With his trial getting ready to begin, here's a photographic history of Michael Jackson's face, with blithering, yet witty commentary.
Monday, January 31, 2005
With more than eight million voters casting ballots, and their first election day coming off safer and smoother than expected, Iraq took a huge step in its path to freedom this weekend. The people of Iraq refused to be intimidated by threats of violence from terrorist insurgents. Many brought their children, wanting them to see democracy in action. Taking their lives into their own hands, they went to the polls to vote in the first truly free election in their lives. More than sixty percent of eligible voters turned out.
I know the world has learned about democracy from the U.S., but maybe the U.S. could learn something about appreciation for the right we have by looking to the Iraqis. How many people do we know who haven't voted in one election or another because it was raining, or there was a line, or they forgot, or whatever? We take for granted that act which many Iraqis risked their lives to make happen. It was a remarkable victory for Iraq, the Iraqi people, our military and allied countries, and President Bush and his administration. It also proves, again, the hunger of the Iraqi people for self-governing. It was truly their day.
Other news on the Iraqi elections...
President Bush called Sunday's elections in Iraq a success and promised the United States will continue trying to prepare Iraqis to secure their own country.One of these things is not like the other one; one of these things just doesn't belong. Can you spot it? Hmm?
The new mayor of Baghdad, excited about the country's move to freedom, wants to honor the man he believes brought it about. ""We will build a statue for Bush... He is the symbol of freedom."
Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayd Allawi said, "I call upon those who cast their ballot and those who did not to unite. The terrorists have been defeated."
In Iran, Iraq's powerful neighbor and former enemy, the election was seen in the words of parliamentary deputy Alaeddin Boroujerdi as "a great step for Iraqis towards an independent and popular regime."
In Jordan a government spokeswoman said: "We hope that holding elections in these very difficult conditions will help achieve stability in Iraq, reflect the will of all the Iraqi people and help Iraq recover its sovereignty."
And former presidential candidate John Kerry, who by the way served in Vietnam, said, "But no one in the United States or in the world -- and I'm confident of what the world response will be -- no one in the United States should try to overhype this election."
Posted by Michael at 12:51 PM
Shannon and I had a cozy weekend iced in at her place in Jackson. The winter storm that blasted through here put the kibosh on our Saturday plans. We were going to see my folks, but the storm knocked out their power early Saturday morning, and as of 8am this morning it was still out. We were lucky to be at Shannon's instead of my place here in Maconga. Apparently, lots of people were without power for the better part of the weekend.
Posted by Michael at 8:42 AM
Friday, January 28, 2005
You know when I write about public schools, it's rarely going to be good news. Here's today's dose of the bad...
A Brooklyn teacher has been arrested for convincing a friend to slash her principal's face with a boxcutter, causing cuts that required more than 150 stitches.
Previously in the Big Apple, the principal of a troubled city school in Harlem was arraigned after cops caught her driving drunk - and urinating in a Bronx street - when she was supposed to be at work. She had prior arrests for marijuana posession and shoplifting.
A Schenectady, NY middle school girl's uncle is serving in Iraq. To show support for him, she made a red, white and blue beaded necklace and wore it to school. The school's administrators made her remove the necklace, saying that beads are gang-related.
A senior at Haverford High School in Haverford, Pennsylvania has been suspended for taking Aleve. The girl, an honor roll student, had taken a generic version of Aleve for cramps. When the discomfort continued, she visited the school nurse. She said she had taken Aleve earlier, and that's when the zero-tolerance stupidity began. "Self-medicating" is a violation of the school's zero-tolerance drug policy.
How Do Our Public School Students Compare To Those Around The World?
According to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) released last month...
Among the top 40 industrialized nations, at the fourth-grade level, American students were nine points above the average in science and 11 points below it in math, putting them almost dead average overall. At the eighth-grade level, American students were four points below average in science and 24 points below average in math, putting them clearly, but not abysmally, below the rich-country average.
Many nations that typically outscore the United States in math and science at the eighth-grade level did not participate in TIMSS 2003. Those countries include France, Germany, Canada, Ireland, Finland, Switzerland, Iceland and Poland.
But while they skipped TIMSS 2003, they all participated in another test of mathematics and science: the 2003 Program on International Student Achievement (PISA). Every one of those countries significantly outscored the United States on the PISA test. In math, Canada bested us by 49 points, while Finland outscored us by 61. In science, France and Switzerland beat us by 20 and 22 points, respectively. If all of these nations had participated in TIMSS 2003, it seems likely that U.S. performance at the eighth-grade level would have been considerably further below the average of industrialized nations than it already was.
Posted by Michael at 9:49 AM
Thursday, January 27, 2005
First, state school superintendent Kathy Cox wanted schools to quit using the term "evolution", instead saying "biological changes over time." Then, Cobb County schools had to place stickers on textbooks, the stickers reading "Evolution Is A Theory - NOT A Fact." Now, it's a Georgia state legislator.
State Representative Ben Bridges has introduced a bill that would allow state schools to teach theories, such as evolution, only when they are "scientific". How that would be defined is inclear.
As a religous person, I can understand the hesitancy of some deeply religious types to embrace evolution. But let me ask this... Why do scientists and doctors think antibiotics are becoming less and less effective? Microbiologists know that "occasionally a mutation occurs that renders a bacterium resistant to a given antibiotic." And as a result of this "evolutionary process", many current antibiotics are losing their effectiveness.
We are seeing evolution taking place at the microscopic level. Technically, evolution is not strictly theory. When are mainstream religious types going to accept the fact that God and evolution can peacefully coexist? If you believe in an all-powerful and all-knowing God, then you must accept the idea that He could have used evolution as His means of creating mankind. Could have... meaning it was within His power if He had chosen to do so. And who are we, lowly little humans, to question God's methods?
Posted by Michael at 1:50 PM
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Blogger Arthur Chrenkoff reports today...
Reader Haider Ajina translates an article from the January 26th edition of the Arabic newspaper "Alsharq Alausat":
"First poll conducted by the Iraqi ministry of planning shows 72.4% Iraqis will vote.
In a Poll of 33,313 Iraqis (in all of Iraq) of ages 18 and older conducted by the Iraqi ministry of planning regarding Iraqis participation in the Iraqi elections taking place the end of this month. The results were as follows.
72.4 % of all of those polled said they would participate in the elections.
97% of Iraqis in Kurdistan said they would participate in the elections.
96% of Iraqis in the southern provinces (mainly Sheeit [Shia] areas) said they would participate in the elections.
33% of Iraqis in the central provinces (Sunni Area) said they would participate in the elections.
10% of Iraqis in central provinces (Sunni Area) said they have not yet made their mind if they were going to vote or not.
62.1% of those polled said that the elections will be neutral and free.
17.8% said elections will not be neutral and free.
11.6% did not answer this question.
66% said that the elections must take place under current circumstances.
53.3% said the security is good in their area.
21.7% said that security was average in their area.
25% said that security was bad in their area."
The die is cast. Those of us in the West nonchalant about democracy and complacent about our freedoms should spare a thought for the millions of Iraqis who on Sunday will be risking death to have a chance to elect their government.
Posted by Michael at 2:42 PM
In 1990, former Chicago cop Steven Manning was convicted for the murder of a trucking company owner, as well as a kidnapping. He spent 14 years in prison before having his convictions dropped. Now, he's won a $6.6 million civil lawsuit against two FBI special agents who, the jury determined, had framed Manning for the crimes. Now, the judge in that case is looking into whether the United States shares responsibility for the framing. Interestingly, the two FBI agents are still on the job...
Posted by Michael at 2:20 PM
The loonies who post at DU have conducted a little poll, gathering their personal opinions about who was directly responsible for the attacks on September 11th. Here's the skinny...
I'm having a difference of opinion on what constitutes "conventional wisdom" for DUers on whether the Taliban was protecting bin Laden prior to 9/11; and whether the Taliban and bin Laden had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks. Their position appears to be that they weren't behind 9/11 and that the trail leads to the White House and LIHOP.Of the 190 dimwits and chucklebears responding to this poll, 166 out of 190 (87%) think President Bush and his administration either orchestrated the attacks or knew in advance about the attacks and allowed them to happen. Blinded by hate, the Libs are losing their minds. They probably believe Bush is behind the Titanic sinking, the AIDS virus and the tsunami in Asia. Idiots!
So, I'd like to take a poll from DUers to see what the conventional wisdom is for this newsgroup. If Skinner would like to post a statement, I would appreciate it.
Of 190 Votes Cast...
The 9/11 investigation was inconclusive that bin Laden was involved. I believe the trail for those responsible for planning 9/11 leads to the White House. 124 votes (65%)
I don't know if it was bin Laden or another terrorist group, but I believe the White House LIHOP (let it happen on purpose). 42 votes (22%)
I believe that an emissary from the Bush Admin. stirred up a hornet's nest by demanding that the Taliban provide land for a pipeline and also to hand over bin Laden. So, bin Laden approved the attacks. 12 votes (6%)
Other (please elaborate) 13 votes (7%)
Posted by Michael at 8:54 AM
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
This is from Drudge...
Ted Turner called FOX an arm of the Bush administration and compared FOXNEWS's popularity to Hitler's popular election to run Germany before WWII.That last line is great!
Turner made the controversial comments in Las Vegas before a standing-room-only crowd at the National Association for Television Programming Executives's opening session.
His no-nonsense, humorous approach during the one-hour Q&A generated frequent loud applause and laughter, BROADCASTING & CABLE reports.
While FOX may be the largest news network [and has overtaken Turner's CNN], it's not the best, Turner said.
He followed up by pointing out that Adolf Hitler got the most votes when he was elected to run Germany prior to WWII. He said the network is the propaganda tool for the Bush Administration.
"There's nothing wrong with that. It's certainly legal. But it does pose problems for our democracy. Particularly when the news is dumbed down," leaving voters without critical information on politics and world events and overloaded with fluff," he said.
A FOXNEWS spokesperson responded: "Ted is understandably bitter having lost his ratings, his network and now his mind -- we wish him well."
Posted by Michael at 9:44 PM
My cable company recently added a handful of new channels to their digital line-up. One that I find myself watching a lot is called GoodLife TV. They've got some of the shows I grew up watching, plus some I've heard of and never had the chance to see before now. They run the secret agent shows I Spy and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., plus the WWII series Combat and from the '80s, the Vietnam-set China Beach. As a kid I watched Mayberry RFD, Chico and The Man and the original Superman (with George Reaves). They're all on this channel now. Some of the others: 77 Sunset Strip, The FBI, Homefront, and Maverick (with James Garner). It's a pretty good channel...
Posted by Michael at 8:53 AM
Monday, January 24, 2005
Republicans have taken control of the Georgia General Assembly, and now they want to honor one of their own. They have taken steps to rename a state legislative office building for the late Senator Pual Coverdell. A fine move that would be, as he was one of the architects of the Republican rise to power in Georgia. Coverdell served in the Georgia Senate for almost two decades, and was a U.S. Senator at the time of his death in 2000. Here's hoping the bill is passed into law.
Posted by Michael at 10:47 PM
Blogs Of War points out this story to us... Booksellers in a small shop in Baghdad are spreading hope and goodwill. They provide a place to shop, read and talk. They talk about how business has gotten better and better, the insurgents are a tiny faction, and personal issues.
Posted by Michael at 9:34 AM
The fair and balanced folks at ABC News used the funeral for a soldier killed in Iraq to make a political statement against the inauguration of President Bush. Stay classy, ABC.
I should have included a thank you to the blog Angry In The Great White North for pointing me to this story. I'm also adding them to my links over on the right.
Posted by Michael at 8:50 AM
Sunday, January 23, 2005
I hate buying a car. Absolutely detest it. I don't trust car salesmen or car ads. This past weekend, Shannon and I shopped for her a new car. It's a true sign of love, I know. We saw both ends of the car buying spectrum in one day. When I bought my truck in 2003, I had fantastic service with a dealer my parents really liked. This dealer didn't have anything Shannon liked, so she shopped around and found a few that did. We hit one in Union City, where we were talked down to and treated like imbeciles. Shannon decided to stay quiet and let me get us out of that one. Later, we found the nice guys at Stone Mountain Nissan. Great service, no pressure, and best of all, great prices. Now my Sweetie has a 2005 Nissan Altima that she loves. The end product seems to have been worth the grief. But geez, I still hate shopping for cars.
Posted by Michael at 7:38 PM
Thursday, January 20, 2005
I imagine the Libs were been spinning on their eyebrows during President Bush's inaugural speech this afternoon. The President urged urged "rulers of outlaw regimes" to let democracy flourish, and vowed to advance democracy abroad. In a speech that used the word freedom 27 times, and the word liberty 15 times, he pledged support for movements toward democracy around the world.
"America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way... When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you."In my favorite lines, President Bush also pledged to stand up to leaders who oppress their people.
"In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty... All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: The United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors."This is the kind of talk that really torques the Liberal Left. Buzzwords like "freedom" and "liberty" rarely end up in their speeches. President Bush pushed a few buttons on domestic issues, also.
"We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies."
"To give every American a stake in the promise and future of our country, we will bring the highest standards to our schools, and build an ownership society. We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance preparing our people for the challenges of life in a free society. By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear, and make our society more prosperous and just and equal."These kind of ideas scare the bejeezus out of the Democrats. When people own property, businesses and their own retirement plans, Democrats lose. Why? Because that individual doesn't need handouts from the government. They are able to provide for themselves. When individuals can provide for themselves, they don't need (and won't be bribed by) handout programs from Democrats. Those individuals invariably become more financially conservative.
We all know the President is a religious man, and I'm sure he ruffled a few feathers with this line:
"From the day of our founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the maker of heaven and earth."The entire speech can be read here.
Posted by Michael at 6:15 PM
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Jerry Weintraub Productions, the folks who brought us such classics as "Ocean's Eleven" and "Vegas Vacation", are planning a remake of the George Burns movie "Oh, God!". This new version, though, has Ellen DeGeneres cast in the role of God. Oops... a lesbian playing God? The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) has a big problem with this, and they've launched a campaign to get Ellen dropped from the role.
Posted by Michael at 8:25 PM
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
If you don't read anything else today, please read this...
Media's Coverage Has Distorted World's View Of Iraqi Reality
By LTC Tim Ryan
SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Editors' Note: LTC Tim Ryan is Commander, Task Force 2-12 Cavalry, First Cavalry Division in Iraq. He led troops into battle in Fallujah late last year and is now involved in security operations for the upcoming elections. He wrote the following during "down time" after the Fallujah operation. His views are his own.
All right, I've had enough. I am tired of reading distorted and grossly exaggerated stories from major news organizations about the "failures" in the war in Iraq. "The most trusted name in news" and a long list of others continue to misrepresent the scale of events in Iraq. Print and video journalists are covering only a fraction of the events in Iraq and, more often than not, the events they cover are only negative.
The inaccurate picture they paint has distorted the world view of the daily realities in Iraq. The result is a further erosion of international support for the United States' efforts there, and a strengthening of the insurgents' resolve and recruiting efforts while weakening our own. Through their incomplete, uninformed and unbalanced reporting, many members of the media covering the war in Iraq are aiding and abetting the enemy.
The fact is the Coalition is making steady progress in Iraq, but not without ups and downs. So why is it that no matter what events unfold, good or bad, the media highlights mostly the negative aspects of the event? The journalistic adage, "If it bleeds, it leads," still applies in Iraq, but why only when it's American blood?
As a recent example, the operation in Fallujah delivered an absolutely devastating blow to the insurgency. Though much smaller in scope, clearing Fallujah of insurgents arguably could equate to the Allies' breakout from the hedgerows in France during World War II. In both cases, our troops overcame a well-prepared and solidly entrenched enemy and began what could be the latter's last stand. In Fallujah, the enemy death toll has exceeded 1,500 and still is climbing. Put one in the win column for the good guys, right? Wrong. As soon as there was nothing negative to report about Fallujah, the media shifted its focus to other parts of the country.
More recently, a major news agency's website lead read: "Suicide Bomber Kills Six in Baghdad" and "Seven Marines Die in Iraq Clashes." True, yes. Comprehensive, no. Did the author of this article bother to mention that Coalition troops killed 50 or so terrorists while incurring those seven losses? Of course not. Nor was there any mention about the substantial progress these offensive operations continue to achieve in defeating the insurgents. Unfortunately, this sort of incomplete reporting has become the norm for the media, whose poor job of presenting a complete picture of what is going on in Iraq borders on being criminal.
Much of the problem is about perspective, putting things in scale and balance. What if domestic news outlets continually fed American readers headlines like: "Bloody Week on U.S. Highways: Some 700 Killed," or "More Than 900 Americans Die Weekly from Obesity-Related Diseases"? Both of these headlines might be true statistically, but do they really represent accurate pictures of the situations? What if you combined all of the negatives to be found in the state of Texas and used them as an indicator of the quality of life for all Texans? Imagine the headlines: "Anti-law Enforcement Elements Spread Robbery, Rape and Murder through Texas Cities." For all intents and purposes, this statement is true for any day of any year in any state. True — yes, accurate — yes, but in context with the greater good taking place — no! After a year or two of headlines like these, more than a few folks back in Texas and the rest of the U.S. probably would be ready to jump off of a building and end it all. So, imagine being an American in Iraq right now.
From where I sit in Iraq, things are not all bad right now. In fact, they are going quite well. We are not under attack by the enemy; on the contrary, we are taking the fight to him daily and have him on the ropes. In the distance, I can hear the repeated impacts of heavy artillery and five-hundred-pound bombs hitting their targets. The occasional tank main gun report and the staccato rhythm of a Marine Corps LAV or Army Bradley Fighting Vehicle's 25-millimeter cannon provide the bass line for a symphony of destruction. As elements from all four services complete the absolute annihilation of the insurgent forces remaining in Fallujah, the area around the former insurgent stronghold is more peaceful than it has been for more than a year.
The number of attacks in the greater Al Anbar Province is down by at least 70-80 percent from late October — before Operation Al Fajar began. The enemy in this area is completely defeated, but not completely gone. Final eradication of the pockets of insurgents will take some time, as it always does, but the fact remains that the central geographic stronghold of the insurgents is now under friendly control. That sounds a lot like success to me. Given all of this, why don't the papers lead with "Coalition Crushes Remaining Pockets of Insurgents" or "Enemy Forces Resort to Suicide Bombings of Civilians"? This would paint a far more accurate picture of the enemy's predicament over here. Instead, headlines focus almost exclusively on our hardships.
What about the media's portrayal of the enemy? Why do these ruthless murderers, kidnappers and thieves get a pass when it comes to their actions? What did the the media show or tell us about Margaret Hassoon, the director of C.A.R.E. in Iraq and an Iraqi citizen, who was kidnapped, brutally tortured and left disemboweled on a street in Fallujah? Did anyone in the press show these images over and over to emphasize the moral failings of the enemy as they did with the soldiers at Abu Ghuraib? Did anyone show the world how this enemy had huge stockpiles of weapons in schools and mosques, or how he used these protected places as sanctuaries for planning and fighting in Fallujah and the rest of Iraq? Are people of the world getting the complete story? The answer again is no! What the world got instead were repeated images of a battle-weary Marine who made a quick decision to use lethal force and who immediately was tried in the world press. Was this one act really illustrative of the overall action in Fallujah? No, but the Marine video clip was shown an average of four times each hour on just about every major TV news channel for a week. This is how the world views our efforts over here and stories like this without a counter continually serve as propaganda victories for the enemy. Al Jazeera isn't showing the film of the C.A.R.E. worker, but is showing the clip of the Marine. Earlier this year, the Iraqi government banned Al Jazeera from the country for its inaccurate reporting. Wonder where they get their information now? Well, if you go to the Internet, you'll find a web link from the Al Jazeera home page to CNN's home page. Very interesting.
The operation in Fallujah is only one of the recent examples of incomplete coverage of the events in Iraq. The battle in Najaf last August provides another. Television and newspapers spilled a continuous stream of images and stories about the destruction done to the sacred city, and of all the human suffering allegedly brought about by the hands of the big, bad Americans. These stories and the lack of anything to counter them gave more fuel to the fire of anti-Americanism that burns in this part of the world. Those on the outside saw the Coalition portrayed as invaders or oppressors, killing hapless Iraqis who, one was given to believe, simply were trying to defend their homes and their Muslim way of life.
Such perceptions couldn't be farther from the truth. What noticeably was missing were accounts of the atrocities committed by the Mehdi Militia — Muqtada Al Sadr's band of henchmen. While the media was busy bashing the Coalition, Muqtada's boys were kidnapping policemen, city council members and anyone else accused of supporting the Coalition or the new government, trying them in a kangaroo court based on Islamic Shari'a law, then brutally torturing and executing them for their "crimes." What the media didn't show or write about were the two hundred-plus headless bodies found in the main mosque there, or the body that was put into a bread oven and baked. Nor did they show the world the hundreds of thousands of mortar, artillery and small arms rounds found within the "sacred" walls of the mosque. Also missing from the coverage was the huge cache of weapons found in Muqtada's "political" headquarters nearby. No, none of this made it to the screen or to print. All anyone showed were the few chipped tiles on the dome of the mosque and discussion centered on how we, the Coalition, had somehow done wrong. Score another one for the enemy's propaganda machine.
Now, compare the Najaf example to the coverage and debate ad nauseam of the Abu Ghuraib Prison affair. There certainly is no justification for what a dozen or so soldiers did there, but unbalanced reporting led the world to believe that the actions of the dozen were representative of the entire military. This has had an incredibly negative effect on Middle Easterners' already sagging opinion of the U.S. and its military. Did anyone show the world images of the 200 who were beheaded and mutilated in Muqtada's Shari'a Law court, or spend the next six months talking about how horrible all of that was? No, of course not. Most people don't know that these atrocities even happened. It's little wonder that many people here want us out and would vote someone like Muqtada Al Sadr into office given the chance — they never see the whole truth. Strange, when the enemy is the instigator the media does not flash images across the screens of televisions in the Middle East as they did with Abu Ghuraib. Is it because the beheaded bodies might offend someone? If so, then why do we continue see photos of the naked human pyramid over and over?
So, why doesn't the military get more involved in showing the media the other side of the story? The answer is they do. Although some outfits are better than others, the Army and other military organizations today understand the importance of getting out the story — the whole story — and trains leaders to talk to the press. There is a saying about media and the military that goes: "The only way the media is going to tell a good story is if you give them one to tell." This doesn't always work as planned. Recently, when a Coalition spokesman tried to let TV networks in on opening moves in the Fallujah operation, they misconstrued the events for something they were not and then blamed the military for their gullibility. CNN recently aired a "special report" in which the cable network accused the military of lying to it and others about the beginning of the Fallujah operation. The incident referred to took place in October when a Marine public affairs officer called media representatives and told them that an operation was about to begin. Reporters rushed to the outskirts of Fallujah to see what they assumed was going to be the beginning of the main attack on the city. As it turned out, what they saw were tactical "feints" designed to confuse the enemy about the timing of the main attack, then planned to take place weeks later.
Once the network realized that major combat operations wouldn't start for several more weeks, CNN alleged that the Marines had used them as a tool for their deception operation. Now, they say they want answers from the military and the administration on the matter. The reality appears to be that in their zeal to scoop their competition, CNN and others took the information they were given and turned it into what they wanted it to be. Did the military lie to the media: no. It is specifically against regulations to provide misinformation to the press. However, did the military planners anticipate that reporters would take the ball and run with it, adding to the overall deception plan? Possibly. Is that unprecedented or illegal? Of course not.
CNN and others say they were duped by the military in this and other cases. Yet, they never seem to be upset by the undeniable fact that the enemy manipulates them with a cunning that is almost worthy of envy. You can bet that terrorist leader Abu Musab Al Zarqawi has his own version of a public affairs officer and it is evident that he uses him to great effect. Each time Zarqawi's group executes a terrorist act such as a beheading or a car bomb, they have a prepared statement ready to post on their website and feed to the press. Over-eager reporters take the bait, hook, line and sinker, and report it just as they got it.
Did it ever occur to the media that this type of notoriety is just what the terrorists want and need? Every headline they grab is a victory for them. Those who have read the ancient Chinese military theorist and army general Sun Tzu will recall the philosophy of "Kill one, scare ten thousand" as the basic theory behind the strategy of terrorism. Through fear, the terrorist can then manipulate the behavior of the masses. The media allows the terrorist to use relatively small but spectacular events that directly affect very few, and spread them around the world to scare millions. What about the thousands of things that go right every day and are never reported? Complete a multi-million-dollar sewer project and no one wants to cover it, but let one car bomb go off and it makes headlines. With each headline, the enemy scores another point and the good-guys lose one. This method of scoring slowly is eroding domestic and international support while fueling the enemy's cause.
I believe one of the reasons for this shallow and subjective reporting is that many reporters never actually cover the events they report on. This is a point of growing concern within the Coalition. It appears many members of the media are hesitant to venture beyond the relative safety of the so-called "International Zone" in downtown Baghdad, or similar "safe havens" in other large cities. Because terrorists and other thugs wisely target western media members and others for kidnappings or attacks, the westerners stay close to their quarters. This has the effect of holding the media captive in cities and keeps them away from the broader truth that lies outside their view. With the press thus cornered, the terrorists easily feed their unwitting captives a thin gruel of anarchy, one spoonful each day. A car bomb at the entry point to the International Zone one day, a few mortars the next, maybe a kidnapping or two thrown in. All delivered to the doorsteps of those who will gladly accept it without having to leave their hotel rooms — how convenient.
The scene is repeated all too often: an attack takes place in Baghdad and the morning sounds are punctuated by a large explosion and a rising cloud of smoke. Sirens wail in the distance and photographers dash to the scene a few miles away. Within the hour, stern-faced reporters confidently stare into the camera while standing on the balcony of their tenth-floor Baghdad hotel room, their back to the city and a distant smoke plume rising behind them. More mayhem in Gotham City they intone, and just in time for the morning news. There is a transparent reason why the majority of car bombings and other major events take place before noon Baghdad-time; any later and the event would miss the start of the morning news cycle on the U.S. east coast. These terrorists aren't stupid; they know just what to do to scare the masses and when to do it. An important key to their plan is manipulation of the news media. But, at least the reporters in Iraq are gathering information and filing their stories, regardless of whether or the stories are in perspective. Much worse are the "talking heads" who sit in studios or offices back home and pontificate about how badly things are going when they never have been to Iraq and only occasionally leave Manhattan.
Almost on a daily basis, newspapers, periodicals and airwaves give us negative views about the premises for this war and its progress. It seems that everyone from politicians to pop stars are voicing their unqualified opinions on how things are going. Recently, I saw a Rolling Stone magazine and in bold print on the cover was, "Iraq on Fire; Dispatches from the Lost War." Now, will someone please tell me who at Rolling Stone or just about any other "news" outlet is qualified to make a determination as to when all is lost and it's time to throw in the towel? In reality, such flawed reporting serves only to misshape world opinion and bolster the enemy's position. Each enemy success splashed across the front pages and TV screens of the world not only emboldens them, but increases their ability to recruit more money and followers.
So what are the credentials of these self proclaimed "experts"? The fact is that most of those on whom we rely for complete and factual accounts have little or no experience or education in counter-insurgency operations or in nation-building to support their assessments. How would they really know if things are going well or not? War is an ugly thing with many unexpected twists and turns. Who among them is qualified to say if this one is worse than any other at this point? What would they have said in early 1942 about our chances of winning World War II? Was it a lost cause too? How much have these "experts" studied warfare and counter-insurgencies in particular? Have they ever read Roger Trinquier's treatise Modern Warfare: A French View on Counter-insurgency (1956)? He is one of the few French military guys who got it right. The Algerian insurgency of the 1950s and the Iraq insurgency have many similarities. What about Napoleon's campaigns in Sardinia in 1805-07? Again, there are a lot of similarities to this campaign. Have they studied that and contrasted the strategies? Or, have they even read Mao Zedung's theories on insurgencies, or Nygen Giap's, or maybe Che' Gueverra's? Have they seen any of Sun Tzu's work lately? Who are these guys? It's time to start studying, folks. If a journalist doesn't recognize the names on this list, he or she probably isn't qualified to assess the state of this or any other campaign's progress.
Worse yet, why in the world would they seek opinion from someone who probably knows even less than they do about the state of affairs in Iraq? It sells commercials, I suppose. But, I find it amazing that some people are more apt to listen to a movie star's or rock singer's view on how we should prosecute world affairs than to someone whose profession it is to know how these things should go. I play the guitar, but Bruce Springsteen doesn't listen to me play. Why should I be subjected to his views on the validity of the war? By profession, he's a guitar player. Someone remind me what it is that makes Sean Penn an expert on anything. It seems that anyone who has a dissenting view is first to get in front of the camera. I'm all for freedom of speech, but let's talk about things we know. Otherwise, television news soon could have about as much credibility as "The Bachelor" has for showing us truly loving couples.
Also bothersome are references by "experts" on how "long" this war is taking. I've read that in the world of manufacturing, you can have only two of the following three qualities when developing a product — cheap, fast or good. You can produce something cheap and fast, but it won't be good; good and fast, but it won't be cheap; good and cheap, but it won't be fast. In this case, we want the result to be good and we want it at the lowest cost in human lives. Given this set of conditions, one can expect this war is to take a while, and rightfully so. Creating a democracy in Iraq not only will require a change in the political system, but the economic system as well. Study of examples of similar socio-economic changes that took place in countries like Chile, Bulgaria, Serbia, Russia and other countries with oppressive Socialist dictatorships shows that it took seven to ten years to move those countries to where they are now. There are many lessons to be learned from these transfomations, the most important of which is that change doesn't come easily, even without an insurgency going on. Maybe the experts should take a look at all of the work that has gone into stabilizing Bosnia-Herzegovina over the last 10 years. We are just at the 20-month mark in Iraq, a place far more oppressive than Bosnia ever was. If previous examples are any comparison, there will be no quick solutions here, but that should be no surprise to an analyst who has done his or her homework.
This war is not without its tragedies; none ever are. The key to the enemy's success is use of his limited assets to gain the greatest influence over the masses. The media serves as the glass through which a relatively small event can be magnified to international proportions, and the enemy is exploiting this with incredible ease. There is no good news to counteract the bad, so the enemy scores a victory almost every day. In its zeal to get to the hot spots and report the latest bombing, the media is missing the reality of a greater good going on in Iraq. We seldom are seen doing anything right or positive in the news. People believe what they see, and what people of the world see almost on a daily basis is negative. How could they see it any other way? These images and stories, out of scale and context to the greater good going on over here, are just the sort of thing the terrorists are looking for. This focus on the enemy's successes strengthens his resolve and aids and abets his cause. It's the American image abroad that suffers in the end.
Ironically, the press freedom that we have brought to this part of the world is providing support for the enemy we fight. I obviously think it's a disgrace when many on whom the world relies for news paint such an incomplete picture of what actually has happened. Much too much is ignored or omitted. I am confident that history will prove our cause right in this war, but by the time that happens, the world might be so steeped in the gloom of ignorance we won't recognize victory when we achieve it.
Posted by Michael at 7:34 PM
If you've never eaten at a Moe's Southwest Grill, here's the deal. The chain uses names and quotes from TV shows and movies as the names for its dishes. My favorite is the "John Coctostan", a chicken or steak fajita whose name comes from one of Chevy Chase's aliases in the movie "Fletch". Anyway, there are paintings of famous singers, with slightly altered song lyrics, on the walls. When you walk through the door, you're greeted by the employees yelling "Welcome To Moe's!" Oh, and the food's good too.
Now, Moe's is being sued by the estate of late Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia for featuring a dish called the "Alfredo Garcia", and for displaying a painting of Jerry Garcia and an altered song lyric without permission. Never knew Deadheads were so litigious.
By the way, I think the name "Alfredo Garcia" also comes from the movie "Fletch", referencing the movie "Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia". The character Fletch has passed out in a hospital waiting room, and when asked if there's anything he needs, he replies:
"Do you have the Beatles White Album? Never mind, just bring me a cup of hot fat. And the head of Alfredo Garcia."
Posted by Michael at 1:42 PM
The Clinton Presidential Library was supposed to be a huge attraction for Little Rock, Arkansas. Early reports even claimed that more than 100,000 visitors had passed through in just the first few weeks. Turns out those figures, much like Clinton's lip-quivering denials about Monica Lewinski, were disingenuous. Only 42,000 paid guests have visited since the library opened. Not very good for a facility that cost $162 million.
Maybe everyone's waiting for the Counter Clinton Library to open up down the road. Then they can get Clinton's "truth", and the actual truth.
Posted by Michael at 9:52 AM
President Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address
March 4, 1865
As Lincoln's procession was passing through the Capitol rotunda on its way to the eastern portico for the inaugural address, the crowd was rushed by a man looking "very fierce and angry". He was wrestled away by Benjamin Brown French, public buildings director of D.C., and a policeman named Westfall. The man was sent on his way, as no threat was perceived. The "fierce and angry" man... was John Wilkes Booth.
The above photograph was taken by Alexander Gardner minutes later, as Lincoln delivered his address. According to the Library of Congress, "Above Lincoln, to the right and behind an iron railing, stands John Wilkes Booth, though he cannot be seen clearly in this photograph... He has a mustache and is wearing a top hat. Five of the other conspirators in Lincoln's assassination stand just below the president. Looking at a detail of the figures behind the railing in the photograph presented here reveals a man with a mustache holding a top hat in his hand who could well be John Wilkes Booth. "
Posted by Michael at 8:33 AM
Monday, January 17, 2005
During ABC's Sunday World News Tonight, reporter Geoff Morrell compared President Bush's upcoming war-time inaugural clebration with that of Franklin Roosevelt during WWII. He said, "during World War II Franklin Roosevelt opted not to have a parade or a party -- just a White House swearing in followed by a small luncheon of chicken salad and pound cake."
One small item Morrell failed to mention... FDR was in the process of dying at that time. He would only survive three months past that inauguration (he died in April 1945).
Also, a Thursday night Associated Press (AP) dispatch: "Some Now Question Cost of Inauguration." The AP's Will Lester led with how the $40 million for the inaugural could buy "200 armored Humvees with the best armor for troops in Iraq" or "vaccinations and preventive health care for 22 million children in regions devastated by the tsunami."
Posted by Michael at 2:00 PM
The last few days I didn't care much about posting anything, feeling sick and dopey like I did. I think it's all finally clearing up, so here we go...
One thing I did get to do this weekend, miserable tho' I felt, was to read through the CBS internal investigation report (PDF file) on the President Bush - Air National Guard memo scandal. The news stories I've read about the report all quote this line from the report:
"... the Panel cannot conclude that a political agenda at 60 Minutes Wednesday drove either the timing of the airing of the segment or its content."That sounds well and good, but if you look at the report itself, all 200+ pages of it, there can be little doubt. This memo story was meant to be a one-sided hit piece, inflicting damage on President Bush, and was either politically or personally directed. There can be no denying it. Read the report yourself.
Mary Mapes and her team rushed to get this on the air, misrepresenting facts to her bosses and to people who were interviewed. She ignored or buried interviews with people who stated clearly and unequivocably that then-Lieutenant Bush did not receive preferential treatment getting into the Texas Air National Guard. The report lists all the reasons the story never should have aired, from reporting irregularities to failure to validate simple source background facts.
It was a Keystone Kops version of journalism, and CBS is reamed in this report. The only disappointing aspect to the report is the failure to directly blame political bias for the disaster. There is more than enough evidence laid out in this report to go beyond a reasonable doubt. The report might not draw that conclusion, but it's certainly there.
Posted by Michael at 10:26 AM
Friday, January 14, 2005
This is from NewScientist.com...
Pentagon Reveals Rejected Chemical Weapons
The Pentagon considered developing a host of non-lethal chemical weapons that would disrupt discipline and morale among enemy troops, newly declassified documents reveal.
Most bizarre among the plans was one for the development of an "aphrodisiac" chemical weapon that would make enemy soldiers sexually irresistible to each other. Provoking widespread homosexual behaviour among troops would cause a "distasteful but completely non-lethal" blow to morale, the proposal says.
Other ideas included chemical weapons that attract swarms of enraged wasps or angry rats to troop positions, making them uninhabitable. Another was to develop a chemical that caused "severe and lasting halitosis", making it easy to identify guerrillas trying to blend in with civilians. There was also the idea of making troops' skin unbearably sensitive to sunlight.
The proposals, from the US Air Force Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, date from 1994. The lab sought Pentagon funding for research into what it called "harassing, annoying and 'bad guy'-identifying chemicals". The plans have been posted online by the Sunshine Project, an organisation that exposes research into chemical and biological weapons.
Spokesman Edward Hammond says it was not known if the proposed $7.5 million, six-year research plan was ever pursued.
Posted by Michael at 10:13 AM
Tuesday and Wednesday were super-busy at work. And for good measure, on Wednesday my allergies decided to act up. Now, with a sore throat and fluid building up in one of my eustacean tubes, I'm at home sick. My doctor has me on Allegra (for the allergy), Flonase (to help open the tube), and an expectorant to help break up the fluid. It's my bi-annual ear and throat seal. Sucks...
Posted by Michael at 9:50 AM
Monday, January 10, 2005
In a 234 page report on the President Bush National Guard memo fiasco, the Tiffany network has determined that "CBS News failed to follow basic journalistic principles in the preparation and reporting of the piece," then "compounded that failure with a 'rigid and blind' defense." The producer of the piece was fired, and three high-level executives were "asked" to resign. The timing of the story prompted charges of political bias against CBS News. The investigating panel said that while some actions taken by CBS News encouraged such suspicions, “the Panel cannot conclude that a political agenda at 60 Minutes Wednesday drove either the timing of the airing of the Segment or its content." Huh?
The story was planned to hit just before the election, to cause maximum damage to the President while allowing virtually no time for defense. The papers were contained serious allegations, but no serious attempt was made to authenticate them. The producer of the piece, Mary Mapes, had been working on this story since 1999 with absolutely no success, until these papers suddenly appeared. The network, news staff, and Dan Rather himself blindly swore allegiance and loyalty to the papers, even as it became clear they were fake.
All involved made an attempt to damage the reputation of the President and influence the election. If this wasn't politically motivated, where were CBS's disclaimers about the documents? And where were CBS's attempts to get other sides to this story? Not political my a..
Posted by Michael at 9:13 PM
Sunday, January 09, 2005
In an AP story about the People's Choice Award winners, we get these lines...
The Michael Moore film "Fahrenheit 9/11," which took a critical look at President Bush's actions after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, won the favorite movie award, while Mel Gibson's explicit "The Passion of the Christ" won in the favorite drama category.The Michael Moore film is given the respectful, intellectual sounding description ("a critical look"), while Mel Gibson's movie about Christ's crucifixion is given a description more often associated with pornography ("explicit"). Am I reading too much into this?
Posted by Michael at 11:50 PM
Thursday, January 06, 2005
Here are my results. Sounds good, except for the Democrat part :)
I AM 20% WHITE TRASH!
I, my friend, have class. I am so not white trash. . I am more than likely Democrat, and my place is neat, and there is a good chance I may never drink wine from a box.
Posted by Michael at 9:16 PM
In D.C. today, Congress is in the procedd of certifying and approving the electoral vote from November's election. It should be a formality. But a small group of Democrats, in a politically driven move, have challenged the legitimacy of Ohio's electoral votes for President Bush. Even though President Bush won Ohio by more than 118,000 votes, and even though Senator Kerry doesn't support the challenge, several of the most left-leaning liberal Democrats in Congress are pushing forward.
It won't make any difference, though. After two hours of meeting and making statements in their seperate chambers, senators and representatives will reconvene and the vote will be certified. This is simply political grandstanding by a few sore-loder Dems. Plain and simple.
Who's to than for this? Ohio Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones and California Sen. Barbara Boxer garner most of the blame.
Oh, did you know...
When electors met last month in state capitals to formally vote, an unknown Kerry elector in Minnesota cast a secret ballot for former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., Kerry's running mate. And, New York state's 31 electoral votes were cast for someone named John L. Kerry. Don't know what happened to his F.
Posted by Michael at 2:27 PM
John Kerry can't seem to let things go. He hasn't turned into the angry crackpot Al Gore became after losing to President Bush, but he just can't move on. Visiting U.S. soldiers in Baghdad, Kerry blathered on about the President's "mistakes" and "miscalculations". He also trashed the Commander-in-chief for making "horrendous judgments" and "unbelievable blunders" that have undermined the war effort. So, JFKerry was standing before our troops, engaged in dangerous work in what is still technically a combat zone, and denigrating those troops' supreme commander. Is it just me, or is that just awful stupid?
Posted by Michael at 1:50 PM
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Officials in New York are looking at a proposal to make the Sing Sing Correctional Facility a tourist attraction. One of the most notorious prisons in the country, the 130-plus year old prison is still in use. Over 2,300 prisoners are housed at Sing Sing, with 1800 in maximum security. Nearly all of those are considered "violent offenders." It even has contributed to our language. The prison is located along the Hudson River, and inmates criminals to Sing Sing were said to have been "sent up the river."
I can see it now... Get you picture made sitting on Old Sparkey, the prison's famous electric chair. Special Halloween Night ghost hunts, seeking out the spirits of dead convicts. Maybe they could get some famous celebrities who have done jail time (hello Martha Stewart) to cut the ribbon opening the gift shop. Really, who wouldn't want a prison tourist attraction in their neighborhood?
Posted by Michael at 2:50 PM
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Arthur Chernkoff has posted Part 18 in his continuing series Good News From Iraq. As usual, it's a massive listing of the positive happenings over the past two weeks. You won't see these reported in the mainstream media too much, mainly because they show successes. These stories present our troops, and their mission, for what they really are. For the truth on what's happening in Iraq, check it out. There's also a series on Good News From Afghanistan.
Among the good news items this time around:
And it goes on and on. This is definitely worth a read every couple of weeks when it comes out.
- Iraq and Jordan have agreed on a free-trade zone around their border, allowing for more trade for goods and services between the two nations
- Iraqi business owners are greatly optimistic about their future
- Transportation, rail and cargo infrastructure construction is continuing well
- Iraqi authorities are launching an ambitious plan to boost the nation's agriculture, including the planting of 30 million new olive trees over the next 10 years
Posted by Michael at 3:54 PM
Bob From Accounting brings us the 2004 Ethnic Cleansing Awards, naming the top 25 worst and most annoying newsmakers of the past year.
A flight carrying aid for tsunami victims was delayed early today after hitting a herd of cows on a runway in Indonesia.
Disney drops the F-bomb in their Monsters, Inc. game for GameBoy. Washed-up-but-doesn't-know-it rocker Vince Neil dropped a similar F-bomb on the Tonight Show's New Year's Eve special.
A U.S. soldier stationed in Iraq missed the green, green grass of home so much he asked his wife to send some grass seed. He then grew his own lawn, a little bit small, right in the desert.
The Anaheim Angels want to change their name.
Posted by Michael at 8:53 AM
Monday, January 03, 2005
Beef jerky is one of the most requested items by American troops serving overseas. You can help by making a donation to the USO's "Operation Beef Up Our Troops" program.
Co-sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the program allows you to "join with members of the US ag community by helping to support the purchase of beef jerky for USO care packages through monetary donations," said AFBF President Bob Stallman.
You can make donations at any time by calling (800) 876-7469. You can also send a check to the address below. Checks should be made payable to the USO, and note "beef jerky" on the check memo line.
"Beef Up Our Troops"
Operation USO Care Package
PO Box 8069
Topeka, KS 66608
The USO is chartered by Congress as a nonprofit charitable corporation. More information is available at these addresses:
Posted by Michael at 3:30 PM
"It's a real conflict for me when I go to a concert and find out somebody in the audience is a Republican or fundamental Christian. It can cloud my enjoyment. I'd rather not know."I'm also partial to this quote from a member of the Beastie Boys, speaking about President Bush:
"...his administration in my opinion puts Americans ahead of people in other countries."Gee, a U.S. President who puts the interests of America above the interests of other countries. Well, that's one sorry SOB isn't it? What kind of no-good, rotton, worthless President puts his OWN country first? Geez...
Posted by Michael at 2:20 PM
The mainstream media has been saddened, and apparently expected mainstream America to be also, by the death of writer/cultural critic Susan Sontag. They have seemingly written volumes memorializing her. Words like "intellectual" and "thinker" flow from the writers' mouths. This story from the AP gushed over the woman. They wait until the ninth paragraph to mention that, during the Vietnam War, she declared "the white race is the cancer of human history." In the days after the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, she criticized U.S. foreign policy and offered backhanded praise for the hijackers, calling them courageous. She praised the governments of Cuba and North Korea. All that is lost in the swooning in the media over her passing.
The best comment I've heard about the woman came from the movie "Bull Durham". Kevin Costner's character, Crash Davis, says, "the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent overrated crap."
Posted by Michael at 1:35 PM
Hope you all had a great New Year's weekend. My cousin's wedding was Friday, and with rehearsals on Thursday and New Year's Day football, it was a busy time. One of my resolutions for 2005, to average at least one post per day to this blog. Also, to lose 50 pounds, but that's another story...
Posted by Michael at 8:52 AM