When is a first strike not a first strike?
When it's Anticipatory Retaliation.

April 30, 2004

Hey You

Bravo Romeo Delta

With da whole trackback thingamajigger - yeah, you.

Y'all know that Uncle Sam's Misguided Children (USMC - Marines) are going around with hat in hand to set up a Non-Jazeera TV station with actual news to counter the crap on the airwaves over there. This fellow is donating everytime he gets a trackback ping to his post.

So, go post and trackback.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 06:27 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)

Glow-In-The-Dark Tourism

Bravo Romeo Delta

You may have run across the site of a woman who rode through Chernobyl on a motorbike and recorded the story. Sadly, her site is down, perhaps indefinitely.

Fortunately, a few kind souls have mirrored the site. Rather somber and well worth the visit. Come back when you've finished and read the rest of the post.

Remember the whole terrorist notion of flying planes into reactors to create our own domestic Chernobyl?

Was 9/11 baad? How about 300,000 - 400,000 dead?

Just imagine those scenes in the kindergarten juxtaposed with images from a local kindergarten or church. Vizualize the banners for the Mayday Parade with with July 4th decorations instead.

Chernobyl can happen anywhere. The difference is that there are some folks who would love to make it happen here.

And don't even start contemplating timing or locations - it just gets more sobering.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 05:54 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

April 29, 2004

Blogging Backdown

Bravo Romeo Delta

Well, it is, once again, a time of turmoil and confusion over here in the command bunker, so we'll be on a light blogging diet for the time being. As such, we're sticking to the light, funny, and otherwise content-free variety of posting.

So, for a start, take a peek at this - a most classic instance of lemons/lemonade turnaround.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 06:35 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

April 27, 2004

Sagan v. Clinton

Bravo Romeo Delta

Check out the Big Hominid's last episode of Cosmic Import. Vast implications for Lord knows what.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 08:09 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)

Mercenaries and Whatnot

Bravo Romeo Delta

A response to some of the more pernicious nonsense rambling around the notion of contractors, mercenaries, and whatnot is long overdue. This tangential outburst associated with the Kos Kerfuffle has covered a lot of turf, much of it partisan in nature.

Rather than spending valuable electrons explaining why it is that stupid people are stupid, I wanted to give a thumbnail sketch of what, exactly, is up with all this 'mercenary' stuff.

Mercenaries have a really, really long history. The Vatican, for instance, is guarded by members of the Swiss Guard, who were first hired, as mercenaries, as ceremonial guards of the Vatican state almost five centuries ago.

The use of mercenaries over the next few hundred years declined for several reasons, some of which had to do with the industrialization of warfare. With industrialization it became increasingly difficult for a marauding army to live off the land - you can pillage food, but ammunition is a bit trickier. Mercenaries, particularly is the days before high-tech logistics had been developed, generally lacked the infrastructure to support combat operations. At least combat operations against large, well-armed, well-provisioned opponents.

With this there was a bit of a transitional period, in which things like state-sanctioned privateering, letters of marquis, and volunteer regiments cropped up. These sort of warfighting units would seem strange to those of us who are more familiar with the structure of the military in the post World War II era. Nonetheless, we have seen elements similar to traditional to these units in places like Angola where a large number of Cuban and East German "volunteers" fought. But, unlike the volunteers during the Spanish Civil War, who fought largely out of a sense of mission, but without the sanction of the state, these latter day volunteers fought, essentially, as expeditionary units hiding behind a diplomatic veil.

The most common image associated with mercenaries in the modern mind stems from much of the mercenary activity in sub-Saharan Africa following the wave of independence granting seen in the 1960s. By and large, these formations were rather small infantry units comprised of relatively dubious sorts led by extravagantly flamboyant leaders. And, by and large, these folks were much more effective at blustering and holding up bar counters than the practice of modern mechanized warfare. Like it or not, in the age of jets and the atom bomb, it's in really no longer possible to outfit a band of random guys for high-intensity combat (see also Iraqi army).

The folks were pretty much imprisioned, hunted down, killed, or retired by the early 1980's - for the most part because Africa went from a state of high chaos to the merely rampant chaos we see today.

With the stabilization of Africa, and particularly with the end of South African involvement in Angola and Namibia, plus the end of Apartheid a new generation of Private Military Contractors (PMC) came to the fore. Comparing these sorts with the folks who were crashing around in the '60s is like assuming that a Sherman tank and a M1A2 Abrams are equivalent because they are both tanks. Or that a VW bug is essentially equivalent to a Mars Rover, because they have wheels and move about.

Among other things, this newest generation of PMCs tends to be much more careful in who they choose to work for - among other things, checking out this code of ethics of the PMC industry association gives some important insights. The big deal is that the model upon which genuine PMCs operate has changed from one of direct warfighting to one of peacemaking. In the case of the now-defunct Executive Outcomes, they put down a 30-year long civil war in no time flat. Similarly, another PMC put an end to fighting in Sierra Leone, before the government defaulted on the contract, and then the UN was eventually called in a great deal more cost and manpower for a much less decisive resolution. A most telling example is this link from another (relatively) large PMC, Sandline (you may also want to check out their whitepapers on PMCs):

The general lack of governmental support for Private Military Companies willing to help end armed conflicts in places like Africa, in the absence of effective international intervention, is the principal reason behind Sandline’s decision. Without such support the ability of Sandline (and other PMCs) to make a positive difference in countries where there is widespread brutality and even genocidal behaviour is irretrievably diminished.

Now, then, do Halliburton, Kellog, Brown and Root, Vinell, Dyncorp, Blackwater, and so on fit in? Well, the short answer is badly, if at all.

As you can all remember from the immediate aftermath of the Iraq War, Clinton supporters were rabbiting on about how current wars are fought with the last administration's military, so we should thank Clinton for our success in Iraq, despite claims that Clinton cut down the military. Well, that turned out to be truer than those folks really suspected.

At the end of the Cold War, the United States fielded 18 divisions of 4 brigades each. By Iraq, we had 10 divisions of 3 brigades each. That folks, is what we call a drawdown. Among other things, it became readily apparent that it didn't make a lot of sense to go through things like basic and so on to get people for KP and a lot of other support tasks formerly delegated to uniformed personnel.

Among other things, the military doesn't have to eat basic training, drug testing, housing, and general administrative overhead for someone to mow the lawn. When they're uniformed personnel, that becomes an issue. Moreover, if you're hiring outside contractors for things like water purification, then you don't need to keep a full wartime roster of support staff on hand, you can outsource when needed - combined with the delegation of things like civil affairs and whatnot to the reserves, one can cut back numbers radically without sacrificing as much combat power.

As much as there has been no small amount of fun poked at Halliburton and KBR for their ads on TV depicting them doing things like feeding personnel, that kind of thing, and keeping the troops in Pepsi is a lot of what these guys do. Other tasks that have been undertaken by American subcontractors include training of foreign troops and police. In fact, the compound in Saudi Arabia that was hit some months ago was owned by the Vinnel Corporation, which has been training foreign nationals for the US for several decades. Since the US had been asked to pull its uniformed forces out of Saudi (root causes, anyone?), the US chose to honor its commitment by having former US soldiers, in the employ of a private company, continue training of the Saudi army and counter-terrorism forces.

Other tasks that are a bit less benign include the spraying of cocoa fields in Colombia by DynCorp. Again, since it is often difficult for the US to do these sorts of things in an official capacity, and due to concerns about the money being dedicated to various efforts and being lost through corruption, ineptitude, and other forms of sheer incompetence.

Another example that combines these two items above is the fact that DynCorp also provides personal security for the Afghan President Hamed Karzai. In a country beset by ethnic and tribal sectarian violence, the notion that he might not want to associate the security apparatus with a tribe loyal to him - which would hinder peaceful transfer of power, while avoiding the problems of having uniformed foreign nationals providing protection.

One thing we are seeing in places like Iraq is that the PMCs are being hired to provide security and perimeter protection, particular for non-US military installations. Perimeter security is a pretty thankless and manpower intensive job, so it's not too surprising that you might want to hire out standing the watch.

One of the other things that comes up quite often in these discussions, is the amount of money these folks get paid. Those Who Are Hysterical Idiots like to toss around the notion that these folks get paid $1,000 per day. Or, at other times, they like to suggest that the soldiers are money-grubbing SOBs because they get paid three times what they did in the military, or some such other specious nonsense.

My mixed metaphor and flawed analogy generator is overwhelmed by this feat of stupidity, but let's take it apart one item at a time.

A company may charge $1,000 per day, but not pay the employee anywhere near that. Anyone who has ever actually had to do any sort of departmental budgeting knows about all the overhead, rent, and other ancillary costs above and beyond salary that get paid to a contractor, temp, or even full-time employee. I've run into circumstances where a consultant got paid about 20% of what was actually assessed in fees - which would bring the $1,000 per day down to a more likely $1,00 per week.

Bringing us to our next question - what about the 300% increase over military pay? The military, more so than the private sector devotes precious little of the money allocated to each soldier to actual take-home pay. For a variety of historical reasons, the military may provide housing or housing allowances, medical care, food, training, sick leave, et cetera to it's soldiers, so if it takes x many thousand dollars to keep one soldier in the field for a year, and an equivalent amount of money to keep a contractor in the field for one year, the amount of money that goes to the contractor will be higher, simply because he has a higher take home package in exchange for a weaker benefits and perks package.

Another big factor to keep in mind is that the military can bring folks on board for as long as needed, and then let the contract run out. For anyone who is recruited, they are pretty much stuck with this manpower for four or six or however many years that person is signed on for. Those of you familiar with business practices over the last few decades have clearly seen that keeping large standby inventories of anything - including manpower, is seen as increasingly inefficient. This will naturally drive towards outsourcing of support and security missions.

On the other hand, the direct application of direct lethal force (within the Westphalian context) is still pretty much the sole province of the US government. The government, as a whole, is rather uncomfortable with the whole hired guns concept. For example, if a US citizen leaves and fights for, let's say, a Ukrainian outfit, they are in absolute jeopardy of losing their citizenship (don't ask me about why John Walker Lindh kept his). Similarly, a number of Private Military Contractors will only take former US military personnel and current US citizens on board.

So, at any rate, that's a brief look at the world of Private Military Contractors.

For those of you who would prefer this in a 'fiskier' format, click here.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 01:52 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

April 26, 2004

What, Exactly, Is The Press For?

Bravo Romeo Delta

This is an interesting article which examines the underlying assumptions behind much of the discussion about the role of the media that we've seen over the last several months. Many of these discussions are based on the tacit assumption that the fourth estate axiomatically represents the public interest.

What if that's not true?

Read this discussion of that argument and its implications. (Courtesy Roger El Simon)

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 07:07 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

April 24, 2004

Flash Animation

Bravo Romeo Delta

A Fun Filled Fest of Flash And Additional Amusing Animations And Other Obscure Oddtites

Well, take two on the Friday Flash Fest. And since this is take two, instead of having ten items, we'll have eight. Capital depreciation and all that.

At any rate, nothing in this post is serious. Just kind of a way to waste time and amuse oneself.

Like the UN! Rimshot!!

1) Yes, you've survived the week. Here's to the weekend! Just pay no mind to the Monday looming around the corner.

2) Returning to the music video format, this one has a much more interact element - its an abstract Japanese-esque percussion bit by Tokyo Plastic. Technically, it's a demo for Tokyo Plastic 2 - but number one can be found here by clicking the topmost link.

3) In keeping with the minimalist motif, but a very different flavor of music, we've got this offering by a band called Lodger. Once you've washed that down, hop on over and check out their original award-winnning animation - you can't beat it - it's got zombie dogs.

4) Speaking of man's best friend, check this out to see who, exactly, is a dog's best friend.

5) For those who are a bit more do-it-yourself and don't want sit around like the proverbial Pikachu, here's a nine volume set of dub mixers. Dub is a Carribean style of music related to reggae and ska. Some of the later volumes are good starting points to introduce yourself to the whole dub thing.

6) A link on the above site brings you to this counterpart mix-and-match punk/metal set of flash thingies. Good fun (although I don't get a huge kick out of the games on the rightmost two links)

7) For all those are a great deal more hands-on, we've got the incredibly apt Punk-O-Matic. Good fun this.

8) Rounding out what would be number ten in a base eight world, we've got a final reminder that yes, going back to work on Monday will suck, but it could be worse less productive.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 12:02 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

April 22, 2004

The Whole Hafnium Deal

Bravo Romeo Delta

Well, some of you may have been reading about the newly found super-destructive power of radioisotopes, specifically Hafnium. As well as the oh-so-predictable scares, concerns, bafflement, and fears about a new arms race and so on.

Quickly, here's the scoop - with this new technology (assuming it works according to plan) one will be able to get a huge yield out of tiny amouts of explosive: "One gram of fully charged hafnium isomer could store more energy than 50 kilograms of TNT."

But what's really up with this stuff?

Well, for starters, here's a bit of the scientific history to date on this subject from a pretty good article in the Washington Post.

From all the hoopla the first question to come to mind is whether or not this is absolute nonsense or absolutely terrifying (or just really cool).

Well, in short, there are people claiming the experiments show this works. And there are those who claim they've run experiments that don't work.

So, I went to talk to a real scientist with the ever important question that always faces us here at Anticipatory Retaliation - "So, Doc, is this going to allow the smack to be lain down with greater ease and efficiency, or what?"

Well, the article I was referred to is here. The gist of the bit is that it notes that the speculation is 'premature.' Given the fact that two sets of people performed two different sets of experiments and came up with results that both supported and contradicted these assertions, it's too soon to call.

However, that being said - one must note that it's not dead in the water. So keep yer eyes peeled, partner. Next time I start shooting at you, there might be a gram of this hyped-up hafnium in each round I shoot at you - and that'll make a bloody mess.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 07:58 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (2)

On the Future of the E.U.

Charlie Victor Echo

Let's be clear on one thing. Europe's military weakness is only true as long as they choose to let it be true.

If the Brits get onboard with an EU military, they're bringing doctrines and technology comparable with our own. That is, after all, why only the British could integrate fully with American forces for Iraq 2.0.

If Blair goes down (which is certainly possible...just look at Spain) and gets replaced by a more EU-Friendly guy, you could see the Brits becoming the hyper-modern core of an EU military that they could build on. They've got money, tech, and people. What else would they need?

If they want to be a first class military power, they can do it.

But what if they go the other way? If they allow their militaries to continue to decay and instead focus all that money and effort on pure economic investment? What good does having a strong military do the USA if we're only competing economically? Are we prepared to strike at Europe militarily over a trade dispute?

I don't think so.

That's one of the questions we need to ask ourselves. Is there really any advantage to having a strong military if your competitor is the European Union? I would tend to say no.

High rollers don't play that game with each other anymore. Ever since 1945, all wars can be classified as Major Power vs. Minor Power or Minor Power vs. Minor Power. Sure, you an argue for the "proxy war" definition in some of the Major vs. Minor match-ups, where another Major was aiding the Minor covertly (or not so covertly in some cases), but in all those cases, the aiding Major Power never made nearly as much effort as the fully engaged one did...most of the grunt work was done by the Minor Power.

So who does Europe need a large military to defend themselves against? Maybe Russia...but then there are nukes in the equation. Countries with nukes don't fight other countries with nukes, no matter how much they hate each other.

Just ask India and Pakistan.

So if you're willing to ignore the misery in the rest of the world and just make a profit from your trade relations, and this is clearly what much of Europe is prepared to do, then all you need to do is sit back and not worry about a military.

That's not to say I think this is a course that the USA should follow. Far from it, in fact. For one thing, I definitely think the world is much safer if America is the dominant military power in the world rather than China or Russia.

But I am saying that we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss Europe just because they don't bother with a strong military. That doesn't necessarily mean they're losing the game, so much as suggest that they're playing a different game than we are.

And we'd better be careful lest we find ourselves losing that one because we were off playing our game.

Launched by Charlie Victor Echo at 07:41 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

April 21, 2004

Edict On Rachel Corrie

Bravo Romeo Delta

I have, by the power vested in me by Pixy Misa, have decided that any wisecracks or smartass remarks about people buying the farm, particularly Americans - regardless of how confused they are - will result in the editing and/or deletion of the comment in question.

If I'm not going to tolerate Kos shooting his damnfool mouth off, then I see no reason to tolerate similar comments from the other side of the gallery - particularly with respect to the late Rachel Corrie.

Bad taste and rude behavior is bad taste and rude behavior, regardless from which direction on the compass it arrives from.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 07:24 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (2)

What About Vietnam Anyways?

Bravo Romeo Delta

One might note that the Right and Left (do the labels really mean that much anymore?) both have radically different perspectives on Vietnam.

Moreover, every time there's been a military intervention of virtually any sort, the ghosts of Vietnam rise from the left and point accusing bony fingers.

But why? Why not Korea? Why is Vietnam, in particular, such an incredible bugaboo for the denizens of the Left? How did this get so deeply embedded in the cultural history of the left?

Much of the conventional wisdom might suggest that this is intertwined into the protest movement. This may be true, but it doesn't explain the depth of emotion and the evocative power this conflict has for the left.

Going back to 1968, one must remember that the last four Democratic Presidents, Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson, were all wartime Presidents who had defended freedom with the "Arsenal of Democracy." FDR had led us through the Second World War in a fight against totalitarianism and fascism. Truman pulled the trigger on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and then contained communism in Korea. Kennedy stared down the bear in Cuba and started the long involvement in Vietnam that peaked under Johnson.

Vietnam was a poster child for armed Wilsonian thought - the idea that the US could go forward, with the best of all intentions, and make the world a safer place for the US. This war was the high water mark for a lot of political thought on the spread of democracy and strategic thought about the prosecution of war.

And it all went straight to hell.

The Presidents who presided over the birth of the Apollo Effort and the Great Society - these iconic leaders, stuck the nation's collective schwanz into a meat grinder. Arguing over the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the loss is, at this point, academic. But when a party is living up to not only their greatest ideals, but also what they perceive to be the highest American ideals gets knocked back in the only loss this country has ever faced on the battlefield, that leaves a bitter taste.

The great American idealists discovered that ideals alone couldn’t carry the day.

This blow to the body of the Democratic Party was coupled with the 1968 realignment, in which the Democrats effectively lost all credibility on issues of national security, and effectively (save 1 term) gave the Presidency to the Republican Party for the remainder of the Cold War - even despite Watergate.

This group of people who saw, first hand, that their highest ideals and the force of the American spirit wouldn't always prevail against the real world.

Personally, I don't happen to feel that the case of Vietnam represents any such thing, nor are we doomed to repeat it. But one thing that has exacerbated this was the merger of the anti-war left with the Democratic Party.

As a result, any military action conducted for the remainder of the Cold War automatically generated a reaction from the anti-war elements of the Democratic Party. Even in those cases where the "right" thing to do was obvious, the remainder of the Left was haunted by visions of good intentions turning sour in Vietnam.

So, in a very real way, the anti-war faction has gained supremacy through right of "I told you so." while the remainder of the Party has a notion of dread arising from the first hand failure of the best of intentions.

So when we hear that El Salvador, Colombia, Nicaragua, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Philippines, and Somalia are all other Vietnams, it may not really be that they are other Vietnams, but rather that they stir ghosts that cannot easily be laid to rest.

Conversely, another factor may be the lingering doubt in some minds that the anti-war protests, well intentioned as they may have been, may have been quite counterproductive on any one of a number of levels. What to say to the Vietnamese boat people who came to this country as refugees? If the war was doomed to failure anyways, did the protests exacerbate the problem? Or on an even darker level, despite their best intentions, did they really contribute indirectly to the loss of American lives?

Who knows? At this point, I think we've seen an entire catalogue of demons from both the anti-war and militaristic idealists of the party have been resurrected in this conflict. Just in time for the baby-boomers to relive their teenage years.

Interesting counterpart here.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 05:41 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

April 20, 2004

Because I'm Trendy

Bravo Romeo Delta

Look ma! Another pointless internet thingy I've opted to get involved with:

Long Story, Short Pier wants it, and here it is:

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.

(Courtesy Slartibastfast)

"These rituals teach the basic skill necessary for the first phase of leadership development - self mastery."

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 07:15 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (2)

Of Alliances - NATO and the EU

Bravo Romeo Delta

Right now NATO is up to 26 members. This is a result of the absolutely critical addition of the Baltic states as well as Romania and Bulgaria. The addition of these five military powerhouses will, naturally, provide a great deal of benefits.

Given the spectacular power projection capabilities of Bulgaria, combined with the overwhelmingly powerful and tightly linked air forces of the Baltic states and the impressive heavy armored divisions fielded by Romania, it's clearly in the American interest to expand NATO.

Or something...

At any rate, what the hell is the benefit in expanding NATO into greater overextension and irrelevance?

Well, first, let's look at the problems of an expanded alliance. Romania gets into it with Moldova over potatoes or organ transplants or whatever the hell, then the whole Article 5 question comes up - do we go to war or not?

If we go to war, then we're fighting bloody Moldova, of all places. Conversely, if we don't then the entire validity of the organization is called sharply into question.

Alliances (formal treaty-oriented ones, not ad hoc coalitions) have two classes of problems: abandonment and entrapment. Abandonment occurs when putative allies bail on you or fail to come to your aid in the event of an attack. Engagement is the opposite problem and arises from a situation in which an ally goes off and gets themselves into some sort of stupid war and drags folks right off the deep end and involves them in a conflict which provides little value. Although the NATO requirement that Article 5 declarations can only be made unanimously makes abandonment more likely than entrapment as the alliance increases in size.

Now NATO has invoked Article 5 exactly once - after 9/11. Which resulted in ... wait for it... an amount of military assistance that could conceivably fit in a smallish baking dish. No, seriously, what it did do was provide political cover for drop-kicking the Taliban through the goalposts of life.

Which brings up an interesting notion: alliances trade off political cover for military utility. As in Kosovo, getting the approval of the 19 members of NATO at the time to bomb a target was an unholy pain in the butt that definitely cramped our style.

So why add this dead weight to NATO? The five new member states aren't going to provide a hill of beans of extra political cover. They aren't going to add anything militarily, so again, why bother?

Well, as far as it goes, most of the new applicants have sought NATO membership as an entree to EU membership. One might ask why we want to expand the EU, particularly as it will give France and Germany more influence over a greater swath of Europe.

There are 60 million Poles who are none too fond of the Germans and don't particularly like the French either. Not to mention a whole lot of other folks in Eastern and Central Europe who have no great love for the Germans either.

So, if we assume that NATO membership greases the skids for EU membership, then rapid expansion of NATO encourages a too-quick expansion of the EU. In addition to providing a counterweight to the Franco-German block in the EU (aka Old Europe), rapid expansion also puts other strains on the EU such as the debates about agricultural protectionism, debt management and the like.

So in addition to amplifying the problems of a sclerotic bureaucracy, it also increases the likelihood that Old Europe will have to invite New Europe into their lair and give them some voice. Think of it as a mirror image of Zapatero endorsing Kerry.

So, it could be argued that increasing NATO membership rapidly is ultimately a way to undermine the Axis of Weasels. Or it could just be that the Bush administration has been overwhelmed by a fit of Wilsonian idealism.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 06:02 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (6)

Taking it to the Next Level

Charlie Victor Echo

So here's the timeline:

On March 15th, eleven Israeli dock workers are killed in a bomb blast.

A week later, on the 22nd, Israel kills Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

Hamas gets confused for a while, then appoints Abdel Aziz Al-Rantisi thier new boss.

Al-Rantisi makes a speech, but other than that not too much happens.

On April 17th, Israel kills Al-Rantisi.

Now Hamas is saying they have a new leader, but they won't tell anyone who he is!!

I don't know if Sharon got a full-fledged hunting license from Bush, but it sure looks like it. Or at least Ariel figures George is too busy with Iraq to care about what happens in Gaza.

He's probably right.

Thing is, I can't really fault the Israelis on this one. Terrorism is terrorism, and it shouldn't matter whether its a bunch of little attacks on undefended civilians or huge attacks at major targets. If the "War on Terrorism" is to mean anything then we cannot tolerate that style of warfare. You can't get outraged over an attack in Spain but think that its alright if Israeli civilians are killed.

How is a car bomb in Ramallah different than one in Jerusalem?

The whole "Secret Leader" thing is kind of odd, though. Part of the point to being in charge is being the public face for your nation or oganization. How do you do that if you're in hiding? We'll just have to see if these "Chop off the Head and the Body Dies" attacks will actually hurt Hamas much, but the fact that they haven't been able to accomplish anything since the dock attack seems to suggest that it can slow them down, anyway.

Launched by Charlie Victor Echo at 06:20 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (2)

April 16, 2004


Bravo Romeo Delta

I was going to post a fun-filled list of links for general amusement.

I was about halfway through when my computer exercised a veto.

And it's wayy too close to the weekend for me to redo the whole thingy.

Sorry folks.

Enjoy yourselves and I'll be posting again shortly.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 11:54 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

Michael Moore? Say No More. Please.

Bravo Romeo Delta

Michael Moore is just flat-out plain despicable.

A festering open wound on the body politic.

He's so indescribably vile that I don't even consider him to be left-wing. Rather, I view him as a great opportunity for bipartisanship.

A bipartisan lynching, that is.

At any rate, go read this savagely methodical fisking of Mike Moore here. (Courtesy A. Sullivan)

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 09:10 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)

And Now for Something Completely Different

Charlie Victor Echo

As long as we can still laugh, then all is not yet lost. This site shows us the funny side of space exploration with a scorecard in the "Expensive Hardware Lobbing" competition:


Check it out!!

Launched by Charlie Victor Echo at 12:59 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)

April 15, 2004

A Bit of That Tit For Tat

Bravo Romeo Delta

CVE's response to my commentary about Kos rapidly generated a lot of good comments, many of which have been quite illuminating.

In fact, I got so caught up in the comments and immediate response that I actually managed to wander away from my main avenue of inquiry in my original post. Bearing that in mind, I hope to revisit some of the deeper concerns about these most recent comments.

Before we get started, though, it is rather amazing how quickly allegations of partisanship bounce back and forth in a vicious feedback cycle, isn't it? That alone, I believe, explains the 'root cause' of some of the more egregious behavior seen in American politics.

At any rate, the point that I was interested in exploring a bit more deeply is how Kos' defensiveness was apparently both unneeded, immature, and just plain nonsensical.

As was the case with any one of a number of high-profile politicians that have taken fire in recent years, was there any particular reason above sheer human pride that prevented Kos from acting in (what I can only assume) the best tradition of common humanitarian interests shared by all people. Failing compassion, it is apparent that at least sheer self-interest would have dictated different (possibly insincere) responses, rather than the ones given.

What does puzzle me is that his gaffes turned into a platform for ranting about the 'Republican politics of personal destruction.' In this case, the entire "campaign" could have been diffused by about three lines of text - but rather we get treated to a display of "Bring 'em on." That does baffle me. It's the politics of personal self-destruction that vex me so.

In general, I cannot tolerate inefficient opposition, because an inefficient opposition merely engages in conflict for its own sake. Reminiscent of one of the conditions for Just War, is that a fight cannot be a good fight if there is absolutely no possible net gain or chance of victory.

I drew parallels to the Islamofascists not in an attempt to imply that there was any meaningful comparison, but rather to explore the notion that this is another group of people who seem to be more interested in the fight itself than winning. I expect that out of an Islamic whackjob, but I really had more or less pegged Kos as an actual genuine member of the loyal opposition (rather than a fringe element).

It's when a member of the loyal opposition gets in to this business of cutting off his nose to spite his face that I can only assume that my analysis is in some way flawed.

So open questions in my mind include:

A) Are Kos and a large number of people on his site are, in fact, fringe elements?
B) If they are not part of a relative fringe, then is the entire Left off its rocker?
C) If neither of these two are true, why would a honest-to-goodness political consultant commit such a boner of a needless tactical error?
D) Is this representative of anything? Does it speak to the health of the Left?
E) What's up with this guy?
F) How does the decision of his advertisers to put some space between themselves and this guy constitute 'knuckling under to Rethuglican scare tactics'?
G) Would the outcry of, for example, Trent Lott's or Jesse Jackson's historical gaffes also constitute 'scare tactics'?

Beats me. And it detracts from my much more important goal of trying to remodel my blog.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 09:21 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (2)

Hat Tips To All And Sundry

Bravo Romeo Delta

A brief, but wholly heartfelt thanks to Mr. Madfish William who through his posts and helpful e-mails helped the munubian actually learn how to make the command bunker a little bit more ... um ... bunkerly? Bunkeresque? Bunkery?

Well, whatever ya calls it - I likes it!

And so, to Mr. William, I greatfully extend a whole bushel of mad props.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 04:55 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (4)

April 14, 2004

Do Unto Others as You Have Had Others Do Unto You

Charlie Victor Echo

I understand the angst, but I don't get the surprise that my counterpart is expressing over the vitriol coming from the Left of late.

It is, after all it only mirrors the attacks that conservatives have been making against liberals for years. Limbaugh and company have made "liberal" a dirty word, so why should anyone be surprised that the Left, particularly after four years of being on the outs, is as angry in 2004 as the Right was in 1998?

Does it suck? Sure does. Is it in poor taste and a detriment to the political process? Absolutely. Do I wish Kos would shut up? Definitely.

But how about this notion: "And if half of a two party system is in trouble, then the republic is in trouble."

Well, I'm afraid its far more than "half". The Right side of the fence has been upto thier necks in this kind of crap for over a decade. And not just on a blog, no matter how popular it is, but on radio, television, and in print!

I'd like to hope that both sides would cool it and we could get back to reasoned, rational debate about the merits and flaws of the actual canidates, but I'm not naive enough to think it'll happen that way. Hot-button pushing and emotional appeals are the flavor of the day, and nothing we say or do will change it.

Launched by Charlie Victor Echo at 11:55 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (7)

The Politics of Personal Self-Destruction

Bravo Romeo Delta

As my co-blogger CVE noted some time ago, the cover up is always worse than the sin. Recently, a comment about the 4 contractors killed in Iraq (whose corpses were mutilated) caused the well-known left-wing blogger, Kos, to reply with an ever so-thoughtful "Screw Them."

For those of you who have missed (or ignored) this pissing match, let me bring you up to speed.

As one might have expected a great brouhaha was had by all. Kos issued one of the least sincere apologies I've seen in dog's years here.

At the end of the day, Kos decides that, apparently, he was in the right all along and so on, and no actual expression of remorse or regret was needed when a "Bring 'em on" would do. Gerard Van Der Leun masterfully addresses this nonsense.

Thus far I have avoided posting on this because it seemed both thoroughly beaten to death as well as, well, base.

The most recent episode, however, is a more interesting issue.

It seems that the Kos website has a place for posters to post in their daily diaries. And, naturally, some odious piece of crap managed to drag up the whole Colin Powell=Uncle Tom slur again.

And naturally, the fit hit the shan, once again.

This, being a clearly more racist comment also brought a few other gems back to the surface, like this bit of crap (racist or not its still in poor taste) by Gary Trudeau.

Gerard Van Der Leun ties these two things together quite nicely, as well as highlighting a couple of interesting points that I'll get to in a minute.

Basically, Kos, given this 'softball', this 'Sistah Souljah' moment, strikes out.

Frankly, I have a hard time reading his blog because it takes so very little time for the folks populating that site to send my bloodpressure through the roof. That being said, I echo the sentiment pointed out by Mr. Van Der Leun and more than a few sadly-voting-Republican former Democrats: if this is the most popular left-wing blog on the internet, then the Democratic Party is in deep trouble.

And if half of a two party system is in trouble, then the republic is in trouble.

As was alluded to earlier, the cover up always hurts worse than the original sin. The first case (the screw-the-contractors) incident is a good example of this. And when, within two weeks, another opportunity to do things right - like, for instance, say that calling a successful black man an "Uncle Tom" is a bad thing, he screws it up. He decides, essentially, to stand behind blatant racism.

Given this behavior, and wonderful things like this, it seems that in addition to giving the Republicans the south, the Democrats are well on their way to returning the black vote to the Republicans, as well.

I suppose if one were being snarky, one might say something to the effect that this shouldn't be a surprise out of the party that started a civil war in order to keep blacks as chattel slaves.

I could (well, OK, I didn't), but it skips over the fundamental point. When one's hatred becomes so intense that one begins to start becoming tactically inept while wrapped in a shroud of self-indignation, then something is going on.

In this particular case, we see the Democrats even of the Clinton Era going off the handle. The interesting parallel to note is the difference between the terrorism of the eighties (distinctly political in its aims) and the terrorism of today (solely macabre in its goals).

The same kind of irrational hatred that seems to be consuming the Democratic Party is the same sort of thought that is chewing up fundamental Islam. Much like those Muslims who keep trying to reassure the world that Islam is a religion of peace, but who have failed singularly to stand apart from their cancerous brethren and retake ownership of their ideology, the Democratic base fiddles while their party burns.

Pacified by the politics of inclusion and what seems to be a fundamental inability to call things as they are, too many Democrats are unwilling to reclaim the party that produced some of the finest presidents of the last century.

Not all folks on the left have gone this way, but dear God people, why can you just Trent Lott-his ass into anonymity?

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 09:34 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

April 13, 2004

The Manual of the Shadow War

Bravo Romeo Delta

In a previous post, I wrote of the long-term Shadow War against the Islamofascists.

Recently, given the recent insurgent activities there has been some discussion of the mechanics of this war and how the current engagements figure into this long-term fight. Of particular interest are reports that the Iranians and Syrians have been providing some measure of support for these uprisings. As of last Thursday, I had not been made aware of any direct Iranian support for Sadr, but the absence of evidence, in this case, does not signal to me an evidence of absence.

In the grander scheme of things, I would be absolutely astonished if neither nation is actively contributing to the violence - as it would mark a vast departure from tactics used previously in the last 25 years of the Shadow War.

Whether or not it is widely acknowledged, Iran has considered itself to be in a state of war with the United States since the early '80s. Going back to Beirut, a couple of Christian militants killed some Iranian diplomats. Iran, true to the logic of the "street," decided that there was no way that such an action could have been taken without the express approval of the Israelis (who were, at the time, in Southern Lebanon). As the logic goes, if the Israelis sanctioned (or even prompted) the attack, then it must have been done at the behest of the United States. For most of those in that part of the world who supplant understanding with conspiracy theories, the only open question is whether the US runs the Israelis or vice versa.

At any rate, the Iranians then proceeded to engage in their Lebanese proxy war. At first they had uniformed members of the Pasdaran were operating in Lebanon. In the first phase of Iranian operations, Iranian units were attacked directly - so thereafter, the Iranians switched to a total proxy and 'volunteer' system - reminiscent of the Russian pilots during the Korean War or the US in Angola.

A few months after the Iranians went on the offensive in Beirut, the US pulled out, following the detonation of the truck bomb at the US Marine barracks. Lo and behold, the Iranians were now convinced that they had caused the US to retreat from its imperialist ambitions far faster than even the Vietnamese. Truly, this religious/terrorist tack had proven to be effective. Moreover, even the Israelis pulled out unilaterally. This must surely be significant, as the Syrians and Iranians working through their proxies have casued the Israeli army one of their very few military defeats in the Middle East. This band of religious zealots, who in addition to killing Israelis, provided all manner of Islamic charity to Lebanon's wartorn people, had humbled the US and its puppet.

Take this with the notion that it was the fight of the faithful that ejected the Soviets from Afghanistan with money from all over the Arab world and direct Pakistani assistance. Think about the intoxcating and heady power that this group of ragtag believers managed to demonstrate - they brought a superpower to its knees. Somewhere along the line, there does seem to be a willing forgetfullness of American support for the Mujhadeen, but that's a post for another day.

Iran and the Arab world continued this battle against the Zionists and the Crusaders in a number of arenas. Abu Sayaaf in the Philipines - holding their own against Green Berets and Marines. The Russians getting slaughtered in carload lots in Chechnya. The Islamofascists fighting the Serbs to a standstill in the Balkans. Truely, this new mode of warfare was seen as a way to crush and drive out the infidel from every place that the Umma was being crushed underfoot.

Look back to the glorious early years of Islam, when the Prophet and his generals defeated the two superpowers of their day (Persia and Turkey) and converted both to Islam. Now, embracing these new tactics, given to them by Allah, they had caused the collapse of one superpower and had rocked the other back on its heels.

Fine, the Crusaders and Zionists can face any Arab army on the field of battle - but when they do so, they are fighting their war, not the war that the faithful are fighting. Not the war of the Intifada, Al Qaeda, or Chechnya, or Kosovo. For now the true believers have found a way to turn decadence and lack of faith against the unbelievers. For the Koran inspires the faithful to become martyrs in Jihad, and the soulless, decadent west fears their afterlife.

So clearly, the mode of war prescribed by Allah involves the following traits:

A) Patience and faith in the will of Allah - the battles may be slow, but their outcome is inexorable.

B) The Zionists and Crusaders lack the strength of their convictions and are easily swayed by a few deaths - the followers of Islam cannot be turned away by such temporal issues.

C) Don't fight the unbelievers on their own terms - be wise. Let them arrive with their technology, let them drive their tanks - the strength of the Islamic warrior is in his heart. Wait until they sleep, and then attack.

D) Fight the kufr in a way that takes advantage of their lack of resolve. Don't send your armies into the fight - rather send your money, support, weapons into the hands of jihadis. The jihadis will fight with your support. To openly send in uniformed soldiers is to invite them to use their cowardly weapons to murder the soliders of Allah.

What this means practically, is that as the Israelis fought in Lebanon and were eventually driven out by groups supported by Syria and Iran, and the way that the support of the entire Arab world grinds the Zionists down and out of Palestine, so similar efforts in Iraq will bring the Crusaders to their knees.

What this means for the US, is that we best start making it absolutely crystal-freaking clear to these jokers that for every dollar and every gun provided to the insurgents in Iraq will result in a three times as much money and weaponry to Syrian and Iranian insurgents. Every border clash will be met with decisive force.

These folks think that they've mastered proxy war because they've been at it for 20-some odd years.

They seem to have forgotten that they themselves were only pawns in the much larger and older proxy war between the Soviets and the Americans.

It might be time to remind them of that, and the fact that we are no longer constrained by the Soviets.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 08:56 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

April 11, 2004

You Too Can Suck Up Kerry bandwidth!!

Bravo Romeo Delta

Somebody in the Kerry camp had a brilliant idea about letting absolute strangers and malcontents vanadlize the Kerry website in the hopes of earning cash.

So, in keeping with the redistribution of wealth theme, you can make your own Kerry-hosted webpage.

Here's my little contribution to reasoned debate.

Thanks to Rusty for the idea!

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 03:28 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

Iraq Analyses

Bravo Romeo Delta

Iraqnow makes some good solid predictions of the upcoming year in Iraq. You should also go check out Phil Carter's Intel Dump on Iraq analysis, as well.

Both provide a good solid analysis at something less than a 100,000 feet. Just a fair note, my info on the proposed cease fire doesn't jive with Phil's.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 03:12 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

The Very Long View On Iraq

Bravo Romeo Delta

Amidst the entire question of whether we're in a global war or whatnot (and I would submit that we have found ourselves in a multi-decade long Cold War in the Shadows), there's a lot of back and forth about what role Iraq plays in this larger campaign and how it was sold.

Without going into gruesome detail about the fact that the war was sold on many levels, only one of which was WMD, and without rehashing the validity of pre-war intelligence and the fact that David Kay found that the Iraqis had not fully complied with their disarmament requirements...

We get to the essential point - why was Iraq a target? Iraq, whether you like it or not, has an incredibly siginificant geostrategic location for several reasons. Iraq was run by a person with one of the poorest risk evaluation skills seen in modern history (think about containment - if he wasn't coerced into modifying his behavior by the presence of a huge military buildup on his front door...). Iraq also harbored and abbetted terrorists. Iraq also was an incredibly aggressive proliferator. And Iraq was ongoing slow-motion snuff film.

But, really, what's the angle here? The thread, the plotline, why now, and not then? How does this really affect root causes and will help in rooting those causes out?

Well, for background, check this bit right here out. Basically, in a nutshell, this guy wrote in March 2003 that war with Saddam was not only inevitable, but good. Essentially, its kind of an outgrowth of dependency theory (which dictates that states dependent on each other for trade and whatnot tend towards peaceful interaction). This Barnett guy takes it a bit further and notes that states that aren't connected to the rest of the world also are the problem children. He then notes, in a somewhat Friedman-esque manner, that states that are connected (part of the 'core') tend to be stable and so on.

Well, here's the scoop. Wayyy back about a century or so, the number of democracies in the world could be counted without resorting to removal of one's shoes. We get to WW II, and we've got this big obvious fight between fascism and communism and democracy. Hitler, being a bit dogmatic, manages to piss off and get crushed by both the democratic and communist forces. As we all know, that led us into a longer pissing match about communism v. capitalism (both democratic and authoritarian). And, we too know how that worked.

Well, here's the surprising gig. Y'all, I'm sure, have heard of that Sayyid Qutb guy, who gave birth to the abortion that is political islam. Now, a thing to keep in mind, is that he didn't create this from whole cloth - rather he trooped around during the thirties, and thought a lot of glowing things about Stalin, Hitler, and Mussolni. Conversely, he (along with a lot of other folks) decided that the US was corrupt, decadent, effete, doomed to fail, etc.

The reason, however, that this particular war has evolved the way it has is two-fold. First, he didn't really have a goverment - think Marx here. So it took an awful lot of time for his ideas to spread and gain momentum as actionable principles. Secondly, let's be frank, the umma hasn't really been much of a world beater over the last few hundred years.

Now, these two things alone would have relegated Islamicism to the approximate power and influence of the Mormon church, had two other factors not come into play. The first is mass media (you might want to ask Martin Luther about this). Obviously this makes the propogation of ideas really fast. Moreover, it removes the process known as interest aggregation from any sort of geographic constraints. Think about it - if Hitler had been as effective in English as he was in German - and been able to broadcast his speeches via the internet, we could have been stuck with trying to root out are very real and substantial fascist insurgency in the United States during WWII.

The other big factor is globalization. While Barnett argues that the problem children are disconnected - he glosses over a more telling factor - that these states are profoundly well connected - to each other. Look at the most recent exposure of the proliferation black market. Take a look at connections between ETA, the IRA, FARC, and Hezbollah. Connections between the drug trade, arms trade, and insurrection. Folks gotta remember that this globalization thing can cut both ways.

These two things, in combination, meant that a) these groups were able to achieve a critical mass necessary to sustain violence, propaganda, and other sustained political action, much, much faster and earlier than equivalent groups in earlier eras. Secondly, it meant that the action arm may not have to leave behind a mailing address.

So, this started to simmer some decades ago, but went largely unnoticed for several reasons - we were paying attention to the commies, transnational threats weren't nearly as visible as threats posed by individual nations, and frankly, these guys are pretty feckless most of the time. If you start to look at the longer history, things like the non-existence of the PLO prior to the 1967 war make more sense. Additionally, Iran has functionally considered itself at war with the US since 1982. So essentially, we've been (much to our suprise on 9/11) engaged in a Very Long Cold War - perhaps a Shadow War - for decades now. As Ms. Rice indicated, they were at war with us although we weren't at war with them.

Where, then, does Iraq fit into all of this? Those of you who have followed military actions closely may be familiar with the notion of a 'center of gravity and once you hit that center hard enough, the system gets damaged and we start heading to a 'tipping point' after which failure cascades through the other guy's system and he falls apart.

To be fair to some of the war's critics, there are a lot of very clear and present threats a good deal spookier than Iraq ever was. What those critics may not apprehend is that Iraq was the most important center of gravity we could hit given political constraints. Think about this - look at the map. When Iraq goes, Syria and Iran are now surrounded by US troops and US allies in all direction (think about the value of economic sanctions now that Syria is cut off from the sea). The threat of armed force against Saudi Arabia is mooted and allows troops to be pulled out and placed on the flanks of American enemies. The swatting of Hussein for WMD did affect Libya, but more significantly it lead directly to the uncovering of a huge amount of information about the Iranian program. Both of these in concert allowed the proliferation black market to be dealt a grevious wound. You could also argue that the flypaper strategy on this has been effective, but more significantly, it takes some of the political heat of off Israel, because now they are not the only people being screamed at.

So, a better analysis is not that we went to war for any one reason - but rather that we were striking at a center of gravity in a larger, much older conflict, in an effort to disrupt our opponent's systems.

So then, how does Fallujah play into this. Well, the bad guys still operate under the assumption that the US is terribly casualty intolerant. On this, only the historians will be able to tell. The fact of the matter is however, that they could increase their survivability by going to ground, but they have, instead come to the surface, expsoing themselves in an effort to Black Hawk Down us. By way of analogy, think of a ballistic missile sub hiding under the surface. Once she launches a missile, then everyone will know where she's at. It's bad insofar as the missile has been launched, but great insofar as you now know exactly where the other 23 missiles are. Live with the launch, but sink the damned boat.

For the long term, this (both Iraq and Fallujah) is going to be a much harder slog than just about anyone anticipated. But there's may be a very good reason for it. The fact that this has generated the amount of shrill invective and irritation it has suggests to me that it must have been a valuable target indeed. People don't get that damned excited about things they don't care about. Iraq had importance way beyond what I estimated it had, based solely on the reactions of the Islamofacists alone.

The downside is that it will continue to be the focus of their ire (making rehabilitation of the nation much more costly and difficult) as long as they still feel the sting of its loss - or until they just get plain tired out - or we lose.

Looking at it from this perspective, one may note that the commentary about the Iraqis not being defeated harshly enough to kill off the potential for future insurrection misses the point - we're not fighting Iraqis. We're fighting the unholy spawn of fascism and fundamental Islam. And in that war, this is merely a single engagement.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 01:46 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (2)
» Watcher of Weasels Retaliates with: Submitted for Your Approval
» Watcher of Weasels Retaliates with: The Council Has Spoken!

April 09, 2004

The Blame Game

Charlie Victor Echo

So it’s over. The long feared and anticipated Condi Rice testimony hit the world...and as expected, nothing's changed. If you support Bush, then this just shored up your opinion that all that could be done was done. If you dislike Bush, you believe even more that his administration dropped the ball.

Personally, I find myself in an interesting place. On one hand, I'm not the president's biggest fan. On the other, I can't help but get a HUAC or Pearl Harbor Investigation type vibe out of the whole thing.

We live in a society obsessed with liability. Everything is someone's fault. Our lawyers are trained to think that way, and we seem to personalize everything from sports to war. There are arguments on sports talk radio about whether the Cubs are still "Sammy's Team." The first thing we ask about a movie is "Who's in it?" We go to war not against Iraq, but against Saddam Hussein.

And so on.

But when we look back at political investigations in particular, so often we find they aren't really about the actual issue so much as a quest to find someone...anyone...to blame for what went wrong. McCarthy's infamous House Un-American Activities Committee was certainly about that, a witch-hunt to find the "hidden Communists" that McCarthy was sure were infesting America.

Perhaps a closer correlation to the 9/11 Commission would be the Joint Congressional Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack where Admiral Husband Kimmel and General Walter Short were rung up for Pearl Harbor. The problem with that verdict, and with assigning too much blame for 9/11, is that it automatically assumes that we have total control of our destiny and that those who oppose us are incapable of extraordinary actions themselves.

Let's reverse the equation. Who on Mullah Omar's staff was to blame for the Taliban getting kicked out of Afghanistan? Which of Tojo's generals "dropped the ball" when Hiroshima was nuked? Couldn't it be that with the resources available and the information at hand, no one could have prevented those American victories?

Why then must someone on our side be to blame for our defeats?

Learn from our defeats? Certainly. Try to make sure they never happen again? Absolutely. Find a scapegoat to roast just because of a perverse desire to have one? Let's not.

There are plenty of reasons to dislike the Bush Administration and many legitimate justifications for voting to replace him with John Kerry.

I don't think that 9/11 is one of them.

Launched by Charlie Victor Echo at 07:03 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

April 08, 2004

So, anybody know templates?

Bravo Romeo Delta

Since I'm doing this in the very best tradition of a primates trying to puzzle out the Monolith, I think I'm going to have to ask for some help.

Either that, or it's start beating the crap out of things with a leg bone and evolving for a couple million years.

Your call.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 10:54 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (3)

April 06, 2004

So how do you remodel a command bunker, anyways?

Bravo Romeo Delta

Well, as it turns out, all the people who do MT templates do all manner of flowery stuff for templates. Still looking for something a bit more war-ry. Until my patience gives out - which should be in about 20 or so hours.

At that point, I'll just say screw it - open the floodgates to my witty and clever blogging (that's all pretty much CVE's department) and worry about pretty later (which would be my department).

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 11:44 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (6)

April 04, 2004

EBS - Test? Anyone?

Bravo Romeo Delta

This is a test.

I'm pretty sure this is a test.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 04:31 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

April 03, 2004

The Raven

Pixy Misa

Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;- vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow- sorrow for the lost Lenore-
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door-
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;-
This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"- here I opened wide the door;-
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore!"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"-
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore-
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;-
'Tis the wind and nothing more."

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door-
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door-
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore-
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door-
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered-
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "other friends have flown
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore-
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never- nevermore'."

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore-
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee- by these angels he
hath sent thee
Respite- respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!- prophet still, if bird or
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted-
On this home by horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore-
Is there-- is there balm in Gilead?- tell me- tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil- prophet still, if bird or
By that Heaven that bends above us- by that God we both adore-
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend," I shrieked,
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted- nevermore!

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