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February 28, 2003

Okay, then

Just updated my blogroll again. This could be a bad thing, knowing how to edit the site. I'm afraid Andrea's right - it's an addiction. Next thing you know, there'll be daily changes...

We'll hope not. Don't hesitate to send me infuriated emails yelling WILL YOU STOP IT ALREADY!

That's probably it for now, though. You hope.

(And for all of those panting to increase my 2003 blog profit margin from zero to anything else, I also put back the Amazon and Paypal buttons [shockingly, actually at the request of a reader]. FYI, Paypal takes out less as its cut. I also have an Amazon wishlist. And my birthday is August. However, just so you know, I do now have lightbulbs. But thanks for the thought.)

Posted by susanna at 11:52 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A principled man

Keith Olbermann is a commentator on WABC radio who's career is mainly in sports coverage, but whose Speaking of Everything radio monologues often branch out into the news of the day. Today the two merged.

Last December, the NY Post gossip column, Page Six, coyly suggested that baseball great Sandy Koufax is gay and doesn't want people to know. It's caused quite a stir, and finally last week Koufax ended his 48 year association with the Dodgers because Rupert Murdoch, who owns the NY Post, also owns the Dodgers. On February 22, the Page Six column ran an apology - a rarity in any newspaper. Here's are details from a NY Daily News article.

Olbermann berated the NY Post on the air for its sleazy rumor-mongering, and announced that he will cancel his contract with a Murdoch company to write a book on sports - he even tore up the advance check he'd received for it. That was it until today - when Michelangelo Signorile, a gay rights advocate and writer, laid into all those who objected to the original Page Six piece in a Newsday column, accusing all and sundry of homophobia.

In his monologue this evening, Olbermann gave a summary of the situation and then one of Signorile's column. Then Olbermann very bluntly said that Signorile didn't know what he was talking about - the issue was one of privacy, Olbermann said, not sexual orientation. He ended with (paraphrased):

"The person obssessed with homosexuality is Signorile. He might want to consider that there are other important things in this life besides sexuality."

Bravo! Olbermann irritates me fairly frequently, but this just won him a very long forbearance - both that he didn't let money stop him from standing on principle, and that he put Signorile in his place.

Posted by susanna at 07:31 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Estrada vs Schumer

Estrada for Senate in 2004? Steven Malanga at City Journal says Miguel Estrada should move back to New York State and run against Charles Schumer for Senate if he's turned down for judicial appointment by the Senate.

Posted by susanna at 03:14 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Dyed in the wool idiotarian

Janeane Garofalo has been an anti-American idiot for a long time, as is obvious from this article from about 1993 found by Lane Core at Weblog from the Core. If anything, she's softened a little (and isn't that frightening). Listen to Her Brilliance:

"Our country is founded on a sham: our forefathers were slave-owning rich white guys who wanted it their way. So when I see the American flag, I go, 'Oh my G[-]d, you're insulting me.' That you can have a gay parade on Christopher Street in New York, with naked men and women on a float cheering, 'We're here, we're queer!' -- that's what makes my heart swell. Not the flag, but a gay naked man or woman burning the flag. I get choked up with pride."

I wonder why she's now doing all she can to preserve a regime that would not just burn the flag, but burn the prancing naked gay men. Oh, that's right - because she's an idiotarian.

[Thanks to Henry of CROOOOW blog for the link]

Posted by susanna at 01:12 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

FoxNews.com - biased or just incompetent?

While I miss the opportunity to visit The Spoons Experience, since Chris has abandoned it, I confess that having him sending me links all the time is a great consolation. This week he's hit on two problems over at Fox News that show either bias or incompetence - I'm leaning toward the latter.

The first is in an article on Russia's probable vote on the new Security Council resolution. Spoons said all that needs saying:

I've often thought FoxNews's website was shockingly incompetent, but this article really takes the cake. If you read the body of the article, you'll learn that "Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the Russian Parliament's upper house... said he doubts the Russian ambassador to the United Nations would cast Russia's veto power in the Security Council. "

Okay, fair enough. But then read how Fox characterized it in the boldface story intro: "While Moscow has said it wants more time for inspections to work in Iraq, a Russian lawmaker visiting Capitol Hill Wednesday said that doesn't mean the country would object to a U.S.-backed resolution authorizing force."

Hmmm. While the body says that Russia, might not veto such a resolution, the intro goes much further and claims that Russia might not OBJECT -- a HUGE difference, as I'm sure you'll agree.

It's even worse if you read the headline: "Russian Official: Country Will Back Second U.N. Resolution", or the link on the main page: "Russian Official: Moscow Will Back Second Resolution"

Stop the Presses! You start out with one Russian legislator saying he doesn't think Russia would automatically veto a second resolution, and Fox turns that into a story claiming that Russia now SUPPORTS the U.S. position on Iraq.

Who do they have working over there, monkeys?
--Spoons

Well, you know what they say, get enough monkeys together with keyboards...

And there's more. In this article, the FoxNews writer showed how effective the Democrats have been in creating their public image. The College Republicans at the University of California -Berkeley held a bake sale where those of different races and ethnicities were charged different prices for the same cookies, with the goal of encouraging discourse on campus about racially preferential admissions policies. Of course the Democrat organizations on campus were incensed and snottily superior about it. The FoxNews writer was right to get opposing views, but tucked away in the midst of it is this little explanatory sentence interjected by the writer:

The Democratic Party has largely supported affirmative action policies due to its voter base.

Seems innocent enough, doesn't it? But think about the assumptions necessary to make this statement not as a claim by the party, but an explanation by the journalist. It's saying that the support for affirmative action is due to the mix of races in the Democratic voter base, not ideology at all. This presupposes that all minority voters in the US are for affirmative action as a natural condition of their race, with as much power as saying that a libertarian is for freedom of individual choice. It assumes an almost "by definition" status. If you believe that, it's reasonable to extrapolate that any party with a similar voter base is going to support such policies. And in the final analysis, this little statement supports the Democrat party's efforts to paint itself as THE party of minorities, with policies that represent minorities almost organically - which isn't true, but apparently it's something the writer believes.

As Spoons says, "I hate to see stuff like this... (i)n a NEWS story. That's awful."

Posted by susanna at 08:40 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

On the move

Shanti Mangala of the always excellent Dancing with Dogs has moved her blog to the new domain she's set up with friends to support women bloggers. Her new address is http://madhoo.realwomenonline.com . Check it out!

Posted by susanna at 08:35 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Humor at an anti-war protest

The Skyline Network got out to find the truth at an anti-war protest, with some befuddled results. Too funny. There are photos.

[Thanks to Henry of CROOOOW blog for the link]

Posted by susanna at 08:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Quite Cleverly Whoish

Earlier this week I posted a parody of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, which was a leftie political screed. Now Stephen of Doggerel Pundit has written a clever response that rhymes and everything. A snippet:

Who decides when consumption's excessive and mindless?
Do sharpen your mind, to know better your blindness.
Is it you there, or you? Central planning's the worst,
Every time it is tried several millions die cursed.
The ideas and acts of lone women and men
Make our system work fine—they know best what and when.

It's a much much better job than I could have done.

Posted by susanna at 08:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The wages of death in the Middle East

Israpundit has an interesting - in a sad, infuriating way - juxtaposition of two posts today. First is an exclusive interview with former NSA Analyst James J Welsh, who says Arafat ordered the killing of two US diplomats 30 years ago - and the US covered up the connection. According to Welsh, tapes were made of Arafat giving the orders, messages that were intercepted before the killings took place. In the interview, Welsh says:

...tapes were made of Yasser Arafat planning, directing and finally ordering the executions of [Cleo] Noel and [George Curtis] Moore. On an emotional level, I have never forgotten the way in which the screw-up in notifying Khartoum was dealt with. To protect those who questioned our analysis, the whole affair became a non-event, ostensibely for security reasons. No one at State or NSA who was involved in the downgrading of the warning message ever suffered any consequences. When I asked to speak with the persons responsible for the decision, I was refused. Conversely, due to my heated criticisms of those responsible, I was subjected to a lowered score on my next military evaluation. The message became very clear at that point: enlisted NCOs do not question civilian GS-16s.

The possibility of coverup is definitely something to think about, in the wake of 9/11 and the repeated evidence that the CIA, FBI and NSA are tangled up in ego and bureaucracy more than is healthy for the nation - a situation that is apparently of long standing and thoroughly institutionalized. I don't know much about the assassination of these two diplomats, but I encourage you to read the interview conducted by Joseph Alexander Norland and consider its implications.

And in another post on Israpundit above the Welsh interview, we learn this:

"Arafat placed No. 6 on a list [in Forbes magazine] of world leaders in the "kings, queens, and despots" category. Saudi Arabia's King Fahd topped the list at $20 billion, and Saddam Hussein was fourth with $2b.

Forbes wrote that Arafat has "feasted on all sorts of funds flowing into the PA, including aid money, Israeli tax transfers, and revenue from a casino and Coca-Cola bottler. Much of the money appears to have gone to pay off others. New Finance Minister Salaam Fayad is cleaning up the PA's finances, cutting off much of Arafat's cash flow."

Sometimes murder does pay.

Posted by susanna at 07:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Now I've figured it out

I'm sorry to say that I watched the last three episodes of Joe Millionaire. What's more, I enjoyed them. It's a sad sad commentary on my life.

Evan Marriott, Mr. Joe Millionaire himself, did not do it for me. He had that flat-back-of-the-head thing going, he was much too muscle-y, and just a bit too engaging for my tastes. I won't be so cruel as to mention that his elevator doesn't reach the top floor. However, I was puzzled about why he struck me as fake - besides the fact that he was. What was my clue? Other than, of course, that he's the kind of guy who'd wear this shirt.

But none of that was enough to make me edgy. Tonight I figured out what did:

His angst over his feelings.

Now, I like it when I can get down into a man's psyche and tinker around, figuring out how things work. It's a difficult task, and dangerous at times, and you never know when you'll find a petrified peanut butter sandwich or a lint-fuzzed ancient attitude mucking up the works. But you know that if you've actually gotten them to talk about feelings at all, one of three things is happening: They want to impress you, you're really good friends and they hate to tell you to shut yer yap before they shut it for you, or some major trauma like wrecking their Mercedes convertible right after losing their job happened just yesterday. Or this afternoon. You see, guys don't dish about emotions. Can you imagine it?

Guy 1: Dude, I was so upset last night.

Guy 2: Oh no! What happened? Tell, tell!

Guy 1: Well, I was beginning to think that Marsha was opening up to me, that I was touching her heart, but she was so cold. I cried all the way home.

Guy 2: Get out! You should have called me, I would have cried with you!

See? Very scary. But during each show (at least the ones I saw), Evan dished. And dished. And anguished about his Big Lie. And talked about the way the different women made him feel - above the waist. By the end of the series, I was thinking, this is not a man. I do not trust this man!

I know he got paid for emoting, but think about it: How many men of your acquaintance, no matter how gooshy they are with their spouse or Involved Person, would get on national television to emote? Even if they got outrageous sums to do it? I'm thinking of a few who not only wouldn't, but couldn't. They wouldn't know what to say. It's not that they aren't emotional, that they can't be romantic, that they're losers in the great relationship stakes. They just don't go on and on and on about it, and their mind travels on such different paths that they'd be as befuddled as I would be if asked to talked seriously about batting stats for five minutes.

There's nothing of great moment that I'm saying here. It's just been puzzling me why he made me edgy. And that's it. A good match is yin-yang, not yin-yin.

Of course, this could have just been an elaborate excuse for posting a link to Evan Marriott in a sheer shirt.

Posted by susanna at 12:56 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

February 27, 2003

Supporting Our Soldiers

Well, that was fast - I've set up an email address for this effort, so if you know of any employers who are paying full salaries or differential salaries to our reservist soldiers, please send their name, their website link if they have one, and how you know they're doing this, to: thegoodguys2003-at-hotmail.com.

And once the list is up, keep checking it to see what employers you need to support.

UPDATE: I've set up a temporary page here, but another (much better at this stuff) blogger has donated both hosting space and MT design assistance, so something better will be up soon. Only two employers listed thus far. I'm going to research this online and by doing some calling around, so more should go up soon. Any assistance you can provide would be excellent.

Posted by susanna at 08:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Girlcott Sears!

So if a boycott means you don't buy something from a particular person or place, is a campaign to encourage people to buy things from someone called a "girlcott"?

I just saw on FoxNews that several employers are paying the full salaries of reserve soldiers called up for this war, and several others are paying the difference between their regular salaries and the military salary. That's fantastic, precisely what should be happening, and I think we should show our approval by opening our pocketbooks or in other ways supporting those companies. I know Sears was one of those - paying the salary difference - and there were two others mentioned. If any of you see a list somewhere, or know yourself of a company, I'm going to set up a "Supporting Our Soldiers" page for a master list. Then, if you're looking for something to replace that French wine, German camera, or Belgian chocolates, you'll have an easy place to go.

UPDATE: Actually the update is: scroll up a post for more information. The temporary site is Supporting Our Soldiers on blogspot; will be moving it hopefully next week to a more stable, attractive home.

Posted by susanna at 07:57 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

More on taunting military kids

Here's an article at FoxNews about the ruckus in Maine over accusations that some teachers said anti-war things to the children of deployed National Guardsmen.

The state school superintendent "fire(d) off" a letter telling teachers to use "sensitivity" with the children. I'm thinking he should tell teachers caught doing it that they'll get time out - as in suspended - at the very least. Firing should be an option, and I don't mean firing off a letter.

I'm glad to see that FoxNews talked to Joe Katzman, who's Winds of Change site kept hammering the issue. Good job, Joe.

Posted by susanna at 07:48 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Hey, listen, you're making me nervous

Why is it that when I haven't posted all day, there's still a slew of people who have 5-6 page views when they're on the site? Haven't they been here in days? Am I so engaging they MUST have reruns? Or are there darker reasons, some nefarious intent in searching my archives?

Just so you know, I'm taking the 5th whether or not I did whatever it is you're looking for. Even if I didn't do it, denying anything is a bad idea. If I did this: "deny deny deny 5th deny deny", I might as well say this: "deny deny deny YES I DID IT WHAT'S IT TO YOU! deny deny". So - always deny everything. It's easier that way.

Oh, and if you're going to be around that much, could you please remember to remind me tomorrow to buy light bulbs before going home? I'm getting tired of showering by kerosene lamp.

Posted by susanna at 06:31 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 26, 2003

Absolutely hideous

I detest the new design for the World Trade Center.

But then I've never liked modern - even, really, the first set of towers in terms of design.

Posted by susanna at 11:27 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

An American in London

My boss just got back from a trip to London, and I asked him what the word about the war was there. He said an Arab woman was standing outside a theater where they were going to see a play, handing out flyers saying "Maddog Bush" and other nastiness. He went up to her and said:

Until you've pulled bodies from a burning building hit by radical Arabs, don't come talking around me about Maddog Bush!"

Oh, and he used variants of "f***" to modify most of the words in the sentence.

He was at Ground Zero just hours after the buildings came down. He saw the devastation, he helped locate body parts. He doesn't have much patience with the anti-war types.

UPDATE: My boss brought us all back little metal police officer keychains. He's a friendly looking, smiling police officer, with his domed bobby hat, a shoulder radio, v-neck sweater with a tie under it, handcuffs, mace (or whatever chemical they carry), and a nightstick. But... no gun. Interesting.

Posted by susanna at 12:44 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Legalizing drugs - no license to mooch

Kevin Parrott says all the usual reasons for legalizing marijuana are nonsense, but he thinks it should be legalized anyway. I definitely agree with his conditions for legalization.

On the other hand, you don't want me deciding about legalization because I'd outlaw not just the usual suspects, but alcohol and tobacco too. No vices for anybody! None! Except, of course, me - you will face death if you come between me and my chocolate.

And those of you who agree with me on the rest, don't even start on how chocolate isn't as bad as the others - after all, nobody's wiped out an entire family while driving under the influence of chocolate. The point is, if your concern is vice and not harm, then remember that gluttony's right up there with the rest of the sins, and we're not going to claim we ever eat chocolate in moderation. Right? Right? And can you say "clogged arteries and early death"? Excuse me now, I'm off to develop a hierarchical scale of harm justifying graduated restrictions on various vices so chocolate comes in as least-harm.

(Just tryin' to keep us all honest.)

[Thanks to Andrea for the heads up on this most excellent link]

Posted by susanna at 12:17 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Sounds good to me

Saddam vows death before exile

I encourage him to make that sooner rather than later.

On a more personal note, under the category of seriously weird, it's always odd to me when I see a photograph or video of Saddam. He looks very like my mom's dad (who died when I was 16) and quite a bit like her brother. Let me hasten to add that neither of them is (or was) a maniacally evil mass murderer, although my grandfather had times when he did very bad things. And my mom's brother is one of the nicest men you'd ever meet, hilarious, kind, friendly, upstanding citizen, tightly tied to his Baptist faith. So it's kind of freaky to look up at the TV when I've been distracted a few minutes and think, "Oh, that looks like Uncle Johnny!" followed quickly by "Ack! It's Saddam Hussein!"

I'm happy to report that my uncle does not have 36,000 photos of himself in or on his house, there are no mosques or churches bearing his image anywhere on his property, nor does he have any huge billboards extolling his virtues alongside the main road. To my knowledge he has never killed anyone.

UPDATE: Scrappleface has more on Saddam's new proposal.

Posted by susanna at 10:48 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

All circuits are busy now

I just tried to make my calls for the Virtual March on Washington, and got that message repeatedly.

*BEEEP*! We're sorry, all circuits are busy now.

So it's happening. I'll keep trying to get my dissenting voice heard, though.

Posted by susanna at 09:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Runnin' on...

Two guys from New Jersey started Monday on a run across the US. They aren't planning to pay for lodging, and they aren't taking a support car - they're just packing up backpacks and hauling out. The subtitle of their site is "We're going for a run... Can we crash at your place?" I like these guys.

What they are doing is keeping a weblog about the experience. Here's the guys, here's the plan, here's the route, here's the news, and here's where I got the link. I like this quote:

We think that we'd be crazy for not attempting this run. Craziness is not chasing a dream when given the chance. At 25-years old, no strings attached, and in a world where tomorrow is not a guarantee........this is our chance.

Very cool.

I'm just glad they're not making some kind of anti-war statement. Then I would be forced to make a comparison between a 25-year-old who can take six months off to run across the country free-loading, and an 18-year-old who's putting his life on the line for America in the Middle East. Right now I can just be intrigued and cheer them on.

Posted by susanna at 07:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Living in Iraq

Salam at Where is Raed? has photos of Baghdad and another city on his site - and these aren't tourist shots. Two bits of information he shares caught my attention particularly:

It is not allowed to take photographs in the streets just like that; we were working on a site in the area and were given a permit to photograph the site. Lucky for us the paper did not specify the exact location where we are allowed to photograph G. never overlooks an opportunity like that, these are some of the photographs he has taken.

Can't take photographs in a public street without a written permit? And our journalists get testy because while they're embedded with the military and uncensored during an active operation, they can't have unrestricted access to classified military information. You know, I'm beginning to understand how people can say that the US government is worse than Iraq's, can't you?

You know the boxes you have everywhere asking you to donate clothes for third world countries? That is a swindle, well, not all the way. The first part is probably all very much in the spirit of kindness and things are really donated to some organization in the “third world”. There things get a bit dirtier, there is a huge international market dealing with these “donations”. Things are sorted out and sold from when country to the next, Iraq gets most of the stuff from Turkey and Syria. It is such a problem here in Iraq the government had to make rules what sort of second-hand clothes you are allowed to import. Underwear is a no-go. I am not saying that it is no use donating these clothes to third-world-aid organization, actually these clothes are the only affordable clothes many people can buy and this has created a sort of income to people who would have ended up with no income at all. Besides, it always makes me smile when I see someone wearing a Cliff Richards concert T-shirt, at least this kind of makes up for the atrocities against taste he has committed.

Curious. Now I'm itching to know what those organizations are.

The buildings in the photographs don't look very fire-safe. I wonder if one side effect of bombing Baghdad would be starting fires difficult to stop because of tinder-box conditions. That makes even precision bombing more dangerous for the general population.

Posted by susanna at 06:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ca-ca-ca-ca-caaarrrnnyyyy!

It's that time again! Carnival of the Vanities puts up its tent this week at Kesher Talk.

Posted by susanna at 06:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Saudis - again

John Loftus is on WABC 770's Batchelor & Alexander show right now, and they're discussing Sami Al Arian, the University of South Florida professor arrested recently for leading an Islamic terrorist organization. Loftus, a lawyer and former intelligence agent, has been tracking Al Arian since 1989, and has urged the federal government to indict him for years. According to Loftus, one of the pieces of evidence against Al Arian is the transcript of a telephone call - made from Florida - where he is yelling at someone in Palestine because Hamas or Hezbollah was getting credit for kills funded by his organization. He raised the money, he needed the publicity or his fundraising would be compromised! Chilling. Again according to Loftus, Al Arian's activities were funded by the same Saudi banks that funded Al Qaeda terrorists. Now, why is it again we don't turn Saudi Arabia into a sheet of glass?

If this is proven against Al Arian, and Loftus cites very damning evidence, then he should be executed. Soon. He and his whole cadre.

I also got a chill when they mentioned where Al Arian lives - Temple Terrace, FL, a suburb of Tampa which is very close to USF and, incidentally, also the town where I attended junior college. A bunch of my friends went to school at USF, about the time Al Arian was getting into town. It's a small world, not always in a nice way.

You can listen to Batchelor & Alexander live until 1 a.m. Apparently the whole show is with Loftus.

Posted by susanna at 12:29 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 25, 2003

Make snowballs, not war!

An unusual snowstorm has locked up Israel and Palestine, bringing people out into the snow to play instead of fight.

Posted by susanna at 10:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Not your father's Beverly Hillbillies

Lance Gentry has a corny but very cute parody of the Beverly Hillbillies theme song - only his version features Saddam. Here's the link - swallow that drink while the page loads, then scroll past the Eccelesiates quote to The Ballad of Saddam.

Posted by susanna at 08:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Leftie Hypocrisy Watch

Apparently teachers in Maine who are anti-war are making it their business to tell the children of deployed National Guardsmen that their daddies are bad for fighting in a war.

I guess their usual "It's For The Children ™" means only "children whose parents agree with us or can't make their voices heard because they're under the jackboot of a totalitarian dictator".

Oh, most of the kids were between 7 and 9. Nice.

UPDATE: Trent Telenko] and Joe Katzman have the details.

UPDATE: Mike at Cold Fury rants on the teachers too. I want a copy of his insults thesaurus; he's much more colorful than me.

I think we have to be careful about letting the left define what qualifies as "dissent". What those teachers did is not dissent, it's harassment. Period.

Posted by susanna at 04:59 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

In his words

Here's a transcript of an interview of Bias author and journalist Bernard Goldberg by Chris Matthews. Pretty interesting, and a nice summary of Goldberg's points if you've not read the book.

I was amused at what was deleted from the transcript, which I'm sure was because of broadcasting restrictions and not the show engaging in self-censoring. Anyway, compare these:

...it didn’t shock me that a newsperson was being smart (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I mean, it would shock me if a newsperson wasn’t being smart (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

I'm thinking that expletive was "ass", not "aleck". Now this:

MATTHEWS: I like guys who put their balls on the line like you do.

GOLDBERG: Well I appreciate that.

Now, I don't know about you, but if I was scoring vulgarities on a scale of 1-10, I'd rate "smartass" and "balls" about equal. Who makes these lists? Someone needs a refresher course in modern slang.

[Thanks to Henry of Croooow blog for the link]

Posted by susanna at 04:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

But I thought that's where guys usually are

A Texas man has cut a plea deal involving his sleeping in a doghouse for 30 nights. The man was charged with child abuse for, among other things, forcing his 11 year old stepson to sleep in a doghouse during all kinds of weather.

I'm sure a man like that is already used to it. I think the punishment should also include a choke collar and a rolled up newspaper.

[Thanks to Ty Clevenger for the link]

Posted by susanna at 04:14 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Media disdaining religion

If your only knowledge about religion was television, you'd think all preachers were either robed priests, bearded rabbis or red-faced fundamentalist screamers raining verbal hellfire and brimstone on their swaying followers. If you expanded it to coverage in the local media, you'd learn that religious people are either warm-hearted love-everyone liberals, stern social obstructionists or just people who eat a lot in the church basement. David Shaw in his LA Times' Media Matters column reviewing Doug Underwood's recent book From Yahweh to Yahoo!: The Religious Roots of the Secular Press, finds that journalists don't bring knowledge to covering religion, and don't generally understand the impact it has on people's lives:

"Members of the faith community are on target," Underwood writes, "when they complain about the incapacity or the unwillingness of journalists to take seriously the importance of the spiritual dimension in the lives of so many people."

Indeed, media coverage of not just religion but also of politics, science, psychology and technology, among other subjects, would be "much better if journalists better understood the role religion plays as a motivating force in so many areas of society," says Underwood, a former reporter, who's an associate professor of communications at the University of Washington.

This is especially true now, of course, when the threat of terrorism and the seemingly intractable hostilities in the Mideast have their roots, at least partially, in religion.

Although Underwood says journalists' moral and social justice values often spring from the same motivation as those 64% of Americans who say they attend weekend worship services at least once a month, most journalists tend to be less traditionally religious.

Surveys show that Americans are among the most devout people in the world, and spirituality is routinely cited as one of the most important forces in their lives. But Robert Bellah, a professor of sociology at UC Berkeley, once told me that most journalists are "simply blind to religion. They think it's ... something only ignorant and backward people really believe in.

"This is not necessarily a conscious judgment," Bellah said, just part of most journalists' "general worldview."

Shaw notes that journalism has both a mission and obligation to be contrarian, to look analytically at all institutions without giving favor because religion is involved - and I agree that this is a good thing. As we've learned from recent revelations of Catholic priests sexually abusing young children in their ministerial sphere, religious organizations are not always very good at either policing their own or protecting others from them when they behave criminally or legally but reprehensibly. It's by no means limited to Catholics - look at the antics of Jesse Jackson and Jim Bakker - nor to Christians, as shown by the arrest this past week of a prominent New Jersey rabbi for soliciting sex with a minor online. And we need little reminder of the damage caused by those who absorb only the potential for hate in their chosen religious doctrine - 9/11 will forever serve that purpose in the minds of Americans. I think it's important for the media to cover these things.

In addition, it's imperative for the media to add their oversight to that of private and government groups in the intersection of government and religion in the Bush administration's faith-based initiatives. While I have a number of problems with that program, I do think there is potential for great good there - and tremendous harm. The media can help keep the door open to those programs when the zealous would hide the harm for fear of lessening the good.

The problem, as both Shaw and Underwood point out, is that most members of the media not only don't understand what it means to live your life according to a religious creed, they actively think it's either quaint, odd, silly or ignorant - or a mix of those. It would be like having only communists covering our federal government. The very notion that someone would choose that path is antithetical to their approach to life. (And yes, there are very devout religionists who are excellent journalists, but we're talking a preponderance, not the exceptions.) This is a foundational bias that operates from the deepest levels - in choosing what to cover and approaching it from a narrow perceptual frame - to the shallowest invoking of stereotypes in religious writing. It's definitely an area where the bias is skewed liberal to a startling degree.

There needs to be a widespread acknowledgement that the media cover religion poorly - news media especially need to change, but it wouldn't hurt the entertainment media to find a nuance or two as well. I'm not saying that journalists need to start believing in the various religions, or that only believers should cover religion; in fact, I'd say that would be a definite mistake. What I am saying is that the media needs to recognize that religion is a genuine force in people's lives, and it makes a difference. As Shaw's column quotes:

"Whether we consciously recognize it or not, religion has a lot to do with how we think about a whole range of political and social issues, ranging from abortion to welfare," [Diane Winston, a former religion writer who is the program officer for religion at the Pew Charitable Trusts,] says. "We need to figure out how to have someone in the newsroom think beyond today's headlines and recognize religion as a social force in both our individual lives and the life of our society.

We look endlessly at how sex and relationships affect our lives, how our children impact us, how our jobs and bosses and make of car tweek our decision-making processes. We don't look at closely at the role of religion, and I agree one major reason is the skepticism of the media about the whole realm of faith. But you don't have to agree with someone's belief system to document how it affects her life. And if we have greater knowledge of the role all different types of religion have in the lives of their adherents, we'll be better prepared to deal reasonably as a society with dangerous aberrations like sexual predators in clerical garb, or mass murderers sacrificing innocents to Allah.

[Link from Media Minded, who has thoughtful comments on the topic as well.]

Posted by susanna at 08:30 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

I knew it - I'm a Grinch!

A friend forwarded this to me, so probably a lot of you have seen it. I'm not sure* where it originated, so if you do let me know and I'll post it. The poem is a rewrite of Dr. Seuss's The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and it's so leftie-squishy that you can just about feel it between your toes. And no, it's not a parody. Someone wrote this not just with a straight face, but likely with a sincere belief that he would touch people's hearts.

Fortunately, mine's already shriveled and hardened beyond leftie redemption. And I'm happy about that.

UPDATE: The Binch is in MORE

The Whos down in Whoville liked this country a lot, But the Grinch in the White House most certainly did not. He didn't arrive there by the will of the Whos, But stole the election that he really did lose. Vowed to "rule from the middle," then installed his regime. (Did this really happen or is it just a bad dream?)

He didn't listen to voters, just his friends he was pleasin'
Now, please don't ask why, no one quite knows the reason.
It could be his heart wasn't working just right.
It could be, perhaps, that he wasn't too bright.
But I think that the most likely reason of all,
Is that both brain and heart were two sizes too small.

In times of great turmoil, this was bad news,
To have a government that ignores its Whos.
But the Whos shrugged their shoulders, went on with their work,
Their duties as citizens so casually did shirk.
They shopped at the mall and watched their T.V.
They drove their gas guzzling big S.U.V.

Oblivious to what was going on in D.C.
Ignoring the threats to democracy.
They read the same papers that ran the same leads,
Reporting what only served corporate needs.
(For the policies affecting the lives of all nations
Were made by the giant U.S. Corporations.)

Big business grew fatter, fed by its own greed,
And by people who shop for the things they don't need.
But amidst all the apathy came signs of unrest,
The Whos came to see we were fouling our nest.
And the people who cared for the ideals of this nation
Began to discuss and exchange information.

The things they couldn't read in the corporate-owned news
Of FTAA meetings and CIA coups.
Of drilling for oil and restricting of rights.
They published some books, and created Websites
Began to write letters and use their e-mail
(Though Homeland Security might send them to jail!)

What began as a whisper soon grew to a roar,
These things going on that they couldn't ignore.
They started to rise up and fight City Hall
As their voices were heard, others rose to the call,
To vote, to petition, to gather, dissent,
To question the policies of the "President."

As greed gained in power and power knew no shame
The Whos came together, sang "Not in our name!"
One by one from their sleep and their slumber they woke
The old and the young, all kinds of folk,
The black, brown and white, the gay, bi- and straight,
All united to sing, "Feed our hope, not our hate!

Stop stockpiling weapons and aiming for war!
Stop feeding the rich, start feeding the poor!
Stop storming the deserts to fuel SUV's!
Stop telling us lies on the mainstream T.V.'s!
Stop treating our children as a market to sack!
Stop feeding them Barney, Barbie-Ken and Big Mac!

Stop trying to addict them to lifelong consuming,
In a time when severe global warming is looming!
Stop sanctions that are killing the kids in Iraq!
Start dealing with ours that are strung out on crack!"
A mighty sound started to rise and to grow,
The old way of thinking simply must go!

No more God versus Allah, Muslim vs. Jew
With what lies ahead, it simply won't do.
No American dream that cares only for wealth
Ignoring the need for community health.
The rivers and forests are demanding their pay,
If we're to survive, we must walk a new way.

No more excessive and mindless consumption
Let's sharpen our minds and garner our gumption.
The ideas are simple, but the practice is hard,
And not to be won by a poem on a card.
It needs the ideas and the acts of each Who,
So let's get together and plan what to do!"

And so they all gathered from all 'round the Earth
And from it all came a miraculous birth.
The hearts and the minds of the Whos grew and grew,
Three sizes to fit what they felt and they knew.
While the Grinches all shrank from their hate and their greed,
Bearing the weight of their every foul deed.

From that day onward the standard of wealth,
Was whatever fed the Whos spiritual health.
The schools taught their children co-operation and caring,
Respect and tolerance, acceptance and sharing.
They gathered together to revel and feast,
And worked with each other to conquer their beast.

For although our story pits Grinches 'gainst Whos,
The true battle lies in what we daily choose.
For inside each Grinch is a tiny small Who,
And inside each Who is a tiny Grinch too.
One thrives on love and one thrives on greed.
Who will win out? It depends who you feed!

Personally, I want schools to teach math and English, but then I'm a Grinch. What do I know? There's just too much there to take point by point - the easiest thing to do is count how many cliches and liberal lies someone managed to fit into one short and admittedly catchy poem.

How many did you find?

* I did find it on this Wiccan site, and also here, and it gives a copyright of David Goodkin 2002. So we'll go with that for now.

------------

My friend Desiree sent this, reminding me that it made its rounds after 9/11 - could it have inspired this latest manifestation? Another reader provides a link in comments.

The Binch

Every U down in Uville liked U.S. a lot,
But the Binch, who lived Far East of Uville, did not.
The Binch hated U.S! the whole U.S. way!
Now don't ask me why, for nobody can say,
It could be his turban was screwed on too tight.
Or the sun from the desert had beaten too bright
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

But, Whatever the reason, his heart or his turban,
He stood facing Uville, the part that was urban.
"They're doing their business," he snarled from his perch.
"They're raising their families! They're going to church!
They're leading the world, and their empire is thriving,
I MUST keep the S's and U's from surviving!"

Tomorrow, he knew, all the U's and the S's,
Would put on their pants and their shirts and their dresses,
They'd go to their offices, playgrounds and schools,
And abide by their U and S values and rules,
And then they'd do something he liked least of all,

Every U down in U-ville, the tall and the small,
Would stand all united, each U and each S,
And they'd sing Uville's anthem, "God bless us! God bless!"
All around their Twin Towers of Uville, they'd stand,
and their voices would drown every sound in the land.

"I must stop that singing," Binch said with a smirk,
And he had an idea--an idea that might work!
The Binch stole some U airplanes in U morning hours,
And crashed them right into the Uville Twin Towers.
"They'll wake to disaster!" he snickered, so sour,
"And how can they sing when they can't find a tower?"

The Binch cocked his ear as they woke from their sleeping,
All set to enjoy their U-wailing and weeping,
Instead he heard something that started quite low,
And it built up quite slow, but it started to grow--
And the Binch heard the most unpredictable thing...
And he couldn't believe it--they started to sing!

He stared down at U-ville, not trusting his eyes,
What he saw was a shocking, disgusting surprise!
Every U down in U-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any towers at all!

He HADN'T stopped U-Ville from singing! It sung!
For down deep in the hearts of the old and the young,
Those Twin Towers were standing, called Hope and called Pride,
And you can't smash the towers we hold deep inside.

So we circle the sites where our heroes did fall,
With a hand in each hand of the tall and the small,
And we mourn for our losses while knowing we'll cope,
For we still have inside that U-Pride and U-Hope.

For America means a bit more than tall towers,
It means more than wealth or political powers,
It's more than our enemies ever could guess,
So may God bless America! Bless us! God bless!

Posted by susanna at 08:24 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 24, 2003

Sad news

I just heard on the news that a Black Hawk helicopter has gone down in Kuwait and four soldiers have died. No more information available now, although their manner didn't indicate a suspicion that the crash was the result of an attack.

Say a prayer for the families of these soldiers, and for all the coalition soldiers standing at the ready to make the world a safer place.

Posted by susanna at 10:48 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Finally!

Hollywood apparently has a solution to the Iraq crisis. It involves Babs and a hirsute man.

Posted by susanna at 10:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Straining to find fault

Journalists will be allowed to go into battle zones with troops during any incursion into Iraq, a significant change in the military's recent approach to media access during active operations. You'd think the media would find it a very good thing, but Editor & Publisher keeps picking and poking at it. Here is a piece from a few days ago; the headline is a good summary:

Why Is Pentagon Inviting Press to Accompany Troops? Military Wants Its Own Story Told

Are you horrified yet? The military wants its own story told! Journalism may be under attack! Look at the first graph:

Often missing in the coverage of the Pentagon's "ground rules" for embedded reporters who will travel with U.S. forces in the event of a war with Iraq is the military's official explanation for why they are doing it. Pentagon officials have described some of the reasons but in the ground rules distributed to media with embedded reporters last week (first described by E&P) there exists a long introductory passage, labeled #2A, that states those reasons in revealing terms, but this has been overlooked in reporting about the release:

Other media outlets have "missed" this important bit of information, but E&P is right there to make sure you get the "revealing" terms of giving media this unprecedented access. Do they have to pass all material through a censor? Are they excluded from doing interviews? Are they barred from sending any material out to their bosses while action is going on? There should be something with potential to strike at the heart of journalistic integrity to warrant this concern. So let's see - here's the offending section from the official release:

"The Department of Defense (DOD) policy on media coverage of future military operations is that media will have long-term, minimally restrictive access to U.S. air, ground, and naval forces through embedding. Media coverage of any future operation will, to a large extent, shape public perception of the national security environment now and in the years ahead. This holds true for the U.S. public; the public in allied countries whose opinion can affect the durability of our coalition; and publics in countries where we conduct operations, whose perceptions of us can affect the cost and duration of our involvement.

"Our ultimate strategic success in bringing peace and security to this region will come in our long-term commitment to supporting our democratic ideals. We need to tell the factual story -- good or bad -- before others seed the media with disinformation and distortions, as they most certainly will continue to do. Our people in the field need to tell our story -- only commanders can ensure the media get to the story alongside the troops. We must organize for and facilitate access of national and international media to our forces, including those forces engaged in ground operations, with the goal of doing so right from the start."

Oh, no, we're becoming a communist dictatorship! First stop, military embedding, next stop Castro's Cuba! Oops, sorry, channeling media hysteria there for a minute. What precisely is the military saying they want to do? Here's the pertinent part, in my view:

We need to tell the factual story -- good or bad -- before others seed the media with disinformation and distortions, as they most certainly will continue to do.

There you go. The Evil Military want the journalists to tell the truth! How shocking! Does Howell Raines know about this? It can't be good for the industry. I don't understand why this hasn't been on the front page of every newspaper. Why did it take the vigilant E&P to get to the bottom of this?

And that's not all they found lurking in the murky depths of that Misleadingly Open-Seeming Document:

Close examination of one of the final sections of ground rules for embedded reporters traveling with U.S. forces recently distributed by the Pentagon reveals potential limits on reporting of "sensitive" material in any attack on Iraq. It also discloses how disputes with the media over review of their material, and restrictions on coverage, will be handled and decided...

In a copy of the ground rules obtained by E&P, section 6 concerns "Security." Like the rest of the ground rules, most of this section sounds reasonable on the surface but the potential for severe restrictions on reporting becomes apparent under closer examination. In fact, it includes provisions for "security review" and the removal of "sensitive" information by the military. Also, reporters who do not agree to such review in advance may be denied access to certain information. [emphasis mine - ed.]

This time it sounds really serious. There are going to be limits! Limits are not allowed! Journalists are commanded by the Constitution to have every single bit of information they think is pertinent! Okay, so that's not a strict interpretation of the Constitution, but that's what it meant. Right?

So let's look at those scary limitations. You can go to the article for the full details; I'm just pulling out the main points:

Security at the source will be the Rule. U.S. military personnel shall protect classified information from unauthorized or inadvertent disclosure. Media provided access to sensitive information, information which is not classified but which may be of operational value to an adversary or when combined with other unclassified information may reveal classified information, will be informed in advance by the unit commander or his/her designated representative of the restrictions on the use or disclosure of such information. When in doubt, media will consult with the unit commander or his/her designated representative...

If media are inadvertently exposed to sensitive information they should be briefed after exposure on what information they should avoid covering. In instances where a unit commander or the designated representative determines that coverage of a story will involve exposure to sensitive information beyond the scope of what may be protected by prebriefing or debriefing, but coverage of which is in the best interests of the [Department of Defense], the commander may offer access if the reporter agrees to a security review of their coverage. Agreement to security review in exchange for this type of access must be strictly voluntary and if the reporter does not agree, then access may not be granted.

"If a security review is agreed to, it will not involve any editorial changes; it will be conducted solely to ensure that no sensitive or classified information is included in the product. If such information is found, the media will be asked to remove that information from the product and/or embargo the product until such information is no longer classified or sensitive.

...Media products will not be confiscated or otherwise impounded. If it is believed that classified information has been compromised and the media representative refuses to remove that information notify the ... [Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense/Public Affairs] as soon as possible so the issue may be addressed with the media organization's management.

Note first that the article is written with a voice of doom. The writer, Greg Mitchell, says the guidelines sound "reasonable on the surface". This is not very sophisticated code for "They're trying to fool you! Don't be duped! It's a ruse! It's really not reasonable at all!" He says the "potential for severe restrictions... becomes apparent under closer examination" - code for "See?! They're trying to hide it!" And finally, "reporters who do not agree" to security reviews "may be denied access". It sounds really shocking, doesn't it?

So look at the guidelines. What's the truth? The military will protect classified or sensitive information - i.e. information the journalists would not normally have access to anyway. The media will be told when something is off-limits. If they accidently see something classified, then they'll be told that it is classified. If the commander of the unit the journalist is embedded with determines that it would serve the purposes of the military to share a story usually outside the scope of what the journalist can see, then he'll let the journalist have it if the journalist agrees to a security review. No agreement, no information. Remember this is information the journalist would never get otherwise. All the military wants is to review the information to make sure that nothing that can cause risk to the military or their goal is released. But they make it very clear that even if they do find classified information in an article, they won't confiscate the material or obstruct the journalist, but rather take it up the next level by letting the military commanders negotiate about it with the journalist's editors or publishers.

It's true that the journalists won't be turned lose to do whatever they please, but it's also true that they will have an unprecedented access. Naturally the military isn't blind to the benefits of allowing journalists in, because of not only the reason they said - because the enemy will always send out disinformation (can you say "Jenin"?) - but because seeing the truth of how the military does its job will build confidence and appreciation both in America and abroad. It's hypocritical for Mitchell to imply that this ulterior motive is sneaky, tarnishing the value of the access. This is, remember, the media that shows up in droves for photo ops of popular figures, which prints press releases with little or no editing, which slavishly covers every twitch of anti-war Hollywood. Why is Sean Penn's foray into Baghdad, wined and dined by a mass murderer, somehow more honest than the military opening up their operations to journalists with very few restrictions?

It's a good idea to make sure that journalists are aware of all the restrictions on them, and that the public as well understands that the journalists cannot share everything they see. But nonetheless there will be a time when what they see will not be classified, and they will not be limited in their ability to write on that. There's nothing onerous there, nor is journalistic integrity threatened. Quite the opposite. E&P needs to back off their own bias and cover the story objectively.

Posted by susanna at 10:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

One year ago today, on a late Sunday night, I registered with Blogspot and set up cut on the bias. I posted a little paragraph of nothing - a notice that I was going to look at media bias - then let it sit two days before putting up anything of substance. But I exploded on the scene on that Tuesday when I got my very first Instalanche for a post on Michael Bellesiles, Doris Kearns Goodwin and legal pads. That same day I also posted about Daniel Pearl.

It's been just a wonderful year, beyond my expectations. I've met some fascinating people, both online and off, and made friends I think will be a part of my life for a while, hopefully a long while. I've gotten back into the habit of writing daily, one of my goals when I started this. I've been quoted in The LA Times and The Washington Post. And best of all, I have hundreds of readers who come back day after day to see what I have to say. There are people out there who read my blog more than my mom does! How cool is that?

I have a lot of people to thank. Dodd Harris of Ipse Dixit for inviting me to become a part of his Blogfodder family last June, which included a rather torturous redesign of my site in Moveable Type (torturous because I kept saying things like, "I'd like another 1/4 inch of white space... no, no, now I see I meant 1/2 inch..."); it's been a wonderful experience, and he's a great guy. Page of The Last Page for her patient and lovely redesign of my site last fall, and for her encouragement. Glenn Reynolds for linking me on his site, and then linking me on MSNBC, and generally for being the unofficial Mentor of the Blogosphere through his encouragement of us all, his voracious linking, and his touting of other bloggers including me when journalists call wanting to write about him. He's a gentleman in the true sense. And finally my non-bloggish friends Melody, who encourages me, comments on posts before they go up, challenges me with new ideas and is always enthusiastic about the blog; and Desiree, who sends me links, comments on posts, and always has an unusual and thoughtful insight into things that I hadn't thought of myself.

And most of all those of you who read every day, and comment. You're the biggest blessing in all this, and I hope to keep this reciprocal relationship going for another year. Thank you very much!

Posted by susanna at 06:38 AM | Comments (36) | TrackBack

February 23, 2003

Turning the tide

Things are looking up in Australia. At least, they are if you're not Margo Kingston.

Posted by susanna at 09:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Last night at the Rodeo Bar

A Bettie Page lookalike gyrated in a slave girl costume on the television high in one corner; the crowd pushed and shoved to pack in tighter, the air redolent of leather, hair grease and smoke. At least half the crowd looked airlifted in from the 1950s, the kind of tough crowd your momma said not to tangle with: women with coal black hair and Bettie Page bangs, wearing dark red lipstick and snug sweaters; guys with slicked back pompadours and leather jackets with chains. They packed still tighter in a long narrow room with walls half chinked log and half exposed brick; gold Christmas garland draped over a horned steer skull on one wall, just below a string of bright red jalapeno lights. Mexican blankets hung behind the stage, vying for wall space with a Cattle Xing sign and a white lace dressmaker’s bust wearing a gold metal cone bra.

Two guys pushed their way from the old horse trailer doing duty as a bar, carrying red plastic cups over their heads and shouting, We have to get to the stage! A few minutes later, as one tuned a bass and the other tapped on the drums, two more guys shoved through the crowd from the bar in the other room, greased pompadours in harmony with the mood of the night. In short order, the four men who make up The Belmont Playboys took the stage, and carried the audience with them on a three hour journey into the heart of rockabilly.

It was a lovefest between rockers and the rocked.

The sound was loud enough to peel the paint off the metal Texas flag covers on the overhead speakers, but good enough that you didn’t care. The songs shifted from old standards to original Belmont Playboys tunes from their CDs, some vocal and some just hot hot guitar and bass licks; the bass guitar player braced his legs wide, closed his eyes and played, one thick chunk of hair breaking free from the pompadour to hang in his face. The lead singer showed he wasn’t all about words, riffing through instrumentals that you didn’t want to end. The bass player attacked his bass like he was fighting with a lover, the drummer causing such heat he finally came out of his shirt. The audience rocked along, cheering, clapping; sometimes a girl would pop up near the stage and do some gyrations of her own. One of the occasional dancers was a curvy woman in a tight black skirt and a pink jacket covered with short swingy pink fringe, her black bustier showing lots of high cleavage in front. As the evening drew to a close – broken only by a brief break between sets and a couple of wild turns on stage by other rockers – the Belmont’s lead singer said, I need a chorus for this last song… a Drunk Bastards Chorus! Two greased and leathered guys from the audience took over the center mic, and the pink fringed woman owned the one on the side, growling her way through a rendition of “Switchblade Pompadour” that rocked the house.

At 2 a.m. the music stopped for good and the Playboys headed back to the horse trailer bar to take the edge off the adrenalin, honoring the showman’s creed: Always leave them panting for more.

UPDATE: Here's Mike's tale of his weekend.

Posted by susanna at 07:38 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

An excellent weekend

What an amazing weekend, bloggishly speaking! Friday night I talked to Dodd for over two hours, and that was very cool. Actually, Dodd is very cool. I now know all kinds of things that I can threaten to mention if I need more bandwidth or something on Blogfodder. Later that night I got to talk to Jim Bowen (briefly!), as well as several other bloggers (and I didn't mean to diss Christopher Johnson - we had a bad connection!). Yesterday I met my non-blogger friend Ben for a while at the Rodeo Bar, and he had barely left before Diane E. of Letter From Gotham showed up to eat dinner with me. We had a great time trash-talking over chips and salsa for about an hour before going into the live music room; it was very packed, and she wasn't feeling well, so she went home before the show began. The Belmont Playboys, with Mike Hendrix of Cold Fury up front, gave an excellent show that was truly one of the best live music shows I've seen in both talent and energy. Yes, Mike, I can see why it takes it out of you. Mike is as much a mix of Southern gentleman and bad-ass rocker in person as he seems on his blog. For more on the show, see the post above.

It was such a good weekend that standing in the rain in Manhattan trying to catch a cab at 2 a.m. seemed just a part of the fun. When I reached the PATH, it was a bonus to sit across from an Army National Guardsman in full camoflauge uniform, on his way home to Jersey from a stint as an armed guard in the city's subways. I thanked him for his service, and that of his active duty comrades in arms overseas, and we got into a several-way conversation with other PATH train riders as we sped through the tunnels going home.

I'm about recovered from the late night and a bout of not feeling too good today (no details; be thankful). Tomorrow is work. I think I'll take my Belmont Playboys CD with me.

Posted by susanna at 07:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Just sayin', is all

Among the criticisms that the peacemongers have of the United States' handling of the current Iraq situation is that a) the US at one point considered Saddam an ally; b) the US has had a long time to deal with him and hasn't; and c) the US didn't do anything constructive to stop Saddam in 1988 when he gassed the Kurds in Northern Iraq. These are all, in my judgment, valid criticisms.

The problem is, the peacemongers are being dishonest when they cite them. The implication is that the US should not have made Saddam an ally; that the US should have dealt with him sooner; and probably no later than 1988 when he gassed the Kurds. It actually sounds like a remarkably hawkish position from the peacemongers: "What have you been doing! This man should have been dead decades ago!" That isn't, of course, what they actually mean. What they mean is, "The US is evil to have done business with him in the past! The fact that the US hasn't done anything up until now says he wasn't that great of a threat before OR now and it's all about oil! Evil evil US!" In other words, the "criticisms" are actually accusations, and unanswerable ones at that.

This is not news to any of you. It's just occurred to me several times lately, in the course of thinking about the shallowness, naivity and dishonesty of much of the "peace movement", so I thought I'd make it official by blogging about it.

And on the matter of gassing the Kurds, Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air interviewed Peter Galbraith, former U.S. ambassador to Croatia and now professor of national-security studies at the National War College in Washington, D.C. He was for a time an assistant in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations back in the late 1980s, and he spent time investigating what was happening in Iraq - actually spending a lot of time there. He was one of the ones who alerted the US about the attack on the Kurds by Saddam (here is the original post). One pertinent thing he noted was that the US did express their anger at the gassing of the Kurds and it stopped. The US didn't smash Saddam over it, but they did make it stop. And I think that counts for something. In fact, isn't that what the peacemongers would have advocated at the time? A diplomatic solution? So why aren't they happy now?

Oh, yeah. They aren't happy until everyone is holding hands and singing "All you need is love".

Posted by susanna at 01:23 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Blown away

I just spent more than two hours watching Mike Hendrix and the Belmont Playboys playing live at the Rodeo Bar & Grille in Manhattan. I only have one thing to say:

The man is a rockabilly god.

Posted by susanna at 03:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 22, 2003

Human Shield tour package - a great deal!

I was going to dismember an article on human shields in the NY Times on Thursday, but between the self-parody of the "shields" and the truth from Iraq blogger Salam, there's not much for me to say. First, imagine the shock of this:

Others have become aware of the sinister side of what some say they naïvely interpreted as a kind of extraordinary war protest. "I think the Iraqi government is potentially putting us in a dangerous position," said a young Australian who said he had decided to leave.

Huh. Who would have thought an egomaniacal totalitarian despot would use well-meaning people so? I'm shocked, shocked! And compare the view of the HS with the view of a genuine Iraqi.

In the Times, a HS responding to Rumsfeld saying they were being "used" and their actions could be a "war crime":

"That is ridiculous," said Ken Nichols O'Keefe, a 33-year-old gulf war Marine veteran who initiated the idea. "They are not using me. I am here voluntarily. What is Saddam Hussein supposed to say? `No, they can't do it'? "

Well, yes, actually he could if he didn't think they were useful idiots - he's a dictator - but who am I to criticize and call them useful idiots? Better from Salam, in Baghdad:

what really got my goat this time was finding out that they get food coupons worth 15,000 dinars per meal, 3 for every day.fifteen thousan.

Do you know how much the monthly food ration for a 4 person family is worth, for a whole month not per meal (real cost, not subsidized) ? 30,000 dinars, if you get someone to buy the bad rice they give you for a decent price. 15,000. What are they eating? A whole lamb every meal? Let's put this within context. Today in the morning Raed, our friend G. and I went for a late big breakfast we had 2 tishreeb bagilas (can't explain that, you have to be an Iraqi to get it otherwise it sounds inedible) and a makhlama (which is an omelet with minced meat), tea, fizzy drinks and argila afterwards (the water-pipe-thingy) all for 4,750 dinars, and we were not going super cheap. A lunch in any above-average restaurant will not be more than 8,000 dinars and that includes everything. 15,000 thousand is a meal in a super expensive restaurant in Arasat Street, in one of those places that really almost have an "only foreigners allowed, no Iraqis welcome unless you are UN staff" sign on it. I will stop calling them tourist when they stop taking all this pampering from the Iraqi government.

Not much to add to that, is there?

Posted by susanna at 06:33 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Hiding behind God

One of the most infuriating aspects of the peacemongering movement is the craven and despicable use of God and Jesus as cudgels to beat the Bush administration and any of those who support military means to disarm Saddam. Religionists who find in their own spiritual walk a strong distaste for war despite almost any circumstances make every effort to cloak themselves in righteousness as they tell the rest of us that we're godless wretches for believing war is the right thing to do. I haven't any problem with their decision to oppose it, even on religious grounds. I object vehemently to their pseudopiety in saying that their position is supported by Jesus, as if they have some latter-day revelation.

The examples are many, ranging from Pope John Paul II to the minister who identifies himself as the Bishop of the church where President Bush goes, in an anti-war commercial for the National Council of Churches. It's not unusual or inappropriate for people with strong religious zeal to go against what they believe is wrong. But when ministers and other religious types step forward to oppose the war condemning it in God's name it is, in my opinion, a sinful invoking of God and Jesus as if they carry the weight of God's word behind them They do not. They only carry the weight of a firm conviction fueling a human opinion. Because, in the final analysis, the Bible does not speak to the Iraq issue.

This finally boiled over for me when I received an email from Ty Clevenger, a Christian who obtained his law degree from Stanford. Ty is a member of a Stanford-related listserv, and forwarded a link to this column by Dan Clendenin, a theology PhD who works with the InterVarsity Christian Faculty Fellowship at Stanford. He begins with a brief discussion of the book by Charles Sheldon that became the "What Would Jesus Do?" book. He then jumps off to explain how he opposes the war in Iraq. Here is an excerpt:

Each of the 38 chapters presents a sort of ethical dilemma and ends with the question: what would Jesus do? Before each and every action or decision, Sheldon challenges us to ask what Jesus would do. Of course, many people love to make fun of this, and perhaps rightfully so if we insinuate that life's moral choices are always and only as easy as asking that question and then getting a simple, definitive answer. Part of Christian maturity is realizing that some (not all) moral choices are murky.

Like Iraq. When I joined about 100,000 people in the San Francisco peace rally (February 16, 2003), this was far and away the most provocative placard I saw: “Who Would Jesus Bomb?” Right now our country faces murky moral choices regarding Iraq, and Christians can claim no special insights into international diplomacy. But Christians can and should have very strong biases toward peace, life, and justice for every human being. When I read, think, and dialogue with others about our country's posture toward Iraq, and when I filter all of that through Sheldon's WWJD?, I become increasingly opposed to our government's stance on Iraq. Specifically, I am opposed to a preemptive attack against Iraq that does not have wide spread support from the citizens and governments of the international community. Four issues in particular bother me.

You're welcome to read the whole thing for his "four issues", but let me note that none of them have to do with anything Jesus actually said and everything to do with his own extrapolation of his general religious beliefs. I had hopes for him when he said decisions can be murky and we shouldn't always expect a clear, easy answer. That's true, and demonstrably so from Scripture, although in many matters it does give explicit answers. But how does Clendenin's pondering of WWJD? suddenly flow into a lack of support for the war in Iraq, specifically if it doesn't have international community support? What verse in the Bible says, "Thou shalt not rain bombs on any vile dictatorship no matter what it does to its people unless Syria, Russia and France are on your side"? If he can find it, he's got a different Bible from the one I have. He states that he is not always against war, but when he says this one is wrong, he lays it at the feet of "isolationism" that doesn't pass the standard of "WWJD?"

I just get physically sick about these people, most especially those like the pope and Talbert. They do more to torture and damage the word of God than any atheist could hope to do. I will tell you this: They do not have support for their opposition from anything Jesus says, or the apostles, or the Old Testament. And you know what? I don't have support for my position either, in the sense of an explicit guidance about the rightness of any war. It is an extrapolation. They can extrapolate all they want, but to claim that their reading is supported by Scripture, implicitly or explicitly, is just wrong and, in my view, using God to further earthly goals that have nothing to do with God's plan for earth. It's very true that I think we have moral principles in Scripture that guide our lives, including in making decisions about such things as war, and some cases are clearer than other. But... well... Ty says it better than me in his email to the listserv - and I agree with him completely:

Mr. Bailey, et. al,

I've read articles by authors who support the war and oppose the war, with both sides claiming that the Bible supports his/her viewpoint. I believe both sides are mistaken.

Jesus Christ was adamantly apolitical. When asked about paying taxes to Caesar, He said, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's." (Matthew 22:21; see also Mark 12:17 and Luke 20:25). I'm sure the Lord, in his omniscience, had an opinion on Caesar's tax policy, but he didn't express it.

In Romans 13 we are told to submit to earthly authorities. There were exceptions when those authorities forbade Christianity, but there were no exceptions made for political disagreement with a particular policy.

John 18:36 and Matthew 10:34, taken together, might seem as if the Lord is on both sides of the war issue. He is in both cases, however, describing the spiritual -- rather than earthly -- nature of His kingdom. II Corinthians 10:3-4 explains that though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh. The armor of God in Ephesians 6 clearly is a spiritual illustration.

One can often find some support for a political proposition in the New Testament, but too often the passages are taken out of context. In Luke 22:38, for example, He speaks favorably of His disciples acquiring swords, though I don't think that should be construed as a political statement on gun control. Jesus overturned the tables in the temple, but that doesn't mean he condoned violence.

There were plenty of political evils during His days on earth, but Jesus said virtually nothing about them. What did He say about slavery? Nothing. Oppressive taxation? Nothing. Imperialism? Nothing. Totalitarianism? Nothing. The Roman invasion of Israel? Nothing.

You asked the question "What would Jesus Do?" with regard to the looming war in Iraq. Probably nothing. That's not what He is about.

Sincerely,
Ty Clevenger

Those of us who are Christians have a responsibility to search God's word and live our lives in harmony with it. There are many shades of gray that leave us room to make our own decisions, with nothing explicit to guide us more in one way or the other. I will say this again, and bluntly: Religious leaders who use the Bible to condemn or support the war in Iraq are overstepping the bounds of the Bible's teaching, and run the risk of using God to support their earthly ambitions. And that is a great sin.

UPDATE: I want to clarify, after rereading this, that I find Dr. Clendenin's stance in this regard to be less problematic than that of others. I sent an email telling him about this, he responded and I responded back to him. Those emails are in the MORE section.

Dr. Clendenin-

I read your column about WWJD? and the war in Iraq, and I very much disagree with your take. Not so much that you should support the war - that's your personal decision and spiritual struggle - but that you make it implicit that not only do you not support it, but Jesus wouldn't either. That is rather bold and, I think, Scripturally unsupportable.

I've posted about it on my weblog, cut on the bias, and wanted to let you know. If you want to respond in any way, I'll be more than happy to post it on my site as well.

Here is the link:

http://bias.blogfodder.net/archives/2003_02.html#006544

respectfully,
susanna cornett

-------------

Thanks, Susanna. I have read your piece. In general, I think
such give-n-take in the body of Christ is entirely healthy when done
with mutual respect. So, write on!

I think you over-interpret my position. (1) I thought I clearly
said the Iraq situation is morally murky and that I am not entirely or
always against war. I gave examples. (2) I also tried to be very careful
about what I opposed---not war, per se, but a pre-emptive war that lacks
international support and which, I fear, might do more harm than good.
Here the issue is pre-emption vs. containment.

I do have to say that I was surprised when you wrote that
people like me make you physically sick and that I do more harm than
an atheist. ---dan

------------

>I do have to say that I was surprised when you wrote that
>people like me make you physically sick and that I do more harm than
>an atheist. ---dan

I understand why that would be surprising to you. It is a different kind of "physical sickness" than what I feel with people who disdain God altogether, but it is still a strong sense of distress and anger that makes me almost nauseated. But let me explain. From what I read of your other posts, and in your biography, you seem like an extremely good and nice man who intends goodness and godliness in your life. However, when you step beyond the bounds of what God intends with His word, and invoke that as a license to involve yourself in earthly political and social efforts in His name in ways that include condemning people who don't do as you say, then you are perverting His word in the most insidious way - from good intentions. God's Word is about how to seek and find Him through molding our lives to His will; our interactions with the world as a whole should emerge from those efforts, but rarely are those interactions specifically dictated by God. To indicate otherwise damages the purity of His message.

For example, I think that you and I can stand on opposite sides of the issue of war in Iraq and both be pleasing to God - not because He supports or doesn't support the war, but because His Word doesn't deal explicitly with that kind of situation and we're both making our choice as a part of our struggle toward serving Him. I think removing the threat of Saddam and other matters (including freeing Iraqis from his oppression) are the right reasons for a necessary war. You think the potential for death in the war and the arrogance of our nation in its approach to the war are both against what's right. We disagree. I don't think God would come down on one side or the other, but He *does* hold us accountable for how we got to that decision and what we do once we're there.

What you do is make God political where He isn't. It's a difficult line, because we must, as I said before, use our faith as a basis for our interactions with the world. What we have to be careful not to do is use God's word as a definitive, ending-the-argument reason for the choice we've made. It is, as you say, murkier than that. I will also say that you are definitely far down on the list of people who do this kind of thing; I think Pope John Paul II carries a huge weight in this regard, and I found United Methodist Bishop Melvin Talbert's commercial against the war for the National Council on Churches to be both reprehensible and ungodly - especially since he is identified specifically as from "President Bush's church", which is a deliberate political slap. The pope and Talbert have no standing except as leaders of their religious group - they don't speak for God. I'll make it clear that I'm speaking more of them, in my post. Here's the link about Talbert: http://umns.umc.org/03/jan/038.htm

As for the "doing more harm than atheists", isn't it always true that an attack from within is more damaging than an attack from without? For example, it means more in the abortion debate for the Jane Doe of Roe v Wade to be anti-abortion these days than it means for me to be. When Christians use their beliefs as a political tool, invoking the "God-is-behind-me-thus-the-argument-is-over" stance on issues that *the Bible does not address*, they tear at the fabric of credulity and damage the Word's ability to speak to the hearts of non-believers who see the inconsistency in the stance. If I say, "God wants us to free the oppressed people of Iraq! and you say, "God wants us to preserve the lives of the children of Iraq by resolving this through diplomacy!", and we both claim to be Christians... what does that say to the non-Christian? Pretty much that one of us is lying, or God is lying, or that it's all just a bunch of hooey anyway. If we *both* say, "God doesn't address this directly, but my Christian path leads me to believe it's better to take this course", and our courses are different, we've not impugned God, just made it clear that, again as you said, some decisions are murky and have to be made in the hearts of honest, God-fearing yet imperfect humans.

I've rambled on too long, but I wanted to make it clear to you why I said the things I did. It is my habit - as it says on my website - to post emails like our exchange on the site so others reading it can get the full story. As you are likely not familiar with this medium, I won't do so until I get your ok. I would like to post both your response email (unedited), and this response to you, as well as any subsequent exchange, on my site. With your permission.

In Christ,
susanna cornett

-----------

sure, post away. ---dan

Posted by susanna at 12:31 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

February 21, 2003

Hanging out in the bathroom with bloggers


"Hello? Susanna? This is Jim Bowen."

"Hi, Jim! I'd about given you up!"

"Yeah! Well, we were just waiting until it kind of calmed down. I'm here in the bathroom, it's quieter in here..."

"Ohhhhh..."

"Yeah. Oh! Here's (name indistinguishable with the tile reverb), talk to him!"

Thus began the infamous Mid West BlogBash IV Bathroom Blogchat. I'd gotten messages earlier from Dodd and Jim asking if I'd like to be a part of the Chatathon during the BlogBash. Dodd called earlier tonight to let me know he didn't go to St. Louis after all - over two hours later we finally said goodbye, confirming what I knew all along: Neither of us can shut up. Fortunately, we're both scintillating conversationalists :D so it wasn't a problem. Dodd is so nice. Finally Jim called about 9:30, and the pass-around began.

I didn't get the name of the first blogger after Jim (sorry! it was tile reverb!), who didn't seem quite sure who I was (or maybe who he was?) either. Then Charles Austin got on the line - a very cool guy! He promised not to put my name on the bathroom wall, although he said it wouldn't matter anyway since it was a family restaurant with a unisex bathroom. Besides, he said, it's long distance! Who's going to call long distance from a bathroom!

Um, YOU, Charles?!

Next up was Matt; we had quite a nice mutual admiration society going on. He was Overtaken by his wife Vicky, who hastened to inform me that there were two women and 12 guys at the party. Rats, Vicky, you know how to make a girl jealous! Vicky and I found a lot in common, including a fondness of the South and a mortal fear of Newark. Finally she handed off the phone to...

I don't know who. But he hung up.

And suddenly I was no longer in a bathroom in St. Louis, but a little bedroom in downtown Kearny, only minutes away from where the dog was rescued from an ice floe only yesterday, viewed by people all over the nation. Yes, my life is one excitement after another.

But I don't know when I'll have another spike of joy like talking to bloggers in a far-removed bathroom.

Posted by susanna at 10:52 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Escape!

I just finished digging out my car and moved it. I'm free! Very cool.

It's amazing how exciting it is to be able to go somewhere without walking a long distance for the first time in about a week. Makes me appreciate what I often take for granted. Now what should I do to celebrate?

Go shopping?!

Glad you suggested it. Later!

Posted by susanna at 12:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A necessary voice

The headline says it all:

Memo Osama bin Laden, from a fellow Muslim: go to hell

Dr. Muqtedar Khan is director of international studies at Adrian College in Michigan and author of American Muslims: Bridging Faith and Freedom. The column was originally posted on his own site, but was picked up by the Australian newspaper The Age. Here's a few excerpts:

I am writing this to make clear there are Muslims in America and in the world who despise and condemn extremists and have nothing to do with you, and those like you, for whom killing constitutes worship.

Islam was sent as mercy to humanity and not as an ideology of terror or hatred. It advocates plurality and moral equality of all faiths (Koran 2:62, 5:69). To use Islam to justify declaring Armageddon against all non-Muslims is inherently un-Islamic - it is a despicable distortion of a faith of peace...

Once the war is declared, however, make no mistake, Mr bin Laden (you too, Mr Saddam Hussein), we are with America. We will fight with America and we will fight for America. We have a covenant with this nation, which we see as a divine commitment, and we will not disobey the Koran (9:4) - we will fulfil our obligations as citizens to the land that opened its doors to us and promised us equality and dignity even though we are of a different faith. I am sure, Mr bin Laden, you can neither understand nor appreciate this willingness to accept and welcome the other...

Remember this: Muslims from all over the world who wished to live better lives migrated to America, and Muslims who only wished to take lives migrated to Afghanistan to join you. We will not follow the desires of people (like you) who went astray and led many astray from the Straight Path (Koran 5:77).

It's an excellent piece, and precisely what needs to be said. Dr. Khan doesn't like the Bush administration nor does he think the war in Iraq is necessarily a righteous thing. But he's making it clear that he stands with America, not with the Muslim extremists, while not abandoning his faith at all.

Obviously I have major religious differences with Dr. Khan, but I believe we can live in the same country and work toward the same national success without having to agree on religious doctrine. I'm glad to see him agreeing, and making clear that Islam as a religion doesn't have to be about killing the infidels.

[Link via Tim Blair]

Posted by susanna at 10:14 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Links & true love

Matt at Overtaken by Events yesterday asked everyone to visit his wife Vicky's site, Liquid Courage, to take her over the 10,000 mark by tonight's Mid West BlogBash IV. Well, it appears to have worked since she was at 9,993 when I clicked over this morning. So I say - can we get her to 10,500 by the time the BlogBash starts at 7 p.m. CST tonight? Click over and help out. She's got reluctant dismay at French anti-Americanism; a rant about Jeb Bush that reveals her regretable liberal tendencies (but we're all friends here, right?); and the struggles of preparing a romantic dinner for a husband temporarily sans teeth.

Is that why Matt doesn't have a photo of him on his site?

Posted by susanna at 08:38 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Counting bias

The organizers of last Sunday's peace march in San Francisco reported attendance of 200,000.

The SF police reported attendance of 200,000.

The Chronicle and SFGate.com are now saying: 65,000.

C&SFG were accused of inflated counts during the last march, so this time around they hired a company to fly over for photographs. Using those, they applied a more scientific methodology for the count and came up with 65,000. It didn't make the organizers happy.

When told of The Chronicle's survey, Alex S. Jones, the director of Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, said, "The number of people (in a crowd) is a mythical number, and now you're going to turn it into a fact, and that won't be welcomed."

...Police and event organizers, when told of The Chronicle's numbers, stood by their estimates of 200,000 marchers, though both groups based their figures almost entirely on observational methods and not on a verifiable methodology...

"Oh my word. Come on, that's ridiculous," said Bill Hackwell, spokesman for International ANSWER, one of the groups that organized Sunday's march and rally.

But there's independent corroboration:

The Chronicle figure was supported by BART and Golden Gate Transit rider numbers...

Asked later in the week for specific numbers, BART spokesman Mike Healy said that during the entire day Sunday -- from about 8 a.m. to midnight -- 66,254 people had exited the gates at the Embarcadero, Montgomery Street, Powell Street and Civic Center stations.

By comparison, 23,406 people had exited those same gates the previous Sunday, Feb. 9, a difference of about 43,000 riders, he said. Not all riders attended the march and not all marchers rode BART.

...Ferries from Sausalito and Larkspur transported 7,000 people to San Francisco on Sunday. On an average Sunday, 1,500 people make the trip, said Mary Currie, spokeswoman for Golden Gate Transit.

I'm delighted to see newspapers getting proactive in estimating crowds, for the very reason they state:

Crowd size in a demonstration is important because organizers tend to use it as evidence of support for their cause.

How many times have you heard that "10 million people all over the world marched for peace!"? If the counts were off consistently as much as they were in San Francisco, that number would be more like 3,250,000, which is less than a third. That's not necessarily the case - some counts could have been more accurate than others - but it does cast a lot of doubt on the level of support for the peacemongering cause.

This new method will be resisted, as the article says, but I admire the C&SFG for putting out the extra effort. I hope other media outlets pick it up until not doing so says quite a bit on its own. Regardless of who's marching - whether for a conservative, liberal or anti-Bush cause - the numbers are pivotal and truth is never a bad thing.

[Link via Instapundit]

Posted by susanna at 08:10 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

February 20, 2003

The True Majority Moves On

Glenn Reynolds pointed out that the Win Without War folks (Move On) are holding a "Virtual March" on February 26, and they're inviting citizens to sign up to call the White House and their senators during the day to flood the Capitol with dissent.

So I signed up.

I'm scheduled to call my senators and the White House about 9:40 a.m. (spread out in 5 min increments). They offer a list of things you can say - Talking Points - and a television commercial by Martin Sheen to encourage you. I found my own inspiration; here's the message I pledged to phone in, which they said would show up on their message boards while I'm calling:

We must stop the killing of Iraqis by removing Saddam from power, giving them a chance at democracy. Appeasement and delay will increase the danger to both Iraqis and our soldiers. I urge you to support the President and our many allies in moving forward without further delay.

They also have an opportunity to send faxes to the senators through TrueMajority.com. Here's the text they suggest you send:

I am a constituent of yours and I write today as a participant in Win Without War's Virtual March. I am one of the majority of Americans concerned that President Bush's rush to war is dangerous and unnecessary.

Our nation needs to support tough United Nations inspections. Going to war with Iraq will kill thousands of civilians and soldiers, create an atmosphere that breeds terrorists, and divert money from programs that can really create a safer and more just society.

Please do everything you can to support the inspections process and resist our nation rushing to war.

The writing was pretty good, but I needed to tweak it a bit to more fully express my views. So here's what I edited it to:

I am a constituent of yours and I write today as a participant in Win Without War's Virtual March. I am one of the majority of Americans who realize that President Bush's concern about Iraq is legitimate and based on facts about the current Iraqi regime.

Our nation needs to support the millions of Iraqis oppressed by Saddam, and prevent them from joining the thousands already dead at his hands. Going to war with Iraq will save thousands of civilians, create an atmosphere that discourages terrorists, and prevent another 9/11 with the attendant damage to our economy. It will underscore our standing as a just society.

Please do everything you can to prevent further delay in removing Saddam from power.

According to the site, that fax was sent right away to Senators Corzine and Lautenberg. I feel that I have participated in the Democratic process. I really appreciate MoveOn and TrueMajority for making it possible.

UPDATE: Diane at Letter from Gotham thinks we should write letters the old-fashioned way, and ship them off to our senators and congressmen. I think it's good to use all those methods. I'll do the phone and email thing, but I'll follow it up with a letter. Diane has the text of her own letter posted, which is an excellent place to start.

Posted by susanna at 05:33 PM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

How to insult while saying insulting is bad

Andrew Sullivan is giving Churchill AND Lady Astor both a run for their money in this little riff on Tina Brown:

It's the most rickety crutch for a female columnist with nothing to say, but that hasn't stopped both Maureen Dowd and now Tina Brown from throwing baldly sexist remarks at the Bush administration. MoDo recently went on a rant about the "locker-room" taunts and high testosterone in the White House. Brown now gives us this brilliant insight:
Is it just the residue of fashion week that makes me wish there were more, or should I say any, gay men in the Bush Administration? At The Sunday Times in the Seventies one top editor used to shake his head when the paper became too humourlessly high-testosterone and say that what it needed that week was 'more pooftah power'. In lieu of outright womanhood — except for Condoleezza Rice, who crosses the gender barriers by becoming the most zealous enabler — perhaps an injection of androgyny could be brought to bear on diplomatic relations in this moment of crisis. The Bush crowd's only management style, like that of many who subscribe to the outmoded cult of America’s Toughest Bosses, is to unzip and thwack it on the table.

Ignore the homophobic stereotypes. (Why is it "gay" to be lacking in testosterone? Or androgynous? Or soft on dictators?) Imagine if a male writer used similarly sexist language to describe, say, Tina Brown's administration at the New Yorker. Imagine sentences like this: "Wouldn't it be better if there had been more men at the New Yorker in the '90s? And I don't mean Tina's neutered gay male flunkies. Brown's flitty attention span, bouts of editorial PMS, hysterical responses to criticism and general whorishness toward publicists and celebrities made for a very menstrual management style." It would never be written. It should never be written. It's sexist, dumb and almost meaningless. But in all those respects, it's indistinguishable from Tina's latest column.

Well, Andrew, congratulations, you just wrote it! And brilliantly. Funniest thing I've read recently.

Posted by susanna at 10:57 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Good riddance

Several states either have or are considering eliminating the millions they spend on arts programs:

A legislative committee has recommended eliminating the state arts agency in Arizona and its $5.1 million annual budget. It has also recommended that a $7 million fund established as an endowment for arts programs be dissolved, so the money can be used for other purposes.

Arizona is not the only state taking such a radical step. Gov. James E. McGreevey of New Jersey, who is grappling with a $5 billion deficit, has proposed cutting the entire $18 million budget of his state's Council on the Arts and canceling a planned $10 million payment to a cultural trust fund that supports small arts groups. Missouri is also planning to eliminate its entire arts budget. Other states may follow suit as they confront daunting fiscal challenges.

The arts community is up in arms, saying their states will become "cultural wastelands", and pointing out that the arts bring a lot of money to the states. The question I have is - do the arts bring in more money than they cost? If so, then the states can make a clear cost/benefit analysis to keep that in the budget. If not, why should we keep it?

I fully believe that art is an essential part of life - beauty in music, painting, sculpture, or the humbler crafts like quilting or furniture making, bring a lyricism to the daily flow of difficulties and disappointments. But I don't think the public needs to support it with tax dollars. As we've seen, that leads to a lot of abuses as people who engage in what could only be very marginally called "art" receive large sums of money that we've had to grind away behind a desk to contribute to the government. And I don't think that art which deserves the name will go wanting for support in our society if the average citizen had more money (i.e. paid less in tax) to spend on it. I know that I would be more likely to go to the opera, buy CDs, spend hundreds on an original painting or invest in a beautiful piece of furniture.

I also think that private foundations would step into the breach, serving as the classic patrons that supported art in other centuries, as would commercial companies which understand both the value of attractive facilities and the good will that comes from supporting local or national artists. That's the model we need to follow, rather than the self-esteem building that seems to be the point of many arts programs today. I watched some of the "worst of" auditions for American Idol last night, and while it hurt to watch the hopes of these young people be crushed, at the same time you had to admire the honesty of the judges. "You have no talent", one said to a singer. "The best thing you can do for everyone is never sing again." A bit harsh, but it wouldn't hurt a few more artists to hear that about their own "craft". And if they have to compete on the open market, it'll happen sooner rather than later. That's a good thing.

I say, next let's dump the National Endowment for the Arts.

UPDATE: Fritz Schranck has a few comments on state budgets as well. He's more measured and broadbased, pointing out that we have to distinguish between "needed" programs and "nice-to-haves". IMHO, arts funding the way it's done now isn't even a "nice-to-have" - it's "an-outright-annoyance".

Posted by susanna at 10:05 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Understandable, but wrong

Jesse Jackson always jumps into the middle of anything to do with black businesses or black issues which he thinks he can use to political advantage. He's now in the midst of the tragedy at the Epitome club in Chicago, where 21 young people lost their lives last weekend. But this time there's a little more than just advantage - he actually has known the owner of the club for decades, a worker in the civil rights trenches with the owner's father in the 1960s. So at least in this situation, he has legitimate connections and a commendable concern for both the owner and the victims.

But he's wrong. Again. And I don't get why he doesn't get it.

All these folks are ministers; it seems that a prerequisite for Black Civil Rights Leader is the appellation "Reverend"*. Jesse Jackson wears it, as does the father of club owner Dwain Kyles, Samuel Kyles. So what are they doing defending practices that are clearly illegal, or at least defending someone who knowingly engaged in illegal activities? I'm sure Dwain Kyles really and truly is heartbroken at the deaths in his club. People often do things they know are wrong without any real intent to harm (just ask any drunk driver who's killed someone). But while Jackson's concern and support for Kyles is likely genuine and thus laudable, he also needs to vocally condemn what's wrong about Kyles' behavior even as he supports the family.

Of course, Jackson is an excellent role model for "do as I say, not as I do".

It's also annoying that knowing Martin Luther King Jr. personally is supposed to give these guys a patina of legitimacy 30+ years later, no matter their own imbroglios and inconsistencies. I would think you honor memories by doing what's right, not expect the memories to whitewash your sins.

The article in the NY Times is actually quite good, I think; it doesn't condemn Jackson openly but it doesn't flinch from the ambiguities of the situation either.

UPDATE: Rod Dreher isn't as nice as I was. And he's right.

* You won't find me using "Reverend" for ministers - I don't use it for anyone, even those for whom it is a formal title. Nor would I address a priest as "Father". It's a religious choice, you're welcome to ask me more about it privately. So if it seems I don't call someone "Reverend this" or "Father that", it's because I don't.

Posted by susanna at 09:40 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Infidelity not limited to infidels

Nouf from Riyadh had a problem - her hubby's behavior had changed, and she wanted to know why. So she tracked him on a suspicious trip to Riyadh, learning that not only did he have a lover, but that he had married her. Well, Nouf wasn't very happy with that, and moved out until her hubby divorced the extra woman. Even after they got back together she was suspicious, so she wiretapped the phone and recorded his conversations - learning that he had three other lovers.

A Saudi soap opera? Sure, but, according to this article, true. Apparently Saudi wives are tracking down their husbands and catching them in infidelities... but what do you do with the information? A divorced woman in Saudi Arabia isn't, as the article says, in a "stable" situation. The method of response seems to be nagging and shaming. Interesting.

My question is - what happens to all those women who are having the affairs with the men? Isn't there some kind of big death thing waiting for the unfaithful? There's no hint of that in the article. That's the story I'm interested in.

Meanwhile, I'm waiting for the reality show: Survivor: Who Can Fornicate With A Saudi Man And Live To Tell About It?

Posted by susanna at 09:04 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

They have the clue

Arab countries are dithering about how to respond, but they're clear that war is on the way:

Saudi Arabia thinks war will break out in Iraq soon despite efforts to pre-empt it and there is no need for a planned Arab summit after last week’s Arab ministerial meeting in Cairo, which was marked by rifts...

The Arab foreign ministers’ meeting in Cairo last week was marked by rifts between US allies like Egypt and Gulf states and countries like Syria whose ties with the United States are strained. The meeting ended with a call on Arab countries to deny any support for military action against Iraq, but analysts said it was a toothless gesture to mollify citizens and would not stop the US troop buildup in the region.

All Arab states publicly oppose a US-led war on Iraq over alleged weapons of mass destruction, but many are in a quandary because they are US allies. Iraq denies it has such arms. The Kingdom has already told Arab countries that a US war on Iraq was inevitable and warned of its serious consequences.

Asharq Al-Awsat, a sister publication of Arab News, yesterday quoted an “informed Saudi source” as saying that the Kingdom explained frankly to Arab countries that the danger is real and the war is coming.

Yep. They had time to influence Iraq to change and they didn't do it. Too little too late. Interesting that they're divided, just like NATO. And even more interesting that they're even divided on whether the Arab nations are going to meet again to discuss it:

As the envoy addressed the UN, Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal told Okaz newspaper that there was no need for an emergency Arab League summit after last week’s ministerial session. “If that summit does not emerge with a decision concerning the Iraq crisis agreed upon by all Arab states, then it could make matters worse.” The emergency meeting is tentatively scheduled to take place in Egypt on Feb. 28...

But in Cairo, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said there would definitely be an Arab summit on the Iraq crisis. An Arab League spokesman said a date for the summit would be announced soon.

Better not wait too late or it'll be... well, too late.

Posted by susanna at 08:42 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

More on the South Korean subway disaster

It looks like the death toll could climb much higher than 125 in the South Korean subway disaster and, like so often happens, many of the deaths may be attributable to failure to protect against fire:

The country's third-largest city is flying all flags at half-mast for five days, as the official death toll stands at 125, with 146 injured and 305 missing after fire gutted two trains...

Media reports said no sprinklers were installed in the station, fireproof materials were absent and materials used on the trains were known to emit toxic fumes when burned.

Also, soon after the fire broke out, the station was plunged into darkness as the power system was automatically shut down, turning it into a death trap.

And what I don't get is this photograph, taken inside one of the cars:

SK subway dis 2-03.jpg
THE NIGHTMARE BEGINS: Commuters cover their faces as smoke begins to fill their carriage. The photographer passed out but was rescued. -- MAEIL SHIN MUN/ REUTERS

I wonder what they were thinking? Why were they just sitting there? Could more have been saved if they'd started evacuating immediately?

Posted by susanna at 12:10 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

February 19, 2003

We can't expect better

Sasha Castel has the inside track on the French tendency to surrender - it's apparently an inbred trait of many centuries' standing:

"The French had made themselves a laughingstock in the eyes of the Moslem world and their reputation lay in the dust. Money and Resources were running out, morale was low, and Louis, who had been dogged by disaster throughout, seems to have lost his enthusiasm for the military aspects of the venture..."

And that was in the 12th century! Sasha has more quotes from Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life.

Posted by susanna at 07:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Excavations and pleasures

I went out again to dig out my car some; it's beginning to emerge from the snowbank but because of my back and knee (oh the trials of age) I can't keep at it for very long. It doesn't help that people keep whizzing past, splashing the slush from the road onto my butt as I lean over to fill my shovel again. Where's the dignity?! It's funny, though, how much the snowbank now looks like an archaelogical dig.

I've enjoyed the lazy days at home. Today I finally cooked, making White Bean Chili and Sundried Tomato and Asiago Bread in the bread maker. Mmmmmm. The time is especially precious since I know that friends of mine in the Lexington, KY, area are still without electricity four days after their ice storm. Nasty.

And no, you probably don't care about all this. So come back later, maybe I'll rip open some noxious NY Times columnist or something. But if you're feeling hungry, I've put today's recipes in the MORE section.

White Bean Chili
(from the sister of a friend… lest I claim improper credit)

1 lb large white beans
6 cups chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, chopped
2 4-oz cans mild green chilis, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1½ tsp oregano
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
4 cups diced cooked chicken breast

Combine beans, broth, garlic and half the onions in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are soft, about three hours. Add more broth if necessary.

About 15 minutes before the beans are done, sauté the remaining onion in 1 tablespoon chicken broth until tender. Add the chilis and seasonings, and mix well.

Add seasoning and chicken to beans; simmer ½ to 1 hour. Served topped with grated cheese, salsa and sour cream.

YUMMY! Great for a winter evening, and it keeps and reheats well.

(NOTES: I never can leave a recipe alone, and sometimes the way you fix something is as important as what you put in it. So I try to remember to put in notes about what I did differently. This required about four cups more liquid than it called for; I dumped in water about halfway through the cooking of the beans. The chicken I cut raw into chunks and sauted in the pan I heated the onion and spices in; gives it a nice appearance and a deeper flavor. Oh, and I used a tablespoon of olive oil for the onion saute, then cooking spray for the chicken. And I left out the cayenne pepper. But then you knew I'm a wuss.)

Sun Dried Tomato and Asiago Cheese Bread
Tomato and cheese healthful, low-fat bread for the bread machine. You may substitute wheat bran for the amaranth flour if you wish.
Makes 1 - 1 1/2 pound loaf (12 servings).
Printed from Allrecipes, Submitted by Marlene Rosensweig


1 cup water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons instant powdered milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup amaranth flour
2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup grated Asiago cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil (optional)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon active dry yeast

Directions
1 Place all ingredients into bread machine in order given.
2 Bake according to bread machine directions for regular bake.

(NOTES: My breadmaker makes a 1-pound loaf, so I used the recipe scaler on the site to get the amounts for a smaller loaf (link). I didn't have amaranth bread, so I used regular flour. The loaf is a little heavy, but I'm not sure if that's because of the flour. I also used regular milk instead of the powdered milk because I didn't have that either. Otherwise, I did what it said. Well. Close. I used a little more sundried tomato and cheese. Of course I did.)

Posted by susanna at 05:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saudi rumblings of change

Here's a set of articles in the Arab News that, together, look very interesting to me. First, an article where Prince Naif refutes a NY Times article saying he disagreed with Crown Prince Abdullah which also has other points of note:

Interior Minister Prince Naif has said that he had welcomed the recent meeting between Crown Prince Abdullah, deputy premier and commander of the National Guard, and a group of reformists.

He was refuting a report in The New York Times which stated that he was against Prince Abdullah’s reformist agenda...

Prince Naif also refuted arguments from unspecified foreign bodies that personal liberty, women’s rights and press freedom are all curtailed in the Kingdom.

“The Saudis know their country better than anyone else. Every society makes decisions independently. It’s not necessary for us to imitate others. We won’t accept anyone telling us what to do.”

...The interior minister disclosed that 90 Saudis are to face trial for having links to the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization.

“There is evidence that these 90 people belong to Al-Qaeda and their cases have been referred to court,” he explained.

So Naif is backing down on his objections to reformers, and the ruling class is at least giving public support to the concept of reform. And they're emphasizing a crackdown on Al-Qaeda. But then there's this article:

Prince Abdul Rahman, the deputy defense and aviation minister, meanwhile asserted that no foreign troops would be allowed to attack any Arab country from Saudi territory. “Be assured that no one will be allowed to step into Saudi Arabia to fight any Arab country,” the prince told Saudi troops and members of the Peninsula Shield forces in the north of the country. “This is the position of every Saudi official,” he said.

And then this:

Prince Sultan, second deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation, yesterday defended the presence of foreign forces in the Kingdom and said they were here for the benefit of the whole region.

“What we have are forces from the United States, Britain and France that have been here for 12 years under a Security Council resolution and an agreement signed by the countries and the Iraqi government,” he said.

“This situation will continue because it is good for those countries, for Iraq and for Saudi Arabia,” he told reporters.

It seems the Saudis realize just how thin a razor line they're walking, with pressure to reform and the need to keep the US troops in their country for their own safety, with a warring pressure to not seem to kowtow to the US or allow Arab countries to be the subject of military action from Saudi Arabia. Which way will they eventually go?

I'm voting for "down".

Posted by susanna at 03:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Freaky

I've been talking to my brother for the past hour online as we surfed around the net, and he's been complaining about being unable to post on Blogger. Great upgrade, Google! Anyway, I was able to get to Blogger sites, so I thought, must just be a posting issue. I was reading Tim Blair's site, clicked off to read an article, hit "Back" to go read more on Tim's site... and wound up on The Vermont Reactionary.

Huh?

I don't know that I'd been there before (altho it looked good), so it couldn't have gotten all tangled in my Favorites list. And the "timblair.blogspot.com" was sitting comfortably and nonchalantly in the "Address" space. So I clicked back again, then forward - TVR still. I clicked the Forward button again, then back... and was back on Tim's site.

Blogmess days are here again, the code inside is smeared again... la la la.

Dodd, if I haven't thanked you lately for rescuing me from Blogger, THANK YOU! You rock, dude.

Posted by susanna at 12:41 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

When you can't even get your bias right

Here's an amusing article in the NY Observer on the struggles at The New Republic to get their bias right:

Here we go again: The New Republic’s railing on the Democratic Party. This time, they’ve got a publicist calling up reporters, touting a hot new redesign and bragging that the magazine is getting "daring" and "more conservative."

This happens from time to time. The New Republic has a long tradition of within-the-party tree shaking, including stances against Jimmy Carter’s foreign policy and to nuclear freezes. It supported the deployment of advance missiles to Germany; it opposed what owner Martin Peretz deemed the "racialization" of the party by men like Jesse Jackson. During that time, remembered former editor Michael Kinsley, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board accused the magazine of "attacking conservatives while stealing their ideas," and staffers joked that TNR should change its name to Even the Liberal New Republic Says …, because it was used so many times to support conservative positions.

Now, amid the George W. Bush era—and, it should be noted with Mr. Peretz’s guy, Al Gore, out of the 2004 presidential race—TNR’s going after its woebegone Democratic flesh and blood with renewed vigor.

"It’s back to the future," said TNR editor Peter Beinart...

Mr. Beinart, who began reading TNR in high school, admitted he felt the magazine was too conservative. Now, he said, he sees The New Republic’s stances not as too conservative, but as rooted in the magazine’s own idea of liberalism, which he believes has been consistent.

I find it interesting that everyone is admitting so openly that the point of reading the magazine is to have their own biases confirmed. After all, who wants to challenge The Party of All That Is Right and Good In The World? It seems to me that Beinart hits a chord when he basically points out that being philosophically liberal does not have to translate one-to-one with supporting the positions and inanities of the Democrat party. I would think adhering to such a philosophy especially when it's discordant with Democrat positions would give it more legitimacy. I know that I as a conservative would be more likely to read and credit their arguments if I knew they weren't just spouting the day's fax from the DNC. And isn't this all about a forum for ideas, not unabased propaganda?

Or did I miss that memo?

I really liked this exchange too:

Asked if the magazine’s fervent war position was a way of selling magazines, and of distancing itself from the liberal competition like The Nation, Mr. Peretz said: "We haven’t had any trouble differentiating ourselves from them in decades. The Nation is edited for aging ex-communists on the West Side. On the Upper West Side."

Contacted for comment, Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel told Off the Record: "I hope Mr. Peretz fact-checks his magazine better than his statements to the media."

mmeeeeooowwww!

I hope The New Republic sticks to its guns if it truly is guiding its vision by a coherent liberal philosophy and not just DNC talking points. Maybe some hardnosed Democrats will have an epiphany that the ends don't always justify the means.

[Link via Romenesko]

Posted by susanna at 12:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Religion in the schools

Earlier this month, the Department of Education released its new guidelines - building on Clinton administration documents - on the expression of religion in schools. Named, simply enough, "Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools", according to Terry Eastland of The Weekly Standard the document takes the protection of religious speech in schools up another notch.

I like to see this happening, in a way, but in others it makes me uneasy. It's definitely the case that secularists have attempted to marginalize religion in public life for decades - not content with cutting it out of official public life, they are increasingly coming after all public expressions of it until someday it would be illegal to say a quiet prayer while waiting in line at the bus stop. You might make someone else feel uncomfortable, you see, and that is the greatest sin in a society where virtually every other sin is embraced with relish. From that aspect, I applaud the Bush administration's move to solidify the right of individuals to pursue their faith in public places.

My unease is twofold. The less important, although not unimportant, is the federal government again stepping in to not only set a standard but to use my tax dollars as a bludgeon to beat the disobedient:

Schools are to use the department's guidance to make sure they aren't abridging rights. Indeed, the law imposes on the schools a requirement that they comply with the guidance. A school that fails to do that stands to lose federal funds. As the administration attorney told me, "We didn't have a stick before. We have one now."

I don't like this at all. We shouldn't be taking away the tax dollars to begin with when all we're going to do is return them to the states with strings attached. And guidelines that go beyond a very general "thou shalt allow this" are begging for interpretations, which will go through the courts, throwing more and more threads around the issue until it's choked by regulation and court ruling. Leave it simple.

Second, and more important in my mind, is the government getting into the religion thing at all. While I think it's shameful for revisionists to try to deny that this country was grounded on both Judeo-Christian tradition and Western common law tradition, I don't think that has to translate into overt displays of Christianity everywhere today. Religious expression should emerge from the soul, not from a desire to make a point or score a political advantage. I'm not offended by efforts to place the Ten Commandments in courthouses; I think those kinds of decisions should be made by the local communities. But I also don't think there should be federal guidelines about how that should happen. Declare religious freedom. Define "state sponsored religion" as one whose infrastructure is explicitly supported by tax dollars - and not just "any religion where a single penny of tax dollars goes to putting up the Ten Commandments". Then let the local communities duke out the rest. That's how democracy - and most particularly American democracy - should work.

And one final note: I find it offensive and hypocritical in the extreme for people to insist that my tax dollars go to providing convenience abortions and then those same people yell foul if their tax dollars go to support a religious display in a courthouse front yard. I suggest you spend a little time exploring the parable of the mote and beam. Hint: you aren't the one with the mote.

Posted by susanna at 11:52 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 18, 2003

Bias?

Look at this photo of Bush, and tell me if you think the choice of this one over others was a deliberate statement about the editor's views about Bush.

Posted by susanna at 11:13 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Gullible Paki paper

And the screed goes on: The online English edition of the Pakistani paper The Daily Times has a pair of columns by leftists that are delusional to the point of self-parody. The first is by John Chuckman, a columnist with the "alternative" newsite YellowTimes.org. After admiring the "astonishing" speech by French Foreign Minister M. de Villepin, Chuckman had this to say about Bush:

Who can stand listening to this man? America is such a vast country and despite its waddling platoons in suspenders stretched sideways like buckling bridge supports and its huge clutches of blinking mascara under chicken-head hairdos, it still has a remarkable number of decent people and educated, critical minds. How is it possible for them to listen to this man who couldn't earn a living demonstrating vacuum cleaners in Wal-Mart?

It is not just that Bush mumbles and slurs words and speaks with the irritating cadence of a storefront preacher looking to the collection plate for his next square meal. It's not just that he makes insultingly broad claims that leave no room for investigation, doubt, or negotiation. It's not just that he regularly uses the wrong words, making many of his speeches resemble parodies or Monty Python skits.

It's the utter nothingness of his thought, the slap-in-the-face, stinging quality of a greatly privileged person who has nothing to say but lacks the grace to avoid saying it. Listening to him suggests what it must have been like living under sixteenth-century princes whose word remained unquestioned despite crushing evidence of excessive inbreeding.

It's good to see that Pakistan is reaching out to the best minds of Canada for its commentary. But wait, there's more - this time from Brian Cloughley, a "former military officer who writes on international affairs" for publications such as The Nation:

America has been humiliated by the stance of the world. Not just by the demonstrations, but by honourable governments who have had enough of unreasonableness and capriciousness on the part of the new imperial power. The real danger lies in Mr Bush’s reaction to events. If he adopts the course of reason and accepts that UN inspections and containment of Iraq will work, then he will look foolish. If he withdraws his thousands of aircraft and quarter million troops he will look weak. If he ignores the UN and attacks alone, with Britain and Australia, he will attract loathing of his country on an unprecedented scale and destroy the UN system, and much of the Middle East with it. Mr Bush has created difficulties for himself by his crude and belligerent intransigence. It is he who downplays the dreadful danger of North Korea while demonstrating paranoia about Iraq. It is he, indeed, who is being unreasonable and capricious.

And there you go. No, no need to thank me. Your amusement is my goal at all times.

Posted by susanna at 08:48 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Very funny

The Last Lion has a couple of political cartoons.

And now that you mention it, I do need some of that duct tape...

[Thanks to Steve Quick for the link]

Posted by susanna at 07:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Go get 'em!

Arthur Silber dismembers a noxious pro-reparations column in the (where else?) New York Times. Take note of Arthur's discussion of framing - how the column writer tries to avoid justifying his stance by presenting as taken the rightness of it. That's always a warning signal that what follows is empty of value.

Posted by susanna at 03:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Should I move to Florida or Texas?

I'd probably choose Texas of those two. I just spent a long time (probably 30 minutes although I'd say on the stand it was an hour) digging out my car, and it's nowhere near rescued. I have a little 1996 Nissan Sentra, and the snow on the road side was up level with the top of the trunk, and about four feet wide from the side of the car to the cleared road. Yes, part of that snow is from the road scrapers, but even on the sides away from the road the snow is up above the bumpers. I had to liberate my snow shovel by digging out the snow on the passenger side by hand - having brilliantly left the shovel in the back seat of the car - then I dug a section about three feet wide from the side of the road to the car, almost to the ground. And stopped. Came back inside. Considered the expense of taking a taxi to the PATH train and back until the temps go up enough to rescue my car. That could take a while.

The pads of my fingers are borderline frostbitten. I need cocoa.

Posted by susanna at 03:01 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

Slash and burn job on the media

Cynthia Cotts in The Village Voice has a very interesting review of the book Beat the Press, by two former reporters turned media consultants. Their view of the media is not pretty:

Politicians and executives will want to read Beat The Press for its useful hints on giving effective interviews, but media people will want to burn this book when they discover it's a takedown of their trade. On page after page, authors Al Guyant and Shirley Fulton portray journalists as a cynical and manipulative bunch who ingratiate themselves with their subjects and then trick them into saying something "stupid, guilty, foolish or worse." It is possibly the most unflattering portrait of the press since Janet Malcolm declared every journalist a "confidence man."

These are some of the tricks reporters might use to "coax information" from a source, according to the book: ask for your opinion, banter with you, and put the results in the story—even though they never include their own "snide remarks," "use prolonged silence . . . to get you talking," throw "rumors, accusations and distortions" at you, and repeat things someone has allegedly said, in hopes of making you "lose your cool."

...According to the book, media coverage these days is "increasingly negative and sensational." You can expect reporters to be "hostile, biased, relentless or dangerously ignorant" people who "often write their stories while wolfing down a meal" and who will play dirty as often as not.

It sounds like the book would be a funny read, and probably even accurate about a certain segment of the media world, but not something you could take completely at face value - probably if you read Bias, Slander, What Liberal Media? and this book one right after another, you'd probably just shoot reporters on sight and have done with it. I'm amused that apparently the media is not reviewing it. And I'm also amused at the book's description of an Internet reporter:

...the Internet reporter is typically a "dangerous loner" who is "not known for writing skills" and "can cause enough rumor or consternation that the traditional [media] feel compelled to report both the allegations and the controversy."

All it needs is a photograph of Drudge.

You'll enjoy the review, and maybe even the book. I have to go now, I'm wolfing down a meal.

[Link via Romenesko]

Posted by susanna at 01:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Salon in deep trouble - again (still?)

Editor & Publisher reports that Salon.com stopped paying its rent in December, and could go out of business as early as the end of this month if things don't look up.

What would that mean for all the Salon blogs?

Posted by susanna at 12:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Is Korean subway fire a terrorism attack?

Today's fire in a Korean city subway which left over 120 people dead was started by a man lighting a flammable liquid in the subway car. Was it terrorism? There's no speculation about that in this article, beyond a comment that apparently he had threatened to set a hospital on fire previously, when he received bad service there.

I'm sure there will be speculation about whether this could happen in the NYC subways, but I don't think it could. The main reason is that I don't think the NYC subway trains are flammable in the way these apparently were. If you've been on them, you know the seats are molded plastic and the fixtures metal; the only flammable things are the advertising signs (and the people). The article says that many of the people succumbed to toxic fumes or smoke inhalation, but that the man who is suspected of doing it is in custody - so he didn't die. That tells me that the substance he used to start the fire does not itself emit highly toxic fumes, because if it did he'd be dead. The seats and other fixtures in the subway train must have caught fire, and the toxicity must have come from them. That's just a guess, but seems logical with the facts. And as always happens in these situations, people were likely trapped with the smoke and fumes as everyone rushed in panic to escape, resulting in the fatalities from smoke inhalation.

It's very sad, and I hope if I'm right about the burning seats that this results in changing how the Korean subway trains are constructed. But I don't think it was terrorism and even if it was, a similar kind couldn't work in NYC. And on a bright note, eyewitness reports make it clear that others on the subway immediately subdued the man when he began his dangerous behavior. Unfortunately for them, due to other circumstances it was too late.

Posted by susanna at 09:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 17, 2003

I almost wish I drank French wines

Just so I could stop.

FoxNews reporter Trace Gallagher just did a spot on a growing discontent with France among Americans that is resulting in lower sales of French products. Should be interesting to see where it goes. I don't think I buy French imports of any sort, but I'll dig around to see.

And if anyone wants to say it's not fair, tell me first where you stood when the gay lobby try to drum up a boycott on Dr. Laura. Then we'll talk.

UPDATE! Scrappleface and the blogosphere are a big part of John Leo's column about the backlash against the French (most specifically Chirac) in the upcoming US News & World Report. Excellent, Scott!

UPDATE AGAIN! Looks like Chirac is finding it heavy going in more ways than one - while letting his arrogance, condescension and true plans out for a walk:

Mr Chirac, who last year put off a UK-France summit after Mr Blair was supposedly "very rude" to the septagenarian politician, let fly at the eastern European EU wannabees, who came out in print so fervently in favour of the UK-US position and against the "old Europe" axis of France and Germany.

In a few well chosen mal mots, the French premier let rip, saying: "They missed a great opportunity to shut up."

He went on in his best professorial tone: "These countries have not been very well-behaved". They had acted "recklessly" by not appreciating the "danger of aligning themselves too rapidly with the American position".

[Link via Instapundit, and as he would say, "chortle!"]

Posted by susanna at 08:00 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

At least it attempts to be a solution

We're always asking the peacemongers to offer a solution to the current crisis other than "don't do what you're threatening to do!" I came across this list today at Not Counting Niggers, a site by Eddie Tews that sees the US as the greatest threat to world peace. To his credit, he counts Bill Clinton and Madeline Albright amongst the warmongers, and thinks the usual peacemonger solutions "should be scrapped". At least he has some consistency and logic, despite his tired claims of racism which led to the name of his blog - founded on the belief that only dark-skinned people will incur the wrath of the US. Who knew Milosevic was, to use Tews' terms, a "nigger"?

Here's Tews' list of solutions:

• All U.S. troops everywhere shall return home, and all foreign military bases shall be closed down. A worldwide U.S. military presence is synonomous with imperialism, and is therefore unacceptable.

• The sanctions against Iraq and Cuba shall be called off, and substantial amounts of reparations shall be paid to Iraq, Cuba, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Colombia, Iran, Okinawa, South Africa, Vietnam, Sudan, Guatemala, Korea, El Salvador, East Timor, Serbia, Panama, Cambodia, Chile, Vieques, Congo, Haiti, Laos, and other victims of U.S. militarism (yes, there are many more).

• U.S. war criminals George Bush I, George Bush II, Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright, Robert McNamara, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George Schultz, Donald Rumsfeld, and the rest (yes, there are many more) shall be "detained", tried, and thrown into the slammer.

• All weapons of mass destruction -- not just the niggers' -- shall be dismantled.

• Unilateralism in world affairs shall not be tolerated. The U.S. will work within the established multilateral framework for solving the world's problems. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

• All arms shipments abroad shall immediately be halted. Again, if a menace to the world's peace and safety presents itself, the solution lies not in U.S. military dominance, but within the framework established by the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Conventions (including the protocol additional).

• The U.S. military budget shall be drastically slashed, and redirected toward domestic and international social programmes: ending the AIDS crisis, feeding and securing sources of fresh water for the world's people, expanding literacy, developing sustainable sources of energy, and so on.

• The Third World debt shall be cancelled, and IMF and World Bank eliminated. Economic self-determination for all people shall carry the day.

I responded briefly to this in his comments, which basically came down to, "Yeah, and who's going to make it happen and make it stick?" Needs a little more work, ya think? And that's not even getting into the meat of what he wants to do. I'll leave that happy chore up to you.

UPDATE: Tews had to repost his discussion; you can find it here.

Posted by susanna at 07:24 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Answering the anti-war folks

I posted below my answers to the questions posed to pro-war folks by the anti-wars. NZ Bear, bless his heart, has compiled the answers to the five questions from all 37 responders, including yours truly, and has posted them here. So if you need something to read, I can recommend it highly. And whenever Stand Down gets their act together with a similar post, I'll link that too.

Posted by susanna at 01:55 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Perfect Storm

That's what they're calling this one:

Leading up to the weekend, they said, any number of things could have defused the major winter storm. Cold, high pressure could have pushed down further south, or the wild, warm, moist air moving up from the South could have veered off to sea. Countless other smaller things could have thrown off the whole thing. But they didn’t. “Everything has to come together for it to be a perfect snow storm,” said Accuweather meteorologist John Dlugoenski. And it did.

In more southern areas, it's a history-maker:

Yesterday, a second front of air moving up from South Carolina followed, turning inches of snow into a foot — and more.

“In 150 years, we’ve had only two storms over 20 inches besides today,” Dlugoenski said. Last night, meteorologists predicted that the snow could drift three feet deep in some areas before it ends midday today.

They hesitated at first to call it a blizzard, but by yesterday afternoon they decided — with the wind, the cold, the amount of snow — it qualified, Dlugoenski said.

“We’re calling it the blizzard of 2003,” he said. “There is the potential that this could be the biggest storm ever.”

Very cool. Snow cream, anyone?

[Link via Alan, who's quite the link factory this morning]

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE! It's almost 2 p.m., and I'm having a lazy day doing little of moment. However, other more industrious types have been busy snowblowing swathes through the snow. It appears that the average depth right now is about 16" or so, but with the blowing and drifting many of the cars on the street are nearly covered - one right across the street from my apartment building has only about 6" of window visible. They were just snowblowing behind it, and the sliced snow bank came up to their waists.

And no, I will not be going out there today. Maybe tomorrow. I'm going to bake bread and listen to Rush.

Posted by susanna at 09:56 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

A man after my own heart

On a lighter note, here's a quote from an 18th century source that is truth on a very fundamental level:

The southerner, notably the Kentuckian, regards the man's life a failure who has not attended a barbecue." -- John Hill Aughey

The section is in a book by a Presbyterian minister during the Civil War; there's a whole section on The Southern Barbeque, but the linked section only gives excerpts from each page. I must say that, at least as far as barbeque goes, he was a man of high insight.

[Link from Sean Busick via Alan]

Posted by susanna at 09:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Answering the anti-war folks

NZ Bear and Stand Down are conducting a cross-blogging event between pro- and anti-war bloggers. I think yesterday was the deadline to submit your answers, so naturally I didn't get to it today. But that's okay, you can read what I have to say and then go read the rest. NZ worked up a list of questions for the anti-war folks, and Stand Down did the same for the pro-war bloggers. Here are NZ's answers, and you can go to his main page for a list in the right sidebar for pro-war bloggers participating.

Here are my answers:

1. Attacking Iraq has been publicly called a "pre-emption" of a threat from Saddam Hussein's regime, whose sins include launching regional wars of aggression. Do you think there is a clear and reliable difference between pre-emptive and aggressive warfare, and if so, what is it?

Yes, there is a clear difference. Aggressive warfare is an unprovoked attack on whomever – your own people, a group in another country, or the entire country itself. Hitler’s movement into various European countries, and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, are examples. A pre-emption is when there is credible evidence that the country subject to the pre-emptive attack has both capability and intent to do harm to either the country engaging in the pre-emption or that country’s citizens or possessions in other parts of the world. Motive is also important - aggressive warfare is for the purpose of imposing the will of the aggressor on the attacked nation or peoples with no consideration for the ones attacked. A pre-emptive attack should include efforts to minimize damage to the civilians of the attacked nation, and when possible improving the conditions of those people following the removal of the threat that drew the attack.

2. What do you feel are the prospects that an invasion of Iraq will succeed in a) maintaining it as a stable entity and b) in turning it into a democracy? Are there any precedents in the past 50 years that influence your answer?

I think there are good prospects for stability in the long term, given the fact that the population is educated and, I think, capable of understanding the advantages of a society where the rights of a diverse population are respected. Saddam’s regime is a textbook example of a lack of respect for those rights. A challenge will be dealing with the corruption that is inevitable when there are huge sums of money to be made in oil, and the tradition of corrupt, opportunistic governments in the region. As for turning it into a democracy, I think there is great reason to hope for that, for the reasons mentioned above, but I don’t think we should expect a democracy on the American model anytime soon. The society is accustomed to operating on a patriarchal model and a shift of power to a wider spectrum of the population will meet with resistance from those traditionally in power. In addition, the population itself must be trained how to operate in that context, which I think will require at least a generation to bring about. However, the fact that the process will be difficult and long isn’t sufficient reason not to begin it.

I can’t think of any countries where this process has completed in the past 50 years, from a regime like Saddam’s to a true democratic government, but I think some countries in the former Soviet republics are moving in that direction. I think corruption and a trained-to-be-dependent population are the major obstacles both there and in Iraq.

3. How successful do you think the military operations and "regime change" in Afghanistan have been in achieving their stated objectives? Does this example affect your feelings about war in Iraq in any way?

I think both the military operations and the regime change in Afghanistan were largely successful, although the change in the approach to governance is again going to take quite a while given the history of governance in the region. The goal was to destroy the core of Al Qaeda, and I think that was done. If Osama Bin Laden is still alive, that’s a disappointment, but not reason to assail the entire effort as a failure or even mostly a failure. And yes, I do think the situation in Afghanistan is a hopeful sign for success in Iraq, but I think Iraq will have unique successes and problems because of its national character, which is different from Afghanistan – Saddam is a secular leader, and the population is generally more educated.

4. As a basis for war, the Bush Administration accuses Iraq of trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, nuclear), supporting terrorism, and brutalizing their own people. Since Iraq is not the only country engaged in these actions, under what circumstances should the US go to war with other such nations, in addition to going to war with Iraq?

The US should consider going to war with other countries when the countries are an active threat to the US and its peoples, and have clearly shown they won’t be deterred from moving toward a position of strength in attacking the US. I think attacking Iraq is both a self-contained necessity and a method of showing other countries not to overstep.

I also think that the US with its allies going into Iraq will make the world a safer place in the long term. I do think we will be opening a time of greater unrest and possibly a lot more attacks on the US and other countries. However, it’s like cutting out a cancer – sometimes you have to deliberately subject the body to more pain to bring about the potential for complete healing. As with a cancer, the choice isn’t “cut it out” or “ignore and it will go away”. The choices are “cut it out” or “die”.

5. The Bush Administration has issued numerous allegations about the threat represented by Iraq, many of which have been criticized in some quarters as hearsay, speculation or misstatements. Which of the Administration's allegations do you feel stand up best to those criticisms?

Saddam has a clearly documented history of over a decade of both attacking/killing his own people and doing whatever he can get by with to strengthen his attack position vis a vis other countries. He has shown a willingness to kill those he considers threats to his regime even when more limited control measures would likely work. He has stood in defiance of the requirements that he disarm, as the UN inspectors themselves have proven. Quite frankly, I think the vast majority of the Administration’s allegations stand up to the criticism. While I do as a default position trust the Bush administration, I think they’ve give a lot of solid evidence that supports their conclusions. I think the anti-war folks for the most part have a default position of distrust and virtually anything short of a personal observation of Saddam himself launching a nuclear attack against a US installation would convince them – and even then they’d suspect that the “Saddam” figure was actually a CIA operative who underwent surgery to look like Saddam and was willing to nuke fellow US citizens solely for the purpose of supporting the “rush to war”. The majority will refuse to be convinced regardless, as they’ve shown by the way they set the bar higher regardless of the evidence that is put forward.

Also, there is no need for either the UN or the US to prove Saddam is a psychopath – his own behavior stands as testimony.

Posted by susanna at 07:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Liking Bob Schieffer

Bob Schieffer is on Larry King Live right now, and I must say I'm impressed.

1) He's a Southerner

2) He found Clinton "disappointing"

3) He says he's voted for as many Republicans as Democrats, a true independent

And the very best:

4) He said that if he has a bias, it's toward people or things who come out of the South. A (somewhat paraphrased) quote:

"I'm not one to think all wisdom comes out of the Northeast."

Yes! A friend of mine calls it "That state called New England", and she doesn't mean it in a kind way.

I do have friends in the Northeast, and there are a lot of wonderful people here. But there is a strong elitism sometimes amongst those who live in and around NYC, or the NYC - Boston corridor. The Northeastern elite tend to view the rest of the country somewhat similarly to how France views the US - brash, regretably conservative, not very smart, usually quite gauche but unfortunately impossible to ignore. But they do their best.

It's nice to see Bob Schieffer didn't fall into that trap.

Posted by susanna at 01:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Blair gets political support

This is encouraging:

Senior ministers rallied behind Tony Blair's strategy on Iraq yesterday, despite watching 1 million people take to the streets of Britain in protest at the prospect of an US-led attack on Saddam Hussein's regime without the sanction of the UN.

Faced with a barrage of criticism from anti-war protesters who included Tony Benn, the Rev Jesse Jackson, Ken Livingstone and Charles Kennedy, John Prescott appealed for trust in the prime minister's "courage, integrity and honesty", and warned that Labour must not let the UN collapse as the League of Nations had in the 1930s.

Maybe Blair will be okay after all. And maybe, since he seems to be doing so well, he'll stop being a socialist on domestic issues.

We can hope.

Posted by susanna at 12:36 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Protecting yourself

Gregg Easterbrook of The New Republic has an excellent discussion in the NY Times of the real risks of biological, chemical and radiological attacks, and the truth of how to react if it happens. It needs wide distribution.

The bottom line is - most of us don't have a lot to worry about. And that's a relief.

[Link from Instapundit]

Posted by susanna at 12:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 16, 2003

Bumping France

Matt at Overtaken has a cool bumpersticker on his site.

Here's a bigger version.

If I were France, I'd be worried. But then, if I was France, I wouldn't be smart enough to know that, now would I?

And speaking of bumperstickers, Kevin now has his available through CafePress. Buy a dozen and give them to all your friends, especially the anti-war ones! I'm thinking of getting a few for Tano - what's your address, Tano?

UPDATE! If I lived in Reno, I know where I'd be eating dinner tonight. [Also snagged from Matt's site.]

Posted by susanna at 06:26 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

And I didn't even get a spam email about it

Looks like we're going to be getting 12-18 inches up here. I shan't be budging from the house for a couple of days.

Unlike my friend in Kentucky, I have electricity and heat. They're having a very nasty ice storm in Lexington, which more than one person I talked to described as a "war zone" with fallen trees and accidents everywhere. Of course in the midst of this people are getting in their cars to go see. That's right, when you hear about horrible weather conditions, accidents everywhere and trees dragging down wires so they're snapping live all over, the first thing to do is to hop in your car and go tour the streets like it's a Christmas lights tour. Idiots.

My parents have flooding in eastern Kentucky. Unfortunately Page and MM in Washington and probably Bryan in Baltimore are getting hammered with up to two feet of the white stuff. Here's hoping they have no where to go and a couple of days to get there.

Me, I'm going to make soup and bake homemade bread. Cheddar cheese onion rolls. Yum. And I really think I need to see LOTR I again...

UPDATE! My brother Alan (of Theosebes fame), who lives right outside of Lexington, KY, has given me this newsflash:

[Ky Governor Paul] Patton has declared a general state of emergency -- including his marriage and political career

I think Alan added that last bit himself. VERY funny. At least to me.

UPDATE AGAIN! It's now 9:30 p.m. and snow is falling fairly hard. The flakes are small but visibility out my third floor window is less than two football fields - usually I can see downtown Newark two miles away. I'd say there's a couple of inches already. The weather lady just said 18" in NYC, up to two feet in central Jersey - and it looked like I'm sitting right on the line betwixt the two.

Can you say "snow cream", "snowman" and "snow angels"?

Posted by susanna at 06:04 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

It's the God thing

Alan at Theosebes says one of the underlying reasons for the different approach on the war between the US and Europe has to do with the differences in how the two view God.

Posted by susanna at 05:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

High flown rhetoric vs true courage

The "high flown rhetoric award" goes to NY Times news analyst Alan Cowell:

The drive toward war with Iraq has produced many divisions along the way — between the United States and Europe, and within Europe itself. But, on Saturday, as millions across this divided continent marched to demand peace, a further, sharp rift opened up — not across continents, but within nations, between ruler and ruled.

And in the process the political lines shifted from an almost legalistic argument at the United Nations about the evidence required to force Saddam Hussein's disarmament to a more visceral debate here about the justness of the war, and the moral legitimacy of those prepared to either fight or oppose it.

"Ruler and ruled"? What is this, some kind of labor protest to overthrow the oppressors? You'd think, to read his article. And "moral legitimacy"? The usual anti-war arguments have little in the way of morality to bolster them, although there are some who protest war who do so from a moral stance.

Contrast the moral vacuity of the typical anti-war loser as well as the lying hypocrites some European countries have elected leaders, with the stance of Tony Blair, who will likely be seriously damaged as prime minister if the war in Iraq goes poorly:

..."a disastrous campaign in Iraq would cost the prime minister dearly," said Matthew d'Ancona in the conservative Sunday Telegraph. "He would be seen to have pursued a personal crusade with calamitous consequences. His credibility would be forever tainted, his wings broken."

Such remarks are hardly surprising in light of Mr. Blair's own readiness to cast his commitment to the alliance with the Bush administration so clearly as a question of personal conviction — a sense of rightness and righteousness that, as the demonstrations showed and he himself acknowledged, he clearly does not share with the entire nation.

"I do not seek unpopularity as a badge of honor," he said in Glasgow. "But sometimes it is the price of leadership and the cost of conviction."

It's enough to make you think there might be hope for the Brits after all. It's nice to see leaders rather than weathervanes in both the US and Great Britain.

Now if England would just let their law-abiding citizens own arms and defend themselves...

Posted by susanna at 05:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

How much longer?

Steve Quick says two weeks.

Posted by susanna at 05:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A very bad choice

Erin O'Connor links a piece by Harvard professor Harvey C. Mansfield about the disconnection of self-esteem from actual standards of accomplishment at Harvard and other major universities, as well as a tendency to view working hard at a career as somehow less morally acceptable than giving selflessly to others. Good reads.

May I remind my readers that the Golden Rule, as it is called by many, says, "Love your neighbor as yourself", not "Love your neighbor instead of yourself." Chew on that a little.

Posted by susanna at 05:17 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Media bias in covering anti-war rallies?

Eyewitnesses have said the presence of virulently anti-Semitic marchers at the anti-war rallies was pretty clear and widespread; Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs says there's an effort by the media to suppress coverage of this segment of the protestors. I don't know that I would say "suppress", but I wouldn't be surprised if there was a decision to focus on other aspects of the march because "we don't want to mar the message of the many by emphasizing the hatefulness of the few".

The problem with that is that if a march were held to protest affirmative action and a goodly portion of the marchers were KKK members in hoods with posters about the benefits of lynching, the media would notice that in a hurry even if the majority of the rest of the marchers were there in good faith with no racism inherent in their objections. Sometimes the company you keep is part of the story, and if Trent Lott reveals racism by obscure comments at a birthday party and by speaking at certain venues, then marching in harmony with those who actively and vocally wish Israelis dead reveals something about you too. At the very least, you're willing to rub elbows with bad people to accomplish your goals - and isn't that the very thing you're protesting the United States doing when they have in the past worked with, say, Afghanistan in the 1980s to defeat the USSR? There are just so many analogies for "end justifies the means" stances of the war protestors, and the media who cover them.

Posted by susanna at 05:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 15, 2003

How Americans see the Muslim world

This is very funny, in a snarky kind of way.

I wonder if they have posters. I'd like one for the next peace rally.

[Link via The Compleat Iconoclast]

Posted by susanna at 10:28 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Supporting democracy in Iraq

In the midst of all the excitement and cheering over the new colors, you may not have noticed the new clickable Support Democracy in Iraq button over on the right sidebar. Dean Esmay explains all about it here. If you have a blog, you may want to show your support too; he's got all the code and encouragement you need.

I've looked over the website, and any organization that has Newt Gingrich and Donna Brazile as advisors is clearly a bipartisan effort. Not that I think that's always necessary, but it's a nice assurance that it won't go plunging off the cliff to the left or right anytime soon. You'll recognize a lot of the other names on the advisor list too, including the increasingly admirable Richard Perle.

The home page for The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies is here.

Posted by susanna at 03:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stay tuned...

I've finally braved the regions of the template coding on my blog, figured out how to update my permalink list, and generally am making myself free in the design section. If something looks truly bizarre sometime today, it's my fault for mucking about. Here's hoping I don't thoroughly screw it up. All things going well, it should look a little different, at least in color, soon.

UPDATE: Well, there you have it, folks! I thought I needed a more patriotic flare, given the current disagreement overseas. And I must say I am extremely pleased not to have royally screwed up, given that this is the first time I've worked with the MT template. As you may or may not know, Page of The Last Page spiffed up my MT template back last fall, with skill and nary a whine. Now that I'm Ms. MT now, she won't have to worry about when I'll be hectoring her next.

Posted by susanna at 01:33 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

This is wrong on so many levels

It's a delicate line that media walk, between covering the news and covering themselves in glory. More often than not, when the good times come they fall into the glory and set up a round of public self-congratulation that goes against the whole idea of objective news coverage.

Case in point: The Lexington Herald-Leader.

I don't read the H-L a lot now, since I no longer live in Lexington, although I do skim through it a couple of times a week online. I missed the series of articles they apparently did recently on the drug problems in eastern Kentucky, but I didn't miss their orgasmic self-congratulations about their perceived influence:

Law enforcement, treatment and education efforts to fight a debilitating drug problem in Eastern and southern Kentucky will get an $8 million boost from the federal government.

U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers, R-5th District, announced yesterday that he requested money for a new anti-drug campaign in his district, and it was included in the giant federal budget bill approved late Thursday.

Rogers said at a news conference in Lexington that he sought the funding after reading recent Herald-Leader articles about the drug problem in Eastern Kentucky, and talking with police and others about the situation...

The Herald-Leader reported a number of findings about the drug problem in rural Kentucky in a recent series of articles...

Rogers said that after reading the articles, he discussed the situation with police and the U.S. Attorney's Office and came up with ideas to tackle the problem.

Now, I don't know what spurred Rogers to stroke the H-L about this, unless it was just that their coverage either lit a fire under him or he was scrambling to find a way to explain why he didn't do it before. I can assure you that Rogers knows intimately about the drug problems in Eastern Kentucky; he was the representative from that section of the state when I worked in his hometown of Somerset 18 years ago, and there's not been a gap in his representation since. My parents, who live in his district, know quite a bit about the very serious problem that abusing prescription drugs (mainly OxyContin) is in the area, just from living there - it's everywhere. So I doubt seriously that the H-L's articles brought light to a dark corner for Rogers, and if it did - that's the story, not the "we're so influential" H-L bit.

I've always found the investigative and expose' thing for journalists to be a curious disconnection with their objectivity riff. All those who go to journalism school will be deeply steeped in the righteousness of the great journalist reformers of the early 1900s - like Lincoln Steffens and Ida Tarbell, and their influence on novelist Upton Sinclair. Woodward and Bernstein and the Watergate debacle fire the young journalist with the knowledge that she too can make a difference. The only problem is, "making a difference" isn't the point of journalism - is it? Whence, then, the arm-straining back-patting?

Definitely one of the important roles of journalism in a free society is to serve as an eye on government and social conditions to keep the public informed of hidden things or broader views that they might not see themselves. The problem is the mix of crusader and righteous objectivist, who see self as objective by definition and thus their work as by definition objective as well, even when they're advocating for a particular worldview through their coverage. If they were truly objective, they would report a situation and allow the public or the politicians to pick up - or not - from there. I don't think this has to be the way to go, but that's what they'd have to do to be consistent with their objectivity claims.

What's the alternative? To say, while we make every attempt to be fair, and we have no axes to grind, we will sometimes cover things that we see as problematic in society and will advocate that the government or the people fix them. We recognize that this is not exactly objective, but it is a departure from objectivity that meets our mission in society. We promise to be accurate with the facts, to be fair in both fact collection and presentation of the range of possibilities in the issue, and to keep the flagrant editorializing limited to the editorial page.

Instead, what we get are newspapers who advertise themselves as crusaders all the while claiming objectivity in direct contradiction.

One of the problems with it is that when a newspaper goes after a certain issue, they can be blinded to some aspects of it, or reluctant as new information becomes available to use that new information to modify their original slant if indeed it appears they could have been wrong. Like all crusaders, they become invested. And when you're invested, what happens? Anyone want to help me figure out how this program that Rogers has won funds for after "reading recent Herald-Leader articles" will be covered in the future? Think it's going to be fully objective, or do you think they're going to want to find its successes and may be perhaps slow to find its faults?

And if it's successful - how often do you think the H-L will mention in its articles that the program is a result of funds requested after the H-L ran its series? I'm betting on a number higher than zero.

Posted by susanna at 10:22 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Hmmmmm......!

I don't know whether to be comforted or frightened:

A scientific adviser to the United States government has suggested that secrecy might be the best option if scientists were ever to discover that a giant asteroid was on course to collide with Earth.

In certain circumstances, nothing could be done to avoid such a collision and ensuing destruction, and it would be best not to tell the public anything, said Geoffrey Sommer, of the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica, California.

Ack. But here's the kicker:

"When a problem arises with high uncertainty, there is an opportunity to spin the problem to avoid global panic. If you can't do anything about a warning, then there is no point in issuing a warning at all," Dr Sommer told the association yesterday...

"If an extinction-type impact is inevitable, then ignorance for the populace is bliss...said Dr Sommer, who is also an adviser on terrorism. [Emphasis mine - slc]

I wonder how that philosophy plays out in his terrorism advice? I know they're going too far in the other direction right now - warning us every 10 minutes - but I think I'd want to know long enough to say a quick prayer if I'm going to die in the next few seconds.

[Thanks to Alan at Theosebes for this link and the one below.]

Posted by susanna at 12:37 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Do the French own Newsweek?

This article seems to indicate that's the case.

Either that or the 'shrooms on Michael Hirsch's lunchtime pizza weren't the ones you buy at Kroger.

Posted by susanna at 12:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 14, 2003

Speaking of Kevin...

Which I did, briefly, in the previous post. Anyway, he's come up with a clever bumpersticker that pretty much gives my sentiments too.

Posted by susanna at 04:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Cool blog, funny guy

Well, my referrer logs have come through again. I just found this blog going by the charming name of Disconcerted Daily, written by Washington area blogger Jeff. He's a good thinker and a good writer who's got a little different perspective on some things by virtue of living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which has resulted in his being confined to a wheelchair. And you gotta love a guy with a great sense of humor:

In The Red?

I don't mean budgetary problems either. Apparently, some people are talking about the possibility that Washington D.C. will have its terror alert raised to Red or Severe. As I mentioned earlier High and Severe should be combined into one. Even with these rumors, I will not be changing my routine.

Maybe this is the Washington area's typical overreaction to things like two inches of snow. Maybe I should just wrap my wheelchair in plastic sheeting and duct tape.

That really made me laugh, because I had just heard a little bit ago about a guy in Connecticut who wrapped his entire house in plastic sheeting and duct tape. Better safe than sorry, yes? Jeff also riffs on the whole terror alert color thing, and he suspects it was developed by someone who slept through kindergarten art class.

(Although I still think there are few things in this world that can't be solved with a little duct tape, a little WD 40, or some of both.)

I'll be keeping an eye on his blog in part because of his insight into the issues of the disabled in this country. While I'm quite fiscally conservative, I do see the need for public funds to help those with significant disabilities who are trying to grab as much of life as they can. One of my uncles was born with mental and physical disabilities, and I've watched him all my life push forward with everything he has to live life fully. It would have been devastating to my family, and to his ability to make the most of his own life, if there had been no government assistance for most especially his medical needs. It's good to have a place to go to check up on all the latest news in that area.

But Jeff's no one-note nellie. He takes on the war, side benefits to space technology, and George Clooney, too, with quite good effect. He'll go up on the blogroll as soon as I get over my abject terror of screwing up the whole template if I try to update anything.

(And yes, Dean, so will you, and I might even get around to updating my link to Kevin.)

Posted by susanna at 04:48 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

A freak fan

I just came across the website of a seriously ill young man, Alfie. His big thing is getting autographs of famous people - his business is selling them - and, if possible, getting his photograph taken with the stars. On his site - with links to dozens of photos of him with various stars - he has a long discussion of his obsession with Madonna. Now, I'm no big fan of Madonna, never have been and never will be. But the woman has a right to privacy and to not be tracked every step by seriously freaky people. Here's an excerpt from this guy's page on her:

After my first, exhilarating taste of Madonna, I decided I wanted more, so I began to make special efforts to track her whereabouts whenever possible. Madonna became my top priority, and looking back on this period, I have to confess that I was a bit obsessed with getting her autograph. Some days I'd even stake out her mansion up in the Hollywood Hills. I would sit in my Cadillac down the road from her front gates, waiting and watching to try to spot Madonna as she left...

On another of the days when I was stationed outside Madonna's house, an old pick-up truck came barreling out the gates. I wasn't sure, but it looked like Madonna's then-boyfriend John Enos was driving and Madonna was in the passenger seat, so I started following them. We drove through Hollywood and were on Venice Boulevard in Culver City when all of a sudden the truck came to a screeching halt. The passenger door swung open, Madonna jumped out swearing like a sailor, the truck tore off and Madonna started walking down Venice Boulevard...

Here he stopped to ask if she needed help, and when she cursed him and told him to go away he drove around the block to trail her from behind. Shortly Enos drove up again and he and Madonna got into a yelling match on the sidewalk. This guy started taking photos, Enos jumped him, tossed away the camera then tossed the guy over a fence before he and Madonna left. And what did the guy take from this?

What bothers me about the experience is that Madonna never raised her voice or lifted a finger to stop John Enos from beating me. She just stood by with an uncaring eye. I understand that the two were in the middle of an argument, and thus already in a bad temper, but to beat me up for taking a couple photos seems a bit extreme. If they were so worried about being seen, why were they arguing in plain view on Venice Boulevard? Before then I would have thought Madonna was compassionate enough to try to stop such a beating in front of her, but I was forced to revise my opinion.

Now, although Madonna doesn't know it, this guy spends hours and hours parked outside her house, trails her wherever she goes, and even pays other people to get autographs for him when she's sick of his face. And it gets even weirder. The day after that incident, this guy goes to where Madonna is filming a video and gets another autograph:

Whenever they stopped for a break, I'd pull over and try to reach Madonna. Finally, I got to her and she was very nice and signed three beautiful autographs for me. That took some of the sting away from our encounter the previous day. I'd like to think that Madonna was being nice to me to make up for the beating, but I honestly don't think she even recognized me from Venice Boulevard. I guess only Madonna knows for sure.

Somehow I'm thinking she'd be yelling "police!" and not signing an autograph for him if she had recognized him. That just goes to show how much fans sometimes think they are known by the stars just because they know the stars so well - or like to think they do. It's all very freaky, and since I've read up some on stalkers I know this kind of behavior is teetering on the actively dangerous. Whenever I feel the slightest twinge of envy for the famous folks, a quick reminder of this kind of weirdness brings me right back to normality.

Posted by susanna at 04:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Chambers is free

The people of NYC may have cause for concern from something a little closer to home - Robert Chambers, the infamous Preppie Murderer, was released today after serving the minimum time for his 15-years-to-life sentence.

Chambers killed Jennifer Levin in 1986; he claimed she got sexually aggressive, bruising his genitals in the process, and he strangled her accidentally while defending himself. The prosecutors said he was drugged out and enraged because he couldn't perform. He was given a deal when prosecutors feared a hung jury after they deliberated nine days with no verdict.

This bad boy hasn't improved in the past 17 years:

Chambers, now 36, could have reduced his sentence by as much as six years but ruined any chance of early release by amassing 27 disciplinary violations during his incarceration, including heroin possession, assaulting a guard, and weapon possession. He spent a third of his time in solitary confinement and was rejected for parole five times.

On Feb. 3 I went into some detail about why that's a problem now that he's released (you'll have to dig through the archives, I couldn't get the link to work). I'm not quite sure what this is about:

Because he served the required maximum sentence, Chambers is not under any parole supervision now that he is free.

Usually there is a required minimum sentence - typically a "15 years to life" sentence means you have to serve 15 years before you're eligible for parole. Somehow Chambers was eligible six years before that minimum sentence was up. And how does he get out without being under supervision on a 15-years-to-life sentence? He should be under supervision for life.

If any criminal attorney types out there can explain the complexities of this, I'd appreciate it.

UPDATE: Mikeski, a former Brooklyn DA, very kindly explains the issue in comments. The bottom line is - somehow I morphed Chambers' sentence into 15-years-to-life when it was 5-15 years the whole time. I have no clue how I made that mistake; I like to think I saw it somewhere, but it wasn't in the original article I linked on Feb. 3 either. Maybe I just thought any sentence for what he did that didn't include "life in prison" as a possibility was a miscarriage of justice.

A brief primer on sentencing in our criminal justice system: A sentence with a range has a minimum and maximum. Five to 15 years means he can't be considered for parole until he's been in five years, and if he isn't released on parole he gets out at 15 years with no supervision from the correctional system. Parole is essentially a release with restrictions, depending on the crime: you might be prohibited from associating with certain people, or going to certain places, and you have to report to your parole officer on an arranged schedule. They can also check up on you at other times. Violating the restrictions means you can be, but not always are, sent back to prison. It's a nice idea, but parole and probation officers tend to be massively overworked and of course the criminals usually know how to game the system. But for some it's a workable and reasonable segue back into society. The 15-to-life that I thought he got would have meant he served 15 years before being eligible for parole, and he would likely have been kept in prison until his death if he kept up the bad boy stuff.

One mistake made by a lot of people without connections to the criminal justice system is thinking that multiple sentences mean longer prison stays. That's not necessarily true - it depends on whether the sentences are set to run consecutively or concurrently. If someone receives three sentences of 5-15, say for a manslaughter conviction where three people died (a drunk driving accident, as an example), then if the sentences are set to run consecutively, he will be in for 15 years before he is eligible for parole and 45 before he serves out and is released unconditionally (if he's a bad boy in prison). The minimums and maximums are aggregated. If the sentences run concurrently, though, it's like he only got one sentence - he'll be eligible for parole in 5, out in 15 if he can't behave. I've always thought the whole concurrent/consecutive thing was a rip - I'd be very happy to hear what mikeski thinks about it.

So the next time you hear about someone getting "200 years in prison", check the small print for the "consecutive" or "concurrent" notation. It may be that he got 10 sentences of 10-20 years, and if they run concurrently those 200 years are for all practical purposes really 10 years.

And that, class, is your corrections lecture for today. There will be a quiz next class period.

UPDATE: In the "Small world!" category of "How weird is that?", it turns out that Jonah Goldberg of NRO dated Jennifer Levin when they were in high school.

Posted by susanna at 11:55 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

It's all about Israel

Following Blix and El Baradei speaking about Iraq, the Syrian minister to the UN is speaking - and it's completely about Israel. Seriously. Nothing so far about Iraq, all about the suffering of the Palestinians, the wickedness of Israel and the US protection of it.

Okay, now we get to Iraq, about five minutes in.

He's defending Iraq, saying, "Hasn't Iraq opened its doors to inspectors without reservations or hesitations?" I just quit listening.

The mantra never ends: Israel is evil, any Arab country is good, regardless of what either does, and to say otherwise is racist. Why is there any pretense that these people will negotiate and follow through in good faith?

Posted by susanna at 11:17 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Blix behind Weasels' waffle?

I'm listening to the presentation of the inspectors at the UN, and noted with interest that Hans Blix included in his presentation that within a week the French, German and Russian militaries would be folded into the inspections efforts to beef them up, in line with the proposal that's been floated by those countries for the past week. I'm curious to see what reaction that gets from both the administration and the media.

Posted by susanna at 11:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ground rules for journalists covering the war

The Pentagon has prepared a guide for journalists who will be "embedded" with troops during the attack on Iraq. These journalists will actually be attached to specific fighting units, and allowed to go where they go. It's an unprecedented level of access, and the guidelines are comprehensive and, in my judgment, reasonable. Of course, the journalists can't be unmitigatedly pleased:

Many editors and news directors, while welcoming this opportunity, have also wondered what the trade-offs might be in working under official control.

This is just ridiculous. A military intent on hiding its activities from general view is not going to allow hundreds of journalists to actually go into war zones with soldiers. While there will be limits on their ability to cover things during the war, those limits are for safety reasons and I fully support them. The biggest news here is that after the hostilities are over, these journalists are going to be able to report everything, and any inappropriate behaviors on the part of the military will be reported in excruciating detail. The editors and news directors should be thrilled out of their tailored Ralph Lauren dress shirts.

Posted by susanna at 10:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Germany worried about losing American business

The Germans and the American companies with a strong presence in Germany are getting worried.

To celebrate its 100th anniversary, the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany gathered 1,000 business people last Tuesday at a Baroque palace on the banks of Rhine River in Wiesbaden near here for Champagne, canapés, and a rousing speech about German-American friendship, delivered by a local conservative leader, Roland Koch.

The talk in the crowd, however, was about the bitter rift between Berlin and Washington — a political feud that many businesspeople fear could sunder the countries' close commercial links.

A little late to be crying over that, isn't it? The reason why they're only now realizing the danger is pretty explicit:

"Germans initially found the dispute amusing," said Fred B. Irwin, the chairman of the chamber and an executive at Citibank in Frankfurt. "But this is no longer amusing. This has become extremely serious."

Yes, it has, and they're right to be concerned. The very fact that they originally found it "amusing" says a lot about their arrogance and disdain for Americans. And of course the writer of the NY Times article had to toss in a little of his own spin:

However sulfurous the words from Washington, Germany and France are, along with Britain, the dominant partners in the world's most durable trading relationship. The emerging economies of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic barely register in trans-Atlantic trade statistics. Even Spain and Portugal are relative minnows.

"Sulfurous", "most durable", "relative minnows" - colorful writing or spin? You decide.

Interesting that they compare the trade exchanges of Germany and France to the Eastern European nations as if those were the only choices available:

"It's wonderful to have Poland and Hungary and the Czech Republic supporting us," said Felix Rohatyn, the investment banker and former United States ambassador to Paris. "But it's also unrealistic in the extreme to equate the weight of these three countries with Germany and France."

"Germany makes Mercedes; the Czech Republic makes Skodas," Mr. Rohatyn said, referring to the utilitarian Czech cars that are the country's major export, and since 1993, a subsidiary of Volkswagen. Mr. Rohatyn said he believed Germany and France were making a "historical mistake" in opposing the United States. But he said the rift should not be allowed to unravel a web of commercial ties spun over half a century.

And Japan makes... oh, lots and lots of wonderful cars. I don't think I'm limited to a choice between Mercedes and Skodas, if I'm intent on getting a foreign-made/designed car. Others - like Instapundit - have already mentioned that they're drinking more American and South American wines, rather than French. Germany and France do have a lot of wonderful products, and it would be a shame to see them reduced from our shelves or car lots. The comment about "historical mistake" is the only acknowledgement of this truth:

We aren't the ones causing the rift.

The problem rests with the arrogance of an "amused" Germany and France, thinking they're so fine we'd crawl on our knees to get a Mercedes to drive to get our brie. Nope, sorry, guys. You mock and deride and betray the US, and we'll crawl on our knees to bring you down, not ask for forgiveness for having the temerity to think we're capable of making our own good decisions without your approval. We like a lot about you, we'd like to stay friends, but you're like some freako girlfriend who makes you a fine dinner, pampers your every need, then tries to stab you in your sleep. When you get your meds straightened out, check back with us. Maybe we won't be married to another set of "durable trading relationships" by then.

You know, I really and truly don't want this rift with Germany and France. I also don't think they have to agree with our whole approach to things to remain our friends and allies. But they make no effort to even partially conceal their self-absorption and rampant hypocrisy in this situation, and while I think there are probably a lot of French and German people who are friends of the US, their governments and "elite intellectuals" are not. They're going to have to clean their own house before we can trust them again in ours.

Posted by susanna at 10:41 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Weasels on the loose!

The NY Post has a very funny photo on the weasel theme on their cover today; I'm not quite sure if they photoshopped it or if they just have a camera that photographs character as well as physical attributes. Dean Esmay has it posted, with a link to the article; Instapundit has it too.

UPDATE: I guess I just thought folks around here would know, but in case you didn't - our own Scott Ott at Scrappleface got this connection going in the mainstream media with this post, which was linked everywhere and grew from there. Some have said he wasn't original with the idea, but even if that's true it didn't fly until he gave it wings. Yay, Scott!

Posted by susanna at 09:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A little insight

You know, for all that we razz those human-shields-for-Saddam folks, you have to at least admire them for having the strength of their convictions.

American and European peace activists wrapped their arms around posts on a bridge over the Tigris River on Thursday, symbolizing their intent to act as human shields in any U.S. war on Iraq.

The 14 activists, mostly from Italy, were one of the first groups here using the "shield" title, which suggests they might place their bodies at potential targets to deter bombing. But they acknowledged their mission was only a gesture meant to try to deter an invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.

"I have no intention of being a martyr," Canadian Roberta Taman said. "I'm here because I believe that the world wants peace and that we can achieve peace."

Yes, their willingness to put themselves in harm's way is, well, it's like a soldier, only in a different, more peaceable army, one that has carefully studied its opponent and is tough-minded in carrying out its mission.

The campaigners, organized as the Iraq Peace Team, have been draping banners over public facilities in Baghdad this week - an electricity station, a water treatment plant and, on Thursday, the Martyrs Bridge over the Tigris. "Bombing This Site Is A War Crime," the banners read.

I was surprised by the depth of their analysis of Iraq's military capabilities, and keen insight into the ways of dictators.

"A country that can hardly provide water for its citizens cannot be a threat to the world," Ignacio Cano of Spain told reporters after arriving in the Iraqi capital.

And their hard-nosed assessment of the dangers of war versus the dangers of the current regime nearly moved me to tears.

Standing on the bridge, Iraq Peace Team leader Kathy Kelly of Chicago said, "You can imagine what this city would be like if it were cut off when some people need desperately to get to a hospital or to connect with the people on the other side."

I just... well, I can't go on. I'm all choked up with admiration at their principled, intellectually and morally sound approach to the wellbeing of the people of Iraq. Excuse me while I go sob into my pillow in sorrow at having misjudged them.

Posted by susanna at 07:48 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 13, 2003

Brilliant

Brent at The Ville should write bumperstickers for a living.

Really.

Here's a few I'd put on my car in a heartbeat.

Posted by susanna at 06:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

That dating thing

Armed Liberal has a funny and right-on look at the dating life.

Although I'm something of a talker many times (my name was once accepted as a definition for "loquacious" on a college English exam), I'm also a good listener and generally a decent conversationalist, skills developed in part because of reminders from loved ones that I hadn't shut up in modern memory. That makes me especially aware of people who go on about themselves ceaselessly and think that's good conversation. It helps me to remember to pause for breath occasionally, because I don't want the people I care about to feel about me like I feel about those who won't shut up. In fact, it's become something of a game with me - if I don't introduce information about myself into a conversation (either opinion beyond "Yeah, that's what I think too", or actual facts), how long will it take before the other person thinks to make it dialogue as opposed to a monologue? The answer is usually, "A pretty long time if ever." If it happens more often than not with a particular person, I'm not going to be back for many more conversations.

I went out with a guy several years ago who was very sweet, even bringing me flowers. The first date we went to a party which was mostly people I didn't know. During the drive over there and back, he talked about sports, most especially the trip he and his buddies take annually to Florida to watch the pro baseball teams in spring training. I find it difficult to sit through a baseball game at an actual stadium - can you imagine how enthralled I was by the conversation? At the party he spent most of the time in the kitchen with his buddies, yucking it up and playing bartender, while I sat in the living room talking to a woman engineer about water tables and the merits of riprap over riparian plantings along streams in greenways. That was actually much more interesting to me than baseball.

When we got back to my house, there was no hanging out in the car (actually, small truck, in this case). There was no hanging out on the porch. There was no invitation into my living room although I didn't block him when he followed me in. Then - as he stood by the front door and I stood a good six feet away with my arms crossed over my chest and that sling-hipped stance of a not-happy woman - he asked if he could kiss me! Now, I'm sure he thought he was being gentlemanly to ask, and in some settings I might have found that charming. This was not one of those times. It was, in fact, a frightening display of male inability to have anything remotely resembling a clue.

Although I guess you can't fault a guy for trying. After all, what did he have to lose, at that point?

That's the dating horror story that Armed Liberal's post reminded me of. A real eye-roller. At least, though, I've not had to be pissed off a bumper.

[Link via Instapundit]

Someplace I've been online recently - maybe a blog? tell me if you know - held a "worst date" contest. The one that won is just...well. Here's a summary:

A woman went for a day of skiing with a new guy, first date. As they drive home through a deserted area, she realizes she has to pee. Really bad. REALLY bad. No place to stop. Finally she tells the date she has to stop, and she goes behind the car for as much privacy as possible. Trying get the job done quickly, since it's very very cold, she doesn't realize that she's resting against the bumper until... she realizes that her naked butt is frozen to it. Finally the date asks what's wrong, she tells him, she's afraid to try to peel herself off for obvious reasons. So he comes back, unzips, and (as she modestly turns her head away), he pees on the bumper until she is unfrozen.

Oh honey. What do you talk about the rest of the way home after that?

The story didn't say if she went out with him again.

Posted by susanna at 02:01 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

They must be French

A group of peacemongers holding a prayer vigil on the campus of Texas A&M claims they were "intimidated" when an elite group of ROTC cadets called the Ross Volunteers performed their normal manuevers near the group.

The Ross Volunteers have been cleared of intention to intimidate.

The elite Ross Volunteers at Texas A&M University did nothing wrong during a prayer vigil on campus last week, according to an internal investigation, despite war protesters’ claims that they were intentionally harassed.

Regardless, the commandant of A&M’s Corps of Cadets said Tuesday he will instruct the Ross Volunteers to avoid “even the appearance of confrontation” during future rallies.

“Although the investigation did not reveal any intent to intimidate, what I want the RVs to understand is the unintended result of being in close proximity with that group,” Lt. Gen. John Van Alstyne said...

Texas A&M senior Phillip Noack, the Ross Volunteers’ commanding officer, said he was confident the investigation would find no wrongdoing.

“We all kept about our own business and didn’t even acknowledge that they were there,” Noack said of the protesters. “We carried on like we always do on every Monday and Wednesday.”

Witnesses reported that dozens of Ross Volunteers with drill rifles formed up near the vigil and appeared to intentionally intimidate a group of about 30 war protesters. Protesters claimed some cadets aimed drill rifles at them and used racial slurs against Arabs.

But Van Alstyne said the investigation, conducted by two Corps officers, found that the cadets did not do any of those things or intend to intimidate protesters. He did say that the distance between the two groups, about 8 to 10 feet, fueled the tension...

One wonders about the anti-war Saddam bodyguards who have flocked to Baghdad in what will prove a futile effort to block military activity. Who will they complain to when the military does actual aggressive manuevers in their vicinity? Bravery is so much easier when you have someone to complain to about the bully - and the military or police to protect you. Not, of course, that I would ever accuse the peacemongers of hypocrisy.

[Link via Misha]

Posted by susanna at 08:00 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Bravo, Dodd!

Dodd Harris hogties, skins and eviserates some brainless academic who uses bad science to malign chivalry as sexism.

I do so adore the hunter-gatherer type. [Clapping wildly for Dodd]

It would be fair to say that I have "issues" with men who think women in general are less capable than men, and I've gone head to head with a few who do (Note: I win). I don't, however, see how being such a male twit is supposed to conflate with opening doors for women and in general being chivalrous. While I'm capable of opening doors, and have done so for men on occasion, guys sure do score points if they get there first (especially if they manage to do so w/o making it seem like they tried). Why would that be a bad thing? As for women staying home to raise children... This country would be a lot better off if in every family one of the two parents did that. I know it's not always possible, but just because an ideal is not always doable doesn't mean it should cease being the ideal. And you know what? I think 9 times out of 10 - or even 99 out of 100 - the woman really is better suited to be the at-home parent. I admire families who've made that choice.

Besides, I just like being pampered. There, I said it. And let me add that a man who's good at respectful chivalry will find the rewards quite worth the effort.

Well. I could rail on about this forever, but Dodd, being the chivalrous man that he is, has taken that burden from my weary, fragile shoulders. So ya'll just go on over and see how a Southern man gets the job done.

Posted by susanna at 12:51 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

February 12, 2003

Ack

I ordered an elliptical trainer online and it arrived today. We won't discuss how I got it up the three flights of steps to my apartment, other than to say that the UPS man was very sweet and sometimes I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Now I'm faced with a pile of pieces and a sack of screws and bolts, thinking to myself, Where's a guy when you need one?

I may or may not be functional enough to post for a while. Off to find a phillips screwdriver in my toolbox. I wonder if I can use that cordless electric thingy...?

UPDATE: ADULATION ACCEPTED! Yes, folks, it is now 5:15 p.m. and I just finished putting together my elliptical trainer (bowing to thunderous applause). I figured out halfway through that those little L shaped bolts were actually the screwdrivers I was supposed to use even though the instructions said I'd need a phillips, which I didn't. No electric thingy was required, no stripping of threads occurred, and everything I got in the box found a home in the trainer. My hands smell like axle grease, but I'm very happy with my afternoon's work!

Now if I could just find those batteries for the console...

Oh, and in response to Jimmy in comments - women like me are independent but not stupid. As you can tell, if I have to put together an elliptical trainer I can do it. But I wouldn't mind the role of admiring a man as he does it and thanking him very nicely afterward. Much more fun for me, he'd probably get it done faster than me anyway, and I'd have an elliptical trainer good to go at the end of it all that way too.

Although I will confess that sometimes it's just way fun to get down into it and get grease under my fingernails and haul out all those tools in my toolbox. Yes, I liked playing in the mud as a kid too.

Posted by susanna at 02:25 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Is bias a sender or receiver issue?

I just talked with a reporter for a national media outlet; I can't tell you which one because she asked that the project she's working on not be publicized at this point. She emailed me yesterday, and I called her back today only to learn that she didn't need to interview me just yet and maybe not at all, depending on how the program development goes. So, naturally, I asked her if I could interview her about media bias.

She had a lot of interesting things to say about how viewers respond to their programs, but she was not willing to discuss her own story development nor speculate on the presence or lack of bias on the part of other journalists. Given that her beat is media, I understand her unwillingness to give much in the way of her own opinion. She did give a little bit though, that I found curious: She said that some media outlets are open about their bias, something I agree with completely. I said, such as? She said, well, I think it's obvious that the WSJ opinion page is biased and they'd admit it. I said, like what? She said, I don't read the WSJ, I can't say. Then I said, what about the NY Times, do you think that it's biased? And she said, I don't know about their opinion page, I only read their news information. So, I asked, where do you get your news information? She said... I can't tell you.

She highlighted another thing I think is true and important to remember: Viewers/readers judge the information they receive based on their own filters. She thinks that's where what's called "media bias" comes from - the filter of the viewer. She says they will get emails about the same story where one rails at them for being extremely conservative and another blasts their liberal spin. The Israeli/Palestinian situation is particularly fraught; they'll get an email saying, "I can't believe you are so pro-Israel, why don't you just go anchor the show from there?" and another one saying, "You're so pro-Palestinian, how can you do that??"

That was when I asked her how she makes sure her own stories are free of bias. I said, every story has some nugget of fact in it, and the goal is not just to get the facts right but to honestly represent the interpretations of those facts too. So, how do you do that? And she said, I cover the media, we don't have 18 shades of gray where you have that problem; we look at how media covers things. So I said, some of the more conservative media have been saying that Howell Raines is taking the NY Times in a more liberal direction, not just in the editorial section but in its coverage of the news itself. Is that the kind of thing you'd cover? Theoretically, yes, she said. Have you? I asked. No, I've not, she said, but I don't know if it's been done in the past.

All in all, she seemed a very nice person without any kind of agenda, as much as I could tell from our conversation. Given her job, I can also see that she would not want to see her viewpoints about media bias out in the public marketplace - or even to have formed a definitive opinion about it. But she deflected every question about whether individual journalists may have filters similar to those of the viewing audience that might affect their reporting, saying she couldn't speculate on what forces impact other journalists (and yes, I said - but you did speculate on the viewers. She said, that's not speculation, it's fact that they can see the same show and perceive it totally differently, because I've seen the emails they send. Valid.). When I finally asked straight out, can reporters be biased? She said, well, they're human!

And that answers that.

(If it seems that this post is a bit disjointed, which it does feel like to me, it's because the conversation was too. Journalists caught off guard do not make for the smoothest, most comprehensive interviewees, for valid reasons. While naturally I would have liked for her to be more forthcoming, she exercised her responsibility as she saw it to maintain neutrality. I appreciated her willingness to discuss it with me at all.)

Posted by susanna at 11:53 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Of duct tape and terrorism

Americans have Been Advised to have a "terrorism kit" on hand in the event of bio- or chemical terrorism. Basically, it's food, batteries, radio and duct tape and plastic to cover the windows. Now WABC 770 in NYC is reporting that some hardware stores and megaplexes like Home Depot have sold out of duct tape already.

Hmmm. I sense a conspiracy with the duct tape manufacturers.

I need some duct tape and plastic, but not because of bioterrorism - when the wind blows around here it comes through the edges of my windows until I'm an ice cube in my own home. I guess now is not a good time to fix that. My big question is... unless I have an air transfer system that will pull in and clean outside air before sending it into my apartment, and will securely exude dead air from my apartment... what's the point?

Just askin', is all. I think my safest course is moving into my parents' basement in the middle of Nowhere, USA. At least I'll have good home cookin'.

There is a serious point there, though. I had a long conversation with a friend last night about terrorism and our risk here in the US. She is concerned that we're going to have terrorist attacks all over the country, and Americans are not ready for it. She doesn't think we take it seriously enough.

And this is what I said: I saw the WTC towers burning, and smelled the smoke of bodies burning in the rubble. It was a place I knew, although not as well as those who live in Manhattan. I work in a city where terrorists have based their operations for over a decade. Every day when I go to work, I notice - although not always in the front of my mind - that the WTC isn't there. I wonder - not always in the front of my mind - if today there will be a suicide bombing attack near my office, maybe while I'm on my way to buy a slice at a nearby pizzeria. Every morning I know - not always in the front of my mind - that I could come home that night or I could be dying in a hospital riddled with nails from a homemade bomb. When I was in Manhattan with a friend, he wanted to go across the street to pass a collection of firetrucks with lights flashing - he said terrorists will sometimes call in police or fire before blowing up a bomb so they can have a greater toll. I've wondered how far the radioactive effects of a dirty bomb can spread - am I safe, seven miles away from Manhattan? Yesterday I was thinking that I'm glad I'm going to upstate New York to meet with my friend this Saturday, instead of going into Manhattan, because going into the city involves the PATH train and subways. The thought of sarin gas was on my mind. The potential for terrorism happening near me is not a remote, academic one.

So I'm very conscious of the risks that attend my day. I haven't lived in Bosnia or Israel, so I can't say I know what it's like to live with the actual drumbeat of terroristic death on a daily basis. But I think my concerns about terrorism are legitimate - as Mark Steyn said in his RWN interview:

I'd be very surprised if we get through the next five years without a terrible catastrophe in a western city.

But what I'm not is generally fearful. I know every day when I leave my apartment that I could be killed by a drunk driver, or shot during a robbery. There are all kinds of risks in life, and this is one more. I hope I don't have to deal with it. I'll take what precautions I can. I'll occasionally play out scenarios in my mind of what I'll do in this or that type of situation. But the reality is the majority of my safety is dependent on others - the US military, police, people's willingness to obey the law. The part that belongs to me is not to wring my hands, but to live my life with a consciousness of the risks, doing what I can to circumvent them, pray that our country will be spared, and stand ready to do what I can to lessen the chances of terrorist success.

I hear duct tape makes great handcuffs and gags.

Posted by susanna at 10:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Mark Steyn, the Right Wing News Interview

Go read it now. You'll be glad you did.

Posted by susanna at 09:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Is the CDC going beyond its charge?

The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta is a combination FBI and university research center of disease in the United States. They research disease and what causes them, and investigate any type of widespread illness in the US population - for instance, they were called in on the anthrax spread after 9/11, and would also be called in the instance of something like the Legionnaire's Disease. But increasingly in recent years, they have branched out into other areas, including a recent report on the effects of cohabiting before marriage on divorce - and some people are not happy about it:

[Steve Milloy, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and a Foxnews.com columnist] and other critics believe the CDC has no business doing research on lifestyle matters, and wonder when cohabiting couples, marriage and divorce became public health issues, especially in light of concerns like bioterrorism and anthrax...

"They have too much money and they're not focused on what they're supposed to be doing," [Milloy] charged. "It's bureaucracy out of control. They're involved in nonsense like this all the time."

..."The public health establishment is notorious for trying to label absolutely anything they care about as a public health issue," {Michael Fumento, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute] said. "In this case [of the marriage-living together report], the data are really old. And people are asking, what does this have to do with disease?"

Of course the CDC folks disagree:

CDC experts at the public health agency's National Center for Health Statistics said the agency studies many issues and defended last month's report entitled "Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage in the United States" as related to its overall mission.

"The CDC is a larger and more diverse organization than some people might be aware of," said statistician William Mosher, who co-authored the study. "The National Center for Health Statistics collects birth and death data, and we also do surveys, including this one, that help shed light on births and family formation," he said.

"It's not just about infectious disease. Congress gave them a wider mission than that," he added.

I have to agree with Fumento and Milloy here - the CDC needs to deal with disease and leave these other things alone. They've also gotten heavily into gun control issues, another area that I think is not their business. And it's one thing to give the numbers, and something else again to make political statements about what those numbers mean.

Posted by susanna at 09:13 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Oh goody - a NY Times military dispatch!

NY Times military correspondent Michael Gordon is writing a web-only "dispatch" column on the move toward and likely engagement of war in Iraq. In the newest column, Gordon tries to make something of the morning meeting of Aghanistan coalition forces representives with US military commander General Tommy Franks. Unfortunately, he not only doesn't make any sensible connection, he doesn't even describe the meetings or tell us anything significant about them. Instead, he goes off into an analysis of Bush unilateralism. To be fair, he also points out that France's motives for its current stance are likely not pure either, but he takes a number of shots at the Bushies in the course of the column. I anticipate that this will not be a very straightforward coverage of the war. I'm just hoping for "coherent".

Posted by susanna at 08:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Teaching reparations to kindergarteners

This is eye-opening:

A controversial African-American history initiative may be incorporated into the curriculum of public schools across the nation as early as September 2003. Twenty-four black scholars are currently finalizing lesson plans that focus on events such as the "Black Holocaust" and issues like slavery reparations that are typically not addressed by kids' textbooks.

Dennis Smith, a Milwaukee, Wis., teacher, is part of the elite group of African-American scholars from across the country who were chosen by the Thomas Day Education Project (TDEP) to participate in its 'Let It Shine' program. Both rely on federal grant money from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to support their educational efforts.

Smith seeks to trace the history of all civilization to Africa and show how it emerged from there; he wants to expose the "Black Holocaust" with a direct connection from there to black reparations; and he wants young black Americans to know "where they came from" so they will know "where they are now".

Interesting. You know, my ancestors in Ireland, Scotland and Wales didn't have an easy time at home and faced some very difficult times once they came here. I'm interested to learn about that, but I'm not "where I am now" because of "where I came from". I'm American, not Irish or Scottish or Welsh - although I'm proud of my heritage. I do think it fills in some gaps to understand your history - for instance, my hair is a dark blonde edging toward red, and I know that's from my Scottish ancestors. And when I discovered recently that my Jacksonian political approach was common amongst my ancestors too, I thought that was very cool. Smith wants black kids to know what part of Africa they came from, and I think that would be neat. Just as there are some physical characteristics common among people from different parts of Europe, or from the Far East, different tribes in Africa have different characteristics that might manifest now. For example, one family where I go to church are all very tall - the girls all 6 feet or taller - and another is very short, quite a bit shorter than me at 5'8". I've wondered if that's connected to their heritage or if it's just a self-selection artifact of partner choice over the years (tall marrying tall, short marrying short).

But those are interesting things, not necessary things. I'm no more or less talented, intelligent, capable because I am from Scots rather than Russian or Japanese or Watusi stock. I think it would be great to teach all American kids about the history of all great civilizations, and in our increasingly mixed race classrooms for all children to know the ancestoral history of their Russian or Japanese or Watusi classmate. That should be about an appreciation of differences, however, not an effort to say that someone is now better or worse than another person now because of that ancestry.

Scary that they want to put this in kindergartens. Here's what David Almasi, spokesman for the black conservative group Project 21, had to say:

"If you'd start teaching kids this in kindergarten, by the time they're in fifth or sixth grade, they're going to take it as fact and it's going to be going for the rest of their lives thinking that something is right when it's not," he said.

Almasi said Smith's curriculum could be compared to corporate sensitivity training sessions that are meant to foster diversity and equality amongst employees of all races, religions, sexes and sexual orientations.

Similar to sensitivity training, Almasi suspects that Smith's overall intention is to "strip everyone down to zero and start building up" as equals.

None of this is new, either the efforts to create a superior class as a means to even out earlier oppression, or my objection to it. I guess sometimes I just need to say it again. And we need to make sure that curriculums like Smith's are cut off before they reach the children.

Posted by susanna at 08:42 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Arab News opines

The Arab News is not happy about how things are going in the move to disarm Saddam.

One editorial says the US should listen to France, Germany and Belgium, even while chastising those countries for their attitude toward Turkey:

Arabs are highly appreciative of the stand taken by France, Germany, Russia and now Belgium against Washington’s proposed attack on Iraq. There is as a result a great deal of goodwill toward the four. Likewise there is a great deal of indignation at the vitriol being flung at them by the Bush administration, notably by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. To compare Germany to Cuba and Libya because, like them, it will not jump to Washington’s commands, is preposterous. To call it and France “Old Europe” was a deliberate insult. To ridicule Belgium because it has had the audacity to join them in blocking NATO defense equipment being shipped to Turkey is downright offensive. This is megaphone diplomacy spiked with petulance. These countries have a right to disagree with the US...

The decision by France, Germany and Belgium to block the supply of NATO equipment to Turkey, which fears a possible attack by Iraq, is altogether different and a serious mistake at that... The reality is that France, Germany and Belgium acted as they did purely to spite the US. That is politics — a case of giving as good as they get.

Well, they're right about the spite part.

The second editorial compares the current escalation toward war to WWI, not WWII:

Washington compares Saddam Hussein to Adolf Hitler and the situation to the run-up to World War II. World War I is a more frightening comparison. It started with ultimatums and troop movements which took on an unstoppable momentum of their own, resulting in the most lunatic, most destructive war the world has ever known. By the time it was over, those Prussian, Russian, Ottoman, and Hapsburg empires that thought they could control events had been swept into the history books and the maps of Europe and the Middle East entirely redrawn. None of that was foreseen in 1914.

There is a chilling feeling that this is August 1914 all over again. Prayers for peace are desperately needed.

I agree about the prayers. They manage to get a few digs in at the Bushies though:

...because of the Bush administration’s steadfast, arrogant refusal to be swayed from its determination to topple Saddam Hussein, all we can contemplate is a world on the brink of war.

Oh, and they think that the US only comes to talk to the Arabs when they want something. Hmmm... Naturally the Saudis themselves always operate altruistically with the purest of motives.

Posted by susanna at 08:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Arab News cartoonist Kahil is dead

The viciously anti-Semitic and anti-American Arab News cartoonist Mahmoud Kahil died yesterday in Britain after surgery.

According to the article about him in the Arab News:

Kahil was at heart a humanist. He cared for the poor, the oppressed and the dispossessed. It did not matter what the ethnic or religious beliefs these people held...

No one has exposed Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon’s bloody history better than he, with his fine lines.

It's all a matter of perspective, isn't it?

Posted by susanna at 07:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

You're so vain...

The Carnival of the Vanities is up for this week over at John Ray's place. Check it out!

Posted by susanna at 07:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 11, 2003

It just seems funny!

CPO Sparkey recounts the sometimes laugh-out-loud funny preparation for and birth of his first daughter, who turned 14 today.

Posted by susanna at 11:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I love to play

My brother just sent me this link to Oobi, which is a very fun site for kids - like me and my almost-3-year-old niece Haydon. You can play music with Oobi, or draw with Oobi... Your kids will love it.

Posted by susanna at 07:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

True believers

Proof continues to build that the peacemongers are determined to believe in the face of any and all evidence that 1) Saddam isn't a threat to the US and 2) Saddam isn't connected to Al Qaeda. See, they have to believe those things to have any purchase at all in the debate about war - to support their "they've not proven their case" argument.

After Colin Powell, the peacemonger's hope in the Bush administration, presented his devastating information on Saddam's activities to the UN last week, I heard this:

"Dick Cheney got to him!"

Today, Sean Hannity played the tape even the State Department says is likely Bin Laden calling Muslims to attack Americans and their allies, also speaking of standing in solidarity and partnership with Iraq. A caller to Hannity's show said, "How do they know it's him?" and somewhere else (I really should have written it down) I read that the CIA likely faked it.

It's not new information that some people will not be persuaded. These instances just make that fact undeniable. And that ends even the marginal value they had in the debate.

Posted by susanna at 04:02 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

One of those days

I've got several things going on today so likely no more posting until tonight.

Have a good day.

Posted by susanna at 12:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Absolutely lame

I don't follow the awards shows much - of any kind - because I don't generally care who wins what. It's not about what's good, it's about who's in favor with the Hollywood elite or elite-wanna-bes, and who spreads enough money around to get nominated. If I needed any confirmation, the nominations for this year's Oscars provide it amply.

LOTR II isn't nominated for cinematography? For costume? For makeup? Screenplay? Director? No actor or actress nominations?

Michael Moore is nominated for something other than scum of the earth?

I think I'll be watching my LOTR I DVD during the Oscars. It's a lot more connected to reality.

UPDATE: Could this be the real reason LOTR II didn't sweep the Oscars this year?

Posted by susanna at 09:37 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

February 10, 2003

Bias? Reuters??

Steven Den Beste nails Reuters in an anti-American spin.

Wheeeee!!!!

Posted by susanna at 10:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Casting my vote

Finally a candidate I can fully support:

Dodd for President!

Well, ok, mostly support. I'm still not sure about his policy on the War on Drugs. But I'm open to being convinced, and you can't fault his position on bombing.

UPDATE: You too can help by just posting a link to Ipse Dixit saying "Dodd for President" on your own site - without the quotes, of course. But you knew that.

Posted by susanna at 08:57 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Calling good evil, and evil good – Part II

Lee Harris dealt with death and martyr cults in his Tech Central Station column on Friday. His basic point is that modern liberalism is founded on a Hobbesian calculation that everyone equally fears death of self, and this fear can be the basis of negotiation between parties of disparate interests. That’s the world that the liberals in the US and Europe live in. It needs as its foundational premise that the worst thing that can happen to me is that I will die, so that the ultimate escalation is a threat to kill the other person. A following premise is that nothing else in life is so important to me as the fact of living

Because of this belief that individual life is the most precious possession, the liberal (especially the vehemently leftist) is ill-suited to negotiate with someone who sees his life not as a treasure to be hoarded, but a currency to be spent in exchange for something more desirable – an afterlife. Many liberals are already flummoxed by the insistence of a significant portion of the American electorate that not only is there a God, but a Heaven and Hell; that there is a spiritual law that must be followed, even when personal inclinations would dictate a different path. Because they are grounded so thoroughly in life on earth, liberals who find that position to be marching on the edge of insanity instead find other things for the behavior of Christians to mean: they’re anti-women, racist, etc.

In a similar way, the more leftist of the liberals really cannot grasp what is happening in the war on terrorism. They continually cast about for earth-based reasons why the current conflict is occurring. It’s about poverty. It’s about oil. It’s about a few insane mullahs drawing an oppressed people into their insanity, and if the oppressors (which regardless of where it occurs winds up being the US) were to stop their oppression the Islamists wouldn’t be drawn to kill. The leftists show a very basic misunderstanding of people who are not afraid to die, and die horribly.

I don’t think you need to have a strong religious faith, or even any faith at all, to be able to see the depth of fanaticism and the disconnection from life on this earth that is evidenced by the Islamic terrorists we’re fighting. I do think those who have a strong faith of their own understand best the extent to which the religious philosophy of the Islamists totally permeates their being. They cannot be separated from it. And the corollary to that is that they are not operating out of desperation, but rather out of choice based on their worldview. When they engage in something that will most likely cause their death, they are not running from something, like oppression, but rather they are running to something – a glorious hereafter where they will have all the adulation and grandeur of living that they have not had here, a grandeur enhanced by the level of violence that attends their death. Instead of seeing as a savior someone who would prevent their death, they see that person as an obstruction, an obstacle to be overcome. For a radical Islamist, an offer to give him something less than his goal in exchange for his life is an insult.

Negotiation in a liberal world is a game of diplomatic chicken where it’s understood the ultimate escalation is death (and that can be a symbolic death of economy, power, pride, and other things), and the person with the willingness to risk going closest to death will win. Liberals believe everyone has a line they won’t cross, that negotiating is about finding where that line is and threatening to cross it as a means of gaining advantage. This presupposes a range of possible outcomes that are on a sliding scale of desirability. The problem with the Islamists is that they have one goal with no opening for negotiation, as noted above. There is no range or sliding scale. And when liberals – be they American leftists or EUnuchs – offer concessions as a means of opening negotiations, the Islamists take it as a gain and move closer to their goal. The leftists then decide that the pain caused by the Islamists’ earthly circumstances were worse than they thought, so they offer more concessions. And so it goes. Eventually the leftists have to show some measure of force to prove that they do have some position of strength, but they always shy away from the final step - and the Islamists know it. They have seen the Western world back down again and again and again. Each time the Islamists move closer to their goal – the goal that has not changed at any point. First they were contained in a relatively small geographic area. Then they got footholds elsewhere. They made inroads into Western countries – Europe, the US. Although they play it as a success, 9/11 was a miscalculation caused by the conflation of their arrogance and the continual appeasement of the West. And they’re deeply involved in what’s happening in Iraq. While Saddam Hussein is not an actively religious man, he understands the value of religion as a tool, as his many mosques to himself show. His interests are grounded in the world in a way the left understands, but his instincts are those of the Islamists – dominate at any cost.

And now the left in its sense of superiority toward these Oppressed Peoples, who still need that opiate of the masses, is playing its pretend game of negotiation thinking that the other side is fearful and dealing at least in some measure in good faith because the left can (with its chained grizzly, the US) wreak death at will. The Islamists and their cohort, the megalomaniacal Saddam, are watching with a similar if not greater sense of superiority knowing that they will bear those deaths when the time comes, and they believe their will to die is greater than the West’s will to inflict death. That the West, as represented by the leftist appeasers, will move the line of actual engagement further and further back – a view that is supported by recent history.

As a corollary to their inability to see that the Islamists really and truly do not fear death, the left is also impeded by its inability to acknowledge evil – to recognize that there is a desire for domination so very deep that it is implacable to any arguments of reason or humanity. They have become so accustomed to viewing the mostly benign strength of the US as the darkest wickedness that when they encounter the real thing they again seek other reasons for the actions that evil takes. It is a willful blindness that will eventually sacrifice the good in the West, the Middle East and the Far East, blind to its own encroaching darkness of heart, unless it too is contained.

Posted by susanna at 07:40 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

The Language Crank

I think this is going to have to be a regular feature, since I get up in arms fairly frequently over language, grammar and other relatively unimportant matters.

Today's peeve is the word "fortuitous". It does not mean "a happy occurrence", at least not yet. It's moving in that way. It does mean, "an accidental or unforeseen circumstance" which can be either good or bad. So it is equally fortuitous to run into your nutcase ex-girlfriend while out on a date with the woman you desperately want to marry and to find that you and your future father-in-law are rabid fans of the same sports teams.

I'm not a stickler on this word, other than I try to use it in its proper way. That means I won't hit you over the head with my ruler if you use it the other way. After all, it's getting there in some dictionaries. I like how it's put on Dictionary.com:

for·tu·i·tous( P ) Pronunciation Key (fôr-t-ts, -ty-) adj. 1. Happening by accident or chance. See Synonyms at accidental. 2. Usage Problem.
Happening by a fortunate accident or chance. Lucky or fortunate.

I love that Usage Problem in italics; it just evokes a language professor furrowing his brow about these young whippersnappers corrupting a fine old word - not angry, just... discouraged. Here's what the Usage Problem is:

Usage Note: In its best-established sense, fortuitous means “happening by accident or chance.” Thus, a fortuitous meeting may have either fortunate or unfortunate consequences. For decades, however, the word has often been used in reference to happy accidents, as in The company's profits were enhanced as the result of a fortuitous drop in the cost of paper. This use may have arisen because fortuitous resembles both fortunate and felicitous. Whatever its origin, the use is well established in the writing of reputable authors. ·The additional use of fortuitous to mean “lucky or fortunate,” is more controversial, as in He came to the Giants in June as the result of a fortuitous trade that sent two players back to the Reds. This use dates back at least to the 1920s, when H.W. Fowler labeled it a malapropism, but it is still widely regarded as incorrect.

I daresay that by the time my youngest nieces reach adulthood, this Usage Problem will be one no longer, because fortuitous in its original sense will have lost its utility like gay has now. It's not a huge thing, but I mourn the little morphs that take precision from the language.

Of course, we do also pick up words like "morph"...

Posted by susanna at 12:58 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Not that it matters, you understand

It's so sweet to be #1 and #2 at the same time.

But then, it's so sweet to be a basketball fan in Kentucky.

The new Sports Illustrated College Basketball Power Rankings has the University of Kentucky Wildcats as #1 in the country, with Louisville hot on its heels at #2. SI admits some struggle to decide which to put on top, but Kentucky's tougher schedule and public shaming of Florida last week finally settled it. Not that I'm complaining - I've been a UK fan since I knew about basketball, since everyone in and from Eastern Kentucky bleeds blue and loves it, and I've been a Louisville fan since attending there in the late 1980s - it's one of my alma maters. And while I'd prefer to see the Wildcats add another national championship banner to Rupp, I'd still rather Louisville get it than, say, Arizona or (shudder) Florida.

I just try to block out that my current school, Rutgers, can beat, oh, Princeton, and then only on a good day.

Posted by susanna at 12:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Something of interest

Periodically people send me links that I mean to post, but in the chaos that is my life they get buried in more important things, like a burning need to make chocolate chip cookies instead or, lately, cleaning out junk. Trust me, when the urge to clean takes me over, I go with it, because it's rare enough to qualify for Evening News status if I were to issue a press release. Last night I cleaned out my email inbox and came across several links I wished I had posted earlier. All are good, although by now you may have seen some of them. But if you, like me, sometimes get behind on such things, you'll be happy to have the chance to read them.

I know you've seen this: Michael Moore's film Bowling for Columbine nominated for a screen writing award never before given to documentaries, by the Writers Guild of America. As others have noted, it's still not going to be given to a documentary, even if Moore's is selected. Having seen it myself, I can honestly say it has all the charm and elegance of a Jason or Freddie movie, and about the same level of truth. But then these folks probably voted for The Big Lie that is Bill Clinton too, so it should be no strain for them.

Crispin Sartwell gives us a deeply considered, wisely couched response to the "barrage of doltish fallacies uttered in an insufferable whine" that is the "conservative" argument against affirmative action. He admits himself that he isn't "the biggest fan" of affirmative action (which, you see, gives him automatic credentials as an Unbiased Observer of the Argument), and apparently is horrified by "dishonest, vicious and fallacious" arguments - but that doesn't stop him from using just that line of argumentation to defend that which he is not a fan of. Naturally we should listen to him because he is a "ethicist and philosopher" in "Railroad, PA" - I'm sure that living in a rural (sounding at least) setting gives the hard-working ethicist and philosopher that little bit of Walden Pond sheen that convinces us he is Not Interested In Materialism, as are the rest of us greed-mongerers lying in wait to do some oppressed minority out of his or her place at Harvard. And just in case you didn't realize it, people who use any measures of intelligence or ability have "no idea what knowledge is or what is valuable in human life". No, you have to go to Railroad, PA, to find that out.

And finally, a lovely little piece in the National Post that gives you hope for the Canadians - Andrew Coyne's Can't see the guns for the smoke.

Posted by susanna at 10:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Focus on women

Shanti of Dancing with Dogs blog has started Real Women Online with a couple of friends to call attention especially to blogs by women, and to encourage women to blog either by themselves or collaboratively. She's especially highlighting blogs by Asian Indians. Pretty interesting. Of course it is - it's done by Shanti! So go check them out.

Posted by susanna at 10:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Nightmare

I woke up this morning before the alarm sounded, pulled out of sleep by a nightmare. I had been hired to teach, and when I was taken into the classroom it turned out to be over 60 teenagers in an oddly configured warehouse, not a standard room at all. They were rowdy and not much interested. And the topic? It was on the board: Biology and the horologistic path of evolution.

And I will tell you that I was valiantly laying the law down on the students and preparing the lecture in my head when I was thankful pushed to wakefulness by the stress. What a horrible nightmare.

Posted by susanna at 06:56 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 09, 2003

What do Russians really think?

Last night at a party I talked with two Russian women who came to the United States in the early 1990s, already young adults at the time. One of the two, Anna*, returned just a couple of weeks ago from a trip to Russia to visit relatives; both are in frequent contact with family there. It was a fascinating conversation, which I’ll get into more in a bit, but of course the first question I asked was – what do Russians really think of the possibility of war in Iraq?

Anna said they don’t care. They didn’t talk about it while she was there, except when one of her cousins asked her where Iraq was, and was it near Israel? They’re more concerned about Chechnya, or just getting through life day by day. Mary* had a somewhat different view. She said they didn’t care one way or another whether the United States went into Iraq, but they do bear a lot of resentment to the United States for fighting against them in Afghanistan in the late 1980s, then coming in themselves to fight Afghanistan last year. I said, it was a different country then, they were the Soviet Union and the goal of the war was different. She shrugged and said, I know, but they’re still angry, and resentful about it, even after all this time.

Mary said she wasn’t sure herself about whether the US should go into Iraq; she thinks the government knows more than she does, and that if she knew more she could make a decision. But she can’t say yes or no on what she knows now. Anna said she reluctantly agrees we should go, although she wishes we could have peaceful resolution. The two of us talked for a while about Saddam, and she, like me, believes he is not going to be deterred. He has to die. The question is… how many others will have to die in the process?

The conversation covered a wide range of topics, and they were able to offer a unique perspective as women who are here legally, both having green cards, and both with close family in Russia still (Anna’s parents and brother live there, as well as other family; Mary’s brother and other family are there, although her mother and sister are here). Here’s a few more tidbits, from their perspective:

--Average Russians see all Americans as Bill Gates, with huge amounts of money and no limits on their credit cards. Their primary knowledge of America comes from American movies and products; before Mary arrived here, she said she thought of Americans as people who partied all the time, who didn’t care about anything and rarely did any work. She neither liked nor respected Americans – something which has changed 180 degrees since she moved here.

--Russians make on average $150 a month. Few can afford their own apartments, and it’s common for two generations to live together. Even with that, they often have to work two jobs to make ends meet. The younger generation – 20s and early 30s – tend to see their parents as “owing” them, feeling they have a right to a better life and their parents should sacrifice to give it to them. There’s little sense of individual initiative, and a pervasive fatalism, a belief that there’s really no opportunity for a better future so why look past right now.

--Russians resent Americans generally, finding them “cocky”, and resent that the US as such a young country is so much more successful than Russia with its many centuries of history. And yet, Mary said, they also don’t see themselves as able to make things change in their own country. Even when they hate the US, they see it as a model – they’ll say, “We hate the US” if asked what they think, yet if you ask them where they want their country to be in 15 years, they’ll say, “Like the US.”

--Mary said that her relatives in Russia think of her and her mother – most especially her mother – as a traitor because she moved to the United States and didn’t come back. Anna said her family expects that she will finish school here and return to the US, but Anna plans to stay and become a US citizen.

--The ways of life in the two countries are so different that it’s difficult for one to understand the other, Mary said. For example, she told her brother that in the US, she could only take a hot shower for about 20 minutes at a time because then the hot water tank was empty. He was amazed, because in Moscow, where he lives, they can leave the hot water running all day and it never runs out – in their system, the water comes into the building hot, it isn’t heated in each building separately. Mary said that results in a lot of waste because people will just leave the water running with no sense that it’s a resource that’s limited. Her brother thought she should be able to have as much hot water as she wanted. On the other hand, she said Americans find it difficult to understand that in Moscow, for two months every summer the hot water is turned off completely in part of the city. If you want a hot shower you have to go to the other side of town. It’s an accepted thing there, but she’s right – it’s not something I’d be very accepting about.

--Moving around within Russia is still very restricted, similar to the way it was under the USSR. People “belong” to a city, and must get permission to live in another. For example, Anna’s friends bought an apartment at great expense - $30,000 – in Moscow, but now they have to get permission to live in it because they are from another city. It’s a bureaucratic process, and one that may not turn out in their favor. They likened moving between provinces like trying to move from Mexico to the United States.

--Anna said that during her three weeks in Russia, she did not see Putin on television once. Both Anna and Mary believe he is a figurehead for the billionaires who really run the country. Mary said he should be on television 24/7 while the economy is so bad, explaining to the people what they need to do, what he is going to do, how the country is going to improve to turn the economy around. It isn’t happening – he’s off skiing in Siberia instead. They don’t see evidence of a plan for positive change either on the governmental level or in the minds of the people.

--Prostitution and trafficking in women and children is common within Russian, and Russian women are also sold into other countries for sexual use. This is something I knew a little about, as I know that women from the Soviet bloc countries are many times brought illegally into the US with promise of legitimate jobs as housekeepers and babysitters, only to find that while they do have those jobs they are also expected to be a sex partner for the husband in the household where they work. Since they are here illegally, and have no recourse for protection, often they acquiesce. (That’s not limited to women from the Soviet countries – a friend of mine here illegally from the Caribbean said that other women from there who are here illegally are often victims of sexual predators, with the same inability to go to the police about it.)

--Neither Anna nor Mary see much hope for Russia in the near future. They think things will gradually change, but there won’t be significant, important change until the generation now in their teens, with no Soviet background and with greater contacts with the West, are in charge of things.

--Both women are very happy to be in the United States; Anna said “we are very fortunate, to have been chosen” to get into the country legally, and have the opportunity to become citizens. Mary said she now has great respect for Americans, and admires how hard they work and try to get good things for their children. They both thought that the attachment to the concepts of freedom and individual responsibility is what makes the difference between the countries. Anna said, You can’t give that to the Russian people, you can’t get inside their heads and make them learn it.

I know this is somewhat disjointed, but we covered a lot of ground and often skipped from topic to topic, so it wasn’t a cohesive whole. I just wanted to share with you parts that I thought were particularly interesting.

And hi, Mary and Anna! I hope you like your pseudonyms, and the site in general!

*I told them I would blog this conversation, and both asked that I not use their real names.

Posted by susanna at 08:10 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 08, 2003

KY Gov Patton cries to try to get legislature to raise taxes

Ky Governor Paul Patton actually cried during his budget address this past Wednesday when he asked legislators to raise taxes in the state, in an effort to show just how much he cares about the cut in services that will happen otherwise. You can see the video here.

Patton is just beyond belief, and in my judgment an active harm to the citizens of Kentucky. Last fall the married governor confessed to having an affair with a married party operative - he cried then too. She claims that he used his influence to first get her state approvals for her nursing home business, then when she broke it off with him he used his influence again to have her nursing home inspected and basically shut down for violations. He's currently under investigation on those charges.

Earlier this year, Patton tried to blackmail the legislature into approving his budget by releasing prisoners before their sentences were completed because, he said, the state didn't have the money to pay for their incarceration. He even admitted that was his reasoning, although he didn't call it blackmail. Now he's sobbing behind the lectern because the state's children are going to have their educational opportunities cut if the legislature doesn't raise taxes.

Patton has been the most pathetic, bar none, governor Kentucky has had in the memory of anyone in my family, and from what I can tell he'd run a tight race for worst governor ever. I think he's a liar, a panderer, an immoral and greedy powermonger who's arrogance has finally caught up with him. Kentucky can't get shut of him fast enough. He's a Democrat, but even they are distancing themselves from him as much as possible - both sides of the aisle are calling him "irrelevant". I don't think he's irrelevant, I think he's dangerous.

It's a prime opportunity for the Republicans to retake the state house, which hasn't happened in quite a while in Kentucky. All I can say is, if the Republicans can't win the next gubernatorial race, they may as well pack their bags and move to Bora Bora, because they're useless to Kentucky.

Posted by susanna at 10:29 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 07, 2003

Biased Romenesko?

I use Romenesko's Media News a lot as a source for articles on odd things in the media, including bias. I hadn't really thought of it as biased or unbiased, but Andrew Sullivan says it is (and makes a good case):

ROMENESKO WATCH: Gay left supporter James Romenesko runs a blog linking to liberal stories and opinion in the media. If Eric Alterman sneezes, there's an item. But if someone right-of-center has anything to say about the media, it's ignored. A good example today: Jonah Goldberg's excellent and provocative piece about media overkill on the Columbia disaster. It's a big piece in a big paper, the Wall Street Journal. Look at what else Romenesko links to today - an end to the Miami Herald spelling bee! a college meat-eating contest! - and ask yourself the reasons for the lacuna. In fact, see if you can find any stories in the past week that deviate even slightly from left-liberal politics. Romenesko has every right to run a left-liberal blog on the media, of course. But he should be candid about his biases. He's a propagandist. And a very good one.

Interesting that Sullivan uses my usual reasoning - bias isn't the problem as much as unacknowledged bias is. I guess I'll be looking a little closer at Romenesko now.

UPDATE: Ooppss!!! Looks like it's not Media News (or MediaNews) anymore. It's just Romenesko.

Posted by susanna at 10:22 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Make a statement

We hear a lot about Hollywood peacemongering idiots, but as the WSJ points out today, not all stars are on that track. I think it's a good idea to explicitly support those who take a strong stance for the United States and for doing the right thing in Iraq. In that spirit, I suggest that we make a blogospheric effort to spread the word about Ron Silver's new film, Festival in Cannes, an indie film which hits theaters in March.

Silver isn't alone in his stance, but he did take it to the big guys:

Our own newspaper [WSJ] reported the story of actor Ron Silver angrily challenging the president of the European parliament at Davos after the latter took a swipe at so-called American imperialism.

According to James Lileks, Silver isn't precisely ready for the Conservative Hall of Fame, but he should be applauded for two very important things: He stood up for the country, and he didn't hold a press conference or wear a goofy t-shirt to get publicity about it. He wasn't, in other words, using his celebrity to "make a statement" to his adoring public. He said what needed to be said to the person it needed saying to, in a situation where he could very easily have been shot down publically. He took a risk. I say, go buy your tickets! Make Festival in Cannes the biggest indie hit in recent memory!

After all, it can't be worse than Bowling for Columbine.

[Thanks to Dodd for the WSJ link.]

Posted by susanna at 03:38 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Someone needs a life

This is pretty funny.

[Link via A Mad Tea Party]

Posted by susanna at 01:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Just a little comment...

Sometimes the best part of a post winds up being the comments. While the post itself is brief, the comments here are excellent. Basically, a commenter on Ipse Dixit says that Israel is more aggressive and repressive than Iraq, and accuse Dodd of being "willfully ignorant" of the facts of the situation. Both Dodd and Brent of The Ville then wade in to establish what the facts really are. It's one of the best short discussions of the true situation in Palestine, and why it's foolish to equate Israel and Iraq, that I've seen. Thanks, guys!

Posted by susanna at 01:02 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Well, well, well

Get a load of this:

NEW YORK -- The day after Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech before the U.N. Security Council Wednesday, daily newspapers in their editorials dramatically shifted their views to support the Bush administration's hard-line stance on Iraq, a new E&P survey has found.

These results come in stark contrast to those of E&P surveys on Jan. 31 and Jan. 20. Those surveys identified strong opposition to President Bush's plans for a quick war in the majority of the country's largest newspapers. The number of newspapers advocating the use of force seemingly has grown faster in the last day or so than it had in the last month...

A once-tiny hawkish faction has grown to include 15 newspapers, three times as many as the five identified in the Jan. 31 E&P survey.

The Dallas Morning News strongly reflected the sentiment behind calls for quick force: "The U.S. Secretary of State did everything but perform cornea transplants on the countries that still claim to see no reason for forcibly disarming Iraq."

...The cautiously pro-war camp expanded to 14 from 11 members, who generally advocated the forceful overthrow of Hussein while contending that maximal international support and preparation still should be prerequisites for any invasion.

...Even the shrinking number of war skeptics, down to 11 in this survey from 29 in the last one, seemed unsure of how to bring about a peaceful solution to the conflict.

In other news, editorial pages around the country have come out strongly in favor of building an interstate system to provide easy vehicular access throughout the country. However, most are still skeptical about whether air travel will ever be a viable commercial option.

Geez. Nothing like a major newspaper being willfully ignorant and thoroughly behind the curve, is there?

Posted by susanna at 12:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

This is why I don't like Bill O'Reilly

It's obvious that I don't agree with the pacifist position, but I also don't agree with inviting someone into your realm - TV show, radio show, blog, whatever - to berate them, especially if in the process I hold myself up as an example of all that is good. I came across a section of a transcript on Tom Tomorrow's site of Bill O'Reilly interviewing Jeremy Glick, son of a 9/11 victim who has signed the Not In Our Name petition and is vehemently anti-war. I disagree with him, but I don't get why O'Reilly gets a pass for doing things like this:

O'REILLY: I don't want to debate world politics with you.

GLICK: Well, why not? This is about world politics.

O'REILLY: Because, No. 1, I don't really care what you think.

GLICK: Well, OK.

Huh? It is about world politics. And here:

GLICK: Let me finish. You evoke 9/11 to rationalize everything from domestic plunder to imperialistic aggression worldwide.

O'REILLY: OK. That's a bunch...

GLICK: You evoke sympathy with the 9/11 families.

O'REILLY: That's a bunch of crap. I've done more for the 9/11 families by their own admission -- I've done more for them than you will ever hope to do.

My contribution's bigger than your contribution! Nyah! And I must say, Glick lost his father to terrorists. That trumps any donation O'Reilly makes, if you're keeping score on relative cost to individuals. What's important in that discussion (or what should be) is philosophy of followup, not who-gave-more.

I realize that this is not the full transcript, and maybe O'Reilly was more reasonable in earlier sections of the interview. And I very much disagree with Glick. But O'Reilly does not show well here, and even though he's done some good things - like pushed for 9/11 charities to be accountable - I find him arrogant and humorless, which leaves him open to this kind of bizarre exchange. Read the whole bit that's posted on This Modern World for more context.

I just don't get why O'Reilly's so popular.

Posted by susanna at 08:21 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

February 06, 2003

Ted Rall right?

Blaster has evidence.

But I don't think it'll make Teddy a happy boy.

Posted by susanna at 06:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Is President Bush married?

Because I'm in love.

He just spoke, speech carried on the radio. He threw down the gauntlet to the UN in no uncertain terms - they can stand by their resolution or go down. And he said Saddam will no doubt continue to lie, mislead, obfuscate, but, Bush said, and I quote:

"The game is over."

He summarized the information from Powell's presentation yesterday. Then his closing words were:

"Saddam will be stopped."

He took no questions.

So... bombs by Valentine's Day? Or March 1?

UPDATE: Here's the CNN story on it - interesting, including that Ft. Campbell's 101st Airborne Division received orders today to deploy.

Here's the MSNBC story, with (finally) a reason:

The main purpose of Bush’s remarks was to light a fire under the United Nations, especially France, which says it wants to give more time to the weapons inspectors, an official said.

The administration believes French President Jacques Chirac holds the key to whether Bush will seek a new resolution from the Security Council. If Chirac insists on vetoing such a resolution, Bush will not seek one, the official told the Associated Press.

So the UN's relevance is now firmly tied to France. Heh.

Here's the story on FoxNews.

And Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is tightening the screws too. Interesting. (And so is the fact that in the photo with the article, Bush in the foreground is blurred out and the focus is on Powell. Why is that when Bush is the one speaking and quoted? Hmmm.)

Posted by susanna at 04:48 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

A sudden recognition

While I enjoy politics, I'm not a political or even historical scholar, so sometimes I miss some of the historical context of current events. Stephen Den Beste has an excellent post (as usual) today about what he thinks France is up to with its opposition to the war in the face of all reason. He mentions Jacksonian politics in passing, and provides this link. I wasn't far into reading it when I had a moment of sudden recognition - this is me! I haven't finished reading it (it prints out to 27 pages), but so much of it resonates with me that I'm fascinated. I'm not solely Jacksonian, I doubt anyone is completely within one highly-delineated political camp, but it's close enough. What's interesting as well is that I am culturally Jacksonian as well - the author of the article, Walter Russell Mead, identifies the source of the Jacksonian approach as the Scots-Irish settlers who came to the United States in the late 1700s/early 1800s and populated the lower Appalachians before moving into other areas of the South. Those are my people; my family has lived within a couple hundred miles of where my parents still live for over 200 years, Scots-Irish in the lower Appalachians.

It's always interesting to see more clearly the crucible where your own views were formed. I think we as adults have not just the ability but the necessity of intelligently reassessing our attitudes and philosophies based on a broader experience with the world as we have opportunity. But I know that the center of where I come from is the deeply religious, poor and fiercely independent Scots settlers, and I carry both good and bad from that influence. It's exciting to see some of that come together in a description of a still-vigorous and influential political philosophy.

Posted by susanna at 01:51 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

What is the point?

We've been making fun of the "Take Your Clothes Off For Peace" folks since, well, since they started taking off their clothes - and now they're doing it in Australia (not safe for work). I understand what the general goal is - to stop any kind of military aggression on the part of the US and its allies; but I wonder precisely how they think removing their clothes will advance that cause. After reading several articles on it (including this one), I came up with four basic reasons they put forward, implicitly or explicitly:

1) It embarrasses people, and so serves as a form of blackmail in trying to force the action the strippers want. That kind of activism is most effective in a public forum, like when women removed their shirts at a Santa Cruz city council (discussed here) to protest a proposed anti-drug law that they said would also limit the rights of topless women and performance artists. They use the decency and/or hang-ups of others to get what they want.

2) Nudity gets press. As the photo with this article illustrates (not safe for work), beautiful (or just naked) bodies get attention. Attention equals higher sales. Higher sales equal more money. So these folks are plugging into capitalism to sneak their message into the media stream; marketing, in other words, similar to how banks give away ink pens with their name on them, or how funeral homes used to distribute paper fans with advertisements to churches in the South. Use one type of functionality to highlight an unrelated message. And incidentally to trip the corporate mechanism that they generally decry to the heavens, when they're not getting naked.

3) At least for some of the naked protesters, public nudity has some level of embarrassment attached to it for the one getting naked - I don't see much sign of shame, so I won't include that. Nudity makes you vulnerable because your entire physical being is exposed to public judgment, which is often harsh. The reason why that matters to their cause is that they are hoping that the people who see their nudity recognize the level of commitment to their cause that exposing their naked bodies requires, given the vulnerability it causes. I think the mental dialogue it's supposed to trigger goes like this: "Look at those women! They're all naked. They don't have great bodies. They care so much about stopping war that they're willing to expose themselves to harsh criticism! Unmask their deepest insecurities about themselves! What courage, what... what dedication! I should listen to their message, it's obviously important." We're supposed to "feel their pain".

4) It gives them maximum sense of sacrifice without requiring a real sacrifice. They take off their clothes, submit to being photographed with a group of others, put their clothes back on and go their way. Nobody went hungry, lost a job or income, were physically hurt, or even openly mocked during the activity, yet they get to feel that they have done something really important and big for The Cause. They can imagine with pride their grandchildren telling their great-grandchildren, "That's your great-grandmother who got naked for peace!" and the children saying, "Ohhhh, she's so brave! I want to be like her!"

After analyzing it like this, I have a clearer sense of what is going on in their heads, scary though it is. I think the most important one is the fourth one: thumbing their nose at society and making a sacrifice without really sacrificing anything. The fact that they don't get the difference between real sacrifice and a peacemongers bonding experience with no real negative consequences is made clear in this article where the "naked for peace" folks in the US are equated with the women in Nigeria who threatened to go topless to force Chevron to make a deal (and I don't have details) with the local communities. The difference there is that going topless in Nigeria in that context, according to what I've read, is an established cultural statement of shaming, and likely (although I can't say certainly) could carry consequences beyond a chuckle or two when others see your thunder-thighs. And it's so evocative of what the Left is all about: symbolism with no substance, like the "Feed the World" song produced a number of years ago. Those stars singing could have contributed from their own wealth more than the record made, without even having to sell the Mercedes. Sheryl Crow and Viggo Mortensen with their clever t-shirts aren't risking anything. Those of us on the right - we understand fully that our sons, fathers, sisters, cousins, mothers, friends not only can but in some cases will die if this war moves forward. That's a bit different from the vulnerability of having people know that my left breast is smaller than my right one, or that I have cellulite on my butt. It's not just the lack of substance, too, but the fact that they think it is substance.

The fact is, sometimes nudity does have precisely the effect they want. One instance would be the Nigerian women's protest. Another that has remained in my mind for over a decade is a scene near the end of Athol Fugard's play, Master Harold... and the Boys (here's a review with some details), about apartheid in South Africa. The play, set in the early 1950s as apartheid is taking hold, is about a teenaged white boy who grew up with two black men as servants in his family's household. The men genuinely care about the boy, and he obviously does about them too. But he's struggling with the dissonance of caring for someone as an equal or an admired friend, and the dehumanizing required by the racial prejudice. At the end of the play one of the black servants lowers his pants to submit to a disciplining by Master Harold. The nudity it required was a necessary expression of the debasement the young man was inflicting; it was deeply moving in the way it expressed that even though the black man was submitting himself of necessity, he was the one with dignity and character, while the white teenager is clearly aligning himself with the small-minded evil of assumed superiority. The reason it's so moving is precisely because the black servant has proven himself to be a good man of depth, of character and dignity, and you feel deeply the injustice being done to him. But the character in the play was not mooning the boy, he wasn't exposing himself to make a statement. Rather, the actor was exposing himself to make the pivotal point of the play, which has nothing to do with nudity for nudity's sake.

That's symbolism with substance. And the left aren't even able to tell the difference.

[Thanks to Andrea for getting me started on this by following a link from her site. It's all your fault!]

(Edited to add links and formatting.)

Posted by susanna at 11:29 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

One more article on blogging

Another newspaper is showing that it gets the basic idea but hasn't quite absorbed the utility of the concept. The San Diego Union Tribune has a nice article on blogging, but manages to list over a dozen blogs without setting up a single actual link to any of them. They interview San Diego blogger Scott Koenig, the Indepundit, and mention CotB buddy (and former San Diego resident) The Timekeeper's blog, Horologium, but - yes - no links. The writer has no clue what he's talking about, but still an interesting read.

CG Hill at Dustbury, where I found the link originally, points out that they also left in a bunch of code in the text, which is very odd. Apparently they don't get the online thing very well at all.

Neal Pollack, who I excerpted here on the lefty response to Powell's UN presentation, is according to the article a satirist who bills himself as the "Greatest Living American Writer", and aims his blog at least in part at parodying warbloggers. I'm waiting for him to be funny. This could take a while.

Posted by susanna at 08:05 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 05, 2003

More compelling evidence from... NPR

Peter Galbraith, former U.S. ambassador to Croatia and now professor of national-security studies at the National War College in Washington, D.C., was Terry Gross's guest on Fresh Air tonight. You can listen to his segment here.

Galbraith was working for the Senate Foreign Relations committee in the 1980s when he became aware of Saddam's "genocide in progress" against the Kurds. He was traveling through the Kurdish area in northern Iraq when he noticed that a number of towns on his map just weren't there. That sparked his attention to the places where towns were literally in the process of being demolished - no buildings on one side of the road, and half-torn-down buildings on the other with bulldozers at the ready. The displaced residents were gathered into "victory cities", which Galbraith said were really concentration camps of 50,000 closely guarded people each. Later refugees fleeing Iraq told of Saddam spraying towns with chemical agents, killing thousands, in his effort to purge the Kurds. Galbraith tells of his own role in carrying the information to the Senate, of the Senate's response, and the eventual outcome.

While much of what he says supports the current case for war - Gross says he refers to himself as a liberal interventionist in favor of deposing Saddam - Galbraith has harsh words for both the Reagan and Bush I administrations for not carrying through with initiatives that could have saved lives. I thought he had important things to say to both sides of the aisle. Give it a listen.

On another note, I went to a bookstore tonight in the mall in Jersey City. It's a little one, so it hasn't a lot of selection, but I was intrigued by what was there. They had The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Middle East and they had Jimmy Carter's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in a nice hardback edition. What they didn't have was any of the books I've seen discussed lately on conservative blogs, NRO, Weekly Standard, or anything current at all for that matter. You'd think they could have at least one. They did manage, however, to have two rows of true crime paperbacks and three of lesbian erotica and relationship advice right beside and below the current events section. I'm glad they have perspective.

It's sad when NPR is the best source of news you can find in an evening.

Posted by susanna at 10:10 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Mmmm... color!

I love color, especially strong colors - as you may have noticed from the orange and blue of this site, which as opposites on the color wheel strike the maximum impact from each other. That's why I was delight to find Citrus Moon, which has amazing (free) computer wallpaper. My favorite? Amber.

I can just imagine going into a small, domed room where a complete pattern of the Amber design is swirling endlessly over the walls and ceiling, accompanied by very loud, rhythmic music with a deep bass beat that resonates in your chest. Electric. Mesmerizing. Exhilirating.

Mmmm..... color.

And no, you don't want me to decorate your house without supervision.

Posted by susanna at 09:18 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

A rockin' birthday

Today is Mike Hendrix's birthday - go wish him well, over at Cold Fury!

Mike is a wonderful musician and singer; I'm privileged to have a CD of his rockabilly band, the Belmont Playboys, and it's a fine way to get your blood going and your feet dancing. But no worries - you can download some MP3s of their music on their site. Caution: Site is not safe for work, especially if you listen to the music there. Unless your boss doesn't mind you dancing on the desk!

And here's the man himself in mid-song:

sing.jpg

Whew! I'm fannin' myself over here. How about you?

Happy birthday, Mike! I'm glad ta know ya.

Posted by susanna at 04:41 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Skewered!

It's a twofer!

Dave Kopel thoroughly dismembers Tapped in this retelling of how they have handled their coverage of his gun rights writings. It's a fairly classic case of deliberate bias on the part of Tapped, and Kopel takes them apart in chunks. His conclusion:

It's poor manners to attack someone, complain that they are dishonest for not responding, solicit a response, and then excise almost all the substance from that response.

I'd call it more than poor manners, but that's just me.

Next up is James Lileks. I usually assume that, since my readers are intelligent people, that you all read Lileks daily without my having to point to it. But today's fisking of the Greens is a beautiful thing to see.

It's almost like a Fisk-Christmas in the blogosphere.

Posted by susanna at 03:31 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

An important point

Stephen Bryen at NRO makes an excellent point - we have to do this now.

There is no doubt the U.S. took a considerable risk in revealing much sensitive intelligence, and making it easier for Saddam to better hide his communications and the "profiles" of his WMD weapons sites in the future. For this reason alone it is urgent to make sure that he is not given any time to do so. The time to act and smash Saddam is now.

Rod Dreher on NRO Corner says Ken Pollack on CNN noted that the US "burned" a lot of sources to be able to make this information public. Revealing this has made made the free world more vulnerable. I don't think the US would have made this case in this way if it wasn't both fully committed to war and fully intent on bringing it on soon. If the bombs haven't started dropping by March, I'll be shocked.

Posted by susanna at 01:25 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Powell makes his case; the lefty response

Powell made his case. Impressively.

Bravo.

And of course some of the left blogs are responding with thoughtful, detailed analyses:

Neal Pollack (live blogging during the presentation):

11:03 AM

If even ONE teaspoonful of anthrax exists in Iraq, then it must be destroyed through a massive deployment of 150,000 troops. Why is Saddam Hussein hiding his teaspoons? It's time to stop his travelling poisonous medicine show on wheels. Preferably tomorrow, because I have plans this weekend.

11:07 AM

We now have evidence that Saddam Hussein is in possession of cartoon trucks, in direct violation of UN Resolution 7723. Because the trucks are cartoon trucks, that means that they can fall into a very deep canyon with an anvil attached to them and still survive...

11:21 AM

The Iraqis have a SUBMERGED ICEBERG! Oh my god! Ahhh! Ahhh! Colin, you make me so hot! Prove your case! Prove your case!

11:25 AM

Aluminum tubes. Ohhhh....I am definitely an expert on centrifuges, if you know what I'm saying...

Daily Kos:

Powell has spoken. I have little to add, since 1) there was ZERO evidence presented of the claimed Iraq-al Qaeda link, and 2) none of the evidence presented (at least as written in the Reuters and AP wire stories) seem to offer more than pictures of bunkers and talk about a "modified vehicle". Is that supposed to somehow reference the "mobile chemical factories" we've been hearing about? If so, I hope there's more evidence than the news story presented, because that's pretty weak...

Again, there is a lot of context missing here, and it could all be a function of poor news writing. But if this is all they could offer as "evidence", the adminsitration's rationale for war is far flimsier than I expected. I'll withhold any verdict until I get more information.

I couldn't find a lot about it on the lefty blogs, maybe because I didn't go to the right correct ones for immediate commentary. But the tone of what I did see was pretty much, "Unless we see with our own eyes someone with a huge sign saying "SADDAM SENT ME" actually destroying large sections if not all of Manhattan, we won't believe you. And even then we're going to think it was an actor hired by GW with his oil money."

Just keep it up, lefties - you're doing more than we ever could to keep your folks out of power.

Posted by susanna at 01:03 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Document forger with 9/11 connections released

A document forger who provided two of the 9/11 hijackers with fake IDs has been released on probation after a plea bargain with the Passaic County, NJ, prosecutor:

Last month, the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office invoked the specter of national security in the case against Mohamed El-Atriss, who faced a 10-year prison term for selling fake IDs to two of the Sept. 11 hijackers.

On Tuesday night, El-Atriss was a free man.

El-Atriss, who had been held in the Passaic County Jail since Aug. 20, pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon to selling documents purporting to be driver's licenses from his Paterson office from November 1999 to July 31, 2002.

The third-degree charge will bring him a probationary term and time served when he is sentenced in March...

El-Atriss, a naturalized citizen who has lived in the United States for 20 years, also had his bail lowered Tuesday from $500,000 to $50,000...

In November, prosecutors took the rare step of presenting evidence in secret to argue that El-Atriss' bail should be doubled to $500,000. In January, when they argued that the evidence should be kept secret, prosecutors cited a host of cases involving terrorists, and said revealing the information could jeopardize the "safety of the general population."

The case made national headlines after the secret hearing, with civil libertarians and defense attorneys crying foul. Defendants are hardly ever shut out of any portion of their proceedings. The case made news beforehand, too: The charges were filed July 31 after an aborted raid on El-Atriss' Market Street office by the Passaic County sheriff, who had invited the media along only to learn that his target was out of the country...

Throughout the hearing, El-Atriss kept his head bowed and wept. He flinched when his lawyer mentioned how one of the men who bought his documents later was a hijacker aboard a plane that hit the World Trade Center, and the other was on the plane that hit the Pentagon.

"I have seen my client curse toward the terrorists, the people who came into his place of business," Feinstein said during the hearing. "He wishes he had not done business [with them] - he wishes he had recognized them for who they were. ... He had no idea they were different than any other customer."

At one point, Feinstein asked his client, "Did you ever have anything to do with terrorism?" He barely got the words out before El-Atriss answered.

"Never in my life did I have anything to do with terrorism," El-Atriss said in a clear baritone. Brizek asked El-Atriss if he sold identification, specifically interna-tional driver's licenses, and held them out to be valid New Jersey licenses.

"That's correct," El-Atriss said.

"And that made up a substantial part of your business?" Brizek asked.

"That's correct," El-Atriss said.

This article is curiously devoid of any balanced information from the prosecutor - or anyone else - making the point that this El-Atriss may not have know that he was providing documents to terrorists, but that his business is on its face an active threat to the security of the United States. I think that's a bit important, don't you? The article makes the point repeatedly that El-Atriss "doesn't hold a grudge". Well, sir, I hold a grudge against you. Not just for the 9/11 hijackers, but all the other illegals you've helped stay here, some of whom may also be terrorists.

The radio report I heard on this on WABC 770 AM said that most charges were dropped and the deal made because prosecutors were concerned that holding a public trial in the case would require revealing information in making the prosecution's case that could jeopardize national security. I'm not sure why this article doesn't mention that directly.

Posted by susanna at 10:38 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Impediments to space travel

Bryan Preston of Junk Yard Blog works with the Hubble telescope project, and has a lot of insights about what impediments face us in trying to send manned flights deeper into space. They're not reason enough to stop trying, but it does present serious problems that will need a lot of time, money and risk to overcome.

His thoughts on Saturday's tragedy are worthwhile too, as he was at the launch for the last successful Columbia mission.

Posted by susanna at 10:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A thing of beauty

In the midst of grave matters and international policy manuverings, I want to bring you joy:

Kentucky Wildcats - 70, Florida Gators - 55

CBS Sportsline:

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Florida arrived here in the Big Blue Nation on Tuesday sporting the nation's No. 1 ranking, a 14-game win streak and a whole lot of firepower and swagger.

They left more whipped than a guy at a Dixie Chicks concert.

Kentucky turned the nation's top-ranked team and serious challenger to its SEC throne into a holiday tournament patsy in one of the most impressive and overwhelming performances of the season, dropping the Gators 70-55 in a game that wasn't even close to that close.

"Kentucky just outplayed us in every facet of the game," said Gators coach Billy Donovan.

ESPN:

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Something is happening here, something very special. Sure, we know, you're going to point out that we have said this before...

But there is something different about Kentucky that makes Tuesday night's 70-55 undressing of the newly top-ranked Gators mean something more than just a convincing mid-season homecourt win. This was bigger than Kentucky's win streak being extended to 11 or the Wildcats' unblemished SEC record improving to 7-0.

"We have that feeling,'' Kentucky senior guard Keith Bogans said. "The way we're playing right now, we'll be tough to beat. If we continue to get better defensively then I'm pretty sure we can make it to the Final Four. We'll make it to the Final Four.''

Dare we say we can see both Kentucky and Louisville in the Final Four, both No. 1 seeds, against each other in New Orleans…

Sports Illustrated:

It took Florida nearly 90 years to rise to the top of the polls. Kentucky needed just one day to knock the Gators off their perch. After earning the No. 1 ranking for the first time in school history Monday, Florida was pounded by No. 6 Kentucky 70-55 on Tuesday. And the game really wasn't even that close. The Wildcats, who led by 29 points in the second half, won their 11th consecutive game and snapped the Gators' school-record-tying 14-game win streak.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled World Matters Of Note.

(Yes, bold emphasis in all quotes is my doing. Snicker.)

(And because I'm a very nice and kind person, I would never point out to my very dear friend Bryan Preston that UK is ranked above Maryland in all the major polls, even before this Florida whomp.)

smirk

Posted by susanna at 09:41 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Plum Crazy Carnival

The newest Carnival of the Vanities is up and excellent over at The House of Plum. Check it out!

Posted by susanna at 08:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Is there such a thing as a Clue-Kneecapping?

Glenn links Eugene Volokh linking a pro-white/anti-Jew site that linked Volokh initially as an example of a weblog. Confused yet? Stormfront.org wants to get into the weblog business because it's popular; certainly it's a free country, so they can. But I don't think their goal is reachable:

I was wondering if any of you would be interested in creating a white nationalist blog sort of page...with the same pro-white and anti-Jew message. Something that "mainstream" readers would be more likely to look at and take seriously.

Clue to Stormfront members: no "mainstream" readers are going to take you seriously except as an object of mocking derision.

In a rather bizarre note, someone in their comments links to four weblogs as examples (of design, they said), three of which are explicitly against their belief system: The Volokh Conspiracy, which as Eugene Volokh points out is written primarily by Jews and the Aryans who like them; Little Green Footballs, which is focused almost solely on busting the chops of anti-Jewish Arab nonsense; and Andrew Sullivan - don't the I-hate-Jews types usually also hate gays? They also list Glenn Reynolds, who would be amongst the first in a fisk-pile-on if they DID go webloggish.

Posted by susanna at 08:38 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

UN death knell

I like this:

"It is now reasonable to ask whether the United States should now or on any other occasion subordinate vital national interests to a show of hands by nations who do not share our interests," he added.

The "he" here is Richard Perle, a former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration and now chairman of the Pentagon's Policy Advisory Board. The answer to his question, btw, is "no".

He also had choice words for France:

France is no longer an ally of the United States and the NATO alliance "must develop a strategy to contain our erstwhile ally or we will not be talking about a NATO alliance" the head of the Pentagon's top advisory board said in Washington Tuesday.

Very strong language. Excellent article - read it. And I agree with Glenn Reynolds that the timing is well-planned. Today is the day Colin Powell goes before the Security Council again.

Posted by susanna at 06:46 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 04, 2003

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil

I heard David Clennon of the TV show The Agency yesterday on Sean Hannity's radio show, and was just infuriated. I meant to blog about it, but was too busy to take notes. Well, John Hawkins at Right Wing News did take notes, and here's an excerpt (paraphrased) of what Clennon said:

"I'm saying that the moral climate within the ruling class in this country is not that different from the moral climate within the ruling class of Hitler's Germany.

...I'm not comparing Bush to Adolf Hitler - because George Bush, for one thing, is not as smart as Adolf Hitler. And secondly George Bush has much more power than Adolf Hitler ever had."

This man doesn't have the brains of a bug splatted on your windshield. You can honorably object to the war, you can honorably disagree with George W. Bush. There are intelligent, good people who do both. But this kind of streaming river of slimy hate, stupidity and just sheer blinding ignorance is unbelievable. What does he know about the Nazis? He's tossing around something someone screeched at him over creme brulee' at a $200/meal restaurant, the latest buzz at an exclusive cocktail party. If he met a real, in-the-flesh Nazi calmly and with bureaucratic thoroughness killing small children, pregnant women, grandfathers and strong young men with the seed of greatness buried unbloomed inside them... he would crap in his pants, if he had time before the next bullet or gas pellet came for him.

And to compare Bush to Hitler? You know, I truly detest Bill Clinton. I think he is likely brilliant, but he is also self-centered, hedonistic and completely wrong in pretty much all his policies. I think it's mostly true that the way you know Bill Clinton is lying is that sound is coming from his mouth. But I would never, ever, compare him to Adolf Hitler. Or Mussolini. Or any number of other murderous dictators, because as dark as I think his heart is, I don't think he is without a shred of humanity. It's just wrong. It's not fair to him, which is part of it, but the most dangerous part is the fact that equating something we dislike intensely with something that is truly evil in its blackest form begins to soften the reality of that evil, disrupts our ability to even acknowledge how evil humans can be. It's a process that our psychoanalyzing, it's-not-my-fault society is already too prone to do. And it's dangerous.

There are evils that we acknowledge immediately are just that, when we see them suddenly in all their stark reality: The evil of the Manson killers who butchered Sharon Tate, and stabbed her unborn child to death in her womb. The evil of a group of men gang-raping an innocent woman. The evil of setting a woman on fire, burning her to death because you want a larger dowry than her family gave you. All of those things are real, they happened, as have many more similar things. But in the minds of the people who did them, they were not doing evil. Rarely do people do things because they mean to do evil, although there are those that have (and I can tell you about some, if you want to know). They usually understand that what they are doing is against what society, or moral people, would approve – but they don’t care. It’s what they want to do, and they can find a reason why it’s okay. The Manson family wanted to start what they saw as a necessary race war. The grown men were satisfying their "honor". And the bride burning is the fault of the woman’s family who didn’t give the husband as much as his family wanted.

The moral vacuity of Clennon and his ilk is not just an empty nattering, a gadfly buzzing about the heads of our country’s leadership. They are themselves doing evil by giving cover to Saddam and to others who are truly, deeply, and in my judgment most likely irredeemably evil. Clennon and company don’t ask hard and real questions, they don’t seek to inform either themselves or the debate. They pass along cocktail gossip with the depth of silver electroplating, confusing in their own minds fame with importance, believing that because they have the knack for memorizing other people’s words that their own matter. They flock to the latest cause, holding peace-mongering rallies or showing how much they care about the world by becoming “peace tourists”, touring hospitals and telling the world Saddam is a good man. But when that man uses them to further his own evil causes, they cry innocence - like Sean Penn on his return from Baghdad. They should know what he is. They have no excuse. When the truth is readily available, and through your own arrogance you deliberately ignore it, then you have joined your hand with the teller of the lie. You are a part of his evil.

I am sick of the spoiled vicious children of Hollywood, of the fashionable immorality of body, mind and soul that guides their lives. It is that kind of evil that characterizes the ruling class of any society that allows predations on the scale of a Hitler, or a Saddam Hussein. The everyday evil of willful ignorance, arrogance and self-absorption. The evil that does not want to see truth if it goes against their will.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight! -- Isaiah 5:20-21

I’m very thankful that our country as a whole is willing to stand for right, to call darkness darkness, and evil evil.

Posted by susanna at 05:11 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

A most excellent Page

Happy blogiversary to my blogsister Page! The Last Page turns one year old today. If you want to know what stupidity runs rampant in the world, Page will keep you informed. In fact, it appears that stupid people are clamoring to inflict themselves on her life...

She also has a lot of other insights about ... well, all kinds of things. She's hard to categorize, which is a good thing. Check her out.

Posted by susanna at 02:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Rather wants you to know...

Quana at Eristic caught something I hadn't seen - a disclaimer on a CBS Evening News article from last week, posted on the CBS website. The article is about the bombing strategy called "Shock and Awe" that's been proposed as the initial attack on Iraq. At the end is this:

Statement from CBS News Anchor Dan Rather: "We assure you this report contains no information that the Defense Department thinks could help the Iraqi military

Very interesting. I think it's good that Rather and CBS considered that problem, even better that they thought it important to tell the audience about it. I'm curious about why they did it. Cynicism says it's at least in part because they know their audience does not like journalistic revelations about war strategies that put our military at risk. A take kinder to CBS would be that they themselves care about whether they put the military at risk. I guess what's important is that they don't put them at risk, regardless of the motivation for their care.

Posted by susanna at 01:57 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Bad news, good news

The Washington Times is reporting that Al Qaeda chatter about another, larger terrorist attack against the US is increasing in intensity and urgency, as more of their leaders and cells are apprehended or killed in several countries.

And in Great Britain, Muslim cleric and violence-inciter Abdul Hamza is being denounced for gloating over the deaths of the Columbia astronauts. Denounced even by the Muslim community there:

HOOK-handed cleric Abu Hamza last night GLOATED over the shuttle disaster and rejoiced in the deaths of the seven astronauts.

The Muslim fanatic called the Columbia crew “thugs of space” who deserved to die...

...angry Muslims led renewed calls for Hamza, who lives in Shepherd’s Bush, West London, to be kicked out of the country.

Inayat Bunglawala, of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “He does not possess a scrap of human decency. How dare he gloat over a tragedy like this.”

Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, leader of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain, said: “He continues to hurt the cause of Muslims.”

I'd say kicking Hamza's evil carcass out of Great Britain at the behest of the Muslims there would be a turning point toward a more general understanding that many Muslims are people of goodness and honor. So far it's not something non-Muslims are sure about at all.

Posted by susanna at 10:57 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Running late, but...

I'm running late for work, sat up reading too late (and then stayed in bed this morning finishing the book, oops), so no posting until a little later today. However, I just had to say this:

Alex Whitlock is my kinda guy.

Alex, of the insightful RAWbservations is hanging up his hat at that site. Work and his fiction writing are absorbing his attentions, and he doesn't want to be divided. I admire that. I don't seem to be able to have that kind of focus myself. I thought I would miss him a lot, since I always loved to read his site. But, wait! I am rescued!

You see, he's going to be posting on two new sites now!

That's right. Alex sadly gave up his blog, with long and anguished sighs, dragging us through the sadness with him as we contemplated a world without him... And then he signed on to two more blogs (both group blogs), No-Lyfe Journal and Disagreement, Inc.

See why he's my kinda guy?

Oh, and both blogs are cool. Check them out.

Posted by susanna at 08:38 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 03, 2003

Unsettling

Remember the Preppie Murder, in 1986? Handsome Robert Chambers killed lovely young Jennifer Levin in Central Park, then gave as his defense that they were engaging in consensual rough sex, she got too aggressive and he accidentally killed her in self-defense. He was tried but plead guilty before the end of the trial in exchange for a 15-year sentence.

His time is up on February 14.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Chambers is a scary guy. Here's how he killed Jennifer:

Chambers admitted strangling Levin after they met in Dorrian's Red Hand, an Upper East Side yuppie bar. Her battered, partially nude body was found under a tree behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the pair went after leaving the bar.

Even though he claimed self defense, his behavior didn't engender confidence; while this incident could have been innocous - I can't say, not having seen it - in the context of what we know he did, it doesn't seem that way:

Shortly after his sentencing, a videotape surfaced showing Chambers snapping the head off a small doll.

"Oops, I think I killed it," Chambers cracked, the doll's head in his hand.

And he doesn't seem like someone who has been rehabilitated:

Chambers, now 36, racked up an assortment of violations behind bars — heroin possession, assaulting a guard, weapon possession. His bids for parole were rejected five times, and he spent about a third of his time in solitary confinement...

At a 1995 parole hearing, Chambers expressed no remorse about the crime.

"I guess I could also give you the party line and say I have learned my lesson, I will never do this again," Chambers said. "But that's not how I feel at this moment."

This isn't good news. While it's true that many criminals essentially age out of offending, Chambers shows a persistence of several bad traits - self-centeredness, a disdain for authority, a tendency to break even rules with serious consequences for infringement, and violence. He's not just arrogant, he's an egoist, someone who views things completely through his own desires without consideration for the impact his behavior will have on others and, really, on him. He's going to do what he wants to do. The repetition of the negative behavior in prison indicates he is implusive and lacks self-control - he's not learned anything during his prison term except possibly how to be a better criminal.

Chambers is only 36, and possibly still quite handsome especially if he spent his years in prison working out. The beauty and charm that made him stand out at 19 will now be tinged with a dangerousness from his years in prison - precisely the kind of man that appeals to some women willing to take chances. I think his chances of reoffending are extremely high, and based on his history - the violence and impulsivity that characterized both his killing of Levin and his behavior in prison - I think he could kill again.

He may be returning to New York City.

Very, very scary.

Posted by susanna at 09:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

And now for a little humor...

I found these on Dribbleglass, after linking there from Dave Barry's blog. They've got dozens of billboards they'd like to see, some smart, some funny, and a lot of them tasteless, vulgar, disgusting - in other words, a lot of fun. Here's three favorites - or at least the ones I'm willing to post:

A little pride in my country:

sponsor.jpg

A little snarking at a neighbor:

canada.jpg

And just for the beauty of it:

pretense.jpg

Love 'em.

Posted by susanna at 04:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

He did it

The country's support for going into Iraq is back on the rise following the president's speech last week.

Good.

[Link via Ipse Dixit]

Posted by susanna at 04:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thinking of heroes

As we remember the heroes of the Columbia, spend a little time remembering too those who've died for our freedoms just in the past 17 months, the soldiers and special ops folks who willingly put themselves in the line of fire. And think about the reservists and their civilian families like those CPO Sparkey talks about who put their lives on hold to fulfill their pledge to this country. God bless the soldiers. God bless their families. And God help this campaign to succeed with the least possible harm to the Iraqi people.

Posted by susanna at 02:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News flash! on who's behind the war

It's not about oil, stupid - it's those Jews again!

You know, sometimes Israel doesn't get it right. One of my closest friends is a non-religious, liberal Jew who has family in Israel, and she really doesn't like Sharon very much. It'd be nice to be able to debate the pros and cons of Israeli politics without the dark mass of hatred spewed out over everything they do from people who themselves stand on shakey or non-existent moral ground. But when you're faced with the kind of bottomless toxicity that Joseph Norland documents in the above post... it's difficult not to defend Israel even when I think they're wrong.

And I also think it's a stretch to say that the claims that Israel is the reason for the impending Iraqi war is the same thing as the blood libel that continues to circulate in some circles, which Norland tries to connect. I do agree, however, that the willingness to believe either emerges from the same dark place.

Posted by susanna at 12:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On Homer, free speech and Barbie

Theosebes has netted several interesting topics the last couple of days: Homer's geography is vindicated; a student is told his pro-life t-shirt is equivalent to a swastika; a biology professor confirms (indirectly) that belief in the evolution orthodoxy is a career requirement (something Jane Galt covered as well); and Barbie is called a German streetwalker. A double slap!

UPDATE: For extensive discussion of the biology professor - Dini - start here on The Volokh Conspiracy and scroll up. Fascinating.

UPDATE - TO BE FAIR: I believe Professor Dini is representative of a segment of the scientific community for whom evoluntionary theory is truly like a religious orthodoxy, with all its implacability and resistance to questioning. However, I want to make it clear that I don't think all those who vigorously resist creationism as a valid concept are by virtue of that stance like Dini. As Clayton Cramer and some of Volokh's commenters note, jobs that require a deep practical scientific knowledge can be done very successfully without the person having to believe that Darwinian evolution explains the origin of humans.

UPDATE AGAIN: Mark Kleiman has two excellents posts - here and here - on the Dini controversy. First, in answer to Spoons' point in comments that asking Dini to make recommendations against his own beliefs, as a part-time university professor who has written a few recommendations myself I agree with Kleiman on this point:

My job as a teacher is to supply my students with the facts, the skills, and the ideas required for them to be able to form serious opinions on whatever it is I'm trying to teach them about. It's not my job to make their opinions coincide with mine. That's the difference between a university and a fundamentalist seminary. And I happily write enthusiastic recommendations for students whose political beliefs differ radically from mine.

The question is, what are you teaching students? And what is the goal of their further studies? Your recommendation should be focused on how well your students understand (not believe) what you are teaching, and how well you think that understanding will translate into success in the new environment. If I was writing a recommendation for an undergrad student who is a Marxist to go to grad school, and that student was sharp, insightful, open to new information and understood the context of the discipline (in my case, policing or corrections), then I'd give a high recommendation despite the difference in philosophy. I might mention it, but not lessen my recommendation because of it: "While Jane Student and I have philosophical differences about proper correctional policies, she has an excellent knowledge of the history and context of the discipline, strong analytical skills, a good work ethic and a willingness to reconsider her understanding in the light of new information.") I wouldn't say, "I find her political views and goals for the correctional system to be noxious and antithetical to good science." I can argue with her on a professional level, but I'm not going to sabotage her career over the disagreement.

On a different note, I chuckled when I read this in Kleiman's post:

A student who insists on writing creation-science answers on biology exams can justly be flunked; the teacher is entitled to determine the range of legitimate opinion in the classroom, in keeping with the practice of the scientific community involved. But writing "I don't believe a word of this" after a completely correct answer doesn't make the answer any less correct.

In a 200 level biology course I took at my undergrad program in the early 1980s, I took an exam where one of the essay questions required an answer that presupposed Darwinian evolution as the origin of humanity. I answered the question correctly, then wrote (paraphase): "I answered this as you presented the material in class. However, I do not believe evolution is the answer to the origin of humans." Yes, it's of long standing. I got full credit, btw, and the professor did not then or later comment on my comment.

Posted by susanna at 10:20 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

No larger context

In the usual "finding some way to make this about the war", some idiots have tried to say that the Columbia disaster was some kind of cosmic slap against the US; Glenn Reynolds has several links on it. Actually the weird cosmic theories come from both sides of the nut-case aisle. This morning I came across this passage during my Bible study - Luke 13:1-5:

1Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them -- do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish."

Of course the main point of this is "repent or perish". But notice that Jesus says very clearly that being the victim of an accident says nothing about the character of the victims, and there's also no sense that it's a slap against the country of their origin. I know this is an excerpt out of context, but the context doesn't change what he says, nor do I think the New Testament teaches in general that everything that happens has greater cosmic meaning beyond one of the main messages of Ecclesiastes: Time and chance happens to us all. Some things do have larger meaning, I think, but not (IMHO) most things.

On another note, it fascinates me that people who would never admit any belief in a god in general suddenly find faith when it means trashing the US. And it further amuses me that the Columbia disaster is supposed to be a comeuppance to the US from Allah - what does the ass-whupping in Afghanistan mean then? Who's Allah most mad at, if you're going to keep score? Just askin', is all.

Posted by susanna at 08:31 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Letter of 8 Explanation

The Wall Street Journal has two columns today explaining how the Letter of 8 came to be. For those who haven't followed it, last week the WSJ published a letter from eight leaders of European countries supporting the US in its efforts to disarm Saddam. It set a cat amongst the EU pigeons because Germany and France have been postering and blustering against the efforts and styling themselves as the opinion leaders in the EU. This proved definitively that it was not true.

Last week I said at first I didn't much like it, then came back to say that perhaps it was not outside the usual journlistic behavior of soliciting articles, and maybe I just don't get the whole diplomacy thing (and that's an understatement, I think). The whole time my problem was less that it was solicited, written and printed on the front page of the WSJ and more that it was done without acknowledgement that the genesis of the idea came from the WSJ.

Today, the WSJ says it has been accused of "committing journalism" and is quite amused by it. After reading the column by Michael Gonzalez, the WSJ editor in Europe who initiated the discussions, and the column by the editors as a whole, I'm fully on board. Although I still wish they'd just put a little, teeny tiny note at the end of the letter saying, "This began with a request to Spain's PM Aznar, and took a life of its own. We're privileged to bring it to your attention." Or something.

It's very funny to read the response the letter caused in Europe, and interesting that the Bush administration was not involved at all. I've learned something through this, and that's always a good thing.

It's just a bit embarrassing to find myself however temporarily in the same camp with a "journalism professor" at Berkeley. It's enough to send a self-respecting conservative into a decline.

[Thanks to Alex Kirk and Dean Esmay for the heads up on the columns]

UPDATE: Jesus Gil at Ibidem is accepting apologies for accusations that he made it up, or had an agenda, in reporting the WSJ solicited the letter.

Posted by susanna at 06:31 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

February 02, 2003

Beginnings and endings

one lands HC ed cartoon 4-15-81 small.jpg

Columbia's First Flight
Editorial cartoon in the Houston Chronicle, April 15, 1981

/archives/flying_in_formation_colum_2_2_03_Orl_Sen.gif

Going Home
Editorial cartoon by Dana Summers
in the Orlando Sentinel, February 2, 2003

Thank you for your sacrifice
Rick D. Husband
William C. McCool
Michael P. Anderson
David M. Brown
Kalpana Chawla
Laurel Clark
Ilan Ramon

The same Creator who names the stars also knows
the names of the seven souls we mourn today.
The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth;
yet we can pray that all are safely home.
--President George W. Bush, February 1, 2003


(The 1981 editorial cartoon was saved by my friend David Watts, who was 14 and living in Houston when the Columbia went up the first time. His fascination with flying never ended, and he grew up to earn a pilot's license himself. Yesterday morning the boom of the Columbia's death woke him and his family in their home in Texas. He sent me the cartoon this morning. I know he would join me in saying that the most fitting memorial for these seven heroes is for the United States to truly become a space-going nation.)

Posted by susanna at 09:24 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 01, 2003

Columbia shuttle late for landing, lost contact

FoxNews is reporting that NASA has lost contact with the Columbia space shuttle as it's on its way to land in Florida. The last contact was 20 minutes ago, and it's not on their radar anymore.

Pray.

UPDATE: This is freaking me out. I remember when the space shuttle blew up in 1986. Almost twenty years ago.

There was really tight security this time because the Israeli astronaut is on board.

A spokesman from NASA is on the phone right now with FoxNews. He says they don't know what happened, they lost radio contact. Landing was scheduled for 8:16 a.m. central time. They're 10 min late, they have no power and no way to do anything but glide.

Pray hard.

NASA has declared a contingency plan, going into an emergency mode trying to figure out what's happened.

UPDATE 9:36 a.m. : Reporting that people 100 miles north of Dallas heard an explosion and saw debris coming down. The shuttle was over Texas when they lost contact. They don't know that it's connected, but the caller who reported it was an aerospace engineer.

UPDATE 9:40 a.m.: They're seeing divergent trails of smoke on the screen, things coming off the shuttle possibly.

UPDATE 3:04 p.m.: You know what happened. I haven't wanted to write anything else. Many tears in this house today, and prayers for the families of those who lost their lives.

Others have mentioned the disgusting behavior of those who find joy in American tragedy; all I have to say to them is America's greatness can never be diminished by small and vicious minds, only enhanced by the heroism of men and women like our astronauts, and the soldiers who even now are in foreign lands.

President Bush's speech was excellent, and very in keeping with his personality. I cried then too.

For those who saw the mistake, I corrected "thirty" to "twenty" in how long ago the Challenger disaster was.

Hold someone you love today. See you tomorrow.

Posted by susanna at 09:23 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Update on Letter of 8

I posted yesterday on the possibility that the WSJ suggested to leaders in various EU countries that they do a letter supporting a trans-Atlantic alliance. Several people in comments questioned the motives and veracity of Jesus Gil of Ibidem, where I got the information. JG has commented here a number of times, and I linked to him because I thought his information could be trusted. I've not seen any anti-Americanism or appeasement mongering either on his site or in his comments. And I still think his information was interesting and important.

He's posted again about the situation, responding to comments on his first post. I'm glad to see it, and recommend you take some time to read it.

My response to the likelihood that the WSJ solicited the letter was a combination of my view of journalistic ethics and, I admit, a certain naivete' about international politics. I know that newspapers contact people who espouse views the paper espouses editorially to solicit columns on those issues. And newspapers also solicit news articles - most especially magazine-length or analysis pieces - from experts in the field that have to say what the paper thinks is important to say. An example would be the WSJ contacting Dave Kopel to see if he wanted to do an article about an aspect of gun control legislation. I really don't have a problem with that, as long as the subjects are approached fairly. I've never advocated for unbiased journalism, but rather honest and fair journalism.

However, it seems to me that the WSJ approaching heads of state to solicit support for a war effort is different on order of several magnitudes from the example above. It was described to me as "freelance diplomacy", although that person said "not-so-freelance diplomacy" to indicate (I think - he wasn't explicit) that probably the WSJ approached these heads of state with the full knowledge and tacit approval of the Bush administration. I had to think about that for a while. I'm still not sure I like it, but then I tend to be an idealist beyond the point of practicality at times. I'm not saying that's a good thing either. I could not be a spy, which I believe is an essential task for our country's security, nor could I engage in the kind of compromise negotiations that are the meat and potatoes of our modern governance. I'm thankful that there are others who can. Sometimes idealism stands in the way of what's right to do (ever heard the saying, don't let perfection stand in the way of getting it done?).

So, after consideration, I think the WSJ was moving one of the chess pieces in this war game with the EU and UN. It's not my favorite thing, but I understand how it likely came to be and it seems less horrific in this larger context. Live and learn.

UPDATE: JG has responded to the earlier criticism in the comments to yesterday's post.

Posted by susanna at 09:18 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Don't screw it up, VRWC!

Two smart ladies, self-professed dyed-in-the-wool liberals, have come over to the conservative side.

Well, center-right, maybe. Okay, center-right-holding-her-nose in one case.

Welcome, Dawn and Carol!

They've made the change because of things that Bush and the conservatives have done right, and - to an equal if not greater degree - because of what the left is doing wrong. I find that very encouraging. I'd say they're representative of a larger group that's making the same transition. The Dems are destroying themselves from the inside out, and that's fine with me.

This is no time for conservatives to become complacent and feel they've won, that now they can sit on their laurels and do whatever they please. I've not been impressed with the conservatives' ability to run things when they're in power in Congress. I think the conservatives are making inroads because, in large part, Bush is standing on principle in the Iraq situation and that resonates in a world where the Dem leadership wouldn't know a principle if it bit them on the nose, unless it involved Barbra Streisand, Noam Chomsky or French oil-crazed appeasement-mongers.

Conservatism has a unique opportunity to put forward its foundational principles, speaking and acting on them without efforts to bow to Dem rhetoric. I think a lot of conservative principles - if acted on purely, without pandering to special interest groups - will solidify the gains conservatives have made during this time of increased national focus on political matters. It is a conservative principle, for example, to protect the environment as a good steward of the earth; we don't have to rob farmers of their arable land to do it. That's not just a defensible position, it's the best one.

We have the opportunity to throw off a lot of the Dems' demonization. We need to take advantage of it.

[Links from Instapundit]

Posted by susanna at 08:31 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Iraq in weeks, not months

Bush says he'll decide in "weeks, not months" whether we're going in to remove Saddam. And this is very heartening:

Dismissing calls from other nations to use United Nations weapons inspections, penalties and other international pressure to contain Iraq's aggression without resorting to war, Mr. Bush bluntly rejected the idea that President Hussein could be rendered harmless to the world while remaining in power.

"After September the 11th, the doctrine of containment just doesn't hold any water, as far as I'm concerned," Mr. Bush said.

Of course the article in the NY Times emphasizes the differences between Bush and Blair, not the basic similarities in position.

Also, the US is training Iraqi exiles to help troops when they go into Iraq. That's a good sign too.

But back to this NY Times thing. WaPo is not precisely a gung-ho Bush rag, but it's telling how the two open their articles on Bush/Blair today:

First, WaPo:

Bush: U.N. Must Act Fast U.S. Says It Won't Wait Beyond Next Few Weeks for Iraq Accord

President Bush said yesterday that he was not willing to wait beyond the next few weeks for a United Nations agreement on waging war against Iraq, and that "any attempt to drag the process on for months will be resisted by the United States."

"This just needs to be resolved quickly," Bush said at a news conference after an Oval Office meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, his strongest foreign backer on taking tough action against Baghdad. "Saddam Hussein must understand that if he does not disarm," Bush said, the United States, "along with others," will disarm him with or without U.N. approval.

Standing at Bush's side, Blair agreed that the Iraqi president could not be allowed to continue defying a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding that all Iraqi chemical and biological weapons -- and nuclear weapons programs -- be revealed to U.N. inspectors and destroyed. The greatest threat to world peace, both said, was the possibility that Hussein might turn over weapons of mass destruction to international terrorists.

But Blair appeared to have made little headway in extracting a promise from Bush to seek a new council resolution specifically authorizing the use of force against Iraq. Administration sources said that Bush was open to the idea of a new resolution, but that he was less confident than Blair that it could be obtained and made no commitment to delay military action.

Notice that while we do learn that Blair wants a new Security Council resolution, which is a difference from Bush, the emphasis is on the fact that Blair is standing shoulder to shoulder with Bush in the important essentials.

Now look at the NY Times:

Bush Meets Blair Amid Signs of Split on U.N. War Role

Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain stood with President Bush today in warning Saddam Hussein that time is running out for Iraq to avoid war, but Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair appeared divided over how hard to press the United Nations Security Council for a new resolution supporting military action.

A day after Mr. Bush said he would make a decision about invading Iraq in "weeks, not months," senior officials in Turkey signaled that they were likely to allow the United States to use their country as a base from which to attack Iraq from the north, opening a potentially crucial second front in the event of war.

Dismissing calls from other nations to use United Nations weapons inspections, penalties and other international pressure to contain Iraq's aggression without resorting to war, Mr. Bush bluntly rejected the idea that President Hussein could be rendered harmless to the world while remaining in power.

"After September the 11th, the doctrine of containment just doesn't hold any water, as far as I'm concerned," Mr. Bush said.

There's no new information in the NY Times article; they had the same elements to deal with as WaPo, and the article shows it. But their headline was starkly different from the WaPo one, and that emphasis on a "split" is not justified even by the lead graph, where the so-called "split" is hauled into prominence.

The Washington Times, understood to be the conservative, pro-Bush newspaper in the nation's capitol, didn't even mention the "split" in its article:

Bush ready to disarm Saddam

President Bush yesterday said a second U.N. resolution on Iraq would be acceptable only if it led to disarming Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, and vowed to block any attempt by the international community to delay Saddam's ouster for more than a few weeks.

"Should the United Nations decide to pass a second resolution, it would be welcomed — if it is yet another signal that we're intent upon disarming Saddam Hussein," Mr. Bush said during a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"But 1441 gives us the authority to move without any second resolution," he said. "And Saddam Hussein must understand that if he does not disarm, for the sake of peace, we, along with others, will go disarm Saddam Hussein."

Responding to news that Saddam has invited U.N. weapons inspectors to Baghdad for talks, the president said, "The idea of calling inspectors in to negotiate is a charade. The only thing he needs to talk to the inspectors about is, 'Here, I'm disarming.' "

"Saddam Hussein has had 12 years to learn how to deceive, and I would view this as more deception on his part," Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Blair said it's important "we hold to the path that we've set out — they have to disarm."

Of course the masterful takedown of the NY Times has to belong to Andrew Sullivan, who's thorough Fisking this week was, according to Glenn Reynolds, sent around to journalists by no less than the White House.

But I don't think even the Times can get around "weeks, not months".

Posted by susanna at 07:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack