My crazy pal
Laurence Simon has a new bloghome,
new contest that is outraging all of the moral and decent and upstanding
people who have apparently never read his site before.
Actually, I'm thinking more "hypocrites" than moral, decent,
upstanding people, but it was fun to write that sentence. A little bird
is telling me that some people (the
kind that make farting noises in the back of the classroom) are astonished
that I don't find Lair's use of the c-word as offensive as, say, plagiarizing
a pay-for-information service. (Once again, two-year blog anniversary
coming up, thousands of posts, some even dealing with the offensiveness
of Laurence Simon. Try to keep up, Fartboy.)
But let me state once more for the record: Yep, Lair's offensive as all
get-out. He offends everyone I can think of, and has written things that
I find highly offensive from time to time. But both he and I live in America,
and we subscribe to the spirit that brought us the First Amendment, as
well as the determination to let our readers decide whether or not what
we say offends them. I have written him publically and privately about
his offensiveness. The bottom line: Lair has the right to say what he
wants, so long as he's breaking no laws. And running a contest for "c-word
of the year" seems to strike me as wholly legal, albeit offensive.
I wanted no part of it, but now I think I need to restate my position
on The Offensive Blogger Otherwise Known As Laurence Simon:
You rock, Lair. Except your contest name sucks. Can't you change it to,
oh, I dunno, "Vagina of the Year"? I think I could sign onto
a contest with that name. permalink
Nazimedia conspiracy theories
You have to laugh at this
schmuck. He's got about every angle covered: He's an anti-Semite,
he's a proud member of the tinfoil-hat brigade, and he thinks what he's
doing is actually going to make a whit of difference.
I'm making public this list of domains for blocking
by antiwar/antifascist websites that are being monitored and/or harassed
by the US Government and/or Zionist organizations. I have already added
this list to the .htaccess file on one of my websites. In time, all
of my websites will include this blocking list. I am publishing this
list to assist other websites suffering the same harassment. I am also
copyrighting this list in order to prevent a Zionist organization from
copyrighting it, thereby gaining control of publication of the list.
This copyright (also known as copyleft) is restricted verbatim by the
GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE. You are free to modify and republish it,
provided you adhere to the conditions of the GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE.
This list contains the domains of major defense contractors,
various FReepers, US military domains engaged in monitoring websites,
US Government domains engaged in monitoring websites, major private
security firms, and major Zionist organizations. No warrantee is granted
or implied. Use at your own risk. This list will not prevent individuals
or organizations from visiting your website. Instead, it will force
them to use other, usually private, ISPs to access your website. This
will increase the cost and inconvenience of monitoring you. The down
side is that it will decrease your ability to document the fact that
they are visiting your website. Thus, any webmaster using this list
should weigh the potential benefits vs. negative consequences of its
Included on the list are Daniel Pipes, the Wiesenthal Center, Israel's
embassy to Tokyo (huh?), and as many sites with "israel" in
their name as the moron could find. He's also paranoid about anything
coming from nyc.gov. Must be all those J-E-W-S that live there and work
for the city.
Indymedia. The gift that keeps on sickening. Let's see if I can get this
lunatic to add my domain. permalink
the question: Am I real? It's in response to a
comment of Rebecca's that rightly warns her readers to be a bit skeptical
of the ServiceBloggers (if I may call them so). Anyone could open a blogspot
account and say they were blogging from Kuwait or Baghdad. But I can vouch
for Pontifex and LT Smash's identities.
I knew them before the war and can read email headers; theirs are coming
through military servers. So is Captain
Of course, someone could be spoofing headers to make all three of them
seem to be in the service, but then, some people go to bed at night
with tin foil wrapped around their heads to protect themselves from alien
Around the blogosphere
In apology to Susanna Cornett,
who sent me an email accusing me of ignoring her after demanding
that she write about the plagiarism issue (I did not, she misunderstood
why I put her in that list), I must insist that you go
and read her post at once. (I'm really worried; she knows I'll be
in NJ next week, and she can track me down, and, well, she owns a gun.
Okay, that isn't what worries me. What worries me is I think she can take
me. But it would be an epic battle.)
She also has an
excellent post on the breakdown of order in Baghdad, and remember
that Susanna has quite an extensive background in criminal law, and knows
whereof she speaks.
Laurence Simon has moved. The
crazy guy is now over at Blogmosis, but he needs you to hit the tip jar
so his archives can move with him.
I told you you should be reading Marduk. Where else can you find a
quote like this:
"I wish to be absolutely clear: no epic Sumerian
cuneiform tablet, majestic Neo-Assyrian lamassu sculpture or any other
Mesopotamian artifact is worth a human life, be it Iraqi, American,
British or other."
I have come to the conclusion that my worst nightmare involves a lunch
with Marduk, Doc Weevil, and
Victor Davis Hanson all talking about antiquities and then turning
to me to ask my opinion on the obscure matter they've just been discussing
Found this via my referrers: An
excellent essay on why you should work to stay informed and watch
the news. Context.
Update: Bloggers archives are hosed. Go to the main
page and search for "Demons, Angels" (it's currently on
And speaking of context, Lynn's
latest post on Jonathan Pollard has helped me finally make up my mind
about how I feel regarding his case.
Let him rot in jail. permalink
Weird search requests
Okay, I give up: What
does this mean? Is it something special? I'm so naive.
Still getting this
one. Lots. Whatever.
Stan lee was the number one single search in March. Variations on "fish
heads" was the search term most frequently used to find my site.
And I still have some of my "Fish Heads" users, too, from WAY
Sadly, too many of you out there still want to see Meredith Viera
or Jean Smart naked. And may I say: Ew.
I expect The Hulk and Hulk Smash! will become pretty big searches soon.
I almost bought Hulk Hands last night. I may not be able to pass them
by a third time. permalink
Pay attention, Sean-Paul, this
is how it's done
I made a mistake earlier today. I called Hesiod "Atrios" in
post below. It is fixed now; no traces of the confusion remain save
for the explanation here in this post. Mea culpa, Atrios,
and I apologize for confusing you with the kid in the back of the classroom
who likes to make loud farting noises. Had I realized my mistake, I would
have fixed it immediately, but I've been out all day. I am deeply, deeply
sorry for confusing you with Hesiod. It will never happen again.
In the meantime, readers, Sean-Paul Kelley himself sent me a letter
correcting my mistake:
You must not have been (are )a very good journalist.
The author you cited today is not Atrios, it is Hesiod. Hesiod runs
Counterspin Central, Atrios runs the Eschaton.
I can help you with the fact checking stuff as it seems
you need the help.
While the offer is appreciated for what it isa lame attempt at
embarassing meI must firmly refuse your offer of assistance. To
have a known plagiarist help me with fact-checking of any kind would only
besmirch my reputation. You see, Sean-Paul, what I have done is
make a simple mistake. What you have done is put out a series of
lies until you were exposed in a national magazine, and only then owned
up towell, you haven't really owned up to it yet, have you?
I hope this helps you determine the difference between making a mistake
and serial plagiarism, but I suspect that it will not. If you're done
giggling over my error, perhaps you can work on rewriting your apology
to actually acknowledge what you did. And keep a link to it on your main
Again, Atrios, I am deeply, deeply sorry, and hope I haven't offended
you. Hesiod. Gawd. Had I realized I was responding to him, I would
haveI would havewell, I'd not have responded. My bad. permalink
Kids ask the darnedest things
On Tuesday, my fourth graders and I were discussing the Torah, as that
was the chapter we were covering in a book called "The Synagogue."
They learned how one is made, what it's made of, the incredible amount
of labor that goes into producing one Torah scroll, and other things.
I asked them if they knew when we were given the Torah, and nearly all
of them knew the story of Moses and Mt. Sinai. But then, one of them wanted
to know, what if Moses came down the mountain and we refused to accept
the Torah? What would have happened to the Hebrews?
It was a great question, and one I used at our monthly "Ask the
Rabbi" near the end of Friday night services. (The Hebrews would
have fallen into obscurity and God would have found another people willing
to abide by the Torah, he said.)
I did not ask the question they asked me when we were discussing mitvahs
earlier. One of the mitvahs is attending a baby naming. It's specifically
that in the booklet, but I added, "Or a bris," not thinking.
"What's a bris?" they wanted to know. "Um... it's a circumcision."
"What's a circumcision?" they wanted to know. "I know
what it is," said Matthew B., who had attended one for a relative
"Go home and ask your parents," I said. "I don't think
they'd want me to discuss this with you."
I mean, I'm perfectly fine with explaining what it is, but I had the
feeling it was a parent's prerogative, and decided not to stir up a hornet's
nest. And since I didn't get any phone calls that night, I expect the
kids all forgot. permalink
The Agonist and
(It's just too much fun to make bad post titles out of that simple phrase.)
The anonymous blogger known as Hesiod
is calling me out for not having my stats open to the public, yet
banging on The Agonist's stats (which are open) going down.
MERYL'S FREEP: What's eating Meryl Yourish? In the
last week, she's logged no less that SIX posts on the Agonist/Plagarism
You might even call it an obsession. She's been tracking
Sean-Paul's declining hit count, and even goes so far as to politicize
the responses to the Wired story.
It sounds to me that Meryl has a hit count problem
of her own, and has decided to go after Agonist to generate some traffic
to her own site.
She freely publishes Agonist's statistics [because
Sean-Paul opened them up] but doesn't allow anyone to view her own.
I have no problem with her doing the latter [I block
access to my stats as well], provided she doesn't go after OTHER people
on that issue, or use their open stats to make a point.
Oh, how noble of you. And how condescending. Mother, may I?
Open up your stats Meryl, so we can see if YOUR hits
have been declining as well.
I bet you got a nice SPIKE when you decided to take
on Agonist, however.
Nope, my traffic's been only slightly above normal this week, and was
already higher than normal on Sunday and Monday, before I began
writing about the Agonist. My bumps this week are probably due to publishing
letters and Diane's
leaving a link to me up during her latest hiatus.
But my traffic has been in flux for the past month, and hasn't settled
into a new pattern yet. That always happens when something I write about
becomes a highly-public issue (like the
anti-PETA campaign). It brings me new readers and a new level of readership.
Any regular reader of my blog knows that I don't put up posts for publicity's
sake. I write about issues that concern me, or move me, or make me laugh,
or irritate me, or outrage me. Try to catch up, Hesiod, there are nearly
two years of posts that clearly illustrate why I write what I write, and
you're looking at half a dozen out of thousands.
In point of fact, the Washington Post article gave me all ofwait
for itabout 50 hits. Will Femia's article hasn't yet shown up on
my referrer collection, which means it led to fewer than 29 hits. My ISP-supplied
WebTrends only collates the top 50 referrers, and Hesiod, you're not even
a blip on the screen. Are you sure it's my traffic you're really
There, now we've both gotten the snarkiness aside, let's look at the
issue of my "obsession." Kelley plagiarized posts. He was caught
by the Armchair General. He denied plagiarizing anything, said it
was time constraints and that he'd fix things. He continued to plagiarize.
A reporter from Wired called him on it. He denied plagiarizing, blamed
it on his sources. The source laid it right back where it belonged, on
Kelley's shoulders, and Kelley, trapped in a web of lies, finally admitted
that he had "made a mistake." Is that what you took away from
this incident? Let's
The lesson is that you can't sacrifice accuracy and
journalistic ethics for speed.
Oh, it was the quickness of it all that caused him to lie, lie
again, attempt to place the blame on one of his sources, lie again, and
of kinda maybe admit he might have done something not right. Well,
you go ahead and excuse your pal. I think that since he can't be fired
from his job for what he did, he deserves to be utterly deserted by the
blogosphere. Delinked, not mentioned, buh-bye!
His declining stats are absolutely relevant to the issue of his
trying to gain from plagiarism. By accusing me of pounding Kelley for
hits, you're trying to divert attention away from what he did. Let me
put it in a nutshell:
Kelley lied, he cheated, he stole, and he did it all to advance himself
in the public eye, with the intention of making money via his blog.
Is Kelley my obsession? I think not. My current obsessions are Buffy
the Vampire Slayer and Angel, the sadly-named Everlasting Gobstoppers
(yeah, I went back to them folks, sorry), and, well, geehonesty.
What a horrible person I am, expecting honesty and ethics in blogging.
And failing that, expecting a liar and thief to own up to what he's done.
And, silly me, expecting the rest of the blogosphere to think that plagiarism
shouldn't be defended, excused, or rewarded.
Mac Diva and
I see absolutely eye to eye on this one, Hesiod. Too bad you don't. permalink
I received this letter from Diane E. last night:
I came home on the subway about 20 minutes ago from
a talk given by Andrew Stuttaford (pretty interesting).
Some old hippie was wearing a large pin; THE WORLD
SAYS NO TO WAR.
I didn't see it till the end of the trip. Good thing,
because I would have said to him, "Yeah, but we had one anyway
and the Iraqis seem pretty happy about the outcome, and you couldn't
do a thing about it."
On my way home from lunch yesterday, I decided to take the long route,
through downtown Richmond. Standing on E. Main in the business district
were two middle-aged men. One held a sign saying, "Honk for no war."
The other said something about peace. This was lunch hour, and traffic
I think American opinion swings behind the President on this one. Just
(P.S. to Diane's hippie: If the world says no to war, why are there constantly
wars throughout the world? There's a bit of a cognitive dissonance in
that saying.) permalink
Charles is back
A friend of mine stopped by this evening, stayed for dinner, and helped
me hang my paintings that have been sitting in various places for months.
So my antique Chinese reverse painting called "The Money God Arrives"
is up, and my rabbi's wife can tell me I'm an idolator for having him
here. I call him Charles for short. (Pictures to come later.) And my watercolor
of Birds of Paradise flowers, which was painted by someone whose name
I have forgotten. And my Chinese lacquers. Big sigh. It looks really nice
here, now. Thanks, Andy. permalink
Why you should be reading Marduk
Marduk at Babylonian Musings, as I said last week, has broadened
his horizons and blogging efforts:
I know I should try and maintain academic detachment
about this conflict. I know I should respect the opinions of those who
don't support the war.
But I can't.
This conflict in Iraq is damn personal to me.
I know people who died September 11.
I know people who were killed in Israel.
And I know that my children's lives are less secure as Jews in this
world because of the evil alliance of anti-Semites, anti-Zionists, and
As far as I'm concerned, the Americans and their allies
are protecting me and my family daily.
See, he does more than just post really great cracks
The vanity publishing site for losers, otherwise known
as www.gooff.com, asks the question on everyone's mind:
"ARE AMERICAN JEWS RESPONSIBLE FOR BUSHS
DECISION TO INVADE IRAQ?"
What do you think the answer is?
And then there's this.
"Robert Fisk: The dogs were yelping. They knew
bombs were on the way" (Independent, April 9).
Well I always knew that my dog was smarter than Fisk,
but I had no idea her Babylonian cousins were equally clever....
I can't read Marduk without laughing at least once. He and Lair
ought to get together. permalink
The Agonist and the ecstasy
Oh, stop groaning. You knew someone had to use that headline,
and you knew I was going to do it. (And if someone else already used it,
Apparently, there are some out there who think I'm being too hard on
Kelley. Why, it's almost as if I like pounding on him. It's not
like he, oh, plagiarized a pay-for-information service, passed the work
off as his own, and tried to parlay it into a paying job.
Will Femia mentioned the issue in today's Weblog
Central. (I think he's still mad at me over the
LGF thing. I'm linked, but not by name.) But there's still something
missing. Will says:
Kelley has since acknowledged
his plagiarism, apologized,
and even managed
to make amends with the folks at Stratfor. But damage has been done.
When I click on the links, my reading of them is: No, not really, and
yes. Kelley has never yet acknowledged his plagiarism. Let us once again
Setting The Record Straight
Blogistan is a nasty place. And the time has come to repost something
that I have posted before.
On March 21st, 2003 I wrote this in Flash
"I'm blogging via PDA, bear with me. I really
do wish I could cite all the sources here. If you're upset about it
as some people are, please understand the time constraints I am under.
Please also note that some of the updates are copied and pasted others
are not. Just consider it all from another news source unless I say
otherwise. I'm not interested in pissing anyone off here. I'm just trying
to provide a service."
nefarious elements have accused me of lying or plagiarism or something
to that effect. I think the above post clears it up.
If you are disappointed I understand. If you feel like
I have betrayed your trust, I understand.
However, I do not think either is the case. Throughout
the course of the war I have done my utmost to maintain an unbiased
position on the war. That has been my one and only goal. So that you
get the information you need to make an educated decision.
UPDATE: At some point in the next day or so I
will go back and attribute everything I can. Thank you for your support.
What this was was a denial that any plagiarism has taken place.
Now let's take a look at this Wired
"You got me, I admit it.... I made a mistake,"
Kelley said. "It was stupid."
Nope, no P-word in that sentence. And "a mistake". Not "On
many days I deliberately posted Stratfor information in about half my
items, and pretended they were mine." But then, he did give us unbiased
plagiarized news stories. Perhaps that excuses it in his mind.
Another Wired quote:
Kelley offered an even more dubious explanation for
the item attributed to a "little birdie." When asked how Stratfor
information came to be credited to an unnamed source, Kelley said one
of his sources must have gotten it from Stratfor and passed it on to
him without crediting the intelligence company.
[...] In an interview, Kelley supplied the unnamed
source's phone number, evidently hoping he would claim responsibility
for providing the Stratfor material, which was not initially credited
to the intelligence firm.
"I don't even read Stratfor," said
the source, who described himself as a "former member of the intelligence
community." When asked if he had ever copied a Stratfor item and
sent it to Kelley, the source said, "I don't think that's something
you could posit."
Ooh, looka that. He lied about the unnamed source, and then gave
out the source's phone number (wonder if he got permission?), and tried
to pin the plagiarism on the source. Yep, these are all actions of a penitent
Well, his stats
continue to fall, but that may just be the end of the public's insatiable
need for up-to-the-second war news (get a real job, Kelley). But
I do believe he deserves to be delinked by the blogosphere (and that means
you too, Katzman).
The fact that he now cites all his sources doesn't mean he deserves to
be rewarded for what he did. He delinked Dean Esmay for mentioning the
plagiarism. Ouch, thin skin, there. Too bad he never linked to me in the
first place. I bet taking me off that blogroll would be a thrill. permalink
Diane reminds me that she, too, wrote
about The Agonist. And although she says she is retiring (again),
I believe the correct word is "resting." She never truly retires.
The finger appears to be healing in really disgusting stages. Most of
today saw a huge blue bruise underneath, with dark red edges Now the top
of the knuckle is dark red to purple, and an internist I saw tonight (actually,
I was at his home to help him and his wife design a website, and he
offered me the free consult because I said, "Ouch!" while
trying to write) told me that it means there's some blood in the joint.
Ew. I keep trying to take a picture, but the flash washes out the blue
and purple of the bruise. Maybe tomorrow. I'm going to O'Brienstein's
for lunch. Perhaps my friend can get a decent shot of it. I can't take
pictures well left-handed. There's a thrill for youpictures of a
smashed pinky. That ought to go down as a Great Moment In Weblog History.
(I wonder if the blood loss is affecting my thinking. I mean, really.
I normally don't get stupid ideas. Dumb ones, yes, but not stupid.)
A sick thought just occurred to me. I guarantee you the above paragraph
will somehow bring me obscene web searches. (You have no idea how
gross some of these searches can be.)
Yonatan R. sent me this great joke, and it totally bears publishing.
There was a Catholic church, a Protestant church and
a Synagogue, and all three places had problems with the woodpeckers.
The Catholic church caught them in a humane way and
then set them free in a nearby park, within days the woodpeckers had
The Protestant chuch decided to let them be, and just
put up with them.
The Synagogue voted them in as members of the congregation,
now they only see them on Pesach, Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashona.
I have to stop typing now. It's starting to hurt again. Thanks for the
good wishes and tips. So far, no splint seems necessary, and the pain
has lessened tremendously. Good thing I'm not Italian or I'd really be
handicapped. I wouldn't be able to talk. (Oh, stop. It's a joke. My sister-in-law
is Italian.) permalink
And in other war news...
soldiers are fighting, too.
IDF elite Golani troops successfully prevented the
launching of Kassam missiles from Gaza today.
The IDF spokesperson said that an anti-terror operation
went into effect in the area of Beit Hanoun early Wednesday after IDF
intelligence learned that members of Hamas were about to attack the
Negev town of Sderot.
An IDF force intercepted four terrorists as they were
about to launch Kassam missiles and killed the Palestinians in a gun
battle, the IDF spokesperson reported.
However, unlike the residents of Baghdad, most
Pals are extremely upset about the war in Iraq:
There was shock and disbelief in the West Bank and
Gaza Strip Wednesday as Palestinians gathered around TV sets to watch
US Marines and Iraqi residents knock down a giant statute of Saddam
Hussein in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad.
"I'm stunned and appalled. I can't understand
what is happening," said Rustum Abu Ghazalah, a 30-year-old shopkeeper
in the center of Ramallah.
He and grim-faced fellow shopkeepers zapped from one
Arab TV station to another with the hope of discovering that what they
were hearing and watching was nothing more than a US-produced Hollywood
"This can't be true," grumbled Abu Ghazaleh.
"Where are the suicide bombers? Where are the Fedayeen of Saddam?
Where are the heroic Republican Guards?"
In the words of the Great Philosopher, Mr. B. Bunny: They went that-a-way.
Older Palestinians said the events in Iraq are reminiscent
of the Six Day War, when Arab radio stations and leaders told their
audiences that Israel was on the verge of defeat. They said the TV appearances
of the Iraqi information minister, who remained defiant till the last
minute, insisting that everything was under control and that the enemy
had been defeated.
"Sahhaf reminded me of [Egyptian radio propagandist]
Ahmed Said, who during the 1967 war, told us that the Israeli warplanes
were falling like flies," said Abed al-Zamel, a 70-year-old retired
schoolteacher from Silwad village near Ramallah. "Once again the
Arabs have fallen victim to the lies of their leaders and media. We
never learn from our mistakes. When the war erupted, I warned my sons
not to watch Arab TV stations so they would not be disappointed and
depressed when the truth eventually comes out."
"We never learn from our mistakes." From the horse's mouth,
News from Captain Steve
The End of the Beginning
I thought last night's sortie would last forever. Compared
to what we've grown used to, the radios were quiet. We flew our orbit,
maintained presence, waited for something to happen. Time dragged painfully
by. Then an A-10 was hit by surface to air fire while providing close
air support over Baghdad. Everyone straightened their headset and turned
up their radio. We got to help with combat search and rescue. Time speeded
The wingman of the stricken jet called out their location
and situation. His voice betrayed only a hint of strain as he said his
wingman was going to try to keep it in the air. Those A-10's can take
a beating. Multiple redundancies in systems make them hard to kill,
but this didn't sound good. The wingman reported in frequently, announcing
their plans to divert to a closer airfield, but acknowledging that he
wasn't sure they'd make it. He was low on gas, and worried that if his
buddy went down, he wouldn't be able to patrol above him to keep him
safe. We concentrated on filtering out the static and the noise and
catching his every word. We tried with our prayers to keep that jet
The next thing we heard was that the pilot who'd been
hit was having difficulty controlling his jet, and thinking seriously
about ejecting. It was at this time that I realized my hands were cramped
from being clenched so tightly. I tried to relax. We heard nothing else
on that frequency for several minutes. In the mean time we searched
every source at our disposal for a hint of what was going on. Then it
was confirmed that he'd ejected.
When you hear about a pilot bailing out or a jet being
downed over hostile territory, part of you freezes. It's a part that
wants to cling to your last memory of that pilot - the memory of him
or her alive and in control of the jet. The other part of you scrambles
through a series of conditioned responses as your training takes over.
You run checklists. You search for information. You gather information
and prepare it for those who will soon be asking for it. It's a strange
kind of schizophrenia that allows you to have two such completely different
In a matter of minutes, we learned that the downed
pilot had been picked up by a Bradley fighting vehicle. He must have
practically landed on top of it. I'll bet that pilot was never so glad
to see anyone in his life, and I'll bet the troops in the Bradley were
thrilled to be able to help the warthog driver.
So it ended up being a pretty good night.
We've been in a heightened security posture since the
war began. Access to certain buildings has been limited to a single
point of entry/exit, we've been carrying our gas masks and wearing our
Kevlar helmets, and we've been unable to call home. The food and souvenir
shops on base have been closed and the TCNs (Third Country Nationals)
who work in them have been kept away. Most notably, the coffee shop
in our compound has been shuttered. The caffeine addicts, deprived of
their espressos and cappuccinos, have had to get by with chow hall coffee.
In the face of what our ground troops are doing without, this is nothing.
I haven't heard anyone complain about it. You would almost think nobody
But when we landed this morning we were told we no
longer had to carry our chem gear or wear our helmets, and you would
have thought we'd been given a cash bonus. Somehow being relieved of
that minor burden made us disproportionately happy. I guess it wasn't
just being freed of the inconvenience. It was the reasoning behind the
change that put a spring in our step. If we don't have to wear the gear,
someone in a position to know believes we don't need it. That means
we're making progress. That's good news indeed.
And there was more. When we woke this afternoon the
shops had reopened. The grumpy tailors were back at their sewing machines
taking orders, the gold merchants were behind their counters, and -
I had to look twice to be sure - smoke was rising from the Burger King
trailer. The center of our compound smelled like charbroiled ground
beef - the smell of freedom. There was even more good news. The "information
minimize" restriction that prohibited calling home has been lifted.
We will hear our loved ones' voices very soon.
Afternoon stretched to evening, and the little plaza
at the center of our compound looked like a college town after the students
return from spring break. Troops sat around tables playing cards or
dominoes. One was playing a guitar. I hurried through on my way to get
in line for a phone, but even in my rush I felt something in the air.
A note of joy.
It was nothing compared to what I saw on TV moments
later. As I waited to call home I watched live coverage of Iraqis welcoming
our troops in Baghdad. They thronged around tanks and armored personnel
carriers, waving, jumping up and down, smiling. Those of us waiting
for phones forgot about keeping our place in line. We gathered around
Then they pulled that statue down. As the cable tightened
around the bronze Saddam's neck we leaned forward, willing it to fall.
And when it hit the ground and the crowd surged forward we cheered for
them as they kicked and spat at the symbol of their enslavement. We
celebrated with them as they subjected it to every indignity they could
invent. We laughed at the image of them towing the severed head around
the square, taking turns riding on it. We were joined to the hundreds
in that square, celebrating the birth of liberty.
We have miles to go before we rest. We won't forget
that. Tikrit must fall, and Mosul, and we must guide a nation through
the pitfalls that endanger every new republic. There is plenty of work
left before we can go home. But for a few moments we basked in the jubilation
of a newly-freed people, and it felt like we were already there.
A word about today
There is so much news out therenot least of which is the fall of
Baghdad, the war having lasted some years less than many thought it wouldbut
the problem in my house is that I am a touch-typist, and I wasn't kidding
about slamming my pinky on the lid of the toilet tank. It hurts like a
sonofabitch to type. And I find myself unable to use the hunt-and-peck
system (ow! ow! dashes use that pinky, and so does the p key. ow!). erha
s I should just not use any letter or symbol that uses the inky finger.
Not only that, I have a paying job deadline approaching (ow! ow!). I
may not be around until later tonight. (Ice, please, and step on it!)
The Washington Post on the Agonist
More on Kelley's plagiarism, and its effect, in today's
Washington Post Filter, Cynthia Webb's column. (How great is it that
their Internet columnist is named Webb?)
By the way, it's looking like Kelley's stats
are continuing to fall.
By the way 2, Cynthia Webb agrees that journalistic ethics should
apply to bloggers as well. I'm with you, Cynthia.
I forgot to link to Laurence
Simon's piece yesterday.
Dean Esmay has a
new one today. Don't miss the comments. permalink
Woody Effing Woodpecker: The
I thought the
battle was over. I thought I
had won. I'd heard Woody elsewhere, pecking on someone else's building,
and smiled with satisfaction, knowing that I'd scared him off.
I was wrong.
This morning, the dread sound: a woodpecker's bill, pecking away on the
roof at the metal hood to my apartment's heating unit. Once. Twice. This,
after a morning in which the toilet threatened to flood, I grabbed the
lid off the tank and somehow smashed it into my pinky, and you know when
you can see the bruise almost instantly it's going to be a bad one, and
while I'm at it, Ow. It hurts to type. This, on top of the cats
both waking me up shortly after I fell asleep, and waking me again this
morning only five hours after they woke me up last night.
This is not a good day to mess with me, effing woodpecker, I was thinking.
He left before I could get up the energy to get out of bed. But I fear
he'll be back.
Think I'll look into buying a slingshot. permalink
Blog plagiarism roundup
Let's see... nope, none of the blogs I went to have plagiarized anyone
recently. But these folks all have something to say about the Agonist.
Harris: Steam comes off this one, use your asbestos gloves. (You rock,
Layne has more.
Mac Diva too.
Chris at Signifying Nothing has a
great round-up of links. The stats dropoff doesn't mean anything yet,
Chris. Monday is generally the highest day of the week for blogs, Chris.
My Tuesday almost always drops in numbers.
I really like this
essay by Bill Middleton that Chris pointed out.
Atrios: Um, he's not talking
Calpundit: Nope, not there,
Susanna Cornett: Bet you thought
I was going to name another liberal blogger, didn' t you? Nope, not on
her blog, but then, she's nowhere near as big as the three above-named
And that brings me to something that needs saying: I frankly barely even
knew the Agonist existed, let alone that he was a liberal blogger, prior
to the plagiarism. This isn't a case of ideology. But I admit I'm stumped
to see not a word about the plagiarism from the other side of the aisle.
Am I missing them, or is the silence of the left as deafening as it seems?
Just curious. permalink
Agonist Ecosystem Watch, Day
Tracking whether or not the blogosphere takes care of its own seems to
me like a fun thing to do. Realize that the first few days, as everyone
links to the Agonist, his ratings will likely go up. As the story dies
down, it remains to be seen if people remove their links and Kelley's
popularity goes down as a result of his plagiarism. For now, here's the
Myelin Ecosystem: Number
123, with 178 links.
New from Capt. Steve
So many people have asked what they can do to help
us here. People graciously offer to send us anything we need. I am humbled
by such generosity, and it makes me even prouder to serve. But we are
well taken care of here. We are at once the best cared for and most
formidable fighting force the world has ever known. (Who could have
thought it possible?) I am sure that some of our brothers and sisters
on the ground can use some creature comforts that I enjoy every day.
But for me, I've been unable to think of anything I really lack here.
Anything that can be sent to me, that is.
Lately though, with so many kind people offering, I've
been giving more thought to the question. What do I really want? I came
up with the following list:
I ask that when we bring home victory, let it be to
a nation that reflects the principles we're defending.
Let us return to a nation that respects the near-sacred
duty of selecting its representatives, and doesn't sell its votes for
Let it be a place where courts evaluate laws in light
of the Constitution, instead of vice versa.
When we return with the coffins of our friends, let
it be to a land that knows about George Washington, and where teachers
understand that a child's self esteem is proportional to his self-discipline.
Let our homecoming be to a healthy republic, maintained, as Jefferson
said, by a "virtuous, educated" populace.
Let us come back to a government that does not deny
the existence of the God its founders worshipped openly.
Let us return to a nation that does not squander what
we will have bought so dearly, that does not turn over what we have
won with our blood to the United Nations and agents of hostile governments.
Let us be honored not with parades and speeches, but
with policies that reward those who helped us and punish those who made
our mission more dangerous.
Let us return to a nation whose State Department honors
the principles we risk our lives for.
Let us return to citizens who recognize that they are
responsible for their own government.
So many of you have written to let me know that my
colleagues and I are in your prayers; that you ask for our speedy and
safe return. At the risk of seeming ungrateful, I ask you to pray for
something else. Pray that when we bring home victory, it will be to
a nation based on liberty, on the belief that the government that governs
least governs best. Pray that we bring home victory once again, to a
nation that is worthy.
The truth about the Bear, and
All rant and no play makes yourish.com
a shrill read. Hey, I can mangle aphorisms with the best of 'em. You give
me an aphorism, and I'll shred it so your own mother won't recognize it,
and your father will slap your face.
Da Bear has
responded to my whines about his direct link from Andrew Sullivan.
I think I can interpret what he was saying, in a nutshell: "Neener,
neener, neener!" Oh, he tried to distract your attention by complaining
that nobody wants to buy a Truth Laid Teddy Bear (who wants a Teddy Bear
that's been laid? Aren't they all supposed to be innocent little virginal
bears?), but he was really just rubbing it in a bit more to me.
First, Meryl: I don't know why people say bitterness
in unattractive --- you wear it so well! Downright sexy, if I dare say
You see? Sass. Nothing but sass. A compliment? Bah. He's engaged, and
lives way the hell on the other side of the country, and he's not Jewish,
either. Well, then there's that cradle-robbing thing. How can you be attracted
to someone you knew when he was in high school and you wereuh, never
Perhaps; at any rate, I think it's safe and logical
to conclude that regardless, for Sullivan numbers (and perhaps other
things), in some deeply scientific and precise manner, I am indeed 1.0
better than you. (I also, for the record, go to eleven).
Sass. Sass, sass, sass, sass. 1.0 better than me, huh? Keep it up, laughing
boy, and I will hunt down Paranoid Android, the user who introduced me
to that phrase, and send him your email address and your phone
it appears TTLB shall have to revise its financial
plan for the quarter, and perhaps delay the Lear to next fiscal year...
Go ahead, try to win the sympathy vote. I don't even have a Cafe
Press shop. Or ad space to sell. I'm a purist. I make my money the old-fashioned
way: I put things up on my wishlist and then return them for cash.*
And you rightfully console yourself that at least Andrew
chose to link to you from his Slate commentary; so maybe that gives
you a Sullinumber of 2.5, or something.
But I fear I must remind you: he linked to me from
that commentary too.
I think I can boil down those paragraphs to a simple, two-word phrase
that I will not deign to use on my blog. But the meaning is clear. All
right, Bear. Have your laughs. But I think in the end, you will find that
Andrew likes me better than he likes you. Just wait and see.
(*Don't get upset, Marduk,
it's a joke. A joke. J-O-K-E. I'm on Disc Two of Season Three of
the Buffy DVDs, and put the Into the Woods CD on tape so I can listen
to it in my car. Calm. Remain calm.) permalink
(Do you think he bought it?)
The Agonist and the Plagiary
Glenn Reynolds links to this Wired
News article that exposes the Agonist,
whose traffic has surged to some 60,000 hits a day since the war began,
as owing much of his original information to plagiarizing from Stratfor,
a pay-for-information service.
I think Glenn's wrong on a
couple of points in response, though.
However, to those who are pronouncing this scandal
a blow to the credibility of the blogosphere, I should note that (1)
he was first caught out by another blogger; and (2) it's not as if Big
Media has been free of such things.
In response to one: It doesn't matter who caught him. Whether Big Media
journalists are caught by their Big Media colleagues or a blogger, the
plagiarism still affects the medium in which it took place.
It also doesn't matter that "Big Media" journalists have also
been caught plagiarizing. Kelley's plagiarism is a blow to the
credibility of the blogosphere. And it should be big news in the blogosphere.
The Agonist has been a high-profile, high-visibility blogger since the
start of the war. The war has caused his popularity surge. His
seemingly uncanny line to information (now revealed to have been lifted
whole cloth from Stratfor) helped him achieve that high visibility. And
he still has it. The blogosphere has barely mentioned this.
The story is beginning to get around (Daniel Drezner has a
roundup of links, Glenn Reynolds steps
up to the plate, and Colby Cosh makes
my main points in far fewer words),
but I think it needs to get around more. (Update: It is. NZ
Bear weighs in, as does Dean
Esmay, who reports that Kelley says copyright is intellectual theft.
Well, that explains why he refuses to use the P-word.) Ken
Layne has the right idea:
I don't think there's a way up from this hole. Retire
that "Agonist" from your bookmarks and stick to something
like the Command Post. I read it every day and I've never seen an unsourced
bit of news. Plus, I know a bunch of the people who contribute items
-- it didn't have to earn my trust because plenty of the individuals
had already done it on their own sites over the past year or three.
Obligatory full disclosure line: I'm a Command
Post contributor. But even if I weren't, I'd be recommending the same.
I don't think Kelley has really taken responsibility for what he's donenot
when he keeps on adding his little "but" clauses:
I had hoped that with this
post and this
post I had cleared this up, however, that
doesn't seem to be the case.
I'll bet he'd hoped it was cleared up. Because in neither of the first
two links does he admit to plagiarizing. In point of fact, he doesn't
actually admit to it in the latest apology, either. The P-word doesn't
appear in his post at all.
First, I want to state explicitly that what I did was
inexcusable and for many readers may be unforgivable. I understand that
and am willing to accept the consequences of my actions.
I make no excuses for what I did.
Yes, you do, actually. They're in the first line of the so-called apology
post. Let's look at the links. Link number one goes to this response
of Kelley's to Strategic Armchair Command on April 1st, who first
Kelley out on his plagiarism of Stratfor:
Now, various nefarious elements have accused me of
lying or plagiarism or something to that effect. I think the above post
clears it up.
If you are disappointed I understand. If you feel like
I have betrayed your trust, I understand.
However, I do not think either is the case. Throughout
the course of the war I have done my utmost to maintain an unbiased
position on the war. That has been my one and only goal. So that you
get the information you need to make an educated decision.
UPDATE: At some point in the next day or so I will
go back and attribute everything I can. Thank you for your support.
Link number two goes to this item from March 21st:
11:55 CST I'm blogging via PDA, bear with me. I really
do wish I could cite all the sources here. If you're upset about it
as some people are, please understand the time constraints I am under.
Please also note that some of the updates are copied and pasted others
are not. Just consider it all from another news source unless I say
otherwise. I'm not interested in pissing anyone off here. I'm just trying
to provide a service.
Link number three goes to the Wired piece. So Kelley's apology can be
interpreted this way: I said I was sorry, what more do you want,
and, oh, yeah, by the way, Stratfor wrote the stuff I was feeding you
as my original sources, and Wired Magazine wrote about it so now I have
to own up to it.
And if that's not enough evasion for you, go check out Kelley's own message
board threads, which generally insist that he made a mistake and apologized,
now let's move on and leave him be. This, of course, completely ignores
the fact that he did not make one mistake. He made dozens, over
a period of weeks, and then lied about them to Wired's reporters.
In a series of interviews with Wired News, Kelley changed
his story several times. At first, he said he used just four or five
Stratfor items a day without crediting the company. Later, he owned
up to "six or seven days when half was from Stratfor."
Aside from a few scattered attributions, Kelley presented
Stratfor's intelligence as information he had uncovered himself, typically
paragraph-long reports detailing combat operations in Iraq. He took
these wholesale from a Stratfor proprietary newsletter, U.S.-Iraqwar.com,
which Kelley admits he subscribes to.
"Many postings on the (Agonist) pages I looked
at are word-for-word verbatim," said Stratfor chief analyst Matthew
What the above illustrates is a pattern of lying and evasion, not the
behavior of a person who "admitted his errors and rectified the sourcing
problem" (see post 98 on the above-mentioned message thread).
To top everything off, Kelley was on CNN tonight, talking about the influence
of the war on blogs. Funny, I didn't hear him mention a word about his
plagiarism. Must have been cut for time purposes.
Norah Vincent was mobbed for using
one Jackson Browne lyric in a post. (Okay, so her attitude towards
critics created an atmosphere as well. But the initial cause was the Browne
Time for the rest of the blogosphere to step up to the plate and not
reward plagiarism and lies. Or perhaps Kelley should just rename his site
"The Plagiarist." permalink
File under "Effing Morons"
I got a hilarious email this evening, from a Charles Patterson. It starts
Mention has been made of a mysterious "Jewish
philanthropist" behind the funding of PETA's "Holocaust on
Your Plate" exhibit, but the real inspiration behind the project
is Yiddish writer and Nobel Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904-91).
Here is the story:
Patterson is the author of "Eternal Treblinka," which bills
itself as a book "about how mankind's treatment of animals became
the model for the exploitation and slaughter of other human beings, most
notably during the Holocaust." Oh, yes, I'm certain that was
the reason the Hitler, the vegetarian, developed The Final Solution. It
was mankind's treatment of animals. Uh-huh.
But there's more. For instance, did you know that
Patterson never met Singer in person, but he heard
him speak once and saw him in the neighborhood a couple of times having
breakfast at the American Restaurant at the corner of 85th Street and
feeding pigeons on Broadway--one of his favorite activities.
Imagine that. Patterson actually saw Singer feeding pigeons! Hoo-wee,
someone call the New York Times! CNN! TIME Magazine! Plus, he knows where
Singer ate breakfast! (Ohmy heartthe excitementI can't
"In many ways ETERNAL TREBLINKA is more Singer's
book than mine," says Patterson. "It's his vision--what he
expressed so very well in his writings. As far as I'm concerned, he
said it all. I merely came along and filled in the details."
*Sniff* Sorry. I had to wipe the proverbial single tear from the corner
of my eye.
Patterson devotes one of the book's chapters--Chapter
7--to Singer's compassionate vision as reflected in his stories, novels,
memoirs, and interviews. "I like to think that if Singer were still
alive (he died in 1991), he would very much approve of my book."
WAAH! Now you've really made me cry.... Oh, well, Singer's dead,
so we'll never know if he would have thought that Patterson's book was
a pathetic piece of moral equivalent garbage that angered millions of
people worldwide, or if perhaps it was just another bird cage liner.
What would Singer make of the current PETA controversy?
"I don't know, but I wish he were still around, if only to see
what his powerful vision has wrought."
There's the difference between you and me, Chuck. I wonder what Singer
would think of an effing moron who put the words PETA and Holocaust into
search engine, came up with my weblog, on the
very page in which I rake PETA over the coals, and still chose
to send me his PR puff piece on himself and his book. I'm guessing he'd
think something like, "Next time, show a little more intelligence
than my pigeons." permalink
My sweet tooth
You know, I love chocolate, but I can live without chocolate with a minimal
amount of effort, especially if allowed to substitute Tootsie Rolls or
Fudgsicles. But I am an absolute addict to sugar. I like sweet candies,
the sweeter the better. That's why I'm currently addicted to the horribly-named
Everlasting Gobstoppers (we just called 'em "jawbreakers" when
I was a kid, but Nestle thinks that kids will buy old
candy with new names, I guess). If you want to win my heart, don't
send me a box of chocolates. Send me a pound of rock candy, the plain
white kind, or a bunch of the old-fashioned candy necklaces (not the new,
garishly-colored and awful-tasting onesthe old ones, which Smarties
And I've made you wade through this entire prologue because...?
Because I'm giving up the Gobstoppers. I finished the last of them yesterday.
I have no more candy in the house. Well, there's a box of Junior Mints,
but that's it.
I really am determined to rid myself of the nonsmoking weight. Alas.
Well, I can go buy Charms' sourballs. They last longer than the Gobstoppers,
have fewer calories, and, well, I don't like 'em as much, so I won't eat
too many of them.
Sugar-free candy? Talk to the hand. permalink
Let someone else talk for a change
Doing the rounds again. Marduk
has widened his perspective; that old Babylonian has become a full-fledged
blogger in only three weeks. One thing that mystifies me, though, is how
he can stand reading
through the drek of the likes of Israel Shamir. But then, somebody
has to look for signs of infection. Better you than me, Marduk.
Also on Marduk's site: A
frightening personal report on anti-Semitic threats on his children's
school and other Jewish sites.
I owe Judith Weiss a hat-tip
for the link to the Rachel Corrie article on the bottom of this page.
Too many posts to pick out just one; scroll around and read.
Bear got a Sullivan link. Are people still keeping track of Sullivan
numbers? That makes his 2, right?
So let's see now. My friend Da Bear, whom I set on his way to stardom,
got a link from Andrew Sullivan, something which I have yet to
achieve (well, unless you count the link from Andrew's week on MSN, which,
come to think of it, almost counts), and has also fairly consistently
kicked my ass in average visits since, oh, five minutes after I launched
him into the blogosphere. But am I jealous? No. Regretful? Not a bit.
This is my friend. I am glad for my friend's continuing success. (Repeat
nine more times.)
I haven't visited Scott and Ellen
lately. My bad. So y'all say hi for me. There's Ellen's
tale of 28 weeks. Scott's link
to Maddox, who definitely is a grump, but a funny one. (I found him
during my PETA campaign. He talks about
them, too.) Then there's Scott's
essay on air power for non-students of military history. Good one.
On Israpundit, a post about a
fraudulent popular history of the Middle East.
Done for now. Go, read someone else for a change. permalink
Oh, that'll work.
The Pals are threatening violence if the Israelis don't accept the new
A senior Palestinian Authority official warned Monday
that the Palestinians would continue to fight if Israel does not accept,
unconditionally, the road map plan for peace in the Middle East.
PA Cabinet Secretary Ahmed Abdel Rahman lashed out
at Israel for reportedly making 15 remarks about the road map, saying
failure to implement the plan would prompt the Palestinians to pursue
the "resistance to liberate their homeland."
The Palestinians have also expressed some reservations
concerning the road map. But this is the first time that a top Palestinian
official threatens to resort to violence unless Israel accepts the plan
unconditionally. Abdel Rahman is one of Yasser Arafat's most trusted
aides and his statements often reflect thinking in the Palestinian leader's
"If the international community fails to
implement the road map plan as it is and without changes, the Palestinians
would then resort to the option of resistance to restore their rights,"
Abdel Rahman said in Ramallah.
Yep, that'll get the Israelis to agree. Because, like, this is so different
from what they're already doing.
Palestinians. They never miss a chance to make asses of themselves. If
Golda Meir never said that, she should have. But you can attribute it
to me. permalink
The latest from Captain Steve
Another night sortie finds me in the observer's seat
The last couple days the temperature has been a little
over 100 degrees. The cockpit seems to capture the heat and hold it
long after the sun has gone down. It doesn't help that all the electrical
equipment (we're surrounded by dials, switches, and circuit breakers)
is emitting heat as well. Before engine start, our power comes from
an external generator, and is limited. Any available air conditioning
goes to cool the mission computers toward the rear of the jet. So the
preflight checklists are completed in growing heat. The humans on the
flight deck have to adapt.
I strap myself into the seat and slide it all the way
forward, until the back of the pilot's seat forms a footrest and I have
a better view through the windows. I love the cockpit at night. The
cramped space is infused with a dim green glow. In that pale light,
everything is stripped to bare essentials. There is no mistaking what
we are about.
I listen to the pilot, copilot, and flight engineer
run their checklists, and from behind us the navigator adds his inputs.
Again there is the unavoidable impression of a well-rehearsed drill.
Everyone knows his part. Everyone knows what comes next, and what to
do if it doesn't.
We talk to the ground crew, the unsung army of heroes
that keeps our planes flying and without whom we can do nothing. We
coordinate with them to start our engines. Engines running and with
assurances from the back of the jet that the crew is strapped in and
gear is stowed, we are cleared to roll out of our parking space. A ground
crew member stands directly in front of us, flashlight wands tucked
behind his back until, with a blink of our lights, we let him know we
are ready. The wands come out, directing us with sharp definite movements
to roll forward and turn left. And then, before he disappears from our
peripheral vision, he snaps to attention and throws the pilot a crisp
salute, packing into one quick gesture a wish for a successful mission
and a safe return.
We follow the taxiway marked by hooded lights - blue
along the edges, green down the center. Everything else is darkness
but the distant horizon of orange sodium vapor lamps. We turn a corner
and our exhaust stirs dust and sand from the edge of the ramp into the
already dusty air. As we roll toward the downwind end of the runway
the tailwind pushes our little sandstorm along with us. Each taxiway
light has a halo around it.
Ahead of us are four fighters and another heavy. The
fighters launch in quick succession. They are tiny compared to the jets
behind them but they are menacing, with sleek death hanging beneath
their wings. Each thunders down the runway pushed by its afterburner,
a perfect twenty-foot cone of pink-white flame that streaks to the end
of the tarmac and then points straight up. In no time the tiny sparks
have climbed out of sight, reaching safe altitude before they leave
the airspace over our field.
Our turn for takeoff. Power set, brakes released, our
behemoth hurls itself into the wind. The pilot and copilot call out
our ground speed, matching it against our diminishing runway space.
At the appropriate speed for the altitude of our airfield, the weight
of our aircraft, and the temperature of the air, someone calls "rotate"
and we lift off the ground. The landing gear clunks as it unloads its
shock absorbers, then clunks again as it is retracted into the wheel
wells. The tiny world we know is disappearing beneath us.
It takes us longer to climb than it took the fighters.
Our jet is heavy to begin with, but the warm air is thin, making it
harder for our wings to lift us. We corkscrew our way into the sky,
rising in a spiral that keeps us over friendly ground until above the
service altitude of shoulder-fired missiles.
As we spiral we break through the layer of dust blanketing
the earth and suddenly the stars are out. They are breathtaking. So
numerous and so bright, with only a sliver of moon to diminish them.
A far-off city throws its light up against the bottom of the dust layer,
and it glows yellow-orange. Everywhere else, the ground is perfectly
black. It is the darkness of a void; so black that you can understand
how pilots can fly into the ground without knowing it. But there is
no fear of that now. We are secure in our glowing cockpit (cooling now)
climbing steadily, leaning into the bank that carries us around just
one more time until we are high enough to leave our home and join the
Right or wrong, there is the sense here that things
are drawing to a close. I try not to think about it, for fear of a let-down.
I subscribe to the Ben Franklin theory of "Expect the worst. You
will never be disappointed, and you may be pleasantly surprised."
Still, people are taking photographs of things they want to remember
about this place, and doing other such "wrapping up" activities.
The bolder ones are naming dates and saying, "You'll see. I've
been right about every date so far."
Maybe they have. Who can remember? We've wound ourselves
up into advanced states of agitation about so many dates this year it's
hard to keep track. It was before Thanksgiving that we first got the
word that we could be deployed "at any time." We felt lucky
to have Thanksgiving at home, but our happiness was tempered by the
thought that we would most likely miss Christmas. Christmas found some
of us traveling with a uniform in case we had to make a sudden departure,
and starting nervously at every unexpected phone call. But Christmas
passed and we went back to work, taking with us new theories about when
the call would come. When we finally deployed every day brought new
speculation about when the war would start, then about when we would
reach Baghdad. For any situation, there is something to be speculated
on, and worried about.
Not going home though. Not for me. It's too important
a topic to discuss, and besides, I feel a little guilty even considering
it while fighting rages on the ground. It hums beneath the surface though,
like an electric current. The thought of seeing my wife and children
makes my heart race. It has the power to distract me completely from
whatever task is at hand, and to be perfectly honest, it brings tears
to my eyes. So I keep it carefully in check. Dreams can't be helped
though, and when I dream, I am home wrestling with the kids, enjoying
the contentment that comes only in the company of my wife.
When our work is done, we will be home. That is all
I need to know. In the meantime I will content myself with working hard,
painting when I can, and writing you these notes. Thanks for reading
Fisk fisks Fisk; infinite loop
Why bother doing it if you can catch Fisk fisking himself? (Ooh, that
sounds dirty, doesn't it?) Duelings Fisks, same day, different venues.
It is far too precious to pass up. From the
New Zealand Herald:
Robert Fisk: Reports of airport assault premature
SADDAM HUSSEIN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT - So where are the Americans? I
prowled the empty departure lounges, mooched through the abandoned customs
department, chatted to the seven armed militia guards, met the airport
director and stood beside the runways where two dust-covered Iraqi Airways
passenger jets -- an old 727 and an even more elderly Antonov -- stood
forlornly on the runway not far from an equally decrepit military helicopter.
And all I could hear was the distant whisper of high-flying
jets and the chatter of the flocks of birds which have nested near the
airport car park on this, the first day of real summer in Baghdad.
Allies 'seize most of Baghdad airport'
By Robert Fisk in Baghdad and Donald Macintyre in Qatar
04 April 2003
The Americans opened their offensive against Saddam Hussein's capital
when ground forces swept into Baghdad's international airport under
cover of darkness.
During the assault, an air strike on a village south
of the city reportedly killed up to 83 people and wounded hundreds of
others. The troops encountered almost no opposition from Iraqi forces
and secured part of the airport complex with tanks and other armoured
units in pitch darkness, according to Bob Schmidt, a correspondent with
ABC News embedded with the 3rd Infantry Division. The airport assault
was led by a combination of special operations forces and the 82nd Airborne.
The NZ Herald:
Only three hours earlier, the BBC had reported claims
that forward units of an American mechanised infantry division were
less than 16km west of Baghdad -- and that some US troops had taken
up positions on the very edge of the international airport.
But I was 27km west of the city. And there were no
Americans, no armour, not a soul around the runways of the airport whose
namesake, in poster form, sat nonchalantly in the arrivals lounge in
a business suit, cigar in hand. Even more astonishingly, there was no
sign of the 12,000 Republican Guards whom the US division expected to
Indeed, Saddam Hussein International Airport
looked as if it was enduring an industrial strike (let us not conceive
of such an event in Saddam's Iraq) rather than an imminent takeover
by the world's only superpower.
But this morning Iraqi forces were reported to have
moved out of Baghdad to mount a counter-attack. The road from the city
to the airport was controlled by the Iraqis and reporters with American
forces reported heavy fighting.
Colonel Will Grimsley, commanding officer of the 3rd
Infantry Division's 1st Brigade, told Sky News: "It was almost
spooky here last night because there was virtually nothing. It was quiet.
It was very dark and we came through. We occupied positions ... Right
around first light it was as if they looked around and said 'Holy cow
Where did all these Americans come from?' "
At almost the same time as the airport was being attacked
yesterday, explosions detonated in Baghdad's two main power stations
one on each side of the Tigris river depriving the city
of all electrical power for the first time since the Anglo-American
invasion two weeks ago. The power had still not been restored this morning.
Was it true, the Iraqi minister of information was
asked at his daily 2pm press conference (11pm NZT) - a routine institution
of usually deadly tedium - that the Americans were at the airport?
"Rubbish!" he shouted. "Lies! Go and
look for yourself."
So we did.
And, alas for the Anglo-American spokesmen in Doha
and the US officer quoted on the BBC, the Iraqi minister was right and
the Americans were wrong. But it's a good idea to take these things,
if not with a pinch of salt, then at least with the knowledge that there
are always two reasons for every decision taken in this violent, ruthless
US sources indicated last night that troops had discovered
a tunnel system under the airport, a section of which stretched back
to the river Tigris. Early today, US forces claimed they controlled
75-80 per cent of the vast airport complex several miles in diameter.
The most horrifying reports came first from the village
of Furat on the airport road, where dozens of bodies were said to be
heaped in a hospital mortuary after a missile attack; hundreds were
also recorded by a witness to have been wounded. It was unclear whether
the victims included soldiers, although first reports said civilians
made up the majority of the casualties.
For much of the night, the city vibrated with the sound
of huge explosions and the more distant sound of shellfire. All day,
the Iraqis had been denying the imminence of an American attack and
after US reports that its forces had arrived at the perimeter
of the airport took journalists to the runways to prove the Allies
were not present. The Independent found only seven armed guards outside
the terminals, whose departure lounges and concourse were empty, and
just two passenger jets and a military helicopter standing idle on the
Sure, the Americans had been caught lying again - as
they were about the "securing" of Nasiriyah more than a week
ago - but was that the only reason journalists were permitted to visit
Baghdad airport? We saw no Republican Guards - just as the Americans
have themselves somehow failed to discover the 12,000 Republican Guards
supposedly facing them.
Indeed, what I found most extraordinary was that there
appeared to be absolutely no attempt to block the road into Baghdad
from the airport.
Save for a few soldiers on the streets and a police
squad car, you might have thought this a mildly warm holiday afternoon.
Was their some kind of trap about to be sprung? Were
the Americans being lured into the gentle, palm-fringed highway into
town because, unknown to all of us, there was in fact some real armour
hidden away in the great fields on the western banks of the Tigris?
Had the Americans found themselves miles away on the
edge of the old RAF airbase at Habbaniyeh, one wondered, and confused
it with the airport outside Baghdad? Had they sent a patrol up to the
far side of the Saddam airport for a few minutes, just to say they'd
been there? Back in 1941, a German patrol briefly captured the last
tram-stop on the line west of Moscow, collecting the discarded passenger
tickets as souvenirs - and then got no farther.
The last word: The
Independent, same day, different article:
Only a few trucks and foot soldiers to halt march
on to airport
By Paul Peachey
04 April 2003
When the assault finally came, the men on the back
of pick-up trucks offered little resistance to the US armour rolling
into Saddam international airport. Accompanied by the sounds of explosions,
American tanks moved to take control of one of the most potent symbols
of the regime.
They encountered virtually no opposition, save from
scattered firing by foot soldiers, according to Bob Schmidt of ABC News,
reporting from the airport tarmac. However, later reports suggest that
several hundred Iraqi troops died in the American drive on the airport.
For the first time, artillery fire could be heard overnight
from inside the city, which was experiencing its first blackout since
the war started a fortnight ago. Uniformed men had also set up roadblocks
in the city for the first time. Sporadic US artillery and rocket fire
was launched towards Baghdad once darkness fell. Four large explosions
rocked the city centre early today and 20 explosions were heard in the
south of the city. Tracer rounds raced through the sky near the airport.
It isn't often you get to see a sight like this. Relish it. permalink
Many, many times during the yearnot just on the Fourth of JulyI
thank God I was born in America. Because the events taking place in this
picture are illegal in Saudi Arabia, and unwelcome in so many other countries
in the Middle East.
picture on the left portrays some children from my congregation's Torah
Tots class, which meets once a month. It's for pre-kindergarden kids.
Today, while the older children experienced a Model Seder, the little
ones learned how to make matzoh (and had a grand old time pounding out
the dough). Of course, you can't even wear a kippa in Saudi Arabia,
and Bibles and crosses are destroyed or confiscated at the border. There
is no religious freedom; there is only Islam. When the Pals succeed in
getting themselves a state, I'd lay odds that they, too, outlaw Judaism.
They've been persecuting
Christians for ages. They mouth the words of tolerancebarely,
and only in English, and to American and European mediabut when
they talk among their own, in Arabic, to their own media, they talk of
a Palestine "from the river to the sea." Conspicuously absent
from their maps of "Palestine" is any sign of the neighboring
state of Israel. If one were of a suspicious or skeptical nature, one
would think that the Pals are lying when they say they simply want to
live in peace with Israel. If one were skeptical.
Most people don't know
that in the decade after Israel's establishment, Jews
were driven out of most Middle Eastern nations. (Believe it or not,
they were kept as hostages in Syria, and many are still there, used as
such to this day.) Most of the Jewish refugees were absorbed into Israel.
That's why no one has heard much about the Jewish refugees from Arab nations
around the time of the establishment of Israel. Everyone has heard of
their counterparts, however. They're the Palestinians.
The Arab nations, with the exception of Jordan, refused to repatriate
the refugees. They still refuse to do much about them todaywell,
unless you count funding their terror organizations. In Syria-occupied
Lebanon, the "constitution" expressly
forbids granting citizenship to Palestinian refugees. And Kuwait,
don't forget, threw out half a million Palestinian laborers after the
Gulf War, for their treachery in taking the Iraqi side.
There has never been a pogrom on American soil. There have been anti-Semitic
attacks of varying degrees over the years, but the United States is one
of the few nations in the world which has never sent its army or police
force into Jewish communities for the purpose of driving them out, or
worse. And though anti-Semitic attacks are up startlingly, the vast majority
of Jews are still in little or no danger here.
And so when I was going through the pictures I took today, separating
the ones that I'll be using for the synagogue's newsletter or mailing
out to the local Jewish newspaper, I realized once again how thankful
I am to be here. Take it away, Kate: God
bless America. (That song, by the way, was written by Irving Berlina
Rachel Corrie revisited
Two weeks ago I said that Rachel
Corrie died of hubris. I
Joe adds, "It's definitely a wakeup call. It's
definitely easy to get cocky in this war zone when a tank is shooting
at people and you walk up to them and shout at them, 'Hey, I'm here!'
and they pack up and leave. You get so used to this idea, 'Hey, they
won't hurt us.' It has really made me realize how naive and cocky I
Their racism is appalling.
Joe is from Kansas City, Missouri, and says he (like
other Evergreen students) is getting independent study credit for his
time in Rafah. He plans to gather the stories of local Palestinians
and use them to write a play. "I saw ISM as a way that I could
directly use my white, Western, American male privilege to directly
serve underprivileged people of color," he says.
So is their stupidity and hypocrisy.
Laura and Alice are Jewish, but they keep quiet about
They're willing to help these people, but afraid to tell the Palestinians
that their helpers are Jewish. Why? Could they be afraid for their lives?
The reporter writes:
They have reminded me that about two and a half years
ago, two Israeli soldiers took a wrong turn in the West Bank and ended
up getting lynched in the city of Ramallah, their bodies displayed on
live television as a Palestinian waved his bloody hands triumphantly
out a window. At the recommendation of a veteran American correspondent
in Jerusalem, I have rented a bulletproof vest and paid hundreds of
dollars to hire this garish car, its driver, and a guide known as a
"fixer." The correspondent told me he never goes anywhere
in the territory without such arrangements. The purpose, he said, is
to get my "Jewish ass out of Gaza alive."
Maybe I'm being too harsh. Perhaps it was out of "respect"
for their hosts.
The place looks like a college dorm--cushions, empty
teacups, a laptop, sleeping bags--except that there are no empty beer
bottles, no crumpled cigarette packets, no bong; the ISM members abstain
from such indulgences in Rafah out of respect for their Muslim hosts.
On the ISM website, gays are warned to keep their sexuality to themselves
while in the territories. That must be out of respect for their Muslim
hosts as well (who execute homosexuals).
Here are probably the two most offensive paragraphs in the entire article:
Later, Tom tries his hand at answering the question:
"I agree with you that it's a huge irony that we're helping, or
at least ostensibly helping, build a state--that a lot of anarchists
are doing that. They would reply, and to some extent I would reply,
that what we are really here for isn't a state. We're here for the people,
and as soon as they get a Palestinian state, we'll be against that one,
The Palestinians in Rafah have embraced the foreigners,
despite their confusing ideology. This is probably because it is not
grand political theories that the people of Rafah really care about.
Half-baked, freshman-level political rhetoric is far less important
here than daily survival. And what the people of Rafah know is that
the foreigners care about them, and that the foreigners' white skin--at
least until recently--has the power to turn around a tank, stop the
shooting, stall the march of a bulldozer.
But their confidence has slipped since Corrie's death
Before Rachel died, the white foreigners were the magic
bullet that could neutralize Israel's overwhelming military strength.
To them, their civil disobedience, even if dangerous, was heroic. And
the risk of death was worth the benefit to the downtrodden Palestinians.
Now, after Rachel's death, with posters around town
proclaiming her martyrdom, the white foreigners are reevaluating.
Hubris. Racism. White power. "Little brown people" syndrome.
The ISM "internationals" are suffering from everything they
claim to find reprehensible in corporations and governments, and they're
so blind, they can't even see it. Go read the rest, by all means. permalink
Last week's blogs are archived.
Looking for the Buffy
Blogburst Index? Here's Israel
vs. the world. Here's the Blogathon.
Dating Ratings are here. If you're looking for something funny, try
solution to the Middle East conflict, or Yasser
Arafat Secret Phone Transcripts. Iseema bin
Laden's diary and The
Fudd Doctrine are also good bets if you've never been here before.