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Friday, March 09, 2007


Going to Iraq

Just In Case. So you want to go to Iraq?

Not too long ago, InstaPunk said he wanted to head over to Iraq and speak with some of the G.I.'s on the ground and report back to all of us on what he found. The response -- as measured in dollars -- was encouraging.

When we first heard the idea, we thought he was kidding. A brief conversation later, we realized he was serious – as a heart attack.

We began to do what we've done on many previous occasions – see if we can keep InstaPunk from getting killed. InstaPunk is quite willing to go as an embedded journalist, but without a bona-fide, certified media source signing the waivers and, more importantly, having the jack to go in and get the guy out if something goes wrong. The U.S. military isn't interested in evacuating some knuckle-head civilian that can't hack it.

So, if you can't go in as an embedded journalist, you've got to underwrite your own excursion. What does this involve?

Well, let's discuss it.

Security

First, you need security. We thought a minimum of four trained professionals but as we'll discuss in a bit, you're probably talking about eight. These fine folks go out a rate of $7,500 to $10,000 per week. So, there you have $40k to $80k per week for the personnel.

Then you need to get into Iraq. This is best done from the border of either Jordan or Kuwait. If you're going in with the U.S. military, the Kuwait track is preferred, but as a man on his own, you're going to go in from Jordan. Let's fly to Jordan – it costs about $1,500 to get to Amman Queen Alia International Airport (AMM) in Amman, Jordan and back. Multiply that by nine and you get $ 13,500.

Okay. Now you are in Amman with your security team. Now what?

It turns out, if you want to travel into Iraq, it is going to involve cars. Now, InstaPunk had visions of driving in with a Plymouth Road Runner and a .45, but it takes a little more than that. First, you don't drive through Iraq without a convoy of less than four vehicles. This is why we need eight security guys since we're pretty sure they don't want to be driving solo in the convoy.

The cars need to be used, scuffed-up, have mismatched-paint, and be manufactured outside of the U.S., say a BMW 5-series. We don't know what the used car market in Amman looks like, but let's say you're going to need $20k per vehicle – times four is $80k.

Now we have to look at how long you're going to be there. Assuming you want to spend two weeks on the scene, how long do you have to plan on being out-of-town?

To get into Iraq, you've got to be ready to wait at the Jordanian border anywhere from one to three weeks while the Jordanian and Iraqi officials scrutinize your documents and intentions. You have to be prepared for the long end, so let's say three weeks.

To get out of Iraq can take anywhere from two to four weeks. Jordanians seem to be pretty cautious about letting people enter the country from Iraq for some reason. Again, you've got to say four weeks.

So, where are we?

Two weeks in-country; three weeks getting in; and four weeks getting out for a total of nine weeks. Assuming the security fees include a fully outfitted team without additional costs for food and lodging and assuming InstaPunk can get along on about $500 per day we get an idea of the ballpark we're in . . .

  Airfare  $   13,500
  Security9 x 8 x $10,000   720,000
  Old BMWs4 x $20,00080,000
  Per diem9 x 7 x $500  31,500
   
  That is a total of $ 845,000
  ======

But there is more.

Gas and communications. It is about 500 miles from Amman to Baghdad. Now, in and out, plus detours, plus getting around, plus unexpected destinations – say, 2,500 miles per vehicle getting 20mpg. That is 4 vehicles x 2,500 miles divided by 20 x $4.00/gallon is $2,000.

Now, you need at least four Iridium 9500 Sat phone which you can rent for $29.95 per week plus usage. Here's the math: 4 x 9 x $29.95 = $1,078. Usage is $1,100 per 1,000 minutes. Let's load 2,000 minutes on each phone – 4 x 2 x $1,100 = $8,800. Total gas and communications – $ 10,800.

Then, we've got to get InstaPunk body-armor, an automatic weapon, and that .45. We like the Springfield Armory, XD-45 with a 14-round clip plus a fully automatic AK-47 – say, $6,500. Level IV body-armor and a helmet at $5,800 and a nice compliment of ammunition – plus $750 – let's round all this to $15,000.

Oh, yea, we sent him there to write. How about a laptop with ten or fifteen batteries – $5,000.

To be prudent, you should add $1,000 per day as a contingency. That should cover all the stuff you forget. That is 9 x 7 x $1,000 = $ 63,000.

Add it up:

  Airfare $   13,500
  Security9 x 8 x $10,000   720,000
  Old BMWs4 x $20,00080,000
  Per diem9 x 7 x $50031,500
  Gas and communications 10,800
  Body armor and weaponry 15,000
  Computer 5,000
  Contingency   63,000
   
  That is a total of $ 938,800
  ======

Let's call it $1,000,000.

Other considerations include traveling only at night. Then, remember never to stop for any reason on the open road. If there is a traffic jam, just pick another route and keep driving. Don't speak English – this will alienate you from everyone and you will be reported by the intricate network of informants that each faction has assembled to keep them posted on all the fresh meat in the area. Only speak Arabic. But, you'll have to pick a dialect and that will make you some friends, but the rest will pass your arrival along their intricate network of informants that the other factions have assembled to keep them posted on all the fresh meat in the area.

If you've got to stop along the way, be sure to stop at U.S. military check points. No where else. And, remember how we said never to stop but to keep moving? Remember not to drive away from a U.S. military check point as they may suggest that you are a hostile and could lead to being fired upon by U.S. military personnel.

That brings up another good point. You are trying to blend in with the local population by speaking Arabic and avoiding concentrations of Westerners, but you must be sure not to blend in too well because this could lead to an unpleasant encounter with U.S. military.

That's not the worst of it. If all of the above fails, we'll need $2mm to $4mm to ransom InstaPunk from the nice people that happen to kidnap him.

Conclusion

You're going to need $5mm. You might not spend it all, but that is what you're going to need to do this right. InstaPunk might not get kidnapped, but he might get wounded or have something else that results in the need for an emergency evacuation that will not be cheap. So, the additional $4mm needs to be held in reserve.

Less than $2k has come in via the Click-To-Pay button at the top of the left panel. Let us know what you want to do.




Tuesday, March 06, 2007


That Woman.

Popular alternative lefty cover art for Ann Coulter's book "Treason."

MAWRITES WILL BE MAWRITES. You know how it goes. You take a stand, you put your self on the line with that stand, and then someone who's supposed to be on your side betrays you by proving that your side is as bad as their side. That's how I feel right now. Who could possibly have picked a worse time to defend Ann Coulter? I mean, she just called John Edwards a "faggot."

This time I feel as if it had been done to me. I throw my not (in)considerable weight behind the greater civility of conservatives and then, as if on cue, the one conservative who does need some defending goes out of her way to make a total monkey out of me by calling John Edwards a "faggot."

It's just terrible. Unforgiveable. Captain Ed was actually too restrained in his condemnation of Ms. Coulter's tactlessness:

What the ACU did was provide a platform endorsed by a number of conservative groups to Coulter, who then abused it for her own purposes. If we are to tolerate speakers at such convocations using hateful and inflammatory language, then we're endorsing it and adopting it for our own. I'm not going to stand by and watch a movement that has the power to free people and protect liberty get hijacked by someone who treats us as a straight man for her own idea of a joke.

She called him a faggot. Just imagine how hurtful that is. The poor man suffers every single day from the fact that his sexual proclivities could finish his political career off in an instant -- just like NJ governor Jim McGreevy -- and he goes throuh the daily torture of watching youthful and athletic aides dash by him with their spectacularly tight buns while he can't do thing one about it, and then comes the unkindest cut of all. What could be worse? It's like stripping the man naked and putting a photo of him in that state on the cover of a book for everyone to jeer at.

So now I'm speaking to Ann Coulter. Not to all the justifiably outraged liberals. Just to Ann. Please please try to put yourself in John Edwards's place. Try to imagine what it would be like to be made a figure of lewd fun by those who have the power to scoff and humiliate on the national stage. Have you given even a moment's thought to how how it must feel to be John Edwards -- a truly handsome man with a fat old wife -- a youngish fiftyish fellow with golden locks, a boyish face,  and an insatiable appetite for beautiful young men who would be as attracted to you as you are to them, if only you didn't have this messianic passion for saving the world from the heartless trial lawyers who whore themselves out to the richest pricks of all for cold hard cash?

For God's sake, woman. How would you feel if mere political adversaries used the crudest possible sexual humiliations to sabotage your message? You'd probably feel kind of angry and vengeful, wouldn't you? Think about it. That's why you need to listen to the wisdom of Captain Ed, and Michelle Malkin, and Laura Ingraham, and especially Captain Ed. You know. Women can generally take the vilest abuse without turning a hair. They're only women, after all. But a man -- particularly an old man -- has an ego as fragile as the most delicate Venetian glass. It can be shattered by a mere word, at a great distance, in the softest whisper. Think what you've done to Captain Ed, woman.

Aren't you ashamed of yourself now?

I'll bet you are. Bitch.




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