Saturday, March 12, 2005

Beirut: Over 10400 gather to form Lebanese Flag.

Bjørn Stærk catches a weasel in the wood pile

Gratuitous Architecture Photo from Norway:
World champion marathon blogger and all-around cool dude, Bjørn Stærk catches an lefty American blog in a lie. "Moon of Alabama" posted a genuine looking news piece (ginned up out of thin air) that an anti-terror campaign in Norway was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Though he got the author to admit to fabrication, the meme is spreading in Norway's left-wing circles. Bjørn:

«Since Pentagon, in Bernhard's view, could have financed this campaign, it's okay to make up evidence that it has. He doesn't fool his own readers, who know that the reference to a source called RBN marks the entry as fake, but he knows that others may stumble across it and be fooled. And he doesn't care.

As commenter CluelessJoe
puts it:
Well, anything that can convince people the current US admin at large is a bunch of traitorous scheming scumbags bent on world domination is fine with me. Doesn't matter if it's true or not, as long as it helps to bring them down by any means necessary.»

Here's their exchange:
Bjørn: «b: The posting is only one quarter fake? ESAG is existing, Yes. But I don't see the relevance. You're making up facts in a way that, to accidental readers with little knowledge of the subject, appear factual. Why? I don't detect an attempt to be humorous here. So why did you make up these facts? Why didn't you mark this entry in a way so that a random intelligent reader searching for, say, ESAG + US government, can tell that it is fake?»

Mr. Agit-prop: «@BS Because it is
1. most likely the US government is paying this campaign and I am not aware of any other organisation that1a. had officially annonced a program of strategic disinformation

1b. could have any interest in spending millions on such a thing
2. Because it is a message from RBN - reality based news and this is a Reality-based blog - (sometimes in the Bush sense).

3. The readership of this blog knows it´s half truth because they did read the last two
RBN messages here too

Unglaublich! ESAG exists, so my accusation is 1/4 true? Yes... reality BASED.... but somehow not Reality dwelling in reality! Here's his email Have at 'im.

Bonds Forged in Blood Tend to Endure…

…if they are not hampered too much by the political élite
In Lebanon, unlike Iraq, France and the United States have shed blood together, the 299 lives — 241 of them American and 58 French — lost to Hezbollah suicide bombings on Oct. 23, 1983
writes Roger Cohen in the International Herald Tribune.

More than two decades have passed since then, but bonds forged in blood tend to endure. …

For the record, I have never shared some Americans' scepticism regarding the quality of the French armed forces per se. I have heard several times that the military asked for nothing better than to join Uncle Sam's boys in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Unfortunately for its members, they live in a culture where Yankee-bashing is rampant, Americans are consistently regarded as the country's (and the world's) most treacherous foe (indeed, basically, its only foe), and initiative as well as efficiency (military or otherwise) are underrated.

I have been reading NAM Rodger's history of Britain's naval forces, and it is quite startling to hear how much of the same cynical environment existed back in the 1700s… Such as this gem, uttered by a French decision-maker in 1779:

Too often these … battles produce much more noise than profit
It's not exactly the ubiquitous "La guerre, ça ne sert à rien", but it's pretty close. Needless to say, the difference with the English (or les Anglo-Saxons) in cultural mores and attitudes, as Rodger points out, was one key reason that allowed the Royal Navy ultimately to gain the upper hand in the long-standing rivalry with its counterpart across the Channel. (Plus ça change…)

Update: My book review on N.A.M. Rodger's The Command of the Ocean was published in the June issue of Naval History.

Peeling it apart...

«The European Onion during construction.
As you can see, our expert friends gave us a helping hand... well, not all... but he did help, really, he just doesn't like to show off in front of cameras.»

The mighty wind that Berkeley missed

Orly Halpern writing in the Jerusalem Post in an feature article titles A Democratic Electric Shock (registration required) points to the rapid changes seen lately on the Arab Street. It seems the White House was not incorrect in assuming that the Arab Street wasn’t reserving its’ anger for America, as much as it was against the lack of freedom found in their own lives.
Like Hizballah’s attempt to put their tired old incitements and tirades back on the public’s radar with a staged mob, signs of counterbalance, if not permanent cracking in the tyrannical order appear to be emerging.

«First, millions of Iraqis defy terrorists by flocking to vote in their country's first-ever free election; then thousands of Lebanese take to the streets demanding Syria leave their land; a few days later Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announces a multi-candidate presidential election; and finally, the street demonstrations lead to the Lebanese government's resignation. Not long before all this the Palestinians elected democratically Mahmoud Abbas to succeed the autocratic Yasser Arafat.

An editorial in the Saudi Arab News daily earlier this month wrote: "Winds of change are blowing though the region... Until a few weeks ago, change was seen as driven from outside, by the Americans. Those who still think that are clearly wrong. The Americans may have done some of the initial driving but it is now being driven from within. The Middle East is ready for change and wants change, but not only between Palestinians and Israelis."

But the most penetrating and invasive reform engine in the Middle East has been globalization. Satellite TV dishes dot Arab capitals and Internet is highly accessible in most Arab countries. Knowledge is power, and Mideastern regimes have made sure to control its flow by owning most print and broadcast media.

Now, however, times are changing, and "leaders can no longer control information," said Newton, "so now people can make their own judgments and form their own conclusions."»
I wonder - will
these folks ever get it?

Invited to the White House, the Rwandan Hero (That Poor Man) Found Himself Confronted with the Clueless George W Bush

The Rwandan hotel manager who saved the lives of more than 1,200 people (when he sheltered them in his rooms during the genocide in 1994) got to see firsthand what an ignorant dolt George W Bush is when he was invited to the presentation of Hotel Rwanda, writes Elisabeth Bumiller in her article on the commander-in-chief's movie-viewing habits.
Presidents get Hollywood perks beyond first-run movies, of course. Perhaps the ultimate perk is the power they have to summon people connected to the movies for conversations afterward.

Bush did that last month with [Paul] Rusesabagina, the wily and courageous man of Hotel Rwanda who was played in the film by Don Cheadle.

On Feb. 15, after the White House contacted MGM, the film's distributor, Rusesabagina found himself in the Oval Office discussing Hotel Rwanda with Bush, Laura Bush and senior White House staff members.

"Don Cheadle is an actor," Rusesabagina said in a telephone interview on Friday from his home in Brussels, where he now lives. "He is a messenger."

The president, he said, "wanted to know who was the person behind the story, the real life behind Hotel Rwanda."

Rusesabagina said that Bush had been well briefed. "He was informed about everything," he said. "He knew everything that happened in Hotel Collines. He was asking me why did I decide to do that? And then at the end, he said I had done what any human being should have done."

Friday, March 11, 2005

Don't stay in hopeless. Polska.

Madrid's public memorial to the victims of the 11-March terrorist attack has its' proponents and its' critics, and is inadvertantly acting as something of a polling machine.

From the Guardian:

«The memorial to the victims in Atocha station is no Picasso. At first glance, it could be two self-service ticket machines. On closer examination, these turn out to house metal keyboards on which you can type a message of commemoration or solidarity, linked to a scanned image of your hand. Between the two memory machines hang large white cylinders on which people can write whatever they like. "Never again", features several times. "Aznar, Bush and Blair are the assassins." And a voice of touchingly ungrammatical Polish optimism: "Don't stay in hopeless. Polska."»

…they say a thousand words

Robert Tumminello posted a brilliant haiku-like photo essay on the presently blossoming changes in Lebanon that puts it in clear perspective.

Dude, you’re
my hero.

The Problems with Present-Day Journalism

The problem we have with present journalism is that journalists have increasingly shifted from a role of bringing news to one where they try to influence opinion
writes Jean François Martinez.
What are the problems?

1) The journalist gets an audience infinitely superior to the one of the average citizen. When the journalists as a whole have opinions who are significantly different than those of the silent majority it becomes a problem: in the name of what is thesis A (the one of the journalists) getting that much airtime while thesis B (the one of the people) is getting no air time?

2) Journalists don't limit themselves to editorials, they distort the news according to their opinions. Worse, they have used the tactics of silencing the unpleasant (for them) news. While an alert person could wade through opinions or even lies it is much harder to detect omissions

3) The journalist is not in a reaction of peer to peer with the public. A normal person discussing will probably keep a healthy does of scepticism toward the allegations of a politician and keep its critical sense when discussing with a peer while instinctively trust the news in the paper. Just like you expect your maths teacher tell you the truth about the Pythagoras theorem you don't expect lies from a person whose job is to inform you

4) People usually think in the need of guaranteeing the independence of journalists but the problem is often the opposite: politicians fearing the anger of journalists and molding the State's policy according to the wishes of the chattering classes instead of the wishes of the majority. If a politician takes a measure who is popular between his constituency but unpopular between journalists he will fear journalists not limiting themselves to attacking his proposition. They could silence anything he does or says who is likely to gain him votes while giving maximum publicity everywhere he goofs. They could wait for their moment until people have only vague memories about the matter and then present it in a form who makes believe journalists were right (cf how after a few weeks some journalists tried to rewrite history about the Dan Rather scandal). Or they could quite simply avoid mentioning him trying people forgetting about him (cf journalistic black-out toward Chevenement once he became dangerous for Jospin). At this point many politicians could cave in and do the will of the journalists instead of the will of the people. The possibility isn't theoretical: at one point Jospin adopted a policy towards Corsica who was both contrary to the wishes of the people and to the opinion of most of his party. But he wanted the support of "Le Monde" for the presidential elections and that policy
pleased to Colombani.

It is a grievous thing when politicians listen to journalists instead of to the people. It is a grievous thing when unelected people can change the policy of nation by shifting the public opinion through distortion of the news (think in Vietnam and the biased presentation of the Tet offensive and its role in the abandonment of the Vietnamese). It is a grievous thing when journalists try to change the outcome of an election and boast about their support being worth 15% votes for John Kerry. It is grievous and undemocratic

We also have to remember that journalists are not special people. They could have better information channels than most people but they aren't more virtuous, intelligent or cultured. They have no right to use and abuse of their position for the triumph of a cause who pleases them.

The job of a journalist should be to REPORT about the facts. And let the reader form his opinion instead of trying to mold it. That is how a journalist who has both ethics and some sense of democracy.

Shivering on the way to Maastricht

Faux de Meiux draws our attention to this item from the Grauniad on the EU Constitutional Referendum:
"All the polls show the pattern of France's referendum on the 1992 Maastricht treaty inexorably repeating itself. Starting with broad public support (65% only a few months ago), the yes camp finds itself becoming increasingly unpopular (now below 50%, according to some surveys). In 1992, it ended up carrying the day by a whisker, but this time it may not.

Right now, the no camp - composed of an unholy and disparate alliance of the National Front, the Communists, the Trotskyists, the left-leaning republicans, the right-leaning sovereignists and a significant minority of the Socialists - is busy earning points. The yes campaign, comprising most of the ruling UMP party, its centrist UDF allies and a majority of the Socialist opposition - has yet to get off the ground.


Hezbollah rally numbers manipulated - Exiled Lebanese leader says Syria used foreigners, coerced workers - March 9, 2005

Hundreds of thousands packed into a central Beirut meeting square yesterday, chanting support for Syrian troops to maintain positions in Lebanon and denouncing America in what has been called a massive show of strength by Syrian and Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

But Aoun told WND Hezbollah and Syrian officials used deceptive and coercive techniques to orchestrate the protest.

"This was not a Lebanese showing, and many of those who actually were Lebanese were not there because they support Syria. We know that at least three Palestinian camps were present. And there are 700,000 Syrian workers inside Lebanon, many of whom are not even supposed to be there. They were urged by Syria to attend so it looks like many Lebanese are protesting. Plus Syria bused in their own citizens from Syria through the border into Lebanon to join the rally."

Secretive manipulation

European groups are trampling on and distorting Israeli democracy through funding left-wing groups.

"And large sums have poured in from the European Union and its member states to so-called non-government organizations in Israel for use in "empowering Palestinians" and "ending the occupation." Jeffrey Halper's one-man NGO, whose agenda consists primarily of attacks against the "apartheid wall," and rhetoric aimed at undermining Israel's legitimacy, has received hundreds of thousand of dollars from the European Union.

“These lapses in civil behavior are not the result of bad judgment on the part of funders, or, in the case of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the gross offensiveness of a German organization seeking to mold Israeli views on war and peace.

“More broadly, such examples demonstrate a consistent and blatant attempt to manipulate a democratic process from the outside. Would France tolerate a mass advertising campaign aimed at civil society by American-government supported radical anti-abortion groups?

“In sharp contrast to the U.S., much of Europe is blind to the differences between Israeli democracy and Arab tyranny. The European Mediterranean Policy framework, also known as the Barcelona Process, uses the same methods and approaches to "civil society" in the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Egypt and North Africa as it tries in democratic Israel.

“However, since most of these funding organizations, including the European Union and its member governments fail to practice the transparency that they preach to others, Israelis do not have access to reliable information.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

84% of French oppose democracy84% des franchouilles sont opposés à la démocratie
About the same proportion that voted Chiraq.
A peu près le même pourcentage qui a voté Chirak.

The fickle neighbors

After months of ruminating Canada's Liberal Party government rejected an offer to partner with the United States on missile defense. Had the U.S. not asked there would have been howls of anger from the neighbors replete with the trope of the relationship being 'parental' in nature.

But they said no. Okay, well enough. Would they have ever said yes? Not likely. It's more likely that they wanted the US to ask -so that they could say no.-

One almost expects to hear: "ask me again, daddy!" but that will come likely from the Canadian media's next matter of pivotal interest – which generally amounts to “it’s all about Traaaaaaade!”, they seek an advantage at every turn, especially when the US is in a bind.

What's more is that the Canadian government wants to be asked by the United States if they want an incoming missile aiming for Canada to be targeted. 15 minutes is hardly enough time to 'commission a white paper' in any event. So what Canada has done is consciously given the strategic advantage to the attacker - eliminate the critical time advantage, guarrantee that they become the proxy target, and automatically turn themselves into an American enemy in the event of an attack, essencially doing away with the deterrent value of BMD.

Mr. and Mrs. MacDonald sure are fickle neighbors.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

A wily young Tom

One of the first things to happen in the book is a memorable one, the painting of the fence. Tom's aunt Polly made Tom paint her fence on a Saturday as a punishment. Tom just hated the idea of having to work on a Saturday while all of the neighborhood could make fun of and harass him. After Tom tried to trade some of his possessions for a few hours of freedom he had a stroke of genius, instead of him paying people to work for him, he made people pay him to paint.

Or to put it
another way...

A cattle car moving through the sky

Double Standards: Europe's Historical Amnesia

While every Frenchman, it seems, and every European — scratch that, make that every Western European — can recite every single "crime" committed by Uncle Sam over the past half century (all the while ignoring certain unpleasant facts), not to speak of the fate of the Indians and the blacks in America, the EU parliament's Polish delegation has no choice but to protest Europe's historical amnesia regarding much worse deeds perpetrated by the Kremlin (such as Stalin's massacre of 14,000 Polish officers at Katyn).

While the EU prepares to commemorate Madrid's March 11 bombing (which happily "escaped America's security abuses"), along with a conference (all the while refusing to forget José Couso), Paris admits that a massacre of Algerians in 1945 is "inexcusable".

This, six decades later, is Europe's usual way of doing things. It admits wrongdoings 10, 20, 40, 60, 100 years after the fact (when the individual perpetrators are dead or out of power), and all the while, it keeps up the barrage of criticism against America and its capitalist system for (what is considered) their present failures. (And why shouldn't they; the present is a much more important thing to consider than the past, is it not!)

The amount of time may vary, but if the Sétif story were a guide, we (and the French) may get the full story of story on the Ivory Coast shootings in 2064; the My Lai massacre (had it been committed by French troops — or any Europeans — rather than Americans) would come out around 2028 (rather than 1970); and the "peace camp's" (very real) dealings with Saddam Hussein in the 2050s.

But, of course, the main headlines of those years would not be devoted to those stories, but… to the latest "present" scandal involving …Washington and/or the capitalist system.

It is the same vein that we learned, some 50 years after the fact, that courageously neutral and ferociously independent countries such as Sweden and Switzerland in fact conducted quite a lot of business with the Nazi warlords. (But Europeans are much more interested in waxing ironically about the fact that Bush's grandfather may have conducted business with Berlin — in the 1930s, before the war broke out and before the Holocaust began in earnest — than they are in the fact that Europeans at the time were not as lucid, peace-loving, and standing-haughtily-above-the-irrational-fray as they claimed to be; and in the fact that Europeans of today did conduct business with Baghdad during which time Saddam Hussein had embarked upon the killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens.)

And now you understand some of the reasons why we don't take European criticism — or even straightforward news reports — sitting down, along with the attendant "principles" and "values" they make such a huff about, and why you shouldn't, either.


From the Dutch blog Zacht Ei (the tender egg), a report on one journalist’s impression of Giuliana Sgrena:

'Be careful not to get kidnapped,' I told the female Italian journalist sitting next to me in the small plane that was headed for Baghdad. 'Oh no,' she said. 'That won't happen. We are siding with the oppressed Iraqi people. No Iraqi would kidnap us.'

It doesn't sound very nice to be critical of a fellow reporter. But Sgrena's attitude is a disgrace for journalism. Or didn't she tell me back in the plane that 'common journalists such as yourself' simply do not support the Iraqi people? 'The Americans are the biggest enemies of mankind,' the three women behind me had told me, for Sgrena travelled to Iraq with two Italian colleagues who hated the Americans as well.

'You don't understand the situation. We are anti-imperialists, anti-capitalists, communists,' they said. The Iraqis only kidnap American sympathizers, the enemies of the Americans have nothing to fear.

- via John in London, a commenter on Biased-BBC.

Is Iraq the Next Vietnam? Or… Is It the Other Way Around?

There's been a lot of talk since Sept. 11 about how President Bush's war-lovin' ways have galvanized terrorists, recruiting jihadis to the ranks
writes Claudia Rosett in the Wall Street Journal.
What's increasingly evident, however, is that the character suffering the real blowback is Osama bin Laden, who, as it turns out, jolted the U.S. into a global recruiting drive for democrats. Faced with an unprecedented attack on American shores, Mr. Bush smashed the mold for Middle-East policy, and with the invasion of Iraq lit a beacon for freedom-lovers in a part of the world that until quite recently was widely seen as having none.

As it turns out, there are many. Already, Mr. Bush has been answered by the breathtaking election turnout in Iraq, the uprising in Lebanon, the tremors in Syria and Iran, the stirrings in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. But the effects hardly stop with the Middle East. In many places, people trapped under tyrannies are now watching. Ballots cast in Baghdad echo way east of Suez.

Read how Vietnam may be the new Iraq

An unintentional tragedy versus a policy of deliberately aiding terrorists

Arguably far more reckless [than U.S. soldiers manning the checkpoint where Giuliana Sgrena's car came under fire] was Italy's decision to pay ransom — reportedly of $6 million or more — to secure her release
editorializes the Wall Street Journal (which points out that "her claims in some interviews that her car was moving slowly and cautiously are contradicted by, well, Ms. Sgrena. Her own account of the fateful journey, published Sunday, has them traveling so fast they were 'losing control' and laughing about what an irony it would be if they had an accident after all that had happened. In other words, they probably looked like a suicide car bomber to a scared American solider [sic] who had to make a split-second decision at night").
Italy is also believed to have paid ransom for the release of two aid workers taken captive last year. The Italians know the U.S. opposes the policy, which may be why Ms. Sgrena's transfer to the airport was not sufficiently coordinated with U.S. forces.

Not only does paying ransom encourage more kidnapping — of Italians especially — it also puts money in the hands of the enemy in a country where $40 buys an automatic rifle and $200 an attack on U.S. forces. The shooting of a speeding car at a military checkpoint in a war zone is an unintentional tragedy, but the paying of ransom amounts to a policy of deliberately aiding terrorists.

Update (grazie para Giovanni)

Nimmo’s nitrogen narcosis

Kurt Nimmo has it all wrong. Even the BBC’s numbers were exaggerated at 100 000 pre Syrian supporters. But in his desire to see anyone and everyone hurt in the interest of his domestic political causes, he goes so far to even get history wrong and parroting agit-prop:

Here’s the deal in Lebanon: between 500,000 and a million Lebanese turned out to tell Bush and Chirac they don’t want Syria out of their country, not because they particularly love the Syrians but rather because they are deathly afraid of what will happen if the Syrian military leaves. “Hundreds of thousands of pro-Syrian demonstrators have gathered in Beirut to denounce what they see as Western interference in Lebanon,” reported al-Jazeera earlier today. “No to foreign interference,” banners read. “Beirut is free, America out,” protesters chanted.
First of all, America is not there to be OUT. Yanqui is already gone home. The call for Syrian withdrawal were domestic. By “western interference” he must mean the Lebanese who largely concider themselves western. If he’s looking for foreign interference, look no further than Syria.

Then he resorts to the same old trick of repeating the words "Sabra and Shatilla" as often as possible, as if they were entirely detached from any other event in the history of the Lebanese Civil War.
Nor will he even mention the elephant in the room: the fact that the Palestinians were (just one example) doing more harm to the Lebanese than they ever did to Israel.

Discover the Network gets further into it. Feel free to explore, but I have to warn you about the risk of nausea.

Common cause, common dreams

Estimates on Guliana Sgrena’s liberation range from 1,5 to 13 million dollars. That sure buys plenty of donkey bombs.
And it’s happened before.

Meanwhile, their leftist fellow travelers are more worried about things they think
matter more than human life.

What France's Bush-Bashers Like to (Loudly) Denounce and What They Prefer to (Conveniently) Overlook

It is entertaining to observe the embarrassment of France's Bush-bashers, overrepresented in the French press and foreign ministry
notes Ivan Rioufol.
If they accuse the Americans of being the root cause of insecurity in the Middle East and of having awakened terrorism, they [France's Bush-bashers] forget to mention that they [the Americans] are even more certainly at the root of the region's democratization and that they have fanned the flames in the peoples' desire for emancipation.
(Naturally, the "entertainment" applies to many of the Bush-bashers who leave comments on our site as well…)

Too late to sign up for the Eurovision song contest?Elle arrive trop tard pour l'Eurovision 2005

Filthy Latté Socialist shitting on welfare recipientRMIste chié dessus par un sale socialo caviar
I'm loving it.
Je kiffe.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Gitmo fever

For those of you out there who are Gitmo obsessed and are downright sentimental for Clintonian "Realpolitik" and "lucidity" on matters of human decency, we have an interesting item by way of Dylan Sherlock's blog.

One former marine's account of Cuba from
Guantanamo Bay NAS:

That explosion touched my world. Then, I witnessed the worst thing I ever saw in my life. As the dust cloud wafted away from those refugees, nobody ran. Nobody screamed. Nobody said anything. They just laid down to die in the middle of a minefield that was the sun's anvil.

Read the
whole thing.

And if the present rhetoric doesn't look familiar, or you think that the endless nauseating drumbeat of accusations is about being "anti-Dubya", but not "anti-American", evidence to the contrary is quite abundant:

Is Clint Eastwood the Embodiment of America?

Before a foot has even been shot, Clint Eastwood's new picture is "headed for the maw of political controversy"

writes John Vinocur in the International Herald Tribune.

Eastwood has been there often enough since his Dirty Harry cop movies. In those days, Clint and the films' fight-back message got called dementedly violent, even proto-fascist. Now, respected and rich, there is more of an instinct to let the political stuff roll off his back, like the current accusation that Million Dollar Baby is pro-euthanasia.

But the flag-raising-at-Iwo-Jima movie, with its seeming premise of American triumphalism, is another story. Making it in the context of the slog in Iraq confronts Eastwood with creating a film that, regardless of what he puts into it, precasts itself as a metaphor.

Read the following sentence and ask yourself if Eastwood is not, somewhere, somehow, the embodiment of America:
Underestimated, dismissed much of his life, and because of it thinking faster and more slyly than most everybody he talks to, Eastwood was ahead of the curve, of course.
Vinocur continues about the man who played the "squinting Dirty Harry — the cop who enraged the left by saying it's as morally reprehensible to submit to violence as to create it":
Actually, Eastwood describes himself as a social liberal and a fiscal conservative ("If there are anymore"). That means he's not against abortion and is not waiting alongside Mel Gibson for the apocalypse. It takes no tortured construct to think of him as a guy out of blue-collar Oakland with real concern about the injustice and humiliation in his country, and a conviction that on the global scale of what's fair or good, the U.S.A., plus or minus, checked and balanced, is still the world's strong suit.

…So here he is at 74, hating thesis movies, but ready to make a picture about a moment of American glory that will say a lot, if by indirection, about what kind of place he thinks the United States is now.

(A Cyrus Weisburg contributes an update from Helsinki (third letter down))

(While we are on the subject of Hollywood, take a moment to read what Alejandro Amenábar proposes to do with his Oscar (third paragraph).)

Paranoid trolls

I find one thing very interesting about the hostile comments - they are never about the subject of the post. Why is that?

Of all the hate mail I’ve gotten, my favorite had to be one that just said:
“Fu*k you, Joe! Slow food.”
Naturally, none of the posts up at that point, or the post he commented on had anything to do with food, globalizations, or any other even broadly or parenthetically related subject. It was just an expression of programmed hatred. The guy could have had a key in his back: wind it up and watch him go.

The most frequent blurts we receive are simply repeated, unrelated, and often ancient bromides. There are always one or two about Native Americans, Jews, whatever race seems handy for them to sort out...
It’s quite amusing, really. They remind me of this little guy:

After all what can you make of our commenters and the Eurolefty vision in general when geeks who would rather be assembling model boats can debunk 9-11 conspiracy theories.

Explaining how confusing and risky checkpoints can be — from both sides

The split-second decisions by marines like Sergeant [Jim] Beere are often made in the fog of war
writes the Christian Science Monitor's Dan Murphy, while Annia Ciezadlo explains how confusing and risky checkpoints can be — from both sides (in my opinion, besides being printed in the Stars and Stripes, her article should be translated into Arabic and published in all Iraqi periodicals).

Here is more on Iraq's terror cells, on how they are praised in the Arab press, and on how America's intervention can only lead (and didn't independent newspapers like Il Manifesto tell you so all along?) to condemnation and hatred in the Muslim world.

Meanwhile, one of Dan and Annia's colleagues had the following to say, five months before Giuliana Sgrena's car came under fire (emphasis added):

How to safeguard yourself, unless you want to trust your fate to weapons? You have to live by certain rules: always on the move and not to be detected, almost like a conspirator; always change your daily programme; change the route you drive; change meetings; if possible avoid to get stuck in a traffic jam. Foremost, never tell anybody, where you go. ... Try to avoid military convoys. A wrong move, and the machine gun shooter, sitting on a tank, shoots indiscriminantly...
Just for the record, please click here to see the name of the reporter who offered this bit of wisdom

(Danke schön to RF Hoffmann and David Kaspar)

Now that you mention it, a pack of T-bones and a crate of brewskies would be nicePuisque tu le demandes, envoie une douzaine d'entrecôtes et une caisse de bière
Even Le Monde Al-Jazzera on the Seine is asking the question. Things are moving in the Middle East: should we thank Bush?
Même Le Monde Al-Jazira sur Seine pose la question. Le Proche-Orient bouge : faut-il remercier Bush ?

Don't sweat the small stuff, sweetheartTe bile pas pour les égratignures, chérie
Communist journalists now know that it's Bush's way or the highway!
Hé, les cocos! Fallait pas conduire comme des cowboys!

Absolutely goddamn fucking right!Oui, putain de bordel de merde!

Now, for a European newspaper, that is truly provocative. Right behind the Old Europe fudgepackers at Der Speigel, Zeropean pinheads are talking sense after getting whacked with the Bush clue-bat.
Peu de temps après les Schleus chez Der Speigel, les zintellos zéropéens sont si sonnés par le coup de massue de Bush qu'ils commencent à parler vrai. Voilà quelque chose de vraiment provoquant de la part d'un journal en Europe. (pas comme les ersatz de provocation mollement éjaculés dans les copier-coller des tarlouzes consensuelles)

Paranoid but lucidParano mais lucide
What a Frenchman thinks of French society. (English version here.)
Ce que pense un français de la société française. (Version en langue anglaise ici.)

Monday, March 07, 2005

Le premier hittiste
Le premier hittiste

Screw Michel RocardMichel Rocard peut se faire mettre

One French guy who has something on the ballUn gars français qui a oublié d'être bête
A great new blog by a French guy now living Stateside.
Un nouveau blog vraiment très bien de la part d'un mec français qui est parti vivre aux States.

Trudeaupian dystopia

What G8 nation is run roughly along the lines of, say, a third world country with a ruling elite that can't be blasted out with dynamite?

Mark Steyn clues us in:

I always love the bit on the big international news story where they try to find the Canadian angle. A couple of months back, every time I switched on The National, there seemed to be no news at all and Peter Mansbridge was in the middle of some 133-part series of reports on “Canadians making a difference in the world,” which at least three nights a week seemed to be an “encore presentation” of the same worthy soft-focus featurette about some guy helping with an irrigation project in Sudan.

...Imagine if Jenna Bush married the chairman of Halliburton’s son, and then George W. Bush was succeeded by a president who’d been an employee of Halliburton: Michael Moore’s next documentary would be buried under wall-to-wall Oscars and Palmes d’Or. But M. Desmarais has managed to turn Ottawa into a company town without anyone being aware of the company.

During the Iraq war, for example, I mentioned en passant that Power Corp. is the biggest shareholder in TotalFinaElf, the western corporation closest to Saddam Hussein (it has since changed its name to the Total Group). Total had secured development rights to 25 per cent of Iraq’s oil reserves, a transformative deal that would catapult the company from a second-rank player into the big leagues with Exxon and British Petroleum. For a year, the antiwar crowd had told us it was “all about oil”--that the only reason Iraq was being “liberated” was so Bush, Cheney, Halliburton and the rest of the gang could annex in perpetuity the second biggest oil reserves in the world. But, if it was all about oil, then the fact--fact--is that the only Western leader with a direct stake in the issue was not the Texas oilpatch stooge in Washington, but Jean Chrétien: his daughter, his son-in-law and his grandchildren stood to be massively enriched by the Total-Saddam agreement. It depended on two factors: Saddam remaining in power, and the feeble UN sanctions being either weakened into meaninglessness or quietly dropped. M. Chrétien may have refused to join the Iraq war on “principle,” but fortunately his principles happened to coincide with the business interests of both TotalFinaElf and the Baath party.

"The wife back in Manchester worries a lot"

A dentist from Manchester, England, whose only previous cause was supporting his local soccer club, has turned his back on drilling and filling

writes the Daily Telegraph's Colin Freeman,

to become the reluctant savior of one of the Sunni Triangle's most violence-prone trouble spots.

Abdallah Al Jibouri, 45, an exiled Iraqi who spent more than 20 years in Britain … originally had planned merely to check up on his elderly mother when he visited his hometown of Miqdadiyah, 60 miles north of Baghdad, shortly after the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein.

His language skills, however, ensured that he was pressed into service as unofficial negotiator between U.S. troops and Iraqis, who elected him mayor.

Much to his astonishment — and, he says, to the dismay of his British wife, Sharon — he also became governor of the province of Diyala, with a population of 1.8 million.

Not Likely to Make Headlines in the MSM…

… a reporter for the Communist daily Il Manifesto … charged yesterday that U.S. forces might have deliberately targeted her because Washington opposes Italy's policy of dealing with kidnappers.
Instead, it turns out, suggests the Washington Times's John Phillips, that American troops targeted the car (not reporter Giuliana Sgrena) simply because it was driving in a threatening way, in ways that have let to loss of life for the coalition troops in the past. Insofar as this happened "because" Washington opposes Italy's policy of dealing with kidnappers, it seems to have happened not because the Americans wanted to teach the Italians a lesson (as is implied) but because the Americans were kept in the dark…
Italian agents likely withheld information from U.S. counterparts about a cash-for-freedom deal with gunmen holding an Italian hostage for fear that Americans might block the trade, Italian news reports said yesterday.

…La Stampa also quoted diplomatic sources saying vital information was withheld from the Americans.

"Italian intelligence decided to free Sgrena paying a sum to the kidnappers without informing American colleagues in Iraq who, if they had known about this, would have had to oppose it, to have impeded the operation," sources said.

"If this was the case, it could explain why American intelligence had not informed the American military commands about the operation and thus the patrol did not expect the car with the Italians."

And before we get inundated with charges that the Yankee bogeyman is arrogant "because" it interferes in Italian policy, let us remember that the money handed over was paid to those terrrorists — sorry, those insurgents — who daily try to murder American soldiers and Iraqi civilians (not to speak of Italian soldati)…
Now Sgrena and her boyfriend are saying the incident was a US ambush and that the US soldiers didn´t want Sgrena to get out alive
writes Ray. why didn´t they kill her then? The US troops fired dozens of rounds into the vehicle to stop it, certainly it would have been easy to take out all of the passengers and completely destroy the vehicle had that been the American´s intent...And if the US wanted her dead, why didn´t they kill her in the US military hospital where she was treated after the shooting or at the airport? The sad part of this all...the [European] media is uncritically reporting this incredible, lunatic, conspiracy-theory nonsense. …
Ray adds the following (read the whole post, also to see how Il Manifesto conveniently waters down its inflammatory Italian title for American (and English-speaking) readers):
George Bush should never have apologized to the angry Euro crowd who will now rush to demonstrate against the liberation of 25 million human beings. They could care less that millions of Iraqis now have enough to eat and a democratic future minus a mass murdering tyranny. No apology would ever be enough for them. President Bush could have gotten down on hands and knees and it would not have been enough for the enraged Left. They have a simple goal: To attain political power through the demonization of the United States and the destruction of transatlantic relations. They want to see the United States humiliated and defeated no matter what the cost in human life and freedom and no matter what the facts. Deep down most of them could care less about the life and tragic death of the heroic Italian security agent Nicola Calipari.

Marching for Women's Rights and Equal Rights (Except in…)

Thousands of women took to the streets of Paris Sunday to march for freedom and equal rights ahead of international women's day, focusing especially on the plight of a woman journalist held hostage in Iraq
writes the AFP.
Organisers said as many as 10,000 rallied for "all women deprived of liberty" two days ahead of International Women's Day on Tuesday, March 8. Police put the figure at only 2,600.

The marchers unveiled two huge portraits of Florence Aubenas, a correspondent for the leftist daily newspaper Liberation and her Iraqi guide Hussein Hanun al-Saadi, who went missing in Baghdad two months ago.

The demonstration was "dedicated to Florence and Hussein, while remembering all women who are deprived of freedom," said Fadela Amara, president of one of two women's groups organising the march.

Hope has been rekindled for Aubenas after an Italian hostage, journalist Giuliana Sgrena, was freed Friday in Iraq. Last week Aubenas was shown in a videotape by her abductors looking frail and ill and pleading to be rescued.

Sunday's rally was called by a group of young women of mainly immigrant origin calling itself "Neither whores nor submissive" (NPNS), headed by Amara, and by the French Family Planning organisation. …

Here are some women the protestors did not march for on Sunday, and whose absence of freedom they did not seem to make a huge effort to commemorate, either on Sunday or… in the past…

Yeah, right....

Wake up and smell the coffeeDe la merde dans les yeux
Structural unemployment (now at 10%) reinforced by a hell of a bunch of unemployable stupid violent suburban kids (they don't know how to write their own names but they can spell K-I-K-E). The failure of unemployment policy: time to wake up.
Le chômage structurel (à présent à 10%) dopé par toute une smala de banlieusards abrutis et violents qui sont inaptes au travail (il ne savent pas écrire leurs propres noms mais ils savent épeler F-E-U-J). L'échec de la lutte contre le chômage : il est temps d'ouvrir les yeux.

Act Shut-Up
"Le suicide pas lié à l'homosexualité mais à l'homophobie". Ne pas aimer n'est pas phobie les gars, faudrait penser à vous munir d'une carapace plus résistante car ce n'est pas en gémissant que vous allez vous faire de nouveaux amis. Ce n'est pas la peine de vous foutre tous dans un ghetto pour ensuite pleurnicher que vous vous retrouvez isolés.

Red "hearts" green

The The BBC is putting a chirpy face on Hizballah, saying that they are for the withdrawal of Syrian troops and spooks from Lebanon. The Washington Post reported Hizballah’s opposition to withdrawal on the front page.
Indeed they said both of these things, but they only sincerely mean one of them. The enforcement of
UN resolution 1559 would require Syrian forces to leave, and the dissolution of the Hizballah militia. They were created as a pet project of Iran and acted as Syria’s proxy, and were the only militia who were not disarmed even though they were required to under the UN resolution and the 1989 Taif accord.

The six million dollar woman

Pay blackmail, and they’ll always come back. Pay ransom and you’ll have another kidnapping. Ms. Sgerna’s freedom appears to have cost the Italian government $6 000 000, but for leftists who can’t stop thinking that they got to “stick it to the man” forcing their own nation which, deep down, they hate, this is a double emotional victory.

They get to harm their own nation, and still play the victimhood
“power under game”.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Hint: not the tricolor

Caught by an AFP photographer in Beirut: people celebrating the resignation of the Syrian-stacked government and flying the flag of a certain nation.

- Thanks and regards

Is Sgrena a “victim”?

Damian puts it best, but it should be said here too.

Her obsession with kidnapped journalists is
quite obvious. She wrote on the subject 3 weeks before she was picked up. Given her view of the war, was she a willing participant in what is now a well patterned ‘kidnap kabuki.’ To boot, her writing reveals a kind of martyr complex, endemic of the left which seems incapable of believing in anything larger than themselves.

Leftist conspiracy erm, “fan” Kurt Nimmo wrote on
February 14th that he didn’t think that Sgerna was kidnapped by Iraqis at all, but by the Iraqi government, and later in the article, by American forces, of course. (I guess we NEED all that attendant good publicity THAT would create...)

Giuliana Sgrena, an unembedded Italian journalist, was not kidnapped by the Iraqi resistance. If you read her stories, you will immediately realize the Iraqi resistance had absolutely no reason to abduct her. Giuliana Sgrena wrote about the suffering of the Iraqi people under occupation.

“Suffering daily abuses and violence from occupation forces or their proxies, the Iraqis themselves are subjected to routine hostage-taking by the occupiers,” writes Stefano Chiarini, Il Manifesto correspondent in Baghdad.

“This type of kidnapping distorts and defames the resistance of the Iraqi people against the American occupation,” said Sheik Abdel Salam al Qubaisi of the Association of Islamic Scholars, a Sunni organization. For his effort on Sgrena’s behalf, Sheik Ali al Jabouri, a member of the Association of Islamic Scholars, was arrested by Allawi’s goons.
Sgrena worked for Il Manifesto, an Italian leftist newspaper, and she was “among the founders of the peace movement,” according to her biography on the Il Manifesto web site. “Giuliana was in Iraq to witness the plight of innocent Iraqi people and show to the world that the invasion of Iraq by US forces has brought nothing positive but more pain, sufferings and tragedies for ill-fated civilians. As a freedom-loving Italian journalist she wanted to uncover those aspects of the life of Iraqi children, women and men that are usually ignored by other known Western media,” writes Rawa (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) for Bellaciao.

So none of it worked. Not the “reportage”, not using a fog of accusations and silliness to damage the election, not the “kidnapping” gambit if it was one.

The Doc quite believable suspects that her hostage video was a hoax in that she was a willing participant:

What is interesting about the plea is that Giuliana Sgrena was already trying to end the occupation before she was kidnapped. Further, the Mujahadin Without Borders group is previously unknown and is a different organization than the Islamic Jihad Organization that initially claimed her abduction. Moreover, her claim that the jihadis do not want foreigners in the country is simply empirically false. What the jihadis do not want is non-dhimmi infidels in the country. Foreigners who wish to fight the 'Zionist-Crusader Forces' are always welcome.
She now thinks that she was deliberately targeted. Look at the verbal dysentery we have to put up with now and ask yourself WHY she would be targeted? Does she imagine that the troops manning the checkpoint know her personally? How self-obsessed can you get? If you don’t think that they have a motivation to exaggerate, then read

With HER motives, her abuse of the Italian security services who obviously had to buy her release, SHE is the one who should be investigated. Look who was the first to meet her – none other than Romano Prodi, ready to cash in, and more than capable of excessive drama. Her kidnapping looked like his chance at finding a dent in Berlusconi’s political armor.

Nimmo prattles on:

In other words, she was an enemy of the United States, not the Iraqi resistance, in the same way Margaret Hassan was an enemy of the United States, or rather the policies of the United States. Both Hassan and Sgrena were kidnapped by “counterinsurgency” black op groups—now admitted to be working in both Iraq and Iran by the Pentagon—posing as resistance fighters. I have no evidence of this but it is the only explanation that makes sense. I have written about this elsewhere, so will not repeat the details.
No evidence”, but “admitted.” Oooh-kay…. There are so many holes in all of this one can’t help but suspect a setup – a kind of PR “black ops” of the crazy and predictable European left.

All we know is that their vehicle ran a checkpoint, and that they were shot at. Anyone who has been to the middle east knows what a checkpoint looks like. They are everywhere, and for no particular reason in places where there is no open warfare like Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and the Gulf states. Run it and get shot. How is a senior Italian policeman NOT going to know that. So how is this useful to Ms. Sperna?

Damian wrote about how in a period as short as 2 day, how the details are changing - now she says that they were not speeding, what she initally referred to his "leaning over, probably to prtect me" turned into bold valiance with not a slump, but some last words...

Now she is news. She has her "martyr" and a great deal of sympathy.