Friday, December 30, 2005

A Letter to Glenn Greenwald

Unclaimed Territory is the most interesting blog I've discovered in the past week. Its proprietor was a First Amendment lawyer and now litigates in Brazil. In this post he argues, essentially, that George W. Bush is creating a new McCarthyism and rules us by our fears, concluding:

Acknowledging a threat, even a serious threat, and taking steps to address it, does not require fear. But what does require fear is an agenda which demands that blind faith be placed by the citizenry in the power of the Government in exchange for being protected by it.

To which I responded:

...There are reasonable fears and unreasonable fears. 9-11 demonstrated that terrorist attacks culminating in mass destruction are reasonable fears.

(Please read at least my post Holy Warrior Education & The Patriot Act before you respond, and maybe my Why is the U.S. in Iraq? series for my full philosophy. What we are doing is not "overreaction", nor is anyone calling for "abuses".)

I consider that it is irresponsible to acknowledge reasonable fears yet not act upon them responsibly (you offer no counter-proposals) because of some red herring - isn't that how you conclude your post? For I do not perceive that George W. Bush demanded "that blind faith be placed by the citizenry in the power of the Government in exchange for being protected by it".

But when he was running for President, was that not the attitude of Senator Kerry, as he never explained himself and his policy plans consistently and cogently? President Bush's speeches are thus the height of responsible conduct, and offer to all the chance to sensibly critique his policies.

The atmosphere in America today is not the paranoia of the McCarthy era. No one's career is threatened by the charge that they are too far to the left or even Islamist, nobody is afraid that they will be suddenly interrogated before a congressional committee for their political convictions, etc.

Glenn, you have command of some of the facts, but you seem locked into one particular frame of mind as to how to perceive them. Consider shifting the frame around a bit, and you may discover a perspective that fits reality better, although it may not match your preconceptions.

Maybe, just maybe, such fellows can escape from the prism of a First Amendment prison to perceive that George W. Bush has been doing pretty much the right thing, in the right way, and in the right cause.

A "Bartending Atrocity"?

Dave Schuler of The Glittering Eye laments upon the closure of The Berghoff Restaurant in Chicago. "In honor of" its passing, he posted a few of their recipes, including one for a "Bergoff Sour Cocktail". I commented that this creation

reads like a bartending atrocity: it abuses both good beer and good bourbon in a single drink.

As a lark, last night I decided to try it anyway. Using a tablespoon for precision, I measured out the correct amounts of Old Setter bourbon and Sam Adams Hefeweizen (a malty wheat beer). Add lemon, sugar, ice, shake & strain...

Results? Wow, it's GREAT! All the ingredients blend together perfectly: A malty, bubbly start, a lemony, spicy body, and a sweet finish. The truly evil thing about this drink is that it doesn't seem alcoholic at all. After the first sip, I quickly downed the rest.

For about twenty seconds I had hiccups. I then decided - at eight-thirty at night, long after dinner - to celebrate by engaging in another first-time cooking attempt: creating a pareve (no milk) Yorkshire Pudding!

No, I wasn't drunk. Perhaps a bit of alcohol just set my creative juices flowing. As Winston Churchill once said: "I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me."

Update, 1/4/05

I tried to make this again last night but the result was undrinkable! Apparently I shook the ingredients too much and the sugar completely dissolved. Sugar-sweetness pervaded the cocktail, submerging both the spicyness of the bourbon and the hoppiness of the beer.

A very tricky drink to master. I was lucky to get it right the first time.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

"Personal Statement" Terrorism

Chandler, Arizona. December 18th, 2005 (Hat Tip: LGF):
Ali Warrayat told authorities he wanted to be killed or deported from the United States. It wasn't immediately clear where Warrayat is originally from.

The documents say Warrayat drove through the store early yesterday until he crashed in the paint department.

The paperwork filed by the arresting officer says Warrayat had wanted to cause an explosion.

When that didn't occur, Warrayat allegedly set fire to chemicals spilled in the crash...

...He told Chandler police he was angry at Home Depot, where he worked as a paint stocker, about not getting a proper raise. He was mad at the United States for proposing a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border.

He wanted to make America "more free."

So the Jordanian-turned-U.S. citizen devised a plan to make a grand statement...

At first, he wanted to wear a Palestinian flag, but later decided to place it in the trunk of his car, along with a copy of the Quran and a necklace...

When an officer asked if he understood his Miranda rights, Warrayat shot back in a foreign language. The officer asked if he understood English, and Warrayat replied in English, "Do you speak Arabic?"

"...When I saw him on TV, he did not look like the Ali that I know," Bustamante said. "He was a hard worker and worked circles around everybody, and he was a very private person."

Islamic terrorism doesn't need the loose organization of al-Qaeda to flourish, only the attitude that such violence is an acceptable means to call attention to one's desires. How Americans treat such cases today may set our response to Islamic terrorism at home for decades to come.

A Home Depot official told police that if Warrayat is released from jail, management is considering placing armed guards at all of its East Valley stores.

Thank you for shopping at Home Depot, and Have a Nice Day!

AP: Arab Deaths Don't Count!

Not if they are killed by other Arabs, certainly. In this headline, AP only counts Israeli deaths:

Suicide Bomber Kills Israeli at Checkpoint

JERUSALEM - A suicide bomber blew himself up near an Israeli military checkpoint in the northern West Bank on Thursday, killing one Israeli and three Palestinians, military officials said...

It's tough being a Palestinian today; it seems your life and death only have meaning if you can be a victim or killer of the Israelis, otherwise you are nothing - nothing newsworthy, anyway.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

On the Right of Return

A side discussion at The Lebanese Bloggers:
rincewind said...

Hizbullah is regrouping-internally and trying to consolidate a couple of alliances, particularly with aoun. Why would they want to exert pressure upon themselves? It doesn't make sense for it to be Hizbullah. Besides, they could have done it within the rule of the game in Shebaa. This was even against the april 96 agreements.

Now who did this? A possibility is the Jabha Shaabiyya-alQiyada al Amma. Ahmad Jibril is a military man, a good one at that, but his mind works in a way that never includes political consequences as a factor while making decisions. That's how he ran the PFLP-GC all his life: a military wing of a non-existant political movement. They fired katyosha's in 2002 without Hizbullah's knowledge. But please, you may disagree with the man (I do), you may hold him to blame for so many erroneous decisions, such as:
-participating , brutally in the lebanese civil war,
-saving Junblatt's ass in the mountain wars 1983(wish he'd left him to his demise)
-sending 2000 fighters to Libya, to save Qahddafi's ass on the sourthern front, while they were needed against israel
- reducing a cultural, political, social and military fight into a solely military one

But in all that, he was not a stooge, so you can't go on calling people stooges, and reducing men and women, who, whether you like them or not, are part of the region's history, into 'stooges'.

Now about the peace, I've reached the conclusion that there will never be peace while zionism is an applied, living, breathing ideology. It simply will not work.
Without Justice, there will be no peace, even if the heavily corrupt PA tries to pass one. Remember that the palestinians are 10 million, and they're not only the 3.5 million in the WB and Gaza. For the others, the PA can never deliver the solution (esp with regard to the Right of Return).

Zionism is an idea counter to justice, and israel, founded on ethnic cleansing and terrorism, can not overlook escape this past forever. I do believe in a real peace, one based on liberty, freedom, justice and humanity. That peace will not stand on the shoulders of racist ideologies such as zionism, or islamic nationalism for that matter.

9:25 AM
Solomon2 said...

Exactly backwards! Zionism counters injustice! The idea of what is just and what is not has been made murky by years of false anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda. By returning to the Land, Israel is rectifying "ethnic cleansing", and it is only a victim of terrorism, not a perpetrator of such acts!

Rincewind, you have reason, but you lack correct facts and context. But IMO Arabs and Muslims usually reject these in favor of their own macho ego-satisfying conceptions - which is why the M.E. is so fractured by tribalism and dictatorship.

Rincewind, could you ever abase yourself and publicly admit error? If yes, then I suppose I'm wrong.

9:37 AM
Rincevent said...

I would, and I've done so in the past.

Please do the honours of pointing me to the errors in my argument and I'll gladly acknowledge all. However, your 'Arabs and Muslims' generalization, that conveniently stuck a label on me and put me in a tidy, little, and easily
Please do the honours of pointing me to the errors in my argument and I'll gladly acknowledge all. However, your 'Arabs and Muslims' generalization, that conveniently stuck a label on me and put me in a tidy, little, and easily managable box leaves me with little room to with little room to even wiggle a little. Oh and it speaks Volumes about you, too.

Since you're so humanely against ethnic cleansing, what do you call the ethnic cleansing of 700-800 thousand palestinians? A free one-way tourism?

The only solution is the one that safeguards the rights of all the people in historical palestine (all of them, and call it israel if you like), while giving the ethnically cleansed their Right of Return. There are 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation israelis who did not choose to be born there, and as such, are now natives of the land. However, their rights should not supersede the rights of the dispossessed.

If you're such a firm believer in human rights, tell me, what is wrong with granting the palestinians the right of return? Is 'preserving the character of a state' more important than Human Rights?

10:25 AM
Solomon2 said...

They weren't "cleansed"; most left or were constrained to by their leaders, and quite a few never orginated in "Palestine" at all! Israel has a double-digit Arab population, descendants of those who stayed after the U.N. granted independence. Can you point to the same good treatment afforded Jews in any Arab country since 1948?

Jews have been kicked out of their land and abused throughout the world for 2,000 years. No displaced people anywhere has such a claim to their homeland, is that not so? Look at the Ottoman census records: palestine was pretty much a backwater before Jews started moving there in the 19th century. That's why the Jerusalem Post was originally called the Palestine Post.

The problem is that the goal of the "right of return" is to swamp Israel and its Jews and prevent their existence at all. Did you not know that the original concept of the Zionist movement was to establish a homeland under Ottoman rule, not an independent state? Only racist Arab violence pushed the Jews into complete independence.

Desecendants of palestinian arabs can live with their brethren in 22 Arab states throughout the M.E., which would be appropriate as almost all Jews were kicked out of them after 1948. Certainly the Arab World possesses enough oil riches to resettle every such family generously and productively.

And they are generally safe in those areas rapidly being colonized by Arabs throughout the world. If you believe in Human Rights, how can you deny security to the Jews, Ba'hais, Samaritans, and others who feel they can only find security and community in the State of Israel?

11:23 AM
Rincewind said...

The argument of 'look the arabs have 22 states why won't they allow us one?' is pathetic.

These people are palestinians, they were ethnically cleansed (even if they left on their own accrod, which they didn't, don't they have a right to go back?) from a certain land, and they want to go back to it. Irrespective of what arab states did or didn't do, answer me this:

Don't they have a right to go back to the land which they were kicked out of in 1948? Some people always try to muddy the picture by bringing 'collective arabism' into it. I'm talking about individual rights, I-N-D-I-V-I-D-U-A-L R-I-G-H-T-S: A person, a single individual was kicked out from his/her home, does he/she have a right to go back to it or not?

ps: most of your facts are wrong, and no it was not 'a backwater' but there was a thriving community, with schools, hospitals and all.

ps2: The right of return does not mean kicking anyone out. The Stern, Irgun and Hagannah terrorist gangs started their atrocities before 48, so it was not 'arab' violence that instigated the 'oh-so-innocent' push to independence, but it was a a rather premeditated plan to achieve control over the land of palestine.

ps3: the jewish population in lebanon tripled after 1948. the palestinians in israel-proper were 125,000 after the ethnic cleansing of 48, and the founders of the state regretted letting them stay, in hindsight.

If you want to talk about arab states' errors, mistakes, atrocities, betrayals of the palestinians, we can talk from now till tomorrow, but let us focus on the individual rights of people, which are the most basic of human rights. Are you willing to do that?
If you are, I recommend reading a few books instead of myths and zionist pop-culture: Morris, Pappe, Shleim, Segev, Khalidi, Zureiq, Matar (to revisit the 'backwater', I recommend Matar's encyclopedia of the palestinians.

Human rights are not transferrable, and you can't rectify the expulsion of jewish inhabitants of arab countries post-48 by expelling the palestinians are claiming that this was tit-for-tat; human rights are both individual and collective, and you can't address one and ignore the other.

11:55 AM
Solomon2 said...

The argument of 'look the arabs have 22 states why won't they allow us one?' is pathetic.

O.K., I accept your position that you lack empathy.

Do Arabs have a right-to-return if that means free reign to murder or enslave their non-Arab neighbors? Not in my judgment, not as long as they have the opportunity to dwell in their own communities where they are today. Nor are you granting the Israelis who were kicked out of Arab lands the same rights as you demand for others - and human rights are supposed to be universal, not particular.

The power of the Stern and Irgun gangs did not prosper in democratic Israel, and their expulsionist philosophies were not applied. Most of the other "Jewish terror" stuff is fabrication. Jews defending themselves from attack were not and are not terrorists.

Only the twisted or deluded think Israel is expansionist; Israel's actions are consistent with a philosophy to do the minimum necessary to protect the security of its population. That's why Arabs don't fear that a nuclear-armed Israel with first-strike capabilities will suddenly blast them to smithereens without provocation. Sadly, it is difficult to conceive of any Arab political entity that would show the same restraint against its "enemies", be they Arab or non-Arab.

I don't know what you mean by "transferable". Many Israelis can trace title to their properties to deeds sold by Arabs long ago, even pre-1948; should their descendants have the right to reoccupy these areas and kick the Jews out?

One only has to to a very little bit of poking around to discover that many more Arabs claim to be from Palestine than actually lived or had parents there. Some areas, like the Syrian-controlled but U.N.-demilitarized areas of the Golan, were depopulated and their former inhabitants re-labelled "Palestinians".

It isn't fair that "Palestinians" (Arafat ruminated at Wye about the difficulties of creating an artificial history) have been treated so abominably, and almost always by their leaders or other Arabs. But justice isn't always fair, and it is only just for Israel to exist, and it is only just to put the major part of the onus for the Arabs' plight upon Arabs themselves.

12:27 PM
Rincewind said...

Do you think that calling them 'arabs arabs arabs' will make it ok to stick them in KSA or Jordan or Iraq?

They are palestinian, irrespective of being arab or not. They'd been in palestine for hundreds (if not thousands) of years, untill the Nakba. In 1948, 92% of the land was owned by palestinians, and the 8% that was sold by corrupt feudal lords who got it unfairly under lax ottoman laws in the first place.

Do the palestinians, kicked out in 48, have the right to return under an equal-rights state? Definitely. Does any jewish person, kicked out from iraq, syria, egypt have the right to his property, citizenship, etc...? Without a doubt. Human rights are universal,... and individual.

So, the question remains: Do the refugees have the right to come back to the land they left behind in 48, if that does not trample on the rights of the current population in that land? If so, then there are so many ways to figure a solution out (85% of the land refugees left behind is uninhabited, btw).

it's amazing how two wrongs (expelling a jewish person from an arab country, expelling a palestinian from palestine) is suddenly justice.

Outremer lasted 150 years, israel is a new manifestation of the same colonial mentality. I have no doubt that, in turn, it will cease to exist in its current form.

Believe me, when that happens, lots of blood will be shed. If that time comes in my life, I'd be more than happy to give my all defending the jewish inhabitants of the land and their right and the right of their children to live there, but you'll find very few who'd be willing to do that, least of all the imperial west that created the state of israel in the first place.

Humanity First!

1:10 PM

Rince, read Jews Stole Land?, please.

Glenn Greenwald: At #10 on the List of Worst Americans is

the Commenters at Little Green Footballs - a truly unique brew of genocidal fantasies, raging fascist impulses, genuine collective mental imbalance, and towering stupidity who, on a daily basis, industriously convert even innocuous news articles into a pretext for their repetitive, ritualistic orgies where they primally beat their chests, single out the Culprits of the Day, and then gleefully advocate their violent, gruesome deaths.

Let us credit Mr. Greenwald (Unclaimed Territory) for amusing us with his colorful prose!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Holy Warrior Education & The Patriot Act

Seven years ago, the Clinton Administration attacked installations presumed to be Al Qaeda facilities, in President Clinton's one and only action to oppose Muslim terrorism. Jeffrey Goldberg documented the response of madrassa students to America's actions two years later in Pakistan:

......I began by saying that bin Laden's program violates a basic tenet of Islam, which holds that even in a jihad the lives of innocent people must be spared. A jihad is a war against combatants, not women and children...They did not like the idea of me quoting the Prophet to them, and they began chanting, "Osama, Osama, Osama..."

"All things come from Allah," one student said. "The atomic bomb comes from Allah, so it should be used."

I then asked: Who wants to see Osama bin Laden armed with nuclear weapons? Every hand in the room shot up. The students laughed, and some applauded...

What would you do if you learned that the C.I.A. had captured bin Laden and was taking him to America to stand trial?

A student who gave his name as Muhammad stood up: "We would sacrifice our lives for Osama. We would kill Americans."

What kind of Americans?

"All Americans."

Where are these students of yesteryear? What are madrassa students thinking today? Note the emphasis of these schools is rote learning and indoctrination, not reason. The students drowned out any opinion that differed with the conceptions drilled into their heads. They were imbued with religious certainty that justified any deed performed in the righteousness of their cause - not just survival but domination of militant Muslims over others - no matter how people could be killed doing so, and without regard to differences of opinion or interpretation outside their own community.

One can either smash such foes physically, or brutally confront them with an environment that forces them to change their thought processes. Both approaches take time.

Can we really maintain that just because the U.S. "has not had a single attack for four years" that the Global War on Terror is nearly over, and that the Patriot Act is an insufferable assault on American freedoms? If the law of the land is such that we cannot defend ourselves with it, the law should be changed.

And yes, the change in law may change us as well, but at least we will survive and possibly triumph, and our political system will remain such that we can "lower the shields" if we so desire it. The expiration of the Patriot Act is not an indication of the end of the War on Terror, but a reminder that we do not have to accept its restrictions as a permanent law of the land. But for now, the War on Terror continues, and the Patriot Act should be renewed.

For those concerned that the GWOT is "open-ended" I ask: how "open-ended" was World War II? The Civil War? The Cold War? One does not end war according to a precise schedule; only in Vietnam did a previous generation shirk from the task, and the results were horrific.

Let us learn from history and not repeat the same mistakes. For now, we must continue to soldier on.

Update, 12/28/05

In the comments John of Crossroads Arabia directed me to this recent review of the madrasas publshed in The New York Review of Books. The review leads off with a story of a visit to the same madrasa that Goldberg visited 5½ years ago! We discover that Taliban chief Mullah Omar himself was trained there, that the director still sends students out to fight at his call, and that any Pakistani "crackdown on centers of radicalism" "is for American consumption only".

The review presents no evidence that teaching philosophies or practices have changed, but does draw a line between the "cannon fodder" these madrasas claim to produce and the western-educated, sophisticated, tech-oriented terrorists that are at the apex of al-Qaeda. Osama bin Laden is described as usurping "the role of madrasa- based ulema".

Did you know that such Western academic practices as the tasseled hat, robes, and the endowed chair trace back to the madrasas? (What does it mean for Western universities when they accept endowments from Saudi Arabia?)

A review of reviews shouldn't offer much, so I suggest my readers absorb Inside the Madrasas themselves. It is a worthy article, even if the reviewer, William Dalrymple, can't resist throwing in a couple of grossly gratuitous slaps at Israel, slurs meant to work on the unconscious mind: Yeshiva students don't graduate to hijacking planes and terrorizing the world.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Lebanese Coup Imminent?

Raja thinks Hezbollah is trying to take over, or at least "invalidate", the present government. I concur. Over at Tigerhawk I noted that this hypothesis meshes perfectly with Hezbollah effort to distance itself from Al Qaeda.

Hezbollah control of Lebanon may be a vital prerequisite to any Iranian plan to station nuclear-capable missiles upon Lebanese soil.

Bizarre College Courses?

Going around the blogosphere is the story of The Dirty Dozen: America’s Most Bizarre and Politically Correct College Courses.

Allow me to differ by NOT poking fun at academia in this matter: Believe it or not, I think the subject matter of some of these courses is a worthwhile study, but IMO undergraduates need to study the basics of the historical context before they truly appreciate the meaning of 17th-century cross-dressing, bulimia in the time of the Pharaohs, or Greek sexuality. (And that assumes these courses are taught properly, not just for the titillation factor.)

It should sober us to realize that a couple of centuries from now people may similarly consider "goofy" courses with such titles as: "Bodybuilding's Impact Upon 21st-Century American Government" or "The Importance of Hairstyle, Drugs, and Tie-Dye Fabric During the Johnson-Nixon Era." These things seem so obvious to us now, we don't bother to record them much - and that's exactly the sort of history that is likely to get lost, and what advanced students of history have to dig to seek.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Another Great Column from VDH!

Iraq & Moral Distortion:

How did America’s willingness to remove fascistic and odious regimes like the Taliban and Iraqi Baathism result in such a skewed moral reaction?

First, for a great many Western elites, and the Third-World intellectuals who take their cues from them, it is a given that anything the United States is for, they are against. America enrages these people...

...How can the U.S. regain the moral high ground it deserves today? We should begin by -

Excerpts aren't enough. Read it all!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Iran Throws its Weight Around

In the American Future:

Not satisfied with antagonizing the West, the Iranian government is now publicly denouncing its Arab neighbors. The occasion for Tehran’s latest outburst is an on-going meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a group that includes representatives from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar.

Reuters reports that GCC Secretary-General Abdul Rahman al-Attiya said the representatives were very worried about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and one of the proposals on the agenda was for a deal to be brokered between Iran and neighboring GCC states to make the region nuclear-free

They really cannot resist throwing their weight around ahead of time. ..note that Iran is seeking an "instant" nuclear capability - they are developing the delivery systems first, so when they have The Bomb they feel it will be too late for anyone to stop them.

That should be a concern not just for Iranians, but for any country who tolerates Iran-funded armed forces. What will the world do if the Iranians tip Hezbollah's missiles with nukes? Ah-hah, they will think their own country can't be attacked, but only the poor Lebanese will be victims again. Then, after the Israelis strike the Lebanese, Iran can destroy Israel while maintaining the most pious of intentions under international law. And anyone who complains, well, there will always be Zionists and Jews hiding in the woodwork somewhere who can be blamed, isn't that so?

Update, 12/20: Relevant comments at Dr. Sanity

Update, 12/21: Moving Fast
Syria has signed a pledge to store Iranian nuclear weapons and missiles. [Hat tip: Regime Change Iran]

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Another Iraq Election Photograph

Courtesy of Netzeitung, (Hat tip: Misunderestimated Germans):

What has this person experienced in life? What are her feelings at this moment captured by the camera? An entire novel is encompassed by this one face!

I doubt Leonardo could ever paint this, though perhaps Goya could. I invite not only psychologists but art analysts and historians to leave their own comments.

Addendum, 12/19/05

It is interesting to contrast this photo with the one I blogged from the January election. The feelings of the young lady are easy to guess, despite the fact that only one eye, one finger, and one tear are visible. But this old woman, despite the fact that we see all of her face, is far more difficult to interpret. Strange.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Here's to You, Ms. Friedenauer!

Is the MSM finally starting to turn? Fairbanks News-Miner correspondent Margaret Friedenauer, embedded with the 172nd Stryker Brigade in Mosul, reports (Hat tip: Dr. Sanity):

Everything I thought I knew was wrong.

Maybe not wrong, but certainly different than [I had] playing in my head...I had similar notions about Iraq, Mosul, the war and what exactly soldiers do. And it was handily shattered like glass today by a group of soldiers, half of them younger than myself...

I still haven’t seen U.S. troops engaged or encounter car bombs or explosives. But I did see them play backgammon with some local police and Iraqi soldiers. I saw them take photos with more locals and make jokes mostly lost in translation. They gave advice and expertise to local troops on how to conduct a neighborhood patrol. They drank the local customary tea, and many admitted they’ve become addicted to it. They know several locals by name. I didn’t hear one slight or ridicule of a very distinct culture.

...people back home don’t quite get it. They don’t see the real picture. They don’t get the real story. Some of them, like Lt. Col. Gregg Parrish, look seriously pained in the face when he says only a part of the picture is being told; the part of car bombs and explosives and suicide bombers and death. It’s a necessary part of the picture, but not a complete one, he says.

I’ve listened to the soldiers and Parrish about the missing pieces of the puzzles that don’t reach home. My selfish, journalistic drive immediately thinks “Perfect. A story that hasn’t been told. Let me at it.”

But I have a slight hesitation; I need to keep balanced. I can’t be a cheerleader, even if I have a soft spot for the hometown troops, especially after the welcome they’ve shown me. I still need to be truthful and walk the centerline and report the good or bad.

But then I realize it’s not a conflict of interest. If I am truly unbiased, then I need to get used to this one simple fact; that the untold story, might in fact, be a positive one. It takes a minute to wrap my mind around it, as a news junkie that became a news writer. The great, career-making, breaking news stories usually don’t have happy endings

Ms. Friedenauer thus cites another motivation behind the endless criticisms of America's conduct: the desire of the journalist for career-making, high-visibility glory. It takes "a minute to wrap my mind around it" because Ms. Friedenauer - "a news junkie turned news writer" - finally realizes, to her shock, that such careerism can be a prime conflict with truth telling, and she needed the time to sort out which ideal she valued more, before deciding how to report to her newspaper.

Of course, truly experienced MSM journalists would never make such a mistake. Here's to you, Ms. Friedenauer!

Iraqi Election Photos

Did Iraqis ever experience such intense feelings of duty, dignity, pride, and joy under the rule of Saddam Hussein and his Ba'athists?

Here's another link to Iraq and America the Beautiful!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Tipple Time!

And now for something completely different...

I have decided to buy another bottle of bourbon. This is a momentous decision for me, because my current bottle of Old Setter was purchased before bar codes even existed! (Believe it or not, The Wife worries that I'm becoming an alcoholic!)

Jews who keep kosher can only choose from a limited number of wines, as grapes and grape products must be handled specially. But since bourbon is distilled only from grains, observant Jews have just as wide a choice as everybody else.

I've read numerous reviews and sampled several products with my friends. My top three picks are Woodford Reserve, Basil Hayden's, and Maker's Mark.

Readers, I look forward to your comments.

Update, 12/22

I chose Woodford Reserve. Perhaps not quite as sweet as I desire, but complex and entertaining, with a mild finish that keeps me coming back for more - dangerous stuff. And none of the bad "notes" I've experienced with Wild Turkey or Old Setter. The "nose" of Maker's Mark was too much like rubbing alcohol. Basil Hayden's was just a touch more expensive and that decided me.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Media War on Israel - and On Our Souls

Andrew Bolt, columnist for the Australian Herald-Sun, cites eleven factors in detail:

1) Selection of journalists (to be like everyone else)
2) Lack of personal leadership (by media bosses)
3) No appreciation of history (see #11)
4) Textbook reality (books, especially Marxist ones, have all the answers)
5) Disdain for wealth (Israel=rich, Arabs=poor)
6) Disdain for personal achievement (Leninist-Stalinist thinking)
7) Disdain for Christianity (too many values shared with Judaism)
8) Revival of paganism and tribalism (like Greens' enviro-worship)
9) Hidden admiration of violence (I didn't know it was hidden!)
10) Contempt for democracy (lefties want to RULE others, not be ruled by them)
11) Post-modernism (only opinions, not facts, count)

That's just my summary list. Read it all. (Hat tip: my namesake)

I think the list is incomplete, and a partial diversion from true core issues:


No one is scared that Israelis might deliberately target journalists for their opinions. But everyone knows that starting at least with the 70s civil war in Lebanon, terrorists started doing exactly that. At first, journalists acknowledged they were writing under-the-gun. Then they stopped doing that, arguing that they didn't need to repeat this in every story.

Nowadays such acknowledgements don't happen at all, or very rarely. At CNN the media boss who admitted kowtowing to Saddam (after Saddam's overthrow) was contradicted by one of his reporters who claimed"

"my station was intimidated by the Administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News. And it did, in fact, put a climate of fear and self-censorship, in my view, in terms of the kind of broadcast work we did."

Bull! What reporter has ever felt intimidated by the Bush Administration? Rather than believe the reporter, we should stop and think a moment: the reporter still works in dangerous places, the boss does not. Is it not more likely, then, that the reporter is making this patently false claim to shield herself from the thugs she still deals with?

These are not the days of World War II; death is comparitively rare, and reporters can choose to stay out of danger or not, as they wish. The bravest reporters, those willing to freely report without the protection of the American security umbrella - Atlantic Monthly's Michael Kelly, The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Pearl, and independent art critic Steven Vincent come to mind - are dead. They have not been replaced, and with their departure the last vestige of honest and straightforward reporting has nearly vanished from the terror zones of this world.

There is an exception: Michael Yon comes close, but he consciously considers himself an author, not a reporter, and he concentrates on individual units of the American military. Tellingly, Yon did not rise to his position as America's chief war correspondent through the mainstream media, but through his blog -- and until he appealed to his readership for funds, he could hardly afford it.

Why won't the MSM hire Yon as a war correspondent? Mr. Yon might sniff that he would never want to, but he has bills to pay, and I guess that he wouldn't turn down a good offer. But no one has stepped forward to hire him, although the media have snapped up his photographs eagerly.

Why haven't any of the big networks or major newspapers or wire services offerred to employ Yon?


Because Yon is the real thing, as much as Murrow and Cronkite were in World War II, and by hiring him, the MSM would be putting everyone else - including their defeatist Vietnam-shaped editors - to shame. Who has ever met a modest big media reporter or editor? [12/13/05 Update: Just look at this narcissistic Washington Post article!] And that is the key cultural weakness of the MSM. One has to be endowed with modesty to swallow one's pride and admit or yield to superior talent and courage.

Out of suppressed fear and shame, violent feelings ensue and emerge to lash out as targets that can not or do not strike back. As the Talmud says, "Those who start out kind to the cruel, end up being cruel to the kind". Thus Israel - and the United States - are prime targets of the MSM's secret shame.

It is the fears of the MSM that have lead to its misleading reporting and slow extinction as a credible source of truth. May the rest of us take a different course, and thus avoid our extinction - physical or spiritual - as well.

Update 12/19/05

I was wrong - at least partially. Michael Totten is one brave guy. Just read this.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Tet-heads vs. Net-heads

Senator Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) is in trouble:

Lieberman has argued that Bush has a strategy for victory in Iraq, has dismissed calls for the president to set a timetable for troop withdrawal, and has warned that it would be a "colossal mistake" for the Democratic leadership to "lose its will" at this critical point in the war...[his] latest defense of Bush and his stinging salvos at some in his own party have infuriated Democrats, who say he is undercutting their effort to forge a consensus on the war and draw clear distinctions with Republicans before the 2006 elections.

Leftist Democrats (most all of the Democrats in Congress nowadays) see the Iraq "insurgency" as the Tet Offensive all over again: that with the help of the MSM, defeat can be pulled out of the jaws of victory and the President will be crushed by the media-inspired doubts of "credibility."

Both "Troops-must-stay" Senator Lieberman and "Troops-must-leave" Congressman Murtha spoke out after actually visiting Iraq and surveying the scene in detail. By not just supporting President Bush but using the MSM to propagate a too-juicy-not-to-publish statement supporting him, Lieberman is threatening the leftist strategy. But not by much: MSM stories about "pro-War" Congressman John Murtha (D-Pa.) advocating immediate troop withdrawals far outnumber stories about Senator Lieberman supporting President Bush.

In 1968 Johnson had no way to fight back and resigned. But in 2005 there is the World Wide Web and Fox News. The weapons and soldiers are different but the war is the same! There are no guarantees, but this time, the outcome may be very different.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

"Millions For Defense, Not One Cent For Tribute"

This just in:

The "tribute" referred to was the millions paid in the 18th century, shortly after independence, to ransom American hostages - now lacking the protection of the British Navy - from the Barbary pirates of the Ottoman Empire.

This tribute was a substantial proportion of federal revenues at the time. President Jefferson didn't want to pay it and sent the little U.S. fleet and its Marines into action. Together with Arab allies and foreign mercenaries, U.S. forces reached "the shores of Tripoli" and subdued its pasha into peace. This task was repeated under President Monroe a decade later, and this time piracy was ended permanently.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

It certainly does. The motto is attributed to Representative Robert Goodloe Harper in 1798, so this 1841 "NOT ONE CENT" - actually a token that circulated as a sort of currency - commemorates the accomplishments of the two previous generations. These naval actions were controversial two centuries ago, but at least Congress understood the need for flexibility by commanders in distant theaters, and the importance of the country's image abroad:

...In operations at such a distance, it becomes necessary to leave much to the discretion of the agents employed, but events may still turn up beyond the limits of that discretion. Unable in such a case to consult his government, a zealous citizen will act as he believes that would direct him, were it apprised of the circumstances, and will take on himself the responsibility. In all these cases the purity and patriotism of the motives should shield the agent from blame, and even secure a sanction where the error is not too injurious....

A nation, by establishing a character of liberality and magnanimity, gains in the friendship and respect of others more than the worth of mere money.
[President Thomas Jefferson, Special Message to the House and Senate, January 13, 1806.]

In the present age of our hyper-critical media always on the attack against any Administration that actually defends America's interests, I believe that an effective way to counter its disruptive influence - Jim Hoagland in today's Washington Post actually cites image and not substance as threatening - is the presence of American soldiers and diplomats abroad, and the reputation they establish for themselves and their country.

Update 12/15/05: Mightier Than the Pen

It appears this former reporter thinks so as well:

I happened to meet a Marine Corps colonel who'd just come back from Iraq. He gave me a no-nonsense assessment of what was happening there, but what got to me most was his description of how the Marines behaved and how they looked after each other in a hostile world. That struck me as a metaphor for how America should be in the world at large...

...I decided to do my first physical training and see what happened...I met a Marine...and started training with him. Pretty soon I filled out the application...

In a way, I see the Marines as a microcosm of America at its best. Their focus isn't on weapons and tactics, but on leadership. That's the whole point of the Marines.

Update, 1/6/06

A related, Mudville-inspired post here.

Note, 2/13/07: Attention university students! Apparently this is a popular post for college essays and mid-term papers. I suggest you reference it correctly.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Second Response to Hareega

Today Reega posts terrible pictures of Iraqis children in the aftermath of terror attacks. She asks:

Will these Iraqi children remember the day people were allowed to vote more than the day they lost their parents ?

Will they think of this was as a war on terror or a war of terror?

This war has transformed each of these children to a potential "Bin Ladin" when they grow up.

Can't Americans stop singing "we didn't start the fire" for just one day?

This is my response:

If you read my blog, especially the entries starting with Why is the U.S. in Iraq?, you would see that this American doesn't think the question applies. It isn't that "we didn't start the fire"; it's that Iraq was already run by a terrorist before the U.S. invaded and civilian casualties have dropped by a factor of at least five (and are still dropping) since. It's just that photographers can now snap away at the remaining carnage with far less fear for their lives.

Nevertheless, your point is a good one. But in a sense this dilemma doesn't apply. I agree with your characterization: Iraqis get democracy in exchange for U.S. and Iraqi soldiers killing Al-Qaeda. But had America invaded with three times the force -- enough to suppress any "insurgency" -- the long-run shame of Iraqis may have generated the destructive impulses you fear.

Al-Qaida would then have stayed away from Iraq and attacked elsewhere, rather than slowly eroding its strength through fighting in Iraq. Only a few years ago, Al-Queda planned to devastate Jordan with chemical attacks that would have killed tens of thousands. Last month's attack accomplished only a fraction of this carnage -- and the attackers were relatives of terrorist leaders, a sure sign that the noose is tightening. Imagine how much worse Al-Qaida's attacks would be around the world if the U.S. never invaded Iraq in the first place.

Since the U.S. force is small, it can only succeed in establishing peace and democracy with active Iraqi participation, the Iraqis can take much pride in their accomplishments -- but as the world can see, the children are being attacked by the terrorists as a result of U.S. sensitivity to these matters.

I expect neither excessive "love" nor hatred from Iraqis; both Americans and Iraqis are acting out of self-interest. I can hope the children who survive these horrors will have the opportunity to mature in a free society and thus may be free from the destructive impulses you fear. The children of the Holocaust do not dream of killing Germans.

Do you have any better answers, Reega?

[Photograph added 12/8/05]