April 6, 2005 - March 29, 2005
Friday, May 07, 2004
In a column at Townhall.com, Jonah
Goldberg makes the case for why CBS
should not have aired the prisoner abuse photos that sparked the latest
firestorm of controversy. He begins with this preamble:
Because it is required to repeat the obvious as if it were
catechism during feeding-frenzy moments like this, let me say again: The
abuse of Iraqi prisoners depicted in those now world-famous photos is an
outrageous scandal and the perpetrators must be punished.
I'm not going to do that. If this means I should be considered a suspect
in the conspiracy to commit the worst war crimes since the last time an
American soldier insulted some foreigner, so be it. I'm feeling less apologetic
all the time. What's bothering me is hinted at in a sentence much later
in Goldberg's column:
But these pictures are so inflammatory, so offensive to Muslim
and American sensibilities, whatever news value they have is far, far outweighed
by the damage they are doing. "Context" - the supposed holy grail of responsible
journalism - is lost in the hysteria and political grandstanding.
I know what he''s trying to say. I know he's trying to do the civilized
thing and assume the best about all the good people of the world. It's
just that I can't quite get past the phrase "Muslim and American sensibilities"
without slamming on the brakes. This wording makes it seem very much as
if we're being asked to regard these as the same
I'm not buying that. If he had written "Muslim sensitivities and American
sensibilities," I might have let it go. But he didn't. And now I'm moved
to sound off about Muslim sensibilities as I perceive them.
Never mind that the Saddam regime practiced torture on a scale more
massive than anything seen since the tyranny of Stalin while the good Muslims
of the middle east resisted the idea that he should be removed from power.
Chalk that up to politics. Never mind that American prisoners of Muslim
combatants have been routinely beaten and, worse, killed, mutilated, displayed,
and cheered in their desecration. Chalk that up to extremism. Never mind
that the worldwide scourge of terrorism is of exclusively Muslim origin and
is without precedent in its deliberate targeting of the most helpless among
us. Chalk it up to fundamentalism, even though some of us will be inclined
to mutter under our breath that Christian fundamentalists have yet to hijack
an airliner full of civilians and crash it into a convention hall loaded
with abortionists. Never mind that despite the media's universal acceptance
of so-called moderate Muslim outrage about 9/11 and subsequent acts of
Islamofascist terror, I personally have yet to see any kind of Muslim advocate
evince regret about these attacks without rushing into a "but" clause focused
on excoriating the west for its treatment of Muslims. Chalk that up to
What I do mind is having my sensibilities compared to those of a religion
which currently practices what are called honor killings. These can't be
blamed on politics or governments or miscommunications. They are not isolated
incidents. A search for the term will turn up more than 90,000 entries
These horrors are committed by men of Muslim "sensibility" against their
own sisters and daughters, their wives, and the mothers of their children.
All too often they are not prosecuted. No arrests are made. They are accepted
as part of Islamic culture.
Why am I expected to care about the sensibilities of such people? I
don't give a fig about what they regard as "humiliation" and "abuse." My
American sensibility is that it's inexcusable for Americans to do what
was done to Iraqi prisoners. I'm very much afraid that the media orgy these
acts have inspired will lead directly to the deaths of good Americans in
Iraq. But I'm not losing any sleep over how much it may have offended the
feelings of Muslims.
Now I guess I belong to the growing fraternity of Americans who owe
the rest of the world an apology. Okay. I apologize for the fact that I'm
not going to apologize. So there.
Thursday, May 06, 2004
these stories about President Bush
and Senator Kerry.
I couldn't seem to get away from Ted Rall. He's the political cartoonist
who savaged Pat Tillman in print on the day the former Cardinal football
player was laid to rest. Rall was a guest on the O'Reilly Factor and after
a couple minutes I walked out on him and ran an errand in my car. It turned
out that he was there too, as a guest on a local talk radio show. So I
gave up and listened to him talk. He claimed, just as he had on O'Reilly,
that he was a mainstream liberal Democrat. He stood behind his quote about
Tillman, repeating his assertion that the Army
Ranger was "fighting an evil war on behalf of an evil President." He
denied not only the legitimacy of the war in Iraq, but also the legitimacy
of the war in Afghanistan. He declared it unproven that Osama Bin Laden
was responsible for the 9/11 attack. This is a mainstream liberal Democrat?
Maybe it's so. If it is, I feel genuine sorrow about what has happened
to this country. That such a vituperative and graceless vindictiveness
could poison the mainstream of one of the nation's two great political
parties is a nauseating possibility. What is it they are for, these people
who feel so much hatred about what they're against? I never seem to hear
them articulate it in any broad terms. I know they're in favor of government-controlled
healthcare. I know they want higher taxes on people they deem well to do.
I know they have a faith in the U.N. that is as naive as their anger at
Bush is noisome. But all of this does not seem to me to add up to a real
philosophy of governance comprehensive enough to account for their fury
and hatefulness. And without a great vision to counterbalance them, their
dark emotional outbursts seem to arise from no discernible source, which
comes very close to looking like an objective definition of evil, a malignancy
that exists for its own sake. I hope I am wrong about this. I fear the
possibility, however small, that I am not wrong about this.
Wednesday, May 05, 2004
So they didn't. But if it was Bush who was being accused, you know this
would have been the headline.
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
DEJA VU. The mass
media of the world are never happier than when skewering the American military.
No, American soldiers shouldn't mistreat prisoners. We can all agree on
that. And muslim idiots shouldn't fire their damn guns in the air. But
why is it we're still waiting to see the first picture of a child with
a bullet hole in the top of her head? Nobody can tell me this doesn't happen
in the course of all those loony street celebrations they have. Is it that
Americans are more likely to be toting cameras with them wherever they
go? What would we be saying right now if Saddam's prison guards had had
Walmart disposable cameras to record their beatings, rapes, and murders of
300,000 political undesirables? Oh. That's right. We'd be saying, "Look
at how barbarian the Americans are..."
A more reasonable view is offered by Victor
Davis Hanson. He, too, is offended by the photos of prisoner abuse,
but he has the wit to be offended by other things as well.
The Arab world -- where the mass-murdering Osama bin Laden
is often canonized -- is shocked by a pyramid of nude bodies and faux-electric
prods, but has so far expressed less collective outrage in its media when
the charred corpses of four Americans were poked and dismembered by cheering
crowds in Fallujah. The taped murder of Daniel Pearl or a video of the
hooded Italian who had his brains blown out -- this is the daily fare that
emanates now from the television studios of the Middle East.
Indeed, if Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera could display the same umbrage
over mass murder that they do over these recent accounts of shame and humiliation
of the detained Iraqis, much of the gratuitous violence of the Middle East
would surely diminish. The papers that now allege war crimes are the same
state-controlled and censored media that print gleeful accounts of death
and desecration of Westerners and promulgate an institutionalized anti-Semitism
not seen since the Third Reich.
Shame on all -- soldiers and media types alike -- who are serving up such
a delightful meal to al Jazeera.
a happy news
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - An investor group headed by former Vice
President Al Gore said Tuesday it is launching a cable news network for
young adults, buying an existing network with an eye to retooling it with
"irreverent and bold" programming.
The group is buying the Newsworld International channel from Vivendi
Universal Entertainment for an undisclosed sum. The deal with Gore's company,
INdTV Holdings, was announced Tuesday during the National Cable and Television
Association convention in New Orleans.
Newsworld International is a 24-hour channel broadcasting international
news produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that now has about 14
million North American households, according to the Vivendi Web site.
Gore said the network will be "an independent voice in this industry"
with a primary target audience of people between 18 and 34 "who want to
learn about the world in a voice they recognize and a view they recognize
as their own."
"This is not going to be a liberal network, a Democratic network or
a political network," Gore said at a news conference.
The programming will continue to be provided by Canadian Broadcasting
Corp., officials said.
So it's just going to be an out-and-out socialist network. Sounds good,
Al. We can't wait to enjoy a brand new outlet for 24/7 America bashing.
Monday, May 03, 2004
I watched some but not all of Ted Koppel's memorial on Nightline
My guess is that hardly anybody watched all of it. What was there to learn
or feel? At approximately two seconds per name and photo, there was no
way to connect with any individual casualty in the list. The show's format
deliberately restricted us to only this duad of data -- name and photo,
name and photo, name and photo -- as if we were being subjected to a kind
of sensory deprivation. I experienced the illusion that the broadcast was
actually being transmitted in black and white.
The absence of music in a medium where it is a standard part of the
experience reminded me of Failsafe, the 1960s nightmare fable of
the Cold War. In that soundtrack-less movie, the nuclear annihilation of
New York City is rendered through a sequence of soundless freezing of live
action shots. Children playing. Freeze. Pedestrians bustling. Freeze. It's
an act of reduction and diminishment. This is it; this is all they are
now; it doesn't matter who they really were, what they believed, what they
loved; they're just gone. Though Koppel titled his piece The Fallen,
the broadcast was not about honoring individual sacrifice. It in no way
compared to the newspaper tributes that memorialized the 9/11 dead. Those
were about introducing us to people whose lives had value and meaning despite
their premature end. The Fallen was not that. It was a featureless
droning process of accumulation. It was the broadcast equivalent of the
Vietnam Memorial known as The Wall, a bleak rendering of futility.
It is this self-evident comparison which exposes the trick. Mark
Steyn explains this eloquently in his most recent column.
...We owe it to the dead, always, every day, to measure their
sacrifice against the mission, its aims, its successes, its setbacks. And,
if the cause is still just, then you honor the fallen by pressing on to
victory -- and then reading the roll call of the dead.
If that doesn't quite have the sweeps-month ratings appeal ''Nightline''
is looking for, since Ted has now established himself as a $6 million list
reader he might like to remind people of the comparative costs of war.
At two seconds per name, to read out the combat deaths of the War of 1812
he'd have to persuade ABC to extend the show to an hour and a quarter.
To read out the combat deaths of the Korean War, he'd need a 19-hour show.
For World War II, he'd have to get ABC to let him read out names of the
dead 24/7 for an entire week. If he wants to, I'd be happy to fly him to
London so he can go on the BBC and read out the names of the 3,097,392
British combat deaths in World War I, which would take him the best part
of three months, without taking bathroom breaks, or indeed pausing for
The Vietnam reading would likely be a 24-hour show. How big a wall of futility
could we make out of 40 minutes worth? The mathematical discrepancy here
is not intended to trivialize the Iraqi war dead. It is intended to demonstrate
how great a leap it is to equate Iraq with Vietnam. But it's a leap Koppel
was self-consciously trying to make. And he used ignoble means to do it.
He used the constraints of the television medium to make his list seem
much longer than it is. How did he do that? By making his recitation of
their names boring
. Surely they, and we, deserve better than that.
Sunday, May 02, 2004
. There are plenty of punk writers out there. One of them wrote
in to endorse Instapunk's rebuttal of Steve Chapman's call for "loyal opposition
to the war." He went on to add a personal perspective:
. . BECAUSE NOBODY WILL REMEMBER OR CARE . . . I was a latecomer
in supporting this "war" on terror. It seemed to me to be a lot like the
"war" on drugs or the "war" on crime -- just the most recent excuse to
expand an already intrusive federal government and run roughshod over what
little was left of the U.S. Constitution.
As things have proceeded, I am now
convinced that "war" is the correct term and my initial suspicions were
unfounded. It is within this context that I am astounded at the complaint
that the Bush Administration failed to prepare Americans for the cost,
length, and commitment required in this war -- see Miami
Herald from April 2, 2004 as one example of this oft-repeated accusation.
You see, one of my own earliest objections
to the Bush Administration was the (to me) overblown nature of its description
of the Islamo-fascist threat. I distinctly remember shouting out loud,
"How ridiculous!" when Vice President Cheney proclaimed in his most solemn
voice, "It is different than the Gulf War was, in the sense that it may
never end. At least, not in our lifetime" (see National
Review, Dec 17, 2001).
What the hell? A lifetime of war?
It couldn't be. I grew up at the tail end of the Cold War, in which entire
cities faced total, simultaneous annihilation with about eleven minutes
notice -- there were even debates about whether or not the impending victims
should be notified. What good would it do?
That colossal threat didn't endure
for quite a lifetime. I couldn't see how the 10,000 nuclear ICBMs of the
Soviet Union were a lesser challenge than a gang of angry Islamists who
have to steal whatever they can muster to throw at us. Even the World Trade
Towers/Pentagon attacks required the theft of commercial airliners. These
guys couldn't possibly take a lifetime to defeat.
Well, now it is 2004, and I understand
that we're confronting more than a gang of thieves. I know we're up against
some murderous unknown percentage of a billion muslims. It's become possible
for me to comprehend that it may take a lifetime. Yet according to polls,
the American people seem to have forgotten the nature of the threat as
it was described by the Bush Administration very early on in the process.
And as a nation, we're apparently shocked that it has taken more than one
full year to instil an idea that western nations have wrestled with since
Carta in a part of the world that has only recently emerged from the
7th century. Huh?
It seems that when it come to beating
the Bush Administration, any stick will do. Forgetting what has been said
in the past is the preferred way of redirecting blame in the present. "I
wasn't prepared" can thus become "I wasn't prepared by the Bush
Administration." Cut me a break.
Don't hold your breath, my friend.
Saturday, May 01, 2004
It's May Day, the time when leftists the world over celebrate the reign
in more torture and murder and misery than all the religions of history.
In honor of the occasion, one of our number has taken to the airwaves to
discuss the Worstest Generation
no charge for listening, and if you're a Swarthmoron
what you hear will make your head spontaneously combust. Tune in now.
Friday, April 30, 2004
. Now that Ted Koppel has figured out how to attract attention
to himself during sweeps week, we have been trying to imagine what it will
be like to see him honoring the Forgers (Ch.14.17-26)
by reading their names for half an hour. To be honest, we never watch the show anymore because
it's on opposite The West Wing
(on Bravo), which is irresistible
for its vision of a presidency so capable that its secretaries of defense
and state are but bit parts, far less important in formulating national
policy than the menopausal whims of the First Lady. How can tawdry reality
compete with that? So to refresh our memories about Ted we dug into the
archives of Shuteye Nation, where the names are always changed to protect
the guilty. Here's what we said back in the year 2000.
Ted Koppule. The sheer size of his head is stupefying.
It's so awe-inspiringly huge that no one has ever been able to listen to
a word he says. Maybe that's why he always gives the impression that he's
talking to himself, for his own amusement, but really really loud. It gives
you the feeling that if you could listen to him, he's being kind
of wry and witty and cogent, though loud. But it might be that he's just
reading the phone book off the teleprompter, really loud. His show is called
and did we mention that his head is just shockingly enormous? Oh.
This doesn't seem to bode well for tonight's
ceremony, does it?
Here's someone who treats Ted somewhat less respectfully than we do. Not
that we approve.
OF SHUTEYE NATION... While we were rummaging through the K's looking
for the entry on Ted the Head, we also stumbled across the entries for
two other guys who are very much in the news of the moment. One of them
just walked out of the big meeting he had been clamoring for at the top
of his lungs. The other just invited an anti-semitic demagogue to a big
meeting the Democrats have planned for this summer. Which is which? Read
the entries from the year 2000 edition of Who's Who and figure it out for
Bob Kerree. Is this maybe the tall craggy senator with
the tiny brain? Or is it the Veetnam war hero senator with the tiny brain?
One of them is from Machusetts. Nobody knows where the other one is from.
Or if you do, please let us know.
John Kerree. Is this maybe the Veetnam war hero senator with
the short attention span? Or is it the tall craggy senator with the memory
good enough to hold one talking point? One of them is from Machusetts.
Nobody knows where the other one is from. Or if you do, please let
That clears everything up nicely, don't you think?
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