Five hundred pairs of boots

More than 500 pairs of empty Army boots were placed side-by-side in downtown Chicago Wednesday to serve as a reminder of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. The black boots, some dusty and dirty from use, were placed on Federal Plaza in front of a posterboard display that listed the names, ages and states of all soldiers killed in the war…

Sometimes, we have to go back to the innocence of our childhood, when we learned to count using apples and beads as numbers, to fully appreciate how many of our troops have died unnecessarily in Iraq. The boots show us the visual reality of the number “500.” That’s an awful lot of boots, and lives. Take a look.

the 500 boots

Changing face of Mideast oil politics

Although “bringing democracy” to Iraq, Syria and Iran and “protecting the world from terrorists and WMD” have been the stated goals of the Bush Administration, it becomes more apparent that one of the main unstated goals is control of the Persian Gulf’s oil production — and thereby control of growing Asian economies such as those of China and India, as well as Japan and S. Korea, which now consume 90% of Middle Eastern oil exports. The use of oil embargoes to exert control over other nations’ policies can have disastrous effects, as did the embargo against Japan, dependent upon the United States for 80% of its oil in 1941, which led to war. From The Daily Star (Lebanon), a fast primer on the changing face of Mideast oil politics by Youssef F. Ibrahim of the Dubai-based Strategic Energy Investment Group. He previously served as senior Middle East correspondent for the New York Times and Energy Editor of the Wall Street Journal for 26 years.

Once upon a time there were four US oil companies that controlled the world of oil. Their names were Exxon, Mobil, Chevron and Texaco. The world of oil then was focused. These four found the oil, pumped it, and set its price to the world…Over the past 40 years, however, the world of oil has been turned upside down, and the rules have changed. The most important of these changes is that American oil companies no longer constitute the entirety of what we call “Big Oil.”

The other big change is that the US is no longer the most important client in need of oil. The new giant consumer of oil is China ­ a burgeoning economic superpower and the fastest growing market on earth, with over a billion consumers. Then there is India, another major oil customer that is growing fast. In fact, statistics show that 90 percent of the oil produced from the Gulf region that includes Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, among others, is going to Asia, not America.
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Our New Look

You may have noticed a change in our format.

We are still getting elements of the new format up and running, so please bear with us. We will be introducing many new features to improve as a resource to you.

This format change took many months, and was done on the cheap. The heroic Mike Ewens is mainly responsible for the building of this great new product. He learned as he did it, and I think he did a fantastic job.

There may be a few people with older systems who experience problems (especially Mac users). Please be patient, we expect to have all the bugs worked out. In the meantime, I would suggest you update your browsers for full enjoyment of the new

Here are some suggestions:

Mozilla 1.6 (PC, Mac, Linux)
Firebird .7 (PC, Mac, Linux)
Netscape 7.1
Safari (BEST Mac Browser)
Internet Explorer for PCsfor Macs

Please send us your comments and suggestions. If you have any technical questions or problems, you may contact Mike Ewens directly.

Thanks to all of you who have helped keep us going.

Sullivan’s Smear

Andrew Sullivan, the Boadicea of the War Party, has in his sights:

“FIFTH COLUMN WATCH: An writer pleaded guilty to federal weapons and explosives charges. He was planning to fight for ‘Muslim causes.’”

This “ writer,” Ismail Royer, who wrote one very good piece for us a couple of years ago, was charged with violating the Neutrality Act – which forbids Americans from taking up arms against countries with which we are not at war — because he and his friends wanted to go fight in Kashmir for an obscure anti-Indian guerrilla group. At no time did he take up arms against America or Americans. As Tim Cavanaugh pointed out in Reason last year:

“There are various questions to be raised about the indictments. (Among them: Is paintball a fitting substitute for Basic Training?) The invocation of the archaic Neutrality Act—most of the charges involve actions taken before the LET was named as a terrorist group—has inspired tendentious but not inapt comparisons to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and the French Foreign Legion.

“For me, the real mystery is the involvement of Ismail (Randall Todd) Royer, whose prior writings give little indication that he was a jihadist. Among his articles: A plea to respect religion in the public square. A call for détente between Islam and the West. An article urging Muslims to avoid wallowing in victimization. All outspoken articles, but pretty far from militancy. Royer is a co-editor of, a site that aims ‘to actively engage the non-Muslim world in a constructive and honest dialogue of ideas.’”

Sullivan is a despicable fraud, and so is the continuing campaign to link this website with “terrorist” activity: the ex-Trotskyite-turned-Muslim nutball cultist Stephen Schwartz has also tried to link me personally with Royer:

“The role of Raimondo in this maneuver remains extremely interesting. Raimondo has inexhaustibly assailed me because, like Royer, I have taken an Islamic name, although unlike Royer, I have never used it for deceptive purposes. Royer employed Raimondo’s propaganda as a fig-leaf to cover his own attempt at intimidation…. The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and others have similarly recycled Raimondo.”

I have never met Royer, nor never even sent him so much as an email, yet in the fantasy world of Schwartz and Sullivan, I’m part of a grand conspiracy, a “fifth column” in secret communication with Osama bin Laden! They would like nothing better than to see shut down, and me behind bars, like Ismail Royer. What’s frightening – not to me, personally, but on account of the realization that we’ve gone this far down the road to serfdom – is that they have the legal “tools” to do it in the form of the “Patriot” Act and its successors. The new totalitarians know they can’t win the battle of ideas, but they’re hoping they won’t have to: Sullivan and the pathetic Schwartz actually think we can be intimidated, or else forced to shut up.

Schwartz is so well-known as a nutball that even the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies – the subject, interestingly enough, of Royers’ piece for us – dropped him like a hot potato. As for Andy “Muscle Glutes” Sullivan — I’ll be damned in hell before I’ll be intimidated by this slimey limey. Sullivan gives new meaning to the phrase size queen: he only tells really BIG lies.