Friday, March 31, 2006

Kinsley to CNN: Ramp up the Amps to Full Volume!

Michael Kinsley is not a fellow whom I admire as often as I diss him, but he does have a very good description of the much-maligned MSM wandering in the mists of what he calls The Twilight of Objectivity.

Who else could be racing into the Twilight Zone he describes faster than CNN? To judge by the gushing of CNN/US chief Jonathan Klein, Lou Dobbs is the latest paragon of splenetic emotive truth, or, as Kinsley puts it so much better:
Klein is a man who goes with the flow. Only five months before anointing Cooper CNN's new messiah (nothing human is alien to Anderson Cooper; nothing alien is human to Lou Dobbs), he killed CNN's long-running debate show Crossfire, on the grounds that viewers wanted information and not opinions. He said he agreed "wholeheartedly" with Jon Stewart's widely discussed and uncharacteristically stuffy remark that Crossfire and similar shows were "hurting America" with their occasionally raucous displays of emotional commitment to a political point of view.

Dobbs' ratings rose while he ranted about Dubai and the UAE and got a little sputum-flecked around the lips, so Klein has dubbed him Sir Gotcha.

Aaron Brown was a seasoned journalist, and yes a little less in-your-face than Anderson Cooper. But Klein is in the middle of destroying the CNN News brand, it appears, as he hyperfabulates over each new twitch in his management wand. Kinsley does get serious after giving the CNN Keystone Krew their well-deserved bitch-slaps.
Abandoning the pretense of objectivity does not mean abandoning the journalist's most important obligation, which is factual accuracy. In fact, the practice of opinion journalism brings additional ethical obligations. These can be summarized in two words: intellectual honesty. Are you writing or saying what you really think? Have you tested it against the available counterarguments? Will you stand by an expressed principle in different situations, when it leads to an unpleasing conclusion? Are you open to new evidence or argument that might change your mind? Do you retain at least a tiny, healthy sliver of a doubt about the argument you choose to make?

Much of today's opinion journalism, especially on TV, is not a great advertisement for the notion that American journalism could be improved by more opinion and less effort at objectivity. But that's because the conditions under which much opinion journalism is practiced today make honesty harder and doubt practically impossible. Like the mopey vicar in Evelyn Waugh's novel Decline and Fall, who loses a cushy parish when struck by a case of "Doubts," TV pundits need to radiate certainty for the sake of their careers. As Lou Dobbs has demonstrated, this doesn't mean you can't change your mind, as long as you are as certain in your opinion today as you were of the opposite opinion a couple of days ago.

Dobbs is a ridiculous straw man, but the recent second thoughts of Francis Fukuyama concerning the Iraq adventure have got the neo-cons in a tizzy. Of course, FF was immediately embraced by the NYT, no great exemplar of objective journalism since the Pinch Sulzberger era has removed even the fig-leaf of respectability from that rant-rag. Whether you prefer your carrots raw or like them cooked, you'd better not switch preferences, unless you work for CNN and then it's a crap-shoot.

Dean Blasts Bush for Agreeing with Him!

Howard Dean has reverted again to his recurring problem: coming to grips with reality. As the AP wire story has it:
Democratic Party chief Howard Dean accused President Bush and the Republican Party on Friday of exploiting the immigration issue for political gain by scapegoating Hispanics.

Dean and Bush agree on the legislation at the heart of the debate. Both support a Senate bill that would expand guest-worker programs for an estimated 400,000 immigrants each year.

However, at a speech in an Oakland union hall, the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate sought to tie Bush to a much tougher House bill that would tighten borders and make it a crime to be in the United States illegally or to offer aid to illegal immigrants. Bush does not back the House bill.

Facts do confuse Dr. Dean and I got a good idea why 80% of Dem bloggers [Kossacks & Co.] love Dean when I glanced through The American Prospect today at the local Barnes & Noble. The cover of this far-left rag had a photo of Al Gore in mid-rant gesticulating wildly and the caption read "Why we're beginning to like him again" or words to that effect. Inside was a complete section devoted to how synfuels made of corn will replace petroleum in the US---oh oh! The far-left dwells in a complete la-la-land if they believe that corn derivatives, which are much less efficent than sugar cane which has had limited success in Brazil, will ever even begin to quench the American consumers' thirst for gasoline. The rest of TAP was equally clueless, with a hyper-lefty named Lieven excoriating French guru Bernard Levy for having postive thoughts about America. And the rabid Robert Kuttner reminding us about the deep depression in American wages, quoting Chicken Little economist Paul Krugman approvingly. Why not have a piece by Barbra with her original spelling to completely convince the Kool-Aid Krowd at TAP that they are onward and upward toward victory?

So I don't worry much about 2006 or 2008, as even an education system deconstructed by the NEA and AFTA PC police cannot make the American people stupid enough to swallow Dean and Gore and their far-left catamite corps.

Porn King Hefner's "Legacy" at 80!

Matthew Scully has a good piece on Hugh Hefner's approaching demise and the Playboy founder's obsessive search for meaning in his life. Scully summarizes:
It was Mr. Hefner who put the real money in porn, a business hard to go poor in under any circumstances (except for the unfortunates given starring roles) and today a $57 billion-a-year global industry. He brought it into the central stream of culture, so that now even upscale bookstores stock Penthouse or similar offerings without a second thought. He gave porn that "classy" feel and its phony creed of "artistic" expression and protected "speech" by which far livelier fare than Playboy would soon ease into popular culture.

Playboy Enterprises itself, years ago, dropped the pretense of refinement and delicacy, following the money into hard-core cable. Soft-core, hard-core, these were all along just degrees of exploitation and self-debasement and for the procurers a purely legal and commercial calculation.

He is not the worst of America's celebrity pornographers, though being the first is no great distinction either, and but for Hef a few standards of public decency might actually have held awhile. Without his pioneering vision, we might, in our own time, rise every morning to face a world without "Girls Gone Wild" or, without cable or Internet porn for all hours and all ages. Whatever the problems of those repressed, Puritanical types that Mr. Hefner is still using as strawmen, they did somehow manage to fill their days without such things, and we could use a little more of their self-restraint and modesty.

Pornography, Hef still assures us, is an antidote to social and personal troubles rather than an obvious source of them, and his own softer brand of the stuff is in any case so innocuous as to have no harmful social consequences whatever. It is not license, he tells us in a typical bit of pretentious blather, but repression that "twists the nature of sexuality. What causes all the sickness, the perversion, the rape, is a repressive society--a society that can't be open in a loving and positive way." Likewise, Playboy and all it brought were "not just for the guys. The major beneficiaries were women."

Enough to say that police investigators, in the sex-crimes units that have expanded roughly in proportion to mass-market "adult material," rarely conclude that the rapist or child predator lacked for pornographic inspiration before committing the crime. As to those "major beneficiaries" of porn, you won't find too many women these days who think that the world is better because of Playboy or the smug, selfish ethic it has always purveyed. For good reason has the Playboy Foundation long been a benefactor to NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood: The Playboy Philosophy has always been for the ladies, too, all right--just so long as they remember what they're good for, don't get too sentimental and feel grateful when the playboy in their own life offers to pay for the abortion.

One hesitates to speak harshly of an old man, who somewhere along the way must have done a few worthwhile things. But as to the public legacy of Hugh Hefner, he should have no illusions. All of us have our share of faults and sins to account for. But the lowest of vices and "strangest secret of hell," as G.K. Chesterton called it, is the desire to pervert others, to coax and corrupt them and drag them down with you. And any man who at the age of 80 has that to answer for is by no stretch the "luckiest cat" on the planet

BTW, Hefner's daughter inaptly named Christine has struggled to make money for Playboy, which she describes as a "billion-dollar brand," but which wallows close to red ink with very small profit margins in the low millions rather than at the billion-level.

One reason for this could be supporting her father's sybaritic self-indulgent hedonism. No matter. Predictably, Playboy will fade away in a decade or so as the mainline industry either flourishes or goes the way of all flesh. In Hefner's case, his flesh will be buried next to Marilyn Monroe.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

US Interferes in Democracy, says PM

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari was interviewed by second-string reporter Ed Wong, while the mysterious sequestration of the NYT's top reporter, John Burns, continues for reasons suspected to be that Burns' reporting is rosier than the NYT agenda permits. So ideologically correct Wong gets the PM interview.

Al-Jaafari is described in the interview as:
[speaking]in a languorous manner, relaxing in a black pinstripe suit in a dim ground-floor office lined with Arabic books like the multivolume "World of Civilizations."

"There was a stand from both the American government and President Bush to promote a democratic policy and protect its interests," he said, sipping from a cup of boiled water mixed with saffron. "But now there's concern among the Iraqi people that the democratic process is being threatened."

Al-Jaafari, along with Ahmed Chalabi, is one of the "Gucci Guerrillas" who stayed out of the country during Saddam's gruesome tyranny and Jaafari in particular has been described as feckless and beset by lassitude as Shi'ite factions fight for de facto control of his government.
Senior Shiite politicians said Tuesday that the American ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, had weighed in over the weekend, telling the leader of the Shiite bloc that President Bush did not want Mr. Jaafari as prime minister. That was the first time the Americans had openly expressed a preference for the post, the politicians said, and it showed the Bush administration's acute impatience with the political logjam.

Jaafari has in the eyes of well-informed observers become the catspaw of Shi'ite militias, particularly those of Muqtader Al-Sadr, which are now threatening to hijack the new democracy in the direction of a "tyranny of the majority." Al-Jaafari goes on in the interview to stress his "laissez-faire" attitude toward the militias:
Mr. Jaafari did not say in the interview what deals he had made [with the Sadr bloc to get their 32 votes for his PM job], but he insisted that engagement with the cleric's movement was needed for the stability of Iraq. He said he had disagreed with L. Paul Bremer III, the former American proconsul, when Mr. Bremer barred Mr. Sadr and some Sunni Arab groups from the Iraqi Governing Council in 2003.

"The delay in getting them to join led to the situation of them becoming violent elements," he said.

"I look at them as part of Iraq's de facto reality, whether some of the individual people are negative or positive," he said.

Mr. Jaafari used similar language when laying out his policy toward militias: that inclusion rather than isolation was the proper strategy.

The Iraqi government will try "to meld them, take them, take their names and make them join the army and police forces." "And they will respect the army or police rather than the militias"

Typical of this faineant passive-aggressive specimen to blame the US for "the situation of them becoming violent elements." [Jaafari spent his Gucci G time in London, but on TV he prefers to speak Arabic] And does "inclusion" mean that Jaafari, who ultimately owes his own job to the US, will try to have Sadr tone down his violent anti-American rhetoric? Wong does not reveal his own questions during this interview, and apparently does not have the handle that NYT MIA John Burns does on just how to interview a senior Iraqi official. But Wong does provide comment:
Recruiting militia members into the Iraqi security forces has not been a problem under the Jaafari government. The issue has been getting those fighters to act as impartial defenders of the state rather than as political partisans. The police forces are stocked with members of the Mahdi Army and the Badr Organization, an Iranian-trained militia, who still exhibit obvious loyalties to their political party leaders. Police officers have performed poorly when ordered to contain militia violence, and they even cruise around in some cities with images of Mr. Sadr or other religious politicians on their squad cars.

Also, the hideous reality of sectarian hatred manifests itself in the Shi'ites' institutional stronghold in the government:
There is growing evidence of uniformed death squads operating out of the Shiite-run Interior Ministry, and Ambassador Khalilzad has been lobbying the Iraqis to place more neutral figures in charge of the Interior and Defense Ministries in the next government. That has caused friction with Shiite leaders, and some have even accused the ambassador of implicitly backing the Sunni Arab-led insurgency.

Perhaps Amb. Khalilzad is getting too deeply involved in the oriental intrigue afoot in the corridors of the Green Zone, but:
But Mr. Jaafari said he supported the Americans' goal. "We insist that the ministers in the next cabinet, especially the ministers of defense and the interior, shouldn't be connected to any militias, and they should be nonsectarian," he said. "They should be experienced in security work. They should keep the institutions as security institutions, not as political institutions. They should work for the central government."

Wong winds up with a sort of kiss-off of the PM whose lack of gravitas and personal decisiveness has reportedly turned the formation of a government into a marathon lawyers' lunch of quibbling and infighting with no credible referee save perhaps the American Ambassador:
In the first two years of the war, Mr. Jaafari emerged as one of the most popular politicians in Iraq, especially compared with other exiles like Ahmad Chalabi, the former Pentagon favorite. A doctor by training and well-versed in the Koran, Mr. Jaafari comes from a prominent family in Karbala, the Shiite holy city. But since taking power last spring, Mr. Jaafari has come under widespread criticism for failing to stamp out the insurgency and promoting hard-line pro-Shiite policies.

It would have been nice to have asked Jaafari why he flew to Ankara for talks with the Turkish PM without even informing Iraqi President Talabani or any Kurdish leaders. This parasitic lightweight was obviously trying to affect the Kirkuk oilfield problem, which Saddam's ethnic cleansing moved into Arab-controlled territory simply by removing the Kurds as part of Operation Anfal.

But I don't think Ed Wong is the type of reporter to ask hard-hitting questions.

Illegal Immigration: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

George Will tries to solve the riddle of illegal immigration in his column today. His analysis begins with control of the existing illegals:
.... control belongs at the top of the agenda, for four reasons. First, control of borders is an essential attribute of sovereignty. Second, conditions along the border mock the rule of law. Third, large rallies by immigrants, many of them here illegally, protesting more stringent control of immigration reveal that many immigrants have, alas, assimilated: They have acquired the entitlement mentality created by America's welfare state, asserting an entitlement to exemption from the laws of the society they invited themselves into. Fourth, giving Americans a sense that borders are controlled is a prerequisite for calm consideration of what policy that control should serve.

Will just hints at the elephant in the living room, the urge for a reconquista by the existing hordes now resident in the States that would give a special status to the areas conquered by the Mexican War. I first came across this sort of "silent integration" in conversations with the famous Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes when he was a writer resident in Princeton in the late seventies. He did not espouse it, but said that such an attitude existed. The late LBJ once warned that if you let a Mexican on your land, he will soon be on your porch, then in your kitchen, etcetera....... But Will recognizes salient facts:
Facts, a conservative (John Adams) said, are stubborn things, and regarding immigration, true conservatives take their bearings from facts such as those in the preceding paragraph. Conservatives should want, as the president proposes, a guest worker program to supply what the U.S. economy demands -- immigrant labor for entry-level jobs. Conservatives should favor a policy of encouraging unlimited immigration by educated people with math, engineering, technology or science skills that America's education system is not sufficiently supplying.

And conservatives should favor reducing illegality by putting illegal immigrants on a path out of society's crevices and into citizenship by paying fines and back taxes and learning English. Faux conservatives absurdly call this price tag on legal status "amnesty." Actually, it would prevent the emergence of a sullen, simmering subculture of the permanently marginalized, akin to the Arab ghettos in France. The House-passed bill, making it a felony to be in the country illegally, would make 11 million people permanently ineligible for legal status. To what end?

Rather than punish the transgression of jobseekers who skirt the law to achieve a shot at a good life, Will points to:
Investor's Business Daily reports a new study demonstrating that "over the past 30 years rising immigration led to higher wages for U.S.-born workers. Cities that served as migrant magnets did better than others. Why? Hiring one worker creates wealth with which to hire more workers."

Will somewhat speciously points to the need to finance social security for the coming generations, but his point does have merits and he finishes by backing Bush:
Today the president is spending more of his depleted political capital by standing to the left of much of his political base, which favors merely preventative and punitive measures regarding immigration. He is right to take his stand there.

Boston Herald: Stuck on Stupid[er] than the Globe

The Media Blog demolishes the next reporter, this time a Polish-American duncette, who explains the meaning of Scalia's gesture without quoting sources or any experts who affirm that his photographed gesture was anything more than a general Mediterranean sign that varies widely, but has NO OBSCENE MEANINGS anywhere from Portugal to Greece. A cameraman named Smith claims to have heard an obscene epithet from Scalia. Mysteriously, no one else heard Scalia say this.

This is pure guttersnipe garbage, worthy of a paper as unread and unesteemed as the BH. The Herald knows it doesn't have a reputation for anything except being a second-rate B-List rag in a city without any media alternative to dreary PC and pious nostrums from the left.

So the Herald practices "gotcha" journalism in a church on a conservative SCOTUS member, just to show the ultra-left their rad cred. Does the Herald count on a spurt of advertising revenues from increased circulation? Ha Ha Ha.

About the only effect this story will have is to mobilize the dormant conservatives who are pious Catholics in the Boston area to further disdain for the local media, if that is possible. Boston was once the Hub, but is now a backwater as far as national significance is concerned. Poor Mitt Romney may discover this during his campaign for the '08 nomination.

Jill Carroll Release: Stockholm Syndrome?

The Washington Post has an article which rightly celebrates the release of the CSM stringer unharmed. The Post elevates to the second paragraph the fact that Carroll "was treated very well." No mention of her translator , who was murdered by her humane captors until deep into the article.

The WaPo mentions at the very last paragraph as in passing the recent rash of kidnappings, leaving to the very last sentence of the article:
A fourth member of the group who was kidnapped then, Tom Fox, of Clear Brook, Va., was shot dead and dumped on a Baghdad street in early March.

Left unsaid by the Post was the fact that Fox's body showed signs of brutal torture before he was murdered.

But to be fair, the vapid fatuous band of ninnies who sent Fox to Iraq also did not mention the torture of their colleague when his three non-American colleagues were released.

I guess that would be inflammatory, or is journalism now just a handmaiden of the helping-profession psychobabble multiculturalists? Abu Gharaib is a horrible Nazi atrocity---kidnappings and murders by terrorists, oh well, they have issues with foreigners and besides, they occasionally release their victims after treating them well. The Oprahization of terrorists will continue and I expect to hear that Jill will be a guest of the Queen of Daytime TV, possibly with a car and driver as a gift, although I don't know if Oprah can scrape up a translator-gift for Jill.

Why the New York Times is Losing Cred.

Powerline has the lead blog in a whole slow freight train of observations on the rate of decline of the NYT, which now scants its ledes and story-line toward its own agenda regardless of the facts:
New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau has a considerable career investment (and, I suspect, an ideological investment as well) in the idea that the NSA program is illegal. It would seem that Lichtblau's preconceptions and biases prevented him from accurately reporting what happened in the Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday. His suggestion that the main thrust of the judges' testimony was to "voice skepticism about the president's constitutional authority" is simply wrong; in fact, I can't find a single line in more than 100 pages of transcript that supports Lichtblau's reporting. It's a sad thing when a once-respected newspaper can't be counted on for a straight account of a Congressional hearing.

Captain Ed concurs and notes Eric Lichtblau's massive conflict of interest, something which the ethically-challenged Grey Lady ignores:
Instead of expressing skepticism, the judges confirm that the matter is far from settled, and in fact told Congress that they don't have the jurisdiction to make the judgment. What they did tell the Judiciary members is that President Bush's arguments have a strong element of validity and probably are correct. Unfortunately for Lichtblau, that undermines the whole premise of his book -- and apparently that can't be tolerated.

Another Powerline Heavy-Hitter follows up with more examination of the transcript in a long blog here and concludes, quoting Judge Kornblum:
"Judge Kornblum: To be admissible, the evidence would have had to have been lawfully seized or lawfully obtained and the standard that the district judge would use is that, depending upon where this is, is the law in his circuit. In most of the circuits, the law is clear that the President has the authority to do warrantless surveillance if it is to collect foreign intelligence and it is targeting foreign powers or agents. If the facts support that, then the district judge could make that finding and admit the evidence, just as they did in Truong-Humphrey."(Emphasis added.) Judge Kornblum's reference to Truong-Humphrey is to the federal appellate cases that acknowledge president's inherent authority to order warrantless foreign intelligence surveillance, previously discussed by John here.

In short, I don't think that the judges can fairly be described as having voiced skepticism regarding the president's constitutional authority to order the NSA surveillance program. Having reviewed the transcript of their testimony, however, I am voicing skepticism that Eric Lichtlbau and the New York Times are reporting on matters related to the NSA program in good faith.

Since the Jayson Blair debacle, the NYT has been making serious marketing and journalistic mistakes, although Keller could not have been worse than Howell Raines would have been had the feckless Harley-hogger Pinch kept that ideologue in place.

I wonder if anyone at the Times has noticed that the pay-per-view Times Select has reduced the quotability quotient of its leading Op-Ed squad leaders, which in the case of Brooks and Friedman means a reduction in the discourse available on blogs?

Why the MSM doesn't hire conservative reporters

The Media Blog quotes Howard Kurtz on the vexing issue of an
overwhelming bias toward the left
by MSM reporters.

Kurtz continues the dialogue today and after Cliff May's observation
It's the perception that MSM outlets are hostile to non-liberals that stops conservative journalists from signing up with their liberal peers -- or counterparts. It's a self-reinforcing bias."

makes the following comment:
If that is indeed the perception, then the big news outlets need to do something to change it.

It's good to see one major commentator for an MSM Major League outlet continue a dialogue concerning the presence of bias in the media.

Justice Scalia Explains Sicilian Body Talk

"Famously feisty Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia denied that he made an obscene gesture Sunday inside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, accusing the Herald staff of 'watching too many Sopranos episodes," says a Boston Herald article quoted by Howard Kurtz in the WaPo. True to liberal smear traditions, the Herald had accused Scalia of using an obscene gesture in church while talking to a [Irish-American duncette] ambush-artiste. Scalia wrote the Herald, which has the following take:
"In a letter to the editor, an almost unheard-of step for a Supreme Court justice, Scalia said a reporter misinterpreted the gesture he made when she asked whether his participation in Sunday's special Mass for lawyers might cause some people to question his impartiality in matters of church and state.

"'Your reporter, an up-and-coming "gotcha" star named Laurel J. Sweet, asked me (o-so-sweetly) what I said to those people . . . ,' Scalia wrote to Executive Editor Kenneth A. Chandler. 'I responded, jocularly, with a gesture that consisted of fanning the fingers of my right hand under my chin. Seeing that she did not understand, I said, 'That's Sicilian,' and explained its meaning.'

"In his letter, Scalia goes on to cite Luigi Barzini's book, 'The Italians': 'The extended fingers of one hand moving slowly back and forth under the raised chin means: "I couldn't care less. It's no business of mine. Count me out." From watching too many episodes of the Sopranos, your staff seems to have acquired the belief that any Sicilian gesture is obscene - especially when made by an "Italian jurist." (I am, by the way, an American jurist.)' "

Obscenity-spewing leftists yearned to have evidence that a distinguished member of the conservative right joined their smutty vulgar rotter-mode, but it was not to be. Once again, the journalistic left practiced inventive journalism, following the almost daily example of the ultra-left juggernaut New York Times. [See following blog for NYT inventiveness on the FISA judge testimony before the Senate Judiciary Cte.]

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Bush called "ugly" by Turner HogFrog

Chronic Drunk Ted Turner sniffed at GWB as a "reformed alcoholic," somehow implying that that was an impediment to Bush's leadership status.

Turner is well-known for his aggressive drinking habits and fervent atheism, which led to his breakup with Jane Fonda when she rediscovered Christ and became a born-again Christian, according to Barbara Walters.

When facetiously asked if he were going to run for President, Turner thought that it's too late for that now.

Turner had other regrets, including getting kicked out of his own company.
Turner, 67, said he regrets losing control of CNN, which he founded in 1980, to Time Warner Inc. after its merger with America Online. "I had a sacred trust there and I let it go," Turner said. "I thought there was no way they could phase me out, and I was wrong." In 2003, Turner resigned as vice chairman of what was then AOL Time Warner Inc. Then, last month, he said he wouldn't seek re-election to the board of what is now simply Time Warner.

Turner went on to demonstrate his deep understanding of foreign policy.
"We can't afford the war in Iraq," Turner said. "This is a big waste of time."
"I wish we would say, 'We won and we are going home.' We shouldn't be there. Bombing isn't a way of changing people's minds. You do that with education."

Theocracy or Death by Logorrhea?

Jacob Weisberg deconstructs Kevin Philipps and his latest book:

Phillips' faults are on full, gaseous display in his latest jeremiad, American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century. The book was No. 1 on Amazon before being released and has already been widely praised by liberals, who continue to welcome Phillips as a fresh convert to their side decades after his defection from the right. Alan Brinkley, a distinguished historian who should know better, last week praised American Theocracy in the lead essay of the New York Times Book Review as "frighteningly persuasive" and "a harrowing picture of national danger … that none should ignore." Time calls the book "indispensable."

Any book hailed by the NYT and Time should obviously be regarded as skewed toward Happy Horses*** right out of the starting gate. I must confess that I enjoyed Philipps book on The Cousins' Wars, but regard his patrician and olympian condescension as a bit annoying. Weisberg finds them dizzyingly disconcerting and conducive to massive overstatement.
Let me help dispense with it. Phillips' argument is that oil dependency, Christian fundamentalism, and excessive debt are destroying the country. He is not wrong that these are dangers. But he wildly misunderstands, distorts, and overstates all of them.

Weisberg's forte is financial and he co-wrote a book with Robert Rubin, Clinton's adept Treasury Secretary. Weisberg also has this very column in a pay-to-view mode in the Financial Times tomorrow. Finally, he is a senior editor of Slate. He is finally a very trenchant critic of foibles on the left, far more so than party-line hacks in the MSM who thunder along with the herd instinctively toward the left. After comparing Philipps with Michael Moore without the satirical gift, he dismisses the KP theses on oil and theocracy in a paragraph apiece, saving his choicest scorn for Philipps' attitude toward high finance and economics in general:
When it comes to economics, Phillips has still less of a clue. The tip-off that he doesn't know what he's talking about comes in the section about oil, when he tries to explain that not all "proven" reserves are available. Drilling may become uneconomic, Phillips notes, if more energy is required to find and extract a barrel of oil than the barrel contains—"at least until the price of oil rises." Sorry, but if it costs more than a barrel of oil to make a barrel of oil, a higher price won't help.

This sort of comment at least prepares us for the obtuseness that follows. Phillips is surely right, if impressively unoriginal, to argue that too much debt is a bad thing. But why must it mean that America is headed the way of Rome? Reagan ran larger deficits in GDP terms than Bush has done, but a more fiscally prudent successor reversed them. Phillips' declinism relies on fatuous anti-market prejudices familiar from his earlier work: that a healthy economy must be based in manufacturing, that free trade and globalization impoverish us, that foreign ownership is treacherous, that industrial policy works, and that a robust financial sector means trouble.

The hostility to Wall Street implicit in the last notion is part and parcel of a condescending, aristo-populism that recalls Gore Vidal without the twinkle. In the Phillips worldview, plutocrats exploit the American proletariat, which supports the policies that keep it miserable out of false consciousness—the poor hicks actually believe Christ is coming to save them. But any potential Marxist rigor swiftly dissipates into a haze of Syriana—paranoia about the Bush dynasty and the CIA, Skull and Bones, the House of Saud, and the discredited October Surprise conspiracy. Have I mentioned that Phillips is an appalling writer? His prose is clich?-ridden, self-referential, maddeningly repetitive, and dull enough to kill weeds.

Once upon a time, Kevin Phillips crunched a lot of numbers to give shrewd, if cynical, political advice to Republicans about capitalizing on white fear of black people. Since switching sides, he has proposed various ways for the liberals to knock down the conservative majority he helped to build. Democrats would be wise to beware of geeks bearing such gifts.

Somewhere Weisberg calls Philipps' penchant for diatribes against the right as "Gore Vidal without the twinkle." Expect Philipps to be on every talking head show from now to Easter/Passover droning sagely about his latest Chicken Little thesis.

Saudis Acquire Nuclear Capacity?

German intelligence sources claim that Saudi Arabia is building its own nuclear capacity and has constructed a covert "underground city" similar to Dimona in Israel south of Riyadh to house Pakistani Ghauri missiles and perhaps eventually nuclear missiles.

The article quotes an American expert named John Pike who asserts that the Saudis helped pay for the original Paki nuclear weapon's development and construction, and that nuclear Johnny Appleseed Abdul Qadeer Khan's work goes on in the Kingdom.

These stories surface from time to time about Saudi Arabia, but the rumor of Saudi nuclear scientists working in Pakistan stretches the imagination. What is more credible is the eventual transportation of nuclear weapons from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia, a country which regards Iran as a traditional rival and enemy.

The Saudis bought medium-range ballistics missiles from the Chinese in the 1980's and hid the missiles and their acquisition from American intelligence until US satellite surveillance discovered them. The US sent in its Ambassador to protest, and the US envoy, Hume Horan, was practically PNGed out of the Kingdom. The US subsequently discovered to its own embarrassment that the missiles that the Chinese sold the Saudis was equipped with US gyroscopes and aeronautics illegally sold to the Chinese by the Israelis, who unlike the Saudis were never admonished for breaking security agreements with the USA.

Given the Americans' sorry intelligence track record with its own equipment sold by "allies" to potential enemies, can we be surprised if German and other foreign intelligence agencies again are correct while the CIA and DIA are still in the dark?

If past is precedence, the Saudis may well acquire a nuclear capacity before the US ever finds out about it.

US in Sunset Mode in Middle East?

Amin Taheri describes the "waiting game" that the geo-strategists in Iran and elsewhere are playing until George Bush comes to the end of his term.

I personally was reminded of Winston Churchill and his dogged persistence which led to eventual victory during WWII, only to end with his electoral defeat in 1945 by the fabled "sheep in sheep's clothing," Clement Attlee who socialized Britain and atomized its Empire.

I'm sure the Iranian realpolitikers regard America in this paradigm awaiting its Attlee, who will succumb to the competitive urgency of the twenty-first century by throwing in the towel and begging the world to think better of us, as we are trying to feminize ourselves to foster lovingkindness across the many borders of the world.

Or similar thoughts.... Taheri brings up wimps/wusses like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr., who gave the Iraqi tyrant full sway to murder the Shi'ites at Safwan lest the Saudis be offended by an American advance to Baghdad.

Taheri paints a grim picture across the Islamic world of democracy in stasis or retreat:
Mr. Ahmadinejad also notes that Iran has just "reached the Mediterranean" thanks to its strong presence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. He used that message to convince Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to adopt a defiant position vis-?-vis the U.N. investigation of the murder of Rafiq Hariri, a former prime minister of Lebanon. His argument was that once Mr. Bush is gone, the U.N., too, will revert to its traditional lethargy. "They can pass resolutions until they are blue in the face," Mr. Ahmadinejad told a gathering of Hezbollah, Hamas and other radical Arab leaders in Tehran last month.

According to sources in Tehran and Damascus, Mr. Assad had pondered the option of "doing a Gadhafi" by toning down his regime's anti-American posture. Since last February, however, he has revived Syria's militant rhetoric and dismissed those who advocated a rapprochement with Washington. Iran has rewarded him with a set of cut-price oil, soft loans and grants totaling $1.2 billion. In response Syria has increased its support for terrorists going to fight in Iraq and revived its network of agents in Lebanon, in a bid to frustrate that country's democratic ambitions.

It is not only in Tehran and Damascus that the game of "waiting Bush out" is played with determination. In recent visits to several regional capitals, this writer was struck by the popularity of this new game from Islamabad to Rabat. The general assumption is that Mr. Bush's plan to help democratize the heartland of Islam is fading under an avalanche of partisan attacks inside the U.S. The effect of this assumption can be witnessed everywhere.

In Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf has shelved his plan, forged under pressure from Washington, to foster a popular front to fight terrorism by lifting restrictions against the country's major political parties and allowing their exiled leaders to return. There is every indication that next year's elections will be choreographed to prevent the emergence of an effective opposition. In Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, arguably the most pro-American leader in the region, is cautiously shaping his post-Bush strategy by courting Tehran and playing the Pushtun ethnic card against his rivals.

In Turkey, the "moderate" Islamist government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan is slowly but surely putting the democratization process into reverse gear. With the post-Bush era in mind, Mr. Erdogan has started a purge of the judiciary and a transfer of religious endowments to sections of the private sector controlled by his party's supporters. There are fears that next year's general election would not take place on a level playing field.

Even in Iraq the sentiment that the U.S. will not remain as committed as it has been under Mr. Bush is producing strange results. While Shiite politicians are rushing to Tehran to seek a reinsurance policy, some Sunni leaders are having second thoughts about their decision to join the democratization process. "What happens after Bush?" demands Salih al-Mutlak, a rising star of Iraqi Sunni leaders. The Iraqi Kurds have clearly decided to slow down all measures that would bind them closer to the Iraqi state. Again, they claim that they have to "take precautions in case the Americans run away."

There are more signs that the initial excitement created by Mr. Bush's democratization project may be on the wane. Saudi Arabia has put its national dialogue program on hold and has decided to focus on economic rather than political reform. In Bahrain, too, the political reform machine has been put into rear-gear, while in Qatar all talk of a new democratic constitution to set up a constitutional monarchy has subsided. In Jordan the security services are making a spectacular comeback, putting an end to a brief moment of hopes for reform. As for Egypt, Hosni Mubarak has decided to indefinitely postpone local elections, a clear sign that the Bush-inspired scenario is in trouble. Tunisia and Morocco, too, have joined the game by stopping much-advertised reform projects while Islamist radicals are regrouping and testing the waters at all levels.

But Taheri says that visits to New York and Washington have not revealed a paper tiger ready to adopt a "Rose Garden" strategy a la Jimmy Carter:
While Mr. Bush's approval ratings, now in free fall, and the increasingly bitter American debate on Iraq may lend some credence to the "helicopter" theory, I found no evidence that anyone in the American leadership elite supported a cut-and-run strategy.

The reason was that almost all realized that the 9/11 attacks have changed the way most Americans see the world and their own place in it. Running away from Saigon, the Iranian desert, Beirut, Safwan and Mogadishu was not hard to sell to the average American, because he was sure that the story would end there; the enemies left behind would not pursue their campaign within the U.S. itself. The enemies that America is now facing in the jihadist archipelago, however, are dedicated to the destruction of the U.S. as the world knows it today.

Those who have based their strategy on waiting Mr. Bush out may find to their cost that they have, once again, misread not only American politics but the realities of a world far more complex than it was even a decade ago. Mr. Bush may be a uniquely decisive, some might say reckless, leader. But a visitor to the U.S. soon finds out that he represents the American mood much more than the polls suggest.

I hope Mr. Taheri's findings are representative, and I note that he has not visited the Left Coast where cringing and denial are the order of foreign policy thinkers.

Be that as it may, the Islamocrats are hoping for an "East of Aden" withdrawal from the region like the Brits announced in the mid-60s. If the US does not suffer defeat militarily, which is unlikely, the best hope for these Jihadists is abdication by a party of defeatists, and we all know which political party that is in the USA.

Israel Goes to the Center, but will the Center Hold?

The Financial Times has an interesting analysis of the Israeli elections by Avishai Margalit of Hebrew University. Margalit notes that the 31 parties did boil down a big surprise when the votes came in, the virtual annihilation of the Likud with 11 seats just ahead of the Pensioners Party. He also makes the cardinal description of what Israel is all about:
The politics of Israel is neither ideological politics nor interest politics: it is predominantly identity politics: various ethnic and religious groups fight for authentic self-expression and with it, recognition – or at least grudging recognition – from other groups. Israel is a country of immigrants, and the politics of identity is the politics of immigrants and immigration, as many European countries have recently learned. On top of this, Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs are locked in bloody, intercommunal strife, which is as much about elusive identities as it is about land and water. The politics of identity used to be the politics of the underdog but now, the top dogs in Israel have joined in. Thus, after the recent election of Amir Peretz, a Moroccan Jew, to head Labor, many party old-timers from the Ashkenazi community deserted, complaining he was not "one of us". Russian new immigrants voted overwhelmingly for a rightist party led by a Russian-born Israeli, as an expression of strong identification. They did well and became the fourth-largest party. Arab Israeli citizens, very much engaged in identity politics, even tried to promote the idea that voting for any Jewish-led (“Zionist”) party is taboo.

Not only did the election give the Laborites to the Sephardics who already had Shas, which came in third, after Kadima and Labor, and the ethnic Russians its own rightist party, but there was, Margalit asserts, a new alignment across the board. The new identity politics, he says, is
the Jewish identity of Israel. The elections turned into a referendum about the plan of Mr Sharon and then, Ehud Olmert, his successor, for further withdrawal from the West Bank to retain the Jewish identity of Israel – an identity threatened by the occupation. Mr Sharon’s legacy consists of three propositions: first, there is no partner on the Palestinian side able or willing to reach a permanent agreement with Israel that would stick. Abu Mazen, Palestinian president, is willing but unable and Hamas is able but unwilling. Second, Israel should unilaterally determine its de facto border for demographic reasons with overt or tacit acceptance by the Americans. Third, the borders should run along the separation wall and include the major Jewish settlements in the West Bank while resettling some 70,000 settlers residing outside those blocs. Under this plan, Israel would give up direct rule of the Palestinians but not indirect rule.

Mr Olmert boldly announced his plan in his election campaign in a way that Mr Sharon never did, and perhaps paid for it in votes. Why he was so explicit is unclear. I guess that after Mr Sharon’s disappearance, he had to establish an independent authority. Winning merely in Mr Sharon’s shadow became untenable and the Kadima party that Mr Sharon founded started losing ground in the polls. Mr Olmert decided he might as well turn the elections into a referendum on his pullout plan. By publicising his plan, Mr Olmert cannot be accused in the future – the way Mr Sharon was accused during the Gaza pullout – that he did not get a mandate for his plan.

What is amazing is that after 40 years of occupation in which no one who really aspired to power in Israel ever dared declare a pullout, Mr Olmert finally did so, and apart from some necessary noises by the right, the reaction was as if he had muttered commonsense banalities. This is a marked change in Israeli politics. Before the Gaza pullout, Israelis believed that the left hated the settlers and the right hated the Arabs. Mr Sharon discovered that the centre in Israel hates both the settlers and the Arabs. Mr Sharon isolated the settlers and turned them into a sect that is alienated from mainstream Israel; their supporters in the jingoistic rightist bloc shrank considerably, now consisting of a quarter of the parliament, at most.

Mr Peretz achieved the unbelievable. He ousted Shimon Peres from the leadership of the party and breathed social democratic life into the dry bones of Labor. He resurrected it as a politically relevant party by making its social agenda the agenda of the country – and the country started speaking Laborese. The election result is that Israel has moved from the right to the centre.[emphasis mine] Yet, Kadima and Labor together did not do well enough to secure the centre-left hold on the country. Besides, Israel’s political clock is synchronised with the Palestinian political clock in pre-established disharmony. When Palestinians move to the centre, Israel moves to the right; when Israel moves to the centre, the Palestinians move to the right – this time to the Islamic right. In the tale of the two elections, the Palestinian and Israeli chapters have just started to unfold and only pollsters may be stupid enough to risk a prediction on how it will all end.

With the Arabs and the settlers outside the pale, the Fence/Wall/Barrier will become a symbol of defense and defiance if Olmert and his allies bring the country under their sway.

FISA Judges Rule for Bush

The Washington Times carries a story sure to be blacklisted by the MSM. Can you imagine how far above the fold on the front page in wide headlines this article would be in the NYT, LAT and WaPo if the FISA judges had ruled AGAINST the Bush anti-terrorist wiretaps?
A panel of former Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges yesterday told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that President Bush did not act illegally when he created by executive order a wiretapping program conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA).
The five judges testifying before the committee said they could not speak specifically to the NSA listening program without being briefed on it, but that a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act does not override the president's constitutional authority to spy on suspected international agents under executive order.
"If a court refuses a FISA application and there is not sufficient time for the president to go to the court of review, the president can under executive order act unilaterally, which he is doing now," said Judge Allan Kornblum, magistrate judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida and an author of the 1978 FISA Act. "I think that the president would be remiss exercising his constitutional authority by giving all of that power over to a statute."

Of course, the Joint Inquiry of the House and Senate said in 2003 in a strong statement that goes as follows
12. Finding: During the summer of 2001, when the Intelligence Community was bracing for an imminent al-Qa’ida attack, difficulties with FBI applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) surveillance and the FISA process led to a diminished level of coverage of suspected al-Qa’ida operatives in the United States. The effect of these difficulties was compounded by the perception that spread among FBI personnel at Headquarters and the field offices that the FISA process was lengthy and fraught with peril.

"If not addressed, these weaknesses will continue to undercut U.S. counter terrorist efforts." [xvi]

This statement signed by Republicans and Democrats criticizing the FISA process has also never seen the broad dissemination which it deserves, because once again, the MSM tilts against Bush and serves as an unregistered lobbyist for the Democratic Party.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

France On The Brink: of What?

French PM Villepin continues to resist the demonstrations in the streets of Paris and the imprecations of many in his own party to rescind the CPE, the controversial law strengthening right-to-fire rules in the highly statist French economy. The law was Villepin's ham-handed attempt to reform rigid regs that keep employers from hiring and his lofty aim of reducing French unemployment hit the unyielding rigidity of the French left which wishes to keep France's cushy "social model" intact even though it has led to economic stagnation and high unemployment.

This paragraph in the Financial Times piece caught my attention.
Violence erupted in central Paris again, adding a sour note to the demonstrations that students and unions said attracted 3m people across France. In Paris, police arrested more than 100 people after gangs of youths – most from poor suburbs – disrupted the march. Police stepped up their presence at railway stations to intercept the casseurs – or troublemakers – and used paint balls filled with indelible ink to identify the mostly hooded figures trying to rob student protesters and smashing shop windows. Police also fired teargas.

If the gangs of youths are young unemployed Muslim youths, then they are attacking the elites of students and unions. Last summer was a hint of a large socio-economic problem that, ostrich-like, the French pretend does not exist. Fantasies like a 35-hour work week pale in importance before the possibility of a class war between the poor
and the exempt French elites.

Socia-lite Baldwin disses workingman and gays on-air.

Sean Hannity and Alec Baldwin had a good old-fashioned Irish bar brawl on-air and of course the wuss lib Alec stormed out like a sissy after dissing Hannity for having a real job and calling Mark Levin a "cabin boy."

Yep, just like Sansura Taylor, a weird girl-child waif on last night's O'Reilly Report, when faced with substantive questions, Baldwin got abusive and obscene immediately. When Hannity kept asking him substantive questions, Baldwin mimicked his Dem pol masters by not coming up with answers, just finger-pointing and name-calling and then running away like a coward.

This brouhaha demonstrated just how fact-challenged the left is. Like the proverbial French engineer, the lefties keep saying: "Sure it works in practice, but what about the theory?" If it doesn't match some social-engineering post-modern helping-profession scam by a team of academic intellectuals, it usually doesn't get far with the far-left.

And Baldwin is a poster-child for the Barbra-clone left, whose husband Elliot Gould accused her of being a spoiled child, while he was still her husband! Baldwin is another unweaned momma's boy who hankers after instant gratification and despises working people and gays, who he calls "cabin boys."

So keep going to Hollywood, Hillary, your fan-constituency diminishes with each visit.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Immigration a GOP Open Sesame?

Mickey Kaus at Slate asks the big question, as the MSM beat tom-toms throbbing that the Republicans are:
in deep trouble in the Congressional midterms--and searching desperately, without obvious success, for a hot-button issue (gay marriage? flag-burning?) that could mobilize conservative "base" voters. But is it possible they've now found one hiding in plain sight--a tough anti-illegal immigration bill?

Immigration has several characteristics that suggest it's a good locomotive for GOP victory in November: 1) Voters say it's an important issue; 2) A majority wants some sort of border-control action; 3) The GOP base feels intensely about it; 4) Many Congressional Democrats are--by ideology or interest group pressure--locked in to a pro-immigrant, non-tough stance (or if they strike a tough pose it seems just that). In all these respects, immigration resembles welfare reform, a key hot-button base-mobilizing issue for Republicans in the 1994 midterms. ...

Kaus goes to query the conventional wisdom on the forthcoming Mid-Term Classic:
Short-term and long-term objections. Short term: President Bush favors a relatively generous approach, proposing a "guest worker" program that would be available illegals already here. Since Bush is his party's leader, isn't his position the GOP position? Long term: Republicans worry that if they angrily crack down on border enforcement--without adding provisions for guest workers or legalization of existing illegals, they'll lose the growing Latino vote for a generation (as California Republicans are said to have lost the state's Latino vote after Gov. Pete Wilson's anti-illegal Prop. 187 in 1994). But there are answers to each objection.

Kaus examines the playbook with both short and long-term solutions to what Gov. Bill Richardson thinks is the most important issue of the 21st century:
Short term: These are the mid-term elections, remember--not the presidential. Are Republican Congressional candidates really incapable of getting out a message to their base that they are tough on illegals, even if Bush is not? One effective way to do that would be to, er, actually pass a tough enforcement-only bill!

Long term: As for losing the Latino vote, there may be method in the current mad GOP disarray. The method is to let the President set the general, generous tone of the party, while local GOP officeholders run as get-tough individuals. Precisely because Bush, not Congress, leads the party, what he says should have the greater impact on its long-term profile. By praising the illegal immigrant work ethic while taking a compromising, high-minded policy line he might at least avoid permanently alienating Latinos. Meanwhile, GOP House candidates wage local campaigns in which they identify with prevailing anti-illegal sentiment--getting themselves reelected while doing a minimum of damage to the party's national image.

The Repubs have to let the country know that they stand for something besides earmarks and national security. Illegal Immigration is a good place for Roland to sound his horn. With the illegals now claiming they built the WTC and mouthing other preposterous hilarious imbecilities, there is a good chance that Dean/Reid/Pelosi will again demonstrate the chronic ineptitude of the American left.

Media Watchdog? Deaf, Dumb & Blind Pussycat?

Howard Kurtz notes that the MSM is becoming more emboldened in its relentless attacks against the Iraq War. Kurtz tries to be balanced:
But ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas reminded viewers that before her co-anchor, Bob Woodruff, was injured by a roadside bomb in late January, he did a story on a thriving Baghdad ice cream shop, and that her December trip to Iraq included a piece on a ballet school.

Laura Ingraham, the conservative radio talk show host who recently spent eight days in Iraq, says some soldiers complained to her that their views, which were mixed, aren't being reflected by the media.

"It's not about painting a rosy picture," she says. "It's not about putting all good news out there. It's about there being some context. It's not just explosions every day, and that is primarily what is seen, in snapshots and flashes. And that does over time cement the public's view that this is irretrievably a disaster and the whole nation is in flames."

When news organizations focus overwhelmingly on insurgent attacks, Ingraham says, "it begins to look like you're invested in America's defeat."

That sounds like political overstatement.
But then he leans towards his hubris left-tendencies. See if you can catch the impossible assumption contained in his next para:
if journalists seem far more aggressive these days, it may be because their performance contrasts sharply with the period after the Sept. 11 attacks and in the run-up to the war, when news organizations have conceded they did an inadequate job examining the administration's WMD claims.

The answer: If Saddam's top generals didn't know of the WMD transfer to Syria/Lebanon and if the CIA/Brit intell didn't know, just how would a bunch of fumblers like "news organizations" get the scoop?

Just a bunch of preposterously self-important drunks, as at least Mark Ware admitted when he was on the Maher Show.

Moussaoui Self-Incriminates.

Moussaoui almost assured himself of getting the death penalty by his unexpected confession that he was slated to crash into the White House on 9/11 along with his shoe-bomber friend, Mr. Reid.

First, given those two, wouldn't it be a fair bet that they would muck it up? Between the two of them, their combined IQ can't be much more than 100. Or perhaps they were both emotionally disturbed, concealing hidden genius that hasn't come out yet?

Moussaoui's court-provided lawyers did not want him to testify and now we can understand the reason. But, isn't it better that this truth will out and we can be reminded that the US, despite the opposition of a world which Tony Blair elsewhere today accuses of "madness" for its anti-American stance? [In Australian visit, can't find link].

The soon-to-come fifth anniversary of 9/11 will hopefully remind the sane remnants of the American political scene that we are indeed the target of a vast conspiracy to destroy our institutions and our way of life----and that our mortal enemies will not make nice if we let down our guard.

I hope this statement gets the wholehearted attention of the MSM, but I'll bet they sweep it under a below-the-fold rug and play up the immigration angle.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

GWB as a communicator---not so hot.

The always sensible David Ignatius has a column concerning Bush's difficulties in communications with the country. Ignatius is correct, but overlooks the fact that GWB aims to convince the Republican base first, and then do damage limitation later. I think Bush realizes that he may be able to push up his favorable ratings a few points by going out and doing his bad-guys-are-on-the-run Pollyanna pitch. But the toxic ultra-left continues a drumbeat jungle-telegraph of accusations/hyperbole that for Bush to deny in public forums is to confer the respectability of discourse onto meretricious exaggerations. So GWB is right to stay mum on the wiretapping garbage and lies, although in states with substance abuse majorities like Mass/VT on the East Coast and Cal/Ore/WA on the Left Coast, the fog of lies is too thick to cut with a cleaver.

But DI hits on a salient point. GWB does not appear to understand the "tragic dimension" of history, however much and often he recounts feeling the pain of families of the fallen. Unlike his brother Jeb, who converted to the all-too-tragic Catholicism with its tortured heroes, GWB fell into the rebirth of knowing Christ as his Saviour---a wonderful experience that keeps Bush clean and sober, but does not vault him into great heights or depths of experience, but rather a moral certainty.

So GWB has suffered, but recovered and his observations on his mission go forward:
"I believe that my job is to go out and explain to people what's on my mind. That's why I'm having this press conference, see? I'm telling you what's on my mind. And what's on my mind is winning the war on terror."

Unfortunately, GWB can explain what is on his mind, but cannot convince Americans that "winning the war on terror" is something he is competent enough to do.

Strong-willed enough, yes. But smart enough?

Russians aid Saddam during US Advance on Baghdad

The Russians gave Saddam intelligence garnered from Russian sources in the US intelligence services [probably a DIA or more a G2 source] that predictably confused rather than enlightened the imbecile Iraqi dictator.

First, intelligence from the Russians was always a major source of Saddam's knowledge-base, from the time former FonMin Primakov used to consult with the Iron Man of Baghdad. US intelligence also helped Saddam during his long war with Iraq.
But an after-action report by US intelligence in a book by Anthony Cordesman, I believe, revealed that paranoid schizo Saddam rarely took intelligence at face value, was lied to by his Field Commanders more often than not, and in general, did not know how to use good intell even when he got it, as he was a moronic commander.

Second, what about the new dwarf succeeding the place of former five foot two Stalin? Is Putin, a former KGB spy boss, playing the double games his genius Markus Wolfe played while the new dwarf ran East Germany's secret police? Little Vladimir is hosting the G8 at St. Petersberg while he supports Iran in the UN, and is unmasked as helping an enemy of the US. All this while supporting a vicious dictatorship in Belarus and trying to subvert democracy in the Ukraine.

Remember when people used the word "honest" as the first description that came to mind when the name of GWB came up? A Pew Survey says the first word now is "incompetent" and that "idiot" intervenes before "honest" limps in as description number six!

If Bush thinks he can trust Putin because of what he felt looking in the short Russky's eyes, then P.T. Barnum had GWB in mind when he said one was born every minute.

Best War Books of Twentieth Century.

Victor Davis Hanson rates the five best books on war/battle during the twentieth century. I agree with Hanson about John Keegan's The Face of Battle as the best book on warfare I have ever read.

As a youngster, I read a couple of volumes of The Literary Digest History of the Great War, put out in the 1920's I believe, and was struck particularly about the Battle of Verdun and the ossuaries surrounding the town, which I subsequently learned as a History major was the city in 839 AD where the division of the Carolingian dynasty's heirs was signed as a Treaty [of Verdun]. The middle segment consigned to the son Lothar became Lotharingia [Thuringia in Germany is an eponymous relic, I was told] in the middle of the Kingdoms which eventually evolved into France and the Holy Roman Empire [aka Germany for all practical 20th century purposes. According to famous Belgian historian Henri Pirenne, Lotharingia was the cause of much of Europe's strife, as Lotharingia encompassed Belgium/Holland, Alsace-Lorraine, Burgundy, and parts of Italy [now France] that were the objects of an endless tug of war between the precursors of modern France and Germany. Ironic that Belgium was the trip-wire for the Great War [Brussells now being the "capital" of the EU] and that Verdun was the symbolic killing field of the Great War, taking place where Pirenne said the original casus-belli sort of began over a thousand years before. The "Pirenne Thesis" was the shorthand that my college profs used.

I also read many books about WWII, including Guadalcanal Diary and the one I sort of liked the best, the unscholarly but fast-paced "To Hell and Back," by Audie Murphy. I read a book by Steve Ambrose and gained new respect for my godfather, who trained pilots to fly B-17s and my father-in-law, who flew on B-29s. [Both read my blog and kudos to you two!]

I used to read war books until after Vietnam, where I served for close to two years, and lost the appetite for such books for two decades, since when I have read several Ambrose books. Also Niall Ferguson.

Friday, March 24, 2006

More from Chirac on Language

Charles Bremner has a blog that mentions more about the EU Summit and background on the language fixation French President Chirac apparently possesses. Bremner puts the Chirac walk-out in a political context. You see, the speaker Chirac spurned was a capitalist:

Seilli?re, a satanic figure in the folklore of France's anti-capitalist masses, was lecturing the 25 leaders on the evils of le patriotisme ?conomique, the doctrine devised by Dominique de Villepin to justify France's current bout of industrial protectionism. That was enough cause alone to infuriate Chirac, but doing it in English was a provocation beyond his endurance. Seilli?re explained that he would use English because it is the language of business. It is also of course the common language among all but two or three of the 25 EU leaders.

The incident, only briefly reported in France, could be read as a fine example of France's Quixotic battle against reality. In truth, though, it said more about the way that Chirac and the governing classes are out of touch with much of their own the country. The resistance to English has long ago faded among the younger generation and the world of business and technology. Look at the French readers who join in the chat on this blog.

The fact that Chirac, who speaks fluent English and went to Harvard for summer classes in his youth, is absurd makes the whole affaire a bit more.... French! Bremner continues......
Chirac long ago banned his ministers from using English abroad. I have witnessed absurd moments at summits when ministers chat away in English and switch into French when the boss appears and then back into English when he passes. The same Thierry Breton, Finance Minister, who walked out with Chirac on Thursday, happily used English at a lunch for reporters in his Paris ministry on Wednesday.

For Chirac -- and even more for the poet de Villepin -- the language is the sacred essence of Frenchness, to be defended at all costs. This means hundreds of millions of tax-payers' euros per annum in the form of subsidies. These go to la francophonie, the community of French-speaking nations, which by the way includes Bulgaria, and to such extravagances as the Arte Franco-German television channel and Chirac's new baby, the CII, or Cha?ne d'Information Internationale (CII). This is the "French CNN" which Chirac commanded in the heat of the Iraq crisis to combat the global power of Americans and British news networks. Chirac has given the CII, which is supposed to go on the air by the end of this year, the grand mission of "bearing everywhere French values and France's vision of the world". The state-run channel was given another boost by the "caricatural reporting" by les Anglo-Saxons of France's riots last autumn. The gloating outside France was therefore inevitable when the CII's bosses suggested this month that le regard fran?ais sur le monde may be mainly broadcast.... in English.[my emphasis]

Bremner then switched to the French International Book Fair:
The Paris international book fair, which has just closed, made la francophonie its theme for this year........Chirac of course weighed in with the usual excess. "Defending la francophonie means defending a certain idea of culture, of the future, of that part of the universal which has always been born by France," he told the salon. The French language enabled everyone who used it to "express in the same language all the nuances of the human experience." Embattled French defenders might note that all the key words in that sentence came to English from French or its Latin ancestor. (...expriment, dans une m?me langue, toutes les nuances de l'exp?rience humaine). The President could also not resist his usual swipe at English. "Nothing would be worse for culture and civilisation than evolution towards linguistic uniformity," he told the book fair.

If you say so, you preening Gallic silly-boy. Even his compatriotes believe he is making a fool of himself, so as Bremner noted above, it is only the clueless Ecole Nationale d'Administration and the other Grandes Ecoles grads who exude that monadic sort of solipsism.
UPDATE: Chirac has explained his Brussels beau geste on behalf of the language today. "I was profoundly shocked to see a Frenchman express himself in English at the (EU) Council table. That's why the French delegation and myself walked out rather than listen to that."

Fighting to keep the place of French was a vital cause, he said. "It is not just national interest, it is in the interest of culture and the dialogue of cultures. You cannot build the world of the future on just one language and, hence one culture."

French reaction has varied, judging by the chatter around Paris. Gaullist MPs have praised Chirac's grand act in defence of the language while Le Monde mocked him in a front page cartoon. Some Socialist MPs said they were appalled that the head of state was making a fool of himself while his country was teetering on the edge of revolt.

Inspector Clouseau, move over, you have a competitor in the pratfall-in-public department!

Chirac has girlie-man hissy-fit at Summit: Walks Out.

Male Impersonator President of France got all heated up over the fact that a prominent French business leader......, but here is the Times-On-Line text:
PRESIDENT CHIRAC stormed out of the first session of a European Union summit dominated by a row over French nationalism because a fellow Frenchman insisted on speaking English.

President Chirac and three of his ministers walked out of the room when Ernest-Antoine Seilli?re, the leader of the European business lobby UNICE, punctured Gallic pride by insisting on speaking the language of Shakespeare rather than that of Moli?re.

When M Seilli?re, who is an English-educated steel baron, started a presentation to all 25 EU leaders, President Chirac interrupted to ask why he was speaking in English. M Seilli?re explained: "I’m going to speak in English because that is the language of business."

Perhaps such tempermental tantrums sell back home in the coulisses and bistros and bars [Oops, English borrow word!].

I guess Chirac has given up any hope of running for re-election in 2007 and, like Denny Crain of Boston Legal, indulge himself in childish stupid moronic public exhibits of the kind that we allow the old and senescent as they sink into senility.

More seriously, Chirac also had a tantrum or shouting-match with his PM Dominique de Villepin, who had to announce talks with union leaders yesterday after vowing to hold the line against student riots and threats of a general strike in order to oppose de Villepin's easing of hiring-firing laws for French youths.

Chirac undermined his Prime Minister, perhaps destroying the fop-poete's presidential aspirations in the process, by forcing de Villepin into a public climbdown----and virtually destroying any prognosis of labor reform.

Chirac is seriously involved with fantasies involving his own ego, always a problem with French Chiefs of State since Louis XV uttered his prophetic: "Apres moi, le deluge," which came with the French Revolution two decades later.

But French unemployment is over 10% and youth unemployment over 20%, so what is to be done? Obviously, Chirac is no longer anything but a hindrance to any real reform. Perhaps he wants to spite his own party and allow the Socialists to win the Presidency, a recipe for further protectionism and Maginot-mentality in a country already fed up with EU globalizing.

So Chirac disgraces himself and his country in front of 24 other EU summit Heads-Of-State over a snit about language.

I think Angela Merkel will want to think long and hard about continuing the Franco/German Dual Hegemony after this sorry episode, or at least it will make it more difficult for other Europeans to take the French seriously.

Plagiarism is bad, unless you are a Leftist.

As I got back from an errand and sat down at my computer to check on memeorandum for some recent news, the TV tuned to C-Span emitted the muted bray of a NY nasal sound belonging to Nina Totenberg, holding up the leftist viewpoint of a panel on Harriet Miers and Samuel Alito and all the lubricious foreplay on the Judiciary Committee.

In a bit of synchronicity, the memeorandum announced the "resignation" of Ben Domenech from the WaPo .com site because of plagiarism. Of course, Ben should have been fired, just like Nina Totenberg was fired after lifting several paragraphs more or less verbatim from the Washington Post while she worked for The National Observer.

Nina recovered, was hired by NPR, a publicly-owned left-leaning media outlet that evidently doesn't mind its employees' pinching from here or there if they have the right connections and the leftoid politics.

Of course, if you are a WASP NYT Reporter who is a Bureau Chief in Boston like Fox Butterfield, who got a slight rap on the wrist [One week suspension with pay and re-instatement to Bureau Chief Job] for pulling off the slick trick of plagiarizing an article about plagiarizing a speech. In the pre-Jayson Blair era, this was possible for the then-highly regarded Gray Lady of Times Square. [Besides, FoxB was wired with the Kennedy machine very closely, so a wink and a nod sufficed.]

But The New York Times still just doesn't get it, as lucky Steve Erlanger, the NYT Jerusalem Bureau Chief happily discovered after.....
After an "Editor's Note" in the New York Times admitted the citational faux pas of Jerusalem bureau chief Steve Erlanger, the "P-word" was avoided in favor of more delicate phraseology.

In an article about Israeli film director Amos Gitai, Erlanger certainly did not plagiarize. He did not intend to lift "two paragraphs . . . that were virtually identical to a passage in an article by Michael Z. Wise in the August issue of Travel + Leisure magazine."

Erlanger "inadvertently mingled" parts of the Travel and Leisure article with "his own notes from an interview with Mr. Gitai, and then used some of them in the Times article without attribution." As the "Editor's Note" concludes, "The material from the magazine should have been credited to it [the Travel and Leisure article by Michael Z. Wise]."

Yes, the NYT now gets stories wrong on a weekly basis, but back in 2005 they still were able to skirt using the "P-word" or overlook lapses in fact-checking!

More spectacularly, robo-skag she-beast syndicated-columnist Molly Ivins demonstrates that being a serial chronic plagiarist is no problem if you bash Bush and fawn leftward using incessant gutter language. Ivins is so monumentally wrong-headedly stuck on stupid that she often [twice anyway] gets caught plagiarizing INACCURATE info that is subsequently corrected by the pilfered publication:
"[C]urious how plagiarism seems a minor thing when the plagiarist is an ideological soulmate" ruminated a member of a listserv for editorial writers. She had been following a discussion of syndicated political columnist Molly Ivins' most recent plagiarism gaffe--copying of content from a Washington Post story which incorrectly detailed President George W. Bush's Social Security plan.

The copying probably would have gone un-noticed if the Washington Post's figures had been accurate. But they weren't, and like other notable plagiarists who have gone before, Ivins fell into the trap of copying mistakes and errors which existed in the original text.

On the same listserv which discussed Ivins' copying from the Washington Post, reference was also made to other instances in which Ivin's derivative political commentary merely recycled content of other journalists, errors included--for example, an op-ed by Barry Schwartz in the New York Times.

Ivins' apparent lifting on more than a few occasions seems to have done scarcely more than raise a few eyebrows. Gene Weingarten devoted some Sunday space in the Washington Post to Ivin's re-use (without acknowledgement) of a phrase coined by Clive James to describe California Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger -- "a condom stuffed with walnuts" for James' original "a brown condom stuffed with walnuts" [emphasis added]. According to Weingarten's diligent research investigating the provenance of this condom-walnut combo, one must concede the possibility that Ivins produced the phrase independently. But as Clive James cautioned Weingarten, "It is also possible that a peasant llama farmer in the Andes independently thought of the Internet. We have no way of knowing! In fact, please print that so the llama farmer is not deprived of his credit" (G. Weingarten, "Below the Beltway").
Ivins characteristically called one of her inadvertant contributors a "bitch" for objecting to being quoted without citation. However, no one mistakes Ivins for a journalist, or in many quarters even for a human being.

Far-Left in Turf-fight over Red-State Blogger at WaPo

Stephen Spruiell at the Media Blog over at NRO observes the sputtering flecked-mouth frothing of the angry left over the WaPo allowing a bit of balance in its left-tilted commentary.

And although the sensible WaPo Ombudsman Deborah Howell writes clearly that the WaPo and the .com are two different entities, the spelling-challenged wack-job at AmericaBlog raves witlessly about the WaPo "ombusdan" [sic] and her mentioning something about balancing the delusional ranter Froomkin with a bit of sanity on the right.

Ah, the whiff of grapeshot from the Post scatters the helter-skelter crowd into scampering aimlessly in their nomadic monadic [hat tip: Mickey Kaus] fashion as they search for relief from their anger. You can just imagine them steaming up as another piece of what they consider their territory/turf falls into enemy hands!

The angry left grows ever angrier! Oh, look at them huff and puff!?! Soon they will be issuing manifestoes and writing even more public letters to Donald Graham and Messrs Brady and Howell and Whomever.

The hermaphroditic chameleon David Brock at Media Matters does this in the most hair-on-fire charlatan fashion and should again proclaim the injustice of it all and call loudly for heads to roll inside the journalistic precincts of the Post.

Boy, I'll bet that'll get their attention!

NOW a Republican Ally in Penn.

The man-hating maniacs at NOW may get Rick Santorum elected again, although my bet is that Casey will defeat Santorum after a weird primary.

The fissiparous fillies at NOW are fielding a candidate that fits their far-left profile----infanticide on demand.

I was formerly a Democratic national campaign worker, but after a while one sickens of the embedded hysteria just below the surface among the Donkey/Ass partisan splinter groups. I actually worked as a "troubleshooter" in Cal and NY States during one national campaign. The factions and sects among the Dems rival Iraq in variety and intensity.

I recall working with a Democratic Congressman from Long Island [first name Adam?] who was killed by an angry Dem who thought Adam had had a radio put into the angry left fellow's brain. Reading some of the blogs screeching from the ultra-left, I am reminded of those days trying to reconcile Stevensonian and Kennedy and Johnsonian and {Gene} McCarthy Democrats----each and all of them convinced they alone were correct and all the other factions were heretical, radical, moderate or somehow elsewise just didn't make the grade.

Let's just call the Dems who work in primaries solipsistic egomaniacs with monadic emotional fixations and sit back to enjoy watching the fun and games.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Laura Ingraham Rings David Gregory's Chimes.

Laura Ingraham bearded David Gregory doing substitute work for chronic-slouch Matt Lauer and Laura rang "Stretch's" chimes so loud that for a moment he thought he had transmogrified into Scott McClellan. The flustered Gregory tried on air to change the subject. Ha ha ha. A magic moment that made him feel like he makes McClellan feel! Turnabout is fair play! So Tim Graham notes in a hilarious NRO blow-by-blow account of how slipshod NBC News has botched the war coverage in Iraq. Tim also notes that Tim Russert actually believes that the media "captures reality" when it reports from Iraq. When's the last time Russert ever went to Iraq, or if he did, left the Green Zone to reconnoiter?

By the way, I like but do not admire David Engel, but the Balcony Ballerinas have completely lost the confidence of the American people, if a current AOL poll I just voted on is any indication: over 65% of the 120 THOUSAND Voters, that's 120,000 voters, believe the media coverage of the Iraq War is POOR, out of FOUR choices. That's two out of three sez the MSM SUCKS at reporting the war in Iraq.

I think when GWB said two days ago that the Iraq adventure [which I believe L. Paul Bremer and by extension, Bush, botched completely], GWB was saying to the Dems about the war in Iraq: "All in."

GWB stands his ground, unlike the spineless brokeback Dems who lack a notochord.

Except for John Kerry, who got three Purple Hearts for one tiny scratch on his leg. There's a world record for horse manure emitted by one human being, in Kerry's case from his wide-open bloviating mouth.

Howard Fineman says on MSNBC to Matthews tonite that GWB has just thrown down the gauntlet when he said he's going to keep the US troops in as long as his generals tell him there's a job remaining to be done. He's begging to be taken on about the war and will punish the MSM for the shoddy work the NYT [where is John Burns, its only worthwhile reporter?] and the networks are doing over there. {Bob Woodruff of CBS and David Bloom to the contrary notwithstanding} These two brave guys are the exceptions that prove the rule. Read my blog on Hitchens today.

BTW, Matthews claims he listens to Ingraham's radio show every day. She is better than Coulter cuz she doesn't cultivate a wise-ass persona. But Ann C does emit gorgeous truths in unforgettable metaphors often enuf to make her worth the read.

The Today Show needs new blood, and specious fraud Lauer should get a day job or quit interfering with his guests as he did with Denver high school student Allen when he talked about his egregious teacher who should have been fired. Couric is not much better than Lauer, but that is not saying much. Al Roker did a TV piece for Court TV on the methamphetamine epidemic that was more journalistic than anything Lauer or Couric have EVER done on NBC. Maybe it's because that network SUX!

NYT: Newspaper of Broken Record?

Editor & Publisher more in sorrow than in anger bemoans the Jayson Blair ethos on checking facts that is turning what was once a respected publication into an agenda-driven "fits our point of view" tabloid. And Hugh Hewitt points out, the correction was in the pay-per-view section of the NYT!

It's no secret that the NYT is emulating the Titanic in its rush to break the record for something or other, perhaps the most rapid downfall of a journalistic icon? The Pinch Sulzberger Harley Hog culture of insouciance has spurred Moody's to consider a "multi-notch" adjustment in the NYT's debt rating. In an interesting TCS article on newspapers, Glenn Reynolds notes that the NYT is leading the general downward spiral that the LAT and San Jose Mercury News also emulate, and the San Francisco Chronicle merits the memorable appellation "Daily Worker for the Baby Boomer Generation" as this third California paper goes down in flames.

Is it just good riddance to bad rubbish, or can these prisoners of leftish jabberwocky actually regain their lost readership by balanced journalism and avoidance of tendentious leftist cant? Even the Huffington Post, usually an acolyte at the altar of NYT worship, has a humor-piece by Harry Shearer lampooning the attempt to raise circulation by a burgeoning corrections-page readership!

As Glenn Reynolds points out, the Internet and other sources of news, including blogs, have seriously cut into the traditional newspaper format, and by undermining the supercilious highbrow authority of the NYT, for example. The motion picture industry has also been "captured" by unrepresentative leftish agitprop specialists, and is also a declining industry.

The exempt liberal media may be heading for its own comeuppance, as news outlets sidle toward the middle to avoid looking like propagators of the liberal agenda.

China & Russia: Diplomacy over Sanctions at UN?

The Security Council negotiations over a statement concerning economic sanctions if Iran refuses to forgo enriching uranium are now in jeopardy because of the joint Russia/China Permrep request for more diplomatic negotiations.

This effectively scuttles any strong UN resolution, as it appears that the Iranians will use the Russia/China negotiating ploy to continue secretly to enrich while talks go on and on. Two years of negotiating with the toothless Euro group resulted in a secret memo by a senior Iraqi security official explaining how gullible the Eurodupes were. This was commented upon during the Euro-twaddle sessions by any blogger with a dime's worth of gray matter. But the China/Russia move is much more serious and here's why:

First, in the late nineties, an obscure Russian official in Boris Yeltsin's circle wrote a "scientific paper" which explained why control of energy was the chief avenue for Russia to re-assert some control over its "near-abroad" and possibly farther afield.

The official's name was Vladimir Putin, and he is now President Putin putting his theories into action. If he can control Iranian energy exports even at second remove, he has another pawn on the chessboard of world energy security.

China also wishes Iran within its sphere of influence. Although further than India geographically, China is now dependent on secure oil import supplies and wants a friendly offshore producer that is not under another superpower's strong influence [read US influence] like the Saudis, Emirates, Iraq, and Kuwait.

So China and Russia, each for its own reasons, has very rational motives for keeping Iran relatively friendly toward their own needs and, in Russia's case, control of exports.

Russia is the largest holder of natural gas reserves in the world. The second largest holder in natural gas reserves in the world is Iran. Between the two countries, they hold over forty percent of the world's natural gas. Putin has already demonstrated, in his characteristically clumsy fashion, that he is willing to employ gas exports for political reasons. If Iran and Russia form a sort of gas condominium, the long-term possiblities become fascinating, if a bit sinister, to potential clients of Russian and Iranian gas [read Europe].

There is another, and less obvious, reason for Russia to improve relations with Iran. The Chechens of Chechniya are ethnically of Iranian origin and speak an Iranian-based dialect. Although the Chechens are Sunni Muslims, they may be susceptible to possible Iranian pressure, albeit indirect, to relax the insurgency against what they perceive as the Russian occupation of their lands. I doubt whether this is a major calculation, but it is one of those intangibles [Ossetians are also ethnically Iranian, in the scrambled ethnic mix of Caucasian populations.

So the reasons for Russia and China to cooperate on Iranian sanctions do not appear as important as reasons they may wish to allow Iran to continue its uranium enrichment.

AIPAC and US Foreign Policy

"The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer in a Harvard Kennedy School Study is hardly the collection of snippets collected from "hate websites" that hysterics like Prof. Alan Dershowitz call it.

One fact is that Israel has been useful to American foreign policy. Another is that US support for Israel has harmed American interests in other parts of the Middle East and remains a sore point with many Arab and some Muslim governments.

AIPAC remains the algo for organizing an effective and powerful lobby in Washington. Its overall strategy and tactics have been successful. Many observers claim it has sometimes acted in a high-handed and deceptive fashion.

Long ago, I had lunch on the Hill with Douglas Bloomfield, who is mentioned in the paper, and one of his deputies. DB was uncommunicative and unresponsive, except to support Israel in several topical policy debates.

Yesterday, theNew York Sun has an article which focuses on the withdrawal of the Harvard logo from the "Faculty Research Working Paper Series" and its demotion to a mere "Working Paper."

The Wall Street Journal has had several pieces in its editorial section severely disparaging of the Walt-Mearsheimer paper.

Like the kerfuffle on the left with the WaPo over the installation of a conservative in the Post's .com section, this brouhaha will change few minds and generate a lot of exaggerated hyperbole concerning the two professors' motives and scholarship. Their general pitch, though I haven't had time to finish the eighty-plus pages, appears to be straightforward and free of exaggeration, and even fair and balanced.

Much of the excitement generated by supporters of Israel comes from the fact that some of the professors' assertions go unreported or under-reported by the MSM, always careful to avoid offending influential elites.

Actually, they have raised a topic which needs airing out just as earmarks and lobbyists of other stripes also need transparency to reveal just what is going on.

Hitchens on Reporting from Iraq

Christopher Hitchens is interviewed by Hugh Hewitt on the radio and has some interesting observations:
I can think of some outstanding reporters who've done their very best to cover it. Michael Gordon's new book, for example, I think is very good. And John Burns from the New York Times is outstanding, much better than his newspaper, when he writes there, that's to say.

Yes, I too have asked in my blogs why the estimable John Burns is absent from the NYT and I suspect it is because Burns is far more perceptive and reliable than the B-List bylines with him in Baghdad and therefore does not toe the NYT party line---namely we're losing the war and making no progress. Hitchens describes the problem:
"I remember when I was in Bosnia, all of the press was hostile to Milosevic in one way or another, and as it happened, I thought that was the right bias to have. But I did realize it was a bias. And when I've been in the company of people covering Iraq, I notice this...another herd mentality, and it's been there since before the war, and it's placed a bet on quagmire at best."
HH: Yeah, I tried to make an argument last night...
CH: And defeat at worst. And in some ways, it doesn't want its prediction to be falsified. I won't say any more than that. It's not a conspiracy, but it's definitely a mindset.

Hugh Hewitt goes on to describe a discussion last night on TV which I happened to watch, when he took on Michael Ware and Nic Robertson, the two CNN Commonwealth types whose theme matches that of the NYT.
HH: Compared to what, Mr. Ware? Compared to Baghdad under Saddam? Are you arguing that Iraqis are worse off today than they were four years ago?
Anderson Cooper: Michael Ware, do you want to respond?
MW: Yeah, well I think if you ask a lot of Iraqis, I think you'll be surprised by what the answer is. A whole lot of them say what? This is democracy? The joke is you call this liberation. And okay, let's look at the context, as you suggest. Let's look at the even bigger picture. What is the bigger picture? Who's winning from this war? Who is benefitting right now? Well, the main winners so far are al Qaeda, which is stronger than it was before the invasion. Abu Musab al Zarqawi was a nobody. Now he's the superstar of international jihad. And Iran...Iran essentially has a proxy government in place, a very, very friendly government. Its sphere of influence has expanded, and any U.S. diplomat or senior military intelligence commander here will tell you that. So that's the big p

Geopolitician Michael Ware [who looks like someone I'd want on my side in a barroom brawl] who has covered several war zones, believes he now qualifies as a master prognosticator. What about Ralph Peters and some other reliable types who report US troops are actually stabilizing factors in a volatile environment? Hitchens caught what I had seen on Ware's features during the interview, a sort of pugnacious in-your-face over-wrought athletic sort of expostulatory zeal:
CH: In part it does, because it's very passive. In other words, you read all the time, people say, you could look at any of your today's newspapers and notice it, and say well, there's a civil war atmosphere, as if that was a criticism of the Bush administration, instead of the people like Zarqawi, who have been announcing for two years now that it's their plan to create a sectarian civil war by destroying the other side's Mosques in an unbelievable piece of facistic blasphemy. People look at you when they read about atrocities is if it's your fault for wanting to get rid of Saddam Hussein. This is simply illogical. It's a non sequitur. And you'll note the slight tone of hysteria and the nervousness, I think, in the over-assertive way that your man was just talking now.
HH: Yes, I did notice that.
CH: By the way, since he mentions Mr. Zarqawi, about whom I know a lot, Mr. Zarqawi was a very senior member of the bin Laden family. He probably had, and in my opinion, probably always did have the ambition to outdo Mr. bin Laden, and to become himself the great sheikh and a great leader. But he was a very important member of that gang in Afghanistan already, long before. And of course, if we hadn't gone to Afghanistan, if we'd left it in the hands of the Taliban and al Qaeda, he'd still be there. He wouldn't be in Iraq, so of course your man is correct again in saying we've made him worse. But what...has he thought of the logic of what he's saying? Of course Zarqawi would still be in Afghanistan if we left him alone.
HH: The logic of...
CH: I mean the whole thing is based on this unbelievably masochistic passivity, and which leads to people making elementary logical mistakes they wouldn't otherwise make, because they wouldn't otherwise be blinded by their predjudice.

Hitchens' intuitive antennae are second-to-none and his noting that junk-yard dog Zarqawi is vying for ObL's Chairman of the Board position of Terrorist-in-Chief is spot on. These world-class criminals and genocidal maniacs vie with the Milosevices and Saddams and Kim Jung Ils of the planet for nastiest bad guy of all. Hewitt and Hitchens continue in a duet of perceptive POVs that elucidate the insanity of the leftist America-bashers around the world:
In Rwanda, the great shame is that in that civil war, the West did not intervene. Now it strikes me as exceedingly odd that on the left, there are voices who wish us to withdraw from Iraq because of the threat of civil war. Does that add up?

CH: Of course, if we had gone into Rwanda when we could have done, when we were warned, and when the United Nations commanders there were begging just for a slight increase in force that would have held off, or at least blunted the original genocidal attack, of course there would have had to be a moment where American soldiers fired on the people trying to commit genocide. It would have happened, and we would have been accused of starting a civil war in Rwanda if that had happened. And you know by who, as well.

Yes, just when does a low-intensity war morph into an insurgency that morphs into a civil war? The left says it depends on how much it will hurt GWB and its demonized conservative opponents. Lots of geopolitics and a little mumbo-jumbo and, presto! Civil War! It's all relative, you see. Hitchens says it better, though:
CH: Well, I object to people like Michael Moore for example, or Ramsey Clark being referred to the New York Times as anti-war activists, or anti-war campaigners. They're not anti-war at all. For one thing, they're not pacifists, particularly not Ramsey Clark. For another, they've declared that they believe the beheaders and jihadists and the blowers up of Mosques and mutilators of women and so forth are a liberation force or an insurgency. Michael Moore even said they were the modern equivalent to the American founding fathers. So in that case, fine. George Galloway's the same. Many of them are. They're not really against the war. They're not anti-war, but on the other side in the war for civilization, and they should be called out on it and given their right name.

HH: Do you believe that there are leaders in the Democratic Party in Congress who also belong to that caucus?

CH: No, I can't say that I do think that. I mean, maybe Cynthia McKinney, who is not exactly a leader. She seems sometimes to talk in a sort of manner, but no, I think that we're far from that in this case. I think what you have there is again, a sort of fatalism, the feeling that if you can say a war is unwinnable, you've also said it's wrong. In other words, that you would desert the side you were on if you thought things were going badly. That's a moral degeneracy of a different kind.

Yes, is certainly moral degeneracy of a higher order. They used to call it "treason," but as the poet said during the English Civil War, "when treason rules the land, none dare call it treason." The MSM and its allies in the judiciary rules the land on issues of moral consequence, but is exempt from prosecution. The jungle telegraph drums incessantly, but CH finally reveals that some perspicacious senior MSM commissars are beginning to feel twinges of, could it be? Conscience?
HH: Well then, in 30 seconds, if the Democratic Party returns to power in this country, you get thirty seconds now, what happens?

CH: I'll just tell you something a very senior person at a well-known network. I know this sounds a bit odd, but I just can't tell you who he is or which network. I don't have the right to do it. But you'll have to believe me, okay?

HH: Okay.

CH: He called me the other day. This is not a guy who's in any way a conservative, and said you know, we've known each other for a bit. He said you know, I'm beginning to think you must be right, because it really worries me what we're doing, when we are giving the other side the impression that all they need to do is hang on until the end of this administration. Do people know what they're doing when they're doing this? One doesn't have to make any allegation of disloyalty, but just...if it worries him, as it really does, I think it should worry other people, too, and it certainly worries me.

Disloyalty or treason, what does it matter? If the post-modern agenda can be reinstalled in the corridors of the Executive and Legislative Branches of government, then we can all go the way of France and Germany into historical irrelevance. And let China and India and the oil powers call the shots.