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This Is Odd
Saturday, April 17, 2003
Here's a photo of that dead Rantasi guy. The media is reporting that a Hellfire missile blew up his car. What do you see here?
I see at least four distinct puncture wounds in his torso, all of a similar size; two or three more in his thigh, and some minor fragment wounds in his right arm. No burning, no torn flesh.
This wasn't a regular Hellfire. Remember how that other guy looked, all torn apart and burned?
Offhand, they look like gunshots, which would be odd. Maybe they have a new warhead that shoots projectiles forward instead of exploding?
It sure fucked up his car pretty good, whatever it was.
But, clearly, this was a man of peace, the sort of statesman who could lead his people through the difficult journey to a negotiated settlement:
On that weird noise he just heard: "Helicopter? What helicopter?"
I'll Probably Go To Hell For This
Friday, April 16, 2003
I just made a Ralph Nader campaign poster. It's ugly, but I think it's pretty good. Check it out.
The idea was to make something that would work as well in printed form as on the web. Yes, you may copy it, modify it and distribute it any way you like. The more you copy it and improve it, the happier I'll be.
I'd just like for our progressive friends to make an informed choice this November.
Credit, where credit is due:
A number of blogs provided much-appreciated information as I was putting this together. I hope I didn't leave anyone out:
See For Yourself, Part II
Tuesday, April 6, 2003
[I had originally posted this as an update to the item below, but decided that it was too good to bury at the bottom of the page.]
Check out this White House press release summarizing the 1999 version of the National Security Strategy Report. If Bin Ladin is a priority here, I'm the pope.
The report previews the President's national security agenda for the coming year, including: forging a lasting peace in the Middle East; securing the peace in the Balkans and Northern Ireland; helping Russia strengthen its economy and fight corruption as it heads toward its first democratic transfer of power; furthering arms control through discussions with Russia on the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and deeper reductions in strategic nuclear weapons; implementing China's entry into the WTO and other global institutions while promoting freedom and human rights there; easing tensions between India and Pakistan; building on hopeful developments between Greece and Turkey to make progress in the Aegean, particularly on Cyprus; securing new energy routes from the Caspian Sea that will allow newly independent states in the Caucasus to prosper; supporting democratic transitions from Nigeria to Indonesia; helping Colombia defeat the drug traffickers who threaten its democracy; fighting weapons proliferation, terrorism and the nexus between them; restraining North Korea's and Iran's missile programs; maintaining vigilance against Iraq and working to bring about a change in regime; consolidating reforms to the world's financial architecture as the basis for sustained economic growth; advancing global trade; enacting legislation to promote trade with Africa and the Caribbean; pressing ahead with debt relief for countries fighting poverty and embracing good government; reversing global climate change.
Wow. That's one hell of a priority you got there, Dick.
Update: Here's the entire 1999 report. Bin Ladin is mentioned in a single paragraph.
See For Yourself
Tuesday, April 6, 2003
You are former president Bill Clinton. Your chief anti-terrorism guy, Richard Clarke, says that Al Qaeda was an absolute top priority during the final years of your term. In fact, Richard Clarke writes a book and testifies under oath telling everyone who will listen how focused you were on Al Qaeda while you were president.
The problem, as Boortz describes it, is that this report barely mentions terrorism at all. His conclusion?
I've carefully read the preface and I think Boortz is right on the money. As I see it, the National Security Priorities that Clinton and Clarke had identified in 2000 are:
[... remain] engaged in seeking peace in the Middle East, in the Balkans, between Greece and Turkey, between India and Pakistan, in Northern Ireland, between Peru and Ecuador, and Eritrea and Ethiopia.
[...address] contemporary threats such as the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, terrorism, and international crime. New efforts must continue to build on initiatives such as the extension of the Nonproliferation Treaty, the containment of nations seeking to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction, increased antiterrorism cooperation, stepped up efforts to combat trafficking in drugs, arms, and human- beings, and our first-ever national strategy for cybersecurity.
So there you have it. Somewhere after Europe, Japan, Russia, China, South Korea, North Korea, the Balkans, Greece, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Northern Ireland, Peru, Ecuador, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, we have the first mention of terrorism - mentioned only in the context of containment - and lumped into paragraph six with such urgent national security priorities as global warming and the spread of AIDS. Bin Ladin and Al Queda are not mentioned in the preface at all.
Maybe I'm wrong here, but it seems to me that Clarke is just flat-out full of crap. But don't take my word for it. Read the whole thing, and decide for yourself.
I especially liked the very first line of this report:
As we enter the new millennium, we are blessed to be citizens of a country enjoying record prosperity, with no deep divisions at home, no overriding external threats abroad, and history's most powerful military ready to defend our interests around the world.
Instapundit is all over this story.
Update3: Clarification added:
My comment that "Bin Ladin and Al Queda are not mentioned at all" has been altered to read "Bin Ladin and Al Queda are not mentioned in the preface at all". I thought this was clear in the context of my posting, but apparently it was not.
Weakness Is Like Catnip To These People
Sunday, April 4, 2003
A few weeks ago, there was a terrible bombing in Spain. Shortly thereafter, Spain's new government went into appeasement mode, offering to withdraw its troops from Iraq in hopes of turning aside future attacks. Many people, myself included, predicted that they had only invited more trouble to their door.
I don't think anybody expected it to happen so fast.
First, there was yet another attempt to bomb a Spanish passenger train; Spain's response was to consider withdrawing it's troops from Iraq even earlier than first announced. This was met by a warning from an Al Queda leader that Spain must also withdraw it troops from Afghanistan, lest its embassies be attacked. Finally, in Faluja, the first real battle has been fought to regain control of the city - as mobs of Islamist stormed the Spanish garrison.
It hasn't even been a month.
Islamic fanatics are different than us. They think about things differently, they have different values and different expectations, different motives and different goals. You'll make a terrible mistake if you project your own point of view on to these people, and assume they will respond to events in what you consider to be a rational way.
One of these big differences is that they really do feed on weakness. Personally, I believe that they see weakness as vindication, and as an early, strategic indicator of victory. It shows them where the soft spots are, where the glory is to be found, where the real gains can be quickly made. It draws them the way that blood in the water draws sharks.
Spain's failing response to terror is about to become an object lesson for all of Europe. Like most lessons learned in war, it will come at a terrible price. I honestly hope with all my heart that the right people are watching, and that they draw the right conclusions from what they see.
Update: Now, a second letter arrives:
A group claiming responsibility for the Madrid bombings sent a fax to a newspaper this weekend warning it would turn Spain "into an inferno" unless the country halted its support for the United States and withdrew its troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
[...] The letter gave a deadline of Sunday, April 4 for Spain to end support for the United States and withdraw troops from both countries. "If these demands are not met, we will declare war on you and we swear by Ala the highest and most sublime that we will convert your country into an inferno and your blood will flow like rivers," the letter added.
Get used to it, you stupid bastards.
Update2: Meanwhile, in Iraq:
Right Decision, Wrong Guy
Friday, April 2, 2003
Gas prices are pretty high now. Part of it is because the supply of crude is low, and part of it is because it is expensive for the refineries to blend fuels to the environmental specifications mandated by each of the various states. (Most of these blends involve the addition of some percentage of ethanol).
People of good faith disagree about how much of the price of gas is really due to these environmental mandates. Well, here's a clue:
[... O]il and wholesale gasoline prices dropped abruptly this afternoon as the Bush administration said it was considering suspending clean air rules for three states -- California, New York and Connecticut.
The comments by Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham before a congressional hearing today knocked crude oil prices down nearly 4.1% to $34.30 and wholesale gasoline futures to $1.07, down 5.5%. Crude ended the day at a 7-week low.
On just by suggestion that the rules would be suspended, gas futures fell 5.5%! That's a pretty big dive.
Of course, there's more to this story. The key point? From an environmental perspective, putting ethanol in gas is just a flat-out stupid idea. While ethanol does reduce some forms of air pollution, it usually causes an increase in others (aldehydes, evaporative emissions and NOX ), leading to little, if any, net benefit.
Even worse, Cornell professor David Pimentel recently made the case that the energy you get out of a gallon of ethanol is significantly less than the total energy of the fossil fuels required to produce it. (here and here):
"Most of us wouldn't mind paying a premium for a homegrown fuel that's truly efficient, environmentally friendly and renewable," Pimentel said in an interview. "But ethanol from corn is none of those." Making a gallon of ethanol from corn, he calculates, requires about 29 percent more energy -- from fossil fuels -- than a gallon of ethanol can provide. At the same time, he said, ethanol has only two-thirds the energy content of the same volume of gasoline.
Also, he noted, "Corn farming takes a terrible toll on the environment -- it causes more soil erosion and requires more insecticides, herbicides and nitrogen fertilizer than any other crop. And every gallon of ethanol produced results in 13 gallons of effluent pollution." Said Pimentel, "I can't call that renewable."
From an environmental standpoint, ethanol-blended gas is a loser. The only reason this is still done is because these ethanol requirements provide a gigantic subsidy to the corn growers and producers - it's a captive market for millions of gallons of their product. ADM makes a few extra bucks, paid for by you and me every time we visit the pump.
Needless to say, you'll be hearing about this in the coming weeks:
Bush Suspends Pollution Controls - Women and Minorities Hardest Hit
Now, if ethanol actually produced a meaningful benefit, I'd be all over this idea. I generally support environmental protections because I believe that clean air, clean water, and protected habitat is worth paying for. However, ethanol is not our friend; it's just corporate welfare wrapped in a green flag, and the costs far outweigh the benefits.
This is a good decision, and sadly, Bush is going to get crucified for it. The irony of the enviro-left joining forces with the greedy corporate polluters is going to be too much to bear.
For everything you ever wanted to know about the economics of gas prices, visit the Knowledge Problem blog and just keep scrolling.
Check this out: Archer Daniels Midland: A Case Study In Corporate Welfare.
The Arab Street Rises Up In Anger
There were 190 acts of international terrorism in 2003, a slight decrease from the 198 attacks that occurred in 2002, and a drop of 45 percent from the level in 2001 of 346 attacks. The figure in 2003 represents the lowest annual total of international terrorist attacks since 1969.
Don't Let Anybody Tell You It's Easy
Here's an especially good story about an Australian sniper who served during the Korean war.
I suppose I should be grateful that I can't even imagine what this was really like.
Some Thoughtful Advice For John Kerry
Oddly enough, I agree with Kerry completely on this topic. This inconsistancy between ribbons and medals is a classic "distinction without a difference", and it is, by itself, utterly unimportant.
The verbal flailing, however, really does hurt him. This whole interview was an embarassing mistake.
Quote Of The Day
Jonah Goldberg at The Corner:
Pat Tillman played football for the Cardinals. On the morning of September 11th, 2001, he was in his fourth season, with a $3.6 million contract.
Tillman quit football and became an Army Ranger. I was very impressed with him then, looking at his willingness to walk away from fame and fortune as a real sacrifice. I didn't know the half of it.
Tillman was killed yesterday in Afghanistan. He was a good man. This is a heartbreaking loss.
There is a message here. All of our soldiers, the best among them and the worst, face this same sacrifice. Each is risking something more than fame and fortune, and several hundred have already paid the price.
We owe these guys.
Liquid Body Armor
They have working prototypes now. Cool.
You can make your own "shear-thickening fluid" with ordinary cornstarch and water. Put a tablespoon or so worth of cornstarch into your hand, and add just enough water to make a thick, runny liquid. Now put your other hand over the top of the liquid and rub it, as if you were trying to roll it into a ball.
So long as you are applying shear force (side-to-side force), the liquid will magically transform to a solid. It will even fracture into sharp-edged pieces, that quickly melt back into liquid form. Messy, but fun.
Cat Photo Of The Week
This is just perfect.
It's a real photo (not a photoshop job) although I did have to play around with the brightness and contrast to make it all come out.
Zahar Death Watch
Mahmoud Zahar has reportedly assumed the still-smoking, slightly sticky helm of Hamas.
This was almost certainly a poor career decision; I'd expect they wouldn't even bother with the 401k. Nonetheless, he does seems about right for the job. He's already familiar with Israeli airpower, which is certainly a big plus for this position, and besides, he's the kind of guy who always seems to know the right thing to say:
Atta boy, Mahmoud. Keep your spirits up.
So how long before this piece of shit meets his maker? Put your best guess into the comment thread below, and I'll reward the winner with a link or something.
Kerry: 100% Anti-Gun
That's according to the Brady Campaign's Congressional Voting Scorecard. Kerry voted with the gun-banners twenty times out of twenty, demonstrating what is probably the most consistent stance he has ever held on any legislative issue.
So what does John Kerry have to say for himself?
Oh, blow it out your ass, John.
Kerry Does Good
Hey, credit where credit is due:
US Senator John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said on Sunday Israel's killing of Hamas leader Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi was justified because Israel "has every right in the world to respond to any act of terror against it."
"Hamas is a terrorist, brutal organization", he told NBC's Meet the Press. "It has had years to make up its mind to take part in a peaceful process. They refuse to ... and I support Israel's efforts to try to separate itself and to try to be secure."
Don't Let The Door Hit You
Wanna-be First Lady Teresa Heinz, on the rigors of being Kerry's wife:
You don't like it? I'm sure your private jet can have you home in no time.
Well, you can shelve your plans for that Rantisi Death Watch - the Israelis just blew his sorry, Hamas-leading ass back to hell where it belongs.
He was running the show for what, three weeks?
Honestly, He Only Wants Czechoslovakia
Bin Ladin offers Europe a truce. Seriously.
It seems he never wanted to kill anyone, and his demands are really quite reasonable.
I'd love to hear Kerry's take on this...
Happily, the British remain sane, as expected. Let's see how the rest of Europe holds up...
Incredibly, France, Spain, Germany, and Italy have all told Bin Ladin to fuck off; honestly, I'm as surprised as I am pleased.
I've Waited My Whole Life For This
Finally, a government subsidy that I can wholeheartedly support.
According to my accountant, the Bush Tax Cut™ saved us $445.
According to the April edition of the American Rifleman magazine, this is a hell of a nice gun for the money.
According to my current line of reasoning with my wife, this means the federal government just issued me a militia sidearm.
I've been advocating this for years...
Great minds think alike.
Quote Of The Day
Professor Bainbridge sees it coming:
The Unholy Alliance of plaintiffs' lawyers, health fanatics, bureaucrats, and modern day secular puritans, kill-joys, and spoilsports is coming for us all. If you love liberty, take up smoking and drinking, buy coffee from places that sell it too hot, eat red meat daily, wear fur, and support tort reform.
Is It Just Me?
I've recently noticed something, and I wonder if this is just a local quirk or if others have noticed it, too.
I live near a pretty liberal town and it's not uncommon to see anti-Bush bumper stickers on passing cars, or even "Bush Must Go" signs planted in people's front yards. What seems unusual about this is I've rarely seen a sign or a bumper sticker that actually expresses support for John Kerry.
Anti-Bush stuff seems to be everywhere, but you might go a week before you see anything with Kerry's name on it.
Is this just me, or is this part of a larger trend?
Odds And Ends
You've heard about those camel spiders that live in the Iraqi desert. You probably heard they were pretty big and gross. You have no idea.
Finally, here's the solution to a sixty-year-old mystery.
Must-Read Link Of The Week
You've always heard that you could slip a few bucks to the maitre d', and quickly get a table in a busy, high-class restaurant. Does it really work?
I Just Sent An Email To The Sheriff Of Franklin County, Ohio
You may wish to do the same, even if, like me, you don't live anywhere near the place.
Key Moment In Condi's Testimony
Here's the Administration's reply to Clarke. This statement is something of a bombshell, but the commission can easily fact-check it so I'll have to assume it's true:
We also moved to develop a new and comprehensive strategy to eliminate the al-Qaida terrorist network. President Bush understood the threat, and he understood its importance. He made clear to us that he did not want to respond to al-Qaida one attack at a time. He told me he was "tired of swatting flies."
This new strategy was developed over the Spring and Summer of 2001, and was approved by the President's senior national security officials on September 4. It was the very first major national security policy directive of the Bush Administration - not Russia, not missile defense, not Iraq, but the elimination of al-Qaida.
You read that right: the very first major national security policy directive of the Bush Administration was a new and comprehensive strategy to eliminate the al-Qaida terrorist network. And they can prove it, too.
How can Clarke possibly argue that the Bush administration did not make terrorism a major priority before 9/11? Obviously, they did. It's right there.
It'll be interesting to see what happens next.
Another Surprising Set Of Facts
Even under the Bush Tax Cuts, the rich still keep paying more:
Econopundit has the full scoop.
Ashcroft's War On Porn
This is not only pathetic, it is genuinely hard to believe. What planet is this guy on, commiting resources to something like this when we are in the middle of a damn war?
I've defended Ashcroft occasionally, but now I've had it with him. He's a mutant. Get somebody else in there who can do the job without embarassing all of us.
I'll tell you this much, pal: you can have my porn when you pry it from my cold, dead hand.
About Fucking Time
We fight wars with a conscience.
We make a tremendous effort to spare non-combatants, of course, but we also avoid targeting culturally important sites. We value these places enough that we are willing pay for them with the vital currency of war - with risk, delay, and blood. We do it simply because we do not want to see precious things destroyed.
We have been especially careful not to damage mosques, and unsurprisingly, our enemies have quickly learned to use these sites as their headquarters, their observation posts, and their firing positions. There is no rule of law that requires us to preserve these sites as the enemy employs them against us, but nonetheless, we have always shown remarkable restraint. That restraint may be well justified when a few of the enemy briefly inhabit a sensitive position, but it was never intended to provide them a guaranteed safe haven which they could incorporate into their strategic plans. I believe we have extended too much protection to these places for too long. Yes, your mosque is safe, but it is not that safe.
Nobody benefits if we encourage our enemies to militarize and desecrate their own religious sites. Nobody will really argue that the enemy ought to have a safe haven where they are free to fire at will into the crowds below. And nobody, I hope, will be surprised when the enemy learns to stop fighting from positions that ought to be spared from the ravages of war.
Check this out:
When the 40,000 subscribers to Reason, the monthly libertarian magazine, receive a copy of the June issue, they will see on the cover a satellite photo of a neighborhood - their own neighborhood. And their house will be graphically circled.
The world has changed, and the more that people understand this, the better. Lots of women I know are still freaked out that people can get computer-generated maps to their houses knowing only their names, but of course this has been available for years.
You Gotta Love Stories Like This
When a three-metre crocodile latched on to the arm of an 11-year-old girl swimming behind his boat, skipper Ray Turner leapt into action. The former crocodile hunter dived from the boat, landed on the back of the reptile and gouged one of its eyes until it freed the girl.
I'd like to be just half that brave. Seriously, I'd happily settle for half...
Link Of The Week, Part II
Just before the current round of fighting began in Iraq, I recommended this Belmont Club post as a guide to what would happen. I think Wretchard's analysis has held up quite well, particularly his prediction of the lame 'countersiege' techniques that the enemy recently attempted.
Terrorist Chemical Attack Averted In UK
This one came a little too close for comfort:
Osmium tetroxide? That's a new one. It seems to be about as dangerous as they said, too.
Sadly, I think it's only a matter of time before they successfully pull off one of these attacks. This is going to be a long, bloody war.
A Pack, Not A Herd
The Israelis know how to handle threats:
Israelis with valid gun licenses should carry a weapon with them during the Passover holiday, Police Commissioner Shlomo Aharonishki said Monday. The police have beefed up their deployments for the Passover holiday, which starts Monday night, as all the security services move to boost the already high state of alert.
Link Of The Week
Wretchard's analysis of the upcoming fight in Fallujah is one of the best posts I've read in quite a while.
Bloody Week In Iraq
Looks like the Spring Offensive is right on schedule:
These losses are terrible, and more will almost certainly follow. My heart goes out to those who were lost, and to those they left behind.
The good news is that the enemy always gets the worst of it when they go face to face with our troops. They are desperate now, trying to force us out before the turnover. A democratic Iraq is their worst nightmare, and they are using up everything they have to stop it before it's too late.
The good news is that they are going to fail. It's already too late to drive us out, too late to turn Iraq into another fascist shithole. It's too late to try to intimidate us with violence.
We don't put up with that shit anymore.
No, really. Thorax cake.
This year I decided to go the whole hog and make an entire thoracic cavity cake. The plan was for each organ to be made out of a different kind of cake and to secrete a different color of fluid when it was cut into.
Probably the Best Halloween Party Ever.
Quote Of The Day
From The Corner:
Pro Football Hall of Famer (and Notre Dame alum) Paul Hornung is in hot water because he said Notre Dame "can't stay as strict as we are as far as the academic structure is concerned because we've got to get the black athlete." Any fool knows that the right way to say this is that "Notre Dame must adopt a more holistic approach in its admissions in order to achieve greater diversity."
Excellent Post Of The Week
Kevin at The Smallest Minority offers an outstanding post today, inspired in part by a discussion we had here. He illustrates what I believe to be the great Achilles Heel of our republic; the future of our freedom depends utterly upon the opinions of judges who, all too often, allow their own preferences to color their decisions.
As I read Kevin's post, I was reminded of a terrific Antonin Scalia quote on this very same topic:
I didn't remember where I'd found this gem, so I had to google around for it. It was posted last week on Kevin's site!
Warrentless Search In New Orleans
If you haven't heard about this yet, you will - the 5th Circuit recently upheld a 'warrentless search' of a private home. On the face of it, this suggests stunning breach of civil liberties, to say the least.
We turn initially to the primary issue now before us, namely whether there is an across-the-board, hard and fast per se rule that a protective sweep can be valid only if conducted incident to an arrest. We hold there is not.
This does not mean that the police can just stop by and search your house! Not even in Louisiana.