March 31, 2003

Steven Chapman counts his bin

Steven Chapman counts his bin Ladens:

War in Afghanistan was supposed to yield "1,000 bin Ladens." Now Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak claims the war in Iraq will yield "100 bin Ladens." That's a total of 1,100 bin Ladens - but the fact that Iraq will yield one-tenth the number of bin Ladens that Afghanistan yielded must be a crushing blow to the self-esteem of Ba'athists everywhere. Following the logic of this equation we can conclude that an attack on a further two Middle Eastern countries would yield eleven new bin Ladens, bringing the total to 1,111. It's possible that an attack on a third Middle East country could yield one-tenth of a bin Laden - but I think, all things being equal, that's unlikely.

The attack, I mean.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:53 AM | TrackBack

March 30, 2003

A simple recommendation Whatever your

A simple recommendation

Whatever your position on or feelings about Gulf War II, you owe it to yourself to take the time to read this long, thoughtful, beautiful essay by Bill Whittle.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:52 AM | TrackBack

Hallowed be thy name Julie

Hallowed be thy name

Julie Burchill accuses the NIONists (as Steyn has been calling them) of self-indulgence. It's been done before, but this one is particularly scrappy and perfectly calibrated to irritate every single reader who doesn't immediately say "amen" and try to push it across the table towards his or her disinterested significant other:

Does the most hardened peacenik really believe that Iraqis currently enjoy more liberty and delight than they would if Saddam were brought down? If so, fair enough; if not, then they are marching about one thing - themselves. That's why so many luvvies are involved; this is simply showing off on a grand scale.

I've just heard a snippet of the most disgustingly me-me-me anti-war advert by Susan Sarandon, in which she intones, "Before our kids start coming home from Iraq in body bags, and women and children start dying in Baghdad, I need to know - what did Iraq do to us?" Well, if you mean what did Saddam do to America The Beautiful, not an awful lot - but to millions of his own people, torture and murder for a start. Don't they count?

Surely this is the most self-obsessed anti-war protest ever. NOT IN MY NAME! That's the giveaway. Who gives a stuff about their wet, white, western names? See how they write them so solemnly in a list on the bottom of the letters they send to the papers. And the ones that add their brats' names are the worst - a grotesque spin on Baby On Board, except they think that this gives them extra humanity points not just on the motorway, but in the whole wide weeping, striving, yearning world. We don't know the precious names of the countless numbers Saddam has killed. We're talking about a people - lots of them parents - subjected to an endless vista of death and torture, a country in which freedom can never be won without help from outside.

Contrasting British servicemen and women with the appeasers, it is hard not to laugh. Are these two sides even the same species, let alone the same nationality? On one hand the selflessness and internationalism of the soldiers; on the other the Whites-First isolationism of the protesters. Excuse me, who are the idealists here? And is it a total coincidence that those stars most prominent in the anti-war movement are the most notoriously "difficult"and vain - Streisand, Albarn, Michael, Madonna, Sean Penn? And Robin Cook! Why might anyone believe world peace can be secured by this motley bunch?

Amen. Honey, you really should read this...

I mean, I'd say "Not in My Name" is one of those irredeemably parochial rhetorical constructions, like "family values," "a kinder, gentler nation," or "just say no;" or like the "baby on board" signs Burchill mentions (or even indeed, like "axis of evil"): stirring, uplifting, clever, even beautiful to those already on the team or in agreement; facile, vacuous, irritating beyond measure and deserving only of ridicule to absolutely everyone else. Neither of the groups on either side of this aesthetic divide can fathom why their favorite phrase elicits only giggles and ridicule from those to whom they broadcast it-- what's wrong with these people, that they can't see the beauty I behold? But that's just how it is. Some hear Susan S. say "not in my name," and nod vigorously: "yes, yes, not in brave Susan's name!" Some think "ick, what an idiot." It's a matter of taste rather than substance. That is, it is possible to imagine arguments or events persuading a supporter of military action to decide that this war is a bad idea, or an anti-war type reaching the conclusion that they may have had it wrong about this one. But I simply cannot imagine anyone, whatever the circumstances, whatever they think about whatever issue may be at hand, crossing the NIONist/anti-NIONist line.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:00 AM | TrackBack

March 29, 2003

Weird and/or disturbing recent google

Weird and/or disturbing recent google searches that brought people to this site. Each one implies an intriguing, unarticulated story:

i want to stay up to date on the war in iraq now sine me up today

where can i find disguises for Carlos the Jackal?

filipino internal cream pie

bikini models from winnipeg

contact of sea foods producers in UK

jews in punk rock

diagram of a suitcase nuclear bomb (uh-oh-- ed.)

and my favorite:
how the war effecting those that have illiteracy

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:42 PM | TrackBack

What San Francisco might look

What San Francisco might look like if the lunatics were really running the asylum:

It's too bad the cops felt they had to arrest 2,400 people and clear the streets-- better the city saved all the money that's going to police overtime, and just let people protest. No traffic was getting downtown anyway. Most of the actions were peaceful. Why weren't the mayor and all the supervisors and all the rest of the people who run this town joining the activists in the streets, saying to the rest of the world that in San Francisco, we're not going to act as if Bush's war is acceptable behavior?

So, can we count on your support at the SFPD's Second Annual Mostly Peaceful Vomit-In at the Olympic Club, featuring keynote vomiter Willie Brown? No-host bar, all proceeds to be used to supplement janitorial staff.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:26 PM | TrackBack

Achieving Parody Yet more clever

Achieving Parody

Yet more clever silliness from Mark Steyn, on the media quagmire:

After little more than a week, is this war coverage in trouble? Already questions are being raised about whether the media's plan was fatally flawed. Several analysts are surprised that, despite overwhelming dominance of the air, television and radio divisions have so quickly repeated the mistakes of Afghanistan. Meanwhile, on the ground, rapidly advancing columns become stalled in Vietnam-style quagmires around the second paragraph...

Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery (Retd) agrees that the media are in trouble, but blames it mostly on a confusion of war aims. "The problem is they relied on this two-pronged 'shock and awe' business. On the one hand, you'd have these reporter chappies embedded with your Royal Marines and so forth, 'awed' at how absolutely ripping it is to be in a tank. On the other hand, you'd have your crack columnists in Baghdad, 'shocked' at the scale of Anglo-American carnage, with hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, smart bombs landing on every hospital, nursery schools blown to kingdom come, etc.

"Well, the bally carnage never showed up, so it was a week of awe and no shock. The editors assumed that, by the weekend, they'd have Bush and Blair on the run. Instead, we now stand on the brink of an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe: even as I speak, George Galloway, John Pilger and thousands of others are being systematically starved of material.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 01:24 PM | TrackBack

Gephardt Patriots

William Kristol cheers on the Gephardt liberals, vs. the "Dominique de Villepin left":

The Gephardt liberals are patriots. They supported the president in the run-up to this war, and strongly support the war now that it has begun. It would be misleading to call this group the Joe Lieberman liberals, because he was already too much of a hawk to be representative, but the group certainly includes Lieberman. It also includes Hillary Rodham Clinton, probably a majority of Senate Democrats, less than half of the House Democrats, Democratic foreign policy experts at places like the Brookings Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations, and a smaller number of liberal commentators and opinion leaders--most notably the Washington Post editorial page.

The other group includes the Teddy Kennedy wing of the Senate Democrats, the Nancy Pelosi faction of the House Democrats, a large majority of Democratic grass-roots activists, the bulk of liberal columnists, the New York Times editorial page, and Hollywood. These liberals--better, leftists--hate George W. Bush so much they can barely bring themselves to hope America wins the war to which, in their view, the president has illegitimately committed the nation. They hate Don Rumsfeld so much they can't bear to see his military strategy vindicated. They hate John Ashcroft so much they relish the thought of his Justice Department flubbing the war on terrorism. They hate conservatives with a passion that seems to burn brighter than their love of America, and so, like M. de Villepin, they can barely bring themselves to call for an American victory.

It would be bad for America if this wing of American liberalism were to prevail. Parts of the Republican party, and of the conservative movement, fell into a similar trap in the late 1990s, hating Bill Clinton more than Slobodan Milosevic. But this wing of the GOP and conservatism lost in an intra-party and intra-movement struggle, and has now been marginalized--Pat Buchanan is no longer a Republican, and his magazine these days makes common cause with Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal. The fight over the future of liberalism is not one conservatives can really join. But we can wholeheartedly cheer from the sidelines for the Gephardt liberals against their anti-American leftist rivals, hoping that they succeed in saving the (mostly) good name of liberalism.

This exaggerates the size and strength of anti-American "leftism" within the mainstream Democratic Party. But this description of how personal animosity has been substituted for reason in partisan politics (indeed the equivalent of the Republicans' self-defeating blind rage against Clinton) is accurate, and I believe many Democratic partisans haven't grasped just how alienating this is to their own, less intemperate, rank and file. At this point, I don't think it's enough for Nancy Pelosi or Tom Daschle simply to choose their words carefully, trying to avoid anything that will sound too bad when quoted. Kristol's characterization of the inanity of the "de Villepin wing" may not reflect their own views with complete, or even any, accuracy; nevertheless, he is describing a very real feature of the political landscape. At any rate, it is a characterization that will ring true (and with a tone unappealing) to a great many voters, and most mainstream Democrats are doing next to nothing to repudiate it. Fair or not, if the Democrats allow themselves to be cast as a party of inane unpatriotic haters bearing a personal grudge and ambivalent about American victory (as they seem poised to do) they risk their doom, or at least they risk the very real possibility of helping to create a substantial block of "Bush Democrats," something that, war or no war, seemed barely conceivable just a short time ago.

Despite the famous ineptitude of the Gore campaign, Bush the candidate was a hard sell in the 2000 election, as the divided results indicate. Yet there's little doubt that, had Karl Rove allowed the campaign to dwell too prominently on the still-smoldering over-the-top hatred of Clinton obsessively cultivated by many in the GOP, it would have tipped the scales against him, Florida or no. It's extremely difficult to make a wholly negative case in a likable, electable way. Bitterness doesn't sell. The Democrats have often benefited from Republican blunders in this regard. But the GOP appears to have learned from their mistakes, while many Democrats have not.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:04 AM | TrackBack

March 28, 2003

From William Gibson's blog (via

From William Gibson's blog (via Samizdata) the following heard on Sky News:

"Umm Qasr is a town similar to Southampton", UK Defence Minister Geoff Hoon told the House of Commons yesterday.

"He's either never been to Southampton, or he's never been to Umm Qasr", said one British soldier, informed of this while on patrol in Umm Qasr.

Another added: "There's no beer, no prostitutes, and people are shooting at us. It's more like Portsmouth."

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:07 AM | TrackBack

War Monkeys A Moroccan publication

War Monkeys

A Moroccan publication accused the government Monday of providing unusual assistance to U.S. troops fighting in Iraq by offering them 2,000 monkeys trained in detonating land mines.

The weekly al-Usbu' al-Siyassi reported that Morocco offered the U.S. forces a large number of monkeys, some from Morocco's Atlas Mountains and others imported, to use them for detonating land mines planted by the Iraqis.

The publication quoted a highly-informed source as saying, "that is not a scientific illusion but a well-known military tactic."

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:01 AM | TrackBack

Here's an interesting rundown of

Here's an interesting rundown of claims and counter-claims about incidents in the war. Predictable result: no one really knows what's going on, and every report should be regarded with skepticism. Many see this as a "bias" issue (that is, it enables people focus on the news items which coincide with their expectations or agenda and ignore contradictory information) and there may be something in that. But all in all, I prefer the current situation (a surfeit of instantaneous reports, relatively unvetted, some of which end up verified, some of which do not) to some imaginary alternative where nothing is reported without iron-clad verification. Sifting through it all is tough and time consuming, and skepticism is well-advised, but the public ends up better-informed rather than worse.

One of the items mentioned in the Guardian piece is the Camp Penn. "fragging" incident, which was first reported as a "traditional" attack by Arab terrorists, but turned out to be the work of a disgruntled American Muslim convert. Would the interests of an informed public have been better served if the correspondent had failed to file the first report, or held back the sketchy details, or if news agencies hadn't picked it up and commentators hadn't speculated upon it? I don't think so. For one thing, the fact that the process is transparent enough to enable media critics to write articles like this is a good in itself. But more importantly, it's an unavoidable and essential part of on-the-ground real-time "embedded" war reporting, which, despite its flaws is a vast improvement on previous models (as to data, at any rate.) I'd guess the fragging incident would never have come out as a major story if there hadn't been a reporter there to report the first sign of it, or if the TV news had been reticent about talking it up. The army would have tried to downplay it, certainly; the subsequent details about the soldier's background would have been less salient and unremarked upon if they hadn't come out as part of the correction of the previous inaccurate details. It's messy, to be sure, and the fear is that inaccurate reports might linger in the public consciousness uncorrected, as they always have done, yet more worrisome owing to their vastly increased volume and speed. Like it or not, though, we're in a situation where the news-gathering and transmission process is itself an inextricable part of the story itself, something we as news consumers are obliged to consider seriously to an unprecedented degree. I say that's good.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:00 AM | TrackBack

Steven Chapman watches Question Time,

Steven Chapman watches Question Time, freaks out, makes a couple of good points, captures the moment for posterity.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:10 AM | TrackBack

You'll inspect our weapons when

You'll inspect our weapons when you pry them out of the cold, dead hands of our terrorized conscripts...

Lord knows, he's preaching to the choir, but Andrew Sullivan "gets it," as he might put it:

One lesson of the ferocity of the Saddamite resistance is surely this: who now could possibly, conceivably believe that this brutal police state would ever, ever have voluntarily disarmed? Would a regime that is forcing conscripts to fight at gun-point have caved to the terrifying figure of Hans Blix, supported by the even more intimidating vision of Dominique de Villepin? I'd say that one clear lesson of the first week is that war was and is the only mechanism that could have effectively disarmed Saddam. If true disarmament was your goal, it seems to me that the inspections regime has been revealed, however well-intentioned, as hopelessly unsuited to staring down a vicious totalitarian system.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:50 AM | TrackBack

Stats on French anti-Semitism

"Violent racist attacks quadrupled in France in 2002 to the highest level in a decade, and more than half of the assaults were aimed at Jews, a national report said Thursday..."

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:44 AM | TrackBack

March 27, 2003

Funny stuff: Leaders of the

Funny stuff:

Leaders of the anti-war movement announced Tuesday that as the war progressed in Iraq, the movement was headed into a "dangerous quagmire". Angela Hassle-Moore, leader of a recent protest march stated, "We have lost our focus. What are we really trying to accomplish here? Are we fighting for the U.S. to stop the war after it has already started? Are we trying to get another recount of the 2000 election? Are we just bitching and moaning?" Angela added, "If we don't know what our goals are, how will we know if we've won? How many more of our best and brightest youth must throw away their free afternoons and weekends on this hopeless cause?"

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:17 PM | TrackBack

Who knows? Near Basra, Iraq:

Who knows?

Near Basra, Iraq: British military interrogators claim captured Iraqi soldiers have told them that al-Qaeda terrorists are fighting on the side of Saddam Hussein's forces against allied troops near Basra.

At least a dozen members of Osama bin Laden's network are in the town of Az Zubayr where they are coordinating grenade and gun attacks on coalition positions, according to the Iraqi prisoners of war.

(via Drudge.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:13 PM | TrackBack

Peter Beinart comments, approvingly I

Peter Beinart comments, approvingly I believe, on the kinder, gentler war. He's right about the irony implied in his subtitle-- in the war as in much else, Bush's Clintonian streak is something few of his critics, and hardly any of his fans, seem willing to recognize. And he's right about what has turned out to be the biggest and most welcome surprise for those who have harbored suspicions about the bona fides of administration's decreasingly sporadic humanitarian and pro-democracy rhetoric:

In the north, too, the Bush administration has shown surprising humanitarianism. For weeks now, cynics have assumed the United States would prioritize its strategic alliance with Turkey over its moral commitment to the Kurds and let Ankara send its troops into northern Iraq, thus sparking a humanitarian catastrophe and snuffing out hopes of Kurdish autonomy in a post-Saddam Iraq. But, ever since Ankara's refusal to allow American troops to operate from Turkish soil, the Bush administration has been surprisingly outspoken on the Kurds' behalf. America's refusal to bless Ankara's incursion led Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week to delay by a crucial 24 hours the opening of Turkey's airspace to U.S. warplanes. On Sunday, President Bush said, "We're making it very clear that we expect [Turkey] not to come into northern Iraq." The Bush administration even seems to have implied that large-scale Turkish intervention will threaten U.S. foreign aid. It is too early to tell whether the Bush administration's efforts to prevent Turkey from crushing Kurdish aspirations will succeed, but, so far, the United States has made a much greater effort than most commentators expected.

Certainly more than I expected.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:10 PM | TrackBack

What we're dealing with here

According to this Sky News report, the distribution of food and water in the southern town of Al Zubayr had to be halted because Iraqi forces fired into the crowd:

Reporter Ian Bruce, who is travelling with Scots unit Black Watch, said troops had established a strong but not yet secure foothold in the town - a known Iraqi militia base - and were to begin distributing aid to its people.

The troops were greeted by cheering crowds of several hundred people as they arrived western edge of the town, he said.

But before any food or water could be handed out, snipers opened fire and two mortars shells fell into the crowd.

The civilians scattered to escape a hail of bullets and mortar rounds which followed in quick succession and the relief effort was abandoned.

(via Totten.)

Also from al Zubayr, comes this report of treason and war crimes:

A British man has reportedly handed himself in to the Desert Rats in Iraq after travelling there to fight for Saddam Hussein.

He surrendered to the Irish Guards near the southern city of Basra on Sunday telling them he had had enough and wanted to go home to his family in Manchester.

The unidentified man, who is in his 20s, was born in Iraq but speaks with a Mancunian accent.

He is being held in a prisoner of war camp south west of al Zubayr, according to Scotland's Daily Record newspaper.

The man handed himself in after joining Iraqi militia in civilian clothing in an attack on UK forces.

The British soldiers quoted, including a fellow Mancunian, express a certain degree of disapprobation.

On the subject of treason: I happened to be in England in the aftermath of the John Walker controversy, when the subject of British citizens who had joined the Taliban was in the news. The subject of treason is touchy in the US, and people tend to shrink from it, don't have the stomach to apply it to anyone without multiple qualifications, if at all. Many people don't regard treason as a legitimate, reasonable, practicable category of human wrongdoing; and usually, as a practical if not essential matter, they turn out to be right. Nothing new about that.

Still, I was astonished at the prevailing attitude among my British acquaintances, right-thinking left-liberals all, who seemed to regard the ethnic background of the turncoats in question as the defining, deal-breaking mitigating factor. John Walker's actions, they may have been willing to concede, might have been treasonable, but the situation in Britain is different: you can hardly expect the same loyalty from non-Anglo Brits as you do from "ordinary English boys." (The fact that this is said in a slightly mocking tone, distancing the speaker from the sentiment, doesn't entirely change the fact that the sentiment is essentially being agreed with.) "It's not treason," said one. "It's understandable." Perhaps it is, if you try hard enough. I suppose the attitude stems from the multicultural impulse, the desire to err on the side of understanding when it comes to The Other, as recompense and acknowledgment, in part, for Britain's past imperial misdeeds (for which the Brits seem genuinely ashamed.) But it also sounds, just a bit, like a kind of racism. Are there supposed to be two types of British citizenship, one for non-Anglos, one for everyone else? I couldn't get my mind around it, and they didn't seem able to get their minds around the fact that I couldn't get my mind around it.

UPDATE: Bill Quick (via Tim Blair) quotes this bit from the Mirror's snippet on the incident: "...then he taunted soldiers saying he'd soon be back in Britain enjoying state benefits." Hah.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 10:08 AM | TrackBack

March 26, 2003

Who will boo the booers?

Who will boo the booers?

Michael Moore says the people who booed his Oscar speech weren't booing him, but rather booing the other people who were booing. But what if the people who were applauding were actually applauding the ones who were booing? And what if some of the booers were booing the booers who were booing the ones who applauded the booers of the applauders?

That's too complicated for me. All I know is, next time I get booed, I'm using it.

(via Tim Blair.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:30 PM | TrackBack

The perspicuous in pursuit of

The perspicuous in pursuit of the depraved

Many have linked to this, but only Moira Breen was clever enough to describe it as "auto-Godwinization".

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:24 PM | TrackBack

"You are obviously trying to

"You are obviously trying to get around the fact that you are Canadian."

eBay seller refuses to ship to countries that don't support the Anglo-American war effort; hijinks and amusing quotations ensue.

(via Angela Gunn.)

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

Steven den Beste makes a

Steven den Beste makes a point about the embedded reporters that I've never seen raised before:

There's been a lot of speculation about why the government decided to embed reporters in major military formations. Probably there were a lot of reasons why. First and foremost, when the reporters spend weeks with the same unit, the soldiers will cease to be remorseless baby killers and start being Joe and Ted and Fred. Embedded reporters would be expected to be less antagonistic.

But I do wonder if maybe there's also some misdirection going on. With reporters embedded in Marine units, and the 3rd Infantry Division, and with the British, there's a natural tendency for the news organizations to report on those formations, and a natural tendency on the part of nearly everyone to think that this is the entire war.

In fact, it's the tip of the iceberg. It's big, and showy, and damned important, and the men and women of those units have accomplished a lot so far and will accomplish a lot more before it's over; and some of them will pay a stiff price for it. It is proper that we should watch them, and be concerned for them, and mourn for them if they die.

That said, there seems to be a lot going on which we aren't seeing, and it's becoming revealed not by what's happened, but by what has not.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:58 AM | TrackBack

Hey, thanks to the kind

Hey, thanks to the kind souls who have been hitting the paypal button, and particularly the anonymous tip jar donors whom I can't email directly! Wow. Much appreciated.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:38 AM | TrackBack

I find this extensive rumination

I find this extensive rumination on the meaning of "Not in Our Name"