OK, This Is Cool

I’ve missed the fact that Eason Jordan – of Davos and Easongate fame – has started an Iraq blog/news service – ‘Iraqslogger‘. I even like the name, since it makes it clear that Iraq is and is going to continue to be a slog, not a prance. I’ve added him to my feeds, and will watch this with some interest.

What’s cooler is that he’s offered to pay Michelle Malkin’s and Curt from Flopping Aces way to Baghdad to look for Jamail Hussein. I should have been more vocal on the issue…

The Affirmation Generation

Tim Blair leads Harry’s Place to a Swiss interview with the Editor-In-Chief of Al-Jazeera, Ahmed Sheikh.

It’s been commented on before, but note in particular this exchange:

Who is responsible for the situation?

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most important reasons why these crises and problems continue to simmer. The day when Israel was founded created the basis for our problems. The West should finally come to understand this. Everything would be much calmer if the Palestinians were given their rights.

Do you mean to say that if Israel did not exist, there would suddenly be democracy in Egypt, that the schools in Morocco would be better, that the public clinics in Jordan would function better?

I think so.

Can you please explain to me what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has to do with these problems?

The Palestinian cause is central for Arab thinking.

In the end, is it a matter of feelings of self-esteem?

Exactly. It’s because we always lose to Israel. It gnaws at the people in the Middle East that such a small country as Israel, with only about 7 million inhabitants, can defeat the Arab nation with its 350 million. That hurts our collective ego. The Palestinian problem is in the genes of every Arab. The West’s problem is that it does not understand this.

It’s impossible – or very damn close to it – to negotiate with someone who is interested more in his self-image than in any objective thing that may be achieved in the negotiation. Because no matter how the matter is settled, each party to a good settlement feels somewhat wronged.

And if that feeling of wronged-ness is the driver…well, getting to a negotiated settlement is going to be damn difficult.

There are a few difficulties there, not the least of which is that the Israelis may decline to be sacrificed on the altar of Arab male self-esteem, and may do so in a way that leaves quite a mess.

At that point, self-esteem may be the last thing Arab males have to worry about.

A Million Points Of Data

Over at the Huffington Post (yes, I do read a broad assortment of stuff, why do you ask?) journalist/writer Mona Gable – who LA Observed describes as “Gable has written for Health, Child, Salon and the Los Angeles Times, where her husband Joel Sappell is the assistant managing editor for interactive.” – has kittens when the military has the temerity to send marketing materials to her teenage son.

A few days after 11 American soldiers were killed in Iraq, I opened the mailbox to find along with the Pottery Barn holiday catalogue and other seasonal items a letter from the National Guard. Addressed to my 16-year-old son. I have no idea how they got his name and address. That’s not true.
I know perfectly well how they got it. They got it the same way Bush is getting personal information about the rest of us in the guise of fighting “the terrorists.” They tapped into some secret database and up popped my son’s name. It was right there under the category: Potential Cannon Fodder for Iraq.

I felt like I’d been sent a letter bomb in the mail.

This administration has no respect for families. It never has. Why else did Bush with the eager support of the Senate ban news photos of flag-draped coffins of soldiers coming home? Many of them as young as 18. Did they think we wouldn’t notice the rising death toll? That families who lost sons and daughters would simply view it as the regrettable cost of war? Pretend it had all been a bad dream and then carry on? Not talk about it?

And people wonder how it is that some of us worry that the media are culturally incapable of dealing with war, or with the military.

Yeah, yeah, it’s only one – more – anecdotal point of data. Sorry for reading too much into it.

Life Imitates Team America

Over at HuffPo, Alec Baldwin, (of the “Film Actors Guild”) speaks out on what’s wrong, and what we need to do about it. One of these is real, and one is a line from a puppet movie. Can you tell which is which?

Quote #1: “By following the rules of the Film Actor’s Guild, the world can become a better place; that handles dangerous people with talk, and reasoning; that, is the fag way. One day you’ll all look at the world us actors created and say, “wow, good going, fag. You really made the world a better place, didntcha, fag?” “

Quote #2: “There is an answer to this problem. There is a way to defeat terrorism while building new and better alliances in the Arab world. It will be an enormously complex and difficult diplomatic puzzle. But the first step might be oddly simple. Get rid of the CIA, which has outlived its usefulness and is an embarrassment to this great country, and rebuild and reform US intelligence capabilities to fight this new type of threat. I think our hopes must begin there.”

Post your answer in comments; no fair using IMDB. But if you want to see the film again, I’d say go for it. I think we’ll watch it again tonight.

Who Needs Empiricism, Anyway?

The fundamental basis for the success of Western society is, I believe, the rise of reproducible empiricism – the notion that assertions are provable and must be proven by others. It doesn’t matter what the King says, because every assertion must be checkable in some way – no matter what the source.

The Associated Press today announced that no such rules apply to it. From Editor & Publisher Kathleen Carroll of the AP:

Their assertions that the AP has been duped or worse are unfounded and just plain wrong.

No organization has done more to try to shed light on what happened Nov. 24 in the Hurriyah neighborhood of Baghdad than The Associated Press.

We have sent journalists to the neighborhood three different times to talk with people there about what happened. And those residents have repeatedly told us, in some detail, that Shiite militiamen dragged six Sunni worshippers from a mosque, drenched them with kerosene and burned them alive.

No one else has said they have actually gone to the neighborhood. Particularly not the individuals who have criticized our journalism with such barbed certitude.

The AP has been transparent and fair since the first day of our reporting on this issue.

We have not ignored the questions about our work raised by the U.S. military and later, by the Iraqi Interior Ministry. Indeed, we published those questions while also sending AP journalists back out to the scene to dig further into what happened and why others might be questioning the initial accounts.

The AP mission was to get at the facts, wherever those facts took us.

What we found were more witnesses who described the attack in particular detail as well as describing the fear that runs through the neighborhood. We ran a lengthy story on those additional findings, as well as the questions, on Nov. 28.

Some of AP’s critics question the existence of police Capt. Jamil Hussein, who was one (but not the only) source to tell us about the burning.

These critics cite a U.S. military officer and an Iraqi official who first said Hussein is not an authorized spokesman and later said he is not on their list of Interior Ministry employees. It’s worth noting that such lists are relatively recent creations of the fledgling Iraqi government.

By contrast, Hussein is well known to AP. We first met him, in uniform, in a police station, some two years ago. We have talked with him a number of times since then and he has been a reliable source of accurate information on a variety of events in Baghdad.

No one – not a single person – raised questions about Hussein’s accuracy or his very existence in all that time. Those questions were raised only after he was quoted by name describing a terrible attack in a neighborhood that U.S. and Iraqi forces have struggled to make safe.

Simple question, Ms. Caroll. What’s his phone number? Because “We’ve checked, and yes – we’re right.” isn’t an acceptable answer.


Mickey Kaus causes my world to crumble.

**–I’m looking for the opposite of shrill and bombastic here. [Update: Reader S.K. suggests “‘The Dude’ from ‘The Big Lebowski.'” Having never seen The Big Lebowski, I don’t know if he’s on target.]

I thought everyone had seen the Big Lebowski…

Mickey? Lebowskifest next year?

Voting Tech

Oh, you thought this was about Diebold?

You can click on the ‘Best Weblogs’ logo on the upper left and go vote for the weblog of your choice (WindsofChange.NET for best Centrist Blog) in a large group of interesting categories (WindsofChange.NET for best Centrist Blog) that offer you a number of interesting alternatives in each (WindsofChange.NET for best Centrist Blog).

Oh, and if you think about it, vote for us for Best Centrist Blog…