December 2003 Archives

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December 31, 2003
I have no life.

New Year's Eve. At home. Alone.

Flu, maybe, though I had the flu-shot. Certainly a cold. Total insomnia last night.

Work today, as well as a fair amount of voodoo geekery behind the scenes at Blogs for Bush.

Party? No.

Pitcher of Gin & Tonics? Yes.

Happy 2004, everyone.

Posted by Russ at 10:32 PM | Comments (3)
December 29, 2003
Quote of the Day
As we all know, Vietnam vets were often glared at, yelled at, and spat upon as they carried their duffel bags through American airports. It must take an extraordinary level of hate to do something like that. I don't know where those people are today, but I'll bet you a dollar I know who they're supporting for president.
Larry Miller, in the Weekly Standard

[Click the link below for the full column, since it will disappear from the WS site in a couple weeks.]

That's the Guy for Me
Is that a ribbon on your chest, or are you just glad to see me?
by Larry Miller
12/29/2003 12:00:00 AM

LENO USED TO HAVE A STORY he loved to tell about his early days at the Improv in New York. An older comic had started hanging around the club; he'd been out of the business for a while, and wanted to get back in. And he had material like, "You ever notice it's always the guys in uniform who get the girls?"

One night Jay and some of the other young comics sat him down and suggested that maybe he should think about updating his act. So the guy went onstage the next night and said, "You ever notice it's always the Green Berets who get the girls?"

Now, whether it was the '70s when the story happened, or the '80s when I heard it, the laugh was the same: The poor sap had missed the point and changed a phrase instead of dropping the outdated premise.

Recently (like you, I'm sure) I've seen spots on television of soldiers sending Christmas messages home to families and loved ones. And suddenly, seeing those earnest, young faces, it seemed to me that maybe I'm the one who missed the point. Because--and be honest--if you laughed at the opening story, then we're both part of a long, sad change.

Somewhere after World War II, somewhere after Korea, somewhere in the '60s, it became unfashionable, if not absurd, that American women should be attracted first and foremost to men in uniform. I seem to remember an old lyric from a song, "I want a man in a uniform, a
man in a uniform . . . That's the guy for me!" I don't know who first recorded that, but I'm guessing it wasn't Britney Spears. Of course, it might have been The Village People, but that's another story entirely.

What changed? Maybe I'm mistaken, but I imagine an America in the '40s that was positively in love with its soldiers: Giving them rides and meals, letting them use phones, introducing their sisters, shaking their hands and wishing them luck (not with their sisters, of course; well, maybe)--and praying for them.

Perhaps the icy winters and conflicting strategies of the Korean War were the first scratchings of cynicism, but I don't think the average American altered his affection for our soldiers. I'd like to see a survey from the '50s like the ones today: "What professions do you respect the most?" I'm pretty sure the military would have been high on the list. (Then again, so would furriers and tobacconists.)

I REMEMBER a good movie made in the '50s about America at the start of the Korean War. Dana Andrews, Farley Granger, Ray Collins, Jim Backus. Black and white. I think it was a sequel of sorts to the wonderful "The Best Years Of Their Lives."

There's a scene in the local bar where a soldier in uniform (a very young Martin Milner) is about to be shipped overseas. He asks for a beer like his older friends, and everyone laughs warmly when the bartender says, "You know I can't do that, kid, I could lose my license." Suddenly the music on the radio is interrupted by a bulletin. The announcer says that Chinese troops have attacked across the 32nd parallel, and American casualties are high. The music resumes, and the bar is silent. Then, without saying a word, the bartender turns around, reaches for a glass, pours a beer, and gently sets it in front of Milner. Nice.

DURING VIETNAM, things changed so much I remember a poster with three pretty young women sitting on a couch. And the caption read, "Girls say yes to boys who say no." In other words--well, you don't really need any other words, do you?

As we all know, Vietnam vets were often glared at, yelled at, and spat upon as they carried their duffel bags through American airports. It must take an extraordinary level of hate to do something like that. I don't know where those people are today, but I'll bet you a dollar I know who they're supporting for president.

Which brings us to the end of 2003. I've never served in a war and I've never risked anything greater than a joke not working onstage (although there used to be club in Boston named Nick's that's still the only place I've ever seen an "F-Troop" fistfight). And I am moved beyond words by the skill and devotion and clarity and purpose of our troops and their leaders, men and women, and I've never felt differently, not then, not now, and I believe in what they're doing. And I pray. And I know I'm not alone.

Still, it would be nice, someday, to see a comedian walk onstage and once again say, "You ever notice it's always the guys in uniform who get the girls?"

Larry Miller is a contributing humorist to The Daily Standard and a writer, actor, and comedian living in Los Angeles.

Posted by Russ at 01:14 PM | Comments (5)
December 28, 2003
Lists of Five

Hey, Michelle started it.

5 books queued up, ready to read, on or next to my nightstand:

Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War
Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda
An Illustrated History of the First World War
Wellington in the Peninsula

5 movies I viewed on pay-per-view:

Anger Management
The Core
The In-Laws
Shanghai Knights

5 web sites at which I made purchases:

American Airlines
Lee Valley & Veritas

5 TV shows I record on the DVR for later viewing:

The Green Hornet
New Yankee Workshop
The Simpsons

5 best foods I prepare:

Smoked Duck
Salsa fresca / pico de gallo
Pan-seared ribeye steak

Other lists of five....

5 countries in need of regime change:

Saudi Arabia
North Korea

5 countries we will be at war with sometime in the next 25 years:

[see previous list]

5 people I have shaken hands with:

Ronald Reagan - no explanation needed
Jonathan Winters - entertainer
Frank Herbert - author, "Dune"
John Chambers - CEO, Cisco Systems
Larry Wall - creator of the Perl programming language

5 places in the US I've never been but would like to visit:

Shanksville, PA
Arlington National Cemetary
Pearl Harbor
Cape Canaveral & the Kennedy Space Center

5 countries I would like to visit:

United Kingdom (and Australia and New Zealand)

[OK, technically, that's more than 5....]

5 countries I once wanted to visit, but now I'd rather have a sharp stick in the eye:


5 of my favorite FoxNews info-babes:

Molly Henneberg
Linda Vester
Lauren Green
Amy Kellog
Jane Skinner

Posted by Russ at 03:37 PM | Comments (6)
December 25, 2003
Good News


Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.

But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."

Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

"Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel,"
which translated means, "GOD WITH US." And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.


John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey.

And he was preaching, and saying, "After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased."


Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us." So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.

When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Posted by Russ at 04:01 AM | Comments (1)
December 22, 2003
Nick o' time

It really looks like I timed my return from California pretty well.

I got off the plane in Raleigh, got to my truck 30 minutes later, flipped on the radio news, and what do you know: Orange Alert. Travel was bad enough without the extra extra hassles. I'm glad I avoided a checkpoint colonoscopy.

And today, the earthquake. I hate earthquakes. I grew up with 'em [the L.A. quake in '71 threw me out of my bed] but familiarity has indeed bred contempt.

I called Mom, about 75 miles from the epicenter -- she had noted the swinging chandeliers and the water slopping out of the swimming pool, but there's no damage there, and everyone at home is A-OK.

Did I mention I hate earthquakes?

Posted by Russ at 05:38 PM | Comments (6)
December 18, 2003
Saddam's Trial

Misha, er, "examines" the commentary at the BBC questioning the handling of Saddam, now that he's been, er, "incarcerated."

[Sorry, the link is broken, and I can't find the original post. There is, however, this at]

The European chattering classes, and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, want Saddam put on trial in some nice neutral place, where the worst that will happen is that he be locked away for life in the latest equivalent of Spandau. I'm sure *spit* Jacques Chirac *spit* would no doubt like to see Saddam held in comfortable house arrest somewhere on the French Riviera, where perhaps they might sometime get together to reminisce about their arms deals and their hatred of Israel. Our Friends The Saudis, who had no qualms about setting up housekeeping for Idi Amin, might even be persuaded to take him in as a retired refugee.

Anything to spare the former dictator from that tres gauche oh-so-American punishment, the death penalty.


Deliberately or otherwise, the EU-UN-weenies miss the point.

Understand this: the purpose of Saddam's trial is not to prove innocence or guilt. Saddam is manifestly guilty. Rather, the purpose will be to lay out the extent of his crimes for all the world to see, to count and put names to the victims, and to show despots the world over what can (and, G-d willing, will) happen to them, too.

Only then will he be hanged, or shot, or beheaded, or stoned, or be thrown off a roof, or whatever other manner of execution might be gleaned from the records kept of his tyranny.

Seriously, does anyone think there is the slightest chance he'd get off on a technicality?

Saddam's guilt is not in question, and frankly, a trial is a courtesy we offer only because we are in fact better than he is. But the result cannot be in doubt, because it is no trial. It is merely the sentencing hearing, with the only thing in question being whether Saddam spends a lifetime in Spandau, or his own personal eternity dangling at the end of a rope.

[Or perhaps *spit* Chirac *spit* would rather he'd had a "Ceaucescu" done on him? That would at least have had the benefit, from the French perspective, of shutting Saddam's mouth.]

The Hague will never have to deign to endure the touch of Saddam's shoes, nor will the ground of Geneva be soiled thereby. The free people of Iraq deserve the privilege of dealing with the monster that ruled over them so bloodily for so long. And they will.

12/30/03 UPDATE: Misha has a few more four-letter words on the subject. [Archived link.]

01/31/2006: Why am I getting so many hits on this post today? Someone linked it, but the referrer logs aren't telling me from where all y'all are coming. Someone drop me a comment, eh?

Posted by Russ at 01:05 PM | Comments (3)

Last night: Bill Whittle Live!

I had been looking forward to meeting Bill, of Eject! Eject! Eject!, who is by far the best writer I have ever met. (And I knew Frank Herbert [it was a friend-of-a-friend thing.] Bill is better, word for word.)

Bill couldn't stay as long as we'd hoped. A work-related emergency (more in the nature of a disaster) hove into view, and he had to cut short -- but the 9 of us (if I may be so bold as to speak for the rest of the folks there) had a great time talking about War, Celebrity, Courage, and the rest of Bill's work. It was pretty neat to be able to give him feedback directly, and to offer my paltry thoughts and suggestions.

It wasn't one man talking - it was a group, thinking out loud (though admittedly, most of us were listening far more than talking)... and I certainly didn't stop thinking when I left for the drive home.

Here's the gang:


Bill is, of course, the fellow on the right.

I'm the tall dopey-looking guy with the beard.

The perfectly rational-looking fellow front-row-center is Scott. I say rational looking, because he admitted to being one of my few regular readers - so there must be something wrong with him.


Posted by Russ at 01:17 AM | Comments (4)
December 15, 2003
Great timing

It just figures. I go on vacation, and the biggest punditry opportunity of the year hits the headlines.

And me with a mere 12K dialup connection. Feh.

Posted by Russ at 07:34 PM | Comments (2)
December 11, 2003

Once upon a time, there really were werewolves... and I don't mean lycanthropes.

Tonight on the History Channel: "Nazi Guerrillas," 9pm EST -- check your local listings.

People act as if the insurgency terrorist problems current in Iraq are a new phenomenon. I'll be interested in seeing what spin, if any, this program puts on the historical record.

Update: Mention of the present situation in Iraq was made only in the last few minutes of the program.

The program was careful to point out a few of the differences between Iraq and Germany:

  • German citizens were exhausted after six years of war; Iraq was defeated in six weeks.
  • Hitler's death was announced by German authorities before the surrender, whereas Saddam is still unaccounted for.

There was only one maybe/possibly objectionable quote I caught from the script:

In Iraq, much like postwar Germany, most citizens resent being occupied by a foreign power.
Well, I think the data is still out on that question.

Nevertheless, the parallels between Germany and Iraq are striking.

All in all, a very even-handed and factual program, and not even slightly political or critical.

Posted by Russ at 07:56 PM | Comments (2)
Better bullets

Looks as if the Army is experimenting with upgrading the varmint rifle M-16 to accomodate a larger round, 6.8mm versus the 5.56mm round currently in use.

Kim has had a lot to say in the past about the M-16 being, alternately, a "banjo" or a "poodle shooter" (or both simultaneously), and I find it hard to disagree with his assessment. The 5.56mm NATO cartridge is simply inadequate (unless your primary concern is the number of rounds a soldier can carry.)

Up-gunning the M-16 (and the M-4 carbine) to a better round (more energy on target = more knock-down/stay-down power, e.g., more lethal) has to be an excellent idea. Let's see if the Department of Defense has learned anything about weapon systems at the low end of the scale.

And no, I don't mean this monstrosity.

Posted by Russ at 05:40 PM | Comments (2)
Light blogging warning

With a vacation trip to California in the offing, I expect blogging to be light until Christmas week.

On the negative side, I won't actually be with the family for Christmas Day itself - I'm only taking a week off.

On the plus side (for me, that is), I expect to have a really good time. I burned up all my frequent flyer miles and am travelling First Class all the way.

I'm planning on seeing Bill Whittle's live performance on the 16th.

I get to bestow numerous gifts [for varying values of "numerous"] on my family.

And I expect to come back with plenty of photos of the Beloved Nieces and Nephew.

It should be a good time.

Posted by Russ at 03:58 PM
December 10, 2003
Small World

This week I've done something I haven't done regularly in the past few years: I've spoken with a customer on the phone to try to fix a networking problem.

These days, my technical assistance is delivered in the form of "how-to" documents, web-based troubleshooting tools, and Microsoft-like (*spit*) "knowledge base" items. I rarely talk to a real live customer.

The technical issue the customer needed help with was not overly complicated, but in the course of the conversation, the customer mentioned that he and a certain employee in our company had gone to school together, and did I happen to know Bob?

Wow, a "small world" moment. Bob had been my teammate from my earlliest days in Technical Assistance, back when I was talking to customers on the phone every day. I have spoken with, quite literally, thousands of customers.

I asked my customer how he had known Bob.

They had gone to elementary school together.

The same school I attended.

In fact, though we were several years apart, we were there at the same time. Of course, as a Fifth-grader, any mere Kindergartener would have been beneath my notice.

The world shrinks yet again, in unexpected ways.

Posted by Russ at 11:28 AM
December 08, 2003

Citizen Smash's open thread today asks the question:

If you could add one amendment to the US Constitution, what would it be?
Well, I couldn't limit myself to one... and I'll bet I could come up with more:
"The sixteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed."
No income tax. Congress would have to come up with some other scheme to raise the money they use to buy votes fund programs.
"No person who receives a paycheck or largess from the federal government, or the same from a non-governmental entity funded 50% or more by the federal government, shall be entitled to vote in elections for federal offices."
Ya, that'll make a lot of people unhappy... people from all over the political spectrum.

[Update: yes, the second was meant to be tongue in cheek, but I suffer from the handicap of already knowing what I mean to say and how I mean to say it. Thanks, Charles, for pointing this out.]

Posted by Russ at 06:08 PM | Comments (3)
December 07, 2003
Swell. Just Swell.

Bart's chalkboard motto on tonight's episode of "The Simpsons":

Over forty & single is not funny.
Ya, ya, ya... tell me about it.

Posted by Russ at 08:03 PM
Pearl Harbor, and a Lesson

Today is Pearl Harbor Day.

This is the battleship U.S.S. Arizona in the 1930s:


The U.S.S. Arizona and 1177 of her crew today:


America can have a long memory. It would behoove our enemies to realize that the last time we went to war after an unprovoked attack, it ended in fire.

[More from Michelle, SGT Hook, Matt, Jeff, Charles, and Misha.]

[And from Beaker here and here. And Acidman, Mamamontezz, Aaron, Democritus, Charles, and Serenity.]

[And Mike the Marine and Eric.]

Posted by Russ at 03:20 PM

Here're this week's votes for the New Blog Showcase.

First, "Al Franken on Book TV" by dangerous liberty (where, incidentally, it is claimed that Glenn Reynolds is merely a digital construct of Bill Gates' e-mail tracking program. I guess that settles the question of whether Evil Glenn is really evil or not.)

I saw this post, "When John Denver Died" at Seppo's Provincial Postings, when it was (re)published in November. I thought at the time that it was one of the more eloquent blog entries I'd ever read. Still do.

"Just left of moonbat" he might have been, politically, but not completely. I'll never forget that he was one of the entertainers that visited and performed for us in Korea on a USO tour back in the '80s. A real nice guy.

Posted by Russ at 02:46 PM
December 05, 2003

Being male is almost always a great thing. Being over 40, however, takes a bit of the shine off maleness.

The shine really dulls on that one day a year. Guys-over-40, you know what I mean. The much-feared annual doctor visit. The checkup. The physical.

Sure, sure, the blood work-ups are easy. You go in a couple days prior, they stick you, and then send a couple vials of blood off for various tests. Trouble is, I always end up having to have something else checked because of the lab results. Last year it was the gall bladder. This year it's my liver.

I think my internal organs are conspiring against me.

The doctor clucks, making "tsk tsk" sounds, tells you it's probably nothing, jots in your file, asks the usual questions. But it's all an act, designed to lull you into a false sense of security. "Maybe," you think to yourself, "he will forget about it this year."

Oh, no, no, no -- you aren't that lucky. He remembers.

First, it's "Turn your head and..." whatever. Guys, you know what I mean.

Then the dreaded command. "Lean on the exam table." Inevitably you find yourself having to channel Eric Cartman.

Forget trying to make a joke - he's heard all of them before. All of them. Don't even try. It might not have occured to you, but the doctor dreads the whole experience as much as (or perhaps even more than) you do.

Just grit your teeth. Take one for the home team. Lean on the table and think of America.

No wonder we men die younger than women do.

Posted by Russ at 10:00 PM | Comments (6)
Miserable Failure

Just to add to the google bombing:

Miserable failure.

Or is it Miserable failure?

No matter. Come on! Join the fun!

Update: Dodd is collecting miserable failure links here.

Posted by Russ at 08:41 PM
December 04, 2003
All I want for Christmas...

I have got to get me one of these.

Posted by Russ at 05:31 PM | Comments (3)
Quote of the Day
Leftists who can't stop attacking George Bush are like chickens in the back of a pickup truck. The fact that they're complaining doesn't mean the driver is doing anything wrong.
Steve H., at Little Tiny Lies
Posted by Russ at 03:02 PM
December 03, 2003
But it would make for very strange Veterans Day parades

Sez the WaPo,

The Department of Defense has discharged a number of Defense Language Institute students for being gay.
Well, no. That's like saying Clinton was impeached for having an affair. He was impeached for breaking the law (perjury). They were discharged for breaking various regulations.

I was real close to fully blogging on this myself, explaining how the regs work, but Rev. Donald Sensing at One Hand Clapping beat me to it, and made the points I was going to address, but in a much more thorough manner. Go read the whole thing.

I can relate to the story to a small extent, insofar as I was a student at DLI back in '86 (before the current "don't ask don't tell" policy was put in place); there was a major scandal involving a Lieutenant and a number of NCO and enlisted trainees in my Company. It was indeed a serious disruption of the good order and discipline of the unit.

Frankly, I still think there is no absolute need to allow gays into the military. If the military services themselves (not legislators, not "blue ribbon commissions" populated with people who have never worn a uniform) determined it would not be a problem, I would accept their judgement.

But then, if the services determined that the best people for military service were crack-addled lesbian one-legged albino dwarves, so be it -- because enlisting is not a right, and because our national security is more important than the potentially hurt feelings of those not allowed to serve, for whatever reason.

Posted by Russ at 09:25 PM
Quote of the Day

While rhetorically dismembering Pacifism as an ideology, Ironbear notes:

[T]he ownership of weapons and the responsible excercise of that right is inherent to freedom. And it's the backbone to all other freedoms. It's a nonarguable concept - that's why so many weapons control/banning enthusiasts complain that we're "unreasonable" on the subject: We are.
From "Pacifism and Personal Responsibility," at Who Tends the Fires

Posted by Russ at 02:40 PM | Comments (1)
December 01, 2003
Thought Exercise: Iraqi Cash

US troops this weekend killed upwards of 50 Iraqi terrorists while successfully repelling a pair of ambushes.

Why were the Iraqi "militants" (to use a term much-beloved by the media) willing to commit such a large group to an attack against a well-armed convoy? Some news reports suggest that the Iraqis had no idea what they were getting themselves into. That's fine by me -- fair fights are for the boxing ring.

A number of reports have it that the convoy was carrying large amounts of the new Iraqi currency, to be distributed to banks, etc..., for exchange with the old bills that feature Saddam's portrait.

Let us, for the moment, assume these reports to be correct, if for no other reason than to allow me to suggest some possibilities and make some conjectures.

Were these ambushes merely glorified stagecoach holdups?

I think there's more to it than that. I think if the terrorists don't get their hands on a huge pile of the New Iraqi Dinars, their operations will end. They need that cash.

If Saddam and his henchmen are coordinating the enemy forces, numbered Swiss bank accounts simply won't do -- they require large amounts of cold hard cash. Undoubtedly, they have rather large stockpiles of the old currency -- it's not as though Saddam can head to the nearest ATM every time he has to pay a terrorist for an attack, or when he needs to pay off a French camera crew. [tongue only slightly in cheek - Russ]

But as the new currency goes into circulation, there is a deadline for exchanging the old, 15 January 2004, after which the "Saddam currency" will be nothing more than scraps of paper suitable for any number of non-fiscal uses [use your imagination]. In short, it will be as worthless as Confederate dollars were after the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.

Current supplies of cash are all Saddam and his cronies will have on hand, with no practical way to acquire the sheer volumes of the new cash necessary to conduct operations as they have been conducted up to this point. Anyone attempting to circulate the old currency after the changeover will be suspect, and anyone attempting to exchange huge amounts of the old bills for the new before any notional deadline will be suspect.

Yes, Saddam could use "mules" with smaller amounts of cash to do the job, the same way drug traffickers do here in the States to try to get around the cash transaction laws (you did know we have those laws, right?), but let's say each such mule carries 150,000 dinars (about $1,000) to the exchange point. That means hundreds of mules might be required.

Additionally, I think there are likely to be few Iraqis with substantial amounts of legitimately-acquired cash -- making the mules stand out all the more from the crowd. With luck, these mules will lead our forces back to Saddam or his henchmen.

A more likely benefit will be that, with the cash to pay as bounties to the terrorists drying up, the pool of "volunteers" will begin to shrink, leaving only the diehards [now there's a loaded term] willing to take the risks inherent in attacking US & coalition forces.

Some variables I haven't considered but which require additional thought: U.S. forces recovered vast amounts of U.S. currency stockpiled in Iraq. Could Saddam be paying his fedayeen in U.S. Dollars? What if the payments are being made in Saudi Riyals?

Could be worth thinking about....

Posted by Russ at 08:40 PM
Thomas Friedman is not an idiot

In examining my referrer logs from time to time, I have found that I am the #1 Google hit for a particular expression which I will not repeat (lest it generate more Googling) but which you can see in this image:

Thomas Friedman query

I hereby withdraw that comment. Thomas Friedman is a liberal, and may say some pretty dumb things (including those which I criticized in my earlier post) but he does get some things quite right, such as in his New York Times column today [Link requires registration]:

The primary focus of U.S. forces in Iraq today is erecting a decent, legitimate, tolerant, pluralistic representative government from the ground up. I don't know if we can pull this off. We got off to an unnecessarily bad start. But it is one of the noblest things this country has ever attempted abroad and it is a moral and strategic imperative that we give it our best shot.
Correct. Kudos to Mr. Friedman for getting right what so many on the Left fail to understand.

Perhaps hearing it from him, some of the farther-out elements of the Left might reconsider their "Damn the Iraqis, US out of Iraq!" position.

One can always hope... but I won't be holding my breath.

[Link via Best of the Web]

Posted by Russ at 03:49 PM