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Husky Huckster Michael Moore Goes on a Brunch-Time Death-Spree
Iraqi Nuke Gear Smuggled to Europe
Newsjackers Unite
Shock and Awe Revisited
Maureen Dowd Writes a Column
Paul Krugman Accidentally Tells the Truth
Europe: Let the Palestinians Finish What We Began

Top Top Tens

Signs of Hip-Hop Influence on John Kerry
NYT Headlines Spinning Bush's Jobs Boom
Things People Are More Likely to Say Than "Did You Hear What Al Franken Said Yesterday?"
Other Bad Things About the Jews, According to the Koran
Signs That David Letterman Just Doesn't Care Anymore
Other Judgments Dick Clarke Made About Condi Rice Based on Her Appearance
Collective Names for Groups of People
John Kerry's Other Vietnam Super-Pets
Cool Things About the XM8 Assault Rifle
Media-Approved Facts About the Democrat Spy
Changes to Make Christianity More "Inclusive"
Secret John Kerry Senatorial Accomplishments
John Edwards Campaign Excuses
John Kerry Pick-Up Lines
Changes Liberal Senator George Michell Will Make at Disney
Torments in Dog-Hell

the (nearly) Complete
Paul Anka

Primary Document: The Audio
Paul Anka Haiku Contest Announcement
Integrity SAT's: Entrance Exam for Paul Anka's Band
AllahPundit's Paul Anka 45's Collection
AnkaPundit: Paul Anka Takes Over the Site for a Weekend (Continues through to Monday's postings)

Greatest Hitjobs

A D&D Guide to the Democratic Candidates
Margaret Cho: Just Not Funny
More Margaret Cho Abuse
Outraged "Conservatives" React to the FMA
An On-Line Impression of Dennis Miller Having Sex with a Kodiak Bear
The Story the Rightwing Media Refuses to Report!
Our Lunch with David "Glengarry Glen Ross" Mamet
The House of Love: Paul Krugman
A Michael Moore Mystery (TM)
The Dowd-O-Matic!
Liberal Consistency and Other Myths
Kepler's Laws of Liberal Media Bias
John Kerry-- The Splunge! Candidate
"Divisive" Politics & "Attacks on Patriotism" (very long)
The Donkey ("The Raven" parody)


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Today's Top Ten: Special Weekend Edition 

"Let me say at the beginning I'm very impressed, indeed, I'd go so far as to say moved by your story, the story of your life and what you've accomplished," Bob Kerrey, a commission member and former Democratic senator from Nebraska, told Ms. Rice, referring to her early childhood in segregated Birmingham, Ala. "It's quite extraordinary."

Actually, Ms. Rice has said in interviews that there is nothing unusual about her success given her upbringing by parents and grandparents who were college educated and who prodded her to excel.

One strains to imagine Mr. Kerrey expressing his "pride" at a white child of college-educated parents and grandparents becoming a success.

Top Ten Other Examples of Bob Kerrey's Insufferable Racial Jackassery

10. Personally expressed his condolences to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams regarding "the Irish Troubles," as well as "the Irish Curse"

9. At a State Dinner honoring the Chinese Ambassador, praised the Chinese people as a "being cunning and crafty" and "having secret magical powers, like elves"

8. One-upped Chris Dodd by praising former Ku Klux Klan Kleagle Robert Byrd as "being just the sort of guy we'd want in control during the Watts Riots"

7. Cables Tel Aviv after each terrorist attack, praising the "courage and tenacity" of the Jewish people as "exemplified by Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, and Jeff 'The Perfect Weapon' Speakman"

6. Keeps asking Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao to calculate the number of unemployed Americans "using that Korean Chisenbop finger-counting I saw on Dateline"

5. Embarasses his maid by telling her she's "a credit to her race" every time she vacuums the den

4. Spoke movingly at a Democratic Italian-American Society meeting, saying that "in this land of opportunity" every child of immigrants could grow up to one day be President "of a waste-management company"

3. Wants to appoint Hispanic Governor Bill Richardson as "Secretary of Pinatas and Cock-Fighting"

2. Reassured Catholic Americans that he "has no problem personally" with "creeping papistry"

... and the Number One Other Example of Bob Kerrey's Insufferable Racial Jackassery...

1. Frequently refers to the Powell Doctrine as "Sweet Sweetback's Baad Aaassss Exit Strategy"

Newsmax, Again: Clinton Denies Taped Admission of Refusal to Accept bin Ladin Arrest & Delivery 

Remember, the media deemed Clinton "frank and informative" when he testified.

But what's this? Despite the fact that he is recorded on audiotape admitting his decision to not accept a bin Ladin arrest/extradition, he now denies it, claiming he was "misquoted" in his own taped remarks!

First denial.

Bob Kerrey, non-partisan truth-getter-atter, claims to be entirely ignorant of the audiotape.

There's one thing we've learned from Clinton: Better than a denial is a dishonest claim of ignorance. If someone denies, for example, that Clinton said what he said on tape, then you can confront that person with the evidence.

But if they say "Gee willickers, I know nothing about that," where can you go? Even if you play the tape for them, they claim they can't render an on-the-spot opinion; two months later, they claim ignorance again.

They've been doing that with this explosive tape (linked by Newsmax) for two years running now. Whatever Democrat you ask -- Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Al Gore, Bob Kerrey -- they always claim they never heard of such a tape, despite the fact they've been asked about it dozens of times.

It is a lie.

They've heard of it. They've heard it. It is time for them to address it.

Newsmax: Warnings of Skyjack Attacks Came Under Clinton 

Key bits:

What's more, by the time of the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. intelligence had known for years that al Qaeda wanted to train kamikaze pilots to carry out 9/11-style attacks against buildings like the World Trade Center.

Reports published just two months after 9/11 explained that the blueprint for 9/11 attacks was uncovered during 1995 interrogations of Abdul Hakim Murad, partner of convicted 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef.

According to the Washington Post, Yousef's plot to plant bombs on 12 commercial U.S. airliners and blow them up over the Pacific "called for a second, perhaps even more ambitious phase, as interrogators discovered when they pressed Murad about his pilot's license.

"All those years in flight school, he confessed, had been in preparation for a suicide mission. He was to buy, rent, or steal -- that part of the plan had not yet been worked out -- a small plane, preferably a Cessna, fill it with explosives and crash it into CIA headquarters."

Now, it should be noted that of course if Clinton had this information, so did Bush.

But what is galling is the key assumption of liberal reporters, never expressly stated because doing so would make it obvious and thereby capable of being rejoined: That Clinton had no obligation to act on this information, for whatever reason, but as soon as Bush was inaugurated on January 20, 2001, then suddenly it was time to armor the cockpit doors, pass the Patriot Act, invade Afghanistan as a response to the Cole bombing, and begin conducting warrantless searches on Islamist computers.

What makes January 20, 2001 such a special date? Why is that the date upon which it became vital for a new administration to suddenly begin acting after eight years of inertia?

They never say. Certainly, though, the date is not chosen for partisan reasons, to excuse Clinton while blaming Bush. It must be... oh, yeah, the Middle East "peace process" was too important before January 20th to jeopardize by actually doing anything. Or... something.

Does the Middle East peace process excuse apply to Bush? How about the little distraction of the Chinese shooting down one of our reconaissance planes and holding the crew hostage?

Silly rabbit, excuses are for Democratic administrations.

Andrew Sullivan Rowback Alert: We were reminded by The Black Republican that Bush was inaugurated on Jan 20, not the 25th, as we originally wrote. Yes, this is an old date, but it remains as fresh as ever in our minds.

Genocidal Dictator of Sit-Com Character? 

FloridaCracker links a game that's a cute parlor trick.

Basically, you pick in your head either a Genocidal Dictator or a Sit-Com Character. Your choice. The computer program then asks you a series of Yes/No questions; if you don't know the answer, you answer "No."

We first chose Ginger from Gilligan's Island; the program got it.

We then chose George W. Bush. Not because he's a genocidal dictator, of course, but because there's a lot of dopes who will claim he is. We answered as one such dope would answer, i.e., "Yes" to "Are you resposible for genocide?"

The program got that one, too.

We've heard that expert systems can be pretty impressive given a limited field of knowledge. Well, this might be a very limited field of knowledge, but still, it's pretty cool.

Update: But the program completely botched Agent 99 from Get Smart. It guessed "Rhoda" from the MTM Show/Rhoda. Rhoda?!

It looks like it's a learning program of sorts. Once it blows an answer, it asks you to provide a question which would have caused it to say "No" to its provisional answer. We suppose the system updates itself to "learn" the right questions. Or maybe the programmer just does it.

On a very simple level, all of the game's players are teaching it how to be a better program in the future. Give it 100,000 or 1,000,000 plays, and it might become very good indeed. Kind of neat.

Update: Got Monty Burns, got Rerun from What's Happening. Weknew the program was on the right track when it asked, "Do you wear a beret?"


Bob Kerrey: "You must be very proud to be a sharecropper's daughter"
Condi Rice: "My dad was an accountant, jackass" 

Marcland (about the middle of a very long news-roundup piece) makes a sweeeeet catch:

"Let me say at the beginning I'm very impressed, indeed, I'd go so far as to say moved by your story, the story of your life and what you've accomplished," Bob Kerrey, a commission member and former Democratic senator from Nebraska, told Ms. Rice, referring to her early childhood in segregated Birmingham, Ala. "It's quite extraordinary."

Actually, Ms. Rice has said in interviews that there is nothing unusual about her success given her upbringing by parents and grandparents who were college educated and who prodded her to excel.

Mr. Kerrey went on to marvel at how she could balance her duties as NSA while taking care of her six illegitimate children and her junkie brother Ervis. He then asked her to give "a shout up, or whatever you people call it" to Weezy and Re-Run.

Now, we've sampled some delicious racial condescension in our day, but that is some of the most exquisite racial condescension ever. Bravo, Mr. Kerrey. Our compliments to the chef.


We have retracted today's top ten. We erroneously believed it to be funny.

We were in error.

Sturm und Drang, Ennui, and Schadenfreude  

... are some of the words we learned in college which seem to be more useful than ever in discussing Europe's economic malaise.

Oooh, there's another one.

Jerry Lewis... Patriot? 

Rawlings reports that Jerry refuses to criticize President Bush, despite the insistence of a snotty leftist British reporter (named, inevitably, "Simon") that he do so.

Okay, the guy's a little pompous sometimes. But then there's Jerry Kids.

And The Naughty Professor is still pretty funny.

John Kerry: To Boldy Grovel 

Boston Irish blogs John Kerry's interview on Imus.

What's his big plan for Iraq?

"Boldly" asking the United Nations for help.

That is indeed bold. If by "bold" one means both "cowardly" and "futile."

Who knew? The thing the American military needs more than anything -- more than armor, more than weapons -- is Frenchmen.

Fallujah Ceasefire Aborted 

Good. We know that a ceasefire could possibly reduce American casualties-- but only for the moment.

No offense intended, but Middle Easterners do not have a very good track record with regard to honoring promises. Ceasefires and treaties are used only as a needed pause during which to resupply, rearm, reinforce, and retreat in order to plan and organize the next terrorist attack.

We're still angry about the ceasefire at Kandahar.

Marines briefly halted offensive operations in Fallujah on Friday, but the suspension ended after only an hour and a half, a Marine commander said, apparently after negotiations with a city delegation fell through.

Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, commander of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, said his forces were given the go-ahead to resume offensive operations.

The halt was called at noon to allow a delegation from the city to meet with US commanders, let humanitarian aid into the city and give city residents a chance to tend to their dead.

Byrne did not know why the suspension was called off but believed the negotiations with the delegation never took place....

Ah. A sham parley. How... typical.

The apparent easing of US operations comes after the Coalition came under fire for enraging even moderate Iraqis through the use of overwhelming force to quell the rebellion instead of compromise.

With all due respect: The press seems to have a loosey-goosey definition of "moderates" in this context, as they do when it comes to Democratic politicians.


...Falluja "civilians" (right) killed in fighting; 1000 wounded.

As our favorite Marine predicted:

"The Fallujahans are fired up and ready for a fight (or so they think)."

More Good News On Employment 

DiscoShaman has analysis and links. He compares our current unemployment rate to historical norms, rather than the unsustainably low number hit at the end of the Bush I/Clinton boom.

What If?: The Impeachment of George Walker Bush 

Gregg Easterbrook dabbles in alternative history. What if George Bush did all those things before 9-11 that liberals were reluctant to do after 9-11?

The piece mentions the possibility that Bush will be extradited to the Hague for a war-crimes trial.

Worth reading. As Pope said (kinda), a point oft made, but never made so well.

Via the Corner. Good catch, guys. It turns out you can post interesting links in between the endless yap-yap about "crunchy cons" and Star Trek and malmite.

Update: A check on Bartlett's Familar Quotations -- a cool site we only recently discovered -- yields this compelling couplet from Pope:

Where yet was ever found a mother

Who 'd give her booby for another?

It's a good question. It's something of a precursor to the famous Ode to Mes Boobies.

Republican Representative Sensenbrenner "Pledges to Promote Islamic Finance" 

From a tip by Jay:

MANAMA: An American Congressman has pledged to support the spread of Islamic finance in the US.F James Sensenbrenner, who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the US House of Representatives, made the promise during a meeting with senior bankers in Bahrain.

He was in the country to learn more about Islamic finance and issues relating to money laundering, the Hawalla system and controlling terrorist financing.


"Mr Sensenbrenner promised to work so that American regulation would not unnecessarily hamper the growth of Islamic banking in the US," said a GCIBFI statement.


He said the appearance of Mr Sensenbrenner at the meeting was evidence of a convergence between conventional and Islamic banking systems.

"The presence of the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, from the US House of Representatives, in Manama was evidence of the willingness of the policy makers around the globe and in the Islamic banking sectors to consolidate their relationship," he said.

"This will help us promote mutual understanding and explain the benefits of Islamic finance products and services within the global financial system."

Is this a good idea?

At first blush, we thought, well, perhaps doing this will help police and track dirty transactions.

At second blush, we thought, Gee, that's what they always say when they're making some sort of a concession to a dubious business or whatnot, and it never seems to result in better law enforcement; it always results simply in more law-breaking.

We shall have further Musings of Enormous Consequence on this topic when the mood strikes us.

Update: We sent Mr. Sensenbrenner a polite email asking him to explain his thinking on the matter. We're expecting nothing but a silly form reply, but if we get something better, we'll print it.

His email address is:

Kut: Ours Again 

al-Sadr will soon be wondering what happened to his maniac-militia.

WashTimes: Fighting Heavy in Fallujah (Enemy Casualties Update) 

We're becoming more persuaded by Steven den Beste's point about this.

The advantage these people -- terrorists, guerillas, criminals, cowards -- have is that they strike out of nowhere and then melt into a crowd. Like the cheap assassins they are.

That being the case, it seems that there's noting better for American troops than to take them on in a real stand-up fight. That nullifies their advantage and maximizes our boys'.

That doesn't mean our boys aren't dying at a heartbreaking rate-- but it does mean less of them will be dying, because they're fighting these rotten animals on terms favorable to the US forces, not on terms favorable to these sniveling killers.

More Americans are being killed right now-- but with a stand-up fight, there's hope. Hope that the drip-drip-drip of a bombing here, a sneaky gunshot to the head there will abate once we kill some of these guys.

A lot of these guys.

And it seems perhaps we are doing just that.

The Washington Times reports:

FALLUJAH, Iraq-- U.S. forces killed dozens of insurgents and seized three suicide explosive belts during heavy fighting in this Sunni Muslim city yesterday, while preparations for a religious festival complicated plans to retake southern cities held by followers of radical Shi'ite cleric Sheik Muqtada al-Sadr.


In Fallujah, Marines backed by AC-130 gunships combed through a mainly industrial area of the city captured during three previous days of combat, battling snipers perched in the steeplelike minarets of Fallujah's many mosques.

"If we can drive them to the surface, we can kill them," said Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, commander of the 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment, from his command post in Fallujah. "That is our strategy."

One Marine was killed Wednesday and another yesterday in Fallujah. A hospital director told the Associated Press that more than 280 Iraqis have died in the city where four Americans were killed and their bodies mutilated last week.

"Those are anticoalition forces that are being brought [to the hospital] by their fellow jihadis," Col. Byrne insisted. "We have had limited dealings with civilians. As we move more into [residential areas], we will treat the civilians with the appropriate dignity, decency and respect."

280 down, X to go. Of course lying is part of the culture here, and it will be claimed that all of these 280 dead were peaceful shopkeepers, mothers, and retirees killed by American "imperialists."

Funny, but all of these peaceful shopkeepers, mothers, and retirees are almost all 18-30 year old males with the same bad Tony Orlando moustache.

No one wants to play the Vietnam game of comparative bodycounts, but it would appear that we are killing the hell out of them. After months of a few thugs being caught or captured here and there, there's something satisfying about the number 280.

Not that there are any liberals reading this, but if there are, let us answer the inevitable whiny, moral-posturing question you want to ask: Are you really saying you take emotional or "spiritual" satisfaction in the deaths of 280 Fallujah men?

Yes. Yes, we do.

Keep at it, heroes. Your job, as the man said, is not to die for your country. Enough Americans have died already; we've got our quota filled.

Your job is to make sure these bastards die for their country. Or for their God, for their fragile ethnic egos, or for whatever insane thing they fight for.

Keep the guns running until the barrels melt.


"We're Just Trying to Get All the Facts" 

That's the claim.

Here's the reality.

FoxNews broke a story that Dick Clarke, during a 2002 background briefing, told a story to reporters, and thereby to the country, that was inconsistent -- or, at least, let us say "incongruent" -- with his current claims.

Bob Kerrey, 9-11 commissioner, slammed FoxNews for enlightening the public. Why a bureaucrat's "right" to remain on-background surely must trump the public's right to know about such a crucial national security issue, he thundered.

Hee, hee, hee. Apparently the 9-11 Commission's work is far too important to be subordinated to "mere" claims of executive privilege.

But a liberal bureaucrat's right to remain off-the-record in a background briefing-- why, that's more important than any pesky questions about 9-11.

Now, was Mr. Kerrey just interested "in trying to get all the facts"? Or was he only interested in the facts that would advance a partisan agenda?

Today, Richard Ben-Veniste -- Good Lord, the name itself is sleazy; we have in mind a car-salesman/riverboat gambler -- attempted to cut off Condi Rice four or five times in succession from explaining what was contained in the August 6 PDB.

Why? Because he only wanted the title from her-- a misleading title which he could use to score partisan political points. Did he want the substance of the memo? Not only did he not want that revealed, he became snappy and angry when she dared to explain what the memo said.

Now, was Mr. Ben-Veniste just interested "in trying to get all the facts"? Or was he only interested in the facts that would advance a partisan agenda?

What a joke.

In Case You Missed It... 

...which you certainly did if you get your news from our supremely-objective press corps, Instapundit reports on this great moment by Condi Rice:

KERREY: Why didn't we swat that fly?

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

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

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

That's a strategic view...


And we took a strategic view. We didn't take a tactical view. I mean, it was really -- quite frankly, I was blown away when I read the speech, because it's a brilliant speech. It talks about really...


... an asymmetric...

KERREY: I presume you read it in the last few days?

RICE: Oh no, I read it quite a bit before that. It's an asymmetric approach.

OTOH, Kerrey wrote in today's Wall Street Journal (requires registration):

Mr. Clarke's most startling statement was that there have been more terrorist attacks against the United States in the 30 months since 9/11 than in the 30 months prior to the attack. You could almost hear a clap of thunder when he went on to say that this happened because we substantially reduced our efforts in Afghanistan and went to war in Iraq, causing a loss of momentum in the war against al Qaeda.

That's his argument. I think he's wrong, but I don't think he is being duplicitous. He is wrong because most if not all of the terrorism since 9/11 has occurred because al Qaeda and other radical Islamists have an even dimmer view of a free and independent Iraq than they do a free and independent United States. A democracy in Iraq that embraces modernism, pluralism, tolerance and the plebiscite is a greater sacrilege than anything we are doing here at home.

Mr. Clarke's views on Iraq notwithstanding, after 9/11 we could not afford either to run the risk that Saddam Hussein would be deterred by our military efforts to contain him or that these military deployments would become attractive targets for further acts of terrorism. I supported President Bush's efforts to persuade the United Nations Security Council to change a 10-year-old resolution that authorized force to contain Saddam Hussein to one that authorized force to replace his dictatorship. And I believe the president did the right thing to press ahead even without the Security Council's support. Remember, the June 25, 1996, attack on Khobar Towers that left 19 American airmen dead happened because of our containment efforts. Sailors had also died enforcing the Security Council's embargo and our pilots were risking their lives every day flying missions over northern and southern Iraq to protect Iraqi Kurds and Shiites.

It is my view that a political victory for terrorism in Iraq is a much greater danger to us than whether or not we succeed in capturing Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Victory in Iraq will embolden radical Islamists as much as our failure to recognize the original danger of their declaration of war against us.

Newsjackers Unite 

WARNING: Very Long. Also, about blogs, which is a topic we never were terribly interested in before we started blogging. To tell you the truth, we're still not terribly interested in it. But we think we have a decent point to make here.

But click here to skip to the next headline if this stuff bores you.


Five years ago, the newsorganizations' monopoly on the ability to gather and disseminate news also gave them the related, but not wholly connected, power to drive the public debate.

Because they were writing the stories, they also got to decide, on the public's behalf, what stories were important, and which parts of stories were important. Newswriting is more than a bullet-point list of collected facts, of course; "good" newswriters are expected to put facts into what they believe constitutes "context," to fit them into a narrative that changes news from reporter's notes to a story.

Story-- that's the key word. News reports aren't just a collection of data; they have a narrative arc, a plot, a moral, and, more frequently than not, heroes and villains, just like a fictional tale.

Raw data are assembled into a story or narrative by much the same way fiction writers hone in on the essence of the tale they want to tell. Some facts are emphasized; some are de-emphasized. Some facts favorable placement (in the headline, for example) and other facts unfavorable placement (beyond the jump at paragraph thirty-seven).

And of course some stories are afforded great prominence whereas other stories are simply not reported at all.

The ultimate effect of this is, of course, that news-gatherers have been afforded a rather strange privilege: the power to shape, drive, and occasionally manufacture from whole cloth the public debate. Apart from elected officials and political functionary, no other profession in America is so privileged to essentially decide for the nation what is important and what is good in public life; and it isn't precisely obvious why reporters, of all people, should be entrusted with such a prerogative. Nor has it ever been.

If we're casting about for professions to which to entrust such a power, why not give it to medical doctors? They're very well educated and certainly no one can quibble with their general interest in serving the public good. Why not lawyers? Why not teachers? Why not software programmers?

Who chose reporters, precisely, to decide on behalf of America what is important and just? No genuine offense intended to reporters, but, at least as a profession, they hardly strike us as being the smartest or wisest America has to offer. Rather low on the list, truth be told.

Yes, reporters do collect data; but the data-collection function is almost entirely separate from the story-construction function of news story-writing. Witness Rick Berke, who crafted what were by all accounts dynamite stories while frequently having little to do with the actual news-collection.

Reporters and newspaper owners have this power not because anyone sat down and decided they were wise enough to wield it, but simply because of they gathered the facts. They had an advantage no other profession had: proximity to the day's news. Possession is, as they say, nine-tenths of the law.

And, for as long as we know, they've had a monopoly on that power.

Until the rise of the blog.


Now, we're not blog-triumphalists, as many bloggers seem to be. We're blog-skeptics. We acknowledge that blogs many one day constitute a true counterweight to the regular media, but that day is still far off.

That being said, the importance of blogs -- as well as on-line discussion/chat fora -- is, we think, their power to take the same basic data being reported in the media and re-report it, this time with an individual blogger's own preferred narrative, arc, moral, and heroes and villains.

Time and time again, bloggers and on-line commentators read deep into a story -- deep into the thirtieth paragraph, where the reporter buried all the stuff he didn't much want you to see -- and rewrite a new story around that fact. Bloggers take the facts the media discounts as unimportant or inconsistent with their preferred narrative arc and make their own narrative arc, this time elevating the discarded to the essential.

The media looks down on this. Bloggers are unprofessional, they sniff. People who post unline are just spouting half-formed opinions. Uncredentialed.

Perhaps so. We concede that reporters are skilled at gathering actual information. But where the regular media loses us is in its arrogance in insisting that their "judgment" as to what it is important and what is not is somehow superior to anyone else's.

We're happy to have a media skilled at reporting facts to us. As newsjunkies, we enjoy the fruits of these labors each day. But we're not quite sure why it is that, say, Dana Milbank's judgment as to what it is important is any way superior to our own. Surely he's a better reporter than we are; but is he a better spinner of a dramatic story? A better analyst of what is best for America? By whose lights? According to what credential?

Again: Who precisely sat one down one day and voted Dana Milbank as his personal opinion-shaper? We know we didn't. We'd remember if we had.

Blogs are, to a small but increasing extent, challenging the networks' and the New York Times' monopoly: as the "gatekeepers" of information and the wine-stewards of the national discussion. Drudge, the proto-blogger, already decides for most of the wired community (which is to say most of the infophile community of America) what the day's national story will be.

And, increasingly, it is Kaus, Volokh, Reynolds, and Sullivan who help shape the New Conventional Opinion.

Little by little, the function of newsgathering -- surely the legitimate area of expertise of the mainstream media -- is being severed from the related but entirely distinct function of news analysis and agenda-setting.

More and more, bloggers are hijacking the basic raw information contained in media reportage -- "newsjacking," to coin a term -- and creating a new narrative arc putting those facts into a new context -- a context frequently more plausible and insightful than that offered by the major media.


Same facts, different story: a reporter's preferred narrative, bias, and moral are edited out and the essence of the report -- the actual operative facts -- are used anew in the service of a different narrative.

The mainstream media doesn't like this at all. It's creating the story, and thereby influencing public opinion, that's the fun part of reportage. The mechanical dissemination of mere data is the grind. One can't help but think part of their problem with bloggers is bloggers' determination to undo all that agenda and slant they've worked so hard to stuff into the story in the first place.

Is this just the spin of the bloggers? Of course it's spin. Any writer's subjective judgment as to what is important is "spin." But it's different spin, at least. For many years, the pro-abortion, pro-feminist, pro-gay-marriage, anti-gun, anti-business left has had its agenda, its interest, its story well-represented in the media.

Isn't it time for a bit of diversity? Even just a little bit?

It would seem that any innovation that can give readers more of a choice, and also challenge the unearned monopoly of the reporter class over this crucial function, must be a good thing.

As William F. Buckley observed, he'd rather have the country run by the first 100 names in the Cambridge phone book than by the faculty at Harvard University.

And maybe it's just our cranky conservative contrarian politics talking, but we'd rather have the first 100 screen-names on AOL deciding the public debate than our current supremely-objective press corps.

"The Way They... Surround a Story" About Rice's Testimony, and then Clinton's Testimony, picking up the AP report:

Newsview: Rice Seeks to Shift Blame

WASHINGTON -- Condoleezza Rice offered little new information about the days leading up to Sept. 11, and instead determinedly shifted blame from the White House to a two-decade failure in the way U.S. intelligence fought terrorism.

From her opening statement to the occasional clashes with members during three hours of testimony Thursday, President Bush's national security adviser stuck closely to her message that blame for America's worst terror attack rested with administrations dating to Ronald Reagan.

And what about Clinton's testimony, you might ask?

Also from AP:

Sept. 11 panel interviews Clinton in private session

The federal panel reviewing the Sept. 11 attacks met with former President Clinton in a private session Thursday that commissioners [ed: which commissioners?] described as frank and informative.

The 10-member panel interviewed Clinton for nearly four hours to discuss what his administration could have done to prevent the attacks. The former president was "forthcoming and responsive," said the commission.

Was the the whole commission, or just the liberals on it who agree with you?

Straight down the line, objective, neutral.

And these crazy conservatives with their charges of liberal bias.

As if.

Our Friends and Allies Update 

Tim Blair drinks to the courage and fortitude of the majority of Spaniards:

"This is all the fault of the United States; they got us into this," said Santiago Ruiz, a 55-year-old electrician who lives in suburban Leganes, a block from where the four suspects killed themselves and a police officer on Saturday. "The way to combat terrorism isn't the way Bush has done. Spain is paying the consequences of its solidarity with the United States."

In the city center, Alejandro Rodriguez, 36, agreed: "We should withdraw from Iraq right now. Why wait until June? Do we want to wait for more attacks?" Pointing to the bloody clashes in Iraq between Spanish troops and local Shiites in recent days, Rodriguez said Spanish soldiers were creating enemies.

This is why we need our precious allies on board for everything we do: Because they're always right there when they need us.

Let's face it: The Europeans are 1) cowards and 2) ruthlessly self-interested.

Whether we like it or not, this really isn't the "world's fight." It's our fight. The Europeans are chiefly interested in appeasement, so as to direct Islamist rage only at the US. They want to present as small a target as possible.

There is an inarguable divergence of interests here. These interests cannot be reconciled. We want to fight terrorists to defend ourselves. They want us not to fight, and to simply absorb terrorist casualites, so that their precious post-capitalist world remains blissfully undisturbed.

The sad thing is that their stragety of cowardice, appeasement, and betrayal will probably largely work.

That's fine for them.

But why should we elect a president who wants to follow Europe's lead? Europe wants to trade more dead Americans in exchange for European comfort.

Shouldn't a potential American president be sorta against that deal?

Letter From Fallujah 

Liberal Kerry-Supporter Andrew Sullivan takes time from re-positioning himself to print this outstanding letter from a Marine:

Things have been busy here. You know I can't say much about it. However, I do know two things. One, POTUS has given us the green light to do whatever we needed to do to win this thing so we have that going for us.

Two, and my opinion only, this battle is going to have far reaching effects on not only the war here in Iraq but in the overall war on terrorism. We have to be very precise in our application of combat power. We cannot kill a lot of innocent folks (though they are few and far between in Fallujah). There will be no shock and awe. There will be plenty of bloodshed at the lowest levels.

This battle is the Marine Corps' Belleau Wood for this war. 2/1 and 1/5 will be leading the way. We have to find a way to kill the bad guys only. The Fallujahans are fired up and ready for a fight (or so they think). A lot of terrorists and foreign fighters are holed up in Fallujah. It has been a sanctuary for them. If they have not left town they are going to die. I'm hoping they stay and fight.

Key sentences?

"One, POTUS has given us the green light to do whatever we needed to do to win this thing so we have that going for us."

We hope he's right. But we like this sentence even more:

"The Fallujahans are fired up and ready for a fight (or so they think)."

Love that "(or so they think)."

Give 'em hell, Heroes.

Update: Couldn't help noticing: Liberal Kerry-supporter Andrew Sullivan deems "the best news of the week" to be the ratings for the South Park episode personally attacking Mel Gibson.

Hmmmm... Andy seems to have, err, rather "nuanced" positions on such sorts of attacks. When directed against him or his allies, he launches into priggish sermons about the evil of attacks. But when directed against an opponent, he's nothing but smiles and You go, Girl!'s.

Now, again, let us say this: We don't mind these sorts of attacks in principle. Obviously.

But then, we don't issue fatwas against them either, going into insufferable-prick mode to decry the "coarsening of our public discourse" in between cheering them on.

Ministry of Silly Links 


Via Jonah Goldberg at The Corner.

The faces all seem to come out looking like a) an elf, b) Harry Potter, and, if you use glasses on the face, then c) Sally Jesse Raphael. Maybe we're doing something wrong.

We will have an update of enormous significance when we deign to provide it to you.

Why Are Only the Opinions of Liberal, Anti-Bush "Terror Moms" Being Elicited on NBC? 

Over at NRO, Tim Graham wants to know. He also can't remember the families of Clinton's terror-victims being used as political surrogates.

Neither can we.

This whole fixation on the terror families is so creepy and opportunistic. Yes, they lost loved ones. As did our current Solicitor General, Ted Olsen.

If people who lose loved ones are to be entrusted with this nation's foreign policy, perhaps we should give Ted Olsen the triple-job of SecDef, SecState, and Director of Homeland Security?

Actually, that sounds like a great idea to us. We just wish they'd done so in the hours after 9-11. And we wish they'd have given him the launch-codes for the nukes, too.

Would Tim Russert sign on for that, we wonder?

We will endeavor to speak at great length about this at some later date. For now, you will need to content yourself with such crumbs of our wisdom as we have seen fit to allow you.

Jobless Claims at Three-Year Low 

Via Drudge:

WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of people filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level in more than three years, a promising sign that companies feel better about the economy's prospects and are less inclined to get rid of workers.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that new applications filed for jobless claims declined by a seasonally adjusted 14,000 to 328,000 for the week ending April 3. That marked the lowest level since Jan. 13, 2001.

The jobless claims figures were better than economists were expecting. They called for a slight decline from the previous week to around 340,000.

In case you're keeping track, they're lower than they were when President Clinton was in office.

New Feature! Pompous Josh Marshall style sign-off!

We shall be saying a great deal more about this later.

Sometime around five-ish.

Breaking News: Liberal Blogger Muses at DC-Area Starbucks 

As many of you know, I spend a good bit of time working at a Starbucks near my home in Dupont Circle in Washington, DC. -- Josh "Chris Dodd Who?" Marshall

We didn't know that. But if you'd asked us, and if we'd bothered to answer, we would have guessed that.

Not just because of the whole Starbucks cliche. But for purposes of ego-gratification.

He can sit there, sipping his vente double latte, imagining that everyone around is thinking, Ohmygoshgoodnessgracious, there's Joshua Micah Marshall, single-handedly saving the world in the same Starbucks I frequent! Gladys! Get the kids! They need to see this! They need to remember this!

It's actually a good idea. We'd like to blog from a place where our readers might see us.

Unfortunately, we can't, because all of our readers are at work.

Insinuate With Impunity 

In case you don't know, the New York Times has supposedly instituted a tough new corrections policy for columnists. For the first time, columnists will have to, get this, actually correct factual errors, misstatements, and outright lies they print. They'll have to actually announce and error and correct it in their next column (after the error is exposed).

We just noticed something. Paul Krugman, NYT columnist and professional paranoiac, strongly implied in his latest malevolent fantasia, Smear Without Fear,that CNN was lying when it retracted its story about the White House slamming the David Letterman comedy bit as misleading.

But on careful reading: He never actually says so.

There is no declarative sentence to that effect. Just hints, insinuations, and leading questions.

So we're curious: Is this how Paul Krugman intends to evade the new rule against proveable factual mistatements? He'll now merely insinuate clearly contrafactual conspiracy-theories where before he simply declared them?

No one can ask him to retract his claim that CNN itself was lying about its retraction, because he never actually made that claim. He just suggested it. Everyone knew precisely what he was saying, but he needn't defend his claim, because he was careful enough to not actually declare it.

Interesting. We must give him full marks for deviousness and cleverness, we suppose.

Is this what Gail Collins intended all along? Perhaps so. Perhaps not. We hope that Don Luskin and perhaps the useless Daniel Okrent will shed some light on the current policy.

UPDATE: Goodness Gracious, there remains an awful lot of loose shit at this blog.

It appears we have a partial answer to the questions posed above. Because, in his last column, Paul Krugman does seem to sorta-kinda retract his insinuations, right before re-insinuating them:

A Yawngate update: CNN called me to insist that despite what it first said, the administration really, truly wasn't responsible for the network's claim that David Letterman's embarrassing video of a Bush speech was a fake. I still don't understand why the network didn't deny White House involvement until it retracted the charge. But the main point of Friday's column was to highlight the way CNN facilitated crude administration smears of Richard Clarke.

The sneering "really, truly" gives it away, doesn't it?

But this might be as much as it is fair to ask for. Krugman is forced to acknowledge the factual record; if he then wants to suggest that "everyone's lying," we guess that's between him and his therapist.

So long as there is a presentation of the actual facts as normal, non-paranoid persons understand them.

Where did we get this update from?

Where else?

Today's Top Ten 

Last week, New York Times columnist and respected Princeton economist/goblin Paul Krugman seemed to flirt perilously close to the edge of insanity with a conspiratorial screed concocted over a twenty second bit on the David Letterman Show. He just hasn't been the same since the economy grew 8.1%.

The Ace of Spades HQ Department for Behavioral-Disorder Research has become increasingly concerned with Mr. Krugman's stability of late. They've been watching closely, and they've discovered some worrying signs.

Top Ten Signs Paul Krugman Has Lost His Freakin' Mind

10. Claims he's being "stalked" by Donald Luskin, Republican operatives, and that black guy from The Thompson Twins

9. Signs-off all correspondence with the creepy salutation, Yours Until the Faceless Ones Find Me

8. Has gots them "spooky-eyes"

7. Is very careful about collecting and incinerating all his hair- and nail- trimmings so that Paul Wolfowitz can't clone him and "pull the old Zell Miller special"

6. Is working on a "fascinating" new economic theory he calls "The Redrum Postulate"

5. Likes the Red Sox to go "all the way" this year

4. The last "column" he submitted to the Times was a sculpture of President Bush composed entirely of animal excrement and bloody dentistry tools

3. Claims to have an invisible friend named "Wiggy," a seven-foot-tall demonic rabbit who's very concerned about media consolidation

2. Keeps asking his friends when they'll make the sequel to A Beautiful Mind, in which John Nash sees through the lies of his "wife" and "psychiatrists" and finally tracks down those Russkie atomic bombs

...and the Number One Sign Paul Krugman Has Lost His Freakin' Mind...

1. Seems to be buying into his own bullshit


Fallujah: The Thugs' Miscalculation? 

With all the bad news, it's a welcome thing to have some optimistic commentary from the sober-minded Steven den Beste:

They have attempted to turn Falluja into an armed camp and will defend it against the eventual reoccupation by the Marines and by Iraqi troops working with them.

That decision is a blunder of the first order.

The primary goal of guerrilla action is to use control of initiative to select time and place for attacks against an enemy which is much more powerful, and then to fade away and hide. To give the enemy a stand-up fight permits the enemy to use his superior power, and that's the opportunith the insurgents in Falluja are permitting us.

That means there will be a lot of fighting in Falluja, and sadly it means that quite a few Marines will pay with their lives. But it also means that the opposition in Falluja has transformed itself from "political dissident" to "rebel". Now we can kill or capture the lot, root and branch.

The same thing goes for the concurrent uprising amongst the Shiites.

We hate the idea of more troops dying. There's no good side to that.

But these sorts of insane animals are going have to put down one way or another, whether or not we're in Iraq or not. We can't just let these people walk around, plotting mass-murder.

It's horrible. But part of war has always been trading the precious lives of heroes to accomplish a goal.

Wonkette: And Ari Fleisher's a Little "Sweet," Too! 

"* Ari Fleisher--charming, smart--gay rumors about him? [OK, you talked us into it . . . - Ed.] He comes from a Democrat family, became a Republican. . . . so perhaps he can go from gay to straight as well. [Not the most compelling evidence -- it's not like he calls men "pretty" -- but we'll take it. - Ed.]"

-- Wonkette

"And Karen Hughes is a cross-dresser!" (rough paraphrase)

-- Wonkette

Apparently she's been on this "You're a Homo!" kick for some time.

Why weren't we informed sooner? It's been years since we called someone a butt-pirate!

That's just been out there, sitting there collecting dust, because no one told us that calling someone that might be deemed "sharp and funny" [Lloyd Grove] or "fun" [Roll Call]!

Ace of Spades HQ

Now with 25% More Gay-Baiting Than Our Competition!*

*Among blogs in same class, according to latest test-track rankings by J.D. Powers & Associates. Gay-Baiting Content based upon trials involving factory-standard Ace of Spades HQ blog; other models and other configurations may result in less Gay-Baiting Content than expected.

Good Read from Arab News 

A man named Dr. Mohammad T. Al-Rasheed writes against Arab kings and in defense of American troops.

When we try to remind ourselves that it's not altogether foolish to hope for change in the Muslim world, this is the sort of person creating that hope:

For a people "without history," "politically naive," and other epithets thrown their way, the Americans have one thing solidly on their side: Decency. I'd exchange this historical freshness for anything solidly "historical" any day.

The reality is staring us in the face: Though military boots are heavy no matter what the context is, we are not dealing with Attila nor are we in the realm of Augustus Caesar. Not a single occupying army has ever declared soon after its victory the date of its departure. The Americans have. Just for the record, the Crusaders stayed for 200 years, the Mongols for nearly a century, and the Ottomans hung on for almost 500 years.

Meanwhile, while an insurrection rages in Iraq, and the Muslim world debates the possibilities of democratizing, Wonkette's keeping her eye on the real story, and that story is "ass-fucking."

al-Sadr: "What Kerry & Kennedy Said! Megadittoes!" 

A Small Victory wonders if al-Sadr's 527 committee is also now coordinating with John Kerry.


Anti-American Cleric Criticizes Iraq War.

No, it's not Jesse Jackson. Another anti-American cleric.

(We enjoyed that joke so much the first time we've decided to repeat it. Sue us.)

Coordinate with MoveOn? Moi??! 

Spot On makes a sideline circus-catch.

You all know that "independent" advocacy groups can't "coordinate" with political campaigns, right? Otherwise, they're not independent at all, and their spending must be charged against the politicians limits, and the normal rules of donating to a candidate apply.

The Kerry campaign swears it's not coordinating with MoveOn.

MoveOn swears it's not coordinating with the Kerry campaign.

But, oh, by the way, and completely coincidentally, the Kerry campaign just hired the on-line chief for MoveOn.

Since Kerry became the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee in early March, the MoveOn PAC has spent more than $2.5 million on TV ads that attack President Bush.

But under the new campaign-finance law, those efforts cannot be coordinated with the Kerry campaign.

A MoveOn statement said Exley and the staff of all MoveOn entities have agreed that they will not be in contact through the election period to avoid the appearance of coordination, "even though federal election rules permit some forms of communication."

Oh, well. So long as they issued a statement. Then we've got no complaints.

A New Contest! The Inaugural Ace of Spades/Wonkette "We're Not the Homos, You're the Homos!" Awards 

Wonkette has really opened our eyes to the limitless possibilities of this whole gay-slur thing.

For years, we've labored under the misperception that calling opponents "gay" was bad for several reasons.

For one, it's too cheap and easy.

For another, it denigrates gays by suggesting that, contra Seinfeld, maybe there is something wrong with being gay after all.

And for another, such 'mo-calling would seem to violate, at least to a non-trivial extent, the general consensus the country has reached that private sexual behavior should generally remain off-limits as far as polite discourse.

But Wonkette's polls -- asking for the most "gay-seeming" or "most likely bush-licking" Republicans -- have shown us the error of our thinking.

Wonkette's brave and bold polls have convinced us that gay-baiting is socially acceptable again!

To which we here at Ace of Spades HQ can only say, "It's about fucking time."

Thus, a contest/poll. Don't worry; we're not going to do another weekend-long marathon award ceremony. Just two posts, one each for male and female entrants.

Nominate who you think is the gayest-seeming liberal/reporter/Kerry-supporter/Democratic poll or hack in either category! We'll collate the results and add our own scientific analyses to determine the winners!

Remember, like Wonkette, we're not actually saying any of these people are gay! Far from it! That could be construed as de facto slander or libel! We're just saying, hey, maybe they seem like they wouldn't necessarily feel uncomfortable at a Liz Phair Fans Meet-Up!

Don't bother naming Oliver Willis. He's plainly not gay. Besides, we're getting more traffic than he is now, and, as several of his sycophants noted, we wouldn't want to throw traffic to such a small-potatoes blog.

Try to only post when you have a new nominee, or when you want to second (or third!) the nominations for multiple previous nominees. Because, let's face it, if everyone who thinks that maybe Chris Lehane dances a little too vigorously to Yaz's I Just Can't Get Enough comments "Good call on Lehane," we're not only going to blow the bandwidth max for our Haloscan account, we might just take down the entire internet for a day.
(Suggestion suspended! Comment away!)

When we announce the awards, we'll do so in various "funny" categories that play upon long-standing, hateful gay slurs! Because, as Wonkette's demonstrated, it's fun to do that!

And our awards will be called the "Wonkies," or "Golden Snark Prizes," at least until we think of something better.

So get at it! Gays have had it too good for too long! It's about time we all showed them what's what!

And remember-- none of this is actually homophobic or hateful! How can you tell?! Because we always end every sentence with an exclamation point! Sometimes several!!! Exclamation points = harmless cheeky snarking!!!

Nominations accepted in the posts below!

Male Nominees: Liberal Men Who Just Might Know the Names of Both of the Pet Shop Boys (James Lileks excluded-- married, and also not liberal) 

What fun!

Remember-- don't say "Oliver Willis." Not gay.

Female Nominees: Liberal Women Who Just Might Have an Intuitive Understanding of Basic Carpentry 

Nominate away!

Wonkette Accuses Republican Women of Being Lesbian; Invents Stunning New Pun on Name "Bush" 

"Bushies loving Bushies."

We just about fell out of our chairs when she hit us with an out-of-left field pun on "Bush:" Now, tell us who seems like she should be licking bush as well as liking him!

Licking Bush! How does she come up with this stuff? We're laughing so hard our eyeballs are rupturing! Goodness gracious, we haven't laughed this hard since Gallagher 9: Sledge-o-Matic! For this sort of pure comedic innovation, we usually have to turn to the third panel of Garfield, for the daily "I love lasagna" chuckle-fest!

We're just kinda curious: What precisely is the rule on suggesting that political enemies are homos? We know that conservatives aren't supposed to do so. Is there some special dispensation allowing liberals to do so?

Is it that when liberals do it, it's "cheeky" and "fun," whereas if, for example, we suggested that maybe the only things keeping Josh Marshall in his shoes are his tightly-tied laces, we're slandering him and engaging in nasty gay slurs?

By the way, we're not actually saying that. We actually don't find it funny to actually just call someone gay. We're just curious about the response if we did say that.

We also don't think Marshall is actually gay. For starters, he's just too fat. No gay guy would walk around with a dumper like that.

Memo to Wonkette: Humor is more than saying "ass-fucking" and "licking Bush." There sort of has to be a joke in there somewhere, a take. A point, if you will.

Update! We think we've discovered the key to Wonkette's "jokes." She thinks that if she slaps an exclamation point at the end of sentence about sodomy, like this

I loves me some sodomy!

it converts what would normally be thought of as a mere declarative statement into a "joke" or a "witty pun."

Does it work?

Let's find out.

I think some Republicans might be queeries.

Not funny. Actually, it seems a little homophobic. But when said this way...

I think some Republicans might be queeries!!!'s got a little "pep" to it! A little "zing"! You can almost hear the rim-shot!

But that was too easy-- that involved calling a political opponent a homo. Does it work in other contexts?

Does it ever!

This sentence is not funny:

I need to go to the Post Office to inquire about airmail rates for perishable goods.

But this sentence is very funny indeed:

I need to go to the Post Office to inquire about airmail rates for perishable goods!!!

All right! Now we've got a bit of a smile on our faces! Punctuation is funny!!!

Thanks, Wonkette! You've really opened our eyes!

Josh Marshall: Partisan Hump 

Spoons says he almost didn't post this, as finding hypocrisy in a partisan liberal is approximately as difficult as finding a dog with a grudge against squirrels.

But he did, so we'll link: Josh Marshall, who went into full liberal feeding-frenzy mode over Lott's comments about Strom Thurmond, hasn't even mentioned Chris Dodd's praise of former KKK Kleagle Robert Byrd as a great senator to have around during the Civil War.

We're sure he just sort of missed the news. We expect 24/7 coverage coming shortly, each post ended by his typical pompous "I shall be saying things of enormous import about this later" tease.

m/35 cyber?

i am wearing nothing but a t-shirt and an "impeach bush" thong

i have marshmellow fluff smeared on my dirty bits

i will have a great deal more to say about this later.
you do not want to miss my next breathless update.
markets soar and crash and cities tumble into the
sea based upon my scary-important postings...

A Small Smile Amdist the Carnage: Asinine Poetry 

"Do you like poetry?" Boston Irish asks. "Neither do we."

He's found a site called Asinine Poetry where people post their stupidest poems. The sad thing is, of course, that these poems are largely indistinguishable from most real poetry.

How is "Ode to Mes Boobies" any different than the typical Karen Finley screed? For that matter, how is it less a work of art than the ludicrous "confessional play" The Vagina Monologues?

We kinda like "Ode to Mes Boobies." It's got a catchy meter and we really "get" the imagery.

Kaplan: America's Low-Tolerance for Casualties a "Myth" 

Maybe so.

But one thing we seem to have too low a tolerance for -- at least under the past three presidents -- is for enemy casualties.

We think Bush is a good President and a good war-leader. But we can't help but think he's a little bit too into the "Christian mercy" thing. How many of our boys have to die in exchange for fewer foreign enemy or civilian casualties? Personally, we'd trade at least a thousand civilian casualties for one more American boy coming home. It's not that we hate foreign civilians; it's just that we love our boys all that much more.

And when it comes to enemy casualties-- well, forget about it.

The odd thing is that liberals, of course, are constantly whining about collateral damage, and even about enemy fighters killed in battle. (Remember all the geschreien over the "murder" of Saddam's sons? No remembering is actually needed, since they're still whining about it.) So they should appreciate this aspect of Bush; but of course they don't.

As conservatives, we're frustrated by Bush's impulse to make nice-nice. So far, it's bought us no goodwill at all, but only defeats and dead American soldiers. The Islamists and opportunistic thugs in league with them do not see mercy as a sign of goodwill, but only of weakness and decadence.

We keep hoping Bush learns this lesson; maybe he finally will after the latest carnage.

But probably not.

Help a Blogger Out 

Well, we tried. Our enormous Research Department took the day off (damn them), leaving us to fend for ourselves.

We're searching for John Kerry's remarks about the anti-abortion-doctor websites which showed mock-up posters of abortionists with the caption "Wanted: Dead or Alive." The websites were deemed to consititute an unlawful incitement to violence against such doctors.

Obviously, we'd like to compare John Kerry's views on outlawing incitement against abortionists in America with his rather more expansive notion of the First Amendment as it applies in a foreign country during a time of war and when such incitement is directed not against abortion doctors, but against American soldiers.

We've crapped out. If y'all can help a blogger out, we'd appreciate it.

John Kerry: al-Sadr Is a "Legitimate Voice" 


He should start advertising on Daily Kos again. They have the same general belief system.

Bombs Drop on Fallujah Mosque, Killing 40+ 

To which we say, "Good."

It's about time. We're sick of having to walk on eggshells around Arabs and Muslims when we're at war with them. It's about time Bush let these people know he was deadly serious. No Happy Break during Ramadan, no sanctuary in mosques. Those "rules" are out the window.

Who the hell made these rules up? And which President first acceded to these ludicrous rules?

We have a feeling it's the Saudis who are most eager to press these rules on us, asking for these "minor" tributes to Islam in exchange for their "support."

Germans Release 9-11 Suspect on Claim of Legal Technicality 

Boy, the Germans suddenly are bears for legalities, ay?

This wouldn't be anything like their response to the 1972 Munich massacres, where they arranged with the PLO for the PLO to "hijack" a plane, so that Germany would have pretext for releasing the terrorist murderers, now would it?

The Europeans really know how to look out for themselves, don't they? A great asset to have in an ally-- the single-minded ability to ruthlessly look out for one's own interest.

Ministry of Silly Links 

Dorff on Towing

This video, which we found on Longshanks' Skewed Values System website, is painful to watch.

First it's kind of boring, and you'll want to stop playing it. Then something minor happens, and you'll say, "Oh, there's the big payoff, that must be the whole deal, I'm going to stop watching this boring video now."

Don't do that. Don't stop watching. It may not be Anka-level quality, but it's worth it.

Hello Cthulu

Kind of like Hello Kitty, but with a Great Old One. Via Texas Best Grok.


Speaking of Qatar... 

"They say" they're holding Saddam there, at a US military base.

Thanks to Nick Kronos.

Fun With Liberal Hypocrisy 

Crooooow's found something delicious-- a two-year-old Newsmax article with a great quote.

Who said it?

"If a Democratic leader had made [Lott's] statements, we would have to call for his stepping aside, without any question whatsoever."

Could it possibly be Chris Dodd, he of "Kleagle Byrd would have been a great Senator during the Civil War" fame?

Does anyone expect Dodd to renounce his various leadership duties "without any question whatsoever"?

Crooooow's got lots of background, including a transcript of Dodd's Sympathy for the Klansman:

It has often been said that the man and the moment come together. I do not think it is an exaggeration at all to say to my friend from West Virginia that he would have been a great Senator at any moment. Some were right for the time. ROBERT C. BYRD, in my view, would have been right at any time. He would have been right at the founding of this country. He would have been in the leadership crafting this Constitution. He would have been right during the great conflict of civil war in this Nation. He would have been right at the great moments of international threat we faced in the 20th century. I cannot think of a single moment in this Nation's 220-plus year history where he would not have been a valuable asset to this country. Certainly today that is not any less true.

SkyNews Correction: "130 dead troops" Report Apparently Just a Media Fantasy 

SkyNews corrects 130 to 12, blaming those age-old journalistic gremlins, "earlier reports." Still a heartbreakingly large number.

Thanks to AllahPundit, who's finding recent news difficult to joke about. We hear you.

Ruler of Qatar: Problems in Arab World Largely of Our Own Making; It's Time to Stop Blaming Everything on the Israel/Palestinian Situation 

"Honesty obliges us to stress that the wrath in our region does not spring only from the Palestinian cause but goes deeper and is due to problems of our own creation that have nothing to do with the outside world - problems that we allowed to grow unremedied and unchecked," Shaikh Hamad said.

More at Rusty Shackleford/My Pet Jawa, who we've really been remiss in not linking.

By the way, in case you don't know, Qatar is cause for great hope. After overthrowing his father, the current ruler has embarked on a determined modernization effort and is attempting to move the nation into the 21st century by royal decree. 60 Minutes did a great piece on him-- in almost all areas, from learning/funding universities, to women's rights, to encouraging entrepreneurship and individual initiative, to basic civil rights, he's a legitimate hero.

We're sure there's stuff he's doing that wouldn't endorse. Still, when they talk about "benovolent tyrants," it would seem this is the cat they're talking about.

Yeah, Al Jazeera is based in Qatar. But that would seem more like the US tolerating lots of free speech it doesn't like.

"If We Don't Immediately Enact My Preferred Liberal/Libertarian Social Agenda, Then the Terrorists Have Won" 

Once again, Instapundit cynically uses the War on Terror as a pretext for suspending all the social-conservative laws he doesn't like.

Drugs? How can we fight illegal drugs? Doesn't Bush know there's a war on terror?

Porn? How can we control porn? Doesn't Bush know there's a war on terror?

Nanotech? Why isn't Bush funding nanotech? Doesn't Bush know there's a war on terror?

You know, two years ago the construction "If we don't X, then the terrorists will have won" was a cliched joke.

For Instapundit, and other cynical libertarians, it's a political tactic.

Hey, Instapundit, do us a favor: Write us down a little list of all the laws you don't like and all the policies you disagree with so we know which ones we have to change to fight the War on Terror.

If it's a matter of resources, Instapundit, we could also free up lots of resources by ending welfare, ending Affirmative Action enforcement, ending environmental enforcement, etc. Hell, we could also stop subsidizing universities, like the one you work at.

Why is it that it's only the laws/policies you already didn't like that need to be suspended or changed in order to free up resources for the War on Terror?

Troop-Supportin' Gary Sinise to Star in CSI: New York 

We missed this when it came out, but Gary Sinise -- a hell of an actor, and a tireless supporter of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and everywhere else -- will take the lead in the third entrant in the burgeoning CSI franchise.

We're not sure of the man's exact politics, but who cares? If this is a liberal, let us have more such liberals.

CNN says he'll earn $120-150,000 per episode. Not a bad little salary, and that's before re-negotiation and residuals.

Memo to Sinise: You need another Who song for this show's credits. Can we suggest See Me, Hear Me, Touch Me, Feel Me?

Ultimatum Delivered to Pakistan: You Hunt Down Al Qaeda, or We Will 

A source we're not familiar with, but seems to have the indices of genuineness:

We have told the Pakistani leadership that either they must solve this problem or we will have to do it for ourselves," said Zalmay Khalilzad, also the special presidential envoy in Kabul. Khalilzad said the US-led coalition was prepared to help Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.

We prefer that Pakistan takes responsibility, and the Pakistani government agrees," he said. "However, one way or the other, this problem will have to be dealt with," he added.

Only last month Khalilzad angered Pakistan by charging that Taliban and al-Qaeda fugitives were launching attacks into Afghanistan from Pakistani soil. He said that although Pakistan's recent army deployment into tribal areas to destroy Taliban sanctuaries along the Afghan border was "positive and hopeful," the Taliban and other extremist groups continued to be able "to base, train and operate from that country's territory." "We cannot allow this problem to fester indefinitely," he said.

Confirmation: The UK Telegraph reports the same. The US is threatening to go after terrorist sanctuaries.

Laura Ingraham: Why is Media Silent About Senator Chris Dodd's Praise of Ku-Klux-Klan-Kleagle Robert Byrd? 

"You would have been a great Senator at any moment... you would have been a great senator at the founding of the country, right during the Civil War [emphasis added]..."

Chris Dodd gushes over how nice it would have been to have Kleagle Byrd as a senator during the War to End Slavery. But oddly enough, there's no outcry from the liberal media.

Or Andrew Sullivan, even.

Here's the cached page of Laura Ingraham's website.

FoxNews is on the story, too. Developing, as the man says.

Correction! Allah, Who Sees All, apparently including Andrew Sullivan's blog, informs us in the comments that he actually did refer to this a couple of days ago.

Not exactly the white-hot intensity nor single-minded pursuit he gave to Trent Lott, but okay. He mentioned it.

Which means it's time for an Andrew Sullivan rowback:

We were reminded today that Sullivan did in fact mention this. Yes, the mention is old and without any follow-up or heat, but his mention remains as fresh now as it ever was.

al-Sadr Hailed by Liberals as "Moderate Centrist" 

AllahPundit has a sneak-preview tomorrow's New York Times cover, and a round-up of stories about the fierce fighting.

Ministry of Silly Links 

It's a bad day. Here's something to smile at a little.

We've never understood the Germans' passion for a A) genocidal maniacs or B) David Hasselhoff.

All right, now we get the David Hasselhoff thing.

At least one mystery solved.

Up to 12 Marines Killed in Ambush; Unconfirmed claim: 130 Troops Killed in Fierce Fighting 

This report says that up to 12 Marines were killed in a Ramadi ambush.

This article makes the heartbreaking claim -- an unconfirmed one, to be sure -- that 130 troops have died in recent days fighting the madman's insurrection.

The thing is, of course, that we could kill tens of thousands of these bastards at a clip if we played by the same rules they do.

We're beginning to wonder that maybe it's about time we started doing so.

Update/Correction: SkyNews retracts "130 dead" figure. See more above.

Paul Krugman Schizophrenia Alert System Elevated from "Spitting Snit" to "Rabid Frothing" 

We just couldn't believe the descent into malevolent insanity Paul Krugman took with last Friday's redonculous column. We would have blogged it, but the whole thing was so goddamned stupid, trivial, moronic and crazy that we passed on the chance.

Let's just sum up: CNN erroneously reported that the White House had complained about a silly perfectly-harmless twenty-second bit on the frigging Dave Letterman show, saying the White House complained the footage was misleadingly edited.

Letterman exploded over the charge. CNN later retracted, saying that the White House hadn't complained at all, and that the anchorwoman simply "mispoke."

Paul Krugman takes this triviality -- in which the White House is, according to CNN, fully blameless for the contretemps -- and spins it into perhaps the most flat-out insane conspiracy-mongering column he's written yet.

Donald Luskin finds the internal fortitude to respond.

God bless him.

Krugman has crossed the line from "nasty crank" to "batshit crazy." And we're not using our words inadvisedly-- we're making the call right now. Within a few years, this asshole is going to be actually diagnosed.

A Paul Krugman Haiku

Can you hear

the frenzied colors of my mind?

I can smell your nightmares.

Our "Kent Brockman Moment" 

I think it's clear about 24 hours later that this was sort of a Kent Brockman moment for Sullivan.

Except instead of taking down the "Welcome Ants!" sign, he's just pretending it didn't happen.
-- Comment from DTLV

DTLV is nice enough to phrase this as a slam on Sullivan, but it also applies equally to us. We had a loss of nerve yesterday. We got a little panicky over that breathless you-are-there account from Healing Iraq, and we thought that Sistani had silently endorsed, or even ordered, the insurrection.

Amir Taheri provides some perspective (via Insta-Man). Although there are reports that al-Sadr forces have "taken over" Najaf, it seems that this madman's riot is not being supported by Iraqis generally.

The casualties we suffered were still grievous. 11 G.I.'s and a couple of foreign troops, dead, just because this bestial thug wanted to position himself as Head Maniac in Charge after the transfer of sovereignty.

We're not out of the woods yet. And we may not even go ahead with the June 30th transfer of power -- the ever-vigilant Mickey Kaus catches Bush using weasel-words about the firmness of that date. Which may mean more months of our brave heroes being away from home and under fire.

We went a bit wobbly yesterday, and we regret that now. We're less and less enthused about helping the Iraqis, but we suppose we have to fight on so long as the majority of Iraqis yearn for freedom and democracy. Iraq is perhaps the world's last chance to reform the Arab world and take it off the glide path to self-willed destruction.

Dick Morris: Kerry's All Done 

We really don't like quoting Dick Morris, because he's either just a really bad prognosticator, or else he's deliberately giving the right goofily-optimistic predictions in order to remain popular amongst them. The man's track record is worse than ours.

That said, Morris has been saying for months that Bush needed to run nonstop negative ads on John Kerry, and that doing so would drive his popularity way down, even into "unelectable" territory. Early evidence is that maybe, maybe, ol' Dick got one right for a change.

He gloats a bit in this column, which is something we can understand. He writes:

The conventional wisdom has been that the contest between Bush and Kerry will be very close. But the evidence is mounting that it may not be. Consider what Bush has going for him:

* With gas prices at record heights, Kerry is on the spot because of his advocacy of a higher gas tax. Voters know that the president can't control oil prices, but they sure know he can raise or lower taxes.

* The recent economic-growth and job-creation data is pulling the rug out from under Kerry inch by inch. A few more months like March, and his entire campaign theme will be made moot.

* More and more voters are becoming convinced that Kerry would raise their taxes. His promises to confine tax hikes to the rich are about as credible as an alcoholic's pledge only to drink at night. Once they start raising taxes, voters figure, they can't stop themselves.

* It is evident that Kerry has no effective answer for Bush's charge that he would undermine homeland security. With the national focus shifting more and more to terrorism and away from the fading recession, Bush's lead becomes ever more daunting.

It's something to consider.

Europe "has sold itself and sells itself to the enemy like a prostitute"  

"Controversial" Italian author Oriana Fallaci -- and, as you might know, "controversial" means "right-leaning," because only rightish opinions are "controversial" -- has publsihed another book accusing Europe of cowardice in the face of barbarism and benightedness.

"Europe becomes more and more a province of Islam, a colony of Islam. And Italy is an outpost of that province, a stronghold of that colony," her book, The Strength of Reason, charges. "In each of our cities lies a second city: a Muslim city, a city run by the Quran. A stage in the Islamic expansionism."

Calling Europe "Eurabia," she writes of a new "invasion," not just by "terrorists who blow up themselves along with skyscrapers or buses" but also by "the immigrants who settle in our home, and who, with no respect for our laws, impose their ideas, their customs, their God."

A Canadian General Blames the US for Rwandan Genocide 

Our feelings on this are complicated. We enjoy needling the Clinton Administration for deliberately lying about the situation in Rwanda in order to avoid the need for intervention. We enjoy that, because it puts lie to liberals' whines about the "multilateral action" and "humanitarian intervention."

That said, we can't say we actually fault the Clinton Administration too much for not doing anything about Rwanda. Face it: It wasn't our fight. We had nothing at all to gain from getting involved in Rwanda, which is of course the real reason we didn't intervene. We'd just like it if liberals were forthright about admitting that, rather than constantly claiming that the US can only act when it has nothing to gain.

But what rankles us is that shell-shocked Canadian General, which rank was probably conferred on him, we think, because he owned his own gun and boots, is blaming the "West" for the Rwandan genocide. And lest you think he includes Canada in the "West," he specifically says:

"It's up to Rwanda not to let others forget they are criminally responsible for the genocide," he said, singling out France, Britain and the United States.

It is. To laugh. Hey, Canada, why didn't you do something about Rwanda? Why didn't you use some of your vaunted, self-praised "soft-power" to do the job?

These people-- they spend nothing on their own armies, and then expect the US to use its precious soldiers to handle all the tough jobs these socialist welfare-queens are too selfish and cowardly to do themselves.

We've said it before, we'll say it again: Europe and Canada act and speak as if they believe they are honorary American citizens -- first class citizens, actually, as opposed to us second-raters who merely live here -- and are thus entitled to order our armies hither and thither as they see fit.

Thanks to MsIt, who brought this to our attention at The Perfect World.

Update: Florida Cracker tells us that this shell-shocked dickface just happens to be making these charges amidst a book-tour. The CNN article didn't mention that.

So who are we to believe? Florida Cracker or CNN?


Today's Apolitical Top Ten 

We've always been big fans of David Letterman, but we can't help noticing he seems listless and low-energy these days. He's bored with the show, bored with the format, and bored with himself. He just doesn't seem to be having fun anymore, and so he just phones it in on a nightly basis.

We've picked up on the tell-tale clues, and we now share them with you.

...from the Home Office in Pocatella, Idaho...

Top Ten Signs That David Letterman's Heart Just Isn't In It Anymore

10. Recent Stupid Pet Tricks include "Sit," "Shake hands," and "Hump the Leg"

9. Has become so jaded he demands that at least one guest per show get up on his desk and perform a striptease; last week's show with Nathan Lane was particularly uncomfortable

8. Old Letterman comedy staple: puckish irony; New Letterman comedy staple: nonstop racial slurs

7. To amuse himself during interviews, has begun playing drinking games; drinks when someone calls a director "generous," chugs when someone says "This script really spoke to me"

6. Wardrobe for show has degenerated into nothing but baggy sweatpants and "Who Farted?" T-shirts

5. Features a new twenty-minute segment in middle of every show called "Dave's Quiet Time," in which audience members are asked to "pursue independent reading" or "engage in quiet group-study"

4. Questions to celebrity guests sound suspiciously similar to clues to the day's New York Times crossword puzzle

3. Last Thursday's "show" was nothing but a taped teleconference with his tax lawyers, interspersed with "wacky" sound effects and still photos of Larry "Bud" Melman

2. Standard end-of-show sign-off, "You've been great! Drive safely!" replaced with ominous-sounding "Another hour nearer the sweet embrace of blissful death"

... and the Number One Sign That David Letterman's Heart Just Isn't In It Anymore...

1. He's "really looking forward to" his next-scheduled bout of pink-eye

Kudlow: I Got Yer Jobs Right Here 

As we said, the jobless recovery just jumped the shark:

What's more, for this year's first quarter, 513,000 new jobs were created, with the Labor Department acknowledging significant upward revisions for the prior two months. At this pace, roughly 2 million new jobs could appear in 2004, a number certainly within shouting distance of the 2.6 million new jobs originally predicted by chief Bush economist Greg Mankiw. The administration walked away from this projection, but it should have kept its nerve.

.... If this employment trend continues, the level of nonfarm payrolls will reach 132.1 million by the end of 2004 and 134.6 million by the end of 2005. Respectively, that equates to 2.1 million new jobs this year and 2.5 million in 2005. The nonpartisan career staff at the Bureau of Labor Statistics has already forecasted 20 million new jobs by 2012.

Our Prayers With Our Boys 

Tough days in Iraq.

1) Kill this cocksucker al-Sadr and bring his heart home in a box,

2) Bring yourselves home, too.


Today Is the Annivesary of Kurt Cobain's Suicide 

He chose... wisely.

Forty years from now, our grandchildren will be asking us, "Pop-pop, tell us of the days of Kurt Cobain. Tell us how he convinced actor James Woods to get sex-reassignment surgery and then marry him."

The younger generation won't ever understand this, but there was a time, oh, round 1993 or so, when people actually thought this walking bedsore was kinda hot.

We guess you had to be there.

Kids-- don't do smack.

Kerry Family Made Big Money On... Oil 

Yeahp, Oil, the black blood of human greed.

This comes from a blog called Note-It Posts, which is the innovator of something called

Why weren't we immediately informed about this?

Hulk Smash Economic Malaise! Hulk Pound Political Distemper! 

In case you haven't seen it, Meryl Yourish regularly takes everyday problems and provides us with Hulk solutions.

On the other hand, there's Fallujah, where such delicate handling would not be effective.

An Open Haiku-Cycle to Truth Laid Bear 

Truth Laid Bear, why are
you always shorting us on
our traffic? Update.

We're sick of being
Flappy Birds. Our Site-Meter
button works. Use it.

Do you want us to
hire Vinny Falcone to
ride you? Well do you?

That's Your Election Right There (Maybe): 12 of 17 Battleground States Have Unemployment Below or Well Below Nat'l Avg 

Via Right Wing News' amazing sidebar, this Washington Times piece.

We've been wondering about this for months. Yes yes, the media is always happy to let us know that Republican-leaning Ohio is hurting on the jobs front; but what about the other 16 swing states?

Democrats, led by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, have been relentlessly pounding Mr. Bush for the economy's nearly 6 percent unemployment rate and for presiding over "a jobless recovery." However, an examination of the battleground states shows that a surprisingly large number of them had relatively tame jobless rates within the 4 percent to 5 percent range — numbers that most economists define as full employment.
The states with unemployment rates in the 4 percent range include: Florida, 4.6 percent; Iowa, 4.1 percent; Minnesota, 4.7 percent; Nevada, 4.4 percent; and New Hampshire, 4.2 percent.

Did anyone else know this? Why is the media so shy about reporting these figures?

Those are pretty damn nice unemployment figures. Based on those figures, Iowa or Minnesota could easily swing Republican.

States within the 5 percent range include: Arizona, 5.3 percent; Arkansas, 5.5 percent; Maine, 5 percent; Missouri, 5.1 percent; New Mexico, 5.6 percent; Ohio, 5.9 percent; Pennsylvania, 5.1 percent; West Virginia, 5.4 percent; and Wisconsin, 5.2 percent.

Ohio we knew about-- bad news there. But Wisconsin 5.2%? That's not amazing, but it's solid.

Only three big battleground states exceeded the current 5.7 percent national average: Michigan, 6.6 percent; Oregon, 7.1 percent; and Washington 6.1 percent.

Ah. We understand that Kerry 51%-Bush 41% Michigan poll better, now.

Write off all three.

Polls: Kerry Up in Michigan; Bush Up in Florida 

Survey USA (first poll): The Pandering Princeling 51%, Bush 41%.

Mason-Dixon Poll: Bush 51%, The Pandering Princeling 43%.

Nice. Michigan is a wanna, not a gotta. Florida is a gotta, and we've got it.

Ohio is also a gotta, of course, but we can swap in a Pennsylvania if necessary.

Another Record: Business Confidence at 20-Year High; Hiring Outlook Best Since Records Were Kept 

Let's see them try to pin this one on Bush.

Wait a tic. We guess we want them to "pin this" on Bush. But we guess this one they'll instead credit to Al Gore's 1995 "Reinventing Government" program.

Confidence among US business leaders is stronger than it has been for 20 years, according to a long-running measure of boardroom attitudes, as rising profits finally encourage companies to start hiring.

The quarterly survey by the Conference Board confirms last week's official employment data suggesting concerns about a jobless recovery may be waning.

In recent quarters, companies have been wary of hiring staff, preferring to make greater use of existing capacity, but continued growth and record profitability appears to be convincing managers that productivity improvements alone may not be enough to meet rising demand.

Half the chief executives who responded to the Conference Board's lastest poll said they expected employment in their industry to rise, compared with just 12 per cent who predicted a fall - the most optimistic response on jobs since the research group began its analysis in 1976.

Overall confidence levels about the economy are the highest since 1983, with more than three quarters of CEOs expecting continued growth over the next six months.

Pink Flamingos: Terror "Links" Are Enough For War 

Thank goodness someone else said it, because we were beginning to go out of our heads.

Ever notice that liberals, and the media (redudancy watch), are forever claiming that there are "no links" between Saddam and terrorism, and then, when challenged, they walk that back to "no operational-level linkage between Saddam and Al Qaeda"?

When the hell did that get voted on as the bar for military action?

We've had it with that crap. Call liberals and their media booster-club over this dishonest soft-shoe. Make them say, forthrightly, that they do not believe that "mere" links to terrorism against the US constitute an act of war, and that the US should not militarily attack a nation that engages in "mere" low-level "contacts" with Al Qaeda and "merely" funds and shelters the like of Abu Abbas and Abu Nidal.

And let them run on that platform.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson Calls on United Nations to Sanction US Government & Military for Committing "All Those Murders" in Iraq 

Boston Irish is on the job.

And here we were lecturing the Iraqis about putting political power into the hands of an ignorant, hateful cleric.

Victor David Hanson's Had Just About Enough, Too 


No, there is something peculiar to the Middle East that worries the world. The Arab world for years has promulgated a quite successful media image as perennial victims--proud folks, suffering under a series of foreign burdens, while nobly maintaining their grace and hospitality. Middle-Eastern Studies programs in the United States and Europe published an array of mostly dishonest accounts of Western culpability, sometimes Marxist, sometimes anti-Semitic that were found to be useful intellectual architecture for the edifice of panArabism, as if Palestinians or Iraqis shared the same oppressions, the same hopes, and the same ideals as downtrodden American people of color--part of a universal "other" deserving victim status and its attendant blanket moral exculpation. But the curtain has been lifted since 9-11 and the picture we see hourly now is not pretty.


And then there is the asymmetry of it all. Walk in hushed tones by a mosque in Iraq, yet storm and desecrate the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank with impunity. Blow up and assassinate Westerners with unconcern; yet scream that Muslims are being questioned about immigration status in New York. Damn the West as you try to immigrate there; try to give the Middle East a fair shake while you prefer never to visit such a place. Threaten with death and fatwa any speaker or writer who "impugns" Islam, demand from Western intellectuals condemnation of any Christians who speak blasphemously of the Koran.


Yet it is not just the violence, the boring threats, the constant televised hatred, the temper-tantrums of fake intellectuals on televisions, the hypocrisy of anti-Western Arabs haranguing America and Europe from London or Boston, or even the pathetic shouting and fist-shaking of the ubiquitous Arab street. Rather the global village is beginning to see that the violence of the Middle East is not aberrant, but logical. Its misery is not a result of exploitation or colonialism, but self-induced. Its fundamentalism is not akin to that of reactionary Hinduism, Buddhism, or Christianity, but of an altogether different and much fouler brand.

The enemy of the Middle East is not the West so much as modernism itself and the humiliation that accrues when millions themselves are nursed by fantasies, hypocrisies, and conspiracies to explain their own failures. Quite simply, any society in which citizens owe their allegiance to the tribe rather than the nation, do not believe in democracy enough to institute it, shun female intellectual contributions, allow polygamy, insist on patriarchy, institutionalize religious persecution, ignore family planning, expect endemic corruption, tolerate honor killings, see no need to vote, and define knowledge as mastery of the Koran is deeply pathological.

When one adds to this depressing calculus that for all the protestations of Arab nationalism, Islamic purity and superiority, and whining about a decadent West, the entire region is infected with a burning desire for things Western--from cell phones and computers to videos and dialysis, you have all the ingredients for utter disaster and chaos. How after all in polite conversation can you explain to an Arab intellectual that the GDP of Jordan or Morocco has something to do with an array of men in the early afternoon stuffed into coffee shops spinning conspiracy tales, drinking coffee, and playing board games while Japanese, Germans, Chinese, and American women and men are into their sixth hour on the job? Or how do you explain that while Taiwanese are studying logarithms, Pakistanis are chanting from the Koran in Dark-Age madrassas? And how do you politely point out that while the New York Times and Guardian chastise their own elected officials, the Arab news in Damascus or Cairo is free only to do the same to us?


If we are to try to bring some good to the Middle East, then we must first have the intellectual courage to confess that for the most part the pathologies embedded there are not merely the work of corrupt leaders but often the very people who put them in place and allowed them to continue their ruin.

So the question remains did Saddam create Fallujah or Fallujah Saddam?

We don't wish to be defeatists. Bush's political fate is to a large extent coincident with Iraq's, and trust us, we do care about Bush's political fate.

And, to a lesser extent, Iraq's.

But while it was good and bold rhetoric to say that the fate of the Arab world is not necessarily despotism, murder, misery, and backwardness, the early evidence is that that rhetoric was wrong. Badly wrong.

We hope that Iraqis understand their choices, and what the consequences are likely to be. It won't be pretty. But if they choose chaos and murder and destruction and another 100 years of humiliating failure, that is, ultimately, their own choice.

Although we're quite sure they will, as usual, find a way to blame their own failure on others, namely, Jews and Westerners.

One would hope that, after a 1000 years, the Arab spirit begins to long for more than scapegoats for failure, and perhaps begins to actually yearn for success.

But if not, so be it. We tried.

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