30 April 2004

It you got it from the UN, it's not a good idea

A scary report that points out the the Oil for Food program is effectively still in operation. It was handed off to the Coalition which has now handed it off to an Iraqi ministry. However, it’s still a centrally run bureaucracy that distributes food that is the main source of food for 60% of Iraqis. The report points out four major negatives from this:

  • People who don’t have to work for a living are a lot more likely to cause mischief
  • Local agriculture will struggle against the free food
  • It’s going to be corrupt and when someone is finally caught it will be a major agitprop opportunity for the wreckers.
  • It will be particularly vulnerable to security issues.

Not an encouraging picture.

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Florida decides private property is passé

[source, source, source]

Florida’s constitution allows governments to take your land for a public purpose, such as a road or school, as long as you receive a fair price.

But legislation — which could be approved this week — would allow a city or county to take an individual’s land, with fair compensation, and sell it to a private developer for a shopping center or office building.

Proponents claim that this ability won’t be abused. That seems reasonable - when has government power ever been abused for the benefit of the well connected?

UPDATE: The bill has been withdrawn for this year. But the sponsor says it’ll be back…

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It was a cold winter in New York...

[source, source]

The vast majority of the United Nations’ oil-for-food contracts in Iraq have mysteriously vanished, crippling investigators trying to uncover fraud in the program, a government report charged yesterday.

The General Accounting Office report, presented at a congressional hearing into the scandal-plagued program, determined that 80 percent of U.N. records had not been turned over.

Was Hillary Clinton working there? Maybe they should check Annan’s closets.

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The heart of hope is still beating...

[source, source]

It was just a throwaway line, an aside in a speech to some fellow American Muslims that Muqtedar Khan considered a surefire crowd-pleaser. But when he criticized President Bush over the war on Iraq, Khan was surprised by the response.

“I was booed. They were shouting and booing at me,” said Khan, a political scientist at Adrian College in Michigan. “A man came and told me, `If you think the war in Iraq is not moral then I’m sorry to say you have no idea what morality is.”’

Only people like this in the Ummah can save Islam from the scrap heap of history.

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29 April 2004

Judenhass in Europe

Bjørn Stærk relates a tale of how NRK, a TV station in Norway, invented a Jewish conspiracy out of thin air for a broadcast interview. It’s an excellent description of what people mean by the rise of judenhass in Europe.

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A picture is worth a thousand words

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Take it outside


In a deadly expression of feelings that until now were kept quiet, a group representing local residents is said to have killed at least five militiamen in the last four days [in Najaf].


The group calls itself the Thulfiqar Army, after a twin-bladed sword said to be used by the Shiite martyr Imam Ali, to whom Najaf’s vast central mosque is dedicated.

Residents say leaflets bearing that name have been circulated in the city in the last week, urging Sadr’s al-Mahdi army to leave immediately or face imminent death.

This is of course unverified, but if true is a very good sign. It’s plausible because the Thulfiqar aren’t supporting the Coalition as much as asking the Mahdi to ‘take it outside’.

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Not their finest hour


here’s the exchange between Global’s Martin Himel and Dr. Tim Benson, head of the British editorial cartoonists’ society which honoured the Independent’s Sharon-eating-babies cartoon, in Jenin: Massacring Truth (as transcribed by me):

Himel: My question to you is, why, in all these paintings [sic] don’t we see Sharon and Arafat eating babies?

Benson: Maybe Jews don’t issue fatwas.

Himel: What do you mean by that?

Benson: Well, if you upset an Islamic or Muslim group, um, as you know, fatwas can be issued by Ayatollahs and such, like, and maybe it’s at the back of each cartoonist’s mind, that they could be in trouble if they do so.

Himel: If they do what?

Benson: If they depict, uh, say, an Arab leader in the same manner.

Himel: Then they could suffer?

Benson: Then they could suffer death, couldn’t they? Which is rather different.

Benson is grinning throughout this section of the interview.

It’s not so much the cowardice of this approach but that this group of writers rewards it with their highest honor.

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28 April 2004

A day late and many dollars over


From Homer’s Iliad to Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five , some of the most enduring works of literature come from the experience of war. The federal government is now launching a program to encourage troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to chronicle those experiences. Prominent American writers like Mark Bowden and Bobbie Ann Mason will fan out to American military bases to teach writing workshops to soldiers and their spouses.

Hey, federal dudes, why not just give them weblogs? There’s been a large amount of quality writing coming out on that channel. I suspect that this war will be better annotated by the writings of the participants than any previous war, without any help from the feds.

P.S. I’m sure I’d be amused by tales of encounters between milbloggers and “prominent American writers”.

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Discard the cloak of moderation

[source, source]

Sen. Clinton delivered the unprecedented attack in an interview with the London-based Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat on Monday, with newspapers from Tehran to Islamabad picking up her harsh words almost immediately.

Typical was the coverage by Tehran’s news agency Mehr, which quoted Clinton as saying that “the U.S. is trapped in the quagmire of Iraq.”

“Referring to the Bush Administration policies as arrogant and insolent,” Mehr said, “the wife of the former U.S. president further added that Bush is not willing to admit his mistakes in Iraq, the grave mistakes that have endangered the lives of both the Iraqi people and the U.S. servicemen alike.”

Don’t hold back, tell us what you really think.

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It's not neutrality, it's the other side

There are two ways, I suppose, one could inform readers of the Geneva Convention stipulation against using places of worship to conduct military attacks. One might be to headline saying that Terrorists Attack Coalition Forces From Mosques. That would be one way to present the information.

Another might be to say: Mosques Targeted in Fallujah. That was the Los Angeles Times headline this morning.

US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld

That would hurt if the LA Times cared about facts.

P.S. I was going to include the original source, The Corner, but those idiots (as usual) didn’t put in the link to the original source. Can someone explain the web to them?

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Let me show how it's really done...


Lying on his stomach on a rooftop and wearing goggles and earplugs, a Marine sniper keeps an eye to his rifle sight. His main task in recent days has been trying to hit the black-garbed gunmen who occasionally dash across the long street in front of him. To dodge his shots, one of the gunmen recently launched into a rolling dive across the street, a move that had the sniper and his buddies laughing.

“I think I got him later. The same guy came back and tried to do a low crawl,” said Lance Cpl. Khristopher Williams, 20, from Fort Myers, Fla.

At least we’re not fighting professionals. Or even brave warriors:

Others have run across the street, hiding behind children on bicycles, said the sniper.

What kind of parent sends her child out on a bike on the front line of a battle? Are these parents insane? Are the gunmen forcing the children out? Or are we being so restrained it doesn’t seem like a battle? Something’s very odd…

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A robbery that bombed

[source, source]

A Hamas suicide bomber blew up two armed Palestinians who tried to rob him at gun point in the Gaza Strip. […]

Palestinian security officials said the the gunmen were criminals who were involved in a car theft ring that brought stolen vehicles from Israel to Gaza.

Hamas said the bomber was on his way to try to infiltrate into Israel, accompanied by another Hamas member and a guide, when they were stopped by the armed men.

The robbers forced the bomber to lie on the ground and tried to steal the bomb, but the militant detonated it, killing all three. The other Hamas man and the guide escaped.

The Palestinian talent - turning tragedy in to farce.

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27 April 2004

Robots don't do snark


There is nothing that a human can do in low Earth orbit, other than the study of other humans, that a robot cannot do better

Dwayne Day

Bah. I’d like to see a robot run this weblog.

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Chomsky says: "If only the Coalition did occupation like Nazi Germany and USSR, Iraq would be peaceful"


Enter stage right Noam Chomsky on his site:

Typically, military occupations are quite successful, even by the most horrendous conquerors. Take, say, Hitler’s occupation of Western Europe and Russia’s postwar occupation of Eastern Europe. In both cases, the countries were run by collaborators, security forces and civilian, with the troops of the conqueror in the background. There was courageous partisan resistance under Hitler, but without extensive foreign support, it would have been wiped out. In Eastern Europe, the US tried to support resistance (inside Russia as well) until the early 1950s, and of course Russia was in confrontation with the world dominant superpower. There are many other examples.

Some things to bear in mind before we get to the meat. It is estimated that 600,000 lost their lives during the invasion, occupation and liberation of France in WWII. The Vichy republic itself was responsible for around 135,000 deaths and nearly 80,000 French Jews were deported to concentration camps. Estimates of German/collaborator deaths at the hands of The Resistance (no quotes required here), stack up around the 10,000 mark.

That’s just France. One can only guess at the horrific human cost of the Soviet Union’s “quite successful” suppression of half a continent from the Baltic to the Adriatic.

Apparently Chomsky believes that there’s no relationship between the means and the ends of Nazi Germany’s and the USSR’s occupations of conquered countries. Read the entire article — it’s well worth the time even though it’s taking down the continental sized target that is Chomsky.

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Mourning over ink

The Chicago Boyz comment on an NPR speaker who waxes lachymose over the travails of a cartoon character because it’s the only “person” he knows who is in Iraq.

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26 April 2004

Spending money like a Canadian

[source, source]

A suppressed report by the [Canadian] federal government evaluating the effectiveness of spending $500 million since the year 2000 to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases has shown — surprise! — that the spending was largely wasted, producing neither a reduction in gas emissions, nor the development of new “cleaner” technologies.


How did the government manage to blow $500 million of taxpayer money?

It put it into “Action Plan 2000,” which committed $210 million to promote technologies that reduced greenhouse gas emissions in industry and transportation; it gave $125 million to cities to encourage them to use the non-existent new technologies.

And another $100 million was spent on promoting foreign demand for the non-existent new technologies.

Being a logo-realist means never having to care if something exists.

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I threw them away before I kept them

[source, source]

The Kerry campaign Web site says it is “right-wing fiction” that he “threw away his medals during a Vietnam War protest.”

Rather, the Web site says, “John Kerry threw away his ribbons and the medals of two veterans who could not attend the event.”

[…] A television interview Mr. Kerry gave in November 1971 shows that Mr. Kerry himself fed the confusion from early on. […] When the interviewer asked, “How many [medals] did you give back, John?” he answered, “I gave back, I can’t remember, six, seven, eight, nine.”

When the interviewer pointed out that Mr. Kerry had won the Bronze and Silver Stars and three Purple Hearts, Mr. Kerry added, “Well, and above that, I gave back my others.”

He would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those medaling kids.

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They ain't dead quite yet

Here’s a scary set of musings:

In any case, the interesting part of the Times’ “how Hillary became a hawk” piece isn’t the why, it’s the fact that liberals don’t seem to mind very much:

While some liberals have complained about her hawkish ways, it does not seem to have hurt her overall standing with Democrats. A recent poll by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, for example, showed that 71 percent of Democrats surveyed expressed support for her, compared with 65 percent garnered by another prominent New York Democrat, Charles E. Schumer, the state’s popular senior senator.

Lee M. Miringoff, director of the polling institute, said those numbers suggested Mrs. Clinton’s popularity among Democrats may transcend any position she might take challenging liberal orthodoxy. That, he added, was reminiscent of Mr. Clinton, who remained immensely popular in the party even as he defied liberal constituencies with moderate to conservative positions on issues like crime and welfare.

Let me state my bias — I’m bitterly opposed to Hillary Clinton. However, she’s reminiscent of President Bush with regard to this article. First off, history shows that it doesn’t pay to underestimate either of them. Second, both of them are maintaining their popularity with their bases despite taking some positions that are not popular among the base (Clinton - hawkishness, Bush - spending like a drunken sailor). These factors have made Bush a formidable force on the national political stage. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for Clinton as well.

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25 April 2004

9/11 Investigation - commission or cult?


Byron York asks, “What’s this “brother” thing going on among the members of the Sept. 11 investigating commission?

“You had a very interesting exchange with Brother Lehman,” said Democratic commissioner Jamie Gorelick to CIA Director George Tenet on April 14, referring to Republican Commissioner John Lehman.

“I’m going to sound like my brother Kerrey, which terrifies me somewhat,” said Republican commissioner Jim Thompson on April 8, referring to Democratic Commissioner Bob Kerrey, a former senator from Nebraska.

“As Brother MacGaffin said, this bias…has plagued us for years,” said former Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre last Dec. 8, testifying alongside former top CIA official John MacGaffin.

And this, last Sunday, from Gorelick, writing in the Washington Post: “I intend — with my brethren on the commission — to finish the job.”

Kind of creepy. But remember, having the Commission be open and transparent doesn’t mean that looking in to the Commission’s structure is permitted. Instead, it means having the Commission drown out other voices so it is the only source of information about the Commission.

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24 April 2004

Planting the seeds of change

[source, source]

He can’t quite make money grow from trees, but a New Zealand scientist has devised a way to harvest gold from plants.

The idea: Use common crops to soak up contaminants in soil from gold-mining sites and return the areas to productive agriculture. The gold harvested from the process pays for the cleanup - with money left over for training in sustainable agriculture.


The process is called phyto- remediation. First, he treats the contaminated soil with chemicals that break the gold down into water-soluble particles. Then he introduces the crops.

“Basically a plant will take up anything that’s in the soil,” he says. Corn and canola have a natural ability to take up huge amounts of metal.

Of course, the crops aren’t eaten because they’re full of toxic metals.

Instead, Anderson harvests them for their minerals as they begin to die. He estimates he can recover 1 kilogram of gold per hectare (14 ounces an acre) and about half as much mercury through this process. Then the gold is used to pay for the cleanup and to educate locals about sustainable agriculture.

This is not only geek-cool, but actually useful. This is exactly the kind of “green” technology that any non-Idiotarian should support. It makes a stunning contrast to the hair-shirt kind of environmentalism one normally sees.

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23 April 2004

It's the sanctimony again

[source, source]

Thursday’s New York Times misidentified GOP Senate candidate Pete Coors as a Ku Klux Klan member who murdered a black sharecropper. . . .

The Times story concerned a federal court decision upholding Louisiana resident Ernest Avants’ 2003 conviction in the slaying.

The story indicated the accompanying photo was of Avants. But the picture actually was of Coors on the day the Golden beer baron announced he was running in Colorado’s open Senate race.

I’m sure that the person who wrote this still doesn’t see what the problem is.

[source, source]

The next item isn’t Big Media “accidentally” making a mistake that makes a political opponent look bad, but simply being flat out gullible:

Many news organizations across the country are mistakenly identifying the flag-draped caskets of the Space Shuttle Columbia’s crew as those of war casualties from Iraq.

Editors are being asked to confirm that the images used in news reports are in fact those of American casualties and not those of the NASA astronauts who were killed Feb.1, 2003, in the Columbia tragedy.

An initial review of the images featured on the Internet site www.thememoryhole.org shows that more than 18 rows of images from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware are actually photographs of honors rendered to Columbia’s seven astronauts.

These wouldn’t be such a big deal if Big Media didn’t mock others for being innaccurate, or the blunders weren’t so mind numbingly stupid.

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No, no, after you

[source, source]

Asked about US and Israeli demands to halt terror attacks as a condition for resuming the peace process, [PLO Foreign Minister Farouk] Kaddoumi replied: “They can go to hell!”

My guess is that the US and Israeli leaders aren’t the ones on the fast track to that destination.

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Oddly, a President plays to his base

[source, source]

Bush’s support for Sharon may have gone over well with conservative and Jewish voters in the U.S. presidential election, but it inflamed the Arab world.

Well, yeah … can you say “likely voters”?

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The right to arm bears

[source, source ]

Volunteers at the US RAF Lakenheath base in Suffolk have been producing the soft toys from old and torn uniforms which were found in an attic.

But campaigners Suffolk 4 Peace have said the scheme is insensitive and could traumatise the Iraqi children.


Annie Wimbush, of Suffolk 4 Peace, said the material being used was inappropriate.

“The camouflage material, the uniform material that’s being used could in fact trigger trauma symptoms in a child as well as relieve them,” she said.

Just the kind of idiotic protest you’d expect from a group that thinks “for” is spelled “4”.

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Peace award-winning General Romeo Dallaire was raked over the coals at the International Conference on Genocide, held at Kigali, Rwanda in the very country where his United Nations Command had failed to prevent a massacre of 800,000 people. He was asked by angry participants how he could have let the very thing he was charged to prevent happen without resistance. He blamed the Britain, France and the United States for not coming to his aid.

“You, me, my forces, were abandoned by our own countries and the international community,” the retired Canadian Armed Forces lieutenant-general told the International Conference on Genocide […]

He faced two specific attacks yesterday, one from a Belgian academic who questioned why he did not disobey orders from UN headquarters and do more to protect civilians, and another by a Belgian doctor-turned-legislator who said Gen. Dallaire should have resigned when it became clear the UN Security Council would not appropriately support his mission. …

Gen. Dallaire angrily denied the charge. “With no resources to sustain a battle, I would have become the third target, the third force in the battle, and as such would have been free game for the other side to eliminate the force in total,” he said, explaining why his troops did not engage Hutu militias to defend Tutsi civilians who sought shelter with the peacekeepers.

Dallaire’s statement is astounding on three counts. First, it is a candid admission that the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission was wholly unprepared to fulfill its mission. Even had he been prepared to disobey the United Nations instructions to sit on his hands, Dallaire is arguing he did not have the military means to be more than a sacrificial force. The second is that he accepted this lunatic mission, by his own description little more than an imposture or a fraud, and reposed on it the credulity of an entire African nation. The third is his revelation that criminal responsibility lies, not with the men who shot, hacked and stabbed thousands to death, but with the American taxpayer who did not do enough to restrain them, as those who are responsible for naughty children. That said, Dallaire has admitted that he unit he commanded could not and it would not fight.

I think it might also be mentioned that any protection of civilians Dallaire might have attempted would have been in direct violation of his orders from the UN. Think about that - his mission had no other purpose than to protect civilians (by preventing a genocide) yet he was forbidden by the very source of mission from doing that. Of course, if one sends out a military force that is forbidden to fight, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s capable of doing so.

This leaves us with the one big policy question of the day: Are these the people who should take charge of protecting civilians in Iraq?

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What's in it for me?

Belmont Club has an analysis of what many of we supporters of our current actions in the Middle East worry about. It points out that the worst results from a failure of President Bush’s mission to bring self-ordered society to the Middle East. Note carefully that it wouldn’t be the West that would pay the highest price.

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22 April 2004

Kerry recommends invading Iraq and stealing their oil


I believe the American people deserve a president who just isn’t going to have a friendly talk, but who is going to fight to guarantee that we lower [oil] prices for Americans

Senator John Kerry

Gosh, and I thought it was President Bush being controlled by the oil cabal who wanted to fight to bring about lower oil prices.

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Three's a crowd

Via Instantman we have a photo essay on a protest at the Supreme Court. What’s interesting is the different between the situation in these photos and what was reported in Big Media. One has a few stragglers while the other has a Very Important Protest. Guess which is which.

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We'll just spruce that up a bit - no need to be pedantic


The Washington Post’s ombudsman, Michael Getler, admits the paper engaged in a little subjective phrasing in Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus’ story about the now-famous Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) from August 6, 2001:

The lead of the story by reporters Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus said: “President Bush was warned a month before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that the FBI had information that terrorists might be preparing for a hijacking in the United States and might be targeting a building in Lower Manhattan.” The story said the information was in the written daily briefing presented to Bush on Aug. 6, 2001. Well, that is close to, but not exactly, what the document said. After a reference in the PDB to some earlier and uncorroborated reports about al Qaeda hijacking plans, the pertinent paragraph says: “Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.”

The memo refers to “federal buildings” and not “a building,” as the story’s first sentence does. The memo does not use the word “targeting.” It mentions “New York” but does not specify “Lower Manhattan.”

Getler goes on to note that “The words ‘targeting a building in Lower Manhattan’ present a mental picture closer to the World Trade Center than does ‘federal buildings in New York,’ which could mean many locations.”

Does anyone think that Milbank and Pincus will suffer in any way for writing that distortion?

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Political dirt

[source, source]

The wife of Montana Democratic Sen. Max Baucus has been charged with assaulting another woman following a Tuesday night dispute over mulch at a Washington, D.C., garden center.

It used to be drunken Senatorial wives, now it’s ones who spend too much time watch the H&G channel.

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21 April 2004

If they get a vote, everyone will want one!

[source, source]

Tony Blair’s decision to allow Britain to vote on the European Constitution has been met with dismay in other EU capitals.

That’s the essence of the article and is really all that matters. But other bits are so funny that I have to quote them:

Chirac will doubtless work overtime to capitalise on Britain’s referendum as yet another example of Anglo-Saxon obstruction in Europe

The EU, they [French Socialist Party] claim, has been hijacked by free market liberals

The pessimistic view is that the constitution is dead and buried if Britain has a referendum.

Well there’s a ringing endorsement! “It’s doomed if we dare let citizens express their opinion about it”.

Eurocrats claim that if a smaller nation voted against the constitution, […] the nation could be forced to vote again and again until it came up with an answer that pleased Brussels, as happened in Ireland during the Nice Treaty vote; [emphasis added]

Remember, it’s American voters who are being disenfranchised.

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The real blood for oil scheme


So many of the self-righteous left still scream about “blood for oil” and maliciously accuse the United States of toppling Saddam in order to secure petroleum supplies. The truth is otherwise. Oil for Food lined the pockets of Saddam, his international political supporters, and corporate cronies, and that oil was paid for, hour by hour, with the blood of Iraqis slaughtered by his brutal regime.

Austin Bay

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20 April 2004

Sending the right message


“Instead of shouting and criticizing the American initiative, you have to bring democracy to your countries, and then there will be no need to fear America or your people,” said Seif al-Islam al-Qaddafi [son of Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi]. “The Arabs should either change or change will be imposed on them from outside.”

Seif denied reports that he is a candidate to succeed his father, who rules Libya (search) with little tolerance of opposition.

“Many Arab countries are now following the policy of inheriting the leadership, but there are hundreds of Libyans who are better [suited] than I,” Seif said.

Seif even praised Israel, saying that unlike Arab countries, sons do not tend to succeed their fathers in power there.

“We don’t put the appropriate person in the right place, but Israel is a democratic country,” [Seif] told the Al-Jazeera television station.

[emphasis added]

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19 April 2004

Figuring it out with a little help from some friendly Marines

[source, source]

Fallujah’s civic leaders joined American officials Monday in calling for insurgents battling Marines here to surrender their heavy weapons — mortars and rockets for example — in return for an end to the U.S. siege of the city, according to a U.S. spokesman.

The committments appeared to be the first fruits of direct negotiations between U.S. officials and a group of civic leaders and professions representing Fallujah residents.

Now there’s a step in the right direction.

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What do you mean, judge a policy by its results?

[source, source]

Even if you want to take Hamas at its word that it really is devoting itself to “100 unique retaliations” instead of trying to find “100 unique undisclosed locations,” the terrorist group was no less determined to kill Jews last month (or last year) than it is right now.

Want proof? Notice the similarity in reaction after the targeted killing of Hamas’ “wheelchair-bound” “spiritual leader” Sheikh Yassin on March 22.

Hamas promised to “kill hundreds of Zionists on every street, in every city and everywhere in the occupied lands.”

Only, it hasn’t happened. That’s not to say that Hamas won’t be successful in killing more Jews, but it most likely won’t be as successful as it has been.

With Hamas leadership preoccupied with staying alive—even Yassin essentially lived underground in the months before his death and Rantisi went to great precautions as well—strategy and attack coordination are bound to suffer.

In fact, that has already happened. The lone suicide bombing since Yassin’s death was over the weekend, on the same day Rantisi got to test that “72 virgins” theory. Only one Israeli died.

This month free of suicide bombings came not on the heels of a truce or a peace agreement, but after Hamas had pledged to “open the gates of hell.”

But I was told that the Hamas Leadership Renewal program has clearly not been working out for Israel!

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Honor vs. dishonor


With good reason, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini declares murdered hostage Fabrizio Quattrocchi a hero:

As the gunman’s pistol was pointing at him the hostage “tried to take off his hood and shouted: ‘now I’ll show you how an Italian dies,’” [Frattini] said.

Puzzlingly, Al-Jazeera says that footage of Quattrocchi’s death is “too gruesome” to broadcast. Puzzling, because Al-Jazeera has never had problems before with screening gruesome footage. Maybe Al-Jazeera just can’t cope with Italian defiance.

It’s too gruesome for Al-Jazeera to show how small the Caliphascists are. Bravery under fire is the mark of heroism - this shows who has it and who does not.

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Career opportunities

If you’re interested in a well-paid job as [Dr. Mahmoud] Zahar’s successor, you can find out everything you need to know by skimming a few issues of Hamas Manager magazine (1-yr subscription $25; lifetime subscription $15).

Paul Zrimesk

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Partisan? What other reason is there to be on the commission?

[source, source]

Last week, Senator Mitch McConell, Republican of Kentucky, charged from the Senate floor that the commission, made up of five Democrats and five Republicans, had “become a political casualty of the electoral hunting season.” […]

[…] Mr. Kerrey, a former Democratic senator from Nebraska, who said: “Mitch McConnell is the Republican whip of the Senate and he’s accusing us of being too partisan? He can go to hell for all I’m concerned.”

To me, the interesting bit here is that Senator Kerrey thinks that it’s reasonable to be as partisan on the commission as it is for a party whip to be partisan. That explains a lot…

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18 April 2004

Journalist, cover thyself

[source, source]

At a time when public distrust of the news media appears to be at a dangerously high level, there is evidence of a deep and fundamental disagreement between those who produce news and those who consume it.

Although most journalists believe quality and values are vital elements of their work and see themselves as providing an important civic function, the reading and viewing public seems to think of journalism as a bottom-line-driven enterprise populated by the ethically challenged. Last month, the Washington-based Project for Excellence in Journalism released a wide-ranging study — “The State of the News Media 2004” — that concluded that a key factor in journalism’s sagging image is “a disconnection between the public and the news media over motive.”

“Journalists believe they are working in the public interest, and are trying to be fair and independent in that cause,” the survey found. “The public thinks these journalists are either lying or deluding themselves. The public believes that news organizations are operating largely to make money, and that the journalists who work for these organizations are primarily motivated by professional ambition and self-interest.”

This is so self referential it’s hard to get one’s head around it. To me the most interesting point is that these journalists are only now starting to catch on to a major shift in public perception. Just how much value can they deliver if they can miss something like that? It’s particularly embarassing given all of the self indulgent coverage of journalism by journalists.

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The UN Oil for Food Scandal is starting to get traction in Big Media. Even they can’t ignore a story that big forever.

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They're not really like us, after all

[source, source]

Two Albanian men who came under fire from British peacekeeping troops in Kosovo in 1999 have won damages from the Ministry of Defence, after a hearing at the High Court in London. […]

[The judge] ruled that the three Albanians bore no responsibility for the incident, despite the fact that the dead man was firing an AK-47 automatic in defiance of an embargo, or that they refused to stop their vehicle when asked, or that they were approaching a building containing frightened Serbian civilians being guarded from the local Albanian population by the British troops.

Well, yeah, can’t expect them wogs to be civilized and such like, eh, govn’r?

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17 April 2004

Tragedy strikes UN force in Kosovo

[source, source]

Two American women working as prison guards with the United Nations in Kosovo were killed Saturday and 10 other Americans and an Austrian working as prison officers were wounded when a Jordanian, also with the United Nations, opened fire on them, officials said. The attacker was shot and killed.

Well, I was going to say something snarky but the tragedy of it robbed me of the energy to do so. A Jordanian went postal - it’s not like we haven’t had that here so I’m not even going to take that kind of shot.

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An Israeli missile strike killed Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantissi on Saturday in a strike on his car, hospital officials said. Rantisi’s son Mohammed and a bodyguard also were killed in the attack, the officials said.

I wonder if he was insured. Could that be the new Hamas fund raising technique? But Hamas has responded [source]:

A top Hamas political leader has said the group has the right to avenge in kind the assassination of its military wing leader, Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi, in Gaza.

Uh, would that be before or after the revenge for Yassin? Will the IDF take out Rantissi’s replacement before Yassin or Rantissi is avenged? How could we tell?

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My kind of Marine


From US Lance Cpl. Ryan Christiansen, asked if he was concerned that a ceasefire would allow Saddamite forces to regroup:

I really don’t care; they’re all gonna die.

Works for me. Another excellent example of finding common ground.

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16 April 2004


[source, source]

UNITED NATIONS, April 14 — Large amounts of nuclear-related equipment, some of it contaminated, and a small number of missile engines have been smuggled out of Iraq for recycling in European scrap yards, according to the head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog and other U.N. diplomats. [emphasis added]

Well it’s easy to smuggle imaginary stuff. I mean, it has to be imaginary. There was no WMD and in particular no nuclear WMD in Iraq, right?

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Violence isn't the answer, except to our problems.


What happens when pro-liberation demonstrators turn up at an anti-war rally? A peace activist explains:

My immediate reaction was to charge at these bastards and try to smash thier placards and hurt them as much as possible. I was accompanied by several other enraged demonstrators. Unfortunately the more militant socialist groups had already marched away so most of the immediate crowd complained that we where ruining a peaceful march. I stand by the actions we took. When Liberals have the confidence to attend a anti-war demo it clearly isn’t a good sign.

If people are serious about activism they should realise that change doesn’t come from wishing problems away it comes from militant direct action. By standing there debating with a bunch of right wingers at a rally, not only are people wasting time and demoralising everyone, they are giving them confidence to come back and disrupt more rallies. In the ideal situation Young Liberals should be left bruised, bashed and bleeding if they dare show thier face at a rally like that. That way they will be more hesitant about coming next time, and if they do the police will be more likely to quickly move them on.

Beyond the “peace” activist openly advocating violence as a way to solve problems and being very afraid of discussing issues with dissenting adults, the idea that the police are going to side with the anti-Western hippies after they beat up people with patriotic signs is truly delusional.

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Finding a common ground


2 firefights x 0 US casualties + 120 dead militants = Vietnam?

In both of them, US Marines were surprised by surprisingly fierce, well-organized attacks-and then proceeded to kill a tremendous number of insurgents, while suffering zero deaths.

[source] American forces killed more than 100 insurgents on Tuesday in close combat in a small village in central Iraq, Marine commanders said Wednesday… Marines fought house to house, roof to roof, doorway to doorway. They repelled attacks of machine-gun fire, volleys of rockets and repeated charges by masked fighters, Colonel McCoy said. Two marines were shot but their injuries were not life-threatening.

[source] Marine officials said the three-hour battle that erupted at dusk Tuesday on the streets of Fallujah, and was recounted Wednesday by several of the key officers involved, exemplified the bravery and resourcefulness that Marines are known for, even when surprised and surrounded by a host of enemy fighters on alien urban turf. By the end of the tumultuous encounter, the charred personnel carrier had been towed to safety by a tank and most of its 17 crew members — several of them wounded — had been rescued from a house where they had taken shelter… The rescue squad rushed four tanks and six Humvees to the area, where they fought their way through several blocks to reach the burning carrier. Surrounded by 25 Marine riflemen on foot, the armored vehicles advanced, firing machine guns from their turrets. Overhead, Air Force attack planes repeatedly strafed the area. Marine officials here said at least 20 insurgents were shot dead during the fighting…

“This is a story about heroes. It shows the tenacity of the Marines and their fierce loyalty to each other,” said Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, commander of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. “They were absolutely unwilling to leave their brother Marines behind.”

If a cease fire means this kind of casualty ratio, I’m all for it. And as Instantman points out,

the most interesting quote was this one: “It showed not only the intensity of the resistance but an acute willingness among insurgents to die.” You can always find something to agree on, if you look hard enough.

Oh yeah. Reminds of the time when Mullah Omar said “we love death while Americans love Pepsi” and the blogosphere responded “Well, Omar’s dead and I’ve got a Pepsi - win win!”.

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[source, source]

After the United Nations Commission on Human Rights narrowly passed a resolution today critical of Cuba, members of Cuba’s governmental delegation attacked Frank Calzon, executive director of the Washington-based Center for a Free Cuba.

The attack took place inside the United Nations building in Geneva.

Witnesses said a Cuban delegate punched Mr. Calzon, knocking him unconscious. UN guards reportedly protected him from further assault by additional members of the Cuban delegation.

The UN can’t even keep dictators thugs from physically assaulting dissidents inside their own building, and people want them to run Iraq?

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15 April 2004

What do you think this is, your government?


There’s a lot of concern over 9/11 Commission member Jamie Gorelick’s conflict of interest - specifically, that she wrote a memo requiring a separation between the CIA and FBI that later became a hot-point of discussion. […]

But while I think her conflicts are a major concern, and the attention is warranted, I’m today most annoyed at Commission Chair Thomas Kean, former Republican governor of New Jersey (which is to say, not much of a Republican at all). When questioned on Fox News about Gorelick and other possible conflicts in the commission, Kean said that everyone should “Stay out of our business.”

Stay out of our business??

Excuse me?!

What this commission decides is my business, as an American and a taxpayer. If conflicts bias the commission to find that certain things are not problems - when really they are - then yes, it’s definitely my business because my safety and the future of my country are at risk. His attitude is damaging, and certainly makes me think his point is more about arrogance than transparency. […]

Thomas Kean says internal commission conflict that can damage its ability to succeed are not my business.

Commission members have hammered the Bush administration for more transparency - to have Dr. Rice testify in public about things she had already testified about in private. To release a classified memo that they already had private access to. The commission’s point there is that it is the public’s business to know.

And Thomas Kean says the commission has no responsibility to be transparent itself.

This really shows that the Commission itself doesn’t see its mission as investigating. Rather, they view this as a way of satisfying personal political agendas and that is inhibited by transparency.

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But then I'd have to work with facts instead of snark!


The kind of question that should have been asked at President Bush’s press conference.

A year after the invasion, the Marines are seeking donations from blog readers to set up TV stations in Iraq so as to counter anti-American propaganda from Al Jazeera and other hostile media. Why wasn’t this a priority from day one? Why isn’t it one now?

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Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity

This is a hilarious interview with Oliver Stone about his new movie starring Fidel Castro. To excerpt any of it would be unfair — each question and answer is damning of Stone, who comes across as the most ignorant person ever to be apathetic about his ignorance.

There is a nice lesson here about the untrustworthy narrator. As any lawyer who has ever defended a deposition will tell you, writing things down makes them true. Few witnesses ever trust their memory, however clear, against the magic of seeing something written down, regardless of whether they know the author, or his motivation, or the circumstances under which he was writing. The power of filming something is ten times as great and even those few who can be skeptical try to filter what they see through some theory of rationality. They assume that the author, even if he is trying to mislead, is doing so rationally and with foresight. This interview serves as an important reminder that sometimes there’s no conspiracy. Sometimes, at bottom, there is just an ignorant idiot.

David Cohen

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Keeping priorities straight

[source, source]

Among Lehman’s questions [to Condoleezza Rice] was this: “Were you aware that it was the policy…to fine airlines if they have more than two young Arab males in secondary questioning because that’s discriminatory?”


“We had testimony a couple of months ago from the past president of United, and current president of American Airlines that kind of shocked us all,” Lehman told me. “They said under oath that indeed the Department of Transportation continued to fine any airline that was caught having more than two people of the same ethnic persuasion in a secondary line for line for questioning, including and especially, two Arabs.”

Wait a minute. So if airline security had three suspicious Arab guys they had had to let one go because they’d reached a quota?

That was it, Lehman said […]

While this is a Clinton era policy, it doesn’t seem to have been changed by President Bush.

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14 April 2004

Inumeracy, the scourge of Big Media


Sir, I am used to scare stories about Greenland’s ice sheet melting being based on scientific speculation, but your story “Global warming may melt Greenland’s ice, scientists warn” (Apr. 8) contained serious errors of scientific fact. The study the article mentions does not say that Greenland might suffer an average annual warming of 2.7 degrees C., which would be a catastrophe in anyone’s book as the ice would boil, never mind melt, within a few decades. Instead the study envisages a total warming of around 3 degrees by 2350. Furthermore, an increase of 2.7 degrees C. does not represent an increase of 37 degrees F, nor is an increase of 8 degrees C equivalent to an increase of 46 degrees F. Those are the numbers you’d get if you read across from one scale to the other on a thermometer. But because 0 C is 32 F, the actual increase 2.7 degrees C represents is only about 5 degrees F.

This is why Big Media is more reliable than a good weblog - all that fact checking editing.

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There are only conservative conflicts of interest

[source, source]

[9/11 Attack Congressional Investigation] Commissioner Gorelick, as deputy attorney general - the number two official in the Department of Justice - for three years beginning in 1994, was an architect of the government’s self-imposed procedural wall, intentionally erected to prevent intelligence agents from pooling information with their law-enforcement counterparts. That is not partisan carping. That is a matter of objective fact. That wall was not only a deliberate and unnecessary impediment to information sharing; it bred a culture of intelligence dysfunction. It told national-security agents in the field that there were other values, higher interests, that transcended connecting the dots and getting it right. It set them up to fail. To hear Gorelick lecture witnesses about intelligence lapses is breathtaking.

But she’s a Democratic staffer and therefore (unlike a Republican) able to be completely objective.

UPDATE: Rep. Sensenbrenner calls for Gorelick to resign from Commission.

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Shut 'em all down and let the Chairman sort them out


The China blogosphere widely reported that all blogs using Typepad and all blogs.com-based blogs have been blocked just as blogspot blogs were earlier last year. Six Apart ruled out technological problems on their end.

The Great Firewall of China strikes. And people wonder why Taiwan doesn’t want to be part of this.

Posted by orbital at 11:22 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

Big Media innovations


[NY Times writer Adam Nagourney] achieves a significant breakthrough, pioneering a solution to a problem that has plagued American journalism for decades. The dilemma is this: What do you do when you have a strong opinion about your subject? You can’t just say what you think—not within the strictures of “objective” reporting, anyway.

The traditional response to find someone—an “expert”—to spout what you think back to you. Then you can quote this expert, citing their expert credentials (while ignoring other experts you disagree with). But this approach—call it the Norm Ornstein Solution—comes with its own set of problems. The necessary expert might not be available for spouting at a moment’s notice. Worse, experts like Ornstein soon become public figures, featured on talk shows, subject to the pundit’s distressing imperative to be entertainingly contrarian. If you only have time on deadline to make one phone call, do you want to call someone who might have something interesting to say? The question answers itself!

Nagourney’s alternative solution debuts quietly in the 14th paragraph of his ‘comes-at-a-time-when’ stage-setter on Bush’s press conference. Nagourney wants to debunk the (admittedly silly) GOP spin that says Bush benefits even from bad Iraq and 9/11 news because it keeps voters’ attenion on national security. But Nagourney can’t just come out and write “What crap!” (Even if that were “objective,” it might offend his source, Rep. Roy Blunt.) At this point, an ordinary reporter would call pollster Geoff Garin. But Nagourney makes a more ingenious move—he gets a quote from Adam Clymer. Why is Clymer an expert? Because until nine months ago, he was a veteran … reporter for the New York Times. A reporter who had to find outside experts because he couldn’t quote himself! (Clymer now works for something called the National Annenberg Election Survey.)

Think of the advantages of this approach—Clymerizing, let’s call it. For one, the unpredictability problem is solved. Clymer’s views are well-known to Nagourney—they were colleagues for years. And if Clymer wasn’t reliably anti-Bush before the current president called him a “major league assh-le” over an open mike in 2000, he should be now! Another advantage: Clymer obviously knows with some precision exactly the sentence a Timesman like Nagourney needs on deadline.

This was a phone call with a roughly 100% chance of success. Clymer delivers:

“I would be surprised if television coverage of American servicemen getting shot or killed in Iraq, or of people questioning what the Bush campaign did in response to 9/11, is good for the president’s re-election,” said Adam Clymer, a former political reporter for The New York Times ..

Clymerizing has a bright potential future, as reporters learn that it’s more cost-efficient to simply cite each others views rather than venture into the uncharted waters of expertise beyond the Times bubble. It’s not as if Clymer and other ex-reporters aren’t real experts—Times readers have been accepting their opinions (laundered through the mouths of others) for years. With all the buyouts in journalism, there should be plenty of recent retirees available to quote. Johnny Apple might soon become available! If not, a few strategic out-placements could put the necessary experts in place to meet any impending requirements.

Between ex-colleagues, and wives of colleagues (like Hollywood’s Amy Pascal, quoted by her husband’s L.A. bureau co-worker last week), and ex-colleagues who are also buddies of publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. (i.e., Democratic investment banker Steve Rattner) the Times could rapidly develop a veritable orchestra of in-house “trained seals” ready to supply congenial opinions on every subject. And they said the paper’s drive for efficiency ended with the departure of Howell Raines …

The only thing more efficient, you’d think, would be for the reporters to completely eliminate the middleman and actually state their opinions themselves. But you’d be wrong. If reporters stated their own opinions they’d have to back them up. That could get messy.

Primarily because that would require contact with actual facts, and few journalists like to get their hands dirty with that kind of thing these days.

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Counter protesting

Via IMAO, a few tales of counter protesting the anti-Western protestors. There’s a nice photo essay of the Washington DC protest / counter-protest. Some actual Iraqis showed up and were not happy with the anti-Western protestors. There are more photographs here. Lt. Smash did a counter-protest in San Diego with many classic bits of dialog, such as

He starts out by cursing us, again, as “——ING FASCISTS,” and denounces the same police officers to whom he whined about us as “JACKBOOTED NAZI STORMTROOPERS.” Then he goes on to express pity for the military, who after all are only “BUSH’S PAWNS,” who have no other choice but to join the military because they have been “ECONOMICALLY OPPRESSED BY BUSH’S CORPORATE FASCIST CRONIES!”

I respond by grabbing the megaphone and shouting back, “SO NOW YOU’RE SAYING WE’RE STUPID AND POOR? HEY, THANKS A LOT!



At this point, Red really starts losing it. He’s spouting his Marxist revolutionary propaganda with such fervor that we can see the spittle flying out of his mouth even from back in the cheap seats.

We respond with a little chant of our own:


Now Red has gone completely over the edge. He’s calling for “REVOLUTION NOW,” and starts frantically waving his red flag. “WE’RE NOT GOING TO STOP UNTIL THE RED FLAG FLIES OVER THE WHITE HOUSE!”

Yes, that’s what I think of when I think “patriotic” - the red flag of Communism flying over the White House.

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13 April 2004

Hello - EUUUUUU!

[source, source]

The EU has decided to employ the services of popular Japanese mascot “Hello Kitty” to promote the union and the euro, according to French newswire AFP.

The mascot - extremely popular throughout Japan and Asia - will have an EU-style makeover, changing out of her traditional red or pink to don the blue and yellow of the EU flag.

A spokesperson told AFP that the European Union wanted to give “little presents to people so that they will remember the EU or be more aware of what the EU stands for”.

“We thought this is something that has a lot of appeal”, the spokesperson added.

The character turns 30 this year and coincidentally, the EU delegation to Tokyo is also celebrating its 30th birthday.

You know, I threaten my boys with “Hello Kitty” toys when they misbehave. “Is that what you want for Christmas? ‘Hello Kitty’ notebooks? If not, this room had better be clean before I get back.”.

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12 April 2004

Where is the line on sedition?

At a protest march in San Francisco, there were some interesting signs (pictures here):

  • Support Our Mutineers - Free Hasan Akbar1
  • Support Armed Resistance in Iraq & Everywhere
  • Avenge Yassin

One wonders what the last one has to do with Iraq - isn’t the anti-Bush faction’s claim that there’s no relationship between Palestinian terror and Iraq?

1 Akbar is the Muslim soldier on trial for rolling a grenade into an officers’ tent, then shooting people as they tried to escape. So doesn’t this sign implicitly claim that he’s guilty?

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09 April 2004

Everything you do is wrong

[source, source]

AN ALTERNATIVE HISTORY: washington, april 9, 2004. A hush fell over the city as George W. Bush today became the first president of the United States ever to be removed from office by impeachment. Meeting late into the night, the Senate unanimously voted to convict Bush following a trial on his bill of impeachment from the House.

Moments after being sworn in as the 44th president, Dick Cheney said that disgraced former national security adviser Condoleezza Rice would be turned over to the Hague for trial in the International Court of Justice as a war criminal. Cheney said Washington would “firmly resist” international demands that Bush be extradited for prosecution as well.

On August 7, 2001, Bush had ordered the United States military to stage an all-out attack on alleged terrorist camps in Afghanistan. Thousands of U.S. special forces units parachuted into this neutral country, while air strikes targeted the Afghan government and its supporting military. Pentagon units seized abandoned Soviet air bases throughout Afghanistan, while establishing support bases in nearby nations such as Uzbekistan. Simultaneously, FBI agents throughout the United States staged raids in which dozens of men accused of terrorism were taken prisoner.

Reaction was swift and furious. Florida Senator Bob Graham said Bush had “brought shame to the United States with his paranoid delusions about so-called terror networks.” British Prime Minister Tony Blair accused the United States of “an inexcusable act of conquest in plain violation of international law.” White House chief counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke immediately resigned in protest of “a disgusting exercise in over-kill.”

When dozens of U.S. soldiers were slain in gun battles with fighters in the Afghan mountains, public opinion polls showed the nation overwhelmingly opposed to Bush’s action. Political leaders of both parties called on Bush to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan immediately. “We are supposed to believe that attacking people in caves in some place called Tora Bora is worth the life of even one single U.S. soldier?” former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey asked.

When an off-target U.S. bomb killed scores of Afghan civilians who had taken refuge in a mosque, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Aznar announced a global boycott of American products. The United Nations General Assembly voted to condemn the United States, and Washington was forced into the humiliating position of vetoing a Security Council resolution declaring America guilty of “criminal acts of aggression.”

Bush justified his attack on Afghanistan, and the detention of 19 men of Arab descent who had entered the country legally, on grounds of intelligence reports suggesting an imminent, devastating attack on the United States. But no such attack ever occurred, leading to widespread ridicule of Bush’s claims. Speaking before a special commission created by Congress to investigate Bush’s anti-terrorism actions, former national security adviser Rice shocked and horrified listeners when she admitted, “We had no actionable warnings of any specific threat, just good reason to believe something really bad was about to happen.”

The president fired Rice immediately after her admission, but this did little to quell public anger regarding the war in Afghanistan. When it was revealed that U.S. special forces were also carrying out attacks against suspected terrorist bases in Indonesia and Pakistan, fury against the United States became universal, with even Israel condemning American action as “totally unjustified.”

Speaking briefly to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before a helicopter carried him out of Washington as the first-ever president removed by impeachment, Bush seemed bitter. “I was given bad advice,” he insisted. “My advisers told me that unless we took decisive action, thousands of innocent Americans might die. Obviously I should not have listened.”

Announcing his candidacy for the 2004 Republican presidential nomination, Senator John McCain said today that “George W. Bush was very foolish and naïve; he didn’t realize he was being pushed into this needless conflict by oil interests that wanted to seize Afghanistan to run a pipeline across it.” McCain spoke at a campaign rally at the World Trade Center in New York City.

As noted in the comments, President Bush is being blamed for not being pre-emptive in Afghanistan and for being pre-emptive in Iraq. With all the whining now about civil rights violations, what would it be like if there had been no attack? Not one of the potential hijackers would be in jail or the trials might well be still going on.

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Rapid pessimal response

[source, source]

Thousands of Palestinians staged pro-Iraq rallies Friday to mark the first anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, calling on Iraqis to rise up against the United States in a holy war.

And this was expected by the Palestinians to improve their situation how?

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Living in their own little world

[source, source]

GAZA (Reuters) - Worshippers handed over cash and jewelry to armed and masked men at Gaza mosques on Friday, at the start of a drive by the militant group Hamas to raise money for its armed wing amid U.S. pressure to choke off its funds.


“Hamas is facing financial difficulty due to restrictions inside the territories and outside, but the movement’s funds have not dried up yet,” a Palestinian source said.

Saeed Seyam, a senior Hamas leader, said the amount of money raised so far indicated enormous support for Hamas among Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

“It was also a message to the Zionist enemy and to the Americans that they would never succeed in besieging resistance and block its resources,” he said.

You know your lies are transparent when even Reuters makes a mockery of the in the previous paragraph.

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Private security demonstrates its effeciency

[source, source]

An attack by hundreds of Iraqi militia members on the U.S. government’s headquarters in Najaf on Sunday was repulsed not by the U.S. military, but by eight commandos from a private security firm, according to sources familiar with the incident.

Before U.S. reinforcements could arrive, the firm, Blackwater Security Consulting, sent in its own helicopters amid an intense firefight to resupply its commandos with ammunition and to ferry out a wounded Marine, the sources said.

Hmmm. If they are mercenaries, why didn’t they just ask the Mahdi for money instead of holding them off and rescuing a Marine?

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08 April 2004

Condi shows how it's done: Stab, then twist


[Senator Bob] KERREY: Why didn’t we swat that fly?

[Condoleezza] RICE: I believe that there’s a question of whether or not you respond in a tactical sense or whether you respond in a strategic sense; whether or not you decide that you’re going to respond to every attack with minimal use of military force and go after every — on a kind of tit-for-tat basis.

By the way, in that memo, Dick Clarke talks about not doing this tit-for-tat, doing this on the time of our choosing.

RICE: I’m aware, Mr. Kerrey, of a speech that you gave at that time that said that perhaps the best thing that we could do to respond to the Cole and to the memories was to do something about the threat of Saddam Hussein.

That’s a strategic view…

Ooooh, that’s gotta hurt!

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If we can't say something good, we won't say anything at all


Adam Nagourney and Carl Hulse […] ]their New York Times’ account of the political implications of the fighting in Iraq is lousy reporting and writing. The Timesmen pass lightly over Kerry’s many incoherent statements from his NPR and CNN interviews yesterday —statements that should sound alarms among any serious observers of the war on terror. Kerry is uttering nonsense, and there is no way to disguise it, so the freindlies aren’t reporting it. Rather than treat the readers of the world’s most influential newspaper to Kerry’s strange commentary on al-Sadr, the reporters actually bother to devote two paragraphs to quoting a Pat Buchanan column, as well as take-aways from Bill O’Reilly and Newt Gingrich. Did the editors take a day off? John Kerry is the Democratic nominee and he is mouthing inanities on the most pressing issue of the day, and the New York Times isn’t mentioning the key excerpts much less quoting them at length?

The Washington Times did a better job of covering Kerry, and though its account buried the Kerry comments on al-Sadr, at least the quote is there for the curious to find. Incredibly, the Washington Post ignores the two interviews Kerry gave on Iraq and devoted a huge amount of ink to his “plan” for the economy. The Los Angeles Times also skipped Kerry’s war analysis. The LA Times runs a story on the impact of the news of the Marine combat deaths on the community of Camp Pendleton, but doesn’t tell its readers what John Kerry thinks of the conduct of the war that obliges such sacrifices to occur? The hometown Globe of course skips over Kerry’s remarks.

This election is about the war. Yesterday Kerry said a lot of things about the war, some outrageous, some incoherent, some contradicting other statements he has made. Voters have a right to hear or read Kerry on the crucial subject, even if pro-Kerry reporters and editors suspect that these quotes may not go down well with the public. The Kerry interviews were not hard to come by. I had them and had transcribed and posted the key excerpts by 2:30 PM Pacific time yesterday. No wonder Americans don’t trust the media. A combination of terrible news judgment, laziness, and bias has infected the coverage of the election, and there’s no excusing this failure on the part of the “objective press.”

War? The only war that matters to Big Media is the one against President Bush.

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07 April 2004

Priority watch

[source, source]

The air force is in the process of replacing the decades old solid fuel rockets of its 500 Minuteman III missiles. Actually, a test of a 33 year old Minuteman I rocket motor showed that the motor (actually, a long tube full of slow burning explosives) still performed according to specification. The last of the Minuteman III missiles will receive their new motors by 2008. It costs about $5.2 million to replace the rockets on each missile. The new rocket motors, which have to comply with EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) rules, will have a shorter range than the original motors

Yes, I’m sure that during a full scale nuclear exchange it will be the propellant residue that the EPA will be concerned about.

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Clearing the air about Bush

[source, source]

“Up in Smoke: The Bush Administration, the Big Power Companies and the Undoing of 30 Years of Clean Air Policy.” So blares the cover of yesterday’s New York Times Magazine. […] All pollution regulated by the Clean Air Act is declining, has been declining for years, and continues to decline under George W. Bush. That’s not mentioned in the 13 pages, since it would more or less spoil the entire premise of the story and the dramatic cover.


Barcott [the author] writes that he “conducted months of extensive interviews” on Bush clean-air policy. In those months did he never ask anyone, “Say, is air quality getting worse or better?” Maybe he did ask and kept the answer to himself, since the answer undercuts his story.


Grudgingly, on the last of its 13 pages, the Times Magazine article allows that Bush’s January regulations might accomplish the goals of the Clinton new-source standard anyway, though doing so at lower cost. Poof! The entire story just disappeared. [emphasis added]

Well there’s the problem! It’s not about cleaning up the air but about punishing corporations.

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There has to be an original stain


CHRIS DODD’S REMARKS ABOUT ROBERT BYRD, which many in the blogosphere have been comparing to Trent Lott’s remarks about Strom Thurmond, are starting to get some Big Media attention.

Background here and here. And here’s the Kennedy School study of the Trent Lott affair, for those who would like to make a detailed comparison.

All you need to know about how this is going to play out is that the Lott affair involved Big Media denouncing Strom Thurmound while this one would involve denouncing Robert Byrd. Which one was savaged in the press before the related imbroglio, and which wasn’t? It’s no different than Big Media savaging anyone who cuddled up with Pinochet while writing mash notes to Castro syncophants.

[Cross posted]

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06 April 2004

Passive resistance to racial politics


Twenty-five percent of students who take the SATs refuse to identify themselves by race or ethnicity. The growing number of “non-responders” has undercut the validity of data on the achievement gap between races and ethnic groups. In fact, “non-responders” are now the largest minority among SAT takers.

Maybe there’s hope for the younger generation yet.

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Sic transit gloria nudium


So, Alanis Morissette thinks she’s being bold by attacking American “censorship” by stripping down naked in public. Of course, she doesn’t actually do it. She wears a fake nude bodysuit. How is she any different than when Jason Alexander as George Costanza on “Seinfeld” tried to get fired by streaking on the field at Yankee stadium but didn’t have the guts to actually streak. If you’re going to be bold by “speaking truth to power” do it or don’t do it. Don’t pretend to do it.

So this is how the naked protests end with a whimper, not a bang.

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Not quite on the leading edge


President George Bush first asked Tony Blair to support the removal of Saddam Hussein from power at a private White House dinner nine days after the terror attacks of 11 September, 2001.


Bush, claims Meyer, replied by saying: ‘I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.’ Regime change was already US policy.

What’s bizarre about this is that it’s prresented as a shocking revelation, as if the government of the USA hadn’t adopted regime change as official policy back in 1998. So here President Bush is, 3 years later, revealing this to PM Blair. No mention at all of this in the article because that would pollute the internal narrative of the author.

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Another "lazy or biased" moment in Big Media


The scarce references [in President Clinton’s 2000 National Security report] to bin Laden and his terror network undercut claims by former White House terrorism analyst Richard A. Clarke that the Clinton administration considered al Qaeda an “urgent” threat, while President Bush’s national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, “ignored” it.

The Clinton document, titled “A National Security Strategy for a Global Age,” is dated December 2000 and is the final official assessment of national security policy and strategy by the Clinton team. The document is publicly available, though no U.S. media outlets have examined it in the context of Mr. Clarke’s testimony and new book.

At what point will it become clear to the general public that Big Media has no interest in pedestrian facts but only their internal narative?

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05 April 2004

The VRWC invades the Iraq press rooms


MORE EVIDENCE THAT Bernard Goldberg was right, in the form of an article from the Associated Press with the scary headline “Bush Loyalists Pack Iraq Press Office.”

Er, except that “pack” turns out to mean that 33% of those there have some sort of (undefined) GOP tie. But as reader Patrick Sennett notes, to a press used to newsrooms that are upwards of 95% Democratic, I suppose an operation that’s one-third Republican must seem inconceivably rightward-tilting!

That would make the press room so far to the right that it would have to be a conspiracy.

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Still a little bit of a civilization left


These horrific attacks remind us of the viciousness of the enemies of Iraq’s future. United in sadness, we are also united in our resolve that these enemies will not prevail.

Senator John Kerry

Well said. If I’m going to quote Kerry’s mistakes, I should quote him when he’s eloquent on a difficult issue as well.

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01 April 2004

What happens after all of the colors are banned?

[source, source]

As a fashion statement, pink is a hot color this spring, but at Merrillville High School in Indiana, it also has become a hot-button issue.

District Supt. Tony Lux distributed a letter to students Wednesday in which he “discouraged” them from wearing pink because of concerns that it has gang and rap music overtones.

Although Lux said dressing in pink could be “suspicious behavior,” he emphasized the color wasn’t banned. […]

[The next day] Ten boys who showed up decked out in matching pink shirts and pink shoelaces were asked to change, [Principle Mark] Sperling said.

I wonder if there are gangs laughing themselves silly because they successful spread the rumour that they like to wear pink.

P.S. I really just wanted to see for myself that the biggest problem in the blogosphere, Spoon’s non-working trackback page, was really fixed or he was just pulling a Kerry (“I fixed the trackbacks by breaking them”).

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Voting for by voting against

Here’s another instance of Senator Kerry being for something by voting against it, this time the Kyoto Treaty:

The vote on the Byrd-Hagel resolution [against the Kyoto Treaty] took place prior to the conclusion of the Kyoto agreement, and before any of the flexibility mechanisms were established. The resolution was written so broadly that even strong supporters of the Kyoto Protocol, such as senators Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) voted for it. In doing so, Sen. Kerry said: “It is clear that one of the chief sponsors of this resolution, Senator Byrd . . . agrees … that the prospect of human-induced global warming as an accepted thesis with adverse consequences for all is here, and it is real…. Senator Lieberman, Senator Chafee and I would have worded some things differently… [but] I have come to the conclusion that these words are not a treaty killer.” [emphasis added]

OK…so have your basic waffle (“I supported the Kyoto Treaty by voting for an resolution against it”) and a meta-level waffle (“I agreed that the Kyoto Treaty was a bad treaty but I don’t want to rule out adopting it”). That’s impressive, even for Kerry.

Via James Lileks, although I had to hunt down the original source.

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Big Media finally comes clean


here’s an unsympathetic assessment of media coverage of Fallujah, from military blog The Mudville Gazette. Best catch is this bit from news media discussion of their own coverage:

“War is a horrible thing. It is about killing,” ABC News “Nightline” Executive Producer Leroy Sievers said in an unusual message to the program’s e-mail subscribers discussing the issues posed by Wednesday’s killings. “If we try to avoid showing pictures of bodies, if we make it too clean, then maybe we make it too easy to go to war again.”

So shaping the war debate, and hampering future military efforts, is the central focus of decisions about news coverage. Nice to see them admit it. […]

Yes, terrorism is, in a very real sense, a creature of the mass media. But what strikes me is that after 9/11 they didn’t want to show graphic images of dead Americans for fear that it would make Americans want to go to war. Now they are proud of showing graphic images of dead Americans in the hopes that it will discourage Americans from going to war.

Now that they’ve admitted that they’re not neutral on this stuff, you have to wonder what side they’re on.

Actually, I’m in favor of them showing the pictures. If such images make the citizenry want to surrender then we’ve already lost. If we’re still Americans, then the attitude will be more like the attitude to those pictures of the WTC attack photos.

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