Tim Blair’s Thought For The Day:

IF JAYSON BLAIR is charged with fraud, will Howell Raines be tried as an accessory?

Four Horse-Persons


(Created by Bryan, seen via American RealPolitik)

Salam Pax- Saddam’s Agent?

That is what David Warren seems to think:

Salam refers to the Americans slickly as the “puppet-masters.” He speaks approvingly of old Iraqi Communists organizing their poster (and subversion) campaigns, and is suddenly sympathetic when they happen to appropriate some office space. He mentions in passing linking up with a Western leftist group called “CIVIC” (Campaign for Innocent Victims In Conflict) to document civilian casualties from the U.S. invasion that liberated the country.

And this from a person who shows no guilt whatever at his own family membership in a Baathist regime that killed some hundreds of thousands of civilians — entirely on purpose. He dismisses all that as “a few bad apples,” without thinking to volunteer any sort of information on where such bad apples might now be hiding.

He builds a strong case.

(via Occam’s Toothbrush)

New Hitchens

Just read the new Hitchens piece– as always, a must read:

So it turns out that all the slogans of the anti-war movement were right after all. And their demands were just. “No War on Iraq,” they saidand there wasn’t a war on Iraq. Indeed, there was barely a “war” at all. “No Blood for Oil,” they cried, and the oil wealth of Iraq has been duly rescued from attempted sabotage with scarcely a drop spilled. Of the nine oil wells set ablaze by the few desperadoes who obeyed the order, only one is still burning and the rest have been capped and doused without casualties. “Stop the War” was the call. And the “war” is indeed stopping. That’s not such a bad record. An earlier anti-war demand”Give the Inspectors More Time”was also very prescient and is also about to be fulfilled in exquisite detail.

(via So 5 Minutes Ago)

Saudi Explosions

Apparently the chatter was real and terrorists have struck in Saudi Arabia. I will post more details when I can sift through them and make some sense. This quote from the news story is interesting:

On May 7 police said they were hunting 19 suspected militants, mainly Saudis, believed to be hiding in Riyadh after a shoot-out with security forces the previous day.

The Interior Ministry said police had also found a huge cache of explosives, hand grenades, ammunition and machineguns after storming what they said was the “terrorists’ lair.”

I don’t remember where I saw it (it was somewhere in the blogosphere), but I remember someone asking what the significance of the number 19 was to the terrorists (19 terrorists committed the 9/11 atrocities). Last night, while reading the Age of Sacred Terror, I came across this Sura from the Quran:

Over it are Nineteen.

And We have set none but angels as Guardians of the Fire; and We have fixed their number only as a trial for Unbelievers,- in order that the People of the Book may arrive at certainty, and the Believers may increase in Faith,- and that no doubts may be left for the People of the Book and the Believers, and that those in whose hearts is a disease and the Unbelievers may say, “What symbol doth Allah intend by this ?” Thus doth Allah leave to stray whom He pleaseth, and guide whom He pleaseth: and none can know the forces of thy Lord, except He and this is no other than a warning to mankind.

The translation I have posted is slightly different from the one in The Age of Sacred Terror, so here is another translation:

Above it are nineteen.

We have appointed only angels to be wardens of the Fire, and their number have We made to be a stumbling-block for those who disbelieve; that those to whom the Scripture hath been given may have certainty, and that believers may increase in faith; and that those to whom the Scripture hath been given and believers may not doubt; and that those in whose hearts there is disease, and disbelievers, may say: What meaneth Allah by this similitude ? Thus Allah sendeth astray whom He will, and whom He will He guideth. None knoweth the hosts of thy Lord save Him. This is naught else than a Reminder unto mortals.

You have to read the whole Sura to really get the gist of it- essentially it is a threat to unbelievers. They will be thrown into the ‘burning’ or what is alternately called the ‘Hell-Fire,’ and the nineteen are there to be the “Wardens of the Fire.” At anyrate, that is the only significance of the number nineteen that I have stumbled across.

Last on Jayson Blair

I think the thing that is being missed the most in the coverage about Jayson Blair is the personal aspect of it. I am not apologizing for his behavior- he will and should have to pay the price for his misdeeds- but am I the only person who looks at this young guy and thinks “What is he going to do with the rest of his life?”

The NY Times will recover- in fact it already has. I expect there will be four op-eds penned tomorrow bashing something or another about the current administration. What will happen to Jayson Blair – he is simply ruined, done, finished. Even if he brought in on himself, it is nothing to be gleeful about. It really is kind of sad.

*** Update ***

Apparently Blair did this at the Boston Globe, as well.

Jayson Blair

One of the more damning assertions regarding the obviousness of Jayson Blair’s guilt prior to his recent discovery is the fact that the NY Times was forced to print 50 corrections over the past four years for Blair alone. This is surprising, particularly because the NY Times seems to HATE to issue corrections (you remember them misreporting the temperature increase and then dong everything they could to fudge the truth when it came time to print a correction).

In fact, they hate issuing corrections so much that some intrepid individuals decided to start another paper in the NY Region. I am sure my wise Balloon Juice readers have heard of the NY Sun and remember who started it and why…

Rush Limbaugh

I was driving in the car a moment ago,and Rush Limbaugh is trying to use the Jayson Blair scandal as a reason to end affirmative action.

Look- there may be a number of plausible and well-founded reasons to get rid of affirmative action. This is not one of them. This is a reason to get rid of lazy editors, disinterested middle management, and lazy fact-checkers at the NY Times. Period.

How To Elect Democrats

Via The Blogs of War, this interesting passage in Time:

There are futility metaphors aplenty here: The contrast between the swaggering President and the squabbling Dems. The nonargument over periphera. The absence of an audience. But then, the Democrats have excelled at futility for more than 30 years. They have elected two Presidents during that time, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Both were Governors of Southern states. Neither was a well-known party leader. Neither ran on what many Democrats would consider a traditionalthat is, liberalagenda. Carter was the first born-again Christian President; Clinton once owned a pickup truck with AstroTurf carpeting in the back. Carter won because he seemed a simple, honorable antidote to the excessive dishonesty of the Nixon era. Clinton won because he was far more talented than his opponentsGeorge H. W. Bush and Bob Dolebut also because he rejected his party’s orthodoxy on crime (especially the death penalty), welfare reform, free trade and fiscal conservatism. One could argue that the only winning strategy for Democrats in the past nine presidential campaigns has been camouflage.

I posted the same excerpt as the Blogs of War, because it was the most delicious. Sorry, John.


Since when did ‘vigorous’ become a euphemism for obnoxious?

I agree with everyone, though. Tacitus is one of the best.

The NY Times

Everyone seems to really have their knickers in a twist about the NY Times/Jayson Blair scandal, and there is some obvious schadenfreude from a number of sources. My opinion of the NY Times has lessened since the scandal, but not really because of it.

The way I see it, the NY Times got screwed by a con-man- it could happen to anyone. However, is that any more damning than the institutional bias that will continue on irrespective of this scandal? Think about it- what is worse? Having one rogue reporter who made up stories, or having an entire staff that knows the truth but refuses or is not allowed to print it? I’ll take the rogue reporter, thank you.

Two Notes on Terror

– I saw 60 Minutes frightening piece on Chem/Bio weapons in the former Soviet Union, and I realized half-way through it that someone, by tomorrow, will make the bad argument that we really shouldn’t have worried about Iraq, but we should be worrying about those old weapons labs in the former U.S.S.R. I am not sure who will make the argument first, but it is what is known as a false dichotomy. Personally, both situations scare the bejeesus out of me. At any rate, if we learned anything from the U.S.S.R., it was that treaties about this sort of stuff are worthless- Nixon negotiated and signed one with the Kremlin, they simply ignored the treaty and built the largest covert biological weapons program ever. Totalitarian regimes don’t negotiate in good faith- whether it be the North Koreans, Saddam Hussein, or the Soviets. That is a lesson we need to remember- these people lie more than our politicians, if that is fathomable.

– I am reading The Age of Sacred Terror by Daniel Benjamin and Steve Simon. This was actually recommended to me several months ago by Dave Neiwart, and he was right, it is a fascinating read. At any rate, one passage struck me as something that everyone who is bitching and moaning that “There have been no direct connections found between Iraq and Al Qaeda,” should be forced to read. The statement is annoying for several reasons, first because it is demonstrably false. Second, this passage in The Age of Sacred Terror makes clear that these connections aren’t as direct and clear-cut as many want (demand) them to be:

“There are two enduring misconceptions about Ramzi Yousef. The first is that he was a lone wolf, a solo operator who got a contract to do a job, or propelled by his own ambitions, simply set out to do it himself. True, he was not a card-carrying member of any renowned terrorist organization. But from the time he landed in the United States to the time he left, he was part of a constant triangular conversation. The phone in his apartment and the one in the home of the Blind Sheikh were frequently connected. And both of them regulalry called Pakistan: 810604, the number Rahman had dialed before Yousef’s arrival.” – The Age of Sacred terror, p. 8.

Terrorists don’t have business cards. They don’t have organizational flowcharts that they give to the public. Demanding direct connections that stand up to the strictes rules of evidence in a court of law in the United States will often be hard to get. I distrust the government as much as the next guy, and if you have read my ranting and raving on a number of issues, you will probably agree that I distrust the government more than your average joe. Some things, though, you have to just trust em, even if they often don’t deserve that trust. Terrorism is one area where I will give them the benefit of the doubt.

Cat Blogging

And now for something I really enjoy- my cats. Here are a few pics.

Oliver closeup.JPG

This is a close-up of Oliver, the newest addition to the household. He just had surgery 2-3 days ago (yep, guys- that one), and he has been sleepy and having second thoughts about me ever since. The vet says he is about 1 to 1 1/2 years old

oliver sleeping.JPG

Oliver doing what he does best.

Tunch posing.JPG

Tunch likes to pose like this until the very moment you actually intend to take a photo, at which time he moves. Luckily, I got this picture before he realized what I was doing.

Tunch and Oliver.JPG

One of the hardest things I have ever done was get a picture of the two of these guys together. They sleep close all the time, but every time I break out the camera, they scatter. Bastards.

Tunch and Oliver 2.JPG

For those of you interested, Tunch is named after Steeler lineman Tunch Ilkin. Oliver is named Oliver because I went to the pound and he looked at me, and the name just popped into my head, and I thought- “He does look like an Oliver.” So I took him home. Seems to be working out for us.


Via the soon to be Harvard graduate, Matthew Yglesias, I see that the main WMD hunt in Iraq is over:

The group directing all known U.S. search efforts for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is winding down operations without finding proof that President Saddam Hussein kept clandestine stocks of outlawed arms, according to participants.

The 75th Exploitation Task Force, as the group is formally known, has been described from the start as the principal component of the U.S. plan to discover and display forbidden Iraqi weapons. The group’s departure, expected next month, marks a milestone in frustration for a major declared objective of the war.

This means that I was wrong about something, and time will tell which one. Here is the list of choices (and note they are not necessarily mutually exclusive):

1.) The abundance of WMD in Iraq- I thought the place was going to be littered with CHem/Bio, and I felt relatively sure that we would easily find plans and paperwork that would lead towards development of nuclear weapons. This simply did not materialzie, despite the fact that here and there have been found certain such items, the empty battlefield was not littered with cannisters as I expected it would be.

2.) The ease with which we would find the WMD, or alternatively phrased, the laziness of the regime in covering its tracks. There is no doubt there were WMD in Iraq- that much has been proven (they were there in 1998- what happened to them). I feel confident they would still be there and we would find them. I did not think, as has been suggested, that the regime would go to the fforts they have to hide them or to move them out of country (provided they did- as I stated, time will tell). So far, I have been wrong.

3.) The main thing I was wrong about, however, was that I was convinced WMD would be used in combat. I never said so out loud or blogged about it, because I was half-afraid it would happen, and I did NOT want to be right about that. I am glad I am wrong about this one.

4.) The sophistication of the regime. I was very surrprised that of the few WMD or WMD labs that were found, one was mobile. I always believed that the labs would be underground, fixed, and primitive, with poor security and precaution. I thought the “mobile’ labs was just spin- something that could help to explain why it was so difficult to find the WMD. Turns out, they were more sophisticated than I thought, and that is one of the few things we have found.

All in all, does this failure to find the amounts of WMD make me change my mind about supporting the war. Not one bit, at this point.

The Un Self-Parody Continues

Via the Emperor, I see this hilarious piece of life imitating farce: (registration required)

The Libyan mission to the UN is urging the community of nations to revoke the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s NGO status if it doesn’t apologize for criticizing Muammar Qaddafi’s human rights record.

At an NGO committee meeting on Friday, Libya, one of 19 nations tasked with reviewing and reaccrediting the world body’s 2,234 non-governmental organizations, demanded a letter of apology from the Wiesenthal Center for denouncing the UN Human Rights Commission’s choice of chairman.

So the Chair of the Human Rights Commission can’t handle free speech. Does this ban include the screams of prisoners being tortured in Tripoli?