Thursday, April 17, 2003

FRANK TALK: Almost as an afterthought, Slate's Today's Papers mentions that Gen. Tommy Franks — currently conducting an on-site inspection of Hussein's Baghdad properties — proposed a new name for the U.N.'s oil-for-food program when confronted with the splendor of Saddam's abode: "It was an oil-for-palace program."

WE LOVE THE AMERICAN MISINFORMATION MINISTER: Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, "Baghdad Ted" Rall insists that we've "lost the war."

This Administration's policy of perpetual war has become a case study in entropy, the distinctly pessimistic notion that no matter how bad things get we can figure out a way to make them worse. Entropy triumphed in Afghanistan, as the world's worst regime was replaced by dozens of thuggish warlords. The end of Saddam Hussein comes as welcome news, even if it's merely the accidental byproduct of a barely-disguised oil grab. But as Iraq's cities burn and its patrimony is hustled off into the black market and its women wail and the rape gangs rule the night, it's hard to escape the conclusion that we've lost this war as well.

Every now and then, I come across some remark that makes my eyes roll so far skyward that they threaten to knock the Hubble Telescope out of orbit. When I lose the will to respond in such cases, I'm always grateful when someone else volunteers to do a little of the heavy lifting. Here's Command Post's Michele, writing for her regular blog, A Small Victory:
There is a fine line between idiocy and insanity and Ted Rall just crossed it.

Mr. Rall has finally fallen victim to his own propaganda. He has fallen hook, line and sinker for the conspiracy theories and misinformation of the left, making Baghdad Bob look like a man of reason in comparison.

He has fallen for photoshopped photos and grand schemes to play down the liberation of the Iraqi people. He is another in a long line of lefties who think the price of lost museum pieces was not worth the liberation at all.
It is Rall and his compatriots on the left that have lost, and now they are grasping at straws to find any way to at least place or show, if not forge lies and innuendos to make it seem as if they won.

It's great that you believe your own distorted stories, Ted. But if you keep pointing to photoshopped pictures and outright lies as the truth, I am going to have to doubt that you really slept with all those women.

VIVA LA SIGNAGE! This page doesn't link to Jim Treacher often enough. Consider that sin of omission rectified. Here's a sign Jim is looking forward to seeing at a real protest rally any day now:

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

WORDS MATTER: Haven't been watching The News Hour regularly in a good long while — and here's a perfect example of why I've come to loathe PBS's timid excuse for a nightly news program:

I happened to catch the first couple of minutes of tonight's news summary on the radio rebroadcast, during which Jim Lehrer briefly reported — with an earnest expression, I'm sure — that US forces had captured "accused terrorist" Abu Abbas.

(Then he swiftly moved on to all the other stories which he considered worthy of more than 30 seconds of air time — such as, for example, the dire peacetime quagmire from which Afghanistan is presently struggling to extricate itself from. Didn't even mention Abu again in the summary wrap-up at the end of the program.)

I know, I know. Words matter. You can't just go around libeling public figures by calling them terrorists — at least, not without some sort of indemnifying qualification. Due process and all. Innocent until proven guilty. Journalism ethics. Mustn't rush to judgment after only 18 years.

Jim, Jimbo, Jimmy-boy — hello! Wake up! Open those little round dots of India ink you call eyes!

Abu Abbas was tried and convicted in absentia. He was actually found guilty in a court of law. If that gives him insufficient standing to be described as a terrorist without qualification, then just call him a convicted murderer and be done with it.

Now, while you were dancing this little semantic jig, here's the story you missed, Jim:

The capture of the 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking mastermind is a huge and unexpected dividend of the Iraq war, which serves two purposes: (1) It squarely puts the lie to oft-heard opposition claims that Hussein's Iraq was not demonstrably linked to Islaminazi terrorism and therefore not a threat to American interests — that, along with all of these well-documented instances which defy any other rational conclusion. (2) It puts the rest of Arabia on notice: Give terrorists safe quarter at your extreme peril. America will do whatever it has to do — at our convenience, "at a time of our choosing," to bring these monsters to justice.

(Thanks to Michael Totten for the heads-up on Sean LaFreniere's exhaustively researched compendium of Iraqi terror connections.)

UPDATE I: Naturally, NPR couldn't even bear to describe the old man as a bona fide terrorist, either. In the All Things Considered Bizarro universe, there is no such thing. Instead, they describe him as a Palestinian militant who was accused of Leon Klinghoffer's murder. This is what I'm paying taxes for?

UPDATE II: As bad as our domestic taxpayer-supported media can be, the Beeb is invariably worse. Andrew Sullivan tears himself away from a weeklong hiatus to note that "this passage from the BBC about Abu Abbas simply defies belief. No use of the term 'terrorist,' of course."
A wanted Palestinian fugitive, Abu Abbas, has been detained by US forces in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. He led the Palestinian Liberation Front, which hijacked a US cruise ship, the Achille Lauro, in 1985. During the hijack, an elderly American passenger died.

Which, of course, begs the question: Of what? Old age? The deliberate use of active voice ("died") rather than passive ("was killed") makes it sound as if the wheelchair-bound Klinghoffer may well have tragically fallen victim to his own clumsiness. Fell overboard when he slipped on a banana peel, perhaps?

UPDATE III: Someone at the BBC was apparently shamed into a minor online rewrite. The offending passage has now been changed to read: "Klinghoffer was killed during the hijacking of the Achille Lauro, and his body thrown into the sea." Better late than never, mates.

GIVE UNTIL IT HURTS! The "National Network to End the War Against Iraq" is still soliciting donations! You'd think they'd be delighted to declare victory and go home -- but no, these people still want your money. One might almost suspect that their real purpose is to perpetuate the organization rather than accomplishing any actual goals...

Among this organization's many embarrassing, obsolete and disproven claims, the NNEWAI also schemes to part the ill-informed from their money with the following urgent plea:
We call for the banning of depleted uranium munitions, and a complete clean up operation of the battlefield in southern Iraq, where radioactive debris from close to a million rounds of depleted uranium weapons fired during the Gulf Conflict and after has been associated with an epidemic of cancer, leukemia and congenital birth defects among not only Iraqis but also US veterans who fought in the Gulf Conflict.

And while we're at it, why not also rail against cuts and infections from discarded, broken bottles and cans -- which represent an even greater hazard to Iraqi civilians and US veterans alike?

Come on, folks -- can't we finally dispense with this "depleted uranium" boogeyman, once and for all? As Steven Den Beste explained awhile back, "You would increase your exposure to radiation far more by moving to a new home 100 feet up a hill than by living next to a 1 ton block of U-238." (He went on to explain the science of radiation, in easily comprehensible layman's language, here and here.)

Another debunking of the depleted uranium myth can be found here.

Depleted uranium -- stop it, you guys -- you're killing me!