Some kind and generous soul hit my Amazon tipjar last week, and somehow I didn't see the email notifying me of it. I did see the email tonight telling me that Amazon is transfering the amount into my bank account, but my transaction log has no record of who the generous soul is.
I'm very sorry the email got lost (in the blizzard of emails about my own Amazon purchases), but I want to thank the Generous Soul very much. I would appreciate it if you would let me know who you are, so I can thank you more properly.
I had been saving contributions toward a site redesign, but just had the brainstorm that I will get a digital camera instead. I keep wanting to post photos of things and can't, so I figure this way my blog donations will benefit everyone. Very cool!
The road narrows from two lines to one just past the light, in a construction area nearing completion. A guy with wraparound shades in a shiny new SUV pulls up from behind me and tries to push his way through as the lanes go to one. I speed up, edging him out, looking ahead to where it goes to two lanes again and knowing heâ€™s going to come out of the bottleneck at a run.
Heâ€™s not going to get past me.
I have the advantage, knowing the road intimately and driving a 7-year-old car that shows many road scars. Heâ€™s going to be more leery of a bumper kiss than me. Traffic is steady but spaced out as we hit two lanes again; he pulls out to the right fast from behind and makes a run for the empty space between me and the grungy SUV in front of me. An older model car blocks his progress in the right lane. I speed up until Iâ€™m gunning it, doing 70 on a narrow four-lane road, hitting a curve with Wraparound Shades Guy on my right and a concrete barrier on my left. Nope, not this time, buddy. He jockeys for position, jumping back and forth between lanes, passing some on the right but not getting past me, no sir, Iâ€™m holding tight behind the grunge SUV, closing up each time Wraparound Shades Guy makes a move. He whips into the right lane again and this time I laugh â€“ heâ€™s so smart, but he doesnâ€™t know the road narrows to one lane again just up ahead â€“ and Iâ€™m in that one lane. Ha. Seconds later, he peels off onto the interstate exit, and I smirk as I head on home.
Not, you understand, that Iâ€™m competitive. Itâ€™s just that driving in New Jersey feels like 24-7 NASCAR, and the winner lives to battle another day while the loser gets to quit eating because he has to pay a sky-high insurance bill.
I think of myself as a sometimes-hyper but usually calm, laid-back sort, not competitive, easy-going, helpful, live and let live. Five minutes on a New Jersey road and Iâ€™m ready to start ripping off heads. Who wants to mess with me next? It comes from the frenetic pace, and the every-man-for-himself road habits. Need to stop to talk to someone? No parking spaces? No problem â€“ just stop in the traffic lane and let the people behind you worry about weaving through a 1 Â½ lane street with cars parked up both sides and cars double-parked every 20 feet â€“ on alternating sides of the road. Want to cross the street, but donâ€™t want to bother with silly things like street lights and crosswalks? No problem, just set out against the traffic in that curious jog-hipped city gait, all the time in the world, let the drivers figure out how not to hit you because youâ€™ve got better things to do. Itâ€™s even more fun if itâ€™s past dark, you yourself are the color of the night, and youâ€™re wearing all dark clothes. You know youâ€™re there, so of course the oncoming drivers do. If they donâ€™t? Well, then youâ€™ll own that car pretty soon yourself.
And if youâ€™re on a motorcycle, bob and weave through the traffic, gun that engine every few feet, go through intersections at will, toss a rude finger at anyone who blows their horn. I try to be nice, I donâ€™t crowd motorcycles, I treat them like cars. At least I used to. Now a motorcyclist comes revving up from the back of the line, weâ€™ve just picked our way through a jagged course set by six lanes of cars partially filling up an intersection against the light. Weâ€™re faced with another six-lane road intersection, I need to turn left to be three lanes over and will likely have to crowd out the car on my right to get there in time for the next light. Mr. Motorcycle on his hot red beast and so cool helmet edges in front of me, creeps into the intersection as the lights begin to change, blocks me, not showing any concern about Rules of the Road as long as he gets where he needs to be, the cars can just go hang but you can bet heâ€™d yell like a banshee if someone crowded him out. I want to yell at him, Iâ€™m tired, Iâ€™m sick, I want to be HOME and I have to FIGHT WITH A SLOPE-HEADED CRETINIOUS PIECE OF EXCREMENT to get in my OWN LANE, he thinks heâ€™s hot. The light changes, he cruises, I get where I need to be without trouble in time to see him squeeze through the next light just as it flips to red. I grumble, this is before I tangle with Wraparound Shades Guy, maybe thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m so testy when I get there, Iâ€™m not always that way.
Some days I just cruise home. Motorcycles? No problem, whatever. Idiot males in shades and slick coiffures with Shiny Big Monster Vehicles to make up for personal inadequacies? Nothing to me, I got nothing to prove. But thatâ€™s the beauty of New Jersey. It chips away at you, all day. You fight traffic to work. You deal with bad attitudes and political pandering and 31 flavors of accents and nothingâ€™s ever easy, horns blowing all day outside. You drive home and women lean out their car windows and curse each other while your car is between them. You drive around the block for 20 minutes to find a parking space two blocks from your apartment building only to find the tiny entry is nearly blocked because SOMEONE put a baseball glove in the mailbox of one of your fellow apartment dwellers so the door wonâ€™t hardly open. And this door, thereâ€™s only so much room to squeeze through, the one opposite opens into the entry too so you have to get all the way in and close the first door before you can open the second door but the BLASTED BASEBALL GLOVE is making the mailbox take a gouge out of you, and you manage a smile at the thought that this is one more reason youâ€™re glad you donâ€™t have implants.
And then itâ€™s three flights up. Someoneâ€™s having garlic for dinner. A taxi just arrived for someone across the street, and the driverâ€™s laying on the horn. At least itâ€™s not 2 a.m., which happens regularly too. Slipping inside my apartment, collapsing. And thinking, I donâ€™t want to leave this room again. Ever. I think Iâ€™ll just die here.
Could there be a thing of more beauty?
I just heard a sound bite [on WABC 770 radio news] from Donald Rumsfeld speaking to US soldiers at Baghdad Airport. He said (close paraphrase):
I'm surprised to see you here. After all, someone said there were no Americans at the airport. [applause, yelling] We've not heard from that guy since.
As I'm sure you know, Robert Fisk wrote a column after the US had supposedly taken Saddam International Airport saying he had toured the facility and there were no Americans there. Of course the next day it was confirmed that the airport was in fact - and had been - in American hands. Rummy fisking Fisk.
As usually happens when I spend days with an erratic sleep schedule, continuing stress and far too great a reliance on junk food (which is to say, whenever I have a big project due), I'm now coming down with a cold. My throat feels like someone took sandpaper to it. Sigh. I'll be blogging, but likely not with my usual vigor.
Now, where'd my teabags go...?
The US is moving nearly all their troops out of Saudi Arabia, and I think it's about time. The attitude from the Saudis has been noxious and arrogant, and our people have been too restricted by their edicts. Now we need to drill a little in ANWAR and move nearly all our oil contracts from Saudi Arabia too.
The headline for a Editor and Publisher story reads:
Missteps by Press Color Iraqi Perceptions
It appears, however, that no actual Iraqis were consulted in the making of the article. The first half is a long whine about the writer of it having difficulty getting through a Marine checkpoint back to his room in the Palestine Hotel. The next little vignette is a report of a callous attitude from a Marine on killing an Iraqi - if he said that, it was not the best choice. But the "Western" source is unnamed, so I can't judge its trustworthiness. Finally, we have an American journalist hamming it up with a corpse - again, very poor judgment, poorly done of him. But here the criticism still doesn't fall on journalists - it's Americans at fault. And here's what we learn about what Iraqis think:
Any similar episodes risk American hopes to win over the hearts and minds of Iraqis...
Episodes such as these -- along with last week's stories about at least six U.S. reporters smuggling objects or money out of Iraq -- tarnish the image of Americans in Baghdad. But these perceptions are not tainted beyond repair. If such incidents accumulate, however, they could deepen Iraqi suspicions about Washington's motives.
Hmmmm... okay. Tarnish in whose eyes? Where are the quotes from Iraqis? Whose judgment says the American efforts to "win over the hearts and minds of Iraqis" are at risk? It's quite possible that such episodes have damaged perceptions of Iraqis, and that they are impeding the hearts & minds campaign. But you'd think a reporter who's been in Baghdad for weeks would have been able to drum up one little Iraqi quote, and the editors at E&P could have applied a headline more in keeping with the article. Like this, maybe:
American journalist swipes at military, whines, makes unsubstantiated claims about Iraqis
Somehow I'm not thinking E&P would go with that one.
The Iraqi lawyer who notified the US of PFC Jessica Lynch's whereabouts and risked his life to see her rescued has been given asylum in the US with his family.
Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief, 33, his wife and child were granted asylum Monday. This man deserves all the thanks and assistance we can give him. He's a true hero. I'm delighted that he's now a US resident, and maybe one day he'll be a US citizen. We could use more like him.
Dean Esmay has an important post about those who died at the hands of dictators in the 20th century. And in case you think it can't happen today - it is, in Africa. The UN is doing what about it? The US is doing what about it? All the movie stars in Hollywood and the peacemongers and the Democrats in Washington are doing what about it?
Recently I got quite testy about the way that Poynter Institute - motto: Everything you need to be a better journalist - pussy-footed around the CNN/Eason Jordan access-over-accuracy (and humanity) debate. One of my criticisms was that their main ethics writer, Bob Steele, after not addressing the issue for days, took a much-less-than-critical stance when he eventually did get around to it. Here is his commentary about Eason Jordan's veracity in this:
I accept that Eason Jordan was truly concerned about the safety of exceptionally vulnerable Iraqis, both those who worked for CNN and others who may have suffered terribly because they talked with CNN journalists.
That said, I also believe Eason Jordan’s decisions were morally complex and pragmatically complicated. There were many factors in the calculus he faced, including competing principles and conflicting loyalties.
I got so tangled in that high-sounding apologetic that I began to think Steele might be an academic. Fortunately I'm saved by this week's column, which takes a much clearer and more forceful stance against... an American embedded journalist bringing home a Saddam painting:
I find Crittenden's logic weak. How he can express "concerns about the regrettable failure of some soldiers to resist temptation when faced with the riches of a limetime," and condone his own behavior is hard to comprehend. He may not have seen a painting and other souvenirs as "riches," but he failed to comprehend the disrespect he was showing to the Iraqi people by taking these "souvenirs."
Journalists must exhibit a strong sense of independence when covering war, and it's inappropriate and ethically wrong to become a participant in the aftermath of the conflict by taking away items of value.
The journalist in question - Jules Crittenden, a Boston Herald reporter - had written an embedded journalist's diary for Poynter, which of course caused Steele and Poynter online editor Bill Mitchell to go into paroxysms of ethical distancing to make sure everyone knew that Poynter didn't approve of what he did. And what did he do? He brought home "a large painting" of Saddam that U.S. Customs officials said wasn't worth enough to prosecute him for. Crittenden himself - quoted in Steele's column - said, "In Iraq, these items were being routinely discarded and destroyed, and clearly were of no value to the Iraqi people" - a full post on it is here. Sounds like he didn't rip off something from a Saddam palace, but more like a painting from a town square. I don't know, that's speculation, but it doesn't sound like it was much, whatever it was. He wasn't bringing home an artifact from 1000 BC.
Certainly some people are taking things they shouldn't. Probably some of those people are journalists. From what Crittenden said, what he took he sincerely thought to be useless trash that would be a fun souvenir; maybe he was wrong, but it doesn't sound like he deserves the drubbing he's gotten. But Steele proceeds to villify him - when other journalists took more valuable things - because, apparently, Poynter has to protect its reputation and Crittenden wrote for them. I also suspect there would be fewer professional consequences for slamming some scribbler for the Globe as opposed to The Grand High Muckity-Muck of CNN.
I think Steele should have used his Eason Template to address Crittenden's folly (my rewrite):
I accept that Jules Crittenden was truly concerned about the preservation of exceptionally important Iraqi treasures, both those in museums and those terribly vulnerable in public places.
That said, I also believe Crittenden's decision to take home Saddam-trash was morally complex and pragmatically complicated. There were many factors in the calculus he faced, including competing principles and conflicting perspectives.
And then, he could use the Crittenden Template for Jordan (my rewrite):
I find Jordan's logic weak. How he can he say "Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard -- awful things..." and condone his own behavior is hard to comprehend. He may not have seen the accommodations he made and the lies that were supported by CNN's silence as "harmful," but he failed to comprehend the disrespect he was showing to the Iraqi people by pretending that they weren't dying in droves.
Journalists must exhibit a strong sense of independence when covering war, and it's inappropriate and ethically wrong to become a participant in the
aftermathcontinuation of the conflicttyranny by valuing access over accuracy.
Now, doesn't that seem more in proportion to the actual moral lapse that each behavior represented? It is nice to know, though, that Poynter can pull out all the stops to criticize behavior when it's not someone really important who's doing the wrong thing.
UPDATE: Edited to correct the name of Poynter's online editor (Mitchell, not Hendrix) and the paper where Crittenden works (Herald, not Globe). Sometimes an editor would be a good thing.
Press freedom is coming to Iraq and satellite dishes are selling at $350 a pop, which is a huge chunk of change for an average Iraqi. The English-language channel of choice? It appears to be Fox News, which should really grate on the nerves of everyone from Kofi Anan to Jacques Chirac to every Arab leader in the region - not to mention Hillary & Co.
What does this mean? Probably that they could all use a little fun in their lives, not to mention a news channel that didn't suck up to Saddam for over a decade.
[First link via Instapundit.]
Full blogging will return tomorrow.
For those of you who care, my core area proposal (the reason for the light blogging) is posted on my writings page. It's not a paper, or an annotated bibliography - it's an introduction to an issue with supporting literature separated into topics. It has a total of 101 references listed, and yes, I've read or skim-read 95% of them. Ack. Title of the proposal:
Media and the social construction of crime and policing:
Process and Effect
I meet with my advising professor tomorrow morning; after making any changes he recommends I'll hand it in to the academic dean. At her discretion - and hopefully this semester - the PhD Committee will review it. If they pass on it, they will appoint a three-member panel to make final suggestions and oversee my exam. When I feel comfortable that I know the material (skim reading is insufficient), I'll schedule an exam with the professors, most likely early next fall. They'll write a question for me, and I'll take all my books and notes into a room with a computer where I'll have eight hours and no more than 20 pages to answer the question, based on the material in the proposal. When I've passed that, I'll only have the dissertation to go.
Which is kind of like saying, we've won the war in Iraq, now all we have to do is bring peace to the region. Sigh.
I'm happy to be done, but mostly numb right this minute. See you tomorrow.
One of the concerns after 9/11 was that federal law enforcement organizations weren't talking to each other about their activities, and if they weren't, the local and state organizations likely weren't either. Here's an article about the Counterterrorism Information Sharing Consortium, which formed to help improve the problem. They meet at my school, Rutgers - Newark, and Dr. George Kelling - the professor I'm meeting with tomorrow to discuss my core area proposal - is the head of the consortium's sponsor, the Police Institute at Rutgers.
I don't get over to The GI Party as much as I should, which is why I missed this gem about anti-war protestors from March 31. I think you'll enjoy it today as much as you would have then, though.
Matt Welch has an excellent column in Canada's National Post about why the US reaction to recent French behavior is too strong. He has a number of good points and he doesn't excuse the French, but I think he gives them too much credit (which I explain at some length in his comments section).
L.T. Smash hits it just right - far from ignoring that France is a historical ally, we are more deeply angered by its behavior precisely because of that fact. But Smash says it much better than I can.
(And no, this is not a return to full posting. But expect a Big Announcement re: biblio later today.)
You've always heard that Kentucky is famous for beautiful women - well, now you know why.
Molly Katherine and Haydon on Easter Sunday
Molly Katherine on Granny's back patio
Not, you understand, that I'm a proud and boastful aunt.
I don't keep this blog for the boost it gives my income - I'd be in pretty sad shape if I did, and also, the ability to rant at will and the interaction with my most excellent readers are wonderful rewards in themselves. But I've received some generous contributions in thanks for my blog, and it always lifts up my spirits tremendously to realize that what I write means that much to people I've never met and likely won't meet.
On Friday I received a donation from a reader who asked to remain anonymous. The reader's gift was quite generous, but what also was very cool is that the reader - an American - lives in another country, and took the time to buy a money order and send it to me from that country. Reader, you have made my week, and encouraged me at a time when I really really needed it. Bless you. And I hope you keep finding this site worth your time.
Why is it when someone says*, "Judge not, that you be not judged!" it's always said in a judging way? Maybe the someone on the receiving end should just say, "Matt. 7:5."
*This, btw, occurred to me when thinking about the reaction to Sen. Rick Santorum's comments on the sodomy laws, where I've seen that phrase used more than once toward him.
(Of course, I would say Person #1 was using the verse out of context anyway, and grafting meaning on it that it never had, but you know me - Little Miss Fundamentalist Theology, leaning toward the literal.)
JimmyZ28, who famously threw in the blogging towel back on April 3, has returned to the fray, much to the delight of all of his fans, including me. He was almost immediately met with a challenge - some female donated to his blog and in return he promised to write a post on any topic she chose. She naturally chose a topic destined to give him at least a little heartburn: write on why Bruce Willis is such a hunk.
Well, Jimmy did. And did a very fine job for, as he says, a 27-year-old heterosexual male. He even includes photos.
Mmmmm.... Bruce. I wonder if there are life-sized versions of those photos.
It's difficult to imagine, sometimes, the differences between my life and the lives lead by many in other parts of the world. Or even the life I lead and that of my grandparents during their growing up years.
My grandmother is a creative woman with artistic talent. When she draws things with pencil and paper, they actually look like what they're supposed to be. As a child, drawing was one of her favorite things to do but they were too poor to have much paper. She was always thrilled when her parents got a letter, because they would allow her to cut open the envelope and use it to draw on. Other than that, she didn't have much opportunity to draw.
What could she have been, artistically, if she had had even a regular supply of paper?
I just threw away seven nearly blank sheets of paper that got a little messy when I tested my computer printer after putting in a new toner cartridge.
My grandmother would have nearly cried with joy to have had that paper when she was a little girl.
I think about that, sometimes, when I think about the deprivation so much of the world suffers. I hope the children of Iraq can dream again, and have the tools to make it come true.
My niece Amanda, a beautiful young woman finishing up her first year of college, turns 19 today. She was a sweet little girl:
And now is a funny, smart, lovely woman I'm proud to call friend as well as niece. Here is a letter I wrote to her on her graduation from high school last year, with a photo of her now.
Happy birthday, 'Manda! You grew up good.
My sister sent this, and since I'm going to be bibliographing again today, I wanted to give you something to enjoy in my absence:
One day, three men were hiking and unexpectedly came upon a large raging, violent river. They needed to get to the other side, but had no idea of how to do so. The first man prayed to God, saying, "Please God, give me the strength to cross this river." Poof! God gave him big arms and strong legs, and he was able to swim across the river in about two hours, after almost drowning a couple of times.
Seeing this, the second man prayed to God, saying, "Please God, give me the strength. And the tools to cross this river." Poof! God gave him a rowboat and he was able to row across the river in about an hour, after almost capsizing the boat a couple of times.
The third man had seen how this worked out for the other two, so he also prayed to God saying, "Please God, give me the strength and the tools... and the intelligence ... to cross this river."
And poof! God turned him into a woman. She looked at the map, hiked upstream a couple of hundred yards, then walked across the bridge.
Researchers are looking at how much and why people use weblogs for information, and the online survey is open to everyone. I followed the link from Instapundit and took it, but wanted to post it here since some of you - shocking as it may be - don't read Instapundit. I encourage all of you, readers and weblog proprietors, to fill out the survey. Doesn't take very long, and the more people who answer the more likely it is to be representative. This means especially those of you who don't read Instapundit. Freaks.
(But I love you anyway, because you're here.)
(And yes, I know I know! I'm working on my biblio. Right now it's "Media, Process, And the Social Construction of Crime", an anthology edited by Gregg Barak. It's actually pretty good, am snaking out three chapters to use on the biblio.)
(No, "snaking out" does not involve a razor, you desecrator of sacred library texts!)
Something to tide you over while I continue working on my bibliography, which is progressing painfully. This is from Major Jeff D IV of the USMC, making the rounds of his friends, family and (in my case) hangers-on:
Some of you know Jeff ---, a Christian and a USMC Major from Oregon. Here's his latest from the front:
Alcon, Greetings and blessings from Iraq again. A few days ago I got back from a 5 day tour around several sites in the Marine sectors of south central Iraq to assess the situation everywhere our battalion has detachments of Marines performing missions and checking up on them. I covered several hundred miles and went up into Baghdad. I visited several other critical places you will recognize if you kept track of the war; Al Kut, An Nasiriyah, An Numaniyah, Qalat Sukkar, Ash Shatrah, and made it near Ad Diwaniyah. Several other smaller towns and rural areas.
Of course the situation is well in hand overall and at the end of my trip the war had been 'declared won' but there are still a few problem areas where regime loyalists and terrorists haven't been taken out of commission yet. Mostly though the problems stem from plain old lawlessness and some anti-US sentiment and protests being instigated by hard line Shiite radicals supported by Iran, which is trying to take full advantage of the power vacuum here. These radicals only influence about 10% of the population but are causing some riots and conducting assasinations of friendly local leaders in some towns. I made several observations of course, a few of which I thought some of you might be interested in.
The lack of collateral damage, even in heavy combat areas like Baghdad and An Nasiriyah is amazing. There is virtually none. Our precision munitions did as advertised and more impressively even ground fires were obviously used with great precision and discipline. It is a real credit to American technology, but more so to the guys pulling the triggers and calling the shots that they showed such restraint. I saw many contested areas and destroyed buildings, several of them still burning in Baghdad, but adjacent areas hardly had a scratch in most places. This will obviously aid in rebuilding and restoring a better standard of living in the country and no doubt contributed to my second observation.
The great majority of the people I observed were very friendly and seemed genuinely thankful to be rid of Saddam and showed their appreciation. I went thru many cities, villages, and rural areas and everywhere hundreds, even thousands, of children and teens would run from near and far when they saw our convoy approaching and adults also would shout greetings and thanks, give thumbs up signs, and smile and wave to us. Of course the kids would beg food and trinkets. Tens of thousands of Shiites were walking along the highways for days making the pilgrimage long banned under Saddam. Where there were Marine checkpoints, positions, and patrols, the people would throng around if permitted just to interact and visit. This of course makes it difficult for those Marines to do their duty and distinguish the harmless from suicide bombers and others who still want to kill us but showed the great dicipline they have and genuine sympathy for the people. It was an impressive shift of mindset immediately after intense combat in many cases by these very same Marines. This lack of animosity toward these Arabs as a whole is a testimony to the respect for others and the love for all and generosity for those less fortunate that Americans traditionally have and is proof we are a decent peaceloving people. I heard of no abuses and saw no evidence of looting on our part although it was pervasive among the locals. America should be so proud of the class and example these young men, and a few women, are displaying.
It is easy to understand the local populace's appreciation because it is obvious the nation has suffered under Saddam. There is not the abject poverty that I've seen in many third world nations. Most are very poor by our standards but have sufficient food, clothes, shelter etc. Rather it is a country whose infrastructure has fallen apart and decayed, the resources squandered, and the people deprived of so many rights and opportunities to make a better life. They have felt the heel of Saddam's boot and certainly not the benevolent hand of a populist ruler that the anti-US media portrayed him to be. It is a country with significant natural resources of oil, and abundant fertile, but dry, farmland just needing irrigation from the plentiful Tigris and Euphrates systems. However, it is equally apparent that Saddam used these national resources to line his own pockets, lavish on his cronies, and put millions into his military and weapons programs, all the while also spending millions to finance terrorism.
A few other more trivial observations.
I've never seen so many camels in my life! Just on my 5 day trip I saw thousands and thousands of them. As well as lots of sheep.
There are still large numbers of people leading the nomadic, Bedouin lifestyle. I've run into them all over since the war started. They are a real throwback to see and interact with.
The Koran must not teach anything about theft or either there is gross selective obedience. There are literally hundreds of US vehicles that have broken down or been damaged in the fighting that are left in place along the way. If an armed force is not left on them, within a matter of hours the locals will have completely stripped it down to the skeleton frame. They are very brazen about this. From what I could tell they do it to their own people's vehicles also. I can't tell you how many times we passed a broken 5ton truck on the roadside with some Iraqi sitting underneath it taking out the engine or tranny or differential with nothing more than one or two hand tools and maybe a pushcart or something to haul it off with.
The women seem to do most of the work, especially in the rural areas. They were more often than not harvesting grain, carrying water, herding and doing other chores while many of the men were sitting around conversing. A sign of the lack of status and rights of women in both Arab and Muslim cultures. And also probably a product of the lack of opportunity for the men for the past many years.
It is not a scenic country by our standards. We truly have a beautiful homeland. Those who know me know how much I appreciate nature and have an eye for it's beauty. In all the area I travelled the only sight that really made an impression on me was the scene from the levee of the Tigris right outside AlKut where I spent the last two days working with my Marines and spent the night 'camped' right on the levee. The river is about 200 yards wide there with fertile grain fields across from our position. There was a bend there in the river also and I sat on the levee as the sun set. It seemed to be extinguished by the waters of the Tigris as it's golden glow slowly slid right into the middle of the river from my vantage point.
This land has the feel of being the 'cradle of civilization'. Even though it is mostly desert or semi-desert it is obvious it has been inhabited and cultivated where possible for thousands upon thousands of years. There are ancient mud structures and ruins scattered about and I visited the almost 5,000 year old ziggurat temple and ruins of Biblical Ur yesterday. That was a great treat. Everywhere though the earth has the look of having been worked and tilled and irrigation ditches dug since the beginning of time.
Those are the main items I can think of for now that might be of interest to ya'll. I look forward to seeing everyone as soon as possible. Thanks for your letters, packages, and prayers. They have been tremendous. Know that the Marines have the situation well in hand and we appreciate your continued support.
God bless America and yours.
And God bless Major Jeff and his comrades. Come home safe, and soon.
No posts until I get my bibliography done. I'm working on it. Sigh.
Last night, on the Friday of Easter weekend, I was in my office working on my bibliography for school. On this beautiful Saturday, I've annotated 20 articles (briefly, it's true, but still - 20). I have 12 more articles, then 26 books, to annotate before I can write my core proposal. The remaining articles and several of the books are leaving with me now, with the plan to finish them at home tonight. It's Saturday, it's Easter weekend, I need a break!
Will be back here tomorrow, though, ploughing away because I'm intent on FINALLY GETTING THIS AWFUL THING DONE. If you don't hear from me, be thankful, because it wouldn't be pretty, most likely. (Happy notes of encouragement are always welcome, however.)
The good part is that I'm getting back into it. The materials are all about media bias, media framing, police and the media, media covering the police and racial issues, the impact of media on public policy and the attitudes of the public about criminal justice or issues in general... The emerging picture is - the media are worse than they like to admit, and not nearly as bad as we like to paint them sometimes. It's another human institution with an ideal that is often at odds with its reality, and it likes to frame its mission and activities positively in precisely the way every other human institution does. On an endless loop in my mind is the scene of Dorothy discovering the little old Wizard of Oz behind his grand curtain, seeing he is essentially a good man but sometimes a weak man given to grandiosity.
That whole rumination is leaving Eason Jordan out of the calculation, by the way. I just don't want to think about him today. (Shoot, I did anyway.)
Off to bask in whatever sunlight is left. Happy Easter.
Michele at A Small Victory says what needs saying about Scott Peterson. The saddest, and I fear truest, part:
I can only imagine Laci Peterson's last thoughts. The man she loved was killing her. The father of her child - the child almost ready to grace the world with his presence - was killing them both. I'm sure her heart died before she did.
I'm sure her heart died before she did.
That's always the hardest part of studying homicide in family settings, especially parents killing children, or spouses who are killed by a husband or wife they never suspected would or even could.
I'm sure her heart died before she did.
For that alone, Scott Peterson deserves to die.
The mysterious but always erudite Ernie Chambers thoroughly fisks Tim Robbins' talk before the National Press Club this week. He manages to use "bullfeathers", "poseurs", "multiplicative" AND "feckless" all in the same post, and it works.
Remember Rachel Corrie, the young American woman supposedly run over by a bulldozer while "protecting" Palestinian homes from demolition by Israel? Well, it turns out the reports of the circumstances of her death were... well... fabricated. She wasn't run over by a bulldozer, she wasn't protecting homes and her companions lied in their testimony. Now, explain to me, using small words and simple concepts because I'm not the brightest bulb on the tree, precisely why her cause was a moral one, and those who defend her are morally superior to, well, anyone?
There seems to be little doubt that the war in Iraq was about much more than the liberation of a people - it set up a dilemma for the world's nations to consider, and the conclusions reached will reshape the politics of all nations for decades.
John Lloyd writes about the choice of the world collectively - which trumps, the sovereignty of nations, or the individual rights of people? His immediate focus is the manner in which Tony Blair has assessed and resolved the question in his own mind, and in his leadership, but he also deals with it on a larger ground.
In a very different piece which doesn't even touch on Iraq, Theodore Dalrymple explores the transition of colonial Africa into a range of dictatorships, each more vicious than the last. Dalrymple lived in Rhodesia before it became Mugabe's Zimbabwe, and has lived elsewhere in Africa as well. It is an excellent article on several levels, but what struck me - given the current world political situation - was his discussion of how the culture of tribal Africa intertwines with the colonial and Western emphasis on education and equality as the means of success, to create a truly horrific system that is a fertile ground for the rise of despots. Horrific, that is, in the eyes of Westerners - and eventually in the lives of the Africans themselves. It caused me to think on the tribal connections and cultural antecedents in operation in Iraq and Afghanistan, and how those will play out in an effort to bring some form of democracy - a recognition of individual rights - to both countries.
I often hear of how Germany and Japan were reshaped, reformed to relatively benign democracies after WWII; they're held up as examples of what can be done now in the Middle East. But to what extent are the two situations compatible? As a researcher, I know that replicating an experiment involves more than replicating the process - you also have to use the same materials in the same environment or context to be sure of a similar outcome, and that's if you're sure the success of the first experiment was due to the process, not to unknown intervening variables. What I know about the current situation is that we do not have similar populations. We do not have a similar environment. And we cannot even have a similar process, because of the many intervening variables such as ongoing terrorist activities, a spreading Muslim radicalism, an active anti-war movement that would be happy to spike success in Iraq, other countries in the region that we are caught between placating and invading, and a vociferously anti-American thread running through most every country.
I think the success in Iraq is a success on several levels. But the post-war era is if anything more delicate and less clear-cut than the pre-war era, where the question at hand was fairly straight-forward - to invade or not? I highly recommend reading both Lloyd and Dalrymple, and thinking on what is and could happen in light of political realities both current and past. Ultimately the decisions about how the countries are run must lie with the people of those countries, but we have to understand how Western overlays might play out in such a different culture as we try to assist in rebuilding the countries. One of Dalrymple's points is that one of the most admirable qualities in the Africans he knows - their absolute caring for family - plays out in a very damaging way politically. So what to do? It comes back to Lloyd's discussion of sovereignty vs individual rights, and to the play of pragmatism and morality in intervening when things go bad.
Happy first blogiversary to one of my favorite liberals, Gregory of Planet Swank, even if he has stopped dropping by! It's good to have you out there, Greg, if only to know there's always somewhere to go for Japanese culture/movie news and liberal rantings.
Sorry it's a day late, Greg. I was working on my school work, really, I was! And thanks to Dodd for the heads up.
And now for something completely different! I ran across this website today in my meanderings around the Web; it's the site of a designer who paints and dresses dolls as characters from history, or whimsy, or from Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. She designs and sews their clothes herself, usually repaints their faces and changes their hair. The dolls sell for about $150 each, which seems low to me given the work she puts in. As someone who has done a lot of sewing, I can only admire - I could never do what she does. Here is a sample:
Here's a link to the first book of the series. I spent a good 20 minutes looking at the dolls on her site, noting the intricate detailing and minute embellishments. She made the crown Elayne wears here too. I'm not a doll collector, and am highly unlikely to buy any of these. But I love looking, and think it's just very very cool.
This is a very cool interactive website where you can test your knowledge of the geography of the Middle East and northern Africa. I did pretty good, but would have made a D or F if it'd been a real test. Oops. Check it out.
Blogcritics has a new design, aimed at speeding loading and also speeding you on your way to the section you want. Check it out, and then tell me - what should I write on next?
Put your suggestion in comments, and I'll choose one of them for posting on Blogcritics by Monday. And it has to be something that is a) possible and b) legal. Romance? Sci-fi? Country music? The connection of Dolly Parton's cantilevered front and the success of any venture she's in? Oh, and it should be something that, you know, actually belongs on Blogcritics.
After my recent posts on CNN and Poynter Institute, I sent a copy of my post about the column by Bob Steele at Poynter to him directly. He responded today, very graciously, and then responded again to my answer to his first email. We are still in disagreement, but I wanted to let my readers know that he is open to considering criticism thoughtfully (and isn't hesitant to point out where he thinks I'm wrong). It is, to me, a very important point and makes me feel much better about Poynter in general. In fact, I also wrote Bill Mitchell - Poynter's online editor - earlier this week, and he also responded cordially.
Steele was not aware that I often post emails I receive here, and I gave him the option of keeping our correspondence private. He asked that I do so, and I am respecting that. I just wanted to point out a good thing about Poynter Institute, since I've hammered on them recently for things I think are not so good.
Shanti at Dancing with Dogs asks a series of questions about whether you believe in God and religion and, if you do, what it means to you. I've answered in her comments, and if you're interested you may want to as well. Thanks, Shanti. I look forward to what others have to say.
I love my little black marker.
West Virginia University, that home of the Mountaineers in Morgantown, WVa, has eliminated several men's sports programs - including track and tennis - in a budget cutting move that left the women's sports still intact. The women's track team is protesting, saying the men's team is integral to their own success.
It is quite apparent that this is gender discrimination, and it's fostered by the feminist-manifesto Title IX provisions that have so choked the college sports scene. Without Title IX, it's certainly possible that both men AND women track team members would be out of luck - that's a whole other issue. But the role of Title IX is clear even in this column in the Charleston, W Va, Gazette, which is not particularly critical of the choices made by the athletic department:
The point is, with all the pressure to field national-caliber football and basketball teams and keep that money flowing, with Title IX mandates bleeding athletic departments everywhere dry, and with no financial support whatsoever forthcoming from the school or the state, there becomes a fine line between financial solvency and poverty. West Virginiaâ€™s athletic department walks that line constantly.
I would have to say that if I was a supporter of WVU, I'd be pretty steamed about this. It saves the department just $600,000, and athletic director Ed Pastilong admitted in his announcement (free registeration required) that the department is operating in the black. It's "to prevent financial trouble in the future", he says, although the department is spending millions on upgrading their marquee sports - football and basketball. In my judgment, athletics are not just about who can bring in big bucks. It's about another aspect of training young people for the future. And certainly slicing out the men's sports, leaving the women's intact, says a lot about the state of this country in our efforts toward "equality". If I were one of the male track team members, I'd be suing WVU for gender discrimination.
My main issue here is the implications of WVU's actions in light of Title IX. If you don't know what a damaging thing that has grown into, The Independent Women's Forum - IWF - has dealt with Title IX extensively. Here is a list of many of their works on it, and here is an indepth analysis [in PDF format] of the impact it has had on college sports. Summary: It ain't pretty.
[Heads up on the situation from Jimmy B. of jimmyz28, who is going to be posting again soon. Aren't you, Jimmy? :D)
Walker Digital, brainchild of inventor Jay Walker, has developed a system called US HomeGuard to broaden oversight of important sites that are potential targets of terrorists. He's trying to sell it to Washington now.
US HomeGuard takes advantage of all the millions of Internet users. Essentially, digital photos are taken of a site, the images are sorted by computer and ones with change or movement from the last image from the same camera are sent to live spotters - average Internet users like you and me who have signed up for the program - who click yes or no to the question, "Do you see a person or vehicle in this photo?" It's a fascinating concept, and certainly an innovative way to harness the power of the Internet and the average patriotic American.
The whole system is explained in this article in Reason.
[Link via Instapundit.]
The Canadian newspaper National Post nails it with this editorial about the irrelevance of France, the uselessness of the UN, and the future of the UN Security Council - it even shows a clear-eyed understanding that Canada has itself become largely irrelevant on the world stage. An excerpt:
Aside from a few worthwhile agencies, the UN accomplishes very little of consequence. Especially since the end of the Cold War, it has been little more than a festival of anti-capitalism, anti-Americanism, deconstructionism and revisionist history...
The Security Council's inadequacies are not institutional or procedural; they stem from a lack of will and character. The expulsion of France from the Council makes sense because France's actions on the Iraq file exemplify the venality that has paralyzed the UN for more than a decade. Sending France to the minor leagues would be the kind of symbolic act that just might steel the nerves of the other Council members to take their responsibility for international security seriously. In the end, only a change of will can save the UN from self-imposed irrelevance.
As they say, RTWT*.
[Thanks to Capt. J.M. Heinrichs, a completely relevant Canadian, for the link.]
(This is the new blog abbreviation being popularized by Dodd at Ipse Dixit. Put it in your lexicons: RTWT - Read The Whole Thing.)
Eric at Viking Pundit did something I wish I'd thought of first. Go, Eric!
Janet Daley learned her Marxist philosophy in the bosom of UC-Berkeley during the founding years of 1960s university dissent. She came to understand the harm in socialism through her real-life experiences living in Great Britain as the state took over the lives of the proletariat:
What decisively transformed my views was my growing understanding of the consequences of the welfare state that Britain had constructed out of a wartime command economy: it both reinforced the fatal passivity of the lower classes and provided a moral justification for the paternalism of the upper classes. The realization was slow but inexorable. It came through concrete example and abstract argument. By the end, it was so blindingly obvious that I wondered how anyone could ever not have seen that the socialist solutionâ€”the great, generous dream of perfect fairnessâ€”was inevitably destructive of the human spirit.
Daley writes of her transition in an essay, Up from Liberalism, in the new Spring City Journal. The early paragraphs, about her development into a leftist, meander somewhat, but you can skip to the section where she leaves for England and start there. It's worth reading all of it, but the section on English socialism is a chilling cautionary tale that we in the US would be well served to heed.
The New York State Assemby is contemplating an additional tax - calling it an "income surcharge" - on income over $100,000:
Under a plan still taking shape, legislative leaders would hike income taxes on the state's highest earners, sources told the Daily News last night...
The idea gaining support, initially pushed by labor leaders, would tack an extra .7% on all earnings higher than $100,000, plus another .7% on income higher than $200,000. For example, someone earning $150,000 would not pay any more on the first $100,000 — but would owe an additional $350 on the taxes for the remaining $50,000.
Juxtapose that with this from Toren Smith:
The top 10% of returns ($88,000 and up) paid 66% of all taxes, yet made only 45% of all income
He has more figures too. I know his cutoff is $88,000, and the NY pols cut off at $100,000, but it's likely a comparable number. Note, please, that the labor leaders are the ones pushing the tax - because, of course, most of their people are under that wire. They've been running commercials in favor of this on NYC stations, making me nauseated - the most common one shows a frantic woman running door to door at a hospital with a very sick child, finding that the hospital is closed because of budget cuts. The voice-over says, to prevent this, we're asking the very wealthiest to give just a little more.
The libs are sucking the life blood from this country in the form of taxes, fostering a class warfare as a means to that end, destroying self-determination and self-reliance along the way. The Republicans have not been our friends in this overall for years, even though Bush is trying with his current tax cut proposal. Wake up, people! We need to inject accountability and reason into social policy before this country dies from the inside out. And one of the best places to start is cutting all pork from the budget. We wouldn't need more taxes if Robert Byrd would stop trying to build more monuments to his name in West Virginia, and his pork-barrel buddies (I include Republicans in that) would show similar restraint in their own districts.
Because I'm consistently high-brow and not given to linking crass idiocy - even from the left coast - I decided not to link to this article about a ... "self-indulging"-a-thon in San Francisco. Yes, folks, you too can emit body fluids for charity. And I'm not talking about giving blood.
I made this a separate post because I've been singling out Poynter Institute for criticism because they'd not dealt with Eason Jordan's revelations about CNN coverage in Iraq during Saddam's regime. Today Bob Steele, Poynter's Ethics Group Leader, finally writes a column about the CNN situation. It's much too little and too uncritical and much much too late for what it is. It's not very deep or broadly researched, basically something that could have been written last Friday afternoon - why wait a week? They didn't with Peter Arnett or the photoshopped LA Times photo.
The column can be summarized this way: CNN did make moral and ethical compromises, it's not an easy position to be in, maybe they could have done better but you know, that Eason, he's a good guy.
Steele does not in any way even speculate on possible ideological reasons for CNN's choices, and makes sweeping absolution of other reasons: He says, "It would be simplistic to say Jordan was driven primarily by competitive and marketing incentives", which means Jordan was very obviously driven by those things but Steele doesn't want to focus on that (admitting elsewhere in the column that "The reality is that many other news executives and journalists have faced similar challenges..." Oh yeah? So that makes it ok?) Steele doesn't mind focusing on reasons behind criticism, however:
Jordan’s critics, including many who see CNN and its journalism through their own ideological lens, raise what they see as soft reporting on Iraq and Hussein. Their arguments are worth considering and their evidence worth examining, though I fear that many of these critics fail to embrace the moral complexity rooted within this issue.
And there you go. The critics, you see, are not nuanced enough in their evaluation. They should understand what forces drove Jordan to his principled decision, but they are blocked by their own ideological lens. That bit about "arguments worth considering", etc., is a sop, very like saying, "I think you're an idiot, but I'd fight to the death to protect your right to speak your piece." Steele does get into some high-flown rhetoric: He says, "Eason Jordan chose to deal with the devil." But he then absolves Jordan of serious fault:
If so, it’s hard to make the case that withholding these few stories seriously shortchanged CNN viewers and potentially changed public reaction to the events in Iraq. Had CNN systematically and frequently withheld stories, the moral justification of Jordan’s argument would be seriously eroded.
Steele is making the assumption, based solely on Jordan's say-so, that CNN did not "systematically and frequently" withhold stories, and further makes the case that if CNN had either reported such atrocities or refused to go along with Saddam and thus had to leave Iraq completely, it would not have materially affected the public's view of Iraq. He does absolutely no research on CNN's coverage, he doesn't delve deeper, he doesn't "consider" or "examine" the charges of critics, he basically allows Jordan to be his own apologist without challenge. I personally (through, of course, my own ideological lens) view what CNN did as selling out to Saddam. The absence of coverage says as much as actual coverage, when you have made a strong point of saying that you are covering everything that's important. If CNN had been clear in saying, "We're not giving you the whole picture because we can't", or if they had tried to get at those stories they didn't report in Iraq by interviewing people outside Iraq with knowledge of similar things, we'd be having a whole different conversation about their choices in Iraq. But CNN did not! And Poynter's Steele is giving them a pass on it.
I think the lack of nuance is more an issue for Steele, and he certainly is not operating without an "ideological lens". He cuts Jordan every single bit of slack he can without coming right out and saying, "Get over yourselves, America! We like CNN here at Poynter! At least they're not Fox News!" I suspect that if Steele were to compare CNN's record in Iraq with the way Fox News conducts its own reporting, he would find Fox News the greater problem. And that, my friends, is why America is becoming increasingly disenchanted with the whole journalism profession.
UPDATE: Here is the comment I posted on Steele's column at Poynter:
Poynter covered Peter Arnett's interview with Iraqi television almost immediately. They covered the photoshopping of the LA Times photo almost immediately. We wait a full week to hear a squeak on CNN from anyone at Poynter other than straight news links from Romenesko, and this is what we get.
It's not enough, and it took far too long for something this lightweight. Steele does not credibly explore any of the criticisms of Jordan's actions, rather allowing Jordan to serve as his own unchallenged apologist.
The foundational issue with CNN is not so much that it essentially hid major stories - although that is a huge problem - but that it did so while insistently claiming to be an objective, independent news source. The plaint that all news organizations make similar choices doesn't give CNN cover, it rather gives lie to the industry-wide claims of objectivity in journalism. Audiences are capable of understanding that there are extenuating circumstances in many news settings that limit reporting a full story - in just one example, the limitations on embedded reporters have been a source of much discussion both inside and outside of journalism circles. What is unconscionable is claiming objectivity while knowingly violating it. Every piece of journalism that comes out of situations with those kinds of limitations should be identified as such, or the media outlet should back away from its claim of objectivity.
Where was the CNN special on the complexities of reporting in volatile, authoritarian settings, giving us a heads up? Where were the industry-wide acknowledgements that these types of decisions are made on a daily basis? It seems to me the CNN situation has put the actions of the entire mainstream media under a microscope, and thus far Poynter and others have not acquitted themselves very well.
The Diablogger has a great post on how the media will be affected by this war, pointing out that the "objective" reports and anchor naysayers were almost always proven wrong in their assessments of the situations, to a degree that has sparked a deeper skepticism on the part of the American public. He has lots of links that support his well-made point. I think he's right.
And here's a little something from Jim Rutenberg at the NY Times that supports his contention:
This was supposed to be CNN's war, a chance for the network, which is owned by AOL Time Warner, to reassert its ratings lead using its international perspective and straightforward approach.
Instead, it has been the Fox News Channel, owned by the News Corporation, that has emerged as the most-watched source of cable news by far, with anchors and commentators who skewer the mainstream media, disparage the French and flay anybody else who questions President Bush's war effort.
It's a column, so of course there's opinion in it, but you can certainly get an idea about which side Rutenberg comes down on:
Fox has brought prominence to a new sort of TV journalism that casts aside traditional notions of objectivity, holds contempt for dissent and eschews the skepticism of government at mainstream journalism's core.
I guess the "traditional notions of objectivity" would be those held dear at CNN and BBS? Perhaps the "contempt for dissent" means only "leftist dissent", given the contempt for "conservative" dissent at most mainstream outlets? And ahem, who was it - conservatives or liberals - who hammered at Trent Lott until he stepped down? And I can point to a lot of questioning of Bush policies, especially where he moves left, on Rush, Sean Hannity, and other conservative media outlets - as well as Fox News. Hmm. I think that qualifies as "skepticism of government". But I guess it's not skepticism if you aren't questioning the proper things - like why the govt isn't pouring vast quantities of additional funds into education and the environment.
Many Americans see Fox News as a reflection of them, an outlet where the facts are presented but discussed with opinion involved when appropriate. And no one is saying to the other media, "Go away!" No one is saying to the other media, "You have to do this!" It's telling, and a sign of why Diablogger is right, that Rutenberg - who reported on the criticism of CNN's policies during Saddam's reign just this week - holds CNN up as an example of what cable news should be:
Since CNN's new chief, Jim Walton, took over last winter the network has reaffirmed its role as an international news network. It is the only one of the three cable-news networks without a flag on its screen now.
There you go. Objectivity is evidenced by removing an American flag from your screen, not by, say, reporting the truth of a despotic regime. Glad we've cleared that up.
When does science become faith? Paul Davies, professor of natural philosophy at the Australian Center for Astrobiology, has a very interesting analysis of the current state of science:
Why is nature so ingeniously, one might even say suspiciously, friendly to life? What do the laws of physics care about life and consciousness that they should conspire to make a hospitable universe? It's almost as if a Grand Designer had it all figured out.
The fashionable scientific response to this cosmic conundrum is to invoke the so-called multiverse theory. The idea here is that what we have hitherto been calling "the universe" is nothing of the sort. It is but a small component within a vast assemblage of other universes that together make up a "multiverse."
...how is the existence of the other universes to be tested? To be sure, all cosmologists accept that there are some regions of the universe that lie beyond the reach of our telescopes, but somewhere on the slippery slope between that and the idea that there are an infinite number of universes, credibility reaches a limit. As one slips down that slope, more and more must be accepted on faith, and less and less is open to scientific verification.
Whenever I venture into a discussion of the origin of the universe and its current state, I get slammed with the issue of "testability" - "Yes, it's all well and good to claim God, but we can't test Him, so what's the point?" My question now is: If a scientific theory is ultimately based on untestable assumptions, how is that different? Just asking.
[Link via the always excellent Minuteman at Just One Minute]
Remember the set of playing cards with Saddam's face? The 55 top Iraqi war criminals, that the soldiers in Iraq are getting? Well, NewsMax.com has them for sale.
Yes, I've ordered a pack. I should order two, so I can use one for target shooting...
[Thanks to Dodd for the heads up!]
Jackie at au currant has a good post (scroll to the last entry on April 16 - I can't figure out permalinks on her site) with a couple of links that remind me why most of what passes for art just ... doesn't do it for me. While I'm not quite to the point where I'm willing to call Thomas Kinkade "high art", I do like to see something in the line of art that doesn't make me want to either call Merry Maids to clean up the mess or thump someone on the head for vast idiocy. I find myself using the phrase "the Emperor has no clothes" a bit too much lately for my own liking, but sometimes it's just all that fits.
The main post is about a new Thatcher exhibit in London, which the curator describes thusly:
Curator Tara Howard says she does not regard it as an anti-Thatcher exhibition. She claims neither an attack on her nor is it homage to her.
Ms. Howard later confirms herself as desperately needing a clue, a boot in the fanny or, more to the point, a job interpreting tea leaves since apparently inanimate objects speak to her in ways no reasonable person comprehends:
One of the most striking exhibits is a framed piece of paper, blank except for the signature at the bottom of Turner Prize winning artist Martin Creed and at the top the words "Something on the left, just as you come in not too high or low."
Ms Howard explained to reporters: "It describes something that she is not, rather than what she is," then adding with a touch of impatience, "to put a handle on this you have to be an art critic."
Oooookkkkaaaaayyyy, Ms. Howard. Have you seen that empty space in my living room? It's an anti-sculpture - it's a social commentary on the facile attachment we have to physicality. The empty space highlights the time before and after an object or human has its physical presence; only by coming to terms with our essential nothingness can we truly put in proper perspective the essence of emptiness tha [smack! sorry, had to slap myself to snap out of the Idiot Zone]. Whew. That's better. Jackie also links to this fine art work, which reminds me of nothing so much as why I don't have people over to my place very often.
If it wasn't for Tony Blair and Monty Python, I'd be seriously worried about Britain.
UPDATE: Here's a NY Times article on the same exhibit.
Cox & Forkum have an absolutely priceless cartoon on CNN.
Martin Devon puts his finger right on the truth:
America is not a place, it is an idea.
The post is an excellent summary of why we don't want to take over Iraq, and why other countries persist in thinking we do.
And we're not surprised it's good - it is Martin, after all.
Steve Quick sent me an email about a new blog that looks interesting - The Disaffected Muslim, with the tagline "The natterings of an unhappy American Muslim". It's by a woman named Fatimah, and consists of a lot of book reviews and somewhat lengthy ruminations on Islam. Fatimah is both intelligent and articulate, and her insights are often quite personal. From her February archive:
Today was Eid al-Adha, and as usual the local mosque had a big Eid prayer. The speech given by the imam proved to be pretty depressing. The poor man, in the course of mentioning how we should support Muslims around the world, was reduced to saying "We are not the enemies of the United States," and "We came to this country for freedom," which made me realize that when you have to say something like that out loud, you're already toast in the eyes of quite a few people. I don't know--it just seems that the opinion of Islam has gone into the toilet in the past year (though admittedly for quite understandable reasons!). There seems to be much more hostility than there was even six months ago.
Now, 1) it could be good that people know what they're up against, 2) people are tired of being lied to by apologists, 3) people have found out all about the unsavory aspects of Islam and don't like what they see. However, 1) God knows how any of this will end up, 2) I pray it doesn't get too ugly!
I keep getting the feeling that something's going to happen, and I don't know what it will be or how it will turn out.
And on a more straight theological bent, there's the post on "The Distance of Allah from His Creatures":
The last post about free will vs. predestination made me think of the differing distances between God and His creatures in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This subject has been bothering me for a long time. I read the Bible and I feel as though God is close, wanting us to love Him; I read the Qur'an and feel that Allah is much more distant, wanting us to submit to Him. No wonder Sufi mysticism, with its emphasis on love of Allah and closeness, even unity, with Him, has been so widespread in the Islamic world.
This blog strikes me as one that will justify digging around in its archives. I'll tuck it in the link list, so we can keep up with Fatimah's thoughts.
(Cross posted on Blogcritics)
I remember my sister laughing and sighing as she read a Harlequin romance at night in the bedroom we shared as children. At 10 I was not particularly interested in romance, but it made me fume that she was having fun that I wasn't privy to. She always got to do things first, since she was two whole years older. I insisted she tell me what was funny, but she just said, "Go read one yourself."
I did, and that began my romance with romances.
Back then, Harlequins were essentially reprints of books already published by Mills and Boon, a British publishing company. The authors were mostly British and Australian, so the heroes and heroines were too. It was then I fell in love with the Outback, Ayers Rock, quaint English villages and the occasional Dutch doctor, always a fixture in romances by Betty Neels. A kiss at the end of the book was sufficient for a preteen to sigh over longingly, and then it seemed fully plausible that a 38 year old man would fall in love with an 18 year old girl because of her courage and insight into life. I have, in my life, read literally thousands of romances, and I still get breathless over a hunky Aussie rancher. But times have changed, and that rancher is lot more likely to peel out of his clothes now than he was 30 years ago - in print, anyway.
The biggest changes in romances in the last few decades are in the amount and extent of description of intimate encounters, and the independence of the women. Even the genres with settings in pre-20th century times feature women who have more in common with their 21st century counterparts than the women of their own times. The best authors in those genres make a point of noting that their heroines are "not in the common way", which helps smooth over the anomaly. The sex itself gets quite anatomical, having wended its way over the years from a simple closed-mouth kiss, through intercourse described using the euphemistic "manhood" and "womanhood" for the pertinent parts, and finally in recent years using virtually any language you'd find in anything from sex manuals to street cant. Men who've never cracked open a romance novel might learn a few things if they brought themselves to do so.
My reading tastes became more discerning as I grew older, and coupled with the boom in romance publishing that allowed in a lot of lesser authors, I have found in the past couple of decades that not many authors can keep my interest through an entire book. I'm notorious for doing a "good parts" read - first chapter, pertinent mid-points (i.e. hot 'n steamy scenes) and last chapter - on most romances I get my hands on. Mostly I avoid the ones that I suspect will be that way, because I resent the money and time I spend on them. That makes it especially exciting when I find authors I enjoy enough to read all the way through. This article will deal with two who publish in the Regency or historical romance genre; I've recently discovered some I like in the fantasy/time travel category, so I'll get to them soon.
Stephanie Laurens - an Australian romance author, amusing considering my early experiences - is my favorite in the more spicy "big book" Regency genre. She began publishing in the 1990s with the series romance publishers - Signet, primarily - then came into her own as a "name" author with Captain Jack's Woman. She's best known for the Bar Cynster series, where the men of one aristocratic family fall in love one at a time. The last two of the series are women Cynsters, the twins Amanda (On A Wild Night) and Amelia (On A Wicked Dawn). Those two are not nearly as good as her earlier books; I've spent a little time trying to figure out why, and decided it was because the primary tension between the main characters is resolved too early in the book. The primary story line in the Laurens books is the avowed rake (a man known for his prowess in sexual and other arenas) who is at heart a good, honorable man, finding a woman he can't get out of his mind. The women aren't much happy to be the focus of their attentions, so of course in each book the rake seduces the attracted-in-spite-of-herself woman into his arms while at the same time realizing that his promiscuous days are over. Laurens' talent lies in creating a story that makes you care about the characters and lose yourself in the story. The Laurens heroes are very intense, protective and very traditionally male without being unreasonably so. The sex scenes are an integral part of the story line, rather than a drop-in as they feel in some books. She's written a few books and anthologies that aren't a part of the Bar Cynster series, and has started a new series; a list and discussion of all of her books can be found on her website.
My favorite Laurens book is A Secret Love. Alathea is the daughter of an earl who is warm and engaging but completely at a loss financially. She has given up her own hopes of a marriage and children to oversee the family's finances, but her father puts them in jeopardy again by buying into a dicey money-making scheme without Alathea's knowledge. Realizing she can't fix it herself, she turns to her childhood friend Rupert Cynster, known by the sobriquet Gabriel. The two were best of friends until their early teens, when they began to be increasingly uncomfortable in each other's presence without quite knowing why. Now that Alathea is in her late 20s and Gabriel in his 30s, every encounter brings sharp words. But Alathea knows that only Gabriel can help her, so she approaches him disguised as a closely veiled widow seeking his help anonymously. Gabriel is as intrigued by the mystery of the woman as he is the puzzle of solving the financial problems. Their encounters become increasingly sexual as Gabriel tries to convince the "widow" to trust him, and Alathea falls in love with a man she knows would never love her for who she really is.
Laurens writes excellent, sensuous sex scenes in all her books, but the very best is in her short story, Melting Ice, in the romance anthology Rough Around the Edges. In this story, the hero has been out of the country for 10 years, having left for India thinking his childhood sweetheart married his friend. When he returns he finds that she has in fact never married, and he rescues her from unwitting involvement in a weekend orgy only to engage her in a version for only two.
My second favorite romance author is Julia Quinn, who mixes good stories with a lot of wit and humor. You like her hero and heroine; you want to hang out with them. You'll find yourself laughing out loud, clapping for the heroine, and feeling reluctant, amused commiseration for the hero. She also writes in the "big book" Regency genre, but like Laurens she keeps your attention through the entire book. The romance is intense, the sex gets pretty hot (and detailed), and the stories are different enough so you don't feel that you've read all her books after reading just one (unlike, say, Danielle Steele, who has written the same book over and over for 20 years). Most romances are charming stories, and the best authors are very talented - I don't disparage their work - but it's not Great Dramatic Fiction, which unfortunately some writers don't understand, to the detriment of their work. Quinn realizes it, but her own intelligence - she's a graduate of an Ivy League school who was in medical school when she finally decided her destiny was romance writing - translates into intelligent heroines who feel like real people dealing with real struggles, without being maudlin or gothic. I suspect that Quinn and Laurens will be read and loved as authors decades from now, as the originator of modern Regencies, Georgette Heyer, is today. And I don't think it's an accident that smart, fascinating stories come from smart, fascinating women - Laurens herself has a PhD in biochemistry, and was a cancer researcher when her first books were published.
Quinn has written as much out of series as in it. Her series involves the Bridgerton family, with eight children - she's written several of them, but there are more to go. I don't have a favorite amongst Quinn's books, but they're good enough that I keep all of them and am in my third reading of some. I just finished rereading Splendid, and am in the middle of To Catch An Heiress now. One recurring theme is Lady Whistledown, a society gossip columnist who is the bane of the Bridgertons in a couple of books, until the mystery is solved in Quinn's latest book, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton (a very sweet ugly-duckling-to-sort-of-swan story). Quinn has also written in anthologies, and I can recommend Scottish Brides highly. It's actually the book where I discovered both Quinn and Laurens, and therefore itself one of my all time favorites.
As the weather warms and you contemplate long summer evenings in the porch hammock or hot summer afternoons on the beach, you can't go wrong picking a romance by Laurens or Quinn to take along. And your husband may thank you for it too - after all, a woman has to do a little research about whether all those positions are physically possible, doesn't she?
Just thought I'd point out that Jimmah "I Love Castro" Carter has been least in sight as Castro jails dissenters:
The executions followed a government crackdown on dissent that has been widely condemned by human rights organizations, the Bush administration and by supporters of improved U.S. ties with Cuba. About 80 human rights activists have been arrested, and a number of them have been sentenced to long prison sentences.
On Thursday, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell criticized Cuba for carrying out "the most significant act of political repression in decades."
"We call on Castro to end this despicable repression and free these prisoners of conscience."
Although back in late March he did put out a wussy press comment saying "I call on the Cuban government to respect those rights and to refrain from detaining or harassing citizens who are expressing their views peacefully." Way to condemn oppression, Mr. Ex-Prez!
And Jimmah "God's Hope For Peace In Our Time" Carter is also silent on what's happening in Iraq.
Just wanted to point that out.
I'll dig around and see if he's surfaced anywhere that I haven't seen.
Romenesko has additional information on CNN today:
Last night Frederick Foer and Eason Jordan were on News Hour; here's the transcript.
An article about CNN under fire for its Iraq coverage, from the NY Times yesterday.
LA Times article saying CNN leaves the field in Iraq this time with "its reputation battered". Yes, by its own actions.
David Folkenflik in The Baltimore Sun agrees that CNN is taking heat, and then addresses something we've wondered about:
Officials at several network and cable news operations, even those promoting their correspondents currently in Baghdad, say they have not been faced with quandaries like those Jordan described. None agreed to speak for the record.
Interesting. At least someone is asking the question of other news organization. Ironic that they are not speaking on record.
And it's Day 6 that Poynter Institute has not directly addressed the ethics issues involved in the CNN revelations. Note to Poynter folks: Romenesko's news briefs do not constitute "addressing" it, especially given the virtual ink you've spilled on other ethical issues recently.
It isn't just a little blip on the radar. The US is finding all things French distasteful these days, and those marketing French products - most especially wine - in the US are feeling it:
An American backlash against French products and businesses has started to bite, dashing hopes here that appeals in the United States to punish France economically for opposing the war in Iraq would go unheeded.
American importers of French wine are reporting sharp drops in sales in the past two months...
Medef President Ernest-Antoine Seilliere said at a news conference that the effects were "measured" but that contracts had been lost because of anti-French feeling in the United States. He declined to identify the companies affected...
U.S. importers of French products said the effect has been significant. Guillaume Touton, a Frenchman who is president of wine distributor Monsieur Touton Selection Ltd. in New York, said anti-French feeling cost him $500,000 in sales last month. French wines usually account for two-thirds of his business, but now his customers, mostly retail stores, want something else.
"Typically, the guy says, 'No, I don't want French wine. Give me Spanish wine, Italian wine,' " said Touton, who has an office in Capitol Heights, Md...
"It's a very, very deep reaction," said Carreras, who is French. "We would never have expected something so lasting. I think it has been accelerating even in the last four weeks."
The importers, angry and frustrated, said the government in Paris did not comprehend the effect of its war position on French businesses...
"We want to send the message to the French side to please do something. Or, if you don't want to do anything, then please shut up," Touton said.
We've been saying "Shut up, Chirac!" for a while now. Nice to see a few others taking up the call. But France's continued intransigence about the Iraq situation, the apparently deep anti-Americanism that permeates much of French society, and some evidence that France may serve as a haven for those of the Hussein regime that have escaped Iraq will keep anti-France sentiment strong here in the US. I realize that some - probably many - people who are French or have close French ties disagree with Chirac or at least are not in any way anti-American. But Chirac has for months and months ground his heel into the American flag and expressed his disdain and intense dislike for the United States with the apparent approval of the majority of the French, so it's too little too late to play kissy-face now. Maybe if the pressure gets strong enough, Chirac will have his hat handed to him and shown the door by his people. The sad part is - I doubt it will happen. Because what's happening now is not a reaction to a little disagreement, but a reaction to the realization that France as a whole hates the US and has for a long time. So we're actually doing them a favor and helping them sever ties.
[Link via Instapundit]
* Sorry about your luck. (At least, that's what Free Translation translated it as ;) )
Scrappleface reports on Bush's latest economic push - a satire sharply draw'd.
(Yes, I couldn't resist and no, I don't care that it was so bad you tossed your cookies.)
UPDATE: It also appears that the Fog of War has allowed the theft of the Shroud of CNN. It's a good thing we have Scrappleface reporting for us - someone who gets more facts straight in a day than CNN did in a decade.
When the statue came down in Baghdad's central square, Cpl Edward Chin of NYC briefly tossed a US flag over Saddam's face before replacing it with an Iraqi flag. Word quickly spread on the Internet that the flag had come from the Pentagon on 9/11, but I first couldn't substantiate it and then lost track of the story. Well, it turns out that it's true - Marine 1st Lt. Tim McLaughlin himself was not just at the Pentagon on 9/11, but carried the flag in a sealed pouch with him into Kuwait and on to Baghdad. It's a great story, and Tim Blair has all the links you could want - including a fine slice 'n dice of Australian media bias as a bonus.
UPDATE: Well, shocking as it may be to you, the link to Blair's site is screwy. I've edited it just to go to his page, and you will need to scroll down to the post - it's the one just above the "TUESDAY" date banner. All together now: WE LOVE BLOGSPOT!
UPDATE: Capt. J.M. Heinrichs sent me a correction - Cpl Edward Chin was the officer who threw the flag over Saddam's face, not Lt. McLaughlin - who did bring the flag to Iraq. I knew that - Chin is from NYC and they talked about him on the radio - but I apparently had a brain hiccup. Thanks to the good captain, who can always be counted on to keep me straight. I've corrected the post above.
I'm keeping an eye on what's happening in the media regarding CNN and Eason Jordan, hoping that it's going to be more thoughtful and self-analytical than initial response indicated. And it does seem that more articles are coming out.
I wrote to Poynter Online Editor Bill Mitchell about Poynter's lack of coverage, and he sent back an email this morning saying he's been in South Africa for two weeks and would check to see if anything is "in the works". So I'll withhold additional criticism there for now - certainly it's not unreasonable for them to take a few days if they're going to do a genuinely deep analysis, even if it would have been appropriate for them to also do an immediate "hmmm, what's up with that?" outlining of the issues.
Romenesko has several links to additional articles today:
WaPo has an official editorial (not just column, or a sidebar, but a major we-mean-business editorial) that concludes what I've concluded - that CNN's choice to modify its coverage caused great harm.
Lisa De Moraes, the TV columnist for WaPo, has an overview of responses.
Jordan wrote a memo to the CNN staff defending his choices; here's the complete text.
And I'm getting to really like Dan Kennedy of Media Log, in the Boston Phoenix. He talks to Alex Jones, director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy, at Harvard's Kennedy School, who comes up with this quote:
"We're going to have to hear from other news organizations, it seems to me," says Jones. "I would be very reluctant to cast the first stone." Noting that news organizations will bend to maintain access, Jones says, "It may be that he bent too far, but I've got a feeling that everybody is bent. That goes with being in a terrible place."
That's my feeling too - that everybody bent, so nobody's much interested in examining CNN's indiscretions too closely for fear that they will be the next ones examined. But I disagree with Jones in one way - someone needs to cast stones, and isn't that what the media say their job is? It needs to happen, and soon, as Kennedy says:
I'm too appalled by Jordan's actions to agree with Jones, but I certainly agree with him on this: let's have full disclosure from every major news executive who had to negotiate issues of access with the regime of Saddam Hussein, especially in the years following the Gulf War.
So... who goes first?
Kennedy has a few other comments as well, in a post which includes the full text of Jordan's memo to CNN staff linked above at Poynter.
We need to keep the pressure on with this.
(I've not had a chance to read all these links closely yet, so I may have more to say later today.)
UPDATE: More on CNN, from broadcast reporter Peter Collins, in The Washington Times. Hint: It isn't pretty.
[Link via Instapundit]
Two PhD students at the University of Oslo, themselves bloggers, have written an excellent article about weblogs, looking at it from a social research perspective. I've glanced through it, but not read all of it yet - the link is to a 31-page PDF file of the entire piece. I'd say we'll see a lot more research done on weblogs in the very near future.
[Link via thomas n. burg | randgÃ¤nge]
A drag race between two horse-drawn buggies ended with one of the drivers losing control and running into another buggy, seriously injuring a passenger, police said...
While the northeastern Indiana area has a large Amish community, state Trooper Bob Brophy said he did not know of any other recent problems with drag-racing buggies.
One of the drivers was arrested for DWI. I guess they let that root beer sit a little bit long before drinking it. Oops!
Eugene Volokh has an interesting post about vibrators (yes, exactly the kind you're thinking about). It's even something you can read at work, or share with a friend without both of you glancing about furtively to see if someone's reading over your shoulder. Well, I wouldn't be glancing about - I don't know about you.
In company with Eugene, I tend to lean toward Theory 1.
And again in harmony with Eugene:
Oh, no, no, we won't tell, and don't ask.
On Saturday I posted about CNN Chief News Executive Eason Jordan's "we were victims too" column in the NY Times about why CNN lied about Saddam's regime for the entire decade of the 1990s. I was interested today to see what the media world would make of it. The answer is: not nearly enough.
Franklin Foer, who last fall wrote a New Republic article about CNN and other networks making back room deals with despots, wrote an excellent response to Jordan in the WSJ. Howard Kurtz included it in his WaPo Media Notes column today, but buried halfway down and reported straight without giving his own views, which I found disappointing. The readers of the NY Times were mostly disapproving, but the NY Times itself - the newspaper of record - did not criticize the television news network of record.
Romenesko listed more links today - a straight news article in USA Today; the Washington Times was horrified; Eric Fettman in the NY Post said CNN "wreak[ed] incalculable damage on all journalists' ability to be trusted by the American people".
For another day, Poynter Institute was silent under its motto of "Everything you need to be a better journalist". Although Romenesko is under their umbrella, his news briefs are not commentary, and provide mostly links. Interesting that they still have up a discussion about the ethics of Peter Arnett, while their silence about CNN grows deafening.
But then, maybe they agree with Harvard media analyst Alex Jones:
Good journalism always has ''tension between judgment and integrity,'' Jones said, and is a ''very hard thing'' for anyone not in Jordan's shoes to ''pass judgment on.''
Now let's rewrite that to get a real sense of what it would mean to the average journalist in any other context:
Good governing always has "tension between judgment and integrity," Jones (or Raines, or Eason Jordan himself) said, and is a "very hard thing" for anyone not in George Bush's shoes to "pass judgment on."
How many of you think that statement would be allowed to stand unchallenged?
Obviously journalism's elite establishment are going to give CNN a pass. And that makes these questions even more sadly pertinent: What else do they know but aren't telling us? And how can they even give lip service to the hollow shell of objectivity when it's given lie right to their face?
Here's an article in the New Zealand Herald about Sgt. James Riley, the NJ POW rescued yesterday in Iraq; his father is from New Zealand, and Riley was born there. Interesting to see how NZ is maximizing on a connection to the war, in a positive way. Could it be that the people in NZ aren't as against the war as their leaders are?
And I liked this quote from Riley's dad, Athol Riley:
Mr Riley said 40 television stations had cameras outside their home.
"It's pretty overwhelming. But I try to look at one of the things he [Sergeant Riley] was fighting for - freedom of the press. So I have to accept it."
This man lost his daughter to a rare brain disease while his son was held by an enemy known to be vicious, who had killed his son's comrades. The past three months have had to be almost beyond bearing. And he and his family have the strength to put up with the media attention because of an ideal! You know why we have the finest military in the world? Because of the fine people from all over the world who have made this country great.
Like Athol Riley.
[Link via Instapundit.]
MSNBC has a blog that is a combination of posts from a military wife and letters from either military families or just readers. A few excerpts:
Jacob, age 6 and Noah, age 5, Ft. Campbell
Jacob: Please stay safe over there because we need you to come home so Mommy won’t be sad and cry at night... I love you Daddy and I miss your voice at bedtime. I miss you hugging us when we get booboos and mostly I miss the way you throw me and Noah in the air. Come home safely Daddy.
Noah: Mommy wants me to tell you about school. I am doing good, but I cry sometimes when my friends’ Daddies pick them up from school. I know you are coming home because you are the strongest daddy over there... [Mommy] doesn’t tell the stories right at bedtime. She is a good mommy but you need to teach her how to do the monster sounds.
Kim Hoskins, Clarksville, TN
I get a call from him three days before he was to move forward to Iraq. I answered the phone in a sickly voice (I had had the flu for a week) to hear:
“Hello? Can you hear me?”
I could feel my face light up. “Yes, are you OK?”
He answered, “Yes, just need to shower.”
I laughed. He always knows how to make me laugh. Then he asked, “Are you OK? You sound sick.” I was like, “Year, but I’m better.”
Then I could hear his voice crackle, “There’s no one there to take care of you.” I just insisted that I was fine. My family is only four hours away. I decided to stay behind on my own. I believe that I’m strong enough to do it...
That phone call was the only time I’ve heard his voice since he’s been gone.
Brenda, Bamberg, Germany
When you think of families coping with war, you probably think of the ones in the United States. Those of us who are stationed overseas cope differently. I am the spouse of a U.S. Army sergeant and we are stationed in Germany.
I said good bye to my husband and that’s all I can say. The only thing we know over here is that our battalion of engineers is attatched to the 3rd Infantry. So, we listen to what ever news AFN network sends our way.
All that is left on our base are spouses and children and a few rear detatchments. Ironically, we have the German military guarding our gates and post. We can’t run “home” to family when we are down. Is it hard? Yes, but it is the life we signed up for, the one that keeps our freedom alive.
Theosebes reminds us that we're all Iraqis (in a manner of speaking):
My middle-school aged students in Bible class had looks of shock when I pointed out to them that Abraham was an Iraqi (forgive me the anachronism). Of course, since the Garden of Eden was likely in modern day Iraq, I suppose we're all Iraqis by heritage.
Interesting perspective, and he has more to say, on that and on a rather bizarre method of eking meaning from the Bible.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus of Seinfeld fame and her husband have renovated their beach home in a thoroughly environmentally conscious way. I have no problem with that - it sounds very cool - but the self-righteousness and hypocritical breast-beating in this article about it repeatedly gets in the way:
For eco-conscious Hollywood, central air-conditioning simply won't do: up-to-the-minute "green" design calls for a motorized sunroof, or "thermal chimney," which exhausts hot air naturally; rooftop solar panels that generate electricity and heat the house and a chemical-free hot tub; wall-to-wall windows with "heat mirror" treatments for insulation; and, to top it all off, an electric car parked in the driveway.
With its ocean views and rich palette of tropical hardwoods (certified, of course, as having come from sustainable forests), the house is a study in haute green, an earnest beachside do-gooder with movie-star gloss...
"Let's face it," Mr. Hall said. "Having a second home is itself an appalling excess, so we figured if we're going to do it, we better be as environmentally responsible as we can."
Is that supposed to make us think better of him, that he's trying to mitigate his "appalling excess" by spending more money to be "environmentally conscious"? They're just goofy. Personally I have no problem with people having however many houses they can afford, if that's their thing. And I think it's great to be environmentally conscious. It's the breast-beating that makes me roll my eyes. But at least there's a bright spot:
"Oh my God, check it out — we've got an ant infestation!" [Louis-Dreyfus] shouted, crouching for a closer look at a colony that had migrated from the terrace into the living room. "They're absolutely fascinating, if you really follow where each one is headed, how they communicate and all that. But I say, Get the damn Raid!"
"That's an endocrine disrupter," Mr. Hertz objected. "And remember, they've been here a lot longer than we have."
"Yeah," she said, scoffing. "Well, there's a limit to all this activism."
We can only hope.
Below I give information and a link to Fisher House, where families of injured soldiers can stay while helping their soldiers recuperate. And an excerpt from another dispatch from Captain Steve - deployed now in the Iraqi war - makes very clear why whatever support we give only touches the edges of what we should do:
My son tells me that he misses me. I ask myself how I can justify a career that demands such sacrifice from my children and my wife.
It's like that inner voice we have that loves to frighten us, this doubt that sometimes surfaces. You carry it everywhere, and guard against it. But when I forget and find myself wondering why I'm here, it's not hard to find the answer. I'm here because love involves sacrifice, and because protecting my children might be my greatest contribution to their upbringing. I'm here because maybe by my being here now, I can prevent my son and daughter from someday having to fight. And that's what fathers are supposed to do, isn't it? Provide a better life for their children?
Doubt and worry come and go, but at the bottom of it all I know I am meant to be here. I feel as if every one of life's lessons has brought me to this place, prepared me for this task. In fact, were it not for what I've learned being a father and a husband, I doubt I would be any good at what I do.
So it's not a question of whether this is unfair to my family. My family is the reason I'm here.
I've risked nothing by supporting this war. He's risked everything. What have you risked?
Since I'm not related to, or really personally know, someone currently in the military, I've cast about to find ways to support the troops that are really a benefit to them. I could write letters, but they don't know me. I can send things to the American Red Cross to donate to them, and I have. I can support them through my websites, and I do. But what else? It seems to me one of the best ways is to help the families the soldiers leave behind - it has to be a comfort to them to know that their families are taken care of by the people the military is sworn to protect - us.
Until recently, I'd not heard of Fisher House, although apparently many others have. Here's some information about them:
The Fisher House ...recognizes the special sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and the hardships of military service by meeting a humanitarian need beyond that normally provided by the Department of Defense. These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful time -- during the hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury.
There are currently 31 houses located on the grounds of every major military medical center and several VA medical centers. These houses play a key role and are a vital asset to our military by allowing them to care for casualties, and their families, from Operation Enduring Freedom and will play a critical role in caring for casualties from Operation Iraqi Freedom as well.
It is our goal to create "a home away from home" that allows guest families the opportunity to address any challenge they must face during a time of crisis with dignity, and to give them a sense that there really are those who care about them in their time of need.
Fisher House has a variety of ways you can help, and it's an organization where the size of the donation doesn't matter. I especially like that their overhead is only 7.1% of their budget - and 100% of donations go to the purpose you designate.
Those injured in Operation Iraqi Freedom are coming back to hospitals in the states now, and their families need places to stay. Not all can stay in Fisher Houses because there will be just too many needing space. Fisher House also helps pay for commercial housing (hotels mostly, I assume), and that's a very real need we can help meet.
We each give in our own ways. This may be a good one you haven't considered before.
I just saw a FoxNews reporter (or someone reporting for FoxNews) interviewing the parents of Sgt. James Riley, one of the POWs rescued today. Riley had called them and the reporter was asking what he said. Athol Riley, Sgt. Riley's dad, said Sgt. Riley just said he was okay, and didn't talk about his time in captivity or the rescue. The only other thing he said was (paraphrased), "Tanks are still in it."
The reporter said, What did he mean? obviously expecting some big tactical revelation. Riley the dad explained that Riley the son had been stationed previously with two tank units, before his assignment at Ft. Bliss. The dad had repeatedly told the son that tanks were obsolete, it was all air power now in battles. It was immediately clear to me, and to anyone with more brains than hair, that the two men teased each other about the tanks, and this soldier who was in enemy hands for three weeks was joking with his dad. I wouldn't be surprised if long thoughts about how he'd score off his dad about tanks was one of the things that helped keep him centered during the long hours of his capture. What a great insight! I thought that was extremely cool, and indicative of what a strong and neat guy Sgt. Riley is.
The reporter did not get it!
He asked the dad about three times what that meant - did that mean tanks were involved in the ambush? in the rescue? what? Finally dad said, um, it's an inside joke. I had to leave the room to keep from slapping reporter dude (or at least throwing something at the television set).
So maybe reporter dude was under pressure. But how stupid can you be?
Sgt. Riley is one very cool guy. Glad he's on his way home.
Article: Family of Chief Warrant Officer Ronald D. Young Jr.
Article: Relatives of POWs thrilled about found troops
Article: Family: Kansas soldier among seven found by Marines
Article: Family elated to see son freed (Sgt. James Riley)
Prayers still going out for the families of the missing.
Sgt. Stryker himself has a funny little riff on Robert Fisk.
CNN came to prominence in Gulf War I, when it became a powerful force in news because of its intense coverage of that war. What we didn't know until yesterday is that CNN's prominence became their primary goal, superseding their journalistic integrity, their honesty and, finally, their humanity. In Friday's NY Times, CNN Chief News Executive Eason Jordan wrote about the compromises made by CNN to stay in Iraq during the 1990s, with a clear desire to paint the network as another victim of Saddam.
But there is no sufficient excuse for this:
Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN's Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders. Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard â€” awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff.
For example, in the mid-1990's one of our Iraqi cameramen was abducted. For weeks he was beaten and subjected to electroshock torture in the basement of a secret police headquarters because he refused to confirm the government's ludicrous suspicion that I was the Central Intelligence Agency's Iraq station chief. CNN had been in Baghdad long enough to know that telling the world about the torture of one of its employees would almost certainly have gotten him killed and put his family and co-workers at grave risk...
I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me. Now that Saddam Hussein's regime is gone, I suspect we will hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told freely.
What Jordan is saying is that his network systematically ignored major stories and misreported the news for the benefit of having a presence in Iraq. They lied. There's no alternative explanation, and no justification that stands. The perfidy of CNN was detailed clearly just last October in The New Republic:
...nobody has schmoozed the ministry harder than the head of CNN's News Group, Eason Jordan, who has traveled to Baghdad twelve times since the Gulf war. In part these trips consist of network execs setting up meetings with Iraqi officials to try to persuade them that the networks are not sending CIA stooges. And in part they consist of network execs promising the Iraqi regime that they will cover its propaganda. "[The Iraqis] make it clear that you must attend if you hope to get future visas," one cameraman told me.
CNN was not alone in conforming to some degree with the Iraqi requirements of coverage so as to sustain a presence; the New Republic article is about all the television networks. We're still waiting to hear their mea culpas. And what was the reaction of other media outlets? Editor & Publisher, the industry magazine for newspapers, didn't mention it at all. While it is a television network involved, the editorial appeared in a newspaper and certainly the situation raises questions about whether other media - including print media - have made similar compromises. But there's nothing there. In Romenesko's News, almost a clearinghouse for all things journalistic, Jordan's editorial gets an afterthought mention on an entry about something else. Romenesko's column is a part of the website for Poynter Institute, an organization focused on all things journalism - including ethics - which had nothing on it as of 10 a.m. this morning (as determined by doing a site search for "CNN", and looking at their subcategory for "TV/Radio"). WaPo's media critic, Howard Kurtz, has not mentioned it - to be fair, his Friday column was likely written before Jordan's op/ed printed, so I'll keep an eye on Kurtz to see if something shows up next week. Nothing showed up today (Saturday) on WaPo's op/ed page. Nothing in the LA Times.
Standing alone in the major media is James Taranto in the WSJ's Opinionjournal.com Best of the Web, asking the pertinent question:
One cheer for Jordan for coming clean about his network's collaboration with a brutal fascist regime. And a question: What are CNN and other news organizations failing to tell us about other thuggish regimes, from communist Cuba to the Palestinian Authority?
And that's the big issue. The reason why journalists and media in general are so bombastically insistent about their objectivity is that they know their primary currency with their audience is their reputation for truth. When coverage may be compromised because of a situational context, they make a point of letting you know. The embedded journalists in this war are an example - I've heard (or read) reports from such journalists many times where the point is made before or after that the journalists' dispatches are subject to some military oversight. Also, until Saddam's regime collapsed, unembedded journalists in Iraq had Iraqi "minders" from the Hussein Ministry of Information overseeing their coverage - and, at least recently, we've had that pointed out to us. That's the standard, that's what we've come to expect because we've been told endlessly that it's what should be done. We shouldn't trust anyone who doesn't do that - should we? Jordan again, in the TNR article:
When I asked CNN's Jordan to explain why his network is so devoted to maintaining a perpetual Baghdad presence, he listed two reasons: "First, because it's newsworthy; second, because there's an expectation that if anybody is in Iraq, it will be CNN." His answer reveals the fundamental attitude of most Western media: Access to Baghdad is an end in itself, regardless of the intellectual or moral caliber of the journalism such access produces. An old journalistic aphorism holds "access is a curse." The Iraqi experience proves it can be much worse than that.
This glaring discrepancy that cuts to the heart of what journalism is supposed to be is in the process of slipping under the waves of media notice. Deliberately? I don't see how we can avoid the conclusion that it has been adjudged "not news" by the major media in general, at least the ones I've seen. CNN doesn't mention it. A search for Eason Jordan on ABC News online revealed nothing on it; the same is true for CBS News online . The only mention of Eason Jordan on MSNBC is Glenn Reynolds' column, linked below.
The coverage of this war has seen many accusations of biased reporting: the non-US media claim all US media is tainted by nationalism. Reuters and the BBC have repeatedly drawn the ire of the blogosphere for their anti-American slant. Most Arab news outlets are flagrantly anti-US. US media generally pile on Fox News with accusations of "conservative", "mostly entertainment", "pro-war", "pro-administration" and others. So let's ask a version of Taranto's question of all of them:
What are CNN and other news organizations failing to tell us?
News gathering is not as straightforward as fixing a car engine or designing a website. There are political realities, situational limitations, and human mistakes. No one is saying the news media can rise above those things completely. But this Wizard of Oz facade - this elaborate stylized image of The Objective Media - has cracked wide open to show us the little human endeavors behind it. Are the major media going to stand shoulder to shoulder to hide the flaw until their audience forgets it's there? Or are they going to live up to their claims of journalistic integrity, and begin to be honest about the accommodations they have to make to bring us the news?
I'm very concerned that the answer be: All Oz, all the time.
What did CNN know, and when did they know it? (The New Republic)
A journalistic Enron? (Glenn Reynolds)
Eason Jordan (Transcript of interview on WNYC after TNR article)
Thirteen Years Later, CNNâ€™s Baghdad Bureau Finally Tells the Truth (Matt Welch)
Sins of Omission (James K. Glassman, Tech Central Station)
The Volokh Conspiracy post here
UPDATE: Here's a post on CNN's Jordan from The Boston Phoenix's blog, Media Log by Dan Kennedy.
This link, and many of the others above, are from Instapundit.
Matt at Overtaken by Events has the funniest, best Fisk fisk I've seen in... well, I don't know that I've seen a better one.
We’ve all seen the video – hundreds of Iraqis looting everything from desks to mattresses to refrigerators to vases of plastic flowers from public and even private buildings in Baghdad, Basra and other liberated Iraqi cities. There are cries for policing, cries for order in the chaos. Those are reasonable requests, but the way they are often couched implies that the coalition forces are callous in standing by and letting it happen.
It’s not that simple.
Some of the analyses about the looting, and general disorder, make the necessary point that the collapse of the Hussein regime has left a vacuum in the structure of Iraqi society, and since there is no temporary rule sweeping in to keep order, chaos is the result. But still the point of much of the analysis seems to be that if the US really wanted to they could fix this problem relatively easily. So let’s look at that a little more closely – what would order entail? What are the options?
Order in any society comes about in one way: Rules are set by the ones with the power to enforce them, and the ones under the rules are aware of the consequences of going outside them. Identifying the group with the power to set the rules is virtually the same exercise as identifying what type of government a country has – ultimately the people decide in a representative republic or democracy, while on the other end of the spectrum one man makes the rules in a dictatorship. There are always people who disagree with some or all of the rules, and when enough people disagree, they have the power to challenge the status quo unless (as Saddam did) the one(s) in power make sure no such group can coalesce. That is another difference between democracy and dictatorship.
When a leader like Saddam is deposed by a group outside the population he governs, there are not indigenous people ready to step into the vacuum and operate the structure of government in a cohesive way because the old government officials are tainted, and the rest of the populace has not been allowed to form cohesive groups or alternative consensuses. Then there is really one choice – for the outside group to either impose structure itself or install a temporary “bridge” group that is in a sense a false government until one with the will of the people at its foundation can be formed. It could take quite a while to build a real government, because not only are you missing the structure of the government, but you’re missing the laws the government runs on. Everything has to be reviewed, from the criminal code to the building code. And it’s not just the laws and people to enforce them, but a courts system to evaluate evidence, a penal system to house the ones deemed guilty, and at its base a consensus of the people that they should obey these laws. All of that has to be in place, at least in rudimentary form, before order can be restored.
So what to do in Iraq? If the coalition troops begin policing the civilians, there will be clashes. Will those be trumpeted about the world as signs of the “oppressors”, that the US is showing its true colors, that they’re taking the war to the people? Of course they will. What laws do you enforce? The very basic ones – even murder, rape, robbery or serious personal crimes of that nature – are to a degree culturally determined even in the United States, from state to state. There’s a general consensus, but not a point-by-point national one. Do we impose Western legal limits on the Iraqi culture? If we did, would we then be decried again as trying to Westernize, Christianize, the new Iraq? And if we don’t impose some order – the only order we know well being a Western form – will we be accused of wanting Iraq to tear itself apart, or not really caring because, after all, it’s all about the oil?
To get some idea of the complexity of restoring order, look at just policing in Baghdad. First, again, you must determine what laws you will enforce – most likely the main crimes against person and property listed above. You must make it clear to the population what the limits are, and who is responsible for enforcing them – so one person in a community can’t set himself up as the local “authority” and threaten arrest of others as a means of protecting his own theft turf. Then you have the issue of sheer volume. In any society the majority of crimes are prevented by two things: the general consensus that the laws are correct and necessary, and the likelihood of getting caught. Both of those things will be in effect in Baghdad – millions of people there are not looting, but thousands are because they know they won’t be stopped. In New York City, a place where the rule of law is firmly established and the vast majority of its population follow the most serious restrictions without oversight, there is a police force of 40,000 for a population of roughly 10 million. Baghdad has a population of 5 million, which would indicate a force of 20,000 law enforcement officers necessary for a fine restoration of order. I would estimate that a force of at least a fourth of that – 5,000 – would be necessary to give strong protection from major crimes. A somewhat smaller group could restore a modicum of order, but sheer land mass would require a fairly sizable force. What would they drive? What forms of force would be used (guns? Pepper spray? Nightstick?) by the officers? Where would they take prisoners? If the officers are not Iraqi – and initially not many are likely to be – who would be used as translators? How do you yell “stop, thief!” in the native language?
The coalition forces initially allowed the same type of disorder that often accompanies anti-government or anti-war rallies in the US to occur in the major cities, on a larger scale – breaking windows, looting stores – for several reasons: They were still looking for bad guys. They didn’t want to engage the civilians and emotions were high in the populace. They didn’t want to feed the fire of international fury by appearing as if they were establishing a military grip on a people supposedly freed. And not unimportantly, they aren’t trained for law enforcement. One example of how important that is: Modern policing includes training in the types of holds you can use on people under restraint, because a number of deaths in custody have happened as a result of suffocation or other side-effects of immobilization techniques used with no intent to harm. Would someone trained as an accountant or truck driver or store manager now with the military in Baghdad know not to put his knee on the back of a handcuffed prisoner lying face down? And how quickly would the international media jump on an in-custody death as more evidence of cruelty to the population?
The generals and others in charge of this liberation and transition are not unaware of these difficulties – I would say these issues have been discussed in many meetings, and the options are being weighed based on how the war progresses and the transition unfolds. When we evaluate how they are handling the disorder in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, we have to take into consideration the complexity of the issues the coalition forces have to deal with. It’s not as simple as putting a man with a machine gun in front of every government building and pastry shop.
Canada’s Prime Minister Jean Chretien has offered the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) as a transitional policing force. It’s not the only reasonable option , but I think that’s a very good idea. They’re trained in law enforcement, have a history of success in building policing organizations in former Soviet bloc countries, and do not labor under the critical, sneering regard of the world’s governmental and media elites. That still leaves the issue of what laws to enforce and to what extent, but it’s a start.
And the next time you see someone looting a building with a soldier standing nearby, consider the complexities of restoring order, and don’t just think, “That soldier should stop him!”
[Cross posted on The Command Post op-ed page.]
Romenesko's News has a letter from journalist Constantine von Hoffman discussing whether there's been too much coverage of the death of journalists as compared to the deaths of coaltion soldiers or Iraqis:
Are journalists' death getting a disproportionate amount of attention?
This came to mind because of a few recent incidents in the Boston Globe. Last Friday, the Globe's story on Michael Kelly's death was a front page. In the Sunday Globe, the death of Benjamin Sammis, a helicopter pilot from Rehoboth, Mass., killed in action, was teased from page 1 with the actual story on page A-33. In today's Globe, (4/10) Kelly's funeral -- with picture -- was on page 1 of the Metro/Region section. I may have missed it (and that's not an attempt to be coy, just an admission that I may in fact have missed a story that ran) but I haven't seen any coverage of the funerals of the local soldiers who have died in Iraq. That may also be because their bodies have not yet been returned home.
While I don't believe this was intentional, the net result of these
placements reads as if one person's life is worth more than the other's.
I agree that deaths of journalists have gotten disproportionate coverage as compared to the coverage of coalition deaths. Part of that is a fact of journalism - some lives do matter more, in a news sense, than others. A housewife in the Bronx dying of heart failure isn't going to get the same coverage as, say, the death of someone like Barbra Striesand, even if of natural causes. One of the arguments made by the writer of this letter is that Kelly matters no more in his realm than Sammis mattered in his, and that's true. It's also true that in the broader realm of the Globe's readership, more would know of Kelly than Sammis.
But in another sense, von Hoffman is correct. The intense coverage of Kelly has as much to do with the journalists' connection to him as it does the actual objective news value. If Kelly's death had happened in, say, a car accident in Virginia or a heart attack on a tennis court, it would have received much less coverage. Journalists are sensitized to the risks of their comrades in a combat situation, and they are mourning and memorializing their dead within their own accustomed framework: In words and pictures. The other combat deaths - those of military personnel - are an anticipated part of their war coverage package that doesn't touch them personally. I don't mean by that to say that they don't care about the soldiers who die - I'm sure they do. This is about a comparison, not an effort to pillory the press on the coverage.
It speaks to some degree of media bias, however. They are affected by emotion, and they do make coverage decisions on that basis. This is just one example, albeit one that stands out because of the availability of the direct one to one comparison of death coverage. If the media wanted to be completely objective, they could have established a formula for dealing with war deaths (say, photo on front page always jumping to a specified inside page for details), and confined the coverage of Kelly's death to that same formula. Again, I'm not criticizing them for the broader coverage of Kelly's death. It's just important that they - and others - realize that the coverage was as a result of the death touching home to journalists more thoroughly than the deaths of military personnel did and do. They are in essence using their media outlets as a grieving mechanism - not a readership/community grief, as was the case with the 9/11 coverage, but a very personal grief centered in (although not limited to) the media community.
[Cross posted on The Command Post opinion page.]
This piece on Eric Alterman is just priceless. George Gurley of The Observer lays the MOAS* right on target. Precision snarking.
* Mother Of All Snarks
[Link via Media Minded, who finds all the good stuff]
Hmmm. Apparently Meryl thinks I should have written about The Agonist (nope, no link from me). At least, I'm on her list as not having done so. The main reason is because I can't spell
plagueri plaugeri playjerizm that word that means stealing someone's written work. What, you expect me to consult a dictionary?
I guess I didn't go there because it wasn't a ripple in my pool. I didn't ever read him, I didn't link him, he was not even really in my peripheral vision. Everyone else seemed to be slicing and dicing him, I just kept my knife sheathed. What he did was unconscionable - in case you don't know, he posted material on his blog as his own that was actually from Stratfor's pay-only news service, which he's since gone back and properly attributed, after being caught. IMHO, he's toast. When you've systematically stolen material, over time, there's no justification - it's not an aberration, a delirious moment at the end of a long day, but a gaping hole in your character. Rather like the photographer who passed off a photoshopped composition as an untouched original photograph. You don't hire an embezzler to keep your books, do you? Well, you don't read a liar when you're looking for truth.
How's that, Ms. Meryl? You know I'll get you for that comment about my not being one of "the big boys". I think we're talking quality, not quantity, over here.
(And no, I'm not in the least bit embarrassed about using a wild mix of metaphors and other rhetorical devices.)
Air Force Capt. Kim Campbell landed her A-10 Warthog "nearly perfectly" after Iraqi enemy fire took out most of its controls, leaving only the manual controls, as she flew over Baghdad. Campbell, the daughter of a San Jose councilmember; when asked what her call letters "KC" stood for, she said, "Killer chick."
You go, girl.
UPDATE: And here's another one - fighter pilot Thumper.
I've been wondering why we've been getting reports from Iraq of finding this WMD and that WMD but it turns out to be something relatively innocuous. This article explains what's happening.
[Link via The Command Post]
I'm completely engrossed in the coverage of Iraq, and not able to concentrate on much else. The Command Post and Instapundit are both posting a lot of good information. Kevin McGehee checks his war predictions (summary: he did good). I'll try to get back to posting later today.
We talk a lot about the Canadian government and media, but look at what's going on with the media in Mexico:
...the editors at [Mexican newspaper] Por Esto are portraying U.S. and British forces as mercenaries spending their days hunting Iraqi women and children, and Saddam Hussein as holding the line in defense of Iraqi liberty and democracy...
While Por Esto may be the extreme end of the pro-Saddam, anti-Yankee press in Mexico, they are not alone in their one-sided coverage. Rudy Garcia, editor of the Miami Herald's Cancun Edition was moved to editorialize last Friday that "the scenes of Mexicans burning American flags and accusing us all of being baby killers is hard to dispel from memory. The skewered news reports, virtually all of them favoring Iraq and turning Saddam Hussein into some sort of hero-martyr just add fuel to the fire."
But the Mexicans think they're doing well:
...it is a popular notion here in Mexico that the Mexican media is delivering a more "honest" version of the war in Iraq.
It is not just the typical Mexican citizen who thinks this. Carlos Monsivais, a noted Mexican journalist and author, told a recent conference on Mexico-U.S. relations that Mexicans are getting a more objective view of the war than Americans because "Mexican newspapers are leading their front pages with pictures and reports of civilian casualties," while on American television, all we get are "retired generals and White House press briefings."
I am thoroughly sick of the US pouring pots of money down the black hole of these countries that turn around and viciously attack us. I don't have any interest in trying to convince them the US is all sweetness, light, altruism and sunshine. What I do want is honesty, balance in reporting, and a government that encourages honest reporting. If the United States acted as any of the other countries do, with the exceptions of Britain and Australia (and even their medias are suspect), this world would be in deep trouble.
They're getting on my last nerve.
[Link tip from Media Minded]
I've roamed around the 'Net a bit reading articles written by embeds from smaller, local or regional newspapers, and have found them to be more personal and - often - more interesting than the "big media" pieces. This article in Editor & Publisher looks at why the smaller papers sent embeds, and what they're reporting back. Once you've read it, find a few of those reporters on this Poynter embed map, and check out a different perspective.
Oh, and you might find this apologetic for media coverage of the war - especially the embeds - interesting.
I'm putting together a website that will have more information on all the soldiers who die in Operation Iraqi Freedom - photos if I can find them, and links to articles on them (as long as archives last). I'm going to try to figure out some kind of hosting deal so I can keep the info available as long as possible, but for now it's on Blogspot. (I know, I know.)
I wasn't going to point it out yet, because this is going to take me quite a bit of time to complete, but when I posted info on Army Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa tonight, I found an article with information on a trust fund being set up for her two children - 4 and 3 - who will be raised by their grandparents. I'm sure the family is not wealthy, and the children will be raised without a mother because she died for this country. If any of you are wondering what you can do to support the troops, I think contributing to the trust fund for these children would be a good place to start. I hope to find more such information on other fallen warriors who have left children behind.
UPDATE: From the comments section on The Command Post entry I did similar to this one:
The following comments are not to preclude anyone from donating to the fund. The following programs will help, but not fully fund what the children will need for the future.
Just so everyone knows the children are not left destitute orphans by this tragedy. Lori probably was having standard deductions from her paycheck for Servicemens Group Life Insurance [SGLI] worth $250K. The designated, in writing, survivors usually are immediate family or parents. She also had Social Security deducted, so the children are entitled to SS payments till they are 18 and 21 if they go to college. The children are also entitled to continue their enrollment in Tricare, the military medical system, as well to their 18th or 21st birthday. The children, accompanied by an authorized adult till their teenage year and unaccompanied thereafter, have access to military commissary and Armed Forces Exchange System facilities for the same period.
The comment was from Don.
I know, I know, so what's new? But this just boggles my mind. From a breathy little celeb gossip piece by BeatBoxBetty on MSN Entertainment:
More Celebs Against the War
Spider-Man star Kirsten Dunst is tired of just watching the war with Iraq unfold -- she's actually doing something about it. The actress and her boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal are planning on forming a celebrity forum of young Hollywood stars that will meet to discuss political issues and try and encourage their peers to take world issues more seriously.
Dunst admits the situation in Iraq prompted her to get more involved. "It's not that we're not patriotic," she told TeenHollywood.com "It's just that we don't want war." She also feels she's the perfect person since she was so apathetic she didn't even vote in the last election. "I didn't even vote in 2000," she said. "I think it was just laziness. I wasn't raised in a family that was real political and I'm just now becoming aware of these issues. I just want to be more informed."
That's right. You ignore the issues for years, you have no knowledge, no background, and quite apparently no solid analytical skills, so to "become aware of these issues" you're going to put together a celebrity forum of young Hollywood stars that will meet to discuss political issues and try and encourage their peers to take world issues more seriously. Woohoo! Getting together with a whole bunch of beautiful yet thoroughly lamebrained Hollywood types with precisely your own background. Way to educate yourself! Way to go after new knowledge! Way to "do something about it"! At least you're following liberal tradition: equating "doing something about it" with "forming a celebrity forum". Don't forget the next steps - make a CD that costs you nothing but 30 minutes of studio time and claim it will change the world, and then throw money at it - but make sure it's not your own. It has to be taxpayer dollars, not 1% of the $1 million a show or $10 million a movie you make...
Comedian and star of Head of State, Chris Rock, has also chimed in on war. "We should avoid war at all costs," Rock recently told reporters. "I don't understand war in many ways. Condalezza Rice and Colin Powell are the black people in the White House, they are right there, it's just that somebody has got to take the seat. Negative people got to be positive role models, Osama Bin Ladin's got to be a positive role model."
This has got to be a parody. Please, tell me it's a parody! Either it's a parody, he's having a seriously bad trip, or someone drained his brains in liquified from out of his ear two minutes before the interview. This quote makes no sense, not even bad sense. No, Chris, you don't understand war. And what is this about Condi and Colin? Why does it matter that they're black? What seat? How is any of this connected? What's up with negative people and positive role models? What's that about Osama being a positive role model?? Please, someone sew up his mouth until the brain transplant comes through.
And our ever-so quirky Nicolas Cage prefers to be as non-descriptive and non-committal as possible. "I was raised to try to keep my political views to myself," he says. "I'm not a politician, I have my personal opinions, but I try to express myself through my work. I have to say I don't like the idea of women and children dying, but that's all I'm going to say about it."
Way to keep your political views to yourself, Nick! "I don't like the idea of women and children dying." Babe, the only ones who do are the whole Hussein family!!
I think sometimes that maybe I'll go see a movie. Then I read these and think, no, no, I'd lose my popcorn all over the seat in front of me if I saw any of these people. I'm waiting for Harry Potter III and the LOTR Return of the King. And grimly avoid reading anything about that idiot man who takes over Aragorn's body whenever the cameras turn off.
I heard a discussion on the radio this morning* about the bombs that may or may not have taken out Saddam and his sons last night. Up to 14 people are likely dead, and some of them were likely innocent. The question was:
Would the loss of innocent life be acceptable, even knowing that Saddam Hussein was there, if the life that would be lost was American?
It's a modification of the "little brown people" argument, which is insulting on its face, but it is at one level valid - is it permissible to kill evil deliberately, knowing that innocence will have to die too? The United States has not only asked a very similar question, they've answered it "yes".
When, you ask? September 11, the day that brought us to where we are now.
When Flight 93 was knifing through the air on its way back to the Atlantic coast, after two planes had already hit the WTC and another had plowed into the Pentagon with fiery malevolence, the question was clear: Should the US bring down the plane if we were confident that it was headed to complete the terrorists' plans for the day? It would mean the sure death of dozens of innocent Americans, who had done nothing more scurrilous than head off for work, for a vacation, to visit a relative. But if the plane didn't come down short of its target, it could mean the death of hundreds more people, who had done nothing more vicious than going to work like they had done every morning for years.
The brave men and women of Flight 93 handled the problem before we had to act on our answer. But the question was asked repeatedly in the weeks that followed. And we, for the most part, answered "yes". Certainly it's a situation where you have to evaluate the limits - truly a cost/benefit analysis, although we don't like to think of it that way. It comes down to that sometimes, however, and in those times you have to be rational as well as compassionate, and resolute as well as merciful. That kind of calculation is never a "win-win" - it's a "lose a little-lose a lot" calculation. I'm very very sad for the families of those innocent people who died. But I don't think it was the wrong decision.
* It was asked by (who else) Ron Kuby, on (what else) the Curtis & Kuby show on (where else) WABC 770, in NYC.
I just got an email about a new blog - Amitai Etzioni Notes - Personal and Communitarian Reflections, by Amitai Etzioni, University Professor at George Washington University. It looks very interesting, and introduced me to the term "communitarian", which (on sketchy first reading) sounds like something I need to know more about.
UPDATE: Yes, that would make it... a Coup de Ville.
jimmy at jimmyz28 says he's walked away from blogging - and his last post is clear evidence of why he shouldn't. He talks about the war, movies and racial politics in America with a clarity that cuts to the heart of the issues:
i guess what's been pounding me lately is that i've seen too much "deserve". too many people not deserving what they're experiencing and too many people not experiencing what they deserve. ordinarily i'd quote Clint Eastwood from "Unforgiven" and say "deserve's got nothing to do with it." but at this point, i think it does...
...starbucks college yahoo who's been sponging off a trust fund[,] they chant and shout that it's america that keeps poor people poor, and then go back to their apartment, light up a joint, and call mom and dad and ask for more money. all over this nation there are familes huddled around the TV day and night watching with the hope and fear of hearing about their loved ones. moms that are trying to cope with a job, kids, and a husband who's off thousands of miles away and may not come home. she prays she doesn't have to find some way to explain to her kids that daddy isn't coming home......and then has to turn on her tv and see some 18 yr old punk wish harm to her loved one. people with nothing better to do with their lives than lay down in a street.
About racial politics:
...the other thing i hit a wall of tolerance in is racial in nature. maybe a few years ago i could've gone and saw "bringing down the house" and laughed myself silly. i like steve martin. but i just can't tolerate racial comedy anymore. i'm tired of it. i'm sick of watching white people acting black. i'm sick of seeing it everywhere, not just movies. i see it all over the place around here. some baggy pant wearing 15 yr old doofus white kid who thinks that he's the shiznit cuz his clothes are too big and he says "yo" at the end of every sentence. i'm not saying everyone should "act their race" or something like that. after all, i'm living proof you aren't who your ansectors were. my blood is as hispanic as it gets, but i don't speak a lick of spanish, i don't have hydraulics in my car, i'm not a janitor, and i don't live in a house with 20 people. i'm not a "sterotypical" hispanic. i have a cubicle job, i drive a chevy camaro, i wear ball caps, blue jeans, and t-shirts, i live in an apartment with one roomate and wall-to-wall nascar everywhere. i don't have an accent, i have relatives from Maine and West Virginia, my last name is from West Virginia. i'm closer to white-trash than i am to the Vatos out in east L.A...
The whole thing is worth your time, so go read it, then knock on jimmy's shell and ask him to come back out.
In the past 24 hours, at least two places in Baghdad where journalists work or live were subject to coalition fire, and at least one journalist - from Al Jazeera - died. This morning (afternoon there), in the CENTCOM briefing, the journalists returned repeatedly to the issue of safety of journalists on the ground in Baghdad, asking if they had known journalists were in those locations, if they were targeting journalists, if there was something they could do to prevent journalists being under attack again.
I understand the concern of the journalists at the briefing, but I found the questions marginally ridiculous. Certainly it's acceptable to ask the questions once, and maybe reframe for clarification on a second round. But it's disingenuous for the journalists to in any way assume their profession has a circle of protection around it beyond what ordinary civilians have. There may be somewhat of one, because of the firestorm that follows such a firefight, but the coalition forces have been quite clear about the risk non-embedded journalists run by staying in Baghdad. The coalition forces are already taking a significant increased risk by carting along the embeds; expecting them to search for and protect unembedded journalists is, IMHO, a sign of the rather breathtaking arrogance of many journalists.
The media seems at times to see itself as some kind of latter day god, their bubble of protection the unquestioned right to freedom of speech and, by their definition, a concommittant freedom of access without risk. And any behavior that they deem necessary to accomplish their version of what their job is should be protected as if it were a newborn baby carrying the future of the world in its tiny fragile body. The reality is that good journalism is not a profession for prima donnas wanting the story without getting their hair mussed. It can be a dangerous and exceedingly difficult profession, and if done right never fully comfortable for those around them.
I'm sorry these journalists were subjected to coalition fire. I'm very sorry for the Al Jazeera cameraman who died, and I pray for his family. I hope no more journalists die, American or not, embedded or not. But while the pen might be mightier than the sword in some contexts, it will never withstand by caveat a direct hit from the sword. It's a risk they take, and in this case took with open eyes.
My dad was in the Army Reserve for 17 years, leaving it at the rank of captain. That meant we had miscellaneous Army things about the house most of the time: Army boots, Army jackets, old camouflage uniforms to garden in or use as rags, Army eating utensils - you get the idea. Occasionally when he returned from a reserve weekend or his two-week summer training, he'd bring home other things. One year it was MREs - Meals Ready to Eat.
I thought it was the coolest thing ever. It was the first time I'd had plum pudding, and was quite confused that it was actually cake. I remember the tough little crackers, and something that claimed to be "stew". They came in little Army green tin cans, packed in unadorned cardboard boxes. My very favorite thing was a huge can - at least two gallons - of dried apples. They were crunchy, very similar to the apple chips you can buy today, but without all the flavors.
I had forgotten all that until I just heard a reporter on Fox News saying he really likes the MREs. Everyone was laughing at him, but I bet I would too. Especially if they had dried apples.
UPDATE: I stand corrected - Lynxx Pherrett in comments points out that the little green tin cans identify my childhood Army meals as C-rations, not MREs. Perhaps if I had said "This was around 1970-72", that might have cleared things up too. Did they have MREs then? Hmmm. (And not K-rations, Lynxx, I'm not THAT old.)
Monica Crowley is a new radio host on WABC 770 in NYC. She's been guesting and subbing for a while now, and I just don't like her style. She's very very smart, she's lovely (much prettier than Ann Coulter, if they don't do her hair in a Jersey Girl stack), she's got credentials out the wazoo, I'm sure she's a lovely person and the best friend of everyone who crosses her path, etc et al. And she's apparently even been appearing on Fox News as a political commentator since 1996.
All I can say is: What's wrong with these people?!
The woman is wooden on the air. Don't believe me? You can listen to her yourself online from 6-7 p.m. on WABC 770. She's replaced my beloved Steve Malzberg, which I hasten to add isn't why I don't like her style. I didn't like it when she subbed or guested. So is this a talking dog situation - "look at the conservative female talk show host! wow!"? I think so.
And I just can't listen to her. I'll be tuning in to NPR, I guess. Rats.
Frederik Balfour of Business Week was in the medic tent when NBC reporter David Bloom was brought in - too late, as it turned out - for medical attention. He posts this article about Bloom and what caused his death:
As I was about to head to the medic station I overheard a soldier phoning in a report, in what I suppose was meant to be military efficiency. But it struck me as chillingly terse. "Report: initial. Enemy involvement: none. Name: Bloom, David. Military unit: civilian. Status: deceased."
Five short lines to summarize the last day of a man who was, by all measures, in the prime of life...
Tragically, it may have been the long hours he spent cramped in the Army vehicle that caused his death. Three days ago, Bloom had complained of cramps behind his knee. Like most of us journalists "embedded" in the Army, he had endured days and nights of working, eating, and sleeping in our vehicles as convoys snaked their way toward Baghdad.
He consulted military doctors and described his symptoms over the phone to overseas physicians. They suspected DVT, or deep veinous thrombosis, and advised him to seek proper medical attention. He ignored their advice, swallowed some aspirins, and kept on working. On Sunday he died of a pulmonary embolism.
Balfour allows his feelings to show through a couple of times, and here it seems - to me - hubris:
I thought of other journalists who have died covering this conflict. I thought of Michael Kelly the former editor of The Atlantic Monthly who died this weekend. I met him only briefly a few days before the war started. It was blazing hot in the Kuwaiti sun, and I told him to slap on some sunscreen. Even then it seemed a bit ironic considering our assignments. I thought of soldiers on both sides of the conflict and the hundreds of Iraqi citizens who have died. The more I see of war, the more I abhor it.
And how moral of you, sir. Did you not abhor it before you went? I abhor it, and I have never gone. The soldiers who have lost not two, but dozens of comrades and who even today plunge with determination into the gaping maw of close urban battle, likely abhor it with much greater vehemence than you can possibly know. The bravery and character of a soldier are revealed by the fact that he knows war, he has seen his comrades die, he has felt the bullets narrowly miss, and he does not curl up his nose and fuss about his growing abhorence - he goes forward because he knows going back is to allow an even worse evil to grow in this world. So take your Ivy League disdain and champagne lunch abhorrence and get out of the way of the real men who are fighting this war.
As I watch the snow out my window on April 7, I am amused by this article:
Claims that man-made pollution is causing "unprecedented" global warming have been seriously undermined by new research which shows that the Earth was warmer during the Middle Ages.
From the outset of the global warming debate in the late 1980s, environmentalists have said that temperatures are rising higher and faster than ever before, leading some scientists to conclude that greenhouse gases from cars and power stations are causing these "record-breaking" global temperatures...
Such claims have now been sharply contradicted by the most comprehensive study yet of global temperature over the past 1,000 years. A review of more than 240 scientific studies has shown that today's temperatures are neither the warmest over the past millennium, nor are they producing the most extreme weather - in stark contrast to the claims of the environmentalists...
The findings prove that the world experienced a Medieval Warm Period between the ninth and 14th centuries with global temperatures significantly higher even than today.
They also confirm claims that a Little Ice Age set in around 1300, during which the world cooled dramatically. Since 1900, the world has begun to warm up again - but has still to reach the balmy temperatures of the Middle Ages.
But of course the environmentalists aren't convinced:
Dr Simon Brown, the climate extremes research manager at the Meteorological Office at Bracknell, said that the present consensus among scientists on the [The United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)] was that the Medieval Warm Period could not be used to judge the significance of existing warming.
Dr Brown said: "The conclusion that 20th century warming is not unusual relies on the assertion that the Medieval Warm Period was a global phenomenon. This is not the conclusion of IPCC."
Of course it's not. We know that the UN constructs it's own reality. Why let a little thing like comprehensive, scientific research affect UN conclusions? It's never been compelled by facts before - at least, not in my memory.
UPDATE: I have no clue a) why I didn't link the story initially or b) where I got it to start with. However, I know that I was at both blogoSFERICS and Ipse Dixit, and they both have it, so I'll say there. Good enough for blogwork, ya think? Oh, and thanks to The Tortured Artist for bringing my oversight (however indirectly) to my attention.
I'm at home, it's snowing hard, I can see only 1/2 mile out my third-floor window instead of the usual 3-4 miles, the road is white and slushy, and the heavy snow isn't supposed to start until 2 p.m.
It's April 7!!!!!!!!!
I was up until 3:30 a.m. watching the invasion of Baghdad; it was quite literally amazing, and very exciting. Greg Kelly of Fox News broadcast from Saddam's main palace, first outdoors but later from inside, showing opulent rooms filled with the rubble from a bomb that fell on the palace in the opening days of the war. I was telling my brother about it and he coined the perfect term for opulent rubble:
[I'm still laughing.]
I'm just riveted to FoxNews right now, watching the US soldiers take over the center of Baghdad. Greg Kelly is at Saddam's main palace in Baghdad, making reports from there. It's almost 10 a.m. there, so they've waltzed right in in broad daylight to take things over.
One of the officers said, We're not putting up flags because we didn't come here to take over, we came to liberate the Iraqi people and that's what we've done today - we liberated the Iraqi people.
Another officer said, a little later, that what keeps the soldiers going is the public support from home. He said over and over how important it is, so we need to keep it coming, and make sure it's still there when they come home.
And two of the officers held up a flag... University of Georgia Bulldogs. Now, isn't that an image to take home? Saddam Hussein's main palace in Iraq being conquered by - Georgia Bulldogs! Ooh Rah!
Brit Will Self in the UK Evening Standard calls the rescue of Private Jessica Lynch a "tawdry stunt in a dirty war", "a dirty little piece of propaganda in a morally suspect war", and other nasty things in his fussy little fantasy rant. But if you look closely, you'll see that Self leaves out a huge chunk of the story so he can construct his "hate America" screed. From Self's column:
The story has it all: a telegenic 19-year-old blonde, who fought with great bravery to avoid capture and was wounded in battle; high-tech wizardry used to find her; and a daring raid to drag her back from the very belly of the beastly Iraqis.
Compare this to a BBC news article about it (using the BBC, of course, because we wouldn't want to be accused of using any of the US's state-controlled media outlets):
The teenage American prisoner of war Jessica Lynch was rescued after a tip-off from an Iraqi man who visited the hospital in Iraq where she was being held, US media has reported.
The man, a 32-year-old lawyer identified as Mohammed, walked 10 kilometres (six miles) to find US marines to tell them where she was, the Washington Post newspaper said.
Nineteen-year-old Private Lynch was freed after US commandos stormed the Saddam Hospital in Nasiriya on Wednesday.
The newspaper quoted US marines as saying they might never have been able to rescue Private Lynch without Mohammed's help.
That's pretty high tech, isn't it? An Iraqi man performed one of the most heroic acts possible, putting himself and his family at risk of death to help the US military save a soldier he had never met before. While the role of the soldiers who rescued Lynch were also heroic, you expect it of soldiers. You don't expect it of citizens of the invaded country, not if they hate the invaders. But Self had to create the dichotomy of the US claiming themselves heroes and all Iraqis as wicked brown people for his screed to work on any level. So he did it. He lied. So he could say this:
And there's a lot else we need to ignore in order to give Private Lynch's rescue the dramatic potential of Private Ryan's. If, or when, Hollywood gets its hands on this, Saddam Hussein's Fedayeen will be quite as ruthlessly successful at genocidal extermination, territorial conquest and sheer bloody fighting as Hitler's SS.
An opening sequence will show thousands of US infantrymen being shot to pieces by Iraqi machine-gun fire...
Actually, Saddam was genocidal; just ask the Kurds. He did torture his people, although he wasn't as successful or sophisticated with his evil as Hitler and his minions. And I doubt very seriously that the movie will show Iraqis killing "thousands" of US infantrymen - the lopsided reality is much more cinematically impressive. What's more, I can assure you that Mohammed, the inconvenient (for Self) Iraqi lawyer, will feature prominently in any story, movie, book, documentary, whatever, about the rescue - because no one in the story is more heroic, and possibly no one - including Lynch - as heroic. She is a brave and wonderful young woman, but what she did was take each thing as it came and survived. Mohammed could have walked away from his test of character, but instead risked his entire life and family for something that wasn't a sure thing. Lynch could have died anyway.
There will be no place in Lynch's story for a blanket characterization of Iraqis. Quite the contrary - it could be a beautiful morality tale about people who came through the fire of despotic rule with their character honed to fine gold, and others consumed by the fear and greed inherent in power used for evil. The only one operating with derogatory stereotypes is Self.
And he wasn't content with smearing Lynch, ignoring Mohammed so he could fit his square theory in a flagrantly round hole, or viciously slandering the United States. He had to make one last condescending dig:
...it's no kind of escapism to witness one nation's disadvantaged youth killing the impoverished youth of another.
It's true that many, perhaps most, of the US military comes from the ranks of the middle and working classes. But they're proud, they're tough and they give no ground to anyone in their competence, character and willingness to do the hard work of making peace in this world. They're not frightened conscripts grabbed up with the threat of death hanging over their whole families. They're men and women who made sound decisions about their future, and found the military one way of accomplishing their goals. And for a lot of them, protecting their country was a proud part of their goal. For all the left's efforts to make it one, this is not a class war.
Self is a small, despicable little man - the only "dirty little piece of propaganda" involved in this story.
[Link via The Command Post]
UPDATE: Judith Weiss at Kesher Talk takes a bite out of Self too.
It's Dean Esmay's first blogiversary! HAPPY HAPPY, Dean! He's got a great blog, if you've not been there, what's your problem? Go, go, posthaste.
And Dean - when was I wrong?*
* It's only happened once that I know of - when I thought I was wrong but I wasn't.
(With apologies to The Little Red Hen)
One day as the Willing Country was going about its business, she found a very mean man with lots of soldiers who so enjoyed killing his own people that now he wanted to kill the Willing Country's people, and the people of many other countries too.
"This evil man should be defeated," she said. "Who will defeat this evil man?"
"Not I," said France.
"Not I," said Germany.
"Not I," said the UN and Russia.
"Then I will," said the Willing Country. And her people and her friends went into harm's way to do it.
Soon the fight got really hard and the people were dying.
"The war is hard," said the Willing Country. "Who will help us now?"
"Not I," said France.
"Not I," said Germany.
"Not I," said the UN and Russia.
"Then I will do it with my friends," said the Willing Country. And she did.
When the fighting was almost over, dozens of her soldiers dead, the end in sight, the Willing Country said, "Who will join us with soldiers now?"
"Not I," said France.
"Not I," said Germany.
"Not I," said the UN and Russia.
"Then I will finish it with my friends," said the Willing Country. And she did.
When the dying was almost done, and support was needed in the world, the Willing Country said, "Who will take this word to the people?"
"Not I," said France.
"Not I," said Germany.
"Not I," said the UN and Russia.
"Then I will with my friends," said the Willing Country. And she did.
Finally the dying was done, the evil man was no more, his countrymen could live in peace and a great danger to the world was past. And the Willing Country said, "Who will help this country rebuild, and gain great economic benefit at the same time?
"Oh! I will," said France, kicking the Willing Country.
"And I will," said Germany, stabbing the Willing Country in the back.
"And I will," said the UN and Russia, holding hands under the table and promising each other great wealth with many winks and nudges.
"No, No!" said the Willing Country. "I will do that with my friends and the people of this country!"
And she did.
Tomorrow's forecast in my county:
...A WINTER STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR 6 TO 12 INCHES OF SNOW FOR MONDAY MORNING AND MONDAY NIGHT...
...NEAR BLIZZARD CONDITIONS WILL OCCUR MONDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING...
As the war goes longer than the media seemed to think it would, some embeds are coming home - and the military won't let them be replaced:
Col. Jay DeFrank, director of press operations for the Department of Defense, said he understood that some newspapers may need to move reporters and photographers out of their embed assignments, especially if the war takes more than a few weeks, but stressed that the rule still stands. "When our forces are engaged in ground combat, it is no time to bring in a new journalist to the environment," he said this week. "Having a journalist there complicates the situation already. Having a new person does it more so."
It sounds like the right position to take, but the media say they want "more flexibility". It's not a presidential campaign where you can pull someone off the press plane if the journalist overloads on peanuts! I really haven't a lot of sympathy with the media on this one. Mommy, it took more than two weeks! I miss my gym and my French wine lunches! The military people are there for months, possibly a year or more, and I'd say there aren't any journalists who are in any more difficult circumstances than some of the soldiers. In fact, in the case of reservists, the soldiers haven't left just families but jobs where their war service takes them out of career advancement for a time. The journalists will get a major boost in their own careers for having "war correspondent" on their resumes.
It just goes to show that, again, a lot of the world of journalism is disconnected from reality, and seem to think that everyone should accommodate them. I'm glad to see the military isn't doing it, especially during this active attack phase, and I hope they don't back down. The security of our soldiers is paramount - the media need to be thankful for what they've got and stop whining.
Oh, did I mention that the media were told up front there'd be no replacements?
This is one of the most despicable things I've heard about.
[Link via The Last Page]
CPO Sparkey has details about Akamai, a company that lost a VP on 9/11, declining to assist Al Jazeera with its web problems. They've not said that's why, but it seems likely to me.
For some reason, I'm not sure why, the site's been down for the past about 24 hours. It's (obviously) functioning again, but I haven't been able to post either. Just so you know, I'll be back on track as soon as I put away the clothes I just brought up from the laundrymat.
Steven Malanga has a good article on The City Journal website about the power of huge advocate groups in moving public policy by launching scare campaigns.
The advocacy groups are, in my judgment, one of the more frightening aspects of our political arena. The teachers' federations are a prime example: millions of dollars sucked from hardworking teachers are poured down the rabbithole of public advocacy commercials, with a result that sometimes benefits the teachers and rarely benefits the children. The ones mostly benefited are the staff members of the federation. What's needed is not advocacy commercials, but teachers in the schools training students in the analytical thinking skills necessary to be able to see behind such ads - and it's not happening.
The responsibility doesn't rest just with teachers - it's difficult to teach a child anything when he's been up until 2 a.m., eats mostly Pop Tarts and McDonald's, and has little concept of respect for the teacher or the business of learning. However, the teachers associations have threatened for years that budget cuts will lower the likelihood of a child learning, but the converse - an increase in budget - has not resulted in an increase in learning. Where are the scare commercials about the harm done to the school systems in this country through teacher association advocacy ads?
With all these advocacy groups, someone needs to pin them down mercilessly on the truth behind their scare tactics. It won't be a politician. And I'll hold my breath until NPR or the majority of the pro-labor, pro-every-little-advocacy-group media go after it for a clear-eyed and honest review.
Michael Kelly, one of the good guys in journalism, was killed today in a Humvee accident in Iraq, along with the soldier driving:
Well-known columnist and editor Michael Kelly was killed Friday while traveling with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq.
He was the first American journalist to die in the war.
Kelly is believed to have been traveling in a humvee when it suddenly veered off the road and fell off a cliff into the river below. The vehicle may have been fired upon by Iraqi military and possibly disabled before it fell.
"He was just an extraordinarily brilliant and capable guy," Fox News Sunday anchor Tony Snow said Friday. "There aren't many people who on a regular basis, when I'm reading their columns, I say 'man, I wish I'd written that.'"
Calling him "one of the handful of editorial geniuses in our generation," Snow described the tragedy as "an indescribable loss to the journalism profession.
Here are some things to read:
Howard Kurtz's column on Kelly.
The NRO Corner has comments (start here and scroll up).
Andrew Sullivan has much good to say.
Glenn Reynolds is devastated.
Kelly left behind a wife and two children, 6 and 3. Please pray for his family, and for the family of the soldier; I was unable to find details about the soldier.
Poynter Institute has the definitive map of who and where the media embeds are. You can select a division of the military, click on it and get a list of the media personnel embedded with them. You can click on the name of a particular embed to get a Google search on articles done by that embedded journalist on the war. It's fascinating in its own right, but it's also just an amazing information resource.
Want to see or hear broadcasts from media all over the world? Check out MOAWW - The Mother of All War Websites. It's got live feeds from the BBC, French television, Al Jazeera, radio stations and a range of American television outlets. Some appear to be views from stationary cameras in Baghdad. I haven't looked at even a fourth of them, so proceed at your own risk - I don't know what all of them are showing.
An actor from HBO's The Sopranos was arraigned today for being involved in an ectasy ring operating in New York out of Howard Beach.
According to NYC WABC 7 TV news, Richie Maldone, now released on bail, was netted in a sweep of the ring, which also included reputed members of the Gambino crime family.
I guess Maldone was just trying to get his method acting down.
LAGUNA NIGUEL ---- They died for America as immigrant foreign nationals, but they will be buried as citizens. The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services signed papers Wednesday granting posthumous citizenship to Marine Cpl. Jose Angel Garibay and Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, who were killed in combat in Iraq...
When he was 14, Gutierrez crossed into California after taking trains from Guatemala through Mexico. The orphan found a foster family, attended high school in Southern California and then joined the Marine Corps. He was assigned as an infantry rifleman with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, at Camp Pendleton...
"We're proud as a family that he was able to become a citizen because that's one of the things he wanted to do. And we are honored," Lillian Cardenas, his foster sister, told The Associated Press.
...Garibay, 21, of Costa Mesa, died March 23 in Nasiriyah, south of Baghdad. He was a native of Jalisco, Mexico, whose family moved to the United States when he was a baby. Garibay joined the Marines three years ago and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
"He thought he was an American. He probably thought he was more an American than a Mexican," said Garibay's sister Crystal.
I'm glad this was done. I hope it happens for any others in their situation. There's certainly no surer way to prove your dedication to this country.
Television is the single largest source of war news for most people, and TV media websites are the main online source. But weblogs have made an appearance as a source for 4% of those using the Internet, which I think is pretty impressive. Here are the details.
Earlier this week, the LA Times and other associated newspapers ran a photograph of an American soldier apparently pointing his weapon at a group of civilians while one of them carried a small child toward the soldier. It was later revealed that the photograph was a composite - the photographer took elements from two photographs taken closely together and made them into one photograph. The photographer was subsequently fired, and apologies were made all around by the newspapers.
Kenny F. Irby at Poynter has a very good column about how it happened, from editing to apology, including information on the photographer himself. I know I rag on journalists on a regular basis, but it's a situation where they get a vast amount of things right, leaving us to fuss and tweak and quarrel about the remaining imperfections. The core of journalism in the United States is sound, even if (in my opinion) much too prone overall to a liberal leaning world view. Because of all the criticism leveled at the media, I think it's important to note how quickly and thoroughly they clean up messes like this where behavior is egregiously against journalism ethics. Their good name is really their biggest asset, their foundational asset, and they know it.
I recommend you read Irby's column. It's a look inside the journalistic process that is useful in understanding how the news from the street gets onto your television or into your newspaper. There are a few apologists for the photographer, and it's very possible that he wasn't trying to put the American soldier in a bad light when he doctored the photograph. I tend to agree, however, with embedded New York Times photographer Vincent Laforet:
"...For me there is no acceptable explanation."
This post on The Command Post made me cry.
That's why this is a great country. And that's why it still has a great future - because the generations coming up are full of wonderful young men and women.
Or does FoxNews correspondent Greg Palkot always look like he just sucked a lemon before getting on the air?
I can't decide if it's a sour lemon look, or the curled-mouth distaste of a button-up Victorian-era type who just saw two college students making out on the front lawn of the student center. Whatever it is, he always seems to me to be thoroughly disgusted with the viewers or something, and just wishes we'd all go away. I must say when I see him, I'm tempted to.
I drive past the 15W exit off the New Jersey Turnpike every day to and from work. When I take the Turnpike, that's where I get on and off. They just showed on television that cops chased a car through the 15E toll booth, where the car went off the road and a "gun battle" followed (I don't quite know what qualifies as a "gun battle"). Now both 15E and 15W entrances and exits are closed.
I'm glad I'm not commuting anywhere today.
E.L. Core gives examples of planning in real life to show that the war-plan naysayers aren't connected to reality. Grandma, cranberry sauce, construction workers and football players are involved.
Debra J. Saunders has a penetrating article about media bias in war coverage, chiding leftist media critics for claiming "solid news coverage" has been a casualty in the war. She makes a very clear point that journalists are not universally objective, and claiming that US journalists taking sides in the war would be to damage coverage is patently ridiculous:
WHEN MAINSTREAM journalists report both sides of racism -- pro and con, with equal weight -- or both sides of having a free press in America, then I'll believe that American media don't take sides on issues, and that there is at least a rationale for American media not rooting for U.S. troops to win in Iraq. But that day will never come.
There are certain issues on which thinking Americans don't disagree. Discrimination against minorities is bad. Period. (There are disagreements on how to achieve racial equality, but not whether racial equality is desirable.) A free press isn't optional -- who would want to live in an America without it?
The same bias should apply to U.S. victory in Iraq.
She continues to make a powerful case, which I recommend you read. And one of the most interesting aspects of the article? It's in the San Francisco Chronicle.
I think Saunders is exactly right, in that it would not compromise honest coverage for the US mainstream media to wholeheartedly support the success of our military in this war. That doesn't mean they reflexively agree that the reasons we went into the war are the ones stated by the Bush Administration - I think they are, but it's not a precondition to supporting success. It also doesn't mean that the media should in any way hold back on reporting on the negative, when it happens. However, digging for the negative, focusing on the negative, seeking opposition for the sake of having opposition, challenging the military commanders with questions that at best are ill-informed and at worst petulant or openly anti-war, damages both the likelihood of swifter success in the war and the reputation (such as it is) of journalism as a profession. In this war, it's very clear that journalism is the emperor with no clothes, and just as clear that they see themselves tricked out in the finest, most sumptuous cloth of reason and objectivity. The only high regard war journalists have as a collective group is high self-regard.
[Link via Media Minded]
Cross posted on The Command Post
This morning I heard an interview with an Iraqi woman, now living in the US, who is an oncologist and medical school professor. She was on John Gambling’s show on WABC 770 AM Radio out of New York City. Obviously I didn’t see her name, but it sounded like Maha Hussein (there was no mention of the similarity of her name to Saddam’s, but I tuned in a few seconds after the interview began).
Dr. Hussein said that the reason the Iraqi people are not openly helping the coalition forces is that the distrust from what they saw as an abandonment in Gulf War I goes too deep. Her analogy (paraphrased) was, “A woman bitten by a snake is not going to be bitten twice.” Gambling asked her at what point would the Iraqis openly support the coalition in their task. She said, when Saddam is gone. He said, Does that mean the entire country secured? Saddam’s people removed, and Baghdad secured? She said, yes – when there is no possibility that Saddam’s regime could be resurrected following the departure of the coalition forces.
Gambling also asked whether Iraqis living elsewhere in the world would return to help rebuild Iraq. Dr. Hussein said there would be two types of Iraqi returns. First would be those who would move back to Iraq, which they still consider to be their home. Second would be Iraqis who have built lives in other countries and consider those countries home now. They would not return to live in Iraq, but would offer time, knowledge and skill transfers to help rebuild Iraq. Dr. Hussein said she herself has offered to return for a time both to contribute her expertise as an oncologist and to teach about her specialty to others in Iraq. She said there is a particular need for oncology (cancer) specialists, because of the types of weapons Saddam has used against Iraqis in the past.
(The shows on WABC 770 are not archived, so there is no transcript or audio available online.)
Cross posted on The Command Post opinion page.
I was going to blog about a couple of things I just read from links on Media Minded's site, then realized he's got so much good stuff it's easier for you and me both for you just to go there. He's got info on Arnett, a link to a photo of a "dead" French journalist and a link to a great article in SF Gate about the public relations battle in this war. Go, go!
Last night Glenn Reynolds was on CNN (well, VERY early this morning) talking about blogging, along with Jeff Jarvis and journalism professor Elizabeth Osder. Glenn blogged it (of course), and linked to Pejman's post on it here. Pejman said Osder was unimpressive, and provided a link to her school page. There I found the link to her personal page which includes her resume. First, here's her bio:
Elizabeth Osder is an editor, media executive, and educator with demonstrated success in strategic planning, editorial product development, operations management and content development.
She is a recognized global industry expert, frequent speaker on the newspaper and publishing industries and has been an innovator in the rapid adoption of new technologies by traditional media companies.
As an educator, Osder has taught graduate seminars at Columbia University and NYU, professional seminars at The American Press Institute, Poynter Institute and Norwegian Press Institute and participated in numerous panels at venues ranging from MIT Media Lab to AEJMC.
In addition, Osder has been a champion of online privacy, community and editorial integrity and is a founder and board member of the Online News Association.
This woman is not your average unedited blogger, is she? And here is the head of her resume page about her work as an editor:
Yes, I'm being petty. But isn't it fun?
Sorry to be least in sight today. I couldn't post this morning because something is going on with my Internet connection at home (and it may still be out tonight, we'll see). I've spent the day in the library at school, being a good little doctoral student - annotating the bibliography for my core area proposal and collecting the materials from it to haul home, because they want to nestle quietly in a dusty, forgotten corner with the 50+ other books, journal articles and miscellaneous academic detritus I've already collected. It's good to remind myself I'm a student, and it's been fun (albeit tiring) digging everything up and skimming through the databases. My favorite find of the day is a dissertation by Victoria Munro from 1999, titled Images of crime and criminals: How media creations drive public opinion and policy. It sounds similar to what I want to look at in my dissertation, so I'm likely going to curl up with this tonight for an hour or so. Yum - academic writing.
Thank you for your patience, and thanks for showing up to browse my page even when I'm off falling from library stools (yes, I did) and threatening to pour coffee over the five freshly printed copies of a friend's 365-page dissertation draft (yes, I did - threaten, that is. I didn't really do it. I may be a conservative, but I'm not that bad).
Oh, and Dodd - one of my fellow students who's doing his dissertation on drug policy, and who is not a conservative, said he doesn't think we should legalize drugs - at best decriminalize and go for treatment. He seemed unmoved when I told him you thought we should legalize them. I don't think he knows who you are.
See you all tonight or tomorrow. Don't forget: A day without chocolate is no kind of day to have.