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April 2004 Archives

April 30, 2004

Letter from Baghdad

By Robin Burk at 19:22

From a Command Sgt. Major serving in Iraq. The letter was written to the brother-in-law of a colleague of mine. Contact info deleted but the rest of the letter is unedited. WOC doesn't support photos (and I don't keep a personal blog right now for several reasons), so I can't share with you the photos he sent ... nearly a dozen shots of smiling kids, a new soccer field and a sports plex they'll enjoy.

Not all of the story is happy, though, as you'll see when you read it .....

Vocabulary: OPTEMPO = operations tempo, i.e. being incredibly busy; FOB = forward operating base; BN = battalion; IBA = individual body armor

Greetings from Southern Baghdad,

29 April, 04 I've missed a couple of days because of OPTEMPO. But here's what we've done.

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  • Armed Something: Good "letter." Also liked the pics. Seeing all the amateur read more
  • Robin Burk: asdf, good luck trying - these were made for AKs, read more
  • Lurker: Iraqi Police read more

Hats off to Mark Hyman, VP Sinclair Broadcasting

By Celeste at 10:45

There are a number of people annoyed with ABC News' decision to air a special edition of Nightline, in which Ted Koppel will recite the names of those American soldiers killed in Iraq. ABC News has disingenuously asserted that they weren't aware that the planned broadcast date for the show was going to occur right during the May sweeps.

Thankfully, not all broadcasters are swallowing that tripe, and Sinclair Broadcasting in Baltimore, has announced that they will not air that edition of Nightline.

Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcasting is pre-empting the live program on its ABC affiliates, citing ethical conflicts. "We find it offensive that Ted Koppel is trivializing the deaths of so many men and women. This is not a one-year anniversary of the war, or Memorial Day. This is 'sweeps week,' and he intends to use a news platform for a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq," said Sinclair Vice President Mark Hyman yesterday.
I say hats off to Mark Hyman, for taking a stand and refusing to sensationalize our war dead for ratings.

Update: Sinclair Broadcast Group's official statement regarding Nightline, and their response to Sen McCain's letter (reprinted in the comments section by asdf) can be found here.

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  • AMac: David Laning, Neither of your ad hominem attacks merit a read more
  • David Laning: It has been repeatedly demonstrated that the Chicken Hawks, who read more
  • AMac: Jeesh. read more

Dan's Winds of War: 2004-29-04

By Dan Darling at 03:33

Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Dan Darling. of Regnum Crucis.


  • Joe was already kind enough to blog a post on my take on the Amman plot by al-Qaeda to use chemical weapons in Jordan. This was easily an attack on par with 9/11 for al-Qaeda. The full transcript of the confessions as they were delivered to Jordanian TV are also well worth reading.
  • 3/11 mastermind Amer Azizi has been indicted as a co-conspirator in the 9/11 attacks. Azizi is a key Zarqawi lieutenant, which would seem to clarify any lingering doubts as to his relationship with al-Qaeda.

Other Topics Today Include: Iraq Briefing; Iran Reports; 12 Hezb-e-Islami members arrested in Kabul; Pakistan hopes amnesty deal will stem tribal support for al-Qaeda; Nek Mohammed formerly an al-Qaeda trainer; Hamid Karzai prepared for amnesty for rank-and-file Taliban; Abu Bakar Bashir tied to Bali bombing; self-professed al-Qaeda supporters operating openly in Europe; Captain Hook gets 9 more months in the UK; Saudi cash and Turkish jihadis fueling Chechen war; Philippines watching Janjalani; Saudi terrorists dress in drag and flee to mountains; al-Muqrin sez he didn't bomb Riyadh; Sudan ditches Syrian WMD; Damascus terrorist cell battle; Honduras investigating Muslim converts; and UFOs in Iran.

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  • Dan Kauffman: You know, as soon as I saw that story, I read more
  • cbk: Let me go further on your "acting biased", Josh. I read more
  • cbk: Josh, I think your bias is showing. No, in fact, read more

April 29, 2004

Put Me In, Coach!!

By Armed Liberal at 05:27

Only TWO bids!! The shame. The loss of face. I can't stand it.

[Updated Update: Forget the whole thing. It closes Thursday at midnight Pacific (GMT -0800).]

OK, I can't stand it any more.

I've been a worker bee for Spirit of America for a while, but haven't been a part of the recent blog frenzy to raise money for them. And I feel...lonely. Left out. Like I'm on the bench during the Big Game. They're so close to the $50,000 mark.

Well, put me in, Coach!!

Since I alwys root for the underdogs, we're going to join the Liberty Alliance.

I'm sure Joe (and Jan) will chime in with their own ideas, but I'm going to auction off one of each of these items:

  • Lunch or Dinner at a Favorite Dive With Armed Liberal and Tenacious G!! Yes, if you are in the Los Angeles area, and willing to eat at one of the following divine restaurants: The Pit BBQ, Zankou Chicken, Gallo's Grill, Tacos Delta, The Shack, or Riviera Mexican Grill (nondisclosure required. see my post here for more details).
  • A Day At The Range With Armed Liberal!! Yes, nimrod or Nimrod (the great Biblical hunter), I'll take you to the range, provide safety gear, weapons, ammo, range fees, and - if you want it or not - instruction. (nondisclosure required.)
  • A full package, including all of the above!!

Bids are in the comments below; I'll pick up all shipping on the goods, you're responsible for all damaged sensibilities. Please note which item you're bidding on...

Joe?? Jan?? Step up, step up...

  • JK: Baseball game in Toronto's Skydome with Joe. Skyclub 200 level (padded seats) right behind home plate. 2 seats for auction x 2 games available = 4 tickets. Face value = $54 per.

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  • Levaquin: Info on Levaquin online. read more
  • Amoxicillin cheap: Amoxicillin online information. read more
  • Steve: Patterico Neither do I. Believe I was falling about to read more

Riding With PFC Chance

By Armed Liberal at 01:10

I got this in my email box a few days ago, and set it aside to try and verify its source. I didn't get around to it (as I should have) and Blackfive beat me to it.

So let me send you over there to see how typical Americans react to our war dead, at the recent funeral of a Marine.

I post this both as a way of showing my own regard for our troops, those alive and well and those who are not, and as a cautionary reminder to those who may share many of my politics, but not my respect for the troops and the cause in which they fight.

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  • Steve: I also recall Pfc. Lori Piestewa. There are too many read more
  • Dan Kauffman: Then there is the reaction of original Americans as well. read more
  • Scott: praktike: Scott, the sad thing is, the power broker we read more

April 28, 2004

The Challenge

By Armed Liberal at 23:59

Two more days, people.

In case you're wondering how the Grand Challenge Of The Blogosphere is playing out (raising money for Spirit of America), go check out the results a few times a day. Of course, you'll have a credit card handy...

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  • Anand Kumar: Official Website of Shri Srinivasa Ragavaswamy charitable Trust in South read more
  • Steve: I hate to jump in and join in the mauling read more
  • Nathan: You know what drives me totally up a wall about read more

The Jittery 50

By Armed Liberal at 15:08
Fifty British foreign policy "experts" wrote a scathing letter to Prime Minister Blair this week.
We the undersigned former British ambassadors, high commissioners, governors and senior international officials, including some who have long experience of the Middle East and others whose experience is elsewhere, have watched with deepening concern the policies which you have followed on the Arab-Israel problem and Iraq, in close co-operation with the United States.

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  • Lord Worfin: LOL! Where are we going?? "PLANET 10!!!!!" This movie to read more
  • Armed Liberal: "...when will we get there?" "Real Soon!" (inside joke for read more
  • Lord Worfin: Another quick thought- It boils down to whether you think read more

Randinho's Latin America Briefing: 2004-04-28

By Beautiful Horizons at 12:00

Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. This Regional Briefing focuses on Latin America, courtesy of Randy Paul.


  • President Uribe’s impunity amnesty plan for Colombian rebels hits a major snag as internecine wars between top figures in the AUC leave a major question open: Where is Carlos Castaño?

Other Topics Include: Is the Latin American public moving away from democracy?; Are we stuck with Hugo Chávez?; Is Bolivia unraveling - again?; A dapper perp walk in Haiti; Guatemala's new president is a class act; a book recommendation on a Latin American country too often ignored.

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  • Randy Paul: The problem with the violence in Colombia is that it read more
  • praktike: Hey, I agree with M. Simon! End the drug war read more
  • M. Simon: I do not see a resolution of Colombia's internal problems read more

Hell Freezes Over?

By Joe Katzman at 00:25

I have no idea if this was really submitted as a test question anywhere - but it's still funny, so here it is. Thanks to frequest reader & commenter Lili for submitting this one:

Thermodynamics (contributed by Lilith)

The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:

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  • Jamie Irons: This goes back much farther than 1997 (Snopes). I was read more
  • Lili: I have this great picture of the difference between men read more
  • M. Simon: Then you apply all that to a typical piston pump read more

April 27, 2004

Meet the new Iraqi Flag...

By Joe Katzman at 21:45

I like it. Bet it looks spiffy when Iraq's athletes stream into the Olympic Games holding it high, knowing that they won't be tortured this time if they come back without medals.

UPDATE: AllahPundit's alternative sets: #1 and #2.

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  • salman: The iraqi flag does not need changing. Who cares about read more
  • The REAL New Iraqi Flag: The real new Iraqi Flag as designed by the American read more
  • Deneris Fann: Iraq needs a new flag but this is not it... read more

Something That's Missing

By Armed Liberal at 20:04

Kevin Drum has a guest post up by Bruce Reed, who was Clinton's chief domestic policy advisor (calm down!). It's a dead-on commentary on the pro-choice march in Washington last weekend (see pictures and commentary by a pro-choice Republican here).

He makes a key point:

After sharing the Mall with a million choice supporters yesterday, I don't see how anyone could say that our side lacks religious fervor. People made pilgrimages from thousands of miles to stand up for their convictions, flocking to the capital of compassionate conservatism to demand more compassion from their leaders.

At the same time, I couldn't help noticing that the one thing we seem to have no religious fervor for is religion.

And he concludes...
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  • Lili: It fascinates me how you boys twist everything around to read more
  • Fred: Lili, I believe I addressed the viability argument. And let read more
  • Armed Liberal: Folks, I really did not mean to open the abortion read more

The Jordanian Plot

By Joe Katzman at 16:41

From CNN:

"Jordanian authorities said Monday they have broken up an alleged al Qaeda plot that would have unleashed a deadly cloud of chemicals in the heart of Jordan's capital, Amman.

The plot would have been more deadly than anything al Qaeda has done before, including the September 11 attacks, according to the Jordanian government."

Dan Darling wonders why the media isn't giving this story a higher priority, not to mention other important developments in the Mideast that are being buried (like the one he notes in Saudi Arabia). Fortunately, Dan has more on this largely under-reported story, including details of the plot, key figures involved, and a number of interesting details... including the chemical attack part of the plan.

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  • blaster: My take on the plot. In short - the Jordanians read more
  • Nikita: another buried story: Iraqi pipeline attacks go unreported read more

Happy Birthday, Sgt. Hook

By Joe Katzman at 16:15

MilBlogger Sgt. Hook is currently posted to Afghanistan. Please drop by this special purpose blog and wish him a happy 40th birthday today. (Hat Tip: LaughingWolf)

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War of Assumptions

By Joe Katzman at 03:22

Armed Liberal's A Question for the Doves elicited some smart commentary, including this response from Matt of The Open Matt Project...

Lots of smart people here. I confess being a bit nervous entering this fracas. That said, this quote struck me as really getting to the heart of the matter (assuming that both sides generally would agree with their respecive charactarizations):

"Liberals think the idea of democratizing the mideast simply isn't going to work. Conservatives think that the idea of continuing to use the CIA and FBI to root out terrorists isn't going to work."

If I state the converse we get a more telling picture:

"Liberals think that the idea of continuing to use the CIA and FBI to root out terrorists is going to work. Conservatives think the idea of democratizing the mideast is going to work."

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  • Matt: Jen: More or less dangerous than it was before? read more
  • jen larson: One (medium term, but it shows resolve and preparation) thing read more
  • jen larson: One (medium term, but it shows resolve and preparation) thing read more

Father's Memories

By Joe Katzman at 01:06

Jan's father died this weekend. It wasn't really a surprise - has was suffering from advanced Alzheimer's, and last week he had a serious stroke. I'm glad I'm able to be here with her, and for her.

The poem that follows is Jan's, edited and posted with her permission:

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  • inkgrrl: Ah no, my condolences. I'm so glad that you found read more
  • Ruth H: That says so well what many of us think when read more
  • David Blue: Hi. Long life and good health to you both. read more

April 26, 2004

Dan's Winds of War: 2004-26-04

By Dan Darling at 07:37

Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Dan Darling. of Regnum Crucis.


  • Hezbollah operations chief Imad Mughniyeh, who is already responsible for the deaths of over 200 American troops in Lebanon in the 1980s, is inside Iraq and has reportedly trained Sadr's Mahdi Army.
  • Pakistan has granted an amnesty to the Waziri tribal leaders accused of sheltering al-Qaeda fighters (the latter of whom will apparently be let off in return for a pledge of good behavior) in an extremely disappointing turn of events. As part of the deal, 50 tribesmen, most of whom were captured during the recent military operation in Waziristan and in all likelihood killed Pakistani troops, will be released. Thankfully, we have no less a figure that MMA supremo Qazi Hussein Ahmed to tell that there are no al-Qaeda inside Pakistan.
  • On a much happier note, over 300 members of the Algerian GSPC have agreed to surrender to the government under a new amnesty deal in a devastating blow to al-Qaeda's main arm in North and West Africa.

Other Topics Today Include: Iraq Briefing; Iran Reports; Taliban attack NGO; Sydney terror plot; Cole bomber nabbed; al-Haramain Brigades takes credit for Riyadh bombing; JI tied to counterfeit trade; Mullah Krekar's got a memoir; Saudis want jihad in Iraq but not at home; possible Hamas link to Kosovo shooting spree; JI and MILF operatives busted in Philippines; and robot surgeon sued for maltinkering.

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  • Joe Katzman: Apparently, they shot the last kufr branding consultant who raised read more
  • praktike: By the way, MILF operatives? Don't throw me in that read more
  • Tom Holsinger: Check out Dan's latest about the attempted destruction of a read more

A Question For The Doves

By Armed Liberal at 05:24

OK, here's a question for all of you who think that it's the hawks who are moonbats (and I know you're out there). It stems in part from Henley's post, as well as much of what I've read from people who want to be 'aggressively chasing terrorists' while not invading countries.

How - exactly - does that work? Because I can't figure it out. Let's take the following examples...

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  • Mark: "Mark, your list of alleged successes of our Iraq program, read more
  • Steve: I confess that I haven't read even half of all read more
  • Andrew Lazarus: Mark, your list of alleged successes of our Iraq program, read more

The Book Exercise

By Armed Liberal at 03:28
Via danah boyd:
  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 23.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

"The lawyers wanted to know if the plaintiffs, the black children in Clarenden County, would show the same result as those we had tested earler."

- from 'Eyes on the Prize, America's Civil Rights Years 1954 - 65' by Juan Williams

(hat tip to Tim Oren)

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  • Claire: " When I looked up through the web of trees, read more
  • David Blue: (To "snap up" is to detect a submarine, and an read more
  • Sam Barnes: He couldn't remember, but at all events she was the read more

The Battle of Algiers

By Armed Liberal at 02:33

While commenter Lilith and Trent put 'paid' to modern Islam in the comments to the post criticizing Henley's Grand Scheme below, it's important to note that there are signs of hope.

In today's L.A. Times, Walter Russell Mead has a column on Algeria.

It's important to note that it was in Algeria that the roots of modern anticolonial theory took hold - Fanon wrote from his experience as a psychiatrist in Algeria. The film 'Battle of Algiers' brought the brutal reality of counterinsurgency home to us, and the French policy toward the Arab world was shaped in Algeria.

And now, some good things are happening there.
Algeria just completed the freest election in the history of the Arab world, it has lots of oil and gas, it wants to work closely with the United States against fanatical terror — and, as a special added bonus, it still doesn't like France. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has played a leading role in the reforms that are changing the country. First elected in a 1999 contest widely regarded as rigged, Bouteflika has lifted controls on the press and on the opposition. He was reelected earlier this month. A brash and independent press criticizes the president daily — and as long as it remains free, Algeria's institutions will continue to gain international respect.
Reality is complex, and a very smart (and rich) fellow once told me that he'd made most of his money on the simple assumption that things are seldom as bad or good as people think.

Advice well worth taking.

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  • Tom Holsinger: John, I have a very simple solution to that (that read more
  • Trent Telenko: John, Americans are unwilling to do what is needed now read more
  • John Farren: Trent: Yes. Wipe them out when you find them. But read more

April 24, 2004

Make Love, Not War

By Joe Katzman at 06:12

On the serious good news front, my girlfriend is flying in from California. She'll landing here in Toronto at around 6:30am this morning.

As fate would have it, she's a pretty good ringer for her namesake character on Chris Muir's Day by Day strip... and an old college friend of Armed Liberal's. 24 hours together at A.L.'s wedding was wonderful, but this time we have a week together.

Erm, don't expect to see a whole lot of me on the blog this week...

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  • Da Goddess: Best news yet! Enjoy! read more
  • Steve: Should la femme read this post and the replies let's read more
  • Phil Winsor: I find I agree with Mr. Tai- Sam is HOT! read more

Sufi Wisdom: Into the Mirror

By T.L. James at 02:15

Khajeh Shamseddin Mohammad Hafiz-s Shirazi, commonly known as Hafiz, is one of the more important and well-known Sufi poets. Writing in Shiraz (Persia) during the middle 14th Century, his career, spiritual development, and poetical works were influenced by the political events of the day. Like his near-contemporary Dante Aligheri, he was banished from his beloved city at various times as political leadership and loyalties shifted. Many of his early poems are dedicated to an unattainable woman, Shakh-e Nabat, who like Dante's Beatrice symbolized to the poet the idealized beauty of the Creator.

Many of his famous works are in the ghazal form, a Persian analog of the English sonnet. The following ghazal contains a number of typical Sufi themes, including drunkenness, illusion, concealment, and love:

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  • PEGGY: Jim, It would seem so if you went just by read more
  • Jim: Peggy, fair enough, but as for: ...accessed through simple observation read more
  • Peggy: I think I could summarize what I see as the read more

Pat Tillman, Hero

By Joe Katzman at 02:06

"Superman never made any money
Savin' the world from Solomon Grundy
And sometimes I despair the world will ever see another man
Like him." (Crash Test Dummies, Superman Song)

What do you say? What do you say when someone walks away in May of 2002 from fan adoration and a $3,600,000 NFL contract with the Arizona Cardinals, in order to make $18,000 as an anonymous combat soldier. What do you say when he consistently refuses media interviews, because it isn't about that for him. "After all," he thinks, "nobody interviews all the other guys who make the same commitment and put it all on the line - why should I be special?"

Rangers lead the way. Part Tillman served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and was on his next posting in Afghanistan when an ambush by Taliban/Al-Qaeda forces hit his patrol on Thursday. Pat was killed, as was an Afghan Army soldier. Two other American soliders were wounded in the firefight.

  • Citizen Smash has the news link, and a link to an excellent article by Peggy Noonan back in 2002. More news here at CNNSi.
  • Robert Tagorda says what McCain was trying to: "On the one hand, as countless observers point out, he redefines the meaning of military service because his path to Afghanistan is unique: he reminds us that our cause is even nobler than we believe. On the other hand, he simply represents the story of all service members: he serves as a lens through which we see and understand that every warrior gives up something valuable."

Finally, this from the U.S. Army Ranger Association:

"There are those who think that this will affect our morale. To hell with them. We know better. We know that it is because we have guys like Tillman on our team - dedicated, smart fighting men and women who are willing to give everything for their country - that we will persevere through until the end.

God speed, Pat. We will miss you, and all of the Rangers, Marines, and others who have died fighting the good fight overseas. We cannot thank all of you or your families enough."

On one level, this is not good news, a loss made keener by the fact that we see so few people like Pat in positions of celebrity these days. On the other hand, Pat's whole life was a form of good news. I'm sad beyond words that he died. And very, very glad that he lived.

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  • MRMAJESTO: I know this is a touchy subject for most but read more
  • Donavan: It sucks that everyone now only seems to care about read more
  • thomas Yanul: Seems to me the Tillman tragedy is that he didn't read more

April 23, 2004

Henley's Autarky^3

By Armed Liberal at 19:55

Scott at Demosophia has a measured and thoughtful response to Henley's Grand Plan up on his site.

Check it out.

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  • Armed Liberal: Johnathan, I caused a fair amount of confusion with that; read more
  • Johnathan Pearce: Scott's piece is terrific, thanks for the pointer. Well over read more
  • Diana: AL: OK, now you are saying ideas that are interesting. read more

Spotlight on Sensing

By Joe Katzman at 18:04

My friend Donald Sensing is definitely in a groove with his latest series of posts:

  • A bomb plot to kill thousands of soccer fans at Saturday's Manchester United-Liverpool match was foiled in Britain. I'm surprised it has taken the Islamofascists this long to try a plan along these lines, especially given the helpful race riots that would likely follow their success.

"We are on the edge of the town..we see the minirets of the city and we hear the Immams sermons as they rail against us....good thing few here understand Arabic cause I can tell you the preachers weren't teaching the golden rule today. Morale, sky high...extra intensity..friends are on the line. the senior NCO's and officers here, feel the pull the most. They have served with or trained everyone on the line. The Corps is a small community. This is very personal."

  • Sensing will feel a lot better when he sees U.S. forces gaining and using the initiative, instead of reacting. In an echo of his own central point, he links to Hobbs Online's where is Iraq's Wyatt Earp? My own take: the problem in Iraq is strategic, not tactical (vid. Belmont Club's post, also caled "Attrition") - but I do agree with the part about keeping the initiative and fighting on one's own terms.

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  • Jerry: Today's Boston Globe says that "the combat action reports released read more
  • Andy: Joe - re: the Manchester United 'bomb plot' Bear in read more
  • Vesicle Trafficker: "I know your hatred of Bush is boundless." I have read more

Autarky Again

By Armed Liberal at 09:16
Jim Henley gleefully points out that while my post looking agog at his Grand Plan was titled 'Autarky in the U.S.A.', he meant no such thing, and presupposes that we can freely trade with the Islamist world while withdrawing from them culturally, politically and militarily.

This is on a par with his assumption that we can "beat the hell" out of terrorists who attack us while magically remaining at peace with the nations that shelter them. It's been explained to me that he's a libertarian, which may explain it, as somehow some of them seem to think it's possible to have economic or political relationships without social or historical ones. They're the flip side of the Rawls folks who think that participants in the political world somehow appear magically from the forehead of Zeus.

I'm looking forward to his longer response. No, really, I am.

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  • Kirk Parker: Lili, Let me just point out again that the Pipes read more
  • SDN: Twisty:"At 1.5 billion muslims and growing, I don't think we read more
  • Lili: " "Fortress Europe is already sending them back" Absolute tosh! read more

April 22, 2004

Dan's Winds of War: 2004-22-04

By Dan Darling at 07:41

Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Dan Darling. of Regnum Crucis.


  • Saudi al-Qaeda spokesman Abu Mohammed Saleh is talking tough with regard to attacking Americans in Saudi Arabia. Their local affiliate, however, the al-Haramain Brigades, don't appear to be very content with just talk.
  • Is a deal with Sadr near? The Guardian seems to think so and paints quite an interesting picture of the negotiations.

Other Topics Today Include: Iraq Briefing; Iran Reports; Afghan police arrest Hekmatyar lieutenant; LeT forms medical unit; al-Ghamdi still dead; Ingushetia Wahhabi leader killed; 12 dead in Algeria so far in April; Abu Sayyaf goes back to being an Islamic Movement; Jordanian police kill 3 terrorists; inner workings of the Salafi Jihad; mafia linked to al-Qaeda; Mullah Krekar gets damages; and Muammar Qadaffi's legal reforms.

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  • Paul Moloney: The BJP grew out of the RSS, which was a read more
  • Dan Darling: Praktike: I had just always heard it referred to as read more
  • praktike: Heh. I was toying around with the phrasing for a read more

Special Analysis: Al-Qaeda in Chechnya

By Dan Darling at 05:40

Earlier this week, unconfirmed reports surfaced claiming that Abu Walid al-Ghamdi, the leader of the International Islamic Peacekeeping Brigade, had been killed by Russian forces in Chechnya. Details of his demise are still sketchy, but according to this account by Kavkaz Center, the chief media outlet for the Chechen insurgents led by al-Qaeda leader Shamil Basayev, al-Ghamdi was shot in the back while preparing for prayer.

Who is this enigmatic Saudi commander? What is al-Qaeda's history in Chechnya, and what are their goals in the region? And how does al-Ghamdi's death affect the war on terrorism? This analysis will endeavor to answer these questions.

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  • Andy: There are also quite a few Muslims in the US, read more
  • SAO: What does this childish outburst accomplish, Tony? Certainly having other read more
  • Tony LaVanway: Islamic? Peacekeeping? hahaha hehehe hahaha :snort: bwaaa haha hee read more

Henley's Plan: Autarky In The U.S.A.

By Armed Liberal at 00:15

Maybe I'm just too tired right now; it's been a heckuva week, on many fronts. But when I was pointed to Jim Henley's Grand Plan, I just lost the capacity for reasonable thought; it was so dumb, such a dorm-room, bong-hit driven idea of how the world ought to be that I almost left it alone. Then I got a link to it from a non-blog person, and realized that I had to Go Back In There and wrestle with it.

Because for many of the folks on my team - the left - this is what foreign policy ought to look like, and in a big way my fear is that this could become something actually thinkable. And I'm not sure if I'm more scared that Trent's vision of the world or this one will come to pass. Actually, it's because I believe that this one leads, almost inevitably, to Trent's.

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  • Mark: Diana, Plenty of religions believe that their religious texts are read more
  • Diana: Mark, I really have no idea what you are talking read more
  • Kirk Parker: Diana, Lilith, and the rest of you doomsayers, I'm not read more

April 21, 2004

Spirit of America Update

By Joe Katzman at 15:30

The charity fundraising challenge is on across the blogosphere, though the refocusing of Michele's blog has led to a few changes in the rosters. The Command Post has the details, and explains how you can help.

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  • SAO: ... not that we don't have the whole quagmire bull****, read more
  • SAO: Is US TV much better? Mine is broken as of read more
  • Monty: Just donated $100 with my credit card. I figured it read more

UNSCAM Updates

By Joe Katzman at 15:29

The moral and financial scandal at the heart of the United Nations continues to deepen. At least 3 senior U.N. officials are suspected of taking multi-million dollar bribes from the Saddam Hussein regime, and documents have surfaced that link U.N. Undersecretary General Benon Sevan and 270 prominent foreign officials to a scheme that allowed them to trade in Iraqi oil at cut-rate prices.

Instapundit summarizes the ABC News roundup, and links on where you can find even more. Roger L. Simon, a U.N. supporter who has covered UNSCAM diligently from Day 1, believes this is a crisis point for the organization - and links to a new blog that will focus on covering this issue. Austin Bay, a U.N. supporter who has seen its humanitarian works first hand in the field, has more (Hat Tip: Instapundit):

"So many of the self-righteous left still scream about "blood for oil" and maliciously accuse the United States of toppling Saddam in order to secure petroleum supplies. The truth is otherwise. Oil for Food lined the pockets of Saddam, his international political supporters, and corporate cronies, and that oil was paid for, hour by hour, with the blood of Iraqis slaughtered by his brutal regime."

Or, in other words, blood for oil - to prominent international "anti-war" forces, and to the U.N. itself in return for managing this corrupt mess. Disgusting.

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  • capt joe: And to think that none of this would have come read more
  • Bernard Moon: It's a shame that this is occuring and how ineffective read more
  • Steve: Perhaps the U.S. and U.K. should turn the administration of read more

Naqba, Naqba, Naqba, NAQBA!

By Joe Katzman at 05:38

Dear Allah,

Another year, another naqba. I told you we were just messing with your head over the Game 7 thing, as our cunning plan was put into action. While our baseball team distracted you by heroically sacrificing itself in its game against your Crimson Jihad, the Ottawa Senators Shaheeds were sent to their 4th straight early playoff exit by our Toronto Maple Leafs.

Outshot 238-154 in the series? We laugh at such things. Again and again the Shaheeds demand - nay, beg - for hockey martyrdom. Again and again, we grant it to them. Are we not generous, O Divine Blogging One?

Truly, they must feel blessed by Allah. Just like your Crimson Jihad. And the Cubs, of course.

O Great and Blessed One - do you think you could see your way clear to supporting the Philadelphia Flyers in Round 2? I've heard from reliable sources that flyers are supposed to be a particular favourite of yours...

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  • ronnie schreiber: I'm not sure who Allah is pulling for, but AFAIK read more
  • Joe Katzman: I like the Flames. I'd bet on the Wings, unless read more
  • Dave: Who do you like, Wings or Flames? read more

AfricaPundit's Regional Briefing: 2004-04-21

By AfricaPundit at 05:11

Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. This Regional Briefing focuses on Africa, courtesy of AfricaPundit.


  • South Africa held national elections this month, returning the ANC to power with a healthy majority.
  • Algeria also held national elections this month, also re-electing the incumbent by a wide margin. As in South Africa, the elections were judged "free and fair" by international observers, but as reported by Mostly Africa, a bunch of people are still unhappy.
  • Zimbabwean Independence Day, marking the 24th anniversary of the end of Ian Smith’s white-ruled Rhodesian government, was celebrated in London by protests against Comrade Mugabe’s misrule. In Zimbabwe, as Cathy Buckle reports, celebrations largely consisted of trotting out the same old stale propaganda.

Other Topics Today Include: South African elections reaction; Rwanda remembered; War on Terror update; Libya liberalizing (?); the continuing DDT debate; the final resting place of used clothing.

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McDonald's CEO Dies of Heart Attack

By Joe Katzman at 05:05

Naaah... this one's way too easy.

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  • Joe: But still that's no reason to laugh at his death...or read more
  • Joe Katzman: I know folks who have worked in McDonald's management. Odds read more
  • Steve: I think you really have to work at making something read more

RFID Redux

By Joe Katzman at 05:02

Jeffrey Harrow discusses technology trends, and where they're taking us:

"Larger than a dust mote (but not by much); inexpensive to manufacture and distribute and deploy; millions, and later billions and trillions of them -- virtually everywhere. They will be sowed as if by the four winds, lodging into clothing, tennis balls, tools, passports, car keys, car VIN plates, books, banknotes, pamphlets, and letters. They will become pervasive. And wherever one is, someone will know. (Or at least will have the potential to know.)

This is not a futuristic discussion of nanobots or other bleeding-edge technologies; this is instead the likely results for the lineage of already commercially deployed "Radio Frequency Identification Tags" (RFID Tags) which seem poised to replace today's retail "UPC Bar Codes."

You might also want to peruse this reader comment, which follows my favourite rule and asks "how could this technology be used by criminals and others outside the law?"

Future Brief is a new site that offers brief summaries and other resources to help people, especially those on The Hill who form national policy, to keep up on technological innovations -- but with an added twist. The site "takes one step back and looks at the greater convergence of the accelerating changes in science and technology, with the equally rapidly accelerating changes in society and politics." Expect more links to their work here at Winds of Change.NET.

UPDATE: Tim Oren of Pacifica VC comments: "I'm here to tell you that the situation is actually both worse and better than that."

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  • USMC: "Could these things be inserted into people? That would make read more
  • Joe Katzman: Short answer: yes, they could be inserted into people. read more
  • Achillea: Could these things be inserted into people? That would make read more

April 20, 2004

Iraqi Joke: Fast Bus to Heaven

By Joe Katzman at 07:38

This one comes from the Baghdadee forum:

"Saddam's Mosqu's Khateeb "Shiekh Ali" dies and waits in line at the "Janna" Gates. Just ahead of him is a guy in casual shalwar (the loose outfit worn in the Middle East, Pakistan, et. al.). Malak (angel) addresses this guy, "Who are you, so that I may know whether or not to admit you to Heaven?"

The guy replies, "I'm Kaka Ali, Mini Bus driver from Kefri, Iraq."

Malak consults his list, smiles and says to Kaka Ali, "Enter into the Kingdom."

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  • The Applicant: That would even be true in the U.S.! I've sat read more
  • Dave: well appreciated by someone who has been on some awful read more
  • Richard Heddleson: I don't get out much. Thanks for the new chuckle. read more

Nathan's Central Asia "-Stans" Summary: 2004-04-20

By Nathan at 04:57

Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. This Regional Briefing focuses on Central Asia & the Caucasus, courtesy of Nathan Hamm of The Argus. Nathan served in Peace Corps Uzbekistan from 2000-2001.


Other Topics Today Include: Much More on the Tashkent Bombings; Georgia's Parliamentary Elections; The Ajarian Thorn in Georgia's Side; I Love You Turkmenbashi!; Armenia Protests; China's Designs on Central Asia; When Congressmen Get Involved in Custody Cases; Sgt. Hook: Live From a Mountaintop in Afghanistan; Coolio Comes to Baku; and, Much More.

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  • Nathan: Just to be all technical about it, the Aral still read more
  • DrCaligari: Where did the Aral Sea go? I can surmise, but read more
  • Nathan: Well, I totally forgot about a story on saffron that read more

Iran's Spoiling Attack

By Trent Telenko at 03:23

It is the nature of men that when faced with an impending doom, they will do something, anything, to avert it, even if that brings doom down upon themselves sooner and more surely then if they had done nothing. Such was the case in ancient Greek tragedies. So it was with the World War Two Nazis and Imperial Japanese. So it is now with Iran's Mullahocracy in their "spoiling attack" on America in Iraq.

Dan Darling, Michael Ledeen, and Wretchard of Belmont Club (here and here) have all recently gone on documenting at length the size and scope of the Iranian and Iranian hired Syrian attacks in Iraq, and in Ledeen's case what needs to be done about it. What they haven't done is explain the wider pattern in terms of the Iranian objectives for their spoiling attack.

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  • twisterella: Yup, you guys are very bright. I don't understand why read more
  • FH: DP III's I bet. Makes sense to me... read more
  • Sam Barnes: twisterella, Seoul and Tokyo? By medium-range missile? read more

April 19, 2004

The Significance of Holocaust Day

By Joe Katzman at 15:58

April 18-19 is Yom Ha'Shoah, Holocaust Day.

  • As a further illustration of my point, read Oceanguy in L.A.'s poem, The Last Jew in Stolin. It's based on a true story - the sole surviving Jew in Stolin, now in his 80s, walks every morning to the pit to cover up bones exposed by the elements, and walks back home. His journey lasts the entire day. (Hat Tip: Dejafoo)

UPDATE: Michele of A Small Victory and The Command Post adds several relevant links for your consideration, via a comment in our Command Post submission:

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  • Bryan: And much of Africa is on the verge of yet read more
  • Armed Moderate: Bit harsh isn't that Mr. Katzman? It's not that you're read more
  • Joe Katzman: I'm afraid we're past "Never Again," my friend. Ask the read more

Go Read This Now - Berman in the NYT

By Armed Liberal at 07:43

Paul Berman has an oped up in the New York Times that summarizes my position on the election and the current situation in Iraq brilliantly. His concluding sentence:

This is not a project for after the election ... this is a project for right now. America needs allies. Today, and not just tomorrow. And America needs leaders. If the Bush administration cannot rally support around the world, let other people give it a try.

Meet my blogging theme for the next month.

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  • twisterella: John Farren: O, too perfect! Thank you for my answer-- read more
  • Joe: Second thoughts won't bring the dead back. You are complicit. read more
  • John Farren: twisterella: Diplomacy 'worked' in the more-or-less Hobbesian environment of c.1648-1939; read more

Dan's Iraq Report: 2004-04-19

By Dan Darling at 06:39

Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today we also have a separate Winds of War briefing, covering the global War on Terror. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Dan Darling. of Regnum Crucis.

Top Topics

  • US marines are tightening the border between Syria and Iraq. This move led to a major clash with insurgents coming in from Syria, though there appear to be different versions as far as what actually occurred.
  • UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is proposing a caretaker government to govern Iraq between June 30 and the elections on January 31, 2004. Bush and Blair seem to agree with the plan as it now stands.

Other Topics Today Include: Reports from the front lines; Iraqi politics & economy; The international stage; WMD.

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  • Hamilcar: David Warren had put up on his website today an read more
  • Dan Darling: Dave: 1) I regard Iraq as part of the read more
  • David: Thanks for the summary. Couple notes: 1) " and trends read more

Dan's Winds of War: 2004-04-19

By Dan Darling at 06:30

Welcome! Our goal is to give you power-packed briefings of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leave you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today we also have a separate in-depth Iraq Report. and both reports are brought to you by Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis.


  • Abu Walid al-Ghamdi, the leader of the International Islamic Peacekeeping Brigade in Chechnya and kin to 3 of the 9/11 hijackers, is dead in a major operation by Russian forces. Al-Ghamdi has been responsible for numerous high-profile attacks in both the Caucasus and throughout Russia.
  • As is already widely known by now, Osama bin Laden or someone who sounds like him has offered a truce to European nations in return for staying out of the war on terrorism. He appears to have found quite a receptive audience for such an offer among many Euroean commenters on the BBC website. You can read my own analysis of the tape's message as well as that of the Washington Post.

Other Topics Today Include: Iran Reports; al-Qaeda wins round 1 in Waziristan; Pakistani tribals unite for terrorist hunt; LeT is the new al-Qaeda trainer post-Afghanistan; Taliban kill 10 in hit-and-run attack; Hekmatyar lieutenant captured; Zarqawi lieutenant ordered 3/11; David Hicks requested to serve as suicide bomber; Australian medical student arrested as LeT member; Saudi grand mufti issues fatwa on Fallujah; new al-Qaeda recruits in Saudi Arabia; JI hideouts identified in North Cotabato; Tunisia thwarts bomb plots; and the Star Trek communicator becomes a reality.

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  • Peter: At what point will Spain be forced to acquiesce to read more

Leafs vs. Senators: Naqba IV?

By Joe Katzman at 00:06

2001-2003. 3 years, 3 playoff hockey series, Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Ottawa Senators. 3 series losses for the Sens... and counting. Ottawa has outplayed the Leafs in many of these games, but the will of fate is adamantine. Again and again, they have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. So it is once again in 2004, as the Senators faced elimination last night in Game 6.

There can be only one explanation for all this - the Sens have been blessed by AllahPundit.

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  • KevinG: By that definition, it is hard to think of a read more
  • Joe Katzman: Kevin, they are certainly willing friends to some terrorists... the read more
  • Randy Charles Morin: Leafs Suck Song read more

April 18, 2004

We Suck

By Joe Katzman at 23:18

Swept at home by the Detroit Tigers. Swept at home by the Baltimore Orioles. That's 0-6 to start the season at home, the Toronto Blue Jays worst start in history. This team is showing us nothing. No consistent starting pitching, no dependable relief, no offense, unrealiable to poor defense, stupid baserunning mistakes, and a consistent stream of mental errors that may not make the "E" column, but cost us all the same.

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  • Joe Katzman: First, congrats. Your pitchers are looking much better these days. read more
  • Gregory S. Hill: Go O's! I savored this weekend. It's been years (since read more

Rantissi's Dead - Good Shot!

By Joe Katzman at 16:38

Another genocidal Hamas leader, another missile, another funeral. Goodbye Rantissi. Good shot!

AllahPundit has just posted the "Help Wanted" sign again. My thoughts? I think I'll just let my little friends from Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory do the talking:

Oompa Loompa doompadee doo
I've got another puzzle for you
Oompa Loompa doompadah dee
If you are wise you will listen to me...

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  • Joe Katzman: Kevin: more likely as a last item. While arafat's diplomatic read more
  • Kevin Shaum: I'm not sure that the Israeli goal is to make read more
  • free-bird: Yassin ,Rantisi ...? Israel plans to bring about a read more

April 17, 2004

Spirit of America: $600k & Counting

By Joe Katzman at 18:03

A.L. is currently out doing the road trip thing, but he wanted y'all to know that Spirit of America raised USD $600,000 yesterday for its "Iraqi T.V." project, as a result of that Wall St. Journal article. Donations continue to come in, and they continue to be very welcome. This is an important mission.

Readers of our blog know that we've done a lot of work with Spirit of America, ever since Jim Hake sent me that Dec. 10 email inviting suggestions for the Marines and some help at Camp Pendleton. He got both, and he'll continue to get it. While we continue to publish and update our directory of ways to support the troops and people from many nations, Spirit of America has become the official cause/charity of our blog. Our involvement will continues to deepen - we are, to use my colleague Armed Liberal's words, "damn serious" about this.

On a personal note, there are other bloggers who have put a lot of time and effort into helping out in Iraq, through this effort and others. We've honoured Paul "Chief Wiggles" Holton, Michele Catalano, Dean Esmay and Matt Evans in a previous article - and Iraq remains a better place because of them. They are not alone.

To the bloggers, the donors, the volunteers, the Iraqis, and the Marines working to make Iraq a better place, our sincere thanks. We are, all of us, in this together.

[Update by A.L.: just want to point people to Dean Esmay, WizBang, or John Donovan, who will be having a competition to see who can raise more money toward SoA next week...may the best blogger(s) win!!]

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  • Levaquin: Info on Levaquin online. read more
  • Amoxicillin cheap: Amoxicillin online information. read more
  • Joe Katzman: Thanks, Beth! read more

Miss USA, 2004

By Joe Katzman at 15:54

WSJ's Best of the Web informs us that there's a new Miss USA in town, Shandi Finnessy (profile, pictures & video). Congratulations, Shandi!

"Finnessey, a statuesque 5-foot-11 blonde from St. Louis, wrote a book called "The Furrtails," as part of her aim to integrate mentally retarded children into regular classrooms. She has a master's degree in counseling and also plays piano and violin."

Which is great - but that's not the good news.

"A Republican, she told Reuters she would use her position to help explain America's involvement in Iraq. "What needed to be done had to be done," she said."

Nice, but unless we can convince her to do a Guest Column here on Winds of Change.NET, that isn't the good news either.

"At a party following the event, Fennessey described her social life as "totally single and looking."

Now THAT is some good news for y'all. Winds of Change.NET readers, start your engines!

UPDATE: ...or, as I note in the comments, nominate a comparable example.

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  • Steve: Mole or not I still like the link provided in read more
  • Fred: And I'm sure she's been waiting her whole life for read more
  • Kirk Parker: > Young Republicans in the Greek System? Heh. At the read more

Sufi Wisdom: Blame Game

By T.L. James at 07:00

by T.L. James of Mars Blog and Man of Two Worlds. Part of our weekly Sufi Wisdom series.

The Sufis are schools of Islamic mystics with roots in many religious traditions, whose lessons are often communicated through humorous stories and mystical or romantic poetry. One of their most popular literary figures is Mulla Nasrudin, a "wise fool" everyman. IIn The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin, Idries Shah relates a Nasrudin tale for our times:

Mulla Nasrudin and his wife came home one day to find the house burgled. Everything portable had been taken away.

'It is all your fault,' said his wife, 'for you should have made sure that the house was locked before we left.'

The neighbors took up the chant:

'You did not lock the windows,' said one.

'Why did you not expect this?' said another.

'The locks were faulty and you did not replace them,' said a third.

'Just a moment,' said Nasrudin,' -- surely I am not the only one to blame?'

'And who should we blame?' they shouted.

'What about the thieves?' said the Mulla.
The lessons here are obvious. Or are they?
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  • Adriane: I think this story has nothing to do with thieves read more
  • Roberto: Read & linked. This weekly SUFI WISDOM is a great read more

Are Renewables Relevant?

By Joe Katzman at 03:45

Exxon Mobil recently decided that sources of renewable energy weren't attractive enough to include in its near-term to medium term investment portfolio. Fred Cowans notes that others beg to differ.

I wonder what M. Simon thinks of all this...

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  • Engineer-Poet: alk: It's the issue of infrastructure which brought me to read more
  • alk: A sure sign of an industry on the way out. read more
  • Engineer-Poet: The sooper-dooper no-gas car keeps getting closer all the time.  read more

Friday MotoGP News

By Armed Liberal at 02:52

As I've said, I'm a fan of Valentino Rossi, who bravely changed teams and is now racing Grand Prix motorcycles for Yamaha.

So here are Friday's MotoGP Qualifying Results From South African Grand Prix:

1. Valentino ROSSI, Yamaha, 1:33.353
2. Sete GIBERNAU, Honda, 1:33.378
3. Loris CAPIROSSI, Ducati, 1:33.709
4. Max BIAGGI, Honda, 1:33.730
5. Kenny ROBERTS, Suzuki, 1:33.841

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  • Gary Farber: So, Joe, after you delete that comment, delete mine here, read more
  • Valentino Rossi: u faggot, i bet u like sucking rossi dick too read more
  • evariste: Aha, thanks. read more

April 16, 2004

Russia's New Great Game

By Joe Katzman at 16:46

Catherine Belton of the Moscow Times had an interesting article yesterday about Russia's growing place in the global energy industry... and how it intends to leverage that position economically and politically.

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  • Dan Kauffman: PS the Russian on the Street LIKES Americans! I was read more
  • Dan Kauffman: Nice to see some attention to Russia's vast supply of read more
  • Andy: It's a good article, and even better to see that read more

Joe Katzman: NormBlog Profile

By Joe Katzman at 14:03

Norm Geras has run profiles for a number of prominent bloggers, sending them questions and printing the answers. Today's the day for his "Joe Katzman Profile".

It's an eclectic set, from why I began blogging, to my solution for the UN (hint: it's 3 words long), to what books I'm reading, what I see as the big threats to the peace and security of the world over the next half century; even questions like what talent I'd most like to have and what animal I'd most like to be. So, if you want to know a bit more about the crazy guy who started this online hangout, head on over.

UPDATE: Here's the full text of my favourite poem: A.J.M. Smith's evocative "The Lonely Land."

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  • Average Joe: "Low-rent housing", in mid-town Manhattan! I'm afraid that it would read more
  • Joe Katzman: Based on your presence in our comments section, AMac, any read more
  • AMac: Per inkgrrl, some great quotes in your Geras interview, Joe. read more

Robi's S. Asia Briefing: 2004-04-16

By Robi Sen & Nitin Pai at 08:11

Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. This Regional Briefing focuses on South Asia, courtesy of Robi Sen.


  • Last month we started to see the beginnings of the much talked about Spring Offensive in Afghanistan and Pakistan to round up elements of the Taliban and Al-Queda. Pakistan has made a large showing of force but has seemed to have had little success. Pakistan’s efforts so far have been mixed with few success and many major blunders which give a lack of credibility to Pakistani claims that they can deal with the threats of Al-Queda and Taliban forces in their country as they claim in this news video.
  • Last month we reported on the idea that the US has made a deal with Mushraff in light of Dr Khan’s involvement in a Global Nuclear Weapons ring . It does seem many share this opinion now Mushraff has survived multiple assassination attempts that seem to have been sponsored by Al-Queda and has more than one reason to go after them. Regardless though of what pundits say it is obvious that coalition forces are planning to make a serious effort to deal with Al-Queda in the area.

Other Topics Today Include: Pakistan Becomes a MNNA, India Reacts, Enemy Within, Proliferation, Terrorism in South Asia; and more.

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  • Robi: It is not a attempt to report new news but read more
  • The Bobs: Why are you posting this stuff like it was news? read more
  • The Bobs: Why are you posting this stuff like it was news? read more

Way To Go, Jim!!

By Armed Liberal at 05:59

Check out Dan Henninger's column in the Wall Street Journal today [no-registration link], about Spirit of America's efforts working with the Marines to get Iraqi TV stations running in Iraq!!

...well-deserved kudos to a guy who gets things done.

And don't forget to click here and help the Marines out. We also have our complete listing of how to support the troops (Australian, British, Canadian, Polish, U.S.) elsewhere on the blog.

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OxDem Report: South African Elections

With turnout anticipated as high, President Thabo Mbeki’s ANC is expected to win its 3rd major electoral victory since the end of racially restricted voting in 1994. Though parties continue to be polarised by race and the country continues to struggle with high unemployment, this week’s elections reflect the striking consolidation of democracy that has taken place in South Africa since the fall of apartheid.

Interesting contested provinces in this year’s election include KwaZulu-Natal, which the ANC is hoping to wrest from the Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party, and the Western Cape, where the Democratic Alliance has been polling strongly.

While political violence has subsided greatly since 1994, violence still marked past elections: three people were killed in KwaZulu-Natal during the last elections, and parts of the province remain tense in this election cycle...

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  • Thomas J. Jackson: With the ANC winning over 66% of the vote look read more

OxDem Report: Algeria Holds Elections

Algeria has just held what have been widely appraised as free and fair elections, following a decade-long civil war between military and Islamist factions which left as many as 150,000 dead.

Algeria’s political development reflects a frequent pattern in the region.

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  • Sapper: Abdel, I think you misread Algeria completely. It really has read more
  • Abdel: Super ! Now it seem that countries that fight democracy read more
  • Sapper: I'm stationed in Algeria right now- a few comments: 1) read more

April 15, 2004

The Black Swan

By Armed Liberal at 21:16

I've argued that the 9/11 Commission is fundamentally flawed in that it's trying to review history as though it were lived with the perfect knowledge we have of the past - which we obviously cannot have of the future.

Tim Oren points us to an excellent op-end in the N.Y. Times on just this subject. It's by risk analyst Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and here are three great quotes:
Much of the research into humans' risk-avoidance machinery shows that it is antiquated and unfit for the modern world; it is made to counter repeatable attacks and learn from specifics. If someone narrowly escapes being eaten by a tiger in a certain cave, then he learns to avoid that cave. Yet vicious black swans by definition do not repeat themselves. We cannot learn from them easily.

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  • Mr Squiggles: This site is crap. we want to know some read more
  • freebird: Interesting piece on F.B.I. special agent O'Niel . He read more
  • Mark Poling: N.O., I agree that the foreign and domestic intelligence services read more

Dan's Winds of War: 2004-15-04

By Dan Darling at 04:50

Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Dan Darling. of Regnum Crucis.


  • French counter-terrorism authorities are saying that the threat from al-Qaeda in terms of chemical weapons is much worse than was previously believed.
  • Jordan's King Abdullah is claiming that his nation has thwarted a terrorist attack that could have killed thousands of people. Judging from the tone and likely suspect, I think it's safe to say that the good king may well have dodged a major attack.

Other Topics Today Include: Iraq Briefing; Iran Reports; al-Qaeda link to 3/11; UK imam tied to 3/11; truce with Spain is over; 3/11 financed through drug trade; Yadokhel and Janikhel tribals give differing views to Pakistani government; Hekmatyar wants to be an Afghan Sadr; Taliban kill Afghan intel chief; Indonesian sends extra cops to Sulawesi; 2 rubber workers killed in southern Thailand; 3 LeT commanders killed; southern Filippino province sealed off; Australia and Singapore say Mindanao's a terror haven; new Afghan al-Qaeda near Khost; Syria shipping WMD components to Sudan; Arafat approved convoy attack; 4 Saudi cops killed; FBI questioning Hamburg cell member; Debye on the Khawaja case; Art of Peace on Saudi bloggers and Iran; and a dead politician wins votes.

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  • mitch: Iraqi blogger Sam also says Zarqawi has joined up with read more
  • mitch: Iraqi blogger Sam also says Zarqawi has joined up with read more
  • mitch: Michael Ledeen says that Zarqawi, "despite his celebrated contempt for read more

Deep Thoughts: The Extra Mile

By Joe Katzman at 02:56

Before you condemn a man, walk a mile in his shoes.
That way, if he doesn't like what you have to say...
At least you'll be a mile away and have his shoes.

UPDATE: VT points out that my choice of title was more apropos than I thought... a similar item apparently ran in "Jack Handy's" SNL routine at one point. Thanks, Jack!

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  • Dave: Uhm, all "great" minds think alike? read more
  • Joe Katzman: Whaddaya know... a Google search reveals that "Jack Handy" did read more
  • Vesicle Trafficker: OK, Joe, we get it: you're Jack Handy. "If you're read more

Who Are We To Judge?

By Armed Liberal at 01:28

Here, in a nutshell, is why I can't step up and absolutely condemn Little Green Footballs. The folks that do this kind of thing don't get to sit at the table and have 'legitimate grievances'. No grievance justifies this kind of behavior. It is, in a word, barbaric. They videotaped butchery to satisfy their rage and inflame others:

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  • twisterella: Consummee: Bien Merci! I enjoy your comments also, they are read more
  • Excaliber: since lgf seems to be an inescapable topic of discussion read more
  • AMac: Consommee (8:41am): Your first paragraph is a nice summary of read more

Posts from.. The National Post

By Joe Katzman at 00:22

A couple of items in local news. One is that my preferred Toronto paper The National Post now has a blog where "members of the National Post's editorial board discuss real-time impressions of the day's major news stories." They're the first major paper in Canada to do so.

Kudos to them - but you folks need working permalinks. Badly. More members would be nice too. Post columnist Andrew Coyne also has a blog, and it's one of the best Canada-focused blogs out there, but he isn't part of the paper's official effort. They'd be better off taking a cue from NRO's The Corner, and letting people like Andrew in too.

Mind you, they'd be even farther ahead if they had just kept brilliant columnist Mark Steyn...

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The Broken Windows Theory of Antisemitism

By Joe Katzman at 00:09

On another local front, vandalism and scattered anti-Semitic incidents continue in Toronto. Meanwhile, Meryl Yourish is seeing this stuff in Richmond, VA too. Talk about your "broken windows" therory of deviance.

These sorts of things are on the rise, and it isn't just happening out of the blue. Antipathy to Jews is more open these days, even fashionable in some circles. There are examples of upstanding conduct out there, but they don't address the underlying dynamics, and overall Canadian trends remain troubling.

While these incidents aren't yet at the serious threat level, they are an indicator that something unpleasant is going on in the popular Zeitgeist. We ignore them at our peril.

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  • Joe Grossberg: They're not anti-Semitic; they're just anti-Zionist tombstones! Maybe when terrorists read more

April 14, 2004

Must-See Iraqi T.V.

By Armed Liberal at 23:22

I can't believe I forgot to blog this today...

We've been working closely with Jim Hake, of Spirit of America; Jim has fielded a new request from the 1st Marine Division - you know, the guys and gals in Falluja - they want to help set up a series of low-powerd TV stations, staffed by Iraqis, that will try and counter the two dominant themes in media coverage in Iraq:

  • If it bleeds (or burns) it leads;
  • If it makes the US look bad, it leads.

I'm not going to comment on how obvious this is, and how, instead of working with one guy in West L.A. and a bunch of bloggers, we should have been doing this as our troops moved North.

Instead, I'm going to comment on the wonderful flexibility of our people over there who will do what it takes to get what they need to do the job.

Click here to see what the Marines need, and help them (and us) out. And thanks to all the other blogs who are working on this as well, and to Jim for letting us help.

(and yes, I know I don't have a TV set; in this case, I'll make an exception!)

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  • Bravo Romeo Delta: Part of the problem with all this nonsense is that read more
  • elvispresley2k: $62m budget that is read more
  • elvispresley2k: Um, aren't you guys forgetting about Al Hurra "The Free read more

Bush's Speech: 2004-04-13

By Joe Katzman at 20:42

I'd write about it, but Instapundit has already done it so much better, with some excerpts, some thoughts, and a roundup from all around the blogosphere.

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  • Lt. Col. Dominic Caraccilo: I have been serving in Iraq for over five read more
  • freebird: all I can say about Bush and all this read more
  • Dave: To compound on VT's post, Bush's respons was almost like read more

Between Eva Braun and the Porsche 911

By Armed Liberal at 06:07

Sometimes I just god-damn wonder about people.

It's been a year and a month, roughly, since the start of the war in Iraq, and approximately a year since army-to-army hostilities ended.

And, overall, large groups of people - both within Iraq and the West - are declaring the occupation a failure, and the economy in Iraq collapsed and doomed. And, on a basic level, it's our fault, because we didn't have a Plan.

Now I have a number of issues with what has been done, and I'll set some of those out in a later post, but I want to make one point first as a way of framing the discussion around a basic set of facts.

For many of us, there's a kind of black hole between Hitler and Eva's last stand in the bunker and the Porsche 911. Somehow, Germany - without taking a lot of room in history books - went from war, to partition, via the Airlift, to world economic leadership.

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  • Yamaneko: We did have a plan: grateful Iraqis, after showering us read more
  • Yamaneko: Earlier posters suggested a fund of $100 billion/year to spend read more
  • twisterella: Consommee, I truly do not understand the equivocation you display. read more

Passover Finale: Drops of Freedom

By Joe Katzman at 04:14

As the holiday comes to a close, so too must this year's Passover coverage. Like the Seder service itself, it finishes in contemplation - and in hope:

"Ended is the Passover Seder, according to custom, statute and law. As we were worthy to celebrate it this year, so may we perform it in future years. Oh pure one in heaven above, restore the congregation of Israel in your love. Speedily lead your people to Zion in joy. Next year in Jerusalem!"

Cairo columnist Tarek Heggy has been a frequent contributor here at Winds of Change.NET. In the wake of his Passover greetings, we've been having an interesting email exchange around the story of Passover, the role of the Egyptians, and one specific part of the Passover Seder: the spilling of 10 drops of wine, as the plagues visited upon the Egyptians are recited.

Why do we do that? The more I thought about it, the more I wondered if perhaps the standard explanations were missing something - something that goes right to the heart of this holiday of freedom. Here's what Tarek wrote:

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PRC News China Briefing: 2004-04-14

By Adam Morris at 03:45

Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. Today's Regional Briefing focuses on China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, courtesy of Adam Morris in Tianjin.


  • The China blogosphere widely reported that all blogs using Typepad and all blogs have been blocked just as blogspot blogs were earlier last year. Six Apart ruled out technological problems on their end. The move prompted a 100-strong blackout in virtual protest, and other schemes have been initiated in response.
  • The controversial anti-China referendum failed on account of not making a quorum but Chen Shui-bian took the Taiwan election, but not without further controversy. See below for full coverage.
  • Beijing asserts superiority in all things political in Hong Kong, unilaterally interpreting the island's mini-constitution. The central government has likely taken over the political situation there, possibly leaving Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa without any power to speak of.

Other Topics Today Include:More Taiwan election coverage; Cheney's upcoming Beijing trip; Hepatitis B carriers are damned to be jobless; You just can't win a Chinese lottery; and the implications of the impending death of the man who took the fall for the Tiananmen Square Massacre 15 years ago this June.

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  • Taiwan Observer: T'is okay. A last thought: America and China will inevitably read more
  • John: I stand corrected, please accept my apologies Taiwan Observer. read more
  • Taiwan Observer: On the contrary John, I'm Chinese, and I have spent read more

Laughing Wolf: Blogson Birthday

By Joe Katzman at 03:28

C. Blake Powers, newly recovered from surgery (which I'm proud to say I helped talk him into...) and a depressing job-hunt experience, is celebrating his one-year blogiversary. Happy birthday, blogson. Here's to better days ahead...

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  • Laughing Wolf: Thank you, My Blogfather, for all that you have done read more

A Blockbuster Solution

By Joe Katzman at 00:14

This came around via email:

"You read about all these terrorists -- most of them came here legally, but they hung around on these expired visas, some for as long as 10-15 years. Now, compare that to Blockbuster; you're two days late with a video and those people are all over you. I say we put Blockbuster in charge!"

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  • Bob: I have no problem with liberal democrat citizens. I think read more
  • Armed Liberal: Bob - You're kidding, right? Last time I checked liberal read more
  • Bob: Has anyone considered that the White House was occupied by read more

April 13, 2004

Clarke vs. Dean (Diana Dean)

By Armed Liberal at 05:06

[Update: Note that the Seattle Times itself makes the exactly the same point that I do (hat tip to Instapundit)]

Fred Kaplan takes on Condi Rice in Slate. I'm not enough of a judge of inside-the-beltway baseball to have a sense whether Rice is a good bureaucracy wrangler or not. I do fully accept that doing so is a critical part of her job, and is a big part of what she'll ultimately be judged for, which means in part that I'm reserving final judgment on how she's done in the job for a bit.

Kaplan makes some arguments about why she isn't, and you ought to read them and make your own decision.

But before you, do, let me alert you to a large steaming prairie platter set in the middle of his argument.

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  • Richard Swan: One very interesting event at today's hearing involved the author read more
  • Lan Nguyen: I concur with you A.L. The fact that Ressam had read more
  • praktike: Just an FYI: today's hearings are much more interesting and read more

Eyes on Korea: 2004-04-13

By The Marmot's Hole at 05:05

Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. Today's Regional Briefing focuses on Korea, courtesy of Robert Koehler in Seoul.


Other Topics Today Include: RAND study of ROK-US relations; Major US military realignment; SK elections and key info sources; More on SK & Iraq; NK Freedom Day April 28; NK budget & reforms bad news; What - no visas?; NK TV & Internet; NK - a middle way?; Libya model for NK; Spotlight on NK apologists in SK & USA.

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  • JosephMendiola: As I've written to Dubya in the Oval Office, if read more
  • Tom Holsinger: The ROK force in Iraq must be very disappointed. read more

The Passion of the Easter Bunny

By Joe Katzman at 00:36

Not a spoof, a real event. You'll have to read this one to believe it... it's pretty funny in a dark sort of way.

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  • Dan: I know a few people who attended that event and read more
  • M. Simon: In terms of ceremonial magic the Easter Bunny is now read more
  • P: read more

April 12, 2004

Dan's Winds of War: 2004-12-04

By Dan Darling at 06:03

Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Dan Darling. of Regnum Crucis.


  • Was the Sadr Revolt plotted in London? The Sunday Herald says claims that last month representative of the Mahdi Army, the Islamic Path Party, and Hezbollah met in London with Syrian and Saudi Islamists to add a Shi'ite component to the insurgency.
  • Speaking of Sadr, BBC Monitoring has a translation of an al-Sharq al-Awsat article claiming that he is considering political assylum in Iran. Perhaps he's fleeing the quagmire ...
  • Why did Pakistan put a premature end to military operations in Waziristan? Asia Times suggests that it has to do with the number of troops lost during the operation, which the newspaper places at 800 in contrast to the official figures cited by the Pakistani government. If true, this would mean that Pakistani casualties in a single military engagement now exceed the total number of US forces KIA in both Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11.

Other Topics Today Include: Iraq Briefing; Iran Reports; order restored in Faryab; Abu Sayyaf leader dead; Abu Sayyaf jailbreak; Spanish al-Qaeda cell targeted major shopping mall; top European al-Qaeda leader tied to 3/11; Hungarian al-Qaeda letter offers cash in return for withdrawl from Iraq; al-Qaeda funding Chechen jihad; recent violence in Tashkent due to foreign instigators; Nek Mohammed sez he ain't gonna surrender; Muslim extremist leader arrested in Zanzibar; and the ultimate neocon T-Shirt.

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  • Ricky Vandal: Iran needs to be dealt with, but I don't think read more
  • Oldman: Glenn, Sometimes there are absolute standards and unfortunately war is read more
  • Dariush: Great interview from BOOKTV with Empress Farah Pahlavi! read more

Passover 7: Welcome Home!

By Joe Katzman at 05:45

Thought this was appropriate for Easter Monday, too. If you're Israeli, or know Israelis, you'll understand:

As the El Al plane settled down at Ben Gurion airport, the voice of the Captain came on:

"Please remain seated with your seat belts fastened until this plane comes to a complete stop at the gate, and the seat belt signs have been turned off. We also wish to remind you that the use of cell phones on board this aircraft is strictly prohibited."

"To those of you who are still seated, we wish you a Merry Easter, and hope that you enjoy your stay in the Holy Land. And to those of you standing in the aisles and talking on your cell phones, we wish you a Happy Passover, and welcome back home."

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  • Navel: Sorry that i am a bit of topic here. I read more
  • Alex Bensky: Time for a reprise of the old joke from before read more
  • Daniel in Medford: -- sigh -- Makes me homesick... Israelis are a strange read more

Amy's Answer: It's 2002, You Decide...

By Joe Katzman at 03:50

In the comments section of "Daily Kos - Again", Amy Alkon asks:

" a sort of common-sense-loving moderate...I keep waiting for somebody to offer me a reasonable explanation of the following:

The US is attacked in the most major way ever on our shores, by Osama Bin Ladin and co. We respond, not by decimating Osama and his evil followers, but by waging war on...Iraq! ....Come on -- somebody answer me - not with defending the current administration in mind as you write every word - but by persuading me with the (supposed) common sense behind what we did."

That's an in-depth question, Amy, and it demands an in-depth answer. So let's look at the situation as if you were in charge back in 2002. Then tell me what you want to do instead....

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  • Jane Langdon: AM I A NAZI... “Cat Fight” Now Playing I recently read more
  • Jane Langdon: WHAT IS IT WITH AMY ALKON ???????????????? I recently sent read more
  • M. Simon: Opening of famous Patton speech: "Men, this stuff that some read more

April 11, 2004

Bob Kerrey in the NYT

By Armed Liberal at 20:56

Bob Kerrey has an oped up in today's New York Times on his response to Condi Rice's testimony and on his criticism of Bush's strategy in dealing with the WoT.

First. let me say what a colossally offensive idea it is to me that someone charged with one of the most serious investigations of my lifetime - more serious in many ways than the Watergate investigation - would , before concluding hearings and outside the context of his fellow committee members - take a public stand like this.

I've been critical of these hearings as having been overly politicized, and focussed too much on the good of the respective parties involved, rather than of the Republic and this bit of gratuitous grandstanding validates all of those criticisms.

We need a careful, thoughtful, ruthless examination of the failures in doctrine and practice that led up to the events of 9/11, and based on this column alone, this circus of a hearing isn't it. The fact that he's willing to go public with his prejudgement at this point in the process makes a mockery of that process, and in turn damages our ability to look at the real problems that led to 9/11.

But let's move past my annoyance about the provenance of the document, and talk about it on its merits.

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  • Steve: A guest on one of the news services had it read more
  • Andy: ExRat, You are right to say that talking becomes counterproductive read more
  • ExRat: Andy: Why not a UN administration in which everybody gets read more

Passover 6: Matzah

By Joe Katzman at 02:59

Matzah. If you aren't Jewish, imagine a cracker with no shortening, no butter, no nada. Just flour and water, mix and bake. It's a big part of the Passover diet, because breads, pastas, cakes, etc. are all off-limits. Whazzup with that? explains:

"Why is matzah so basic to the celebration of Passover? Why is Passover called Chag HaMatzos, "the Holiday of Matzos" by the Torah? Why is this simple food a foundation of Jewish experience and ideology? Why has matzah come to symbolize human freedom?"

It's all about fermentation, deliverance - and time. An interesting read.

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  • Canadian Headhunter: These days it's not matzah that's such a large part read more
  • Tom Roberts: Another leavening issue for the Israelites leaving so quickly is read more

April 10, 2004

Doing Well By Doing Right

By Armed Liberal at 21:53

Over at Political Animal, Kevin Drum is properly ridiculing Jay Nordlinger for claiming that "those who despise Wal-Mart are the very ones who may not be so crazy about the United States."

I've got a better criticism right here, from last week's Business Week magazine which had a great article comparing Costco and Wal-Mart.


This fits into the 'Good News' category because it pretty conclusively shows you can do well by doing right.
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  • Ken: "In the case of Wal-Mart employees, we taxpayers are the read more
  • Joanna: If you're gonna worry about the expense of social services read more
  • Amy Alkon: MMurcek says: "It's never endingly ironic that the same idealists read more

Some Good News From Texas

By Armed Liberal at 19:33

A bad cop, with the likely connivance of a bad D.A. arrested 45 poor black defendants on trumped-up drug charges in Tulia, TX. They sued and ultimately got justice.

Now, the wheel turns.
The district attorney who prosecuted a succession of defendants arrested in a since-discredited drug bust in the west Texas town of Tulia now faces possible disbarment for his conduct during the trials. In a disciplinary petition filed by the State Bar of Texas on Wednesday, Swisher County Dist. Atty. Terry D. McEachern is accused of failing to tell defense lawyers about the criminal history of his star witness, undercover agent Tom Coleman.
Note that they're not talking about firing him from his post as D.A.; they're taking about disbarring him, which would (rightly, it appears) end his career as an officer of the court. I've commented in the past that righting these wrongs - that we live in a society where these wrongs can get righted - makes me happy.
I’m interested in why it is, when we correct the injustices of the past, and devise tools to ensure that it will be difficult to make the same mistakes again, we are dwelling on the "Oh, no, we were so bad" rather than the "we're getting better". See, I think that real liberalism...the kind that builds schools and water systems and improves people's lives...comes from a belief in progress. We aren't perfect. No one is or ever will quote William Goldman, "Life is pain, Highness! Anyone who says differently is selling something." But we can either keep trying to get there or sit on the floor dwelling on our shortcomings. Which one would you rather do, and why?

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  • M. Simon: evariste, Nice to see you here. WoC is still small read more
  • M. Simon: What you fail to mention is that racially oriented policing read more
  • evariste: I had so much despair for our society when I read more

Passover 5: Good Friday, Passover & Hope

By Joe Katzman at 07:08

Adam, a.k.a. Single Southern Guy, wrote:

"Today is Good Friday as observed by my faith. It is also the fourth day of the Jewish holiday of Passover. As most careful observers will note, many of the traditions of Christianity can be closely traced back to its Jewish heritage.... In that spirit, I sat down to meditate on what both Easter and Passover meant in the most general of terms to both Christians and Jews and I realized the observances both are founded in hope.... It is in this spirit that I give you a few thoughts on hope that perhaps Christians, Jews, and any person can share, and perhaps, celebrate on this day."

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Sufi Wisdom: The Host and the Guests

By Joe Katzman at 03:44

Part of our weekly Sufi Wisdom series. As militant Islam does its level best to discredit the religion, it's important to remember that there are other voices within the faith.

This week, I wanted to find a Sufi story that would help illuminate Passover in some way, and found one in Idries Shah's The Parable of the Host and the Guests. I thought it provoked insights into the central Passover tradition of the Seder ceremony, as well as Sufi teaching and discipleship:

"The teacher is like a host in his own house. His guests are those who are trying to study the Way. These are people who have never been in a house before, and can only have vague ideas as to what a house may be like. It exists, nevertheless..."

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  • Dave: This reminds me of an unusual wedding I attended in read more

Green Revolutionary

By Joe Katzman at 02:45

Kim du Toit has a couple of links for y'all about a person most of you probably don't know - and should. Here's a brief excerpt from the Atlantic magazine article he links to:

"Borlaug is an eighty-two-year-old plant breeder who for most of the past five decades has lived in developing nations, teaching the techniques of high-yield agriculture. He received the Nobel in 1970, primarily for his work in reversing the food shortages that haunted India and Pakistan in the 1960s. Perhaps more than anyone else, Borlaug is responsible for the fact that throughout the postwar era, except in sub-Saharan Africa, global food production has expanded faster than the human population, averting the mass starvations that were widely predicted -- for example, in the 1967 best seller Famine -- 1975! The form of agriculture that Borlaug preaches may have prevented a billion deaths."

That's billion, with a "b". And he's still at it.

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  • RB: Borlaug is a hero, a living legend. Eventually, genetic engineering read more
  • praktike: Here's another controversial guy doing interesting work with agriculture: Gordon read more
  • Kirk Parker: Nice to see this recognition spreading! Too bad to see read more

Biker Rabbi Wanted

By Joe Katzman at 02:30

Easy rider and blogger Rabbi Lazar Brody:

"People nickname me (amongst other things) The Street Rabbi, because of many people that consult with me on Ashdod's sidewalks. My esteemed friend the TownCrier has now crowned me The Road Rabbi, and is trying to make a shidduch between me and a Jewish Bikers' Club in Florida that's looking for a spiritual leader. You think I'm joking? No way! Read this...

March 23, 2004 09:30 AM US Eastern Timezone
South Florida's Jewish Motorcycle Riding Association - King David Bikers -- Seeking Motorcycle Riding Rabbi...."

Rumours that Armed Liberal is considering conversion if the idea makes it to Los Angeles are probably untrue.

UPDATE: Reader 'Ursus Maritimus' writes: We already know that the original King David was a biker. "His Triumph was heard across the land."

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  • Meryl Yourish: Okay,the cognitive dissonance of Jewish bikers is about to cause read more
  • Ursus Maritimus: We already know that the original King David was a read more

April 9, 2004

April 9th, And Where Are the Pro-U.S. Iraqis?

By Dan Darling at 17:43

As Joe noted, today is the same day that the statue of Saddam Hussein came down in Firdus Square. In the wake of Sadr's uprising, some readers have asked where all of the allegedly pro-US Iraqis are right now and why they aren't opposing this Khomeini wannabe's efforts to take over their country.

The answer? They are. Per CNN:

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  • Dan Darling: My, things seem to have gotten somewhat lively while I read more
  • Lurker: This tells us edverything we need to know about Diana: read more
  • M. Simon: So what's good about this riot? As I said this read more

One Year Ago Today...

By Joe Katzman at 15:43

Down came the statue. And I'm still glad.

UPDATE: Looks like I'm not alone. Omar at Iraq the Model celebrates and lights a candle, and an international NGO worker at Babelonandon offers some sharp observations of his own in this 4:07am April 9th post.

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  • praktike: Hey, man, hang in there. read more
  • Babelonandon: I'm a guy... read more
  • Gabriel Gonzalez: More views from Baghdad by Iraqi bloggers here, here,and here, read more

Passover 4: Born Free

By Joe Katzman at 06:23

Sara Yoheved Rigler's spiritual journey includes 15 years of Vedanta philosophy and meditation, as well as extensive Torah study. Writing at, she explains that:

"The exercise of choice is the essence of freedom. Forget the taskmaster's whip and the massive bricks. Each of us is enslaved every time we act on automatic pilot, every time we react according to our instinctual programming."

True freedom is about tools that allow us to break out of autopilot, switch the controls to manual, and take up meaningful moral choice. Indeed, she argues, it's the only true freedom humans have... and Passover can be an opportunity to cultivate this kind of "mindful freedom".

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  • Patrick Brown: Joe, "It seems to me that moral choices are exactly read more
  • Joe Katzman: Patrick & Tony - while your points may be valid read more
  • Patrick Brown: I'm with Tony on this. The more operations we can read more

Rwanda Remembered

By Joe Katzman at 06:02

Tacitus again. It's the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, and "Mille Collines redux" offers a full account of exactly what happened in Rwanda, posted after returning from a week in that sad country.

His account is detailed, clear, and easy to follow. Pay special attention to his description of the role of the French (something we also covered last September), the deadly consequences of a process over content mindset for the Tutsis, and the aftermath for Rwanda. I do wish he had paid more attention to the endless cynicism and complicity of the U.N. and Kofi Annan (see Belmont Club's post and follow-up, but it was even worse than he describes and Annan played a personal role). Even so, this is a great article:

"The mists never dissipate over the Mille Collines, and the green terraced slopes and the red wounded earth forever yield their bounty of tropical crops and grasses for the cattle. Rwanda's silent hills swallow up their history, till all that is left in the mud-brick homes and winding dirt paths is the hope and fortitude of the peasants and laborers who are not "bilingual," but speak the Kinyarwandan tongue to friends, loved ones, and enemies. Who is which changes too frequently, and so they look to their beloved leaders to let them know. And therein lies the danger of Rwanda; therein lies the slumbering volcano whose eruption is heralded by barely-felt rumblings of electoral fraud, Hutu political neutering, and the furtive, erratic return of the corvée. The government functionaries may smile, and the Western consciousness may end in July 1994. Scratch the surface, though, and you realize the awful truth: History -- that history -- is not over yet."

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Daily Kos - Again

By Armed Liberal at 05:41

Just when I was hoping to forget about constructively criticizing Kos and struggle with how to constructively criticize LGF, Stirling Newberry, over at Daily Kos lays a huge egg.

Here's what he says, in criticizing Rice's testimony today:
The picture that emerges is that Rice believed that dealing with terrorist threats was a matter that little people on the ground who were "alert" would catch the people responsible, freeing the people at the top to talk about the "structural" changes to America.
Yes, in fact, that's how it's supposed to work. The people on top think up strategy and policy and the folks on the street carry it out.

And, in fact, how it did work. In fact, it has worked without the benefit of policy direction or grand strategy.

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  • Joe Katzman: Hmm, you know, my recent contributions are sort of derailing read more
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By Armed Liberal at 03:09

Go read Tacitus "In Search of Lost Time," about events in Iraq. Now.

I pretty much agree with everything he's saying, especially this:

"In fact, fellow American, there are only two things in the world that can stop them, and make their earnest sacrifice for glory or for naught: You and me.

UPDATE: I'll add a comment from Clint Smith that seems somehow appropriate as well: "A gun isn't a magic wand that will make your problems disappear when you wave it." The same is true of armies.

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By Armed Liberal at 01:55

I watched a bunch of the Rice testimony at the gym this morning; sadly I didn't hear much of it, since 3 grown adults couldn't figure out how to turn on the closed-captioning on the TV sets there; we obviously needed a kid to show us how.

I've read a bunch of it, and found it sadly predictable. Both that the partisan 'blame game' was really the context of the discussion, and that neither side was willing to take the blame for the true causes of the failure.

I'll skip over the whole issue of historicity; that the infallibility of prediction only works in one way - backward.

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April 8, 2004

Dan's Winds of War: 2004-04-08

By Dan Darling at 07:46

Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Dan Darling. of Regnum Crucis.


  • State Department counterterrorism coordinator Cofer Black is saying that bin Laden has been driven so far underground by the US efforts to capture him that he is no longer in active control of al-Qaeda, having delegated the day-to-day running of the terrorist network to his subordinates.
  • "Iran's Power Play" explains what exactly is currently occurring inside Iraq, adds some observations with regard to who is likely behind the recent fighting, and looks at what could happen if we should fail.

Other Topics Today Include: Iraq Briefing; Iran Reports; Saudi Arabia opposes Pakistani terror amnesty; Singaporean JI leader offers to stop attacks; Dawood Ibrahim gets plastic surgery; ex-IMU member sez there's a revolution on the rise; Uzbekistan sez most of the IMU are jugged; Abu Sayyaf down to 400; MILF harbored Abu Sayyaf, JI; JI trained Abu Sayyaf; French arrest 15 Moroccans; new threat to Spain; Hekmatyar lieutenant captured; al-Qaeda affiliate linked to Somali NGO killings; assassination attempt on Ingushetian president; dynamite theft in Norway; France links Courtailler to 3/11 and Casablanca; and vodka-flavored ice cream!

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  • JosephMendiola: LEST WE FORGET, how is "Just In Time WMD" incorrect read more
  • Dan Darling: John: The source of this story is a group read more
  • John: For what it is worth read more

Special Analysis: Iran's Power Play

By Dan Darling at 06:34

Recent events in Iraq have forced me to postpone my response to noted commenter Andrew Lazarus for a week or so, though elements of that response can likely be found in this analysis, as it contains indirect elements of a polemic (the explanations of the consequences of pulling out of Iraq not being among them). In the meantime, this analysis will endeavor to explain what exactly is currently occurring inside Iraq as well as some observations with regard to who is likely behind it and a look at what could happen if we should fail.

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  • Zathras: I'd like very much for the question of Iran's involvement read more
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By Joe Katzman at 05:55

I tuned into my blog yesterday, only to find a small war in our comments section. Topic: Charles Johnson's LGF. I don't have time for a long post about this, but I will share some brief thoughts.

While I thought that some of the comments were unfair, on the whole I saw this discussion as a positive thing. Detractors and defenders from the Right, Left and Centre were engaging each other over provocative questions, making solid points, and for the most part participating in intelligent debate. If Winds has become the kind of place where this sort of thing can happen, it's fulfilling my vision.

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  • Billy Pickering: Just a note to all those that feel our campaign read more

Passover 3: Mageed

By Joe Katzman at 05:07

In every generation, every Jew is obligated to envision himself as if he personally had gone out from Egypt (vid. Exodus 13:8). Hence this excerpt and reminder from our Passover Hagaddah (lit. "tale, saga") called Russia, 1959, from a refusenik who was imprisoned in the Soviet Union:

"...Only that great moment when they set me free
From barbed wire fences and the licensed prisons,
That moment suddenly arrived, unguarded,
With early March's glittering frost, and heaven
Lit up with stars at noon, and on my lips
The blessing not said since childhood suddenly
Recalled as if it were but yesterday -
I make myself believe: to every lover
Of humanity that day will be a holiday,
Arriving without asking to come in."

   -- Samuel Halkin, trans. by Edward Honig

In every generation. For in every generation, there are real stories to be told - and if we are true in our purpose, more holidays around the world that arrive without asking to come in.

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  • Tom Roberts: Since all the world is but a story, it were read more

April 7, 2004

Oil-For-Food: la réponse

By Armed Liberal at 21:03
There's been a lot of discussion on oil-for-food. In today's LA Times, the French Ambassador responds, and raises at least one factual point (re banking) that should be addressed. Over to you, Roger!
First 'Freedom Fries,' Now Oil-for-Food Lies: Give France a Break

By Jean-David Levitte, Jean-David Levitte is the French ambassador to the United States.

...I have been deeply surprised in the last few days to see a new campaign of unfounded accusations against my country flourish again in the media. These allegations, being spread by a handful of influential, conservative TV and newspaper journalists in the U.S., have arisen in connection with a recent inquiry into the "oil for food" program that was run by the United Nations in Iraq during the final years of Saddam Hussein's government.

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  • Mark: Lili, I'm still waiting for you to give me a read more

Furthering the Conversation: Overriding the Rules of War

By Robin Burk at 18:56

Armed Liberal has begun a thoughtful attempt to unravel the issues surrounding use of force. In the case of what happened in Fallujah, and as we look at the Kos vs. lgf conversation below, I thought it might be useful to consider how the theory of just and unjust warfare addresses these issues.

Below is an excerpt from a book that many professional military officers read -- and debate. The book was written after the Vietnam war and I've selected it because it goes to the heart, not only of how terrorists justify atrocities, but also what actions (including language on blogs) we might want to take - or to refrain from justifying - in response.

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  • Glen Wishard: Okay, taking a fresh run at Walzer now: ... should read more
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  • David Blue: Hi. I think that in assessing the means to be read more

Some Thoughts On Anger and War

By Armed Liberal at 17:26

By its violent nature, war inflames our emotions. As humans, we have reactions that are in part biological as well as deeply ingrained through our cultures, and the naked confrontation which leads to war as well as the violence embodied in it trigger those emotions.

"I have often preached that the proper antidote to fear is anger, and I see no reason to change my opinion on this. However, there is another mental condition that serves as well or possibly better, and that is concentration. I have discussed this matter at great length with people who are in a position to know, and I am not without experience of my own, and I can state positively that when you find yourself facing deadly danger, your ability to concentrate every mental faculty upon doing what needs to be done to save yourself leaves no room for fear." -- Col. Jeff Cooper

"In strategy your spiritual bearing must not be any different than normal. Both in fighting and in everyday life you should be determined though calm. Meet the situation without tenseness yet not recklessly, your spirit settled yet unbiased... Do not let your spirit be influenced by your body, or your body be influenced by your spirit. Be neither insufficiently spirited nor overspirited. Do not let the enemy see your spirit." -- Miyamoto Musashi

Much martial arts training, and much military training (as I understand it) is about learning to manage those emotional reactions. But note that 'managing' them is not to completely deny them...

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  • inkgrrl: AL, thank you for this. I agree that the intention read more
  • M. Simon: This is for you Glenn, "Men, this stuff that some read more
  • David Blue: Hi. Jeff Cooper and Musashi - who has the right read more

Passover 2: A Wise Son

By Joe Katzman at 04:34

The Passover Seder includes the story of the 4 children: the wise, the wicked, the simple, and the one who does not even know how to ask. Each is told the story in their own way, at their own level of understanding.. and some Haggadahs (lit. "telling, saga, tale") include additional materials that enhance their points:

"The monument... shall serve as a reminder for us who have survived to remain loyal to our people and to the moral principles cherished by our fathers. Only through such loyalty may we hope to survive this age of moral decay... let us clearly recognize and never forget this: that mutual cooperation and the furtherance of living ties between Jews of all lands is out sole physical and moral protection in the present situation. But for the future our hope lies in overcoming the general moral abasement which today gravely menaces the very existence of mankind."

Who is this wise son? Albert Einstein, at the monument to the martyred Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto, on April 19, 1948.

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  • Rico: Wonderful quote from Einstein. Could you cite the source, por read more
  • Joe Katzman: Ed, I'm sure Albert himself thought the exact same thing read more

The New Cruelty

By Armed Liberal at 00:00

I've been looking for a way into the Little Green Footballs v. Daily Kos issue, and it's hard.

We're dealing with pretty visceral emotional reactions at the same time that we're trying to maintain some sense of moral clarity, and those are not easy things to do.

But I thought of something that happened this weekend, and it shed some light on the question, so I'll open with a brief story.

TG took a motorcycle riding class held on a racetrack here in Southern California (I'll be slightly evasive on exactly which one, where, so forgive me, but we've been to most of the big schools), and I was her pit crew (and I'm not bitter about not getting to ride, no I'm not at all bitter...). This involved hanging out, reading two good books, intermittent flurries of activity on her behalf, worrying a lot (there's an interesting post on that), and chatting with folks, as I tend to do.

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  • freebird: The Saga of "Fritz " the Dog " -as read more
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April 6, 2004

OK, This Is A Problem

By Armed Liberal at 22:26

Not one of the Top 5 Dylan songs I chose made it onto Norm Geras' Top 20.

Not one.

Statistically, that's unlikely, although it may have something to do with Mike A's comment on my disconnect from mainstream pop culture.

My picks were:

  1. If You See Her, Say Hello (Blood On The Tracks)
  2. Tears Of Rage (Basement Tapes)
  3. Knockin' On Heaven's Door (Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid - a cheap one, I know, but I still love it)
  4. I Pity The Poor Immigrant (JWH)
  5. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight (JWH)

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  • freebird: She belongs to me Tom Thumb's blues Maggies Farm read more
  • Mike Reynolds: Clothesline Blues Dark Eyes Lily, Rosemary & the Jack of read more
  • Yehudit: "Like a Rolling Stone" is the best Dylan song. Period. read more

A Correspondance

By Armed Liberal at 18:33

Update: Charles links over and a hockey match ensues in the comments below. More debate here, as Joe joins the scrimmage.

Folks, if you go to the comments, you'll see that I've edited out a series of comments centering on the notion that LGF should be shut down or sanctioned because it promotes 'hate speech'.

Sorry, not on this pitch; that's not a topic of discussion I'm interested in having on one of my posts. Regardless of my bias toward (or against) any blogger, I'm not in the business of shutting people down.

If any of you post on this again, I may elect to ban you.

For all the visitors from LGF, I'm glad you're here and hope you stick around. Our place is somewhat different from Charles'; think biker bar and college bull session. Each of us (there are a bunch of authors here) control the comments on our threads, and I tend to be fairly ruthless in criticizing and at some point banning people who don't want to make arguments, but want to have them instead. Hope you browse around and we're interested in what you have to say.]

I've been corresponding with ex-blogger (come baaack!!) and uber-commuter Ann Salisbury about the whole Kos issue, and snce she suggested it, I think I'll just post our last emails:
...I didn't get the impression that Nathan was cheering by posting the pic, but setting it out there for what it was -- which, in my mind, is tragedy, plain and simple.

I can't see any violence being "better" than another, but I can see "justified" or "more justified" violence. Self-defense and defense of others is usually "more justified," but even the law in the United States requires that the perceived threat giving rise to the self-defense be a reasonable perception. (For example, "He looked at me funny," just doesn't do it.)

Glad to see you're working through the hard stuff - and I appreciate you sharing it, because it's helping me to work through it too.


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  • Armed Liberal: Ranbutan, I'm gonna close this thread; no one's made an read more
  • zulubaby: Ranbutan, may I ask why you're still obsessing about me? read more

Oh, I Am So Embarassed

By Joe Katzman at 05:23

7-0 losers. Against the worst team in baseball. On Opening Day. With last year's Cy Young Award winner on the mound for the Jays. Oh, the embarassment.

One blogger had predicted the possibility of trouble, but obviously the warning signs were ignored. Mind you, at least we didn't start our season on a losing note by coughing up 6 runs in the 9th inning (Chicago White Sox). Or blowing a 3 run lead, then giving up the winning run in the 9th without giving up a hit (Houston Astros).

Hey, there's always tomorrow...

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  • Joe Katzman: Swept. 7-0, 7-3, 6-3. Now I'm REALLY embarassed. read more
  • Idler: Uh-oh. Tigers made it two in a row last night read more
  • Alan Kellogg: Gregory, A new ball park brightens up anybody's prospects. At read more

Intel, Foreign Policy & Hidden Compromises

By Joe Katzman at 04:20

Daniel Drezner will be away from his computer for a little while, but he does have a pair of articles worth your time. The common theme of both is the role played by hidden compomises, and the difference between stated goals and what actually happens in the real world of intelligence and foreign policy.

Drezner's first piece excerpts Andrew C. McCarthy's essay "The Intelligence Mess: How It Happened, What to Do About It." in the April issue of Commentary. McCarthy led the 1995 prosecution of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman in connection with the first World Trade Center bombing. Like Trent Telenko, he's skeptical that the mantra of "greater interagency coordination" will accomplish much, and believes the problems go deeper. Read why.

The other article notes that the biggest difference between Bush and Kerry will be which groups act as invisible constraint on the administration's policies:

"Many voters won't think about it this way, but in choosing between Kerry and Bush, they're not just picking which side of the multilateral-unilateral divide to be on; they're also picking which actors -- the Chiracs or the Rumsfelds -- will serve as hidden constraints on the next president's stated foreign-policy convictions."

Thought provoking, though I suspect he may be wrong about the likely results of the realists' influence on Bush from 2004-2008. What do you think? And what do you think of his take on a Kerry administration's likely options?

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April 5, 2004

Passover 2004

By Joe Katzman at 19:40

Passover begins tonight with the First Seder, and I'm at my parents helping with preparations. Mike Sanders of Keep Trying covers the meaning of Passover in Undersdtanding Freedom, which includes good thoughts and good links about the holiday and its spiritual meaning.

For those who prefer a more immersive approach, you can watch Charlton Heston in The 10 Commandments and get the holiday story that way. As a tip of the hat to Mr. Heston, I should note that if the ancient Israelites had owned guns, all the plagues, sea parting et. al. would not have been necessary and we could have headed straight to Mt. Sinai. Just sayin', is all.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Lazar Brody (who has owned his share of guns) talks about the 3 paths to faith in Matzah and Faith. Here's the key Passover quote:

"That's the whole message of Pesach. Leavened bread is symbolic of a puffed up ego and intellect. Matza is the symbol of simple faith. During Passover, we leave the prison of our own intellectual confinement to put our simple trust in G-d. For some folks, that's a tough task. Without faith, there's no freedom and no redemption."

May this festival of freedom herald a new dawn of freedom for many people - and nations - around the world.

UPDATE: And best wishes to you, too, Michele! Nice set of links, and many thanks for your own freedom-centered efforts over the past couple of years.

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  • Levaquin: Info on Levaquin online. read more
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Res Ipsa Loqutor (the thing speaks for itself)

By Armed Liberal at 06:40
From the Washington Post:
Very young children who watch television face an increased risk of attention deficit problems by school age, a study has found, suggesting that TV might overstimulate and permanently "rewire" the developing brain.
For every hour of television watched daily, two groups of children -- ages 1 and 3 -- faced a 10 percent increased risk of having attention problems at age 7.
We haven't had TV (with brief periods of cable connection) since my oldest son was born. I can't tell you how much I recommend it.

Littlest Guy just invented a game involving a chessboard, Lego parts, and dice today and taught it to me. That's what kids do when they aren't sucking on the glass teat (sorry, Harlan)

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Meanwhile, Back In D.C.

By Armed Liberal at 06:03
It's going to be a helluva week in Washington.
WASHINGTON, April 4 The leaders of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks agreed Sunday that evidence gathered by their panel showed the attacks could probably have been prevented.

Their remarks drew sharp disagreement from one of President Bush's closest political advisers, who insisted that the Bush and Clinton administrations had no opportunity to disrupt the Sept. 11 plot. They also offered a preview of the difficult questions likely to confront Condoleezza Rice when she testifies before the panel at a long-awaited public hearing this week.


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  • Bob: It is painfully obvious that Clarke and many others in read more
  • M. Simon: No mention of Raed Hijazi so far. read more
  • Brett Bellmore: The remarkable thing is how little public complaint there is read more

Dan's Winds of War: 2004-05-04

By Dan Darling at 04:36

Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Dan Darling. of Regnum Crucis.


  • An assassination attempt on Pakistani prime minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has been thwarted. Or has it? One never knows these days ...
  • Yemen has neutralized 90% of the al-Qaeda inside the country, in large part by paying off the tribes that once sheltered the network. I have my skepticism though, Yemen's track record is far from ideal in this regard. And then there's the little matter that they claim that every single captured al-Qaeda in their country was instrumental to the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole ...

Other Topics Today Include: Iraq Briefing; Iran Reports; Saif al-Adel orders an attack on Canadians; Abu Sayyaf makes threats and trains Muslim converts; Afghan national army intervenes in Herat; international arrest warrants issued for 3/11 suspects; Canadian arrested in connection with UK plot; Pakistan link to UK terror suspects; Germany monitoring Islamic radicals; al-Qaeda reeling from WoT; JI members acting under bin Laden's fatwas; Turkish Arabic teachers arrested; al-Tawhid cell busted in Jordan; 63 Devrimci Sol busted in 5 countries; Polish president an al-Qaeda target; US generals link al-Qaeda to drug and blood diamonds trades; and a New Zealand sheep-run.

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  • Lurker: noe, maybe you could ask AfricaPundit to address this in read more
  • noe: Um, what about the Sudanese who are being terrorized to read more
  • Dave Schuler: A murder arrest warrant has been issued for al-Sadr. This read more

It's A Battle.

By Armed Liberal at 01:42

This isn't remotely the last one, or even the worst that we will face. Resolve and sitzfleisch are what's called for at this point.

Here's where it started:
In an ominous development that threatens to widen the rift between Iraq's Shi'ite majority and the occupation forces, Sadr told his supporters yesterday to "terrorise" the enemy as demonstrations were now pointless.

"There is no use for demonstrations, as your enemy loves to terrify and suppress opinions, and despises people," Sadr said in a statement distributed by his office in Kufa, south of Baghdad.

But Shi'ite spiritual leader Ali Al Sistani appealed for calm and urged Shi'ite demonstrators to resolve their differences with coalition forces through negotiation.
More as it develops...and my thoughts are with the troops and innocent civilians. May this pass quickly and safely for them.
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  • fling93: Sam Barnes: we tolerate free speech, which Saddam would never Battle.">read more
  • Mike: M. Simon, I don't mean to make this sound like Battle.">read more
  • Kaveh: Taking Sadr out? You are talking about eliminating a Shi'ite Battle.">read more

April 4, 2004

A Tale Of Two Blogs

By Armed Liberal at 06:53

I have no personal animus toward Markos Zuniga; I don't know the guy personally, and up until now, my major Post-It abut him was that I thought it was cool that someone was bridging the gap between this amateur political discourse we do in the blogosphere and electoral politics.

He's always been a bit strident and chest-beating, but I've chalked that up to personal style (or, on my more cynical days, the kind of extreme posturing that gets attention).

He crossed a line with his now-infamous comment, and that's changed my view of him.

Since we don't know each other, that's a kind of 'so what?' comment. Except for one big and one little thing.

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  • John Farren: Doctor Slack: On Spain, I wasn't really clear. (This is read more
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April 3, 2004

Guest Blog: Good News Roundup

By Joe Katzman at 18:25

JK: John Farren is one of the sharper commenters here on Winds of Change.NET, and that's no small distinction. Today, he posted this addendum to the "Good News Saturdays 2004" comments...

Some fascinating and wonderful science news this week:

  • Rat genome decoded; third mammalian code so far. (Hey, kids, collect the whole set!)

Other good news: Spring is here, sun is shining, daffodils in flower, apple buds breaking, and I'm going for a walk. "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower..."

A happy Sabbath to all.

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  • Tom Roberts: Just came back from a conference that had several papers read more

Sufi Wisdom: Everyone and No One

By T.L. James at 07:00

As militant Islam does its best to discredit the religion, it is important to remember that there are other voices within the faith. One such is the Sufis, a branch of Islamic mystics with roots in many religious traditions. The lessons of Sufism are often communicated through humorous stories and mystical or romantic poetry. As a part of Joe's Good News Saturdays, we spend some time each week with the Sufis and their "wisdom of idiots."

This week, it's back to Rumi. I'm reading Coleman Barks' collection The Essential Rumi at the moment. This short poem caught my eye, as a nice crossover between Sufism and Zen:
When you are with everyone but me,
          you're with no one.
When you are with no one but me,
          you're with everyone.
Instead of being so bound up with everyone,
          be everyone.
When you become that many, you're nothing.
Who is speaking here? And how can one "be everyone", as Rumi suggests?
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  • Noe: Or in other words, since "everyone but me" is no read more


By Armed Liberal at 03:03
One of the things I do with my time is to ride motorcycles; not only for transportation here in congested Los Angeles, but for fun as well. I've spent some time on racetracks (Willow Springs, Sears Point, and Laguna Seca), and consider myself a good street rider (albeit a worse than mediocre racer), and have some appreciation for what it takes to sit on a vehicle moving pretty fast (in my case about 140). The grown-up racers, the guys racing at the top of the sport, are running well over 210mph these days. Imagine that I'm tucked in going 140, all full of myself and how fast and daring I am ... and then one of them goes by me as though I was standing still on the side of the freeway. The world champion last year (and the year before, and the year before that, and ...) is a young Italian named Valentino Rossi. Rossi is famous for three things:
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  • A Recovering Liberal: Oy, I would love to see motorcycles on Laguna Seca. read more
  • Armed Liberal: VT et al - too damn funny. Actually, I do read more
  • Misanthropyst: I too suffer the motorcycle illness and keep a few read more

April 2, 2004


By Armed Liberal at 23:15

One last point before we switch over to Good News.

Guys like Roger Simon, Michael Totten and I are always being accused of demonizing the left by painting it with the colors of its most extreme members. "That's not really the antiwar movement. Other than a few extremists..." etc., etc.

It's hard to be much more mainstream than Markos Moulitsas Zúniga (Kos); he was involved in the Dean and Clark campaigns, and is building a political consultancy that works on national Democratic campaigns.

So, as we were saying...

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  • Doctor Slack: A.L: Joe had falsely claimed that I had not clearly read more
  • Armed Liberal: DS- Am I reading this correctly? That in response to read more
  • Doctor Slack: we're consistently missing one important element: The clear statement that read more

Kos Explains It All To Us

By Armed Liberal at 20:14

Kos said something quick and stupid yesterday...

[Update: And has now, in act of true courage, pulled it off his site without explanation. Here's a screenshot of it, in case you need to be reminded. Which side is it again that's fighting against Oceania? ]

...and followed it up today with something longer, more honeyed in tone, and saying exactly the same thing.
There's been much ado about my indifference to the Mercenary deaths in Falluja a couple days ago. I wrote in some diary comments somewhere that "I felt nothing" and "screw them". My language was harsh, and, in reality, not true. Fact is, I did feel something. That's why I was so angry.

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  • Katherine: One defining qualifier for those who would make elite member read more
  • Saint Fnordius: Let's be brutally honest here: all contractors and consultants are read more
  • Tom Roberts: A1- I think he just agreed with the practical implications read more

Andrew Lazarus Part II of II

By Armed Liberal at 19:39

Here's the second part of Andrew's argument, including (about halfway down) his suggestions for what we do now.

Point: The Iraq War caused severe damage to international and domestic institutions, probably on purpose

From my perspective, a consistent and unfortunate habit of the Bush Administration across many issues has been self-confidence and self-righteousness so extreme that all restraints imposed by law or tradition are seen as hindrances. The Executive of the strongest power the planet has ever seen must not be encumbered (at least when the incumbent is a "good man" from the Republican Party).

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  • Brian: "After all, we've sent in Jewish and Christian soldiers, women read more
  • Tom Roberts: Mark- Pakistan isn't so far removed from terrorism as you read more
  • Mark: hilzoy, I think Lurker has done a good job of read more

Fallujah Around the Blogosphere

By Joe Katzman at 13:56

Let's see. DailyKos:

"Let the people see what war is like... There are real repercussions to Bush’s folly. That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries. They aren’t in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them."

Nice to see where Kos really stands. My turn now...

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  • Doctor Slack: Lurker: It's all good, these comments threads do get unmanageably read more
  • Lurker: Docter Slack, Thanks for the clarification. WRT, to the past read more
  • Doctor Slack: The difference between mercs and regular soldiers is structural. In read more

EU Continues to Fund Terrorism

By Joe Katzman at 08:40

Despite voluminous evidence that EU funds are making a substantial contribution to financing terrorism (see esp. Die Zeit's "Arafat Bombs, Europe Pays" and "With Unyielding Faith"), the EU has investigated and decided to give itself a clean bill of health.

Maybe we could have EU investigations of terrorist culpability, too, before American forces are committed anywhere. Or the U.N., since they're so obviously above reproach. That would certainly make a lot of Democratic Party activists very happy.

Putting aside the (much-deserved) ridicule for a moment, there are 2 other interesting - and important - angles to this story...

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  • Lurker: Yeah! And why would someone plant their needlework in a read more
  • Peter UK: As the old adage say: 'You reap what you sew'. read more
  • Andy: Anderson, I suggest your bush up on international law, read read more

The Ocean's Dead Zones

By Joe Katzman at 03:24

Silflay Hraka discusses recent reports about growing "dead zones" in the oceans, caused in part by human activity. Most media cover science poorly, but Bigwig explains exactly what's going on clearly and persuasively.

Which is great, because once you see the whole picture it's possible to imagine useful solutions.

Still, when you combine this trend with the coral die-offs, bottom-dragging deep nets (quite common, and the effects are like burning down a forest to catch deer), species overfishing to the point of fishery collapse, orca mortality, etc., it sure looks like our oceans are under ecological pressure. Their vastness can absorb a multitude of human sins, so it's wise not to panic... but their absorption capacity isn't infinite, either.

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  • praktike: Hmmm... I was working on a primer about the economics read more
  • Alan Kellogg: Last I heard, we'll be declining in overall population starting read more
  • Kevin: Richard is right. The problem is that no one owns read more

April 1, 2004

Falluja, Again

By Armed Liberal at 18:49

The pictures and story from Falluja are horrible. As we should, we recoil from the rage and inhumanity of the actions that led to them, and try to figure out how to respond. On one of my email lists, the discussion is between those who want to respond with massive destruction and those who - equally hopeless about the future of Iraq - want to simply leave.

I'll offer the photo linked here (note that it is slightly, but not horribly, graphic) as evidence why we shouldn't do either.

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  • Scott: I'm with you. The Americans ought to get out of read more
  • Fred: I never said they love us. I just don't believe read more
  • Diana: Fred, I fight fire with fire. You started the "duh" read more

Guest Blog: Andrew Lazarus On The War In Iraq, Part I of II

By Armed Liberal at 15:23

Andrew Lazarus has been one of the most fervent - and yet thoughtful - opponents of the war in Iraq in our comments, and I thought it would be a good idea to invite him to set out his whole argument in a more expansive format.

By Andrew Lazarus:

Armed Liberal has very generously suggested that I write my reasons for opposing the Iraq War. I appreciate the opportunity, both because the exercise has allowed to determine in my own mind which arguments I feel are most cogent, and because from now on in the comments, I can just incorporate my prior arguments by reference.

Point: The assault on Iraq contributes little, if anything, to the personal security of Americans.

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  • JerryC: Here are a few random thoughts: Al Queda is the read more
  • Lurker: Andrew J. Lazarus, Lurker, couldn't the British and USSR have read more
  • Dan Darling: A side note, as I'm in the process of read more


By Armed Liberal at 04:36
The brutal attacks on American contractors (albeit paramilitary contractors) is all over the news. Go read Phil Carter's take on it.
Though American taxpayers will pay the bill, it is the Iraqis who will suffer. The deteriorating security situation will disproportionately hurt contractors, relief agencies and non-governmental organizations much more than it hurts the military. The US Marines and US Army can adjust to a more threatening environment much more easily than these civilian agencies can. And it is these civilian agencies that do the majority of good for the Iraqis. The tough task now is to convince the Iraqi population of this fact, so that they take the lead in stopping their own insurgent brethren.
I have a proprietary interest in the Marines in Falluja. They are the young men and women I packed supplies with for Spirit of America, and they are the ones pushing us to get them tools - literally right now, tools - to help improve the lives of the Iraqis they deal with every day.
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  • trey: Rick, This ain't regular ol' domestic warehouse security, Barney Fife read more
  • Rick: Makes sense, sure, from a business standpoint. But I wonder read more

Dan's Winds of War: 2004-01-04

By Dan Darling at 03:21

Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Dan Darling. of Regnum Crucis.


  • Authorities in the UK and the the Philippines have both thwarted major al-Qaeda attacks. In the case of the UK, the bomb would have been five times the size of that used in Bali.
  • Winds of Change Central Asia correspondent has a great round-up of the situation in Uzbekistan as well as some interesting thoughts on claims that Uzbek despot Islam Karimov orchestrated this latest violence in order to justify a crackdown. A checkpoint near the US embassy has also been attacked by whoever's behind this and my suspicion is that it's the IMU.
  • Australian authorities are warning that Jemaah Islamiyyah may use a crude nuclear device against shipping lanes in the Straits of Malacca and the Singapore Strait.

Other Topics Today Include: Iraq Briefing; Iran Reports; Pakistan declares victory in Waziristan; 2 Pakistani district officials killed; KSM sings on 9/11; Australian helps Indonesia to decrypt computer files; Russia gave Pakistan intel; Mullah Omar wounded; 1,000 Afghan militiamen disarmed; Saudis still funding al-Qaeda; Ottawa Muslims questioned in terrorism probe; al-Qaeda transiting Romania; Basayev vows revenge; ISI may have been at al-Qaeda training camps in 1998; and AOL's porsche raffle.

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Word of the Day: Resistentialism

By Joe Katzman at 02:45

resistentialism (n., ri-zis-TEN-shul-iz-um) The theory that inanimate objects demonstrate hostile behavior toward us.

You know they do. If you've ever had a feeling that your photocopy machine, computer, et. al. are out to get you, and time their problems for maximum inconvenience, now you know the word for it. It was coined by humorist Paul Jennings as a blend of the Latin res (thing) + French resister (to resist) + existentialism (a kind of philosophy). My Santa Cruz sweetie also supplies this report of scientific experiments confirming the validity of your paranoia.

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  • Oscar: My favorite slogan on this is: "Never let an inanimate read more
  • Inspector Callahan: The whole gun control debate comes to mind. TV (Harry) read more
  • Patrick Brown: Very funny stuff - I googled resistentialism and there is read more

The 10 Best Rock Bands Ever

By Joe Katzman at 01:17

Eric Olsen of offers his list of "The 10 Best Rock Bands Ever" in this MSNBC article, along with a well-researched bio entry justifying each choice. Here's the discussion thread if you wish to praise or throw abuse at his choices.

My big quibbles: Led Zeppelin should have been higher than #6 - and if we're talking about bands that changed Rock N' Roll, Nirvana has to be there.

NOTE FOR COMMENTERS: This blog's anti-spam defenses include software that forces comments made on old posts like this into moderation before they can appear on site. Your post will be received, it just won't go up until I get my email and approve it. Which I do, as you can see. I'l add that we believe in free speech, so even if you vote for KC and the Sunshine Band, I'll still approve you. I just won't respect you. For those about to rock, we salute you! (and see our post re: the REAL School of Rock).

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  • Kewrock: 1.Beatles 2.Stones 3.Who 4.Kinks 5.Zeppelin 6.Sabbath 7.Metallica 8.?...Pink floyd, Van read more
  • toj: 1-u2 2-rem 3-iron maiden 4-helloween 5-system of a down 6-queen read more
  • Bres: the 6 best bands are, in no particular order: Led read more

Special Analysis: Al-Qaeda's African Arm

By Dan Darling at 00:26

Since September 11, numerous commentators including Glenn Reynolds have been noting for some time that al-Qaeda has a major Algerian component to it. This analysis will take a larger look at that particular component and how it has changed to become what increasingly appearing to be the preferred African arm of al-Qaeda.

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  • Think: Oh come on. Read up on the origins of the read more
  • calixte: Dan - Can you please edit my previous comment so read more
  • calixte: Dan, Jef - Praktike from the AmericanFootprint blog tipped be read more
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