Monday, October 24, 2005

This really takes the cake!

Uranium yellow-cake, that is.
According to this diary at,, Iraq had a lot of uranium yellowcake piled up in Iraq and it didn't need to buy more from Niger. The whole yellow-cake thing was a red herring.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Judith Miller strikes back

Her letter to the Public Editor trying to protect her non-existent reputation.

Impending disasters

These days seem to be full of impending disasters, that one can see coming, almost in slow motion, and that one is entirely powerless to deflect.

On the natural disaster side, the direst one is that in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and its northern areas, where two million face the onset of winter without shelter, because of the October 8th earthquake. Many are stranded in remote areas with roads cut off by landsides from the earthquake, and getting supplies to them or evacuating them by road is extremely difficult. Pakistan's military government finds it extremely difficult to accept Indian help. I hope the US, NATO, Chinese etc., help is adequate - so far it isn't. Disaster looms.

Then there were Katrina, Rita, Wilma - tropical cyclones charted from their birth and courses predicted days in advance, and bringing destruction in their wake. We are due for several more years like this one, according to the charts of hurricane cycles.

There may be the avian flu pandemic that hinges on how virulent the strain of flu is that mutates to be able to spread from human to human, instead of just bird to bird and bird to human right now.

On the political front, the US Government - all three branches - is in crisis. We have the Frist scandal, the DeLay scandal, and Plamegate, which reaches high into the White House. Then, we have the Harriet Miers or worse appointment to the Supreme Court.

In the longer term, one might believe global warming is creeping up on us. If not that, then an energy crisis - or both. On the political front, there is the implosion of countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh, going on in slow motion, seemingly unstoppable. Then there are the Islamic fanatics who seem determined to become nuclear suicide bombers.

Or maybe, this is situation normal, and all it is is that I'm a little older. But the coming storms are not going to be easy to weather.

The NYT Public Editor and reaction

The NYT Public Editor has put his word in, and Daily Kos has reaction, which pretty much says what I think.

Let's see what ensues. I'm in no mood to resume my subscription to the newspaper.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

More on the NYT

Executive Editor Bill Keller apparently wrote a letter to the staff of the NYT.

firedoglake : Throw Judy From the Train. The text of the letter is at Crooks and Liars.

Bill Keller writes:

There is another important issue surfaced by this case: how we deal with the inherent conflict of writing about ourselves. This paper (and, indeed, this business) has had way too much experience of that over the past few years.

In my area of work (telecomm), we kid each other about not wanting to appear in the New York Times. If a story runs on us, it usually means our telecomm network has had a major failure. The measure of our success is in remaining faceless, nameless people whose service you can take for granted, and whose brand you can unconditionally rely on. Similarly, anytime a news organization finds itself as a vital part of the story, it should immediately know that it is in deep trouble. A newspaper that finds itself newsworthy should immediately convene a crisis management group and work the cliched 24x7 to get out of the news.

Update: The Public Editor's Web Journal

Monday, October 17, 2005

The NYT and me

I have been a subscriber to the New York Times since 1998 (if not earlier, but I can't prove it).

I think the NYT and Judith Miller have abandoned all journalistic ethics. They have behaved as a mouthpiece of the government and fed us propaganda about Iraq. They can no longer claim to belong to the Fourth Estate. Judith Miller has misused the First Amendment; she should have taken the Fifth. She has damaged every journalist who will have a legitimate reason to stand by the First Amendment. Her 85 days in jail is way too short.

I will not purchase the New York Times again until it comes clean, and fires not just Judith Miller but everyone else who is responsible. It owes all of us a complete accounting and it needs a purge.

I hope everyone else does the same. I certainly urge them to do so.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Connecting the dots?

Keith Olbermann notes a dozen coincidences of the breaking of a story that embarrasses the Administration and terrorism alerts.

Of course, one could cynically say, this Administration is "all scandal, all the time" and so the coincidences are inevitable.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Looking for the wrong things

Today's National Public Radio news had a story about the increasing availability of cosmetic plastic surgery in Iraq. It reminds me of similar stories of Afghanistan, where the sign of advancing freedom was supposed to be availability of cosmetics previously not available under the Taliban.

Personally, I think what is more important is whether girls can go to school, whether women can work, can travel safely unescorted, and can visit a doctor; but the news media doesn't cover that.

And why aren't the news talking about this:

Iraq's provisional constitution of 1970, at least until the 1990s, held a fairly progressive family law process. Iraqi women had access to education, the ability to refuse arranged marriages, and the right to full inheritance; their testimony counted in court; and they had a fighting chance to keep custody of their children if divorced or widowed. Islamic family law would change these rights, and not to women's advantage. Activists say that, judging from drafts of the constitution revealed so far, a woman's right to a divorce without her husband's consent, custody of male children past a certain age, and inheritance would be diminished, and she would not longer be considered equal to a man in the law's eyes.

(from )

Saturday, October 08, 2005

A lot more Theodore Dalrymple

Many of Theodore Dalrymple's essays are accessible in the City Journal archives,

Friday, October 07, 2005

Worth thinking about

Here is something to digest:

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Shifting Rationale for the Iraq War

Secy. of State Condoleeza Rice gave a talk yesterday, at Princeton, said to be "an intellectually serious defense of Bush administration foreign policy."

The key idea is this:

People still differ about what the September 11th calls us to do. And in a democratic society, that debate is healthy and just and right. If you focus only on the attacks themselves and believe they were caused by 19 hijackers, supported by a network called al-Qaida, and operating from a failed state -- Afghanistan -- then our response can be limited. The course of action presumes that we are still living in an ordinary time.

But if you believe, as I do and as President Bush does, that the root cause of September 11th was the violent expression of a global extremist ideology, an ideology rooted in the oppression and despair of the modern Middle East, then we must speak to remove the source of this terror by transforming that troubled region. If you believe as we do, then it cannot be denied that we are standing at an extraordinary moment in history.

First, the war in Iraq was on the grounds of its possession of weapons of mass destruction. Saddam was not one of the ideologues or followers of this global extremist ideology; if anything, the Islamist ideology of al Zawahiri was aimed against Saddam and leaders like him.

Second, this so-called global extremist ideology was quite impotent until it was armed by the Carter and Reagan administrations to fight the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan. After the Soviets pulled out, Bush Sr. and Clinton did nothing effective to leash in the dogs of war.

Third, even if we accept that it is our need and responsibility to transform the Middle East, it is not at all clear that invading it is the way to go. After all, we aren't invading China which also is ruled by a dangerous ideology, we're investing in it and trading with it.

Fourth, if the President in 2002 had said, we have to go to war to establish democracy in Iraq, then the statement above would have some credibility. If the American public could not be persuaded to go to war on that basis, then regardless of need, it would be wrong to go to war; after all, it is the public that bears the casualities and pays the bills. We now stand on the verge of failure in Iraq because the President failed to make the Iraq war a national enterprise.

[Update] P.C. Roberts

....Republican minority token Condi Rice was dispatched to Princeton last week to inform the university that democracy comes out of the barrel of a gun. US military force, said the secretary of state with a straight face, is required to force democracy down the throats of the Muslims in order to save future American generations from "insecurity and fear."
Condi Rice’s speech at Princeton has branded her as the greatest fool ever to be appointed Secretary of State.