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Monthly Archives: May 2004

New Blogs

May 13th, 2004 - 1:32 am

When I saw the blog title — “The Right Side of the Rainbow” — in my referral logs, I assumed the worst. Then I loaded up the page and found, “a right-of-center, gun-owning, gay Texan.”

Well, how could even a straight man resist that?

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Quickdraw Blogger

May 13th, 2004 - 1:23 am

Pejman beat me to this one, so click over to him, then from there click over to the thing I was about to link to.

I know, I know — that’s a lot of clicking. But in this case, it’s worth it.

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Shop Talk

May 13th, 2004 - 1:21 am

Finally, Kerry says something very politically savvy:

“I think it’s sort of a panicked move to try to display to the Arab world and others that we are going to, you know, do things immediately,” Kerry said of impending hearings. “But I think you have to think of morale of the military and the chain of command.”

Forget morality and ethics for a moment, and look at Kerry’s statement as pure politics — because to look at anything as pure politics requires setting aside morality and ethics.

If adopted, what would Kerry’s recommendation lead to? It would draw out the (oh-so-necessary) courts martial well into summer, and maybe into the fall election campaign. And that would mean seemingly-endless months of bad headlines for the worst thing to hit George W since he was sworn into office.

And, I might add, he’s asking for the delay under the guise of protecting the morale of the US Armed Forces.

If — as I expect — the hearings and trials go on as scheduled, Kerry can claim to have been a voice for dispassionate reason. If Kerry manages to delay things indefinately, then he puts the Bush team on the defensive here until who knows when.

All morality and ethics aside, it’s a brilliant statement.

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Required Reading

May 13th, 2004 - 1:10 am

The first two grafs:

The new Socialist government in Spain has caved in to the terrorist threats and withdrawn its troops from Iraq. So have Honduras and the Dominican Republic. They are unlikely to be the last. With the security situation expected to worsen before it improves, we have to accept that a few more countries–which do not appreciate how much the world has at stake in building a free Iraq–will also cut and run.

No matter how the retreating governments try to spin it, every time a country pulls out of Iraq it is al Qaeda and other extremists who win. They draw the conclusion that the coalition of the willing is weak and that the more terrorist outrages, the more countries will withdraw.

Now it’s time for a quiz. Who wrote this piece? Was it:

A) A blood-thirsty warblogger.

B) An impassioned neocon.

C) Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta.

The correct answer — duh — is C. Now go read the whole thing.

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The editors of the Washington Post do no more service than the NYT:

Today’s Post Editorials
Idle on Darfur

Un Big Mac, Por Favor

Tools the FEC Already Has

But at least they published the following letter. . .


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“Database Nation”

May 13th, 2004 - 12:45 am

It’s not often a magazine cover makes you go “gulp.”

This month’s issue of Reason sure did. Then I looked a second time, and got a chill.

Seeing your name in bold print on the cover of a deep-think national news magazine is one thing. Realizing that the satellite imagery on the cover includes your house is something entirely else.

Nick & the gang at Reason should be applauded for their bold effort. And while it isn’t online yet, Matt Welch’s essay is especially good. Pick up a copy at your local newsstand–

–although you non-subscribers won’t get the shock and treat I enjoyed today.

UPDATE: It’s a shame they used my full name, which no one ever uses. If the cover had read, “Yo, Steve, they know where you are,” I might have wet myself.

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Where’s the Outrage, Thursday Edition

May 13th, 2004 - 12:07 am

Teasers from Thursday’s New York Times editorial page:

Tax Relief Charade
Middle-class taxpayers should not be fooled by the House’s temporary measure to provide relief from the alternative minimum tax.

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Stupidity Begins at Home

May 12th, 2004 - 2:56 pm

Joe and Abdul: Compare and contrast.

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Mail Bag

May 12th, 2004 - 12:33 pm

Tom P writes:

The Berg family was sandbagged in their grief by an AP reporter who told them for the first time that their family member had been decapitated and the video of the murder was online. An AP photographer was on hand to record the family’s response. The father collapsed on the sidewalk in tears.

If you have any comments about the AP ambushing a grieving family in this way, and about their eagerness to print photos of humiliation inflicted on Iraqi POW’s but not the torture/murder of Americans, go to this link of the directors and board members of the AP.


The CEO of AP is Tom Curley; you may need to drop him a note via snail mail.

The flack is Jack Stokes at 212-621-1720.

SEE ALSO: http://www.thatliberalmedia.com/archives/001984.html virge comments as reference….

ALSO: The Washington Post report, linked below, fails even to mention the fact that Berg, like Daniel Pearl, was Jewish. Can this really be irrelevant? Can they really believe this is irrelevant?


Do with all that contact info what you will. . .

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“Perverted Sense”

May 12th, 2004 - 12:17 pm

Victory, measured by one beheading at a time:

Al Qaeda is a basically a Sunni Arab organization that attracts recruits who are not Arabs, but who MUST be Sunni. Al Qaeda was founded by members of the conservative Wahabi form of Islam found in Saudi Arabia. To a Wahabi, even contact with infidels (non-Moslems) is forbidden, and it is the duty of all Moslems to convert or kill the infidels. One should not lose sight of al Qaeda

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Worthy Cause

May 12th, 2004 - 11:51 am

Ten bucks, that’s all they’re asking for.

Ten bucks.

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May 12th, 2004 - 11:40 am

Small-l libertarianism still wields some power:

A group of libertarian-minded Republicans in Congress is blocking President Bush

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Bad Day? Bad Week

May 12th, 2004 - 11:35 am

Via Drudge, comes this WorldNetDaily story:

Boston residents got more than they bargained for this morning when their copy of the Globe came complete with graphic photos depicting U.S. troops gang-raping Iraqi women.

Problem is the photos are fake. They were taken from pornographic websites and disseminated by anti-American propagandists, as first reported by WND a week ago.

WND contacted the Globe to question staff about the photos.

Asked whether the photos were the same as the porn photos WND already investigated, reporter Donovan Slack said, “I have no idea. I’m surprised the editor even decided we should write about it.”

She added: “Oh my God, I’m scared to answer the phone today.”

“It’s insane,” said Slack. “Can you imagine getting this with your cup of coffee in the morning? Somehow it got through all our checks. Our publisher’s not having a very good day today.”

Neither is the US Army, which was, apparently, unjustly accused of allowing (if not encouraging) gang rape.

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We Have Met the Great Satan, and He is Us

May 12th, 2004 - 11:09 am

Nick Kristof continues reporting from Iran:

“Either officials change their methods and give freedom to the people, and stop interfering in elections, or the people will rise up with another revolution,” Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri told me.

“There is no freedom,” added Ayatollah Montazeri, who is among the senior figures in the Shiite world but is excluded from power in Iran because of his reformist ideas. “Repression is carried out in the name of Islam, and that turns people off. . . . All these court summonses, newspaper closings and prosecutions of dissidents are wrong. These are the same things that were done under the shah and are now being repeated. And now they are done in the name of Islam and therefore alienate people.”

Whoa! Ayatollah Montazeri was a leader of the Islamic Revolution, and was initially designated by his close friend Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to be his successor as supreme leader of Iran.

Read the whole thing.

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Where’s the Outrage, Con’t.

May 12th, 2004 - 11:02 am

A complete list of teasers from today’s NYT editorials:

The Abu Ghraib Spin
The administration’s cynical approach to damage control was on display at the second Senate hearing on the prison abuse scandal.

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A Peril Beyond Their Reckoning

May 12th, 2004 - 10:25 am

Remember the ending of Braveheart, Mel Gibson’s fictionalized William Wallace bio? After Wallace was brutally tortured to death by the English, the film’s Robert I of Scotland (aka, Robert The Bruce) intones:

After the beheading, William Wallace’s body was torn to pieces. His head was set on London Bridge, his arms and legs sent to the four corners of Britain as a warning.

It did not have the effect that Longshanks planned.

I hesitate to ascribe a great deal of logical reasoning to the thugs who murdered Nick Berg. Barbarians commit such acts first and foremost because they want to, and offer up twisted justifications as an afterthought. That understood, Berg’s killers were undoubtably well-versed in Osama Bin Laden’s “strong horse” theory, nurtured by thirty-odd years of American withdrawls and second-guessing. By butchering an innocent man on camera, they probably sought not only to assuage their own blood-thirst, but also to pull a Saigon/Teheran/Beirut/Mogadishu (or Madrid?)–throw blood in America’s face and watch the ‘weak horse’ turn and trot away from the battlefield.

Time may well change perceptions and soften reactions, but one day on, Berg’s decapitation did not have the effect the jihadis planned.

Despite the newfound squeamishness of the American press, video and pictures of the murder have made the now-familiar end-around to the public via the internet, and the immediate response is not exactly “Let’s quit.” I offer up a few nuggets of anecdotal evidence, the first from a college professor (no, not Glenn Reynolds) posting late yesterday on a non-political message board:

We have moaned and groaned for weeks now concerning the prison photos. We have worried about our perception in the world. Today we were confronted with just whom and what we are at war. War is war and it is not pretty. But we should see it through to the very end, totally humble these people, then build them back up so they may actually give back to civilization. It worked on better societies in the 1940′s, and look at the Japanese and the Germans today. And the Arabic people are far less advanced than the afore mentioned nations. It is time to take the kid gloves off and get down to business. I am reminded of how Rome quelled rebellions and wars: with thousands of dead Jews, Britons, Gauls, and Germans. Worked for them, why can’t it work for us?

Not an appealing prospect, but I daresay this isn’t an unusual point of view in the US today. As others have noted, we hear a lot about the alleged volitility of the ‘Arab street,’ but to date, the ‘American street’ appears to be the group that is not only energized, but also capable of turning its anger into policy–deadly effective policy.

The writer also brings up a point that almost everyone, on every side of the war, has missed or avoided to date. We talk about how Germany and Japan were pacified, democratized, and enriched after World War II. We haven’t talked much about how they were utterly destroyed and broken first.

Consider this as well, from an email to Andrew Sullivan:

I’ve never really liked this war and my disgust for George Bush and his planning for this war is immeasurable. However, I agree with your piece “Insane Spin.” I am still fuming about the beheading of Nick Berg, and people throughout the world need to understand the contrasting images of that situation and the Abu Ghraib prison fiasco. The world needs to understand that we will get to the bottom of this problem no matter where it leads. In contrast, al Qaeda and it’s murderers flaunt this type of cruelty because they believe it will make Americans run away. In fact, it pisses us off and this type of crap needs to shown to the American people so that we all know who we are dealing with.

Taking matters to a disctinctly possible next level, there’s this, from James Lileks:

Simply put: if a US city is nuked, the US will have to nuke someone, or let it stand that the United States can lose a city without cost to the other side. Defining

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The whole story is here.

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Where’s the Outrage, Con’t

May 12th, 2004 - 9:15 am


After playing a pivotal role as the first to broadcast photographs of Iraqi prisoner abuse which U.S. military officials feared would lead to death of Americans overseas, CBS News has declined to show the beheading of an American civilian in an apparent retaliation for the Iraqi images.

The decision–made first by the staff of the CBS Evening News, including managing editor Dan Rather–now an official news division policy, came on the same night that the network announced it was going to air footage of an American casually talking about killing Iraqi prisoners on tonight’s 60 Minutes II program.

CBS’s choice to not air the decapitation Nick Berg provoked much outrage from its viewers, who faulted the network for igniting a global firestorm over American misconduct while declining to show the murderous actions of America’s enemies.

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Required Reading

May 12th, 2004 - 1:34 am

You think I’m a cynic? Check out Robert Samuelson on US tax policy.

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“Suck it up, people.”

May 12th, 2004 - 1:16 am

We’re in it to win it.”

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One Word

May 12th, 2004 - 1:09 am


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The Horse’s Own Whatever

May 12th, 2004 - 1:06 am

Damn you, Jeff, for making me agree with Oliver North.

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Late Night Rambling

May 12th, 2004 - 1:01 am

This isn’t a book review, but it’s going to sound a lot like one at first. So bear with me.

I read Virginia Postrel‘s latest book, The Substance of Style last week, and had one of those wonderful Ah-Hah! moments in the middle of the last chapter. If you aren’t familiar with the book, go out and buy it immediately. If you aren’t familiar with Virginia’s work, then buy it even sooner. I’m not kidding.

Virginia (yes, Santa Claus, there really is a Virginia) was editor of Reason magazine during its best decade. You could always tell when she wrote a piece

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Mea Culpa

May 12th, 2004 - 12:14 am

From reader Chris Taylor comes word that Alan Dershowitz has spoken out — on Crossfire, of all places.

(Click “MORE” below for the transcript.)

Not that I’m going to watch the show again. Since Mike Kinsley left (no pun intended), the show hasn’t been worth watching.


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Required Reading

May 11th, 2004 - 3:42 pm

I hate to require two items in a single day, but this is the most sober analysis you’re likely to see on the abuse scandal.

Warts and all.

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Must-Sunni TV

May 11th, 2004 - 3:35 pm

As always, Jim Dunnigan catches the most interesting angle on the Big Story:

Shias and Kurds have been watching with interest as the Arab world gets indignant over charges that American soldiers abused Iraqi prisoners. Shias and Kurds recognize that the vast majority of these prisoners are Sunni Arabs arrested for attacking, or supporting attacks, on Shias, Kurds and coalition troops. The pictures of abused prisoners bring feelings of satisfaction, not disgust, to Shia and Kurds who have lost so many family members to decades of Sunni terror. Al Jazeera

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Good Question

May 11th, 2004 - 3:29 pm

Speaking of the Oil-for-Food scandal, why isn’t the White House saying anything at all?

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A 13th Question

May 11th, 2004 - 3:14 pm

Tcobb writes:

Are there any leftists out there who advocate judging Koffi Annan by the same standards that they insist Rumfeld should be held to? The UN scam-for-oil situation is pretty repulsive.


To clear things up, Oil-for-Food involved billions of dollars of oil, millions of dollars in kickbacks, to help a murderous regime survive and prosper. The abuse scandal looks to be one of the uglier chapters in American military history — but so far, it doesn’t involve anyone lining their pockets to prop up a dictator in palaces and steal food from the starving.

Surely, Kofi must go, yes?

UPDATE: *crickets chirping*

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May 11th, 2004 - 3:09 pm

For those who are without a clue, here’s what “outrage” means, and why we won’t see it.

Outrage means playing the beheading story with the same intensity as the abuse story, and for just as long. Fair and balanced, as they say.

Outrage means calling for the swift and terrible punishment of those who murdered an American, with as much force as we demand the punishment of those abusive soliers.

Outrage means that the murder of a civilian should steel our courage, even more than the abuse of detainees detracts from it.

Outrage means demanding the dispatch of the killers — without all the snide Washington-insider slipperiness of those calling for Donald Rumsfeld to get canned.

Outrage means there’s no excusing the murderers as “just savages,” (with all the racism that implies) while holding us to a higher standard. There’s one standard, period: decent behavior. Abuse is bad. Murder is worse.

We clear?

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West Coast Hypocrites?

May 11th, 2004 - 2:51 pm

Bill Quick has an interesting observation on gay marriage, Kansas, and California.

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