Saturday, March 05, 2005

Get down on your knees and recycle

If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder by the year 2000. … This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age.

- Kenneth E.F. Watt on air pollution and global cooling, Earth Day (1970) [further qoutes]

Keeping one's foot on the accelerator: "The pragmatism of American idealism" and the "glorious catastrophe" it wrought

Austin Bay praises "the pragmatism of American idealism" while the Washington Post's David Ignatius evokes "a glorious catastrophe take place in the Middle East" and an end to Damascus's "'sandwich strategy' for squeezing America in Iraq between a Syrian-backed insurgency and Iranian pressure".
There's no stopping the Middle East's glorious catastrophe now that it has begun. We are careening around the curve of history, and it's useful to remember a basic rule for navigating slippery roads: Once you're in the curve, you can't hit the brakes. The only way for America to keep this car on the road is to keep its foot on the accelerator.

(Thanks to the Ashbrook Center's Peter W. Schramm)

Check out Daryl Cagle's collection of cartoons on Syria and Lebanon (my favorites are those of Marshall Ramsey, Steve Breen, and Petar Pismestrovich), on Bush and Putin (Cam, Mike Keefe, and Scott Stantis), and on Bush's visit in Europe (Matt Davies, Dick Wright, John Sherffius, and Steve Kelley)…

Oil-for-Fraud: insiders covering tracks

Paul Volcker has to resort to referring to an “unnamed UN official” implicated in his inquiry report. Here’s the rub – he couldn’t name this official because the official, Louise Frechette, is the number 2 leader of the “blessed” U.N., the Deputy Secretary-General of the U.N.
Frechette is also a former Canadian Ambassador to the U.N., and is on the Volker Committee, and is a subject of it’s investigations.

Fox News

Frechette intervened directly by telephone to stop United Nations auditors from forwarding their investigations to the U.N. Security Council. This detail was buried on page 186 of the 219-page interim report Volcker’s Independent Inquiry Committee released Feb. 3.

Who, then was she helping? An energy company! After all it’s all about OILLLLL!

Frechette had connections to a number of Oil-for-Food figures. She had direct oversight of both U.N. watchdog Nair and Oil-for-Food director Sevan, although both reported to the Secretary-General. She also has an interesting tie to an important member of the Volcker committee’s 65-member staff. When Frechette served as Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations from 1992 to 1995, her boss during most of that time was Canadian Deputy Minister Reid Morden, who is now executive director of the Volcker team.
-Fox News

The Shotgun calls a job of this sort “tailor made” for the likes of Frechette, and sites the following:

Frechette also falls under a cloud of suspicion for the cover-up of the torture and murder of 16 year old Shidane Arone by Canadian Peacekeepers in Somalia.

UN probe–subpoenaed crates of documents from the bank, which earned $700 million for its work, ostensibly to investigate the companies that had been doing business through Paribas that may have ripped off Oil-for-Food.

Because the more that Americans came to know about Oil-for-Food, which has been called the largest corruption scandal in history, the more the name of this little-known Montreal firm kept popping up. And the more links that seemed to emerge between Power Corp. and individuals or organizations involved in the Oil-for-Food scandal, the more Fox News and other news outlets sniffing around this story began to ask questions about who, exactly, this "Power Corp". is.

Paribas violated "know your client"—style banking regulations, which require banks to be vigilant in watching for money laundering and other criminal activities being conducted through their bank.

-Canada Free Press

They all have one common link: Montreal based Power Corp. reported annual revenues of $16 billion and was closely linked to BNP Parisbas, which handled funds transfers for the U.N. Oil-for-Food program. Power Corp is run by billionaire political power broker Paul Desmarais. Together Frechette and Desmarais sit on the board of the influential Trudeau Foundation.

While the [Desmaraises] family, worth an estimated US$4 billion and ranked the sixth richest in Canada, has always kept a fairly low profile, they have been in the news for decades--even if most Canadians never really noticed. The fact that the family happens to be friendly with the man who once ran the U.S. Federal Reserve won’t surprise those who know them: the Desmaraises are as well connected politically as they are corporately. And it’s arguable, based on the circumstantial evidence anyway, that nothing happens on Parliament Hill that isn’t, in some way, a product of the Desmarais family’s design. Prime Minister Paul Martin and former PMs Jean Chrétien, Brian Mulroney and Pierre Trudeau have all been close, personal friends of Paul Desmarais Sr. The story on Parliament Hill was that Trudeau’s leadership bid was cooked up in Power headquarters in Victoria Square in Montreal. In the hiatus of his political career in the 1980s, Chrétien cooled his heels sitting on the board of a Power Corp. subsidiary, Consolidated Bathurst, and Power executive John Rae ran Chrétien’s leadership campaigns in 1984 and 1990, as well as the 1993 election campaign that brought Chrétien to office. Martin got his start in the business world in the early sixties, working for then Power Corp. president Maurice Strong, and was made a millionaire, thanks to an undisclosed 1981 deal in which Desmarais sold him Canada Steamship Lines. Strong continues to act as one of Martin’s senior advisors.

The Canada Free Press tries to further unravel the entangled and sleazy relationship. It proved complex enough to require a diagram.

It gets even stranger. Volker, Ronald Reagan’s chairman of the United States Federal Reserve is an advisor to Power Corp. as well. His timidity of reprisal notwithstanding, he release the preliminary report critical of the UN, the Power Corp connection, the BNP Paribas connection, and quite consciously HIMSELF. A sacrificial lamb, or a cover up man? Volcker may have even been set up by Desmaraises in the belief that a senior American figure would be able to pacify the Congressional investigation, and cover up the links based on their fate being tied to one another. A kind of corrupt suicide pact – not abnormal at all with Canada’s
Liberal party, great “peacekeepers”, "freers of the oppressed", “alternate Americans”, and wind-up-toy type critics of the United States, and countless other unproved platatudes, regardless of the policy or who’s sitting in the Oval office...

The United Nations has refused to co-operate with the U.S. Congress investigations into the US$67-billion Oil-for-Food program and Security Council members Russia and France have refused to give Volcker the right to subpoena witnesses in the internal UN probe.

A modest proposal on good government

A vigilant population makes for diligent representation and a vibrant living Democracy.

Here’s the idea from a friend:

To improve constituent notice. Plain and simple! Let people readily know what their government is up doing at the opaque level of the legislative and “rules” committee, technology can be a benefit.

Imagine a web site where constituents may sign up for something as simple as an e-mail alert. You know them – their ubiquitous but can quickly convey a great deal about the day’s events.
As with anything which is intended to maintain honest practices, the recipient list would have to be protected except for its’ intended purpose – in which case who’s reading and writing back becomes VERY important.
It would need the interested citizen’s name, address, and some contact information so that it is understood that local issues aren’t being manipulated by people far away, but they SHOULD be able to select alerts on specific types of proposed legislation just as the full time lobbyist out in the corridor does!

One could be inundated in information. But if it was sorted by subject matter/committee, committee assignment and so forth – the interested citizen could be aware of the goings on in the murky world of law and sausage-making.

It could be as simple as an update on what’s discussed, and a link to the standing law or bylaw, and a notice of what’s suggested, and what it’s replacing.
A subject on constitutional legislation would link the section of the constitution that pertains to it. At 701 pages, the E.U. Constitution and it’s appendices would otherwise be impenetrable to a citizen’s scrutiny. The same is true of the rules influences by sectors and industries – they rarely go for anything that isn’t as thick as a city phonebook.

There would need to be legal consequence for misrepresentation and/or identity theft, and people should be able to opt out with the knowing that one’s identity will be protected. But with a few basic protections they would certainly have the public’s confidence.

An interested population can take it from there.

It’s not unlike blogging and the media, eh?
Let her know what you think in the comments.

Friday, March 04, 2005

The Death Penalty and International Opinion: Whether They Are Against It Depends on the Country Applying It

In declaring (by a 5-4 margin) that it is unconstitutional to impose the death penalty on convicts who were younger than 18 when they committed their crimes, the Supreme Court invoked "the overwhelming weight of international opinion".

Truth be told, I have no strong feelings or opinions on the death penalty either way. What does get me going (as some of our readers have realized by now) is international "opinion" and double standards.

As you know, one of the principles the ever-so-humanistic Europeans are known for is their opposition to the death penalty. Indeed, Le Monde wasted no time in penning an editorial praising the "change" that allows for "taking into account international opinion" while warning that "the battle for the abolition" of "the most barbarous punishment" and "its fundamental injustice" is not yet won.

Most (if not all) EU states have outlawed it (I am positive it is a condition for being admitted to the EU), and all use their fight against it as a reason to castigate Uncle Sam and to sniff how reactionary America is and how backward it is compared with avant-garde European states. (Incidentally, Isabelle Mandraud recently penned a portrait of Robert Badinter, the French justice minister who was the main force behind the abolition of the guillotine in 1981.)

They are so snooty about this that they have refused to help Americans — and Iraqis — in their search for evidence in Iraq's killing fields, since that might help convict Saddam Hussein and his henchmen, and bring them, or some of them, the death penalty.

So it may come as a surprize that the Europeans never take China much to the task on the matter, although that country (notwithstanding the millions of people murdered during the Cultural Revolution) has in the recent past executed an average of 100 people a week! "At least 650 executions reported … in the months of December and January alone" amounts to about the same amount that have been executed in America since the death penalty was reinstated …three decades ago. If those figures are taken as an average, they amount to an execution rate 150 times that of the U.S. (25 years x 6 two-month periods) and that for a country that is only four to five times as populous! (I.e., if the populations were equal, the Chinese execution rate would still be 30 times that of the U.S.)

In any case, the estimate is far too low, notes Bruno Philip, since they are based only on official Chinese figures.

In 2004 alone, 10,000 people were executed, according to a Chonquing representative, i.e., more than five times the combined total of all the other executions in the world. By comparison, the United States features (and correct me if I am wrong — indeed, correct me if you have the exact statistics, please) 800 executions over 25 years.

In fact, not only do the Europeans not attack China on this matter (or even mention it, beyond a few token articles, such as those linked above), but when a French weekly magazine planned to make a big stink about American executions a few years ago, and one member (Pascal Bruckner) proposed that China be added to the list of countries castigated about the matter, he was turned down: No country but America would bear the brunt of the castigation.

This is not dissimilar to European hand-wrenching with regards to the capitalist economy, coupled with complete silence regarding working conditions in Chinese society.

It's called principles. Of the European kind.

Isn't it good to know that Europeans always have their heads on their shoulders and their priorities straight?

Update: Read about the prison treatment of Qin Yanhong

Just in case you've forgotten

"Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato"

(Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State)

- Mussolini

"Modern Leftism is Recycled Fascism"
- An essay by Dr. John Ray.

I’m sure they’re thinking “Barney”

From the the 3-March edition of the Opinion Journal’s “Best of the Web” by James Taranto.

"There's a crowing triumphalist narrative out of Washington that is to be resisted because it's wrong and counterproductive," complains Timothy Garton Ash in a Los Angeles Times op-ed:

Here, for example, is what the undersecretary of State for lobal affairs, Paula Dobriansky, said on Monday: "As the resident noted in Bratislava just last week, there was a ose Revolution in Georgia, an Orange Revolution in Ukraine and, most recently, a Purple Revolution in Iraq. In Lebanon, we see growing momentum for a 'Cedar Revolution' that is unifying the citizens of that nation to the cause of true democracy and freedom from foreign influence."

Spot the odd one out. "Purple Revolution" in Iraq? Purple, as in the color of blood? There's a vital difference between a democratic revolution that is peaceful, authentic and generated by people inside a country and one that is imposed, or kick-started, by a military invasion and occupation.

I think they meant THIS, Spanky.

Headless horsemen

The Lefty bloggers of the
Daily Kos call themselves Kossacks.

It makes sense… They're uncritical of elitist and violent strongmen, and drool after having power over others.

Expect a

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Beebworld: Hamas house organ

The Biased-BBC blog comments on this item uncovered by Melanie Phillips. BBC gives the family of a suicide bomber the agony Aunt treatment, but ignores the victims' families:

Now scroll on to the BBC's TV coverage on sunday of the Tel Aviv bombing, in which five people died and 49 were injured. Using a clip entitled 'A family in mourning', the family it showed was not one of the Israeli dead but of the human bomb terrorist instead.

Biased-BBC's response to the BBC apologist's sue of the word "correction":

No, Mr Mosey, it was not 'inappropriate'. It was grotesque, outrageous and despicable. And a 'correction' just won't do. It does not begin to address the moral deformity of BBC journalists who, when Israelis are murdered, automatically direct their compassion instead at the family of the bomber. For BBC journalists, Jewish victims, Jewish dead and Jewish grief just don't seem to exist.

'Lil Kim getting nas-tay

Filibuster: Canada's finest!

Walid Jumblatt on the U.S. invsion of Iraq

"It's strange for me to say it," says Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who would never be mistaken for a Bush backer, "but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq."

-Walid Jumblatt, Druze politician
Source - L.A. Times opinion page, 3-March-2005


At the core of modern liberalism is the spoiled child — miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless. Liberalism is a philosophy of sniveling brats.

-P.J. O’Rourke

Thanks to
Shiny Happy Gulag.

So who’s complaining?

In contrast, Moonbat Central gives us a peek through the looking glass. Get a load of who thinks Syria should maintain its’ forces and influence in Lebanon:

His reason? He insists Syrian occupation of Lebanon is necessary as a way to prevent those evil Israelis from doing horrid deeds in Lebanon, like attempting to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks launched out of Lebanon. Yes, the same academic apologist for the Khmer Rouge, who defended the communist regime in Cambodia to the last throughout the years of the genocide it carried out, prefers to have Lebanon under Asad's jackboot.
Especially if it prevents the Lebanese from engaging in their notorious fondness for capitalism and entrepreneurship, which Chomsky wants wiped out and replaced with Stalinism, and if it also deters Israel from striking terrorist bases.


Chomsky is redistributing a screed on the usual moonbat web sites, those that otherwise spend their days proliferating the Ward Churchill ideas, in which Chomsky sings the song of Ba'athism. Chomsky has spent the past decade defending Syria's oppression of Lebanon, and his pro-Asad articles are being recycled these days on Indymedia web sites and by the Ba'athists themselves .

In other words, people need to suffer to prop up the moral vanity and the illusions of the western loony left.

So let’s get back to basics:

With the entry of armed Palestinians into Lebanon in the late 1960s and early 1970s the country became a training ground for international terrorist groups. With large numbers of Palestinian guerrillas pouring across the borders into Lebanon, the Lebanese found themselves unable to control the situation. Soon terrorist training camps were established in areas under Palestinian control and terrorists from all over the world came to Lebanon to learn the art of terror. Lebanese efforts to control the activity of the Palestinians resulted in a full blown war with the Lebanese right on one side and the Palestinians and the Lebanese radical left wing on the other. International terror groups training in Lebanon as well just about any socialist idealist who had nothing better to do sided with the Palestinians and fought in Lebanon. The Baader-Meinhof Gang, the Red Army Faction, the Red Brigade, the Japanese Red Army Faction, the IRA, the PKK and countless other groups journeyed to Lebanon to take instruction from and fight along side the Palestinians. The interaction of all of these groups in the training camps formed strong relationships and thus an international network with these groups often working together.

With Syrian sponsorship, and then direct Syrian support after the Syrians invaded Lebanon, Palestinian terror groups flourished in Lebanon and the Bekaa valley became, and in some cases still is, the base of operation for organizations like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Popular Struggle Front (PSF), the Abu Nidal Organization (ANO), and The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC) to name but a few. It was not long before Syria started to use these groups to spread terror for its own aims.

The use of terror as an instrument in the hands of Syrian policy makers, as well as the sponsorship of terrorism dates back some thirty years, indeed it is as old as the Assad regime. The use of terror, and the way in which it has been utilized by the Syrian regime, has changed over the years, as a consequence of developments in Syria, in the inter-Arab arena, in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and in the relations between Syria and Western countries, principally the United States. In the course of the 1970's and 1980's the Syrian regime faced internal and external difficulties, which led it to an intensify its use of terrorism, at times including direct Syrian involvement in acts of terror.
Syria's patronage first and foremost allows the terrorist organizations to find refuge and shelter on Syrian or Syrian-controlled Lebanese territory, where they enjoy comfortable political and security conditions. Terrorist groups can thus organize training; develop a
logistical infrastructure (Weapons, storehouses, communications, documentation,
funds and so on); they can take advantage of the political and propaganda cover of official Syrian bodies. They can travel freely between Syria, Lebanon and Iran, and between Syria and Lebanon and other Arab states; they can develop channels of communication to the existing infrastructure in Judea, Samaria and Gaza; they can travel to and from Europe; they can develop a financial infrastructure and pass money on to activists in Judea, Samaria and Gaza; they can benefit from each others' assistance; they can establish contacts with other terror supporting states, principally Iran, Syria’s ally. At he same time, the Syrians keep a close eye on the terrorist organizations, particularly those who might potentially pose a danger to the regime. The Syrians see these organizations as essentially bargaining chips, which may be cynically used and then discarded. They expel terrorists from their territory and that of Lebanon, or imprison them without charge; they send intelligence agents into the
organizations, and use them according to the shifting needs of the Syrian intelligence structures.

So what Chomsky and his fellow travellers is telling us is that is that terror’s incubator and midwife needs to be supported and protected.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Free the Oppressed 101

The effective way to free the oppressed and advance human rights.

Compare and contrast:
French administrative reform in Syria (which at best makes them more efficient killers) and the shrewd Hosni Mubarak finally permitting real multi-party elections in Egypt without his head ending up on a plate.
In view of people-power showing it's face in Lebanon and a delayed aid check to Cairo from Washington a great deal is happening. Contract that with the "humanist" peace loving approach of nipping at the edges without a clear view, plan, or history of reliability.

Waves were also felt in a certain Arab elsewhere as well. Will it sink in with the western left though? I think it will.

I had an interesting exchange with Josh from the blog "Talking Points Memo" on his view of the Syria-Lebanon matter, and the way the US' figures into it.

On his take on anyone in the US celebrating, I told him:

It has been "on the radar" in Washington since before Clinton. The difference with Bush is that he's been very consistent in his dealings with the Lebanese and Syrians.
That consistency provided for a atmosphere and circumstances for the Independance movement to feel comfortable that this is the right time to take bolder political steps.

They feel that resistance on the part of the Syrians run a very good chance of meeting with threats of some American gunboat diplomacy as an possible consequence. It would clearly not be possible without the US being of clear voice and not comprimising one bit. Otherwise the fear is that realpolitik of convenience would kick in.

He mentioned this:
"My curiosity in this case is how much this is geopolitical versus a democracy development. In self-determination terms the two overlap certainly. But the geopolitics explanation (our hard tilt vs. Syria) makes sense to me while the democracy explanation from Jumblatt in the Post seemed more questionable."

He seemed satisfied by my reply:
Walid Jumblatt is a democratic socialist who arrived at his view within the framework of the tribalism of the civil war. His notion of entity relations is better for Lebanon and is specific to it than anything anyone could really gin up. Basically, when we talk about disposing of the Syrian occupation and influence, we are talking about allowing a democracy that already wants to be there and once was there, to flourish again.

In other words: it is ENTIRELY about democracy.

Which is also to say that all of this is very Arab. Anyone left who think that government by concencus will not work in the Arab world, or is a bigot and believes that it's over their heads needs to put their protest sign and their bong down. The dominos are falling. Plink. Plink. Plink.

Trust but verify

You can only keep them honest if you know what they're up to, and what their intentions are.

The fact remains that there are NGOs engaging in political advocacy who are hiding among the well intended, not telling their doners that they tacitly help "insurgents", or promote transnational socialist political causes.

Some Afghans even started calling them the "
Toyota Taliban." Much has also been written about them as travelling elitist parasites who do more harm than good. Even to the point of making otherwise ambitious people less competative.

And to think that they're worried about being targeted by opponents of the coalition if they operate in the same area as the U.S. lead coalition!

Bashir Gemayel (1947-1982) on European duplicitousness

I think this one's worth recycling right now - Joe

Lebanon and the European States

Relations between Lebanon and the European States deteriorated because the latter also tried to solve the Middle-East problem at the expense of Lebanon. In addition, many European countries had adopted the obsequious policy of fawning on the Arab States in order to secure their oil supplies. This was done, of course, at the expense of the Christians, of their security, their very existence. Bashir referred to both these factors:

“Europe and many other States are not able to digest the Christian presence in this corner of the world, because it is a stumbling-block to most of their ambitions in this area... The Americans and the West have not yet assimilated the fact that we, the Christians of the Orient, represent their last line of defense against a return to the dark ages, against terror and blind fundamentalism, against those who seek to annihilate all the values of civilization and of their culture... Today, they want to ‘sell us down the river’ for a barrel of oil!”...

These two factors led Bashir to condemn the West in these words : “The West, today, is showing signs of decadence in its policies, in its morals, in its economy.”

In his tirade, Bashir did not omit France, and he frankly blamed it for the servile attitude of its former Foreign Minister, Louis de Guiringaud. “Periodically, we were fighting in self-defense here while De Guiringaud and Mondale were criticizing us for standing firm and calling us all sorts of names, alleging that we were a band of outlaws who deserved to be punished...”

Yet, in spite of all this, Bashir reaffirmed Lebanon’s affiliation to the Western democracies : “We are a part of the Free World”.

Bashir Gemayel was assasinated by Syrian agents on September 14, 1982, mere weeks after the Parliament appointed him President of Lebanon.

El Hypocrites!

Uruguay votes in the left. The BBC is orgasmic. They get a pro-Chavez, anti-US quote out of El Hefe. To him, you see the US is the cause of poverty, lack of human rights, etc. It's also announced that he'll be establishing full diplomatic and trade relations with Castro's Cuba.

Oddly enough, the previous administration in Montevideo severed relations with Havana over the Cubans' human rights record.

Ah, yes... The United States is the cause of all poverty and lack of rights in the world... Of course. Nod. Naturally.
Words worthy of Castro, who has imprisoned thousands and killed thousands of his own people for disagreeing with him politically.

Here is the rule: the degree to which Europe is amoral is directly proportional to the degree of its spokesmen's moral posturing against the U.S.

Look at the unrest in Lebanon, the voting in the West Bank, fear in Libya, pressure to reform from the Gulf to Egypt—all impossible without the removal and humiliation of Saddam Hussein, who, had he remained in power, would be nursing Arab pride by blaming us while he recycled petro-dollars, hand in glove with corrupt UN officials and Euros, for more weapons and his own debauchery
says Victor Davis Hanson in an interview with Arthur Chrenkoff (thanks to Instapundit).
Look, the more we [and the Europeans] talk about past "shared values" and a once "common heritage," the more we know the present problem: a postmodern Europe doesn't want to spend any money on defense, and is furious that the US doesn't follow its multilateral lead in a policy that could be described as moral sanctimoniousness while millions die and the West totters—whether that is a matter of Milosveric, Darfur, the Taliban, or Saddam.

So we are on to them at last; here is the rule regarding these strange folk who peddle weapons to communist China, whitewash Hizbollah, fund Hamas, and looted Iraq: the degree to which Europe is amoral by either its commission or negligence is directly proportional to the degree we see in its media and state spokesmen moral posturing and invective against the United States.

So... we sit tight, praise them, and keep our powder dry, looking to see the fallow out from Islamicism on their shores, and whether they curb anti-Semitism, get their birthrates up, rearm and make a real alliance, avoid antagonizing a surrounded Russia, and buy off an Iran or crazy former Soviet Republic. We cannot do much in all that and so should expect very little from them and get ready for some pretty crazy things coming out of Europe in the next few years. …

Look at Jason Blair, Rathergate, the Moyers PBS family octopus, the crazy CNN President's statements, and so on. The old reformers on four feet are the new entrenched on two inside the former farmer's house, to paraphrase Orwell who had seen the same thing in the socialist world of the 1930s. …

Soviets Repent

Today is the birthday of Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, the Soviet political leader born in 1931. In its January 29, 1990, issue, U.S. News & World Report printed this text of mine:
Some 130 years ago, Abraham Lincoln predicted that America could not endure permanently half slave and half free. It would have to, he said, become all the one thing or all the other. Today, that prophecy about one country has expanded to envelop the entire planet. It is to the credit of the U.S.S.R. and Eastern Europe that many of their leaders have come to understand this and have opted for freedom rather than the continued practice of their form of slavery.
The following year, I wrote the following in the European edition of the Wall Street Journal:
Apparently, Mikhail Gorbachev thinks that "uncovering the dark spots of Soviet history" means acknowleging past "mistakes" and letting it stand at that. This is a step in the right direction, of course, but an empty-hearted one if it only involves talk. It must also be necessary to make amends. In the case of the 1940 Katyn Forest massacre, it is not sufficient that the Soviet Union admit responsibility for the slaughter of Polish officers, it must also, at the very least, pay reparations to the the victims' families. As far as the annexation of the Baltic republics is concerned, admitting the illegality of the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov pact is not enough, it must also take the next logical step and let the Baltics recover their prewar independence.

Mr. Gorbachev has warned that unless he, i.e., the Kremlin, takes drastic measures, nationalistic-minded individuals will cause a major internal conflict. President Gorbachev, it is in your hands and not in those of your dissatisfied countrymen that lies the momentous issue of civil war. You can have no conflict without being yourself the aggressor. The people will not assail you. They only wish to be left in peace. They are but men and women who have faith that might makes right; who believe that what is decided by the ballot should not be reversed by the sword; and who fervently hope that the peoples in the U.S.S.R. shall have a new birth of freedom.

At their own initiative, and to my utter delight, the WSJ editors chose to publish the letter on February 12, 1991 — Lincoln's birthday…

Mainz Gott! More Pictures from the Pro-American Demo in Germany

Lord almighty, there is a new politically incorrect blog in Germany… And Stefan has more pictures (many of them mine) from the Mainz demonstration in February, also of us waiting (fruitlessly) to catch a glimpse of W and Laura…

MSM Media Blasts Blogosphere; Blogger Reponds

In his weekly International Herald Tribune column, Roger Cohen takes on the blogger attack on the mainstream media:
It was not until recently that journalists like myself, hacks with decades of service to respected newspapers, had to confront the fact that many view us today as no more than blinkered lackeys of the mainstream media, which is now more commonly known by the acronym MSM.

For the world's Internet chat-room fulminators, and the say-it-like-it-is Web-log chroniclers known as bloggers, and the legions of folk who are now electronic publishers without intermediary, newspapers are old hat. As for the men and women of the press, they are often seen as contemptible troglodytes.

Here comes the counter-attack (which will continue, with such expressions as "a domestic atmosphere of patriotic fervor that imbues such incidents [as those at My Lai and Abu Ghraib] with a polarizing force"):
After all, we have editors — and what could editors be but censors of the unfettered language that now courses across the Internet? And, being from the MSM, we must have an agenda, one often depicted as liberal and godless by an ascendant right-wing and religious movement in the United States that tends to see itself as sole custodian of the truth. Make no mistake, the mainstream media are under attack.

…In both cases [My Lai and Abu Ghraib] only persistence, a passion for getting the story right, the ability to listen, a readiness to hear all sides and the courage to take on the powerful brought [Seymour] Hersh to scoops that many wanted hidden — and had succeeded in hiding for a long time. Instinct, hard work and a questioning mind took him past the barriers to truth.

Was it a passion for getting the story right, or a passion for castigating Uncle Sam, and Uncle Sam alone? Is playing up a marine general's quote on enjoying shooting "some people" while ignoring a CNN executive's attack on the American military supposed to display evidence of MSM objectivity, "a passion for getting the story right", and "a readiness to hear all sides"? Who is it who wanted things hidden here?

And speaking of Vietnam (and issues of greater portent), I still remember my astonishment (followed by growing anger) on hearing — 30 years after the battle and after years of basically taking it for granted as an illustration that Americans would never prevail over the Viet Cong (or over "the Vietnamese people", it was often said) — that the Tet offensive had, in military terms, been an utter defeat for the VC (meaning a victory for the American military). How does that fit into "getting the story right", I wonder? And am I a right-wing, religious nut for pointing this out?

It is easy enough to rail from an armchair. It is easy enough to fire off moral commentaries and castigations by pushing a button. It is easy enough to join the angry mob, whether in the street or online.
It is just as easy to rail from the armchair of a plush hotel in Baghdad, Moscow, Havana, or Hanoi, whose "powerful" (and unelected) leaders you do not take on (with courage or without), certainly not with the same "passion". It is easy enough to fire off moral commentaries and castigations against the American government, while taking at face value the attacks of the governments, democratic or other, of those countries opposed, partially or otherwise, to Uncle Sam.
It is less easy for each of us to know what we would have done if caught in a powerful system that has veered into criminal violence: Conform and be safe, or confront the crime at considerable risk.
Since the end of the Vietnam war, more Vietnamese have been killed by (or through) the policies (or non-policies) of their own government, and system, than Americans were killed during the war. This in peacetime (sic). How much have we heard about that "powerful system that has veered into criminal violence" and its victims over the past 30 years? How many of those crimes have been confronted? How many times is it stated, and taken as a given, that Vietnam "won" the war (suggesting it was a blessing, undisguised or otherwise, for its citizens)?
[Ronald] Ridenhour and [Joseph] Darby were the exception, just as Hersh has been exceptional in his moral rigor, setting the highest standards for the journalistic profession. And, as Hersh writes in his most recent book, "Chain of Command," his work has depended on "rigorous editing and fact checking by my editors."
Besides giving us the old if-you-aren't-in-the-field,-your-view-is-of-no-importance spiel (answer here), Cohen ignores the fact that the problem that bloggers have with MSM editors is not "rigorous editing and fact checking" per se — far from it — but that rigorous editing and fact checking is applied selectively. Bloggers are not — as you claim — right-wing and religious nuts who see themselves as the sole custodians of the truth, they are for the most part decent people who recognize double standards when they see them, and who do not like the injustice that derives therefrom.

One example: as far as "powerful system[s] that [have] veered into criminal violence" are concerned, take a look at the type of pictures that the MSM (American or foreign) do choose to display in their periodicals (and in journalism festivals) and those which they do not (be sure to click on "Next photo" every time). Cohen claims that "a domestic atmosphere of patriotic fervor" was what imbued incidents like Abu Ghraib "with a polarizing force", suggesting that no such force would be forthcoming, or present, without the subjective, unwelcome shrieking ("with righteous indignation") of right-wing and religious nuts. No. No, once and a thousand times No. The reason MSM reporting is revolting to some of us is because of the type of stories which the MSM chooses to emphasize and the type it chooses to play down or ignore altogether

Mock the expressions "liberal and godless" all you want as reasons bloggers have for opposing MSM, it remains that words like "odious" and "infamous", if those words make more sense to you, are pretty good indicators (especially for the victims) of how these double standards play out…

Cohen is ready for his conclusion:

We live in a time of danger, moral uncertainty and virulent division in which the MSM have become an easy target. But it appears critical, now, not to be cowed. The values of Hersh — against-the-grain, inquiring, skeptical, painstaking — are still what make the press an essential check on power rather than an accumulation of voices shrieking with righteous indignation in the electronic wilderness.
If I support America, and, indirectly, the Bush administration, it is not because of blind patriotism; it is not because tears come to my eyes when I think of Dubya, and that I am blind to Bush and his faults; nor is it because I am not "against-the-grain, inquiring, skeptical, painstaking". Au contraire. It is because I have found that an objective "against-the-grain, inquiring, skeptical, painstaking" analysis of all the actors involved has unearthed the fact that Uncle Sam (I might add, "as usual") comes out the best (or the least-worst). And that the "essential check on power" that the press claims to be is entirely one-sided, and that towards the best player in the field.

To conclude, I suggest you read Jeff Jarvis's letter to the editor of the New York Times in which he tells Bill Keller that if we "get some Times journalists and citizen journalists together in a room … the reporters and the bloggers will learn that the 'other side' is not another side at all; this isn't about monoliths and mobs but about good people trying hard to do the right thing."

If you wish to give Roger Cohen a (valid, objective, non-patriotic, non-religious, non-right-wing, and non-shrieking-with-righteous-indignation) reason (or even the other kind) why the mainstream media deserves to be "under attack", his email can be found at the bottom of his IHT column. (Include my email as a recipient for a copy of the text, and NP will post one or two of the best answers.)

France's "Special Relatonship" with the Arab World Seems to Be Less Appreciated by the Masses Than By Their Autocratic Leaders

Almost two months after her disappearance, Florence Aubenas issues a plea for help. (She is the reporter from that country whose citizens, as you will remember, would not be targeted because the French are allies of the Arab world, with which they have a "special relationship" and which, unlike others [nudge nudge], they go to such an extreme to understand. Which may explain, in contrast to the reaction to, say, the images of Abu Ghraib, the muted reaction to the Aubenas videotape at home.)

In the meantime, the United States and France have joined in calling for an "immediate withdrawal of all Syrian military and intelligence forces from Lebanon". The meeting of minds with regards to Damascus led Plantu to ink a drawing in which Uncle Sam comes out in a positive light.

This alleged renewal of camaraderie would have some people (notably in the mainstream media, French as well as American) tell you that the relationship has changed, that Paris and Washington are friends again. Of course, no such thing is true. It is only a matter of France always being right, and when Uncle Sam agrees with this, it becomes a good guy, when it does not, it is played up to be the American bogeyman.

Speaking of understanding the Arab world, one will have noticed that, contrary to what the mainstream media and the Arab leaders would have you believe, it is not the Palestinian situation that would seem to be at the forefront of the individual Arab's (or Muslim's) mind; what preoccupies the average Arab and Muslim is not the Palestinians' so-called lack of rights and their sufferings at the hands of Tel Aviv and the Israeli army's trampling their rights. (Nor does their main preoccupation seem to be poverty, "misery", inequality, social injustice, the evils of capitalism, etc). No, what seems to be at the forefront of Arab (or Muslim) peoples' minds is their own lack of rights, and their own people's sufferings at the hands of their own governments, and their own security forces' trampling on their rights.

All of which makes this consequence unsurprising:

[Recent developments make] it increasingly difficult for France to cash in on its differences with the United States in the Middle East, said Dominique Moïsi, a senior adviser at the French Institute for International Relations. "France can't play the political card as it did before," in the negotiations to win Mr. Chesnot and Mr. Malbrunot's release, Mr. Moïsi said. "France's difference is less obvious today."
As long as French leaders, citizens, intellectuals, pundits, journalists, and artists make it a habit of treating democracy, and elections, as Le Monde's Serguei does (here Iraq's), France's drop of influence in the Arab world should not come as much of as surprise…

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Never again is what you swore the time before...

It's a kind of International policy, but where will it lead Europe?

Where the French, German, Spanish, and EU-vian international affairs position is concerning dealings with the United States is concerned, a clear pattern is emerging. It was evident in small ways as far back as 1993, but was only employed intermittently, and appeared to be motivated more by trade than by strategic or diplomatic interests.

When the US identifies either a long range security concern or is dealing with a potential adversary, France and (with less frequency) Germany immediately start dealing with or propping up the adversary, or support a wedge faction. This has proved true with European government aid monies being funneled to Hamas, dropping gripes about political imprisonment and engaging in trade with the murderous Castro regime of Cuba, competing hard with Russia to do business with the Iran, selling them arms, and offering to soft-peddle the resolution on plutonium reactors. Now we see a similar long-term project showing itself: European ties with
North Korea. Some choose not to, others do.

Never mind the fact that this could undermine the dealings the NorKs have with China, Japan, and South Korea – their target appears to be the US engagement with the parties at hand in keeping a triangular imbalance of power igniting over the matters of either North Korean threats to Seoul, Tokyo, and Beijing, or a war being fought across the Taiwan Straights.

Part of this problem on the Europe end is that the EU is showing itself to being a hydra-headed geopolitical entity. Some days nations are dealing with the EU, others with an individual state, and sometimes with lost policies conveniently found to me in the middle of a state of transition.

Frank Hart, one of our most committed readers and commenters wrote:

I'm not making anything up, just passing along what the MSM here says. It's well-known that the Russians are the primary contractors with Iran. It is also known that Germany is helping the Iranians by making it possible for them to get the currency they need to pay the Russians. Even the Iranians admit that they have purchased interests in European companies involved in uranium enrichment. One has to wonder how their management direction changed after the fall of the Shah. What is not publicly available anywhere is confirmation of suspicions that France and Germany have business dealings with Iran that are as dirty as were those with Iraq. That may have to wait until after the mullahs fall.On the North Korean trade front, the reporting has been cast more in the context of the EU setting up trade deals. Of course, the irony here is that all Kim Jong Il would want to buy is arms, even though what he really needs is food. My understanding is that Germany has refused to trade -- not for lack of desire, but because it put no faith in North Korea's letters of credit. Smart move, that.

Further he finds:

“Concerning NoKo business links to other countries, including Spain. I would add one elaboration about Japan: So what? If NoKo had kidnapped hundreds of your nationals, to what lengths would you go to get them out? As far as I know, nobody from Spain is being held against his will in NoKo. As for China and Hong Kong doing business with them, well -- surprise, surprise, huh?”

But here’s is a real doozy - direct from the European reports: the EU has
set up an office to protect intellectual property in North Korea.

There are also the
NoKo-linked Credit Bank in Vienna: That one is not new -- it's been around since the mid-90s. The bank itself has been active in and around Europe since the mid-80s.

- Thank you, Frank.

Acting out of convenience while the Kim Jong Il’s government behaves as it does isn’t just appalling, it flies in the face of the supposed moral superpower “prime directive” the EU imagines for itself. What’s worse, is that if forces on the South Koreans to compete with the North Korean for European attention to maintain existing relations which would otherwise be at risk.

North Korea’s biggest problems are the weather and the seasons. They tailor their good NorK/ bad NorK positions based on what they need when they need it. Instead of structurally reforming their economy, they have chosen to take their blackmail tactics into the nuclear age. To be sure, their position internationally depends on starving their people, while the need to engage others is based on their people starving. The inhumanity of this behaviour is obvious.

Where does this leave the Europeans, though? It will forever put them the embarrassing position they found themselves in when it came to deposing Saddam Hussein, and never actually having the opportunity to prove itself any sort of “moral superpower”.

"It's because of its support for the struggle for freedom, rather than in spite of it, that the Bush administration is loathed" in Old Europe

You've heard how it isn't the U.S. military, or George W Bush, who brought down the bloody dictatorship of Saddam Hussein while ensuring elections in Iraq but (in the immortal words of a French government spokesman) the international community, haven't you?

Well, now it turns out that it wasn't Uncle Sam, or Ronald Reagan, who brought down the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, ensuring freedom to the masses of Eastern Europe, but the Helsinki Agreements!

John Vinocur has more in the International Herald Tribune about the ever-so-decent-and-trustworthy European realists who are always carping about Bush's alleged lies, the administration's liberties with the truth, and America's wishful thinking. (In his column, Vinocur notes, among other things, that "the Helsinki precedent was impotent to stop the Jaruzelski military regime's crushing of Solidarity in 1981" and that Gerhard Schröder displays "serious discomfort" with the F-word [freedom] except when it concerns emancipation "from the United States".)

On the final day of his visit last week to near-friends and kind-of continental allies, George W. Bush shook hands with a European who told him in no uncertain terms that he appreciated the role of the United States "doing a lot of things in the world."

Mikulas Dzurinda, the prime minister of Slovakia — a rather new, very small country with realities that include a border with Ukraine, a contingent in Iraq, and insecurities about its own eternal independence — said Slovakia "supports the policy of the United States based on advancing freedom and democracy."

Bush may have thought, finally a guy who wants to get the message. Three days earlier in Brussels, … Bush used the word "freedom" 22 times. There was no bludgeon in its delivery, but the president was telling Europe the United States owed it consideration and respect — although in the parameters of an American foreign policy he defined as advancing freedom in the world.

Perhaps because he did not catch the Schröders or the Chiracs rising to replicate his vocabulary, Bush upped the ante in a shorter talk here. My Freedometer clocked the president at 17 mentions of freedom or liberty, one in each paragraph of his text. A grateful-sounding Bush said of Dzurinda, "the prime minister understands that those of us who are free have a responsibility to help free others in order to make ourselves more secure." …

A French reporter, who may have thought she was teeing up a sarcastic hole-in-one for Jacques Chirac, asked him to comment on Bush's "march towards freedom." Chirac chose the grand manner instead, saying he didn't see how anyone could not be receptive to a plea for freedom. After all, he recalled, liberté, égalité, fraternité.

But Gerhard Schröder? The F-word, as best as I could hear and read in Brussels and Mainz, did not come out of his mouth, although he has talked in recent years of Europe's emancipation from the United States. If Friedrich Schiller wrote magnificently of freedom in the Germany of the late 18th century, freiheit now has a leaden sound for the government there.

…In Brussels, in Bush's presence, the Belgian prime minister, after a nod in liberty's direction, offered the world a reading of history that went straight to the throat of both America's role in the collapse of the Soviet Union and Bush's views of spreading freedom.

The Soviet Union imploded, [Guy] Verhofstadt said, to a large extent through the pressure of the Helsinki Agreements. No mention of NATO. Exit the United States' staring down the Soviets as the essential element in Europe's remaking.

Decoded, the argument raised to both the level of sacrament and Europe's doctrine for the future the old West German approach to dealing with oppression and potential aggression, awkwardly translated as "change through rapprochement." It advanced, as if fact, the idea that it was not the Americans but the Helsinki Accords of 1975 (a kind of rule book for détente, legitimizing Russia's western borders, but hardly ever getting a Western newspaper past the Berlin Wall under its reputed liberalizing provisions) that really freed the Slovaks, Poles, Romanians and so on.

This surely is not the vision today of Eastern Europe, like the Poles, who raged when both Germanys, east and west, winking at Russia, scorned the Solidarnosc freedom movement. But it is becoming the not-so-subterranean justification in Germany for its caution about the Orange Revolution in Ukraine last year, and its frequent contempt for Bush's arguments on attaining freedom in the Middle East. [In related news, Poland's president met with his French counterpart on Monday.]

The fact is, Schröder, who fought against a United States daring to counter Soviet missiles in the early '80s (with the same vision he later summoned to argue against German reunification or creating the euro), may well have caught onto something in the German psyche and historical experience that prefers stability to freedom — and that he thinks can be made all of Europe's.

An article late last year in the Berliner Zeitung, no pal of the Bush administration, pointed to it, saying Michael Moore's ranting about Bush aroused far more excitement in Germany than the Ukrainians' struggle. "Why so cool?" it asked. "Does it have to do with the Germans themselves? West Germany was much more about stability than freedom." …

Looking at Germany and Bush last week, the German daily Die Welt went as far as writing, "You almost get the impression that it's because of its support for the struggle for freedom, rather than in spite of it, that the Bush administration is loathed." And it offered a bet that hatred for America would subside sooner in the Middle East than in Europe.

"Democracy and freedom are on the march"

Bush Revolution sweeps all before itLa Révolution Bush fait table rase
Old Zeropa isn't forgetting the war in Iraq? Screw them. After a courtesy visit, they are already forgotten. The navel gazers in France and KrautLand no longer represent Europe. And there are other well known anti-American voices now thankful for the war in Iraq.
La Vieille Zéropa n'oublie pas la guerre d'Irak? On s'en fout pas mal. Eux, suite à une visit de courtoisie, sont déjà oubliés. Les nombrilistes en France et en SchleuLande ne représentent plus l'Europe. Et puis, il y a d'autres personnages anti-américains bien connus qui sont désormais reconnaissants pour la guerre en Irak.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Syrian backed government resigns

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon's Syrian-backed government has resigned in a surprise move as thousands of protesters waving Lebanese flags rally in central Beirut to demand the withdrawal of Syrian forces from the small country.

The resignation of the government of Prime Minister Omar Karami on Monday came amid unprecedented public pressure and blame for former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri's killing this month.

"The people have won," main opposition leader Walid Jumblatt told LBC television after Karami announced the resignation of the cabinet to a parliament session debating Hariri's killing.

The Bush Bashing Corporation

Former magazine maven and editorialist Myrna Blyth commenting in National Review, draws the reader’s attention to the BBC and their senior Washington correspondent, Justin Webb. He has a puzzling habit of not giving his own readers, listeners, and viewers an accurate picture of the nation he’s supposed to be covering. The British tv-tax payer should demand a refund.

For starters, we are "strait-laced and earnest." Our "heads are in the clouds." And, worst of all, we tend "to hold firm to a principle even when practicalities get in the way." So that, one might assume, is not the virtue that an Englishman named Churchill once so nobly displayed, but nowadays is a very naïve, very American flaw.

But what else ails us? He bashes us because we are religious, of course, declaring, "America is fast becoming a nation of faith not fact... Television coverage of the Asian Tsunami was a case in point. In Europe it was covered as an unrelenting tragedy, in America, one television network promised 'incredible stories of lives saved in near miraculous fashion."

Yet all I have to do is type "tsunami miracle stories" on Google and guess where the first story comes up? Yep, the BBC! "Tsunami 'miracle' woman pregnant," a survivor's story that was reported on January 6 and included the fact that a woman, who was adrift for five days told her rescuers, "I saw sharks around me but prayed they wouldn't hurt me." I assume her statement of faith is not yet incomprehensible to the British public.

But what really bothers Webb most is "the vision thing." We, darn it, think it is important and Europeans just don't. That, according to Webb, is what divides us most of all. "While Europeans fret about what they regard as real life, about poverty and social justice and about combating AIDS, Americans find it easier to rally round a vision, however unworldly that might be." This has been going on for years, he avers, illustrating his complaint with such past "vision-based" misdeeds as "President Reagan's arms build up in the 1980s, which helped destroy the Soviet Union, or the first President Bush's decision to press for German reunification, whenever Mrs. Thatcher was nervous." So are we to believe President Reagan's defeat of Communism wasn't a good idea because it was based on holding fast to a principle, which remains such a grave American failing?

He also declared, "The fact is that Americans have long regarded Europeans as weak-willed, lily livered, morally degenerate moaners, incapable of clear thinking or resolute action." That is obviously a sweeping generality that I don't think is true — but commentaries like this one on the Beeb certainly don't help. Then Webb concluded his moan with the same lament Brit journalists have been using about Americans since the 1960s: the size of our gas-guzzling cars. (Believe me, my husband through the years used it time after time.) He moaned, "At the end of my skiing holiday, I drove my family home in a hired car larger than most tanks and as fuel efficient as the Queen Mary. On the journey to Denver airport, dozens of similar vehicles passed us." Oh, dear. Well, Justin, if it bothered you so much, "at the very moment that the Kyoto treaty was coming into force, to the sound of great European fanfare" why didn't you do the right thing and go to the airport in the hotel's shuttle? But that, I guess, would have been acting like an American and holding firm to a principle even when practicalities got in the way.

Garbage in, brains outOrdures qui entrent, cerveaux qui sortent
Another European country that adopted a policy of immigrant family reunification. They bitterly regret it now.
Un autre pays européen qui a adopté une politique de regroupement familial. Il s'en mords les doigts maintenant.

Machine kaput
One of the funniest things to ever come out of Zeropa was the now infamous Lisbon statement: 'to make Europe the world's most competitive and dynamic economy, characterised by sustainable growth, more and better jobs and greater social cohesion, by 2010'. 25 February 2005: French unemployment tops 10%. It's structural guys and it ain't going away when baby boomers retire because the unemployed suburban kids who would, in theory, apply for those jobs are too stupid to sign their own names and too violent to be trusted with a stapler.
L'une des déclarations les plus poilantes pondues par l'Union zéropéenne est la tristement célèbre déclaration de Lisbonne: '[d'ici 2010 l'Europe doit] devenir l'économie de la connaissance la plus compétitive et la plus dynamique du monde, capable d'une croissance économique durable accompagnée d'une amélioration quantitative et qualitative de l'emploi et d'une plus grande cohésion sociale.' 25 février 2005: Le chômage fwançais dépasse les 10%. C'est structurel les gars et il ne descendra pas lorsque les baby-boomers prendront leurs retraites car les chères têtes blondes de chômeurs en banlieue, qui théoriquement postuleraient pour ces postes, sont trop cons pour écrire leurs propres noms et trop violents pour qu'on leur confie ne serait-ce qu'une agrafeuse.

EU smokescreenL'écran de fumée de l'UE
Brazil, China, and now Mexico. Time for anti-globalisation globophobes and other dogmatic 'Spirit of Seattle' pilgrims wankers get up from their iMacs, look in the mirror, and ask themselves if they really have accomplished anything at all.
Le Brésil, la Chine, et maintenant le Mexique. Il est grand temps que les altermondialistes globophobes et autres pèlerins dogmatiques de l'Esprit de Seattle quittent un peu leurs iMacs, se regardent dans la glace, et se demandent si leurs efforts ont abouti à quoi que ce soit jusqu'ici.

Separated at birth?

...only one of them is always looking at the bright side of death.


My Name Is Erik, and I Am a Salivating Moron (Hello, Erik!)

"Salivating morons." "Scalp hunters." "Moon howlers." "Trophy hunters." "Sons of Sen. McCarthy." "Rabid." "Blogswarm." "These pseudo-journalist lynch mob people."

This is excellent invective. It must come from bloggers. But wait, it was the mainstream media and their maidservants in the elite journalism reviews, and they were talking about bloggers!

Don't miss Peggy Noonan's take on bloggers and their significance.

Iraqi PM on the Big Responsibility of the Media, in Iraq… and Elsewhere

We have a better chance of getting [Iraq's political process] right if the constitutional debate is as broad and public as possible
writes Ayad Allawi in the Wall Street Journal (while Arthur Chrenkoff gives a roundup of the past two weeks' good news from Iraq). In his intelligent editorial, the prime minister whom many dismissed as nothing but Bush's puppet goes on to say
The whole of Iraqi society needs to be engaged in both the debate and the reconciliation which it should bring. This places a big responsibility on the new, free media in Iraq.

But the pan-Arab media has a big role to play as well—something it already appeared to relish during the election campaign. Arabic satellite TV stations such as Al Arabiya were obviously excited and inspired by the sight of real democracy in the heart of the Arab world. By reporting fairly on the elections, they in turn inspired their Arab audience across the Middle East and beyond. Iraqis were proud to see their country dominating the region's airwaves, and indeed the media of the world, for reasons not of war or conflict, but for the fascinating sight of real democracy at work.

The elections were a big turning point—not just in Iraq but also internationally. In Iraq, we are relieved that the much-needed reconciliation between pro-war and antiwar powers has now been achieved. Now that the differences about the past have been confined to history, we can all focus on the needs of the future. I am delighted to see that more European countries and others are now coming forward to help us in the huge task of rebuilding our country.

… The period ahead will be no less fascinating than the last 20 months in Iraq. The pace and the extent of change will be no less rapid or far-reaching. Some of the focus of the international community—at least the non-Arab community—may shift away now that we have reached and passed as critical a milestone as January's elections. And that will, frankly, be welcome: The unremitting glare of the world's spotlights all trained on Iraq has made our job at times even harder than it otherwise would have been.

But our enthusiasm, and my enthusiasm, for the job ahead is no less today than it was in April 2003. In Iraq, as we build our future, we make history. The support of our allies, who have already given so much, will remain crucial to our success. But that future first and foremost depends on our own commitment and efforts. I can assure you that no one wants to see a successful Iraq more than the Iraqis themselves. And I am confident that we have both the ability and the determination to succeed.