Monday, October 30, 2006

List of the slowly dying...

POST BEATS NEWS By ANDY SOLTIS - New York Post Online Edition: Seven:
Here are the top 25 daily newspapers in the U.S. by circulation (with percent change) for the six-month period ending September 2006.
"1. USA Today: 2,269509, (-1.3%)
2. The Wall Street Journal: 2,043235, (-1.9%)
3. The New York Times: 1,086,798, (-3.5%)
4. Los Angeles Times: 775,766, (-8.0%)
5. The New York Post: 704,011, 5.1%
6. Daily News: 693,382, 1.0%
7. The Washington Post: 656,297, (-3.3%)
8. Chicago Tribune: 576,132, (-1.7%)
9. Houston Chronicle: 508,097, (-3.6%)
10. Newsday: 413,579, (-4.9%)
11. The Arizona Republic, Phoenix: 397,294, (-2.5%)
12. The Boston Globe: 386,415, (-6.7%)"

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Multicultural Tolerance

TCS Daily - The Straw That Broke the Multi-Culti Camel's Back: "The third incident that has shaken the wafer-thin facade of multiculturalism was the case of a Christian worker at a British Airways' check-in counter. She wore a small cross, barely the size of her thumbnail, to work and was sent home for refusing to remove it. British Airways cited their rule of no jewelry and no religious symbolism except if it is hidden under the uniform. Ms Nadia Eweida claims that the BA rule clearly means 'no Christian symbolism' as Sikh male employees are allowed to wear their much larger steel bangles with their livery, unhidden. Indeed, they are allowed to wear their turbans to work if they wish. And Muslim women can wear headscarves."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

King of the Hill- Church!


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Mel Gibson for Republican Minority Leader "At the end of this process, the Republicans have managed to leave every segment of the base unhappy, mostly over things that weren't even all that important. It's as if they had some sort of bizarre death wish. Looks like the wish will come true . . . .

As I've said before, the Republicans deserve to lose, though alas the Democrats don't really deserve to win, either."
This post has a nice run down of the missteps of the Republican congress and Bush Administration. Pretty depressing. And then you think of the alternative. I'm guessing I know which way Al Qaeda, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Russia and China hope the election will go.

Speaking of death wishes...

"But let's reserve the word 'anti-feminist' for our real enemies."

Althouse: "'Our real enemies'? Oh, yes, feminism has gotten rolled up into the conventional left-right of American politics. Ever since feminists chose to subordinate themselves to the interests of the Democratic party to help Bill Clinton with his problems, the feminist discourse in this country has been lame. It's a means to a political end, and so you always know who your 'enemies' are. Fifteen years ago, feminists critiquing each other was an important part of feminism. Now, doggedly serving liberal partisan politics squelches everything that could become vital."

This is the flip side of churches who ally themselves to closely with Republican politics.

Principle or politics? Sooner or later, you have to choose.
Free Hugs

I didn't even know Hugs was in prison.

Friday, October 13, 2006

OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan

OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan: "Students, stars, media movers, academics: They are always saying they want debate, but they don't. They want their vision imposed. They want to win. And if the win doesn't come quickly, they'll rush the stage, curse you out, attempt to intimidate.

And they don't always recognize themselves to be bullying. So full of their righteousness are they that they have lost the ability to judge themselves and their manner.

And all this continues to come more from the left than the right in America.

Which is, at least in terms of timing, strange. The left in America--Democrats, liberals, Bush haters, skeptics of many sorts--seems to be poised for a significant electoral victory. Do they understand that if it comes it will be not because of Columbia, Streisand, O'Donnell, et al., but in spite of them?

What is most missing from the left in America is an element of grace--of civic grace, democratic grace, the kind that assumes disagreements are part of the fabric, but we can make the fabric hold together. The Democratic Party hasn't had enough of this kind of thing since Bobby Kennedy died. What also seems missing is the courage to ask a question. Conservatives these days are asking themselves very many questions, but I wonder if the left could tolerate asking itself even a few. Such as: Why are we producing so many adherents who defy the old liberal virtues of free and open inquiry, free and open speech? Why are we producing so many bullies? And dim dullard ones, at that."

To be fair conservatives, particularly religious conservatives, can be just as chilling to free speech. It's just that in this country they don't have near as much institutional power as the secular left so they have far less opportunity to stifle dissent. And the left often portray themselves as the defenders of free speech in modern America, which is why it is so ironic, sad, and instructive to read the examples in the article linked above from Rosie, the Washington Post and Barbara.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The War and Its Critics

Works and Days:


Most genres don’t require footnotes—the memoir, the essay, the journalistic dispatch. I’ve written histories that had too many footnotes—The Other Greeks had citations to ancient sources in the text, explanations with asterisks at the bottom of the page, and formal endnotes at the back of the book—and memoirs like Fields Without Dreams and Mexifornia with no citations.

But when you write history, and especially history of a contentious nature about Iraq, in which so much is at stake, it is incumbent to identify primary sources. The last three books about the supposed mess in Iraq—Cobra II, Fiasco, and now State of Denial—violate every canon of intellectual courtesy. Check who said what in Cobra II and you find the following: “Interview, former senior military officer”, “Interview, former senior officer”, “Interview, former Centcom planner,” Interview, Pentagon Officials,” “Interview, U.S. State Department Official,” or “notes of a participant.”

When the readers encounter the most controversial and damning of verbatim quotes in Fiasco, they are presented with “said a Bush administration official” or “recalled one officer.” Woodward is ever more derelict, in imagining not just the conversations, but even the thoughts of characters. And lest one think I am unduly critical in questioning the veracity of these unnamed sources—whose authenticity can never be checked by anyone other than the journalists who now write out popular histories—examine the recent record of journalists at the New York Times and Washington Post, and more recent stories such as the Koran flushing at Guantanamo or the photshopped pictures from Lebanon. But even more specifically, Ricks himself in the course of promoting Fiasco, repeated rumors from unidentified (“some”) sources that the Israelis deliberately exposed their civilians to rocket attacks from Lebanon to gain sympathy from the world community: “According to some U.S. military analysts … Israel purposely has left pockets of Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, because as long as they’re being rocketed, they can continue to have a sort of moral equivalency in their operations in Lebanon.” He was immediately called to substantiate those unproven charges. After considerable damage done to the reputation of the Israeli Dense Force had been done, Ricks backed down and apologized for his unsupported allegations with a weak mea culpa about his revelations “Ugh. I wish I hadn’t.”

Every source in Cobra II, Fiasco, or State of Denial, may be accurate, but we will never know that, because for a variety of reasons the authors who claim they worked from notes and recordings, chose not to identify the most inflammatory sources by name. It would be as if I wrote a history of the Peloponnesian War and, to support my most controversial points, added footnotes that stated “A manuscript in the Vatican,” or “Private letter to author from anonymous Greek shepherd attesting a stone altar in his field”

Finally, note the silence from the numerous critics of the “Path to 9/11” who objected to the film’s adaptation of the 9/11 report. But that docu-drama clearly identified itself as a fictionalized rendition of a document, and made no claims as history. In contrast, this new genre of journalistic expos√© purports to give us the real story of Iraq, but denies us the very tools of determining whether what we are reading is true, half-true, or simply made up.


Everything that needs to be said about Iraq has. Long gone is any surprise that most current critics of the war were its one-time boosters, much less that it matters much.

Still, a book will be written about the public fickleness of prominent columnists, pundits, politicians, and TV talking heads and hosts, who now damn our efforts, but once were gung-ho in their support of removing Saddam—and crowed as much when the statue fell.

My rule of thumb is that almost every current, know-it-all critic, whether a Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Chris Matthews (“we are all neo-cons now”), Francis Fukuyama, etc., at one time or another voiced support for removing Saddam and bringing war to Iraq.

One constant in their various escape hatches is that a particular lapse, a certain mistake alone explains their abandonment of earlier zeal—too few troops, disbanding the Iraqi army, not trisecting the country, the tenure of Donald Rumsfeld, etc.

In contrast, the simple truth is too bitter to confess: their support follows the pulse of the battlefield. When the statue fell and approval for the war hovered near 80%, few wanted to be on the wrong side of history. But fast forward three years plus: after well over 2,000 battle deaths, and chaos in Iraq, most not only don’t wish to be associated with the stasis, but contort to assure that they never supported the war in the beginning (hard to do with footprints on the internet), or were supposedly betrayed by the incompetence of others.

I admit to being somewhat jaded: 80% of most people have no ideology or widely-held views, but simply reflect perceptions of failure or success. Those who praised Lincoln to the skies when Sherman reached Savannah in December 1864, just months earlier had hated him during the awful prior summer. Those who later sang Churchill’s praises after El Alamein and Normandy Beach surely did not earlier after the string of disasters at Dunkirk, Singapore, and Tobruk. Those who wrote in praise of massive B-17 raids deep into Germany in early 1945, escorted by hundreds of lethal P-51 Mustangs, had written off daylight unescorted bombing in 1942 as an aerial holocaust. The point, again, is that in the middle of a war, savvy is apparently defined as changing positions and views to keep pace with the upside-downside battlefield, rather than looking at the long-term conduct of the war.

My own views remain the same. While I didn’t support removing Saddam prior to September 11, I am glad we did afterwards. While there were plenty of errors committed—no American should ever have appeared on Iraqi television; Tommy Franks should not have abruptly abandoned the theater; instant ad-hoc solutions were preferable to long-term utopian efforts at perfection—none of these lapses were as serious as those in the past in the hedgerows, in the skies above Germany in 1942, on Iwo Jima, or during the days before the Bulge, and none cannot be corrected and learned from.

Iraq is 7,000 miles away, in the heart of the ancient caliphate, surrounded by a hostile Sunni Saudi Arabia, Shiite Iran, and treacherous Jordan and Syria. The war was conducted through three national elections, and became the focus of a hostile global media — much of it predisposed to be critical of the US government and military.

Nevertheless, that we now have a consensual government fighting for its life against terrorists is nothing short of remarkable. Everything and everyone now hinge on the outcome.

The safety of millions of brave Iraqi reformers, the prestige of the United States and its military, the policy of fostering democratic reform in the Middle East, the end to the nexus between failed autocracies and scapegoating the West through terrorists; success of the Bush Administration; the effectiveness of the Democratic opposition; the divide between Europe and America; the attitude toward the United States of the Middle East autocracies; the reputation of the Islamic terrorists — all that will be adjudicated by the verdict in Iraq. Rarely have so many ideologies, so much politics, so many reputations been predicated on just a few thousand American combat soldiers and their Iraq allies.

I also confess, at this point I have a very reductionist, very Jacksonian view now of Americans in Iraq: America went in for the right purposes, conducted itself with honor and humanity, was still good when it was not perfect; and can leave something far better than what it found—if it will make the necessary adjustments, as in all of its past wars, and persevere. 130,000 took us at our word and are in harm’s way as a result. So I don’t care much to refight the argument over who was smart and who stupid—only how best to support out troops and ensure they win at the least possible cost.

A final note. At some point all these retired generals need to simply quiet down and think. In World War II, Nimitz or Eisenhower never blamed the Secretary of War or FDR for the mistakes on Iwo Jima or the Kasserine Pass. Instead, they called in their top brass, drew up a plan, followed it, and then presented a successful fait accompli to their civilian overseers. In other words, our four-stars need to summon their colonels and majors in the field, draw up a military strategy that ensures our political aims of seeing a stable consensual Iraq, and then win. Blaming Bush, or faulting Rumsfeld is a waste of time; figuring out as military officers how to achieve victory over a canny enemy is all that matters."

No God, No Humanity, No Good, No Beauty easy a caveman can do it::By Chuck Colson: "That’s because the biggest challenge to the materialist orthodoxy of the kind on display in the Boston Globe article is its inability to satisfactorily account for those things — like music, ethics, and altruism — that are most distinctly human."

Monday, October 09, 2006

I guess he can't fetus all...

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today: "Et Tu, Kos?
Markos 'Kos' Moulitsas has what some would consider happy news:

My wife and I just got back from the 12-week ultrasound, and seeing that everything looks healthy and normal, I think it's safe to announce that yes, we're about six months away from having our second child.

The due date is early April. And while it's been a rough pregnancy thus far (just like the first), it was great seeing our very active 3-inch baby on a monitor.

Congratulations to the proud parents-to-be. But what, what is this about a 3-inch, 12-week 'baby'? Has there ever been a more blatant attempt to undermine Roe v. Wade? It seems the antichoice fanatics have even infiltrated the progressive netroots."

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Birth of a Passion

History (from coffee) -- Encyclopædia Britannica: "One of many legends about the discovery of coffee is that of Kaldi, an Arab goatherd, who was puzzled by the queer antics of his flock. About AD 850, Kaldi supposedly sampled the berries of the evergreen bush on which the goats were feeding and, on experiencing a sense of exhilaration, proclaimed his discovery to the world."
Blessed are you Kaldi, for flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but the Father in heaven.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Don't despair. We're winning.

An emailer to -: "We're not losing momentum in Iraq. The Pentagon strategy is a very deliberate form of tough love that is forcing the Iraqis to defend their own country.

Arabs are culturally the most passive, fence-sitting people on the planet. By their own admission they follow the strongest leader out there. If we had sent 500,000 troops to Iraq and fought a Soviet-style counterinsurgency, the end result would have been an Iraq with no incentive to do the very hard work of creating viable fighting forces from scratch. We would've been their new masters in perpetuity.

We also can't attack Iran and Syria right now because the Iranians would then activate their Iraqi militias and send a million Basij into Iraq. Syria would do a Saddam and start firing WMD-tipped missiles at Israel. The entire region could go up in flames.

Don't let the media convince you that things are going badly in Iraq. The Anbar tribes are now fighting al Qaeda on their own initiative, and the Shi'ite-dominated government is slowly dismantling al Sadr's Mahdi Army. 'Experts' predicted that neither of these things would ever happen because of secular loyalties, but they are happening, and only because we're forcing the Iraqis to stand up and fight for their country.

Finally, take a look at what happened when the French, Soviets, and Russians fought Muslim insurgencies with the kind of aggressive, 'proactive' approach so many Americans claim to want.

The French lost 18,000 in Algeria, a KIA rate three and a half times ours. The Soviets lost 14,000 in Afghanistan, a KIA rate twice ours. The Russians officially lost 5500 in the First Chechen War of 1994-96, but Soldiers' Mothers of Russia puts the actual number at 14,000, a KIA rate ten times ours. Nobody knows how many Russian troops have died in the Second Chechen War, but Soldiers' Mothers of Russia had the number at 11,000 by 2003.

Our strategy in Iraq is sound. It's keeping our own casualties down, and it's forcing the Iraqis to defend themselves.

Don't despair. We're winning."

And it's undermining al Qaeda's ability to bring terror to the US (5 years and counting). It's interesting to me that many assume that George Bush and all who agree with him, on Iraq specifically, are incompetent idiots when brilliant arguments can be made to understand the Iraq strategy. You may not agree with the rationale outlined above and it may not work but it's not the work of an idiot. And it seems to be working better than other possible historical alternatives.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Campus Crusade for Katrina

10,000 Campus Crusade college students chose to spend spring break doing Katrina relief work.

Many were from the Northeast.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Talkin bout my generation... - Round and round they go: "When the USA's 300 millionth resident appears next month, that person's life will be shaped, in part, by whether Mom and Dad are baby boomers, Gen-Xers or millennials, experts say.

Someone who came of age when civil rights and the women's movement helped define the generation will have a very different take on life than someone who grew up a decade later listening to Madonna and watching MTV. Those even younger who have never known life without computers, video games or cellphones have yet another perspective."

Jury Duty Fraud

Federal Bureau of Investigation - Press Release September 28, 2005: "Washington, D.C. - The FBI today is providing a warning to the public against an ongoing scheme involving jury service. The public needs to be aware that individuals identifying themselves as U.S. court employees have been telephonically contacting citizens and advising them that they have been selected for jury duty. These individuals ask to verify names and Social Security numbers, then ask for credit card numbers. If the request is refused, citizens are then threatened with fines."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hold me like you held me on Naboo... - Lucas: Let's get small: "'We don't want to make movies. We're about to get into television. As far as Lucasfilm is concerned, we've moved away from the feature film thing, because it's too expensive and it's too risky."
Here's to you Jar-Jar, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

The Irish Economic Miracle

The Right Coast: "I remember being in Germany in the 1980s, when Irish kids would go there to try to get jobs. Now the travel goes in the opposite direction. Every Democrat (and many Republicans including President Bush) should be asked about the Irish miracle and how their own policies compare with these."

When will the coffee be ready?

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Back Talk: To Bob Woodward

Back Talk: Distinguishing the Insurgency from Sectarian Violence in Iraq: "A shocking fact the administration has kept secret? Please. As I noted, information about the number of attacks on American troops -- including this particular statistic of one attack every 15 minutes -- is not secret. Instead, it is very publicly available in the form of a big graph on page 22 of the Iraq Index (published by the Brookings Institution). In fact, that's probably where Woodward himself got the information. Some secret. The Iraq Index has been publishing attack statistics for a long, long time for anyone who is interested. I cannot remember how long the exact graph that Woodward apparently refers to has been there, but graphs just like it have been there for months on end. Therefore, the claim that this is top secret information is simply false (to put it as mildly as possible)."
Bob Woodward is coming to Cambridge to sell his new book. The post above demonstrates why I won't be going. I can learn more about Bob and his views on blogs like this than I ever could by listening to him in person. It seems that he could learn a few things too.

Bob is the last dinosaur of the end of the Watergate era. He has no idea where the meteor came from or what it will mean, and that's not going to stop him from doing what he has been doing since Watergate, when there was no Back Talk.

You've got to hand it to him though. He knows that he has an audience in Cambridge, and Boulder, and Eugene, and Madison, and Austin, and... hmm? What do all of these towns have in common?

Interesting Stuff