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A blog of music reviews, movie reviews, politics that try to be but fail to be wingless, and assorted stuff. T'anks for reading. RSVP: regularsnipehunter@juno.com.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Car/School In My Passway.

My '84 Toyota Corolla and my '04 class has taken up too much of my mind this weekend to
allow for much blogging. Nothing like perpetual emission testing
failure and a failure to test out of a computer-basics class for mild
but persistant irritation.

Dicks for a dictator.

The following is a rant:

On the Bill O'Reilly show this afternoon, a caller who wanted to argue
the sheer wrongness of the Iraq War hit BO'R with a phrase I haven't
heard in months - "two wrongs don't make a right." Yeah.

Well, of course...I disagree. I believe that the set-up for Hussein
prior to March 2003 was an example of the ineffectuality of one right
action too few. Wait...make that zero right actions. Too many
leaders on the face of the earth behaved as dicks for a dictator.
A better term would be hard to find, combining as this one does the
priapic urgency of greed among the leaders of the 52 nations (thus far)
named in the Oil-for-Food scandal with the simple screwing that these UN
members-in-good-standing helped Hussein give his own people. Every
one of those businessmen and politicians played the sixty-minute man
with Iraq over the last seven years or so. And no one on the antiwar
side can think of any better response than that we shouldn't have messed
with the big fish.

Maybe some people learned to admire the Hussein admin's resourcefulness. After
all, Clinton shelled Hussein's weaponry and even his soldiers over the
course of his two administrations. But after '96 or so, so what? The
main man stayed in power. Between his murderous treatment of his own
people and his way with the UN, Hussein stayed in the red and
in the black simultaneously. The 52 world leaders and businessmen made
public (thus far) by ABC News helped too many oil vendors - the round
figure so far is 600, not even connected to Halliburton - profit from misery.
The Oil-for-Food program didn't even get a chance to be a good program gone
wrong. Shortly after its' start,
UN Resolution 661 was just a good idea turned to evil purposes, permitting Iraqi 'veep' Ramadan to demonstrate some kinda nerve. now and then.


The wrong thing was to let these circumstances continue. Trying to end
the miserable moral stalemate over Iraq was either the right thing, or
one wrong thing fewer.

There. I feel much better now.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Music That'll Knock You Out! Part I

Transitions 2 - Music To Help Baby Sleep

Produced by Dr. Fred J. Schwartz MD
Synthesized by Joe and Burt Wolff
Oohing and ahhing by Susan Marriott

Transitions 2 - Music To Help Baby Sleep was released in 1990 on the Placenta Label out of Atlanta. It's one of those true underground recordings, in an underground genre that no one cares about enough to deny or acknowledge its' existence, but nonetheless exists: scientifically designed muzak. Designed mostly for babies, to help them sleep, or so they say. It certainly works on me, and it worked on the only daddy who's heard it so far - my brother Allen. Son James bopped around as usual, or so it seemed upon his dad waking up.

The first sound you hear is an undulating - yes, undulating - 'whoosh', taken from an ultrasound recording of a mother's heartbeat. This sound is alleged to suggest to the baby the comfort and security of mother's womb, through which her heartbeat resounds into embryonic ears. A few seconds into this sonic amniotic -effect tonic, the Wolff brothers' synthesizers enter on a single high, soft flute note that leads into chords that seem composed of circles of fifths fleshed out with octaves - notes A and E , for instance, then perhaps F and C, stuff like that. Then Susan Marriott overdubs the vocal equivalent of that high flute note until the fade.

This music is based on the kind of therapeutic concepts that are harmless at face value, until you try to pinpoint just how the MD's conclusion was arrived at. That won't stop the development of a whole sub-genre of art for infants. We won't know for years the effects that shows like Teletubbies and Boombah are having on infants, a target demographic that goes from crowning up to 2 years old. I haven't seen Boombah, but if it makes as much sense of the world as Teletubbies this generation of infants won't need psychotropic nuthin' for their foreseeable future.

Likewise, I wonder what kind of research can determine what infants respond to musically in any broad fashion. Drugs, alcohol, cigarette addictions and taste for sugar we can know. Musical tastes, especially in music that claims to be built around a scientific concept, remain a mysterious acquisition in infancy. Or else they just don't acquire it and infant sleepy-time music is just muzak with a ad pitch capable of getting adults to take it seriously. Advertise it as 'Transitions 2 - Music To Help Baby Sleep - a placebo from Placenta'.

I'll take it seriously for a graf. The closest idea that makes sense of this particular musical concept is that infants respond positively to symbolism, to anything that builds a gradual recollection of a safe, supportive, floating world. The heartbeat starts things nicely. Mariott's cooing would correspond to exactly that kind of sound the baby might hear in the womb, though it's coming from the crowd outside the safety zone. The Wolffs' synthesizers represent…er…they represent…umm…they just represent. Maybe because a heartbeat and a long cooing would get dull. Since excitement isn't the point, maybe the people who put 'Transitions' together distinguish between dull and lull. I do.

But hey, I'm a grown-up. So I continue to put it on and zzzzzzzz...

Whatever happened to this underground, I wonder?
It's Coolsville, Daddy-O! If only for a day or so!

Better read this little story about Falluja before it's dunked into Yahoo's archives or until the situation changes tomorrow. Whichever comes first.

A moderate Muslim reformation…

… could start here.
This is the second op-ed by a Muslim woman to appear in a big New York paper in the last three weeks; the last one appeared in the New York Times week before last. Apparently any reformation in Islam will be left to women. How many of Manji's ideas have appeared in the op-eds of others over the years? I feel certain about saying this - the context and urgency are here as never before for these women.

N.b.: according to Manji, the Koran is not arranged in chronological order, but by the size of verses, large to small. So unless Alain Robbe-Grille was introducing zero-degree writing as the Prophet's scribe, the Koran isn't a narrative after all. Whoulda thunk it?

Soft-drink I Ching.

Pepsi-Cola man.
Coca-Cola woman.
Distance.

On the searing press coverage of discovery of small quantities of WMDs.

We have some tough journalists, tough enough jeer that
'if the chemicals had degraded, no major threat' of a toxin like sarin. But not tough enough to admit that the distinction between 'none' and 'some' is as crucial regarding WMDs as it is regarding the Abu Ghraib abuses. Some soldiers committed abuses on some prisoners - and despite the military trials to come, the sum remains 'some'. The military in Iraq is still held to be disgraced as a whole.

On the other hand, discoveries of some amounts of WMD toxin dating from the first Kay report last January to this week's sarin-laden IED are held by much of the press to be pretty lame,
as this op-ed observes.. Now, technically, the NY Times is right to suggest that the 155mm shell is a 'leftover' from Hussein's article, because nowadays any WMD discovered in Iraq would be a 'leftover' from Hussein's arsenal. But all that crap was supposed to have been destroyed, and as Hans Blix himself told Time Magazine just days before the war, Iraq had no excuses for messing up their records - they had one of the best bureaucracies around.

A little literary license for what follows:

You get the feeling that some of these NYT writers say stuff like "Three quarts of sarin? That's all?!" The newsroomies smile among themselves, swiveling back and forth in their ergonomic chairs, waiting 'til the Office Wit finally comes through with: "I could powder my baby's butt and my wife's nose with three lousy quarts of sarin!" Laughter finally explodes. 'Yo!' a voice calls out to the OW. 'You sure three quarts could powder your big ass too!?' The laughter freezes for a moment. Then the OW doubles over with laughter, points at his ass and nods. Laughter resumes. Pizzas are ordered, to be sent to the White House.

License recinded. I'm sure that the anthrax reportage from 2001 to last year now seems a little panic-stricken to the papers these days. So the skepticism re: the Bush admin's reportage on WMDs isn't without good reason. But a simple unwillingness to grant three quarts-to-a-gallon's worth of sarin its' toxic nature is.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

On the Massachusetts Marriage deal.

Being straight and single, this is sort of a non-issue for me. There's nothing I can gain from the passage or the non-passage of a gay marriage-rights act. There's nothing for me to lose from the passage or the non-passage of such an act. So the tipping point for me is that some people I know may have a chance at future happiness. Congratulations.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Scrap Skin

I might change my mind, but I haven't yet watched the Nick Berg video because the picture of a bearded young man sitting cross-legged in front of a wall of hooded, armed men behind him was quite enough. Further viewing will tell me nothing about Al Qaeda that I couldn't have guessed from Daniel Pearl's death in 2002. Nor would it tell me anything new about the Islamofascist governments that run large parts of the Middle East. Public punishments, at times including beheadings and limb amputations, have been a part of the penal system in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran for years.

A few years back, before 9/11 even, some photos appeared on the 'Net - I can't recall what source - of people in Iraq who'd had limbs cut off. Thieves, I guess, plus adulterers, plus maybe even a few people who held forth about Hussein et al after getting too much caffeine in a café. To tell the truth, the people themselves didn't really stay in my mind. It was the photos of bundles I recall - groups of stiff, pasty hands reaching for the camera, several feet clumped together like a bunch of bananas. As my disbelief faded, the bundles finally took their place in my mind as what they were. The post-punishment collection of amputated limbs.

Generalized Abrasion.

Yesterday, an essay by Andrew Sullivan on the potential of reversing anti-Americanism in the Middle East ended with this thought:

"But no one enjoys being occupied and no one enjoys being reminded that they were unable to liberate themselves. Useful to remember about our current problems. Useful to remember, also, about the French."

I agree. The French-bashing was irresistable in the couple of months before the Iraq War. But as the UN Trompe-L'Oeil-For-Food scandal plays out further and further from the general consciousness of the Western press and left for us war-supportive partisans to keep track of, somehow this has affected how I think about the French (with at least two big-shot names represented in OfF paperwork).

Namely, I think of how the generation of Americans, British, and Russians that fought the Fuhrer, the Emperor and Il Duce is fading away, as are the generation of Germans, Japanese, and Italians that fought for them or supported them in other ways. At the same time, the generations of French people that were liberated are dying off as well, including members of the Resistance. The later generations got sick of hearing about heroism here and greatness there in people they can perfectly well see as flawed and rather grandiose. They were sick of hearing about the Americans, the British, their own Resistance heroes, etc. Just plain sick of their implied inferiority.

This is understandable, but the attrition of the World War II generations now encourages people to take their freedoms utterly for granted, as if there were no natural enemies of social and political liberalism but spoilsports inside their countrys' borders. Maybe we ought to be able to feel just that at ease with our freedoms of speech, assembly, like that. But each of these generations must accept that for the most part, there's always some clown or clowns out there who really are offended by what we take for granted. This acceptance will probably always be acquired the hard way.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Not amazing enough for print!

But I can't resist. This is The Nation's Eric Alterman inadvertantly stumbling across a Bush-supportive angle hidden within a Bush-critical article.
Here's the link.

If this story breaks beyond MSNBC, two things:
1) The Bush admin's need to be proven right may have seriously blinded them from taking care of some important business. Again.
2) The more rabid war opponents have staked an awful lot on calling out Bush et al with words like 'lie' and 'liar', words that don't leave much of an intellectual out if they're proven wrong. Isn't it an intellectual act to keep close at hand the possibility that you could just be wrong when insulting someone publicly?

Apropo of nothing…

Every now and then, I marvel over the fact that I have lived 43 years with absolutely no idea what it's like to have only one source of news info available to me. I only know the feeling of choosing to settle on a few sources for a while, until I get tired of them and move on.

Fallujah and Najaf compressions.

I've let events in Fallujah and Nasra go without commenting on them because not one single article I read on the al-Sadr vs. the Marines told me anything conclusive. Frankly, I became a little dizzy. But a conclusion there will be, and it looks like it'll go the Coalition's way (thanks www.Instapundit.com, where I found this link). In the aftermath, the insurgency will present nothing the world hasn't heard a lot of and seen some of in the Islamofascist world, even before our entry into Afghanistan: more overreaching rhetoric from one source or another, more overreaching violence. The only twist the insurgency can make is to be caught out with some kind of bio-/chem/nuke/all-of-the-above weaponry like their compatriots in Jordan .

Both very forgiving and very divide-and-conquer of the US to offer to hire al-Sadr's militiamen as part of the Iraqi security force.

Abu Ghraib photos and upcoming trial.

The soldiers who performed the acts in the photos and videos have been arrested, and they 'll be tried in Iraq . As the tribunal system begins its' work, I wonder what the victims of these abuses will think of seeing an American military prosecutor taking their side in a courtroom, and perhaps treating these soldiers with hostility? I look forward to finding out.

One more thing about the prison system in Iraq, though. Maybe the responsible bureaucrats are already doing this, I don't know, but it'd be a good idea to begin sorting through the detainees in the whole system, find out who's there as a combatant, for criminal activity, or that category called 'no one can remember why.' Separate violent from non-violent offenders. Release any prisoner held without a specific charge. If they're later met on the field of combat - it could happen - c'est la vie?

All anger isn't the same.

Stephen Green at Vodka Pundit queries the antiwar crew(s) about their outrage over Abu Ghraib. My question is simpler: when will they get around to dealing with the UN's Oil-for-Food scam? It will be a longer-running show. If you're gonna hold the US to the UN's standards, make sure we can bend this low?

Monday, May 10, 2004

Disappointment with Fox News Sunday.

Fox News Sunday answered Ted Koppel's cost of war with their tribute to the accomplishments of war. It was welcome, but rather disappointingly short. I could find plenty of links to support the facts of accomplishment there, and even so the numbers won't add up because Koppel had raw death numbers. These always carry the bluntest, least sophisticated impact. Maybe if Chris Wallace & Co. had learned of which projects each of the Fallen had participated in, or at least their units had participated in, the connections might have been made.

As it is, the positive changes in Iraq are so sweeping and focused so distantly on stuff that we take utterly for granted, like electrical grids, schools, medical facilities, etc. These are often as messed up as any such US facility, and insurgents aside, by much of the same bureaucratic rules. But that doesn't lessen their potential for positive impact on the Iraqi people, particularly the kids, and doesn't lessen their status as positive developments.

Still, re/built schools, re/built medical facilities, and now-functional electrical grids in Iraq are the kind of concerns that must seem pretty corny to some people, and less, you know, exotic. Next thing you know, Iraqi parents will try to have PTA meetings.

Agreements to disagree - explained!

An interesting, if rather difficult, article HREF="http://www.nationalreview.com/goldberg/goldberg200405070940.asp)."> about how and why we many of us disagree on the Iraq War. On any war. Even on the good works, however tainted, that have resulted from some wars.

Uphill to everywhere.

A few days ago, I posted an article published in The New York Times written by an American Muslim woman. She asserted to some powers-that-be or other that Muslims need moderation in the American mosque. This piece
includes a link to an article in 'Pakistan Times' that indicates how far uphill that woman has to fight.
Hey - who is the power-that-is that she could appeal to?

Iraqi Weblogs


Here are names of some Iraqi blogs from littlegreenfootballs.com. Put '.blogspot.com' after each name:
Hammorabi
Healing Iraq
Iraq & Iraqis
Iraq at a Glance
Iraq the Model
The Mesopotamian

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Happy Birthdays today for the Snipe Hunter and the Mom! I'm 43, she's 70.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Jonah Goldberg in National Review

He provides a brief context for the contextualizations used by US journalists in covering previous atrocities. Rwanda, the dead Americans at Fallujah, the World Trade Center. This is a good quote:

Lost is the fact that in America torturers get punished, while in the Arab world they get promotions.
And sometimes get to be the ruler of all they survey, but that's neither here nor there. Here's a longer snatch about Salon.com, a former favorite site of mine:

" In 2002, Salon.com - the left-wing web magazine - ran a finger-wagging story full of condescending quotes and observations about how America was too obsessed with 9/11. The author, Michelle Goldberg (no relation), wrote that the appetite for documentaries about the attacks "suggests a voyeuristic impulse cloaked in patriotic piety."

"Maybe what stoked America's appetite wasn't pious voyeurism but the decision of the networks to withhold the footage in the first place?

"Regardless, now Salon asks another question. The lead story by Eric Boehlert on May 6 asks: "The media are finally showing the war in its full horror. What took them so long?"

"That's a fair, if slightly creepy, question. But it underscores my point: The media decide which images are too disturbing, too sensational, too dangerous all of the time [emphasis mine]. Ms. Goldberg, for example, spoke for the establishment media when she declared that the Danny Pearl murder-video was "too sickening to broadcast even once."

"So the question is, What was gained by releasing these images now? CBS could have reported the story without the pictures. They could have still beaten their competition to the punch."

True that. Still, I'll bet Goldberg could live with endless reruns of 9/11 video. Can anyone in the media square this? Seems like the only totally fair thing to do is to either devote a channel to 'all atrocities - all the time', or to ban all depictions of them.

Donald Rumsfeld before Congress.

No one would judge the worthiness of their best humane belief system - religious, political, or philosophical - by their most violent flaws. So I won't either. Islamofascists, Fascists, and Marxists have it easier, I believe, since their beliefs are mostly comprised of violent flaws. They just aren't considered flaws.

Earlier in today's Congressional session, Rumsfeld stated that the abuse of Abu Ghraib prisoners was inconsistent with American values. This phrase seems so familiar that I haven't even put quotes around it. No one should have to at this point - 'inconsistent with American values' is like a part of the public quotation domain. And it's nothing but easy for antiwar pundits to laugh, roll their eyes, and punch in Vietnam-era stories, maybe some episodes from the American prison system. A slam-dunk to mock.

That's really too bad, because torture and humiliation are inconsistent with American values. Admittedly, this point isn't provable by their complete absence from any kind of institution that by necessity deals with criminals and their punishment. But if torture were a real value of our country, not only would there be smaller public outrage - there'd be damned little private feeling about it too. There'd be no need to be subtle, either. If torture didn't offend our values, we'd all be closer to - though not exactly like - " We have our torture chambers. They have their torture chambers. Your point is?"

Prosecute and jail those sadists. Continue rebuilding Iraq.

Ted Rall's consolation?

Like I wrote yesterday, there's always publicity.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

An American Muslim Woman Speaks Out For Moderation In The Masque.
This is the kind of in-fighting we're used to hearing out of the Southern Baptist Convention.
A brave article.
The Red Cross and Iraq

Your humble Snipe Hunter is studying to become an LPN. This Yahoo story about the Red Cross' attempt to visit the Abu Ghraib prisoners mostly just reminded me of how they followed in the UN's footprints out of Iraq last summer, after both organizations had their Iraqi grounds bombed. Then the Red Cross condemned the war, citing it as a reason why their service was withdrawn - apparently they felt that helping people in wartime tainted their mission.

I wonder - if, as an LPN, I want to join the Red Cross, is there some sort of litmus test I'll have to take to see if my political outlook could fit in? To see if I'm the right kind of people?

I should call 'em and ask, y'think?

A (UN Human Rights) Watched Pot Never Boils.

The Oil-for-Food deal at the United Nations has me going also. Other parts of the organization might have been affected over the last few years. For instance, did their Human Rights Watch wing chill the numbers recorded for Hussein's abuse of human rights, or cook 'em? I mean, did they under-record or overstate those numbers?

Where, where, where to begin asking. Hey - could a Snipe Hunter special!
Bush (Comp)Lied!!!

Around 4:30 p.m. today, a WCNN AM radio news spot reported that Bush did actually apologize publicly for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by a small group of American soldiers, currently under investigation (the soldiers' names are published on this link.).

Just another example of Bush's duplicity. On his TV interview this past winter, he claimed to Diane Sawyer that he paid no attention to the media in general. Apparently, that isn't true. Or else there's some element of his character that no one admits is there. I recall that last year, during the run-up to the Iraq war, there was a lot of mocking op-ed talk to the effect that, if Bush is so bent on helping out the abused people of other countries, why not the people of North Korea or, hey, Liberia? Bush somehow, without having his ear to the media's ground, telepathically took this argument at face value. In May of 2003, Liberian president Charles Taylor took Bush's offer to leave his office before the arrival of a thousand Marines. This is to the good. And negotiations continue, however haphazardly, with North Korea.
Clearly, Bush lied about paying attention to the media. He certainly listened to Neal Boortz.
. Again, good.

Long, Big, and Hard Dept.

Unless and until Air America remains on air long enough to build up its' audience share so it's big enough to make it worthwhile to reach Atlanta so it won't be so hard to find a liberal talk-radio show, we'll have to make do with liberal callers on consevative talk shows. Rush Limbaugh is still on the worktime radio in the afternoon. And I'll still hear platitudes from his tele-opponents, like the one today - an actual self-described veteran who made the actual claim that civilian presidents don't know how to prosecute wars because they've never seen combat. Ergo National Guard pilot / draft dodger Bush should pull out of Iraq.

The caller certainly sounded sure of himself. In fact, he had that tone of voice that combined laughter with smugness - kinda like a motor that RPMS higher and higher with no take-off. Since I left the area to do some work, I missed Limbaugh's response. But the caller made a point that might be worth applying to another situation. How about World War II? Maybe Franklin Roosevelt, a non-vet career politician even before being attacked by polio at age 39, should've thought twice before signing off on the invasion of Europe - whatta disaster that was, eh?

Yes yes, that invasion was made in order to quell a marauding dictator who never so much as spit in the direction of America, but….

Okay, I'll stop. Cheap shot taken. Cheap platitude takes a final spin before spiraling into the swamp. You think it'll fly again? You fish it out and clean it.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Cartoonist Ted Rall

His take on Pat Tillman is one of his ugliest strips yet from the antiwar side, posted this past weekend on the MSNBC site, and taken down since then due to heavy protests.

I thought his panel on the 9/11 widows from 'way back was just as ugly. But to be honest, his cartooning used to give me the same enjoyment as Ann Coulter's columns. They couldn't be much farther apart ideologically without being exactly alike temperamentally, but both are artists in good, skillful, funny spew. The problem is that the cartoonist also writes - www.tedrall.com carries essays as well as cartoons. He tries occasionally to reason out a way for the antiwar / left fringe to unravel its' way back to a Democratic mainstream. But mostly he's only funny from behind his strips. There, he can be almost completely heartless, and still sometimes get a laugh. That drawing style of his can still get a chuckle, too. 'Til I read the dialogue.

The Tillman strip points up something about Rall's ugliness since 9/11 that runs not deeply, but into a little different tributary. It's the sense that he really, truly wants his work to be tested by the powers that be. He wants to go to jail for his work. Last year, in London, Bush's speech before Parliament included a brief nod to the huge protests going on throughout the city. He affirmed that these protests are a part of the greatness of Western Civ. Which must put a corkscrew in the heart of a combative guy like Rall. He will never go to jail because of his art; he will never mount a test case before the very Supreme Court who cleared the hated Bush's way to the presidency. This president will never take Rall's measure, or any artist's measure, as a personal enemy.

And so the cartoonist is left to ply his trade, hitting every target but the one he thinks really counts, earning bile from opponents of course, support from allies naturally. But Rall will never become an Alexander Solzhenitsyn for the comics industry, because he actually does have his artistic freedom to say any unsupportable, and just plain mean thing he likes. How unrelieved he must feel.

But there's always publicity!

Success and Failure Of Coalition (vis a vis Iraq)

This a long, solid e-mail addressed to Roger L. Simon's site, listing some accomplishments to counter the more generalized assertions of failure by some others correspondents.

The link - http://rogerlsimon.com/archives/00000918.htmHere 'tis. Check your list against his:

"During a similiar discussion on another forum on Set. 29 '03 I posted the following metric as my outline of success in Iraq.

1. Restoration of the power grid to its best operating level between 1990 - 2002.
Check

2. All schools opening and functioning at 1990 - 2002 levels.
Check

3. Health services operating at levels superior to 1990 - 2002 levels. Hospitals open with sufficient supplies and medical training occuring at level superior to 1990 - 2002.
Check

4. Autonomous rule by regional authorities with selection/election to regional councils based upon a representative system.
Check

5. Referendum on the new constitution at least scheduled for a vote on a given date.
Check (Although date is not set - the proposed constitution has been drafted - the date will be set after the July 1 turnover.)

6. Courts functional to highest appellate level.
Check

7. Economy operating on a level equal to 1990 - 2002.
Check

8. Establishment of new military force structure sufficient for defense against territorial incursion.
Ongoing - least satisfactory result to date.

9. Restoration of oilfield production to 2002 levels with continuing ongoing improvement in infrastructure.
Check

10. Draw down of US forces to 40% of maximum force requirements in 2003.
Ongoing - tied to 8.

The handwringing interlude of the moment will pass rather quickly. Sadr's time is up and the potency of his "army" has been exposed (nice job, Sistani).

Are we headed for victory or defeat in Fallujah? Define the metric and I'll tell you."
Posted by Rick Ballard @ 05/03/2004 09:57 AM PST "



Iraq isn't a failure yet. Not by a long shot. Not by the Arab Street. Not by the freshest fighting.


Generalized abrasions.

Joseph Wilson followed Kofi Annan on 'Meet The Press' on Sunday, May 2, and was pretty blah. His book "The Politics Of Truth", the story of how wife Valerie Plame was outed as a CIA employee last year by journalist Robert Novak, is a stirring affirmation of togetherness by a professional couple: a CIA employee and an ex-ambassador type. That said, as I said, pretty blah stuff. Previous reports on his book have outed Wilson's admission that, by george, Hussein's primary tout 'Baghdad Bob' was the Iraqi official who visited Niger in 1999. Scroll to my previous post below about Wilson.

But speaking of a title like "The Politics Of Truth", does it occur to people who lean on such phrases that by casting all 'truth' as 'construction', they put themselves in the 'propagandist' category they presume to reserved for their opponents? The Wilson-Plames seem to be pretty well-connected in Washington, which just means they have the same issues with breaking out of the spin as anyone else.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

RE: Kofi Annan's appearance on "Meet The Press".

John Kerry should envy the UN Secretary General's cool. Annan's hands never unfold, and his thumbs - they never twiddle. I like the way Annan can smile and frown at all times, with nicely modulated degrees of intensity in either facility. Depending, of course, on which both-sides of an issue he's trying to take. Kerry should also envy the manner in which Annan seemed pained, yet condescended to attempt to wrap a little cartilage, a bit of muscle, and a few patches of skin to the bones of one blunt, coarse quote after another that Tim Russert dragged out the past couple of years.

The bones stuck out anyway. An Annan quote from 2003 to the effect that an occupying power could only make things worse by engaging with rebel military forces, was transformed before Russert's ears into the usual 'hearts and minds' (H&M) admonishment. Pretty slick, and Annan even got away without being asked what'cha gonna do if the insurgents' hearts and minds aren't transformed. And I want to know - is al-Sadr, for example, more legit if he remains a violent opponent to a free Iraqi government, or less? Even the worst polls taken in Iraq show that the plurality of the H&M syndicate has gone with the Coalition forces. In the rest of the polling, the Coalition wins by majorities.

Annan believes the UN will do a fine job working the June 30-onwards government into real legitimacy, of course with the military support of the US, Britain, etc. and probably zero Blue Helmets. Doesn't that remind you of one of those TV ads for diet supplements? The pill is trumpeted with 'DAILY USE OF [name of pill]' immediately qualified by '...anddietandexercise'.

On the matter of Lakhdar Brahimi's return to Iraq to represent for the United Nations in setting up an Iraqi government, Annan believed that Brahimi's blunt, coarse, and quite absolute blame of Middle East tensions on Israel and the US alone shouldn't be held against him. The man's an experieced bureau-plomat! Or a diplo-crat! Or one more anti-Semite in one more high place! Okay, okay, he said none of the three preceeding terms. Annan really only described him as too experienced and hence valuable to bounce just for some comments. But somehow those three epithets just don't seem like a stretch.

Kerry should also check out Annan's long silence after Russert asked him about his thoughts on failure-to-date to locate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The frown deeped as the smile turned into a slight grimace. It turns out, Annan believed them to exist, as well, but fell back on procedure - the inspectors didn't have long enough. Well, he's gotta a point - there couldn't have been enough time for the UN weapons inspection team. Refer to 'Oil For Food' scam.

Annan, having watched Russert here and there in his lifetime, figured the hard stuff was being saved for last: the Oil-for-Food coinfest. It's too late in this post to be un-snarky, so I'll just say this has to have been a painful public moment for a dad. And that's the last remaining thread for me - Annan needs to go. Yes, he owes the Iraqi people, and even if he owes the Tutsis first, he should get at least this situation right. It's really asking too much to ask the Iraqi leadership to trust his leadership.

On second thought, there's a lot here that Kerry shouldn't envy.

RE: Chris Wallace's response to Ted Koppel's 'Nightline' reading of the names of the dead soldiers in Iraq.

Well, I didn't watch Koppel because, well, I just didn't need whatever edification that his exhibition promised. But on Fox Sunday, Chris Wallace's at least sounded right on and pitch-perfect. I might even watch Fox's listing of accomplishments, 'cause it's about damn time they made them to American air-time. Wish I'd have watched the preceeding Fox News Sunday instead of Joe Wilson w/ Russert.

Still, in Koppel's defense....

Maybe he should be held to this. Looking back, the fact is that if Edward R. Murrow had paid tribute to the dead of the Korean War by reading their names on-air, someone would've asked him why he didn't do this in World War II. If he'd done it in World War II, someone would've asked why no one did this in World War I. If done during World War I, why not the Spanish-American war...

Sure, I believe Koppel had an agenda. That can't mitigate the touching quality possessed by the return of the war dead in those flag-draped coffins. But IMHO, maybe this will become a 'Nightline' tradition if the US is compelled to go into Syria and / or Iran. Or in any future conflict. And maybe it really will become a tribute.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Hi, folks. here's my e-mail for ya: regularsnipehunter@juno.com.

As time and inspiration permit, I'll think up some other arch titles for the most interesting e-mails. Or use your suggestions, if interesting etc.

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