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Friday, May 14, 2004

I second that. 

I've been thinking of writing something about the hits I've gotten over the last couple of days as people search for the Nick Berg video. But Rich Marotti beat me to it, and he nailed it.
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Iraqis after my own heart 

On Imus in the Morning just now, the Boston Herald's Mike Barnicle read a letter from an officer in the New Hampshire National Guard who is serving in Iraq. 2ndLt Peter Kudarauskas recounts a very heartwarming story from a day of manning a checkpoint in the town of Taji. Heartwarming, that is, unless you're a Yankees fan, in which case you will probably hate Iraq after reading the letter.

The letter can be found here.
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Thursday, May 13, 2004

Sick bastards 

It's hard to maintain faith in humanity when LT Smash can write a post like this one. If I only came across something like this once in a blue moon, that would be one thing. But it happens all the time. What is wrong with "people" like this? Have they no tiny bit of humanity left?

If you haven't clicked over to Smash's post yet, and seen the disgusting site he mentions, it's called "America's Dumbest Soldiers" and it shows soldiers who have been killed in Iraq, describes how they died, and then lets visitors vote on which is the "dumbest."

Thanks, people. Smash mentions U.S. Navy LT Tom Adams, a friend of his brother's who died in a helicopter crash early in the war. Tom Adams was a classmate of mine, and it disgusts me to see his name and his story, and those of all the others who gave their lives, used as a cheap stunt.

The human race is made less noble by the existence of the cretin(s) who would do this.

UPDATE: "DUTCH" in Smash's comments appears to have some contact info for the host of the site. It might not hurt if they get a flood of emails about the site their server is hosting.
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DU rife with Nick Berg conspiracies 

I don't know why I keep going back to Democratic Underground. But I can't help myself. Perhaps it's because I am drawn to DU as window into an irrational psyche. I mean, how often, in my everyday contact with people, do I get to plumb the depths of an insane mind to see what's in there? I don't, so I read the words those minds produce over at DU.

Anyway, here is Democratic Underground's body of work concerning Nick Berg today:

Doctor Declares Berg Video a Fake (We can stop being outraged about a murder, and try to pin a conspiracy on Bush instead!)

Call to ACTION - NICK BERG / This news MUST get out. (He was killed by Americans because he knew too much!)

Berg, ABU GHRAIB & Photos? (Killed because he knew too much.)

A rational discussion thread re Berg murder video (Was he killed by the government to take the heat off the prison abuse scandal? Hmm?)

Poll: (68% think something is fishy about Berg's murder at the time I posted this.)

Another poll: (70% think it was meant to take the heat off the prison abuse scandal.)

Yet another poll: (More people think "American intelligence services/military/government" killed Berg than think "An Islamic terrorist group" did it. 36% are "Undecided.")

Berg was killed by Black Ops, the motive is to ramp up the War (No comment needed.)
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Fine the Boston Globe 

Yesterday, the Boston Globe published pornographic pictures. The pictures, they were told, showed American soldiers raping Iraqi women. Unfortunately, in their thirst to paint as black a picture as possible of our soldiers, the Globe took their sources at face value. Nobody on the staff did the five seconds of research it would have taken to know that the pictures were determined to be fake over a week earlier. So, the story ran, about an activist and a Boston city councilor (who didn't do the research either) holding up the pictures indignantly.

There is no shortage of stupid (or, if you're charitable, lazy) people out there. It speaks volumes about the viewpoint of the two men who presented the photos, and the viewpoint of the Globe editors who published them, that the pictures were assumed to be legitimate and not double-checked.

In the end, the Globe ran a half-assed apology:

Editor's Note: A photograph on Page B2 yesterday did not meet Globe standards for publication. The photo portrayed Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner and activist Sadiki Kambon displaying graphic photographs that they claimed showed US soldiers raping Iraqi women. Although the photograph was reduced in size between editions to obscure visibility of the images on display, at no time did the photograph meet Globe standards. Images contained in the photograph were overly graphic, and the purported abuse portrayed had not been authenticated. The Globe apologizes for publishing the photo.
Something as sensational as that, and you didn't authenticate the photo??? Looks to me like we have an editor who is completely unqualified to do the job they're paying him to do. Pornography should never appear in the pages of a respected and widely circulated newspaper.

And that brings me around to Howard Stern. If the FCC can fine Clear Channel a half million dollars for airing a segment of Stern's show in which he talked about sexual practices on the radio, then the Globe should suffer a much greater penalty for actually showing it.

My guess is that since it's not Howard Stern, and because it didn't happen during the Super Bowl, this isn't going to be a huge story and nothing will happen in the end. And that's too bad, because the Globe needs to be hit hard for doing something this stupid. I'm not sure which government agency would handle such a thing (it's not the FCC), otherwise I would be posting contact information here. Does anyone know who to write?

UPDATE: Dan Kennedy makes a point which I missed entirely:

Also, in my quick update this morning, I neglected to note that the Globe failed to include some pretty vital information in its "Editor's Note" today - or, for that matter, anywhere else in the paper: the fact that these photos had been exposed as fakes quite a bit before Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner and local activist Sadiki Kambon unveiled them at a news conference on Tuesday.
(Hat tip: Instapundit)
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Tuesday, May 11, 2004

DU: Nick Berg death a conspiracy to distract from prison abuse 

Admit it. You knew this was coming.
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Nick Berg and Abu Ghraib 

Kevin Drum makes a good observation about the killing of Nick Berg and the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison:

Barbaric behavior doesn't win wars, it just makes your enemies more dedicated to their cause, which is why it's so important to eliminate the kind of barbarism we've recently seen at Abu Ghraib from our own side: because it just makes our enemies stronger.
I've read Kevin Drum for quite a while, and I know that he doesn't see his two examples as equivalent. But he could have said so. His post leaves itself open for readers to assume that he views the prison abuse and Nick Berg's beheading as equally barbaric. Perhaps he just assumes that readers can tell the difference, or perhaps it stems from the left's tendency to avoid pointing out the simple truth that the other side is worse.

But that's a minor quibble. In his main point, he's right. Neither our cause nor al-Qaeda's is advanced by the kinds of behavior he mentioned. Our cause is advanced by the contrast between our behavior and theirs, and we need to reestablish that contrast. Soon.
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Al-Sadr backing down 

Encouraged by the Iraqi people's outrage over the ongoing abuse scandal, radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is... calling it quits?

Iraqi rebel Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr has indicated he is ready to end his month-long insurgency in Najaf if the US-led coalition agrees to negotiate.

Aides said Mr Sadr's Mehdi Army could end its rebellion in return for a withdrawal of US troops from the city.

Earlier, hundreds of people marched in Najaf calling for Mr Sadr to end his uprising to avoid civilian casualties.
Kudos to the coalition forces for showing him the error and futility of his ways, and for his fellow clerics in Iraq and Iran for talking some sense into the man. (Not to mention Najaf's burgeoning protest movement.)

It's not entirely clear whether the talks with other Shi'ite clerics and Iraqi officials include a stipulation for al-Sadr's arrest on murder charges. The governor of Najaf said only that the charges "could be halted until after the 30 June handover of power." Whatever that means. It's likely a means of delaying the arrest until it can be done by Iraqi authorities rather than the coalition. If that is the case, then this proposal should be taken seriously by the United States. But the Coalition Provisional Authority should demand al-Sadr's arrest as a non-negotiable condition for withdrawal from Najaf, and then keep an eye on him so he doesn't skip the country in the meantime.
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New Iraq photos emerge 

LT Smash has an exclusive release of new pictures from Iraq, never before seen by the public.
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Okay, Arabs, let's see some moral outrage 

Hamas displays 'Israeli remains'

Palestinian militants have been parading what they said were body parts belonging to six dead Israeli soldiers...

Correspondents talk of gruesome scenes in Gaza City, with militants showing off what they said were Israeli body parts and pieces of wrecked Israeli equipment.

A masked Hamas gunman was seen holding up a blood-stained bag.

Two other Palestinian militant groups, the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade and Islamic Jihad said they also had body parts and were setting unspecified conditions for their return.
The world awaits the Arab League's condemnation of this atrocity as "beyond the words of despicable acts and disgust that we feel at watching such photographs."
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Let the hearings begin! And the courts-martial! 

A terrorist website has posted a video showing American civilian Nick Berg being beheaded.

This kind of blatant prisoner abuse should not be tolerated. But you see, that's the difference between us and our enemies.

When they cut someone's head off, it's only news for a day or two, because it's what we expect of such people. They release a video, with their brave faces invariably covered, and they disappear back into obscurity until their next atrocity.

When Americans strip someone naked it creates outrage for weeks. Arabs become shocked and angry. (More so than their baseline level of anger, one would assume from the news coverage.) Americans become shocked and angry, as they should. Senate hearings are televised globally. The military justice system is set in motion to take the perpetrators to trial in a process that's open to the whole world.

The difference in the reaction and the media coverage tells me all I need to know about the relative morality of us vs. them.

The silver lining in the abuse case is that it's a chance to show the Arab world exactly how democracy and the rule of law work. They too can see the difference between America and their own societies all too clearly.

UPDATE: A reader passes on this comment from The Command Post: "Thank God they didn't put a pair of panties on Nick Berg's head. Then it would have been an atrocity!"

Yep. At least they didn't humiliate him, and just slaughtered him like decent human beings.

Scott Ott has more.
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Sunday, May 09, 2004

Strangest Google hit yet 

To the visitor who arrived here via this search: I'm sorry, but I don't know Peyton Manning's street address.
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Facts vs. Feelings 

Some misinformed people held a rally today, and an equally misinformed CNN helped them get their message out.

The rally in question concerned the "Assault Weapons" Ban, and the demonstrators rallied to urge its renewal. CNN quotes a number of people who have lost loved ones in shootings, and cites several high-profile shootings in its story. Each of these is a tragedy.

But not one case mentioned in the article has anything to do with "assault weapons."

The first demonstrator quoted in the story is a woman whose daughter was killed.

The assailant used a 9mm semiautomatic handgun with an illegal 30-round clip.
This crime involved a handgun, and the Assault Weapons Ban only concerns rifles, so it has nothing to do with this woman's loss. And the illegal "clip" (actually a magazine) was illegal, is illegal, and will remain illegal whether the ban is renewed or not. I'm sorry this woman lost a daughter, but the law that she wants renewed has jack squat to do with her loss.

Next up is one of our esteemed Congressmen:

"We are working very hard in Iraq to get AK-47s off the street, to get Uzis off the streets. The president says we're fighting the war on terror by doing that," said Rep. Chris van Hollen, D-Maryland. "What about the terror right here on our streets at home."
I'm glad you asked, Congressman van Hollen. With the ban in effect, AK-47s and Uzis are legal. At least the semi-automatic versions. Full auto weapons have been illegal since 1934 and will remain so. But this strikes at the heart of the misconceptions about the ban. It does NOT ban machine guns. A 1934 law did that, and it remains in effect today. This law has nothing to do with the Assault Weapons Ban.

But let's allow Congressman van Hollen to keep going:

He also decried a provision in the law that critics contend allows owners of legal firearms to replace the housing for the firing mechanism and turn them into illegal assault weapons. He tied the loophole to October 2002 sniper attacks that killed 10 people in van Hollen's Maryland district, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
Once again, a scare tactic to make people think the law protects them from crime. The ban was in effect when the sniper attacks happened, and it didn't stop them. So what's your rationale again, Mr. Van Hollen?

Notice, also, the use of the word "illegal" in there. How a "loophole" can "allow" someone to do something "illegal" (a federal felony, in the case of modifying the firing mechanism) is beyond me. That's truly some stunning logic. But the DC snipers didn't modify a thing. They used a perfectly legal, off-the-shelf rifle that almost any American could have in hand in about 10 minutes. The one they used, by the way, a Bushmaster AR-15, was not the most powerful or the most accurate rifle they could have used. A good hunting rifle would have been vastly superior for their purposes.

Let's let one more member of Congress speak irrationally, shall we?

Another Democratic representative, Carolyn McCarthy of New York's Long Island, urged people to volunteer to spread the word about the expiring assault weapons ban. McCarthy's husband was among six people killed and her son was one of 19 wounded in a 1993 shooting spree aboard a Long Island Rail Road commuter train.
This kind of idiocy makes me want to scream. Colin Ferguson killed six people and wounded 19 on the train with a HANDGUN. The ban deals only with RIFLES and could not possibly have done a thing to prevent Rep. McCarthy's tragic loss.

Not one of the crimes mentioned by the protesters or the members of Congress who joined them has anything at all to do with the Assault Weapons Ban, but they use those crimes as justification for renewing the ban. Someone needs to provide these people with a large helping of Clue.

But no, we wouldn't want to argue from a fact-based position when we have so many strong FEELINGS driving us, would we?

For a short and sweet description of what the ban actually does, read my post here.
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