August 06, 2002

A good sub-plot for the

A good sub-plot for the next Toy Story?

I'm still not convinced it isn't a hoax, but according to this story, security screeners at LAX found a GI Joe in a British grandmother's luggage, searched the toy soldier, and confiscated his tiny plastic rifle.

“They examined the toy as if it was going to shoot them," said the passenger, one Judy Powell. “Then they asked me if there were toy grenades as well. I thought they were joking, but they weren’t smiling — they were deadly serious.” Mrs. Powell took it in stride, however, expressing gratitude that they didn't subject her Beanie Babies to "body searches."

Note to Mrs. Potato Head: if Mr. Potato Head is travelling by air via LAX, better not pack his "angry eyes."

Could the people in charge of our airport security actually be this stupid? Don't answer that...

(via Bill, Kim, Combustible, and others.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 10:09 AM | TrackBack

August 05, 2002

Stability, Schmability Once again, Mark

Stability, Schmability

Once again, Mark Steyn has the right idea on Middle Eastern "stability":

Sadly, a U.S. invasion of Iraq "would threaten the whole stability of the Middle East" -- or so Amr Moussa, Secretary-General of the Arab League, told the BBC on Tuesday. Amr, Amr, Amr. Your talking-points are missing the point: it's supposed to destabilize the Middle East. The stability of the Middle East is unique in the non-democratic world and it's the lack of change in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt that's turned them into a fetid swamp of terrorist bottom-feeders.

First things first: It's not strictly necessary for a new regime in Iraq to be better than its predecessor, only different. That sends the important message that whose fingernails you rip out in the dungeon of the Presidential palace is your affair but start monkeying with us and you've written your last bodice-ripper. That's the first and critical Anglo-American war aim.

But if a more or less civilized regime were to take over in Baghdad, it would have a tremendously destabilizing effect. By "civilized," I'm thinking no higher than a General Musharraf type, someone who's not genocidal and has greater ambitions for the treasury than the anthrax program. Were a local Musher to surface, he'd quickly be pumping an extra couple million gallons of oil a day and thus adding to the woes of the House of Saud, for whom low gas prices means rethinking the gold-plated toilet in your pad on the Riviera. The Saudis have figured that out, which is why they want the old Saddamite to stay in power indefinitely.

We all know it's going to happen. The question is when. Steyn says August 11. Really? Six days from now? That should be soon enough. Mark your calendar, but don't hold your breath...

Posted by Dr. Frank at 12:39 PM | TrackBack

The den Beste Doctrine Here's

The den Beste Doctrine

Here's Steven den Beste at his, erm, best, with a couple of fine essays on the appropriate aims and conduct of military action and the "Bush doctrine." Doctrine is one thing, though; policy is another. Whether the Bush administration will actually follow through and live up to these principles in a timely and thorough fashion is still an open question. Maybe they should put den Beste in charge of defense policy...

Posted by Dr. Frank at 12:38 PM | TrackBack

August 02, 2002

Newsnight Nostalgia? Steven Pollard reports

Newsnight Nostalgia?

Steven Pollard reports on a recent BBC Newsnight on the subject of Israel:

Tonight's Newsnight was the archetypal BBC discussion on Israel. Presenter Kirsty Wark was admirable, tough questioning for all the interviewees (including Edward Mortimer from the UN, whose every sentence revealed the UN's anti-Israel bias). But what context! The opening film by David Sells signed off with this impartial thought, which summed up the tone of his disgraceful report: "What happened in Jenin was no massacre; but it was appalling in its own right". Hello? Are they not even pretending now to be neutral? This was, remember, an item about a UN inquiry which destroyed Palestinian claims of a massacre. The BBC, of course, faithfully reported the Palestinian claims as fact, so they can't admit now that they were taken in (actually it was worse than being taken in as that implies initial neutrality - they merely lept at claims which fitted in with their anti-Israel world view).

I wish I had seen that one. There are a lot of things I miss about England, and Newsnight, slant and all, is one of them, strange as that sounds. It's kind of like a less vacuous Crossfire, and it's always provocative and informative, even though it's the forum where the BBC's trademark anti-US and anti-Israel bias tends to be most clearly displayed. I wish we in the US had a political debate show that was even half as good.

I feel the same way about British newspapers, which, whatever their editorial slant, tend to contain far more in the way of actual news than any American paper. (The Independent is a flimsy exception, perhaps-- but it's still far better than the subliterate San Francisco Chronicle.) I'd say I disagree with around 80% of the editorial content of the Guardian, but even as I'm mildly outraged by the anti-American sentiment and faintly amused by the persistent paleo-leftist idiocy, I still get a lot of out of reading it. You just have to get used to the mini-op-eds mysteriously embedded within articles presented as straight news, and the hysterical, agit-prop-style headlines (which often have very little to do with the articles to which they are attached.) In fact, once you get used to this style, it can even be kind of enjoyable in itself-- say what you want about it, they do it well.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan, writing in the New York Sun (!) says that the New York Times has out-Guardianed the Guardian:

Until recently, the worst that could be said about Howell Raines’s new New York Times was that it was becoming indistinguishable from the Guardian, Britain’s pre-eminent, unabashedly leftist, slant-the-news broadsheet. Nothing wrong with that, of course. Campaigning newspapers can be highly entertaining, and the Guardian is often a stimulating read, guaranteed to raise your blood pressure after your first sip of coffee in the morning. The only problem is that Times readers might still be under the impression that their paper is an emblem of unbiased reporting. But from everything I can see, most Times readers are smart enough to realize what’s really going on...

And then there's the war... [I]ignoring the danger of inaction, almost never placing the war against Iraq in the context of September 11, and maintaining a drum-beat of hostility about the use of American force doesn’t air a debate. It attempts to forestall and politicize it. When such politicization has taken the Times to the left of the Guardian, the brand of the “paper of record” is close to being trashed.

Maybe he's right, but I think the NYT is neither as "bad" nor as "good" as the Guardian in the "slant the news" game. Sullivan's comparison of the two papers' coverage of the Iraqi threat hearing (in which the NYT, but not the Guardian, downplayed the Iraqi threat angle) makes for amusing reading, though.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 12:29 PM | TrackBack

Sickos The mind-numbing parade of


The mind-numbing parade of depravity of the Palestinian terrorist organizers and their willing executioners continues apace. I usually find that, try as I might, I have no comment on this or that latest outrageous photo, interview, sermon or mission, beyond the oft-repeated, superfluous question "what the hell is wrong with these people?" What can you say? I've run out of appropriate expressions of despair and condemnation, and often can't even bring myself to link to the stories (which is okay-- Charles Johnson always has it covered anyway.)

For some reason, however, this story (via LGF) of a young woman's Islamic Jihad-approved plan to detonate herself while holding a baby as part of her "disguise" stands out among the rest:

She allegedly approached a senior member of the Islamic Jihad in the West Bank and offered to be a suicide bomber, saying it was a woman's right to have the privilege of perpetrating such an act.

Damaj was contacted two weeks later and was reportedly informed that she would be given the opportunity to carry out an attack holding a baby as a disguise. In the event, the attack was not perpetrated.

She was later offered another mission. She prepared a letter for her family and was later filmed holding a rifle and a copy of the Koran. A week before the planned attack, however, she surrendered, saying that one of the reasons was concern that her family's home might be demolished.

I've always found Israel's house demolition policy to be extremely questionable, even abhorrent, and of dubious value as a deterrent. But here at least, it appears to have done some good. I realize that that's the deliberate spin the article puts on the story, and the impression that the IDF wants to convey-- call me naive, but I guess it worked on me. There are certainly far worse crimes on the front page which are more worthy of comment, no doubt, than an insane plan that was never carried out. But there's something about the image of a young mother, bent on mass murder and eager to blow her own child to bits in the process, that I can't get out of my head.

I still have no comment beyond the oft-repeated superfluous question. Sickos.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:23 AM | TrackBack