Saturday, August 21, 2004

Basically I'm taking this blog's advice, however...

I don't know whether to be happy or irritated that the Iraqi footballers pulled off another Olympic victory. Come to think of it, will Chrenkoff (an Aussie- they beat the Aussies) consider it to be more good news from Iraq? How did people get to be in the Iraqi national football side, anyway, amidst all the disruption?

Update: I think I'll take my lead from my favourite Iraqi bloggers.

2nd Update: this is what Chrenkoff thinks about it.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Celebrating Enmity

The BBC is reporting- prominently- the views expressed by some members of the Iraqi football team. The intro is interesting:

'Iraq's successful Olympic football team has launched an outspoken attack on US President George W Bush.'

Note the implications: this is something the Iraqis have 'launched', and its target is unequivocally George Bush; it is a team effort.

In fact the Iraqis were responding to an interviewer; they were criticising the use of their situation in the US elections, which some broadened to attack Bush personally, and the Iraq football team was neither part of a Bush ad., nor was the Iraqi Olympic team anything more than a passing reference. The ad. stated the fact that there would be two more teams at the Olympics this year- undeniably so- against the backdrop of Afghani and Iraqi flags. Whether the Iraqi footballers like it or not, the image of the Iraqis playing and winning football matches at the Olympics, as Bush rightly pointed out, is pretty remarkable to us. It's a mark of Bush's warmth and broadmindedness (ok, shrewdness too) to notice how much the Iraqis enjoy their 'soccer'.

There are many misrepresentations in this BBC article, which even misreads its Sports Illustrated source, but fortunately, even before the BBC got to it and mangled it, Iraq the Model had these valuable observations to make.

Stand And applaud

No, not the England Cricket team, which has done so well against the West Indies, but Patterico, who, as DumbJon says truly, has offered a masterclass in grappling with media bias.

I felt humbled, given my interest in media bias, at the diligence applied in making sophisticated (and true) general observations, as well as a terrific re-write of a Washington Post article damaging to President Bush, illustrating how to put the boot on the other foot. Many excellent points made, but this one was easily the most vivid:

"What difference does it make to tell a story from the perspective of only one party? Roger Ebert once explained how, by making Norman Bates the protagonist of the horror film "Psycho," Alfred Hitchcock was able to get the audience to see things from Bates's point of view -- to the point where, at times, we are actually rooting for the killer to get away with his crime:

'The sequence ends with the masterful shot of Bates pushing Marion's car (containing her body and the cash) into a swamp. The car sinks, then pauses. Norman watches intently. The car finally disappears under the surface.

Analyzing our feelings, we realize we wanted that car to sink, as much as Norman did.' "
This was so apt that I swear I remember feeling just as Ebert describes at that moment in a film which, although I have never set out to watch, I have been drawn into on several occasions.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

All Quiet For Our Boys On The Far-Eastern Front.

No mention at the BBC of Kerry in Cambodia or Kerry and his band of disloyal brothers, or Kerry the war hero/criminal (delete as appropriate for time period you are going through). This is the nearest I have come- read to the bottom, carefully. You can find this though... sorry, I meant this. When in doubt, talk about women.

I predict the BBC will mention the Swiftboat controversy in an opinion piece when it is deemed safe to do so.

On a brighter note, Capt. Ed was a little bowled over with his success, and Hugh Hewitt dissects things nicely

Update: I don't think this qualifies as covering the Swiftboat vets' allegations.

Fairly Quiet In Israel, isn't it?

The opponents of Sharon's wall are powerless in the face of testimonies like this one from Mark Steyn's letters page (well worth a trawl):


I just returned from our annual family pilgrimage to Israel and wanted to report that, in my opinion, there has been a sharp upward swing in public confidence in the security services and IDF and that people are going out, and living their lives undaunted by the wishes of the Palestinians to scare the public and blow each Israeli up one by one. We saw the security fence up close near Netanya and it's a beautiful thing. Big, wired, patrolled and it works great. In addition, there are burly, heavily armed, ex-combat soldiers at most key bus stations in Jerusalem-making it very difficult for would-be bombers to get onto buses.
Cafes and malls are full, outdoor festivals thriving...just delightful. There's never been a better time to visit. Just my two cents.

Laura Rosen CohenToronto

Sharon's worst enemies at the moment are the members of his own party, which is testament to his success. I'm an admirer of Sharon's, and this article expresses his bravery and wisdom, and the danger he is in, very well.

More Good Sense From Iraq

And guess what? This time it comes from the Iraqi Government through Dr. Salih, the Deputy Iraqi Prime Minister. Whatever you might say about the interim Government, and there are many who are keen to tar its reputation with a relativist's broad brush (this link is to a report about a seemingly important incident of abuse- what's wrong is to draw too wide an inference based on one event), it's difficult to argue with this:

'The terrorists' claim to be fighting occupation has not been accepted by the Iraqis from the start, since we have known that their goal is in fact to revive the hateful dictatorship of Saddam Hussein or to set up another kind of dictatorship, or at least to prolong the occupation as a means of continuing their malicious efforts to take control of Iraq, to exploit all of its resources for their own interests, and to prevent us from building a stable and safe country and from bringing justice to the people which has suffered oppression without precedent in modern history.'

(thanks to John B. for pointing the way to one of the links)

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The thing that strikes me about this excellent (and well-travelled) article from Norman Podhoretz is the extent to which he quotes from and references Bush's speeches to demonstrate that Bush has a doctrine- a rationale, if you prefer- for his foreign policy.

Now if an individual speech is good, that could be a good job from a speechwriter, but if a series of speeches emphasize the same themes, the same rationale, that seems to me like a pattern that can be set by only one man- the man who has to deliver them and then live with them.

Which rather undercuts the view of Bush as a man without a strategy, wouldn't you say?

What the article also makes clear is that Bush has been navigating uncharted waters in US foreign policy- a change of direction Podhoretz, offering a vast historical perspective, considers to have been absolutely necessary. Given that scenario, it's no surprise the passage should be bumpy or the progress erratic. That's what pioneering is about.

Remember the Flypaper?

Some people mocked the theory that US troops in Iraq would be a trap for radicals of all sorts, but David Warren is still talking about it.

The reality is that, of course, if Iraq had an overwhelmingly sane and benign populace a man like Saddam couldn't have dominated them. That's why it should be no surprise that someone such as al-Sadr should prove so troublesome and command a significant amount of loyalty from a thuggish underclass of Iraqi males.

I don't know about Warren's 'flypaper' metaphor though. I might prefer to think instead of a refining process whereby though a process of confrontation on the one hand, and empowerment on the other, Iraqi society can become cleansed and fit for self-development.

Hopefully people like al-Sadr can be burned off, and people like this can rise to prominence.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Nailing the Bush-haters

Victor Davis-Hanson warms up slowly but delivers a real understanding of the hatred of President Bush in this article for NRO. In the process he describes dispassionately something that is in fact a psychological condition. Personally I just want to slap the lot of them round the face, or drench them with buckets of cold water till they do us the courtesy of offering a semblance of sanity. A flavour:

'We not only have an evangelical Christian as president in the age or irony, but one who really makes it sound like we have the ability to make choices that are more right than wrong and then act on them. In a world in which our elites can give 1,000 reasons for inaction and not one for resolution, Mr. Bush seems precipitous, unnuanced, one-dimensional, and oh-so-retro.'

Scare Quotes, Speechmarks, Reported Speech.

A very interesting post, from my point of view, about the phenomenon of 'scare-quoting' from the meditative blogger at God Save the Queen.

Here's an example of the controversy aroused by scare-quoting, from BiasedBBC.

The basic reason one quotes someone is to emphasise that the words you are using do not belong to you, but to someone else. If you don't quote, you are happy to describe things for yourself. This is quite a simple distinction. It's when you consider that you want to both describe things for yourself, and hide behind someone else's words, that there's a problem.

Of course, the 'scare-quotes' thing has become a means of indicating that something is not proven, and from that usage has come to indicate irony- and consequently become a plaything of headline writers and columnists. I know I take advantage of this, sometimes, but I hope not in a manipulative way- and if I do then 'they' started it.

An Essay Point.

Around 2040, assuming people are still required to write essays (when I say 'write', I suppose I should say, 'compose') for whatever educational certificate that then operates, they will learn to regurgitate the small but significant fact that US troops, having been present in Europe in large numbers for 60 years, were drastically cut by President Bush jnr in 2004.

There are lots of consequences this might lead to.

It might accelerate the progress towards a European army, diminishing the status of national armies within Europe (almost a certainty, unfortunately).

It might increase the priority given to defence in European spending (unlikely, but an interesting possibility).

It might provoke some country or organisation to test European military resolve (this prospect is both frightening and, I'm a bit ashamed to say, exhilarating).

I don't want a European army, but I'd support Bush's move for several reasons.

One is that I think America should do what is best for itself, for a change. Only then will Europeans stop moaning about the US being selfish.

Secondly, if Europe wants to be 'fortress Europe', preserving its wealth through protectionism, then it had better get some soldiery to man the fort (at least to scare off extortioners). This will be very good for those who think we can be protectionist without a cost (as I believe many Europeans do).

Thirdly, I think this way we in Britain and people elsewhere in Europe will be confonted with the reality of pooled sovereignty, as we face a stark choice to donate our armed forces to the EU or to develop their compatibility and strength to complement the US army.

Mark Steyn has a trademark article expressing his satisfaction at the move. Highly recommended.

Stephen Pollard attacks the double standards of the Euro-Left in addressing military intervention.

Dr Richard North has some concrete observations about the US announcement. His message to our own politicians? Get real.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Sometimes One Could Weep-

The journalistic standard is so poor, not least at the BBC. Scratch a 'feature' article and you'll find your fingernails all mucky.

I haven't time or (truth be told) inclination to thoroughly eviscerate this obvious piece of rubbish from the BBC- hypnotised as they are by the Michael Moore phenomenon since he is the only person who outstrips them in their keenness to see GWB leave the Whitehouse.

There are, however, some basic points.

One is that one of their substantial vignettes of anti-Bush feeling in the US is over six weeks old- not much of a poll indicator. Here is the gist of their anecdote about cinema owners in the North Carolinan city of Fayetteville, posted at that link on 1st July.

Concerning this story, what is not pointed out by the BBC is that Fayetteville has five cinemas- and the one they feature, 'The Cameo', is an arthouse cinema. Moreover, 'The Cameo' was the only cinema in the town to show Fahrenheit 9/11, and Fayetteville is not, as the BBC say, a 'small town', since it has over 60,000 inhabitants in its own right.

Yes, it is near to Fort Bragg, but 51,000 people, mainly military, are employed at Fort Bragg (which describes itself as a 'major city', and claims to provide services for 250000 people). If a couple of thousand with military discount passes went to see Fahrenheit 9/11 this would not amount to much, when you count in dependents who might make use of them.

Anyone would think that the military were instructed en bloc to vote Republican, when obviously their politics have always been mixed.

If the reporter, Hugh Sykes, honestly thinks he's onto some phenomenon here, he's a idiot. More likely, he doesn't care as long as the trends he wants to further, the vibes he wants to encourage, are nourished.

This, sad to say, was the centrepiece of the BBC article- the local colour, the clinching image- yet it's just more banal reheated Moore-fetishism from the BBC.

Solid Reporting from our excellent blogosphere rapporteurs, Chenkoff with a lovely new lot of good news from Iraq, and Omar of Iraq the Model. I love it when they (I.t.M.) diss that Sadr muppet. Speaking frankly, the respectful tone adopted by the official media, describing him as a leading cleric or something like that, or describing his so-called followers as 'militiamen loyal' to said 'cleric', makes me feel a bit sick. Thus it is like a successful bowel movement after a time of discomfort when the brothers in Iraq make themselves plain:

'this man doesn’t have the slightest margin of manners let alone brains! And I believe that who calls Muqtada a “cleric” is totally mistaken and is unnecessarily offending the clerics; I’m not fond of them anyway (not forgetting that some of them are wise and respectable men) but at least in general they talk and behave in a much better way than this idiot.'

Reading more closely what the brothers have to say, I see we share similiar 'gut' feelings about the younger Sadr's phenomenon.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Sunday reading:

Massively entertaining and informative, iconoclast Dennis Boyles traces the threads between Kerry's secret Iraq plan and and the world's open failure to address the plight of Darfur:

'Remember John Kerry's "secret plan" for dealing with Iraq? He announced it on ABC's This Week. Everybody wanted to know what it was. It turns out it was just like the "secret plans" I had back in high school when I'd take girls to the drive-in: Once the wraps came off, everybody felt pretty stupid.'

I meanwhile have to go and become a Godparent - Jessica Libby, aged ten months and two weeks, is getting a little bit of water splashed on her today. Here's some advice I've been reading.

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