw was utter chaos. Iraqi men, women and children were playing it up for the TV cameras, chanting: “With our blood, with our souls, we will die for you Saddam.”I'm just still floored that the Arab News is reporting this stuff. For those of you not keeping score, they're pretty much against the US on everything, with the occassional piece criticizing the Arab world.
I took a young Iraqi man, 19, away from the cameras and asked him why they were all chanting that particular slogan, especially when humanitarian aid trucks marked with the insignia of the Kuwaiti Red Crescent Society, were distributing some much-needed food.
His answer shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did.
He said: “There are people from Baath here reporting everything that goes on. There are cameras here recording our faces. If the Americans were to withdraw and everything were to return to the way it was before, we want to make sure that we survive the massacre that would follow as Baath go house to house killing anyone who voiced opposition to Saddam. In public, we always pledge our allegiance to Saddam, but in our hearts we feel something else.”
Different versions of that very quote, but with a common theme, I would come to hear several times over the next three days I spent in Iraq.
The people of Iraq are terrified of Saddam Hussein.
Posted by Matt at 11:04 AM
Sign of the impending apocalypse:
Sign of the impending apocalypse: The Arab News is reporting from inside Basra, giving a not-too-favorable impression of the Iraqi regime:
The father of three Iraqi soldiers walked his sons through a British-manned checkpoint and told them to surrender themselves.That last line is pretty freaking chilling. What I can't quite figure out is if he's saying that the Iraqi civilians will rise up against the Ba'ath party, or rise up against their Arab neighbors who did everything they could to keep Saddam in power. Either way, it's just another morsel of evidence that at least some Iraqis have been more than a little pissed off about their life under Saddam.
When asked by Arab News why he did this, he said: “This battle is growing more and more hopeless every hour. The Iraqi soldiers are dispirited and running out of ammunition. They are no match for the Americans, and they will be killed. I don’t want that. I would rather that they stayed alive as prisoners of war.”
Arab News asked the three surrendering soldiers — aged 17, 23 and 26 — whether they had actively fought the Americans in Basra.
Their reply was “No, no, no.”
“We are deserting the army,” one of them explained. “We are surrendering to the British because we do not want to fight anymore. We want the protection of the coalition forces as we will surely be hanged by the Iraqi Army for refusing to fight.”
On the way out of the city, as Arab News passed an Iraqi, he asked this correspondent whether I spoke Arabic. He became furious, despite the fact I lied by saying that I did not.
“You’re Arabic, and when this war is over, you will see what we are going to do to the Arabs,” he said. “We will kill the Arabs. They are bastards.”
Posted by Matt at 10:54 AM
Now this is the kind
Now this is the kind of thing I would have liked to have seen.
Posted by Matt at 10:07 AM
By the way, if you
By the way, if you haven't yet discovered Jim Treacher's blog, you're really missing out.
Posted by Matt at 8:46 AM
So, what's on the plate
So, what's on the plate for today?
1) Cleaning up the apartment. Spic-n-span, as they say. I hate doing this, but thanks to my wonderful six-speaker set that came with the Dell (which was totally unexpected), I shall have music to ease the drudgery. And it will be drudgery.
2) Go to the driving range with frere Richard. Richard is a good guy, and you should remember that because he's going to be a politician one day. He almost doesn't want to be one because, well, there's a lot of bad stuff associated with being a politician, but it's the only thing he wants to do. Thankfully for all of us, he's a guy who wants to make government smaller. If he can stick it out, I have all the more reason to admire him.
3) See how my NCAA bracket is doing after the two games today. I entered a contest at ESPN (me and about 1,000,000 of my closest friends), and I'm proud to say that after the two games last night, I'm in the 92.9th percentile. I picked Kansas to beat Arizona, and that was the kicker. Thankfully, no-one saw Marquette coming, so that isn't going to hurt me much. In fact, my score's up from about 30 (percentiles here) after the second round, so all in all, I'm doing Van-Tastic. In the second chance challenge (where you re-pick your teams before the Sweet 16 gets underway), I'm doing even better -- I'm in the 98.9th percentile, with an overall rank of 1965. Out of 500,000 people, that's not too bad. There's bound to be at least a few of those who chose Marquette, though (and I didn't), so I doubt I have any chance of winning this thing, but it's still fun to know I'm in the top 10%, at least for a day. (All this is bound to change tonight. With a little luck, Texas will beat Michigan State, and Oklahoma will cream Syracuse, but there's no telling.)
Posted by Matt at 8:25 AM
And the humor continues.... However
However there is another more... puzzling... aspect to the lack of news [about Australian forces], considering the Australians are the only group to invite the Al-Jazeera TV channel to embed journalists with them. A recently broadcast signal from a Australian SAS unit 'somewhere in Iraq' made mention that they had run out of embedded journalists and could they send a couple more out, preferably less stringy ones this time. It is unclear what the significance of that last remark was.
If you don't get it, the first comment on that page ought to shed some light. And if you don't get it after reading that, may I recommend that you brush up on your history, or at least see this.
Posted by Matt at 8:03 AM
March 29, 2003
This story just in from
This story just in from Fox News:
Saddam Hussein has fired his commander of air defenses as U.S.-led forces claimed control of 95 percent of Iraq's sky, the British government said Saturday.Fired? More like: fired off a couple of shots into the poor guy's skull! Eeesh!! (rim shot)
You know, though, of course, in Baghdad, when they say you're about to get a pink slip, they're really talking about the color of your toe tag! (rim shot) Hey now!
But seriously, folks, they way they do business in Iraq isn't all that different from how they do business here. For instance, just like here in the US, they say that the best day to fire someone is on a Friday. No, not because it minimizes that chances of an office incident, but because that's the day the garbage men come to dispose of the guy. Hoooo! (rim shot)
Yeah, Saddam Hussein's a tough guy. But you'd be pissed, too, if you lost 95% of your airspace. Airspace, for those of you who don't follow these things, is defined as all the air between a country's borders. Air space. Or in Michael Moore's case, it's the space between his ears! (rim shot) Ha! Try and stop me.
Then again, Michael Moore is about the size of a small country, so, you can see why there's some confusion. (guitar riff)
But really, all joking aside, this war in Iraq is shaping up to be a tough one. Just yesterday, a platoon of soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division came under heavy fire from Iraqi artillery. Lucky for them, though, they were all able to take cover behind Geraldo's mustache. Ha! (rim shot)
I should write for Jay Leno. Or Jimmy Kimmel, probably.
Posted by Matt at 6:49 PM
We should just oust Saddam
We should just oust Saddam nonviolently! Why didn't anyone think of this before?
Good idea! First we'll coax Saddam out of his bunker with a trail of delicious candy. Then, once his belly is full and he's all sleepy and happy, we'll calmly explain that we don't approve of what he's been doing and it's not very nice and we wish he'd stop. And he'll be like, "Whoa, I never thought of it that way. You guys are my friends! I like you!" And then everybody will hug and cry, and then get a little embarrassed about crying, and then make some jokes to cover up being embarrassed. And then a beautiful rainbow will appear, and a shy unicorn will walk down it, and Saddam will ride it to the North Pole, and he'll spend the rest of his life helping Santa make wonderful toys for all the good little girls and boys, and there'll be hot chocolate, and, and, and nobody will ever ever die again for any reason.
Link via the ever-growing-nearer-to-my-heart Tim Blair. (I've found that I have a high chance of getting along with Aussies anyway.)
Posted by Matt at 5:51 PM
March 28, 2003
I DON'T POST AS MUCH
I DON'T POST AS MUCH AS I FEEL LIKE I SHOULD. To this blog, I mean. Reason being that I've sort of adopted a flavor and a tone for it, and my tendency is to follow the established pattern. Which means that I invoke the self-censor an awful lot; a whole slew of posts that never were are still hanging about in the brain. This isn't always a good thing, and I plan to make this page far more reflective of the whole spectrum of what I'm thinking and doing.
Is that a universal response? Are most people driven to do better when they know others are watching? I honestly don't know the answer to that question. In fact, I find that I'm really quite clueless on what Most People do and think. That lack of understanding has led to a lot of confusion in my life.
More on this stuff some other time.
I'm heading off to Houston today to meet with my accountant. We're going to figure out a plan for my future wealth and prosperity.
Posted by Matt at 9:43 AM
Let's hope that when I
Let's hope that when I die, I don't have a vindictive mistress and ex-wife. Or at least, let's hope that they're not as clever as the ones who came up with this.
Posted by Matt at 9:27 AM
One more reason to be
One more reason to be optimistic about the future: these guys.
Met with some of the locals again today.
They were excited. They are anticipating the end of Saddam’s evil regime even more than we are.
They were glued to their satellite TV set, switching between Al-Jazeera, FOX News, BBC, the local station, and Iraqi TV. They especially enjoyed the female anchor on FOX, with her short skirt.
“What city?” One asked, pointing at the woman on the TV.
“I must go there!” They all laughed.
Posted by Matt at 9:20 AM
March 25, 2003
I seriously thought this was
I seriously thought this was an article from the Onion. Sadly, it's not. UN in charge of inspections, Annan insists:
"[The inspections] have only been suspended temporarily because it's inoperable given the situation on the ground," Mr. Annan said. He added the inspectors planned to resume their work as soon as it was safe to return.
Posted by Matt at 7:46 AM
On the personal front, I
On the personal front, I am pleased to report that I am not doing what I did after 9/11, which is to say that I'm not glued to the damned TV. (It is damned, by the way. Watch the news too much and you'll think you are in hell.) I hope it's not just me, either. Whether you agree with this war or not, we're committed to it now, and we don't need to get all wobbly because we suffer casualties.
If you are having worries about the war -- and I don't mean the usual worries; I'm talking about full-blown anxiety here -- you might want to read this to get a little perspective. It's too easy to go along with whatever spin the media wants to give the day's events. And think about it -- they're in the business of making stories. So they'll play up the good days as "stunning victories" and play up the bad days as "crippling defeats".
Watch the news, but realize: the better they are at getting you to feel something, the more you are likely to keep watching; the more you watch, the more their ratings go up; the higher their ratings, the more they can charge for advertising. That isn't to say that they're maliciously manipulative. You just gotta recognize that the shivers you're getting and the pounding heart in your chest sound an awful lot like clinking coins bouncing around in their vaults.
Personally, my skin's a lot thicker than it was two years ago. If this article is right, maybe America's skin has indeed hardened into a good crusty shell. Which for some odd reason makes me think of Easter candy, but having no idea what Easter candy has a thick crusty shell, I'm afraid I'm at a loss for why.
OKAY, UPDATE: Bryan's been reading this here bloggy blog, evidently:
"Whether you agree with this war or not, we're committed to it now..."All right, all right. I admit it: that statement is not an absolute, and it could be horribly misapplied. Bryan's right for calling me on this.
Though it doesn't seem to apply here and hopefully won't, don't be
blinded by statements like this.
BUT, I should say, as I've said before, I do think we're doing the right thing here. Of course we shouldn't doggedly stick to our guns regardless of how things play out (that would be really frickin' foolish). But here's the point: If you know what you're doing is right, you've got to stick to the plan and not lose your resolve. I think, as a culture, we're still too far on the Emotional side of the spectrum. Which isn't to say that the pendulum isn't swinging back in the right direction, but it does make me concerned that we're going to get weak-kneed when we don't execute this campaign flawlessly.
Posted by Matt at 1:22 AM
March 24, 2003
Been there, done that: Iraqi
Been there, done that: Iraqi soldiers surrender.
Shocking twist: Iraqi soldiers dress like civilians to attack US soldiers.
But that's a twist: Iraqi civilians dress as soldiers so that they can surrender.
Near Zubayr, some civilians can be seen walking to the checkpoints set up by the invading forces. The civilians pretend to be Iraqi soldiers who want to surrender, a move to secure U.S. military "meals-ready-to eat" and bottles of mineral water.
But they are turned away after failing to present proper identification.
"I would like to surrender," said one man, who was quickly rejected by a British soldier.
Posted by Matt at 11:36 PM
March 23, 2003
Yeah, bad news today. Just
Yeah, bad news today. Just shows what f*ckers those guys are.
Let's say we were invaded by, say, China. If we captured invading soldiers, there's no chance in hell we would ever treat them the way the Iraqis are treating our POW's. Just another reason why we need to do a good forced import of civilization to that part of the world.
Good news: The 101st has taken control of a big chemical plant. (Sorry, registration is required for this one.)
Posted by Matt at 12:10 PM
More on the UN from
More on the UN from Robert Tracinski:
The real basis of the United Nations is global collectivism—the belief that America's judgment and interests must be subordinated to the collective opinion of the "world community." When the Times' Friedman, for example, calls the attack on Iraq a "war of choice" that should not be waged without a vast international consensus, what he means is that the choice of how America defends itself ought to be made by France, Russia, Cameroon, Chile—by anyone and everyone except the United States.
And going on:
Any time free nations agree to subordinate themselves to a collective consensus with hostile dictatorships, it is only the free nations that lose—and it is only the dictatorships that gain.
Yeah, that about sums it up. Didn't Saddam himself say that the longer the debate at the UN goes on, the more things work in his favor?
Posted by Matt at 6:26 AM
March 22, 2003
I haven't laughed this hard
Posted by Matt at 2:05 AM
March 21, 2003
You know you're off the
Posted by Matt at 7:48 AM
Blix says Iraq may have
WASHINGTON - Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix yesterday said Iraq violated its agreement with the United Nations if the missiles it fired at American troops were Scuds.
"I'm very interested to know whether they used Scuds," Blix said in an interview with the Fox News Channel. "If they're firing [Scuds], of course that shows that there's a violation," he said.
I think this means we ought to have more inspections to get to the bottom of this. Oh wait.
Posted by Matt at 7:40 AM
March 20, 2003
Interesting report from a PBS
It's very hard, though, for anybody to understand this. It can only be understood in terms of the depth of repression here, and it has to be said that this is not universal, of course. Having traveled throughout Baghdad in the last few hours, I can tell that you there are occasions when people are angry-- an old woman selling vegetables -- somebody pulling up alongside me in a car with a Kalashnikov who made a big show of snapping a magazine into the Kalashnikov in a most menacing way. There are, of course, people who, because they are loyalists of the regime or out of fear or out of suspicion of America's motives, don't want this war at all. And we don't know how numerous they are, and we also don't know... still don't know, given the nature of this closed society, how numerous are the others.
All I can tell you is that-- and every reporter who is currently here will attest to this-- that the most extraordinary experience of the last few days has been a sudden breaking of the ice here with people in every corner of life coming forward to tell us that they understand what America is about in this. They are very, very fearful, of course, of errant bombing, of damage to Iraqi infrastructure, and they are very concerned about the kind of governance... the American military governance that they will come under afterwards...
But there is absolutely... can I just say there is absolutely no doubt, no doubt that there are many, many Iraqis who see what is about to happen here as the moment of liberation.
[Link via Hit and Run.]
I've always been optimistic that taking strong action -- as we seem to be doing now -- will do more on the hearts-and-minds front than any any other viable alternative. But make no mistake about it: these same people who welcome our arrival -- they'll be the ones who will make or break this campaign. What happens after Saddam will be the gauge of success or failure here.
Posted by Matt at 7:52 PM
Priceless: In Baghdad, Iraqi Information
In Baghdad, Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Al-Sahaf said he had heard a report that U.S. forces had downed a Scud. "But we don't have Scud missiles," he said.
At this point, it's become crystal-clear that throughout this issue, the crux of whether you support this war or not is dependent on who you believe. You either think that Iraq is telling the truth and the US is lying, or it's the other way around.
Call me just freaking insane, but if it's Iraq that's telling the truth, you'd have to believe that this whole action is the biggest Wag the Dog action that's ever been conceived in the history of humanity. Which is a little beyond the pale of believability.
UPDATE: Of course, all information at this point is pretty volatile. So if there is a discrepancy here, there's always the chance that it's an honest mistake.
It's still the perfectly predictable Iraqi response, though.
Posted by Matt at 5:29 AM
March 18, 2003
What a bunch of freaking
What a bunch of freaking weasels.
If the war starts and if (President) Saddam Hussein uses chemical or biological weapons, it would change completely the situation for the French president and for the French government, and President (Jacques) Chirac will have to decide what we will do to help the American troops to confront this new situation.
Two things, Frenchies: 1) If you think the threat is substantial enough that Saddam might actually use the weapons that he's said he doesn't have, why do't you jerks act more like men before he uses them? And 2) You bastards actually think that we'll let you help, should you so "decide" that you will assist the coalition? You're toads. You're weasels. At least stick to your freaking guns. We'd have far more respect for you if there was at least a semblance of principle behind your gutlessness (and you must know, our respect for you can only improve from here).
I still don't know how to say "weasels" in French, but no matter.
Posted by Matt at 3:36 PM
March 17, 2003
On France's foreign policy in
On France's foreign policy in the post-9/11, post-Cold-War world: What France really wants
France is no longer a great power; its influence will not come as a result of the size of its military or the robustness of its economy. It will come from imposing on the international system a system of procedures, rules and regulations that will constrain the ability of more powerful states, and particularly the United States, to act without France’s assent.
Isn't that sort of how a lot of people work? They know they can't compete, so they do everything they can to bring down the ones who can.
Posted by Matt at 4:39 PM
So what happens when an
So what happens when an Iraqi-American calls a talk show to confront a peace activist who's on for the hour? How exactly will leaving Saddam in power lead to peace and justice in Iraq?l. My favorite part (transcribed by me):
Yes civilians will die, my cousins will die, maybe, Allah forbid. But here is a certainty that you do not understand in your simplistic Nickelodeon diplomacy is that you are guaranteed to have civilians die under Saddam. So now you try again to answer my question without playing the poing-pong: How does leaving Saddam in power promote peace and justice in Iraq? ...
If he is removed, there will be some [death], but for a short time, and the Iraqi people are ready and they will welcome the Americans.
It's sad how poorly the peace activist defends her case when faced with one of the people Saddam has personally affected. In six minutes she never answers the question.
And yes, I steal all my links from InstaPundit. Okay, not all. Just the ones that I think are worth spreading to the three people who read this blog on a bi-weekly basis.
Posted by Matt at 4:33 PM
March 12, 2003
Robert Tracinski on Hans Blix:
It turns out that Blix has failed to present us even with the satisfying drama of being obviously ineffectual. Instead, he has done what career diplomats do best: please everyone a little. He has been just tough enough to avoid being dismissed as a cream-puff by the United States; just accommodating enough to the Iraqis to seem like he is not "in America's pocket"; and just balanced enough in his appraisals to allow the French and Germans to declare that the inspections are "working."Nothing totally new or spectacular, here, but this is a great summation of Blix's role in all this. I've recently had a number of debates with people who have insisted that Blix believes that Iraq is cooperating, while I think Blix has made it clear enough that it isn't.
A perfect display of Blix in action was his performance over the weekend, when Blix declared that Iraq's token dismantling of a few missiles was "a very significant piece of real disarmament" — while also acknowledging that Iraq's disarmament has been "very limited so far." Blix always manages to achieve this kind of balance. The pattern is: Iraqi cooperation has improved, but they must do more. This kind of statement is like a Rorschach test: everyone is free to see in it what he wants to see. The Bush administration can point out that Iraq is not fully cooperating; the French and Russians can point out that the inspections show signs of "progress"; the Iraqi regime can point out that the inspectors have still found no "smoking gun."
If anything, this ambiguity just shows that Blix's real purpose has not been to discover whether Iraq has disarmed -- as he was mandated to do by UN 1441 -- but to stave off war, regardless of the findings of the inspection team. Which begs the question: what was the point of assigning Blix a task he wasn't going to do in good faith? What's the point of any of it? More and more, the UN is proving itself to be nothing more than an ineffectual nuisance, plain and simple.
Posted by Matt at 4:04 PM
Some interesting reading from the
Some interesting reading from the folks at Wired: How Hydrogen Can Save America.
I couldn't agree more that our reliance on foreign oil is doing major damage to our ability to defend ourselves. As mentioned in the previous article I posted, we've been sending the sheikhdoms and the mullahs too much money -- money which is being invested in organizations whose stated purpose is to destroy us. I don't take that lightly. It isn't quaint; it isn't cute (and if you think so, you haven't discovered what a condescending racist you most likely are. I get a little miffed at the eggheads who think the brown people over there are entitled to whatever rage they think they feel, because, after all, they haven't had the benefit of civilization long enough for us to expect that they would come to value the things we value, such as human life. If you academics and bleeding-hearts really respected them, you'd hold them to the same ethical standards you hold yourself. End rant.). Oil is the lifeblood of the whole Jihad Inc. system. It's time to pull the plug. It's time to stop paying for our own destruction.
Posted by Matt at 3:21 PM
March 11, 2003
I've been trying for over
I've been trying for over a year to be able to explain the root of the problem with the Arab world -- why Al Qaeda, Hussein, the Palestinians -- how they're all connected. Then Lee Harris comes along and whips out this eloquent explanation:
When people are forced to create their own material world through their own labor, they are certainly not setting out to achieve a greater insight into the nature of reality - they are merely trying to feed themselves, and to provide their children with clothing and a roof over their heads. And yet, whether they will or no, they are also, at every step of the way, acquiring a keener grasp of the objective nature of world. A man who wishes to build his own home with his own hands must come to grips with the recalcitrant properties of wood and gravity: he must learn to discipline his own activities so that he is in fact able to achieve his end. He will come to see that certain things work and that others don't. He will realize that in order to have A, you must first make sure of B. He will be forced to develop a sense of the realistic - and this, once again, is a cultural constant, measured entirely by the ability of each particular culture to cope successfully with the specific challenge posed by the world it inhabits.
But all of this is lost on the man who simply pays another man to build his home for him. He is free to imagine his dream house, and to indulge in every kind of fantasy. The proper nature of the material need not concern him - gravity doesn't interest him. He makes the plans out of his head and expects them to be fulfilled at his whim.
If we look at the source of the Arab wealth we find it is nothing they created for themselves. It has come to them by magic, much like a story of the Arabian nights, and it allows them to live in a feudal fantasyland.
What Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein have in common is that they became rich because the West paid them for natural resources that the West could simply have taken from them at will, and without so much as a Thank You, if the West had been inclined to do so. They were, by one of the bitter paradoxes of history, the pre-eminent beneficiaries of the Western liberalism that they have pledged themselves to destroy. Their power derives entirely from the fact that the West had committed itself, in the aftermath of World War II, to a policy of not robbing other societies of their natural resources simply because it possessed the military might to do so - nor does it matter whether the West followed this policy out of charitable instinct, or out of prudence, or out of a cynical awareness that it was more cost effective to do so. All that really matters is the quite unintended consequence of the West's conduct: the prodigious funding of fantasists who are thereby enabled to pursue their demented agendas unencumbered by any realistic calculation of the risks or costs of their action.
I think this essay will go down in history as one of the most memorable ones of our time.
Posted by Matt at 12:19 PM
March 10, 2003
The day they capture Osama
Posted by Matt at 10:08 AM
March 9, 2003
Blah blah blah blah blah
Blah blah blah blah blah blah.
Boy, there's just a whole lot of nothin' going on right now. Well, to me at least.
I'm fascinated that Letter from Gotham has been saying March 18th would be the day for war -- two weeks before the latest announcement that March 17th would be the final deadline for Saddam. I don't know how she knew it, but she knew it. Which makes me wonder if all these shenanigans at the UN -- France and Germany, Russia, all doing their thing -- were anticipated and built into the plan. Who knows. Letter from Gotham chick makes some sort of allusion to George W. Bush hunting like a cat or scorpion -- waiting silently and then STRIKESTRIKESTRIKE! But I don't get the connection.
Heard from friend Steve today. He's in a new production of Midsummer Night's Dream in Stratford, Connecticut coming up next month. I immediately checked the Austin theater audition listings to see if anything was going on... but as Kirsten said: This is Austin. Not New York. Sigh.
Found out that Ross's friend Libby found out this weekend that she got into UT Law . She won't be sure if she's going until all the letters roll in, but if I do end up at law school, I'll at least have one friend in the class. For some odd reason, I've always liked her.
More programming to do today. It's the final lap, so to speak, on this project that I've been working on. Shouldn't be a big deal. It'll be good to be able to focus my attention completely on the other projects I've been working on soon.
Cleaned up the apartment some yesterday. Still have a lot to do on it. It's a wonder how different it looks clean.
Fun fact: Did you know that I can still get about $300 for my 10G iPod on eBay? I'm going to use the money to get a new 20G Zen MP3/WMA player -- and I might have a little left over. Say what you want about Microsoft; WMA is twice as good as MP3 (top link, click "Start Demo"). For the same audio quality, WMA files are about 60% the size of MP3 files -- which means 20G is the top end of what anyone like me will EVER need. 5000 songs is about 500 CD's -- and I don't even own half that many.
More to the point: What the hell is Apple thinking, selling its iPods for so much? I bought one, sure. But I felt instantly ripped off, when, in hindsight, I did my homework and realized what the competition was offering. They hooked me because it looked cool and I had just bought my iMac. Which also looked cool, but the inability to upgrade the hardware was frustrating to the point that I had to sell it. Just say this: lesson learned. I have a Dell now, and I'm VERY happy with it.
Posted by Matt at 1:57 PM
March 6, 2003
An FBI "whistleblower" is tooting
An FBI "whistleblower" is tooting again:
She said she was moved to write the letter because a war with Iraq could come soon. She also said she has a "strong conviction" that if the United States attacks Iraq without a second U.N. resolution or some other international mandate, many of the nation's enemies will unite and bring on more terrorism.
What's that line about addressing issues that are beyond your pay grade? Maybe Bob could shed some light on how having a sanction from the UN will make the terrorists less likely to strike -- and more importantly, how an agent in the FBI would have insight into this matter.
Posted by Matt at 5:20 PM
Would you pay $14,000 for
Would you pay $14,000 for this?
Posted by Matt at 11:44 AM
March 5, 2003
Yeah, we're, uh, doing it
Posted by Matt at 11:18 AM
March 1, 2003
I don't want to bash
I don't want to bash on Clinton, but it's becoming clear now that his foreign policy was led by one principle: don't let any Americans get killed.
Sometimes Mohammed's escapes have been abetted by the caution of his pursuers. In one instance, in 1996, U.S. intelligence had determined that Mohammed was in Doha, Qatar. Some American officials wanted to organize what they call a "snatch and grab," essentially a commando raid, to seize him.
"Good intel had placed him in Qatar. This was, 'Oh my God! This bastard is in Doha -- let's get him," said one person involved in the investigation.
This plan was defeated when high-level managers complained during a White House meeting that it was too risky and might result in American deaths, according to two people involved in the decision. They said this failure to act decisively characterized the U.S. government's lack of a serious approach to terrorism before the Sept. 11 attacks.
They turned down Osama at least once, too. Call me crazy, but it seems the net effect of that policy was not the deaths of fewer Americans -- but the deaths of far more American civilians.
Isn't that the point of the military? To have them be on the front lines, so the rest of us don't have to be? Our military is the best in the world -- and they all enlisted of their own free will. Of the military men I know, they take pride in the possibility of saving lives, even if it means that they put themselves at risk. That's the kind of people they are. It's an insult that our foreign policy was for so long guided by a principle that literally kept them from doing their job.
Posted by Matt at 5:46 PM
Got the F*cker. Khalid Sheikh
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- if you don't know who this guy is, or if you're confused about who's who in Al Qaeda, you don't get much bigger than this guy. I'd say he's a more important catch than Osama bin Laden or Ayman Al-Zawahiri (probably the only two guys above Mohammed).
If you're confused about this, think of it this way: After Enron, they didn't arrest Kenneth Lay -- they arrested Jeff Skilling. Skilling knew everything that was going on; Lay didn't. There's a point in some companies where the highest-ups don't know what goes on, and they let their "lieutenants" do all the major work.
That's exactly what this was. Mohammed is the head of operations, so to speak, of the entire operation. He knew everything about everything. And while the odds are that he won't sing, taking him out of the loop is sure to cause some disruptions in operations. Here's to hoping the CIA got his laptop (and with it, every name, address, and phone humber of every Al Qaeda cell here and abroad). And failing that, here's to hoping that the CIA doesn't follow the letter of the law when interrogating him.
I say bust out the bastanada.
UPDATE: This reminds me. I haven't told nearly enough people what I think should be done about the memorial to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. (Khaled Skeikh Mohammed plays a key role, so it's related.) Now that the new design has been chosen for the WTC site, I'll have to forward this to the designer toute suite.
The idea is that on ground level -- or below it, if you prefer -- there's a memorial to the victims of the attack. And a museum, detailing the events. You can picture it: there's a timeline along one wall; there are photographs of all the hijackers and where they came from; there are monitors with translated videos of Osama bin Laden. (There are probably pictures of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, too -- they say he was the chief planner of the attack.)
So as you wind your way through the museum, you get the story of what happened on that day. And then -- you come to the end.
Right in the center of a plexiglass-enclosed cylinder, you see Osama bin Laden's head -- his real head, mind you -- encased in plastic. And pouring down on his head, inside this plexiglass enclosure, is the entire sum of the new WTC complex's sewer system, routed to rain down on this exhibit twenty-four hours a day, every day of the year, for the rest of eternity. The torrent of sewage would rain down on Osama's head forever.
I think a memorial like this would: 1) make people understand the magnitude of the lives that Al Qaeda took that day; and 2) show them that justice will be done, and that even in death, you don't get away with that shit.
Posted by Matt at 5:17 PM
Even in France, public housing
Even in France, public housing is a "breeding ground for violence and crime":
Long criticized for creating ghettos of jobless immigrants in a nation where equality was a founding principle, the state housing projects thrown up around France's cities from the 1960s have always provided a breeding ground for violence and crime.
Known in French as "cites," the high-rise estates, crumbling citadels of poverty turned in on themselves, provide would-be gangsters with a maze of shady basements where drug trafficking, dealing in guns and intra-gang fights are rife.
More distressing are the sporadic beatings by youth gangs who stoop low enough to pick on the old and infirm. Hoodlums looking for fun also steal thousands of cars each year, take them for a white-knuckle joy ride then set them ablaze.
No doubt, these boys grow up into responsible adults who solemnly appreciate the efforts of "the people" to support them with subsidized housing as youths. I don't have the link handy, but I've also read that these state-sponsored slums also happen to be the breeding ground for quite a few Islamic extremists.
I'm just waiting for the day that France wakes up, realizes that its dreams of socialist utopia have been -- all along -- a recipe for suicide, and tells the world how it has renounced its evil ways in a touching, heart-rending monologue that would be sure to leave no eye dry in the house. It's a Lifetime movie waiting to happen.
Posted by Matt at 7:01 AM