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Monthly Archives: November 2005


November 30th, 2005 - 10:05 pm

Tim Peters forwarded me a story written a couple weeks ago by Spanish writer Sebastian Vilar Rodrigez. I tried Googling for the original source, but couldn’t find it. Secondary sources claim it was originally published in a Spanish newspaper, but none provided a link.

With some reservations, I’m posting the translation in full. If it turns out this is a fake, let’s steal a page from the MSM and call it “fake but accurate.”

Here it is.


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November 30th, 2005 - 10:00 pm

Pick an international boogeyman, any international boogeyman, sometime in the not-too-distant future. It could be Red Chinese Hordes, done eating up East Asia and hungry for more. It could be the Apocalyptic Army of the Caliphate, storming our gates to install sharia over America. A resurgent, revanchist Russia. Nazis. Heavily-armed Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Whomever you chose, imagine that they’ve invaded our great nation. We’re at war

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“We call it enemy action.”

November 30th, 2005 - 11:42 am

John Noonan takes on MoveOn.

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Air Battle

November 30th, 2005 - 9:22 am

The LA Times reports on the US propaganda effort in Iraq:

As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.

The articles, written by U.S. military “information operations” troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.

Smart move, given that the Iraq Campaign is one small part of the Terror War – in which the media is the arm of decision. If you don’t manage information, you lose.

The LA Times, however, doesn’t seem to get that. The story continues:

Though the articles are basically factual, they present only one side of events and omit information that might reflect poorly on the U.S. or Iraqi governments, officials said. Records and interviews indicate that the U.S. has paid Iraqi newspapers to run dozens of such articles, with headlines such as “Iraqis Insist on Living Despite Terrorism,” since the effort began this year.

What we ought to be told – and what the story doesn’t make clear – is whether the Pentagon intentionally admitted to this (legal) program, or if it was “outed” by an overzealous press.

Others, of course, are already crying “Fascism!” Literally. I was forwarded the LA Times story by someone calling himself “BushFascismWatch.” Here’s what his website has to say:

Fake news is being used in the Iraq propaganda war, reports the Los Angeles Times. “[T]he U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.

Except, of course, the news isn’t “fake.” Biased? Yes, but it’s supposed to be – it’s part of the propaganda campaign. Propaganda is important in any war, but it’s vital in a media war.

That’s not fascism; that’s fighting a battle where no one gets shot at and no one gets killed.

UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein has more – much more.

UPDATE: Hogarth comments:

See the forest, not the trees. This is not the LA Times against the US government. This is the LA Times lashing out at newspapers that are actually making money.

It’s funny because it’s sad, and maybe true.

UPDATE: And even more from Rusty Shackleford, who took on the Libertarians so I wouldn’t have to.

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‘Zat You, Santa Claus?, Louis Armstrong
All I Want for Christmas Is You, Shania Twain
Baby, It’s Cold Outside, Al Hirt & Ann Margaret
Blue Christmas, Jon Bon Jovi
Boogie Woogie Santa Claus, Dave Koz
Carol of the Bells, Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
Christmas Day, Dido
Christmas Is, Law Rawls
Christmas Night in Harlem, Louis Armstrong
Christmastime, Smashing Pumpkins
Coventry Carol, Scott Miller
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies, Eugene Ormandy & His Orchestra
Deck the Halls, The Platters
Do You Hear What I Hear?, Vanessa Williams
Face of Love, Jewel
Frosty the Snowman, Leon Redbone
Go Tell It on the Mountain, Aaron Neville
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Chicago
Greensleeves, Scott Miller
Hallelujah Chorus (from “Messiah”), Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Hark! The Herald Angles Sing, Frank Sinatra and Orchestra
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Diana Krall
Here Comes Santa Claus, Elvis Presley
Hey Santa!, The Brian Setzer Orchestra
I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Tony Bennett
I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm, Dean Martin
I Love You More, Steve Wonder & Kimberly Brewer
I Wonder As I Wander, Arthur Fiedler, The Boston Pops, and Leontyne Price
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, Bing Crosby
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Rosanne Cash
Jingle Bells, Sammy Davis, Jr.
Joy to the World, Cedarmont Kids
Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!, Harry Connick, Jr.
Make Someone Happy, Seal
Merry Christmas, Baby, Duke Ellington & His Orchestra
My Favorite Things, Tony Bennett
O Come All Ye Faithful, Nat King Cole
O Holy Night, Tracy Chapman
Peace, Norah Jones
Russian Dance, Boston Brass
Santa Baby, Eartha Kitt
Silent Night, Dinah Washington
Silver Bells, Lou Rawls
Sleigh Ride, Harry Connick, Jr.
Snowfall, Henry Mancini
The Christmas Song, Mel Torm

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What’s Dumb for GM is Dumb for America

November 29th, 2005 - 9:08 pm

And this is beyond dumb. According to Forbes, GM CEO Richard Wagoner was paid almost $2.5 million in bonuses last year. Let me tell you why that’s so stupid.

GM is a company in trouble. Despite three or four hot domestic vehicles (divided between seven domestic brands), GM’s future is bleak. Unimaginative designs are less than half their problem. The major portion of their problem is with overly-lavish employee benefits, amounting to more than $2,000 per vehicle made. Not sold – made. Meanwhile, to sell a car or truck or SUV, GM has to offer incentives worth an average of $3,100.

Do the math, and you’ll discover that GM suffers a $5,000-plus price disadvantage compared to its Japanese and Korean rivals. (NOTE: Thanks to the strong euro, European automakers enjoy a smaller advantage, if any.)

In the grand scheme of things, Wagoner’s bonus isn’t that big. If his efforts result in GM selling just 500 more vehicles than if, say, I were in charge, then he’s made good on his bonus.

The problem – the stupidity – lies in what Wagoner is telling his employees: “I’m out for me.”

GM just announced yet another round of factory closings and job cuts. To be exact, nine plants and 30,000 jobs. Wagoner has told the surviving workers that keeping his bonus – not his salary, but his bonus – is more important than keeping people employed. True, his bonus is only worth about 50 manufacturing jobs, but the point remains.

Let me tell you how things were done at another company.

My grandfather, Preston Green, was the sole owner of Southwest Steel Supply. My best guess is that SSS employed about 70 people. Fewer than 20 in the office, and the rest were Union guys – Teamsters, to be exact.

The white collar employees – my grandfather included – got paid a profit-sharing bonus in those years the company made a profit. When things were bad, management took a 10% pay cut, across the board, before a single employee was laid off. That rule applied to both office workers and the union guys.

The message he sent was: It’s management’s fault if we’re not making money, so we’ll take the hit before you guys will.

Now, I don’t know what Grandpa’s salary was, and I don’t know how much he paid his management team – all four of them. But I doubt their paycuts would save the job of a single Teamster. Nevertheless, the message was sent: We’re looking out for you.

Southwest Steel suffered just one strike while my grandfather owned the company, and that was during the Great Steel Shortage of the early ’70s, when damn near every steel union walked out. The unions weren’t stupid – there was so much money being made back then, they’d have been stupid not to have tried to grab a share of it.

But think about that for a moment. How many Teamster shops do you think went 35 years with only a single strike? How many union shops do you know of, who knew that management was watching their backs? Now consider that my grandfather hate-hate-hated the Teamsters and everything they stood for. But he also knew that if he wanted to count on them to make good product, they needed to be able to count on him to make good decisions.

I was privileged enough to spend a summer working alongside the Teamsters on the shop floor of the Madison, Ill. plant. And let me tell you, I was a bigger slacker than any of them were. And when they spoke of my grandfather, they always called him “the old man” in that way that signals respect.

What do you think GM’s union guys call Wagoner behind his back?

UPDATE: Related stuff from Robert Samuelson here.

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Poor Canada

November 29th, 2005 - 7:43 pm

Last night’s post about Canada’s woes reminded me of the only other funny thing I ever read about our northern neighbors. It’s an old joke, and it goes like this:

Poor Canada. Back in the ’50s, everyone thought they’d have an American economy, British government, and French culture. By the ’70s, they had a British economy, a French government, and American culture.

Well, at least they don’t (yet) have an Italian government.

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Oooooh, it must be time to panic:

The price of gold rose above 500 dollars an ounce for the first time for 18 years, propelled by strong buying from investment funds.

Gold hit 502.30 US dollars in overnight Asian trade before staging a retreat during European trading hours. The price was the highest since December 14, 1987 when it had touched 502.97 dollars.

Well, not really. Adjusted for inflation, gold today would have to cost over $830 an ounce, in order to match 1987 prices.

But remember: Just because the story is fake, doesn’t mean it isn’t accurate. A 60% difference is practically a rounding error to most people, right?

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November 29th, 2005 - 1:19 pm

Rusty Shackleford has video, photos, and identities of the four hostages taken in Iraq today.

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November 29th, 2005 - 10:29 am

Michael Totten shoots from Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon.

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Strange Bedfellows

November 29th, 2005 - 9:07 am

Guess who’s visiting Syria…

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The Happiest Time of the Week

November 28th, 2005 - 11:05 pm

It’s an entire Carnival of Liberty!

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November 28th, 2005 - 10:13 pm


Pete Rose’s eligibility for the baseball writers’ Hall of Fame ballot expired Monday when the 2006 candidates were announced, a group that includes Cy Young Award winners Orel Hershiser and Dwight Gooden.

Albert Belle, Will Clark and Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen were among 14 first-time candidates on the 29-man ballot. Bruce Sutter is the holdover who came closest to election, falling 43 votes shy last year.

Following an investigation of his gambling, Rose agreed in August 1989 to a lifetime ban. The Hall’s board of directors voted unanimously in February 2001 that anyone on the permanently ineligible list couldn’t appear on the BBWAA ballot.

Want an easy way to start a heated shouting match over cold beer? Then take my position on Pete Rose and OJ Simpson.

Rose does not belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame, despite being one of the ten or 20 best players in the game, ever. Simpson, however, does belong in the Football Hall of Fame.

Rose bet on some games. Simpson almost certainly murdered two people in cold blood.

The catch is, Rose’s transgressions broke one of the cardinal rules of baseball. Simpson’s crimes had nothing to do with football, and took place years after he retired.

Rose has no business ever being anywhere near Cooperstown. Simpson, although he belongs in jail, also belongs among the heroes at Canton.

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Breaking Up Is Hard to Do, Eh

November 28th, 2005 - 9:34 pm

About 20 years ago, I read something funny about Canada.

No, really.

Granted, I was young and a political junky – two attributes which probably didn’t speak well for my sense of humor. That aside, there was a line in Jim Dunnigan & Austin Bay‘s indispensable Quick and Dirty Guide to War that had me in stitches. Concerning the (remote) possibility of Canada fracturing into two or more nations, they joked that readers should “watch for Newfoundland to petition the United Kingdom to be taken over as a colony.”

Not exactly a knee-slapper, but in a geeky way it becomes really funny when you stop and remember that the Newfies didn’t become a part of Canada until after WWII, and were never all that keen about it. Remaining a Crown Colony (or becoming one again) had certain advantages. Like not having to listen to all those pushy Qu

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November 27th, 2005 - 10:38 pm

From Drudge:

The TV networks are getting edgier in their ’06 pilot plans.

The nets have filled their development slates with a bevy of brave ideas and bold format experiments, VARIETY reports on Monday, including shows about THE END OF AMERICA!

ABC alone has at least two would-be shows set in post-apocalyptic America (“Resistance” and “Red & Blue”) while Gavin Polone and Bruce Wagner are teaming for the comfy-sounding plague drama “Four Horsemen” at CBS (which also is developing “Jericho,” about life in a small town after America is destroyed).

It gets better:

Says Fox exec VP Craig Erwich: “The creative community appears to be really inspired this year,” he says. “It was an exciting time to be buying. I came away pretty encouraged about network TV.”

Imagine if, just a few years into the Cold War, Hollywood made a bunch of movies depicting the US under Communist rule. Or if Casablanca ended with Rick shooting Laszlo and selling off Ilsa to Major Strasser. Now imagine that studio executives called those creative decisions “inspired” and “exciting.”

UPDATE: Jeff Harrell comments:

I’m pretty sure Hollywood did make a lot of movies about America under communist rule or similar totalitarianisms. They were cautionary tales.

I don’t understand why some people seem to jump to the conclusion that any time somebody tells a story about something, they’re advocating that thing. Sometimes we tell stories about things that we do not actually want to come to pass, you know?

Personally, I happen to like dark stories. I like it when the good guys are flawed. I happen to like the fact that Sherlock Holmes was a drug addict (just like his modern-day avatar, Dr. House). Does that mean I revel in depravity or think drugs are just peachy keen? No. It just means I’m entertained by that kind of thing.

I like dark stories, too, just like Jeff. Hell, I think House, MD is a damn fine TV show. Or at least the first season was. In the second season, we hardly ever see House pop any pills – and they have him romantically pursuing his ex-wife.* Fox, sadly, has de-humanized House, by skimping on his vices while accentuating his newfound Hollywood virtues. Another thing. For those in the know, the House/Holmes connection was self-evident. In last week’s episode, we were “treated” to multiple shots of the address of House’s townhome: 221B. It’s one thing to imply a connection to Holmes; it’s another to hit us over the head with it.

And thus by the Death of a Thousand Popular Cuts does a good TV show turn to rot.

Now to Jeff’s first point. The only movie I can think of even close to what Jeff describes is The Machurian Candidate. Of course, it came out in 1962 – 15 years into the Cold War, and not the “first few years” I mentioned above. Of course, there was also Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which came out in 1956. Although as a low-budget sci-fi parable, I’m not sure how many people got the anti-communist message. It’s instructive to keep in mind that the 1993 remake of Body Snatchers took place on a US Army base, and that in John Demme’s 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate, the bad guys were Americans.

There’s yet another remake of Snatchers due out next year, starring Nicole Kidman. Lord only knows what Hollywood will do to it this time.


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Get Serious

November 27th, 2005 - 10:35 pm

I didn’t read The Officer’s Club all last week, and that’s my loss – now made up.

Charlie Munn’s history of the Battle of Rorke’s Drift is especially good, even if you’re not into that sort of thing.

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November 27th, 2005 - 10:20 pm

Just because a blog post is technically safe for work doesn’t mean it’s in good taste.

On the other hand, who doesn’t need a little bad taste to go along with their coffee on a Monday morning?

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By the Numbers

November 27th, 2005 - 9:55 pm

Global Security reports that October recruitment numbers look pretty good:

They also note that all services exceeded their retention goals for last month.

Things look almost as good in the Reserves, with the curious exception of the Air National Guard:

I know this data won’t get the same screaming headlines as “Army Fails to Meet Goals,” over a story that admits – in the last graf – that the Army never hits its recruitment goals in the month of August or whatever. And that’s why you read blogs.

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T-Day Plus Three

November 27th, 2005 - 10:50 am

I’m still full, thankyouverymuch.

Despite my newfound rotundness (rotundosity? rotundacy? rotundity?), I still managed to get all the Christmas lights hung by the stockings with care. Er, sorry – that didn’t make any sense, did it? There might be a little tryptophan left in my system.

Let’s try this again.

I put the Christmas lights up all around the roofline, the front door, the banister up the stairs to the front door, etc. We even got a couple of those lit-up deer with the moving heads. The heads are motorized so that passing drivers might think that we have live miniature deer on our lawn, festooned with tiny little lights. There’s a buck and a doe, although I’d really like to spend the thirty dollars to get a second doe. If you’ve got to paint the buck gold and cover him in more lights than Liberace had sequins, the least you can do is give him a second girl to play with. Or a second girl to be seen with, considering our neighbors.

It’s hard to enjoy rigging the lights on the roof, but I explained all that a couple years ago. The results are sure worth it though. Again, we went with the icicle lights

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Happy Thanksgiving

November 23rd, 2005 - 11:56 pm

That’s all.

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Required Reading

November 23rd, 2005 - 11:00 pm

Jane Galt explains everything about income and productivity that most anyone really needs know.

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May The FOUR Be With You

November 23rd, 2005 - 7:57 pm

Last Saturday’s Auburn-Alabama game inspired me deeply. The result is here.

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“Show and Tell”

November 22nd, 2005 - 10:48 pm

A photoessay is worth a whole bunch of words – not that the people who really need to see will ever notice.

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Sign In Stranger

November 22nd, 2005 - 10:41 pm

Say hello to the newest member of the blogosphere – all six pounds, two ounces of him.

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Defining Torture Down

November 22nd, 2005 - 9:31 pm

Jeff Goldstein started an interesting debate to determine what exactly constitutes torture.

Even now, we hear that

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Just What We Needed

November 22nd, 2005 - 9:25 am

Henry Kissinger looks at Germany’s new coalition government and sees trouble:

Both coalition parties know that if they frustrate each other, the coalition will break up and each will face the dilemmas that obliged them to form it in the first place. When the departing chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, attempted marginal reforms, it threatened to split the Social Democratic Party. When Merkel offered a far-reaching, market-oriented alternative, it divided the electorate almost evenly — indeed, with a slight majority for the left if one includes former communists. Thus a deadlock might make the dominant parties irrelevant by producing a major electoral shift to minor parties or to new ones at the extremes of the political spectrum.

Oh, joy – maybe it’ll be these guys.

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November 22nd, 2005 - 9:15 am

We must be losing in Iraq:

The Taliban has attracted additional money, and suicide bombers, from Arabia. Two years ago, most of this support shifted to Iraq, where al Qaeda believed it had a better chance of winning some kind of victory. But too many Arab terrorist resources in Iraq produced nothing, and Iraqis have become very hostile to al Qaeda as a result of all the Iraqis killed by terrorist attacks. So now, efforts are shifting to Afghanistan. However, this is also a hostile environment for Arab terrorists.

al Qaeda must’ve gotten a hold of that DNC talking point claiming that Iraq was a distraction from Afghanistan, and thought it was meant for them. Either way, the Big Q has been forced to fight us Over There – which, if you ask me, is a fine way to fight our wars.

Hat tip to the California Yankee, who puts this story in context:

Almost two years ago, Newsweek published this article claiming that al-Qaeda was diverting a fighters from Afghanistan to Iraq. The article also claims that al-Qaeda decided to “reorganize the distribution of funding” reducing monthly payments to the Afghan resistance from $3 million to $1.5 million.

Hmm. I wonder why Newsweek isn’t giving this more play.

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That’s Gonna Leave a Mark

November 21st, 2005 - 10:56 pm

Karol Sheinen is smarter than Josh Marshall.

Cuter, too.

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Pretty Good Eats

November 21st, 2005 - 10:38 pm

I got a bunch of requests for recipes from Melissa’s birthday dinner Sunday night. Sorry, but no can do.

The usual birthday dinner – cocktails, wine, six or seven courses over three or four hours – just wasn’t doable. So I put together a large platter of assorted meats and cheeses and whatnots, and we lounged and snacked until we couldn’t. We had so much fun and for so little effort, that Melissa is going to do the same for my birthday next year.

That means we’ve got five months to figure out what wine goes best with diaper changes. Best guess: Lots.

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It Feels Like the ’80s Again

November 21st, 2005 - 10:31 pm

This sure looks like big news, even though it didn’t seem to get much play last week:


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