Monday, December 26, 2005
The uses of history
Unless, of course, you are a trained Internet pundit. Then it's OK.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Now we get it
CRAIG: [T]here will come a day when there will not be a George W in the White House, and tragically enough, and I hope never, it could be a Hillary Clinton -- and now who will be her attorney general, and what might he or she do to your liberties and mine? There's the question.
RUSH: Look it, I understand it. I appreciate you saying that, by the way. That will help a lot of people understand your position on this, because I have not heard you say that before.
It's interesting. He said, among many things, that he don't distrust this president with these powers, but he can't speak for future presidents, say if Hillary is president or Janet Reno is attorney general.
Your modern Republican party: The rule of man, not law. Frightening.
WaPo: Bush's bin Laden-Satphone tale a tall one
Today, the Washington Post calls bullshit on that.
The day before the Washington Times article was published -- and the day of the attacks -- CNN producer Peter Bergen appeared on the network to talk about an interview he had with bin Laden in 1997.
"He communicates by satellite phone, even though Afghanistan in some levels is back in the Middle Ages and a country that barely functions," Bergen said.
Bergen noted that as early as 1997, bin Laden's men were very concerned about electronic surveillance. "They scanned us electronically," he said, because they were worried that anyone meeting with bin Laden "might have some tracking device from some intelligence agency." In 1996, the Chechen insurgent leader Dzhokhar Dudayev was killed by a Russian missile that locked in to his satellite phone signal.
That same day, CBS reported that bin Laden used a satellite phone to give a television interview. USA Today ran a profile of bin Laden on the same day as the Washington Times's article, quoting a former U.S. official about his "fondness for his cell phone."
Even better, the Post goes on to talk to some of the (apparently clueless) actors who have been pushing the notion that the article somehow destroyed an ongoing intelligence operation. And this passage is simply frightening.
Officials could not explain yesterday why they focused on the Washington Times story when other news organizations at the same time reported on the satellite phone -- and that the information was not particularly newsworthy.
"You got me," said Benjamin, who was director for counterterrorism on the National Security Council staff at the time. "That was the understanding in the White House and the intelligence community. The story ran and the lights went out."
You really have to wonder about the so-called "intelligence community" if they can't even be bothered to do a simple Lexis-Nexis check.
Not even conservatives will rush to endorse the expansive powers that Bush claims to find in the Constitution to enable the National Security Agency to evade existing law and systematically conduct wiretaps against terrorism suspects on U.S. soil without warrants.
Oh, really? Really? You sure? Because it seems like there are a lot of people who are thrilled about this.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Now that's rich
ILLEGAL TRANSIT STRIKE
OK Thanks. We're now moving out to Long Island to see how people are coping there.
ILLEGAL TRANSIT STRIKE
Hey, how about those Giants?
ILLEGAL TRANSIT STRIKE
And so on. By the way ILLEGAL is in bright red. Now that's good propaganda!
I think I saw that graphic 30 times in 10 minutes. Am going out now to punch a bus driver for some reason.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Great moments in vice presidenting, Part II
ABC's Terry Moran asked, "Are you troubled at all that more than 100 people in U.S. custody have died -- 26 of them now being investigated as criminal homicides -- people beaten to death, suffocated to death, died of hypothermia in U.S. custody?" The vice president replied, "No. I won't accept your numbers, Terry. But I guess one of the things I'm concerned about is that as we get farther and farther away from 9/11, and there have been no further attacks against the U.S., there seems to be less and less concern about doing what's necessary in order to defend the country."
What he meant to say was that there was that we need to kill, torture and humiliate even more people to better defend our country and secure our freedom.
Monday, December 19, 2005
[T]he Democrats still do not grasp that foreign affairs and national security issues are their vulnerabilities, not their strengths. All of the drumbeat about Iraq, spying, and torture that the left thinks is so damaging to the White House are actually positives for the President and Republicans. Apparently, Democrats still have not fully grasped that the public has profound and long-standing concerns about their ability to defend the nation. As long as national security related issues are front page news, the Democrats are operating at a structural political disadvantage. Perhaps the intensity of their left wing base and the overwhelmingly liberal press corps produces a disorientation among Democratic politicians and prevents a more realistic analysis of where the country’s true pulse lies on these issues.
When will the Democrats learn? What Joe Six Pack really wants is an unaccountable, dictatorial regime that deliberately misleads its citizenry, flouts our laws, tortures prisoners -- guilty or not -- and illegally spies on us. USA! USA!
The newest fake talking point
The newest talking point? That "Echelon" a surveillance operation conducted by the NSA during the Clinton years, is the exact same thing as the Bush-spy kerfuffle. Just heard Limbaugh railing about this. Well, actually, it's not at all, namely because the Clintons went to the FISA Court to get approval, the exact thing the Bushes refused to do. Here's George Tenet, then DCI, at a Congressional hearing in 2000:
Mr. Chairman, I am here today to discuss allegations about SIGINT activities and the so-called Echelon program of the National Security Agency with a very specific objective: To assure this Committee, the Congress, and the American public that the United States Intelligence Community is unequivocally committed to conducting its activities in accordance with US law and due regard for the rights of Americans.
We do not collect against US persons unless they are agents of a foreign power, as that term is defined in law. We do not target their conversations for collection in the United States unless a FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] warrant has been obtained from the FISA court by the Justice Department. And we do not target their conversations for collection overseas unless Executive Order 12333 has been followed and the Attorney General has personally approved collection.
So, let's go over this slowly. Bush sought to spy on US Citizens without getting the secret and very easy FISA to issue a warrant, most likely contravening the law and the Constitution. So say what you want about the Clinton administration, but they did abide by existing laws.
Great moments in Vice Presidenting
Afterward, he took questions from a group of 30 troops in a large tent. "From our perspective, we don't see much as far as gains," Marine Cpl. Bradley Warren told Cheney. "I was wondering what it looks like from the big side of the mountain -- how Iraq's looking."
"Well, Iraq's looking good," Cheney responded. "It's hard sometimes, if you look at just the news, to have the good stories burn through."
This kind of just flies by in the story, but take a look at what's going on here. A Marine Corporal, on the ground in Iraq, tells his vice president that from his perspective, the troops are not seeing "much as far as gains" in the country.
To which Cheney replies: it's all the news media's fault.
This gang loves to blame the rooster for crowing at the sunrise. Now they're telling our troops that their own eyes are being warped by the media. Psychotic.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
How much of a narcissist is this president?
It is also important for every American to understand the consequences of pulling out of Iraq before our work is done. We would abandon our Iraqi friends - and signal to the world that America cannot be trusted to keep its word. We would undermine the morale of our troops - by betraying the cause for which they have sacrificed. We would cause tyrants in the Middle East to laugh at our failed resolve, and tighten their repressive grip.
They'd laugh at us! We can't have that!
Counting on you being stupid
From perusing a few headlines it seems the White House and some editors are taking to arguing that surveillance or domestic wiretapping is necessary for national security, that it saves lives.
Of course, it does. What a stupid thing to say, or for the White House, what a disingenuous thing to say.
Of course, it's not stupid at all. It is the kind of fake debate the President and his gang want us to have: those who are for saving the American people from attack, and those who are not. You see, if you're against the president giving himself absolute dictatorial powers, powers that shred the constitution and make a mockery of the phrase "rule of law," then you are with the enemy. The president and his men hope you have no brain to realize that of course it is correct for us to do everything we can to find terrorist threats, just extremely wrong to ignore our laws in that effort.
Read Ezra for a better written argument on this matter.
UPDATE: Just saw Michael Isikoff on CNN arguing this very point. See, the way he figures, the whole NSA-spying thing plays into the President's hands by showing the American people that he's serious about terror.
He's our Vigilante-in-Chief.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
TOM MAGUIRE has questions for the New York Times.
UPDATE: Lots more here. And there's this: "I cannot remember the last time, or first time, this newspaper reported a leak that was helpful to our war effort."
Yeah, it's very hard to remember things like that. But in retrospect, you'd have to regard the WMD leaks to the NYT, on the whole, as unhelpful to the war effort.
Friday, December 16, 2005
[I]t's time to be blunt. If we are hit again, we know now who to hold responsible, folks. The senators who voted against reauthorizing the Patriot Act. The senators who voted to dumb down the definition of torture. We know who you are and you are on record, and we are going to never let anybody forget who you are.
I ask you, is the New York Times really any different from Al-Jazeera at this point? Are they? It's not a propaganda outlet for the enemy, is it? It certainly seems like it is to me. New York Times may as well be called the DNC Times. It has become a propaganda outlet for the enemy. You know, we need to build another prison. I don't think we have enough prisons.
He's a caricature of a stereotype.
Also, check out Andrew Sullivan's much more civil evisceration of Reynolds regarding torture.
Maj. Gen. Hussein Kamal: "[H]e was released because we did not know the identity of this criminal."
UPDATE: I'm perplexed why this isn't getting bigger play in the MSB (main-stream blogosphere, though smaller sites seem to have picked it up) which went ga-ga over apparently false "Zarqawi dead" stories recently.
I'd be tempted to think that the lack of posting must mean that some were glad to see that Zarqawi had escaped. That is, if I were the type of person who engaged in such things. But I don't judge, you know?
LATER: Leave it to Pajamas Media to round up some of the kookiest commentary on this matter, including their highlighting of this crackpottery:
[T]he fact that [Zarqawi's release] was one year ago and being published precisely yesterday leads one commenter at Shelley The Republican to wonder whether this is the media trying to rain on the successful Iraqi elections parade
That actually makes a lot of sense. See, it was all a conspiracy by the Evil Big Media to force the general to speak to a Lebanese television station and admit that they had let the most-wanted man in Iraq go. Because somehow, an Iraqi general making the Iraqi security forces look bad is all a plot by the press to undermine democracy in the Middle East.
Of course, someone like this doesn't want to celebrate for obvious (and sad) reasons. I guess the election doesn't merit comment.
He links to Josh Marshall, who it turns out had linked to a reporter blogging from Mosul on the elections. Oops. Still, I suppose, Marshall would still be chastisted for his lack of jubilance.
Engaging in this type of stuff is utter childishness, and I think opens a window into the soul of these folks. One blogger went so far as to "summarize" the lefty blogosphere's reaction -- or lack thereof -- to the election (not to pass judgment, of course, but still, he can't help but musing: "I’m just trying to give you some idea about how the anti-war sites are reacting to the elections. Perhaps some sites are waiting for results. Or a really nasty explosion or something.") InstaPundit linked to the above meditation and clucked his tongue here and here.
And they've proven what, exactly? That the warbloggers can turn any moment into fodder for grade-school level chest-thumping and point-scoring? Well, I think they've proved that. (Remember the tsunami?)
Is there reason to be heartened? Sure. Is there reason to be worried? Sure. There is no guarantee of anything and I think people would be wise to withhold their unjust pessismism and unbridled joy until things shake out.
This is not a game. This is deadly serious business. Grow up, people.
The perils of democracy promotion
[I]t's an apt time to step back and consider the broader prospects for Iraqi democracy. Unfortunately, they don't look so good.
A new book, Electing To Fight, by two political scientists—Edward Mansfield of the University of Pennsylvania and Jack Snyder of Columbia—reinforces this pessimism. The book argues that, while mature democracies do tend to be more peaceful and almost never go to war with one another, emerging democracies tend to be more violent and aggressive than any other type of regime—and are more likely to erupt in civil war or revert to autocratic rule.
Actually, this argument has been put forward many times, most notably by the unjustly derided Robert D. Kaplan (relation?) in the Atlantic, 1997, who argued -- through his anecdotal experience -- that it would be preferable to have an "enlightened Hobbesian despot" than a democracy minus the enlightened populace:
I submit that the democracy we are encouraging in many poor parts of the world is an integral part of a transformation toward new forms of authoritarianism; that democracy in the United States is at greater risk than ever before, and from obscure sources; and that many future regimes, ours especially, could resemble the oligarchies of ancient Athens and Sparta more than they do the current government in Washington.
Democracies do not always make societies more civil-but they do always mercilessly expose the health of the societies in which they operate.
And his example? Sudan:
In April of 1985 I found myself in the middle of a Sudanese crowd that had just helped to overthrow a military regime and replace it with a new government, which the following year held free and fair elections. Sudan's newly elected democracy led immediately to anarchy, which in turn led to the most brutal tyranny in Sudan's postcolonial history: a military regime that broadened the scope of executions, persecuted women, starved non-Muslims to death, sold kidnapped non-Muslim children back to their parents for $200, and made Khartoum the terrorism capital of the Arab world, replacing Beirut.
Though, if I recall correctly, Kaplan argued that Iraq possessed enough of an educated middle class and operating civic institutions to make a go of a successful democracy. But that was a few years ago, before the country was gutted by looters, beset by insurgency. I'd be curious to know what he thinks today.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Are you sure he didn't mean to say, "They're under my bed"?
Saddam Hussein moved his chemical weapons to Syria six weeks before the war started, Israel's top general during Operation Iraqi Freedom says.
The assertion comes as President Bush said yesterday that much of the intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was incorrect.
The Israeli officer, Lieutenant General Moshe Yaalon, asserted that Saddam spirited his chemical weapons out of the country on the eve of the war. "He transferred the chemical agents from Iraq to Syria," General Yaalon told The New York Sun over dinner in New York on Tuesday night. "No one went to Syria to find it."
Ohhh-kaaaaay. Still, one can't help but wondering how in the world this guy knows what he knows. Do Ira Stoll and the Sun not think it's worth asking the Lt. General how he came to know where the WMD are? How they were "spirited" out of Iraq? If the good general won't say, the very least The Sun owes its readers is to put down the salad fork and offer an explanation of why he won't. And if he knows they were removed, wouldn't it follow he knows where they were taken? Did the Sun learn whether this knowledgeable general apprised Bush, or say, David Kay while he was wandering around Iraq coming up with a lot of nothing? Wouldn't that have been worth telling their readers?
Look, it is entirely plausible that Saddam did what this article alleges. But the article is so bereft of context and actual reportage that if this were printed in The WaPo or the NYT, it would be laughed off the page.
Meanwhile, how about that Iraq election? Discuss.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Getting tired of this
Several cars have been pulled over by policemen and persons have been arrested. The cars have been attacked by baseball bats. One witnesses is reporting by cell phone from behind bushes and trees. Radio reporters are saying the attackers are attacking randomly and have been identified as people from the heavily Muslim suburb in Lakemba. A mosque is rumored to have been attacked, but that report is not confirmed.
'Groups of people going up and down and terrorizing residents' -- radio reporters. "It's like a movie ... just chasing shadows ... as they move up one end of the street they move out the other ... normally you'd feel safe at the Cronulla police station ... cars smashed in front of the police station ... most of the mob in here has come and gone ... seemingly quiet ... people on the driveway sweeping the glass away ... people being pulled over in front of the Surf Club ... cars pulled over everywhere. No spokesmen to talk to. What really shocked me was the coordination. We got the feeling we were following a line of cars when we saw a convoy. Those guys had baseball bats and got out and smashed cars. Every car facing the street had its windows smashed. That's just what we can see.". -- radio commentator. "It feels like a form of terrorism ... it's like what we saw in France ... multiculturalism died last Sunday"
Ugh. As even a first-hand report this is utterly worthless. What happened? Where? Who did what? Why? Did anyone get badly injured? How many people were there? What was the extent of the damage? All we have is a word salad of nonsense, second-hand rumor and dark insinuation that it's all the Muslim's fault.
Which, of course, would not be the impression at all if you read this:
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- Young people riding in vehicles smashed cars and store windows in suburban Sydney late Monday, a day after thousands of drunken white youths attacked people they believed were of Arab descent at a beach in the same area in one of Australia's worst outbursts of racial violence.
Thousands of white youths attacked people they believed were of Arab descent at a Sydney beach. Later, Arabs retaliated in the suburbs.
Sunday's attack -- apparently prompted by reports that Lebanese youths had assaulted two lifeguards -- sparked retaliation by young men of Arab descent in several Sydney suburbs, fighting with police and smashing 40 cars with sticks and bats, police said. Thirty-one people were injured and 16 were arrested in hours of violence.
Huh. Also, apparently skinheads were involved in the attacks on Sunday. But you wouldn't know it from reading Reynolds and Pajamas Media.
UPDATE: I have my suspicion that the post excerpted above was authored by Richard Fernandez, a resident of Australia who goes by "Wretchard" at Belmont Club. From what I can tell, our intrepid reporter on the scene in Sydney has done some good old ass-welt keyboard kommading:
Many emergency vehicles are converging on the site of the Sydney beach riots. Radio reporters are suggested a large number of "incidents" are taking place. Car windows have been smashed and bloodied individuals have been sighted by radio reporters. Residents are being advised to stay at home. More as information becomes available.
Several cars have been pulled over by policemen and persons have been arrested. The cars have been attacked by baseball bats. One witnesses is reporting by cell phone from behind bushes and trees.
Now there are reports that the attackers are from the largely Muslim suburb of Lakemba. Unconfirmed reports say the 'youths' are attacking cars and individuals at random. More unconfirmed reports that a mosque has been attacked. These reports are being compiled while listening to live coverage on 2GB. You can listen online at this site.
Almost word for word from what I've excerpted above. In other words, that "Pajamas Media" report that I described earlier was "compiled" not by a guy who was actually on the scene (an impression which PJ Media does nothing to dispel or clarify), but rather some guy who -- we're not sure -- was sitting in his bathrobe listening to the radio and banged out a second-hand report on what he heard.
That's some good reporting.
And, if you read Belmont further, you not only get this thrilling you-are-there-in-my-den reportage, you also get incisive analysis. See, the way Fernandez figures it, it's natural that the white supremacists rioted and beat the crap out of Arab immigrants, because people like Sami al-Arian are not being tortured and shot:
There's a perception, justified or not, among some Anglo Australians that authorities are not cracking down hard enough on Middle Eastern gangs, who are in Western Sydney. Some days ago, a Lebanese gang supposedly attacked lifeguards, who are an iconic part of Australian beach culture. That's a little bit like spitting on the Flag and writing grafitti on the Liberty Bell. So guys revved up by beer decided it wasn't just Miller Time, but payback time.
I have no doubt that some of the Middle Eastern guys beat up were innocent. But that's what happens when perceived political correctness undermines public confidence. We rely on the state to dispense justice, when that is thought to fail then mob rule steps in and punishes innocent and guilty alike.
I have Muslim or Middle Eastern friends and the way I got it figured is if we don't start cracking down on the Osamas and the Zawahiris and the al-Arians because they are draped in this bogus human rights shield, then the Joe Samadis and the Bill Mansours of the world are gonna start catching it. What's the use of being innocent if the guilty go scot free? One day if a nuke goes off in Sydney or Manhattan all the bets are off.
Priceless and silly and frightening. This guy graduated from Harvard?
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Dept. of Bad Analogies
The pipe dreams spring eternal, but they are mirages. In the near to medium term, those Americans who rush through the desert sands in the torrid miasma of the Iraqi midday sun, seeking to throw themselves into the shimmering lakes of peace and prosperity just over the horizon, will be found later at the foot of a dune, lips cracked and skin blackened, their eyeballs the food of scorpions and lizards.
Obviously, this is an extended analogy, but good grief, one done in exceptionally poor taste.
People are scratching their heads wondering why this band hasn't achieved worldwide fame and Coldplay has. For one thing, it's releasing songs like "Sky Starts Falling." No, no, no!
Well, "Someday Soon" [listen here, Windows media] is Doves' meal ticket. It's a simple, two-chord diddy in 6/8, but layered with catchy little hooks and, quite frankly, it sounds great coming out of a car stereo. The only problem, from a mass-market scale, is the chorus. The bottom drops out completely, and dead spots abound. Radio doesn't like that. So remix it, or re-record and get the chorus tempo up.
The lyrics are pure schmaltzy gold:
All my love and all my heart go with you
Just look into my eyes and what can you see?
But all my love and all the time keep with me
I'll keep it with me
Someday soon you'll know how it feels to love someone
Someday soon you'll know how it feels to trust someone
Add those words to the bittersweet melody and Dear God, can't you see them playing this thing at the end of "One Tree Hill" the "OC" or one of those other silly quasi-serious teen dramas?
Doves will be worldwide superstars if they release that song. I guarantee it.
Friday, December 09, 2005
No wonder everyone out there now sounds like the White Music/Drums and Wires era iteration of the band. And nothing beats the opening guitar riffs for Respectable Street. Sinister and slashing and sneering all at once.
Annals of super-hackery
First, Mr. Kagan responded to fluffy questions from Brian Lamb about the timing and placement of the article by decrying the revelation as “irrelevant.” He then believed the play given to it in the NYT was “childish,” intended to undermine the war effort, and further remarked that while we were “wrong” on the intelligence, that we should, you know, just move on.
Excuse me, but the issue is not whether the intelligence was simply “wrong,” – but whether the wrongness of it was derived from the fact that it was cooked by people looking for a justification for invasion. OK?
As a postscript, Mr. Kagan trotted out one of the most fantastically silly, recurring talking points from the administration’s defenders: That there was an Iraq-al Qaeda link. Yes, indeed. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was in – gasp! – Iraq prior to our invasion.
Yes, dear readers, it’s true, but as some might note, completely irrelevant, as the conservative Cato Institute noted last year:
But as Powell himself acknowledged, Zarqawi and the Ansar al-Islam terrorist group with which Zarqawi was associated were based "in northern Kurdish areas outside Saddam Hussein's controlled Iraq," which did not make a strong case for close ties between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda.
Mr. Kagan just seemed astonished that the ‘mainstream media’ were not focused on such a nugget. I have a notion why: It’s a complete non-story.
What we really need to do is torture Saddam
I, for one, would have liked to see -- not torture -- but sufficient “stress and duress” applied to induce Saddam to tell us what he did with his WMDs. But no, we couldn’t do that, could we? Instead, we had to show the world how magnanimous we are with the mass murderer. And we sure have gotten loads of credit for that, haven’t we?
Yeah, what's up with all that magnanimity and stuff? We invade a country with no weapons of mass destruction, and despite our leaders telling us that they knew exactly where they were, we don't find them. So here's what we need to do now: apply "stress and duress" (nudge, nudge) to the leader who didn't have the weapons in order to find out "what he did" with them.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Things fall apart
WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 - The Bush administration based a crucial prewar assertion about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda on detailed statements made by a prisoner while in Egyptian custody who later said he had fabricated them to escape harsh treatment, according to current and former government officials.
The officials said the captive, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, provided his most specific and elaborate accounts about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda only after he was secretly handed over to Egypt by the United States in January 2002, in a process known as rendition.
So the U.S., employing the practice of extraordinary rendition, tortures a prisoner and extracts bogus information on Iraq-al Qaeda ties, all of which he later recants. What is that, like a three-fer? Paging Stephen Hayes...
How bad has it gotten?
Wouldn't you welcome back Todd Pinkston and Freddie Mitchell right now? Pinkston could at least outrun people. At least Freddie fought for the ball, went over the middle, showed some fight and pride.
Dark days, indeed.
Or maybe Howard Dean isn't an idiot
There are, however, two very different questions to ask about Dean's statements on Iraq. The first is whether they are politic--whether they have advanced his own or his party's electoral chances. Probably not--I am no fan of Dean as a national politician or party chair; and I would certainly concede that a Democrat in Georgia, Florida, or Nebraska might not want to run on what he says.
The second question, though, is whether his judgment on Iraq has been sound. And there I would say that it certainly has been. During the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq, and during the invasion and occupation, Dean has been almost consistently correct in his statements. He has been the Democrats' and the nation's Cassandra--willing to reveal bitter truths about which Republicans and his fellow Democrats would prefer that he remain silent.
Dean's statements perfectly fit Michael Kinsley's definition of a "gaffe"--an assertion that is impolitic but true. Here is a brief timeline of Dean's most controversial statements about Iraq and his critics' responses during the months before and immediately after the invasion...
Read and decide for yourself. Interesting, but I still think Dean and the Democrats pay for his candor.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Military misleads on deaths in Fallujah
NEW YORK Why did the U.S. military mislead the media and the families of ten Marines killed near the Iraqi city of Falluja while "on patrol" last week about how they were killed? The military announced on Tuesday that it actually happened at a "promotion" ceremony and they were not on foot patrol as initially reported.
Families of the victims immediately raised questions about the incident and it was unclear whether the site had been properly swept for explosive devices.
The Marines were in a disused flour mill on the outskirts of the city to celebrate the promotion of three soldiers, a military statement said on Tuesday.
As the ceremony ended, the Marines dispersed and one of them is thought to have stepped on a buried pressure plate linked to explosives that caused the devastating blast.
But CNN, for example, reported four days ago, based on military reports, that the dead Marines "were conducting a nighttime foot patrol when a roadside bomb fashioned with large artillery shells detonated."
A spokesman blamed the mix-up on "misreporting up the chain of command". As Tbogg notes: "Because in the fog of war 'nightime foot patrol' sounds remarkably like 'party'. It's interesting, because in the days after the explosion, the NYT's John Burns essentially called bullshit on the military for withholding information on the circumstances of the Marine's deaths.
Details of the Falluja bombing were sparse, with the Marine Corps' command officially holding to a policy of releasing few facts about the circumstances of combat deaths in their statement on Friday.
But an American official in Falluja said Friday that the attack that killed the 10 marines occurred at or near an abandoned factory on a peninsula that juts into the Euphrates River on the city's western edge, an area that was the target of the first Marine attack in the eight-day offensive last November that reduced much of Falluja to rubble.
In other words, the official policy was not to release, which of course, is a policy that is violated all the time. The next day, Edward Wong wrote this:
Col. Dave Lapan, a spokesman for the Marine force charged with controlling western Iraq, said in an e-mail message Saturday evening that "lots of rumors" were out there and that most of the ones he had heard were inaccurate.
"However, this incident is no different from an operational security perspective than any other one," Colonel Lapan continued. "We don't provide details of the attacks so as not to provide information that might help our enemies."
Yeah, right. I think this bears some more reporting, other than the scant attention it was given today.
Howard Dean is an idiot
Get used to that Dean quote in your 2006 Congressional races. It is a gift, and it's going to get a lot of play.
"We have not blown our chance" of winning back the House but "we have jeopardized it," said a top strategist to House Democrats, who requested anonymity to speak freely about influential party leaders. "It raises questions about whether we are capable of seizing political opportunities or whether we cannot help ourselves and blow it" by playing to the liberal base of the party.
And Bob Kerrey was just on Imus, slapping around both Dean's and John Kerry's "terrorize" comments. This party is filled with complete dolts. There's a goo reason neither of those guys are president now.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Ah, now I see after further inspection. This is a bonus feature for the DVD entitled "Madagascar Penguins: A Christmas Caper."
Mel Gibson + Holocaust = Box office gold
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 6 - Mel Gibson, whose "The Passion of the Christ" was assailed by critics as an anti-Semitic passion play - and whose father has been on record as a Holocaust denier - has a new project under way: a nonfiction miniseries about the Holocaust.
Mr. Gibson's television production company is developing a four-hour miniseries for ABC based on the self-published memoir of Flory A. Van Beek, a Dutch Jew whose gentile neighbors hid her from the Nazis but who lost several relatives in concentration camps.
Hey, that sounds lovely! But aren't people a little worried about, you know, the controversy?
But Quinn Taylor, ABC's senior vice president in charge of movies for television, acknowledged that the attention-getting value of having Mr. Gibson attached to a Holocaust project was a factor.
"Controversy's publicity, and vice versa," Mr. Taylor said.
Super. Can't wait for ABC to produce Saddam's long-rumored epic about the Kurdish chemical-massacre (working title: It Was All A Dream"). That'd have some zazz.
Mr. Gibson's father, Hutton Gibson, has repeatedly denied that the Holocaust happened, saying before the release of "Passion of the Christ," for example, that accounts of the Holocaust were mostly "fiction" and asserting that there were more Jews in Europe after World War II than before. Mel Gibson has declined to disassociate himself clearly from his father's views, according to Rafael Medoff, director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in Melrose Park, Pa., and the author of an annual study of Holocaust denial.
"For him to be associated with this movie is cause for concern," Mr. Medoff said. "He needs to come clean that he repudiates Holocaust denial, and that he understands the Holocaust was not just another atrocity that occurred in World War II along with other atrocities."
Now, this is a bit much. I don't know if Mel Gibson is or is not a holocaust denier, but to make the son culpable for the father is not at all fair. As for whether or not he "declined to disassociate himself clearly from his father's views," isn't that a matter of public record, and not an opinion by Rafael Medoff? Where is it that Gibson demurred from answering a tough question about the holocaust? Show me the quote.
Here's a quote from a terrific New Yorker piece by Peter Boyer. It's as close as it gets:
I reminded Gibson, who carries the Emmerich relic in his pocket, that some of
his critics have pointed out that Emmerich's depiction of Jews is inflammatory,
thereby imputing anti-Semitism to Gibson's film. “Why are they calling her a
Nazi?” Gibson asked. “Because modern secular Judaism wants to blame the
Holocaust on the Catholic Church. And it's a lie. And it's revisionism. And
they've been working on that one for a while.”
And if you read the whole article, you'll see that Gibson does decline to assail his father. Whether that means he's a denier or just a defender of his father is something that people would have to decide for themselves.
The urban-legend site Snopes has more on Mel and father and holocaust related issues, none of which completely exonerates Mel, none of which damns him.
UPDATE: Here's an interesting interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer:
Gibson: You know, do I believe that there were concentration camps where defenseless and innocent Jews died cruelly under the Nazi regime? Of course I do. Absolutely. It was an atrocity of monumental proportion.
Sawyer: Are you looking into the face of a particular kind of evil with the Holocaust?
Gibson: Of course. You're looking- yes...
Sawyer: ...What is the particular evil there?
Gibson: ...what's the particular evil? I mean, why do you need me to tell you? It's like, it's obvious. They're killed because of who and what they are. Is that not evil enough?...
So this is what the bottom feels like
Snow! Snow! Snooowwwww!!!!!
And first of all, "3-5 inches," er "2-4 inches," er, "a couple inches" is not a major storm.
So what certain havoc did this killer strom wreak? A coating? An inch? I'm looking out my window now and the sidewalk isn't even covered.
"This time, we got lucky," says a chirpy weatherguy.
So, properly chastened, the weather mongers will underplay the next storm, which will clock us in the side of the head. Happens every time.
How much is a 'score'?
Female Suicide Bombers Kill Scores in Iraq
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Two women strapped with explosives blew themselves up at Baghdad's police academy on Tuesday, killing 27 people and wounding 32, the U.S. military said.
The women blew themselves up in a classroom filled with students, the statement from Task Force Baghdad said. No U.S. forces were killed or wounded in the attack, it said.
Absolutely hideous. But that would be a "one score and seven," not "scores" killed. Remember that little Lincoln speech?
Monday, December 05, 2005
Boo, blogger, boo!!!
Reporting 101, Pajamas-style
Smoke rises from place de la Bastille. A bit further up the boulevard, a cluster of firemen looking like Lego characters stand and watch, their silver helmets whistling in the dark. The buzz is that this time it’s the gypsies. Tough looking guys walk up the boulevard, away from the standoff at the place de la Bastille, brandishing long sticks. The liberté égalité fraternité slogan was probably thrown on the burning trash heaps. They didn’t really believe in it. It was a pretext. They admire their handiwork, pointing to trash, burned trash cans, smashed bus shelters and phone booths.
What a mess. Buzz? Who is buzz? A French official? A person you actually talked to? A wino? Is buzz an authoritative source? Building on this theme, how do you know a demonstrator "didn't really believe" whatever it is he or she believes? How do you know it's all a pretext? Did you ask him? Did somebody tell you this? Are you, in fact, God? Further, I wasn't able to detect a single quote from a demonstrator, a police officer, a forlorn shopkeeper, or, in fact, anyone involved in this scene.
Apparently, the template for right-wing blog-reporting is to wander into a place, talk to no one, and then bang out a thin, impressionistic account dotted with purple prose about helmets whistling in the dark.
The piece is just about useless. It has no context, no understanding of what is going on, and an abundance of attitude. A bad mix.
Look, I'm all for bloggers attempting to report. It's good. It'll help. I'm on the record as wanting it to work. But guess what? Reporting is actually a little bit harder than you think it is.
And help me out on this Joe Friday conclusion:
Watch out for the next demonstration. It seems the pedophile-rapist-murderers think they aren’t getting a square deal in France. They might just decide to tear up the boulevard one day soon and demand égalité pour tous.
Donald Rumsfeld, media critic
I don’t think we can close a discussion on Iraq without mentioning the media coverage and the current political debate that’s taking place.
Recently, a member of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association reported on the intense discussions within the A.P. over whether or not their coverage of Iraq has been slanted or fair. For my part, almost every time I meet with troops, I am asked the same question: they ask why aren’t the American people being given an accurate picture of what’s happening in Iraq?
We have arrived at a strange time in this country where the worst about America and our military seems to so quickly be taken as truth by the press and reported and spread around the world -- often with little context and little scrutiny -- let alone correction or accountability after the fact. Speed it appears is the critical determinant. Less so, context.
Recently there were claims by two Iraqis on a speaking tour that U.S. soldiers attacked them with lions. It was widely reported around the United States. It is still without substantiation. And yet that story was spread across the globe. Not too long ago, there was a false and terribly damaging story about a Koran that was supposedly flushed down a toilet in Guantanamo, and in the riots that followed in several countries, some people were killed. And a recent New York Times editorial implied that America’s armed forces -- your armed forces -- our armed forces -- use tactics reminiscent of Saddam Hussein.
So I suggest -- and I take for granted the good intentions of the people in the media -- I suggest that we ask: how will history judge -- if it does -- the reporting some decades from now when Iraq’s path is settled?
He's worried how history will judge the press? The press? A man who says he can't be bothered to worry about things in Iraq because it's "4,000 miles away" is worried about how the press will be judged for posterity? What a lunatic.
I might add that this speech sounds like it was ripped directly from a Rush Limbaugh broadcast.
[via the Corner]
SADDAM AGONISTES [John Derbyshire]
"Saddam's half brother shouted 'Why don't you just execute us!'"
Well, why don't we? This preposterous "trial" is the worst possible advertisement for the rule of law. Saddam should have been taken behind a tree and shot as soon as his identity had been ascertained. The performance he's putting on here, even I am starting to like him. A few more weeks of this and they'll be putting up statues to Saddam all over the Arab world. What a stupid farce.
Oh, now I get it. We should've executed Saddam without a trial because that shows that we're adherents to the rule of law but the trial that's going on now is a farce because I think Saddam's cute. Or something.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Perhaps. So far, I've only found this new iteration (call it PJ 3.0) in an ad on Glenn Reynolds's site. It doesn't this look like they've adopted the logo for the mothership. Confusing the matter further, the ad also features, at the bottom, a picture of the bathrobe:
Is it me or does the actual "pajama" look like it could be easily confused with a boarding school outfit?
UPDATE: The new logo is appearing on LGF and Roger Simon's site.
Sometimes, the bloggers need their asses fact-checked
UPDATE: In a similar low-challenge vein, Rand Simberg notes dishonesty about the war at the Los Angeles Times. Easy, but as always, worthwhile.
Heh, indeed. To which I would argue: it's always easy to find dishonesty when your facts are wrong. So what is it that this Rand Simberg (who hilariously refers to the Los Angeles Times as "Al Jazeera West") discovers about the LA Times's alleged dishonesty? That there's a "Big Lie" about what Joe Wilson did or did not find in Africa:
In (where else?) Al Jazeera West:
The documents inspired intense U.S. interest in the buildup to the war — and they led the CIA to send a former ambassador to the African nation of Niger to investigate whether Iraq had sought the materials there. The ambassador, Joseph C. Wilson IV, found little evidence to support such a claim, and the documents were later deemed to have been forged.
Well, at least they're not still pretending that Cheney sent him. The only way that one can believe that he "found little evidence to support such a claim" is to listen to Joe Wilson's continuing lies about it, and ignore the results of the Senate investigation, which showed that in fact Wilson indeed discovered that Iraq had sought yellowcake from Niger. But then, these are LA Times reporters, to whom the default position is that the administration lies, and anyone who accuses them of lying must ipso facto be telling the truth. No further investigation necessary.
This meditation is so spectacuarly ill-informed that it's hard to fathom.
But now, with the wonder of the interweb, we can all learn what the Robb-Silberman report actually said about what Wilson found:
[The Nigerian Prime Minister] said, however, that in June 1999 he met with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Niger and Iraq, which the Prime Minister interpreted as meaning the delegation wanted to discuss yellowcake sales. The Prime Minister let the matter drop, however, because of the United Nations sanctions on Iraq.
This is the only thing in the report, this thin reed, that I'm assuming this blogger utilized as a broadside against the LA Times. Did the Iraqi delegation seek uranium? Maybe. Likely. Are we sure of this? No. Pretty weak stuff. And so what did the LAT say about the matter of Iraq actively seeking uranium in Niger? That there was "little evidence to support such a claim." I'd say that's about right. So who's being dishonest now? The LAT or an unhinged blogger? And let's not leave aside the fact that Joe Wilson discovered what everyone else around him eventually determined: that the claims about Saddam making any kind of serious attempt to obtain uranium from Africa were a hilarious fraud.
Still not convinced? Read on:
The Iraq Survey Group also found no evidence that Iraq sought uranium from abroad after 1991. 113 With respect to the reports that Iraq sought uranium from Niger, ISG interviews with Ja'far Diya Ja'far, the head of Iraq's pre-1991 enrichment programs, indicated that Iraq had only two contacts with the Nigerien government after 1998--neither of which was related to uranium. 114 One such contact was a visit to Niger by the Iraqi Ambassador to the Vatican Wissam Zahawie, the purpose of which Ja'far said was to invite the Nigerien President to visit Iraq (a story told publicly by Zahawie). 115 The second contact was a visit to Iraq by a Nigerien minister to discuss Nigerien purchases of oil from Iraq--with no mention of "any kind of payment, quid pro quo, or offer to provide Iraq with uranium ore, other than cash in exchange for petroleum." 116 The use of the last method of payment is supported by a crude oil contract, dated June 26, 2001, recovered by the ISG. 117
The ISG found only one offer of uranium to Baghdad since 1991--an offer that Iraq appears to have turned down. 118 The ISG found a document in the headquarters of the Iraqi Intelligence Service that reveals that a Ugandan businessman had approached the Iraqi Embassy in Nairobi with an offer to sell uranium, reportedly from the Congo. The Iraqi Embassy in Nairobi, reporting back to Baghdad on the matter on May 20, 2001, indicated that the Embassy told the Ugandan that Iraq did not deal with "these materials" because of the sanctions.
So please people, before you start attacking a newspaper, get your facts straight. Otherwise, you look kind of stupid.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
FEMA News Service
CNN transcript here.
Friday, December 02, 2005
Did a reporter tip Rove to help change testimony?
Months before the conversation between [Viveca] Novak and Mr. Luskin, Mr. Rove testified to the grand jury that he had held a conversation about the C.I.A. officer with only one journalist, Robert D. Novak, the syndicated columnist. Mr. Rove did not disclose that he had also spoken to Mr. Cooper either in his first grand jury testimony, in February 2004, or in an earlier interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
But after his conversation with Ms. Novak, who is not related to the columnist, Mr. Luskin asked Mr. Rove to have the White House search for any record of a discussion between Mr. Rove and Mr. Cooper around the time that Ms. Wilson's identity became public in July 2003.
The search turned up an e-mail message from Mr. Rove to another senior White House official, Stephen J. Hadley, who was the deputy national security adviser, that recounted a conversation between Mr. Rove and Mr. Cooper. On Oct. 14, 2004, Mr. Rove went before the grand jury again to alter his earlier account, by saying he had also discussed the C.I.A. officer with Mr. Cooper.
Mr. Fitzgerald appears to be evaluating whether Mr. Rove came forward with the e-mail [regarding his conversation with Matthew Cooper] and his new testimony only after it became apparent that Mr. Cooper might be compelled to testify about it. It is not clear precisely what Ms. Novak told Mr. Luskin, or what the context for their conversation had been.
People involved in the case said that at a minimum Ms. Novak communicated to Mr. Luskin that Mr. Rove might face legal problems because of potential testimony from Mr. Cooper, her colleague. They said Ms. Novak had told Mr. Luskin that Mr. Cooper might have been in contact with Mr. Rove about Ms. Wilson in the days before her identity became public. Mr. Cooper helped write an article on Time's Web site in July 2003 that was among the first, after Mr. Novak's column, to divulge Ms. Wilson's identity, using her maiden name, Valerie Plame.
In other words, Rove knew about the possibility of Cooper's coming forward because Viveca Novak told him (and she, remember, is a Rove "friend"), and seemingly only changed his testimony when he was tipped that he might face legal jeopardy with the coming testimony. He knew he was caught. It sure seems like Rove is remembering things at convenient moments.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
It's Democrats' fault if Bush lied
...[T]he war critics cannot even agree on a united position. It's either withdraw quickly, withdraw gradually, increase troop levels, other forms of redeployment, I've heard that word bandied about, and when they say they were lied to about prewar intelligence they come off as petulant, whining, incompetent boobs calling intoquestion their own political legitimacy. If they can be lied to this easily, what good are they having even more power? If Bush can lie to them, what could Dominique de Villepin do with them? So they make themselves out to be a bunch of boobs in the process of portraying Bush as a real danger.
Yeah, that sounds about right. For a lunatic.