Archive for July, 2007

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Please, Everyone, Show Some Common Decency

July 31, 2007

Unfortunately, when the news broke that Chief Justice John Roberts fell ill today, some very ugly comments began to appear on a few lefty blogs.  The one that got the most attention was this one left on Wonkette:

Chief Justice John Roberts has died in his summer home in Maine. No, not really, but we know you have your fingers crossed. [Talking Points Memo]

I’d just like to state for the record that no matter how I feel about Mr. Roberts’ politics, this comment is way out of line.  This wasn’t a random user posting in the comments section either.  This was on the blog’s main page. 

Wonkette wasn’t alone, however.  Texas Rainmaker managed to capture this type of crap in the comments sections of DU, Crooks and Liars and The Huffington Post.  User comments are anonymous, of course, and could have been left by anyone, but it doesn’t diminish their ugliness.  

There has been quite a bit of talk lately about the level of hate that comes from the blogosphere.  I’ve noticed it myself, and I’ve also noticed a lot of finger-pointing going on over it.  It saddens me, and I wonder what effect it may have on the level of political discourse of this country.  So, I’d like to make an appeal to bloggers and netizens everywhere…

I’ve been around the blogs on all sides of the political spectrum long enough to know that this type of stuff comes from the left and the right.  Many will claim that the other side is more ‘hateful’ than their own (I see it ALL the time), and will try to prove it by grabbing comments from blogs when these little hate-fests occur, but I think in the end both ‘sides’ are equally to blame.  

The flaw in finger-pointing by cherry-picking from comments sections

If you think about it, using these “gotcha” comments like the ones Texas Rainmaker linked to can encourage mobys and impostors to “plant” offensive material. The phenomenon can snowball, as the more importance is placed on them, the more incentive there is for netizens to resort to that type of subversion. Eventually they become meaningless and only serve to taint legitimate political discourse.  What you wind up with is more of a mud-slinging contest than anything that could be considered productive debate.  That, and it doesn’t really prove anything.  (Of course, comments that appear on the main blog entry are different, which is why I pointed to Wonkette) 

Just so you know, I’m certainly not suggesting that all those comments about Roberts were ‘planted’ by people who wanted to make those blogs look bad, but there isn’t anything to stop someone from doing that.  I’m just pointing out that, in the big picture, the finger-pointing exercise itself is counterproductive.  It appears to be happening more frequently lately, too.

So, instead of finger-pointing, let’s agree to categorically condemn the hate (wishing death on someone, especially) whenever and wherever we see it via the comment sections.  Many bloggers already do this, but it wouldn’t hurt to encourage their deletion as well.  It shouldn’t seem like a novel concept. Perhaps I’m just dreaming. But…Maybe, just maybe, we can all tone it down a little.

Also see my post Comments Do Not Necessarily Reflect The Views Of…

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Memoirs Of The Dumb And Insane

July 30, 2007
#369 Charles 7/28/2007 9:08:19 pm PDT

re: #351 ChenZhen

Ok, I’m done with you. That was so convoluted and twisted that I’m ready to admit I was wrong when I said you weren’t dumb.

Never mind the fact that I was right, but less than 24 hrs later…

#263 Charles  7/29/2007 8:20:29 pm PDT 

ChenZhen is trying to turn this into a conspiracy smear.

I’m done with him, and it’s too bad. I thought he had a chance to be sane. I was mistaken.

It’s a miracle I’m able to function. 

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Iraq Wins Asia Cup

July 29, 2007

Talk about a fairytale:  Iraq defy odds to win Asian Cup

When the final whistle sounded, the Iraq players collapsed to the ground in a mixture of shock and an unbridled emotion, kissing the turf and embracing each other after their country’s finest sporting moment.

Saudi Arabia were outplayed by an Iraqi team riding high on a wave of national support.

The Iraqis created a string of chances, only to be denied by sloppy finishing and extraordinary saves from Saudi goalkeeper Yasser Al Mosailem.

It will be interesting to see if this stimulates a feeling of national unity that actually makes a difference over there. 

BTW- The final score was 1-0.

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Buy Stock In Prosthetic Manufacturers, I Guess

July 28, 2007

Ever wonder what happens to the injured in all these car bombs that take place in Iraq?  I do, and I imagine that it isn’t pretty.  I doubt they’ll report this on Fox News: Amputations bring health crisis to Iraq

In the north of Iraq, the Red Crescent Society and the director general for health services in Mosul have told US forces, there is a requirement for up to 3,000 replacement limbs a year. If that estimate is applied across the country, it suggests an acute and looming long-term health challenge that has been largely ignored by the world.

Don’t ya just love war?

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Is The ‘Left’ To Blame For The Release Of Gitmo Prisoners?

July 28, 2007

Another night, another heated debate on LGF.  You know, one where it’s me vs. the entire Lizardoid Army.  So, as promised, I’m posting a thread here to continue the discussion (threads on LGF tend to move a lot faster).  Anyway, here’s the LGF post:
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Good work, lefties. How many people have died because of your bleeding-heart crusade to get the jihadis at Guantanamo released? Freed Guantanamo inmates take up arms.

AT LEAST 30 former Guantanamo Bay detainees have been killed or recaptured after taking up arms against allied forces following their release.

They have been discovered mostly in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but not in Iraq, a US Defence Department spokesman told The Age yesterday.

Commander Jeffrey Gordon said the detainees had, while in custody, falsely claimed to be farmers, truck drivers, cooks, small-arms merchants, low-level combatants or had offered other false explanations for being in Afghanistan.

“We are aware of dozens of cases where they have returned to militant activities, participated in anti-US propaganda or engaged in other activities,” said Commander Gordon.

Thirty dedicated mujahideen can kill a lot of people.
————-
After an intense firefight that started with this statement:

I suppose if you think hard enough you could find a way to blame the left for just about anything.

I finally left my concluding statement on comment #351:

Look, either you can blame the ‘left’ for the release of the scumbags or you can’t. So ask yourself: Who made the decision to release them? It seems pretty simple to me. The whole idea of Gitmo was it’s there because it can operate outside of US laws. It’s Bush’s baby, and if he wanted to shut it down tomorrow he could. So, to me, blaming the ‘left’ for something that ultimately the military or the DOD or whoever decided to do is ridiculous. Bush hasn’t given much of an inch to the left on Gitmo, unless his hand was forced (like the aforementioned SCOTUS ruling), and that was only to change their status, not to release anyone.

But I doubt Charles will change his post no matter what I say, so for tonight I’m done. Maybe I’ll start a thread on my blog and we can continue the discussion there and you can prove me wrong.

So am I wrong? 

Update:  LGF isn’t the only one making “blood on your hands” accusations.  Here’s the technorati link to follow this story.  Keep in mind that the article makes little mention as to why these guys were released (beyond fooling US officials), so I guess the assumption is that leftist mind rays sprung them loose. 

So, lets see if we can do some fact-checking, shall we?  According to the DoD:

There are ongoing processes to review the status of detainees.  A determination about the continued detention or transfer of a detainee is based on the best information and evidence available at the time.  The circumstances in which detainees are apprehended can be ambiguous, and many of the detainees are highly skilled in concealing the truth.

Interesting.  Wait, there’s more:

The investigators said that some criminal suspects against whom they had good evidence have been among the 340 detainees released, because they were citizens of Great Britain or other cooperating countries who made diplomatic deals with the United States. Citizens of some 40 nations are still at Guantanamo.

Yep.  Lefties fault. Blood on hands.  Damn those mind rays!

Anyway, that would be 30 out of 340 (as of last year) have been confirmed to have returned to the battlefield.  Less than 10%.  Of course, it would be preferable if we were able to be omnipotent enough to determine who the bad guys are and who are just farmers (or something) 100% of the time, but nothing is perfect. 

Update:  Michelle Malkin, to her credit, gives a much more objective and less vitriolic assessment of the article, although she still managed to take a swipe at the Dems in closing.

Update:  Newshoggers looks at the story another way, and points out that 90% of those released appear to be peaceful (as well as shooting holes in “the left is to blame” argument).  Oh well, here’s Wizbang.  Lefties again.

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Al-Maliki Asks Bush To Replace Petraeus (Update: Lies I Tell You! Lies!)

July 28, 2007

The man that seems to have the weight of the world on his shoulders right now isn’t getting along to well with Iraq’s prime minister: Iraqi leader tells Bush: Get Gen Petraeus out

It doesn’t look like a personality thing, rather a dispute over tactics:

Although the call was rejected, aides to both men admit that Mr Maliki and Gen David Petraeus engage in frequent stand-up shouting matches, differing particularly over the US general’s moves to arm Sunni tribesmen to fight al-Qa’eda.

One Iraqi source said Mr Maliki used a video conference with Mr Bush to call for the general’s signature strategy to be scrapped. “He told Bush that if Petraeus continues, he would arm Shia militias,” said the official. “Bush told Maliki to calm down.”

So, while Bush is telling America to “wait for Petraeus“, it appears that al-Maliki isn’t so patient.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but I’m guessing that al-Maliki’s opinion probably carries more weight than those here at home when it comes to what might happen in Iraq over the next few months.

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Update:  Al-Maliki has apparently corrected the story, acknowledging disagreements but saying the request for Petraeus’ departure was false.

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I Hereby Coin The Phrase “Brobdingnagian Factcheckathon”

July 27, 2007

Brobdingnagian factcheckathon – First used here, it describes a phenomenon of “citizen journalism” employed by bloggers on a massive scale, usually with the intention of debunking a story that has appeared in the mainstream media (MSM).  It is characterized by a high level of cooperation between blogs and a reliance on reader tips sent in by email or in the comments sections.  During these events it is not unusual for individual bloggers to pull “all-nighters” in an attempt to get a scoop on the story.  Typically, the story is of a politically sensitive nature, and leads the event to be conducted primarily by bloggers on one side of the political spectrum (see Rathergate, Jamil Hussein, and Scott Thomas Beauchamp ).

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What Does “Post 9/11 World” Really Mean?

July 27, 2007

This is one of those posts that I put out there in the spirit of opening a discussion, rather than hoping to make a specific point.  Or, maybe I do have a point. You decide.

For the longest time, I thought that just using the phrase “post-9/11 world” was an exercise in giving the terrorist perpetrators too much credit.  After all, why give them the satisfaction of giving them a “world” that they “created”?  Why should we allow the extreme actions of 19 people effect us so?

What really changed, anyway?  Now we know that we need to lock the cockpit doors of airliners,  and that we should check carry-on items for knives.  That, and we should be wary of people who take flying lessons but aren’t interested in learning how to land the plane.  But beyond that?  Intelligence agencies already knew about al Qaeda and terrorism.  How has the world really changed?

This is the part where my statements may begin to be unpopular…

The September 11th attacks, as terrible as they were, were not catastrophic to the country as a whole.  Al Qaeda managed to kill roughly 3,000 people, take out 4 commercial airplanes and destroy two of the world’s tallest buildings.  It was horrifying to watch, and for those directly affected by the tragedy, it is doubtful that their lives will ever be the same.   However, on a scale of the conceivable attacks that the modern world might allow, the actual devastation would appear to be relatively minor.  Terror attacks happen every day.  Some may kill a hundred or so people, while others, like the incident in Glasgow, kill no one (although they still register a fear effect).  But considering the devastation that WMD’s (especially nuclear weapons) would create, I think it’s important to keep things in a sort of cold-hearted perspective.

I suggest that for this discussion we create a hypothetical scale.  On one end of the spectrum, we would put a Glasgow-level attack, and on the other, a “Jericho” scenario.

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On this scale, where would one put the 9/11 attacks?  My guess is it would certainly be closer to Glasgow than Jericho.  A lot closer.  The Jericho scenario would have an effect on Americans that would be quite tangible.  Even if you weren’t killed in the attack itself, the effect on your life would undoubtedly be significant.  It’s a scenario that would effectively reduce America to a 3rd world country.  In fact, the only Americans that wouldn’t be tangibly effected by this kind of an attack would be the Amish (although that is even debatable).  In contrast, the effect of 9/11 was more in the collective mindset of Americans than anything else.  Wall Street took a short timeout, as did air traffic. For the vast majority of Americans, however, life went on as usual after about a week.  We went shopping, played baseball, and watched TV just as we did on 9/10.  It’s a stretch, but if you pretend that the actual devastation of 9/11 was the result of a freak accident, it would have been a relatively small blip on the screen of history.

While it is clear that a “post-Jericho” world would be a very different world, what does a “post-9/11” world really mean?  I don’t want to downplay 9/11, but considering the possibilities that are out there that could really change our world, perhaps we are giving the phrase too much weight.  In reality, we may be giving al Qaeda what they wanted as well.

BTW- In case you’re curious as to what inspired this post, I’d have to say that it was the literally the back of a  DVD jewel case (the Running Man DVD contains a special feature entitled “Lockdown on Main Street” – Documentary about the current state of privacy and criminal issues in a post 9/11 society).  What can I say?  It got me thinking.  I’m weird that way.

And an important exit question:  What does George Bush really mean when he refers to “the lessons of  9/11”?  Is it merely an exploitation of the fear associated with the tragedy? 

Also, for a little background see: My Thoughts On 9/11 And Iraq

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Lefty Blog Of The Week: Sadly, No!

July 27, 2007

I’ve featured a few righty blogs in my “blog of the week” style posts, but never a lefty one.  So, in the spirit of objectivity and fairness, I’ve decided to highlight one that I feel deserves a link from my blog:

Sadly, No!

Congrats gang, you make me laugh.  Out loud sometimes even. For real.

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Adventures In Manufactured Controversies

July 26, 2007

I hang out on blogs on all sides of the political spectrum, and I usually follow the stories that generate a lot of buzz pretty closely.  Usually.  One exception has been all this controversy in the rightosphere over this soldier who posted diaries over on The New Republic under a pseudonym (Scott Thomas).  Why?  Because it’s a war, and ugly things happen in war.  I don’t think that you have to actually be fighting in one to know that even the people who you like to think of as the “good guys” are going to do some nasty things.  It seems pretty intuitive to me, really.   The rightys, however, just didn’t want to believe what this guy was writing, or that he was even a real soldier in Iraq.  I don’t know how many hours were collectively spent by bloggers over there who were trying to get to the bottom of this (wherever it might lead), but I’m sure that number would be staggering.  Well, today, Mr. ‘Scott Thomas’, stepped forward, and it turns out that…wait for it…he’s real. 

Andrew Sullivan sums up the reasoning behind this phenomenon pretty well:

It combines all the usual Weimar themes out there: treasonous MSM journalists, treasonous soldiers, stories of atrocities that undermine morale (regardless of whether they’re true or not), and blanket ideological denial. We have to understand that some people still do not believe that the U.S. is torturing or has tortured detainees, still do not believe that torture or murder or rape occurred at Abu Ghraib, still believe that everyone at Gitmo is a dangerous terrorist captured by US forces, and still believe we’re winning in Iraq. If you believe all this and face the mountains of evidence against you, you have to act ever more decisively and emphatically to refute any evidence that might undermine this worldview.

I’m not going to link directly to all the head-popping reaction;  instead, I’ll just leave links to the memeorandum tabs so that if you really want to dive into this whole thing, I have it here for the record…

That should capture it.  Prepare to be dazzled!

On second thought, I will link to a thread over at Hot Air from last week that appears to have kicked off the entire pathetic affair.  You see, Bryan the armchair commando had set his ‘BS detector’ on low and figured he had snuffed some out because he’s an expert on Glocks in Iraq.  Or something.  His conclusion:

“Scott Thomas” is bogus. He’s a fraud. He might be Clifton Hicks, he might be someone else, but whoever he is, it’s become clear that he has an eye for made-up detail but doesn’t know much about reality.

The New Republic will have to out “Scott Thomas” in order to protect its own credibility. It’s that simple.

Anyway, I guess my point is that when you agree to a war, you’re agreeing to war in all it’s ugliness.  All the stories of massacres and torture, all the propaganda and spin…all of it should be expected.  It’s war.  This expectation was one of the reasons I was against the invasion of Iraq from the very beginning.  So I guess that’s why I’ve been so indifferent towards this ‘Scott Thomas’ thing.  Oh well…the saga continues.

Update:  Uh Oh….ad hominem time…Scott Thomas’ stories can’t be true because…because…he’s married to a TNR staffer

Thanks to Liberrocky for nailing down confirmation of the marriage/engagement angle. I was up half the night googling that.

This is amazing.  Let me know when you find out if the stories are true or not, OK guys?  Get on a plane, go to Iraq, and verify them.  Or, how about a thread on the story that we seem to have an administration that can’t tell the truth? 

One final thought.

I have no idea whether what this guy might have written is all true, part true, or completely made up.  I don’t read TNR, and the only reason I even heard about all this is because it caused such a commotion.  In fact, I still haven’t read any of his stuff.  I guess there’s nothing wrong with doing more digging if you spot a story that you feel is fishy and holding those people’s feet to the fire.  What I’m trying to point out here is that these bloggers on the right only seem to do this type of rigorous fact-checking when the fishy story is something that contradicts their worldview. 

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How Tall Is Fred Thompson?

July 26, 2007

If you see enough pictures of Fred standing next to people, it doesn’t take too long to notice that he’s always the tallest one in the group.  But how tall is he?

tall-thompson.jpg

I did some searching, and according to Blogs For Fred Thompson, the former Senator stands 6’5″, and if elected president he would be the tallest in our nation’s history.  Does it mean anything, though?  Probably not, outside of having to raise the shower head in the White House bathroom.

Exit question:  Can he dunk?

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No Permanent Bases In Iraq – Perception Dictates Reality

July 25, 2007

The House passed a bill (H.R. 2929) today that seeks to ban permanent bases in Iraq:

The Iraq Study Group recommended that the United States clearly state that it does not seek permanent bases or to control Iraq’s oil.  In its final report, in December 2006, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group recommended that the United States clearly state that our nation does not seek permanent bases in Iraq or to control Iraq’s oil.  It did so to help shape “a positive climate for… diplomatic efforts,” which are essential to ending the U.S. presence in Iraq and bringing greater stability to the Middle East.

A clear statement that the U.S. will not have permanent bases sends a strong signal of support for full Iraqi national sovereignty – and weakens the appeal of extremists.  The perception that the United States intends to permanently occupy Iraq and is planning to control Iraq’s oil aids insurgent groups in recruiting supporters and fuels violent activity.  A clear statement that the United States will not have a permanent presence in Iraq or control of Iraq’s oil would send a strong signal to the people of Iraq and the international community that the U.S. fully supports Iraqi efforts to exercise full national sovereignty, including taking responsibility for their own security.

Even with this bill, convincing the Iraqis is going to be an uphill battle.  According to a 2006 poll:

iraq_jan06_grph1.gifAsked whether “the US government plans to have permanent military bases in Iraq or to remove all its military forces once Iraq is stabilized,” 80% overall assume that the US plans to remain permanently, including 79% of Shia, 92% of Sunnis and 67% of Kurds. Only small minorities believe that the US plans “to remove all its military forces once Iraq is stabilized” (overall 18%, Shia 21%, Sunni 7%, Kurds 28%).

It would be interesting to know how so many of them got the idea that we were there as part of some greater geopolitical strategy.  Any ideas?  Could it be because the very people who were most vocal about invading Iraq in the first place had stated a desire for “retaining forward-based forces in the region“?  Would that mean that it isn’t the Democrat’s rhetoric that’s to blame for the fierce resistance that our forces face in Iraq (as just about every righty pundit in the country wants you to believe), but rather the past rhetoric of the neocons? Or, are poll results like this just a reflection of how deep the distrust for the U.S. runs in the country? 

Update:  DownWithTyranny! has the list of Reps that voted against the bill. 

Update:  Video

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Iraq Plays Saudi Arabia For Asia Cup Final

July 25, 2007

After Iraq beat Vietnam, a few people were killed by gunfire during the celebration.  Today, the Iraqi team beat South Korea, and the jubilant soccer fans in Baghdad were treated to car bombs

On Sunday, the Iraqis will play neighboring Saudi Arabia for the championship in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Brace yourselves.

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Iraqi Insurgent Convention Postponed

July 25, 2007

There are probably hundreds of ways to spin this article, so I’ll just give it my own:  Time – Iraqi Insurgents, Together at Poolside

The convention of Iraqi insurgents was scheduled to take place Monday at the resort-like Sahara Hotel outside Damascus but, within hours of the plenary session actually starting, the Syrian government suddenly canceled the summit. However, high-level representatives of much of the Iraqi nationalist insurgency, remained at the venue informally negotiating and laying out a framework for what a post-U.S. Iraq would look like.

Late Monday evening, dozens of conference attendees — a group drawn primarily from the ranks of former military officers, Ba’athist officials, and the Sunni insurgency — gathered for a catered dinner beside the hotel’s outdoor pool. Several, including a high-ranking former military officer now overseeing Ba’athist resistance activities in his region, talked openly, if carefully, about strategy, although some asked that their names be withheld….

What types of discussions were on the agenda?

Once the majority of American troops have left, the alliance plans to throw out the constitution, dissolve the parliament, cancel all resolutions issued from the Bremer era on, and disband the existing security forces and U.S.-trained Iraqi army divisions. The U.S. embassy in Baghdad, they said, would have to close — “as in Saigon. With helicopters on the roof” said Samarai — until Washington recognized a new, resistance-led Iraqi governing council, and offered compensation to all individuals and organizations affected by the war. Under the new leadership, all Iraqi citizens who worked for or cooperated with the current, coalition-backed government would be arrested.

Of course, if you’ve been listening to Bush lately, you’d think that the blame for all our problems in Iraq can be directed toward al Qaeda.   Hey, what about al Qaeda, anyway?

Indeed, thorny organizational issues were evident. Despite the conference’s claims of national unity, attendees were overwhelmingly Sunni and mostly secular. A few smaller groups like Al Qaeda in Iraq — representing, said several delegates, a hated “foreign presence” — were not included.

In other words, this was a scheduled pow wow between Iraqis.  These aren’t people who want to attack the US, are they?  In short, they just want to run their own country their way, without American influence.  If these groups want to drive the U.S. troops out of the country and dissolve the government, certainly said government would want us to stick around and protect them, right? No? That’s weird.   All this kind of confirms what most observers already knew; the situation in Iraq is a heck of a lot more complicated than Bush would have us believe.  In fact, in reality,  it’s pretty FUBAR, and screaming “Victory!” at the top of one’s lungs isn’t going to un-FUBAR it. 

BTW- I thought I’d include another blogger’s take on the matter, since this can be so confusing:

There’s not a whole lot of common ground between “join the political process” and “dissolve the constitution”; as such, all of these guys are going to have to be killed at some point. The only question is whether the U.S. military, the IA, or the JAM will do most of the killing.

Problem solved!