June 30, 2004

You would have thought...

... that this would be getting more attention. Whether Putin is full of crap or finally telling the truth, I wish we would hear more about how Russia 'warned U.S. about Saddam'.

[via WindsOfChange]

Posted by richard at 05:54 PM | Comments (0)


Mindles H. Dreck from Asymmetrical Information manages to say a bunch of things that I agree with 100%.

We have devoted a lot of space to defending the President/administration from over-the-top rhetoric. In some sense we've felt almost forced to. I wonder occasionally whether addressing partisan polemics makes you partisan yourself. That's actually one of the thoughts that's diminished my enthusiasm about posting. I know I'll be backed into some argument where fierce partisans insist that if I don't share their wildly unreasonable demonization of the other side I must be....one of them!

The diminishing enthusiasm part really resonates with me – the polemics and the defense against the polemics makes it difficult to say anything meaningful. It makes it harder to reflectively criticize the legitimate problems with the administration because you're constantly being bludgeoned with them when defending the policies that you agree with.

As a transplanted Texan, I also still cannot get used to a place where you risk pissing off everyone at the party because you support the president, the war, and, heaven forbid, capitalism.

And then he lays out his position, which mirrors mine pretty closely:

Both parties are chickenshit on gay marriage. I don't think the state should have anything to say about it. On the other hand, it's sad to me that anybody thinks state recognition should be important to their own sense of worth. This is what becomes of subsidies (which the legal status of marriage is). They are inherently discriminatory. It's appalling that people think marriage has to be 'defended' with subsidies or other attempts at social engineering.

Free trade is incredibly important to the growth of the world economy and the distribution of wealth to the far corners of the earth. Steel and agricultural subsidies are inexcusable even if the other guys are doing it. These protections simply slow us down and screw the little guy - in Africa or South America, that is.

The FCC's actions are just chilling to free speech. The new fines are restrictively punitive, and create at least the moral hazard of using them to shape political speech.

Bush never saw a spending bill or entitlement he didn't like, all small government rhetoric aside. Descriptions of his spending policy as some kind of fiscal rope-a-dope defy imagination.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, the decision to transplant Gitmo's prisoner treatment guidelines to Iraq is a textbook example of bureaucratic stupidity. The lack of control of potential WMD sites immediately after the invasion is a major screw-up - one that made the world a MORE dangerous place (remember the 'one vial' argument? Since we really thought they were there, job one should have been lockdown, regardless of the invasion pace).

I'm tired of people who think that businespeople are automatically immoral actors, or that the mere existence of profit or business self-interest signifies a problem. In my experience, the profit motive often protects us from the human instinct to control others when we gather in groups. Without the more objective monetary yardstick, it seems like the unspoken prime directive of groups (read:bureaucracies) is to control others, despite the best intentions of the individuals involved. I sit on a nonprofit board and I've seen it in action.

I endorse the mission in Iraq, which WAS, contrary to much invective, about bringing democracy to the Middle East. Or did I just imagine all the pre-war criticism of the administration being in the thrall of a 'cabal' of Straussian Neo-cons with precisely that mission? You remember, back when everyone thought WMDs were a lock? I understand some people thought Saddam could be deterred. I don't understand people who think it is all about oil or Halliburton. An immense good has been done getting rid of Saddam. It is beyond me why people are so vested in portraying that as entirely venal. Counter-tribalism, I guess.

Pure dynamist.

Posted by richard at 10:46 AM | Comments (5)

June 25, 2004

More evidence

Again, not a smoking gun, but more evidence of ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda are discussed in this New York Times article.
Update: link fixed thanks to Brad.

Posted by richard at 10:22 AM | Comments (4)

June 16, 2004

Off to France

I'm off to France tonight for a week. Julia is giving a paper and receiving a prize at the Business History Conference in Le Creusot. I'm tagging along as "spouse of academic" and hope to imbibe enough good wine to counteract the French Marxists that we've been warned to expect at the conference. (Brad A. and Mike F., I'll try to have a report for you on your "brethren" over there.)

After the conference, we're heading to Switzerland for a couple of days of relaxation on Lake Geneva.

Blogging will be light.

Posted by richard at 12:55 PM | Comments (2)

June 11, 2004

Iraqi Good News

Chrenkoff has part III of his series on good news from Iraq. It's nice to have the positive stuff collected together, since the negative stuff is so easy to find.

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

June 10, 2004

Foreign Country

Everything about this story is weird.... no, foreign: Brigitte Bardot fined for inciting racial hatred:

In the book, she laments the "Islamization of France"� and the "underground and dangerous infiltration of Islam."�
“There are many new languages in the new Europe. Mediocrity is taking over from beauty and splendor. There are many people who are filthy, badly dressed and badly shaven.”

In her book, she also attacks homosexuals as “fairground freaks,” condemns the presence of women in government and denounces the “scandal of unemployment benefits.”

I don't know what's weirder, the fact that everyone is so appalled or that she can be fined for saying something appalling.

She's just a French sex symbol and right-wing animal rights activist.

That's not to endorse any of her positions, of course, lest the accusations start flying.....

Posted by richard at 04:31 PM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2004

30 seconds

If you have it to spare, spend it on this: Titanic in 30 seconds with bunnies. Via Andrew Sullivan.

Posted by richard at 09:32 PM | Comments (10)

June 08, 2004

Outsourcing & Protectionism

Dan Drezner has a boatload of posts about outsourcing and protectionism over at his site. First, there's this LA Times article about rebuilding the Bay Bridge, which go over budget by $2.7 billion:

This week, officials announced that the suspension tower alone would cost $1 billion more than originally expected.

One reason, they said, is the state's "Buy America" rules, which dictate that Caltrans can use foreign steel on the bridge only if its cost is at least 25% less than domestic steel. In this case, the difference is only 23%, so the state must go with domestic steel. That added $400 million to the price tag.

Now, this is obviously a big deal by itself for a state with a huge budget deficit. $400 million more for domestic steel. But the larger point is all protectionism acts the same way, costing the end consumer more. The problem is usually one of diffuse costs – we all pay $20 more here, $100 more there – and concentrated benefits – these three inefficient steel mills get to stay open another year. This giant public works problem just neatly aggregates the costs so we can see them all at one time. And they're huge.

Luckily, some states are thinking through the costs before they pass the bills:

When Kansas officials learned that food stamp questions were being answered by workers in India under a contract with an Arizona company, state senators added language to the budget requiring the work be done in the United States.

But the language was deleted when negotiators learned it would boost the state's costs by $640,000, about 38 percent.

The last thing that government projects need is legislation to make them even more costly.

Posted by richard at 07:07 PM | Comments (1)

Good news

Two pieces of good news about Iraq. First the UN security council voted unanimously to approve the US resolution approving the June 30 handover. As an Iraqi official said, "the significance of the resolution is really to take away the concept of occupation." This can only be good for the Iraqis, their future, and the ongoing public relations war. Ayad Allawi welcomed the resolution, saying "it gives Iraq full sovereignty." Shockingly, al-Jazeera is skeptical.

Second, the US successfully rescued three Italians and a Polish citizen who had been kidnapped and held hostage.

Both via the Command Post.

Posted by richard at 06:38 PM | Comments (1)


This advance would seem to embody the essential question of all technological change – how will we flawed humans use our new toy?

On one hand, the beam of pain will surely save lives – of our troops, innocent civilians, and the "bad guys". Put to good use, it could give soldiers and peacekeepers a desparately needed option "between a bullet and a bullhorn".

On the other hand, history, recent included, teaches that it will also, at some point, be used to purposefully inflict pain without the risk of long-term injury. A better tool of oppression and torture would be hard to think of.

When these become pistol-sized and available on the blackmarket, we might all need to trade in our tinfoil hats for tinfoil jumpsuits.

Posted by richard at 10:20 AM | Comments (1)

June 07, 2004

Our Relationships with Arab States

I recently posted about how the Iraq war had "damaged" our relationship with Europe. But it's equally important to consider how it has improved our relationships with Arab states.

At first blush that may seem like a ludicrous thing to say – most Arab states hate us and, if anything, they hate us now more than before we began the war. The same is true for Iran and North Korea. But, fortunately in this case, the quality of international relations is not based on how much the other country "likes" you. In foreign policy, particularly with Arab states, respect is as important as love. And the Iraq war is major step towards regaining the respect of those that oppose us – respect for our power, respect for our resolve, respect for our interests.

Oderint dum metuant goes too far. But if they will not love us, let them at least respect us. Or at their peril, not.

The major events of the last 35 years have been, in perception if not reality, a series of capitulations proclaiming our weakness, fulfilling the worst expectations about our decadent culture. From Vietnam, to the ill-conceived Iran hostage rescue attempt, to the Beirut withdrawal, to leaving the Shi'a to their fate in 1991, to tolerating Saddam's intransigence, to Blackhawk Down, to having our embassies bombed in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam, to lobbing cruise missiles at caves – we painted a picture to the world of a country that dropped a few bombs, curled up and went home whenever the going got tough. "Evacuate non-essential personnel" was our battle cry.

And our enemies still hated us. And they grew bolder.

Afghanistan was the first break in the pattern – and al-Qaeda and many Arab states were surprised at our success, thinking the Americans would be easier to handle than the Russians. But the reliance on the Northern Alliance and our air supremacy left room for the belief that we could only win when we kept our hands clean, where ground troops were unnecessary.

Iraq will show what we are capable of. And in a strange way, the harder it is and the longer it takes, the better the outcome from this point of view. Those that oppose us – the terrorists, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia – will believe our media (and theirs), believe that we cannot win, cannot stay the course, cannot stand the loss of blood and treasure. And when we do win, it will shatter their illusions.

And in the power politics of diplomacy, this is an improvement.

Unless we cut and run....

Posted by richard at 10:57 PM | Comments (1)

Iranian Suppression

Roya Johnson speaks out about how the mullah's maintain their power.

As Mike F. points out, the argument for toppling Iran is as strong as, if not stronger than, the one for going after Iraq.

Link via Winds of Change.

Posted by richard at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)

Atlantic Ties

Brad recently wrote in a comment:

We need to make sure that the good we do outstrips the bad. That means calculating in the damage we've done to our relationships with European states, the credibility we've lost because of the "hide the ball" game the Administration has played in justifying what it's done, the opportunities we've created (and arguably encouraged, if you buy the agitprop that radical left-wing outlets like the New Yorker and NPR are selling — for disasters like Abu Ghraib.

I agree 100% and that's why I've always been open to criticism of the execution of the war. Unfortunately, I think a lot of that criticism ends up being knee-jerk, Bush-hating criticism that overlooks the complexities of the situation and dismisses the real accomplishments.

Abu Ghraib is definitely awful and I'll try to have more on the subject at some point. But I'll make the assertion now that "Our Response Is Us" is a better guide than Susan Sontag's "The Pictures Are Us".

But the question of "the damage we've done to our relationships with European states" caught my attention, and I want to focus on it now. This concern is as old as the US, and has been a growing refrain since World War II – from the Suez crisis to Reagan's cruise missile deployment to Clinton's efforts in Kosovo.

The underlying assumption behind this concern is that the tension is somehow unnatural and caused by someone's actions, in this case Bush's. If the Americans weren't belligerent cowboys, we would share common interests and all just get along.

In his excellent (but long) 2002 essay, Power and Weakness, Robert Kagan argues that the structure of power in today's world makes these tensions inevitable. He opens:

It is time to stop pretending that Europeans and Americans share a common view of the world, or even that they occupy the same world. On the all-important question of power — the efficacy of power, the morality of power, the desirability of power — American and European perspectives are diverging. Europe is turning away from power, or to put it a little differently, it is moving beyond power into a self-contained world of laws and rules and transnational negotiation and cooperation. It is entering a post-historical paradise of peace and relative prosperity, the realization of Kant’s “Perpetual Peace.” The United States, meanwhile, remains mired in history, exercising power in the anarchic Hobbesian world where international laws and rules are unreliable and where true security and the defense and promotion of a liberal order still depend on the possession and use of military might. That is why on major strategic and international questions today, Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus: They agree on little and understand one another less and less. And this state of affairs is not transitory — the product of one American election or one catastrophic event. The reasons for the transatlantic divide are deep, long in development, and likely to endure. When it comes to setting national priorities, determining threats, defining challenges, and fashioning and implementing foreign and defense policies, the United States and Europe have parted ways.

It's important to realize that these tensions did not start with Iraq. There is a fundamental difference, a divide that has been growing for 60 years, in the way the US and Europe approach foreign policy. The Suez crisis was the first major postwar transatlantic spat and it was somewhat unique as an attempted reassertion of European power. But the US would have none of it, partially because of anti-colonialism and the principle of self-determination, but partially because we were starting to become aware in 1956 that we would get called in to clean up any mess. Subsequent conflicts reflected the waning power of Europe and the shouldering of the resulting burden by the US.
Today’s transatlantic problem, in short, is not a George Bush problem. It is a power problem. American military strength has produced a propensity to use that strength. Europe’s military weakness has produced a perfectly understandable aversion to the exercise of military power. Indeed, it has produced a powerful European interest in inhabiting a world where strength doesn’t matter, where international law and international institutions predominate, where unilateral action by powerful nations is forbidden, where all nations regardless of their strength have equal rights and are equally protected by commonly agreed-upon international rules of behavior. Europeans have a deep interest in devaluing and eventually eradicating the brutal laws of an anarchic, Hobbesian world where power is the ultimate determinant of national security and success.

This is no reproach. It is what weaker powers have wanted from time immemorial. It was what Americans wanted in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when the brutality of a European system of power politics run by the global giants of France, Britain, and Russia left Americans constantly vulnerable to imperial thrashing. It was what the other small powers of Europe wanted in those years, too, only to be sneered at by Bourbon kings and other powerful monarchs, who spoke instead of raison d’état. The great proponent of international law on the high seas in the eighteenth century was the United States; the great opponent was Britain’s navy, the “Mistress of the Seas.” In an anarchic world, small powers always fear they will be victims. Great powers, on the other hand, often fear rules that may constrain them more than they fear the anarchy in which their power brings security and prosperity.

But the difference in power does not just change one's desire to use it, it actually changes the likelihood that one will be required to.
The differing threat perceptions in the United States and Europe are not just matters of psychology, however. They are also grounded in a practical reality that is another product of the disparity of power. For Iraq and other “rogue” states objectively do not pose the same level of threat to Europeans as they do to the United States. There is, first of all, the American security guarantee that Europeans enjoy and have enjoyed for six decades, ever since the United States took upon itself the burden of maintaining order in far-flung regions of the world — from the Korean Peninsula to the Persian Gulf — from which European power had largely withdrawn. Europeans generally believe, whether or not they admit it to themselves, that were Iraq ever to emerge as a real and present danger, as opposed to merely a potential danger, then the United States would do something about it — as it did in 1991. If during the Cold War Europe by necessity made a major contribution to its own defense, today Europeans enjoy an unparalleled measure of “free security” because most of the likely threats are in regions outside Europe, where only the United States can project effective force. In a very practical sense — that is, when it comes to actual strategic planning — neither Iraq nor Iran nor North Korea nor any other “rogue” state in the world is primarily a European problem. Nor, certainly, is China. Both Europeans and Americans agree that these are primarily American problems.

This is why Saddam Hussein is not as great a threat to Europe as he is to the United States. He would be a greater threat to the United States even were the Americans and Europeans in complete agreement on Iraq policy, because it is the logical consequence of the transatlantic disparity of power. The task of containing Saddam Hussein belongs primarily to the United States, not to Europe, and everyone agrees on this6 — including Saddam, which is why he considers the United States, not Europe, his principal adversary. In the Persian Gulf, in the Middle East, and in most other regions of the world (including Europe), the United States plays the role of ultimate enforcer. “You are so powerful,” Europeans often say to Americans. “So why do you feel so threatened?” But it is precisely America’s great power that makes it the primary target, and often the only target. Europeans are understandably content that it should remain so.

For Europe, the security required to support the calls for restraint can only be achieved through lack of restraint, or at least the willingness to throw off restraint when necessary – this they have in common with the entire peace movement. But further, this ugly external power is necessary for Europe as we know it to exist, because Europe depends on its own weakness to achieve its unity because, in that weakness, it no longer must fear itself.
The United States, in short, solved the Kantian paradox for the Europeans. Kant had argued that the only solution to the immoral horrors of the Hobbesian world was the creation of a world government. But he also feared that the “state of universal peace” made possible by world government would be an even greater threat to human freedom than the Hobbesian international order, inasmuch as such a government, with its monopoly of power, would become “the most horrible despotism.”11 How nations could achieve perpetual peace without destroying human freedom was a problem Kant could not solve. But for Europe the problem was solved by the United States. By providing security from outside, the United States has rendered it unnecessary for Europe’s supranational government to provide it. Europeans did not need power to achieve peace and they do not need power to preserve it.

The current situation abounds in ironies. Europe’s rejection of power politics, its devaluing of military force as a tool of international relations, have depended on the presence of American military forces on European soil. Europe’s new Kantian order could flourish only under the umbrella of American power exercised according to the rules of the old Hobbesian order. American power made it possible for Europeans to believe that power was no longer important. And now, in the final irony, the fact that United States military power has solved the European problem, especially the “German problem,” allows Europeans today to believe that American military power, and the “strategic culture” that has created and sustained it, are outmoded and dangerous.

Most Europeans do not see the great paradox: that their passage into post-history has depended on the United States not making the same passage. Because Europe has neither the will nor the ability to guard its own paradise and keep it from being overrun, spiritually as well as physically, by a world that has yet to accept the rule of “moral consciousness,” it has become dependent on America’s willingness to use its military might to deter or defeat those around the world who still believe in power politics.

These are the kind of dynamics that must be examined when criticizing the damage to the relationship with our allies. This is, of course, not to say that their is no room on the margins for good diplomacy or feather deruffling, something in seemingly short supply in this administration. But any critique is missing something without a recognition of the divergence in strategic interests.

I would go further than Kagan, however, and argue, as I have before, that there are more fundamental philosophical differences driving some of the divergence. A conflict between Continental rationalist liberalism and "Scottish" liberalism – which helps to explain, to some extent, the continued "special relationship" between Britain and the United States (and perhaps the resurgence of the Anglosphere).

As such, I disagree somewhat with Kagan's assertion that "Americans, as good children of the Enlightenment, still believe in the perfectibility of man, and they retain hope for the perfectibility of the world." I believe American institutions and policies are more grounded in the fact that men are, and will remain, flawed, and thus self-interest must be harnassed towards the public good through institutions – a point too often ignored, or rather taken advantage of, by the transnationalists and their technocrats.

Posted by richard at 01:22 AM | Comments (1)

June 06, 2004

Mom's Cheesecake

While we're debating the true nature of cheesecake, here's the cheesecake my mom makes:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup melted butter

1/2 cup sugar

Mix together. Press to bottom and sides of springform pan. Chill for 1 hour.

3 x 8 oz. packages of cream cheese at room temperature mixed with 1 1/2 cups of sugar.

Add 4 egg yolks, beat until creamy, mix in 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat 4 egg whites until stiff, but not dry.

Fold egg whites into cheese mixture, pour over crumbs and bake 1.5 hours at 225 degrees.


Try it – I guarantee you'll like it.

Posted by richard at 12:05 AM | Comments (6)

June 05, 2004

Iraq and al Qaeda

A constant refrain from opponents of the war is that "there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda". In fact, that's a quote from George Soros during his recent speech equating the abuses at Abu Ghraib to September 11. Al Gore recently said that Bush used "forged and blatantly false assertions that Saddam was in league with al Qaeda". Similar beliefs have been confidently stated by ranks of pundits, as well as many of my friends.

Whether this belief is because they have not heard the evidence or because they choose not to listen to it, I don't know. It does seem to be the case that you have to dig in order to find the facts, since unlike other more negative stories, it is not being shoved down our throats daily.

But the fact remains that there is strong evidence of an connection between Iraq and al Qaeda – a connection that, rather than commencing with the Iraq War, goes back a decade at least.

So to make it easier to sort through, I've collected the evidence that I've seen about the connections:

  1. 1993 WTC bombers – Saddam Hussein gave Abdul Rahman Yasin, as suspect in the 1993 WTC bombing safe haven in Iraq. "We now know based on documents that we've captured since we took Baghdad that they put him on the payroll, gave him a monthly stipend and provided him with a house, sanctuary, in effect, in Iraq in the aftermath of ... the '93 attack on the World Trade Center," Cheney said. Yasin was indicted for the '93 bombings and is on the FBI most-wanted list. He currently is believed to be in Iraq, fighting coalition forces. By the way, Ramzi Yousef his partner and the mastermind of the 1993 bombings is the nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

  2. al-Shifa facility – In August 1998, Clinton hit the al-Shifa chemical factory in the Sudan with Tomahawk cruise missiles. This was a direct response to al Qaeda's bombing of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam (despite Republican claims that it was designed to divert attention from the Monica Lewinsky scandal). This factory is owned by the Sudanese Military Industrial Corporation, which was (and is) widely believed to be controlled by Osama bin Laden, and was suspected of manufacturing chemical weapons, including VX nerve gas.
    The CIA had soil samples from outside the factory that tested positive for VX precursors – specifically EMPTA the precursor used in Iraq's VX program (it turns out that there are several methods for producing VX, of which Iraq's was fairly unique). Added to this was the fact that, reportedly, Emad Husayn Abdullah al-Ani, the "father" of the Iraqi VX program had visited the plant during its construction.
    Richard Clarke, recent Bush nemesis and one of the driving forces behind the al-Shifa attack, still stands by the action in his book Against All Enemies, refusing to backpedal from the justification used at the time, that Iraq and al Qaeda were collaborating on chemical weapons. In fact, according to NewsMax, "EMPTA is a compound that had been used as a prime ingredient in Iraqi nerve gas," writes Clarke. "It has no other known use, nor had any other nation employed EMPTA to our knowledge for any purpose."

  3. Ahmed Hikmat Shakir – An Iraqi of that name was hired as a "greeter" in the Kuala Lumpur airport, reportedly with the help of the Iraqi embassy in Malaysia. The embassy contact told him when to show up for work at the airport to facilitate the entry of visitors. On January 5, 2000 he expedited the entry of Khalid al Mihdhar and drove with him in car to a meeting that lasted 3 days. It is now believed that several al Qaeda leaders were at this planning meeting, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.
    After September 11, when detained in Qatar, Shakir had the contact information for several al Qaeda operatives on him, including several of the terrorists who were responsible for the 1993 WTC bombings. He was arrested in Jordan, but eventually returned to Iraq because of consistent pressure for his release from the Iraqi government.
    Recently, his name has been found on three separate lists of members of Saddam Fedayeen as a Lieutenant Colonel in that organization.

  4. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi – born in Zarqa, Jordan and trained in Afghanistan under bin Laden, al-Zarqawi is behind many of the attacks against US troops (and Shi'ite pilgrims) in Iraq. He's also linked to the (foiled) Millenium bombings, the 3/11 attacks in Madrid, and is believed to have beheaded Nick Berg last month. After holing up in Iran for several months after the fall of Afghanistan, he reportedly had nasal surgery in Baghdad in summer 2002, before receive weapons and funds from Iraqi intelligence and heading north to Khumal, the base camp of Ansar al-Islam, which he led with Mullah Krekar.

  5. Mohamed Atta in Prague – Not long after September 11, the Czech government reported that Mohamed Atta had met with an Iraqi intelligence operative in Prague on April 8, 2001. That operative was reportedly Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Consul of Iraq's Czech embassy. While skeptical, the FBI could not account for Atta's whereabouts between April 4 (when he cashed an $8,000 check) and April 11. The Czech intelligence service has not retracted the claim and, in fact, after the fall of Baghdad when they were able to exploit the contents of the embassy, they found an appointment in al-Ani's datebook for an April 8 meeting with a "Hamburg student" &nash; the exact phrase that Atta used to describe himself on a Czech visa gotten a year before in May 2000. (al-Ani was expelled from Prague a few weeks later for plotting to blow up Radio Free Europe (and Radio Free Iraq) headquarters.)

So while the question of whether Saddam Hussein had knowledge of 9/11 ahead of time is still open, I believe the question of whether he had connections with al Qaeda is fairly certain (he definitely offered bin Laden asylum in 1999). And that is ignoring the larger, more obvious question, of his support for terrorists above and beyond al Qaeda. His harboring and support of Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas, and his blood money to Palestinians should answer that easily.

The one shell of Sarin gas found in Iraq, presuming there is only one, if given to one of these groups, could have killed around 10,000 people if used correctly in an urban area.

Here are some other references:

Free Republic also has a collection of news stories from before 2000, linking Iraq and al Qaeda. And of course, Regnum Crucis is indispensible for collecting and analysing background information on all of the terrorists and their relationships.

Posted by richard at 03:59 PM | Comments (6)

Liberal media?

Truly unhinged:

Republicans don't believe in the imagination, partly because so few of them have one, but mostly because it gets in the way of their chosen work, which is to destroy the human race and the planet. Human beings, who have imaginations, can see a recipe for disaster in the making; Republicans, whose goal in life is to profit from disaster and who don't give a hoot about human beings, either can't or won't. Which is why I personally think they should be exterminated before they cause any more harm.
Luckily, it's just a theatre review, so we're not expected to take him seriously. Via InstaPundit.

Posted by richard at 02:08 PM | Comments (13)

June 04, 2004

New Icon

So, I just wanted to point out the new icon in the banner above. I think it has the right amount of gravitas for a blog of this stature.

It is the face of Leonardo da Vinci, which I drew with pencil and paper about 11 years ago. I recently scanned the image, shrank it to icon size and colored it to match the color sheme of the blog. If you haven't guessed, I'm quite proud of it. So enjoy.

Posted by richard at 01:06 AM | Comments (0)

June 03, 2004


One of the reasons that I have posted so little the last few weeks is that I'm just plain tired of arguing about the Iraq war with everyone. Everyone I know is convinced that it is the most awful thing that has ever happened, that it is an unmitigated disaster, that every step is a mistep, every use of force excessive, every restrained response a retreat, every accusation true, every defense a lie.

I did not buy it when Afghanistan was a "quagmire", I did not buy it when our drive to Baghdad was "faltering", I did not buy it when we "retreated" from the disaster in Falluja, I did not buy it when Sadr had "widespread support" in the South. I do not buy that Iraq is or will be a failure. Some things have gone better than expected, others have gone worse. There have been bad choices, stubborness, insensitivity, poor planning, partisan favoritism, and, yes, even some criminal behavior. A critique based on execution and mistakes made I would and have listened to. A shrill scream for "peace" or to withdraw or to make it multilateral, I have no time for – particularly now with a new government selected and rebuilding work to be done.

But because I'm tired of the bickering, I have tried to do something more productive. I've started to volunteer and try to raise money for Spirit of America, a charity devoted to sending educational & medical supplies and sporting equipment to Iraqi and Afghan children as a gift of the United States. I blogged about them months ago when I bought 220 frisbees for Iraqi children. Now, I'm trying to do more. Don't be surprised if you hear from me, asking for donations, or to come to events, or just to help pack stuff to send. I encourage anyone who still reads this after all the activity to go to the site and donate or volunteer. Hopefully, this positive action can be something that I'll get no grief for and that everyone can get behind.

And I think the positive stuff will, perhaps, also re-energize me for the arguments that I'm as sick of shrinking from as I am of engaging in.

Posted by richard at 07:57 PM | Comments (5)

Back from Ork

Okay, to explain that last comment. Julia and I ran into Robin Williams at ABC Carpet & Home the other day. Julia was trying on a cool orange hat that she thought would be perfect for P-rade. The hat actually resembled a condom more than a penis, but the quotes below do accurately reflect what was said.

Julia managed to work a compliment on the size of my manhood into the conversation, I can't remember how, so I was content with the outcome.

And no, no one said "Nanu, Nanu" or even "Good Morning, Vietnam!" despite the obvious tempation.

Posted by richard at 07:36 PM | Comments (0)