News Archives
Home Weather In the News What's for dinner? Lovely Family

Saturday September 25, 2004

David Brooks,writing in the New York Times explains the situation in Darfur (Sudan) and the long, slow, fruitless efforts of the world community in coming to grips with yet another humanitarian catastrophe.

But the multilateral process moved along in its dignified way. The U.N. general secretary was making preparations to set up a commission. Preliminary U.N. resolutions were passed, and the mass murderers were told they should stop - often in frosty tones. The world community - well skilled in the art of expressing disapproval, having expressed fusillades of disapproval over Rwanda, the Congo, the Balkans, Iraq, etc. - expressed its disapproval.

And, meanwhile, 1.2 million were driven from their homes in Darfur.

There was even some talk of sending U.S. troops to stop the violence, which, of course, would have been a brutal act of oil-greedy unilateralist empire-building, and would have been protested by a million lovers of peace in the streets. Instead, the U.S. proposed a resolution threatening sanctions on Sudan, which began another round of communiqué-issuing.

The Russians, who sell military planes to Sudan, decided sanctions would not be in the interests of humanity. The Chinese, whose oil companies have a significant presence in Sudan, threatened a veto. And so began the great watering-down. Finally, a week ago, the Security Council passed a resolution threatening to "consider" sanctions against Sudan at some point, though at no time soon.

The Security Council debate had all the decorous dullness you'd expect. The Algerian delegate had "profound concern." The Russian delegate pronounced the situation "complex." The Sudanese government was praised because the massacres are proceeding more slowly. The air was filled with nuanced obfuscations, technocratic jargon and the amoral blandness of multilateral deliberation.

The resolution passed, and it was a good day for alliance-nurturing and burden-sharing - for the burden of doing nothing was shared equally by all. And we are by now used to the pattern. Every time there is an ongoing atrocity, we watch the world community go through the same series of stages: (1) shock and concern (2) gathering resolve (3) fruitless negotiation (4) pathetic inaction (5) shame and humiliation (6) steadfast vows to never let this happen again.

The "never again" always comes. But still, we have all agreed, this sad cycle is better than having some impromptu coalition of nations actually go in "unilaterally" and do something. That would lack legitimacy! Strain alliances! Menace international law! Threaten the multilateral ideal!

It's a pity about the poor dead people in Darfur. Their numbers are still rising, at 6,000 to 10,000 a month.

Don't you just hate it when you don't know the inside joke. People just bandy the terms about as if everyone knows what the deal is. That's the way I feel when people refer to "what's the frequency, Kenneth". By this point, based exclusively on context I can deduce the following: 1) it is in reference to Dan Rather. 2) it is less than flattering. That's about it really. I've been wanting to do a quick search and get to the bottom of it, but alas, I've not as of yet. But I think that I've been guilty of referencing inside jokes on this page without appropriate explanation. Specifically, I'm referring to pajama bloggers and the pajamahadeen. Here is a good blurb from The washington Times explaining it all:

Nobles: Pajama-wearing bloggers, for declaring to the mainstream media that there's a new sheriff in town. They did it to former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, former New York Times Editor Howell Raines, the BBC, John Kerry's Vietnam record, and now they're doing it to CBS News and Dan Rather. They are the Web log writers, "bloggers" for short, who, with little more than a computer, modem and a conscience, have shaken the political world, and the media that covers it, with an amazing record of scoops, forcing in many cases resignations of very important people. And they did it all, according to a former "60 Minutes" executive, while "sitting in [their] living room in [their] pajamas." The executive intended the pajama remark to be a slur. Instead, it has become a badge of honor among the so-called "pajamahadeen," as one blogger has designated himself and his peers. And the remark revealed an all-too-common misconception among the media elite: These bloggers are amateurs, hacks, "partisan political operatives," no match for the tried and true ways of Mr. Rather and CBS News. Well, the country has seen where such arrogance gets you. The lesson of the "pajamahadeen" is this: Ignore us at your peril, politicians and elite media.

A few honorary mentions are in order: Jim Geraghty of Kerry Spot (; Ed Morrissey of; Glenn Reynolds of; the writers of and; the writers and editors of; and the ever-vigilant For their dogged pursuit of the truth in line with the honored tradition of American journalism, the bloggers are the Nobles of the week.

I also did a quick google search and found the Dan Rather story about Kenneth and his frequency. Here it is from

"Rather was confronted about 11 p.m. while walking on Park Avenue. When he tried to walk away, he was punched from behind and knocked to the ground. The attacker then chased Rather into a building and kicked him several times in the back. [...]

Dan Rather singing backup with R.E.M. on the Late Show with David Letterman. Listen to the song's first minute in MP3 (305K) or Next/Sun .au (244K). "The mystery may be solved: Dan Rather has identified the man he says beat him up on the street in 1986 while demanding to know 'Kenneth, what is the frequency?' The CBS anchorman said his assailant was William Tager, now in prison for killing an NBC stagehand outside the Today show in 1994. Tager was convinced the media had him under surveillance and were beaming hostile messages to him, and he demanded that Rather tell him the frequency being used, according to a forensic psychiatrist who examined Tager after the NBC shooting. Rather was told by the psychiatrist, Dr. Park Dietz, that Tager was almost certainly his attacker. The anchorman identified Tager from pictures supplied by the New York Daily News. 'There's no doubt in my mind that this is the person,' Rather said."

The street mugging of Rather was well reported in the national press. The rock band R.E.M. even made a song after the incident, "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" Rather later appeared onstage with R.E.M. on CBS's The Late Show with David Letterman.

Thursday September 23, 2004

Daniel Pipes:

The hardest thing for Westerners to understand is not that a war with militant Islam is underway but that the nature of the enemy’s ultimate goal. That goal is to apply the Islamic law (the Shari‘a) globally. In U.S. terms, it intends to replace the Constitution with the Qur’an.

This aspiration is so remote and far-fetched to many non-Muslims, it elicits more guffaws than apprehension. Of course, that used to be the same reaction in Europe, and now it’s become widely accepted that, in Bernard Lewis words , “Europe will be Islamic by the end of the century.”

Therefore, reading “A rare look at secretive Brotherhood in America”, in the Chicago Tribune on Sept. 19 caused me to startle. It’s a long analysis that draws on an exclusive interview with Ahmed Elkadi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader in the United States during 1984-94, plus other interviews and documentation. In it, the authors (Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Sam Roe, and Laurie Cohen) warily but emphatically acknowledge the Islamists’ goal of turning the United States into an Islamic state.

Oh, and Muslims favor Kerry over Bush 76 to 7 percent.

Seems like John Kerry was in favor of this...before he was against it.

Over the next decade, the military will abandon 35 percent of the Cold War-era bases and buildings it uses abroad, even as it seeks to expand a network of bare-bones sites in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe to help fight terrorism.

...The most widely noted aspect of the plan, which was announced in broad terms last month by President Bush, is the withdrawal of 70,000 U.S. troops and 100,000 of their family members from bases in Germany and South Korea. That has gained attention in part because it means fewer U.S. bases probably will be shuttered in the 2005 round of base closings than if there were no withdrawal.

The Belmont Club has an interesting discussion on terrorist cells and limiting factors which govern their size:

Distributed, dynamic terrorist networks cannot scale like hierarchical networks. The same network design that makes them resiliant against attack puts absolute limits on their size. If so, what are those limits?

A good starting point is to look at limits to group size within peaceful online communities on which we have extensive data -- terrorist networks are essentially geographically dispersed online communities. Chris Allen does a good job analyzing optimal group size with his critique of the Dunbar number.

His analysis (replete with examples) shows that there is a gradual fall-off in effectiveness at 80 members, with an absolute fall-off at 150 members. The initial fall-off occurs, according to Chris, due to an increasing amount of effort spent on "grooming" the group to maintain cohesion. The absolute fall-off at 150 members occurs when grooming fails to stem dissatisfaction and dissension, which causes the group to cleave apart into smaller subgroups (that may remain affiliated).

Al Qaeda may have been able to grow much larger than this when it ran physical training camps in Afghanistan. Physical proximity allowed al Qaeda to operate as a hierarchy along military lines, complete with middle management (or at least a mix of a hierarchy in Afghanistan and a distributed network outside of Afghanistan). Once those camps were broken apart, the factors listed above were likely to have caused the fragmentation we see today (lots of references to this in the news).

Just a little bit more on the Dan Rather Docudrama (pun intended--in fact I ripped it off from Laura Ingraham. --ed.). Jim Pinkerton has some questions for Dan Rather--and thinks there's a good chance that we'll get answers. Meanwhile, Gordon Bloyer has a good rebuttal for those that still believe in the content of the bogus documents. Dan Rather is one who still believes in the content. In fact, Dan's the only person in the world who doesn't believe they're fakes. Dan's also reportedly upset that Thornburgh has been picked by CBS to head up the inquiry into the fake docs fiasco because Thornburgh is...gasp...a Republican! Perhaps Dan doesn't believe someone could be objective despite his political leanings. I wonder why. This story is not over by a long shot. The ramifications continue to reverberate as CBS ratings plunge and some radio stations are pulling the plug:

WNIS-AM, a talk radio station in Norfolk, Va., is dumping CBS News in the wake of the Dan Rather documents scandal. The station was making the switch to ABC News Radio at midnight last night, ending a 12-year stretch with CBS News. "The outrage from our listeners has been deafening," said the station's operations manager Dave Morgan. Morgan said the station - whose talk show hosts include right wing stars Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity - pulled the plug on CBS because it was hit by "a daily barrage of phone calls." "Every time Dan Rather's voice came on the air, the phone lines lit up with calls," Morgan told the Daily News.

Ross Mackenzie points out the glaring double standards in the coverage of the Swiftees versus the coverage of the Bush National Guard story:

HOW ODD, though, that what the Swiftees and POWs have said has been accorded little credence, and correspondingly little serious attention, in the mainline press - especially by network television. For instance, Kitty Kelley's disastrous book about the Bush family received lengthy coverage by, especially, NBC while O'Neill's book, at least until recently, received practically none.

Bush's Guard records have been the subjects of consuming mainline-press attention, while Kerry's largely unseen records have been accepted on faith. And Kerry's refusal to sign military form No. 180, authorizing release of perhaps 100 pages of his military records, encounters little objection. Why?

Questions about those records abound. What's the truth about the Purple Hearts? Former Navy Secretary John Lehman says he never saw, approved, or signed the Silver Star citation that appears over Lehman's signature on the Kerry Website. Kerry claims to have a Silver Star with combat V - a medal not in the Pentagon inventory of military decorations, a medal the Navy insists it never has issued to anyone. Moreover, if that and his other medals are so important to Kerry, then why did he throw them away (or did he?) at about the time he was calling American service in Vietnam "criminal"?

When the Swiftees, with almost no money, started making waves, the Kerry campaign, seemingly in tandem with the mainline press, charged the Swiftees were but a front-group for the Bush campaign. Yet curiously, until this week - with suggestions of an incestuous relationship between CBS and the Kerry campaign (through Clintonite Joe Lockhart) - little coverage or attention has been given to the possible links between the Kerry campaign and Texans for Truth. It is a 527 group possibly linked to the Rather memos and apparently funded by George Soros and viciously anti-Bush leftist lobbies.

And he makes these more general points about conservative ideas greater ideological honesty in the marketplace:

Beyond Internet bloggers, press freedom has forced a greater ideological honesty on the part of mainline outlets through fractionalization elsewhere. Examples: talk radio (where leftists cannot seem to get even a toehold), cable television (Fox News lopes well ahead of its rivals), and book publishers publishing titles that formerly never would have seen daylight now on bestseller lists. (Why is there so little outrage that Clintonite Kerry advisers Paul Begala and James Carville are continuing as mainstays on CNN? How is it that refugees from Democratic administrations routinely land as stalwarts on network news shows?) Dan Rather's outrageous display of ideological irresponsibility has highlighted yet again the double standards and has driven yet another - the final? - nail into the coffin of the once-proud mainline press.

And speaking of leftist talk radio, Air America is about to lose another one:

When WLVP started airing Air America in Maine in April, station officials said it filled a niche here, being the lone liberal talk station. But WLVP has also been airing local sports programming. Based on advertising sales for those programs, Collins said station officials believe it makes more sense for the station to air just sports. Collins said the decision is a business one, and has nothing to do with Air America's liberal programming. Collins said WLVP will begin airing ESPN Radio on Nov. 8.

It's a business decision. Liberal radio simply can't stand up in the free market where profits are essential. Of course, there already is a liberal radio network across the US--it's called NPR--and it's not financed by profits, but by taxpayers and foundations and listeners like you.

The good folks at PowerlineBlog pick up on a thought I wrote about yesterday. They have noticed more egregious examples of the AP inserting editorial comment into what should otherwise be straight news stories. They note:

This kind of shameless electioneering is typical of the Associated Press's news coverage. And, because the AP is the dominant wire service, its blatantly biased story will appear in hundreds, if not thousands, of newspapers.

Much has been made of bloggers ability to fact-check the mainstream media (MSM) in the wake of the Dan Rather Docudrama and, no doubt, they have put a dent in the CBS brand. Now Pete Blackshaw expands on that theme and cautions advertisers to beware:

But let the word go forth - to marketers and agencies alike -that the blog revolution brings with it unmistakable tradeoffs and potent new "rules of engagement." Ignore them at your peril....Like it or not, bloggers promise to hold marketers to new levels of accountability, impacting just about everything advertisers do, say, and claim.

...So can a casual dining marketer that promotes a great image on TV get away with gross counters in the age of mobile phone blogs -- or so-called "moblogs"?

Can a wireless provider spending millions to tout customer service escape scrutiny when bloggers can readily provide links to thousands of disgruntled consumers providing evidence to the contrary?

Can a pharma company afford to gloss over the fine print in advertisement when bloggers elect to super-size the untold message?

Can an auto manufacturer pushing a "safety" message on TV risk having consumers type their brand into Google and have it punch back a loaded shelf space of contradictory messages by consumers?

It's just not popular. It's not popular with the voters. It's not popular with the Congress. It's not popular with the executive. It's not popular with the military. It's just not gonna happen. So why do so many of the younger generation believe that we will impose a draft if Bush is reelected? Because that is a popular tactic among Democrats. Michelle Malkin has the goods. Seems that there is an email that is circulating to the members of the MTV generation:

Mandatory draft for boys and girls (ages18-26) starting June 15, 2005

There is pending legislation in the House and Senate, S89 and HR 163,to reinstate mandatory draft for boys and girls (ages18-26) starting June 15, 2005. This plan includes women in the draft, eliminates higher education as a shelter, and makes it difficult to cross into Canada.

The Bush administration is quietly trying to get these bills passed now, while the public's attention is on the elections. The Bush administration plans to begin mandatory draft in the spring of 2005, just after the 2004 presidential election.

Here's the reality check:

"A draft? It's just not going to happen," said Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, the senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services personnel subcommittee, agreed: "There is very little support in Congress for reinstating the draft."

Perhaps those comments will help steady the nerves of many Americans apparently rattled by an e-mail that is circulating nationwide. It says that legislation is pending in Congress that would reinstitute the draft for the first time since 1973, starting as early as next spring. It also says that the administration is "quietly trying to get these bills passed now, while the public's attention is on the elections."

There is a kernel of truth to the allegation -- there is a bill pending that would restart the draft. But the Bush administration opposes it, as do Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and the leadership of both the Democratic and Republican parties in Congress. Everyone remotely in a position to know is quite sure that the bill is going nowhere.

"I don't know anyone in the executive branch of the government who believes that it would be appropriate or necessary to reinstitute the draft," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in April.

The bill's primary sponsor is Rep. Charles Rangel, a liberal Democrat from New York who represents Harlem. Even he admitted that his bill won't pass. He said he introduced it to get people to discuss who is doing the fighting in Iraq...

This is the stuff of urban legends. In fact, Snopes is on the case.

Oh, by the way...the intifada is over:

Israel's triumph over the Palestinian attempt to unravel its society is the result of a systematic assault on terrorism that emerged only fitfully over the past four years. The fence, initially opposed by the army and the government, has thwarted terrorist infiltration in those areas where it has been completed. Border towns like Hadera and Afula, which had experienced some of the worst attacks, have been terror-free since the fence was completed in their areas. Targeted assassinations and constant military forays into Palestinian neighborhoods have decimated the terrorists' leadership, and roadblocks have intercepted hundreds of bombs, some concealed in ambulances, children's backpacks, and, most recently, a baby carriage. At every phase of Israel's counteroffensive, skeptics have worried that attempts to suppress terrorism would only encourage more of it.

Tuesday September 21, 2004

Morning drive time, listening to the bottom of the hour news on a local station I heard this: "President Bush will attempt to soften his image as a heavy-handed war leader today..." That caught my eye...uh, ear. Is that really his image? Not to me, but I guess it is to some. Still, it is an example of adding editorial comment to what should be a straight news story and I've not noticed the slant from this particular station in the past. Then, I get into work and read this from the AP:

President Bush, trying to soften his image overseas as a heavy-handed unilateralist, is using his annual address to the United Nations to offer up a brighter vision of a planet with less hunger, disease and oppression.

Just an example of how major media outlets tend to shape the tone and set the agenda of the stories that get reported.

Michael G. Crawford comments on the usefulness (or uselessness) of the U.N.

The spectacular failures of the U.N. have shown that its ability to counter malicious minded intent to deceive the organization is almost non-existent. In addition, its fairness doctrine which assume all nations participate with equal authority does not take into account that not all nations recognize the need for fairness, indeed some use that rather naive approach as a weapon for delay and obfuscation.

...Clearly no nation can or should depend upon the U.N. for its security. After the decade long ineffective U.N. debate over Iraq and the inability to disarm or control Iraq, and the subsequent U.S. led Coalition's ouster of Saddam Hussein, the debate has crystallized. U.N. WMD weapons inspections teams appear to have functioned well up until 1998, and despite claims that they in fact disarmed Iraq, the locating of ballistic missiles with ranges far beyond those claimed by Iraq, many still support the classic and erroneous notion that sanctions were working in Iraq. The inability for the U.N. to deal with human rights abuses around the world and especially in Iraq further highlight the irrational believe that the U.N. is a paragon of success.

Speaking of U.N. futility, the Iranians have begun Sacred Defense Week with a lovely parade:

IRAN showed off its range of ballistic missiles at an annual military parade today, with the rockets draped in banners vowing to "crush America" and "wipe Israel off the map". An anti-Israel banner was draped on the side of a Shahab-2 missile, while another saying "We will crush America under our feet" was on the side of a trailer carrying the latest Shahab-3 missile. The parade marks the beginning of "Sacred Defence Week", an event commemorating Iraq's 1980 attack on Iran and the outset of the bloody eight-year war. "The Shahab-3 missiles, with different ranges, enables us to destroy the most distant targets," said an official commentary accompanying the parade, which was carried live on state television. "These missiles enable us to destroy the enemy with missile strikes," the commentary said, without giving any specific details on the range of the missiles.

And this from Mohammed Khatami:

President Mohammad Khatami said Tuesday that Iran will continue a nuclear program some suspect is aimed at developing weapons, even if that means an end to U.N. oversight. "We've made our choice: yes to peaceful nuclear technology, no to atomic weapons," Khatami said at a military parade in Tehran. "We will continue along our path even if it leads to an end to international supervision" of our nuclear activities.

..."They have to explicitly recognize our natural and legal right (to peaceful nuclear energy) to open the way for greater understanding and cooperation," Khatami said. "We've made our choice. Now it is up to others to make their choice," he added. Khatami said Iran would not seek nuclear weapons regardless of IAEA supervision. "I declare to the world that whether we are under supervision or not, we won't go for nuclear weapons at all," he said.

Khatami knows that he simply needs to lie and delay long enough until they have the bomb. And then it will be too late.

Dan Rather has finally fessed up. Well, sort of. This may have been adequate had it been said ten days ago. But not now. Ten days ago it might have been sufficient to say "we were duped". But not now. Ten days ago it might have been sufficient to say "I'm sorry". But not now. As I said before, even the legendary Dan Rather is human and thus, prone to mistakes. The statement might have been enough if it was expressed within a day or two of the clear and convincing evidence of forgery. But in the ensuing days during which Dan Rather staunchly defended his work, he spoke of "partisan enemies" and "unimpeachable sources". He made completely specious arguments and has paraded a slew of unqualified "experts" in a disingenuous attempt to bolster the fallacious story. There was not honest search for the truth. No journalistic integrity. It was merely meant to obfuscate and deny the essential truth. And it was not a snap judgement. No momentary lapse. It was a prolonged and protracted effort. For this, apology is not sufficient.

John Podhoretz has a much more eloquent portrayal of the same sentiments (maybe that's why he gets paid for his writing--ed.)

CBS and Dan Rather now want us to believe they were "misled." And it's likely they were misled in the days and hours before they aired the forged documents claiming, among other things, that George W. Bush disobeyed a direct order from his superior in the National Guard.

But when Rather & Co. refused to accept that the documents were forgeries when every rational person on the planet who had spent 10 minutes looking into the matter could see they were the crudest of forgeries, they were no longer "misled."

Nor were Rather & Co. "misled" when they continued to say that nobody had challenged the underlying basis of their story — though in fact every single aspect of their disgraceful pseudo-journalism had been called into powerful question.

They were not "misled" when Rather said the day after his appalling pseudo-story aired that the people challenging the validity of the story and the authenticity of the documents were all "partisan operatives" — when in fact one of his principal challengers is a California jazz musician and Web site designer who has never voted Republican.

They were not "misled" when CBS News President Andrew Hayward and "60 Minutes II" producer Josh Howard both said they were sure the story was accurate because the White House hadn't challenged their authenticity — though they knew the White House had been informed of the existence of the documents only three hours before they interviewed communications director Dan Bartlett about them. (In any case, as The Washington Post reported Sunday, "Bartlett said CBS never asked him to verify the memos and that he had neither the time nor the resources to do so.")

They were not "misled" about anything that happened after the story aired. They were dishonest. They were deceitful. They stonewalled. They trashed the motives of those who were properly outraged by the story. Now that they can no longer stand by their journalistic crime, they are seeking to weasel their way out of even minimal responsibility.

But it's now bigger than just Dan Rather, or even CBS. We now have reports that CBS acted as an intermediary for Burkett and the Kerry campaign:

At the behest of CBS, an adviser to John Kerry said he talked to a central figure in the controversy over President Bush's National Guard service shortly before disputed documents were released. ...

Lockhart said [CBS producer Mary] Mapes asked him the weekend before the story broke to call Burkett. "She basically said there's a guy who is being helpful on the story who wants to talk to you," Lockhart said, adding that it was common knowledge that CBS was working on a story raising questions about Bush's Guard service. Mapes told him there were some records "that might move the story forward. She didn't tell me what they said."

Hugh Hewitt adds this:

Is it acceptable for a major American broadcast organization to work hand-in-glove with a presidential campaign --to conspire-- to surface forgeries with the intent of influencing the presidential election. Gee, I may be old fashioned, but it seems to me that a third rate burglary is less threatening to the outcome of an election than fraud broadcast into millions of homes. What did John Kerry know, and when did he know it?