Friday, September 30, 2005

Posting Will Be Light During The Next Week

A Disturbing Look...

...Into the Mindset of the "Progressive" Jewish-American Leadership

A story about Jewish leaders who believe the failure to protest the war in Iraq means the Jewish community has lost its moral voice. They're upset because their flocking is not following in the wake of their self-destructive tendencies.

And Judith Klinghoffer informs us that Michael Lerner has asked Cindy Sheehan to talk at his Rosh HaShanah service in San Francisco. Because of her religious perspicacity and clear moral vision, no doubt. And her love for Judaism.

[Hat Tip: The Corner]

Ye Gods! Can You Imagine?

Apparently the EU wants shared control of the Internet.

Yep, that's all we need, unelected and uncontrollable regulation from the fat-cats in Brussels who serve only their own interests on bloated salaries.
The European Union insisted Friday that governments and the private sector must share the responsibility of overseeing the Internet, setting the stage for a showdown with the United States on the future of Internet governance.

A senior U.S. official reiterated Thursday that the country wants to remain the Internet's ultimate authority, rejecting calls in a United Nations meeting in Geneva for a U.N. body to take over.

EU spokesman Martin Selmayr said a new cooperation model was important "because the Internet is a global resource."

"The EU ... is very firm on this position," he added.
So, two positions on which they're firm. This and the European Constitution that the European voters rejected.

Another proposal called for regulation by an intergovernmental group, possibly under the United Nations.

Ambassador David Gross, the U.S. coordinator for international communications and information policy at the State Department, "dismissed it as unacceptable."

Yes, the UN. That strikes me, too, as the best choice! Just one question. Is this transfer going to take place before or after Kofi Annan steps down for complete incompetence and ignoring corruption?

More Serenity Reviews

Both the Washington Post and the New York Sun give Serenity a big thumbs up.

They both stress as well that the movie is not just for people who are already fans of the TV show.

From the Washington Post:
Fans of "Firefly," the fabulous but short-lived TV show that spawned this movie, mourned when the 2002 series was canceled after only 12 weeks. But in the now traditional kabuki of fan power, their enthusiastic snapping up of the show's DVDs prompted Universal to pony up $50 million for the big-screen version. They'll be thrilled at this reunion of endearing rogues.

It should be stressed right away, "Serenity" isn't just for the "Firefly" set. Writer-director Whedon -- who meteor-showered Planet Earth with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" -- is a pop culture ringmaster whose bullwhip dialogue, flamboyant characters and narrative genius can make an exhilarating three-ring show out of anything.

"Serenity" proves that conclusively.
And from the NYSun:
"Serenity" may not be the first word that comes to mind when you envision several desperate men and women fighting for their lives against a horde of ax-wielding, half-human cannibals, but Josh Whedon has always been a bit of an ironic fellow. His rousing new space opera, "Serenity," is the best interstellar epic to come along in many moons.
[Note, the full NYSun article only available for subscribers.]

It's the first movie since I saw Return of the King, where I wanted to see it again as soon as it was over. I didn't -- yet. Hopefully I will soon.

UPDATE: Here's Julian Sanchez's review, mapping out Serenity's Libertarian turf - interesting review that covers the philosophy of the film. But it contains spoilers - so if you are squeamish about that sort of thing, don't read it.

Other Serenity Posts:
Just Got Back From Seeing Serenity...
Serenity and Joss Whedon

Wow, Here's A Triple Shocker From Britain!

Check this out! The rational statement of a policy vis-a-vis the Palestinians and the Israelis, laid out by Britain's Minister of State for the Middle East.
Israel's response to the recent Kassam rocket attacks on Sderot has been measured and appropriate, Kim Howells, Britain's Minister of State for the Middle East, told The Jerusalem Post, disregarding Palestinian appeals for the world to rein in the IDF.

Howells, on a three-day visit to the region, hinted in an interview Wednesday night that financial aid to the Palestinian Authority might be withheld if the PA did not seriously begin tackling the terrorism in its midst.

"The Palestinians are receiving more aid per capita than any other people on the face of the earth, and we want to see some proper response," Howells said, hinting at a decrease of economic aid if the Palestinians don't fight terror.

"I thought the retaliation this week was proportionate," said Howells about the IDF operations. "The [Palestinian] attack was a very serious one, it could have killed a lot of people. It's a miracle really there weren't more casualties."

"I think there is no excuse now," he added. "Gaza is now in the hands of the Palestinian Authority, and there are no Israeli troops there. One hopes that where tough decisions have to be made, Abu Mazen [PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas] and the PA will make them."
And the Minister continues on fairly and reasonably after this. Read the whole thing, simply for the edification and shock value. It may never happen in our lifetimes again!

There are other signs of unanticipated and bewildering fairness from British news organs:

Adloyada writes up a BBC Radio 4 broadcast in which Israeli settlers are shown as reasonable humans, not insane settler religious maniacs. Though she also notes some of the regular programming tone the BBC has run of late as well.

[Hat Tip: Clive Davis]

And as though this weren't already a cornucopia, Bloghead brings our attention to another fair interview from the BBC. Video available here
an extremely hard-hitting and critical interview with Rafiq Husseini -- Abbas's chief of staff -- on Steven Sackur's HARDtalk. For those used to criticising the BBC, this was an unusual programme. Sackur, his irritation obvious, tried to pin Husseini down on controlling Hamas, on corruption in the PA, and on stoppping attacks on Israel. Husseini said a number of astonishing things, including that Israel was "justified" in military actions in response to attacks.
[Hat Tip: Judith]

It's too much to hope that it will last, so enjoy it while it's here.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Reuters says U.S. troops obstruct reporting of Iraq

What a shame! And it's especially bad when you're reporting for the other side.

I don't see anyone obstructing Michael Yon, for example.

Heh! Good for you after all!

Coffee not only helps clear the mind and perk up the energy, it also provides more healthful antioxidants than any other food or beverage in the American diet, according to a study released Sunday.
Course this study is as likely to be proved as disproved sometime in the future. But at least in the meantime, there is one study telling us that coffee is good for you. Glad I just poured another cup.

Now I don't have to be resigned to green tea or peony leaf tea for antioxidants.
In February, a team of Japanese researchers reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that people who drank coffee daily, or nearly every day, had half the liver cancer risk of those who never drank it. The protective effect occurred in people who drank one to two cups a day and increased at three to four cups.

Odysseus' Tomb?

Has Odysseus' Tomb been discovered in Greece?

[Hat Tip: The Shekel]

UPDATE: Here's more information of the exciting finding of Odysseus' Ithaca.

Karen Hughes, Good Will Ambassador?

Karen Hughes is great in America, where she knows her audience instinctively and can translate that knowledge for Bush and the rest of the White House team.

But she doesn't yet appear to have much of a clue how to deal with people in the Middle East.

She seems far more of a domestic expert, rather than a foreign one to me.

Where she may eventually be useful is translating back to the President and his team what she has learned about communicating with people abroad. In other words, instead of being a good will ambassador, she may come through as someone whose instincts the President and the Administration trust, which will allow them to hone their messages abroad more finely.

Just Got Back From Seeing Serenity...

...And the Whole Blogosphere seems to be talking about Tom DeLay.

Since I don't have anything to say about that one way or another, I'll say instead go out and see Serenity. What a great film!

It manages to epitomize the American foundation myth, using its power and its appeal to drive forward the thrust of the story. Superpower though we may now be in the world, we still thrill to the story of the little guy rejecting the morally confining strictures of a decadent society, setting out alone at the edge of the dangerous frontier, fighting to hold on to his own ground. (Which is one reason why the Supreme Court decision on Kelo v. New London is so disastrous as law - besides being terrible law, symbolically it manages to overturn the thrust of the American myth - America's self image. It's the kind of unjust law we and our forefather's rejected in Europe by coming to live here instead.)

Glenn Reynolds had a couple of posts last year talking about the Scots-Irish dynamic in American political life. A reader pointed him to James Webb’s Born Fighting : How the Scots-Irish Shaped America, and he mentioned this article. And he talked about the notions of rugged individualism, mistrust of authority, warrior culture, hard scrabble existence, etc.

Whether by conscious intent, or because Whedon has managed to incorporate all the right notes of the myth through the mysterious process of artistic intuition, a great deal of that ethos is caught up in this film through the characterization of the film's lead, Malcolm Reynolds. These notions define his sense of the world, a world he is willing to fight to maintain.

And for those of you who are Buffy and Angel fans, there's an image of River at the end that is purely iconic. It manages with great deliberation to tie the three verses together seamlessly with that one powerful picture, that one moment.

UPDATE: Here's Julian Sanchez's thoughtful review, mapping out Serenity's Libertarian turf - interesting review that covers the philosophy of the film. But it contains spoilers - so if you are squeamish about that sort of thing, don't read it.

Other Serenity Posts:
More Serenity Reviews
Serenity and Joss Whedon

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

5 Iraqi Anglican Church Leaders Missing, Presumed Dead

Nine days ago, several of the Bishops of the Church of England published a proposal for the leaders of the Anglican church in Britain to get together and apologise on behalf of their nation for the Iraq war.
In the report, the bishops plead for more “understanding” of what motivates terrorists. They criticise Western democracies as “deeply flawed” and accuse the US of dangerous expansionism.

The bishops, who strongly opposed the war in Iraq, want Christian leaders to express their repentance in an “act of truth and reconciliation” for the West’s contribution to the problems in Iraq.
In a horrible error of timing, it now turns out just days before they published their proposal, that the entire lay leadership team of the main Anglican church in Iraq disappeared, and are now presumed dead, after failing to returned from a church conference in Jordan. Apparently, at this point in time, with no ransom demand yet delivered, hopes that the team was kidnapped are fading.
Those missing include Maher Dakel, the lay pastor; his wife, who leads the women's section of the church; their son Yeheya; the church's pianist and music director, Firas Raad; the deputy lay pastor; and their driver, whose name has not been disclosed.

Canon White, until recently the Archbishop of Canterbury's representative to the Middle East, and who helped reopen St George's in Baghdad after the Iraqi war in 2003, said: "We are all devastated. This is the very core of our Anglican Church in Iraq. With such a large congregation of about 800 strong, losing key leadership will be devastating.
Although it is rarely discussed among the chattering classes, many of us who keep track of such things already know that members of age old Christian denominations in both Iraq and Palestine have suffered terribly by the hands of Al Qaeda and the PA and its terrorist cohorts.

Given the mindset of a certain segment of the leadership of Britain's Anglican Church, I expect this, too, if it turns out, tragically that the Iraqi Anglicans were murdered, will not be faced as the act ofindubitable Jihad that it is. And will eventually be blamed on the US and UK's effort to help free Iraq from tyranny, bringing it into the free world.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

On the Remarkable Prescience of Steven Vincent

Steven Vincent's seminal piece in the NYTimes about the eroding situation in Basra, written mid-summer, is still available here.

Read it to discover why last week's debacle in Basra, between the Iraqi police and the British army was forseeable long in advance. As Steven Vincent did:
Fearing to appear like colonial occupiers, they avoid any hint of ideological indoctrination: in my time with them, not once did I see an instructor explain such basics of democracy as the politically neutral role of the police in a civil society. Nor did I see anyone question the alarming number of religious posters on the walls of Basran police stations. When I asked British troops if the security sector reform strategy included measures to encourage cadets to identify with the national government rather than their neighborhood mosque, I received polite shrugs: not our job, mate.

The results are apparent. At the city's university, for example, self-appointed monitors patrol the campuses, ensuring that women's attire and makeup are properly Islamic. "I'd like to throw them off the grounds, but who will do it?" a university administrator asked me. "Most of our police belong to the same religious parties as the monitors." ...

...[T]he British stand above the growing turmoil, refusing to challenge the Islamists' claim on the hearts and minds of police officers. This detachment angers many Basrans. "The British know what's happening but they are asleep, pretending they can simply establish security and leave behind democracy," said the police lieutenant who had told me of the assassinations. "Before such a government takes root here, we must experience a transformation of our minds."

In other words, real security reform requires psychological as well as physical training. Unless the British include in their security sector reform strategy some basic lessons in democratic principles, Basra risks falling further under the sway of Islamic extremists and their Western-trained police enforcers.
Many people believe that Vincent was killed only a week after he published this piece, by the Shi'ite militia controlled police hit-squad that he described.

The British have only belatedly come to a similar realization, at least in public, in response to the arrest of two undercover SAS soldiers, and the refusal of the Basra police to hand them over, countermanding an order from the Iraqi Interior Minister for their release. The arrest of these two soldiers came a day after the arrest of two leaders of the outlawed Mahdi army, the sectarian militia loyal to Muqtada al Sadr. As well as an explicit threat from this militia to retaliate. By the time the British soldiers were rescued, they were no longer in the police station, but in a house.

The SAS is a British specialist regiment trained in commando warfare and undercover operations.
After two years in which the British have prided themselves on ‘working with’ the Iraqi police, and ‘building them up’, it was necessary for the British army to attack and demolish a police station in Basra. For two years we have all been kidding ourselves that the British and the Iraqis have been working hand-in-glove to restore public confidence, in Basra, in the forces of law and order. This week the citizens of Basra saw British soldiers firing on the Iraqi police, crushing Iraqi police cars with their tank tracks, and destroying the very symbol and locus of civic authority.
As a result of the crisis, the British Ministry of Defence is moving "to scrap the Basra police and start again."
The dramatic events in Basra last week, when British troops attempted to rescue two SAS men from an Iraqi jail and were confronted by angry local police and protesters, have forced an urgent rethink.

There was a further setback yesterday in attempts to restore normal relations between the British military and Basra city officials when it emerged an Iraqi judge had ordered the arrest of the two special forces soldiers who sparked the incident. The original withdrawal plans foresaw a reduction in the British military presence in two of the four UK-controlled provinces in southern Iraq - Maysan and al-Muthanna - by the end of this year. The handover would have been completed next spring with the withdrawal from Basra and Dhi Qar and the departure of the last of Britain's 8,000-plus troops.

But the general decline in security, and the disclosure that many members of the Basra police force owe allegiances to rival militia leaders, has sent UK planning back to the drawing board.

MoD officials fear the only lasting solution to the infiltration may be the creation of a new military police force, uncontaminated by external influences. Creating the new force - which would wear combat uniforms and be trained in military tactics - could take over a year.
Unfortunately Britain seems to suffer from the same paralysis that the US often does. Wait for a crisis to strike, and once the situation has already imploded, then react and reorganize.

This need to re-establish the police force has forced Britain to put on hold plans to withdraw part of their troops early next year. And forced Geoffrey Hoon and Tony Blair to confess that they had not prepared adequately for the level of fanaticism which would arise in the wake of the freeing of Iraq from Saddam.

Now that the election is over, Tory leader Michael Howard appears to be reverting to making sensible comments on Iraq.
Michael Howard, the outgoing Tory leader, warned the Government against setting out a timetable for coalition withdrawal from Iraq.

"I think that would play into the hands of the insurgents and give them a kind of green light that after a period of time they would be able to take over," he said.

"I think that if we were to leave prematurely we would leave behind a country that would be in danger of becoming a real hotbed of international terrorism and that would be a disaster."
Niall Ferguson weighs in here.

Unsurprisingly, the Guardian appears to read the tea leaves in the exact opposite way, emphasizing that the British will pull troops out starting next May, despite Blair's protests that he won't be held to a timetable.

Concentration Camp Survivor Finally Wins Medal of Honor For His Bravery In The Korean War

I'm a few days late with pointing out this article, since the award ceremony occurred on Friday, 9/23. But the bravery of Corporal Tibor Rubin while a prisoner of war is the story of a beautiful soul.
Toward the end of October 1950, massive Chinese troop concentrations crossed the border into North Korea and attacked the Americans. After most of his regiment had been wiped out, the severely wounded Rubin was captured and spent the next 30 months in a prisoner-of-war camp.

Faced with constant hunger, filth and disease, most of the GIs simply gave up.

“No one wanted to help anyone. Everybody was for himself,” wrote Sgt. Leo Cormier Jr., a fellow prisoner.

All except Rubin: Almost every evening, he would sneak out of the camp to steal food from the Chinese and North Korean supply depots, realizing that he would be shot if caught.

“He shared the food evenly among the GIs,” Cormier wrote. “He also took care of us, nursed us, carried us to the latrine... He did many good deeds, which he told us were ‘mitzvahs’ in the Jewish tradition... He was a very religious Jew, and helping his fellow men was the most important thing to him.”
The long delay until he received the Medal of Honor seems directly attributable to anti-semitism.

A link to the video here.

Additional links here.

Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the video links.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

We Decide, You Report

Throughout the right side of the Blogosphere today we've seen comments sarcastically haling the bang up job the media is doing at promoting the anti-war protest to make it seem like a major event; and why they have not provided any research about who the anti-war protesters are. That, according to the nature of the definition of reporters, is their job.

Wait! Could it be as Norman Johnson says, "The really brilliant thing about this conspiracy of silence in the creeping caliphate of the left is: there is no conspiracy! Like Mao's supine masses, most of the media droolocracy are now so vacantly subservient that gags are redundant."

Sounds pretty accurate in this case. Harry seems unamused. But I thought it was pretty funny. Unless that's supposed to be British humor. Hard to tell sometimes.

Michelle Malkin has some wonderful photos of the "peaceful" moonbats. Including one calling for the castration of "Dick" Cheney.

And Gene seems to feel that watching the demonstration on CSPAN has the reverse effect of what's intended. It makes him, no lover of President Bush, feel defensive of the President. Of course, at least in American English, that's a bit of a double entendre. But I think he means it in the nicer way...

Serenity and Joss Whedon

As a longtime fan of Joss Whedon - the kind that watched Firefly - the tv show on which the Serenity is based- from the very beginning while also watching Buffy and Angel - it was a 3 night a week Whedon slam for a while there -- I'm thrilled to announce that I am one of the lucky bloggers that was chosen and confirmed for the screening of SERENITY in NYC.

I thoroughly understand the reason Joss wants to make use of the blogosphere to promote SERENITY. And that's because he wants the film to be a huge, friggin' succcess, so he can go ahead and make the sequels. And since I want him to make sequels too, because I love his brand of storytelling, I'm really happy to be able to participate in the process.

Moreover, as I mentioned below, I think the fact that he is making use of the blogosphere to do this, is admirably savvy. In order to do an end run around the Powers That Be, you have to learn to trust and respect your audience. And if you give your audience the great kind of product that Joss and his production company, Mutant Enemy, produced for years, your audience is going to be damn loyal to you. And want to help back.

Moreover, getting fans in the blogosphere to advertise for you for free is a nifty concept. If only more people in Hollywood were attuned to this new paradigm for worthy material. It's part of an essential industry revolution that I think is going to occur during the next years, where fans become more empowered than the old system allowed. Fans will get more of what they want and thus be happier. Maybe we'll get less of the dumbed down Hollywood thing.

Joss, admirably, is in the vanguard of all this.

And the pictures are pretty, too.

So here's my first contribution to the Jossian success:

Joss Whedon, the Oscar® - and Emmy - nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE, ANGEL and FIREFLY, now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity. The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family –squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.

I can't wait to see what happens next.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Able Danger - The Continuing Story

There's a fascinating series of posts spread around the blogosphere speculating on the reason for the current standstill in the Able Danger story - the story of the Pentagon program that correctly identified Mohammed Atta and three of his hijacking cronies who perished on September 11th as connected to Al Qaeda in the year 2000.

Last week, on Wednesday morning, Senate hearings, scheduled to be held before the Judiciary Committee, were supposed to shine a long awaited light on the nuts and bolts of this program, with several of the program's members speaking about what and who they had identified for the first time publicly using data mining sources. And why, after collecting 2.5 terabytes of data, they were forced, on pain of arrest, to destroy the majority of it.

Only at the last minute, as Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer revealed, the green light for the hearings changed to a red one, as the Department of Defense ordered the men not to testify.

And the question became, why had Rummy suddenly changed his mind so drastically? Why, at the very moment when Able Danger had been revealed to be a real program that got near miraculous results, had he decided that the public had no right to know about it and put a cabash on the hearings?

However, at that point, last Wednesday morning, Macsmind received a tip-off that the reason the Senate hearings on Able Danger were stalled was not because Rumsfeld ordered them stalled, but because Cheney had.
I watched closely, because at 8am, my cell was buzzing, a call from a friend. I had asked him to get some clarification on Shaffer's story that Rummy told 'em not to testify. The word I got from him was that contrary to popular knowledge, Rummy didn't pull the plug on the witnesses, it came from "Cobweb", which is just a little - OK, a lot higher up the chain.
Cobweb is Cheney, as I learned at that point.

And so the shell of the hearings went on, with none of the principals that the public wanted to hear from allowed to speak. And a great big question mark hanging over the story.

Then, on Friday, the story reversed itself again. New hearings are to be held, this time on October 5th. This hearing " will focus on what happened with pre-attack charts and information allegedly destroyed at the behest of military leaders."

And then, later that day, a contradictory report came out from the Pentagon that it may not have changed its position at all on the five crucial witnesses testifying publicly.
On Friday, the Senate committee announced the Pentagon had reversed its position and would allow the five witnesses to testify at a new public hearing scheduled for October 5. Among them, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott and defense contractor John Smith.

The Pentagon denied anything had changed, despite behind-the-scenes negotiations to reach a solution agreeable to both sides.

"Our position has not changed," Defense spokesman Bryan Whitman told Reuters. "This is a classified program and there are still aspects of it that are not appropriate for an open hearing. And that's what we have told the committee."

Not so, responded William Reynolds, the judiciary committee's director of communications.

"The Pentagon has agreed to make five witnesses available. Although there was no talk at the time when they made that offer, the assumption was that it would be in an open committee hearing," Reynolds said in an interview.

"If the Pentagon has issues with that, they need to let us know," he added.
Now this to-ing and fro-ing, right before the public eye, is showing off the enormous divide between factions that exist in the Pentagon, and just how unwieldly this Department is.

Now Macsmind is offering a new update to this story to explain the recent, embarrassing, public back and forth as to whether these hearings will be held. And it all comes down to moolah. Curt Weldon wants funding for restart a data mining intelligence program. And now it appears he has received more funding. "Word is - and it's light at this point, that Weldon is going to get a bit of "plussed up funding" for his trouble." More funding to replicate this program, which would be called Able Providence, was one of the reasons that Representative Weldon began to open the inquiry into Able Danger in the first place. And if he has received the money, he'll likely cease to be a public gadfly on the issue.

Last week was an interesting period for this political shuffle. The week started off with President Clinton speaking against the Iraq war for the first time on Meet the Press. And then by the end of the week, President Bush countered by speaking against President Clinton's lack of retaliation against continuing Al Qaeda attacks.

This scenario plays with a suggestion from A.J. Strata, that one of the reasons the Clintonian's might have been so keen to destroy the results of Able Danger is that 1999-2000 was the period when Chinagate seemed likely to blow up into a great big scandal, further weakening the Clinton administration after Impeachment. And there were many people charging that the great weakness Clinton showed in facing up against the incursion of Chinese spying in the US came about because his Administration had been bought off with cash donations.
It is now generally conceded that the People's Republic of China (which I hereafter call Red China, because I'm an old fogey who doesn't like changing terms of long usage and perfect clarity) established a spy network of stunning breadth during the Clinton administration, primarily focusing on obtaining our most up-to-date nuclear technology and strategy. Of more controversy is why: the Right asserts, and the Left hotly denies that Clinton himself turned a blind eye to Chinese espionage because of the very large campaign contributions funneled into the Clinton war chest by the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) and various intelligence agencies of Red China; the last estimate I saw indicated that the PLA eventually donated as much as $4 million to Clinton's campaign and library funds and to the Democratic National Committee, channeled through various cutouts, including Maria Hsia, Johnny Chung, John Huang, and Charlie Trie.
Able Danger was investigating Chinese connections as well as Al Qaeda. And, as Strata reminds us, it appears to have been the Chinese data coming to light that killed the program.
The Pentagon canceled its contract with the private firm shortly after the analysts — who were working on identifying al Qaeda operatives — produced a particularly controversial chart on proliferation of sensitive technology to China, the sources said.

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, the veteran Army officer who was the Defense Intelligence Agency liaison to Able Danger, told The Post China "had something to do" with the decision to restructure Able Danger.

Sources said the private contractors, using sophisticated computer software that sifts through massive amounts of raw data to establish patterns, came up with a chart of Chinese strategic and business connections in the U.S...

The China chart was put together by James Smith, who confirmed yesterday that his contract with the military was canceled and he was fired from his company because the military brass became concerned about the focus on U.S. citizens.

"It was shut down in a matter of hours. The colonel said our service was no longer needed and told me: 'You just ended my career.' "
Meanwhile, Captain's Quarters has an article discussing Dr. Ellen Preisser, the Ph.D. who was a key player in the development of the program. And "an advocate for aggressive IT approaches to counterterrorism."

Today's new development: National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley now denies that representative Curt Weldon ever gave him the chart. Maybe. But as Tom Maguire points out, his denial is deniable, too.
"Mr. Hadley does not recall any chart bearing the name or photo of Mohamed Atta," said the spokesman, Frederick L. Jones II. "NSC staff reviewed the files of Mr. Hadley as well as of all NSC personnel" who might have received such a chart.

"That search has turned up no chart," he said.

Hadley does recall seeing a chart used as an example of "link analysis" -- the technique used by the Able Danger program -- as a counterterrorism tool, but is not sure whether it happened during a Sept. 25, 2001, meeting with Weldon or at another session, Jones said.

Weldon's chief of staff, Russ Caso, said that "the congressman sticks by his account" of the meeting, adding that it was understandable Hadley may have forgotten or misplaced the chart, given the demands of his job.
So first, Hadley does not "recall" the chart, which gives him a lot of room to later change his mind. And then Weldon's chief of staff points out - most helpfully - that due to the pressures of the job, Hadley may simply have forgotten. So there is plenty of room built into this denial for a mid course correction.

It's also interesting that one of the main spokesman for this story, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, seems to be the target for escalating unpleasantness from the Pentagon. His security clearance has been revoked - it had previously been suspended, during which time many of the documents he had been retaining from Able Danger were removed from his possession and destroyed. And now people appear to be disputing his obtainment of a service medal. Both of these measures certainly look like retaliation, given the timing.

Captain Ed makes note of the slipperiness of Hadley's response as well - and further points out that this kind of languague was previously used the first time the Pentagon denied knowledge of Able Danger, before rescinding that position.

Previous Posts on Able Danger:

4. Uh Oh
3. Enable Danger
2. Watching Enabled
1. Defending America From The Truth

Do The Cultural Squrm

Judith, the proprieter of Kesher Talk, where I co-blog, has already suggested she might not patronize any more of Viggo Mortenson's productions based on his pro-Galloway attendance at the recent Galloway/Hitchens debate in NYC. But judging from this review of Viggo's new movie, A History of Violence, I may well go.

[Squirm] I really love Viggo's, erm, work; though not his politics. And he's a good enough actor so that he manages to inhabit the role he is supposed to be playing, with restraint, leaving himself behind. That's why he was so good at Aragon. [/Squirm]

Where I draw my line is Mel Gibson; and Spielberg, as well, if his new movie turns out to be the historical, political and moral fiasco many are projecting it will be.

Well, Woody Allen, too, after he broke up Mia Farrow's family and began sleeping with his ex-girlfriend's daughter. I haven't gone to any of his movie' since then. On the other hand, that dovetailed with his increasingly irrelevant filmmaking. Don't know what I would have done if he had produced a masterpiece at that point.

And speaking of movie reviews and reviewers, ever since Janet Maslin left the Times, several years back, I've found it hard to find one whose work I agree with. Not that I always agreed with Maslin. Far from it. But I learned to decode her work, and figure out, most of the time, when my sensibility was in sync with hers and when not. There were times it overlapped and times it didn't. And I just had to read between the lines or judge by the subject of the review to figure out where I was likely to stand.

These days, the Times reviewers all seem to be as much political hacks as movie reviewers. What with their egregious Bush bashing in movie reviews -- comments that often enough have nothing to do with the subject matter under discussion, except that it allows them expression for their ongoing political angst and ire. And their aesthetic sensibility doesn't overlap with mine either.

Which, I guess, is my round about way of saying that I have no clue yet as to whether or not I will agree with Nathan Lee, the NYSun's reviewer, if I do see the movie. My attendance record at the movies has been much spottier than it used to be. So I don't know if I generally agree with him or not.

Though I will be seeing Serenity, due out next week. I'm a *huge* Joss Whedon fan - he's the writer and director of the film. Though, there too, I'm *NOT* a fan of his politics. He once referred to Bush as a piece of asswipe - for a piece published in a British entertainment magazine. I think I saw a scan of the article, which was not, as far as I know online, so I don't have a handy URL to back me up in this case.

Still, as far as I know, his politics are nowhere near as extreme as Viggo's.

And to his credit, Joss, or someone on his production staff, is at least savvy enough - or enough of a capitalist - to be offering private viewings of Serenity to bloggers on both side of the red/blue divide.

- Plus, he wants to make Serenity into a trilogy, not just a one-off show. And you need huge buzz followed by huge box office for that.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hobbits In Paradise?

So were they or weren't they?

Hobbits, that is...

Remember this?
So hobbits once lived, little three feet high people with skulls the size of grapefruits...
But now there is some dispute as to whether that tale, that delighted us all, is scientifically true:
Scientists are to present new evidence that the tiny human species dubbed "The Hobbit" may not be what it seems.

The researchers say their findings strongly support an idea that the 1m- (3ft-) tall female skeleton from Indonesia is a diseased modern human....

[I]t was not long before some scientists began to ask serious questions about the discovery team's conclusions.

Indonesian anthropologist Teuku Jacob controversially took possession of the remains and declared them to be those of a modern human with the condition microcephaly.

This disorder is characterised by a small brain, but it can also be associated with dwarfism, as well as abnormalities of the face and jaw. For this reason, some scientists believe the condition could cause a modern human to look primitive in evolutionary terms.

Jacob was soon joined by a handful of researchers in the belief that the discovery team had happened upon nothing more than a member of our own species with a rare disease.

Professor Bob Martin, one of the team that is set to publish new evidence challenging the discovery team's original interpretation, says the Hobbit's brain is "worryingly" small and contradicts a fundamental law of biology.

"What this law says in simple terms is that if you halve body size, brain size is only reduced by 15%," he told the BBC's Horizon programme.

"So if you halve body size you don't halve brain size, the brain is reduced far less than that."...

But there's a problem with the sceptics' version of the story. The Hobbit team has found more human remains. These include a lower jaw with the same unusual features as the original find (including twin roots to the molars).

"Let's buy into [the sceptics'] argument just for a bit of fun," said Professor Bert Roberts of the University of Wollongong, Australia, a member of the discovery team.

"We've got a complete lower jaw that's identical to the first so there we have a situation where we've now got to have two really badly diseased individuals.

"We've got a diseased population like some sort of leper colony, living in Liang Bua 18,000 years ago. The probabilities have got to be vanishingly small."

Oh Good!

Hillary, McCain to Meet with Cindy Sheehan

Great! Now let's hope Cindy can persuade them to get the troops home out of Occupied New Orleans.

Able Danger Is On Now

Thursday morning 7:30

The Able Danger Hearing is currently on on CSPAN 2, if anyone is still looking to watch it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Inclusive Genocide

Have you all been following the recent kerfuffle in Britain? With regard to the panel of Muslim advisers, headed by Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, appointed by Tony Blair for the purpose of advising him and his ministers about Muslim extremism.

What was their advice? End Jewish Holocaust Memorial Day in Britain. Because it singles the Jews out as too "special," leading feelings of impotent rage to develop in some Muslims -- strong enough to morph them on the spot into murderous suicide bombers.

This is too much of a Memorial for some Muslims, who want martyred Palestinians and other Muslim dead to be mourned on the same day, so that it becomes an inclusive Memorial Day.

Here's a short and incisive column from Alan Dershowitz on the hypocrisy of the suggestion. He points out - for those who have forgotten - the irony of this suggestion - that in the Middle East, many Muslims backed the Nazis. As well as the fact -- impossible to understress -- that there has been no Palestinian Genocide.

Indeed, I was most struck yesterday to learn that it was not only arms, but additional brides that the Arabs in Gaza were smuggling home with them, through the breached Gaza-Egyptian border. Apparently, it's much cheaper to pay the dowries of Egyptian women than Gazan women. Moreover, "Egyptian families were eager to send their daughters to a relatively better life in the Gaza Strip." And the Gazan men were happy to oblige, some even taking their second or third wife.

But haven't we been hearing for years how dreadful life in Gaza is? Yet a move there is still regarded as a step up for a certain echelon of Egyptian family. Yes, there's been injustice. But this fact puts the situation in a rather different perspective.

Cathy Young discusses the proposal in the Boston Globe. She writes:
The committees are formally presenting their proposal (backed by the head of the Muslim Council of Britain) to the government later this week; the Home Office has already reportedly indicated that it does not plan to act on the recommendation. What's frightening, however, is that such a proposal could come from a group of people charged with the task of helping the government combat extremism.
Yet this kind of utter derailment of sense seems to be par for the course for Britain these days.

Uh Oh!

WEDNESDAY EVENING UPDATE: Dr. Sanity provides a community service of providing notes on the hearings today. She was able to watch a webcast from a government site. Here is a transcription of Curt Weldon's testimony.

Dr. Sanity is able to tease out of the testimony that the major chunk of the Documents was destroyed in mid-2000; likely, then, before the information on the U.S.Cole was passed to the authorities, in September 2000. But the date has not been made more specific.

The question is once again why is the DoD so aggressively shutting down these hearings at this juncture. As stated below there is a positive explanation - that intelligence information would be compromised - and a negative one - CYA motive mixed with Government meglomania. And of course all kind of mixed motivations, where CYA mindset is made to look like a situation where intelligence information is being compromised. In any case, the public deserve more of an explanation than already given.

The one thing that is clear is that this erratic behavior is troubling. A point stressed by Andy McCarthy over at the Corner.

Now it turns out that volumes upon volumes of documentation from the program were ordered destroyed in 2000. That also appears to have been a rather widely known fact (the guy who did the deleting voluntarily testified at the hearing). If that was the case, why were these witnesses assailed the way they were? And why did we continue hearing about how the Pentagon was looking under every rock but not finding anything when, in fact, it had to have known that the entire quarry had intentionally been destroyed five years ago?

What is unfolding here is an embarrassing storyWeldon testified this morning that two weeks ago, at an informal briefing to House members, a Pentagon lawyer said that there had been no need to get special clearance to destroy Able Danger materials because they were open-source, not classified. Now, the Pentagon is blocking the Senate from conducting its oversight function by claiming it is worried about disclosure of classified information – even to the point of declining to allow witnesses to testify in closed session.

WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE: Here's a new and dismaying twist. According to last night's interview of Colonel Shaffer, Donald Rumsfeld himself gave the order to stop the DoD personnel from testifying at today's Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Able Danger. "It was DoD's decision based on whatever they did internally which has now been determined that they will not permit me, Captain Philpott, Dr. Eileen (inaudible), or any other uniformed or civilian member of the Dept. of Defense to testify."

So who are they trying to protect? The charitable explanation is that these techniques may still be being used in the field and the DofD wants to protect agents in the field as well as ongoing intelligence operations. The less charitable explanation is that they want to cover their asses, a conjecture strengthened by the timing of the destruction of the documents -- which Colonel Shaffer is now suggesting was in the spring of 2001.
Each individual within the group had their own horror story at how we attempted to say, look this is pretty important stuff, global terrorism, you know these guys have killed Americans we should continue this. And we were told to a man and woman, no, sit down, shut up, move on, it's time to forget about it. And this all happened in the spring of 2001 right before the attacks. So I can't tell you what the philosophy was, I can't tell you who actually was behind it, I can just tell you that obviously my observations, the fact that it happened, the fact that we had Atta, we had other information which we tried to pass to the FBI. Plus, Jerry, I don't know if your listeners are aware, Captain Philpott actually told the 9-11 Commission about the fact that Able Danger discovered information regarding the Cole attack. The USS Cole which was attacked in October of 2000. There was information that was Able Danger found that related to Al Quaeda planning an attack. That information unfortuantely didn't get anywhere either. So that is another clue that was given to the 9-11 Commission to say, hey, this capability did some stuff, and they chose not to even look at that.
Last weekend, however, from the transcript of the Press conference with Curt Weldon, we had been told that the date for the destruction of the documents was fall of 2000. So there seems to be some ongoing confusion about the date at which this occurred in the story getting out to the public. A muzziness likely to prevail if this unfortunate DoD ban is allowed to stand.

Tom Maguire points to the foreshortened witness list here.

And the Daily Pundit points out that this makes the Bush Administration look as stupid as the "First Reign of the HillBilly."

Last Night: Stolen whole from the Corner:
The Senate Judiciary Committee is supposed to convene a hearing tomorrow on Able Danger. Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, however, just told Sean Hannity that he has been told to stand down, that the Defense Department will not be permitting witnesses to testify, and that Shaffer’s security clearance has been pulled. Developing.
It this is true, this is not going to be a popular decision, yet again, on the conservative side -- where Bush's support comes from. We better get an explanation.

UPDATE: The NYTimes has more.
The Pentagon said today that it had blocked a group of military officers and intelligence analysts from testifying at an open Congressional hearing about a highly classified military intelligence program that, the officers have said, identified a ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks as a potential terrorist more than a year before the attacks.

The announcement came a day before the officers and intelligence analysts had been scheduled to testify about the program, known as Able Danger, at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senator Specter has said he is planning to go on with the hearings tomorrow in any case.

This just looks like a big fat cover-up. Which will succeed in convincing everyone that Government doesn't trust the people with their own safety.

I think it is a terrible move for the Defense Department. And it's going to leave unsatisfied and disenchanted and angry many people from Bush's base.

Previous Posts on Able Danger:

3. Enable Danger
2. Watching Enabled
1. Defending America From The Truth

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

How can I resist?

This is a Jewish Blog. So Porkbusting just happens to be our default stance.

Katrina Cuts:
[A] grassroots Internet campaign and a handful of House GOP conservatives have refused to give up on the idea that spending cuts should be found to defray the estimated $200 billion federal price tag for hurricane relief. In the Senate, John McCain is proposing a similar pork-for-Katrina swap.

The Internet campaign picks up on the idea of revisiting the earmarks in the Highway Bill. A Web site called Porkbusters ( helpfully lists these projects by state and directs readers to the appropriate Representatives and Senators to ask what they would cut. Around the country a flood of letters to local newspapers has echoed the theme.
Time to do some calling to Representatives and Senators.

Turning The Other Cheek Right Into A Big Fist

"It is not patriotism when you say, 'My country right or wrong,'" [Cindy] said. "Because our country is very wrong now."
Well, it looks like Cindy has managed to convince someone after all. Or maybe it was Galloway.
Bishops want to apologise for Iraq war

BISHOPS of the Church of England want all Britain’s Christian leaders to get together in public to say sorry for the war in Iraq and its aftermath.
Now wait for this line, because it's unbelievable.
The bishops cite as precedents the official statements by the Vatican expressing sorrow for the Christian persecution of the Jewish people throughout the ages...
Yes. Fighting Saddam is just like the Christian persecution of the Jewish people throughout the ages. That attitude must also explain the reason several Anglican bishops are so keen lately to disinvest from Israel.
Bishop Harries, the Church’s leading apologist for the Christian just-war theory, says: “The Churches have a particular message here based on biblical insights about fear and how playing on the fears of enemies makes for unwise policies.” He goes on to argue that to many people, it is not terrorism but American foreign policy and expansionism that constitute “the major threat to peace”.
Sounds eerily like this: "our two countries are the biggest rogue states in the world today. And it is therefore vitally important...that those who oppose the crimes of our governments, on both sides of the Atlantic, link hands, link arms, stand shoulder to shoulder, until we've rid the world of George W. Bush and Anthony Blair, once and for all." Thus spake Galloway during the recent Hitchens-Galloway debate.

Of course, he's a demagogue and a friend of fascists.

So, then it is strange that it is Mr. Galloway, rather than Bishop Harries, who had the decency to include Britain in his indictment. Allowing his country to be counted as an actor for its own acts. Instead of exculpating Britain and blaming everything on the US.

Melanie Phillips has more here. Marcus at Harry's Place points out -- thank God -- that there is another religious view, at least in Scotland. According to Church of Scotland Moderator [Scotland's most senior churchman], Rev David Lacy: "Those who believed it was Christian to "turn the other cheek" to such extremism were misunderstanding the Gospel message."

Heh! John Knox would be proud! Or, at least, minimally prouder!

Norm Geras includes an email from a reader who has read the full report and concludes that the report it has received in the Press simplifies its criticisms and understresses some of its more sensible points. The entire proposal is viewable here.

God Tests the New York Times. No Ram In Sight

NYTimes cutting 500 jobs.
In a memo to staffers, company chairman Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr. and CEO Janet Robinson wrote: "We regret that we will see many of our colleagues leave the Company; it is a painful process for all of us. We have been tested many times in our 154-year history as we are being tested now."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but to me that position -- the use of that idiom -- smacks of religious faith. And I rather thought the Times regarded holding to religious faith as the unique obsession of brainless red-neck, red stater types who want to kick evolution out of the classroom.
They promised this would not impact the quality of the paper's journalism.
Heh! Apparently they haven't yet realized that improving the quality of the paper's journalism might, just might, encourage people who are currently disgusted by the extent of the editorializing of the news to resubscribe.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Blowing in the Sand

The Palestinians close the border at last! Which only goes to show that they were able to do this all along.

What delayed them? Hmm. I guess it has to do with the new stockpile of weapons they wanted to assemble.

Even if it hadn't been naïve in the extreme to believe the PA would disarm Hamas before the border debacle occurred (though I note this appears to be the current position of Condi) , there's no way that is going to happen now. We'll just get Abbas mumbling Arafat's tired old excuse that he can't. And of course he can't now, because he set the situation up that way to guarantee that result.

Rehashing the Mash

Christopher adds to the spate on the debate with his own post mortem. [What is it about this thing that has everyone rhyming all of a sudden?]

Lovely write up of the event in the London Observer by Andrew Anthony. It includes an amusing tale of what the pre-debate street atmsophere was like and describes Hitchen's reception therein, "Teetering on the elegant side of dishevelled, Hitchens cut a defiant figure shuffling along the line."

It also gives a well informed account of the political and philosophical antagonism between the two men. And describes the chasm between the two men as amounting to a now insurmountable difference in outlook.

Norm Geras renders his verdict. An unabashed advantage Hitch -- which won't surprise anyone who reads his blog.

Occupied New Orleans

Look! It's become a Leftist Meme:
Well, I mean, in the days that have passed, the week or so since you were here this past weekend, we have seen a real increase in the militarization of the city. It's turned into a much greater state of lockdown. You have more military checkpoints set up. You have less of a civilian presence in large parts of the city and much more of a military presence ... The same looters who have raided the federal funds in Iraq, U.S. funds in Iraq, are looting federal funds here in New Orleans. - Jeremy Scahill, of Democracy Now, reporting on Amy Goodman's radio show.
Uh oh. Republicans and horrible Capitalists - and no doubt sinister International financiers as well - are occupying New Orleans along with the military.

Can you believe the horror? Mayor Nagin wants to open a giant, downtown, convenient Wal-Mart so people can shop for replacement items when they get home.

It's a fascist conspiracy, damnit!

Now what was that about Invoking the Insurrection Act again?

Confederate Yankee provides an amusing pictoral debunking of Cindy's recent screed.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Enabling Danger

It's been exactly a month since my last posts on the Able Danger Affair. And in that period, the situation has moved forward quite a bit. There are now several witnesses to the results of the program - that it identified Mohammed Atta while he still lived in Hamburg and three of the other 9/11 hijackers.

Fox News is reporting a former Army officer, so far anonymous, maintains that the program information no longer exists in documentary form because 2.5 terabytes of it was ordered destroyed - under pain of arrest and a jail sentence - by someone or other -- identity still unknown to the general public. The destruction of the records occurred in 2000.

At the hearings to be held this coming week, the Army officer will name the person who ordered its destruction. That should be momentous news if Arlen Specter is allowed to keep the hearings public. He's facing opposition from the Pengtagon who want the hearings closed to the public and is pressuring the Senate Judiciary Committee to that end.

In addition, we now learn that top military generals received military intelligence about "increased al Qaeda 'activity'" in Aden harbor, Yemen three weeks before the bombing of the US Cole. "Shaffer and two other officials familiar with Able Danger said contractors uncovered al Qaeda activities in Yemen through a search of Osama bin Laden's business ties."

That bombing occurred on October 12, 2000. The election occurred on November 7, 2000. And, according to what was leaked, results of Able Danger were ordered destroyed in 2000. If this timeline turns out to be correct, it makes the calculation to destroy the documents appear - at this point - entirely political - perhaps, even, arising from fear of what the Bush administration might reveal to the country about the tactics of the Clinton administration.

Yet according to Curt Weldon's press conference, the documents were destroyed in the summer of 2000. So how could they provide a warning on the Cole in September? Were they destroyed in very late summer? Or was the program still ongoing despite orders to destroy the documents?

Weldon says, "I think here are those, perhaps, that are going to be embarrassed by this: embarrassed in the previous administration, and now it looks like embarrassed in this administration."

Later Weldom says:
The first week the story broke in the New York Times, I was in Pennsylvania that Friday doing district work and I got a call at my office. My chief of staff took the call, and it was from a person I'd never met in my entire life. I'd never mentioned her name. She was on vacation and asked my chief of staff for me to call her back.

Her name was Jamie Gorelick.

I said, "What does she want, Russ? I don't know the woman." I said, "I'm tied up. Would you please call her back and ask her what she wants?"

WELDON: Russ called her back on her cell phone. She was on vacation. And her response to my chief of staff was, "Please tell Congressman Weldon I've done nothing wrong."
Which begs the question, once again, just what were in those important, top secret documents that Sandy Burglar destroyed again? It has certainly been speculated that he removed something that illustrated the lackadaisical approach of the Clinton Administration to fighting terrorism.

Interesting to speculate as well on who at the Pentagon knew all about this unit and *did not* divulge that information to Rummy when he took office. And once again did not divulge it after 9/11.

I'm also wondering whether this investigation comes at an awkward time for President Bush, since he and President Clinton have been all pals-y and mutually scratching each other's back of late. And in a good cause. But if the results of this investigation gets out to the public, there is going to be a firestorm of criticism against the Clinton Administration. And Clinton may not want to continue the good ol' boy, man above politics routine. Then, again, doing precisely that might be his salvation. The man doesn't lack for chutzpah.

However, if a firestorm of criticism against the last, hallowed Democrat Presidential Administration breaks out at this time, it conceivably could be harder to gather the entire country behind him, the way Bush needs, in order to accomplish the reconstruction of the Gulf in a bi-partisan spirit.

Anyway, just some musings on fallout from this situation. And why the Pentagon wants the hearing to be held in secret. Despite any political fallout, however, I think it would be a terrible decision to close these hearings to the public.

The Strata-Sphere analyzes Able Danger here, providing an interesting Timeline. And Captain's Quarter's responds to several of AJ Strata's points here.

Thanks to Macsmind for bringing the Cole information to my attention.

Right about the Left

So it looks like Jane isn't showing up, after all, for her joint Galloway appearances.
Message from Jane Fonda:

Dear friends, I'm sorry I can't be there. I have recently had hip surgery and my doctor has told me I cannot travel for a while. I do intend to speak out about Iraq. Those of of us who were opposed to the Vietnam War were right. And those who oppose the Iraq war are right. I hope as many of us you as possible can go to the demonstration on September 24 in Washington, DC.! You'll be hearing from me.
Can it be, as I earlier predicted, that Cindy wanted to show up as well, and Jane specified in her contract no joint appearances with Sheehan?

Gene puts a kindlier spin on it, suggesting that Fonda saw a video of Galloway performing, and realized how it would tarnish her.

Doubt it. This is a woman who stood shoulder to shoulder with our Vietnamese enemy. And thinks of it as her moment in the sun.

Perhaps it was her agent who talked sense into her. In America, Mr. Pecuniary, here in the avatar of Pat Kingsley – Tom Cruise's former publicist – usually gets the final word.

In addition, Harry points us to some comments from the manger of Galloway's tour. Here he is assessing Hitchen's suporters.
Despite the fact that we had to make them stand in the heat and humidity to get them though the metal detectors that our insurance policy required, the vast majority of the crowd was good-natured, patient and helpful.

However, there were a noticeable number of belligerent patrons, most of them white men, quite a few of them smelling of happy hour. I had assumed that only a few of Hitchens fans would attend, so I didn’t necessarily put two-and-two together at the time.
Being neither belligerent, male, nor smelling of happy hour, he clearly didn't notice me. In fact, the belligerent person near me was white, male, smelling of happy hour, loud, rude and a self-proclaimed Galloway supporter.

Heh. The only way the left can understand the right is by claiming that it's all just drunken logic. So, too, they claim Hitchen's is just a drunk. But, according to them, he only became a drunk once he turned right. Which is a lovely illustration of the far left's lack of comprehension of anything beyond itself.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Shocked, shocked to find anti-Americanism here!

Tony Blair was shocked by the BBC's coverage of Hurricane Katrina's devastation of New Orleans, describing it as “full of hatred of America”, Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, revealed on Friday night.

Mr Murdoch, a long-time critic of the BBC who controls rival Sky News, said the prime minister had recounted his feelings in a private conversation earlier this week in New York.
So let's see, one of Britain's canniest politicians reveals to Rupert Murdoch media mogul, that he was shocked by the BBC. And Murdoch reveals this to the public at large.

Gee, do you think that Tony planted that nugget to let his feelings be known publicly on the matter? Not that the BBC will care. In fact, they'll probably commend themselves for hitting the mark.

Still it's reassuring for those of us who have thought this for years that the leader of Britain feels similarly.

Heh, the familiar British hatchet men are already out claiming that Blair is Murdoch's poodle.
Martin Bell, the former BBC war correspondent and former MP.

Bell said: 'Assuming it's accurate - it may of course be that Tony Blair was simply telling Rupert Murdoch what he thought he wanted to hear.
Uh, huh. Because the one thing that is clear lo! these four past years is that Blair has no spine!

Charles Wheeler, the veteran former US correspondent for the BBC, commented brilliantly:
Matt Frei was very good. He got quite angry, which is what might have annoyed people.

'I don't see why people should be unemotional; I never was. You have to tell people what you feel and what you hate - that's part of legitimate reporting.'
Well in that case, why bother to turn on the news? We already what what you feel and what you hate. You feel that you hate President Bush.

And here's a surprise. A Scotsman editorial calling the BBC on its bias:
But it is the BBC that deserves to have a red face, because Blair's strictures are quite right. The corporation's coverage of New Orleans was an anti-American hatefest. The tone was gloating: distrust of the Bush administration in particular now colours BBC reports to the point of caricature.

During recent decades the BBC has drifted into political bias to a degree that makes its licence-supported status as a "public-service broadcaster" a mockery. Alongside some excellent programming exists a mind-set almost always slanted leftwards.

Erosion Politics

A week ago I wrote:
One fallout from this disaster, as much as anything else, is that Governor Blanco's incompetence has weakened state power from this point on; because now the Federal Government will assume the power to flatten local power, even when it is corrupt and the local government is efficient.
Instapundit points to a line in Bush's speech of 9/15 that worries him along a similar line:
Yet the system at every level of government, was not well coordinated and was overwhelmed in the first few days. It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces -- the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice.
After which he comments: "He's talking about logistics here, but it's not clear that's all he's talking about. I'd certainly oppose a repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act."

I can't imagine that this potential erosion of State's rights is going to be popular among any conservatives. Though according to the AP Bush and assorted Pentagon officials are examining just that.
President Bush's push to give the military a bigger role in responding to major disasters like Hurricane Katrina could lead to a loosening of legal limits on the use of federal troops on U.S. soil. Pentagon officials are reviewing that possibility, and some in Congress agree it needs to be considered.

Bush did not define the wider role he envisions for the military. But in his speech to the nation from New Orleans on Thursday, he alluded to the unmatched ability of federal troops to provide supplies, equipment, communications, transportation and other assets the military lumps under the label of "logistics."

The president called the military "the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice."

At question, however, is how far to push the military role, which by law may not include actions that can be defined as law enforcement _ stopping traffic, searching people, seizing property or making arrests. That prohibition is spelled out in the Posse Comitatus Act of enacted after the Civil War mainly to prevent federal troops from supervising elections in former Confederate states.

Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, Sen. John Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said, "I believe the time has come that we reflect on the Posse Comitatus Act." He advocated giving the president and the secretary of defense "correct standby authorities" to manage disasters.

Presidents have long been reluctant to deploy U.S. troops domestically, leery of the image of federal troops patrolling in their own country or of embarrassing state and local officials.
Not to mention upsetting Cindy, the conscious holder of the anti-war left.

But seriously. It seems a terrible shame that the confused actions of an incompetent Governor potentially will lead to a disempowerment of State's rights. This one is not going to be like the Patriot Act. It's going to lead to a very real change in the structural formation of our government.

Who Knew?

That Viggo was at the debate rooting for Galloway? Viggo, we loved you as Aragon in LOTR, but you are vying for world's biggest moonbat. He's been a busy boy - flying down to Crawford to sit vigil with Cindy "pull our troops out of occupied New Orleans and Iraq" Sheehan and now hanging out with Gorgeous George.

Is there a dangerous idiot or demagogue on the anti-war left he's not associated with these days?

Update: BTW, the link to Cindy's column is finally working again and the column is a must read! How do I know? Because Michael Moore tells me so. And I always do what he says. And if that's not enough for you, why the link even includes the word(s) mustread!

But go ahead and read it. It's a left-wing classic of feeble scribbles of thought and eery logical bends.

The Strata-Sphere fisks Cindy for us, gently pointing out in the process that we are not dealing here with a notable intellect, but rather its opposite.

Since this is also the logic plane on which Michael Moore operates and finds his greatest rhetorical strength, it makes me wonder whether the same thing is true of him. Ann Althouse had a classic last year, calling into question John Kerry's intellectual firepower. I'm wondering whether the same thing is true of a man who believes that this is a must read. Unless, of course, for one reason or another, Moore's trying to undermine Cindy. But nah. That sounds all too much like a sinister, Karl Rovian type plot.

Powerline has an excellent article relating exactly who these new friends of Cindy are. In fact, it's all rather incestuous, since her friends turn out to be in the same camp as Galloway's. Saddam's supporters. And thus, ultimately, supporters now of the Baathists who murdered her son. How revealing that sad fact is about the tricks some unconscious minds play on themsleves in order to preserve and enshrine and mummify anger as a stage of grief. So as to forestall moving onto bargaining, the next stage of grief. And the eventual capitulation into acceptance and a return to psychological normalcy.

So everything that Bush has done or is doing must be condemned, and everyone who condemns Bush must be embraced, no matter if she ends up thereby embracing people associated with and supporting financially the actual killers of her son. Because only thus can the reality be held back.

Mark in Mexico juxtaposes Cindy's "interpretation" of Malik Rahim's words with what he really said. Loose is not the word for it. He may be a veteran of the Black Panther and now a communist, but Rahim's comments, in this context at least, are utterly sensible.

It seems that the natives in and around New Orleans know the situation there in much more detail than do the national media, flooding into the limelight and shouting prescriptions based on ignorance of the situation and their superficial biased political leanings, the way they normally do. Exhibit 1 of that statement, the attempt by ABC reporter, Dean Reynolds to ask leading question until the audience he was interviewing blamed President Bush for the poor post flood conditions in NO immediately after the levées broke.

NEW UPDATE: Now apparently, Cindy is NOT going to be appearing with Galloway. Apparently she now realizes he's a bad, bad man. Instead, she'll be speaking with Greg Palast at the Operation Ceasefire gathering in Washington DC, sponsored by the DC Anti-War Network and United for Peace and Justice.

Post-Mortemizing The Rumble

Well I never got around to doing my full write up of the debate, just filled in some odds and ends. But here are two excellent articles on the Hitch-Galloway grapple that do it for me. So I don't have to now.

Alex Massie writing in National Review. And Roger Kimball writing in the NYSun.

Like Tiger Hawk, I believe that Kimball seriously undercounts Hitchens support - and I also think there were Bush supporters in the audience. Heh - me, for one. And of course the other Liberal Hawks. I was sitting at the back of the orchestra, and saw exactly who was cheering and when. Some of them may have been more restrained, as Hitchens urged his supporters. And some of them may have pretended to be neutral journalists. In fact the BBC radio guy sitting next to me politely applauded Hitch but not Galloway as far as I can recall. Of course, in Britain, journalists don't have to delude themselves into believing they have deluded others that they are neutral.

On the other hand, I was not restrained. And both Pamela and Judith almost got kicked out for their enthusiastic Hitchen's support. Though of course the ushers were all screaming, hootin' Galloway supportin' leftists. So I doubt they threatened to expel any of the people on the left.

And, yes, oddly enough, I definitely saw some people cheering at various points for both speakers.

My assessment, and that of the Liberal Hawks, as noted also at Kesher Talk, was more in line with Massie's figures, who specifies 30%. That may be right. Or it may have been even a tiny bit more than that.

James Panero, writing at Armavirumque includes a link to Britain's channel 4 report, which is only somewhat biased towards Galloway in terms of the cutting of the video. Parero has additional links as well.

Here's a write-up at the Independent, whose author, David Usborne, oozes quite a dollop of condescension as a privileged insider. But at least his assessment of the figures seems accurate to me.

And Harry asks an all important question:
Its interesting that in the many column inches devoted to the debate (I think all the broadsheets have run something) little is made of the fact that the recognised and celebrated leader of Britain's anti-war movement is now openly and proudly supporting and indeed admiring those who are slaughtering innocent Iraqis every day in their self-declared struggle against democracy and self-rule for the Iraqi people.

Is this not worthy of some consideration in the media? After all, here is a man who large chunks of the media have built up as an "outspoken critic of the war", a "maverick" and "colourful character" to be turned to for opinion and soundbites on the issue of Iraq now freely admitting what his critics have charged for years - he is not anti-war but simply on the other side.

Will we hear of any discomfort or disassociation from those, pacifists or mainstream anti-war people, who marched behind Galloway and applauded him on the big Feb 15 demonstration? Will those who were duped into believing Galloway was speaking for them now come out and say he no longer does?
I think many of the anti-war left are too embarrassed to want to be held to the sticking point. They're content to live with the contradicitions of their opinions because they know that "they, personally, don't go that far." So they refuse to examine the ultimate end of their position. It's too wrenching to do the reductio ad absurdum upon themselves.

Here's the C-Span schedule of the debate.

Update: And the Telegraph chimes in late with a column that repeats many of the prize one-liners in the debate.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Priceless. Wish I had seen it too, but I barely turn on ABC any more.

Evacuées New Orleaneans who actually hold their local and state government responsible. Who'da thunk it possible after the gorging of the press on the federal government?

And now here's the tape and the transcript available at Newsbusters.

How reassuring! Some things in the world never change. John Kerry's rhetorical tone deafness for one.
"Leadership isn't a speech or a toll-free number. Leadership is getting the job done. No American doubts that New Orleans will rise again, they doubt the competence and commitment of this Administration. Weeks after Katrina, Americans want an end to politics-as-usual that leaves them dangerously and unforgivably unprepared. Americans want to know that their government will be there when it counts with leadership that keeps them safe, not speeches in the aftermath to explain away the inexcusable."
He'd have enjoyed the Galloway performance because it would have given him a chance to watch a master using the same tired, push-button, name calling approach to politics that he uses. And the response this whips up among the left.

"Cheney!" Boo! "Bush." Boo! "Neo-con." Boo! "Halliburton." Boo! "Hurricane Katrina." Boo! "Barbara Bush" Boo!

Could anything be emptier?

Taranto puts his response to this better than me. "To John Kerry, it seems, leadership is issuing whiny press releases. Just think, if only he'd been elected president, he could respond to Katrina with whiny White House press releases!"

In contrast to Kerry, John Podhoretz asks some pertinent questions, to which he doesn't have the answers, about how the post-Katrina speech will effect some of Bush's most faithful supporters. Does it signal the last deathknell of the Republican pretense of small government? And the support of all those who support that position?
The reason Bush's poll numbers have been declining over the past several months isn't that liberals and independents don't like him. For the most part, they haven't liked him except for a few weeks around 9/11. He's been showing some weakness among his core Republican voters, especially in Katrina's wake, with polls suggesting a 15 percent drop in support from these people who, for the most part, loved him during his first term.

When a president gets into trouble, he needs to firm up his base. Last night, Bush did something entirely different.

The stark political question is this: Is there enough "give" in the American body politic for those who have decided they don't like or trust him to alter their view a bit? Were such people capable of listening to his speech with an open mind, thinking well enough of his ambitious promises to help bring about a change in his political fortunes?

I honestly don't know the answer, but common sense and observation tell me most such people have tuned him out permanently. And if I'm right about this, then Bush can score no points with them or the politicians who represent them — and will have alienated, to some degree, the people who do admire him deeply.

Throughout this year, Bush and his administration have behaved in ways that suggest they have lost a great deal of the astonishing political skills they displayed during the first term. Last night, they either found their footing in an appeal to the broad political middle — or they have tripped themselves up yet again, and crippled themselves perhaps beyond repair.

The Literal Smackdown

What a hoot last night attending the debate between George Galloway and Christopher Hitchens! Got there a bit late - with one line reaching the length of a NYC avenue block and the other line reaching around a city block and around the corner. As it was the thing was delayed 45 minutes, because the organizers - from the Governor Blanco school of Democratic administrators - had no idea how to handle the size of the crowds which they hadn't anticipated, even though they well knew the debate was sold out ahead of time. Since I was late, I didn't get a chance to meet up with Judith and the other NY liberal Hawks before the debate started. But I did talk myself into the main audience floor on the strength of the fact that my friends were holding me a seat, and then found one of the few remaining empty seats at the back of the room -- sitting next to a BBC radio guy.

My two favorites Hitchenisms from the night. He referred to the A.Q. Khan nuclear network as "a kind of Walmart for WMDs." And his reference to young Assad as the slobbering dauphin, son of his slobbering father.

Judith at Kesher Talk relates an amusing encouter of handing out anti-Galloway leaflets and running into Hitchens doing the same thing. Mary at Exit Zero has an interesting assessment of the leftist crowd dynamics. She was sitting in a livelier section than I was, apparently. She also confirms my point about the poor organization of the crowd, but says it in a nicer way. Pamela at Atlas Shrugs was lucky enough to snag pictures with Hitchens before the event and more pics of the NYLiberal Hawks drinking together after the event during our post-mortem.

At Harry's Place, Ben in NY gives a first hand account.
This realisation led me to conclude, as their bout hit the two-hour mark, that I was a) bored and b) nauseated. Bored, because if last night was anything to go by, there is little purpose in such arguments. Nauseated, because there is something gut-wrenchingly repulsive about a group of effete Manhattan leftists sitting in an air-conditioned lecture hall on Lexington Avenue cheering the brigands who, that very same morning, blew up more than hundred Iraqi labourers for the crime of trying to find a job.
I was neither bored nor nauseated. I quite enjoyed the event. But, still, the idea that happy New York leftist types, or deeply depressed ones as the case may be, would, with full-throated abandon, cheer Galloway the thug blaming 9/11 on the US and calling our country and Britain the worst offenders among the nations in sincere belief that this is the truth is both scary and revolting. Still, I take comfort from the fact that it's one of those things that will deeply repel less politically involved types who happen to catch the show on C-Span this weekend. The left has done an excellent job alienating the center, to their own disempowerment. And the more they alienate the center, the more disempowered they become and the more they hate Amerika. And on and on the cycle goes.

And Tiger Hawk provides another account with a lot of detail. But I must disagree with one of his opening statements:
Since the argument was between confirmed old leftists (in the sense that Henry Higgins was a “confirmed old bachelor”), the audience was manifestly, jeeringly and unreservedly anti-Bush. Based on the timing and intensity of the cheers and boos and the tenor of the catcalls, there were essentially no supporters of George Bush in the room, although I imagine that there were a few who, like myself, were operating under deep cover.
As Judith notes at Kesher Talk, after the debate, we estimated Hitchens support was running about 40/60. So there were a lot of pro-war Bush fans in the audience, and not at all under cover.

More to come this evening...