Because "Heh." and "Indeed." shouldn't count as punditry.
Friday, May 28, 2004
  I LEAVE YOU WITH THE FOLLOWING PREDICTIONS before I gas up the car for a weekend of beer, red meat, sports and more beer:

1. The Day After Tomorrow will do for global warming what Soul Plane will do for the cause of black entrepreneurship -- a mild negative, if anything at all. If it isn't a complete bomb, it certainly won't be the success that other big disaster flicks, such as "Independence Day" have been.

2. Glenn Reynolds will read the failure of The Day After Tomorrow as a failure of global warming theory and the environmental movement in general. Just like how Gigli singlehandedly took down the mob.

3. I will get to say "I told you so" by Tuesday at the latest. 


  PICKLERING JONAH GOLDBERG: No, not with brine -- I couldn't find a big enough jar anyway -- but with the style of everybody's favorite AP hack.

When Jonah Goldberg (linked on IP here) writes this:

An amazingly high share of both camps have a habit of saying something to the effect of "I know that you're going to call me anti-Semitic, but that's all you people do and I'm going to tell the truth no matter what."

The reason this sort of argument is so frustrating is that it's got more than a grain of truth to it. Groups like the Anti-Defamation League are sometimes so keen to declare anything inconvenient to Israel or offensive to liberal Jewish sensibilities as "anti-Semitic" that they often bypass more convincing counterarguments and lessen the currency of the charge.

He fails to mention that David Brooks and Richard Baehr do the same thing and consistently get a pass from the right's self-proclamed defenders of the Jewish people.



  WHAT I HATE ABOUT LILEKS' STYLE is that you have to read halfway down the page before you get to what he really has to say. I don't care if he goes on and on about the kid, but please, make it a different post, one I can ignore.

So it pisses me off even more that I have to read through all that cr*p in search of some straw man to destroy when I find just some more moral relativism. Yada, yada, yada. 


Thursday, May 27, 2004
  BAD NEWS FOR PEOPLE WHO HATE HEARING ABOUT BAD NEWS*: While Insty is away, the media critics' critics come out to play. The Michael Barone piece attacking the media and comparing it to the WWII media (linked by Glenn here) gets shredded by Matt Welch at Hit & Run. A sample:

This claim, which Glenn Reynolds called a "must-read warning to congress and the media," again rests on the idea that the explicit goal of American journalists is to produce American failure in Iraq. And it also suggests a rather unseemly condescension toward the lowly American citizen -- are we suddenly such sheep that the All-Powerful Media dictates our opinion?

Truth is, if you want your news filtered by people itching to Finish the Job in Iraq, there is no shortage of media outlets, thanks to an increasingly robust and fragmented market. The O'Reilly Factor is a no-Abu Ghraib-image zone, for those sick of the story (or those who, like Trent Lott, don't really understand why it's a controversy).

But claiming that the U.S. media is waging a conscious campaign to make America lose -- and that it has the power to pull it off -- smacks not only of delusion, but a kind of desperation as well.

Ummm... Read the whole thing.

* Oh, and that's a play on this, if you didn't figure out already. Good album. 


Wednesday, May 26, 2004
  GREETINGS SULLYWATCH READERS: and welcome to Instawatch, where I tear apart enough straw men to make a thatch roof for Yankee Stadium. But anyway, it's nice to have you here. If anyone would like to contact me, the email on the left doesn't work anymore (my password doesn't seem to work), so just leave me a note in the comments and I'll get back to you.

Also, This site gets about 26 hits per day, which makes this just a little less fun. I have another blog elsewhere under my real name, so I know how hard it is to get traffic up; I imagine it may be worse this late in the game. So if any of you have blogs, drop me a line and we can exchange links.

Otherwise, enjoy the site! 


  THE WORST STRAW MAN OF THEM ALL: Well, it turns out you can't go far in this country without finding a computer with the Internet. When I checked in on the good Prof., I found a link to this atrocious article on Gen. Zinni's complaints about the Iraq war. After ceding some points and making some non sequitur attacks on CBS and network TV in general, Richard Baehr brings down the hatchet:

"But Zinni is not comfortable just with criticism of how the war or post war effort was run. He needs to blame people, and he wants heads to fall. And he names names -- in particular the group he calls the “neocons”, naming five men: Doug Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis Libby, Richard Perle, and Ellot Abrams, as the key ideologues who caused this war to occur. And their real justification for pushing the US to war, we learn from Zinni, were not the three stated by the Administration -- weapons of mass destruction, terror links, or gross human rights violations.

Rather, it was to secure Israel, and to remake the Middle East in our image, a noble but unrealistic vision, according to the General. The fact that the named neocons are all Jewish, Zinni says, is accidental. He says this is irrelevant to him. But if it is irrelevant, why does he only provide the names of Jewish neocons? Are there no others? How Jewish is Jeanne Kirkpatrick or Bill Bennett? And what evidence does he have for his charge that the war was fought for Israel? Zinni never even touches on the three justifications the Administration offered for the war in the 60 Minutes segment. But Steve Kroft repeats the neocon slander, and the link to Israel, and names the Jewish names. This after all is the important part of the story."

Why not Bennett or Kirkpatrick? Because everybody he names is an active member of the Bush Administration, while the two neocons Baehr pulls out of his hat, while major figures in certain ideological circles, are not paid advisors to the President. A few paragraphs later, following some more non sequiturs, we get this

"None of this Jew-baiting is accidental. The road is being prepared for an ugly smear campaign against Jews and Israel. If the war is lost, then the American dead, and all the money spent, will be laid at the feet of a few Jewish political writers and government officials, most of whom are completely unknown to the vast majority of Americans, who can rarely name their Senators or Congressman."

After starting the article talking about how The Passion didn't start pogroms, this seems like an irrational way for Americans to act. But it follows a theme from the neocon Right, most vividly illustrated when David Brooks tried to pass off everyone who opposed certain people in the administration who happened to be Jewish as anti-semities.

As a pro-Israel Jew myself, this philo-semitism is strange. It isn't the same thing as the Christian Right's support for Israel because they think it will hasten the apocalypse. It's something different: opportunism. Just like the room hushes and people start staring and tut-tutting when a white person makes a black joke, anti-semitism is a huge no-no in modern American society. This is a good thing.

But the taboo is so strong that people with weak arguments otherwise will try to tie opposing views to anti-semitism in order to tar them with the scarlet "A-S."

An example of how this would work in real life with non-famous people:

My boss returns to my desk with a report I submitted earlier in the day. Frustrated, he hands me the report, covered in red ink, and asks me how I could be so sloppy, lazy and unproductive.

"I'm Jewish. You know that -- I took the day off for Rosh Hashanah. Is it just a coincidence that you didn't like my report but you praised John Christiansen's? Is it beause I'm Jewish?"

Flabbergasted, my boss says, "The thought never occured to me. For chrissakes, you misspelled the company's name!"

"There you go bringing Christ into it," I roar back. "You're trying to build a case for firing me, I know it. And when this company goes under, you're going to blame the Jews. Soon, the shareholders will be burning a cross on my lawn!"

See how stupid that sounded? It's all they've got. 


Monday, May 24, 2004
  UNEXPECTED TRIP: Literally, a half-packed suitcase sits on my bed at the moment. Temper the insta-spin with this Tom Tomorrow cartoon.

Starting a blog and then skipping town? Not as bad as Saddam.

I should be back by the end of the week. 


Sunday, May 23, 2004


Friday, May 21, 2004
  MORE MORAL RELATIVISM: Why do I even bother every time he posts one of these.

Maybe Glenny should get pulled over and arrested for not bribing the officer, thrown into a dank cell and beaten until his release the next morning. When he complains, the officer should just tell him that they beat the prisoners harder and ask for larger bribes in Syria. That should assuage him. 


  SHOOTING THE MESSENGER, AGAIN: National Review (with the link from G.R.) lunges at Seymour Hersh with a series of unconnected quotes on a series of unconnected articles Hersh has written.

What, the photos aren't good enough for you?

It doesn't look good to charge people who disagree with you not "supporting the troops" while attacking Gen. Taguba?

Is there a hint of desperation in this line of attack, given previous attempts to justify the abuse as on the level of a frat prank or "certainly not as bad as Saddam" aren't working?

What part, exactly, of Hersh's reporting on this subject do you take issue with? It certainly seems like this latest series of non sequiturs shows that the right has absolutely nothing to work with here. 


Thursday, May 20, 2004
  MORE ON UNSCAM: Did you think I was Glenn, if just for a second? No? Oh well. Anyway, Kevin Drum points out that the whole oil-for-food scandal is based on documents Chalabi claims to have but won't show anyone. So one would suppose the raid on his headquarters would involve getting at said documents.

I doubt we'll find he made it all up -- when you're dealing with oil (or Iraq), there's always corruption. But did Chalabi serve up names designed to whet the appetites of his Washington patrons? Will we ever actually see the documents?

Not an answer, not an attack. Just a question. 


  OVERSELLING SARIN: So, there was enough sarin in that shell to constitute "an arsenal" and kill over 60,000 people (four liters is roughly a gallon). Then how come only two people got a little woozy? The problem with sarin is that it is notoriously hard to deliver. Note how an attack in a crowded Tokyo subway station, a far more ideal location for maximimum damage then the side of a road in Iraq, killed only 12 people.

The perception that sarin (and anthrax) is somehow far more dangerous than conventional explosives needs to be changed, if only to reflect scientific reality. 


  IT'S BEEN THE WEEK FROM HELL for me, so that's why you're not seeing me match the InstaVolume, but don't worry, I haven't given up. Meanwhile, check out what Roger Ailes has to say about the recent threats Insty has been making about the media. 


Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Alicublog catches Glennie calling for censorship and Atrios pulls this from the comments:

But I don't for a second believe that Reynolds' question is an innocent one. This is not "we should be concerned, because something potentially dangerous could happen," not when he spends every goddamn day pounding his little web lectern and railing against media bias.

He's not a neutral observer of the "large and active minority," he wants to be their leader. Hell, he may even think he already is.

It's as if I stood on a street corner screaming about the malevolence of the homeless, and then asked a homeless guy how long he thought he would survive if a large mob bent on hanging winos were to suddenly form in the vicinity.

How, then, can this be interpreted as anything other than "how long before the people I represent use their influence to forcibly 'balance' the news"?

Yeah, Glenn. Keep making threats from behind your desk. Sometimes, I think you're just like Misha, but without the foul language and graphic depictions on what you think should happen to people who disagree with you. 


  SHORTER "READER DOUG JORDAN": "Torture is okey-dokey with me as long as I don't have to hear about it. In fact, if I hear about it, I will do everything in my power to keep from hearing more." 


  SET UP TO FAIL: Like I said yesterday, I have a feeling that these "the media wants us to fail" stories are less about what the media is saying and more about covering asses and being able to point to someone after the people in charge screw up.

And again, how is spending more time on Abu Ghraib and less time on Nick Berg helping us fail? Isn't the murder of Nick Berg a failure in itself, or was this nice young man a correctly functioning piece of flypaper?

Funny how you don't hear much about flypaper theory any more. 


Tuesday, May 18, 2004
  MORAL RELATIVISM WATCH: A.M. Rosenthal (linked here) to the media: "Pretty pretty pretty please with sugar on top, attempt to excuse the bad actions of some members of our military by comparing them favorably to actions of a horrible dictatorship!"

I know they've been trying for weeks now, but the "at least we're better then the Saddam" meme isn't catching on beyond their little corner of the blogosphere. Frankly, if all you had to do is be a little better than Saddam, we would have turned the country over to the Syrians months ago. 


  TALKING OUT BOTH SIDES OF YOUR MOUTH: I don't get Belmont Club. If the line is that Iraq isn't like Vietnam because it's gonna be a success and we have the support of the people and we're going to transform the region and paint the schools and all that junk, then why are they comparing it to Vietnam all the time?

It's not doublethink, but it's close. Warbloggers sold Iraq like some people test if the spaghetti is ready -- by chucking everything at the wall until something sticks. When some of the assertations that made it to the wall turned out to be wrong, there were still enough strands of dried pasta to point to as justification that the hard, crunchy and cold spaghetti of war was indeed al dente.

Now that we've sent a Baathist to run Fallujah, lost another Governing Council member and are tied down to a (U.S.) political deadline to transfer power to who-knows on June 30, the warbloggers have another pot boiling, this time tossing out new reasons on why problems in Iraq are the fault of anyone but the people who rushed in without sufficient planning or understanding. Let's see what we have so far:

1. Arab media inflames the Iraqi people. Aah, so that's why our troops aren't getting fat from the candies they should have been showered with.

2. American media convinces the public we're losing. Aah, the vaunted "Tinkerbell Theory." Clap louder, people.

3. Muslims are inherently evil. Paging Mr. Johnson...

4. Umm, Bill Clinton. I don't know how, but we'll see it. 


Monday, May 17, 2004
  May 17, 2004, A DAY OF LITTLE CONTROVERSY: About 20 minutes ago, I got home from the garage, having spent about $150 more on my car then I expected, and there's nothing to blog about on Instapundit.

Movies about the law? Everybody likes movies.

Balanced college journalism? They admit the existence of such a thing in Warblogistan?

Nanotech? I don't give a sh*t.

Sarin gas? It's all speculation, and he admits as much. If anything, the inaffectual nature of the IUD they found it in should lay to rest the notion chemical weapons are on the same level as biological or nuclear wepons in terms of "mass destruction." I hate to be morbid, but if Saddam had done the bombing runs against the Kurds with TNT instead of sarin, as many people would have died. Had Aum Shinrikyo used C4 instead of sarin at that subway station in Tokyo, there would probably be more casualties.

Aah, so there is something to pick a fight about after all.


  I DON'T LIKE MONDAYS: But I haven't given up Instawatch. This little project is a little nerve-wracking. I can't comment on everything, nor can I update as often as my subject. But rest assured, I'm still keeping an eye out for more moral relativism and blaming the victim from the Nutty Professor. 


Saturday, May 15, 2004
  MY BEST NEDRA PICKLER IMPRESSION: What Roger L. Simon (linked here) forgets to mention is that Al Hurra is an American-funded propaganda project.

But really, that's not relevent, since he may just mean that Americans have videos of Saddam's torture, which is probable. Of course, there is some confusion in the comments on what exactly Al Hurra is, but that's not the point. This is yet another "we're better than a horrible dictator and that's good enough" post. It combines the Abu Ghraib pushback meme with the experience they've been having with the Nick Berg video, which is to say that it sickens people, and rightly so.

Fairly soon, you will be hearing calls to release Saddam-era torture video and photographs to provide "balance" to the photos of Americans we've seen. Instapundit and others will get all hot and bothered when this doesn't happen, but here's why it won't: The only reason for releasing the tapes is to excuse the actions of American soldiers or change the subject, which is not the job of the national media. The UCMJ and the Geneva Convention are not relativist documents and a finding of guilt or innocence is not contingent on what other people have done.

Sometimes, Insty and friends need to be reminded that the media is not biased just because it fails to do your bidding. 


Friday, May 14, 2004
  PROOF CORNERITES IGNORE THE CONSTITUTION: Listen, numbsculls. The military chain of command goes up to the Secretary of Defense and the Commander in Chief. The chain of command for employees of the state of Michigan does not go to one of its Senators.

And Glenn, how do you let this cr*p stand? Aren't you a law professor or something? 


  STRANGE GOAL: Insty links to V.D. Hanson, who has some very strange theories on the goals of Osama bin Laden:

And have we no shame in recognizing that should some congressional critics and Washington harpies get their way, Americans will accomplish what bin Laden's suicide bombers could not on September 11: remove America's finest Secretary of Defense in a half century? (Emphasis his)

Oh, so that's what it's all about. Not restoring the Caliphate, not kicking U.S. forces out of Saudi Arabia, not Israel -- bin Laden wanted to boot Rumsfeld.

How convenient. So now that Hansen has redefined Al Qaeda's goals, liberals, many in the military and the New York Post are all working on behalf of the terrorists.

Gotta love that NRO jujitsu. So, do you think I could pick up women on one of those NRO cruises by telling them that Al Qaeda is trying to keep us from sleeping together? It's worth a shot.


  WILLIAM JEFFERSON KERRY: No, Kerry would be a weak president because all the nuts will come out of the woodwork again to spin their conspiracy yarns, impugn his motives and question his legitimacy. I've often wondered how much support Gore would have got from thr right had he done the exact same things as Bush after 9/11. Not much, I assume. Certainly, it wouldn't have been beyond the pale to accuse him of knowing about it beforehand. But then again, IOKIYAR


Thursday, May 13, 2004
  A QUICKY AT SAWICKY'S: Why Max is the greatest:

Submit your entries here for the most vicious thing posted by someone on the Instapundit blogroll. (Naturally, IP posts are eligible too.) Please limit your verbatim entry quotation to one hundred words. Don't forget to include the link. Comments are excluded, unless posted by the blogger hosting the site. Make sure the quote is true to the context. We want the really bad stuff, not the stuff that just looks bad. We want to expose the pulsating, putrescent, black heart of jingoist wingnuttery. Please insert asterisks in words of profanity, racial/ethnic abuse, and the like (i.e., sh*t).

Misha, LGF... Where to begin? 


  COULDA PULLED THE QUOTE FROM WHERE THE SUN DON'T SHINE: An anonymous, unsourced and unverified quote from a Torygraph hack does not a reasonable media bias claim make.

Watch me do the same thing:

The other day, while chowing down on some rotisserie chicken at my favorite Knoxville WiFi hotspot, I met a man who looked somewhat familiar: bookwormish glasses, ever-so-slightly unkempt professorial hair, plate of wings in one hand and notebook carrying case in the other.

"Whatcha up to there, buddy?" I asked as he put down the notebook case and began setting up the computer.

"I'm a blogger," he said. "I'm about to write a post on how every media outlet that reports more negative news about Iraq secretly wants America to fail in the War on Terror. Read the whole thing. No. Sorry. Jumped the gun there. Wait until I write it and then read the whole thing."

Stunned, I said, "surely, that must not be the case. Just like with local stories, if it bleeds, it leads. And I know for a fact that at least some American journalists have families and loved ones they don't want killed in a terrorist attack. Reasonable people can disagree on how successful we are in Iraq, even on whether going there in the first place is the best way to protect the country."

"They're missing the point. Their loved ones have to die."

I dropped my drumstick to the floor and gave him an aghast, empty stare.

"You see, the liberal media has been attacking the War on Terror, and people are getting antsy," he said, picking the drumstick off of the floor and putting it on his plate. "Majorities in recent polls think the War on Terror is going badly, that Iraq wasn't worth the cost, and that George W. Bush shouldn't be re-elected. If George W. Bush doesn't get re-elected, the terrorists will have won. Within 15 minutes of Kerry's inaguration, every woman in the country will be forced to wear a Burqa and all the Jews will be put into camps. It's true. Some fellow named Charles Johnson told me so. Unfortunately, the media is distorting everything and not letting this be known. It's a fact that Bush's popularity was never higher then it was right after September 11. Therefore, we need another massive terrorist attack to re-elect Bush and prevent massive terrorist attacks."

"You mean burning the village to save it?"

"Indeed," said the blogger, wiping the wing sauce from his mouth.

See, just because I imagined some imaginary person telling me something doesn't make it true of people who fit my imaginary, unsourced and unverified discription! 


  THAT'S RICH. Quoth the Glennmeister, on Libya:

"Good. Just remember: Trust, but verify."

Where were you last March? 


  INSTAPUNDIT ET AL ARE WILLFULLY IGNORANT of the difference between the Abu Ghraib photos and the Nick Berg video. This post accuses the media of covering up the Berg story but publishing Abu Ghraib photos in order to enrage Arabs but keep Americans complacent (because the readership of the New York Times is 70% Arab, I assume). Here are the two main reasons why the politics of newspaper editors have nothing to do with it:

1. The Berg video is a whole different level of brutality. There is no blood in the prison photos we've seen. There is nudity, but it's blurred out. Many people read the morning paper over breakfast, and the odds are far higher that they will be able to keep it down after viewing the prison photos. Not everyone is showing or not showing photos to work people up into a lather of hate and vengence.

2. The Berg story dropped off because there is no process. The stories about Abu Ghraib running in major American dailies today involve courts martial, the Rumsfeld visit, the congressional photo viewing and other hearings. There isn't anything like that for Nick Berg, because his killers aren't subject to UCMJ and are not in U.S. custody. There's no handwringing and no apologies because the Al Qaeda chain of command, if you can call it that, isn't responsible to anyone. Once you report his killing, its circumstances, family reactions and pledges to get the perpitrators, what's left to say?

Listen, you wingnuts: Not everything is a conspiracy to keep the stories that supposedly prove your point on the down-low. 



"I look like a complete creepazoid."

Ok, just kidding. Let's start again:


"We shouldn't do anything to investigate or punish those responsible for Abu Ghraib because it won't solve every single problem we have in Iraq and the rest of the Arab world."

UPDATE: Pandagon is on the case as well. Huzzah! 


  LITTLE HELP! Does anyone out there in Blogland know how to set up an RSS feed on a blogspot site? I know there are plenty of people who prefer to use newsreaders, and I'd hate to miss an opportunity to reach them. 


  OH, SNAP! I know this blog is about Instapundit, but Josh Marshall takes it to Sen. Inhofe:

But here you have Jim Inhofe lumbering out of his cave and on to the stage, arguing that we can do whatever we want because we're America. Inhofe's America is one that is glutted on pretension, cut free from all its moral ballast, and hungry to sit atop a world run only by violence. Lady Liberty gets left with fifty bucks, a sneer, a black eye, and the room to herself for the couple hours left before check out.



Insty backpeadals on Inhofe here


  JEDI MIND GAMES: Can you crow about how things are getting better if you never really admitted they were going badly in the first place? 


Wednesday, May 12, 2004
  MORE UNINTENTIONAL IRONY: A NRO article (linked here) on young Americans working in Iraq: "The U.S. sends its best and brightest young people to Iraq." (emphasis mine)

David Halberstam anyone?

Dammit Dammit Dammit!
Stop saying that!
La la la la la, I can't hear you! 


  ALL THAT'S LEFT: Insty links to Seipp, who quotes Dennis Miller:

He had a preemptive crack ready for those who complain that the war in Iraq is a distraction from the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. "I wish there was a country called al Qaeda and we could have started the war there," Miller said, "but there wasn't. And Hussein and his punk sons were just unlucky enough to draw the Wonka ticket in the a**hole lottery."

...And Seipp seems satisfied. We could have knocked the 2003 SOTU down to a paragraph. Maybe we can have an "a**hole lottery" every few years, maybe knocking over Kazakhstan next. Naah, they hired lobbyists and bought off the American Spectator (follow the link). 


  GASPWORTHY: Glenn says:

You know, if people keep this stuff up, the Abu Ghraib incidents aren't going to be taken as seriously as they deserve.

Do you mean hacks like yourself will work less hard to discredit anyone working on this story?

Of course people are going to take advantage of any situation for personal or political gain. There are a handful of stories of people who filed false 9/11-related insurance claims for people who were not killed. There are the fake 9/11 photos. Does this mean that Instapundit takes Sept. 11 less seriously? Hell no, it's still the justification for anything that needs justification in Warbloggerstan. 


  HE LIKES BIG 'BUT'S AND HE CANNOT LIE: Lileks (linked here) discusses the five possible Muslim responses to Berg and other acts of brutality/torture/violence. Here's one, presumably the one he's so pissed isn't happening:

Rejection: This would be speaking out singly or in concert with fellow Muslims, denouncing the acts without making the entire peroration an elaborate plinth on which to place the word “BUT.”

Let's see how the G-Unit passes the "rejection" test for Abu Ghraib.

First, we have the speaking out in concert.

BUT Saddam was worse.

BUT Hersh is not to be trusted, despite photographic evidence.

BUT Iraqis want prisoners tortured.

Glenn Reynolds and the others in his virtual circle may not mind stooping to the level of their enemies, but a lot of people do. 


  FLIP THE SCRIPT: Over at Corrente, they have a Daily Show transcipt detailing how well the media has done in toeing the Instapundit "if I don't hear about it, it didn't happen" line. A few blips about problems does not an investigative media make.

UPDATE: Apparently, you "toe the line" but don't "tow the line." Thanks Sean. 


  I'M A BUSY MAN: At least today. Go read the Sandwichman on Berg. When you're reading Insty and his minions, remember this: We're fighting the bad guys because we think our system is better and we want to defend it. If we're fighting them for the sake of defeating them, even if it means dragging ourselves down to their level, then we lose the moral high ground. They won't fight fair. It sucks. Deal, because we have an unambiguously better system.


Tuesday, May 11, 2004
  BLAME ANYONE BUT THE TORTURERS AND THEIR ENABLERS FOR THE ENSUING FURY: Hugh Hewitt (linked by G.R. here) goes off on the major newspapers for ignoring Ted Kennedy's speech on the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. Newsflash: Teddy's speeches get in the news when he speaks at the National Press Club, at Brookings on the road with Kerry. Dozens of speeches are made on the Senate floor every day, even by high ranking Senators, and they almost never make national papers. That's just the way it is. There are plenty of people speaking on this subject, and Ted Kennedy is just one of them. Lambasting the dailies for not spinning his way aside, let's follow the wingnut link-chain-'o-fury to this schmuck:

As an American, what do you think of the 29% who believe that prisoner abuse is a systemic problem? What is their worldview?

I can't attest to their entire worldview (and neither should you from one statistic), but I can guess it is viewed by reading things like the Taguba and Red Cross Reports sans Jonah Goldberg apologia.

Kennedy, as proxy number one for the presumptive Democratic nominee for President of the United States, John Kerry, has stepped way over the line. He has given our islamo-fascist enemies the “evidence” they need to incite their members to even greater violence by confirming their worst accusations. Al Jazzera, and other Arabic news outlets are going to replay those words and gloat for weeks to come. If I were Osama Bin Laden I'd put it in a recruitment video.

No, I think the people with the electrodes and the bags and the digital camera provided the evidence. Teddy Kennedy, like many people, is pissed that it was done in his name. 



Some photos of happy Iraqis


Some photos of a naked Iraqi with a bag on his head dragged by a leash


everything's all OK!

In other news, Fox has taken it's "We show you the good news that doesn't get reported" format to domestic stories. Today, stories of people holding the door for each other, cars not chased by cops and other stuff you won't hear from the liberal media. Today's top story: Five people who weren't viciously stabbed in their homes! 


  MORE MORAL RELATIVISM: VodkaPundit (linked by G.R. here) says it's all OK because worse things have been done before. So much for the whole "moral clarity" crowd.

I wonder why Stephen Green didn't tell fellow warbloggers to stop calling for Saddam's head in 2003 since there were far worse dictators both at the time and throughout history. I suppose you have to maintain your perogatives at the cost of any coherent moral structure if you're dying to fight a war against an immoral enemy. 


Monday, May 10, 2004
  JOHN MOORE CONFUSES ME: As linked here, we have this hard-to-follow rambling complaint about people who think something should be done about Abu Ghraib after everybody gets a chance to make their "shocked, shocked" statements.

Against the values I see being displayed by us are people with another set of values: the willingness to sacrifice their lives for their cause (the most vocal that I hear from the left wouldn't sacrifice their dessert for their country); a single-mindedness to attack the enemy (our corresponding value is a single-mindedness to attack those who protect us, with the goal of gaining political power); a belief that their values are the only right values (our value is that we are bad, or that our soldiers are bad, or that our leadership are bad, or that we deserve what happens to us, that our enemies are made up by right-wing politicians).

So their values are a willingless to die to defeat the enemy, a "single-mindedness to attack the enemy" and "a belief that their values are the only right values." I had to read it twice before I realized he was talking about the terrorists. Inintentional satire? Perhaps Moore was too single-minded in his desire to defeat the enemy to notice or just figured his values are the only right values and thus thought nobody who disagreed with him lives outside a Tora Bora cave, or perhaps a Vancouver hash bar.

There is a psychometric observation (the Flynn Effect) which shows that IQ increases with each generation. I suggest there is another effect that says national stupidity increases in proportion to the acceptance of leftist myths, and with the lack of immediate, in-your-face, painted international safety orange, so obvious you have to walk around it to get to the bathroom danger.

Liberals are dumb. Why? Because.

How do folks think "the greatest generation" would have reacted to this in the '40s? They wouldn't have given a damn, because they knew that in comparison to the evil they were fighting, this stuff was small potatoes. Some might comment that it deserved a routine investigation and some courts martial, but not many would call for a national guilt meet-up! They knew what the enemy did and although they held themselves to a better standard, they didn’t flagellate themselves when someone screwed up and hurt the enemy a little too much.

Because in the battle of hearts and minds that keeps us from having to be over there forever, being 30% better than the bad guys is good enough! 31% is overkill and 29% won't do.

That Hersch can find officers to make negative comments is no surprise. There have been long periods of time where the Army was not involved in serious fights. In those conditions, the Generals often have no real world experience (except perhaps a Kerry-esque ticket stamping tour in Vietnam to get their Combat Infantryman Badge). They may have spent the rest of their career in logistics - an important area but not exactly related to prisoner treatment. They may harbor resentments because they were forced to retire rather than advance.

So don't give any credibility to Hersch's sources.

Translation: Everyone who disagrees with me does so out of bitterness and not, for example, because they know more. Why? Because.

We know the real agenda here. Pictures damaging to the country were released by a criminal, abetted by the press who will not release the name of a person who released a SECRET/NOFORN document or care about how it spread.


In our current society, who is asking about the propriety of releasing this information, the release of which is expected to cause "serious damage to the nation?" Who is condemning the idiot who released this information? Who is calling for that person's head? Who was that turncoat?

I'm still searching for the earlier blog post where Moore gets all hot and bothered about the release of Valerie Plame's identity. This may take a while.

I don't want to hear about us blowing up the prison. I'd rather see the Ba'aathists serve in that prison than in any paradise we might build. That prison should exist as a symbol of shame for the Iraqi people. Yes, the Iraqi people. Iraqis let Saddam gain power, and Iraqis put up with it. Yes, they were victims, but nobody but Iraqis is responsible for Saddam. We forget that. It is mostly Iraqis who have been killing us. It is Iraqis who worked for Saddam. It is Iraqis who served in his armies. It is Iraqis who did things in that prison, to their fellow Iraqis, that we have never done. But it isn’t politically correct to expect anything of the Iraqis except their anger when we screw up, or when we don’t deliver electricity well enough, or when we kill Iraqi’s who are trying to kill us.

So much for the whole "we're doing it for the Iraqi people" thing. Someone promote this guy to the Office of Public Diplomacy!


In case the rest of the excuses (it's Iraq's fault, kill the messenger, sources who disagree with me are just bitter, etc..) didn't work, we have this context-free little gem. I think it is as convincing to people who don't already agree with you as when I told women in bars that if they don't come home with me, "the terrorists will have won."

Moore's idiocy aside, there is an important point to make here: We'll never leave Iraq, we'll never democratize the Middle East, we'll never get people to turn in terrorists and we'll never stop people from becoming terrorists if we abandon the things that make us a better culture because "there's a war on." Then, the differences between the good guys and the bad guys narrow, and the people in the middle start to peel off to the other side. If we're in this to punish Iraqis, we might as well just nuke the whole place right now, because we never made friends punishing a former belligerent.



  CHANGING THE SUBJECT: Let's not let worry about the contents of the Taguba Report when we can attack the credibility of the guy who first told us about it. 


  SHORTER MICHELLE CATALANO: Linked here, M.C. says, basically, we're not just at war with the people who want to kill us, we're at war with the people who disagree with how we should wage war with the people who want to kill us.

It takes two sides to make a domestic policy dispute into a "civil war," people. 


Saturday, May 08, 2004
  GET BETTER GLENN: I'm start to get moral relativism, false analogies and spin withdrawl after two days of no Instapundit. I had to go elsewhere for my kicks. Thus, I found this paranoid fantasy in the comments of a post from Roger Simon:

This may sound too cute by half, BUT:
Could the Iraqi prison debacle be the work of intelligence agents acting for some rump group in State or the Pentagon -or both - or Langley, to embarrass and emasculate Rumsfeld?
There is something strange about the reported role of intelligence types ordering the sort-of-bumbling-and-untrained reserve soldiers to do the bizarre stuff, and then, who came up with the idea of grabbing some snapshots and video?
If the straight-up explanation for the incidents actually is true, is there any evidence that such tactics led to any useful information for the war on the ground?
Rather, the whole thing resembles nothing so much as a tawdry blackmail operation. .as if the soldiers are trying to make it all seem a little worse than it really was. Simulated sex and porn, for the camera, under direction from someone off camera..
And if it was blackmail, (with the soldiers in the pix unknowing actors) who is the target?
The poor Iraqi victims have bags over their heads.. ergo, they are anonymous and can't be blackmailed by what they "did," or suffered.
Who is really getting the fall-out from this, who may be the target?
Rummy is deeply hated by minions at State, the Pentagon, and Langley according to all accounts. The seaworld of intelligence - yes, even in America - is so deep and murky, who knows what swims around in there? The combination of a long-entrenched bureaucracy with all the bells and whistles and skills and secrecy of the intelligence community makes for great opportunity and motive for nefarious stuff.
Far out as it may sound, I would submit this theory is, at least, plausible.
What other explanation makes better sense?
If what ocurred actually had been “sincere“ abuse, the photos don’t make much sense. . . they would have been more "real", truly candid shots of abuse going on. This stuff is so posed, it’s like everyone got dressed up ( or undressed) just for the camera.

It's all a setup! My dog ate the surplus! I swear, a one-armed man stole the WMDs! 


Thursday, May 06, 2004
  BUSY MORNING: and just one thing to complain about. I've had Georgian wine before. I've had more than one type. And it's all awful. There is no such thing as "fine Georgian wine." And for more perspective, check out this article from The Economist


  THREE DAYS BLOGGING, AND I'M REPEATING MYSELF: More CNN Bashing from the National Debate:

"Despite their record of complicity in covering up years of bruatality and torture in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, CNN has lost no time in running endless reports on the Iraqi prison photos. Besides practically non-stop reports on the Iraqi Prisoner Abuse story, CNN's line up has been stocked with guests booked to discuss the Iraqi Prisoner Abuse story."

Aah, interspersing praise for the fact that we have a free media with attacks on that same media for promoting stories that don't fit into the preferred storyline. Because you can be sure Rummy and Bush would have investigated and apologized had this story been hushed up by a media more interested in "good news," like planes that don't crash and people who go to convenience stores and don't rob them. 


Wednesday, May 05, 2004
  GUARANTEED TO GET THE INSTA-PANTIES IN A TWIST: Just a thought: Democrats should find some sympathetic Alabama and Texas Air National Guardsmen who served nearby, slightly before, or slightly after Bush. They should hold a press conference and all sign a letter alleging that what they know of Bush (not from personal experience, of course) leads them to believe that he is not fit to be Commander-in-Chief.

UPDATE: A thorough refutation of the Swiftboaters for Bush tripe can be found here.

(hat tip to Atrios.) 


  ANOTHER 'WTF' MOMENT: In a post on the Vietnam vets opposing Kerry, Insty touches on the fact that they're mostly partisan hacks, and links to Mitch Berg, who dismisses all this because, to paraphrase, soldiers are supposed to be Republicans. I'm sure this is the case because Republican civilians have treated them so lovingly by, for example, shipping them off to war horribly undermanned while ignoring expert testimony urging more soldiers and cutting veteran's benefits.

"One word. Heh." 


  MAUREEN DOWD WAS RIGHT: They really don't see any dead people. Reynolds himself:

"This would seem to vindicate the U.S. strategy there, which many in the blogosphere have criticized as insufficiently militant. It now seems plausible that this will be settled without serious bloodshed -- and that if a violent solution is called for, it's more likely to satisfy than to inflame Iraqi public opinion. Does this suggest that the similar approach we're employing in Fallujah is also a good thing? I don't know (and some of the Shiite clerics in this story want us to be more militant there), but it certainly seems that there's a strategy here, one that stresses Iraqi self-governance as a key element. And that seems like a good thing to me." (emphasis mine)

"Without serious bloodshed"??? After the bloodiest month we've had in Iraq to date? The above paragraph would have made complete sense had Reynolds added "additional" between "serious" and "bloodshed." But just like with the 11 deaths he ignored on Monday to fret about the Arabs in Kosovo, casualties don't really happen in military actions he likes. On Instapundit, you'd be hard-pressed to find references to Americans killed in Iraq, except to compare the numbers favorably to Vietnam.

Yeah, it's a good thing we're handing over Iraq on June 30 -- someone might die if we stay longer. 


Tuesday, May 04, 2004
  CART, HORSE: ALIGNMENT THEREOF: Quoting on the torture scandal:

This is something that we Arabs never get to hear, an official apologising for a wrong done. Never! The higher up officials in their own fiefdoms are above error, almost at part with God, hence they can do no wrong. But on the other hand, they think that if they do apologise, then not only do they admit being wrong but more importantly to them, they will appear weak. And that will not do. They're still thinking that a strong sword arm is the thing that rules a people.

Would anyone have to apologize if it weren't for self-interested anti-American defeatests like CBS and Hersh? I think not. Our tradition of transparency and openness allows leaders to be taken to task for mistakes. If the media refuses to do its job to tell the people about what their government is doing in their name, whether by censorship, intimidation or the desire to do government a favor, our leaders have no incentive to be any better then the foreign leaders in the Middle East we loathe. 


  TO THE MAX: I would say that this MaxSpeak.org post is the last word on Instapundit. But then I'd have nothing to say. 


  ARE WE FORGETTING SOMEONE? This gets the one-word seal of approval:

The 2003 Nobel Peace laureate, Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi, called on the world community to stop giving financial assistance to governments and regimes that are not democratic. Ms. Ebadi made her comments Monday in a speech at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington. . . .

Yes, like Turkmenistan, which is ruled by a nutty guy who renamed January after himself and is partially propped up by U.S. anti-terror money. A sample of his nastiness:

In terms of religious life, Turkmenistan was among the world’s most "restrictive countries," the report said. The government took a similarly hostile stance towards the non-governmental sector. "Only a small number of NGOs operate in semi-secrecy," the report said. "They are under constant risk of harassment from security services and [NGO activists] live in permanent danger of imprisonment."

For those running afoul of Turkmen authorities, "torture and ill-treatment of detainees is more the rule than the exception," the Helsinki Federation report maintained.

There's the boiling-people-alive thing. Or the bizarre public monuments to himself funded with money that could have gone to feed, clothe or educate Turkmenistan's people. All in all, a nasty place. But where is the Glennster on this backwater? A search of his site reveals not a single reference.

You know, we'd be far more likely to believe the "it wasn't about WMD, it was about liberation" thing if we heard more about places like this from the right. 


  CLASSIC INSTAPUNDIT: From Jan. 24, 2003, quoting Steven "pretending to be paid by the word" den Beste:

"The Anglo-American conquest of Iraq will be seen in history as what historians like to call a turning point. It will mean the end of the UN as anything even remotely resembling a meaningful international body. It will also mean the practical end of NATO, which just refused a request that it move forces to protect its member Turkey from any Iraqi punishing attack north. It will totally alter the world diplomatic situation, with many bilateral relationships becoming stronger and others becoming much more cool and the reputations of some nations rising and those of others dropping through the floor. And it's going to end up changing the political dynamic inside Europe which has until now fed the process of formation and expansion of the EU."

End of the UN? Tell that to Mr. Brahimi, who President Bush has nominated to play janitor for this whole messy affair.

Hindsight may be 20/20, but rose-colored glasses obscure the view in any direction. 


  THE PANDA VS. THE PANDERER: Pandagon takes on instapundit here and here. The more the merrier, people. 


  HOW DARE YOU INVESTIGATE!: I'd like to zero in on this Podhoretz quote from yet another "buck up, if we lose it's because liberals said we couldn't win" post:

For others, however, thoughts of the Vietnam War conjure up a sense of moral triumph. They opposed the war, and their opposition was a key element in this nation's withdrawal from the battlefield over the course of the Nixon presidency. . . . Keep this fact in mind when considering the actions of CBS News and The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh.

What did CBS News do? They informed us of crimes against humanity being committed in our name.

What did Seymour Hersch do? He informed us of an internal military report on said crimes.

Are they trying to make us lose Iraq? No. They're trying to help us live up to our ideals.

The Reynolds/Podhoretz line on these guys could spring from one of a few theories:

  1. If we don't hear about torture, it never took place.
  2. Torture is OK in this case, but the average American is too dumb to understand why, so we shouldn't bother explaining.
  3. Despite the fact that everybody has a camera these days and it's nearly impossible to keep information under wraps, these guys are responsible for bringing knowledge of American torture -- isolated or not -- to the Arab world, further enraging passions and being quite unhelpful.

Information can't be controlled anymore. An individual can put wax in their ears, but in general, a coverup is impossible. Shooting the messenger may score some points in the Murdoch empire, but it won't stop the message from getting out. 


  SELECTIVE ANTI-RACISM: Instapundit hates Nazis, but he has no problem with Little Green Footballs, an anti-muslim hate site. Don't believe me? Check out the Little Green Footballs vs. Late German Facists quiz. You'll be surprised how similar they are. 


Monday, May 03, 2004
  ALL YEE FAITHFUL: I thought you needed a good memory to be a professor of the law. Apparently, you can still function if it tends toward the selective side. This is quoted in a post on anti-Muslim violence:

Until CAIR forms an equivalent to the Japanese-American 442nd Infantry Regiment in WWII, I shall continue to consider American Islamic silence as approval of Islam terror. You can't draw money out of the bank until you put some in. The same goes for patriotism.

To quote Little John, "Whaaaaaat?"

Even if they wanted to, we don't segregate military units anymore, so any possibility of an Islamic 442nd went the way of the all-Japanese and all-Black Regiment, which most people think is a good thing. So any Muslims in the Army would have to be mixed in with everybody else. Except when they're nearly railroaded on weak charges that eventually get dropped for lack of evidence.

Oh, and about the whole "silence is approval" line: I think I speak for the millions of people who did not go to war and haven't marched on either side of any issue in reminding "Reader Walter Wallis" that expecting more from a minority group than is expected from the majority went the way of literacy tests. Good riddance.

UPDATE: When you're right, you're right. Glenn Reynolds emailed me and pointed out the fact that he disagreed with Wacky Wally's little quip about Muslim soldiers. The problem with writing when my blood is boiling is the desire to get right to the writing before finishing reading the post on which I'm commenting. I'm new at this -- lesson learned. 


  MORAL RELATIVISM WATCH: U.S. mercenaries and National Guardsmen torturing Iraqi prisoners isn't so bad after all since we aren't as nasty as the worst of the worst. Perhaps this should be part of our Middle Eastern public diplomacy (after we blow up Al Jazeera, of course). I can imagine the posters now, bright laundry-detergent-ad colors adding some pazazz to casbahs from Tunis to Damascus: "American style free-market democracy: 20% less torture than your corrupt dictatorship!" 


  VIRTUAL CROCODILE TEARS: The Nutty Prof. links to this article in the Weekly Standard alleging a massacre of American peacekeepers in Kosovo. You have to click through to find out the extent of the carnage: three dead, 11 injured. The losses of three people who were trying to preserve peace and create a stable society for others is a tragedy of the highest magnitude.

But wait.

What about the 11 soldiers who died in Iraq yesterday? Back to Glenn:

"STEPHEN SCHWARTZ WONDERS why so little attention has been paid to a massacre by UN employees in Kosovo:"

INSTAWATCHER WONDERS why so little attention has been paid by Instapundit to the daily deaths of U.S. troops in Iraq. We find the answer in a Mark Steyn quote that showed up on Instapundit on Sunday:

As Stalin said, one death is a tragedy, 1 million is a statistic. The fact that America's dead in Iraq are not yet statistics, that they're still small enough in number to be individual tragedies Ted can milk for his show tells you the real cost of this war. In Afghanistan, the numbers are even lower, which is why ''Nightline'' hasn't bothered pulling this stunt with America's other war. . . .

Three merits a link, 11 (and the hundreds prior) don't. From this we discover the Instapundit Faux-Buddhist Theory of War Casualties: "If a soldier (or 700) dies in a war I like and I ignore it, the death has no bearing on anything because it's small potatoes, but if a soldier dies in a military action I don't like and I mention it, the death is a sign of some overarching theme I'm trying to convey." 


  INSTAWATCH MISSION STATEMENT: First of all, let me make it very clear that I have no personal animus toward Glenn Reynolds the man. I have never met him and I have no reason to believe he is not a fantastic guy. However, I think his blog, Instapundit, is a sign of what is wrong with the blogosphere and the nation.

We live in an increasingly divided era. More and more, we live, work, worship and play with people who share our beliefs. Narrowcast media increasingly allow us to ignore news we don’t want to hear. Blogs are part of the narrowcast media, and they suffer from the diseases that fester in an echo-chamber: myopia, unchallenged sacred cows, unsourced gossip repeated until it gains the sheen of fact and, of course, the constant erection and subsequent gleeful knocking-down of straw-man arguments.

This site will not match pro with con so as to make it a fair fight. I disagree with almost everything on Instapundit and to pretend otherwise does everyone a disservice by inevitably making this blog unbearably dull. Frankly, I want to write him a letter every time I read it, so Instawatch will perform another function - release. The goal is not agreement, just fighting on the same issues. The improvement in discourse comes from the fact that left and right will be shouting at each other instead of past each other, at least on this little blog.

Keep in mind, however, that I have neither the time nor the desire to comment on every Instapundit post. I'll agree with a few. I'll find some (like using the words of loony radicals to tar the entire antiwar "they") too inane to deal with. I'll miss some posts because I'm asleep, working or out enjoying the world. Deal.

A warning: When I write about improving the dialogue, I don’t mean that there won’t be sarcasm and disrespectful attacks of people I disagree with. I’m not getting paid, so this is either going to be fun or it’s not worth my time.

That being said, let the fun begin!


  Welcome! More information here soon. Now, I must fiddle with the template and go to the grocery store. 



"But hey, keep it up. I don't mind criticism."
- Glenn Reynolds

You're doing God's work here, Instawatcher.
-Ted Barlow

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05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 /

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