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Friday, October 31, 2003

The Ramadan Offensive Continues

U.S. Forces Battle Iraqi Guerrillas in Intense Firefight

Published: October 31, 2003

ABU GHRAIB, Iraq, Oct. 31 — Guerrillas and American troops battled for hours here today in an intense firefight after a demonstration in support of Saddam Hussein turned violent. Meanwhile, rumors of terrorist attacks this weekend roiled Baghdad.

The daylong battle in Abu Ghraib, a western suburb of Baghdad that has been a center of hostility to the American-led occupation, and the anxiety in the capital underscored the deteriorating security situation here at the end of a week which began when four simultaneous car bombs killed 34 people and wounded more than 200.

In addition, an American soldier was killed in an attack west of the capital today. At least 33 United States troops have died from hostile fire in attacks in October, compared with 16 in September, and the pace has increased in recent days.

The soldier, from the 82nd Airborne Division, was killed by a roadside bomb at 8:30 a.m. local time near Khaldiya, about 45 miles west of Baghdad, the military reported. Four other soldiers were wounded. The area west and north of the capital has been a center of resistance to the American occupation.

The death brought to 118 the number of American troops killed in action since Washington declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq on May 1. Since the Iraq war began on March 19, 350 soldiers have been died in combat or of other causes, and 2,160 more wounded, according to Maj. Linda Haseloff, an American military spokeswoman in Tampa, Fla.

Daylong battle? Come on, this is insane. These folks can fight day long battles? This isn't a bunch of secret policemen doing this. That's infantry, trained infantry. These folks shot it out all day with the Americans and didn't lose any ground. That's a bad sign. Which general said he had no threat for any of his companies? Odierno? Sanchez? Well, that's now officially bullshit.

Any enemy who can tie you down for the better part of the day is a threat to your command. Especially when they're blowing up trains, using anti-tank missiles and now holding off US armor and infantry in cities.

The Times said 1,000 people took to the streets with guns and for extra measure, Sunni clerics called for jihad during services.

What is clear is that this is NOT Vietnam. Even in 1975 there wasn't the sense of loss of control. This seems close to a real explosion . We have been very lucky that the Shia have kept their peace. When they decide to break it, we're in deep trouble.

Americans are in a deep dilemma. The more we police Iraq, the worse the resistance grows. Yet, without order, we have to do more intrusive policing.Either way, we're screwed.

posted by Steve @ 11:03:00 PM

11:03:00 PM

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On the Road

I'm sitting in SIBL, the New York Public Library's Science and Technoiogy branch. They have nice, fat Ethernet connections and docking stations, It ain't Starbucks, but it's free and its on my computer.

The docking stations are in the rear of the basement, if you ever come to New York and need to get onlne during the day. The library is open from 10-6 Tuesday-Saturday. It's on the corner of 34th and Madison. It is an underutilized place, with maybe 10 laptop users at the moment.

One of the library's features is a bank of TV's on the lower level. As I was coming back from the bathroom, I saw Jessica Lynch on my TV. Now, I personally have nothing against her. But then, I'm not in an infantry squad in Tikrit either.

Sunday night, this heinous movie about her "rescue", which will be as accurate as Signal magazine will air. I think the Smart story, another piece of clever fiction, will be on around the same time.

In two months, demonstrably false versions of events have made on to TV. First, there was DC 9/11, a fictional recounting of the heroism of GeorgeW. Bush. After all, any movie with Bush ordering Dick Cheney around is as real as a Jenna Jameson porno. No worse, since she really IS blonde and her first name really IS Jenna. DC 9/11 doesn't even have that level of credibility.

But what's even worse is that while Lynch is getting 80 percent disability, Shoshana Johnson, who was also wounded in he 507th fiasco is getting 30 percent and she's got PTSD, a common occurance in POW's. The Army was caught short when Jesse Jackson accused them of racism. I think it was politics. Fifth Corps had to prevent them from awarding her the Silver Star. If you think people are pissed that she got the Bronze Star.....

I think Lynch got special treatment and everyone else is getting jacked around. Warehousing wounded and injured GI's like refugees and ignoring their wounds. Digusting on every level.

Now, stories of serious PTSD problems and the use of denigrating terms for the Iraqis is just a sign things ae getting worse.

posted by Steve @ 1:46:00 PM

1:46:00 PM

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Rioters attack Iraqi mayor's office

Angry Iraqis have attacked the mayor's office in the flashpoint town of Falluja, setting the building on fire.
Residents told Reuters news agency the violence flared after police shot dead a local man nearby.

There have also been clashes in western Baghdad between US troops and Iraqis.

AFP news agency reported that four Iraqis were killed and two US soldiers injured, but this could not be confirmed.

Falluja, a Sunni Muslim town about 65 kilometres (40 miles) west of Baghdad, is a stronghold of supporters of ousted president Saddam Hussein.

On Tuesday, a suicide car bomb attack killed at least four other people near the town's police station.

Near Falluja on Thursday, a makeshift bomb set fire to a train which was carrying goods to US soldiers.

In the latest violence in Falluja, several men, many wearing traditional robes, opened fire at about 1345 (1045 GMT) using assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, AFP news agency reported.

There hasn't been a morning since April 9th where I I haven't been greeted by some horror from Iraq. Now this.

So how did Al Qaeda get those traditional robes? Buy them?

Jesus, people think this is like Northern Ireland or Lebanon are wrong. This is like the opening stages of the Congo. There's still the shell of a society, but if this keeps up, civil war is the only outcome possible.

Now, they're blowing up supply trains? Man, this is really turning into the Great Patriotic War.

posted by Steve @ 8:40:00 AM

8:40:00 AM

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Thursday, October 30, 2003

Thank You

Recently, I asked if someone had a laptop they were no longer using. This was early on a Saturday.

I am now the owner of a G3 Kanga, thanks to the generousity of one of the readers here. Since he made the offer privately, I won't use his name, but he knows that I am grateful.

Other people have made generous offers as well and I appreciate those as well.

My laptop needs are modest and this machine is more than adequate. As long as I can type and go online, I'm cool. This does that and more.

Once upon a time, people said that no one would pay for content on the internet. That is not true. People can and will pay when the people doing the work take it seriously and do it dilligently. Not just my needs for a laptop, which is a nice convience, but in more serious matters, paying for Josh Marshall's trip to New Hampshire, Atrios's new laptop and offers of serious legal help. I'm sure that there are many more kindnesses that have happened without much notice.

While a bitter hack like Camille Paglia can whine about the quality of blogs, you can see their growing influence daily. They're forcing the media to cover stories they would have ignored. The Guardian is publishing in America because their stories are circulated daily on blogs, building their audience.

It is a two way street. We do our work because it needs to be done. But without your generous support of this site and many others, it would be no more than pissing in the wind.

Once again, thank you for your support.

posted by Steve @ 11:31:00 PM

11:31:00 PM

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The resistance grows

Robert Fisk describes the resistance in an interview with Pacifica's Amy Goodman.

AMY GOODMAN: It's good to have you with us. Well, the killings in Iraq continue. We hear about one side. We hear about the continual killings of U.S. service men and women. We hear about the bombings of the Red Cross, the bombings of the police stations in Baghdad and Fallujah. You've spent a lot of time in Iraq. Can you explain?

ROBERT FISK: Well, I think, you know, part of the explanation needs to include a kind of a cultural comment. We were just listening to your reading of the news where we were hearing you quoting American statesmen as saying that-- talking about the number of foreign fighters in Iraq. Well, I can tell you there are at least 200,000 foreign fighters in Iraq and 146,000 of them are wearing American uniform. You know, Americans in Iraq did not grow up in Tikrit eating dates for breakfast. The largest number of foreign fighters in Iraq, a thousand times over anything Al Qaeda can do, are western soldiers. And we need to realize that we're maintaining an occupation there.

Are there foreign Arab fighters, which is really what your question is about. I think there are probably a few, though we don't know how many and we don't know how many of them actually entered Iraq. Not as friends of Al Qaeda, but in heeding the call of Saddam Hussein to defend Iraq before the American invasion. But, you know, at the end of the day, this is what we call a canard. It's a game. It's a lie. The resistance to the American presence, and these ferocious, brutal, cruel attacks on Iraqis themselves are being carried out largely by Iraqis. The Americans claimed, after the bombings, oh, they managed to get one of the suicide bombers who didn't kill himself and he had a Syrian passport. I noticed we've not been given his passport number or his nationality, date of birth or, indeed, his name. Well, he may be real. He may be real.

But the vast majority of the, quote, resistance, unquote, are Iraqis and my own investigations, particularly around the city of Fallujah, which is where so many Americans have been killed, American servicemen, is that these people were originally Iraqis with a growing interest in the politics of Islam, who, under Saddam Hussein, were permitted, because Saddam knew when to let the top off the kettle and let it not boil over. Were permitted to form an organization called the committee, or the organization, of the faithful. They weren't pro-Saddam; in many cases they, like the people of Fallujah, were arrested and very cruelly treated by Saddam's henchmen. But they were allowed to form individual groups who could discuss religion, providing they didn't talk about politics.

When the regime fell, when the Americans entered Baghdad on the ninth of April this year, these groups became the only focused resistance against American rule. And they did decide, individually and then in coordination, that they would become the Iraqi resistance. I wrote about this actually on April 9. But, these people did begin to believe that they could be the new nationalists, aided, of course, with the weapons of Saddam, the former henchmen of Saddam, and, to some considerable extent, by a population which felt that the American occupiers were behaving brutally.

One man, a tribal leader around Fallujah, whose village I went to and, indeed, I had lunch with him a few weeks ago said to me, you know, originally when the Americans came here, we shouted our greetings to them. But when we staged a protest against their presence, they shot 14 of us dead. There were indeed 14 Iraqis shot dead in Fallujah. After that, he said, it became a question of tribal honor. We had to take our revenge against the Americans, and as they shot back, it became a question of resistance. So, what you found is that the way in which the Americans behave, the way in which the Iraqis behaved, plus this cellular system of groups of the faithful, which were permitted to exist under Saddam, though not with much enthusiasm from the previous regime, turned a war of resistance-- or, rather, turned a war of revenge into a war of resistance. And the people who are killing Americans, at the moment, and killing fellow Iraqis, are largely Iraqis. Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Wolfowitz and Mr. Bush can go on talking till cows come home about foreign fighters. These are not, for the most part, people who were born outside Iraq, which most Americans were. They are people who are called Iraqis. This is a resistance movement, whether we like it or not.

AMY GOODMAN: Robert Fisk, you described your experience simply at Baghdad Airport, who was there, the rocket attacks that were coming in as you were trying to leave, what the soldiers there were saying, what the perimeter is there.

ROBERT FISK: Yeah. Well, it was -- As I said in the piece which you quote, a crazy mixture of Walt Disney and Vietnam-- you know? They didn't even have any-- the only international flyer or airline operating out of Baghdad Airport, we can't call it Saddam Airport anymore, and who would want to, is Royal Jordanian, which is a comparatively small Middle Eastern airline company. Heaven knows who insures them for this trip.

But they -- When I was flying out, they had a flight on the ground. There were supposed to be two planes of Royal Jordanian, one of which was a small executive jet, the other which was to be an Airbus and they kept changing the times, there were no seat numbers, etc. But as I was waiting hour after hour for the planes to take off, mortars started landing at the airport. Five in all. And I was actually chatting to a group of special forces, Americans, with their black webbing with lots and lots of radios and telephones and weapons. And they were actually-- as special forces tend to-being quite appreciative of their enemy. They were saying: Not bad. They're getting better. They're getting better. In other words, they were aiming their mortars to land closer to the actual runway of the airport. Each mortar landing would be succeeded by a large kind of smoke ring that would go up in the sky about 20, 30 feet wide. And then an Apache helicopter took off to try and rocket the attackers.

posted by Steve @ 1:58:00 AM

1:58:00 AM

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Why I use my name online

After reading about the assclown libel threat letter, people, not just me, are guessing why he would do this. Most people think it's to invade Atrios's privacy.

I've never written anything I didn't stand behind, so anonymity was never a problem. But the use of the law to strip anonymity from publishers is a dangerous one. Me, I've worked as a writer for almost 20 years, so I like the publicity. But if I taught kids or was a businessman, I'd think I might use the protection of anonymity.

It keeps me honest. Since my name is attached to everything I write, my full legal name, it makes me think before I put something online.

But for people who don't have that luxury and it is a luxury, they need a way to express themselves and not get hassled for their opinions. People DO get fired for their opinions. They are ostracized by their friends. Any critic wants to strip anonymity as a breaching of your basic defense. Then they can go after your personal life.

Luckily, anonymity online has been generally protected, as has the right to publish comments, as long as you don't edit them. A free and open forum is just that.

As a general rule, it is best to ignore what is writen about you unless it is so outrageous that it causes you real harm. If someone said I was a drunken bum, I'd be pissed. If someone said I was a convicted pedophile, I'd sue. But if you're going to run a blog, and attack a popular columnist on a regular basis, it is best to develop a very thick skin.

You know, people here are civil. No one calls me an asshole or evil. But if they weren't, the last thing I'd want to do is sue anyone. Once you do that, it becomes a matter of public record. Atrios could investigate his sex life to prove he was a stalker, question any and all lovers and aquaintances. It's like exposing your entire personal life for public inspection. Because truth is an absolute defense.

Billmon worries if bloggers are going to sue each other. Neighbors do it all the time. Not everyone has the same level of judgement. One could put up a blog called "Samantha Jones is a bisexual slut" and include pictures. If that blog is doctored and the pictures faked, Ms. Jones should be able to sue. Or if someone is falsely accused of a crime. But for mere insult? It's as silly as a property line dispute. The assclown called himself a stalker. Come on, any decent, non-friend lawyer would laugh at this.

Hell, if Atrios was mean, he could sue the assclown for harassment and abuse of the legal system.

A lot of people like to use libel actions as cudgles, to scare people. And if you don't know the law, it works. But for a smart client, it's about the worst legal action you can file. You rarely win and the defense is as broad as permitted by law. Because it has several hurdles to meet. Blumenthal v Drudge, who committed a textbook case of libel in claiming he had court records that Blumenthal had beat his wife and he didn't. If you want libel, that's about good as you get, a malicious lie. Even so, Blumenthal and Drudge settled. If that case settled, then few cases will ever reach court. I think 48 went to trial in 2000.

As a writer, the assclown should know libel is hard to win and Atrios has no responsibilty for comments placed on his sight.

posted by Steve @ 1:53:00 AM

1:53:00 AM

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Wednesday, October 29, 2003

The law isn't the law

The latest advertising campaign for Dove Promises bite-sized chocolates poses the question "What's your perfect relationship?" and features a list of more than a hundred words—like low-key, playful, inventive, and profound. In each ad, one or two words appear in bold and are marked with a brown square graphic. On the bottom of the page, the motto: "For every relationship, there's Dove." One ad, in Condé Nast Traveler, highlights dominant and submissive. When advertisers take note of a growing sexual minority, and want to market sweets to us, I don't consider it trivial. Not only does it represent the mainstreaming of s/m, but it presents dominance and submission not as the stereotypical whip-toting dominatrix, but as just another kind of relationship. It's a consumer confection, I know, but it's also a little taste of progress.

Sometimes with progress comes hostility, as evidenced by two recent events. Black Rose, a Washington, D.C.-based s/m organization, planned to hold its annual national conference (which attracts thousands) at the Princess Royale hotel in Ocean City, Maryland (in previous years, it has been held elsewhere in the state). The contract had been signed; all the rooms in the hotel were booked. A few weeks ago, when details were leaked to the local media, there was a flood of public opposition as residents claimed the event would tarnish Ocean City's family-oriented image.

Opponents worked every angle to try to run Black Rose out of town. Finally the liquor commission informed the hotel, city officials, and the papers that local laws could be violated during the event, especially those that prohibit erotic touching over clothes in a place with a liquor license, even when no booze is sold or consumed. Faced with pressure from police and local religious organizers ready to picket, Black Rose canceled.

Less than a week later, police chief Nick Congemi of Kenner, Louisiana, wrote a letter to 15 area motels urging them to decline requests to host Fetish in the Fall, a new s/m event scheduled to run in conjunction with N'awlins in November (, an annual swingers conference. Although he refused to meet with organizers, Congemi called the event "borderline illegal and demeaning to women." The organizers hadn't yet secured a signed contract with their host hotel, and decided to cancel in order to focus on the larger swingers event (first letting the media know their side of the story).

Congemi's personal opinion, which he chose to turn into policy, reflects a fundamental yet typical misunderstanding of s/m. "It is virtually impossible to bind, denigrate, beat and inflict pain on humans in sexual acts, yet honor and respect them in everyday situations," wrote one woman in an editorial about Black Rose in Delaware County's Daily Times; she also likened s/m practitioners to the serial rapist and murderer Ted Bundy. AP reported that Black Rose offered classes on "everything from torture to the various techniques associated with pain-induced sex." What the hell is pain-induced sex? Sadomasochism is a consensual practice that may incorporate power play, bondage, and heavy sensation play but is not equivalent to violence and abuse; while it is often sensual, it may or may not include genital-focused sex. Because there may be pain, punishment, or submission involved, people automatically assume that no one would willingly be subjected to such things. These same ignorant people cannot imagine erotic exchanges outside their comfy norm.

OK, you may not be into S&M, but the fearmongering about it is silly. While it's not my personal taste, anyone who does even cursory research on the subject, they would S&M is very different than people think.

BDSM, in it's mildest form, is simply being restrained, in it's most extreme, may involve body modification, like piercing. But it is clearly consensual. It can only be engaged in with consent. If it isn't, it's a crime.

What bothers me is that people, without doing any investigation, are making assumptions about private sexual behavior. BDSM requires an insane level of trust between two partners. Any time you use any sort of physical punishment, you have to trust your partner without reservation. If someone has you restrained and hanging from a hook, you have to know that person will be in control.

BDSM is the easiest sexual practice to denigrate and depict as perverse, when in reality, it requires the most intimacy and trust possible. Anyone who plays the role of a submissive is doing so willingly. They aren't being degraded or forced.

But what drives me nuts is that local officials are now banning legal activity by consenting adults based on misinformation or their personal biases. You want sexual degeneracy? Don't go to a leather convention. Go to your local bar. On any given night, you can see girls strip, take off their bras and start making out with each other. I can see degenerate sexual behavior in any bar filled with 20-somethings in New York. I've seen things people would not believe. I've seen public sex, all kinds of stuff, things no organized people would tolerate in public, as these conventions are.

If people had ignored this, no one asked for their public support, they would have spent the money generated from these affairs and walk away. Judging them is pointless, especially when their actions were legal. It's nice to judge people from a distance, but that's not how one should make their laws. If people want to swing or have group sex, that's a private matter. Banning them from doing what is legal, because you don't like it, is obnoxious at best and criminal at worse. You don't like BDSM events, stay home. You weren't invited anyway.

posted by Steve @ 8:47:00 PM

8:47:00 PM

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Yet another cheap libel threat

Our friend Atrios has been threatened with legal action because he called some yahoo at the National Review a stalker of Paul Krugman.

While I'm not a lawyer, I know a few and this reeks of a buddy favor. That's when your lawyer buddy friend sends off a cease and decist letter to clear up a hassle.

Except, when you do that, you don't always get people ready to cave. Some are ready to fight to the last round. That's the lesson the MPAA found when they sued Emmanel Goldstein, publisher of 2600. Now, if you know anything about computing, suing 2600's proprietor is about as smart as robbing a bank in Fayetteville, NC. You're gonna get a fight and you don't know who's coming to the party. Well, in 2600's case, Goldstein (nee Eric Corley) wound up with Maritn Garbus, Hollywood's top First Amendment lawyer defending him. They thought he qould quiver in fear over the power of the MPAA. He runs 2600, the MPAA is small beer compared to the NSA. But they didn't know that.

Atrios is already flooded with offers of legal help and cash. Which isn't surprising. People don't like bullies and they really don't like conservative bullies. There is a lot of quiet support for liberal bloggers. Josh Marshall raised 5K in a couple of days. Clearly, the internet has matured and people will support and defend those who share their views.

The lawyer whined about messages posed on his site as well, but that's not going very far:

Court decision protects bloggers from libel suits

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO - A federal appeals court has extended the First Amendment protections of do-it-yourself online publishers.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the nation's largest appeals court, said that online publishers can post material generated by others without liability for its content - unlike traditional news media, which are held responsible for such information.

"It clarifies the existing law," said Eric Brown, who represented the defendant in the suit. "It expands it in the sense that no court had really addressed bloggers, list serve operators and those people yet, certainly not on the level of the 9th Circuit Court."

Blogs, short for Weblogs, are online diaries updated frequently by tech-savvy writers who use the medium to comment on current events and everyday life.

Online publishers and free speech advocates lauded the court's decision.

"The decision is a real victory for free speech," said Jeralyn Merritt, a lawyer and blogger who manages, a Web site about crime-related news and politics. "Now we can publish information we receive from someone else without fear of getting sued."

Merritt said it would be impossible to monitor the nearly 200 messages posted on her site every day.

"I can't be responsible for the content of those comments," she said.

The decision recently was the most discussed topic according to, a current events search engine that crawls the Web and reflects its collective conscience, identifying the topics that are generating the most interest in the blogging world.

The decision last week was based on the 1996 Communications Decency Act, Brown said.

Other cases have said commercial service providers on the Internet are not responsible for information posted by a third party. And this decision says noncommercial Web site hosts are only liable when they post information that a reasonable person would have known wasn't meant to be published

Besides, if you sue for libel, if not only has to be false, but malicious as well. You have to know it's a lie and it's not merely opinion.
Winning a libel suit is pretty rare.

posted by Steve @ 6:16:00 PM

6:16:00 PM

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Staying the Course, Without Choice

Iraqis Are Only Option for Security
By Thomas E. Ricks and Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, October 29, 2003; Page A18

Three days of rocket attacks and car bombings in and around Baghdad, the bloodiest anti-U.S. assaults since the conventional war ended in April, have not changed the Bush administration's strategy for winning the peace in Iraq.

Rather, the attacks intensified the officials' determination to pursue the two-part "Iraqification" approach they have emphasized since midsummer: Rely increasingly on Iraqi police and soldiers to provide security; and move U.S. troops more to the background, where they can be poised to conduct raids and other concentrated attacks on resistance fighters.

"The strategy remains the same," President Bush told reporters yesterday.

What the president did not say is that this is really the only approach open to the U.S.-led coalition right now. The two major alternatives to this plan essentially have been considered and rejected.

One would be to deploy thousands of U.S. troops on top of the 130,000 already there. But there really are not many available, because most active-duty divisions in the Army have completed tours of combat duty in Afghanistan or Iraq over the past two years.

The other would be to persuade more foreign nations to contribute forces, but few have been willing to send more than a token contribution. The big battalions of Pakistani or Moroccan troops that could ease pressure on U.S. forces by taking up some guard duty work, or by conducting patrols with troops who can speak Arabic with locals, have not been forthcoming.

That means the U.S. exit strategy rests squarely on getting Iraqis to provide security. In meetings over the past two days, the only notable difference from earlier discussions is that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top administration officials have sought to figure out how to accelerate the training of Iraqi police.

The stance now, one top general said at the Pentagon yesterday, is "stay the course, faster."

"I believe we're looking at the beginning of a sustained insurgency. I don't think this is the mopping-up the administration cast it as a couple of months ago," said Steven Metz, a professor at the U.S. Army War College. He sees the potential for the violence to go "on and on and on, with a shooting here and a bombing there . . . somewhere between the Palestinian intifada and Northern Ireland."

Yet Metz, an insurgency specialist, does not think the militants can stop the Bush administration from building an Iraqi government or restarting the economy. Nor, he said, does he think "they can kill enough Americans that it would lead to a collapse of the American will."

It's not the will of the Americans in Washington which is the problem. But the will of GI's on the ground. The insurgents only need one big strike, a major explosion at a US site, to collapse US morale, which is already low.

There are two real issues, if we can prevent a national uprising and keep US morale up. There is no support for anything like an intifada or Ulster. If that's what's being faced, the US will flee. What foreign policy experts forget is that the American public's appetite for foreign adventures are limited. Years in Iraq is not fiscally or poitically possible. Americans, at the end of the day, would be perfectly content to leave Iraq a larger Lebanon. Anyone forgetting that will be reminded of that next November.

posted by Steve @ 1:41:00 PM

1:41:00 PM

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They mean what they say

Assassins in Baghdad Kill a Deputy Mayor
Top Engineer Persisted Despite Warnings
By Theola Labbé
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 29, 2003; Page A01

BAGHDAD, Oct. 28 -- The warnings came from his mother, sister, four brothers, and friends -- and from people who called late at night and threatened harm.

Stop working with the Americans.

Faris Abdul Razzaq Assam, one of Baghdad's three deputy mayors, heard the messages but listened to his heart, family members said. He continued to work on water projects and set up neighborhood councils. He supervised thousands of employees as the head of city technical services.

When Assam returned Sunday from an international donors' conference in Madrid, he excitedly told his family that he had secured billions of dollars in pledges. "I'm going to turn Baghdad into heaven," he said.

Hours later, witnesses said, two gunmen walked into an outdoor cafe where Assam was playing dominoes and shot him in the head at point-blank range. The assailants slipped into the night and remain at large.

Assam's unsolved slaying is the latest in a string of assassinations of Iraqis who work with U.S. forces. Last month, a member of Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council was gunned down as she left her home; earlier, a member of a Baghdad neighborhood council was killed by a car bomb.

Police in Mosul, about 220 miles north of Baghdad, said Ahmed Shawkat, a newspaper editor, was shot and killed Tuesday on the roof of his paper's building. His daughter, Roaa Shawkat, told the Associated Press that some people disagreed with her father's writings because they were about democracy, "and our people don't understand the meaning of democracy."

Assam's family, speaking on the second day of a three-day mourning period, said they did not learn until after his killing that he had received death threats. As friends and relatives gathered under large, colorful tents to pay their respects, the family members said they assumed the Americans would protect him but did not know if Assam had told them he might be in danger.

They reserved the brunt of their anger and blame for the killers, who they said they believe are steadfast followers of the ousted president, Saddam Hussein.

"Iraq doesn't deserve people like him," a distraught Mayada Assam, 33, dressed in traditional black mourning clothes, said of her brother. "That's why he's gone. They deserve Saddam only."

These folks are serious. Cooperation with the CPA is enough to get you killed. Some are Baathist, but a lot aren't. Everyone is armed, but they didn't move to stop the killers.

posted by Steve @ 1:33:00 PM

1:33:00 PM

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Mow 'em down

Billmon has a quote from Trent Lott about getting more aggressive.

Reality check time.

Saddam had 600,000 Army and police and restricted the use of assault rifles to the military. He still paid millions in bribes and had several uprisings.

We have 150,000 troops who don't speak the language. Who are doing dual duty as police and soldiers. Who stick out. Who don't have the intel they need. The armories were opened and every family has an AK. Some, several.

What exactly could we do? Shoot more civilians? Loot more homes? Dig up more palm trees? Hire fewer Iraqis?

In the real world, short of public hangings and burning homes, we don't have many cards left. Our current trigger happy aggression has made more guerrillas than we can count.

Any more aggression and we could create the national uprising we desperately need to avoid.

posted by Steve @ 1:19:00 AM

1:19:00 AM

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Tuesday, October 28, 2003

A simple lie

Mr. President, if I may take you back to May 1st when you stood on the USS Lincoln under a huge banner that said, "Mission Accomplished." At that time you declared major combat operations were over, but since that time there have been over 1,000 wounded, many of them amputees who are recovering at Walter Reed, 217 killed in action since that date. Will you acknowledge now that you were premature in making those remarks?

THE PRESIDENT: Nora, I think you ought to look at my speech. I said, Iraq is a dangerous place and we've still got hard work to do, there's still more to be done. And we had just come off a very successful military operation. I was there to thank the troops.

The "Mission Accomplished" sign, of course, was put up by the members of the USS Abraham Lincoln, saying that their mission was accomplished. I know it was attributed some how to some ingenious advance man from my staff -- they weren't that ingenious, by the way. But my statement was a clear statement, basically recognizing that this phase of the war for Iraq was over and there was a lot of dangerous work.

Kos has a bunch of quotes proving this is a lie, but I just wanted to say how this is a typical alcoholic's lie. Instead of accepting responsibility, he shifts blame to the crew of the Lincoln, who have previously shown no evidence of using mylar banners to celebrate other events.

Especially, given the dangers of the flight deck, that large banners pose a real risk to the flight deck crew. If they were going to use a banner, they would not do so on a live flight deck, where strong winds could rip it off and cause it to be sucked into an exhaust, foul a helicopter rotor or drag a crewman off the deck and into the briny deep. Of course, since this is a specialized kind of printing, one not commonly needed on a carrier, and one the president uses frequently, well, it's obvious that the story is a lie.

But why lie? Because he's a dry drunk and he lies about anything when pressed. His life is a series of lies. He cannot accept responsibility for anything. Any problem is someone else's fault. Never his. So instead of accepting that he did something which didn't work, he'll blame the innocent and expect them to remain silent. Which I seriously doubt will happen in this case. Lies are lies and with Bush, they keep mounting up.

posted by Steve @ 8:41:00 PM

8:41:00 PM

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A Willful Ignorance

According to The New York Times, President Bush was genuinely surprised to learn from moderate Islamic leaders that they had become deeply distrustful of American intentions. The report on the "perception gap" suggests that the leader of the war on terror has no idea how badly that war — which must, ultimately, be a war for hearts and minds — is going.

Mr. Bush's ignorance may reflect his lack of curiosity: "The best way to get the news," he says, "is from objective sources. And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff." Two words: emperor, clothes.

But there's something broader going on: a sort of willful ignorance, supposedly driven by moral concerns but actually reflecting domestic politics. Surely it's important to understand how others see us, but a new, post 9/11 version of political correctness has made it difficult even to discuss their points of view. Any American who tries to go beyond "America good, terrorists evil," who tries to understand — not condone — the growing world backlash against the United States, faces furious attacks delivered in a tone of high moral indignation. The attackers claim to be standing up for moral clarity, and some of them may even believe it. But they are really being used in a domestic political struggle.


Muslims are completely wrong to think that the U.S. is engaged in a war against Islam. But that misperception flourishes in part because the domestic political strategy of the Bush administration — no longer able to claim the Iraq war was a triumph, and with little but red ink to show for its economic plans — looks more and more like a crusade. "Election Boils Down to a Culture War" was the title of Mr. Fineman's column. But the analysis was all about abortion and euthanasia, and now we hear that opposition to gay marriage will be a major campaign theme. This isn't a culture war — it's a religious war.

Which brings me back to my starting point: we'll lose the fight against terror if we don't make an effort to understand how others think. Yet because of a domestic political struggle that seems ever more centered on religion, such attempts at understanding are shouted down.

I was watching Crossfire when Tucker Carlson said that Krugman was accusing his enemies of a vast conspiracy. I should have known better than to take him seriously.

The right hates Krugman for one simple reason: he's right. Consistantly and clearly on both economics and politics. And they cannot stand it. More importantly, they cannot touch him. He is a tenured professor at Princeton and perpetually short-listed for a Nobel Prize. They can't get him fired, because, quite frankly, he doesn't need to work for the Times. He has a job and is quite good at it.

So he has unlimited freedom to say what he wants. The odds are good that he could win both a Nobel and Pulitzer in one calendar year. Compared to the ignorant hacks on the right, Krugman actually knows how to use facts coherently. He is a politician's worst nightmare, an opponent you cannot harm. If he were to lose his column, he could syndicate. If they forced him from Princeton, he'd have a job in a day. So all they can do is discredit him and they're failing badly at that.

It also helps that he's in the mainstream of his profession. More of his peers agree with him than disagree. So they can't even dispute his qualifications. The fact that he's quite modest and calm also helps. His only distinctive feature is that he is an excellent writer. He writes clearly and cleanly and doesn't hide behind jargon.

When we look back at the Bush era, Krugman will get a lot of credit for his writing on Bush.

posted by Steve @ 7:52:00 PM

7:52:00 PM

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Bush speak

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. After the 26,000-mile journey last week, I hope the members of the traveling press had a restful weekend. I have a brief statement; then I'll be glad to take questions.

On my trip to Asia, I had a series of very productive meetings with some of America's closest allies in the war on terror. Nations such as Australia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines are fighting terrorism in their own region. Their leaders understand the importance of our continuing work in Afghanistan and Iraq. Liberating the people of those nations from dictatorial regimes was an essential step in the war on terror. And the world is safer today because Saddam Hussein and the Taliban are gone. We're now working with many nations to make sure Afghanistan and Iraq are never again a source of terror and danger for the rest of the world.

Where I spent a total of eight hours in each country because they hate me

Our coalition against terror has been strengthened in recent days by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1511. This endorses a multinational force in Iraq under U.S. command, encourages other nations to come to the aid of the Iraqi people.

You mean like the Turks, who took our eight billion and are going to stay home. Just like the Portuguese and Bangladeshis.

Last week a donor conference in Madrid brought together more than 70 nations to discuss future contributions to Iraqi reconstruction. America appreciates the recent announcements of financial commitments to Iraq offered by many of the donors at the conference. After decades of oppression and brutality in Iraq and Afghanistan, reconstruction is difficult, and freedom still has its enemies in both of those countries. These terrorists are targeting the very success and freedom we're providing to the Iraqi people. Their desperate attacks on innocent civilians will not intimidate us, or the brave Iraqis and Afghans who are joining in their own defense and who are moving toward self-government.

Which raised $33 B, well shy of the $55B needed, most in loans.

Coalition forces aided by Afghan and Iraqi police and military are striking the enemy with force and precision. Our coalition is growing in members and growing in strength. Our purpose is clear and certain: Iraq and Afghanistan will be stable, independent nations and their people will live in freedom.

Just because the Taliban now run southern Afghanistan doesn't mean we aren't winning.


. I also asked Congress to move forward on elements of my agenda for growth and jobs. After the shocks of the stock market decline, recession, terrorist attack, and corporate scandals, our economy is showing signs abroad and gathering strength. America is starting to add new jobs. Retail sales are strong, business profits are increasing, the stock market has been advancing, housing construction is surging, and manufacturing production is rising. All of this can -- all of us can be optimistic about the future of the economy, but we cannot be complacent. I will not be satisfied until every American who is looking for work can find a job.

Well, you're down 3m, Hoover, Jr.


Finally, the United States Senate must step up to serious constitutional responsibilities. I've nominated many distinguished and highly-qualified Americans to fill vacancies on the federal, district and circuit courts. Because of a small group of senators is willfully obstructing the process, some of these nominees have been denied up or down votes for months, even years. More than one-third of my nominees for the circuit courts are still awaiting a vote. The needless delays in the system are harming the administration of justice and they are deeply unfair to the nominees, themselves. The Senate Judiciary Committee should give a prompt and fair hearing to every single nominee, and send every nomination to the Senate floor for an up or down vote.

You send up wackos who are barely qualified and you're shocked Senators did their job? Sorry.

Finally, of course, we are monitoring the fires in California. FEMA Director Brown is in the state. I express my deep concerns and sympathies for those whose lives have been hurt badly by these fires. The federal government is working closely with the state government to provide resources necessary to help the brave firefighters do their duty.

Not that I will visit.

With that, I'll be glad to answer some questions, starting with Terry Hunt.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, you just spoke about the suicide bombers in Iraq as being desperate. But as yesterday's attack show, they're also increasingly successful and seem to be trying to send a warning to institutions like the police and the Red Cross not to cooperate with the United States. Has the United States been able to identify who's behind this surge of attacks, where they come from, and how to stop them?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. I think it's a very interesting point you make in your question, "they're trying to send a warning." Basically, what they're trying to do is cause people to run. They want to kill and create chaos. That's the nature of a terrorist, that's what terrorists do. They commit suicide acts against innocent people and then expect people to say, well, gosh, we better -- better not try to fight you anymore.

No, they're causing people to run. Almost all the NGO's are fleeing. And they don't flee.

We're trying to determine the nature of who these people were. But I will tell you, I would assume that they're either, or, and probably both Baathists and foreign terrorists. The Baathists try to create chaos and fear because they realize that a free Iraq will deny them the excessive privileges they had under Saddam Hussein. The foreign terrorists are trying to create conditions of fear and retreat because they fear a free and peaceful state in the midst of the part of the world where terror has found recruits, that freedom is exactly what terrorists fear the most.

Right. The killing of innocent Iraqis have nothing to do with this, right? It's all terrorists.

And so, as I said yesterday, we will not be -- I said today again, they're not going to intimidate America and they're not going to intimidate the brave Iraqis who are actively participating in securing the freedom of their country.

You mean the collaborators who are being targeted and killed?


Q Mr. President, if there are foreign terrorists involved, why aren't Syria and Iran being held accountable?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Well, we're working closely with those countries to let them know that we expect them to enforce borders, prevent people from coming across borders, if, in fact, we catch them doing that. The coalition forces have stepped up border patrol efforts. There are now more Iraqis patrolling the border. We are mindful of the fact that some might want to come into Iraq to attack and to create conditions of fear and chaos, and that's why General Abizaid, in his briefing to me yesterday, talked about the additional troops we have on the borders. And that is why it is important that we step up training for Iraqis, border patrol agents, so they can enforce their own borders.

Because Syria isn't the only player. What about Saudi Arabia? Nice open border there.


Q Mr. President, thank you. As you know, the Chairman of the commission investigating the September 11th attacks wants documents from the White House, and said this week that he might have to use subpoena power. You have said there's some national security concerns about turning over some of those documents to people outside of the Executive Branch. Will you turn them over, or can you at least outline for the American people what you think is a reasonable compromise so that the commission learns what it needs to know, and you protect national security, if you think it's that important?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. It is important for me to protect national security. You're talking about the presidential daily brief. It's important for the writers of the presidential daily brief to feel comfortable that the documents will never be politicized and/or unnecessarily exposed for public purview. I -- and so, therefore, the kind of the first statements out of this administration were very protective of the presidential prerogatives of the past and to protect the right for other presidents, future presidents, to have a good presidential daily brief.

Now, having said that, I am -- we want to work with Chairman Kean and Vice-Chairman Hamilton. And I believe we can reach a proper accord to protect the integrity of the daily brief process and, at the same time, allow them a chance to take a look and see what was in the -- certain -- the daily briefs that they would like to see.

And stonewall them.


Q Mr. President, if I may take you back to May 1st when you stood on the USS Lincoln under a huge banner that said, "Mission Accomplished." At that time you declared major combat operations were over, but since that time there have been over 1,000 wounded, many of them amputees who are recovering at Walter Reed, 217 killed in action since that date. Will you acknowledge now that you were premature in making those remarks?

THE PRESIDENT: Nora, I think you ought to look at my speech. I said, Iraq is a dangerous place and we've still got hard work to do, there's still more to be done. And we had just come off a very successful military operation. I was there to thank the troops.

The "Mission Accomplished" sign, of course, was put up by the members of the USS Abraham Lincoln, saying that their mission was accomplished. I know it was attributed some how to some ingenious advance man from my staff -- they weren't that ingenious, by the way. But my statement was a clear statement, basically recognizing that this phase of the war for Iraq was over and there was a lot of dangerous work. And it's proved to be right, it is dangerous in Iraq. It's dangerous in Iraq because there are people who can't stand the thought of a free and peaceful Iraq. It is dangerous in Iraq because there are some who believe that we're soft, that the will of the United States can be shaken by suiciders -- and suiciders who are willing to drive up to a Red Cross center, a center of international help and aid and comfort, and just kill.

It's the same mentality, by the way, that attacked us on September the 11th, 2001: we'll just destroy innocent life and watch the great United States and their friends and allies crater in the face of hardship. It's the exact same mentality. And Iraq is a part of the war on terror. I said it's a central front, a new front in the war on terror, and that's exactly what it is. And that's why it's important for us to be tough and strong and diligent.

Our strategy in Iraq is to have strike forces ready and capable to move quickly as we gather actionable intelligence. That's how you deal with terrorists. Remember, these are people that are willing to hide in societies and kill randomly. And therefore, the best way to deal with them is to harden targets, harden assets as best as you can. That means blockades and inspection spots. And, as you notice, yesterday, one fellow tried to -- was done in as a he tried to conduct a suicide mission. In other words, an Iraqi policemen did their job.

But, as well, that we've got to make sure that not only do we harden targets, but that we get actionable intelligence to intercept the missions before they begin. That means more Iraqis involved in the intelligence-gathering systems in their country so that they are active participants in securing the country from further harm.

Remember, the action in Iraq was -- to get rid of Saddam Hussein was widely supported by the Iraqi people. And the action -- the actions that we're taking to improve their country are supported by the Iraqi people. And it's going to be very important for the Iraqi people to play an active role in fighting off the few who are trying to destroy the hopes of the many. You've heard me say that before. That's just kind of the motto of the terrorists. It's the way they operate.

Link the two. Link 9/11 and Iraq as much as you can. You can't do anything else.


Q Mr. President, thank you. In recent weeks, you and your White House team have made a concerted effort to put a positive spin on progress in Iraq. At the same time, there's been a much more somber assessment in private, as with Secretary Rumsfeld's memo. And there are people out there who don't believe that the administration is leveling with them about the difficulty and scope of the problem in Iraq.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I can't put it any more plainly, Iraq is a dangerous place. That's leveling. It is a dangerous place. What I was saying is there's more than just terrorist attacks that are taking place in Iraq. There's schools opening, there are hospitals opening. The electricity -- the capacity to deliver electricity to the Iraqi people is back up to pre-war levels. We're nearly two million barrels a day being produced for the Iraqi people. I was just saying we've got to look at the whole picture, that what the terrorists would like is for people to focus only on the conditions which create fear, and that is the death and the toll being taken.

No, Iraq is a dangerous place, Bill. And I can't put it any more bluntly than that. I know it's a dangerous place. And I also know our strategy to rout them out -- which is to encourage better intelligence and get more Iraqis involved, and have our strike teams ready to move -- is the right strategy. People are constantly taking a look at the enemy.

In other words, one of the hallmarks of this operation in Iraq, as well as Afghanistan, was the flexibility we've given our commanders. You might remember the "stuck in the desert" scenario that -- during the dust storms, that we're advancing to Baghdad and all of a sudden we got stuck. But, remember, at that period of time it also became apparent that Tommy Franks had the flexibility necessary to adjust based upon, in this case, weather conditions and what he found.

And that's exactly what's taking place on a regular basis inside of Iraq. The strategy remains the same. The tactics to respond to more suiciders driving cars will alter on the ground; more checkpoints, whatever they decide, how to harden targets will change. And so we're constantly looking at the enemy and adjusting. And Iraq is dangerous, and it's dangerous because terrorists want us to leave. And we're not leaving.

What about the non-suicidal guerrillas launching mortars and laying ambushes?


Q Thank you, Mr. President. You recently put Condoleezza Rice, your National Security Advisor, in charge of the management of the administration's Iraq policy. What has effectively changed since she's been in charge? And the second question, can you promise a year from now that you will have reduced the number of troops in Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: The second question is a trick question, so I won't answer it. The first question was Condoleezza Rice. Her job is to coordinate interagency. She's doing a fine job of coordinating interagency. She's doing -- the role of the National Security Advisor is to not only provide good advice to the President, which she does on a regular basis -- I value her judgment and her intelligence -- but her job is also to deal interagency and to help unstick things that may get stuck, is the best way to put it. She's an unsticker. And -- is she listening? Okay, well, she's doing a fine job.

Unsticker? Is he kidding? Didn't he go to YALE?


Thank you, Mr. President. You have said that you are eager to find out whether somebody in the White House leaked the identity of an undercover CIA agent. Many experts in such investigations say you can find if there was a leaker in the White House within hours if you asked all staff members to sign affidavits denying involvement. Why not take that step?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the best person to that, Dana, so that the -- or the best group of people to do that so that you believe the answer is the professionals at the Justice Department. And they're moving forward with the investigation. It's a criminal investigation. It is an important investigation. I'd like to know if somebody in my White House did leak sensitive information. As you know, I've been outspoken on leaks. And whether they happened in the White House, or happened in the administration, or happened on Capitol Hill, it is a -- they can be very damaging.

And so this investigation is ongoing and -- by professionals who do this for a living, and I hope they -- I'd like to know.

Look, I don't give a damn about that spy bitch and her loudmouth husband. Stop asking me about them, OK.



Let's see. Mark Smith, a radio man.

Q Thank you very much, sir, for including our radio folks here.

THE PRESIDENT: A face for radio. (Laughter.)

Q I wish I could say that was the first time you told me that, sir. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: The first time I did it to a national audience, though. (Laughter.)

Q Actually -- my wife the last time. (Laughter.)

Your package of reconstruction aid, sir, that the Congress, as you point out, is considering -- that's an emergency package, meaning it's not budgeted for. Put another way, that means the American taxpayer and future generations of American taxpayers are saddled with that. Why should they be saddled with that? I know you don't want the Iraqis to be saddled with large amounts of debt, but should future generations of Americans have that --

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, it's a one-time expenditure, as you know. And, secondly, because a secure, a peaceful and free Iraq is essential to the security, the future security of America.


The first step was to remove Saddam Hussein because he was a threat, a gathering threat, as I think I put it. And, secondly, is to make sure that, in the aftermath of removing Saddam Hussein, that we have a free and peaceful country in the midst of a very troubled region. It's an historic opportunity. And I will continue to make that case to the American people. It's a chance to secure -- have a more secure future for our children. It's essential we get it right.

You know, I was struck by the fact when I was in Japan recently that my relations with Prime Minister Koizumi are very close and personal. And I was thinking about what would happen if, in a post-World War II era, we hadn't won the peace, as well as the war. I mean, would I have had the same relationship with Mr. Koizumi? Would I be able to work closely on crucial relations? I doubt it. I doubt it.

In other words, we've got very close alliances now as a result of not only winning a war, but doing the right things in the postwar period. And I believe a free and peaceful Iraq will help effect change in that neighborhood. And that's why I've asked the American people to foot the tab for $20 billion of reconstruction. Others are stepping up, as well: $13 billion out of the Madrid conference, which may be just only a beginning.

And, by the way, in the Madrid conference, most of the money came from the World Bank and the IMF, which are lending institutions, as you know. The Iraqi oil revenues, excess Iraqi oil revenues, coupled with private investment, should make up the difference to fund the estimates of what the World Bank thought was necessary to help that country.

Q Another radio? Another radio, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me -- particularly, since you interrupted me, no.

Jeez. How petty can you be?

And that's what the World Bank estimated it would cost, and it looks like we'll be able to help the Iraqis get on their feet and have a viable marketplace.



Q Thank you, Mr. President. After more than a year of being accused by your critics of waging war for oil, is it frustrating to now hear some of those same critics demand that you, essentially, take that oil in the form of loans instead of grants for reconstruction?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, that's exactly the point I made to the members of Congress who have come here to the White House to talk about loans or grants. I said, let's don't burden Iraq with loans. The only thing they'll be able to repay their loans with is oil. And, hopefully, we'll get a good solution out of the Congress on this issue. We're making progress. We're working hard with the members to make the case that it's very important for us not to saddle Iraq with a bunch of debt early in its -- in the emergence of a market-oriented economy, an economy that has been wrecked by Mr. Saddam Hussein. I mean, he just destroyed their economy and destroyed their infrastructure, destroyed their education system, destroyed their medical system, all to keep himself in power. He was the ultimate --

Q -- on the part of your critics?

THE PRESIDENT: No, that's my answer there.


Q Thank you, Mr. President. You have repeatedly urged Americans to have patience when they view postwar operations in Iraq. But isn't there a limit to American patience, particularly in an election year, when your foreign policies --

THE PRESIDENT: Interesting question.

Q -- will be the center of debate?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think the American people are patient during an election year, because they tend to be able to differentiate between politics and reality. As a matter of fact, the American people are -- the electorate is a heck of a lot smarter than most politicians.

And the only thing I know to do is just keep telling people what I think is right for the country and stand my -- stand on what I believe, and that's what I'm going to do. And there's no question politics can -- will create -- get a lot of noise and a lot of balloon drops and a lot of hot air. I'll probably be right in the mix of it, by the way. But I will defend my record at the appropriate time, and look forward to it. I'll say that the world is more peaceful and more free under my leadership, and America is more secure. And that will be the -- that will be how I'll begin describing our foreign policy.

Is he kidding? He has to be kidding. We are fighting two wars and losing both. Terrorists attacks have not abaited. He's as out of touch as can be. The Red Cross is fleeing Iraq. Oxfam is fleeing. Doctors without Borders. In short, people who have worked in Ethiopia, Chechyna, Somalia are running from Iraq. Homeland Defense is a joke. Please run on this record. Please.

Ed, and then Bob, and then I'm going to go eat lunch.


Q Sir, David Kay's interim report cited substantial evidence of a secretive weapons program. But the absence of any substantial stores of chemical or biological weapons there have caused some people, even who supported the war, to feel somehow betrayed. Can you explain to those Americans, sir, whether you were surprised those weapons haven't turned up, why they haven't turned up, and whether you feel that your administration's credibility has been affected in any way by that?

THE PRESIDENT: David Kay's report said that Saddam Hussein was in material breach of 1441, which would have been casus belli. In other words, he had a weapons program, he's disguised a weapons program, he had ambitions. And I felt the report was a very interesting first report -- because he's still looking for -- to find the truth.

The American people know that Saddam Hussein was a gathering danger, as I said. And he was a gathering danger, and the world is safer as a result for us removing him from power -- "us" being more than the United States, Great Britain and other countries who are willing to participate -- Poland, Australia -- all willing to join up to remove this danger.

And the intelligence that said he had a weapons system was intelligence that had been used by a multinational agency, the U.N., to pass resolutions; it had been used by my predecessor to conduct bombing raids. It was intelligence gathered from a variety of sources that clearly said Saddam Hussein was a threat.

And given the attacks of September the 11th, it was -- we needed to enforce U.N. resolution for the security of the world. And we did. We took action based upon good, solid intelligence. It was the right thing to do to make America more secure and the world more peaceful.

And David Kay continues to ferret out the truth. This is a man -- Saddam Hussein is a man who hid programs and weapons for years. He's a master at hiding things. And so David Kay will continue his search. But one of the things that he first found was that there is clear violation of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441. Material breach, they call it in the diplomatic circles. Casus belli, it means a -- that would have been a cause for a war. In other words, he said, it's dangerous.

And we were right to enforce U.N. resolutions, as well. It's important for the U.N. to be a credible organization. You're not credible if you issue resolutions and then nothing happens. Credibility comes when you say something is going to happen and then it does happen. And in order to keep the peace, it's important for there to be credibility in this world, credibility on the side of freedom and hope.

Thank you all very much.

Yes he does, if the truth is that Saddam didn't have a nuclear program or any meaningful WMD development.

posted by Steve @ 4:12:00 PM

4:12:00 PM

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Falluja bomb attack kills five

Simon Jeffery and agencies
Tuesday October 28, 2003

Four civilians and a suspected suicide bomber were today reported killed in Iraq as aid agencies and non-governmental organisations considered their future in the country.

The five died when a small car driven by one man - thought to be the bomber - exploded 100 metres from the main police station in the town of Falluja, 40 miles west of Baghdad, the Reuters news agency reported.

The attack comes one day after a strike on the Iraqi headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and three Baghdad police stations that killed 35 people and wounded 244 others within an hour, in the city's bloodiest day since it fell to US forces in April.

It brings the death toll from bomb attacks since yesterday morning to 40 people. The dead include eight Iraqi policemen, at least 30 Iraqi civilians and a US soldier.

The bomb attacks have again highlighted the lack of security in parts of Iraq and heightened concern that the forces ranged against the occupation are prepared to attack targets that may otherwise be considered neutral.

It's really simple: by attacking the NGO's, they place an even greater burden on the CPA. The NGO's are going to have to withdraw because the US cannot support or protect them. It's that simple. The enemy is dictacting the offensive tempo, forcing the US to react. All those partisan sweeps are useless. They are not preventing attacks and the idea that people are doing this for money is wearing thin.

This is not some random strategy, but a coordinated attack on the NGO structure. By collapsing the NGO's, it makes administering Iraq impossible. NGO's are a critical support factor in every government on earth. Imagine if Catholic Charities, the United Way and the Red Cross folded up shop? People would die, right here in the US. They're even more critical in a war-torn country like Iraq. Without NGO's, the CPA would be unable to feed millions of people, provide health care or education support. NGO's are a lot like tendons, critical to keeping a society funcitioning, but invisible until they stop working.

The resistance is picking their targets carefully. They're working on the NGO's and anyone working with the CPA, seeking to collapse support. It's not one group, it couldn't be. Its networks of small groups, meeting, coordinating attacks, working in concert with criminal gangs. They also take their time. They let the effects of their attacks sink in. They also move preemptively. They hit the Jordanians, then the UN, then the Turkish embassy when talks of bringing in Turkish troops start. They have waged a steady war on the northern pipelines. No sooner the line is fixed, the line is attacked. And it's not just some kid with semtex. The oil engineers are directing the sabotage campaign. By day, they fix the line, by night they pick the part of the line to blow. Hey, the French railroad workers did the same thing in WWII.

Every single act of industrial sabotage is being done by the people who formerly ran those systems. Someone is telling the resistance how to destroy the targets with a minimum of force and for maximum effect. None of this is an accident or a campaign by outsiders.

Some people call for the US to be pulled from the cities, but all that would do is blind them even further. Iraq is a country of cities. If you don't control the cities, and we're talking cities the size of Miami and Boston, you don't control the country. We have to realize that the Iraqi resistance has good, reliable intelligence assisted by our dependence on translators and other low-level Iraqi functionaries.

Every time the US talks about Saddam's feyadeen or Al Qaeda being at the root of the resistance, they are delusional. It is Iraqis who are doing this, Iraqis who hate Americans, use the internet for information, as well as a network of spies at every level of the CPA and NGO's and with American contractors. Until we face that reality, a reality which may force us to begin withdrawal, things can only get worse.

posted by Steve @ 10:43:00 AM

10:43:00 AM

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Post Office Wants to ID the Mail

By Ryan Singel

02:00 AM Oct. 27, 2003 PT

Sending a letter may soon require more than a 37-cent stamp. It might also require a valid photo ID.

A small change in labeling requirements for bulk mailings announced Oct. 21 requires bulk mailers to identify themselves on the outside of the envelope with a valid address. This marks the first step in the Postal Service's desire to create "intelligent mail."

The Postal Service issued the proposal in response to recommendations in a July report (PDF) written by the President's Commission on the United States Postal Service.

The outside commission urged the Postal Service to become more like a private business and to take steps to improve security in the wake of the anthrax letter attacks of 2001 that killed five people and contaminated postal facilities and Senate offices.

"The Postal Service, in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security, should explore the use of sender identification for every piece of mail," said the Commission's report.

That frightens civil liberty advocates, such as Chris Hoofnagle, deputy counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

"People should be able to send an anonymous letter to the editor or an anonymous love letter," said Hoofnagle. "That shouldn't be lost for questionable gains in security."

The President's Commission report, subtitled "Making Tough Choices to Preserve Universal Mail Service," dismissed such concerns, saying that most people wouldn't mind sacrificing anonymity for national security.

Ever hear of fake ID's?

posted by Steve @ 2:24:00 AM

2:24:00 AM

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Foreign fighters blamed for day of carnage

Last week a suspected Syrian national was arrested trying to target a US military building in the Baghdad suburb of Ad Doura. Gen Hertling said yesterday that suicide attacks were not typical of former members of Saddam's Ba'ath party. "There are indicators that certainly these attacks have a mode of operation of foreign fighters," he said.

"The possible foreign links among the attackers are being investigated." The attacks were coordinated but not sophisticated. "They are amateurish acts," he said. It did not take professionals to agree "to set off their bombs between 8am and 10am".

Bullshit. How can foriegn fighters operate in Iraq without massive help from the locals. Even if a division of the Syrian Army was in Baghdad, how would they know how to rocket the Al-Rashid on the side where Wolfowitz was staying? Osmosis?

Four of those bombs went off and the fifth guy called the cops a collaborator, hardly a phrase a Syrian would use.

It's the locals. Foriegners may be around, but it's the locals. Always has been and I'd say the majority hate Saddam AND the Americans.

posted by Steve @ 2:06:00 AM

2:06:00 AM

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The stupidest thing I've read all month

I freely admit that Stanley Crouch is far from my favorite writer. But when I read this, I was stunned by it's utter stupidity and racism. No, floored, to be honest. It was just the stupidest fucking thing I've read in some time.

In our present war, we are up to our necks in this problem, primarily because any criticism of Muslims can be interpreted as bigotry toward all its believers. The upshot is that we seem to continue pussyfooting around our troubles and not making it clear to the public what is going on and how we have to handle it.

I have been writing for a while in this space that I believe we should have a moratorium on immigration from anywhere in the Islamic world because the nature of destructive technology is such that even very small numbers of immigrants - 19, for instance - can kill large numbers of people if that is their mission. War always shuts down borders, and we are, ladies and gentlemen, in a war.

This has always been responded to as a bigoted idea when, according to critics, we can easily see that Islam is a religion of peace and the great majority of Muslims are not terrorists. I'm not concerned about the great majority of Muslims outside America, but I am sure that within that great majority are thousands of believers who would gleefully bring off any version of Sept. 11 if they could.

So it seems to me that we have no choice. Circumstances are such that we should not be manipulated by arguments that do not obtain in our present situation. We have to move with resolve, with good sense and a sensitivity to the dangerous potential for hysteria that can result from focusing on any group.

We also need to understand that the American Muslim community has been of virtually no help at all in our war against urban terrorism. Perhaps they fear, as other minority groups have so often, that if they turn in, even anonymously, some suspicious person or group, hell will come down on all who share belief in the same religion. I think the response would be the reverse.

A staggeringly stupid and blind comment. Completely idiotic.

Why? OK, there are 1.2 billion Muslims. The largest number of Muslims reside in .....India. Would he propose closing down Silicon Valley and half of America's hospitals? So how many Filipinos would he like to exclude. Ten percent of France is Muslim, will they be excluded. What about South Africans? Ban them too? Nigerians? Albanians? Please let me know which Muslims you mean, because there are many to choose from.

Remember Timothy McVeigh? He was a Christian fundamentalist and he killed people. Are we going to ban Christians from America?

Crouch has an amazingly racist series of conclusions based on complete ignorance of Islam. First of all, it's a religion which has adherents on all seven continents. One can be Australian, British, South African, French or German and be a Muslim. One can have blonde hair and blue eyes and be a Muslim, a point the TV show 24 made abundantly clear last season. In fact, his proposal would force us to exclude Turks, Albanians, Indians and people who have no tie to any form of fundamentalist religion. We would have to segregate Indians, Nigerians and Filipinos on the basis of religion and exclude Pakistanis and Bangladeshis.

The reality is that the terrorists who attacked on 9/11 were visitors, not residents and they came from our allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt. As have hundred of thousands of law abiding citizens.

Are there target groups we have to watch? Sure. Young, single men need to be scrutinized closely because they are the prime targets and actors of terrorism. But they don't come from across the muslim world, but a few countries, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. And a decent examination would weed out most killers.

Tom Friedman may be wrong about a lot of stuff, but he is dead solid on one thing, most Muslims do not mean the US harm. To treat them as if we are waging war on Islam and not a few lunatics, means we will only make more enemies. The problem is not Islam, but terrorists who hide behind Islam. It's a shame Crouch hides behind a moronic racism which is easily refuted.

posted by Steve @ 1:54:00 AM

1:54:00 AM

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Monday, October 27, 2003

The Ramadan Offensive

Car bombers attacked the international Red Cross headquarters and four police stations across Baghdad today, killing around 40 people.

A suicide bomber drove an ambulance packed with explosives into security barriers outside the Red Cross at around 8.30am local time (0530 GMT), killing 12 people, the aid agency said.

Then in police station bombings through the morning, 27 people, mostly Iraqis and one US solider, were killed, Iraqi police said.

The capital has now seen the worst two day of violence since the war was declared over in April and the sound of sirens reverberated through the streets this morning as emergency vehicles criss-crossed the city.

The bombings came during a morning of apparently choreographed attacks by Iraqi resistance guerrillas that appears to have been timed to coincide with the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Witnesses of the Red Cross bombing said the vehicle stopped some 20 metres (60 feet) in front of the headquarters. One Red Cross worker said: "The ambulance stopped in front of the line of barrels we have had in front to protect the building and then it exploded."

Despite the protection of the barrels, oil drums filled with sand, the blast blew down a 40-foot (12-metre) section of the front wall in front of the three-storey building. It also demolished a dozen cars parked nearby and appeared to break a water main, flooding the streets.

"We feel helpless when see this," a distraught Iraqi doctor said at the devastated offices

You have to wonder what the hell Wolfowitz was thinking by showing up just before Ramadan. He's running around, having dodged three assassination attempts in as many days and then watching any claims of security turn into a cruel, bitter joke. We now have a bombing offensive which makes a clear statement-collaboration, at any level means death. UN, Red Cross, police, if you cooperate with the coalition, we'll target you.

They killed 40 people in one day successfully completing four out of five bombings. The last one failed, and as they drag the guy away, he's screaming "Death to the Iraqi Police, you're all collaborators".

Now you tell me, how does this happen without excellent intelligence? A roadside bomb waiting for Wolfowitz, a helicopter ambush, rocketing the hotel with a home made rocket launcher. This isn't the last gasp of anything. This is the start of a serious offensive to undermine the CPA.

The Pentagon then has to lie and say Wolfowitz wasn't the target. Bullshit. He was nearly killed by the rocket attack. He's the Iraqi version of Reinhardt Heydrich and the Iraqis will spare no expense in killing him. That should be self-evident. No matter the level of US security, it can be and is penetrated. Juan Cole suggests he can come back secretly, but I doubt that. If he's in the country, the Iraqis will find out and seek to kill him. He's a marked man in Iraq, no matter what crap flies from his mouth. More importantly, Bremer isn't much safer.

There is no reconstruction in Iraq, just a guerrilla war.

posted by Steve @ 11:33:00 AM

11:33:00 AM

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Elite unit savaged civilians in Vietnam

It was an elite fighting unit in Vietnam - small, mobile, trained to kill.

Known as Tiger Force, the platoon was created by a U.S. Army engaged in a new kind of war - one defined by ambushes, booby traps, and a nearly invisible enemy.

Promising victory to an anxious American public, military leaders in 1967 sent a task force - including Tiger Force - to fight the enemy in one of the most highly contested areas of South Vietnam: the Central Highlands.

But the platoon's mission did not go as planned, with some soldiers breaking the rules of war.

Women and children were intentionally blown up in underground bunkers. Elderly farmers were shot as they toiled in the fields. Prisoners were tortured and executed - their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs. One soldier kicked out the teeth of executed civilians for their gold fillings.

Two soldiers tried to stop the killings, but their pleas were ignored by commanders. The Army launched an investigation in 1971 that lasted 41/2 years - the longest-known war-crime investigation of the Vietnam conflict.

The case reached the highest levels of the Pentagon and the Nixon White House.

Investigators concluded that 18 soldiers committed war crimes ranging from murder and assault to dereliction of duty. But no one was charged.

Since the war ended, the American public has been fed a dose of movies fictionalizing the excesses of U.S. units in Vietnam, such as Apocalypse Now and Platoon. But in reality, most war-crime cases focused on a single event, like the My Lai massacre.

The Tiger Force case is different. The atrocities took place over seven months, leaving an untold number dead - possibly several hundred civilians, former soldiers and villagers now say.

One medic said he counted 120 unarmed villagers killed in one month.

For decades, the case has remained buried in the archives of the government - not even known to America's most recognized historians of the war

How things don't change. Americans don't want to ask what happens to civilians in Iraq today and they didn't 30 years ago.

posted by Steve @ 1:38:00 AM

1:38:00 AM

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Robert Fisk: One, two, three, what are they fighting for?

The worst problem facing US forces in Iraq may not be armed resistance but a crisis of morale. Robert Fisk reports on a near-epidemic of indiscipline, suicides and loose talk

By Robert Fisk

Oct 24, 2003: (The Independent) I was in the police station in the town of Fallujah when I realised the extent of the schizophrenia. Captain Christopher Cirino of the 82nd Airborne was trying to explain to me the nature of the attacks so regularly carried out against American forces in the Sunni Muslim Iraqi town. His men were billeted in a former presidential rest home down the road - "Dreamland", the Americans call it - but this was not the extent of his soldiers' disorientation. "The men we are being attacked by," he said, "are Syrian-trained terrorists and local freedom fighters." Come again? "Freedom fighters." But that's what Captain Cirino called them - and rightly so.

Here's the reason. All American soldiers are supposed to believe - indeed have to believe, along with their President and his Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld - that Osama bin Laden's "al-Qa'ida" guerrillas, pouring over Iraq's borders from Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia (note how those close allies and neighbours of Iraq, Kuwait and Turkey are always left out of the equation), are assaulting United States forces as part of the "war on terror". Special forces soldiers are now being told by their officers that the "war on terror" has been transferred from America to Iraq, as if in some miraculous way, 11 September 2001 is now Iraq 2003. Note too how the Americans always leave the Iraqis out of the culpability bracket - unless they can be described as "Baath party remnants", "diehards" or "deadenders" by the US proconsul, Paul Bremer.

Captain Cirino's problem, of course, is that he knows part of the truth. Ordinary Iraqis - many of them long-term enemies of Saddam Hussein - are attacking the American occupation army 35 times a day in the Baghdad area alone. And Captain Cirino works in Fallujah's local police station, where America's newly hired Iraqi policemen are the brothers and uncles and - no doubt - fathers of some of those now waging guerrilla war against American soldiers in Fallujah. Some of them, I suspect, are indeed themselves the "terrorists". So if he calls the bad guys "terrorists", the local cops - his first line of defence - would be very angry indeed.

No wonder morale is low. No wonder the American soldiers I meet on the streets of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities don't mince their words about their own government. US troops have been given orders not to bad-mouth their President or Secretary of Defence in front of Iraqis or reporters (who have about the same status in the eyes of the occupation authorities). But when I suggested to a group of US military police near Abu Ghurayb they would be voting Republican at the next election, they fell about laughing. "We shouldn't be here and we should never have been sent here," one of them told me with astonishing candour. "And maybe you can tell me: why were we sent here?"

Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. A lot worse.

posted by Steve @ 1:22:00 AM

1:22:00 AM

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Sunday, October 26, 2003

Is Iraq lost?

The pace of combat in Iraq is growing and the level of sophistication of the attacks are hardly that of a "dying" regime. Anyone who can make a Stalin's Organ from parts and not kill themselves is hardly part of a doomed movement. The people who built that weapon can and will build others and they're clever in doing so.

This isn't just terrorism. Most terrorists couldn't find Paris if they were standing on the banks of the Seine. They're half-assed ideologists who are lucky if they can blow up an empty building. These folks are professionals. They have good, reliable intelligence which they can act on. The have a time lag of a couple of hours, but they can and do go after US officials. It's not organized or well directed, yet, but time is on their side.

It's clear that most Iraqis want peace and stability. Most don't trust the resistance groups. But there is enough support for them so that they can operate with impunity. Someone sets up a freaking rocket launcher in a public park and no one sees this?

The US has overestimated the support its had in Iraq since the very beginning. The ridiculous idea that the Shia were our allies when they really wanted us to hand them power without much fuss. As was the idea that Saddam and his sons could direct a resistance movement from hiding. He wasn't exactly Charles De Gaulle, you know.

The reaity is that the Iraqis are at best tepid in their support and with each day, the resistance gains support. It's absolutely critical to understand that the resistance would be unable to stay alive without massive support from the locals. The Iraiqs, shpuld be getting decimated every time they go out to shoot it up with the US. Instead, they hit, run and take relatively few casualities. Which should be of massive concern.

One of the things not mentioned widely in the US media, but should be, is that most of our technical means of surveilliance don't work. In a report for the Army, the equipment can pick up special ops in the field, but they can't let you know who's a guerrilla and who isn't. The US, to this day, is unsure of who exactly the enemy is. There's always the fog of war, but this is ridiculous. How do you fight an enemy in the dark?

The US thinks they can defeat the Sunni guerrillas, a feat Saddam never completely managed, given the number of uprisings which occured and the bribes paid, before Sadr and the Sunnis get their act together. The problem is that the resistance has been and remains nationwide, and I suspect, fueled by occasional smugging and extortion. So money is not really a problem for them. Also, given the tribal nature of Iraq, few people would betray their kin to the Americans, especially when the Americans cannot protect them.

The fact is that the resistance, which is probably more widespread and popular than the Americans can imagine, is getting closer and closer to pulling off an assassination of note. The UN Bombing was an attempt to kill Bremer, but the timing was wrong. They fired rockets at Rumsfeld's plane but missed. Now, they rocket the main HQ of the US in Baghdad. These are not accidents or coincidences. They are well planned and organized assassination attempts lacking last minute data. They cut down that gap, and when cell phones start working in Iraq on a large scale, they will, and people are going be hit hard.

It's really time to ask how we get out of Iraq before we lose Iraq. We can't impose our will and the clock is running. We can't get things working fast enough and the CPA is a massive circle jerk society. talking to each other and living behind fortress walls. The Bush Administration has burdened us with a mess of a scale of which we still cannot imagine.

Imagine every urban renewal project attempted and why they failed. Then ramp up the scale to include an entire country. That is the reconstruction of Iraq. Billions being stolen while the locals stew. Except in this case, they have enough weapons for 400,000 men plus 200,000 reserves.

posted by Steve @ 10:37:00 PM

10:37:00 PM

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The Stealth Computer

Published: October 23, 2003

MIKE CHIN'S eureka moment came in an Ikea store, on a spring day in 2002.

Mr. Chin, a technology writer in Vancouver, British Columbia, had just gotten a tiny motherboard from a Taiwanese chip maker, and he had been growling that he could not find a similarly small case so that he could build the computer he had promised to a friend's daughter.

Then his eyes fell on a blue plastic Ikea breadbox - the "perfect marriage of cheap modern art, chintziness and utility," he said.

The fully functional breadbox PC that he then built and described on the Web was among the first to spring from an idea that has become a raging obsession in a far-flung community of electronic do-it-yourselfers: the stealth computer.

Across Europe, the United States and the Far East, hobbyists have been stuffing the works of personal computers into toasters, humidors, biscuit tins, lampshades, even a plush E. T. doll.

"It's tiny, it's wonderful, it's all integrated, it's extremely low power, and it fits almost anywhere," said Mr. Chin of the mini-ITX motherboard at the heart of his breadbox computer, which measures about 10 inches by 14 inches by 6 inches.

But the mini-ITX is not just an object of obsession. The stealth builders are the extreme flank of an assault against the status quo by the originator of the mini-ITX boards, Via Technologies. Via, which is based in Taiwan, wants to make the little computer the next big thing.

"We were surprised it was the enthusiasts who were interested," Richard Brown, the vice president for marketing at Via, said when the company introduced the tiny motherboard idea in early 2002. Today, the concept has already spread beyond hobbyists; a few stylish new PC's using Via's tiny boards have reached the consumer market.

The mini-ITX, which often includes the central processing unit, or C.P.U., as well as audio and graphics circuitry and other built-in components, measures less than seven inches on each side, about half the size of a typical board. The Via boards include relatively slow C.P.U.'s, which in terms of raw computing power are "a long way behind the Pentium 4 and top-of-the-line Athlon," Mr. Brown said.

But with sales of personal computers lagging, Via and others in the industry have been pushing the idea of the "second PC" - an inexpensive, quiet device that can take the pressure off the family computer, perhaps even breaking out of the home office and moving into the living room.

This is a perfect mothferboard for low end laptops. They can run Windows or Linux, add in a screen and chassis and you could have a cheap, viable laptop like the old Apple eBook, but running hundreds less. These stunt machines are cute, but they have a business use without the compromises Transmeta had. Talk about a disappointing company. They had so much hype, and some nice machines, but kind of stalled out. VIA could make the same kind of machines with these mobos and charge $4-500 for them. Sure, Battlefield 1942 might be out of reach, but for the surfing/writing most people do on the road, these machines would be perfect. People still use Powerbook 1400's, so a faster, smaller box which was mobile would definitely fill a niche.

If anyone has seen the kinds of machines Transmeta sold in Japan, they would understand what I'm talking about, small machines fast enough to play DVD's, not draw too much power, but have more capabitlites than a PDA and cheaper than a tablet PC.

What people don't get about computers is that there is still a market for people who want to go online but still can't afford it. This caught my eye because there's a lot of potential here.

posted by Steve @ 7:18:00 PM

7:18:00 PM

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About No

I was talking about the Kobe Bryant case with my mother this morning and while she claimed the alleged victim was looking for a payday, a common consensus in the black community as far as I can tell, the story seemed all too familiar. It came up when people were talking about his marketability if he's not convicted. I think if he's innocent, his image will encourage people to let it all slide.

I don't know, honestly, if he's guilty of rape, but if the prosecution can't claim she said no and the judge says the case is weak, a conviction is unlikely.

But that isn't what bothers me about this. Because it seems like an all too familiar story. College age girl sleeps with guy and he disposes of her like garbage. MTV's Fraternity Life had an episode where a guy pretty much dumped a girl who she thought he was dating seriously. She went a little psycho, following him around, trying to get into his room, and playing out some drama. Finally, the kid has her banned from the house.

Girls and women are constantly being defined by the ability to get and keep men in their lives. So much so, it's now common for women to forget sex partners over time. It's now commonly understood that single women have more sex than single men. In the movie Clerks, Dante, the store clerk is astonished when his girlfriend says she's only had three sex partners, but given 37 blowjobs. To Dante and his partner, that number went from 3 to 37 in lightning speed. Monica Lewinsky described her asignations with Bill Clinton in the same way. Few men agreed with that. Even in junior high school, when Dr. Phil asked the boys about the girls who were blowing them at parties, they uniformly called them sluts and hoes. One said "I could never introduce her to my mother. She's just someone you hook up with at parties."

Among adult females, you often hear excuses like "oh we went out for a while" or "we were friends". Men are not stupid. We know you fucked these guys. And in most cases, we don't care. After all, men have their secrets, but they rarely have to do with women. It's the non-women activities we'd like to forget, public urination, drunken escapades. Women seem to deal well with men who have multiple girlfriends, they deal less well with men who have exposed their ass in Yankee Stadium.

The alleged victim seems to fit a type you see in college a lot. A former cheerleader, she goes off to college and then is hit with fact that she's merely one pretty girl among many, and no matter how cute she is, it isn't going to be enough to get her over the hump. She's going to have to develop a personality and skills other than shopping at the Gap and batting her eyes. Now, this doesn't make her a bad person, evil or stupid. She's just taken to heart a bunch of messages about sex which we tell girls. Be pretty, be available to men, but not too available. Be attractive to women, have sex with them, but don't take that too seriously or you'll be a dyke. You always have to orgasm and if not, something is wrong with you. You don't need men, but you better be able to get them.

Even educated, intelligent women get hit with these messages and sometimes come ourt scrambled. Teenage girls are bait for boys who have a much simplier goal. Just get laid. As my mysoginist friend said about his buudy's latest girlfriend, "what relationship? She's just another semen recepticle.". He tnen told her to perform a certain sex act as a joke, which she did. The irony, of course, is that he's faithful and repsectful to his girlfriend. But the point is that men can be incredibly cold towards women once ardor wanes or she starts making demands on his time.

I do not know what the alleged victim was thinking when she chased a married man. Maybe she wanted an adventure, or had dreams of being his mistress and living in luxury or she found him attractive and thought he would treat her better than the local boys did. Whatever she thought, her experience with Bryant was bad. Whether he raped her, and the judge, and I suspect the prosecutor, think the evidence is weak , or not, this is a girl who's having a series of bad relationships with men. When you go for a rape test and another man's semen is in your panties, you've just created reasonable doubt.

It is really easy to call her a money grubbing whore who entrapped him, and people are doing so all over the black community. You hear it on radio all the time. But I don't think it's that simple or pat. I think she feels violated. Her claims could be spiteful, but I doubt it. I think it's about perception. She feels used and violated and he treated her the way many men, especially rich, famous men treat women, as disposable. So even if legally, especially when the prosecution can't claim she said no or acted to get away, he might not have raped her, she was violated. She did something that she regrets and now can't really make right. This happens on college campuses all the time. The guys want to get laid, the girls think something else is going on, and at the end of the day, the girl is used and disposed of like a condom.

We create these contrary sexual expectations: you must have a partner, and be sexually available, and then wonder why things go wrong and why so many people are unhappy. Men benefit from this, getting to pick and choose committment while still having sex, yet the magazines and the talk shows why women don't get married. Well, if you tell people that they need to both have lots of sex and find a soulmate, weird things happen. It's as if perfection is a duopoly of sexual license and sexual committment and nobody's perfect.

posted by Steve @ 5:59:00 PM

5:59:00 PM

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