Wednesday, September 27, 2006

On The Road

Blogspot seems to be having issues at the moment, so I don't know if this post will go through.

I'm on the road with little chance for internet access until this weekend, so no posts or updates until then.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Lack Of Real Journalism From Iraq

One of the criticisms of news via blog versus the mainstream media is the lack of "on the ground" reporting from blogs. From the Rathergate scandal, a reference was made to bloggers as "guys in pajamas" in an attempt to conjure a Monday-morning quarterback image.

For some issues, though, it doesn't seem that the mainstream media does much better. There is an interesting post on Strategy Page about the lack of imbedded reporters in Iraq. The article notes:
Most journalists are in the Green Zone, or some well-guarded hotel. There, they depend on Iraqi stringers to gather information, and take pictures for them. In reality, these reporters could do this from back home, and many more media organizations are doing just that.

Nothing new about using local stringers in dangerous areas. It's common sense, given that the bad guys are in the habit of kidnapping, or just killing, foreign reporters. The problem is, the pool of available Iraqi talent is mostly Sunni Arab. Many of these folks side with the bad guys. And all Iraqi journalists, especially those working for foreigners, are subject to intimidation, or bribery. While some of the foreign reporters may be aware of all this, some aren't, and many of the rest don't care. The truth won't set them free, but supplying stories their editors are looking for, will.
I find the lack of priority to be appalling. I was shocked to learn that there are only 9 imbedded reporters (hat tip Instapundit) currently in Iraq.
Here’s the chart (CLICK HERE TO VIEW) showing who the nine embedded reporters were covering all of Iraq on 9/19/2006. You’ll see that of those 9 reporters, 3 were from the Armed Forces’ Stars & Stripes, 1 from AFN (Armed Force Network), 1 from the Charlotte Observer, 1 from the BBC, 1 from the AP, 1 from RAI, and 1 from Polish Radio. All the rest of the “coverage” of the Iraq war on that day came from reporters hunkered down in the hotels and other locations under the rubric “Baghdad News Bureaus.”
Only one AP reporter? Almost half of the embedded reporters are from military newspapers?

The next time you read a doom-and-gloom article about how bad things are in Iraq, realize that the person writing it doesn't do so with first-hand knowledge. Is that really reporting?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Lunacy At The UN

That busy schedule is intervening, preventing me from blogging about recent happenings at the UN as much as I'd like. But I wanted to at least publish these links--because if you've been getting your news from the MSM, you probably missed some if not all of this.

First up, we have Iranian President Ahmadinejad who spoke at the UN to bemoan the influence of the United States worldwide. What you probably didn't know is that 35,000 or so people gathered to protest his speech. Read about it here (hattip Instapundit) and here. Why was this protest not covered by national media? A few thousand protest President Bush or the war in Iraq and it gets round the clock coverage on CNN. Ten times that show up outside the UN to protest Ahmadinejad and the only coverage is from a few local NY newspapers.

Next up we have Hugo Chavez's speech at the UN, where he called George Bush "the devil". I was worried that while some thought (again from Instapundit) the speech revealed some of the huge problems with the UN, others would just nod their head and agree. Sadly the White House response was considered weak by many; for and example, see The Corner via Wizbangblog.

I was glad to see that Chavez's comments were so ridiculous that Pelosi and Rangel even came to the defense of the President. This reaction from two outspoken critics of Bush revealed to me just how out of step the liberal blogosphere ala Kos and the DU are from American society. It wouldn't take much searching to find prominent liberal blogs praising Chavez's speech. While I'm sure that brings a warm fuzzy feeling to their readers, Pelosi's and Rangel's reactions show just how unmarketable that view is, politically.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Battle For Freedom

I'll admit that the picture below is a strange place to see a sign of hope, but that's what stuck me when I saw it. The picture is from an editorial at written yesterday (9/18/2006) but I believe the photo was actually taken back in February of this year, during the infamous cartoon riots in the Muslim world.

I think what is so telling in the photo is the use of the word freedom. Note that it isn't America or George Bush or Jews but freedom. Often times in speeches by President Bush, the war on terror is likened to a battle for freedom and for western civilization as we know it. Such analogies are just as often derided as fear mongering; the supposition being that the President is using fear to justify his agenda around the globe.

But this photo says that (at least one) of the terrorists get it--provocative thoughts such as freedom are their true enemies. And while I have my doubts as to the chances of success for any particular policy, I don't have my doubts of the pervasive nature of ideas such as liberty and freedom. If the terrorists truly mean to defeat the idea people are allowed to live free, then they have already lost.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Islamic Extremists' Rage-o-meter

The yellow-orange-red threat level of the Department of Homeland Security has been the subject of a number of jokes and parodies. I can't say that it isn't deserving of them in some cases. But a blog with the interesting name Wuzzadem has taken the parody in a different direction.

(Hattip: Michele Malkin)

I'll admit the joke at first glance just seems silly. But the truth behind it is compelling. How many different events or statements or actions have resulted in worldwide riots with people, as the joke suggests, in a murderous rage? It has gotten to the point where it doesn't even register to me anymore. Threats of beheadings in the news? Well of course there are.

What I find most frightening is the thought that some believe if we were just to leave them alone, their murderous rage would subside.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Lesson Of The Day: Don't Make Ann Althouse Angry

Ann Althouse's always thoughtful, sometimes whimsical blog took a decidedly different turn today.

Remind me never to get on her bad side. (Though I think I'm safe in this case; I agree with her completely.)

It's Election Season -- Time For The Biased Polls

Next to media bias, another issue I just can't let go is the business of biased polls. Everyone has heard the expression "there are lies, damn lies, and statistics." Well poll results are "politically-motivated statistics" so you can just imagine the manipulation that happens behind the scenes.

The worst polls are one's that don't reveal their internals. Such polls are completely meaningless but sadly get press all the time. In other cases, polls are published with their internals. This at least lets the poll be evaluated and examined by people who care to do such things. Again sadly it doesn't stop the quick-glance headline from giving misleading information.

As an example, take this poll by SurveyUSA concerning the Missouri Senate race between Talent and McCaskill. The poll results show the race in a statistical tie and allow the article to begin:
It continues to be one of the hottest, if not the hottest, Senate races in the country.
However, Alexander McClure of takes a look at the internals of this poll and discovers that Democrats have been drastically overrepresented (at the expense of Independents for the most part). Adjust the results for percentages from 2004 exit polls and Talent is ahead 51% to 44%.

Now, the truth probably lies somewhere in between. This is just one more case where some information is worse than no information. The average person doesn't have the time nor the background in statistics to care about the internals of polls. They read "race tied" and move on. One can only imagine how that affects their behavior on election day.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

CNN Won't Give Up On Plame Case

Have you been following the Plame case? If so I feel sorry for you. I tried several times to read up on it over the last--what has it been? months? years? feels like decades and I found myself too bored to really understand the details of what was being claimed and who was claiming it.

I did catch the gist of it, though. To the many in the giddy media it appeared that Karl Rove finally got caught doing something illegal and was going to be forced out of Washington. Of course, now the real person behind the leak has come forward and it wasn't Rove at all, it was Richard Armitage of the CIA. If I understand correctly, Armitage is actually a well-known opponent of Bush/Rove and thus the story has quickly fallen from the front pages of all the major media outlets.

But today I noted a CNN front-page headline that struck me as odd. The headline of the actual article is fine, "Outed CIA agent Plame adds Armitage to lawsuit." But the headline on the front page was different:

Notice that the headline (3rd from the top) doesn't mention Armitage by name. Instead we see the term 'admitted leaker'. Why? When Rove was the prime suspect we saw his name repeated ad nauseum on the front page.

This is actually something I've noticed on for a while now. The tag line on the front page doesn't match the headline of the actual article. Just one more way to affect and change the first impression people get when glancing at the top stories of the moment. It would be interesting to study the difference between tag line and headline to see if a consistent bias could be found.

Attack On U.S. Embassy In Syria Staged?

There is now speculation that the attack on the U.S. embassy in Syria was staged. I've looked for other sources that support this claim but haven't been able to find any yet. What a story if it turns out to be true.

And if it was staged, the effort certainly accomplished one of its objectives.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Analysis Of Bush's 9/11 Anniversary Speech

Update: This old post is (for obvious reasons) popping up on Google searches today. It is now two years later. Back to blogging tomorrow. End update.

One thing I love about the blogosphere is that sometimes you plan on writing on some topic only to find someone more eloquent has already done your work for you. I was doubly pleased to find that Ann Althouse had done so not once, but twice.

The first of her post deals with an analysis of Keith Olbermann's rant against President Bush. She does a fine job ripping the poor speech writing to shreads. About the only thing I would have done differently would have been to quote Olbermann less--he doesn't deserve to have his rants receive more press. How far has Olbermann fallen? It makes me truly sad.

The second post deals with a direct analysis of President Bush's 9/11 anniversary speech. (Here we learn Olbermann's "reaction" was written before hearing the speech which makes his disdain all the more laughable.) In the end, I agree with Althouse's conclusion:
We must "work together to meet the test that history has given us." Note the passivity. I didn't choose this, history made me do it. And since it's history, you need to get in line, get serious. There's a core of that that I absolutely agree with. We're in a war, so we need to concentrate on winning, and you should only want to do the things that help. But I don't think the assertions here are going to convince anyone, and he's given his critics new material. They are going to resent and resist the demand that we perceive ourselves as caught up in a massive, historical ideological struggle.
Sadly, I think she is spot on with this analysis. The people who hate Bush have already made up their mind and either didn't listen to the speech or only listened to find ammunition for the next round of rhetoric. The people who support him might agree with what he said but be rather bored with hearing it all again.

Anti-Americanism Is Nothing New

Last night I decided to watch the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, just to see what his show would be like on the anniversary of 9/11. (For some reason I am more interested in the way that comedic entertainers such as Stewart and Leno handle the 9/11 anniversary than I am with dedicated news programs. I suppose it is because their task is harder--trying to make us laugh while at the same time being respectful.) All in all, it was a fine show. The monologue was subdued but typical, with a brief mention of 9/11 at the beginning. His now famous headlines bit was as entertaining as ever. And the choice of his three guests (James Woods, Charlie Rose, and the "singing cop" Daniel Rodriguez) was very appropriate.

One thing did catch my attention, however. While interviewing Charlie Rose, the two remembered how a French newspaper ran with the headline, "Today we are all Americans," or something similar the day after 9/11. Leno asked Rose what had happened to that feeling worldwide. Rose answered immediately, "Iraq happened."


It is such a seductive line that I fear so many accept it without thinking about it. But the truth is the feeling that "America is the problem" was commonplace worldwide long before the second Iraq war and long before 9/11.

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit agrees, linking to an editorial by Anne Applebaum in the UK. Anne writes:
The dislike of America, the hatred for what it was believed to stand for – capitalism, globalisation, militarism, Zionism, Hollywood or McDonald's, depending on your point of view – was well entrenched. To put it differently, the scorn now widely felt in Britain and across Europe for America's "war on terrorism" actually preceded the "war on terrorism" itself. It was already there on September 12 and 13, right out in the open for everyone to see.
One could argue that while anti-American sentiment existed before the second Iraq war, the decision by Bush to remove Saddam Hussein from power increased that sentiment. There is of course some truth to that and the degree to which that occurred and whether the cost was worth it is a matter of interesting debate.

But for many that isn't enough. Bush wasn't just a small part of a bigger problem--he has to be the entire cause. Everything has to have been rosy and bright before he came along. It is a ridiculous assertion but all too often with Bush detractors the ridiculous is the path of choice.

Monday, September 11, 2006


While I was planning on getting back to blogging "someday", I didn't have any specific plans to do so on the five-year anniversary of 9/11. What could I add to the mountains of media that are available, both mainstream and on blogs? What more could be said?

Despite that and despite having a horribly busy schedule that should preclude checking in on all my favorite blogs to see what they had to say today, I found myself compelled to do so anyway. I could list and link them all here, but again I'm not sure what purpose that would serve.

Then I happened to check in on a blog I haven't read in a while, The Anchoress. She has a post today that links a video by John Stewart from his first Daily Show after 9/11/2001. If you do nothing else to remember today, perhaps because remembering is still too painful, try to make it through this 8 minute, 52 second clip. I was glad I did.

Remember the innocent people that died that day. This site might be slow, but each of the 2996 victims has been matched to a blogger that volunteered. You can follow the link on any individual person to learn a little more about them. Obviously that's too many links to follow, too many stories to read. And, sadly, I suppose that's the point.