Archive | February, 2011

My short-term concerns about Libya

25 Feb

About a year ago I posted about how my life resembled Sisyphus and Cassandra and it is the Cassandra part that is worried. I do not care to enter into political discussions on the internet because people are too emotionally attached to their beliefs/opinions, no one ever seems to change anybodies mind, believing they are right and just means the other is wrong and evil therefore this grants them permission to be ugly to the other while at the very same moment condemning them for being nasty. I don’t like being insulted, particularly  unjustly.

So, given that – here goes. Earlier I criticized our government, in particular the state department, for being totally unprepared for the Egyptian revolt. There was no preparation – like there has never been the popular overthrow of a pro-American authoritarian regime before.

Well the executive branch is still behind the curve on Libya. It took 9 days for the President to make a statement. As the de facto leader of the free-world, his statements or lack of them mean something. It is the international equivalent to body language – “Back off or you’ll be sorry” versus “Hey, it is none of my business.”

For the last week we have been hearing of stories of atrocities in Libya like the following.

Intel from inside Libya from a very reliable friend:

Mr. Schwanner,

I run a manufacturing business in Harvey, LA which builds oilfield equipment. We have sales agents in several foreign countries, including Libya. This morning I received two emails from my agent in Tripoli. This gentleman has a PhD in Engineering, and has been representing U.S. and European companies in North Africa for many years. He was introduced to me two years ago by a member of the U.S. Commercial Service team from New Orleans. He was part of a Libyan trade delegation to the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston sponsored by the U.S. Commercial Service. I have every reason to believe that his observations are as accurate as can be expected under the circumstances he finds himself in. Here is the text of his two emails:

Received at 2:25 AM CST

I do appreciate your concern. My family is not in Libya. They are safe. I am barricaded in an apartment with enough food and water for about two weeks. I am fine. We do have electricity and water supply, but the mad dog is threatening to shut them off. Cell phones are down most of the time. The Internet is very sporadic and extremely slow to prevent people from sending photos and videos. When my monthly internet subscription expires, I will have no way to renew it.
It is very bad. African mercenaries are shooting heavy automatic weapons, killing, looting banks, and raping. Mercenary Gunships & Choppers are shooting rockets and using paid snipers to hunt defenseless protesters. The mad dog is threatening violence has not started yet. Young protesters use pebbles to fight back, and are putting up barricades on streets to delay the mercenaries. I hope we don’t see Mustard gas being used against the civilian population. We have no functioning army or police, only mercenaries. The mad dog has never trusted the Libyan military, so the deserted military have very little weapons. Practically all the dead military have been shot for disloyalty by the mad dog and his family not by protesters. The mad dog has more than enough billions to pay the mercenaries.
Surprisingly, there are no reports of Libyan gangs roaming the streets. The Libyans are united against the mad dog and there is not going to be a civil war, only mercenary war against peaceful protesters. To get the support of the west, the mad dog is claiming the protests and the uprising are arranged and controlled by Muslim extremists. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Please urge the UN to arrange for Arab armies to go into Libya and to impose a no-fly zone.
Take care.

Received at 4:12 AM CST

We now have mercenaries from dozens of counties from several continents. Ukrainians are flying the choppers and manning the sniper positions. Serbs are flying the fighter jets, and hundreds of killers from eastern & western Europe, the middle east and the Indian subcontinent. Loads of planes continue to arrive.
We hear mercenaries are rewarded $10K to $30K a day and generous bonuses for every protester they kill. Libyan oil money is being used to kill Libyans.
High level Defections from the regime is now rampant. Very soon the mad dog will be alone with mercenaries.
Take care

If you need to contact me for verification my cell is 504-xxx-xxx. Please help get the word out about the dire situation in Tripoli.

I am concern the follow scenario will happen:

  1. Mercenaries brought in to squelch the rebellion.
  2. When Gaddafi falls the mercenaries will be looking to get out.
  3. For their own protection, they will take hostages.
  4. European and American civilian remain in Libya and are prime targets to become hostages.
  5. There are currently no NATO, including US, battle groups in the Mediterranean sea capable of a forcible extraction of non-combatants.
  6. No orders to preposition a carrier group capable of carrying out such a mission, if needed, have been given.
  7. Egypt is not in a position to perform this task. (I don’t know if there are any behind the scenes discussion with them to provide some aid.)
  8. It will take 36 to 72 hours to transit a carrier group just to begin preparations in case an extraction by force is necessary.

Plan for the worst – hope for the best.

Knowing that a military response is ready will have a psychological effect making less likely to be needed.


Update: March 2, 2011 – US Navy now headed to Libya



Who would be interested?

19 Feb

I am going to do something I should not. It is not evil or mean, but it is done without her permission. Given that, you now know  I have no authority what so ever to speak for her and what I am doing is for my enlightenment and does not represent her intentions.

What the hell is he talking about now?

Glad you asked. A while back, during an email conversation with @thebloggess, I suggested that she set up a tour – something like “Holiday with the Bloggess” where she would “lead” the tour by arranging lodging, transportation etc. plus a docent. Her leading would consist mostly of residing in the women’s restroom consuming mass quantities of wine. The down side of this is that the women and trannies will have greater access to her. The rest of us will have to console ourselves with beer.

Still not getting to the point, I was looking at bat stuff, not guano, information on the flying mammals not the wooded clubs, and that reminded me of the conversation I had with Jenny, the one about touring and not the guano part, because talking to her it is anything but guano. Of course her emails are parsimonious, which is to be expected since she gets several hundred a day; why it is almost a miracle that she can reply to any. (Hint: if you want a longer response, pretend you’re sponsoring a product you want her to talk about for nearly free and no cash on her blog.) So, since there is a big demand for where bats deposit their guano, no wait – now the demand is seeing bats flying out of their roust. The guano part was so last century before the Haber–Bosch process.

Since Jenny now lives in the Hill Country of Texas, which is of course the home of some of the largest bat populations and there is a colony in the city of Austin, this strikes me as a prime idea. A Hill Country tour of Texas Hill Country music, food, wine, beer, and BATS!

OK, who would not be interested in something like that? Since I don’t have a polling system, leave comments like, “Yes I am very interested”, “This would also be nice to do ”, “Mousebert you are truly wonderful”, ect. Also, since she has to finish her book and do the book touring thingy, it is at least a year away, unless there is a huge demand and we all buy her book as part of the tour, then maybe her publisher would sponsor it. (Keep dreaming.)

Meandering Musings

16 Feb

Why is it that I can think of interesting ideas for other people to post but when it comes to me I seem to be at a loss? It has occurred to me that I should make an alternate personality that I assign ideas and topics to discuss. One issue I have tried to avoid is politics. It is not that I have a nothing to say on the subject – just the opposite. There are plenty of blogs that deal with politics, but I have notice that people are so entrenched in their personal believe that they ascribe evil intentions to those who disagree with them. They are so absolutely sure that they are unable to question their beliefs or position.

Me – sure I have my biases, but I do question mine. It is very difficult to objectively view oneself. People do the most evil things in the name of good. Not to justify what they are doing but because they believe. There is also a circular logic and a psychological aspect.

There is a phenomenon of getting someone to like you by having them do you a favor. This doesn’t seem right – doing them a favor should aid in them liking you, not the other way around, but it is real. It seems that we need to rationalize why we are doing someone a favor; we conclude we are doing it because we like them. Don’t believe me?  Then read this: How to Win Respect — Even From Your Opposition

Heh, you have to read the link to get the Ben Franklin connection.

More musings later.

What I did this weekend

7 Feb

On Saturday I was texted:

The Sandmonkey had come out of the closet

from a Pakistani friend living in Austin. I use to follow a gay Iraqi blogger, Salam Pax, years ago. I had not suspected The Sandmonkey.  Texted back –

So he is gay?

No, he is no longer anonymous.

Well we ended up talking on the phone about world politics for about an hour. Something we use to do regularly when he worked here. We argued whether people from Pakistan were Central Asians or South Asian, whether the Islamic translation for marriage vs. wedding was the contract vs. the ceremony or vice versa, and about Egypt.

Regarding Egypt, he is of the same opinion as my Egyptian friend – that Egypt is too diverse to go the way of Iran – I hope both of them are right. We really didn’t argue so much about Egypt as criticize those involved, particularly the US Department of State ( and praise how much smarter we are than everyone else 😉 ). I have heard a lot of criticism of the intelligence apparatus, such as the CIA, but really – who in the hell didn’t know that it was a powder keg? The authoritarian government of Egypt and widespread corruption in that part of the world has made the people’s lives miserable.  Our “Betters” have bought a bill of goods that “they are either incapable of democracy or not worth the effort to implant it” or “who are we of all people to say what sort of government others should employ?”

The current administration has managed to alienate pretty much everyone on this issue, foreign head’s of state to democratic activist and now they fear a one man, one vote, one time where democracy and human rights are again usurped.

The administration is trying to sail in a storm. A storm not of their own making, but one they  sailed into without preparing. But that is my point about the department of State.  It is not like this has not happened before, is it?  It happened to us in Iran and to the Soviets in Eastern Europe. The events are catastrophic in that they occur at random times and abruptly, but they somewhat predictable, like house damage in a storm. Storms happen!  If one lives up in the North East, you prepare for snow, California earthquakes. There should have been decades of plans based on the historic records and lessons learned.

Part 2

Why were we even discussing the Islamic difference between as wedding ceremony and a marriage ceremony?  To my mind, they were interchangeable  until my Egyptian friend exposed me to the concept. See, he was getting married. He told me the marriage was on a particular date but the wedding was several days later.

So the marriage is a legal contract while the wedding is a religious ceremony and social event.  This makes sense to my libertarian inclinations. That is the State should get out of the marriage contract business and have a domestic contract that couple who wish to wed can enter into, or anyone else.  Why shouldn’t two women who have no sexual interest in the other but are life-long friends enter into such a contract?  They could both be widows who want the social, legal  and tax benefits afforded such couples.  If you want to wed, or “marry” go to your religious institution.

I will pause at this point and  await the usual lack of comments.

Letter from an Egyptian Friend

3 Feb

Below is a copy of a letter I received today and his call for prayers for democracy, justice and peace.

Hi mousebert,

Thanks for your concern. My Family is OK but we are all willing to give every drop of blood to make this revolution succeed. The government is now trying to split people apart, to use thugs and police forces dressed as civilians and call them pro Mubarak protesters and to prevent food from reaching people.

It’s amazing how this revolution has started on face book. The regime has always scared everybody about having an extremist Islamic government if they fall but now everybody sees that the people who have started this revolution are people like me and you.

Now even lots of Christians have joined the revolution because they are suspicious that the regime has performed or allowed the bombing of the Church in Alexandria to get people involved in fighting each other and not fighting the government.

I pray for any of my family members involved and for all the heroes standing against the regime in Tahrir square and elsewhere in Egypt. Please pray for all the people fighting evil in Egypt. God helps them.

Will keep you updated.

Yours Truly,


(Identifying information redacted)

Also please forward.

West African Peanut Soup

1 Feb

This is a recipe shared by  Charlotte Dixon aka @Wordstrumpet per Twitter, and her webpage is listed in the blogroll or click here: Wordstrumpet

West African Peanut Soup

Saute in ¼ cup butter:
2 cups onion, diced
1 cup carrot, diced
¼ red bell pepper, diced
1 tbls garlic, minced
2 tbls curry powder
1 tbls chili powder

Add and simmer 10 minutes:

4 cups chicken broth
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
16 oz. diced tomatoes

Stir in and remove from heat:

½ cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
¼ cup uncooked couscous
4 cups of cooked spinach

Chopped peanuts and chopped scallions

Let me know how it is.

I wonder if I could do this with almond butter?