30 January 2004

Blinded by the science

[source, source]

Critics also worry about the studies [on methods for teaching reading] left out of the reading panel’s scope. Of 100,000 studies first culled by the panel, all but experimental research that adhered to the scientific method were eliminated. That left around 40.

Requiring objective facts about education? What kind of hard line conservative fanatic insists on something like that? I blame President George Bush for this kind of thing.

Posted by orbital at 9:58 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Chirac crony confirms clandestine collusion

[source, source]

According to the document [of alledged bribes by Saddam Hussein], France was the second-largest beneficiary, with tens of millions of barrels awarded to Patrick Maugein, a close political associate and financial backer of French President Jacques Chirac.

Maugein, individually and through companies connected to him, received contracts for some 36 million barrels. Chirac’s office said it was unaware of Maugein’s deals, which Maugein told ABCNEWS are perfectly legal.

[emphasis added]

the French connection gets a call from ABC about his sweetheart deal with Saddam, and in denying that it was illegal, he confirms that it actually happened!

Don’t you hate it when that happens?

Posted by orbital at 2:40 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

29 January 2004

THIS JUST IN: There are conservatives in America!

[source, source]

For the next year, [NY Times reporter] David Kirkpatrick—formerly the man charged with covering the book publishing industry—will cover conservatives. Not the Republican Party or the Bush administration. No, it’s real conservatives. […]

“I winced a little when I read that job announcement,” said Times executive editor Bill Keller, “because it was a little like ‘The New York Times discovers this strange, alien species called conservatives,’ and that’s not what this is about.” […]

“Maybe they figured out that’s where the intellectual energy in this country is coming from,” said Paul Gigot, editor of the neoconservative’s sports section, the Wall Street Journal editorial page. “Maybe they could save time and read us. Cut out the middleman.”

At least the NY Times has grasped the fact that conservatives exist other than in survivalists camps in Idaho.

Posted by orbital at 9:57 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

A view from Iraq

[source, source]

You can say that it’s great that Saddam is gone and I’m sure that a lot of Iraqis feel it is great that Saddam is gone. But a lot of them gave their lives. And their living standard is a whole lot worse now than it was before.

What did Mr. Dean meant by this statement? […] I’m not going to comment about the rightness of the statement with more than saying that only a (blind) man would believe it and only a man blinded by his ambitions would dare to say it, but when you say such words, don’t you mean in other words that the sacrifices made by the American soldiers are all in vain? And that these soldiers are not doing a service to the world, nor to Iraqis and not to America.


Your words and those of others were insults to the Americans, Iraqis and moreover to yourself, and I’m certain you don’t represent the number of Americans you fanaticise about. I’m sorry for being so rude, but I really tried hard to restrain myself from being more direct, and thus nearly as rude as you were. If I wanted to respond just as an Iraqi who is so offended by your words, my feelings wouldn’t have been expressed without using a language nastier than what I’ve committed myself to on writing on this blog.


My heart goes with those brave people and the widows, orphans and mothers of the American soldiers who died while doing this great service for their country, ours and humanity. I can’t imagine what their response would be to such thoughtless words motivated with nothing more than selfish ambitions.

Posted by orbital at 9:51 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Not Good Organizations

[source, source]

The Nobel Peace laureate and Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble called human rights organisations a “great curse” yesterday and accused them of complicity in terrorist killings.

“One of the great curses of this world is the human rights industry,” he told the Associated Press news agency at an international conference of terrorism victims in Madrid.

“They justify terrorist acts and end up being complicit in the murder of innocent victims.”

From the NGO point of view, anyone who opposes a regime that provides universal health care is hardly innocent.

Posted by orbital at 9:19 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

28 January 2004

Dominoes, not bombs


One point that I’ve heard [Richard] Perle make really sticks with me. The emphasis on WMDs was largely the result of lawyers at the State Dept. thinking that was the only “legal” reason we could go to war. Perle didn’t reference it directly, but remember the whole kerfuffle about Paul Wolfowitz’s interview with Sam Tanenhaus in which he divulged that the emphasis on WMD above all else was largely due to “bureaucratic” pressures from inside the US government. This, predictably, was distorted into proof that neocon ideologues were lying about the real reasons for the war. But that wasn’t what he was saying at all.

Anyway, my point is this: to the extent the post-Iraq failure to find WMDs is a disaster for the United States in terms of its credibility, its relationships with allies etc. one could argue that the fault lies in the fact that George W. Bush listened too much to Colin Powell and the State Department instead of the hawks, since it was the Wolfowitz crowd which wanted to emphasize freedom, democracy, stability and the war on terror. Now that no WMDs have been found that rhetoric seems self-serving when in fact those were co-equal priorities all along.

This is a reason some of us who supported the invasion of Iraq didn’t pay much attention to President Bush on the issue. I thought there were WMDs in Iraq and that it was an important reason for invading. However, WMD was not only the sole reason for me, it wasn’t even the best reason. The best reason is the one that’s causing places like Libya giving up its WMD program.

Posted by orbital at 5:40 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

It's the haunting time

[source, source]

Claims that dozens of politicians, including some from prominent anti-war countries such as France, had taken bribes to support Saddam Hussein are to be investigated by the Iraqi authorities. The US-backed Iraqi Governing Council decided to check after an independent Baghdad newspaper, al-Mada, published a list which it said was based on oil ministry documents.

Ooooh, that’s gotta hurt!

Posted by orbital at 3:26 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Don't tread on my turf, man!


The BBC must back Andrew Gilligan or face an industrial dispute by its journalists, the head of the National Union of Journalists warned today as it emerged that the BBC reporter will face strong criticism in Lord Hutton’s report.

The NUJ president, Jeremy Dear, said the union would take “whatever action is necessary” to protect Gilligan and cautioned the corporation against sacking or even disciplining its correspondent.

“Our reaction would be to immediately back him, to represent him at any subsequent hearings, and to argue with our members that they should take whatever action is necessary to protect his position,” he told the al-Jazeera website. [emphasis added]

The fellow journalists backing Gilligan released their news through Al-Jazeera? Well, at least it’s not as biased as the BBC.

“Any investigative journalist performing a public service has to feel that they are being supported. The worst thing that could come out of the Hutton report would be for journalists to become timid in the face of government attempts to manipulate the news agenda.”

Yes, we must preserve the manipulation of the news agenda to journalists only.

Posted by orbital at 2:46 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

THIS JUST IN: BBC biased massively distorted its reporting on the invasion of Iraq

Bottom line: UK PM Tony Blair’s government committed a few minor transgressions while the BBC lied, stonewalled and distorted. It’s a near complete victory for Blair and a massive (some say “final”) blow to the BBC’s credibility. Blair has now gone on the offense:

The allegation that I or anyone else lied to this House or deliberately misled the country by falsifying intelligence on WMD is itself the real lie. And I simply ask that those that made it and those who have repeated it over all these months, now withdraw it, fully, openly and clearly.

It’s a win-win for Blair, as the BBC must either apologize or leave Blair with a huge stick to beat them with when they get out of line.

In another summary,

  • Dr Kelly killed himself because of a severe loss of self-esteem as he felt he had lost people’s trust and as he was subjected to the media glare.
  • BBC governors should have properly investigated Downing Street’s complaints as they defended the corporation’s independence.
  • Tony Blair’s wish for the dossier to make a persuasive case might have “subconsciously influenced” Joint Intelligence Committee chairman John Scarlett to put the document in stronger words than usual intelligence reports.
  • But Mr Scarlett had acted to ensure the dossier was consistent with reliable intelligence
  • There was no “dishonourable, underhand or duplicitous strategy” by the government to leak Dr Kelly’s name covertly to help its battle with the BBC.
  • The Ministry of Defence was, however, “at fault and to be criticised” for failing to tell Dr Kelly that his identity as the suspected source would be confirmed to journalists who suggested it.
Posted by orbital at 2:37 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

You can do anything with bayonets except sit on them

[source, source]

A French attempt to lift the European Union arms embargo against China was rejected by ministers yesterday amid concern over Beijing’s human rights record and belligerent attitude to Taiwan. […]

A French attempt to lift the European Union arms embargo against China was rejected by ministers yesterday amid concern over Beijing’s human rights record and belligerent attitude to Taiwan.

Well, those weapons that aren’t going to Iraq anymore need to go somewhere or France will miss its EU budget requirements again. Besides, where is French foreign policy if it’s not arming and coddling mass murdering dicatorships?

Posted by orbital at 2:24 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Some people live and learn, some just live


Instapundit makes a very good point:

Is there any profession that’s worse at admitting mistakes and taking criticism than the journalistic profession?

The stereotype of the military is that they are constantly fighting the last war and are resistant to change. Yet, the various war colleges and service schools set to work analyzing Vietnam while the fighting was still going on. The mistakes and lessons were not swept under the rug. New doctrine was developed and all officers educated accordingly. All this happened while the draft was ended and the defense budget reduced in real terms.

My question is, how many J-schools focus on what went right and wrong with war reporting in SE Asia? Do any of them discuss how the military victory of Tet ‘68 was portrayed as a military defeat for the US and why this mistake was made? Do any of them remind students that it was an armored blitzkrieg from NV, not a peasant uprising which doomed Saigon in 1975?

I sometimes think that the biggest danger of war reporting is the journalist’s selfish motive to be defeatist. Back in April I put it this way:

What is not often discussed is how professional ambitions make journalists defeatists. When wars go well, the uniformed military receives the praise. It is they who enter into history. We remember Nimitz and Patton, not the correspondents who wrote dispatches about the victories at Midway and Bastogne.

In contrast, Vietnam made the careers of David Halberstam, Seymour Hersch, and Neil Sheehan. Exposing military failure and atrocities makes the journalist the hero not the chronicler. It is a powerful temptation, one which could cause a reporter to lose proportion and distort the meaning of events. Yet this is not something that seems to get discussed much.

But journalists have direct access to Truth!

Posted by orbital at 1:46 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

27 January 2004

THIS JUST IN: More spending on public education doesn't create improvement

[source, source]

Seattle school officials are learning a valuable but surprising lesson — throwing money at schools doesn’t always help kids achieve. And spending more money on some students rather than others does little more than cause trouble.

Under Seattle’s weighted student formula, schools with kids who are poor, not fluent in English or have special needs get more money to help them compete. Only it doesn’t seem to work.

“If money is the only thing we need to make better schools — to increase academic achievement for students — then we would have seen that by now,” said Lynn Harsh of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, an Olympia-based group that focuses on state budgets and tax policy, welfare reform, health-care reform, education and governance issues. “Instead we’re seeing the opposite results.” [emphasis added]

Imagine that - spending more money on a failed system leads to more failure!

Posted by orbital at 1:39 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

That just proves that they don't understand their own needs

[source, source]

[T]he most significant reaction was the less seen in the West. That is the voice of the underdogs, the dissidents and the had-enough-of-it people. Kuwait applauded the speech. So did the Governing Council in Iraq. But beyond these two liberated countries, other civil societies expressed their support to the State of the Union. In a sense, it was their state of misery acknowledged in Washington. Students and reformist in Iran cheered. Opposition in Syria and Lebanon breathed better. Southern Sudanese and Nubians reinforced their will. Berbers and liberal seculars in Algeria clapped hands. And from the deepest underground of activism, dissident web sites, with writers around the Arab world, including women in Saudi Arabia, started to count the days. In short: the lowest layers in the region’s make-up received their state-of-affairs with the voice of the most powerful man on Earth, the President of the United States.

How ironic. Inside Byzantium (read Washington’s beltway), the debate had no respite. It is still about “where are the WMDs?” and “what are we doing in Iraq?” But down-under, in what will become the future generations of the entire Middle East, Shiites, Kurds, liberal Sunni, democratic Arabs and oppressed minorities, women and students are reading President Bush’s speech in disbelief. “Who among our own Presidents-for-life and Fundamentalist Monarchs have ever mentioned the mass graves and our vanished human rights?” Let it come from the American President. And if he is not serious, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that the Truth was said.” This is from the underground chat rooms. The people have hope.

Who’s really out of touch with the masses, President Bush or the western liberals who live in the world of the Washington Beltway?

Posted by orbital at 1:36 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Too smart for his own good

[source, source, source]

Recently, I interviewed with a school in one of the metro Atlanta counties, only to receive an e-mail from the principal stating, “Though your qualifications are quite impressive, I regret to inform you that we have selected another candidate. It was felt that your demeanor and therefore presence in the classroom would serve as an unrealistic expectation as to what high school students could strive to achieve or become. However, it is highly recommended that you seek employment at the collegiate level; there your intellectual comportment would be greatly appreciated. Good luck.”

Obviously. The author is able to construct clear, understandable sentences. Clearly those students unable to do so would be mocked for that, making it legally perilous.

Posted by orbital at 9:46 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Education equality in action

[source, source]

The school honor roll, a time-honored system for rewarding A-students, has become an apparent source of embarrassment for some underachievers.

As a result, all Nashville schools have stopped posting honor rolls, and some are also considering a ban on hanging good work in the hallways — all at the advice of school lawyers.

After a few parents complained their children might be ridiculed for not making the list, Nashville school system lawyers warned that state privacy laws forbid releasing any academic information, good or bad, without permission.

As someone noted in the comments, when has a child in the American public school system ever been ridiculed for not being on an academic honors list?

Posted by orbital at 9:29 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Western journalists: hostile or scum?

[source, source, source]

Ultra-left “journalist” John Pilger is openly supporting the “resistance” in Iraq:

Q: Do you think the anti-war movement should be supporting Iraq’s anti-occupation resistance?

A: Yes, I do. We cannot afford to be choosy. While we abhor and condemn the continuing loss of innocent life in Iraq, we have no choice now but to support the resistance, for if the resistance fails, the “Bush gang” will attack another country. If they succeed, a grievous blow will be suffered by the Bush gang.

Pilger’s a bit caught here, because being who he is he can’t join up with any group that’s “choosy” in its allies.

Also, as many have noted, this is just another data point showing that the “anti-war” coalition isn’t anti-war at all.

Posted by orbital at 8:45 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

EU is fed up with the voters not behaving

[source, source]

In her new book, Danish Liberal EU spokesperson Charlotte Antonsen questions the use of referenda as a useful way to build up European democracy.

The book - “Towards the European Constitution” warns that the EU could fall apart if the Danish practise of consulting the people in referenda over important EU treaties is copied by other member states.

“Referenda have a very conservative effect on development. If the other countries copy us, the EU will fall apart”, she writes. […]

“Referenda are in fact pure gambling. There is no guarantee of a positive outcome, unfortunately”.

The most interesting statement here is not the utter disdain for the citizens of the EU, but the admission that the EU is so contrary to public opinion that widespread accountablity to the voters would destroy it.

Posted by orbital at 8:29 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

26 January 2004

Parsimonious Albion

[source, source]

If the cuts were made, it was reported gravely by the papers that carried the story, the Royal Navy would, for the first time in 300 years, have fewer surface ships than the French navy.

Apparently they’ve been taking lessons from Canada.

Posted by orbital at 5:36 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Kerry - the expert on fraud

[source, source]

Sen. John Kerry again repeated his mantra that the United States went to war in Iraq with an “illegitimate coalition.” Kerry has also used the term “fraudulent” to describe the 34 nations that have sent troops to Iraq, including Great Britain, Australia and Poland.

Well, Kerry does know “fraudulent” and “illegitimate” intimately, having been a speaker at hearings where fake witnesses testified to fake atrocities.

Posted by orbital at 11:56 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

25 January 2004

Good prez, bad prez

The cultural divide in action: this transcript of a conversation between President Bush and the White House press pool was posted at The Brothers Judd as an example of why Bush is a good president and by Oliver Willis as an example of why Bush is a bad president. At least in this case the two sides agree on the actual facts.

Posted by orbital at 1:50 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

24 January 2004

The unknown massacre

[source, source]

A study done by the Violence Policy Center found that one in every five law enforcement officers was killed in the line of duty between Jan. 1, 1998, and Dec. 31, 2001.

I can’t believe I missed out on law enforcement officers getting decimated twice over in a 4 year period!

Posted by orbital at 10:29 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Would this be better than the exploding whale?

[source, source]

Medics have warned that Jordan’s breasts could explode if leeches get to suck them in the jungle.

Some sort of hypergolic reaction between blood clotting inhibitors and silicon?

Posted by orbital at 10:24 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Caught again


The San Diego Union-Tribune publishes one whopper of a correction in its Opinion section

In a Jan. 15. follow-up to his Jan. 12 column, “More deceptions to justify war actions,” James O. Goldsborough stated that Fox News was the source of a bogus 1945 Reuters news dispatch that may have been the basis for a comparison of Iraq to post-World War II Germany by officials at the White House and Pentagon. Goldsborough further described the report as a “forgery” written by online columnist Rand Simberg for Fox and that it was then posted on Simberg’s own Internet site two days later.

Not quite.

Posted by orbital at 10:10 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

23 January 2004

Modern Bolsheviks


I’ve noticed we’re increasingly hearing from the Left this past year how this country is split “50-50” , but unjustly and disproportionately controlled by vague and undefined “right-wing forces”. I’ve come to conclude this is a defensive reaction to the realization that not only are they not anything like the majority, but that the Left, outside of a few enclaves they are a dwindling minority. Like the name “Bolshevik”, saying the country is “50-50” is an attempt to hide reality with a lie. If they can pursuade people that the Left does matter, they think they can have some say in what happens next, but if people realize how irrelevant they truly are, then all that’s left for them is to throw temper tantrums and start breaking things.

Raoul Ortega

Posted by orbital at 2:39 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

The bubble meets the road

[source, source]

But the Dean grassroots backfired on Dean in two additional ways. First, the 3,000 or 4,000 people that came to the state on Dean’s behalf may have alienated just as many Iowans as they pulled to the caucuses. There is undoubtedly a strong antiwar streak among Iowa Democrats, but they are not, for the most part, lifestyle liberals. When hordes of kids with dyed hair and multiple piercings descended upon the state to spread Dean’s message with Scientology-like evangelism, Kerry began to look real good. Second, the organizational potential of the Dean army was exaggerated. I was struck by a conversation I had the night before the caucuses with a Dean perfect-stormer named Larry. I asked him what he would be doing the next day. He had no idea. “It’s too damn cold to canvass,” he said. And Larry is from Minneapolis. Even apart from the apathy of some Deaniacs, one has to wonder if the Dean campaign didn’t waste enormous organizational resources figuring out how to move thousands of volunteers into and around Iowa at the expense of figuring out how to move thousands of Iowans to their caucuses.

Posted by orbital at 1:53 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

22 January 2004

You can't please everyone


A reader writes:

At some point, someone is going to have to write an article, or a book, about why the Bush’s have so much trouble winning a second term as President. I expect that W. is not going to win re-election if Kerry can convince enough people that he would responsibly conduct the war on terrorism. At that point, even I (I rooted for Reagan against Ford in 1976 when I was too young to vote) would consider voting for him. I suspect the cause of the Bush failures is that they are chasing votes that they’re never going to get. The resulting run up of spending turns off their conservative base, without gaining them new support elsewhere.

Take the prescription drug program. How many senior citizens are going to vote Republican because of this program? None. Senior citizens know that Republicans will never willingly expand the program while Democrats can’t wait to expand it. Anyone who wants prescription drugs is going to vote Democrat in a big way. In the meantime, those who don’t want the government to be expanding welfare programs become dismayed, turned off, and stay home. Same with amnesty for illegal immigrants. The illegal immigrants and their families know that their interests will be better served by Democrats who believe in immigration, and not by Republicans who are just pandering. Why would they vote Republican when the Democrats are more likely to follow through on the amnesty promises that Bush makes? In the meantime, those who are adamantly opposed to amnesty for illegal immigrants lose interest in giving Bush another term.

The history of the Bush presidencies is full of this, where they actively alienate their natural allies while failing to convert their opponents. Despite the Handicapped Rights act, the Clean Air Act, and the Civil Rights acts that Bush Sr. signed, the Democrat voters couldn’t wait to throw him out and the Republican voters couldn’t see any reason to keep him. I expect the son will imitate the father.

Let’s not forget the steel tariffs, which had no upside at all for President Bush.

Posted by orbital at 9:44 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Remember: don't drink and herd

[source, source]

FOUR wild elephants who ran amok after getting drunk on rice beer were electrocuted in India’s northeastern state of Meghalaya when they brought down power lines, an official said Tuesday.

The herd went on the rampage on Sunday night after storming into villages and drinking from open casks of beer in a remote area in Meghalaya’s West Garo Hills district. “The elephants after getting high on rice beer, went berserk and started dashing against an electric pole,” the forest official said.

Posted by orbital at 9:36 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

THIS JUST IN: Caliphascist training camps in the Saudi Entity!

[source, source]

Saudi authorities have discovered a number of camps outside Saudi cities used for training al-Qaida militants to carry out terror operations, an Interior Ministry official said Thursday.

Imagine that! The heat must really be on if the Saudis are publically admitting the existence of the camps.

Posted by orbital at 9:28 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

21 January 2004

THIS JUST IN: International Criminal Court used for political prosecution

[source, source, source]

British use of cluster bombs in the Iraq war could count as a war crime and justifies further investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor in the Hague, a group of international lawyers say.

This is precisely what I expected the ICC to be used for. As we all know, anything is allowed during peace time if the government provides universal health care.

However, if I were British I wouldn’t worry about this too much - it sounds mainly like a bunch of loony lawyers spouting off. I doubt that even the ICC is stupid enough to try and duplicate that little debacle in Belgium

Posted by orbital at 10:13 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Hoisted by their own euphemism

[source, source]

A small group of Westside High School students plastered the school Monday with posters advocating that a white student from South Africa receive the “Distinguished African American Student Award” next year.

[…] The posters were removed by administrators because they were “inappropriate and insensitive,” Westside spokeswoman Peggy Rupprecht said Tuesday. […] Rupprecht said disciplinary action was taken against the students involved but, citing student privacy policies, she declined to specify the penalties or what about the students’ action led to them.

Obviously they didn’t mean African African.

Posted by orbital at 2:56 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

20 January 2004

Election results, NY Times style

Iowans Reject Kerry by 62-38 Margin!

Mickey Kaus

Posted by orbital at 12:16 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

17 January 2004

Review? Review? We don't need no steeenking reviews!

[source, source]

A number of leading researchers are mobilizing against a Bush administration plan that would require new health and environmental regulations to rely more solidly on science that has been peer-reviewed — an awkward situation in which scientists find themselves arguing against one of the universally accepted gold standards of good science.

Yes, it’s one thing to publish good science in a journal, where it’s important to be correct. For public policy, obviously, being correct isn’t of much importance so why burden the regulators with it?

Posted by orbital at 11:18 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

15 January 2004

Ironic Communism

[source, source]

The [Maoist guerillas in Nepal] rebels stop by teahouses to talk to tourists and ask for donations. Trekkers usually hand over an average of $14. There have been very few reported cases of tourists being pressured after refusing to pay. And those cases have tended to be with individuals who turned out not to be associated with the rebels. Many trekkers are happy to receive the souvenir of a receipt from the Maoists for their donations. Nevertheless, some tourists later complain about having to pay for something that was not included in their package.

I’ve heard of the commericialization of Communist icons after the regime has been discredited, but not before. Have even the Commies become ironic?

Posted by orbital at 8:29 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

14 January 2004

Yet another Bush sell out to Big Oil


THE GERMAN PRESS is beginning to notice that Iraq isn’t a quagmire after all: “The Americans have eliminated all taxes and import customs for eight months, more than a half million cars have rolled into the country since the war ended.

Instapundit dropped the ball on this one. An extra half a million cars in Iraq? It’s obviously about OOOOIIIILLLL! What does Instapundit think those cars run on, hydrogen?

Posted by orbital at 7:32 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Summarizing the O'Neill flap

This pattern of saying something, being surprised by the reaction, and wanting to take it back is why he got fired in the first place.

Vodka Pundit

Posted by orbital at 7:15 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

13 January 2004

THIS JUST IN: Ba'ath secret police not doing well these days

[source, source, source]

THULUIYA, Iraq — Less than a year ago, Ismael Mohammed Juwara lived high in the food chain of President Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. He was a secret policeman feared and respected among his comrades and in his hometown, enjoying a cornucopia of privileges from the government.

Now, as he scrapes out a living by selling diesel fuel illegally, he is a pariah in the new Iraq. “We were on top of the system. We had dreams,” said Juwara, a former member of the Mukhabarat, the intelligence service that reported directly to the now-deposed president.

There is this, and yet some journalists wonder why the average American is coming to despise them. It’s a truly stunning example of scraping the bottom of the barrel when trying to generate sympathy for a set of people.

Posted by orbital at 9:31 AM | View 1 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

10 January 2004

Come on, he's got to be on Rove's payroll


Meanwhile, the Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader reports that Clark has taken one of the most extreme positions on abortion of any presidential candidate in history. Clark “told The Union Leader that until the moment of birth, the government has no right to influence a mother’s decision on whether to have an abortion” (emphasis ours).

“I’m not going to get into a discussion of when life begins,” Clark tells the paper. But at another point in the interview he says, “Life begins with the mother’s decision.” He also says: “I’m in favor of choice, period. Pure and simple.”

As Best of the Web notes, the vast majority of Americans are in the mushy middle (or just plain conflicted) on the issue of abortion and this statement of Clark’s demonstrates a level of disconnect from public opinion that’s just astounding. Which party is it again that’s not in touch with the concerns of the American public?

Posted by orbital at 10:25 AM | View 1 Comments | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

08 January 2004

Modern liberalism explained

[source, source]

What can explain his [President Bush’s] popularity? Can that many people be enamored of what he has accomplished in Iraq? Of how he has fortified our constitutional freedoms with the USA Patriot Act? Of how he has bolstered our economy? Of how he has protected our environment? Perhaps they’ve been impressed with the president’s personal integrity and the articulation of his grand vision for America?

Gosh no. Certainly not the Iraq thing or bolster the economy. Why, I just looked at my portfolio and it’s up less than 100% in the last year. Not to mention that since Iraq, there are still dictators who aren’t sucking up the USA. Clearly, there can be only one answer for Bush’s popularity.

It’s the “Stupid factor,” the S factor: Some people — sometimes through no fault of their own — are just not very bright.

It’s not merely that some people are insufficiently intelligent to grasp the nuances of foreign policy, of constitutional law, of macroeconomics or of the variegated interplay of humans and the environment. These aren’t the people I’m referring to. The people I’m referring to cannot understand the phenomenon of cause and effect. They’re perplexed by issues comprising more than two sides. They don’t have the wherewithal to expand the sources of their information. And above all — far above all — they don’t think.

There you have it, the heart of modern day liberalism. This is the root view of transnational progressivism. It’s just not so commonly acknowledged in the USA.

Posted by orbital at 9:47 AM | View 1 Comments | View 1 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Bizarre tales of the American interior

[source, source]

When they were fund-raising, the Democratic candidates for president all claimed to be Jewish. Now that they are headed for Super Tuesday down South, they’ve become Jesus freaks. […] To ease Democrats into the Jesus thing, the Democratic Leadership Council is holding briefings for Democratic candidates teaching them how to talk about religion. The participants were warned that millions of Americans worship a supreme being whose name is not Bill Clinton.

Even more bizarrely, there are millions of Americans who don’t believe that the UN is the source of morality in the world, either.

Posted by orbital at 9:07 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

07 January 2004


Posting will be very spotty for the next couple of weeks. Multiple real life events are all converging on me.

  • I’m out in California on business. There’s just been a re-org and unlike previous ones, this one looks like it will actually impact our group. This means I have to pay attention and participate at the meetings.
  • I have to go to my father’s funeral in Texas next weekend.
  • She Who Is Perfect In All Ways will be producing a Perfect Child on Friday.

Thanks for reading, and hopefully I’ll be back in production later this month.

Posted by orbital at 1:17 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Egypt moves on from the past

[source, source]

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmad Maher said in Cairo on Sunday that Cairo considers the issue of Camp David as belonging to the past, stressing that Egypt is now eager to promote ties with the Islamic Republic, IRNA reported. […]

“I don’t think using the issue of Camp David will be useful, because it does not exist anymore and is merely a thing of the past,” he said.

I’m just waiting for Colin Powell to announce that he considers this a “step forward” that “opens new opportunities”.

Posted by orbital at 10:18 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

The fruits of a managed economy

[source, source]

China announced a complex transfer on Tuesday of $45 billion from its soaring foreign exchange reserves to two of the four big government-owned banks, the third large bailout in the banking system in less than six years.


The costs of the American savings and loan bailout more than a decade ago - $123.8 billion in public funds and $29.1 billion in supplemental deposit insurance premiums from financial institutions - drew considerable complaints from politicians and the public in the United States. China has been eager to prevent a similar controversy. Its latest bailout, while costly, covers less than half of the nonperforming loans at two of the four troubled banks, and in an economy that is one-eighth the size of America’s.

Despite how bad this looks, I’m sure that it’s OK because China provides universal health care.

Posted by orbital at 10:07 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Hey, the books are clean -- trust me

[source, source]

Even activists like Ralph Nader and the anti-globalization firebrand Naomi Klein, who have often been at the forefront of efforts demanding accountability from corporations and governments, have lashed out at calls for holding NGO’s similarly responsible.

Why would they need oversight? I mean, their hearts are pure. We know this because they’ve told us so and would people of such pure heart lie about that?

Posted by orbital at 9:49 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

06 January 2004

Journalism - a breed apart

[source, source]

A very distinguished New York Times writer once told me that if the Times ballet critic, heading home after assessing the day’s offerings of pliés and glissades, happens to witness a murder on her way to the Times Square subway, she has a First Amendment right and obligation to refuse to testify about what she saw.

So put it all together and you get: (1) the anonymity of Novak’s sources must be protected at all costs for the sake of the First Amendment, and (2) The White House leakers must be exposed and punished at all costs for the sake of national security. Unfortunately for the striking of heroic poses, these two groups are the same people. Either we think they should be named, or we think they should not be named. Which is it?

Journalism has completely lost the concept of even envisioning themselves as part of society.

Posted by orbital at 7:50 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

05 January 2004

Getting in on ground zero

[source, source]

The Pakistani leaders who denied for years that scientists at the country’s secret A. Q. Khan Research Laboratories were peddling advanced nuclear technology must have been averting their eyes from a most conspicuous piece of evidence: the laboratory’s own sales brochure, quietly circulated to aspiring nuclear weapons states and a network of nuclear middlemen around the world.

It’s just so hard for parodists anymore. The top secret lab with a sales brochure is a staple of Nickelodeon cartoons. Unlike A. Q. Kahn Research Laboratories, I would never be able to get away with such a trope.

Posted by orbital at 9:05 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

04 January 2004

NY Times editorial staff is still living in the bubble

The NY Times publishes a whining mass of platitudes that laments the failure of the USA to buckle under to the UN. Junkyard Blog rips it to shreds. It’s too involved to excerpt but worth popping over for a read.

Posted by orbital at 8:07 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Making sacrifices for peace - not

[source, source]

The US and some EU countries lately informed the Palestinian NGOs that, prior to entering into funding agreements, they must sign the pledge, which is entitled “Certification Regarding Terrorist Financing.”

According to the document, the Palestinian NGOs pledge not to “provide material support or resources to any individual or entity that advocates, plans, sponsors, engages in, or has engaged in terrorist activity, including but not limited to individuals and entities,” based on the US Executive Order 13224.

[…] The new conditions set for financing the NGOs have enraged the Palestinians, who accuse the US of trying to blackmail them by asking them to sign the antiterror document.

Clearly, it’s just wrong for the USA and EU to put any conditions on the use of their own money.

Posted by orbital at 1:12 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Stupid 'eathens fault if they're too stupid to understand me!

Just ask Californian sex therapist Dr. Susan Block, who last month published at her website an anti-war piece entitled Rape of Iraq:

The supreme victory for the rapist is proof that his victim “enjoyed” it. Though he may force his way into her property, demolish her home, murder her loved ones, pillage her belongings, though he may terrify and humiliate her, beat and batter her, break her bones and tear her flesh, spill her blood, wound her organs and lay waste to her very soul, if, in the midst of the rape, between tears and shrieks of agony, if his victim should, for a moment, for some reason, any reason, if she should smile, or, better yet, orgasm, the rapist is redeemed; he is even (in his mind) heroic.

Block’s perverse symbolism was noted and subsequently warped by Islamist media in Turkey, which used the Block piece to promote the idea that US soldiers were physically raping Iraqis. Words matter, Susan:

Nurullah Kuncak says his father, Ilyas Kuncak, was boiling about the rumored rapes just before he killed himself delivering the huge car bomb that devasted the Turkish headquarters of HSBC bank last month, killing a dozen people and wounding scores more.

“Didn’t you see, the American soldiers raped Iraqi women,” Nurullah said in a recent interview. “My father talked to me about it. . . . Thousands of rapes are in the records. Can you imagine how many are still secret?”

The articles in the Islamist press are based in part on comments allegedly made by a US sex therapist who denies having written or said anything about soldiers raping women. The therapist, in an online column, explicitly and graphically described the US invasion as a rape, but says that this was clearly a metaphor unrelated to the actions of individual US soldiers, and that she has no knowledge of any physical rapes.

Tim Blair

Posted by orbital at 1:08 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Unbounded ineffectualness

[source, source]

On the last weekend of the year, Slobo won a seat in Serbia’s legislature, as did his fellow “alleged” (as Wes Clark would say) war criminal Vojislav Seselj, and Seselj’s extreme nationalist Serbian Radical Party won more seats than anybody else. […] Even though the court forbade Milosevic and Seselj from actively campaigning in the Serbian election, they somehow managed to. In other words, ”international law” is unable to enforce its judgments even in its own jailhouse.

I’m sure they glared at Milosevic very hard when they heard he was campaiging against orders.

Posted by orbital at 12:10 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

New constitution in Afghanistan


Afghanistan’s constitutional convention agreed on a historic new charter on Sunday, overcoming weeks of division and mistrust to hammer out a compromise meant to bind together the war-ravaged nation’s mosaic of ethnic groups.

That will make some interesting reading when the official copy is published.

Posted by orbital at 11:53 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

03 January 2004

Of course you should wait until they start shooting

[source, source]

Soon after [the helicopter crashed], five men “wearing black press jackets with ‘press’ clearly written in English” fired on U.S. paratroopers guarding the crash site, Kimmitt said. He said it was the first time he had heard of assailants in Iraq posing as journalists.

Of course, any reaction based on this by the Coalition will be the fault of the USA, never those who post as journalists while fighting against the USA or its allies. (Of course, posing as a journalist to aid the USA is completely unacceptable).

Posted by orbital at 8:35 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Solipsism, not bias

[source, source]

With over a hundred thousand Iraqis armed and performing security duties, the crime rate had rapidly come down, and most American troops are now concentrating on operations against terrorist and pro-Saddam Iraqis who are still fighting. A data collection system for crimes has also been installed, and it showed that Baghdad’s murder rate in October was lower than New York City’s (which has the lowest rate of any major city in the United States). Baghdad had six murders per 100,000 population, while New York had seven. This, however, does not count the deaths from American military operations, or terrorist acts, which would increase the Baghdad “murder rate” by at least fifty percent. That would still put it below many large American cities. The murders per 100,000 are 17 in Los Angeles, 19 in Philadelphia, 22 in Chicago and 46 in Washington, D.C. American journalists have no problem getting English speaking Baghdad residents to complain bitterly about “high crime rates.” This is because many of the victims are Sunni Arabs who grew rich working for Saddam. These people still occupy nice homes in fancy neighborhoods. The criminals go where the money is, obtaining an additional satisfaction in sticking it to someone who worked for Saddam. [emphasis added]

It’s kind of the flip side of the American situation where the violence is almost all among the “lower” classes. Based on the sqawking of the journalist class, it seems that Baghdad seems more dangerous because the victims are far more likely to be associates of the journalists. Once again, it’s all about them.

It’s also particularly interesting to compare Baghdad and Washington D.C.

Posted by orbital at 11:53 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

They just need a little re-education

[source, source]

Like most analysts who say they see no polarization, [Robert} Samuelson cites America’s great improvement in racial attitudes and increased tolerance for homosexuals. True, but left unsaid is that a fierce and apparently growing majority of Americans oppose gay marriage (up 6 points to 59 percent, according to Pew) and an even larger percentage of the public opposes racial preferences. ([Alan] Wolfe found that 76 percent of blacks and 83 percent of whites oppose [racial] preferences even when the euphemism “priority” is used in the question).

I must be missing something here, but how is polarized is it when over three quarters of the population on both sides oppose something? Does this mean that 76% of blacks are anti-black?

Posted by orbital at 11:35 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Rules are for others

[source, source]

A very distinguished New York Times writer once told me that if the Times ballet critic, heading home after assessing the day’s offerings of pliés and glissades, happens to witness a murder on her way to the Times Square subway, she has a First Amendment right and obligation to refuse to testify about what she saw.

So put it all together and you get: (1) the anonymity of Novak’s sources must be protected at all costs for the sake of the First Amendment, and (2) The White House leakers must be exposed and punished at all costs for the sake of national security. Unfortunately for the striking of heroic poses, these two groups are the same people. Either we think they should be named, or we think they should not be named. Which is it?

It’s always the stunning hypocrisy of Big Media that gets me, where the rules apply to every one except them. No wonder they bonded with Hillary Clinton so well. Also, as many others have pointed out, we can have a years long, bitter and divisive investigation or Novak and the other five journalists can just speak up.

Posted by orbital at 11:29 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Another failure of American power

[source, source]

Four French soldiers are accused of robbing a bank in Ivory Coast they were supposed to be guarding, sources say. The men have been placed under judicial investigation, one step short of formal charges, say judicial and military officials in Paris.

They are accused of taking 58,000 euros from the bank in the northern rebel-held town of Bouake.

I blame Paul Wolfowitz, and the unmitigated greed that marks American culture.

No wonder France is trying to restrict the importation of American culture.

Posted by orbital at 11:21 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Judging some by their priorities


A Syrian trading company with close ties to the ruling regime smuggled weapons and military hardware to Saddam Hussein between 2000 and 2003, helping Syria become the main channel for illicit arms transfers to Iraq despite a stringent U.N. embargo […]

Iraqi records […] reveal Iraq’s increasingly desperate search in at least a dozen countries for ballistic missiles, antiaircraft missiles, artillery, spare parts for MIG fighter jets and battle tanks, gunpowder, radar systems, nerve agent antidotes and more. [emphasis added]

Pejman asks

Any particular reason why Iraq was so “desperate” for things like “nerve agent antidotes”?

Uh, they were worried that the President Bush, who likes nothing better than killing dark skinned third worlders, might use chemical weapons on Iraqi civilian populations just to see if they worked? (Expect to see this theory on Democratic Underground in the near future).

Posted by orbital at 10:48 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

02 January 2004

Dowd Watch

I can’t remember where I picked this up, but here’s a part time weblog devoted to observing the final stages of Maureen Dowd’s descent in to complete incoherence.

Posted by orbital at 11:07 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

01 January 2004

BBC re-evaluates its listeners

[source, source]

Listeners to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme were asked to suggest a piece of legislation to improve life in Britain, with the promise that an MP would then attempt to get it onto the statute books.

But yesterday, 26,000 votes later, the winning proposal was denounced as a “ludicrous, brutal, unworkable blood-stained piece of legislation” - by Stephen Pound, the very MP whose job it is to try to push it through Parliament.

[…] the winner of Today’s “Listeners’ Law” poll was a plan to allow homeowners “to use any means to defend their home from intruders” - a prospect that could see householders free to kill burglars, without question.

Mr Pound said, “I can’t remember who it was who said ‘The people have spoken - the bastards’.”

[…] Mr Pound told The Independent: “We are going to have to re-evaluate the listenership of Radio 4.”

Yes, we wouldn’t want the wrong sort of people to listen to government funded radio.

Posted by orbital at 10:45 PM | View 1 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

LA Times reign of error

Oh, what the heck.

I cited this long post in my previous post but for a different reason. The post has a mass of bias, errors and distortions by the LA Times. It’s too much to excerpt but well worth reading. The comments contain numerous other errors as well. It was quite a year for the LA Times. I’d like to say it was part of the melt down of the LA Times, but there’s no real evidence that it’s actually worse — it may simply be people are noticing more.

Posted by orbital at 6:23 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Spend first, balance later

[source, source, source]

When the [California] Legislature was trying to figure out what to do about a $38 billion budget shortfall, the federal government dropped $2.4 billion into the Legislature’s lap. Democrats immediately spent all the money — not on fixing the hole in the budget, but on social programs.

I hadn’t heard that before. Kind of puts paid to the whole “the feds should bail out the states” idea, eh?

Posted by orbital at 6:10 PM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Preventing fish based hijackings

[source, source]

I wasn’t prepared, however, for the TSA to stop me right at the entrance [to LaGuardia airport], proclaiming that no small pets, including fish, were permitted through security. I had, however, just received the blessing of the ticket agents at US Airways and pre-assured MJ’s [the fish] travels with Pittsburgh International Airport security weeks before our travel date [emphasis added]. I tried to explain this to the screener who stood between me and the gates, but she would have none of it.

I was led back to the US Airways ticket counter, stocking-footed and alone, where the agents reasserted that they did not see a problem for me to have a fish on board, properly packaged in plastic fish bag and secured with a rubber band as MJ was. But the TSA supervisor was called over, and he berated me profusely. He exclaimed that in no way, under no circumstances, was a small fish allowed to pass through security, regardless of what the ticket agents said.

Couldn’t they look at the fish and see it wasn’t packing a thumbtack?

Posted by orbital at 1:37 AM | View 2 Comments | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

THIS JUST IN: Controlling spending helps with a budget

[source, source]

State spending rose 4.6% in 2002 while revenue increased only 3%; that forced states to borrow billions of dollars to balance their budgets. But legislators clamped down in 2003. Spending rose only 1.3% in the first nine months of the year while revenue increased 1.5%.

The fiscal restraint is paying dividends. For the first time in three years, most legislatures won’t have to plug holes in existing budgets this year. Instead, they will focus on next year’s budgets, which take effect July 1 in 46 states.

So those emergency federal funds turn out not to be required. Who’d have thunk it?

Posted by orbital at 12:25 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL