Saturday, June 26, 2004

Quite a lot to blog, in fact.

I'll start with DumbJon. This guy is great and you should read him. He's vehement about things other leave alone- his latest post gives you a classic insight into the UK's institutional culture plus our hang-ups. He often wallops the BBC- need I say more?

Meanwhile, this is quite a lady- she has an impressive string of men to her credit and they include Amir Taheri, who has written a must-read article ('read it all' in the words of the Instapundit) based on a recent visit to Iraq. It's like reading an extended post from IraqTheModel only with a bit more gravitas. Loads of juicy, juicy facts, insights and quotes.

Then, unusually, Melanie Phillips has been putting some weekend entries into her diary. First there is the Washington Times reporting the emergence of more chemical weapons in Iraq. Then news that the New York Times has performed a summersault on Iraq's ties to Al Qaeda by publishing a report about ongoing efforts by Saddam to ally with groups, including Al Qaeda, who opposed the rulers of Saudi Arabia. A pan-arab caliphate, anyone?

Finally, from LGF a link to Andrew Mcarthy at NRO who is trying to burst open that bubble of stale hot air that the words 'Abu' and 'Ghraib' have burped up. Charles couldn't find a quote that he felt helped sum it up (at least from where he was standing). I think I can, because amidst all the palaver Mcarthy brings us back to procedure. This is so sane it's the quote that counts for me:

'There is, of course, a straightforward way to find out what was actually done here, and it is precisely the way the administration appears to be proceeding: zealously prosecute the cases. The soldiers thus far charged, for the most part, appear to be claiming, unsurprisingly, that they were "just following orders." That claim will be tried in court-martial proceedings, meaning each soldier making it will have to establish who supposedly gave him such commands, at which point the spotlight will focus on that official, who will either deny it, admit it, or admit it and say he was acting on someone else's orders, at which point the process moves upward. That is how investigations routinely proceed.'

All of which reminds me that, in life's race, if you jump the gun too often you get disqualified.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Volker Checks In.

The man hired to investigate UNscam 'says he has uncovered "serious problems" with the program.'- via Friends of Saddam and Fox News. When you consider what generally happens in enquiries this degree of certainty seems significant.

M. Moore- Daahling of the BBC.

My fellow B-BBC contributor Andrew Bowman and I had an email exchange (incidentally, I'm having serious technical problems on the email front at the moment) a few weeks ago about the uncritical reception the BBC had offered to the Moore circus, and how Moore was a latter-day Reifenstahl etc etc.

The Beeb have been positively gleeful, realising that Moore represents the model of a straight talking leftie to make opposition to GWB look truehearted- an activity for the common man. Somehow Kerry can't quite bring that off.

Today they claimed breathlessly, 'Michael Moore's award-winning documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 has opened to rave reviews - but not among supporters of President George Bush.'

Now, someone needs to get a grip at the Beeb and realise that you do not have to be a supporter of GWB to dislike, even hate, and criticise Fahrenheit 9/11. Off the top of my head I can think of Roger Simon, Christopher Hitchens and Jeff Jarvis who have slated Moore and his work. Now, I suppose this is very web orientated, but these people are relatively significant, especially Hitchens. They are in many ways traditional democrats, who certainly may not be supporting Bush at the polls in November (Jarvis certainly doesn't intend to).

Both Hitchens and Jarvis expend great energy trying to nail Moore- and few could argue they fail to do so.

The truth about Moore is that only a diehard opponent of GWB would give his propaganda any kind of credibility- so the Beeb have got it backwards as usual. The real story is that senior Democrats have, cynically, effectively endorsed what is basically a propaganda film- but that's a perspective that won't come within a million miles of the BBC.
(I have something similar- but different- posted at B-BBC)

At Every Opportunity I spread the word that the BBC World Service is funded by the Foreign Office- which seems to me to be asking for trouble when that division of the BBC is essential in providing the backbone for its world coverage.

However, I had a 'duh!' moment this evening when I read on the excellent and newly linked blog (sitting comfortably between Melanie Phillips and Stephen Pollard in the 'Politics' section to your right) 'EU Referendum' that the BBC World Service has benefitted from funding from the EU of substantial sums rising to over 1 million pounds this year. That's not to mention further grants to other parts of the Beeb. Oh, and that's before I come to the loans from the European Investment Bank of over £90 million, which must be very comforting to have in hand against the backdrop of all this digital television mallarkey. I'm not sure what all the ramifications might be, but this seems a story saying which political future the BBC have placed their bets on. Worth bearing in mind.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

I Have Another Site!

Readers of this blog will realise that though I describe it as 'Beeb-bash based' and about 'politics and poetry', only two of those three appear realistic (I hope no one accuses me of not bashing the Beeb, and politics is fairly much anything where you have a strong opinion). To make up for the lack of poetry I've created 'WritingHoarsely' (yes I know you can't write 'hoarsely' but it's, like, a metaphor.) At the moment there's just one short story I wrote over a year ago, but you're welcome to go and take a look.

Unscam update:

William Safire is still on the case, and from the sound of his source- 'You won't believe the grease being paid.'- it's a scam that however unexciting to some and unwelcome to others will keep on being raised (via Friends of Saddam). Certainly Safire seems dedicated enough.

In fact even the BBC have added a recent report to mark the occasion when US oil companies have been receiving subpoenas. It's so much easier to report when the potential bad guys are flagships of US capitalism, isn't it? A spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go down.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

'Anonymous' and the Clerical Error

When you find one report promulgating the notion that the Bush administration misled the public by understating the number of terrorist incidents last year, and one immediately beside it saying that the US is losing the War on Terror, you have to think that's a remarkable coincidence; but in the way that the BBC website usually seems to bend space and time two remarkably complementary stories occupied the same section of their website simultaneously.

When the BBC say that 'The Bush administration seized on the original report [recording a reduction in numbers of attacks] as proof that its "war on terror" was succeeding.' is there not a faint stench of subjectivity in that judgement? That's not to mention the double quote-marks and the possessive 'its', as though the WoT only belonged in the Bush administration's imagination. Meanwhile, at no point do we get the cohesive explanation offered by CNN:

'John Brennan, director of the federal Terrorist Threat Integration Center, said a database error caused his agency to provide incomplete statistics to the CIA. The CIA then passed those incomplete numbers along to the State Department.

Brennan said he took responsibility for the error, but "Anyone who might assert that our numbers were intentionally skewed is mistaken." '

As I've already pointed out, it's a small step from this story to the one about the anonymous author who's written a book condemning the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq. In the US context this is conveniently close to the furore over the 9/11 commission.

The BBC graciously report it with the qualification that 'The 309-page Imperial Hubris is the latest book to attack the Bush administration in an election year - many written by former officials with an axe to grind.' (link added by me)- but this is the only qualification, and it actually enhances the fact that the book is 'the work of an official with long years of counter-terrorism experience, who is still active in the US intelligence community.' . And, by the way, I did not notice the BBC describing any of the books they might have been referring to as written by people 'with an axe to grind' at the time they were published. Richard Clarke with an 'axe to grind'? Ssshurely not!

It's bizarre and laughable in the article that we find out so much about a man supposedly 'anonymous'. His identity, like that of the unfortunate Dr David Kelly in the UK, cannot be felt worth hiding if this much is let out into the public domain. Having found some celebrated but retired names being shot down in the flames of their obvious politicisation or self-interest, the opponents of President Bush have resorted to a current intelligence operative to fireproof their case, they just can't name him- although I bet they know who he banks with. So, we're left with plenty of context but no substance, nothing to scrutinise because we don't know- as per usual- where he lives, who he knows, who he drinks with etc etc. What are we supposed to say: 'oh how clever, that's really done it now', or, nore likely, 'another damn-fool gimmick further undermining the credibility of Bush's critics'?

The BBC's account includes lavish quoting from the book, and speculation from newspapers that have had contact with the author, including the Guardian and the Washington Times. Now how often do the opinions of newspapers get such coverage on the BBC website? Often they dismiss print journalists as 'hacks', as was the case with Paul Reynolds' description of Christopher Hitchens recently. This time we get to know what the Guardian thinks, what the Times thinks, what 'Anonymous' thinks- including the big joke, that Al Qaeda are considering a strike on the US to keep Bush in power.

Ha ha.

Media News Round-up.

The new BBC Director General, Mark Thompson, has taken over and announced a shake-up, which has got to be good news if it means that criticising the Beeb will be less like shooting fish in a barrel. Also, the Telegraph has been sold to the Barclay brothers, which hopefully ends its long period spent in limbo and should make for a better paper in the coming months.

Meanwhile, anyone who has criticised Michael Moore (and there have been many) over his latest film Fahrenheit 9/11 will be wishing they'd held back until they read Christpher Hitchens' disembowelment of Moore's bloated media corpse. Roger Simon has some observations to add comparing one media monster (Moore) with another (Clinton, whose book has by now hit the streets of America like a splodge of lumpy porridge).

By the way, if you want a real news round up, this time about Iraq, try Arthur Chrenkoff. Such a fascinating read. (Thanks to Instapundit for 3 of 5 links).

Also by the way, a new and well-informed blog has started to focus on the EU Referendum over the constitution. I was particularly interested (and gratified) by this post, which echoes a recent post of mine about the BBC's coverage of the constitution- in fact it examines the same Q & A non-information article that annoyed me quite a bit. (via Samizdata)

Somehow I think that Mr Blair's little soundbyte about 'myths' and 'realities' concerning the constitution is going to acquire teeth and bite him.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Blog Quality and Big Ideas

Although you can easily make the argument that much of what appears in blogs is poorly written, poorly researched, and shallow, it's also true that for developing ideas, as well as letting descriptive/imaginative powers run loose, the internet can be quite spectacular.

Just recently Wretchard of the Belmont Club has hit a purple patch: some great thoughts encompassing great spans of time and space. Some might describe it as rambling; others as a 'bit of a stretch' for the imagination, but I'm just glad he does it because I'd never have the guts. The negative responses (I'm guessing) would be more likely from Europeans, since Wretchard is American and since we Euros tend to look down on people talking with an eye to the cosmic.

I just wanted to share a couple of Wretchard's quotes, relating to the Euro-project that's been thrust forward into the limelight by the recent elections (numbers represent links to specific posts).

1) 'The Third World in general and the Islamic World in particular have burst their bounds; they can no longer be herded into the decrepit and threadbare tent of the United Nations; the Kyoto climate agreement; the International Criminal Court or any of Potemkin treaties woven by the European Union.'

2) 'The real significance of the Osama's attacks on America to future historians may be that it marked the end of the transnational project of a politically correct world order; delineated the final boundary of the European tradition of Marxist thought and created the first post-post-colonial Western ideology. The Global War on Terror is in certain respects spectacularly ill-named. Its principal victim has not been the Al Qaeda network but the old order. The notion of the centrality of the United Nations; the idea that terrorism is a law enforcement problem; the idea that history is an irreversible march toward a Green-Left future are projects as cold beneath the earth as the Taliban's armies. If the European Union as envisioned by France finally dies; it will mark its departure, however long it may linger, from the time Mohammed Atta's aircraft struck the Towers.'

Kind of puts into perspective the wrangling over the constitution, doesn't it? That seems, well, backward looking when you consider the far greater forces at work. The basic theme, one I think we'll either have to accept or endure in due course, is 'stop picking at you navel, Europe, start looking over your shoulder.'

'Deirdrie' Replies (sooner than I expected):

'For 30 years, as the EU has acquired the organs of a state entity, the argument of British Europhiles to the people has been: who ya gonna believe?

Me or your lyin' eyes? Say what you like about those shifty duplicitous Continentals, but on this issue it's successive British governments that have been shifty and Monsieur du Plicitous who's been admirably straightforward.'
-'Deirdrie', aka Mark Steyn

Which is Clearer?

Dear Deirdie,

Although the Beeb took up Mr Blair's challenge to distinguish 'myth' from 'reality' about the EU constitution, as I noted already in my weblog, I was not impressed- it just seemed like they were in denial. Yesterday I read an article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph that seems far clearer. This is a difficult time in my history, and lots of my friends keep muttering dark things about the Euro-sceptic rightwing press. Please help me. Who should I believe?


Monday, June 21, 2004

I'll probably write a fair bit about the EU constitution: another central issue of the times that no doubt the BBC will get present arse first, so to speak. Here's an initial response:

BBC on EU : 'The show goes on'.

No sooner has Tony Blair on Breakfast with Frostie hailed a battle to allow 'reality' about the EU to be distinguished from 'myth' (obscured, so the story goes, by the narrow europhobic press), the BBC obliges with a helpful Q&A: EU- Myths and Realities.

The overall tone of this report indicates that 'myth'= anything scary about growing EU powers, while 'reality'= everything's right and fairly proper in the EU garden.

So, to each vaguely anxious 'question' about the increase in EU power intrinsic to the constitution the answer is negative.

Asking whether the EU constitution will lead to a 'United States of Europe' (like the US), the response is unequivocally 'no'. If you read the explanation, however, it is clear that while in some areas qualified majority voting is extended (in fact wherever it's not otherwise stated qualified majority voting will be applied)- to immigration for instance- in no cases is it diminished. Thus, the balance described between people wanting more integration and those wanting to preserve national powers is false, since the movement in the Constitution is all one way. Who knows whether it will 'lead to' a USE; what's clear is that it's a step in that direction.

Asking whether having a Foreign Minister means having a common foreign policy the BBC comment with apparent wryness, 'not in the EU'. As the BBC comments, however, without 'agreement' the EU Foreign Minister will be 'powerless'; therefore, unless he or she is an idiot, the Foreign Ministers will spend his/her time weighing and balancing the EU's individual interests to get agreement. From another vantage point this might mean arm-twisting and shoe-horning various national representatives. I was particularly alarmed by the BBC's assumption that the EU were united in their view of the 'Middle East Peace Process'. That may be true, nominally at present, but I would not want under any circumstances to be tied to French foreign policy over Israel.

Coming away from reading the BBC's analysis, I feel that I have had contact with an idealist's vision of how the Constitution will work; one which anticipates nationalistic fears but not the practical concerns (and experiences) on which most fears are grounded.

Anyway, for an example of that apparently hopelessly biased euro-sceptic press, The Times' Financial editor David Smith's EconomicsUK site is a place to bookmark. Currently running an impressive article on intelligent economics-based scepticism, if current trends continue people like him will be a little more critical of the drive for integration than the BBC.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Went Trawling; found stuff:

William Kristol on Kerry's response to the 9/11 Commission:

'This is surely a major moment in the presidential race. John Kerry had, until last week, been running a disciplined general election campaign, carefully suppressing his left-leaning foreign policy instincts, soberly emphasizing his commitment to fighting the war on terror and to seeing through the effort in Iraq. Then he couldn't resist the temptation to jump on the (misleading) press accounts of the (sloppy) 9/11 Commission staff report, in order to assault the Bush administration on the issue of terror links between Saddam and al Qaeda.'

The BBC reporting a big surprise:

'Residents of the Iraqi city of Falluja have disputed an American account of an air attack in which at least 20 people were killed.'

Roger Simon on why he can't agree with Andrew Sullivan's flip-flop towards Kerry:

'My basic reason is so simple and unsophisticated it's embarrassing to have to spell it out, but as I wrote in the comment section of another blog: If John Kerry is elected in November, it will be interpreted by the world as such a repudiation of the WoT it will make the electoral defeat in Spain seem like a student council defeat in Iowa.'

For what it's worth I think that Bush is doing well on just about everything. What often looks careless or reckless, lazy or feckless, in the President's management, seems to turn out better than you imagine. The bombing in Fallujah, for instance, is indication that the US is not frightened to intervene destructively in that city, and that allowing certain opponents to congregate in apparent safety there may bring opportunities to root them out. With all those friends in Fallujah it does seem as though Zarqawi and his ilk are suspiciously 'at home' in Iraq.

The 9/11 Commission, with its apparent (and in reality very ambiguous) thumbs down for Bush's justifications for the war in Iraq, smokes out Kerry's agenda and allows convincing, detailed evidence to be circulated that refutes the sceptics over Iraq-Al Qaeda links. Of course you don't find such information on the BBC, but then that sidelines a news organisation that will not deal with news which disagrees with them- which is good news, in a way.

Google Custom Search