Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Mirror Mirror on the Web

The blog world is feeling its oats these days; especially those on the right who see themselves as watchdogs of the media, now known as either the MSM or the "legacy media." They got a terrific boost a couple of months back when, Power Line uncovered CBS's reliance on a forged document to indict the president for failing to perform his required service in the National Guard.
But just because a blogger claims to have debunked something doesn't mean it is debunked. Hugh Hewitt writes at the Weekly Standard website about how low the big media has sunk. "IF OLD MEDIA--the 'legacy media' of the big papers and old networks plus the newsweeklies--was a city and not simply a set of gasping institutions, it would look like Stalingrad circa 1944. Parts of most of the virtual buildings are still standing, but the devastation is pretty complete." I can't help but note that he can't scrounge up a more recent example of an urbarn warfare debacle. Say . . . Fallujah, perhaps? But he also seems to think that just because a blog has attacked a big media source, that the blog must be correct. He say that the Belmont Club "scissor[ed]" the Associated Press's credibility and links to a post that is a confusing mess of accusations based in part on a letter sent by some guy to the aformentioned Power Line. The gist of the argument is that the AP is in cahoots with terrorists in order to be able to get pictures of their murders. If the anonymous blogger who goes by "Wretchard" has any solid evidence for this theory, I am not smart enough to glean it from his post.
I see this sort of thing frequently--a blogger claiming to have slain a giant when his stone actually bounced off Goliath harmlessly. The criticism also flows in only one direction--against stories threatening to the Bush administration and the Republican party. A few months back, before I started a blog, I saw an opportunity to have two rightwing sights correct an error that they had amplified. Back in May, Jonah Goldberg and Glenn Reynolds linked to a Boston Herald editorial critical of Al Gore. The problem was that the Herald took a quote and abriged it to such a degree that it was almost certainly the result of intentional dishonesty or extreme ideological blindness. the Herald said, "How dare Gore say that Americans have an 'innate vulnerability to use power to abuse others.' And that our own 'internal system of checks and balances cannot be relied upon' to curb such abuse. Here is is actual quote:

Our founders were insightful students of human nature.
They feared the abuse of power because they understood
that every human being has not only "better angels" in
his nature, but also an innate vulnerability to
temptation -- especially the temptation to abuse power
over others.Our founders understood full well that a
system of checks and balances is needed in our constitution
because every human being lives with an internal system of
checks and balances that cannot be relied upon to produce
virtue if they are allowed to attain an unhealthy degree of
power over their fellow citizens.

I naively thought it would be a simple matter to get Goldberg and Reynolds to admit that they had errantly publicized such an egregious howler. Alas the did not respond to my emails. Fortunately, I have friends in high places. I sent the links to Jesse Walker, and he put it all up on Reason's Hit & Run. Both bloggers ignored Walker's post and refused to correct their errant links to the Boston Herald editorial, although, I know that Reynolds makes occasional references to Reason's blog and to Walker's contributions to that blog.
I think blogs are swell. Heck, I even started one myself. But a few bloggers have a long way to go before they measure up to their inflated self-images.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Cheerleaders For Fascism?

Some people are so outraged about media bias, they must invent examples of it in order to unleash their fury on it. Roger L. Simon unloads on Reuters for the crime on interviewing Sunni Arabs.
"Almost jumping for joy, here's a piece of propaganda from Reuters quoting only Sunnis who aren't voting. It shows the news agency at its purest, a propaganda outfit that would rather see America fail at any cost than for democracy to succeed in Iraq. Screw the Iraqi people, if it means that the war worked.

Here's an idea--maybe we should rename Reuters. At least the Voice of America calls itself the Voice of America. How about RNA -the Reactionary News Agency?"

But the article he links to doesn't sound anything like the one he rants and raves about. It only displays the skepticism many Sunni Iraqis have towards U.S. efforts to democratize their country as well as towards Osama bin Laden's attempts to thwart them:

"It makes no sense to put your life in danger to vote when the Americans will put whoever they want in power anyway," said Mohammed, a Baghdad resident who refused to give his full name, on Tuesday.

"Whatever Bin Laden says, people had already made up their minds not to vote. I didn't even register."

"I'm not bothered about the election; all I want is to return to Falluja and for violence to stop throughout Iraq,"

"Bin Laden knows nothing about Iraq; he is an extremist who lives in caves. He lost 75 percent of his support in Iraq by making everyone who votes in elections an infidel."

"Anyway, the American presence in the country gives you the impression that the election is false and unfair."

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Blah Blah Blah!

Anthony Gancarski is an ex-paleolibertarian/conservative who at one time contributed to and the American Conservative. At some point he had a change of heart, or decide that the grass is greener on the neo side of the fence. Writing for David Horowitz's Frontpage, he launches a peculiar attack on the American Conservative. He is disturbed that a magazine of ideas actually allows for several points of view. He says that TAC "handled the run-up to the election in a somewhat clumsy manner; their 2004 endorsement was split five ways, with advocacy for Bush, Kerry, a couple of third-party candidates, and for complete abstention from the process itself." But what is so clumsy about that? At least among those who retain the ability to think, everybody doesn't have to agree on everything, all the time.
Since his arguments are so weak, he has to ride the neocon hobby horse of anti-semitism, a term now utterly devoid of meaning. Yet he is utterly inept that he even screws that up. Check out how he mangles this quote from Scott McConnell:
"'As alarming as the neoconservatism of Rumsfeld, Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith, Danielle Pletka, and John Bolton is, more alarming is the spirit that has spread in its wake – a kind of neoconservativism without a graduate degree. You see it on certain blogs and hear it in the rants of some of the most widely listened to right-wing talk-radio hosts. If the Arabs don't want to be democratic, we should nuke them. We have no choice but to nuke them for our own safety. It's a vulgarized neoconservatism – no one from the American Enterprise Institute speaks like this (in public). But this talk is around in the heartland and growing, and it is wind in the sails of the new administration.'

Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith, Pletka – these names have been invoked time and again, and usually for no honorable reason. This case presents no exception. It's offensive, though predictable, that McConnell would participate in the time-honored 'neocon Jew rollcall.'"

Did you notice? Gancarski carefully excises the gentile names Cheney, Rumseld and Bolten and repeats repeats the others to act as if McConnell is obsessed with the Jews. But it is obvious who has the unhealthy obsession here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Happy Holiday!

Only a few years ago, I was vaguely anti-Christmas. There are aspects of it that I don't particularly care for. I gag when hearing Christmas Carols massacred by Mannheim Steamroller, or transformed into jingles for Old Navy and the Gap. My stomach turns while watching low-rent hoards pour into Wal-Mart the day after Thanksgiving to purchase poorly made crap at "always low prices." This is possibly due in part to simple snobbery. But it is also to some extent motivated by the disdain, which I share with the Pope, for the excessive commercialization of the holiday.
My attitude began to change a few years ago when I was working at Liberty magazine. I was inspecting the letter we were sending out with our Christmas gift offer. It had an image of a Thomas Nast Santa but no use of the word "Christmas." I unsuccessfully argued that our subscribers, though overwhelmingly secular would be more likely offended by the PC phrase "holiday gift" than by the mention of of Christmas. I began to notice the extent to which some people and organizations go to avoid saying Christmas. Now, I am mildly offended by the banal phrase "happy holidays."
There is currently a rhetorical war raging over Christmas, and how much it is under threat. Vdare is the best source on the right. Salon and the Washington Monthly have weighed in as well. From what I have seen and heard, a lot of people are concerned about offending the tiny minority of people who are perputually nourishing grievances. Big corporations, a reliable source of political correctness, are driving much of this with their "holiday sales," etc. I was pleasantly surprised the other day, while shopping in the Fresh Market, to hear numerous employees wishing customers a merry Christmas. The Fresh Market is a yuppish chain that caters to a proportionally higher number of secularists than does Wal-mart. If they aren't afraid of Christmas, than nobody should be.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Geography Lesson

speaking of immigration policy, George Bush said in his press conference (registration) today, that, "family values do not stop at the Rio Grande river."
Indeed they do not, but as I believe Steve Sailer was the first to point out, the Untited States does.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Rumsfeld's War, Clinton's Fault?

How low will some go in order to defend Don Rumsfeld? Lt. Col. "Buzz" Patterson sinks pretty low in Human Events. He dnounces Army Spc. Thomas Wilson for jumping his chain of command. "where was this guy's commander? You don't jump the chain of command, and in this case, I mean the entire chain. It's military cardinal rule number one. About 15 seconds after that question was asked I would've had the young man standing in front of me while I offered him a quick refresher on this whole military thing. 'Before you make a statement to the big guy, how's about you complain to me first. Having the Secretary of Defense hear about it before I do, or my boss, or his boss, or his boss's boss, is not a happy thing.'"
There are a couple of problems with this rant. First, how does Patterson know that this issue hasn't come up in Wilson's chain of command? He doesn't of course. The second problem is the way that Patterson ignores the nature of the gathering. While Rumsfeld refused to take questions from the press, he threw the floor open for questions from the gathered soldiers. Now, I assume that it was intended to be a sham, with Rumsfeld hoping to answer questions along the lines of: "What is your best quality, your bravery or fortitude?" Wilson and the other soldiers shouldn't be blamed for taking the defense secretary at his word when he opened the floor for questions.
Patterson praised Rumsfeld's response, but composed one of his own that Rummy should have given:
Well, young man, you can thank former President Bill Clinton, who in 8 years in office, never saw the need to evolve the military from a Cold War force to one that would be fighting future wars, one that would emphasize urban fighting and move away from 'the linear battlefield' doctrine. You can thank him for reducing Army Divisions from 18 to 10, otherwise you probably wouldn't even be here. You can thank him and Secretary of Defense William Cohen for failing to program for these weapon systems back in 1997 and 1998, when they were developing and funding the Six-Year Defense Program (SYDP) under the DOD's Planning, Programming and Budgeting System (PPBS).

You see, soldier, we've never gone to war with the army we want. We were grossly undermanned and under-equipped entering World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Thanks to President Bush and a program called "Defense Priorities and Allocations System," we've increased the production of Humvees from 15 to 450 a month. We've spent $1.2 billion since August 2003 on armor and armored Humvees alone. (Numbers courtesy of and Soldier for We are adapting as we always have. You can be sure, soldier, that no Humvee heads north without "Level III" armored protection.

Where would we be without Bill Clinton? It is particularly egregious that he would have Rumsfeld denouncing Slick Willie for shrinking the size of the military. If Don Rumsfeld has a signiture issue, it is his desire to 'transform' the military in part by reducing the size of the military. He has repeatedly denied the need to increase the size of U.S. occupying force, which more honest conservatives have denounced. Patterson ignores the deliberate nature of the build up to the Iraq war, which was run on a schedule set by the Bush administration.
It can scarcely be said too often: the U.S. military is streched to the limit in Iraq with inadequate supplies because Rumsfeld and the Bush administration were unprepared for a long and costly war.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Poor, Stupid Soldiers!

Many on the right are outraged about the question that Specialist Thomas Wilson asked about the lack of adequate armor for vehicles headed to Iraq. Outraged that U.S. troops are being unnecessarily put at risk by poorly equipped vehicles? No, silly. Outraged that one of their heroes has been made to look foolish in public by a hick soldier. Outrage has caused them to embrace some pretty weak arguments in defense of their champion, Rumsfeld. Middle Tennessee blogger, Bill Hobbs complained because the media circus was arranged by an embedded Chattanooga reporter, Edward Lee Pitts, helped engineer the media circus. Hobbs says that Pitts violated a journalist's code of ethics by becoming involve in the story. I don't understand the rules involved well enough to know if he has a point, but it seems that Pitts helped to expose the truth instead of perpetrate fraud.
Rush Limbaugh also denounces the influence of Pitts on the story. It is interesting to note the low opinion that the Doper, er, Doctor of Democracy has for our troops. He talks as if the soldiers who cooperated with Pitts were too stupid to know what they were doing. "The soldier knew that he was prompted to ask these questions. The soldier knew that the sergeant at the microphone was pointed at him or cued to point to him by the reporter. The reporter stayed silent for two days and only admits this in an inter-office memo that somebody has leaked. The soldier takes all the accolades for this courage and bravery and standing up to Rumsfeld, which we know now wasn't the case. What we do know is that Rumsfeld wanted to hear from the soldiers, and he wanted to hear from the soldiers without interference from reporters or anyone else. A reporter facilitated the rules; the reporter created news, was an embed reporter. He created news in order to then cover it. If the soldier had asked the question without prompting, fine. I have no problem with the question. Rummy was willing to take all comers without pre-selection of questions. He wasn't trying to hide or duck, but the reporter's action was cheap theatrics. It wasn't Rumsfeld who chose which soldiers from which to take questions or from whom to take questions; it was the reporter who set this all up. The reporter plants the questions with the soldier, then goes to the sergeant at the microphone, points out the soldier to call on, soldier gets called on, asked the question, big hoots of applause erupt."
Either these soldiers are so dull that a reporter from an obscure newspaper can manipulate dozens of them into cooperating in his evil scheme to embarrass Don Rumsfeld, or the questions that they asked (or cheered upon hearing) resonated with them.
I assume that the latter is the case.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Hillbilly Armor

Specialist Thomas Wilson, of Tennessee's 278th National Guard unit, now in Kuwait, told the Secretary of Defense that his unit had been reduced to rummaging through landfills in order to get "hillbilly armor" for their vehicles headed to Iraq. According to the New York Times(registration) the Tennessee Volunteer was cheered when he asked, "Why don't we have those resources readily available to us?" The Soldier asks an excellent question.
Unfortunately for Rumsfeld, the truth is that the Bush administration was criminally unprepared for a lengthy occupation. If things had gone to plan, the U.S occupation would have ended, and Chalabi would be Iraq's new kleptocrat.
Rumsfeld's lame response was that they are getting new armor as fast as they can and that, "you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time;" which might have some validity if the Bush administration hadn't been planning to invade Iraq from the day it took office. They had two years to get ready for a lengthy war, instead they prepared for a cakewalk.
The president and the defense secretary rarely miss an opportunity to us the military a prop to demonstrate what tough guys they are. It is good to see a soldier, and a Tennessean at that, force Rumsfeld to squirm uncomfortably over the mess he is sending the National Guard to clean up.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Crying In Your Latte

A whiny blogger from the Evergreen State is upset that senator Kerry is giving $200,000 dollars from his presidential campaign to aid in a state-wide hand recount in Washington's gubnitorial election: "OK, this makes me so *&%%^& angry, I could spit. What is it, Kerry couldn't create a national constitutional crisis so he's having to make do with creating one for the state of Washington? The Dems probably couldn't raise the entry fee for the hand recount request without getting this.

I don't know if it's legal to give funds that were raised for presidential campaign costs for a state recount effort - but I know that it's certainly unethical. It isn't the purpose to which his donors made their contributions. Oh, that's right, he doesn't care: it's nuance you know."
What nonsense. Any ethical duty that Kerry owes is to his donors. I can't imagine that they would be upset at him using his remaining funds to help elect Democrats at other levels. It would be unethical if he bought a new car or took a Las Vegas vacation with it.
This guy is upset that because it might work. He should stop being such a big baby.

The Lament of the Aging Libber

What are fashionable boomer feminists fretting about these days? The rise of AIDS in women, which was the focus of yesterday's "World AIDS Day" commemorations? The mistreated female employees of Wal-Mart? Of course not. If New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd(registraion) is a guide; the big concern is that Tom Brokow's anchor job at NBC is going to a dreaded "white male." Yecch!
Dowd, a catty columnist who delights in her own cleverness and has risen far above where her talents merits, whines that the networks don't even consider minorities or women and says, "We are in the era of vamping, self-doubting 'Desperate Housewives,' not strong, cutting 'Murphy Brown.' It's the season of prim 'stay in the background' Laura Bush, not assertive 'two for the price of one' Hillary." If I remember correctly, the "two for the price of one" presidency lasted for about ten minutes and the former first lady was able to launch a career in politics because she stopped trying to make policy and became a sympathetic figure due to her husband's cheatin' ways.
Dowd complains that "Feminism lasted for a nanosecond, but the backlash has lasted 30 years." I don't know about that. It lasted long enough to put Jessica Lynch and many other young women and mothers of young children in the Iraq war, along with other dubious achievements.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Blah, Blah, Blah

For about the millionth time, I have seen a commentator complain that the "liberal media" is accentuating the bad news out of Iraq. This Time it's Helle Dale in the Washington Times: "If you trust most media accounts fed to American viewers and readers, Iraq is an unmitigated disaster. There is no security throughout the country, and armed insurgents are springing up, sown like dragon's teeth by the offensive of the U.S. military forces. The scheduled elections are highly uncertain. Indeed, 100,000 Iraqis have been killed by U.S. forces. Iraqis have never had it so bad. It is a drumbeat with echoes of the way the American media reported the Vietnam War."
I watch ABC News, the News Hour on PBS and check the websites of the Times, Post, etc. and I haven't got that impression at all. Most reports I see focus on the Sunni areas of Iraq, with occasional flareups in other regions. I have seen reports about the Lancet story alleging that we have killed 100,000 Iraqis but it has hardly been taken as gospel by the media. She complains that the media isn't saying enough about good news such as debt cancellation and all of the soldiers and police we have trained in Iraq. I have seen stories about the debt cancellation, and while that demonstrates the diplomatic skill of the Bush andministration combined with the generosity/political calculations of Iraq's creditors, it says nothing about the situation in Iraq. She claims that we have trained 45,000 police and 48,000 soldiers and national guardsmen in Iraq. These numbers should be treated with extreme skepticsm. When 93,000 trained Iraqis make it possible to send 93,000 American soldiers and Marines home, that will be news.
Dale makes a telling statement when she says, "Admittedly the security situation is dire, but look at these figures. In October, the number of Iraqis killed was 775 from acts of war and murder; American troops suffered 63 casualties and 691 wounded. These are too high, but at a time of a major military offensive against insurgents, those numbers are not gigantic."
Who in the Bush administration or the punditocracy, when the war was being conjured up with scary stories about "mushroom clouds" and duct tape two years ago, was saying that Iraq would be an endless war? It was supposed to be a cakewalk. And how many times have we won? When a U.S. tank toppled the statue of saddam? When the president had his aircraft carrier photo-op? When Saddam was fished out of his spider hole?
The war keeps going and going with no end in sight. That's the real news from Iraq.