Wednesday, October 12, 2005

From Z To Shining Z

Interesting times, indeed. The main event, of course, is the coming elections on Saturday for the Constitutional referendum. If it passes, and by all indications it ought to, that pounds yet another nail into the coffin of Zarqawi's band of merry murderers.

The insurgency isn't quite dead yet. But Al Qaeda is hurting. Badly.

We've allegedly intercepted a letter from Ayman Al-Zawahiri to Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. The contents are, to say the least, interesting. There's a bit of analysis from Austin Bay, and the full text is here. (Warning! That last is a link to a PDF.)

First question: as I said in an earlier post about a letter purported to be written to Zarqawi, is this genuine? Same answer as before: probably. False letters are as dangerous as sweaty dynamite. Sure, it'll blow up. Maybe in your truck, or in your hand, and maybe even where and when you wanted it to. But it's more dangerous than it's worth.

Three interesting points to ponder.

One, the tone of the letter isn't the tone of someone who's ahead by thirty points with two minutes to go in the fourth quarter. It's the tone of the coach who's way down with a few minutes left, trying to talk up his quarterback. He knows he probably can't win. What he's really trying to do at this point is limit the spread to single digits.

Sure, he talks about a roadmap for victory. But his roadmap for victory requires our cooperation. For them to win, we have to abandon Iraq. Not just pull out our soldiers. But abandon them, the way we abandoned ARVN in 1975. Herein lies a tale.

Common opinion has it that the insurgents won the war in Vietnam. That's not quite the case. South Vietnam did not fall to a guerrilla army. The Viet Cong were pretty much used up by the end of 1968. Among the other things that the Tet Offensive did, it mauled the VC something fearful. No, South Vietnam fell to mechanized infantry, armor, and artillery. A similar invasion had been repulsed in 1972, when the US committed its air support and logistical help. In 1975, air support was withheld, and ARVN was given twenty rounds and two grenades per man.

The predictable thing happened.

Just about the only way this sad tale can be repeated is if we utterly abandon Iraq. That's such a monumentally stupid thing to do that it amazes me that it's even on the table. We cannot allow that to happen. If we keep our nerve, and keep faith with such friends as we do have, we cannot lose. We may not entirely win, but we won't lose.

The second interesting point is how Zawahiri hits up Zarqawi for cash.

Read Col. Bay's commentary, and read the translated document itself. And think.

If true, this has absolutely tremendous implications.

See, one of the things that's been going on quietly, behind the scenes, is an effort to dry up Al Qaeda's money supply. Starve the beast, and eventually it'll die. Maybe not all the way dead, but still sufficiently weak that they can't do anything of any real worth.

If the Home Office is dunning the branches for donations, what does that say for their reserves? For Osama's legendary deep pockets?

Maybe those deep pockets have a few holes in them, now?

We've hurt them, folks. Hurt them bad, and hurt them where it counts. Money buys weapsons, airline tickets, mobility, access, power. No money buys air sandwiches, and not much else. They're close to running on fumes.

Lastly, Zawahiri hints at some strategic policy blunders that Zarqawi has made. We've all seen how poorly the slaughter campaign has been playing in the Muslim world. It's not making them love us, necessarily, but it's making them hate Al Quaeda, which works just as well. It appears that Zawahiri, at least, has read his Mao. But Zarqawi has not. Instead of being a fish in the sea of people, he's a bull rhino in a stock tank of people. The people hate his kind with increasing passion, and will dime them out in a heartbeat, if given a reasonable opportunity to do so. Zawahiri has noticed this, and is asking Junior Z-Man to rein in a bit on the beheadings. "Not that the infidels don't deserve it, son, but it's annoying the neighbors."

But it's too late. That boat's already left the harbor. They've seen the pitiful color of Zarqawi's money, and the Iraqi people don't want any of it.

When the end comes, it's liable to come quickly. The whole movement is living off principal, not income, and that's drying up. With the referendum this weekend, another major milestone passes. With it, yet another opportunity to reclaim the initiative slips through their grasp.

Now is not the time to let up. Now is the time to clamp on the pressure for all we're worth. Now is the time for an all-out full-court press. The harder we press, the sooner they exhaust their reserves.

They're not invincible, and time is not on their side.

We can outlast them. Their own message traffic tells us so.

Die, Smurfs! Die! DIE!

Ordinarily, I have no beef with UNICEF. They're fine folks, and their hearts are in the right place. And of course, I'm all for letting kids grow up free from fear.

But, I do have a problem with this new ad campaign, reported here by Varifrank.

You see, I hate those little blue Communist bastards. Always have.

There's a generation of American men of a certain age who are nodding their heads in agreement. We hated, HATED that animated war crime that was lyingly pushed on us as a Saturday morning cartoon. We all wanted with every fiber of our being for Gargamel to catch one, just one, spit him on a stick, and roast him over an open fire. Sadly, it never happened.

Until now.

Is it that wrong to pump your fist and bay at the moon for pure joy at this spectacle of Smurfocide?

Dunno. Maybe. But probably not.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Top Secret Fried Chicken

As a break from the ordinary, I'd like to present a new recipe I've discovered. (Mainly, I wanted to get this down someplace that I wouldn't forget it.)

Fried chicken was my favorite food, growing up. I just loved Mom's fried chicken. It probably wasn't good for me, but it was crispy, salty, and just plain good. I haven't quite re-discovered that recipe, but I'm getting close.

Here's what you need to have on hand to get started:

Chicken: I like the boneless, skinless chicken breasts. For my family, four is a good number. You can also use this recipe for other pieces of chicken. There ends up being enough batter for about eight pieces, I think.

Three eggs.

Two cups of flour.

About two cups of water. (Varies depending on desired consistency.)

Spices. This is a part that you can do a bit of experimenting with. I'll expand on that later.

You'll need a bowl, something like a Presto Fry Daddy, and a baking sheet of some kind or other. I don't know what the technical name for it is, but you'll want something big, flat, metallic, and able to take what your oven dishes out.

Anyway: Break the eggs into the bowl and whip 'em up good, like you were going to make scrambled eggs. Add the flour, and mix well. Now, add the water. I don't know the precise amount. About two cups seems right. You want something more like cake batter than bread dough. Now, add the spices. You can be creative here. I used garlic powder, lemon peel, and black pepper. Next time I try this, I'll probably add some salt, and maybe a dash or two of Tabasco for an extra little kick. You probably have a couple of spices that are near and dear to your own taste buds. But don't add too much. Spices are easy to overdo.

Now, defrost the chicken, if necessary. Coat a piece of chicken in the batter, and drop it in the Fry Daddy for a minute or two. But only a minute or two, dig? You're about to do something very clever with that baking sheet. After a minute or two in the Fry Daddy, put the chicken on the baking sheet. Repeat this until all of your chicken is on the baking sheet.

At this point, your oven needs to have been preheated to 400 degrees. Put the chicken in the oven for 40 minutes at 400 degrees. When it comes out, it'll be nice and crispy on the outside, and tender and juicy on the inside. Yum!

Also, you can fry up the batter by itself. Use a spoon to dribble bits of it into the Fry Daddy, and scoop the fried bits out of the oil after a couple of minutes. Bake it along with the chicken. It's tasty and crunchy. Probably not good for you, but tasty and crunchy nevertheless.

Of course, if you don't even like fried chicken, this recipe is completely useless to you. But if you do, it's probably worth trying. Recommended.