April 03, 2004

Worth reading: a very eloquent post by "Kos" on his mixed feelings over the deaths at Fallujah, told from the perspective of someone who grew up in a country torn apart by guerilla warfare, and who has actually fought in a war himself.

UPDATE: Dr. J. has more on Blackwater Security, the organization that employed the four men killed last week. Needless to say, while I don't believe that anything they might have been doing justified either the barbaric way in which they were murdered last week or Kos' insensitive remarks concerning same, I believe it should be a matter of concern that we are tolerating the use of mercenaries (or "private security contractors") in Iraq. His language was clumsy and cruel, more reminiscent of an LGF post on Rachel Corrie, but compared with much of the crap that exists in the b-sphere, Kos is actually a moderate voice (as far as I can tell, he hasn't called for the extermination of the Palestinian people), and, unlike the Kerry Campaign Blog, I will not allow his unfortunate venture into the realm of Political Incorrectness determine his position on my humble blogroll.

April 02, 2004

As it turns out, not everyone appreciated Mr. Clarke's eloquent testimony to the 9-11 Commission. Charles Krauthammer, whose Pulitzer Prize is more in the tradition of Walter Duranty's and Janet Cooke's, goes on the attack, denouncing Clarke's apology to the 9-11 victims as "phony", and then ridiculing those same families for claiming "special status" as victims.

Dr. Krauthammer's rationale, such as it is, is that since Clarke admitted that even if the Bushies had followed his advice, the 9-11 attacks still would have taken place, there was nothing that could have been done to prevent what happened. Everyone did there best, so no apology was in order. Besides the incredible defeatism of that conceit (no matter how hard we try, the terrorists will inevitably succeed), it also misses the point completely. Clarke was the anti-terrorism tsar. If he couldn't devise something to prevent 9-11 from taking place, and if the Bushies were clearly disinterested in the whole subject of non-state-supported terrorisms before 9-11 to have ignored Al Qaeda, the American people are owed an explanation why. Clarke gave them one, by taking accountability, showing them the respect that Krauthammer couldn't find in his heart to give.

April 01, 2004

This week, Sports Illustrated has an excerpt in its GolfPlus Special from the recently published tome by Alan Shipnuck on last year's failed effort to integrate the home of the Masters, The Battle for Augusta National. Shipnuck, who covers the sport for the magazine, has some particularly interesting insights on the sad role blogs played in the whole affair. The villain (or hero, amongst the bedsheet-wearing crowd) of the piece is a Beltway flack named Jim McCarthy, who was hired by the restricted country club to go "on the attack--investigate the activists, hold them accountable for their track record and their ideological inconsistencies. You have to take on the press that is often conspiring to give the activists a platform to espouse their views. It's like the argument of appeasement versus aggression in geopolitics, and we all know how Neville Chamberlain fared."(emphasis added)

McCarthy, an avid readers of blogs, planted stories with Internet conservatives to shift the focus away from Augusta National's sorry track record on racial and sexual discrimination and instead towards the New York Times and Howell Raines. With Raines, et al., already unpopular on the right for the Times' oft-critical reporting of the Bush Administration, McCarthy's flackery found a receptive audience in the blogosphere, and hostile coverage elsewhere effectively mau-maued the Times into silence on the issue. As of today, Augusta National still has no female members, and only a smattering of token non-whites, and stands as a shabby symbol of the sport of golf. [additional links via The National Debate]

March 31, 2004

Today was the long-awaited debut of the "liberal" talk radio network, Air America. For the most part, aside from some annoying opening-day glitches, it isn't bad, but I don't see Limbaugh, Hannity, et al., shaking in their boots. One of the problems is the lack of experienced talk radio hosts on the network; much of the output so far has seemed like Pacifica Lite, with an especially irritating tendency of complaining about stories that aren't being covered by the Establishment Media for reasons of bias or expediency. It may be true, but I'm a pessimist by nature; the last thing I want to listen to on the way to court is how the whole world is conspiring to silence me. The new network does promise to be blog-friendly, though, with Atrios earning major props for his stint as a guest on the evening show. You can listen to the live feed on the Air America website, or the west coast feed (from Portland) three hours later.

March 30, 2004

After a long hiatus, Neal Pollack has returned, chastened but unbowed:
Thank goodness that I have this forum in which I can address those of you who are sitting in front of your computers, or who have programmed updates to this website directly into your cell phones. Your government failed you. Those entrusted with providing you the best in fact-based Web opinion failed you. And I failed you. I tried hard, but that doesn’t matter, because I failed. For that failure I would ask, once I’ve explained to you why I stopped blogging, for your understanding and your forgiveness.
Allah akbar.
Richard Clarke: the public speaks !!
March Madness nearly being complete, and the Final Four/Frozen Four set, I am now ready to return to blogging forthwith. Not that I wouldn't have sacrificed a few minutes during the Tournaments if events had warranted, but the major story (Richard Clarke) was being addressed by voices more eloquent than mine, and the Presidential campaign is currently in stasis: the Democrats, having jumped out to a quick early lead, is resting its big guy, while the Republicans, with a big war chest and with the commercial airwaves to itself, is struggling to put some space between the candidates before the summer. The 9-11 Commission has served to thwart the efforts by the President to build a commanding lead, and the closer this race remains going into the Democratic Convention, the more likely it is Kerry will pull away at the end, when the candidates will be on relatively equal footing, in terms of both money and stature.

For the second time in as many months, the White House has seemed inept in dealing with a frontal assault on its competence. Last month, it was the National Guard story that they managed to turn from a minor hiccup into a major embarrasment; now, it's their reaction to Richard Clarke's book and testimony before the 9-11 Commission. As any number of commentators have pointed out, Clarke's revelations are nothing new. Clarke made for a compelling witness last week, telling the family members of the 9/11 dead that he had failed them (btw, when was the last time anyone can recall a politician using the active tense when discussing his mistake?), but Kerry's campaign manager must have woke up the next morning with some serious wood after seeing the GOP's inept response. Some free advice to Karl Rove, Bill Frist, et al: never even hint that your adversaries aren't telling the truth, since a) it only reminds people how mendacious you guys are, and b) you never seem to be able to deliver the goods. Also, fire Condi Rice. It's never a good thing when the whole world is laughing at you.