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April 05, 2003

MORE disappearances in Algeria. Is somebody hiding something?

TOM BRIDGE thinks the antiwar movement is losing steam.

MEGAN MCARDLE QUOTES GERHARD SCHROEDER:

Indeed, to Schroeder’s eye, there is hardly anything worth cutting, right down to the generous dental benefits. “I do not want to return to an era when you can judge someone’s wealth by the state of their teeth,” he observed.

Megan notes that in the United States, we've achieved this goal:

The reason that I comment on this is that one thing you can't tell people's wealth by, in the dog-eat-dog dystopia that is America, is their teeth. Their sports gear, their vacations, their choice of dinner spot, yes, but not their teeth, at least not where I am.

(There's an interesting discussion in the comment thread, too.) However, as this photograph of European Central Bank head Wim Duisenberg would seem to indicate, the Euros have achieved equality by choosing, um, a different path. . . .

UPDATE: A frightening observation.

ANOTHER UPDATE: People ask me what I know of European dentistry. Well, when I was a kid and we lived in Germany (my dad was teaching at Heidelberg) I went to a German dentist. She had the same name as a famous war criminal. I think it may have been the same woman. . . .

And my dentist in New Haven had as a major part of his practice redoing the inferior dental work of foreign students.

On the other hand, when my brother was working at the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, a high-ranking diplomat was kicked in the mouth by a horse. He had repair work done by an oral surgeon in Lagos, but then returned as soon as possible to the States, on the assumption that he'd have to have everything redone by someone competent. He went to a bigshot oral surgeon in Washington, D.C., who looked at the X-rays and said "this is beautiful work. I wouldn't change a thing."

VIRGINIA POSTREL is fact-checking The New Yorker, and dissing Eliot Spitzer.

By the way, now that she's got a new MT blog, instead of chiseling her HTML into stone tablets the way she used to, she's updating more often -- so you might want to check her site more often, too.

THE NEW YORK TIMES REPORTS:

It is not easy being an old lefty on campus in this war.

At the University of Wisconsin at Madison, awash in antiwar protests in the Vietnam era, a columnist for a student newspaper took a professor to task for canceling classes to protest the war in Iraq, saying the university should reprimand her and refund tuition for the missed periods.

Irvine Valley College in Southern California sent faculty members a memo that warned them not to discuss the war unless it was specifically related to the course material. When professors cried censorship, the administration explained that the request had come from students.

Here at Amherst College, many students were vocally annoyed this semester when 40 professors paraded into the dining hall with antiwar signs. One student confronted a protesting professor and shoved him.

Some students here accuse professors of behaving inappropriately, of not knowing their place.

"It seems the professors are more vehement than the students," Jack Morgan, a sophomore, said. "There comes a point when you wonder are you fostering a discussion or are you promoting an opinion you want students to embrace or even parrot?"

Across the country, the war is disclosing role reversals, between professors shaped by Vietnam protests and a more conservative student body traumatized by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Prowar groups have sprung up at Brandeis and Yale and on other campuses. One group at Columbia, where last week an antiwar professor rhetorically called for "a million Mogadishus," is campaigning for the return of R.O.T.C. to Morningside Heights.

Even in antiwar bastions like Cambridge, Berkeley and Madison, the protests have been more town than gown. At Berkeley, where Vietnam protesters shouted, "Shut it down!" under clouds of tear gas, Sproul Plaza these days features mostly solo operators who hand out black armbands. The shutdown was in San Francisco, and the crowd was grayer.

All this dismays many professors.

Read the whole thing. Heh.

HERE ARE PICTURES FROM A PRO-WAR RALLY IN ESTONIA.

HERE'S A TIME PIECE on warblogs.

AUSTIN BAY looks at how the warplan has worked so far. He thinks that CENTCOM's plan is going pretty well.

April 04, 2003

I'M PULLING FOR THIS GUY: But I wouldn't want to be the first one to ride the rocket.

EARLIER, JOHN KEEGAN WAS WONDERING where all the dead Iraqis are. Now Howard Veit is worrying that we'll get flak for killing too many.

BAD NEWS AND GOOD NEWS. First the bad news: the Martin Savidge quote that everyone was excited about turns out to be a hoax. Now the good news: before he found out, Joe Katzman wrote this post. Which, together with the comments, is damned good.

So, as usual, is this news and background roundup from Winds of Change.

UPDATE: Check out Defense Tech, too.

HERE'S A GALLERY OF IMAGES from the Toronto pro-America rally mentioned below, emailed by various readers. Enjoy!

It looks damn cold in Toronto. Brrr. Thanks to all the wonderful Canadians who turned out.

UPDATE: How cold? Reader Patrick Brown emails:

I live about 2 hours southwest of Toronto. In my regular Friday morning Statistics class today, I had less than one-quarter of the normal turnout, because of the very bad weather here. An ice-storm hit overnight. Trees are down, power is out in many places, and roads are bad because (at least in my town) it appears that the city has already put away the salt trucks and plows. So, the turnout at the Rally for America in Toronto is doubly impressive.

This story from The Globe and Mail says that "thousands of Canadians" appeared in "driving, freezing rain." As I said before, brrr. I love you guys, but I don't think I'll be leaving Tennessee for Toronto any time soon.

ANOTHER UPDATE: And speaking of Tennessee, here's a report on Knoxville's pro-war rally. It says there were more than a thousand people. InstaLawyer has some more photos. Note the sunny weather and blooming dogwoods.

And Mark Wickens has a report and more pictures from the Toronto rally.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a link to video from CTV of the Toronto rally. (Via Kathy Shaidle). And David Janes has multiple posts, and notes the different slant in the CBC coverage.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON WRITES that the real story of the war and its related diplomacy is the American public's response:

Something weird, something unprecedented, is unfolding, driven by American public opinion — completely ignored in Europe — and the nation’s collective anger that Americans are dying by showing restraint as they are slandered by our “friends.” Despite the protestations of a return to normalcy, this present war will ever so slowly, yet markedly nonetheless, change America’s relationships in a way unseen in the last 30 years.

With little help from Saudi Arabia or Turkey — “allies” and “hosts” to our troops — damned by many of our NATO allies, stymied in the U.N., turned on by Russia, opposed by Germany and France, the Coalition nevertheless is systematically liberating a country under the most impossible of conditions. This experience in turn will oddly — if we avoid hubris and maintain our sanity — liberate us as well.

Far from making the United States hegemonic, the success in Iraq will have a sobering effect on Americans. Contrary to pundits the hard-fought Anglo-American victory will not make us into hegemonists, but simply less naïve about tradition-bound relationships and the normal method of doing business. I would expect military spending to increase, even as reluctance grows to get involved with any of our traditional allies.

Read the whole thing.

HERE'S AN ACCOUNT OF ANOTHER PRO-U.S. RALLY IN TORONTO:

TORONTO -- About 1,000 Canadians gathered in the freezing rain Friday to show their support for the United States at a downtown rally.

Organizers of the Friends of America said the rally was not formed to champion the U.S.-led war in Iraq but to show friendship and goodwill between the two countries.

''We're not fair-weather friends,'' emcee Ted Woloshyn, a local radio host, told the crowd bearing American and Canadian flags and Union Jacks. Others held placards with slogans such as Canada Loves America, Chretien Doesn't Speak For Me and Freedom Isn't Free.

Political speakers included Canadian Alliance Leader Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Ernie Eves. The widow of a Canadian killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York's World Trade Center was also scheduled to make remarks.

Eves said there were likely those who do support the war in attendance - himself included.

''Canadians, friends of America - that is who we as Canadians are,'' Eves told the crowd.

''Our American neighbours, our friends, our colleagues, our Allies have always supported us, they've protected us, they've helped us and they've stood by us and now we should be standing by them.''

Thanks, guys.

UPDATE: Reader John MacDonald emails:

There were more like 6000 at the Toronto Friends of America rally.There would have been a lot more except the weather was terrible,freezing rain,sleet, icy roads.People stayed home from work ,let alone showed up for a rally.The weather didn't dampen their enthusiasm for the U.S.A.

Several other Canadian readers have sent similar comments. I hope to have some photos up later.

SO IS THE NEW SADDAM VIDEO REAL OR NOT? I'm skeptical. But I hope it's real, and he's alive. I want him to be lynched by Iraqis, a la Mussolini, and I want it to be broadcast on Al Jazeera.

Meanwhile H.D. Miller explains how we'll know for sure that Saddam is dead.

UPDATE: Shaun Kenney emails: "Keep your eye on Saddam's left arm during the video. It barely moves."

I haven't seen the walking-around video. But the still from it on the front page of the Washington Post doesn't look much like the guy who was giving the speech earlier.

Meanwhile Chris Crofoot sends:

The recent 'live' appearance of Saddam Hussein and the reference to the Apache downed by a peasant has a simple explanation, I think. Looking at the Pictures of the downed Apache makes it look like the chopper went down due to mechanical difficulties (it sure didn't appear to have been damaged much). A pre-arranged story about a heroic peasant downing an Apache is released after the Iraqis get their hands on Apache wreckage (in this case it was nearly intact). A pre-recorded video of Hussein is later released referencing the pre-arranged story about the peasant... ta-daa semi-convincing evidence that Hussein is alive because he's referencing the peasant story. Is he that devious? Who knows...

Who does know?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ann Haker emails this observation:

Some people have pointed to the smoke in the background of Saddam's walking-around video as proof that it was relatively current. But remember what Salam Pax said on March 2:

A week ago on the way to work I saw a huge column of blackest-black smoke coming from the direction of Dorah refinery which is within Baghdad city limits, thought nothing of it really. A couple of weeks earlier to that a fuel tank near the Rasheed army camp exploded and it looked the same, stuff like that happens. My father was driving thru the area later and he said it looked like they were burning excess or wasted oil. Eh, they were never the environmentalists to start with; if they didn't burn it they would have dumped it in the river or something. The smoke was there for three days the column could be seen from all over Baghdad being dragged in a line across the sky by the winds. During the same time and on the same road I take to work I see two HUGE trenches being dug, it looked like they were going to put some sort of machinery in it, wide enough for a truck to drive thru and would easily take three big trucks.

So, it could have been filmed at the end of February--which would also jive with the warm coats the people are wearing.

Interesting observation. Warm coats? It's been pretty hot around Baghdad.

HERE'S AN INTERESTING COMMENTARY on media coverage of the war -- from the lefty L.A. Weekly, no less. Excerpt:

This war, with its multichannel, multinational perspectives, is turning out to be a moral relativist’s wet dream. (CNN is just so March 18; the cool people all get their news from Hezbollah TV now.) Which is a pity, really. On one side you have a country ruled by a bunch of totalitarian thugs in a region in which benign dictatorship is as good as it gets; on the other you have the U.K. and the U.S., where, despite the corporate dictatorship, the President Select, the slippery machinations of Halliburton, blah blah blah, the L.A. Times can quote the Iraqi Ministry of Information approvingly on its front page while Peter Arnett goes on Iraqi television to tell Chemical Ali, Mrs. Anthrax and the rest of the noble Mesopotamian leadership what a bunch of heroes its “resistance” fighters are. . . .

For some people, the only appropriate response to the pathological hatred emanating from the Middle East is self-flagellation. On BBC America, the anchors almost visibly salivate when word of an errant marketplace bombing flashes across the wires. (Finally! Proof that we’re evil! That we’re just as bad as they are!)

Read the whole thing, as they say.

THIS SATELLITE IMAGE is interesting. A contrail from Iraq to Iran. I wonder what's up?

UPDATE: #$%! Blogger! Go here -- it's currently still at the top.

MICHAEL KELLY WAS KILLED IN IRAQ while traveling with the 3rd Infantry. Here's a link to his last column, from yesterday. I'm devastated.

The Indymedia folks, though, are happy, writing "WP Nazi columnist bites the Iraqi dust."

So typical. So pathetic. This, by Jonah Golberg, is much better.

UPDATE: Ana Marie Cox emails:

I am writing to beg that you point out, somewhere, that plenty of lefties are mad about Indymedia's smear on Michael Kelly. I am one of them -- I blogged a bit about it, I posted on their comment board.

I'm on a one-woman campaign to not let Indymedia off the hook -- if they think criticism of their malice is coming mainly from pro-war people, I just don't think they'll listen.

I'm not sure they'll listen in any event, Ana, but I'm listening, and I'm glad to hear it. (There's more on Ana's blog.) Unfortunately, it's not just IndyMedia -- check out the posts here on DemocraticUnderground, a site that's not affiliated with the actual Democratic Party, to the undoubted relief of the latter. And these guys wonder why they're the butt of cartoons like this one?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a statement from The Atlantic Monthly.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: This Dan Kennedy obit is well worth reading.

STILL MORE: John Hawkins has been wading through the Democratic Underground posts, and has some highlights.

LAST UPDATE: David Levy sends this more heartening story:

didn't hear it this morning, but there is a rebroadcast of the local NPR "DC Politics Hour" in the evening. DC politics are fun to talk about ... scandal and vouchers. The discussion was broken by a call telling the news from Iraq.

The reaction was so different than what's been going around the fever swamps of the left. I think one of the participants started to cry. Said she not only knew him but she knows his mom and dad. Someone -- I was driving and didn't take notes -- said that war losses are now personal. This is the first "home town boy" who had been lost.

These are folks on DC NPR. If you called them liberal, they might correct you and ask to be called leftist. Nothing was said about his politics, as if that would matter at a time like this to people of character. I thought you would like to know, given the ghastly reaction of those who have perhaps not reflected upon the possibility that reciprocity is deeper than tolerance.

Yes, I'm happy to hear this.

THE QUAGMIRE CLUB is discussed by William Powers at the National Journal:

There's a ritual, a kind of quagmire Kabuki that never varies. Someone employs the word in a war-news report or one of those deeply important "analysis" pieces that are just opinion columns in front-page drag. The most famous quagmirist, R.W. Apple Jr. of The New York Times, doesn't even have to use the word anymore. He just does an interpretive fan-dance around it and everyone knows what he means.

Heh. Though the image of Johnny Apple doing a fan dance is, well, disturbing. Sally Rand he ain't. Meanwhile non-quagmirist Tom Holsinger writes that Baghdad may be more like Manila, 1945 than Grozny, 1995.

Interesting.

TOPPLING SADDAM HUSSEIN:

As the engineers strapped explosives to the legs of the horse that Mr. Hussein sat astride, Army tanks blocked entry to the boulevard. Hundreds of men and boys crowded on nearby street corners.

The blast, when it came, was met with rousing cheers.

The horse and its rider were sent hurtling off the pedestal, crashing to the base. Then the Iraqi colonel and his men began speaking over a loudspeaker, proclaiming an uprising against Mr. Hussein's government. When they were finished, residents snapped pictures of friends on top of the pile of ruins of the statue, or posed with the soldiers. Then came questions for the nearest available Americans.

"When Saddam Hussein goes?" Ali Salah asked. "Not in Najaf. Saddam in Baghdad."

I think he's already gone, claims to the contrary notwithstanding.

DAVID CARR NOTES CASTRO'S CRACKDOWN ON DISSIDENTS and suggests that it's evidence that the Castro regime is worried:

When governments start incarcerating their political opponents for life, it is because they are frightened and deeply worried and usually with good reason. I suspect the game is nearly up.

I hope he's right. He also adds:

And, just as an aside, doesn't this show up the juvenile, publicity-seeking, egocentrism of the 'Bush is Hitler' mob in sharp relief? While genuine freedom fighters risk their very lives by taking on 'Il Presidente', the likes of Michael Moore can pose as 'oppressed heroic victims' while being chauffeured around to their various awards ceremonies and public speaking engagements.

And saying nice things about Castro, more often than not.

THIS ESSAY by the Dissident Frogman is worth reading. Be sure you read the whole thing.

MELISSA SCHWARTZ'S father has been killed in an auto accident. Please join me in holding her in your thoughts.

EVAN COYNE MALONEY has a new video on antisemitism in the "peace" movement.

JOHN KEEGAN WONDERS where all the dead people went. The live ones, too.

UPDATE: Well, this accounts for some of the Republican Guard, anyway.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Donald Sensing has found the rest. It seems Keegan's column was overtaken by events, a hazard for any writer outside the blogosphere.

PROFESSIONAL PRIDE: Jessica Lynch's rescue was made possible by a heroic Iraqi lawyer. No, really.

UPDATE: Here's another story on this. And here's yet another.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Donald Sensing, who's on a roll, says the Iraqi should get a medal. And there's one for this purpose.

THERE'S BIG EXCITEMENT AROUND HERE: The InstaWife's documentary is out, and the first review is good. She's talking with HBO folks, etc., but if you happen to own a large television network, please get in touch. It's about murderous lesbian teenagers -- a distinct change from the war coverage. . . .

April 03, 2003

FUTUREPUNDIT has an interesting post on SARS and the possibility of silent carriers. (Via Dawn Olsen). Futurepundit has lots of posts on SARS.

NICK DENTON ASKS: "Is there any way to delay the capture of Baghdad just long enough to first draw in every seething Islamist across the Middle East?" Nick's mixture of sophistication and practical bloody-mindedness is just what is missing from Europe today. It's no wonder he lives in the States now.

And, I must say, that has been my reaction to the breathless reports that terrorists were flocking to Saddam's banner. The more that do so, the more we can conveniently kill wholesale, instead of having to hunt them down in small numbers later. As it is, the "Saddam Fedayeen" with its suicidal yet largely futile attacks has ended the careers of many people we're better off without. I don't suppose that was part of the war plan, but it might have been.

BREAKING WINDOWS: A clever and thoughtful anti-war protest.

This harassment of lawful protest, on the other hand, is just nasty:

On Sunday morning, a man called the home of Wayne Hogg's uncle and said "we need to let you know Wayne died two days ago."

The report was false, but it turned into a nightmare for Hogg's family. His uncle, Danny Hogg, says it took the family a full day to get confirmation that Wayne was still alive in Iraq.

Danny Hogg had participated Saturday in a Flagstaff rally to support U.S. troops in Iraq.

Sunday morning, a photo of him taken at the rally appeared in the Flagstaff newspaper. And it was a short time after the paper hit the streets that the call was made to Danny Hogg's home.

Taking names of protesters, and then harassing them on the phone. It's like what the FBI did under Hoover.

DE GENOVA UPDATE: Congressman J.D. Hayworth wants him fired. But that's silly. Instead of engaging in clumsy bill-of-attainderesque high-handedness, Hayworth would be better advised to craft legislation that would force schools like Columbia and Harvard to offer ROTC. That would do far more to make his point than legislative assaults on a pathetic anonymity like De Genova.

Meanwhile, Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down weighs in:

"There were literally a thousand or more Somalis killed in that battle to 18 American soldiers, and that small band of American troops accomplished their mission in Mogadishu that day," Bowden said.

(Via -- where else? -- The Filibuster).

UPDATE: Daniel Drezner isn't so sure I'm right that De Genova shouldn't be fired.

GOOD GRIEF: Over 200,000 pageviews already today.

JAMES WOOLSEY IS PULLING NO PUNCHES:

He said the new war is actually against three enemies: the religious rulers of Iran, the "fascists" of Iraq and Syria, and Islamic extremists like al Qaeda.

Woolsey told the audience of about 300, most of whom are students at the University of California at Los Angeles, that all three enemies have waged war against the United States for several years but the United States has just "finally noticed."

"As we move toward a new Middle East," Woolsey said, "over the years and, I think, over the decades to come ... we will make a lot of people very nervous."

It will be America's backing of democratic movements throughout the Middle East that will bring about this sense of unease, he said.

"Our response should be, 'good!'" Woolsey said.

Singling out Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the leaders of Saudi Arabia, he said, "We want you nervous. We want you to realize now, for the fourth time in a hundred years, this country and its allies are on the march and that we are on the side of those whom you -- the Mubaraks, the Saudi Royal family -- most fear: We're on the side of your own people."

Woolsey, who served as CIA director under President Bill Clinton, was taking part in a "teach-in" at UCLA, a series of such forums at universities across the nation.

Hey, if I knew that they were saying that kind of stuff at "teach-ins" I'd have been a lot more enthusiastic about 'em.

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT IN AMERICA:

YPSILANTI -- WEMU-FM host Terry Hughes, known on the air as "Thayrone," was fired from the Eastern Michigan University public radio station Wednesday for repeatedly expressing his views about the war in Iraq, and refusing to run NPR news during his Sunday night music program "The Bone Conduction Show."

Hughes was fired by station manager Art Timko.

"Art said he was 'tired of the fight,' trying to get me to run news on the show and not have an opinion," Hughes said. In between the vintage Detroit R&B and soul music he plays, Hughes has been talking up the war in Iraq, expressing his support for the troops and for President Bush, and denigrating National Public Radio.

The WEMU station manager admitted: "Thayrone has always been opinionated. But most of what he had opinions about was not controversial. This time, it was."

But I thought dissent was, you know, patriotic.

PERRY DEHAVILLAND THINKS THAT TURKEY HAS CREATED THE KURDISH PROBLEM IT FEARS by not supporting the United States in Iraq. Since we couldn't send troops through Turkey en masse, we've used irregulars and Kurds. Now the Kurds will be feeling their oats, and there won't be a lot of American troops in the area to restrain them.

GO READ LILEKS. Now. I'll be here when you get back.

DAN KENNEDY WRITES THAT PETER ARNETT IS INSINCERE EVEN WHEN HE GROVELS:

Obviously Arnett didn't mean a thing that he said when he apologized yesterday. One wonders what else he has said that he didn't mean.

One really wonders if Arnett is a mole tasked with destroying the credibility of anti-American journalism. Note that he's now burrowing from within at The Mirror . . .

JOHN SCALZI says that if you don't know the Marines kill people, you're too damned stupid to be a conscientious objector.

KENNETH SILBER WRITES:

It is sometimes suggested that "you can't kill an idea." But actually some ideas can be killed—literally, on the battlefield. In particular, ideologies that glorify military conflict tend to fare poorly after their exponents suffer crushing military defeat. And this bodes well for the aftermath of the Iraq war, as well as for the broader war against terrorism.

Political ideologies can be divided, roughly, between those that believe "might makes right" and those that do not. Nazism, Fascism and Japanese militarism all were in the former category; each extolled its own military prowess and saw it as an indicator of racial or national superiority. Hence, losing World War II took away not only the institutions and resources of these might-makes-right ideologies but also their intellectual legitimacy. Their claims to superior power were refuted by Soviet tanks in Berlin, American planes over Japan, and so on.

Guess which category Saddam fall into. Osama, too. Read the whole thing.

A COST/BENEFIT ANALYSIS OF WAR: It's worth it, we're told. Here's more on the study in question.

IN THE PAST MONTH OR SO, 21 European tourists have disappeared in southern Algeria. Maybe somebody ought to take a close look at what's going on there.

SYRIA APPEARS TO HAVE CHOSEN UNWISELY.

THE IRAQI GOVERNMENT IS BECOMING THE BUTT OF JOKES.

DE GENOVA UPDATE: Apparently, Columbia alumni are upset:

Some alumni donors are pressuring the president's office and the Office of Development and Alumni Relations to fire Professor Nicholas De Genova for statements he made in last week's anti-war teach-in.
In the past few days, donors have barraged the offices with emails and phone calls, informing the University that they feel that De Genova overstepped the limits of academic free speech.

In mass-mailed email messages circulated among each other, alumni have urged each other to issue an ultimatum to the University: Fire De Genova or lose our donations. . . .

CC alumnus Steve Stuart wrote an email a few days ago to over 100 alumni--whose combined "net worth," he said, is at least $250 million--asking them to express outrage to University President Lee Bollinger.

Frank Cicero, CC '92 and Senior Vice President of Investment Banking at Lehman Brothers, told Bollinger that he felt De Genova's presence on campus "pollutes the educational atmosphere."

That "pollution" may compel Cicero to stop contributing to the University.

"In the past, I believed that it was naive and in bad taste for alumni to withhold gifts because of the political opinions of faculty members," Cicero said in his email to Bollinger. "However, I am now considering doing just that in response to the vile and mendacious comments made by De Genova."

I don't think that De Genova should be fired, even for vile comments -- though it's certainly okay for alumni to withhold their contributions if they choose, as it's their money -- but I can't help but feel that a faculty member who called for "a million Matthew Shepards" would already be gone.

READER GEOFF MATTHEWS notes that Canadian support for the United States is growing:

Support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq is surging in Calgary and across the province, with three-quarters of Albertans in favour of Canada joining the fight, according to a new poll.

However, despite growing support for the war in Alberta and across the country, the Chretien government is standing firm on its decision to keep Canada out of the conflict.

"The (federal) government really blew it by looking at short-term polls (saying Canadians were against the war)," said pollster Faron Ellis of JMCK Polling.

"You're now seeing a shift everywhere, outside of Quebec, in favour of the war -- and Alberta is leading the edge of that shift."

Very interesting.

THEY'RE FIGHTING AROUND SADDAM INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, but the reports say it's not terribly intense. Here's a satellite photo from Tuesday. Apparently, they've found a lot of tunnels under the airport.

What is it with dictators, bunkers, and tunnels?

ACCORDING TO THIS PEW STUDY 4 percent of Americans are getting their news from weblogs.

UPDATE: Er, that's 4 percent of Internet users, not "Americans." Sorry; I don't know what I was thinking when I wrote it that way.

POWERLINE NOTES that the New York Times has admitted two serious errors that just happened to form the core of the last week's antiwar spin.

But unlike blogs, they've got editors!

BEN DOMENECH has numerous observations on the war and the domestic scene. Check 'em out.

"IT WAS LIKE THE LIBERATION OF PARIS:"

AJAF, Iraq -- An enthusiastic welcome for US forces in Najaf turned jubilant yesterday, as several thousand Iraqis braved sporadic firefights for what one special forces officer described as ''the Macy's Day parade,'' applauding a US patrol that pushed close to a religious shrine at the center of the city. . . .

In the midst of the fighting, a US patrol approached Ali's tomb, attempting to contact local clerics, but were met instead by a crowd. Lieutenant Colonel Chris Hughes, a battalion commander in the First Brigade, said: ''We waited about an hour and a half, and the hair on the back of my neck began to stand up. The crowd got bigger and bigger, so we pulled back out. But it was like the liberation of Paris.''

I wonder if it has anything to do with the pro-US fatwa mentioned below.

Jay Fitzgerald, who sent the link, wonders if they'll be showing these scenes -- and making that comparison -- in Quebec and France.

I'VE WONDERED IF SADDAM'S INCREASINGLY RELIGIOUS RAVINGS WILL DISCREDIT RADICAL ISLAM. It can't help. Meanwhile, there's this.

LONDON (Reuters) - An Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim leader has urged Iraqis not to hinder U.S. invading forces after previously asking them to resist efforts to topple President Saddam Hussein, a Shi'ite group in the UK said on Thursday.
In a religious ruling, or fatwa, Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani urged Iraqis to stop fighting in and around the Shi'ite holy shrine of Najaf, the Al Khoei foundation in London told Reuters.

Grand ayatollahs are the highest authorities in Shi'ite Islam and Sistani is the only one in Iraq. The fatwa applies nationwide.

"Until now the Shias of Iraq and the followers of Sistani were confused on whether to take up arms against the Americans, whether to fight," said a spokesman for the foundation, which represents followers of Sistani.

"This is reassuring to everyone. The regime wanted to portray the Shias of Iraq and Sistani as supporting him (Saddam)."

Sistani is the supreme religious authority at the al-Hawza al-Ilmiyya theological school in Najaf and had been under house arrest on President Saddam Hussein's orders.

This was the first fatwa Sistani has issued since his house arrest was recently lifted, the spokesman said, and it was expected to prompt fighters inside the holy shrine of Najaf to give themselves up within a couple of hours.

I wonder if we'll see more pronouncements like this.

KIM JONG IL HASN'T BEEN SEEN IN PUBLIC FOR DAYS. Apparently, it's because he's started blogging.

Yep, that would explain it.

DOUG INSTALAWYER WEINSTEIN REPORTS:

We just had a roving pro-USA rally come by my office here in Knoxville. Probably 75 to 100 people, waving american flags, boisterously shouting "USA, USA!" They came up the block from the Duncan Federal Building, turned left on Main Avenue, and were still yelling when I lost sight of 'em.

There should be more pix -- taken, like the one above, from his office window -- up on his site shortly.

UPDATE: He's emailed me a bunch of much better pix that will be up on his site soon. Here's one, though, that shows the crowd pretty well -- much bigger than the one above makes it seem.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I've replaced the lame original picture with a new one, above.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader at the Knoxville paper emails:

Our reporter on the scene of the pro-USA rally said estimates were about 1,000.

Wow. It sure looks like more than 75-100 in the pictures.

HOW BOGUS IS MARC HEROLD'S "IRAQI BODY COUNT PROJECT?" About as bogus as you'd expect, I guess, considering his track record with Afghanistan. Today he comes in for an Oxonian slap, as OxBlog points out that he's claiming more civilian deaths than the Iraqi government is. And that's his "minimum" count.

But read the whole thing, which makes clear just how shoddy and biased his methodology is.

EUGENE VOLOKH is slamming the Intercollegiate Studies Institute for selective quotation in its "Polly Awards," which are supposed to be aimed at left-wing excesses on campuses.

His example seems pretty damning.

THE IRAQIS HAVE FINALLY FIGURED OUT HOW TO SLOW THE AMERICAN ADVANCE:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraqi deserters and civilians are flooding out of Baghdad by the busload on Thursday and surrendering to U.S. forces advancing on the Iraqi capital, said a U.S. television reporter traveling with Marines. "There are so many people on the road now that it's impossible to further conduct military operations and so our unit has stopped now and set up a hasty prisoner of war compound," said ABC correspondent Mike Cerre. . . .

"What is stopping us now is the flood of deserters and civilians, on buses, trucks, taxicabs and whatever they can catch a ride on, trying to make their way south to their families or American forces to surrender" he said.

No doubt it's really a clever ruse.

ANTI-AMERICANISM IS COSTING THE MIRROR CIRCULATION:

Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan has admitted the paper's resolutely anti-war stance could lead to sales falling below 2 million for the first time in over 70 years.

Tim Blair has more. Didn't the circulation drop start about the time they hired John Pilger?

UPDATE: Why yes, yes it did. Heh. Somehow I don't think that hiring Peter Arnett will turn things around, either.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Eddie Vedder, meanwhile, is finding that anti-Bush theatrics turn off fans:

Incensed fans walked out of Pearl Jam's concert Tuesday after lead singer Eddie Vedder impaled a mask of President Bush on a microphone stand, then slammed it to the stage.

Most of Vedder's antiwar remarks earlier in the Pepsi Center show were greeted with mixed cheers and scattered boos. But dozens of angry fans walked out during the encore because of the macabre display with the Bush mask, which he wore for the song Bushleaguer, a Bush- taunting song from the band's latest album, Riot Act.

"When he was sharing his political views in a fairly benign manner - supporting our troops, opposing policy - that's OK," said Keith Zimmerman, of Denver.

"When he takes what looks like the head of George Bush on a stick, then throws it to the stage and stomps on it, that's just unacceptable. I love Pearl Jam, but that was just way over the edge. We literally got up and left."

Of course, when I read this my first reaction was "Pearl Jam is still together? Who knew?"

SYRIA LEARNS THAT IT'S EXPENSIVE -- sometimes literally -- to cross the United States:

ABU DHABI — U.S. special operations forces are said to have blown up an Iraqi pipeline that delivered more than 200,000 barrels of oil a day to Syria.

The Kuwaiti Al Rai Al Aam daily reported on Wednesday that U.S. forces sabotaged the Iraqi oil pipeline to Syria last week in an operation in northwestern Iraq. The newspaper quoted U.S. sources as saying the forces also blew up a railroad link between Iraq and Syria.

Until the start of the U.S.-led war against Iraq, Syria obtained 250,000 barrels of oil per day through two pipelines that stemmed from the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, Middle East Newsline reported. One pipeline reached the Syrian port of Banyas for export. The other provided oil directly to the Syrian national energy grid.

This is the wartime equivalent of a polite note. Let's hope they get the message.

HUMAN SHIELDS SAY THAT IRAQI CLAIMS ARE LIES:

THE US military says an Iraqi claim that buses carrying human shields had been bombed has proved to be false.

Iraqi Information Minister Mohammad Said al-Sahhaf yesterday said several people were wounded when a US warplane attacked two Iraqi buses carrying the volunteers. . . .

In Amman yesterday, volunteers arriving from Iraq in a road convoy denied coming under US attack.

"We saw damaged vehicles on the side of the road that were hit, but we did not witness any bombardment," American Scott Kerr said.

The 27-year-old, from Chicago, was among a group of 14 peace activists from the United States, Britain, Canada, Ireland and South Korea who drove out of Baghdad in a convoy of three mini-buses.

The whole "human shield" thing has been kind of a bust for the Iraqis, really. It's almost as if they were set up from the beginning.

MY COMMENTS ABOUT SADDAM'S LIKELY DEMISE have apparently struck a nerve at the Iraqi Information Ministry, which claims to have graphic proof that I'm wrong.

I don't think that this will convince many people, though. . . .

THE FILIBUSTER looks like a slam-dunk winner in the "best lefty group-blog" category. And I'm finding it the most interesting lefty blog period, at the moment. Plus, they're on top of the De Genova story like nobody else.

April 02, 2003

READ THIS POST entitled "Where do they get young men like this?" if you haven't already.

SOME INTERESTING OBSERVATIONS on traffic at both Big Media sites and weblogs, from The Wall Street Journal. Today's InstaPundit traffic (about 160,000 pageviews as I write this) is the highest since the beginning of the ground war. It's not surprising that more people are tuning in again now that there's more actual news.

(Via Romenesko).

THE AXIS OF WEASELS IMPLODES?

BERLIN - German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said Wednesday he hoped Saddam Hussein's government would collapse quickly, marking a stark turnaround from Germany's previous opposition to regime change as a goal of the U.S.-led war.

As a reader notes, this is about as useful -- and about as obviously self-interested -- as the Soviet Union's belated declaration of war on Japan, in the summer of 1945. But it certainly leaves Jacques Chirac in an embarrassing position -- though France is doing its best to pretend that it always opposed Saddam, too, really.

This is a major diplomatic defeat for Chirac and Schroeder, no matter how you spin it. What's more Jacques Delors is praising Tony Blair, and taking shots at Chirac now. Heh.

UPDATE: Tabula Rasa says this is evidence that Germany's stance was always an opportunistic, not a principled one. Yeah.

Meanwhile Megan McArdle wonders what Chirac was thinking.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's the Soviet Declaration of War on Japan, dated August 8, 1945 -- after the Hiroshima bomb was dropped.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: A number of readers think I'm being unfair to the Soviets here. (Note: no one has emailed to say I'm unfair to the Germans!) Reader Jim Ingram writes:

The timing of the Soviet declaration of war on Japan was in accordance with the Yalta Agreement which specified that the USSR would enter the war with Japan three months after the conclusion of the war in Europe. Germany surrendered May 8, 1945. Of course, Stalin was an opportunist when it came to keeping agreements as well as breaking them. This last minute declaration enabled the Russians to make a grab for some disputed islands between Russia and Japan at essentially no cost to themselves.

Fair enough.

UPDATE: Here's more pro-war sentiment in Germany. Here's a link to the Google translation, but reader Holger Uhl sends this better one:

Biting criticism of the (German) Chancellor

German Chancellor Schroeder, with his peace initiative "betrayed the UN". The 69 year old publisher of the "Tagespiegel in Berlin who had been the Cultural editor of Der Spiegel Magazine for decades said: "This war must now be ended in the favor of the Americans."

The present war " will prevent future and more tragic wars", he declared. It was a mistake even during the first Gulf war in 1991 not to go after regime change then.

Karasek explained his reasoning towards the USA policy as follows: The Americans were those that built the Germany in which I like to live." That alone is enough for me to support the USA.

Thanks.

STILL MORE: Brian Micklethwait reminds Megan McArdle that all politics is local.

FROM THE APPARENTLY NEVER-ENDING JOURNALISTIC IRONY SERIES: People are asking "how can you trust blogs when they're not Big Media?" After yesterday's fake-broadcast example, we now have a much more serious faked-photograph incident at the Los Angeles Times in which a photographer merged two photos to produce a dramatic -- and deceptive -- composite image that made it looks as if a coalition soldier was threatening a refugee and child. For shame.

Then, of course, there's this.

UPDATE: Dale Wetzel sends this link describing how a sharp-eyed Hartford Courant editor caught the fabrication.



HERE'S SOME SATELLITE IMAGERY OF BAGHDAD and related areas, dated yesterday, courtesy of Space Imaging Eurasia. (The item above, cropped from the "Republican Palace" photo, is used with their kind permission.):

Overview of City with Smoke Plumes - 4-meter resolution (4MB)
Link

Republican Palace - 1-meter resolution (1.4MB)
Link

Dawrah area - 1-meter resolution (1.6MB)
Link

Area South of Shaab Stadium - 1-meter resolution (2.7MB)
Link

Abu Ghurayb Palace - 1-meter resolution (2.6MB)
Link

North Baghdad - 1-meter resolution (1 MB)
Link

Saddam International Airport - 1-meter resolution (3 MB)
Link

Pretty cool stuff. Two points. First, only spy agencies had access to this quality imagery last time around. And second, note how much of Baghdad is intact, and how precise the bombing is. This is a useful antidote to Iraqi propaganda and to "peace" activists' hopeful fantasies of mass destruction due to U.S. bombing.

UPDATE: Reader Gerald Hanner emails:

Saddam International Airport - 1-meter resolution (3 MB)"

Yep. Pretty nifty. Note all the small craters on the runway and taxiways. Neither the runway nor the parallel taxiway is useable, the high-speed taxiways are also punched up a bit. The south end of the runway indicates that it is RWY 33 Right; I wonder where 33 Left is. Also note that AN-Whateveritis parked all by its lonesome.

Meanwhile another reader notes:

Great pictures! Thanks for posting them. Most of the smoke plumes seem to be from the trenches filled with burning oil, not from air strikes.

Yeah, I noticed that.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Daniel Altchek emails:

One other thing about those pictures (of Baghdad at least) - a lot of cars on the roads, don't you think? Assuming those are civilians - real civilians, I mean - it kind of seems like they are not too worried about indiscriminate American bombing.

Indeed. And sharp-eyed reader Brian Messer notes:

The south end of the taxiway for 33L is near the lower left corner of the picture --and it's beat all to hell, too. Wonder if we left enough of that access road to the right of the taxiway clean so that a C-130 can touch down....

I know how I'm betting.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Ralph Peters quotes Jon Lee Anderson of The New Yorker as calling Baghdad

a landscape of death and wanton devastation, all stamped "Made in America."

Give it up, dude. This is the Internet -- and now we can fact-check your ass from orbit.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Another reader writes that the dark marks on the runways at Saddam Airport are probably objects, not craters. Okay. They looked like craters to me. Meanwhile, if you think my comment above about the "peace" people hoping for civilian casualties was too harsh (not that anyone emailed to say so. . . .) well, read this.

FRENCH-CANADIAN CHILD ABUSE:

MONTREAL -- A peewee hockey tournament in Montreal became a trip into hostile territory for a busload of Americans who say they encountered such fierce anti-Americanism that they will think twice before returning.

During a four-day visit, boys travelling with their Massachusetts hockey team witnessed the burning of the Stars and Stripes and the booing of the U.S. national anthem. When travelling in their bus emblazoned with a red-white-and-blue "Coach USA" logo, they saw people on the street who extended their middle fingers or made other angry gestures.

On the ice, the Canadian players told their visiting counterparts that "the U.S. sucks" and dispensed other anti-American insults, the Americans said.

"It was a shock to go to a tournament and have kids saying this to us. These are our friends that are doing this," Brockton Boxers coach Ernest Nadeau said.

"We didn't expect Canadian players -- especially young boys -- would take things to that extreme," he said in an interview.

The 11- and 12-year-old boys from Brockton, 30 kilometres south of Boston, had been looking forward to the hockey tournament in Montreal. But parents who accompanied them said they were unprepared for the depth of anti-American sentiment over the U.S.-led war against Iraq.

One parent, Bill Carpenter, was so upset he cancelled his family's vacation to Quebec this summer.

I don't blame him and I doubt he'll be the only one.

UPDATE: Here's more bad news from Canada. A Canadian reader, meanwhile, fears that I'm adding fuel to the fires of animosity between Americans and Canadians. I hope not. I hope I'm calling attention to how Canadians -- for years proud of their tradition of civility -- have abandoned that in an orgy of anti-Americanism. (Especially, of course, in the French-speaking parts of Canada, which are anti-American and which wield disproportionate influence in Canadian politics, much as the French-speaking parts of, well, France, do in the United Nations. . . .).

At any rate, I doubt that Americans will respond in kind. We're more bemused and disappointed than furious. It's like having a nice brother-in-law who suddenly loses touch with reality and starts talking about joining a cult. You don't hate him. You hope he'll snap out of it after a while. But you'll never quite trust him the same way again. And, ultimately, that's a much bigger loss for Canada than it is for the United States.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Canadian Blogger Mike Campbell says I shouldn't worry:

I don't think he's adding fuel to the fire. The fire's already going. Let the people who started it stand by their convictions and pay the price. There is a price, people. Let's hope the political and media elites and the rest of the population are willing to pay it. And let the silent portion, if they are a majority, pay it as a price for keeping silent.

He points out that they're quite pro-American in Nova Scotia as opposed to Quebec, and suggests that Americans adjust their vacation destinations accordingly.

JUSTIN KATZ WRITES THAT THE DE GENOVA AFFAIR presages a revolution in academia as the outside world begins to notice where its money -- and children -- are going.

UPDATE: De Genova is afraid to go to class. Sheesh. You talk about Mogadishu, and you're afraid of undergraduates?

(Via Rand Simberg).

It doesn't count as "crushing of dissent" when you're just a loudmouthed wimp.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Maybe this "future Marine" is who De Genova's scared of -- though the reader who noted this article and picture suggests that she looks like Mira Sorvino.

CLEVE-BLOG is Eric Olsen's new feature for the Cleveland Plain Dealer's site. Currently, he's exploring anti-semitism at Oberlin.

GERMAN AND FRENCH RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE WAR: Jeff Jarvis notes:

Below, I linked to an amazing story in Die Zeit quoting U.N. arms inspectors saying that German (and French, Russian, and Chinese) refusal to back military force in the U.N. defanged and doomed their effort and made war inevitable. Mind you, this comes from U.N. arms inspectors.

I wasn't sure I had translated it correctly (if only I'd paid more attention in Frau T's class!). So I went to my good blog friend Thomas Nephew, who translated the whole thing, and now it's even clearer that this is an important piece of reporting -- all the more amazing for coming from a German paper.

Read it, and then read this. As Jarvis notes:

History will judge every party in this war and whether they like it or not, Germany, France, Russia, and China are parties to this war.

It would not have harmed them to send a token gaggle of soldiers to the Mideast -- just a few clerks without guns, even -- to show united resolve to truly disarm Saddam. But by standing on some skewed sense of principle (Saddam over Bush, tyranny over democracy, Iraq over the U.S.), they made the disarmament they said they wanted impossible to reach, they made war inevitable.

Indeed, they did. And we should be sure they pay a price for that.

THEY'RE NOT PEACE PROTESTERS -- they're just on the other side:

Even more, when confronted with a camera. one group of these kids started yelling sentiments along the lines of "We're all Arab mates!" and "Saddam's our mate, and we Arabs stick together!"

Stupidity like this just underlines the destructive nature of ethnic separatism in free societies. And the blowback from this explicit endorsement of the enemy is going to be tremendous, especially after last year's epidemic of gang rapes in western Sydney by Lebanese teens. For all the worries that Muslim "leaders" here have about anti-Islamic and anti-Arab prejudice, they sure don't seem to be doing a lot to stop their fellow hyphenated Australians (hyphenated by choice, it should be noted) from giving the so-called "majority culture" reason to be suspicious, to say the least.

Funny about that. This shows the damage that anti-assimilationist "multiculturalism" does, by positively encouraging this sort of thing.

A CHALLENGE FOR SADDAM AND OSAMA: Speak this phrase on the air, or I'll declare you dead.

Heh. I win, either way.

ANOTHER LIBERATION STORY:

The occupying forces, from the First and Second brigades of the 101st Airborne Division, entered from the south and north. They had seized the perimeter of town on Tuesday.

People rushed to greet them today, crying out repeatedly, "Thank you, this is beautiful!"

Two questions dominated a crowd that gathered outside a former ammunition center for the Baath Party. "Will you stay?" asked Kase, a civil engineer who would not give his last name. Another man, Heider, said, "Can you tell me what time Saddam is finished?" . .

Then there's this:

American troops found that the fleeing Baath Party and paramilitary forces had set up minefields on roads and bridges leading out of the city. Late today an American engineering team was clearing the third of such fields, this one with 30 mines, by detonating them with C4 explosives.

Lt. Col. Duke Deluca, noting that the mines had been made in Italy, said, "Europeans are antiwar, but they are pro-commerce."

Indeed. (Via Daniel Drezner, who's on a roll.)

MIRANDA DEVINE WRITES:

The facts of the war emerging from the front-line cacophony demonstrate why war was necessary in the first place. When the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, told the United Nations that Iraq posed a threat in part because of its links to terrorist groups he was ridiculed. It was just a desperate ploy, said the cynics, to draw a link between Saddam and September 11.

So much for the cynics. It is clear now that militant Islamic terrorist mercenaries have been pouring into Iraq for some time, ready for a showdown. There are credible reports that many of these mercenaries have been trained by al-Qaeda, and have bolstered the so-called Saddam fedayeen, death squads run by Saddam's son Uday.

Australian cameraman Paul Moran, who was buried yesterday in Adelaide, was killed by a suicide bomber since identified as a Saudi national. . . .

But if war against militant Islamic terrorists didn't happen in Iraq now, it was going to have to happen somewhere, sooner or later. September 11 and Bali are proof enough.

Better to bring it on now, at a time of our choosing, with all the cockroaches gathered for a showdown out in the open in Iraq, rather than cower at home, our economies shrinking, our civilians picked off, our enemies growing stronger, until we finally wake up to the fact that fighting is necessary, and find it's too late and we are too weak.

(Via Tim Blair).

ARTHUR SILBER WRITES THAT CAPITALISM IS THE SOLUTION TO ETHNIC ANTAGONISM -- and that welfare states encourage it. The example of France, I'd say, supports his position.

THE "BOMBED MATERNITY HOSPITAL" STORY ISN'T TRUE, according to this report in The Guardian:

However the British Red Cross denied an earlier report that a Red Crescent maternity hospital had been bombed and at least three doctors and nurses had been wounded.

He said: "A missile struck the building opposite and the blast was so strong that the windows and roof of the hospital were damaged. But no one inside the hospital was injured - the building was evacuated three days ago.

This hasn't stopped the usual suspects from trying to make a big deal out of it -- after all, everyone knows that the coalition would rather blow up maternity hospitals than Saddam Hussein's bunkers.

IRAQI-AMERICANS WANT TO FIGHT SADDAM HUSSEIN:

The Iraqi National Congress — a London-based umbrella group of various organizations opposing the Baghdad regime — is spearheading a project to assemble a pool of Iraqis to help coalition forces gain the trust of the country's people.

Emad Alkased of the Iraqi Youth Reunion — an educational group that wants to rebuild a post-Saddam Iraq — has been leading a recruiting drive in Dearborn, which has the largest ethnic Iraqi community of any U.S. city.

The drive is part of an all-out appeal to Iraqi-Americans who want to return to their homeland to help the U.S.-led coalition topple the dictatorship.

"I don't want American people to die for my country — I want me to be the first one," Alkased said. "I appreciate what American people are doing for my country, but I don't want them to spend their blood. I am ready to spend blood for my country."

Somebody needs to fill this guy in on Patton's approach, though I appreciate the sentiment. I wonder why we didn't try to organize something like this earlier?

WHAT'S GOING ON INSIDE THE IRAQI HIGH COMMAND? Austin Bay uses his imagination.

Meanwhile Jonathan Last Fisks the foreign press at CentCom, employing the brutal technique of reprinting some of their questions, verbatim. Conclusion:

On the one hand, it's frightening to realize that the global media operate on a professional level roughly equivalent to a bad college paper. But on the other hand, it's a little bit liberating: After all, with press like this, no wonder the rest of the world hates us--America really is besieged by a vast, left-wing conspiracy.

But not a terribly bright one.

UPDATE: A reader emails: "As my father would say, it's more of a half-vast left-wing conspiracy."

MATT WELCH IS ALL OVER THE "PATRIOT II" ACT. I think he's right to be.

As this item by Dan Gillmor indicates -- and as the absurd use of the Patriot Act against PayPal over online casinos underscores, the Justice Department hasn't demonstrated that it's ready to handle any additional powers.

I'd feel better, it's true, if Randy Barnett were Attorney General. But I'd still oppose this stuff. The best way to stop terrorism is to kill terrorists, and stop the states that support them. And we're doing that. This other stuff looks more like a bureaucratic power-grab than a national-security necessity.

CHRIS RANGEL, MD is now running a spanish-language medical blog.

IS MISSY actually a Marine? Well, she's certainly tough, as well as multiply tattooed.

OKAY, I'm really not following the Michigan affirmative action case. But this piece by an Indiana University law student says that IU's amicus brief is seriously misleading about IU's affirmative action policy. That's regrettable, if so, but it wouldn't be terribly surprising. The big problem with affirmative action is that it has never been sold honestly to the public, and it's unlikely that the honesty is going to start now.

THE INDISPENSABLE AFRICAPUNDIT notes that a French human rights group is objecting to ever-closer ties between the Chirac government and Libya.

Is there a terrorist group that Chirac isn't sucking up to? Why you'd almost think he was trying to wage a proxy war against the United States.

That would be unbelievably stupid and self-destructive, which makes me fear it may well become French policy.

WHY AM I NOT SURPRISED? The Environmental Liberation Front is siding with Saddam. Well, he is an endangered species. . . .

WOMEN IN COMBAT: Phil Carter writes:

Some have questioned the role of women in today's military. Make no mistake about it -- America's military sends its women into harm's way. Current DoD policy keeps women out of only the most direct of combat roles, such as the infantry. But in today's style of warfare, those distinctions are basically meaningless. Army Lieutenant Carrie Bruhl flies Apache helicopters deep into enemy territory, further than any American infantryman save the Special Forces. Other women fly deep combat missions in the Navy and Air Force. Female MPs fight as infantry just behind the front lines, hunting down and killing Iraqi guerilla units. America's daughters fight hard and they fight well. It's disingenuous and wrong to say that women like SPC Johnson and PFC Lynch don't belong at the front lines. They've earned the right to be there, and so far in our war, they've proven their ability to stay there.

Similarly, Virginia Postrel observes:

Reporters on Fox News Channel and MSNBC are displaying an exceedingly annoying habit of referring to Pfc. Jessica Lynch as just "Jessica" in news stories, the better to tug the viewers' paternal/maternal heartstrings. But Jessica Lynch is not the little girl who fell down the well. She is a U.S. soldier serving in harm's way. If you're old enough to be a POW, you're old enough to be referred to as "Private Lynch." Even if you're female.

I wonder if the presence of women in combat isn't, in part, responsible for increased support for this war among women.

UPDATE: Reader Reed Snellenberger emails:

Thanks for the link to the Postrel article, but it's already progressed beyond referring to Pvt. Lynch as "Jessica" -- this morning, Katie couldn't resist calling her "Jessie". Also, ABC's Diane Sawyer made a not-to-graceful seque from a comment about the rescue that was delivered in a Ma-and-Pa Kettle cornpone accent (roughly "There was some hootin' and hollerin' a-goin' on") *directly* to an interview with Ms. Lynch's father.

I only hope that he couldn't hear the audio feed that led up to the interview, but I suspect that he could -- his first answer was quite monosyllabic.

Pathetic.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails:

I, too, got a little riled this morning at the talk about "Jessica" and "Jessie." Isn't the little girl-soldier cute? I don't know if the same tone would be used were she from Manhattan. I just moved to Kentucky for the year to clerk on the 6th Circuit, and I've really had an education in the red state/blue state divide. My friends from D.C. think everyone here is a hick/hillbilly/cornpone. In fact, they're some of the nicest, most educated, and free-thinking people I've met in a long while. Yes, we're hootin' and a-hollerin' down here at the rescue of Private Lynch -- but over email with *real* computers!

A not-uncommon sentiment.

JOSH CHAFETZ IS tweaking the BBC:

What is it about the British media that makes them thoroughly impervious to the wiles of fact-checking? A piece that mocks President Bush's "verbal infelicities" ought not to contain a reference to "Paul Wolfivitz."

Hmm. Last night, Aaron Brown was asking me how bloggers get by without editors, like the Big Media folks have. I guess my response should have been "You guys have editors?"

April 01, 2003

I'M SUPPOSED TO BE ON CNN WITH AARON BROWN, probably looking rather bleary-eyed, at just after midnight (EST) tonight. It'll be about blogs, and the producer says that the Jeff Greenfield / Jeff Jarvis piece on blogs will be the lead-in.

UPDATE: Seemed like it went OK. More tomorrow. I'm going to bed now. Of course, Meryl Yourish has already blogged it.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Pejman Yousefzadeh blogged it too, and Emmanuelle Richard saved this screenshot for, um posterity. (For a behind-the-scenes look at the decidedly less glamorous reality, click here.)

She's got a shot of Jeff Jarvis, too, and she thinks that Jeff and I are exaggerating the degree of anti-American sentiment in France. Um, I sure hope so. Follow the link to read her post, and decide for yourself.

The taped bit with Jeff Jarvis and Jeff Greenfield was great, by the way, and especially stressed the importance of the link to blogging. It also featured shots of Jeff J. wireless-blogging from the park outside his office, and a couple of brief clips from his vlogs.

IF YOU HAVEN'T BEEN THERE LATELY, don't miss Defense Tech. And Winds of Change has a bunch of cool stuff too, as usual.

Oh, and EuroPundits, which features InstaPundit's Paris Correspondent, Nelson Ascher, among others, should be a regular stop.

UPDATE: Also, Aziz Poonawalla and Shi'aPundit have some observations and links on the special importance of Najaf and Karbala to Shia Muslims.

THERE'S A GOOD, CRITICAL POST ON "FRIENDLY FIRE" INCIDENTS over at Samizdata, suggesting that the British are beginning to get a bit peeved at what they see as American nonresponsiveness to their concerns.

It's true, of course, that "shit happens" in combat, but the fact that so many of these incidents involve British troops suggests to me that there's a systematic communications problem that needs to be addressed here. Either that, or American troops are experiencing even more of these incidents (as their proportionate numbers would suggest) and we're just not hearing about that. I doubt that's the case, but if it is, then there's a really big systematic communications problem.

Either way, there's a genuine management problem that needs to be resolved. And the concerns of the British need to be listened to very carefully, very respectfully, and very politely since they're, you know, our best allies and everything.

UPDATE: A reader points out that one reason why "friendly fire" losses loom so large in this war is that they're a major fraction of total losses -- because the Iraqis, so far, have been unable to kill very many coalition people. If Iraq were downing allied aircraft by the dozens, and blowing up tanks by the scores, we'd barely notice these events.

That's true, I suppose -- it's neck and neck between "enemy action" and "accidents" as a cause of death for our guys, and that's a good thing. But nonetheless, the British have been superb allies in a trying time, and they're doing a terrific job. We owe them every consideration.

AL GORE IS DEFENDING THE DIXIE CHICKS -- yeah, that'll help 'em with the country-music demographic. But who will defend Al Gore from Rachel Lucas?

FRANCE: On the other side.

We won't forget. Neither, apparently, will the British.

UPDATE: And these guys aren't very happy, either.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's more, with a picture. The French government realizes that it's got a serious problem now. But it's lost control of the hotheads that it set in motion. This is not uncommon with regimes that use xenophobia to distract their populations from hard times and internecine conflict.

I'VE MENTIONED IT BEFORE, but Phil Carter's blog is well worth reading.

THE ANTIWAR MOVEMENT CRACKS UP: So far, it's been such a bust that -- as Clayton Cramer notes -- even "progressive papers" like the L.A. Weekly are declaring it a failure:

Maybe someone in the peace movement should figure out that not only Bush could stop this war. So could Saddam — by resigning his unelected post and saving his people any further sacrifice. Yet I’ve yet to see one anti-war placard allude to Saddam’s responsibilities in securing the peace.


But talk about quagmires. The peace movement, which promises so much in its scope and energy, itself remains bogged down in a minimalist program of simply and only opposing U.S. military action. That’s hardly enough. . . .

Blocking traffic when 74 percent of the American people support the war, or endlessly whining about CNN’s coverage, or grandstanding as Michael Moore did at the Oscars telling America that a president who currently enjoys (for all the sordid reasons we know) stratospheric popularity ratings is “fictitious,” has much more to do with personal therapy than with effective politics. Continue on that tack and you can pretty much count on another four years of Bush, no matter how ugly the war turns. . . .

Protecting the Iraqi people, as the peace movement rightfully desires, is one helluva lot more complicated than merely shielding them from the collateral damage caused by U.S. bombs. (That is, unless you really believe that America is the “greatest terrorist state in the world,” as is so often repeated on KPFK’s drive-time shows. If your world-view is that facile, then indeed we have little more to discuss.)

Those who chant “U.S. out of Iraq” ought to be prepared, then, to offer themselves as human shields to protect the Kurds against threatening Turkish troops (a task currently in the hands of U.S. special forces). Or as shields to protect the southern marsh Arabs against occupation by the theocratic armed forces of Iran.

That seems about right, as this Christian Science Monitor story on the Antiwar movement's PR problems notes:

"I just wonder how much Saddam is paying them," says Charlie Lore, a businessman and former Vietnam protester who got stuck in a crowd of demonstrators in Manhattan last Thursday.

Even those in the mainstream who oppose the war often argue that protests are inappropriate with the conflict under way.

Others wonder if the demonstrators understand the issues driving US military action. Watching a Boston rally that drew an estimated 25,000 protesters last Saturday, Jim Cavan says he supports the war - and questions the critics' motivations. "I feel like they're doing it for fashion, and that it's a throwback to the 60s and that no one understands what's really going on," he says. "If you're going to protest, offer a solution. Don't just protest for the sake of protesting."

Meanwhile, speaking of, you know, solutions, Jackson Diehl pointed out last week -- in a column that a lot of people, including me, missed at the time:

The Bush administration's embrace of a democratization strategy for the postwar Middle East has triggered a torrent of scorn from the region's traditional political and intellectual elites, not to mention regional experts at the State Department and CIA. Less noticed is the fact that it has also produced a flurry of political reforms, quasi-reforms and grass-roots initiatives in countries across the region.

Two days before the war began last week, the Palestinian legislative council dealt a major blow to the autocracy of Yasser Arafat, rejecting his attempt to limit the powers of a new prime minister. This happened by a democratic vote after a noisy democratic debate -- which in turn came a few days after President Bush called for a strong prime minister in a Palestinian democracy.

The next day an Egyptian court finally ended the prosecution of the country's leading pro-democracy activist, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, who had twice been sentenced to prison on trumped-up charges -- and whose last conviction prompted the Bush administration to freeze aid to Egypt. Two weeks earlier, Gamal Mubarak, would-be heir to his father, Hosni, as president, announced a plan to end trials of civilians in the security courts in which Ibrahim was sentenced, and proposed an independent national council to monitor human rights.

A week before Mubarak spoke, King Abdullah of Jordan, who has not allowed an election since taking office four years ago and who dissolved parliament in 2001, set a date for parliamentary elections. He chose June 17, thereby ensuring that as the postwar political discussion gets underway, Jordan will be able to point to its own democratic exercise.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has been urging Western journalists to take note of an "Arab Charter" floated by ruling Crown Prince Abdullah, which calls for "internal reform and enhanced political participation in the Arab states," and a related petition by 104 intellectuals calling for the direct election in Saudi Arabia of a consultative council, an independent judiciary and freedom of speech and assembly. In January, on Abdullah's order, a host of senior Saudi officials met with a visiting delegation from Human Rights Watch -- the first time a Western human rights group had been allowed to visit the country.

These aren't huge accomplishments, it's true. But they're more than the antiwar movement has managed. Meanwhile I agree with Bill Quick's suggestion:

Wouldn't it be nice if the first act of the new Iraqi government would be to invite Dr. Ibrahim to emigrate to a place where he could speak, write, and think freely?

You get more freedom with a kind word and a gun, than with a kind word alone.

I'M NOT FOLLOWING THE MICHIGAN AFFIRMATIVE-ACTION CASE: But The Power Line has a lot of information if you're interested.

SADDAM'S MEDIA APPEARANCES are explained here. I'm convinced.

EUGENE VOLOKH NOTES that we'd be worse off with the U.N. on our side, since Kofi Annan would probably be pressing for a ceasefire -- and Iraq would have a greater incentive to promote civilian casualties to encourage just that.

DAN GILLMOR relays more disturbing news about homeland security. Stay tuned.

SARS UPDATE: If you assume that the authorities always either overreact or underreact to these things, then we'd better hope they're overreacting:

An American Airlines flight from Tokyo has been quarantined on the tarmac at San Jose's airport after four people on board complained of symptoms like those reported from the mysterious new illness spreading through Asia, airline and city health officials said.

Two passengers and two crew members complained of symptoms similar to those found in Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, according to city health officials.

Flight 128 from Tokyo to Mineta San Jose International Airport was stopped on the tarmac short of the gate, and ambulances lined up near the plane as the 125 passengers and 14 crew members waited on board.

That's how I'm betting for now. Hope I'm right.

ARGUING BY ANALOGY: Clayton Cramer responds to the old "Fighting For Peace Is Like Fucking for Virginity" slogan.

Of course, until cloning is perfected, that's the only way I know of to produce virgins. . . .

DANIEL DREZNER writes that diplomacy appears to be working pretty well with regard to North Korea.

FRENCH VANDALS have now desecrated a World War I memorial dedicated to British war dead:

The words "Rosbifs [British] go home! Saddam Hussein will win and spill your blood" were painted in French over the base of the cemetery's main monument - an obelisk topped by a cross.

On one side was a swastika and the words "death to the Yankees".

Also daubed were the words "dig up your garbage, it is fouling our soil," and "Bush, Blair to the TPI (International Court of Justice)".

Some 11,000 British dead are buried at Etaples, which lies on the Channel coast around 24 kilometres south of Boulogne.

French officialdom is rightly deploring this, but after the climate of hatred that Mr. Chirac's government has created, it's no great surprise. And these guys, too, aren't "antiwar" -- they're just on the other side.

BRITISH TROOPS FREE KENYAN PRISONERS FROM IRAQI ARMY: The Kenyans, apparently, were claimed by the Iraqis to be American soldiers.

THERE'S LOTS OF GREAT STUFF over at The Volokh Conspiracy. Just keep scrolling.

TIM BLAIR AND DAMIAN PENNY are hanging out at Blogs of War pending a resolution of Blogger-related problems.

Don't miss this followup on the Great Robert Fisk Bomb Story.

PEOPLE KEEP ASKING ME how we can trust bloggers who say they're blogging from the war zone. What if they're not?

It's a valid concern of course -- but it doesn't apply solely to bloggers:

LISTENERS to Swaziland's state radio heard "live" reports from war correspondent Phesheya Dube, purportedly from Iraq, but then saw him walking around Mbabane.

Radio presenter Moses Mthetho Matsebula asked listeners to pray for Dube, the acting head of programs for the Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Services.

"Fellow countrymen, it looks like our correspondent in a Baghdad cave has been bombed and I have been trying to locate him to no avail and I am asking for your prayers so that you cannot lose such a good reporter," Matsebula said.

On Thursday - a week after the Iraq war started - Dube went to parliament, where curious MPs asked him when he had returned from the Iraqi capital.

He reportedly admitted he had been monitoring television reports on the Iraq war, then interpreting them for Swazis without TV sets.

Heh.

THE PATRIOT ACT is being used against PayPal for transferring money to . . . . online casinos! This seems like an abuse of the Act's provisions, even if it's technically within them, and only supports the theory that "Homeland Security" is really about filling out bureaucrats' wish lists.

I also strongly support the recommendation that John Ashcroft be replaced as Attorney General by Randy Barnett. As soon as can be!

L.T. SMASH REPORTS that he's doing a phone interview with Peter Arnett. I don't think it's an April Fool. . . .

IS EUROPE DISAPPEARING?

If Europeans don't watch out -- actually, do more than just watch out -- there will be a lot fewer of them by the end of this century.

A team of Vienna-based researchers reported in the journal Science last week that the continent reached a demographic watershed in 2000. After decades of delayed childbearing and smaller families, Europe is now in "negative population momentum."

"Over the coming decades," they added, the trend "will challenge social security and health systems, may hinder productivity gains, and could affect global competitiveness and economic growth."

Is this the result of European social-welfare schemes? Take it away, Mickey Kaus!

THE WAR ON TERROR -- er, distinct, that is, from the war on Iraqi terror -- continues, with the arrest of terror suspect Aafia Siddiqui, whose biology background makes me suspicious. Meanwhile, there's also this report, too:

Italian police have arrested an Egyptian, a Somali and two Iraqi Kurds on suspicion of having links with Islamic terrorist groups, anti-terrorism police said Tuesday.

The arrests were ordered by Milan prosecutor Stefano Dambruoso, who has been leading investigations into suspected Islamic cells in Italy.

Apparently, the Iraq war isn't much of a distraction. I suspect, actually, that it's producing a lot of useful intelligence -- especially from the seized Ansar Al-Islam bases in the north.

UPDATE: Here's more:

Britain has jailed two Algerians accused of supporting Osama bin Laden, making them the first people with suspected Al Qaeda links to be imprisoned in the country.

Baghdad Meziane, 38, and Brahim Benmerzouga, 31, were jailed for 11 years after being found guilty of raising cash for the purpose of terrorism at Leicester Crown Court, central England.

Algerians. Imagine that.

PETER ARNETT: not, technically, guilty of treason! Well hooray for him.

Walter Cronkite, meanwhile, opines that Arnett "hangs by a rope of his own weaving."

UPDATE: Stephen Green discovers something frightful. Now Arnett's career is really over.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Arnett's new gig with (where else?) The Mirror gets a bad review: "These are the rantings of a pathetic has-been: nonsensical, rambling, defensive, stupid. He makes reporters look bad. He makes them look even worse than Geraldo. What a doofus."

But not, technically, a traitor!

TERROR AFFIRMA: Will Saletan notes that the Iraq/Terror connection is now indisputable:

At face value, these statements dispense with months of debate over covert, indirect Iraqi sponsorship of terrorism. Iraq, represented by its third-highest ranking official, now embraces terrorism openly and directly. Any regime that threatens to "use any means to kill," "follow the enemy into its land," "kill 5,000 people" at one time, and take the battle to "all who support" American and British troops—not just "those who wear the military uniforms"—is implicitly targeting civilians. By any definition, that's the essence of terrorism. . . .

All of which raises two questions. To the government of Iraq: How can Vice President Ramadan's statements be reconciled with your obligations under Resolution 687? And to the governments of France, Russia, and China: If the statements can't be reconciled with the resolution, will you honor the resolution and rejoin the war?

Do we have to take the French? We had them on our side last time. . . .

March 31, 2003

HAPPY ALEX BEAM DAY!!!

WOW. Over 300 gigabytes of bandwidth this month. Good thing I get a deal on it.

DODD HARRIS HAS AN INTERVIEW with cartoonist Chris Muir, author of the excellent Day by Day cartoon strip. It's a must-read, just like the strip.

RATS LEAVING THE SINKING SHIP?

A Royal Marine told of a grenade glancing off his helmet and another told of how an Iraqi colonel driving a car with a briefcase full of cash refused to stop and was shot dead. "I didn't know what to do with the money so I gave it to the kids, bundles of the stuff," the Royal Marine said.

If the colonels are bugging out, well. . . .

UPDATE: But there's plenty of room at the Hotel California!

COLUMBIA'S GROUP BLOG THE FILIBUSTER has become De Genova Central. Just keep scrolling.

UPDATE: Read this, too. And Erin O'Connor has multiple posts.

STEFAN SHARKANSKY HAS ARRIVED: He's being savaged in The Guardian. Stefan, however, has the last word, noting suspicious similarities between the Guardian piece on protester Rachel Corrie and items published by the anti-semitic National Vanguard Network.

Corrie wasn't a "peace activist" -- she was just on the other side. Like, apparently, John Sutherland, author of the Guardian piece. You can read more about Sutherland's shoddy and dishonest assault on the blogosphere, which conflates chat-board comments with blogging in order to sustain its thesis, here and here.

UPDATE: I wonder what Sutherland would say if someone gave him a shot of truth serum?

(Link via Judicious Asininity).

STEVEN DEN BESTE says that there are things we don't need to know right now.

LATEST GALLUP RESULTS:

Public support for the war in Iraq remains steady at roughly the 70% level, little changed over the past week. . . .

The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted Saturday and Sunday, shows 70% of Americans in favor of the war and 27% opposed, virtually identical to the support measured last week. . . .

Currently, 33% of Americans say the war is going "very well," about the same as the percentage measured March 24-25. Optimism had been much higher two days earlier. The latest results suggest a stabilization of perceptions at the lower level.

Still, more than 8 in 10 Americans currently believe the war is going at least moderately well, about the same as last week. Relatively few Americans, 14%, believe the war is going either "moderately" or "very" badly, up slightly from the March 22-23 poll (8%).

Three-quarters of Americans, 74%, say the United States and its allies are winning the war, unchanged from March 24-25, though down 10 points from the poll two days earlier.

The public seems somewhat less excitable than the journalistic community.

UPDATE: Comparing one poll to another is always iffy, but this poll would seem to indicate that the British public is feeling quite positive too. Guess all that negative spin on the BBC isn't working.

PETER ARNETT'S PHILOSOPHY OF JOURNALISM is explained over at Fraters Libertas.

TIM BLAIR is on a roll. I mean, even more than usual.

MORT ZUCKERMAN IS ALL OVER THE FRENCH:

This is all part and parcel of Saddam's incestuous political and commercial relationship with the defense, business, and political elites of France that will undoubtedly be exposed after the war. As the Weekly Standard reported, Saddam threatened to expose what he saw as France's betrayal in the 1991 Gulf War, saying, "If the trickery continues, we will be forced to unmask them, all of them, before the French public."

The French fan dance with Iraq dates to the 1970s, when Chirac was the point man in selling nuclear reactors to Iraq, including the Osirak plant bombed by Israel in 1981. (The plant, incidentally, was known as the O'Chirac reactor.) It was Chirac who signed the treaty with Iraq allowing for the transfer of French nuclear technology and specialists. It was this same Chirac who lavished praise on Saddam as a "personal friend," a "great statesman," and who invited him to his home. And, yes, it was the very same Chirac who has led the French efforts to sell arms to Iraq, some $20 billion worth. Today, France remains Iraq's biggest European trading partner. Those who believe the United States went to war against Iraq inspired by oil are looking in the wrong direction. Try Paris.

Seems that Zuckerman isn't alone. David Carr has more dirt on oil money and French politics.

FROM EDWARD BOYD'S BLOG to Donald Rumsfeld's ear. Well, yeah.

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH SAYS THAT IRAQ IS VIOLATING THE LAWS OF WAR. Glad someone's noticed.

(Via The Volokh Conspiracy).

ROBERT FISK AND THE MAGIC ROADBLOCK: A true story, according to Tom Paine.

JOHN TABIN OBSERVES:

CULTURE WATCH: Just seen on the bottom of the CNN Headline News screen:

Gary Hart Cyber Campaign Starts blog on possible 2004 presidential bid

Delightful, isn't it, that they felt no need to explain what a blog is?

Yes, it is.

BOY, WHEN YOU LOOK AT THIS GRAPHIC OF WHO SOLD WEAPONS TO IRAQ, that whole Security-Council thing sure gets easy to understand.

IS SADDAM STILL ALIVE? The Iraqi Ambassador isn't saying.

LIFE DURING WARTIME: Bill Whittle has a new essay, offering some historical perspective that's sadly lacking from, well, most everything you've been reading on the war.

HERE'S ANOTHER MILITARY BLOG (a Marine blog, actually) that you should be reading. Excerpt:

Umm Qasr is essentially a void now in the daily briefings of the Iraqi disinformation minister. His last mention of Umm Qasr was a vow that it would never fall into the hands of the “pirates” (arrrrrrrgh) and “gangsters” (mama mia!) of the coalition. This is essentially true, in that the coalition is devoid of either. American and British troops did take the city, though, and are in the process of… doing nefarious things like public works projects.

There has to be as many aid workers and civil engineers running around the coalition-occupied territory of Southern Iraq as there are fighting troops now. And the last I checked, the pirates of the Caribbean were not especially concerned with the welfare of those they invaded.

And I’m short a parrot, damn it.

I'd take up a collection to send one, but I don't think the Corps would let it through.

And read LT Smash's response to an Iranian emailer.

UPDATE: And there's a lot of great stuff over at Sgt. Stryker's today, starting with this post.

ANOTHER UPDATE: This is good, too.

HERE'S A DELIGHTFUL dissection of Michael Moore -- who, come to think of it, directed the System of a Down video that nobody likes, didn't he? Anyway, here's an excerpt:

A memorable performance, to be sure. It's just that Moore gave the impression of having been somewhat miscast. He deserved an Oscar for alienation - a phenomenon best explained as dislike for, or hatred of, an individual's society and its leaders. Alienated types tend to be relatively well-off and well-educated men and women who enjoy the freedoms and riches provided by Western societies and use their status to dump on politicians and, by implication, those who elected them.

Moore's entertaining Bowling for Columbine makes some telling, if unoriginal, criticisms of the gun culture prevalent in parts of the United States. Above all, this is an exercise in alienation and, at times, self-hatred. The documentary says the US is responsible for most - if not all - of the world's problems. Moreover, it kicks down most of Moore's fellow citizens who appear - many of whom are of modest means and scant education. Action, as Moore mocks a black policeman. Laugh now, as he attempts to make a white, female clerical worker look foolish. What (alienated) fun. Only to be enjoyed by those who can afford to pay cash at the cinema door and/or who buy the book.

Michael Moore's Stupid White Men (Penguin, first edition 2001, new edition 2002) is perhaps the alienated tract of our time. He refers to "the evils of America", maintains that "we are now in a budding police state formerly known as the USofA" and describes Americans as "stupid and oppressed". All this in the introduction. Later on Bush is depicted as both a "functional illiterate" and an "alcoholic" and the US is bagged as a nation which "goes out of its way to remain ignorant and stupid". This last assertion is made in capitals for effect. How helpful.

Some members of the intelligentsia - and the super rich (like Moore) - enjoy wallowing in such self-hatred. Stupid White Men includes a chapter called "Kill Whitey". This is from an author who expresses understandable concern at the high homicide rates in the US. Sounds bizarre. But not so to the American heartland, as the Oscars demonstrated. Moore's alienated rage was applauded by a few members of the Hollywood tinsel town audience, although not by Oscar nominees and their guests who chose to remain silent. Not so those of lesser means, and status, who occupied what are termed the "cheap seats" who exhibited their disgust at such alienation - at a time when US forces are at war - by booing loudly.

To Moore I'd say -- just try and lay your hand on a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Then maybe you'll finally understand. . . . Hey, didn't somebody already say that?

MAARTEN SCHENK has thoughts on unilateralism. And scroll up for the latest bizarre political happenings in Antwerp.

WORLD PEACE THROUGH SHARED POPULAR CULTURE? I'm not so sure that this works -- but Gilligan's Island couldn't help but have a civilizing effect.

RUSSIANS AND IRAQI INTELLIGENCE: Interesting stuff via Oxblog.

BJORN STAERK WRITES:

Nowadays I'm focusing on the deeper, more fundamental conflict: American entrepreneurship vs. the European social welfare state. I think that is the root conflict that causes such a disparity of opinion between the US and Europe.

And, I think, Europeans feel threatened by the American model, especially as that model is the root cause for American wealth and power, and the European model has not been able to keep up.

Yep. Europe is governed by the New Class, and America's model ensures that the New Class will always be comparatively marginalized.

THIS RARE FISKING BY JEFF JARVIS proves that the genre is alive and well, and that Jarvis saves his efforts for only the most idiotic of targets.

IS THE LATEST VIDEO BY "SYSTEM OF A DOWN" being blacklisted -- or is the war just popular? I link, you decide.

UPDATE: Reader Kevin Heller offers an alternative theory:

Since I was up very late last night I can tell you that adult MTV (VH1) played Boom! by System of a Down last night between 2 and 3 am I'd estimate.

I think the reason it's not getting play is because the song sucks, it was released on an album of throwaways and the video's concept is passe/not original.

I am/was a huge fan of System's prior albums -- especially Toxicity which was the only album I listened to for months after 9/11.

Well, there's always that. I actually kind of liked Toxicity. I don't have it, but my brother does.

I DON'T BUY THE SARS-AS-BIOWEAPON CLAIM, but Bigwig makes the best case I've seen that it is, or will be, one.

THEY'RE CHANGING TACTICS, BUT IT'S TOO LATE: They've already lost the initiative in this war.

My column on the TV networks vs. the blogosphere, and why the "embedding" program was a stroke of genius by the Pentagon, is up early over at TechCentralStation.

UPDATE: They're getting desperate: "Arnett, Rivera first in wave of suicide broadcasters." Heh.

DE GENOVA UPDATE: Daniel Drezner has a lot more information about the Columbia University anti-war "teach in" where Prof. Nicholas De Genova called for an American defeat, and a "million Mogadishus."

Though the other speakers weren't in De Genova's league, Drezner notes that we shouldn't lose sight of what the self-described "mainstream anti-war" folks are saying, either.

All told, it's a disgrace. But -- in a way that Columbia isn't likely to appreciate -- it's certainly educational.

UPDATE: Here's a statement by Columbia President Lee Bollinger on De Genova's remarks.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a post, apparently by De Genova's college roommate.

WHAT'S REALLY AMAZING IS THAT THIS STORY IS FROM REUTERS:

SHATRA, Iraq (Reuters) - Hundreds of Iraqis shouting "Welcome to Iraq" greeted Marines who entered the town of Shatra Monday after storming it with planes, tanks and helicopter gunships.

A foot patrol picked its way through the small southern town, 20 miles north of the city of Nassiriya, after being beckoned in by a crowd of people.

"There's no problem here. We are happy to see Americans," one young man shouted.

It's especially impressive when you note this Arab News report:

“There are people from Baath here reporting everything that goes on. There are cameras here recording our faces. If the Americans were to withdraw and everything were to return to the way it was before, we want to make sure that we survive the massacre that would follow as Baath go house to house killing anyone who voiced opposition to Saddam. In public, we always pledge our allegiance to Saddam, but in our hearts we feel something else.”

Different versions of that very quote, but with a common theme, I would come to hear several times over the next three days I spent in Iraq.

And the really big story, of course, is that you're seeing stuff like this reported by Reuters and the Arab News. Bad news for Saddam in the propaganda war -- if you can't count on these guys, who can you count on? Peter Arnett?

UPDATE: Reader Michael Levy emails that people have their historical analogies wrong:

Some people compare this war to the Vietnam War (of course, they do that every time). But Iraq resembles Vietnam's neighbor, Cambodia, at the height of the genocide. Even the Vietnamese regime was not so cruel--but if we had invaded Cambodia, we would have faced something similar to this.

Interesting.

THIS COULD BE A SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE SKIT: Arnold Kling imagines questions the press might ask at an Iraqi military briefing. Excerpt:

Your strategy of showing American prisoners and dead on TV, in order to destroy their will to fight does not seem to be working. Can you comment on reports suggesting that this has only made the American people angrier?

The government's best hope for surviving this war is pressure from world opinion to stop the fighting. Can you explain how shooting civilians trying to flee Basra helps to mobilize world public opinion on our behalf?

Hmm. I wonder why Saddam isn't standing in front of a bunch of reporters and answering questions like these? I guess it's because (1) he's dead or close to it; and (2) any Iraqi reporters who asked questions like these would be dunked in acid. D'ya think?

"IT'S NO FUN being called Saddam Hussein these days." Nope.

RED AMERICA: More Knoxville roadside signs supporting the troops, in terms that would probably induce apoplexy at the BBC. There's lots of god-talk in these signs, with "God Bless Our Troops" and similar variations being quite common.

You see this stuff at a lot of businesses, mostly small businesses. The "United We Stand" flag decals (where do those come from, anyway?) are very common, too, as are flags on cars, both the decals and window-flags.


Back after 9/11 there was a lot of discussion in the blogosphere about where people were flying flags and where they allegedly weren't. I haven't seen a whole lot on that lately, but it seems to me that the flags mostly haven't come down, and I"ll bet there are just as many in a lot of "blue" states. I suspect that this really bugs the Nicholas De Genovas of the world, but I have to say that doesn't bother me much.

AMIR TAHERI HAS SOME THOUGHTS ON RECONSTRUCTING IRAQ. You should read them.

VIRGINIA POSTREL has a new blog URL, and a new design with permalinks. (They're labeled "printer friendly," though, which may confuse some readers. Well, not now!)

UPDATE: Baseball Musings has moved, too. Update your bookmarks. I'll update my blogroll. Soon.

THE FOG OF SARS: Blogging on the SARS outbreak is a bit like blogging on the progress of the war. You know that something is going on, but you're pretty sure you aren't getting the whole story, or even a very representative slice.

That said, this graph of cases and deaths is interesting. The number of cases continues to climb, but not the number of deaths. I think that means one of the following: (1) The outbreak started, or at least was first noticed, in an unusually vulnerable population; or (2) the virus is becoming less deadly; or (3) the reporting is wrong, and the number of deaths is actually greater now, or the number of cases was actually greater earlier. Which is it? Beats me.

HEY -- thanks to all the people who hit the PayPal and Amazon Honors buttons over the weekend. I appreciate it.

BRITISH PUBLIC OPINION has shifted in favor of the war, and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is whining about the reception she got on the Question Time program:

As I walked in, people in the front rows were already hissing and hooting to undermine me. Geoff Hoon got massive applause immediately afterwards. Obviously delighted, he looked 10 years younger suddenly. . . .

Now I think Question Time has become much better since it started to allow more assertive challenges from audience members – the old reverence has gone and an excellent thing too. Panellists should be able to deal with the cut and thrust of hot exchanges. But when it tips over into the Jerry Springer mode the programme loses its stature. . . .

In the middle of my very first answer, a Kurdish lady launched herself at me. She says she is a victim of terrible torture, rape, and punishment by Saddam's inhumane forces. I had already watched her on several recent programmes. I said I was very sorry that she had suffered so much but that I was still anti-war. So she harangued, saying I was "clueless". Her husband has emailed me to say that his wife believes "not being willing to get rid of Saddam by any means necessary makes a person a Saddam supporter". I told her she was emotionally blackmailing me and, even though many people were outraged at this, I would say it again. Neither she nor the baying warmongers showed a flicker of pity for the dead and dying of Iraq.

As Ms. Brown shows not a "flicker of pity" for Saddam's victims. Her comments about rudeness on Question Time are hilarious, though. Consider this story from September 14, 2001:

In the highly-charged atmosphere of the BBC studio, Phil Lader, the former US ambassador to Britain who was on the panel, appeared to fight back tears as he was shouted down while trying to tell the audience of his sadness.

Presenter David Dimbleby struggled to control the shouting as some members of the audience claimed the US was ultimately responsible for the deaths of its own nationals as well as of Britons.

I don't recall Ms. Brown -- who probably thought Lader got what he deserved -- complaining then. In fact, she wrote a column approving it, and defending the BBC against critics who thought the show was cruel and anti-American. Sauce for the goose, Ms. Brown.

Like so many of the antiwar left, she's very, very thin-skinned. They can dish it out, but they can't take it. Well, get used to it, Ms. Brown. There's more coming.

UPDATE: A reader points out this sentence from Ms. Brown's Sept. 17, 2001 column linked above: "As it happens, I support any military action to get rid of the Taliban and Saddam and I want to see justice." I wonder what changed her mind?

A BUNCH OF PEOPLE have been begging me to post the email address of Columbia professor Nicholas De Genova, who called for America's defeat in Iraq and said that he'd like to see "a million Mogadishus."

I don't see the point. I doubt that a flood of hatemail will change his opinions. But if you want to express your dismay at his comments, and suggest that it reflects badly on Columbia, you might want to contact:

Lee C. Bollinger, President
email: bollinger@columbia.edu

Personally, I rather doubt that Columbia would be as respectful of De Genova's free speech if he had called for "a million Matthew Shepards" or "a million Emmett Tills." Maybe I'm wrong. But I don't think so.

(Via Blogs of War).

HEH:

"Let them try not showering for a week, sleeping out in the desert, living through sandstorms, being under fire -- I don't see these people out there. All they do is criticize."

A soldier? Nope. An embedded reporter, complaining about "armchair generals journalists" who criticize the coverage.

MUBARAK SAYS THE WAR will create 100 bin Ladens.

Really? 100 wealthy Saudis who finance terror against the United States?

Well, that would certainly justify seizing the oil and killing a lot of rich Saudis, wouldn't it? Something for the Sauds to keep in mind, anyway.

THEY'RE NOT FOR PEACE, THEY'RE JUST ON THE OTHER SIDE:

Led by Muslims, Paris peace rally again turns anti-Israeli

But French Arab teenagers from the poor suburbs chanted slogans pledging war and martyrdom in the name of both Palestinians and Iraqis and against Israel. ‘‘We are all Palestinians, we are all Iraqis, we are all kamikazes!’’ chanted one group, no older than 14 or 15, from the suburb of Garges-les-Gonesse. Others chanted: ‘‘We are all martyrs! Allahu Akbar! God is more powerful than the United States.’’

Both boys and girls wore the Palestinian scarf known as the kaffiyeh. One Moroccan-born man stepped on an image of the Israeli flag. Another French Arab pointed to a group of protesters from a Jewish student association and said: ‘‘They are targets. They are not welcome here, because of what they did to our Palestinian brothers.’’

I'd say "anti-Israel" is putting a pretty generous spin on it.

NICK DENTON WRITES: Don't take Baghdad -- just partition Iraq. Sure, the Turks and the Saudis and the Iranians won't like it -- but that's not a bug, it's a feature!

I don't actually favor Nick's approach. But it does illustrate an important point: Saddam has Baghdad, but we've got all the parts of Iraq that we care about already -- all the places that have oil, or from which he can threaten surrounding countries with missiles, etc. What's more, every day we've got more soldiers and more materiel in place, and he's got fewer soldiers and less materiel. Saddam thinks that time's on his side, but it's not.

IT'S NOT A WAR, IT'S A HOSTAGE CRISIS: And among the hostages are not only the entire Iraqi civilian population, but the Iraqi army.

CAROL JOHNSON writes that Steven Den Beste isn't critical enough of Amnesty International.

PETER ARNETT, under heavy criticism for giving an aid-and-comfort interview to Iraqi television, has been canned by NBC.

I got a lot of emails on this yesterday, and I didn't post on it because I didn't think it was really news. Arnett has been desperate to rejuvenate his career since the "Tailwind" debacle, and he's always been too chummy with the Iraqi government. In a way, this, or something like it, was inevitable. The big "news" part is that this wasn't as obvious to NBC and Explorer as it was to, well, everyone else.

March 30, 2003

WORTHWHILE CANADIAN POLL:

Ottawa — Support for Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's handling of the Iraq war plunged in the past week, with opinion split virtually evenly outside Quebec, where antiwar sentiment is strongest, a new Globe and Mail/CTV poll suggests. . . .

Pro-coalition rallies were planned for today in Winnipeg, Ottawa and Red Deer, Alta., and in Calgary and Vancouver tomorrow. American flags are flying off the shelves in many western cities.

But here's the really interesting part:

Approximately 47 per cent of respondents agreed Canada "turned our back" on the Americans, while 51 per cent disagreed. In Quebec, only 36 per cent agreed that the decision amounted to a failure to support the U.S. at its time of need, while 51 per cent of those in other provinces agreed.

Still, two-thirds of poll respondents said Mr. Chrétien's stand has shown Canada is an independent player on the world stage.

As reader Michael Nunnelley, who sent this link, observes, being an "independent player" would seem to be the main driver of Chretien's policy.


ONE DOWN, ONE TO GO writes Daniel Drezner. The defeat of Ansar Al-Islam isn't getting enough attention, he says.

SPENT THE AFTERNOON IN THE RECORDING STUDIO -- the real one, not the computer-based one at my house. Doug "InstaLawyer" Weinstein has been working on a demo tape for his band, The Verdicts, and wanted some help and another set of ears. Various triumphs ensued:

1. Unaccountable difference in levels between left channel and right channel tracked down to loose jack in patchbay; tightened and fixed. Finding this in the time it took was a triumph -- even in our little studio, there are so many wires and connections that tracking down a bad one is a real job.

2. Flabby sounding kick drum tightened up with EQ. Not "more bass" which is what you might think, but a boost at 350 hz, which captures the crack of the beater striking the drumhead. Most of the sound of a kick drum is at low frequencies, but the beater-sound is what gives it definition and helps it cut through the mix.

3. Somewhat lonely sounding lead vocal on "Wonderful Tonight" brightened up by using a combination of delay and pitch-shifting to generate the illusion of female singers in the background. There are gadgets you can buy that do this, but I just reprogrammed a general-purpose effects box. It worked surprisingly well: subtle, but effective.

4. Request to give a trumpet solo "more shimmer" met by putting a very slight Leslie (rotating-speaker, somewhat akin to a tremolo) effect on the trumpet, and feeding that into its own reverb.

Okay, "triumph" is too strong a word, but still a very successful afternoon. I haven't done that sort of thing in a while, and I'd forgotten how much I enjoy it. And, unlike computer music (or blogging) it doesn't contribute as much to RSI.

PUNDITWATCH IS ON HIATUS:

Punditwatch is not going to grasp at the ether of pundit speculation and opinion on this war until enough time has passed to make it informed speculation and opinion. I trust David Brooks and Mark Shields to tell me who's up and who's down in the political arena. I don't trust them to tell me where a war is and where it's going after only 10 days.

Punditwatch will return when the fog of war lifts.

I know how he feels.

RALPH PETERS WRITES:

On one level, Arabs know that Saddam Hussein is a monster. They know he has killed more Arabs than Israel ever could do. Saddam has been the worst thing to happen to Mesopotamia since the Mongols razed Baghdad. But Arabs are so jealous and discouraged that they need to inflate even Saddam into a hero. They have no one else.

Try to understand how broken the Arab world must be, how pitiful, if the celebrated Arab "triumph" of this war is the execution of prisoners in cold blood and the display of a few POWs on TV.

We would be foolish to descend to their level and gloat. The world would be better off were Arab civilization a success. We all should pray that the Arab world might, one day, be better governed and more equitable, that Arab peoples might join us in the march of human progress, instead of fleeing into reveries of bygone glories.

Indeed. Read the whole thing, to see why Iraq matters.

WARBLOGFOGVERGNUGEN: Suman Palit has coined the term.

STEVEN DEN BESTE is rather critical of Amnesty International's biased approach. He's got a lot of links.

MAX BOOT WRITES ON THE NEW AMERICAN WAY OF WAR:

Watching images of the bombing of Baghdad brought to mind another American bombing campaign 58 years ago. On March 9, 1945, more than 300 B-29 Superfortresses attacked Tokyo. Their napalm bombs and magnesium incendiaries turned 16 densely packed square miles into an inferno. An estimated 84,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed, making this one of the deadliest days of warfare ever.

The enormity of the destruction is almost impossible to comprehend today, because the American armed forces fight so differently now. The new way of war emphasizes precision and aims for minimal casualties on both sides. This approach represents a considerable advance, but it also brings its own set of problems.

Although air strikes on Baghdad have intensified, leading to what Iraqi officials claim are more than 70 civilian casualties, the city is hardly being pounded into rubble. Electricity and other services remain. In the war's early days, Baghdad residents even stood on their balconies to watch bombs and missiles pummel their city — secure in the knowledge that only a handful of government buildings would be hit.

This is a bit reminiscent of the first Battle of Bull Run in 1861, which drew as spectators the crème de la crème of Washington society. It is almost as if the United States has left behind the total war of the 20th century and returned to an earlier time of more limited combat, when columns of professional soldiers marched toward each other across open fields and civilians were hurt only by accident.

Boot's not entirely sure that this is a good idea.

CAROL RICHARDS SAYS she protested Vietnam, but this war is right.

SARS UPDATE: U.N. politics may be trumping health concerns in the region:

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) When a deadly flu-like virus began spreading through Asia earlier this month, a group of Taiwanese doctors sent an e-mail to the World Health Organization asking for help in investigating the mysterious bug.

No one responded. No investigators from the U.N. agency visited. . . .

WHO is apparently waiting for permission from the People's Republic of China. Odd.

REMEMBER NORTH KOREA? Looks like some pressure is being brought to bear:

BEIJING - For three straight days in recent weeks, something remarkable happened to the oil pipeline running through northeast China to North Korea - the oil stopped flowing, according to diplomatic sources, temporarily cutting off a vital lifeline for North Korea.
The pipeline shutdown, officially ascribed to a technical problem, followed an unusually blunt message delivered by China to its longtime ally in a high-level meeting in Beijing last month, the sources said. Stop your provocations about the possible development of nuclear weapons, China warned its neighbor, or face Chinese support for economic sanctions against the regime.

Such tough tactics show an unexpected resolve in Beijing's policy toward Pyongyang, and hint at the nervousness of Chinese leaders about North Korea's nuclear ambitions and North Korea's tensions with the United States.

With the Bush administration asking China to take a more active role, Beijing's application of pressure could convince North Korea to drop its demands for talks exclusively with the United States - a demand that Washington rejects. . . .

"We can't afford to shield North Korea any longer," Zhu Feng, an international security expert at Beijing University, said in an interview last month. "There is increasing recognition here if North Korea is finally armed with nuclear weapons, it will be a big threat to China."

Very interesting. And what surprises me is how long it's taken the Chinese to realize that nobody, but nobody wants a regime as kooky as North Korea's on their border, armed with nuclear weapons. Read the whole story, which is chock-full of interesting stuff.

UPDATE: How kooky? This kooky:

ALL triplets in North Korea are being forcibly removed from parents after their birth and dumped in bleak orphanages.

The policy is carried out on the orders of Stalinist dictator Kim Jong-il, who has an irrational belief that a triplet could one day topple his regime.

Sheesh. If I were the Chinese, I'd be worried, too.

THE NATIONAL GUARDSMAN WHO CHANGED HIS NAME TO "OPTIMUS PRIME" now has a weblog. This seems to me to be a moment of deep cultural significance.

MICKEY KAUS is asking a lot of questions about strategy that are also being asked by others. I don't know the answer to these questions, and I've refrained from this kind of speculation because I think it's largely meaningless in the absence, of, you know, actual facts. But his post offers a nice central repository of the "what's Rumsfeld's hurry?" school of thought.

Kaus also asks:

But I'm still skeptical about the Iraqi claims that two U.S. missiles have now struck crowded marketplaces and killed dozens. Why do these errant missiles always fall in crowded marketplaces and kill dozens? Why don't they ever fall in back alleys and kill one or two people?

The answer appears to be that they're errant Iraqi SAMS rather than errant U.S. missiles. A reader adds:

For the last few days, I've been wondering how come Bob Fisk hasn't been jumping up and down waving bits of metal with "Raytheon" printed on it. Surely the Iraqis have enough of the stuff lying about the place by now...

Heard Iraqi caller to BBC phone-in yesterday (not some sort of coalition media shill, his English was lousy and he didn't "project" as the saying goes); he said that from calls to Baghdad, the locals all believe that the Saddam regime is behind these attacks.

Interesting.

UPDATE: Well, ask and you shall receive. Fisk is jumping up and down, and may even be right, sort of -- though if it's American it's a HARM missile that was probably fired at an Iraqi mobile radar placed in the market area. Tim Blair has more.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tim Blair has even more here.

JIM BENNETT WRITES on why the "Anglosphere" concept is more about peace than war. He also has some comments in response to Jacob T. Levy's recent piece in The New Republic.

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