Saturday, November 23, 2002
what's really going on ...Anthony Parisi has written an alarmed blogpost about that 'reporters bootcamp,' and about embedding reporters into military units, and similar matters (His links didn't work, but the picture is clear)
...Make no bones about it this makes the media an official propaganda arm of the US government. Sure, Saddam is doing it, but should we be following his example? Sure, the media has over stepped its bounds, but isn’t there a danger to only knowing what the government wants us to know? What if we start bombing Kuwait, or reinstate the draft, and the media isn’t there to tell us? If the military blunders, I want to know why it happened, and what is going on to insure that it won’t happen again...Seven days of boot camp is going to turn reporters into zombies? Mindless robots? Give me a break.
There has NEVER been so much media coverage of American wars as now. We've got reporters counting civilian casualties one by one! There has RARELY been so little censorship. Anthony should study the history of wartime censorship, he'd be shocked. In WWI, American reporters couldn't even mention the name or number of any unit, or even whether they were Army or Marines.
Nor is the US military the totalitarian world that Anthony seems to imply. It's full of educated men and women who often speak their minds and disagree with policy and write books and articles (and blogs); and who will try hard to help poor hapless reporters understand what's going on. (As our Punning Pundit knows full well; but an interesting post is worth some sacrifices)
If the government wanted to control what we know, they could and would just keep the reporters out altogether. (Reagan did exactly that in Grenada.)
Also, reporters today are all almost totally ignorant of military affairs. Their questions at Pentagon briefings are laughably naive. If the Army can stuff a little knowledge into them, they will be much MORE effective at covering the war. Most of them won't have a clue whether the military is blundering or not.
I'm going to tell you what's really going on here. Don swore me to secrecy, but you RJ readers are an elite group, and can be trusted. Don't spread this around.
George Bush is, as usual, planning the chess game many moves in advance. As you've probably noticed, the news media don't report much on conditions in Iraq. (And when they do they go so easy on Saddam that they actually play along with the ludicrous fiction that Iraq is a democracy!) Why strengthen those warmongering Republicans? Why risk arousing the stupid and bigoted American public?
But if reporters are going to be embedded into combat units, guess who's going to be right there on the spot when our soldiers discover (as we are pretty sure they will) horrors to rival things found when we invaded Hitler's Germany? It will be hard to ignore reality when you are waist-deep in hideous suffering. And guess who's going to be discredited when the world gets a clear look? Well, I could make a loooong list, and so could you.
(Response to Anthony's response) Well I suppose there is still some danger of censorship, but I don't rate it as very high.
There are going to be thousands of reporters milling around, with satellite phones and links; tens of thousands of military and other people, many with Internet connections ... And any attack we make against an Arab country will be over so fast that reporters will be able to interview people while the rubble is still smoldering.
Probably the government will present things in a favorable light, but that's what's always done. Bush says the economy is basically sound and getting stronger (I agree). Is that 'censorship?' Of course not.
I was just reading about the first weeks Afghan campaign. It was shocking to be reminded of the torrent of abuse that the press heaped on the administration when nothing seemed to be happening. Accusations of incompetence, 'Quagmire,' huge civilian casualties, and dire predictions that 250,000 troops would be needed. Then when the Taliban collapsed, many journalists immediately flipped to the view that we were in trouble because the sudden collapse had caught us unprepared! This is NOT a climate where censorship is likely to work well.
AND, in hindsight, the administration was quite open and honest all along.
AND, I think Lord Acton's dictum is valueless. People often wield power without being corrupted by it.
Friday, November 22, 2002
a truly great daySome words I liked by David Frum:
Lithuanians and Letts Do It: I thought of that old Cole Porter lyric as I absorbed the news that Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania have been formally invited to join NATO.Yes indeed. There were many heros in that long stubborn struggle, and few of them were ever greeted with brass bands and cheers. Many were like the rangers in Lord of the Rings, grimly watching and guarding through the decades so Hobbits could be safe and comfortable (and turn into petulant leftists enjoying the fat years and yet fawning over Marxist dictators and freedom-hating professors.)
Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia ... time was, I thought of them as, well, gone. Names from the past only. But they're still there! Made new. Marvelous. We might visit them someday. While Lenin and Marx and Mao and Stalin and Castro and PolPot are on the big ash-heap...though their foul ideas are like a crabgrass that sprouts ever and again.
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live at the homage to Mario...Richard Bennett has an on-the-scene account of Christopher Hitchens speaking in Berkeley
...Judging by applause, about 10% of the audience had their heads on straight, and the rest were either watching acid flashbacks from the 60s or busily conjuring up rationalizations for staying as far away from any battlefield as humanly possible. Hitchens had an interesting response of the oft-repeated rant about blood for oil, asking for a show of hands of those who felt that fighting a war for oil wasn't justified. Six people, out of a couple thousand, responded, and the rest were shocked by the question, probably because they're used to people stressing the direct danger that Saddam poses to the US with his genocide weapons instead of acknowledging the role of oil in the world economy. (Incidentally, after the Gulf War, oil prices rose and supplies shrank in the Third World, causing no end of economic pain; we're much less dependent on Mid-East oil than the world poor are, and it's no joke to them when a madman takes major portions of world oil production off the market.)...
Thursday, November 21, 2002
the Kurds speakMike Plaiss sent me this article, from Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA). It's not available on the Net, so I'll just post the whole thing.
I could make many a comment on this, but RJ readers will be able to fill in the blanks on their own.
Mostly, I think of the people who endlessly fawn over the 'Palestinians,' and express boundless concern over their sufferings (unless they are suffering at the hands of fellow-Arabs; that doesn't count) and are perfectly content to see them murder Jews. Well, here is a Middle Eastern group that has been treated a thousand time worse than anything the Israelis have done to the Palestinians. Where's the concern now? Where is your concern, you bleeding-heart phonys?
Wednesday, November 20, 2002
reforming impulse ..There was a bit of confusion in the latest Squad Report. Things got switched around, and somehow Andrew Jackson was ending the Spoils System. (Under the Spoils System, as you probably know, government jobs went to the victorious political party. If the Whigs defeated the Democrats, postmasters or customs collectors who were Democrats would be replaced by Whigs.) It made me think of one of those alternate history novels, where the South wins the Civil War, or Carthage defeats Rome.
Anyway, the Spoils System ended in the late 19th Century, when Progressives battled for Civil Service reforms. Government employees would henceforth be selected by examinations, and would be free of political interferance.
Conventional history labels this a great victory for reform and good government. But looking at what we ended up with, I'm not sure ... Suppose thousands, nay tens of thousands of Federal employees were replaced whenever the White House changed hands. The continuity of well-established procedures would be broken. But, so would the continuity of entrenched lethargy and indifference. The new people would lack much of the knowlege needed for their jobs, but they would also be willing to try new ideas, and would know how things are done in the private sector. Some of the new people would be incompetent or venal, but ... well, you know where that one's going.
And in truth we currently have a de facto spoils system, but one that only benefits one party. Now, almost all public employees are Democrats. Just by chance they all happen join the party of big Government. (My Libertarian friends will hasten to say, "Republicans are the party of big government, Democrats are the party of VERY big government.") Wise up, Republicans. Every time you go along with some expansion of government, you just create a passel of Democrat activists.
Anyway, I'm far from sure that the Spoils System would be be worse than what we have now.
The question reminds me of another "great reform." In the 18th Century, commissions in the British Army were purchased. A father might provide for a younger son by buying him an Ensign's commission. Promotion meant selling that commission and buying one of higher rank. The conventional wisdom is that this was a great evil, and corrupted the army.
But, the age of purchase was also the age of the great British victories; battles that still stir our imagination and pride. Minden and Quebec, Blenheim and Ramillies, Plassey, Salamanca, Waterloo... Eventually reformers reformed things, purchase ended, and then where were the comparable great and splendid victories? Try to name a few. (Of course I'm oversimplifying a complex subject , but still ...)
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turn, turn, turn ...Perhaps we Republicans are being a bit too hasty in rejecting Jim Jeffords' offer to return to the GOP. We have our pride of course, but there is a lot of work to do. According to Jeffords, we are going to destroy: "education funding, child care, rights for the disabled, environmental protection, choice, campaign-finance reform..." (Via Brothers Judd) That's a big project. And he didn't even mention destroying Social Security, and reducing minorities to peonage.
If his offer to turn his coat yet again is real, he is utterly without conscience or shame. Just the kinda guy we need. Put him in charge of exterminating the whales ...
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Big demonstration in SFOur usually quiet neighborhood is suddenly swarming with cops. I asked one what was happening, and he said students from City College were protesting in front of the Marine recruiting office on Ocean Ave. (about 1 block away.) I walked up to see the scenes of carnage and destruction, and found six fuzzy young people blocking the street and chanting "military off our campus."
Phooey. If you children are to recapture the glories of the Sixties, you've got to do better than that. The job of the Left is to support totalitarian dictators, and poor Saddam isn't geting his money's worth here. Hmmm, lets see ... he pays $25,000 to families of Suicide bombers. Maybe he'll pay college tuitions ... send him an e-mail, kids ...
Tuesday, November 19, 2002
ugly things down the road ...TidBITS, a Mac newsletter, has a good article on The Evil That Is the DMCA, by Adam Engst.
... the Content Cartel is using the legal force of the DMCA [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] to direct us down a path where content cannot exist outside of a "trusted system," which is a set of hardware, software, and file formats that all agree on what the user is allowed to do with a piece of content. (The trust here is between the pieces of the system, because the content owners don't trust their customers at all.) The trusted system's goals are simple - to eliminate all unauthorized uses and create a situation where we pay more for the content we consume.
Monday, November 18, 2002
In time for Christmas ...Amazon is now taking orders for the Segway Human Transporter. Talk to Santa.
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Passsionate. Yes, yes, yes ...
"I loathe Kim Jong II. I've got a visceral reaction to this guy because he is starving his people," Bush told reporter Bob Woodward. "It appalls me. I feel passionate about this. They tell me, well we may not need to move too fast, because the financial burdens on people will be so immense if this guy were to topple. I just don't buy that."I feel exactly the same, and I'm proud that our President has his head screwed on the right way. Passsionate. Yes,
But my question is, does Bob Woodward feel any visceral response to a leader who starves his own people? Do all those sophisticated, nuanced lefties who call Bush a cowboy feel any abdominal pangs?
Does the Archbishop of Bormeenia burn inside to succor starving Koreans? Hmmm? How about my neighbors who have a bumper sticker that reads Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld. The real Axis of Evil. What do they think? Is a little starvation just one of those eggy-wegs you always have to break to cook the Omlet of Socialism? Gephart? Pelosi? Earth to Pelosi...Do you read me?
Is there anyone in France or Germany who cares? I'd guess plenty of people care in the former Soviet Union. They know exactly what's going on. I bet Ukrainians can get passionate about this one.
How about our State Department? Any passion there? Of any kind? Are they the ones who say, "the financial burdens on people will be so immense...?" Lordy, what a load of BS. And why are people on the left so quick to say that various strongmen are holding things together, and toppling them would only bring chaos and the four donkey rides of the Apocalypse? One wonders just how reluctant they themselves would be to assume the selfless burden of holding things together right here at home?
The question I keep asking of Right, Left, Center, what-have-you, is Why aren't you thrilled to be living in such times?? You who grow passionate and angry over, say, a prisoner wrongly condemned (or wrongly not condemned) now have a chance to be part of freeing millions of people from murderous tyrannies. Our team is trying to do great things. We may drop the ball, we may fail, but we are trying. Even if I'm only standing in the bleachers screaming and cheering when we score, I'm part of it! Little me! So why do you all seem so blasé?
We have discovered that the scheme of 'outlawing war' has made war more like an outlaw without making it less frequent and that to banish the knight does not alleviate the suffering of the peasant. --C.S. Lewis
Sunday, November 17, 2002
link to DelphiAnthony Parisi pointed out that the Krugman Squad doesn't link to the columns it discusses. We've corrected this by adding a link to the Unnoficial Paul Krugman Archive. It's a sort of shrine or reliquary, where the very hairs and nail-clippings of the saint are preserved.
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Rush to judgement ...This is an interesting article by a professor who decided to write a study debunkng Rush Limbaugh's Right-Wing-Extremist views on the environment, and found that things were not quite as he supposed....
...In short, wherever I unearthed arguments and analyses that dissented from the "ecologically correct" views of the environmental movement, I found another side that could not be dismissed easily as environmentalists often tried to do, as representing only ignorance and greed. Dixy Lee Ray and Ronald Bailey, for example, certainly back their arguments with plenty of scientific evidence, and they also raise larger political questions which seem to me legitimate. To simply denounce them, as some environmentalists do, for being "conservative" or "right-wing," is to beg the question. Such attacks by political labeling might appeal to the left-liberal political tendencies of the intellectual class, but they evade the real issues critics are raising.