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Saturday, April 12, 2003

With the fire from a burning warehouse set ablaze by looters in the distance, an Iraqi woman and her child cross the Tigris river into West Baghdad after U.S. troops removed their checkpoint on Friday. Jerome Delay/Associated Press (from that great site: War Photos)

Ban human Screwdrivers ...

Don't bother trying any "fisking" in the future; it's been done. The heights have been scaled, the pinnacle achieved. Go here for the best...

(via Athena)

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Kuwaiti? Syrian?

Apparently the people of Iraq are bewildered by the ethnic diversity of coalition soldiers..
But Corpsman Benedict Bito, 19, of Alameda, Calif., may have gotten the strangest question while at his post in Numaniyah.

"One kid asked me was I related to (martial arts movie star) Jackie Chan," said Bito, who is Filipino. "I was standing guard in the square and the people started to stare at me. At first, they told me I was Chinese, then they said Korean and finally one guy thought I was Vietnamese.

"They just couldn't believe I was American." ...

...The Marines just take the guessing game with a smile.

"They're just curious," said Cpl. Henok Tefera, 30, who was born in Ethiopia but now calls Columbus, Ohio, home. "You tell them, we're U.S., we're all U.S."...
(via Jim Miller)

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Pretty, no. Thorough, yes...


In the densely populated northeastern slum area of Saddam City, U.S. Marines pulled back to allow local people to hunt "mujahideen" volunteer fighters holed up in the area.

"The locals said they wanted to take charge of Saddam City and we said: 'Roger that'," Lieutenant-Colonel Lew Craparotta, commander of a Marine unit that moved back from the fringes of the suburb, told Reuters.

Local leaders told U.S. officers that non-Iraqi Arab fighters were still a threat in the mainly Shi'ite district.

"It's much easier for them to identify the enemy than for us. We really can't tell who is who," Craparotta said.

The U.S. withdrawal will allow local men to carry weapons openly, set up checkpoints and cordon off areas where they suspect the Arab volunteer fighters are hiding.

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I have nothing to add ... the thing speaks for itself

I was struck by these two items, which were next to each other at Command Post
Stephanie Schaudel, co-coordinator for Voices in the Wilderness, an anti-war group in Chicago, said the "richness of culture" in Iraq is going to be subjected to Americanization by U.S. corporations during the post-war rebuilding of the war-torn nation. The result, she indicated, would be difficult for Iraqis to swallow.

"Some people would think that seeing a KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken) on a street corner is a sign of progress, I certainly don't," Schaudel said.
And this...
Update - Basra underground prison: Fox reporting that British Forces on scene have no indications of people alive. Local residents insisting that relatives are imprisoned inside are digging with their bare hands to try and gain access, and the British have assisted. (here)

Friday, April 11, 2003

Raisins embedded in a cake...

Reader Ethan Hahn writes:
I've been thinking lately that perhaps one of the most important unintended consequence of this war may be the fact that there is an entire generation of reporters, 600 of the best and brightest, who have been a) feeling first hand the concerns of common soldiers, b) learning how the military works, c) gaining the experience that will push them up through the ranks to become the people who run the media in the next decades, and d) gaining personal contacts with the men and women who will be running the military in the next decades. It seems to me that this could be remarkably impactful in ways we won't appreciate for decades..
Now that's interesting. I think you are right. It will certainly be good to have a few reporters around who don't think of the military as an alien species living in swamps down south...

And lets speculate a little further. Reporters are almost all "New Class" urban sophisticates, Liberals; and, to put it baldly, fairly anti-American. Voted for Gore or Nader. Now they are plunged into one of the great liberations of our time, under the leadership of Conservative Republicans and the US Military. Iraqis are handing them flowers, telling tales of torture, chanting "Long live Bush..." Syrians and Palestinians are trying to kill them. GI's are sharing their cookies with them and trying to keep them alive...They are being immersed in the horrors of a regime that their preferred lefty leaders tried to keep in power.

SO, are their prejudices going to start to crack? Are their minds going to be opened just a teensy bit? Will we see something different from Vietnam/Watergate malaise? I'm all agog to find out. Whoever came up with the idea of embeds was a genius. Was it Rumsfeld? My only regret is that we didn't do more of it. I wish, when we entered Baghdad, we had headed straight for any prisons and busted them open, with lots of reporters along to take pictures. Especially that children's prison.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Also from The Corner:

The House voted 414-0 last night on a resolution "Stating the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the systematic human rights violations in Cuba committed by the Castro regime; calling for the immediate release of all political prisoners and supporting free elections for Cuba." The vote was 414-0.

11 Voting "present"
Frank Ballance
John Conyers
Jesse Jackson Jr.
Sheila Jackson-Lee
Eddie Bernice Johnson
Carolyn Kilpatrick
Barbara Lee
Ron Paul
Bobby Rush
Maxine Waters
Albert Wynn

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Posted at The Corner

Notes from a call home by a soldier (from a phone still working in the looted UN Office in Baghdad!)
--The Iraqi citizens love them and treat them like kings.

--His battalion has been involved in the heaviest fighting of the war, both in An Nasiriyah and Baghdad.

--Spirits are very high.

--Any time anybody shoots back at all, embedded reporters call it "fierce resistance."

--Reports that the battalion is walking the streets intentionally trying to draw fire to smoke out the enemy are false; they are not intentionally exposing themselves to fire, but they are patrolling Baghdad in an attempt to find those that want to fight and then engaging and killing them.

--Most of their heavy fighting is against the Fedayeen, who are rarely Iraqis but rather volunteers from other Arab countries.

--His battalion--and our corporal personally (he acknowledged after being asked)--are killing the Fedayeen "by the bucket load."

--Brian captured an Iraqi general himself at a checkpoint. A man trying to get through a checkpoint that they had set up to allow civilians to leave didn't look right to Brian. Brian searched his stuff and found a very ornately engraved plated pistol. The man insisted that he was just a farmer. Brian wasn't having it, so he called over his battalion intelligence officer who actually is a farmer (his battalion is made up of reservists). The farmer/intel officer said, "Show me your hands." Upon seeing the general's silky smooth hands, he said, showing his own hands, "Those aren't farmers hands; THESE are farmer's hands!" They handcuffed the general who proceeded to bawl like a little girl as they carried him away. Brian later learned that the pistol engravings indicated that it was a gift from Saddam.

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It's about time the military clamped down on the chaos in Baghdad. We haven't seen looting and vandalism like this since the last few days of the Clintons in the White House.
-- Jonah Goldberg

P. Krugman
#88: Trouble getting traction?

The difficulty Democrats are having getting political traction against the Bush administration is dramatically illustrated in Paul Krugman's column Conquest and Neglect (04/11/03). The frustration is palpable. President Bush is soaring in the polls again, congressional Democrats are reduced to sniveling from the sidelines and the best Krugman can come up with is that Bush does not follow through well after initial successes. Ironically, to make his point, Krugman must first publicize various Bush victories and then try to document the "benign neglect" that followed. Absurdly enough, he even includes the 2000 Florida election in his laundry list of conquests followed by neglect??

Even if any of these were true, we don't see them as effective campaign issues for the 2004 presidential election. What are they going to say? "Vote Democratic. The hard work is about to begin?" Or "They started it, let us finish it." Seems like a political loser to us.

But more important, most of Krugman's points about a lack of follow through and neglect by Bush are weak to negligible. For example, the situation in Afghanistan ("the land the Bush administration forgot"), the case he says is most obvious, is far from obvious. His claims that the U.S. is not delivering on aid, that the civil government is deteriorating and the warlords are back in control is based solely on a quote from President Hamid Karzai's brother, Ahmed Wali. Now we didn't know President Karzai even had a brother and we certainly know nothing about him, but how about a quote from President Karzai himself if the U.S. is neglecting reconstruction aid or letting "things go to pot" or if he (Karzai) is losing political control of the nation? Krugman gives us nothing.

What he might have mentioned with regard to the Afghanistan infrastructure are the delays in the reconstruction of the vital highway systems connecting major Afghan cities. This really is a problem. These projects are definitely behind schedule and have, in fact, become symbols of American neglect. But a closer look reveals that the problems are more a result of learning-curve issues in dealing with Congress and U.S. aid bureaucracies than a result of neglect by the Bush administration. Here's how WSJ writer Jeanne Cummings (Link, subscription) described the Afghan situation in considerable detail:

"At the close of the battles with al Qaeda and the Taliban, the U.S. promised to rebuild the country's major highway linking Kabul in the east, Kandahar in the south, Herat in the west and Mazar-e-Sharif in the north. But the project has moved at a snail's pace because of delayed financing, poor weather and a U.S. bureaucracy slow to catch up with the president's vision. To some Afghans, the highway has become a symbol of American neglect.

An exasperated Mr. Bush now is insisting the job get done by year end. 'He has pushed very, very hard to get this road done,' says one senior administration official. 'It's about trade, jobs, economic growth, the things the president sees as essential to changing Afghanistan.'"
This not neglect–benign or otherwise! Cummings goes on to explain that the valuable lessons being learned in Afghanistan and will be applied fruitfully in the reconstruction of Iraq
In Afghanistan, the immediate concern during and after the war was averting a humanitarian crisis. The first war supplemental spending bill approved by Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks included money for food, water and medicine.

It wasn't until January 2002 that the administration submitted its first reconstruction budget for Afghanistan, including funding for the highway project. Lawmakers debated it until August -- a critical delay that White House officials say prevented significant progress on the road before the onset of winter weather.

This time, for Iraq, the White House requested more than a year's worth of funding for humanitarian aid and reconstruction in the first supplemental spending bill. Of the more than $2.4 billion requested, about $700 million is earmarked for water, food and medicine, and the rest will be used for rebuilding the country. The idea is to ensure a steady flow of money for reconstruction in Iraq, and some breathing room before requesting more funds.

"You can't build half the bridge and then sit around and wait," says one participant.
What this says to us is that the Bush administration is learning fast and is being anything but neglectful. Their effectiveness will no doubt continue to improve. It also shows us that Paul Krugman will distort to the maximum any situation dealing with the Bush administration.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. You can find Paul Krugman's writings, including the latest columns, here]
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George Will says ..

... Americans who are apt to argue that U.S. foreign policy needs constant infusions of legitimacy from the approbation of European governments are also apt to deplore, in the domestic culture wars, Eurocentrism in academic curricula. Such Americans resist the cultural products of Europe's centuries of vitality, but defer to the politics of Europe in its decadence.
Why? Perhaps because yesterday's European culture helped make America what it is, and today's European politics expresses resentment and distrust of what America is. Both sensibilities arise from the distaste of some Americans for America...

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Speaking of Nancy ...

Don't miss Bill Quick's post Dueling Lunatics, featuring a conversation between Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, Iraqi Minister of Information, and Nancy Pelosi... a little gem.

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Truth is the first casualty of ...

Charlene says that the reason the media dislike Bush and the invasion of Iraq is because he has emphasized the moral aspect. It affects them like a cross brandished at a Hollywood vampire.

Now we are hearing how CNN suppressed horrifying stories because their Iraqi employees would have been endangered, and CNN's position in Iraq endangered.

I'm not buying it. None of the big media have been eager to tell the truth about Iraq (and many have actively distorted it, with things like reporting Iraqi elections or parliament votes as if they were real). The story has always been available. There are hundreds of thousands of Iraqi exiles available to be asked, but one rarely heard about them. When stories were written about the Arab Street, they were never included.

The reason the press didn't want to dig up the facts is the same reason they quickly stopped playing the clips of the World Trade Center collapsing. They didn't want to arouse ordinary Americans to say: This is EVIL. It's got to be stopped! They didn't want to arouse someone like George W Bush to say: This is EVIL. We have to act! Better a million Iraqis die, than have a pitiless moral spotlight shining on the amoral urban sophisticates of CNN and the major media.

"What did you do in the war, daddy?" "I was a reporter. It was my job to be un-biased, and to report as if both sides were the same."

Best of the Web made a good point:
..One cheer for Jordan for coming clean about his network's collaboration with a brutal fascist regime. And a question: What are CNN and other news organizations failing to tell us about other thuggish regimes, from communist Cuba to the Palestinian Authority?

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Too good to be true?

A story from The Corner
"I was out looking at some soldiers and one of them was sharing some cookies he had just received in the mail. A photographer walked over to him and asked in a heavy French accent for a cookie. The soldier glanced up and told him no cookies for anyone from France. The photographer claimed he was half Italian. Without missing a beat the soldier broke a cookie in half and handed it over."
(Via Donald Sensing)

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Thursday, April 10, 2003

With Democrats like this, who needs ...

Seen on Drudge Report:
Right. Just exactly how would you bring down Saddam? Was Hans Blix going to do it for us? The UN? Sanctions? Diplomacy? And how long would your plan take?

Did you hear about that Children's Prison? Perhaps we should re-name it Nancy's Kid-Town, since you seem happy to keep it in operation.

And the $100 Billion. I don't suppose you bothered to cloud the issue by subtracting the costs of containment (estimated at $19 Billion per year). Or the increased strength of our economy (leading to greater tax revenues) that lower oil prices will bring? Nor mention that the 100B number was just pulled out of a hat in the first place.

The 100B figure is baloney, but let's imagine it is true. We've just liberated 25 Million people from one of the cruelest and most murderous tyrannies of our time. That's $4,000 a head. Hmmm. No, you're right. They are not worth it. They're not people, just brown-skinned riff-raff who don't vote for any Democrats. Let 'em die, getting control of Congress is much more important.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

My question now is ...

...when the oh-so-much-wiser-then-the-rest-of-us talk about the Arab Street, will the people of Iraq still be considered members of that influential club? Or does kissing American soldiers disqualify you?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

good point ...

...made by Orrin Judd
...Something important happened today, but you may have missed it. You may have missed it because it's actually something that didn't happen. As he did after the election in November, George W. Bush stood back from the cameras and allowed others to be the story. Imagine, if you can, that Bill Clinton were president today--what would he have done? Of course, he'd have tried to make himself the story. George Bush, instead, let the Iraqis themselves have the day, with a proper nod to Rumsfeld & Meyers. There is a rare grace to this man. ..

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Logic is logic, That's all I say.

A friend writes:
I was at a dinner last night after a seminar by a visiting professor (who shall be nameless) and he commented that he had been traveling a lot lately and he had yet to meet an intelligent person who did not despise George W. Bush. The circumstances were such that I had to hold (and bite) my tongue. Interestingly to me is that everyone else at the table considered the comment to be totally unremarkable.
The visiting prof is just being exact. He doubtless defines "intelligent people" as "the set of all people who, like me, despise George W. Bush." The logic couldn't possibly be more clear and compelling....

Some of us criticize the Left for flinging accusations carelessly, but that is wrong. All is done carefully according to strict rules.

For instance, the accusation that Bush is a moron follows from the rigorous application of this rule:
Moron. Only use if two or more of the following criteria are met:
A. Republican
B. Christian (Not Episcopalian)
C. From Texas
D. Wears American-flag pin.
E. Gourmandizes on peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

It's really an old American tradition ...

In his last column Paul Krugman said:
"In 1944… the opposition didn't pull its punches: Thomas Dewey, the Republican candidate, campaigned on the theme that Franklin Roosevelt was a "tired old man." As far as I've been able to ascertain, the Roosevelt administration didn't accuse Dewey of hurting morale by questioning the president's competence. After all, democracy — including the right to criticize — was what we were fighting for. …Yet self-styled patriots are trying to impose constraints on political speech never contemplated during World War II, accusing anyone who criticizes the president of undermining the war effort."
Donald Luskin (He of the other Krugman Truth Squad) knows better...
Just a few minutes Googling turned up the proof. I found that in the only address made by Roosevelt during the 1944 presidential campaign against Dewey, FDR responded to one of the Republicans' criticisms by saying. "I doubt whether even Goebbels would have tried that one." And in response to Republican second-guessing of the way the war was being administered, he said "…it was hardly calculated to bolster the morale of our soldiers and sailors and airmen who are fighting our battles all over the world."

I even found a Republican campaign pamphlet from Abraham Lincoln's presidential campaign 1864, in the midst of the Civil War, in which GOP compared his party's pro-war stance to the opponents' pro-appeasement platform. The party of Lincoln -- literally! -- asked, "Which is the most patriotic?

I would add that the Republican Part kept up the practice of calling the Democrats traitors long after the Civil War. It was called "waving the bloody shirt," and it was effective for a long time. It certainly backfired in the very ugly campaign of 1884.
...On October 29, two things happened to upset Blaine's plans. That morning, he made an appearance in New York City at a meeting of several hundred pro-Blaine Protestant clergymen. Reverend Samuel D. Burchard delivered a warm welcoming address which ended with the words: "We are Republicans, and don't propose to leave our party and identify ourselves with the party whose antecedents have been Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion." Blaine somehow missed the bigoted phrase, and did nothing to deny or repudiate it when he got up to speak. A reporter assigned by the Democrats to cover the meeting eagerly reported the mistake to the Democratic headquarters. When asked if Blaine "met this remark?" the reporter replied that Blaine had made no reference to it. The Democrats then spread the quote all over New York City and elsewhere. By the time Blaine finally got around to disavowing the remarks, it was too late. He lost thousands of votes among the Irish-American voters in the city... [contributing strongly to his losing NY, and Cleveland winning the election]

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Victory over the Ba'athists

Anthony has declared this VB Day! I like it -- sounds nice.

(His permalinks are currently kaput -- look for 9/4/03)

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Is this gun smoking? It's certainly "hot"

Al-Tuwaitha is the headquarters of the Iraqi nuclear program. It's enormous, with over 100 buildings. (No doubt they were worried about running short of energy).

US Marines have now apparently discovered another city underneath it! A vast complex of bomb-proof underground labs and warehouses. Did the inspectors ever see this? Our experts say they haven't heard of it. Also, if they did inspect it they would have been fried-- some of the underground areas are extremely radioactive.

Read about it here. (Via Betsy Newmark )

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International Law--the biggest cargo-cult of all ...

This from the Telegraph:
UN gives warning to US and Britain (Filed: 08/04/2003)

United Nations chiefs have warned America and Britain today that Iraq is not a "treasure chest to be divvied up" after the war.

UN under-secretary general Shashi Tharoor said the Allies had no rights under international law to engage in any kind of reconstruction or creation of government without the express consent of the Security Council.
Somebody oughta pull the plug on this whole International Law hoax. It's a Cargo Cult. Tranzi witch-doctors cobble together law courts from palm fronds, make robes from banana leaves, and solemnly enact rituals just like the real courts that white people have. Surely they think, "Law" will emerge, take form, become real, and confer great benefits on the islanders... summoning the riches that the Americans so mysteriously have.

My son mentioned this line, seen in a forum: How can they call it International Law, when only the English and Hebrew speaking countries are expected to obey it?

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The lidless gaze of Peter Jennings...

Austin Bay writing at StrategyPage (via InstaPundit)
...With a peaceful and more just 21st century the grand strategic goals, US and allied forces liberating Iraq must –more or less simultaneously-- end combat operations, cork public passions, disarm Iraqi battalions, bury the dead, explain the inexplicable to orphans, generate electricity, pump potable water, bring law from embittering lawlessness, empty jails of political prisoners, pack jails with criminals, turn armed partisans into peaceful citizens, re-arm local cops who were once enemy infantry, shoot terrorists, scotch terrifying rumors, thwart chiselers, carpetbaggers and blackmarketeers, fix sewers, feed refugees, patch potholes, get trash trucks rolling, and accomplish this under the lidless gaze of Peter Jennings and al-Jazeera.

Oil for Food must be transformed into oil for food, development, and investment, with the long-savaged Iraqi people getting their rightful share. Saddam’s Swiss bankers and French business partners should have cough up the stolen billions he has stashed in their coffers.

That’s quite a job, but so was smashing a heavily-armed and entrenched tyranny in 22 days.

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East Dearborn

Paul Fallon, writing at Dean's World:
...I tore myself away from the TV early in the afternoon to run some errands. When I heard NPR reporting spontaneous demonstrations on the streets of east Dearborn (the predominantly Middle Eastern suburb of Detroit) only fifteen minutes from my house in good traffic, I raced there.

I drove east down Ford Road. About half a mile west of Greenfield it started—the honking the waving of flags (both US and Iraqi). Outside Fordson High School students danced and encouraged drivers to honk their horns. I wasn’t stingy, few were.

Heading North on Schaffer I drove into the heart of the world’s most populace Arab neighborhood outside the ME. Flags everywhere—mostly American but a sprinkling of Iraqi. Young men walked in and out of the stalled traffic draped in American flags, encouraging all to blow their horns. It was a mighty noise.

I found myself behind a white Chevy Malibu with three young men hanging out the windows. I followed them as they turned west on Warren past dollar stores, bakeries, dry cleaners and every other conceivable business with signs and awnings in both English and Arabic proudly waving the US flag. Old men, some of them in traditional dress kissed one another and danced in circles outside coffee houses.

All the local TV stations were represented by remote trucks. There was even a crew from al-Jezeera. How do I know? Because they were waving a poster-board sign behind the camera to lure the crowd in their direction. And the crowd was more than willing to comply...
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Let freedom ring ...

Andrew Sullivan says it well:
...It's a victory over those who marched in the millions to stop this liberation, over the endless media cynics, over the hate-America crowd, and the armchair generals. It's a victory for the two countries in the world that have always made freedom possible and who have now brought it to another corner of the world made dark by terror. It's a victory for the extraordinary servicemen and women who performed this task with such skill, cool, courage and restraint. It's a victory for optimism over pessimism, the righting of past wrongs, the assertion of universal truths against postmodern excuses, and of political leadership over appeasement. Celebrate it. Don't let the whiners take this away from you or from the people of Iraq.
...optimism over pessimism

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The disturbed cousin

Sylvain Galineau writing at chicagoboyz about French "intellectual" discourse:
...Incidentally, this is exactly how most TV debates among self-appointed French intellectuals go. Some intractable American social problem is being debated ad nauseam without any agreement being reached until someone points out that "America is historically Protestant". Everybody nods gravely at the depth of the insight thus revealed. It doesn't even have to mean anything and half of them can't even explain why it has anything to do with the original question, or even who Protestants are. Don't ask...

... To conclude, Xavier's views, while mild or benign and politely expressed, are, in my experience, a fairly standard sample of the kind of discussions common in France about the US and pretty much everything else. People blather endlessly on other countries' "view of themselves" with very little, if any, first-hand experience of the real thing, as if it even meant anything in the first place...

...Mind you, I will admit I used to think America was ignoring France -- and everybody else, because, surely, if they ignore us, they must be ignoring all the others too -- out of plain old arrogance. And then, one day, after a few years in the US, I was having dinner at someone's house and one of their relatives went into an utterly weird cult-like rant about something. Some looked away, embarrassed, most politely ignored the incident. And then it hit me: the mad, disturbed cousin is France...

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

work of the Civil Affairs soldiers...

school reopens in Najaf

Children return to school in a village near the city of Najaf in central Iraq on April 4, 2003, for the first time since the war started. Soldiers from the 422nd Civil Affairs Battalion helped cleanup the school that was damaged by artillery fire. The soldiers also took money out of their own pockets to pay the teacher several months salary in advance. There are more pictures here.
(There are girls in the class, though all the boys seem to have pushed to the front ... boys are like that.)

P. Krugman
#87: Broad and pompous generalizations ...

It's tough being in the antiwar brigade at the New York Times these days. We don't ever recall seeing so many rugs pulled out from under so many journalists over such a short period of time as in the last three weeks. Whether it was not having enough armor, not anticipating Iraqi resistance, not providing adequate supply lines, not finding WMDs or not being greeted a liberators, it seemed the Times had barely hit the street each day when the "not" of the day had already been overcome by events. Veteran Times writer R. W. Apple has been the hardest hit. "Quagmire Johnny", as he is know from Afghan days, must be suffering journalistic shell shock.

In The Last Refuge (04/08/03) Paul Krugman enters the fray with some broad and pompous generalizations about the freedom to dissent in wartime. At some level of abstraction no one can disagree with him, but while he avoids the pulled rug, he also misses the main point. The question before Democrats, in opposing a Republican war president, is not whether they can dissent (of course they can) but how can they do so effectively. It seems to us that the first step in addressing this question must be to determine the nature and extent of public support for the war. All evidence suggests that the support is deep and broadly based. And therein lies the rub. The Democrats simply cannot grasp that fact.

This is because most active Democrats, the people who stuff envelopes, ring doorbells, man phone banks and vote in primaries, are fervently antiwar in the Vietnamese (and New York Times) sense of the word. They tend to see the 9/11 wars exclusively through the prism of Vietnam. As a consequence their effectiveness in opposing the current war is doomed because the public mood required for effectiveness simply does not exist. They look back with nostalgia on their 60s sit-ins, teach-ins and other protests that drove a war president from office. But that war was widely unpopular and their demonstrations were fun and had an air of celebration about them. Today, when they take a potshot at the war president they get jeers instead of cheers. When the president's men take potshots back, the president gets the cheers. There are scenes across American campuses in which aging professors are trying to radicalize their students, but the students, a growing number of them in the ROTC, aren't buying.

To us this is almost comic, but apparently to Krugman it is baffling. How can the likes of Marc Racicot and Tom DeLay criticize a war hero such as John Kerry and not only get away with it, but actually score political points? Again, we think the answer is straight forward. Americans understand the significance of the war on terrorism and are united behind it. If the Democrats want to oppose the president on the war they need to make a convincing case. Krugman's column today amounts to whining and that won't do it.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. You can find Paul Krugman's writings, including the latest columns, here]

Monday, April 07, 2003

Now that's a friend...

Dean Esmay has been blogging for one year
...After tiring of this nonsense, one day my funk-soul brother Jerry Kindall sent me an email and said, "Dude, you need a blog." And I said, "what's a blog?" He didn't really answer.

Then one day I got an email from him. He'd bought me a new domain, set me up with an account on an ISP, and installed a copy of Movable Type. And then, he handed me the keys and said, "go." It was, by far, the nicest gift anyone has ever given me in my lifetime. I think he still has no idea how grateful I am...

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But, but, but, but what about the quagamire?

Financial Times: ...According to military sources here, advance elements of the US 4th Infantry Division are being rushed into central Iraq from Kuwait, ready to spearhead the attack on Tikrit. It is hoped that the assault on the 'spiritual heartland' of the regime will deal yet another psychological hammer blow to Iraqi resistance...
More bad news for Nancy, Tom, Jaques, Vlad and the other Friends of Chemical Ali. V Corps doesn't need any reinforcements in the south.

Actually we are probably just hoping we get a chance to try out all the cool gadgets that 4ID is equipped with, before resistance evanesces.
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More imperialist Western bullying ...

BBC News, By Sarah Oliver, In southern Iraq

It is a sound which has echoed down the centuries but which has not been heard here for 15 years - the wailing call to prayer.

On Friday however, at 0430 (0130 GMT), in the minutes before the desert dawn, the voice of the Imam rang out.

What Saddam's Baath party had forbidden, the British Army had restored.

The townspeople, whose mosque was destroyed years ago, prayed in the privacy of their own homes.

Friday prayer is an important occasion for Muslims

But instead of their worship being a secret and dangerous thing, it was freely performed with new joy.

The 1st Battalion Royal Irish secured a public address system for the Imam and men from their attached Royal, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers installed it on Thursday night in time for Friday prayers...
This sort of thing is sure to anger the Arab street, and stir up myriads of new terrorists...we should have stayed home (because the most important thing is to be safe...)

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Watch for it ...

Charlene was just driving and heard Rush Limbaugh say that the next lefty line will be that Saddam was the more restrained of the combatants...

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How dare they not wait for 4ID?

I've been watching video clips of the Brits rolling into Basra, and 3ID raiding deep into Baghdad. Splendid stuff. I keep thinking of all the people who savored the thought of our plans going wrong because we didn't send enough soldiers. Ha! The poor guys in 4th Division are probably gnashing their teeth and saying, "Wait for us! Leave some fun for us."

What a day! The sun is shining, Coalition soldiers are taking baths in Saddam's gold-plated bathtubs, Ba'athists are being lynched in Basra, and Ramsey Clark has a full-page ad in the SF Comical, our local "newspaper," calling for the impeachment of George W. Bush!

Lovely, lovely, just lovely...

Sunday, April 06, 2003

What mad pursuit...

There's an interesting WaPo article on how divided and confused the Democrats are. This is the last paragaph:
...Democrats believe that after the war they will unite around criticism of Bush's diplomatic missteps and the administration's plans for the reconstruction of Iraq. Democrats, they argue, will have no trouble sketching out an appealing Democratic alternative. But the struggle to enunciate a policy on the war may foreshadow a continuing struggle between the party's centrist and liberal wings long after the shooting stops in Iraq.
What delightful lunacy! They are going to criticize Bush's supposed diplomatic missteps after we've won the war! What could be more compelling.

Bush & Co will be finding mass graves, torture chambers, nerve gas, calutrons, terrorist links, and damning evidence of French and Russian perfidy. Meanwhile the Dems are going to argue that Saddam was starting to destroy his al-Samoud missles, so the war was really unnecessary! And that we've needlessly alienated our "allies," such as the French. Big electoral victories are sure to Berkeley and Ann Arbor.

And then, then they will produce an appealing Democratic alternative for the reconstruction of Iraq! A plan. How rich! Produced by a committee of course. No cowboys they. With all factions represented. The academy, public employee unions, anti-war groups, Hollywood. What a powerhouse of intellect. These are superior people, they've told us so many times. Get ready to fall off your chairs.

Of course it is not suggested in the article that Democrats will actually do anything in Iraq. Just "sketch an alternative." No Democrats will be flying to Iraq to roll up their sleeves and help out any way they can. Yeech, too messy. Too common.

And I love that phrase "unite around criticism." It's not even imagined that they might ever unite around anything positive or constructive, not even this imaginary plan to reconstruct Iraq. "All for one, one for all--united in criticism of Bush 'till 2008" What a concept.
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We've had some good news ...

I mentioned in February a friend of our son's who was in the hospital after being attacked. I'm glad to report that it is looking like he will make a full recovery.

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NeoCon Conspiracy covers up ugly side of war...

This war isn't just cheering crowds and cakewalks--Our friend Peter Pribik linked to this picture, which you won't see on FOXNews...

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Posterity! You will never know, how much it cost the present Generation, to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good Use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.

--John Adams, in a letter to Abigail Adams, April 26, 1777

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hit by rocket

Shattered Nerves
US infantryman Captain Kevin Jackson surveys his surroundings after the vehicle he was travelling in was hit by an Iraqi rocket. Fotunately no-one was hurt. (found on SkyNews)

From an interview with U.S Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz

...SNOW: What makes you confident that democracy can take hold in a nation that has been more or less under the thrall of Ba'athist dictatorships for more than 40 years and does not have the kind of history that other nations have?

WOLFOWITZ: I don't think you need to be confident, I think cautiously optimistic might be the right word.

But look, we've had a -- I was going to use the word experiment, it's not an experiment. We've had an experience for the last 12 years in northern Iraq, where Saddam Hussein's forces were pushed out of that part of the country in early April of 1991 by a coalition force that included U.S. and British, and several other European countries contributed.

That force left, I believe, on September 1, 1991, and the people of northern Iraq have been running their own affairs reasonably successfully for 12 years now.

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What is "diversity" really like?

A friend wrote:"I wanted to make sure you saw this. It was an op-ed piece in the NYT of all places. I am still looking for the study he did, no success so far..."
Is Diversity Overrated? By STANLEY ROTHMAN, ORTHAMPTON, Mass.
The Supreme Court hears arguments next week in the cases that may determine whether racial and ethnic preferences in higher education admissions and hiring are preserved or discarded. Whatever it decides, the court should be skeptical of one of the most popular justifications for preferential treatment of minority applicants: that a diverse student body necessarily improves the quality of education for everyone.

One of the most comprehensive studies ever undertaken of diversity in higher education indicates that this contention is at least questionable. The study's findings show that college diversity programs fail to raise standards, and that a majority of faculty members and administrators recognize this when speaking anonymously.

With my colleagues, Seymour Martin Lipset and Neil Nevitte, I measured views of the educational benefit of diversity as it is now incorporated in higher education policy. We wanted to know this: Is diversity truly seen, as the former president of the University of Michigan has said, "as essential as the study of the Middle Ages, of international politics and of Shakespeare" to a well-rounded education?

To find out, in 1999 we surveyed a random sample of more than 1,600 students and 2,400 faculty members and administrators at 140 American colleges and universities, asking them to evaluate the quality of education at their institution, the academic preparation and work habits of the student body, the state of race relations on campus and their own experiences of discrimination. Then we correlated their responses with the proportion of black students attending each institution, based on government statistics.

If diversity works as advertised, we surmised, then those at institutions with higher proportions of black enrollment should rate their educational and racial milieus more favorably than their peers at institutions with lower proportions.

The results contradict almost every benefit claimed for campus diversity. Students, faculty members and administrators all responded to increasing racial diversity by registering increased dissatisfaction with the quality of education and the work ethic of their peers. Students also increasingly complained about discrimination.

Moreover, diversity fails to deliver even when all else is equal. When we controlled for other demographic and institutional factors like the respondent's race, gender, economic background and religion, or an institution's public or private status, selectivity and whether it offers an ethnic or racial studies program, the results were surprising. A higher level of diversity is associated with somewhat less educational satisfaction and worse race relations among students.

We also tested for the effects of higher Hispanic and Asian enrollment. Hispanic enrollment has little effect on any group's ratings of the educational or racial climate. As the proportion of Asian students increased, however, faculty members and administrators perceived an improvement in the academic quality of their students. Thus support for the diversity argument comes with respect to a minority often excluded from preferential admissions programs.

We also asked students about policies used to increase diversity. Three out of four oppose "relaxing academic standards" to increase minority representation, as do a majority of faculty members. And an overwhelming 85 percent of students specifically reject the use of racial or ethnic "preferences"- along with a majority of faculty members. More telling, 62 percent of minority students oppose relaxing standards, and 71 percent oppose preferences.

Among the most striking findings is the silent opposition of so many who administer these programs - yet must publicly support them. Although a small majority of administrators support admissions preferences, 47.7 percent oppose them. In addition, when asked to estimate the impact of preferential admissions on university academic standards, about two-thirds say there is none. Most dismaying, of those who think that preferences have some impact on academic standards, those believing it negative exceed those believing it positive by 15 to 1.

One cannot help but wonder why the public and private views of higher education's leadership differ so greatly. It would be useful to have some good studies of that question.

Stanley Rothman, professor emeritus of government at Smith College, is director of the Center for the Study of Social and Political Change.
My friend, (who is an academic), wrote: "I asked some people here about his basic point; that even those who publically push diversity programs in universities admit that they come at the expense of overall academic performance. They all said yes, he's right. They also said that the main exceptions are those whose careers are specifically tied to diversity programs, i.e., the dean of "student life" and various minions in her department.

But these powerful people. They have mastered only one skill in life––playing the race card. But they do it very, very well."

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I hope we see lots more stories like this ...

Bulgarian corporate incomes from post-war Iraq reconstruction are expected to amount from UDS 900 M to UDS 1 B, Economy Deputy Minister Milen Keremidchiev announced quoting the preliminary estimates of the Economy Ministry.

Bulgarian companies enjoy preferential conditions thanks to the government's position on Iraq, he underlined.
(via Command Post)