Saturday, February 25, 2006

The end nears for Musharraf

William Lind has written an excellent piece on a subject I've been carping about for several months now----the imminent fall of the current regime in Pakistan and the consequences for the 'Murican gov-mint. In short a total disaster.

"The riots in Pakistan are hardly news anymore: if they appear in the paper at all, it is on page C17, between a story on starvation in the Sudan and a report that Mrs. McGillicuty fell down the stairs. The riots continue nonetheless, seemingly unconcerned that the rest of the world is no longer watching.

Perhaps it should. Periodic riots are normal in parts of the world; England was famous for them in the 18th century. But when rioting continues day after day, it can serve as a sort of thermometer, taking the temperature of a population. Pakistan, it would seem, is running a fever, one that shows little sign of breaking.

On the surface, the rioting is a protest against cartoons of Muhammad. Throughout the Islamic world, the anti-cartoon demonstrations are both an expression of rage at Islamic states' impotence and a demonstration of Islam's power outside the state framework. But in Pakistan, the immediate target of the riots is all too evident: Pakistani President Musharraf and his working relationship with America's President Bush (in Pakistan, Musharraf is often called Busharraf).

After 9/11, when Bush announced that anyone in the world who was not with us was with the terrorists, Musharraf had to make a strategic choice. He had to make it fast, since America wanted to attack Afghanistan, and it needed Pakistan's help to do so. Musharraf chose to ally with Bush. That choice has paid Pakistan dividends internationally, but at a price: Musharraf's legitimacy at home became dependent on the Pakistani people's view of America. In effect, Musharraf reincarnated himself as a political satellite of Bush.

Not surprisingly, America's popularity among Pakistanis was not helped by our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The Taliban was largely a Pakistani creation, and its fall was not welcomed in Pakistan, especially when Afghanistan's American-installed president, Mr. Karzai, quickly cozied up to India.

Then, the strong American response to Pakistan's disastrous earthquake turned Pakistani opinion around. Only America really came through for the tens of thousands of people de-housed by the catastrophe, and other people noticed; when mullahs in radical mosques denounced the Americans, their congregations told them they were wrong.

Of course, America blew it in classic American fashion, with the Predator strike on homes in a Pakistani border town. As always, the target wasn't there, because, as always, we depended on intelligence from "systems" when only humint can do the job. The resulting Pakistani civilian deaths threw away all the good will we earned from the earthquake response and made America the Great Satan once more. Musharraf paid the political price.

If the riots continue and grow, the Pakistani security forces responsible for containing them will at some point go over and join the rioters. Musharraf will try to get the last plane out; perhaps he will find Texas a congenial place of exile. If he doesn't make that plane, his head will serve as a football, not just of the political variety.

A new Pakistani government, in quest of legitimacy, will understand that comes from opposing Bush's America, not getting in bed with it. Osama will be the new honorary president of Pakistan, de facto if not de jure. Our and NATO's operation in Afghanistan will become strategically unsustainable overnight. That nice Mr. Karzai will, one hopes, find a seat on a C-17.

The fall of Pakistan to militant Islam will be a strategic disaster greater than anything possible in Iraq, even losing an army. It will be a greater disaster than a war with Iran that costs us our army in Iraq. Osama and Co. will have nukes, missiles to deliver them, the best conventional armed forces in the Muslim world, and an impregnable base for operations anywhere else. As North Korea's Dear Leader has shown the world, nobody messes with you if you have nukes. Uncle Sam takes off his battle rattle and asks Beijing, or somebody, if they can possibly sponsor some talks.

That ticking sound Mr. Bush hears is not Mr. Cheney's pacemaker. It's the crocodile, and he's getting rather close."

Friday, February 24, 2006

Tea leaves in the grocery aisle

Going up!

I'm no economist but am aware that most of the staple items I buy have been going up in price. My best guess is that it is a delayed form of inflation due to higher fuel costs for transportation, which will remain in place for the foreseeable future. These staples are the everyday food and household items that I buy all the time at Wal-Mart, which has the lowest prices for these items anywhere in my town. As all loyal customers know prices at Wal-Mart also go down on a wide range of inventory, but lately everything has been going in one direction-----up.

  • yellow popping corn went from .77 to .88
  • vanilla soy milk 2.12 to 2.26
  • 10 lb. bag of leg quarters 3.90 to 4.48
  • plastic trash bags (30 count) 1.50 to 2.43
  • cashew halves & pieces 3.98 to 4.48
  • paper towel three pack 1.50 to 1.64

What my grocery cart Ouija board reveals is not really all that clear but if I were to guess I'd say that the days of wine and roses is at an end here in 'Murica for a good long while to come. The federal gov-mint is now engaged in the longest running foreign war in its history, look it up, and for the first time has managed to do it exclusively on borrowed money. That can't be good for the economy, not to mention the national morality, by indebting the unborn of the future to satisfy Dick Cheney's whims and ambitions today. I know oil is more expensive and in demand globally and a super power war in the heart of the Middle East sure can't help that situation.

Sadly the mostly ignorant mono-lingual, publicly educated, deeply indebted population that is tolerating this war machine has essentially hitched itself to an Acme anvil that is hurtling straight over the cliff towards the Coyote's head below. That they'll all be caught unawares when that last hard tug of the rope pulls at their necks towards the deep abyss of cultural and economic oblivion makes it all the sadder. It will be a really cool part of Mexico though.

Most war making empires have expired in this same way. Like a bad parasite they eventually kill their host by sucking out all of the living tissue, while committing wanton slaughter and destruction. There are many examples in history: Imperial Rome, Nazi Germany, the Ottoman Empire, hell we can go back to David and Saul. Coming to a theatre near you: the Collapse of the American Empire.

I'll take my chances with the unknowns of anarchy any day of the week over the known crimes and destruction wrought by a monarchy. By the way-------Down with King George!

Amen Brutha!

Poor Vanessa

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Traila got jealous

Traila & Chucky

Traila saw the Roscoe blog tonight and forced me to post a few of what she terms her "art photos" just to make sure the old dummy wasn't getting too big for his britches. She's often very controlling.

I hope this doesn't get Chucky too stirred up because I'm almost out of the stolen Ritalin I feed him that I pilfered from the local elementary school. These kids are a real pain sometimes.

Still life with fruit

Souless Horde (taken at DD's place in Denver)

Roscoe gallery

Touring Egypt
Someone recently asked me how Roscoe was doing, which naturally prompted me to round up some recent shots from the past few years and post them, much to the utter delight of Skeeter and Steve Dobell. Right guys?
The old boy is doing quite well in spite of the defeat of his beloved Denver Broncos to the sainted Steelers at Mile High Stadium. We told him that Jake Plummer always sucked in the games that mattered, but did he listen? Sometimes he's such a dummy.

At the SEMA show in Las Vegas

Feeding time

Shoe shine at the Luxor in Las Vegas

A loose & lumpy Las Vegas floozy

Enjoying a day at Zion's

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Anarchy at work in Somalia

The link below is to an excellent article about the success of Somalia as a country with no central government. This is anarchy in the traditional sense, the literal meaning of which is: "the absence of a ruler", making the word monarchy (to be ruled) the exact opposite. An anarchist is simply someone who does not wish to be ruled. They much prefer voluntary contracts and agreements between consenting parties than to being taxed and subjugated to the will of a king, warlord, or mob rule (democracy). Brick tossing hooligans they are not.

The current interpretation of the word as a condition of negative disorder and lawlessness is propagated by government schools and the ever pliant state worshiping media (imbedded as they are).

Old dictionaries are quite handy to have in your library.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Tsunami Bomb

I recently stumbled across a display of Duncan yo-yos at my friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart store. They were selling the same models that I remembered from my youth, and I purchased a Butterfly, which was my favorite back in the day. It was always easier for me to do tricks with a Butterfly, especially walk-the-dog, as opposed to the Imperial, which was the other popular yo-yo they manufactured. I owned both types, of course.

For a mere $1.99 I got a "made in China" yo-yo (every bit as good as one manufactured in Duncan's Ohio plant back in my day), that came with an instructional CD to show you how to do twelve different tricks and included a musical soundtrack for yo-yo enthusiasts to yo-yo by. One of the featured bands, Tsunami Bomb, is an amazingly talented punk rock group with a female lead singer (Agent M.) that just blows my socks off. They possess a joyful soaring sound with a youthfully razored edge that is head banging hard rock the way I loved it at 17, with fast guitars and crisp thumping bass lines underscoring the strong-willed voice of a punk diva in her prime.

Intelligent design in raucous rock & roll. Dig it!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Public schools as a socializing institution

I often hear parents say that home schooling deprives children of the "socializing" that is necessary to fit into the wider society at large. When I ask what in specific they think is the most important "socializing" lesson taught by attendance at government schools they will often say learning to get along with kids of different social classes and ethnic backgrounds. I find this argument empty of meaning and a silly piece of popular middle-class folklore.

The obvious truth is that a firmer bond between parents and their young has always been the best lesson in social functionality. To surrender your child to a huge and impersonal government bureaucracy for the sake of social assimilation is a really ridiculous position to take. Most wish to ignore the obvious dangers inherent in transporting young children twice daily (several kids have been killed in Utah, in the past few weeks alone, just going to and from school) and then leaving your child essentially alone in what are often dangerous and un-protected circumstances. There is also no real need for me to hammer home another obvious truth, yet again, but I will, that the very people certified to teach and supervise these students occupy some of the very lowest rungs on the intellectual ladder. In short it is dangerous, expensive and it sucks at educating free minds to boot.

Anyway I'm here to tell you that public school was one big nightmare for me. I was picked on from the beginning. I got no support from the school system over this, ever, because, just like in a prison, bullies serve a useful purpose in captive populations. They help the overall system keep order by breaking the will of those wishing to retain their unique individuality. Many of my life heroes endured this same torment, most especially Frank Zappa; whose biography reveals that public school was a real living hell for him. I was beat-up, extorted, spit on, stolen from, named called and generally shunned by the reigning cliques of jocks, rah-rahs and other ordained "winners" of the public education system I was forced to attend from 1966-78.

A funny thing happened once I graduated from high school, you’ll never believe it, but I found out that the world was not at all like public school. You see, I was never spit upon at Santa Monica College, nor was I ever beaten up at the University of Georgia. At one point I lived in an extremely dangerous section of Venice, CA in my early 20’s and never once did anything happen to me, personally, that could compare with the abuse I encountered as a school kid. In fact, I have never again experienced any of the heinous acts perpetrated upon me during my mandatory sentence of 12 years in the schoolyard brig.

No one has cursed me (except for an occasional girlfriend), extorted my money, called me a faggot, kicked me or hocked a lugie in my face. In fact my life has seen a considerable and steady improvement in social standards since I left the public schools for good some 28 years ago.

So in short, don't you believe it for a minute. This is NOT a good way to socialize kids. For a prison camp maybe, but as preparation for the free life of the individual----never! Besides, what other animal turns over the training of its young to total strangers? Think about it.

Let's hear it for the home schoolers! GOD BLESS 'EM ALL!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The iMac is a great machine

I have finally left the PC world behind and have taken the plunge into the realm of Apple. My new iMac arrived yesterday and is quite a remarkable machine. It is taking a little time getting used to all of its features, quirks and handy applications, but am surely glad that it is now a powerful tool in my intellectual arsenal of information dispersal. As the salesman from MacMall said to me on the phone, with his Hispanic Southern California accent, "welcome to the good side of the computer world my friend".

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Drummer's Life

My friend Stephen Perkins is premiering his new movie "A Drummers Life" this weekend in Hollywood. I recieved an invitation to the screening because I was a location scout for three scenes shot in Zion National Park, oh and please don't tell the superintendent we didn't have a filming permit (ha-ha). There is also a portion of the film that takes place at the Bit & Spur as well as footage from a music show performed there last August. I'm very pleased and proud to have contributed a small part to this unique and entertaining production.

Stephen is currently the leader of his own band, Banyan (a super group which includes bass legend Mike Watt and guitar wizard Nels Cline), and is also a founding member of Jane's Addiction which is currently known as Panic Channel (which is Jane's minus singer Perry Farrell). His biggest moment of celebrity fame probably occurred when he was the best man for band mate Dave Navarro at his wedding to Carmen Electra.

I know him as a very down to earth and centered Jewish boy from the Valley, who is incredibly talented, energetic and motivated to create. You can't ask much more from someone than that.

Congratulations Stephen and good luck with the premiere. Break a leg.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Grilling perfection

Today's continued pattern of abnormally warm and balmy temperatures stirred me to bust out the apple & hickory wood and grill some marinated leg quarters in the late afternoon sun.

Life here is good. Don't never get me wrong 'bout dat! Lawd I am grateful-----I is!

P.S. Ain't sending this to none of my vegan friends as I've been told that some of my past barbecue photography has been offensive to some ya'll. If'n you end up seeing this by mistake, I'm real sorry that the sight of critters cookin' riles you so. I'm just a culinary arteest at heart.

Filipino BBQ sauce. There is a God.

Sunset falls on Horse Ranch Mountain.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The iconoclast

"The iconoclast proves enough when he proves by his blasphemy that this or that idol is defectively convincing."----H.L. Mencken
An excellent article on a man who remains a major of inspiration in my life. Today marks the 50th anniversary of his death:
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Warmer is better for me

I would like to share two items in today's news cycle about the earth's climate. The first is about January 2006 being the warmest on record in the U.S. The other concerns some Russian scientists who are predicting a mini-ice age for the upcoming middle part of this century. They compare it to the Little Ice Age which occurred from 1645 to 1705 and froze the canals of Holland solid.

I for one am very happy to have been able to save energy this winter due to the much warmer weather southern Utah has experienced so far. I like it when I can use solar radiation to heat my home instead of using natural gas which is very expensive. This warmer sunnier weather also makes me feel better and puts me in a nicer mood.

Should I brood because it is currently 55 F and delightfully sunny? I'm getting a tan and there are little buzzing honey bees in my office, in this second week of the month most dreary! Bring on more record breaking heat and we'll save even more energy and I'll get even happier. Who says this is bad or good and why? Long term predictions about the supernatural powers of the air is a tricky business ya'll, so I personally vote for a warmer planet rather than a colder one. Just my preference, that's all.

So let's hear it for Global Warming in my usually cold and windy Great Basin valley in February! It can warm up all it wants to.

January breaks records:

Future ice age:

The Little Ice Age in Europe

Secularist Stupidity and Religious Wars

They're pissed!
Who'd a thunk that some stupid and childish cartoons, from the nowhere that is Denmark, would be the spark that lit a huge firestorm between Islam and the West? The whole European argument about "freedom of expression" is such BS, especially when you consider that a swastika or denial of the Holocaust can get you jail time in many parts of Europe, which I've been saying to anyone who'd listen for over a week now. Only just today do I see that Pat Buchanan has pointed this fact out in print. Thanks a heap Pat!

The following piece by Mr. Buchanan hits all the nails hard. I don't always agree with his views, but Pat's my kind of writer and a home boy too.

Secularist Stupidity and Religious Wars
Patrick J. Buchanan
That demagogues and agitators are exploiting those cartoons of Mohammed to advance a war of civilizations and expel Europeans from the Middle East seems undeniable.
But that does not excuse the paralyzing stupidity of that Danish paper in running those cartoons or the arrogant irresponsibility of European newspapers in plastering those cartoons all over their front pages.
The storm first broke last September, when Jyllands-Posten published 12 caricatures of Mohammed, including a lampoon of the Prophet with a terrorist bomb as a turban. In the Islamic faith, any depiction of the face of Mohammed is forbidden.
The Danish paper knew this. It published the cartoons to protest "the rejection of modern, secular society" by Muslims. The cartoons were thus a defiant provocation. And they succeeded.
The Middle East responded with a boycott of Danish foods and goods. But when, in the name of press solidarity, Le Soir and Le Monde in Paris, El Pais in Madrid and Die Welt in Berlin republished the cartoons on page one, Islam exploded. For this was an in-your-face declaration by the secularist media of the European Union that it will exercise its right to insult any God, any Prophet, any faith, whenever it so chooses.
"Enough lessons from these reactionary bigots," said Serge Faubert, editor of Le Soir. "Just because the Quran bans images of Mohammed doesn't mean non-Muslims have to submit to this."
Faubert, however, is not a Danish soldier in the Shi'ite sector of Iraq. Innocents will pay the price of his heroism.
The U.S. State Department seemed to empathize with Muslim rage, stating that "inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is unacceptable." But, within hours, State had retreated to neutral ground: "While we share the offense that Muslims have taken at these images, we at the same time vigorously defend the right of individuals to express points of view."
As of today the Danish consulate in Beirut has been burned, Danish embassies have been stormed, and Danes are fleeing the Middle East. Europeans are getting out of the West Bank, Gaza and Beirut, where mobs are attacking embassies and Christian churches.
Islamic countries have recalled ambassadors from Copenhagen. People have been injured and property destroyed in mob assaults as far away as Indonesia. Relations between the West and the Islamic world have been dealt another rupturing blow.
And for what? What was the purpose of this juvenile idiocy by the Europress? Is this what freedom of the press is all about the freedom to insult the faith of a billion people and start a religious war?
Can Europeans be that ignorant of the power of the press to inflame when Bismarck's editing of just a few words in the Ems telegram ignited the Franco-Prussian war? Did Europeans learn nothing from the Salman Rushdie episode? Or the firestorm that gripped the Islamic world when Christian ministers in the United States called Mohammed a "terrorist"?
European governments are wringing their hands over the rage and violence unleashed, but they seem paralyzed. What is the matter? Why cannot they denounce press irresponsibility while defending press freedom? Even friends of the West like Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan, President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey have denounced these cartoons as insults to Islamic values and deeply damaging to Western interests.
British Foreign Minister Jack Straw deplored republication of the cartoons as "insensitive ... disrespectful ... wrong." But German Interior Minister Wolfgang Shauble haughtily dissented,
"Here, in Europe, governments have nothing to say about which publisher publishes what."
What hypocrisy. When it comes to what Germans are most sensitive about, Hitler and the Holocaust, they are ruthless censors. British historian David Irving has spent three months in a Viennese prison awaiting trial on Feb. 20 for speeches he made 15 years ago in Austria. Skeptics and deniers of the Holocaust are prosecuted, fined and imprisoned in Europe with the enthusiastic endorsement of the European press.
Nor are we all that different. Sen. Trent Lott was ousted as majority leader for a birthday-party compliment to 100-year-old Strom Thurmond. Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker was almost lynched for saying he considers New York a social pigsty. There were demands that Rocker undergo psychiatric counseling.
We have "speech codes" in colleges and "hate crimes" laws to protect minorities from abusive remarks. But newspapers that hail these codes throw a blanket of "artistic freedom" over scatological art that degrades religious symbols from putting a figure of Christ in a jar of urine to a "painting" of the Virgin Mary surrounded by female genitalia and elephant dung that hung in a Brooklyn museum.
What has happened in Europe is that the secular press, which loves to mock the beliefs and symbols of religious faith, has now insulted a deadly serious religion that answers insults with action.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Monk, Bucket & Merle

Thelonious Monk
There comes a time, periodically, when we must raise up our voice in praise of some of the heroes we hold dear in our hearts. To celebrate and never take for granted those individuals that not only help make the continued struggle of existence a real joy but actually a somewhat purposeful journey.
Lately the musical works of Thelonious Monk, Buckethead & Merle Haggard have been soothingly played as the soundtrack to my quiet life of hermetic contemplation and winter time solitude. These particular cats have the rare ability to still my turbulent soul then take me soaring upwards in substantive bliss. All three are masters of their respective crafts and it shows in their expert showmanship and perfectionist recordings.
In the case of Monk & Hag it's great that their stuff still resonates as heavily with me, if not more, as I've become older and entered different phases of life. Long time heroes are some of the best sort of security you can have. I know I want Monk played at my funeral, as well as the "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" read by someone who can read real purty. You know, someone wiff a little book larnin'. Stump, you available?

Merle Haggard

Spooky boy on Foothill Blvd.

We sit here stranded

Hurricane, Utah at dusk.

This shot of Hurricane, Utah at dusk sorta summed up a lot of things to me about what sort of civilization I currently inhabit. From the crest of the hill I looked down upon a sprawl of obedient government educated, highly taxed and regulated, propagandized and intellectually marginalized state mastered serfs.

I also don't see this little burg as anything more nor less than your town. I've been around the block and I can tell ya it all pretty much smells and tastes the same from coast to coast.

We support our troops, do you want that super-sized?

A hundred years ago Hurricane was a real place, with locally controlled education, low taxes and virtually non-existent government. It was a religiously based culture with a deep sense of independence and pride in being a hardy dusty bunch of desert pioneers. What problems they had they seemed to work through for themselves without the intruding nose of the federal camel poking into their tent. As the old Arab saying goes: once he's in, he'll never leave.

Gradually that way of life had to disappear forever because it did not fit in with the new statist program of compulsory 5-day a week government educational incarceration, social welfare programs, farm subsidies and personal involvement in foreign warfare, which would do much to "uplift" and "improve" the dusty pioneers from their wretched pre-state guided existence. To be independent and hardy were increasingly associated with "selfish" and "anti-social" attitudes which clashed with the state's ever increasing demands on your hard won income and the time of mandatory involvement with its schemes of moral and physical "reconstruction" around the globe and in your neighborhood.

A hundred years ago New York was a more independent and locally controlled place (that no Arab would dream of bombing) and so was Los Angeles, Terre Haute, Billings, Memphis and Vermont, to name a few. The country back then was still a republic and not the menacing war mongering empire of today. It is very much like the difference between the early Roman Republic and the latter day Roman Empire of the Caesars. The first was based on a loose voluntary confederation of local city-states and rural districts that were self-sustaining and independent, which eventually morphed into a micromanaging tax sucking beast that waged foreign wars to spread the enlightened "democratic civilization" of Rome. The arrogant thought of the Caesars was: once the backward hicks see us coming they'll surely bow down in gratitude for the benevolent bestowal upon them of the majestic mantle of civilized central control. Anyone see a modern day parallel?

Hitler used to say he was giving these conquered savages a history. Stalin was organizing them for greatness. Mao was making his Great Leaps Forward, while Bush is spreading peace and enlightened democracy as he proceeds to prosecute his Warn Terror. These guys always make me laugh after a while, that is, after the stench of the corpse piles begin to die down.

Ain't it just like the night to play tricks when you're tryin' to be so quiet?
We sit here stranded, though we're all doin' our best to deny it.

------Robert Zimmerman (B.Dylan)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Shudder to think

The walls of our homes here in Quichapa have been shuddering and shaking this past week as the U.S. military has been exploding bombs and testing aircraft at high altitudes with a feverish intensity. Larry and I agree that last Friday was probably the most nerve-racking day yet, with thunderous waves of air warping across open desert from the testing ranges in Nevada. I don't know what they are up to, nor do I think that they are smart enough to be devising a set of actions that will make them victorious when the shit really starts hitting the fan in the next few months.

In the meantime, the brilliant minds at Homeland Security have devised a state of the art system to to spy on people at the Super Bowl:

The main event of today's blog is the following short article by military expert William Lind that paints a picture that is either grim or hopeful, depending on your particular view of the current "slow" defeat of American forces in the Middle East. It may well in fact start speeding up very soon.

Wars, most wars at least, run not evenly but in fits and starts, settling down into sputtering Sitzkrieg for long intervals, then suddenly shooting out wildly in wholly unpredicted directions. The war in Iraq has fallen into a set pattern for long enough that we should be expecting something new. I can identify three factors – there may be more – which could lead to some dramatic changes, soon.

1. Osama bin Laden’s latest message. Most observers, including the White House, seem to have missed its significance. In it, bin Laden offered us a truce (an offer we should have accepted, if only to attempt to seize the moral high ground). The Koran requires Moslems to offer such a truce before they attack. The fact that bin Laden himself made the offer, after a long silence, suggests al Qaeda attaches high importance to it.

Why? My guess is because they plan a major new attack in the U.S. soon. I would be surprised if the plan were for something smaller than 9/11, because that could send the message that al Qaeda’s capabilities had diminished. Could this be "the big one," the suitcase nuke that most counter-terrorism experts expect somewhere, sometime? That would certainly justify, perhaps require, a truce offer from Osama himself. Of course, al Qaeda’s plan may fail, and it may be for an action less powerful than setting off a nuke on American soil. But the fact that Osama made a truce offer should have set off alarm bells in Washington. So far, from what I can see, it hasn’t.

2. In Iraq, Shiite country is turning nasty. The Brits are finding themselves up against Shiite militias around Basra. Muqtada al Sadr has made it clear he is spoiling for another go at the Americans, saying his militia would respond to any attack on Iran. In Baghdad, the Shiites who run things are finding American interference increasingly inconvenient. We are now talking to at least some Sunni insurgents, as we should be, but that means our utility to the Shiites as unpaid Hessians is diminishing. Put it all together and it suggests the improbable Yankee-Shiite honeymoon may soon end. When it does, our lines of supply and communication through southern Iraq to Kuwait will be up for grabs.

3. We are moving towards war with Iran. Our diplomatic efforts on the question of Iranian nuclear research and reprocessing are obviously designed to fail, in order to clear the boards for military action. It will probably come in the form of Israeli air strikes on Iran, which, as the Iranians well know, cannot be carried out without American approval and support.

In Israel, it was Sharon who repeatedly refused the Israeli generals’ requests for air strikes; he is now out of the picture. His replacement, Olmert, is weak. The victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections gave Olmert’s main opponent, Likud’s Netanyahu, a big boost. How could Olmert best show the Israeli electorate he is as tough as Netanyahu? Obviously, by hitting Iran before Israel’s elections in late March.

In Washington, the same brilliant crowd who said invading Iraq would be a cakewalk is still in power. While a few prominent neo-cons have left the limelight, others remain highly influential behind the scenes. For them, the question is not whether to attack Iran (and Syria), but when. Their answer will be the same as Israel’s.

Washington will assume Iran will respond with some air and missile strikes of its own. Those may occur, but Iran has far more effective ways of replying. It can shut down its own oil exports and, with mining and naval action, those of Kuwait and the Gulf States as well. It can ramp up the guerilla wars both in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

It could also do something that would come as a total surprise to Washington and cross the Iran-Iraq border with four to six divisions, simply rolling up the American army of occupation in Iraq. Syria might well join in, knowing that it is only a question of time before it is attacked anyway. We have no field army in Iraq at this point; our troops are dispersed fighting insurgents. A couple dozen Scuds on the Green Zone would decapitate our leadership (possibly to our benefit). Yes, our air power would be a problem, but only until the Iranians got in close. Bad weather could provide enough cover for that. So could the Iranian and Syrian air forces, so long as they were willing to expend themselves. Our Air Force can be counted on to fight the air battle first.

As I said, when a war has been stuck in a rut for a long time, thoughtful observers should expect some dramatic change or changes. Any one of these possibilities would deliver that; together, they could give us a whole different situation, one in which our current slow defeat would accelerate sharply.

Beware the ides of March.

It's still peaceful between blasts.