I try to conceal my admiration for Mark Steyn as a journalist and thinker, but it doesn't work- so why bother? Scroll down these NRO '06 predictions and you'll find some of the boldest and more interesting predictions for the coming year from the man himself. The one I liked the most was:
'Osama bin Laden will continue to be dead, and will be confirmed as such.'
Food for thought. There's also one about the fall of the German Government. And then there's the funny one at the end.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Posted by ed thomas at 3:53 PM
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Maybe though, a new, saner dawn is just around the corner for the Beeb (an early New Year's resolution, perhaps?). I sometimes find a little snippet on the Beeb which indicates that somehow things might be changing. I am an optimistic sort, and dislike the feeling that I am unevenhanded. So, I'm linking this article about the Polish decision to stay in Iraq.
According to the BBC report there currently:
'The new conservative government's decision reverses the previous leftist administration's plan to pull troops out in early 2006.'
I highlight the point. 'Leftist' sounds a bit almost well, pejorative, especially when set against the 'conservative government' part. Of course I don't ask for a slant towards the right, but it's a small point I think I ought to acknowledge.
Posted by ed thomas at 3:48 PM
I really had to share this little gem from the American Expat's site. Not only does Scott skewer the BBC's anti-Bush/America bias in two recent posts, he also gets entertaining comments like the following:
'In a very deep and beautiful way Mr. Bush has penetrated to the innermost core of the BBC, where everything is interpreted in the light of his existence. It really is poetic justice that the BBC should be housed at, of all places, Bush House.'
Latest example of BBC Bush hysteria here. I think 'buff' is a term they reserve for eccentric amateur followers of the arcane, and US Presidents they have no respect for.
Posted by ed thomas at 3:37 PM
Monday, December 26, 2005
Ok, I said I'd pop back, and here I am. Well, actually here I am- within a mighty stone's throw anyway. Quite wintry, which I gather the UK is beginning to feel as well (Christmas passed with the usual lack of whiteness, apparently, as indeed it did here by and large).
But while surfing, I found an item which has been buzzing in certain Brit-blogs for a day or two now. PC Coetzee (not to be confused with JM, who 'constructs representations of people slipping their chains') has been doing too much pesky arresting. What struck me about it was the comment from Coetzee's Chief Inspector that gave as an example of this fault 'arresting people who have failed to appear in court'
That's why I so admire PC Coetzee- he enforces the law. He forces people to face the courts which their alleged crimes are said by British Parliament-passed laws to merit. Last year (04) I faced a court on about three occasions over one motoring case(when postponements are considered I actually readied myself to face it about five times- and part of this time while not even UK resident). I won my case, which was a minor one, without a lawyer. I don't think it should have taken that long; it certainly shouldn't have been postponed at all (due to lack of court time). The reason probably lies partly in the fact that many cases have to be scheduled but the defendants fail to show, thus creating chaos and an atmosphere of disorder throughout the system.
It's all about enforcement really. If they enforced the law they wouldn't need, and wouldn't be able, to have catch-all police policies that rely on convicting those who allow themselves to be convicted. They would then have the respect of all: the real offenders, who would understand that to offend is to be forced to face the law, and the generally law-abiding person, who would be less likely to be targeted just because of a mild temporary lapse (not my case, actually; I was innocent altogether, and proved to the court's satisfaction that the prosecution- shifty coves the lot- had no case) and would then consider a general policy of good-citizenship more rewarding.
Failure to appear in court is a crime fundamental to all others. It's basic stuff and the stuff of a basic law-abiding society. And the idea that a Chief Inspector can just dismiss it with a curt criticism of one of his best officers (from a community- the white South African immigrants- to whom we already seem to owe a debt for their expertise and uprightness) is just fairly sickening and equally predictable. The sickening part is that it's something that could so easily be addressed had not the liberloids their heads up their backsides. You know where people live (and soon you'll know it even better); they can't get away; yet you let them, to the detriment of the entire system.
Anyway, on the theme of the basics, Mark Steyn is remembering the Tsunami relief effort, and there seems to be this same lack of sense which has infected many aspects of the British establishment (see this sickeningly shallow nonsense masquerading as common sense as St Jack tells us Christmas cards are ok. Thanks Jack). It makes me ask whether this Christmastide we should not be asking whether liberalism (in the sense of treating certain majorities as though they were the real sponsors of iniquity, on racial or historical grounds, in defiance of actual racial or historically based data- with the corollary that certain minorities are either on historical or racial grounds to have a false reality cocooned about them) isn't actually a kind of virus which impairs the life-support system of a decent society and a sensible mind.
Posted by ed thomas at 11:27 AM
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Thursday, December 22, 2005
'Opinion I can handle; it's biased narrative posing as objective reporting that needs to stop'- Jeff Goldstein.
Just a random quote from the clever ad thingys that Pajamas are using to attract readers- but it made me think of the BBC's Matt Frei for some reason. Oh and this twit. Roll on a media revolution!
Posted by ed thomas at 3:33 PM
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Thanks to Eamonn in the comments, this article is a fascinating read- the closest to a real and constructive kind of deconstruction of text that I've come across for a long time, perhaps ever. The text in question? Well, not one, naturally, but a pastiche of Bin Ladenisms cross-referenced with the media in the UK and US (no need for Bin Laden to mine the depths of the Middle East or French press). One can see that Bin Laden is no philosopher- unless one counts Derrida and co with their playful deferral of meaning.
Deferral of responsibility; deferral of meaning. Both seem to be in vogue yet also pathological conditions we are imprisoned by. I guess that a young man by the name of Daniel Higgins thought of his life as a kind of game. He was only eighteen when tortured and murdered- fatefully yet cold-bloodedly- by a group of vengeful Asians. By then he had apparently built such a reputation that when an Asian man was killed by having a knife stuck into his liver during a robbery, Higgins was the rumoured killer- supposedly beyond the reach of the law despite a 50,000 pound reward for information. If the reports available are anything to go by, there was a sensational trial to determine his killers, following his Tarantinoesque death. Higgins was already a father when his life was taken; the nexus of connexions surrounding him seems to have been explosive.
I wonder how much Tarantino has done to help evolve the definition of "white trash"?
Against such drama the dry work of a chronicler of genocide pales. But I was delighted to find this website concerned with analysing the National Islamic Front's Sudanese massacres. I could have wished long ago for action not words but it's a hugely worthy site.
I also found this essay from AEI chimed precisely with my feelings: George Bush has found his voice. I think it's necessary today to let the wordsmiths play in the newspapers, magazines, on air and online so I sympathise with the situation he has faced. It's necessary to let the bullying loudmouths play; not only that but it can't be avoided as no-one shouts louder than someone in love with their own voice.
I'm not sure we need too much analysis: we have to endure it though. So though I welcome the Tigerhawk's assessment of success in Iraq, I think that the democratic vote is the most unambiguous sign that sometime soon the bottom line of US deaths in Iraq will fall to a level whose meaning is unambiguously clear. (thanks to Laban and Instapundit for some links and thoughts)
Posted by ed thomas at 3:22 PM
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
BBC's hands clean: rendition of the truth proceeds apace.
So the BBC, itching to say some really nasty things about George Bush's Iraq 'adventure' and Saddam's trial, daren't say it themselves but instead outsource the job to one of our admirable academic fraternity.
Imagine though: would the BBC even consider the same approach to calling Saddam an evil and criminal dictator, in the circumstances? I think not; they would never allow it to be said, let alone themselves say such a thing.
Yet here the reassuringly educated-sounding tranzi-commentator (whose job, naturally depends on convincing people of the benefits of international legal procedures) says, quite brazenly, 'Regardless of specific American influences, though, the whole trial is tainted in some eyes by the illegality of the initial invasion.'
Don't the Beeb geddit; ever? That's Saddam's argument in a nutshell, and the Beeb are making it for him via this academic cipher. Just to underscore this point, it isn't, in this article's view, that some people think the Iraq invasion was illegal, it's that because the Iraq war was illegal some people think the trial is tainted. If it really were they'd be right to, because illegality implies that the status quo ante was more just than the status quo post invasion, ergo Saddam's innocent in this court at this time, strictly speaking. As I said, Saddam's argument: and the BBC is broadcasting it.
Posted by ed thomas at 12:47 PM
Monday, December 19, 2005
Beeb evades reporting the news (shock); reports Democrat talking points once again. Oh yes, there was some kind of Beeb report (note the starting point: a humble Bush implies a previously arrogant one- duh), but it just got lost quite quickly and was pretty hard even to track down.
Posted by ed thomas at 4:25 PM
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Optimism- This is a great account in the Weekly Standard of how Iraq, through its election success, is looking up in quite a big way. If so then it is a sign that the recent months' higher casualty figures were a reflection of what William Kristol calls 'the recently adopted American/Iraqi counterinsurgency strategy of "clear and hold."'. In other words, a more pro-active strategy- impossible prior to greater Iraqi involvement- which clearly puts lives at risk but offers the prospect of unambiguous advances. A real no pain no gain strategy instead of an intangibly directed process of losing lives.
The extraordinary Sunni turn out (70-80% in supposedly terminally recalcitrant 'strongholds' of anti-Americanism), when combined with the solid democratic enthusiasm of the Shia and Kurds, seems to indicate an inexorable critical mass of democratic decision-making which makes the Islamofascists redundant. I don't see what other major card the terrorists can hope will fall their way.
Mark Steyn today is wonderfully bullish too, almost as scathing of the Democrats as he should be.
Posted by ed thomas at 3:27 PM
Friday, December 16, 2005
What they should be highlighting (it languishes now in the Middle East pages of the BBC world news website).
What they are highlighting. Of all the pathetic cooked up non-human interest stories to lead with- when they could be giving witness to history. Needless to say a certain Justin Webb was BBC midwife of the story and the Liberal media in the US the delighted parents. I have to say it's a most absurd distraction from some Good News from Iraq.
(even CNN kept this headline: Iraq elections a 'success'- reporting the UN observer's verdict in predictable but at least consistent tranzi style- as their top world news story. I just find the BBC's obsession with Democrat talking points totally, well, biased.)
Posted by ed thomas at 7:39 PM
Thursday, December 15, 2005
A Few Observations
I have been very busy the last few days. That's number one.
A second observation: Aren't BiasedBBC doing well? It's great to see Toby back posting and posting so much so quickly. He's a clever guy and it interests me just how distinctive is everyone's mode of writing. You could extract sections of writing from bloggers that I know and mix them up, and still find yourself recognising authorship correctly. Toby's terse and forensic; Natalie wistful and seductively newsy; Andrew blending the barnstorming with the sardonic. No, I'm not all misty-eyed about group-blogging; No, this is not a meander in place of a post; I certainly hope it's not vainglorious blog vanity-card broadcast into a void; It's just that sometimes it pays to reflect on the evolution of the blog and perhaps what's fun about it and what it can do.
What, for example, is the difference between the equally thoughful posts of Natalie and Adloyada, who, being 'sort of' a woman and vetted as having a sound mind, has been doing the anti-Beeb bit on the Beeb (sort of bringing the militants in-house, which one can do when they're not packing bomb-belts or bringing in friends with bombbelts)? Answer: Natalie kind of meanders around a bit, like a country walk along the riverside, making allusions which you only get at the end as you reach the vista you were seeking all along; Adloyada picks a thread and then pulls and pulls, taking care to straighten the material so as not to hurt the threads she doesn't object to. Both I enjoy- and naturally, regarding their styles I generalise rather.
A third observation: I really admire America; not so much for getting everything right (although, in my view they do that with a startling frequency) as simply for getting. Getting a murderer some justice; getting a country a vote; getting an economy with draws people in and builds them up. All this takes conviction, and that's actually the only fault I find with the US in their Iraq mission (as in other fields, such as taking on the Iranian menace). I think the only thing they really GOT wrong, was not believing in themselves enough. But of course not believing in oneslf is not a crime, I suppose.
A final observation: Toby was a little off when he said sorry to me for posting approvingly about a Paul Reynolds' article on the Beeb. Having recently had to digest some of John Simpson's rants on the BBC website I have come to feel that Paul Reynolds wasn't so bad after all (but, dear reader, read on, for I have hopes even for Mr Simpson). Or rather, it seems to me that he has adjusted his style, retreated a little into observations drawing from a much deeper pool of experience and a drier, more intellectual approach rather than trying to hit populist (popular according to Beeb groupthink) contrarian notes re US policy. It's at least possible that contact with the wider blogosphere and the reactive media therein have modified his approach, maybe even changed a few little pieces of his mind- possibly out of awareness that a decisive critical audience exists which can and will undermine his authority to speak if he fails to give it some of its due. It's all good I feel! I've never questioned his savvy, or his skills, and least of all I hope his experience, and I feel that just now these gifts are being more responsibly deployed. Thus, I agree with Toby, largely.
Final, final observation: this Reynolds' article is a case in point- from 'One is tempted to say' (but of course, doesn't), to 'All this is not unhopeful for US policymakers.' Even the sceptical note at the end is a kind of 'one never knows' point, based on the events in the real mad world out there, as experienced selectively by the writer. In other worlds [a typo I have allowed to stay in- should be 'words'], Mr Reynolds has written a good piece. Maybe another good piece, Toby. Bravo.
And the last one: Check out this article from a different kind of Reyolds, in May 2004. Back then Reynolds was saying 'Events in Iraq have been spinning out of control - and out of control of the spinners - so fast on so many fronts that the W word - withdrawal - is now being mentioned.' . This one was googled from the memory association of 'Reynolds' with 'quagmire'- though this time Reynolds' mention of quagmire was via what he called the 'gadfly' pro-war journalist Christopher Hitchens. It certainly seems like Mr Reynolds has done a bit of gadding since then. And since then too, the US, and GWB, along especially with the Iraqi and Afghan peoples, has done a fair amount of getting.
Posted by ed thomas at 11:47 AM
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Don't normally do entertainment, but this is a great remembrance of Richard Prior, such a likeable comedian. Also, I think while I'm about it I'll recommend a CD for Christmas: James Blunt, author of Back to Bedlam, is not your average balladeer, having served as a Captain in the British Army in Kosovo. His music's of the timeless variety, with great lyrics and real themes (you may already know this- I'm not sure how big a hit he's been yet in the UK, apart from 'Beautiful'). The final track on the album is performed by a Private, a Lieutenant, a Colonel and a Captain (Blunt). A little refreshingly different.
Typically, I find the Guardian pointedly saying that Blunt (peevishly) thinks he's the 'housewife's favourite'- but since when did the Guardian ever believe such a creature continued to exist for them to promulgate the idea? I though it was all about gay dwarves now. Uncontent with one putdown, the ever-hypocritical ones' sneering review goes on to cite a following of gay men (as if there were some unholy alliance of gay men and housewives in the nexus of uncool). I don't know about either of these things; but only that there's real depth there in the writing, a little like Dylan without the (essential) irritating and hectoring politics. This makes James Blunt a serious talent in my book. As for comparisons with early Elton John, which the Captain modestly deflects in other reports- I should think so too, because it's blatantly obvious how much cleverer Blunt is than Reggie. As usual, the Guardian votes with its social radar rather than any recognisable thought process.
So, in (a highly unusual) summary (for me), buy it, or download, or whatever.
Posted by ed thomas at 11:54 AM
Monday, December 12, 2005
Not good at numbers
Perhaps John Simpson and I share that in common, but I think that I've calculated accurately when I say that comparison of this years's BBC survey and last year's BBC survey of public opinion in Iraq shows one interesting statistic- the level of optimism there hasn't declined; if anything it's increased.
To their small credit, they reported the optimism in the headline of their news item.
Simpson however does his typical 'don't bother me with facts' analysis where the usual BBC tactic of placing their subjective opinion over and above what is demonstrable is on display.
Undoubtedly the situation in a country as repressed and damaged as Iraq will be complex, such that peace doesn't always mean progress (pace some parts of Iraq under Saddam), and unrest doesn't indicate unworkableness except for those who attempt the usual unrealistic activities of a media tourist (pace Simpson).
Yes, clearly, 'Things have changed radically in Baghdad since March last year - and not for the better' (for Simpson)- but do we really need this subjective browbeating of unwelcome survey findings from the BBC's most senior Foreign correspondent? Isn't it prejudicial when already the Beeb were struggling to find a way through the straightjacket of statistics to reassert their chosen interpretation of Iraq (to which they are sticking)?
Posted by ed thomas at 4:40 PM
Saturday, December 10, 2005
I was really pleased to find Biased BBC (to which I contribute) nominated for the Best UK Blog award in the Weblog Awards. Of course such things are easily questionable, but since I often feel a bit down about the progress made there, there's quite a good feeling gained from seeing us garnering votes. Which brings me to my little appeal. I suppose the majority of visitors here also visit B-BBC, so they will have seen the link Natalie made to the awards, but for any who haven't been voting, may I invite you to do so (daily, as you are entitled)? We are already performing creditably, but could make it really a notable performance WITH YOUR HELP. So here's a wee linky to help you help us (myself and my B-BBC colleagues, as well as all in sympathy with us) along our way.
Posted by ed thomas at 2:20 PM
One Dumb Broad- yes, yes, I know: cheap and sexist tag, but this woman sets herself up.
It occurs to me I might be branching out when I find myself getting heated about the errors made by a non-BBC journalist, but really, to claim that George Bush 'is famous for keeping critics at bay, and has rarely come face-to-face with protesters (which is why Cindy Sheehan, the bereaved mother of an American soldier who has become the face of popular opposition to the war, made such a splash).' is just too tendentious for words.
Duh! She met Bush in 04, says so herself. I thought everyone knew that!
Of course the point our broad makes is not disproved- it merely makes the 'famous' consensus look stupid.
And perhaps my bullishness is linked to seeing the reality of this. Only a couple of weeks ago I was fretting over Iraq, and then came Bush's 'strategy for victory'. It strikes me that although this has an overwhelmingly manufactured look, it must be a GWB initiative. Only Bush would (could?) have waited so long before a media counterattack. Some opponents, aware of this success, are desperately calling him the 'propaganda President'. What a perfect inversion that is!
Haven't those dummies smelt the sulphur emanating from the insurgent activities in Iraq? Haven't they observed the teensieweensiest bit of doctoring of videos or manipulation of the press during western kidnappings? David Vance lances the latest Islamofascist propaganda coup excellently here. What about those damned orange jumpsuits- which have adorned the bodies only of Islamofascist victims for western audiences?
I've been deeply impressed by Bush's counteroffensive recently- perhaps through the strength of my desire to see it. The 'broad' I mentioned and linked at the beginning toys with the meme that Bush never answers questions that are asked of him. She's quite wrong. He answers all the questions that make sense; especially those which have some factual basis. The rest are just for dummies.
For a great rebuttal of all the central criticisms and questions asked by dummies, see this typically thoughtful and informed analysis from Norman Podhoretz.
Posted by ed thomas at 11:59 AM
Friday, December 09, 2005
UN showing its true colours: Israel wiped off the map.
It's always strange looking at large-scale geographical maps. Weird though to look at one with nationalist and transnationalist colours on either side. I suppose they thought there'd be a colour clash.
Update: Another act of touching solidarity via PJM.
Posted by ed thomas at 9:55 AM
Thursday, December 08, 2005
'I shiver in delicious anticipation of the shrilling shrieks of outrage as the British media monopoly begins finally to taste the lash they deserve so badly.'
Lexington Green at the excellent Albion's Seedlings (but who is this insightful and fluent writer?). All I can say is that for once I agree with some words of John Lennon: Let it be.
Posted by ed thomas at 1:41 PM
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Biased Beeb Defending Saddam
To keep their swarms of Middle Eastern moonbats happy (while snubbing the telly taxpayers who fund their service) the Beeb have to treat Saddam with the dignity befitting a grand Islamic leader- even in their news items.
Thus the Beeb reported the ex-despot's 'boycott' of his trial by relating the sad tale of how (in news unrelated, it should be said)
'the eight-year-old son of a guard at the trial was abducted from outside his Baghdad home on Wednesday.
It was not immediately clear if the kidnapping was related to the trial.
Thousands of Iraqis, including many children, have been abducted - mainly for money - since the Iraqi leader was ousted in 2003'
The implication here is that the ousting of Saddam has resulted (or is somehow rationally linked to) this apparent crimewave.
In fact, as many studies and reports (such as this one) make clear, much of the kidnapping is merely the consequence of Saddam's thugs going freelance, and the money is not because it's difficult to make an honest living in Iraq but because even so-called insurgencies cost money (think of all that costly video kit and bribe money, to name but two outgoings).
Now, I can sort of see why the BBC wouldn't mention Saddam's lurid torture activities, kidnappings and criminality at this point- that would be rather prejudicial. On the other hand, if it were merely part of the evidence presented in court, rather than the BBC's editorialising, that would be a different matter- safest when they stick to the news. However, isn't it equally prejudicial to make mention of the negatives of Saddam's ousting at a time when his regime is under judicial scrutiny? As I said, the news of the kidnapping is unrelated to the 'boycott' (so-called) which Saddam is holding.
Then, as though unrelated, the Beeb introduce the conclusions of court spectators (eg. John 'sly one' Simpson) to say that 'many observers have felt that Saddam has used his appearances in court to great effect, calling on his followers to continue their fight against the American presence in Iraq and condemning the 2003 invasion again and again.'
Talk about letting the ex-despot have it both ways! First the kidnappings somehow link to his loss of power, then he is admiringly reported for his effectiveness in using the court to bolster the so-called insurgents- the ones, speaking generally, who foment and act out the vast majority of these criminal acts. The Beeb, in this reporting, utterly disregard the extent to which the so-called insurgency is a war on the Iraqi people- an extension of the hatred of his own people which marked Saddam's reign as despot.
Posted by ed thomas at 6:29 PM
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
The French response to rioting: Got to get some better TV channels out there.
It's so ironic when one considers the French coverage of Hurricane Katrina (not that the British coverage was at all praiseworthy). The French just seem incapable of taking on board that they are seriously ideologically challenged, among other things. The French CNN will be as bad as the rest of the French media: terminally constrained by its assumptions.
Update: More managing of the news in Europe (albeit the older sort).
Posted by ed thomas at 1:54 PM
Monday, December 05, 2005
Simpson's Sly One
Ever trying to bounce, er, nuance me into a greater appreciation of the complexity of the Middle East, John Simpson returns to one of his favourest topics: how Saddam had a few things to be said for him.
'The Iraqi army of Saddam Hussein's time had mostly Sunni officers, many of whom had had the experience of fighting three wars, as well as crushing the Kurdish and Shia resistance. It was, relatively speaking, tough and disciplined - not up to fighting the Americans, but more than able to deal with an insurgency.'
And the point is...?
Saddam knew a thing or two about applying a firm rod to the fissiparous factional nation he found himself the ruler of, unlike well, mentioning no names, but...
News for Simpson: Saddam knew a thing or two about intimidation, torture, bribery, assassination, propaganda and terror- not to mention mass murder. All necessary no doubt in Simpson's Mad Mad world, but hardly representative of the moral standard which the BBC so often claims to uphold. Thus, today, they're busy as beavers with Condi's 'transport yes, torture no' statement. And previously they've made hay while the Amnesty sun shone. The BBC's standards are so utterly double it's doubtful whether they have any.
Posted by ed thomas at 4:35 PM
Good for Scott.
I think what's happening over at the Daily Ablution could be quite important.
In his latest post on the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaradawi, Scott informs us that he's 'received an encouraging response from a very well known print outlet over the weekend, concerning an article I've written which distills all this into about 2000 words'. Let's hope he gets a positive outcome and that the schemes which motivate a considerable minority get full publicity.
He also says something interesting: 'To be frank, I wasn't aware of the material such as Qaradawi's until this educational process began. Nor were, I assume, many of my readers.'
I am sure he's right about his readers on that count. And if that's the politically informed blogosphere, what about the rest of society? What a different light that casts upon the actions of July this year; on November's events in France; on the last Spanish election. Not, I would say, a totally transformative one, but a very illuminating point of view nonetheless.
That's why I was angry the BBC never replied to an email I sent them about soft-pedalling Al Qaradawi's visit to the UK. I also wonder what we should make of Red Ken's actions in facilitating that: enough, I would have thought, for Londoners to wholeheartedly reject him in elections when they next have a chance. Roll in the big media. Good luck Scott.
Posted by ed thomas at 12:31 PM
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Whatever happened to the term 'statistically insignificant'?
It was with interest that I heard about a small furore about the presence or absence of Gays in the area of Teignbridge in Devon, as reported by the Mail. It's so funny to watch the public information scouts at the Beeb scurrying to produce absurd lines like this:
'A market research company says it did find gay people living in Teignbridge, contrary to reports.'
Having myself a bit of contact with market researchers, I am reminded of a survey that was done about religious belief in a small region of the Czech Republic. Out of a thousand surveyed, two were Protestants- thus they didn't figure in the report's conclusions; they were considered 'statistically insignificant'. As a Protestant myself I thought that a little harsh, but on reflection perfectly reasonable.
There are other possibilities of course. One is that there were Gays but these ones, reasonably enough, didn't wish to be part of the 'Gay community', hence their fleeing to the wilds of Devon to escape from the miserable platitudes of the Left. I personally don't buy the idea that they feared the rural savages' backlash. Oh, and by the way, maybe Kinsey was wrong 'an all (of course, he was, but a real culture war is still being waged to minimise the extent to which this outrage is understood and the conclusions from it properly drawn).
Posted by ed thomas at 1:30 PM
I wrote a long post yesterday and saved it as a draft because I thought I might regret posting it the morning after. I'm going to post it below this one, as this one can add valuable detail. I should reiterate that the Ramadi affair is not the BBC's fault. What they were at fault for is drawing on the most dramatic parts of the reports available at the time; or at least drawing up reports which covered the most extreme interpretations of events- flying in the face of so many examples of insurgent propaganda which should have made them pause for thought. But the real criticism revolves around the fact that they were highlighting supposed/alleged, and in my view highly disputable claims of US propaganda- while comletely missing the real propagandists of the piece, the Islamofascists. It's the same old straining at gnats and swallowing camels which has made me dislike the Beeb so much.
Bill Roggio- in Iraq at the moment - describes this as 'The Ramadi Debacle'
I also want to link the Opinionated Bastard (via the professor)- whose analysis of the battle situation in Iraq is great to read, and encouraging- and even more this post at Security Watchtower, which presents a really encouraging analysis suggesting a real erosion in the power of the Islamofascists.
That said, there are real tragedies out there, which should cause us to rally round and consider how we can help the forces of democracy and civilisation to win uneqivocally against the forces of savagery and wickedness. Since the battle is a real one there can be no need and no excuses in our media for fake-Ramadis.
Posted by ed thomas at 12:19 PM
Friday, December 02, 2005
I groaned a little at the headline on the Beeb: 'Insurgents attack Iraqi city' (not sure if there were quotemarks there at the time). I glanced morosely at the article: Ramadi- one of the usual suspects. Yet I knew that when the BBC reports an 'insurgent' 'attack' it usually means something like a a few discharged weapons, a suicide bombing, and somebody's little brother starting a fire somewhere. And so I moved on.
And then I came to another article: US 'admits' propaganda drive. The article said that the US had 'implicitly admitted' paying for positive articles in the Iraqi press. Yet an 'implicit admission' is not an 'admission', and the two are not made equivalent by the insertion of a couple of quotemarks- rather, it is a matter of interpretation. I choose to intepret this 'BBC infers propaganda from US commander's comments'.
The only interesting part for me was whether the US was directly planting articles, and this actually could not be 'inferred' from the commander's comments. I would think it amazing and actually incompetent if the US army did not have some close links with the Iraqi media. However, why not just pay Iraqis to write positive articles under US direction? And, surely we know by now, to be an Iraqi known for a positive stance towards the US in Iraq is to risk one's life. Some danger money and life insurance would be only sensible. It is a difficult issue; yet there is no doubt there are Iraqis positive about the US' presence there, and relatively few who oppose it except by the violent option favoured by Islamofascism.
And so, with that reflection, it seemed just the usual negativism where the worst interpretation is placed on the US' words and the highest value placed on the terrorists' actions.
And then I noticed this. And this.
According to one report,
'An AP Television News video showed the insurgents walking down a shuttered market street and a residential neighborhood, as well as firing four mortar rounds. The masked men, however, appeared relaxed, and the U.S. command dismissed the video as little more than a publicity stunt.'
According to another,
'Insurgents launched a brief assault west of Baghdad on Thursday, firing mortar rounds and rockets at a U.S. base and local government buildings' (nb there are specifics here)
Yet according to the BBC:
''Insurgents attacked US bases and government offices in Ramadi, in central Iraq, and then dispersed throughout the city, reports say.'
The BBC, it's clear, is reporting the worst case they can. I could 'infer' that ('heavily armed'- see report) insurgents launched a multi-pronged attack on military and government targets and then spread out around the city. I am not informed that they were not in charge of the city. I could infer that too.
But what about those 'reports'. One, unmentioned by the Lebanon Star, and the BBC, seems to have been the video tape. The other seems to have been based on the civilian witness accounts. But am I alone in being extremely sceptical of the first (the insurgents are well-known for staged videos), and being struck by the 'duh' moment in the Lebanon Star report:
'Residents said that heavily armed men wearing masks attacked a U.S. garrison in the center of Ramadi, a rebellious city 110 kilometers west of Baghdad, and fired on nearby council offices before seizing several streets'
So, were those the unrebellious ones then, whom we should be trusting? All a bit confusing.
The bottom line is and will be this: attacks on US and Govt. installations in Ramadi by hundreds of heavily armed men should, no, must, have caused casualties. If the US military can hide those from the US press and the presumably interested families, then woahhh, they are certainly real propagandists. If not, then the video was a little stage-managed, the attack was a squib, and the trustworthy residents of the rebellious city were gilding the lily, backed up by helpful leaflets- and the BBC bought it hook, line and sinker with their usual quotemarking disclaimer and their 'reports say' bullshit. It's all about the casualties, stupid!
There is a clearly a major propaganda effort going on somewhere. I wonder if the BBC know where. They seem to think this is the right place to start.
Of course, I should note that the BBC has used multiple sources for their report. But that just really demonstrates an important point: it seems that the so-called insurgents are well-capable of launching multi-pronged propaganda offensives targeted at multi-media. The BBC is channelling even the mose baseless of these minor propaganda lies into a narrative of doom. As I said: where are the bodies?
Posted by ed thomas at 8:14 AM
Thursday, December 01, 2005
I think I know why I haven't been wholly determined to read about Scott Burgess' investigation into the Muslim Brotherhood.
For one thing, I feel a sense of anti-climax. Ken's friend Qaradawi (a man I've previously noted as an Islamofascist being cossetted by BBC coverage of his sophisticated views) wants to take over the world- through political and other kinds of action- surprise!
For another it would be easy to dismiss it or paint it as a kind of Protocols of the Elders of Zion moment- even though that was a fake and this is likely to be real. However the important point is that he has a plan, and, when you read about it, it rings as true as anything I've read concerning the Islamic strategy (which logically active Muslims must sort-of have as a minimum). It's truly fascinating. All I could do with is a reasonable combined printable form of Scott's posts on the subject...
Posted by ed thomas at 7:01 PM
The contribution of freakoids to public life.
Yes, it shouldn't be overlooked. Today we have all manner of weird and pushy types who don't appear to have too many stable brain cells to rub together clamouring to be heard (and paid) by the public.
I was reminded of this by the ever-stable and unfreaky Adloyada, who did a nice job of fisking (so to speak) celebrity freakoid of 'real' experience Yvonne Ridley. Just because Yvonne's been to a few odd places she thinks she knows a thing or two- and better than everyone else. Perfect columnist material, you might think, but I'd say that this is going too far.
You may also remember a guy by the name of James Brandon- another kidnappee of the WoT, this time a DT freelancer (which means sort of interesting fantasist but unemployable- an IFBU). The excellent Viking Observer took this one apart in a pricelessly titled post so true for today's journalism: 'when a journalist can't help but lie'
Posted by ed thomas at 11:43 AM
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
As Mr Ledeen says about Iraq, faster please.
I'm linking to this post from Powerline because as of now the Memri site is non-functional. However, we live in hope, don't we? And I hope to read an article from an Iraqi journalist claiming that Galloway will follow his indefatigable role-model Saddam into the courtroom.
Update: Here's the article (translated excerpts from it)
'I want to say in this article: George Galloway, leader of the Respect party - you defend your friend and benefactor Saddam and you will yet be tried just like your friend and benefactor Saddam'
Posted by ed thomas at 7:19 PM
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Like, Really up-to-date, like.
Ok, a post against the BBC's being modern. How popular that will be (and does one care, really?)! Well, to be modern is one thing; to be stupidly so is another. To reflect the views of modern people one thing; to reflect the views on a certain kind of modern person another completely.
The BBC is often replete with ridiculous tales of modern science. Often British science, sad to say. Take this one: fatness can be 'in the mind'. I'm not at all sure it wasn't more tabloid than that, even, earlier on- but with the BBC's stealthy editors one never quite knows. Yes, there's a vague possibility of some assistance for eating disorder types, but speaking as a person who goes up and down in weight (with significantly differing responses from the opposite sex a not unnoticeable result), and knowing others similar, I can most certainly say it's not in the mind that one is fat or not. One speaks as a potential fatty, very sceptical of the mental explanation for all ills, having made perhaps too much use of a long and introspective memory of one's ups and downs. I also have contact with science-types in central Europe for whom British 'science' (thanks mainly to the Beeb's presentation of it) is a running joke (they make allowances, but find it all hilarious).
But also there's the priority thing. The Beeb's rationalism only goes so far. When it comes to the great homosexual debate they're treating it as though some real and tangible 'type' of person were being persecuted by the Catholic church. Evidently it's not a thing that's, so to speak, 'treatable'. Nor is it just a choice, evidently. I think the BBC is the confused party (and I do mean 'party'), not the Catholic church (for all its sins).
The Beeb article about the RC's latest pronouncement has been up all day, and immediately points out that 'it treats homosexuality as a "tendency", not an orientation'
Well, why not? What's the big deal? There's ample evidence out there it's just one of those personal choices. Some like blue, some like green; some like soft things, others hard ones (I mean it- they do). Girl says, I don't like men, they cause wars etc., plus Dad's a b******; later becomes lesbian. Ditto boy says he's too clever to be like other men and settle down- 'a-hole's a-hole'- and besides women are too cagey about sex (ie. he fears not getting any of any quality); so he becomes a bit gay. I say a bit, because so often we have alot of this bi-talk, and where does that, er, fit in?
Oh, and while we're about it- a mention for Justin Webb, the BBC's chief moist-eyed I-love-to-Hate-America journalist, and now scientific expert:
'The dinosaurs, he informs me with great authority and aplomb, are millions and millions and millions of years old. I could have hugged him and his parents; we are, after all, inhabiting the same mental planet.'
I am sure few will take the trouble and the angst of tendering a refutation of his statements, but the passion is just a little like a perverted religious fervour: loving only the Chosen. The idea that the feelings of a BBC journalist about a source hang on the agreement of that source (and the source in this case is just a child) with his own views is such a telling one. As so often Webb just tells it like he is. And that makes it rather like the rest of the BBC's 'science': long on prejudice, short on patient judgement.
Posted by ed thomas at 4:05 PM
Just a couple of items.
One- how sad it is that Mark Steyn is 'working out his notice' at the Daily Telegraph. How short-sighted of the Telegraph. This latest article has an air of a valediction about it. He comments on so much it's as if he were trying somewhat sadly to compress three months' commentary into one article. I don't know how long his contract will take to work out, but I'd guess not too long.
Two, a little poetry. One of my favourite poems from one of my faves John Donne. It's a tad risque, which makes the use of one famous line 'Oh my America, my New Found Land' (which, in mho, in context, is a line of pure genius) as the heading for a cruise liner article just extremely funny. The essence of the poem is why one needn't travel at all when one has it all in front of one, so to speak. Good advice really, at bottom.
Posted by ed thomas at 9:01 AM
Monday, November 28, 2005
Sunday, November 27, 2005
There are many ways to look at history, so it's sad that the dominant model the UK follows is one where the British past is something either embarrassing or shameful. There are many other ways of looking at it, and we should explore them. Why? Not only because we can, but because the enemies of the West thrive on our guilt and our ignorance. They care more about history than we do- they believe they're still living it.
That's why I recommend this essay from Dr Andrew G. Bostom on the American Thinker. It's basically an analysis of history focussed on the role of Islamic factions, dominated by the Ottoman Empire. When you read it carefully you can find numerous Islamic apartheids to completely overshadow the South African one. You can find forms of slavery more profound than the Western one (from a cultural origin, I would argue, which set the scene for and was foundational to the modern slave trade we so abhor in our own history), and a pure relish in sadism which rivals Europe's most shameful episodes. This is the history which the Islamic world has to live down- and guess what, they're proud of it!
I wish people could try for a while and reverse their assumptions about the need to apologise for our own history, and get angry about someone else's. It's crucial to get our historical priorities straight, to recognise the truth the enemy is trying to forget (and make us forget) and the outrageous evil he is trying to emulate. Dr Bostom's article is full of fact and detail which we should perhaps try to memorise- it may help keep the BBC-shameful-Britain-bogeyman at bay, scare off the moonbats and even send a shudder of recognition down Islamofascist spines (yes, yes, I know, an oxymoron to have an Islamofascist with a spine, but there we are).
Posted by ed thomas at 3:44 PM
Friday, November 25, 2005
Iran: 'Iranian politics are as complex and sophisticated as any I have observed around the world.' Yeah, right, Mr Simpson.
Posted by ed thomas at 3:11 PM
"Republic of Ireland Prime Minister Bertie Ahern led tributes, describing Best as one of his "one of the best players the world has ever seen". "
Thus does the BBC describe the initial reactions to George Best's death. A question arose for me from this intrusion of politics into someone's passing away: given that Best was Northern Irish, and Protestant, and played his football mainly in England, what on earth has Bertie Aherne got to do with it? Does the world know that Ahern has less cause to be the 'leader' of tributes to George Best than dozens of British people who have been involved in Best's career (eg. Denis Law, Bobby Charlton- even Jack Charton if they wanted an Irish flavour)? It's very doubtful that the world knows that. It's rather more likely that they assume that Best, who played in the green used by Northern Ireland, would be a representative of the green of the Ireland they idealise and think they know.
I had a look on Google to see if Best had shown any sign of being psychologically allied to the country of which Aherne is the leader. I found nothing (scanning some nice articles) except reiteration of his Protestant origins- him frequently referred to as homesick for Belfast and him being a boy from Ulster, as well as being a saviour of British football in his numerous wanderings in Britain, but only once, very briefly, in Southern Ireland- and one reference - reported by the Beeb in terribly emphatic style given the political backdrop- to his desire for a world class all-Ireland team. He even spent time in one of HM's British prisons. As the sum total of my pro-nationalist findings it's hardly a ringing endorsement for his Eireishness. Indeed Best seems to have been determinedly quiet about politics. Why then use essentially a foreign politician -foreign to Best's nationality, foreign to his history- to lead the tributes; especially one with so little to say?
I've no doubt that Tony Blair himself, without justification, would defer to Bertie in this matter. His motive is appeasement of Irish Nationalist aspirations. It would seem this attitude is at best shared by the BBC.
Posted by ed thomas at 2:15 PM
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Wrong Again Mr Simpson
One of the few benefits from the Beeb's large number of journalists is where one produces a report that flatly contradicts another's 'expert' opinion and confirms one's own with fact rather than speculation.
That's how it was for me reading this report from Jordan, where King Abdullah makes absolutely clear who he blames for terrorism and why he thinks they did what they did to his country.
John Simpson couldn't have been more wrong in reading the Royal mind with his absurd thesis that 2 and a half years on from the invasion of Iraq its bitter fruits would be a vindication for Abdullah's pre-war doubts.
Actually Abdullah's just a little more up-to-date that Mr Simpson, calling ' for a relentless war on Muslim extremists in the wake of the suicide bombings in Amman earlier this month.'
He goes on to say that Jordan's modernisation and liberalisation was irreversible (which makes one see that he attributes the terrorism to Islamofascist cultural ludditism, contra Simpson). He mentioned the unfamiliar name of an familiar ideology, calling for "relentless war on all the Takfiri schools, which embrace extremism, backwardness, isolation and darkness and are fed on the ignorance and naivety of simple people."
Tell it as it is, King Abdullah- not as Simpson would like it to be.
Posted by ed thomas at 6:49 PM
Iran: dysfunctional Oligarchy or functioning Democracy.
An interesting question, perhaps.
As is the definition of a 'purge'. This 2002 BBC article about the British Conservatives included the subheading 'Extremism purge' when talking about the 'Monday Club' and Ian Duncan Smith (who they?).
Meanwhile, this article about Iranian President Ahmadinejad
talks of 'a series of purges of officials.' , while the theme of the article is that the President is facing stiff parliamentary opposition. The ideas that he is both all powerful, as the purges are indicating- take a look at this Guardian article- and that he faces a meaningful democratic opposition, are difficult to combine. Needless to say, the BBC take the line of least resistance by emphasising the parliamentary opposition rather than the purges.
It's interesting in the context of John Simpson's avowal that 'Iranian politics are as complex and sophisticated as any I have observed around the world.'
It's also interesting in the light of the numerous efforts the BBC have made to educate me about 'caviar fishermen', 'Iranian basketball', and other rich and strange features that apparently marry with the expectations of the Iranian authorities who let Beeb journalists reside in Iran.
The presumption of such journalism is that in my prejudiced ignorance I need to be informed about the human side of Iran. On the contrary, I suspect the Iranian polity of being only too human, with a political elite corrupt as well and undemocratic and inept. But then, I have no way of knowing.
I honestly don't think it's worth the BBC's being there if all they can do is operate as modified PR agents for the regime.
Posted by ed thomas at 12:55 PM
Sunday, November 20, 2005
The Timescale of Pessimism- set by the media
It could be that there are grim times ahead. I mentioned recently the high casualty rates in Iraq- well, they are not so high, but relative to months where perhaps 'only' 40 or so servicemen died, month on month averages of about 90 represents a problem.
Why so? Well, the damage was already being done by talk about quagmires when the casualty rates were significantly lower, when there were many pieces of the jigsaw still falling into place. Now, I notice, the bandagon has moved on: instead of Iraq as a country recovering from a war and dictatorship, more often we find merely a country at war- and this is standard on the right, so the left needn't bother anymore, but instead can play cynical politics, which is what they do best. Not that the casualty rates are so very high, but 'where we go from here' is always the stuff of politics- and increasing death rates never makes for popular politics.
This Weekly Standard article sums up the political situation which has arisen. My anger against the journalists who have cheerled this state of affairs will never abate- one more potential absurd echo of Vietnam, I suppose. In a very real sense these have given the terrorists targets to aim for- both in terms of the actual targets, and the numbers involved. One, two (troops) killed per day has been enough for the press to shriek hysterically and present the events as a failure of the Iraq policy. This has given a kind of breathing space to the terrorists, since they could maintain a low level of carnage and plan bigger things and sustainable increases of destruction in due course, safe in the knowledge that the political process was still heading in a favourable direction where it really counts- in the governments of the coalition, with America's preeminent.
Just to clarify why I think the political process is going badly- the two recent votes in the Senate, one about an exit strategy and one about an immediate withdrawal, tell the story. The exit timetable requested by the Senate is supposed to start in 2006. The terrorists must be delighted: just one more year to hold out before they can start to claim some serious victories, or at least have the US Senate seeing to their case in Washington. By contrast the motion- overwhelmingly rejected- concerning immediate pull-out, was merely a patriotic figleaf; hence even Mr Murtha voted against it.
Sorry to be pessimistic, but I have other reasons to worry as well.
Much as I am taken by the idea of the Anglosphere, I am less than convinced that the will exists to make it a real reality. This is a great post from Albion's Seedlings, making many good points- but it's just the outline of a nice idea. Aside from the technology of the internet and telecommunications making it possible, I don't see the momentum- with the exception perhaps of some of our great trans-Atlanticists, such the the Scotts (Ablution and Expat) and Marc of Neverdock (all great sites, all in my blog links for your delectation).
I fear that much more potent in the world, in capturing the imagination of some and the non-cooperation of others which we (the UK and the US- Australia's needs are different) need to have a positive response from, is this kind of thing. The Iranian strategist comments:
"We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization"
(hat-tip, Marc at Neverdock)
This is the country that is currently resisting attempts to thwart its nuclear ambitions, and being appeased.
In the battle between the anti-anglosphere and the anglosphere I think I know which one is more united in a common philosophy. Even Mugabe has tried to get in on the act.
The only bright side, I suppose, is the Iraqis themselves. The Beeb heralded a speech from Iraqi President Talabani indicating a willingness to talk to terrorists- yet this is not really a new thing, and what I love is where he says he will '"listen... even to criminals". I doubt that's quite what the Islamofascists are waiting to hear- God rot them.
Posted by ed thomas at 3:10 PM
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Denis Boyles, now in Texas rather than Chiracian Euroland, made a welcome return to the NRO, shortly before the puff went out of the rioting in France. It's funny, Boyles' opinion seems almost anti-climactic, until you realise that he just couldn't muster any more cynicism or lack of optimism about France than he already had:
'This "serious social crisis" will be solved exactly the same way Chirac solved that far more serious social crisis two years ago: by lying low and waiting it out. The summer of 2003, after all, finally waned. The weather broke and the crisis was solved, by God. Curfews won't cut it now. One of these nights, the rioters will run out of matches and Citroens, the weather will turn cold, and Chirac's France will once again be at peace.'
Well, the weather has turned cold (at least where I am- not my photo, I hasten to add, but a nice one. And not right now, though the weather's not million miles away from that in the photo), and I did run out of matches as it happens- though needed for my gas cooker rather than for any nefarious purposes, and I discovered that in Prague the price of matches is utterly, mind-bogglingly cheap (-but try getting them during the night- not so easy); and no-one burns anything in particular unusual. Of course there are almost zero muslims as well, but I'm sure that's totally unrelated...
Just to add one thought though: I think Boyles is a little too steady-state in his analysis of France. More than any country I know it seems the French are masters at pretending that nothing is really changing, that the heart of France beats strong etc cant etc- when in fact France bottles all its change up for pyrotechnic displays of earth-shattering significance. Fair enough, the recent weeks' events weren't that, but they were a significant tremor which shows where we seismologists of history have been forgetting to put our ears to the ground.
For analysis of the phenomenon of revolutions, one could do worse than go here. The comments are most interesting too. For what it's worth, I'm a 'human agent' man myself.
Posted by ed thomas at 12:56 PM
Friday, November 18, 2005
More news the BBC won't bother too much with.
Well, there's the recurrent one about Iraq's actual WMD programs- yes, I know, yawn (me too). It's not that there isn't a great deal of interesting stuff to understand, just that I'm utterly fed up with it being ignored, soft-pedalled, and fitted into a narrative that's been the same for years. The UN, the BBC, the Franco-Europeans and the US Democrats (plus or minus assorted weasels) in lockstep for so long they could have fitted a random headline generator by now (and maybe they have).
Then there's the one about the Al Qaeda connexions (yawn, again- bored not that the news has been reported, but that it hasn't had any penetrating coverage, creating a kind of news wheel-spin which just digs a rut, since without deep coverage and laurels offered to the newshounds, nothing gets done). I actually read it first at the always interesting WS- but this guy picked it up too, and I've just linked him, along with sundry others. I've also just realised that the Hayes article has gone from the Weekly Standard's frontpage, thereby necessitating the link anyway.
Finally (but, you know, not finally...) there's the old UN-Oil-for-Food thing, which just a few journalists are bothering with- almost in directly inverse proportion to its significance. Just enough to put the historians straight, I feel some what melancholily (a word? Well, good enough I reckon).
The Beeb reports the French end of things, and the Arse of Coarsai says to the effect that
'the allegations concerned only the two men's private activities after their retirement and did not involve the French government.'
And that's the best they can do as one of their own takes a fall! To my mind the UN Oil for Food scandal is the stand out best argument for the war in Iraq- thus I am not surprised that it is largely ignored. One interesting fact the Telegraph point out which is lost to us through the BBC is the relative recentness of the corruption- as late as 2002! This was long after the French Government had dispensed with his frontline services (apparently)- so what in that case was Saddam getting for his money? Answer: the Telegraph may appear a little bumptious in pointing out his 'Ambassador for Life' status, but they're really just being on the money, so to speak.
Posted by ed thomas at 3:23 PM
Thursday, November 17, 2005
George Galloway Reveals All.
Yep, it's a sick thought, and a sick reality. In this Memri report you can find out all about George's latest treasonable comments in the Arab media. It seems that George has something in common with the rioters in anti-Gay Paree: they're both big fans of Eurabia.
'"This is not a dream, you know. In the European Union, there is almost 100 languages, there is many religions, there is countries who only 50 years ago were slaughtering each other by the million in war - totally different cultures with nothing in common except living on the mainland of Europe. But we are making a European Union which in 20 years will balance the power of the United States of America, inshallah."'
Posted by ed thomas at 4:47 PM
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Maybe I should say Eurabia...
I'm a bit depressed about continuing casualties in Iraq. Yes I know that this website is unreliable and includes accidental deaths, heart attacks and anything else it can find to boost the body count- but still it shouldn't be at the level it is given all the hoped for political improvements and elections etc. The rise seems a little inexorable.
What to say? I don't know- one can point out that the prospects for Iraq are better than the prospects for, say, France, in the medium term. Some have done that- but it seems a rather impractical observation (though I think followed sensibly it's a perfectly helpful one, as I'll point out shortly).
But rather than stew over the fact that GWB is still having to defend his decision to go to war, that the MSM is still harping on about US 'iniquities' in iraq (yes, that'll be the BBC in full warcry), and that Bubba Bill is showing which way his antennae are twitching, I prefer to dwell on the fact that we're engaged in a fight for our lives- which would justify the most radical action, which necessitates action, even though the action may not be well executed. This was brought home to me by a devastating American Thinker article. I live in Europe, or maybe I should say Eurabia- so this much is clear, the inadequacies of the US in Iraq should be the least of our concerns.
Posted by ed thomas at 7:10 PM
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Returning to Simpson.
Yesterday my reaction to the BBC's World Affairs Editor's view of the Jordan bombings was swift and visceral. I think that some commenters at Biased BBC were right in saying that it was a piece of propaganda, and I would say that's a tendancy the BBC are showing more and more frequently. Not that I care that much, but it endangers their future in broadcasting.
Trying to drag King Abdullah in as a critic of the US, and effectively blame the US for the bombings in Jordan is really extraordinary. I wonder how such reporting would be viewed by the Jordanian royals, should they encounter it- even though Simpson couched it in diplomatic and ingratiating language.
Simpson claimed that the Al Qaeda bombings represented 'a wave of anger and violence' which had been predicted by Abdullah might be the consequence of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. C'mon Simpson, that's nonsense. Two years have passed since that time, and this is the result, not of the Arab street which was the anti-war argument behind such warnings, but of vicious Islamist terrorism, which was vicious and violent in the region long before 2003.
From Simpson's report you would anticipate that the reaction of the Jordanians would be to blame GWB for Zarkawi's terrorism. In fact it seems rather different to that.
According to NYS's Eli Lake
'Only hours after the suicide bombings Wednesday, citizens marched silently in the streets in solidarity with the victims. Banners damning Mr. al- Zarqawi and his band to hell hang on storefronts and apartment buildings. But the effect of the bombings is perhaps best observed in the hometown of the man who ordered them.
When asked about Zarqa's most notorious son, Mr. Suleiman's craggy face tightened under his red and white headdress and he pointed holes in the air to emphasize his disdain. "Zarqawi is kufr," Mr. Suleiman said, using the Arabic word for a nonbeliever, the preferred slur of Islamic fundamentalists like Mr. al-Zarqawi who favor it when speaking of infidels.'
In other words, what we are seeing is more of the results of the central front in the War on Terror becoming Iraq: the isolation of the Islamofascists within the Islamic world of their origination, as they are forced to do ever more desperate works of evil to preserve their 'face' in the region.
Simpson though is almost blind to this. His notion of reasoning is to say that 'it was King Abdullah, and not Mr Wolfowitz or Mr Feith, who got it right.'
This is madness- Bush-derangement syndrome- such that Simpson has to use a murderous (but one must say isolated, in the Jordanian context) bombing, twisting it unfairly in with Abdullah's reasoning over two years ago, all to bash a couple of people to whom Simpson feels ideological and maybe personal anatagonism.
But then let's move onto John Simpson's notion of 'investigation'. When he talks about Knight-Ridder's report about one of the terrorists who was allegedly involved he says that this man was radicalised in his hatred of the US by events in Fallujah- he attributes this to Knight-Ridder's 'investigation'. In fact, the information was simply direct from the Mufti who was in charge of Fallujah before the US retook it. A great impartial source no doubt who 'said Ali's anti-American stance was hardened after he was detained by U.S. forces in the same mosque where a Marine shot to death an unarmed Iraqi man in a controversial incident captured on video by an embedded American TV journalist. The military ruled the shooting justified.'
KR go onto say that he was aready fighting the US troops at the time.
And there is of course the little problem that the terror attack was in Jordan, and therefore not where the majority of Americans in the ME are to be found at the moment.
All in all then we can see that Simpson's analysis, such as it is, represents a terribly ingrained kind of spin, and journalism as settling scores. If that's what the BBC calls good journalism- and they certainly tried to adorn his article with unadulterated praise from the lickspittle leftists of the online world- then they're finished.
PS- this is a good article from the Weekly Standard dealing with the issue of terrorism and the Iraq war, and the supposed link between the two in terms of events like Jordan. I shudder to think by now what would have happened in terms of the terrorism threat internationally had the US not invaded Iraq. It's the parallel history Simpson and others can conveniently ignore.
Posted by ed thomas at 10:13 AM
Monday, November 14, 2005
That's the only explanation I can think of for John Simpson's inflexible and dogmatic approach to the news at the moment. Everything goes back to the war in Iraq- the source of all evil. Hear this Mr Simpson- you were a friend of Saddam's regime; you assisted its members. You are totally partial where it is concerned, and rabid in your contempt for the US administration. That would be ok were it not that you continually use your pedestal at BBC News online to peddle your politics- but you show contempt for impartiality and a totalitarian concept of what is 'given' in your analyses. I really can't stand it- it's repulsive.
Isn't it disgraceful when a BBC journalist talks about the 'victory' of an anti-Iraq war analysis instead of analysing the aftermath of a terrorist bombing in Jordan?
Posted by ed thomas at 4:03 PM
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Mind blowing interpretation
Much as I respect people who actually go into areas and get close to the people who are at the centre of news stories like the French riots (which revived a little last night as upwards of 500 cars were torched)- Patrick Belton of Oxblog's reports are more than a bit surreal. This one, for example- an except from an email to a friend- states that
'There's nothing religious at all to the riots; these aren't kids who reference religion at all, except to claim to you (possibly with some exercise of imagination) that they have friends in Guantanamo, and they might perhaps add Israel, Jews, and Sharon to France, Sarkozy, the police, and other people whose names in their drunken, possibly drugged, and excited invocations follow after the French equivalent of 'Fuck'.'
I mean, really, we can have different interpretations of data, but the prevalence of Israel, Sharon and Guantamo in their imprecations suggests the kind of mental profile which would dovetail perfectly with any Osama Bin laden broadcast! Add in the fact that youths use the slogans they use partly with the listeners in mind (ie. they choose slogans they think have the widest possible resonance, rather than ones reflecting the esoteric preoccupations of their cohorts), and I see absolutely no reason to conclude there is no religious dimension to the riots- the opposite, in fact.
Posted by ed thomas at 1:13 PM
Friday, November 11, 2005
Went looking for a post and found history
Of course there's always a debate about when history becomes history. Traditionalist though I am, I think history's a present perfect subject- therefore history is what brings us up to now. That's what makes the present so interesting; the fact that events now may be as life-shaping, indeed, must be as life shaping, as events 'then'- whenever that was.
That's why the riots in France (which I assume to be waning) have fascinated me. People have said that riots are part of the culture in France, which may be so, but when people draw comparisons with 1968 trying to reassure, what they forget is that those events actually heralded a new political era in France. The events of 1968 were different in that they involved what we would call traditional protest methods which turned ugly (probably designedly so on the part of the rioters). Still, they indicated profound change. Profound. Change.
More pertinent, perhaps, might be a comparison with Kristallnacht- at least in terms of violent destruction. What's missing in the efforts of the banlieues today, of course, is the really personal, racial and murderous dimension. But I remember being taught about Kristallnacht and being shocked, not by the violence, but by the fact that many people appeared not to realise what it portended. I remember thinking that people don't go around wrecking in that way without having some major intentions behind their actions.
Well, as Adloyada pointed out, we've just passed the anniversary of Kristallnacht.
but she also points out something important, an altogether different type of public protest which, almost incredibly, but somehow predictably, seems to be totally absent from the BBC's pages- a reported 150,000 person march against Al Qaeda in Morocco. In other words, muslims against terrorism- a movement for which we've been waiting and waiting. Adloyada also points out the background to this, which makes it seem a well-founded movement. I noted recently that the laws France has recoursed to were introduced to deal with events outside 'mainland France'- a euphemism for their Empire. Well, Morocco, away along the coast from Algeria where the laws had their baptism, has had things a little more peaceful than Paris just recently.
I find this event incredibly hopeful, even if it is a march with narrow self-interest at its heart (since it's a march inspired by Al Qaeda's expressed intention to kill two Moroccan nationals held by them in Iraq); even if it was a Government blessed event. It's my hope that as radical Islam spread its wings and tries to effectively strong-arm its way onto the political high-table, it will attentuate, losing its mass in areas it considers historical strongholds (eg. Iraq) and finally be snuffed out where it tries its hand at some old-fashioned Caliph-style action. Morocco may have tended to be among the more liberal arab nations, but still, the signs of popular anti-terror feelings are the kind of positive signs it's difficult to detect anywhere in western Europe right now. I might be tempted to say 'about time too'- but you can't say that to history.
Just to make a final point- one reason I care about history is that, though I have no kids of my own yet, I have nieces and nephews (two of each- all delightful, all too rarely seen). I will also (God willing- at 29) live a while yet myself. Mark Steyn makes broadly this point in his latest deeply appealing effort for the Spectator- the personal dimension I mean- and so does a new fave of mine, Tom Tyler on his blog (I will link this blog permanently. I will. I will- and half a dozen others I've taken a shine to). Come to think of it, without the family dimension- the future dimension that only a family can secure-, Adloyada wouldn't be writing her thoughtful and historically sensitive posts for me to make use of.
Btw- an aside. Natalie's biographer was right about something in particular re: yours truly. Can you guess what it is? Eh, Mark? No, actually, seriously, I am not worthy. yet.
Posted by ed thomas at 5:35 PM
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Posted by ed thomas at 2:03 PM
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
After the voices of reason have spoken...
to tell us that the riots in France (the analysis of Steven Den Beste- the best of an uninspiring bunch) are/were the product of (that ever satisfying) combination of factors- rather than having any obvious source (which might require painful or controversial action) it's useful (as in a chess match when the opponent blocks a sequence of moves) to step back and try a new approach.
Thus I found it a help to be reminded by The Adventuress about the Danish riots which have been occurring at the same time as the French ones. Here, one must agree, Islam is the cause of the unrest (unless one likes blaming innocuous cartoonists. I was, however, reminded of this award winner, and it makes an interesting contrast). I also thoroughly agree with her analysis of the French riots- their essentially psychological intent, or as Irene puts it, 'training for dhimmis'. Listening to some of the 'voices of reason' out there you'd think that such a idea as 'collective consciousness' had never been developed (which is not even to go near the obvious whiff of orchestration in the grubby banlieues)
Posted by ed thomas at 4:55 PM
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Naturally I don't wish to stir the pot...
But while we're talking about Islamist violence, this is a great article by Christopher Hitchens about Darfur. I've kept my trap shut about this for many months, fearing I had overinterpreted the role of Islamists. It seemed and seems clear to me that blacks in Africa were used by Islam as slaves, and that unlike in the West such activities have never really been recanted. In this context, 'ethnic cleansing' has a different context to the generally imagined one here in the West (which is only suggesting the legacy of the slaver mentality- not ignoring, of course, the reality of slavery's existence to this day). Reading Hitchens' I was ashamed to have been ashamed- despite the fact that my post well over a year ago is a fave from the Google archive which often brings web surfers here.
Posted by ed thomas at 5:15 PM
Blog overdrive: Sure, if you want to get reasonable...
Then let's talk about the thesis that there's no real link to Islamism in the Paris riots.
First of all, I've noted analyses like that of J.S. at the Beeb, which essentially blame racism and the Right for the Paris riots. The trouble is that Simpson said, tellingly, that if Chirac had been pro the Iraq war he'd be in even worse trouble now. Sounds suspiciously like when the Left are on the offensive on this they are prepared to admit there's a link to Islamic concerns.
Adloyada has a clever and personal take on this idea. Of course I see her point, just as I would acknowledge that the poisonous and anti-intellectual environment typical of many British schools may have grounded the London bombers in their sense of grievance (been there, didn't get no t-shirt). One would, however, hope that the guys she dated in the sixties are grown up enough now not to let their children's generation, ahem, run riot.
I also take the point that we have overblown our responses to the Paris events, somewhat- a thesis advanced by Clive Watkins and Patrick Belton, among others.
Yet I have some serious issues with an analysis which sees the riots as without an Islamic foundation. Yes, that seems strong, but I think reasonable.
One reason is that when people call the riots the 'intifada', the comparison is not so silly. When the BBC and others interview Palestinians what they get is not Islamist rhetoric but basically social sob stories. Thus what the kids on the street say and what they mean by what they are doing may- indeed must- be quite different, just as many Palestinians say publicly they are humiliated and privately that Israel has no right to exist and should be wiped off the map (not tring to say that what they say doesn't matter, just that the great rush to believe simple motives underlie violent acts is highly suspect).
Another is the extent of the riots, and their targeting of a great media-attention grabbing tactic- that of burning cars (more of them, progressively, every night, thereby getting the best dissemination in the media). One can't help noticing how good these look on tv or in photos, or that so few people have actually died in the rioting (one, I believe so far). The media, as it is for the palestinians and for the Iraqi terror groups, is the chief target- but horses for courses, here it's cars and not people that are gone for. It's noticeable how they've found a statistically impressive yet accessible target- so we can do the 'car bodywork count' in Paris as we have in Iraq.
Returning to the extent of the riots, it's difficult to believe that there is no coordination in such a wildfire spread of disorder. For one thing there have been reports of at least one cocktail bomb factory being found. Was there no coordination in 1968, I wonder? There may be mullahs on the streets preaching calm, but that only shows that they have some influence, or that they have an audience, thus disproving the non-islamic thesis. If the riots are only half muslim, then presumably we could send a liberal priest out preaching in the same areas with similar security? Furthermore, what we are hearing then is the official muslim response- whereas we know that was is significant is the grassroots muslim one. The recent history of these areas suggests, that with anti-Jewish behaviour and Islamofascist comedians, the youth are highly politicised and savvy.
Finally, there is the political nature of what is going on, and the targeting of the only effective right-winger, Sarkozy, which uncle Tom Cobbly has even reported. Such reports often emphasise that Sarkozy is to blame for his 'rhetoric' and heavy handedness- but that is to agree with the pre-existing grievances of the rioters. These are political, and we know that Islam is a very political religion. It may not be about to try a takeover in France, but it is certainly manoeuvering for more power and influence, and one can see these riots very much as part of that process (putting the iron glove over the demographic fist). To suggest that they are really about the kids is nonsense, I believe.
Enough- all I will say in conclusion is that the anti-hype dismissals of some of the blogosphere's loftier voices strike me as mere cant, whereas those who identify the Islamic fundamentals as present in this situation really seem to cover all the angles (not dissavowing social context, but including it as part of something wider). Thus it is they who really seem to be calling un chat un chat.
Posted by ed thomas at 4:10 PM
Irony-eating surrender monkeys
Let me begin by bashing the liberal media, the US one, at that. But, ok, let me back up for a moment: I was stood-up recently by an American lady journalist(very pretty and very liberal, a radio journalist perhaps because she was't, quite, that pretty). We met on a train and she promised to visit me, took my address etc after we'd had a long conversation over the noise of the rickety train we were on, and then failed completely to get in touch, even to say she'd changed her mind about coming.
But anyway, I'm not bitter. It's just that reading this article (Via Tim Blair , with reg. required but v., v. easy) made me think again about my observations about er, 'my' young lady- that beneath the superficial worldiness there may have been a lack of confidence about the world around her. The writer of the article in question was writing 'from London about Paris', and said confidently- among other observations such as “The Paris riots are actually a splendid demonstration of the successful integration of immigrants into French culture ...” - that 'About half the kids burning cars and buildings are white, working-class, post-Christian French, and they get along with the black and Muslim kids just fine.'
The first line I could accept- in a satire; I'd call it classic British irony. The second really smacks of having been written (no, not 'on smack'), but in London- and a nice part, at that. Some of the banlieues worst affected don't have many white kids in to riot. Even if the riots happened in Finsbury Park, London, I wouldn't be caught saying the racial ratios are fairly reassuring, because there too white faces are more notable by their absence than their presence. 'Half-white riots' in such an area would be almost impossible from any point of view. Whatever- if I were to make a suggestion to the US media to improve their worldwide credibility it would be not to pretend that London is like Paris, or that you can call an eyewitness account credible when it is from another country, even one not so many miles away. It's a bit like the 'eyewitness accounts' from the Baghdad hotel bar which have been misinforming us so regularly for the last several years.
Meanwhile, also in the news but belonging to the Private Eye end of the news, the zeropeans are sending a probe to Venus (no, not 'into', thankfully). Having found Mars all too hard and masculine, they've apparently decided that Venus is a much more soft and consensual target. They probably expect to find more zeropeans there, too- which could come in handy to reverse the arabisation of Europe.
Posted by ed thomas at 1:54 PM
Meanwhile, John Simpson makes understanding the BBC's position (which has been mixed enough to create confusion) nice and clear. The BBC's World Affairs editor says
'Nicolas Sarkozy, the Interior Minister, now seems to be playing politics with the situation by appealing to the most basic and resentful attitudes of conservative France.'
Simpson also blames the French system for its neglect of the immigrant 'burbs, yet for most of the period he cites (30 years) it had leftist politicians like Mitterand in charge, and Chirac is hardly of the robust right. Now suddenly Sarkozy's at fault (not a mention of France's generous social welfare system, the French model etc), when he hasn't even had a serious bite at the governing cherry. Just who is playing politics, mr Simpson? France, if it is a failure, is a leftist failure- the leftists who triumphed in 1968. Simpson is not trying to explain history but to cover it up, to whitewash. Nice Snow job, mr Simpson.
(of course, that's not to mention the sly and unreasonable introduction of the Iraq conflict, trying to head off the critique that Chirac's Iraq policy has brought no domestic dividends- a very workable proposition, unlike the one that his criticisms of the US and UK have been 'thoroughly borne out')
Posted by ed thomas at 10:21 AM