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Friday, May 28, 2004

"Holy city" II 

Matt Yglesias has an observation about the Holy City idea that I blogged recently.

Here's a pain-in-the-ass question my roommate and I have had for quite some time -- what's the deal with Muslims and all these holy cities. Mecca and Medina, fine. Jerusalem too? Well, if that's what you want. But Najaf and Karbala as well? And isn't Qom or Qot or something in Iran also holy? Shouldn't there be some kind of limit on the number of cities you're allowed to designate as holy?

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"A vote for Al Qaeda" 

Sean-Paul Kelley (and now Kos) expand on a post by Atrios expressing outrage over the following statement by CNN anchor Kelly Arena:

"Neither John Kerry nor the president has said troops pulled out of Iraq any time soon. But there is some speculation that al Qaeda believes it has a better chance of winning in Iraq if John Kerry is in the White House."
Atrios says,

There you go. We're fighting al Qaeda in Iraq and they think John Kerry is a wimp.
Sean-Paul Kelley adds,

This is your media. Your media has already decided that a vote for Kerry is a vote for al Qaeda and we haven't even had a debate yet. Are you going to let this happen?
The media didn't decide this, gentlemen. Can anyone seriously argue that Al Qaeda prefers four more years of Bush? Come on. Say it aloud, "Al Qaeda prefers Bush over Kerry." See what I mean? Okay, you can stop laughing now...

I understand that these guys are just defending their candidate. They don't perceive him as being a wimp. I don't either. But various enemies of this country have stated unequivocally that they don't want Bush reelected.

It is a simple fact that terrorists the world over want Kerry elected because he's not Bush. They aren't necessarily Kerry fans, but they certainly don't like how the last couple of years have gone under Bush and they assume that their lives will be better with anyone else in the White House. This is not a judgment against Kerry's character. It's simply what the terrorists think. And call me crazy, but I think we should pay a LOT of attention to what they're saying. We ignore them at our own peril.

I am absolutely not saying that a vote for Kerry is a vote for terrorists. But is it too much to ask for Kerry to make it clear that our enemies will be given no quarter by a Kerry administration? Including in Iraq? John Kerry must make sure that terrorists understand that their lives will not improve if he's President. Would it be too hard for Kerry to plainly say that a vote for him will not mean a return to the pre-9/11 law enforcement approach to terrorism that failed to deter attacks in New York (twice), Washington, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania and Kenya? Because we can't afford to go back down that road. And we can't afford to allow terrorists to think we will.

UPDATE: This is one way to find common ground... Atrios is now mad at Eason Jordan.
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Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Powerful marketing 

The City of Vienna, Austria has about the most creative slogan I've seen anywhere. (Upper right corner of the page.)
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Still We Believe 

I saw Still We Believe: The Boston Red Sox Movie last night. If I could sum the movie up in one word, it would be "merciful."

The ALCS-winning home run by Aaron Boone arrived unexpectedly, despite everyone in the theater knowing it was coming. I didn't even have time to look away from the screen before it was over, and the movie moved on to the postgame clubhouse scenes.

But the movie is more about the fans than the team. It follows a handful of fans through the 2003 season, beginning with spring training. "Still We Believe" shows the rise and fall of fans' emotions, as they sway from "this is our year" to "it's ovah. O-V-A. Ovah." The emotional swings sometimes happen in the course of a single inning.

And that, really, is the essence of Red Sox fandom. You're torn between hope, against all reason, that this could be the year, and the dead certainty that the Sox will blow it and rip your heart out yet again. Somehow, they will find a way. And they seem to keep upping the ante on creative and shocking ways to blow it. But one of these days...

As an illustration of that dichotomy of hope and pessimism, "Still We Believe" is a success. I left the theater thinking, "This could be the year." Foolish me.

Still we believe, indeed.
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Monday, May 24, 2004

What liberal media? 

Daniel Cooney and Omar Sinan of the Associated Press have written about the "dramatically higher" number of violent deaths during the first 12 months of the Iraqi occupation, versus the number of violent deaths before the war.

That, frankly, is a disgusting thing to say. I guess the hundreds of thousands of people killed under Saddam didn't count.

Here's how they start the article:

BAGHDAD -- Punctured by bullets or torn by bombs, broken bodies keep coming into Baghdad's main morgue. Some are dumped on the blood-splattered concrete floor. Others lie naked on metal gurneys in a hallway, waiting for autopsies as flies buzz in the spring heat.

Even before the spasm of bloodshed that began early last month, Iraqis were suffering a heavy toll from crime, tribal revenge killings, terrorist bombings, and fighting between coalition troops and insurgents.

An Associated Press survey of the deaths in the first 12 months of the occupation found that more than 5,000 Iraqis died violently in Baghdad and in three provinces. The toll from both criminal and political violence ran dramatically higher than the number of violent deaths before the war, according to the statistics from morgues.
Statistics from morgues. As if a human being would be taken to an Iraqi morgue after being fed through a plastic shredder or dumped into a mass grave in the desert.

To even try to imply that more Iraqis are dying now than before the war is about the sickest example of media bias that I've ever seen. It appears that shame is dead in the journalism field.

But wait, they cover their asses later on:

That doesn't mean Iraq is a more dangerous place than during Saddam Hussein's regime. At least 300,000 people were murdered by security forces and buried in mass graves during the dictator's 23-year rule, US officials say, and human rights workers put the number closer to 500,000.
How many people actually kept reading this deep into the article, instead of skimming over the first few sensationalist paragraphs and moving on to the horoscopes? In any case, Cooney's and Sinan's numbers forget the half million people who died in Saddam's war against Iran. That would put the total closer to a million. But did you notice the convenient use of the phrase, "US officials say?" In the language of the liberal media, that means "officials you shouldn't trust say..." I've got a better idea. How about "as the horrifying mass graves which are uncovered on a disturbingly regular basis prove."

They cite numbers from human rights workers, but the journalism field has a long tradition of discrediting them, too. Their ignored pleas from the scenes of countless humanitarian tragedies are evidence enough of that. If the authors actually believed the US officials and human rights workers, then they could not have written that "[t]he toll from both criminal and political violence ran dramatically higher than the number of violent deaths before the war"

It its coverage of Iraq, it's clear that the media has a dog in the fight. And it's clear which dog is theirs, and which is not.
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Lcpl Boudreauxsen 

Someone has doctored the Lcpl Boudreaux photo (again), this time trying to turn him into a Danish soldier humiliating Iraqis.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) - The Danish military said Wednesday that photos posted on the Internet showing its soldiers humiliating Iraqis were fakes because the uniforms and gear worn in the pictures are not issued to its troops in Iraq or anywhere else...

Defense Command Denmark, the Scandinavian country's top military authority, published one of the photos, saying the text on the picture had been added afterward.

The photo showed two boys posing next to a soldier, all gesturing with a thumbs-up sign.

The shot was identical to another one found on the Internet that depicted U.S. Marine reservist Lance Cpl. Ted J. Boudreaux Jr. with two Iraqi boys holding an offensive signboard.

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