Tuesday, June 29, 2004

In Case You Didn't Already Know... 

Paul Krugman is a pathetic lowlife.


Monday, June 28, 2004

Soon to be Off-Air America 

Is Franken Really Beating Limbaugh?
Byron York
National Review Online

In recent weeks, Air America, the startup liberal talk-radio network, has claimed early ratings success in the battle against conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh. The network says that Al Franken, host of Air America's O'Franken Factor, which airs on station WLIB in New York City, beat Limbaugh, whose program appears on WABC, in New York in the key audience demographic of listeners age 25 to 54. [...]

The early ratings — they were not actually ratings but extrapolations made by Air America from preliminary-ratings data — spurred a lot of enthusiastic talk among Air America supporters. [...]

There are no definitive measures for the time Air America has been in operation since its premiere March 31. Arbitron, the radio-ratings service, publishes quarterly ratings. The first quarter of 2004 — January, February, and March — was before Air America went on the air, and the second quarter — April, May, and June — is not quite finished.

But there is some information about Air America's audience that is available now. In addition to its standard quarterly measure, Arbitron keeps track of rolling three-month ratings. For example, along with the January/February/March quarterly rating, Arbitron compiles a preliminary February/March/April rating and a March/April/May rating. Those measures provide a glimpse of how the ratings are progressing between the standard quarterly periods. [...]

In the January/February/March period, a time when WLIB broadcast its old Caribbean music and talk format, the station earned a 1.3-percent share of the New York audience in the time period from 10 A.M. until 3 P.M., placing it 25th among the New York market's radio stations. During that time, WABC earned a 4.4-percent share, making it tied for fourth place in the market.

In the February/March/April period, which measured two months of the old WLIB format and one month of the new Air America format, WLIB earned a 1.6-percent share of the audience in the 10 A.M. to 3 P.M. time slot, ranking 23rd in the market. WABC earned a 4.9-percent share, ranking third.

In the March/April/May period, which measured one month of the old WLIB format and two months of the new Air America format, WLIB again earned a 1.8-percent share of the audience, putting it tied for 22nd in the market. WABC earned a 4.9-percent share, putting it tied for third place.

These numbers cannot be precisely compared to the demographic figures in the ratings claimed by Air America. Nevertheless, they suggest that Air America was likely premature in claiming victory over WABC and Limbaugh. More will be known on July 16, when Arbitron releases its final ratings for the second quarter of this year.

Whatever its ratings, Air America's more serious problem at the moment is financial. Last week the Wall Street Journal published a devastating account of what appeared to be gross financial misrepresentations by some of the network's founding executives (they have since left the company). The bottom line is that Air America appears to have far less money than it originally claimed.

The situation is so serious that radio experts suggest the network will have to abandon its current business plan if it is to survive. Specifically, Michael Harrison, editor of Talkers magazine, says Air America must stop insisting that stations air its entire day of programming and instead offer specific programs, like The O'Franken Factor or The Randi Rhodes Show, to stations that might want to air them.

"The answer is clear," says Harrison. "Get rid of the idea of the network, take the best shows — Franken, Rhodes, and maybe [Janeane] Garafalo — and syndicate them....They have to come around to it soon, or they're going to run out of money."

Amusingly, this runs directly counter to one of the most popular excuses lefties cited for their lack of success in talk radio: That liberal radio shows sandwiched between conservative shows or embedded within nontalk formats are unable to sustain listener attention. The "solution," they told us, was to hijack a station and construct an all-leftist, all-the-time format. Now that their beloved "people" aren't tuning in, one can speculate that they will feel free to petition the government -- or George Soros, who is almost as wealthy -- for funds. If they fail to do that, their only recourse is to return to the formula that paid such craptacular dividends for Jim Hightower and Mario Cuomo. No wonder these goofs despise the free market.


Nix Prix: Kix Blix To Styx 

Hunger, global warming as worrying as WMD -Blix

Hunger is a bigger concern for many people than the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and the world should keep such security risks in perspective, former chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix said on Monday.

Blix led the U.N. search for alleged Iraqi biological, chemical and ballistic arsenals until it was cut short by the U.S-led invasion of the country last year.

He has criticised Washington and London for going to war without the express approval of the U.N. Security Council and has said the two probably knew then that they were exaggerating the threat posed by Iraq in making their case for war.

"One might get the impression from governments and media in the U.S. and Europe that the risk that reckless groups and governments might acquire weapons of mass destruction is the greatest problem facing our world today," Blix said in a speech to Vienna's Diplomatic Academy. [...]

Blix quoted British Prime Minister Tony Blair as saying that that risk was an "existential issue", but said there were other equally pressing problems.

"Let us not forget, however, that to hundreds of millions of people around the world, the big existential issue is hunger, and also that wherever you live on this planet, the risk of global warming and other environmental threats are existential" Blix said.

I'd say this guy is venturing outside his area of expertise, except that he hasn't demonstrated any expertise that I've noticed.


Cutting Off Nose, Spiting Face Department 

Scans uncover secrets of the womb
BBC News

A new type of ultrasound scan has produced the vivid pictures of a 12 week-old foetus "walking" in the womb.

The new images also show foetuses apparently yawning and rubbing its eyes.

The scans, pioneered by Professor Stuart Campbell at London's Create Health Clinic, are much more detailed than conventional ultrasound.

Professor Campbell has previously released images of unborn babies appearing to smile.

He has compiled a book of the images called Watch Me Grow. [...]

The images have shown:

From 12 weeks, unborn babies can stretch, kick and leap around the womb - well before the mother can feel movement

From 18 weeks, they can open their eyes although most doctors thought eyelids were fused until 26 weeks

From 26 weeks, they appear to exhibit a whole range of typical baby behaviour and moods, including scratching, smiling, crying, hiccoughing, and sucking.

Until recently it was thought that smiling did not start until six weeks after birth.

Walking? I never knew a blob of protoplasm could do that.

Meanwhile, in a related story:

More than 40 million legal abortions have been performed and documented in the 30 years since the U.S. Supreme Court declared abortion legal. The debate remains focused on the legality and morality of abortion. What's largely ignored is a factual analysis of the political consequences of 40 million abortions. Consider:

• There were 12,274,368 in the Voting Age Population of 205,815,000 missing from the 2000 presidential election, because of abortions from 1973-82.

• In this year's election, there will be 18,336,576 in the Voting Age Population missing because of abortions between 1972 and 1986.

• In the 2008 election, 24,408,960 in the Voting Age Population will be missing because of abortions between 1973-90.

These numbers will not change. They are based on individual choices made--aggregated nationally--as long as 30 years ago. Look inside these numbers at where the political impact is felt most. Do Democrats realize that millions of Missing Voters--due to the abortion policies they advocate--gave George W. Bush the margin of victory in 2000?

Mr. Eastland goes on to analyze the data in detail. There is certainly some room to quibble with his interpretations of the facts (i.e., If abortion had continued being illegal, how many of those abortions would have occurred regardless?), but there can be little doubt that legalized abortion has cost the Democrats voters and almost certainly lost them the 2000 election. Nice going, Donks.


Monday, June 21, 2004

"No Evidence" The Democrats Know What They're Talking About 

9/11 panel: New evidence on Iraq-Al-Qaida
Shaun Waterman
United Press International
The commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks has received new information indicating that a senior officer in an elite unit of the security services of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein may have been a member of al-Qaida involved in the planning of the suicide hijackings, panel members said Sunday.

John F. Lehman, a Reagan-era GOP defense official told NBC's "Meet the Press" that documents captured in Iraq "indicate that there is at least one officer of Saddam's Fedayeen, a lieutenant colonel, who was a very prominent member of al Qaida."

The Fedayeen were a special unit of volunteers given basic training in irregular warfare. The lieutenant colonel, Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, has the same name as an Iraqi thought to have attended a planning meeting for the Sept. 11 attacks in January 2000, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The meeting was also attended by two of the hijackers, Khalid al Midhar and Nawaf al Hamzi and senior al-Qaida leaders.

Lehman said that commission staff members continued to work on the issue and experts cautioned that the connection might be nothing more than coincidence.

When "experts" say a connection like this might just be a coincidence, you know it's time to break out the noisemakers and send somebody on a beer run.


The Gipper Versus The Zipper 

AP Poll: Most Americans rate Reagan superior to Clinton
Will Lester
Associated Press
Most Americans say Ronald Reagan, who died this month, will be remembered as a better president than Bill Clinton, who is trying to improve his image with a new autobiography, according to an Associated Press poll.
Bringing down a slave empire versus bringing down an intern: Yeah, I'd say this one's settled.


You Are Being Lied To 

The 9/11 commission does see an Iraq link
Jack Kelly
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
On Thursday, the lead headline in the Post-Gazette was "Saddam, al-Qaida Not Linked. Sept. 11 Panel's Conclusion at Odds with Administration." In the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that day, the banner headline read: "9/11 Panel Debunks Saddam Link. Report: No Evidence of al-Qaida Ties."

This was false, as the chair and vice chair of the 9/11 commission hastened to make clear.

"Were there contacts between al-Qaida and Iraq? Yes. Some of them were shadowy, but they were there," commission Chair Thomas Kean told reporters on Thursday.

"There were connections between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein's government," said commission Vice Chair Lee Hamilton. "We don't disagree with that. What we have said is that we don't have any evidence of a cooperative, or a collaborative relationship between Saddam Hussein's government and these al-Qaida operatives with regard to attacks on the United States [italics added]. So it seems to me that the sharp differences that the press has drawn, that the media has drawn, are not that apparent to me."

Since the Bush administration has never claimed that Saddam had a role in planning the 9/11 attacks, or earlier attacks on the USS Cole, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the Khobar Towers bombing, or the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, there is essentially no difference between what the commission said in its staff report, and what President Bush has been saying all along.

In Friday's paper, the PG made no mention of what Kean and Hamilton had to say about the erroneous reporting of the day before.

The Post-Gazette and Tribune-Review were by no means alone in getting the story wrong. The erroneous PG story Thursday was from The Washington Post. The story we ran Friday, headlined "Bush, Cheney Defend Linking Iraq, al-Qaida" -- which avoided mentioning that both the chairman and co-chairman of the 9/11 commission agreed with Bush --was from The New York Times.

Television news was worse. MSNBC's Keith Olbermann began his broadcast Wednesday night with the announcement: "Memo to the vice president: 9/11 commission finds, quote 'no credible evidence,' unquote, of any link between al-Qaida and Iraq." CBS's John Roberts said the Bush administration "took a devastating hit when the 9/11 commission declared there was no collaborative relationship between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. The report is yet another blow to the president's credibility."

William Kristol
The Weekly Standard
(6/28/04 issue)
Perhaps John Kerry simply made the mistake of believing what he read in the New York Times. There it was, the lead headline on Thursday, June 17: "Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie." Or perhaps he read the Los Angeles Times headline: "No Signs of Iraq-Al Qaeda Ties Found." Or the Washington Post: "Al Qaeda-Hussein Link Is Dismissed." Or maybe he was watching CBS News the night before, as John Roberts explained that "one of President Bush's last surviving justifications for war in Iraq" took "a devastating hit" as the 9/11 Commission "put the nail in that connection" between Saddam and al Qaeda.

So Kerry pounced. No matter that this coverage ranged from tendentious to false. The Bush administration, he claimed, "misled America." "The administration took its eye off al Qaeda, took its eye off of the real war on terror in Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan and transferred it for reasons of its own to Iraq." And "the United States of America should never go to war because it wants to; we should only go to war because we have to." [...]

This is surely a major moment in the presidential race. John Kerry had, until last week, been running a disciplined general election campaign, carefully suppressing his left-leaning foreign policy instincts, soberly emphasizing his commitment to fighting the war on terror and to seeing through the effort in Iraq. Then he couldn't resist the temptation to jump on the (misleading) press accounts of the (sloppy) 9/11 Commission staff report, in order to assault the Bush administration on the issue of terror links between Saddam and al Qaeda.

The Bush administration has fought back. President Bush explained on Thursday, "The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda is because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda." [...]By the end of the day, 9/11 Commission chairman Tom Kean and vice chairman Lee Hamilton were emphasizing that the commission had never said Iraq-al Qaeda links did not exist. Nor, Hamilton explained, did he "disagree" with Cheney's statement that there were "connections between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's government." The New York Times, having asserted on Thursday that the commission's report "challenges Bush," failed on Friday to report this statement of Hamilton's.

Now, as Stephen F. Hayes points out elsewhere in this issue, the staff report is an unimpressive document. It is sloppy and contains errors of commission and especially omission. It doesn't even attempt to deal with the reported presence of an Iraqi official, Ahmed Hikmad Shakir, at a 9/11 planning meeting in Kuala Lumpur in January 2000. It concludes that Mohammed Atta was not in Prague to meet an Iraqi intelligence agent in April 2001, based largely on the fact that his cell phone was used in the United States during those days--even though we know that the plotters shared cell phones among themselves, and that the cell phone in question would have been useless in Europe. (The report says nothing, meanwhile, about Atta's two unexplained but well-documented trips to Prague the previous year.)

But however blame may be apportioned between the commission's staff report and the media's tendentious coverage of it, Kerry has chosen to enter the fray. So we can now have the fundamental debate the country deserves: Does Kerry deny what the Clinton administration consistently maintained, what the Bush administration asserts, and what appears utterly clear--that Saddam Hussein had ties with terrorists and terrorist groups, including al Qaeda? That Saddam "created a permissive environment for terrorism," as a spokesman for British prime minister Tony Blair put it? No one else denies that the man who mixed the chemicals for the 1993 World Trade Center bomb, Abdul Rahman Yasin, came from and returned to Baghdad, where he lived for the next 10 years. Does Kerry? [...]

Suddenly, last week, the choice and the stakes in the presidential race became clearer.

There was a link between Saddam and al-Qa'eda
Melanie Phillips
London Telegraph
To the anti-war lobby, it was cause for jubilation. "No Qa'eda-Iraq tie" crowed The New York Times. "White House misled the world over Saddam" exulted our own Independent. And presidential candidate Senator John Kerry claimed that the Bush administration had "misled America over the need for war".

The excitement was over a preliminary assessment of evidence about al-Qa'eda by the US commission investigating September 11. The only problem was that the press coverage was untrue. The report does not rule out links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qa'eda. On the contrary, as the commission's chairman, Thomas Kean, confirmed: "There were contacts between Iraq and al-Qa'eda, a number of them, some of them a little shadowy. They were definitely there."

As so often in the coverage of Iraq, those who make the (illogical) claim that there was no such contact and therefore no cause for war saw in this report only what they wanted to see.

They read the words: "We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qa'eda co-operated", and claimed official confirmation that no links had existed. But the report actually says: "We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qa'eda co-operated on attacks upon the United States" - not that they never dealt with each other. On the contrary, it says they did deal with each other, particularly in Sudan.

In any event, the report is hardly authoritative. [...]

The main question [...] is why it devoted only one paragraph to the Saddam/al-Qa'eda link and ignored most the evidence amassed by Stephen Hayes in his recent book, The Connection. For while none of this is conclusive, it makes a powerful case. [...]

The book quotes a "well-placed" intelligence source saying: "Bin Laden was receiving training on bomb making from the IIS's [Iraqi Intelligence Service's] principal technical expert on making sophisticated explosives, Brigadier Salim al Ahmed. Brigadier Salim was observed at bin Laden's farm in Khartoum in Sep-Oct 1995 and again in July 1996, in the company of the director of Iraqi Intelligence Mani-abd-al-Rashid-al-Tikriti [to discuss] bin Laden's request for IIS technical assistance" in making bombs.

Hayes quotes another "regular and reliable" intelligence source who said that bin Laden's top deputy Ayman al Zawahiri "visited Baghdad and met with the Iraqi vice-president on 3 February 1998. The goal of the visit was to arrange for co-ordination between Iraq and bin Laden and establish camps in al-Falluja, an-Nasiriya and Iraqi Kurdistan under the leadership of Abdul Aziz." Hayes says that visit coincided with a $300,000 payment from Iraqi intelligence to Zawahiri's Egyptian Islamic jihad, which merged with al-Qa'eda.

Recently, yet more evidence has emerged. The Wall Street Journal reported that captured documents listed one Ahmed Hikmat Shakir as a senior officer in the elite paramilitary Saddam Fedayeen. By an amazing coincidence, an Ahmed Hikmat Shakir was present at the January 2000 al-Qa'eda "summit" in Kuala Lumpur at which the September 11 attacks were planned.

It is of course possible that this was a different Ahmed Hikmat Shakir. However, Hayes reveals subsequent events showed this man was very important indeed to Iraq. Four days after September 11, he was arrested in Qatar and found to possess phone numbers of the 1993 World Trade Centre bombers' safe houses and contacts, as well as information about an al-Qa'eda plot to blow up airliners. But he was released, re-arrested in Jordan and released again (with CIA collusion) - following pressure from Iraq at the highest level. What is the point of an inquiry into al-Qa'eda that doesn't even consider such evidence?

Bill Clinton's administration was absolutely certain that Saddam was in cahoots with al-Qa'eda. It was a given. That is surely why, after September 11, Pentagon officials were obsessed with Iraq. Whether Saddam was personally involved in 9/11 was irrelevant; if he was aiding al-Qa'eda's terror, he had to be stopped. But this has been obliterated from the collective memory in order to place the most malign interpretation possible on the motives of the Bush administration.

Of course, one should be wary of intelligence. But the volume and specificity of these claims surely mean they should be addressed. Yet journalists for whom such nuggets would normally trigger a feeding frenzy astonishingly fail to report them and mislead the public instead. That is because the only story in town is that George W Bush and Tony Blair lied - a blinding certainty that cannot be disturbed by anything so inconvenient as the facts.

There They Go Again
Stephen F. Hayes
The Weekly Standard
(6/28/04 issue)
It's settled, apparenty. Saddam Hussein's regime never supported al Qaeda in its "attacks on America," and meetings between representatives of Iraq and al Qaeda did not result in a "collaborative relationship." That, we're told, is the conclusion of two staff reports the September 11 Commission released last Wednesday.

But the contents of the documents have been widely misreported. Together the new reports total 32 pages; one contains a paragraph on the broad question of a Saddam-al Qaeda relationship, the other a paragraph on an alleged meeting between the lead hijacker and an Iraqi agent. Nowhere in the documents is the "Al Qaeda-Hussein Link...Dismissed," as Washington Post headline writers would have us believe. In fact, Staff Statement 15 discusses several "links." It never, as the Associated Press maintained, "bluntly contradicted" the Bush administration's prewar arguments. The Los Angeles Times was more emphatic still: "The findings appear to be the most complete and authoritative dismissal of a key Bush administration rationale for invading Iraq: that Hussein's regime had worked in collusion with al Qaeda."

A complete dismissal? Only for someone determined to find a complete dismissal. The major television networks and newspapers across the country got it wrong.

By Thursday afternoon, the misreporting had become too much for some members of the 9/11 Commission. Its vice chairman, former Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton, defended Vice President Dick Cheney against his attackers in the media:

I must say I have trouble understanding the flak over this. The Vice President is saying, I think, that there were connections between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's government. We don't disagree with that. What we have said is just what [Republican co-chairman Tom Kean] just said: We don't have any evidence of a cooperative or collaborative relationship between Saddam Hussein's government and al Qaeda with regard to the attacks on the United States. So it seems to me that sharp differences that the press has drawn, that the media has drawn, are not that apparent to me.

Hamilton is half-right. The report was far more nuanced and narrowly worded than most news reports suggested. But while nuance is a close cousin of precision, it is not the same thing. And the two paragraphs on the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship are highly imprecise. Statement 15 does not, in fact, limit its skepticism about the Iraq-al Qaeda connection to collaboration on "the attacks on the United States." It also seems to cast doubt on the existence of any "collaborative relationship" (while conceding contacts and meetings) between the two.

[Hayes proceeds to outline in great detail the evidence of links between Saddam and al Qaeda. Do read this if you have the time, dear reader. -- Cato]

When it comes to the broader question of the relationship between Saddam and al Qaeda, the commission cannot be expected to write the definitive history. In the end, it will be up to the Bush administration to make available to the public as much intelligence as possible without jeopardizing sources and methods. Americans are not idiots. They can be expected to grasp the difference between circumstantial evidence and proof; between shared goals and methods and a proved operational alliance. They can accept that not all analysts will agree, and some facts will remain elusive. What they should not have to settle for is the current confusion.

The daily life of an elite media reporter: Get up. Read DNC fax. Parrot. Go to bed. Repeat.


Thursday, June 17, 2004

"A Conflict of Visions," Indeed 

Victor Davis Hanson's latest:
Two views are emerging about our post-September-11 world. One is angry, but also therapeutic—and most often embraced by the Left. I think it goes roughly like this. Removing the Taliban in our initial rage might have for a moment seemed necessary, but things now in retrospect have proved not much better than before in Afghanistan and might well get worse. There was no need for the Iraqi campaign. Thus the Europeans and moderate Arabs were right that chaos would result and terrorists multiply in its bitter aftermath. Sharon has only antagonized the Palestinians, set back the peace-process, and made America’s war far more difficult. Mr. Bush’s unilateral rhetoric and vainglorious posture have needlessly offended the Europeans, who now have recently developed a real dislike of the United States and likewise complicated our task.

Here at home the Patriot Act and certain dangerous new jurisprudence are greater concerns than any prior inability of rounding up sleeper cells. No wonder almost every day an Al Gore, Howard Dean, or Ted Kennedy is screaming or yelling about something. It doesn’t feel good to have so much money, education, and sophistication and still not be able to stop this dangerous course of events—that are the “worst ever,” “unprecedented,” and “a new low” in American history.

The other interpretation is somewhat tragic, largely upbeat about our recent accomplishments, and held by those on the more conservative side. Given the bleak options after the destruction of the World Trade Center, the prior murderous history of Afghanistan, and the depressing landscape of the Middle East, the past three years are nothing short of miraculous: Taliban gone; constitutional government emerging; and a good man like Karzai trying to end fundamentalist terror. Saddam, his sons, and Iraqi genocide are now over with. And despite the daily turmoil, Iraq is likewise inching toward some type of consensual government in less time than was true of a more sophisticated postwar Japan or Germany. There is a good chance that the Israelis will leave Gaza; suicide bombing is vastly reduced; a new fence will give both sides a breather until—and if—a legitimate Palestine government emerges to negotiate final borders.

As far as our “allies” go, Mr. Bush simply tore off the scab of the preexisting wound of Europe-American relations, in which the subsidized protection offered by the United States in the post-Cold War had far earlier led to an array of conflicting passions on the continent, arising out of an increasingly anti-democratic EU, envy, dependency, and resentment. In America proper—without much erosion of our daily ease and freedoms—we have rounded up scores of terrorists and thus so far avoided another mass murder. Consequently, conservatives are more likely to speak in calm tones than either scream for resignations or in wild-eyed fashion cite conspiracies that are destroying America.

How to adjudicate these two conflicting views of the present situation? We cannot. Why so?

The answer is that our interpretations of the present crisis are predicated on our own larger views of mankind itself. The tragic sense accepts us as flawed and thus expects setback, mistakes, and even moral lapses. The therapeutic view in contrast demands perfection right now and thus allows for few, if any, mistakes.

It sounds as if Mr. Hanson has been reading his Thomas Sowell lately.


On to the Next Quagmire 

The Brothers Judd Blog links to this encouraging story about public perceptions of Iraq:
Americans are paying markedly less attention to Iraq than in the last two months. At the same time, their opinions about the war have become more positive. The number of Americans who think the U.S. military effort is going well has jumped from 46% in May to 57%, despite ongoing violence in Iraq and the widening prison abuse scandal. And the percentage of the public who believes it was right to go to war inched up to 55%, from 51% in May.

The new Pew survey indicates that many Americans are becoming less connected to the news about Iraq and possibly more hardened to events there. Just 39% say they are tracking developments in Iraq very closely – down 15 points since April and the lowest level this year. In addition, 35% say that people they know are becoming less emotionally involved with the news from Iraq, a sharp increase from 26% last month.

The poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, conducted June 3-13 among 1,806 Americans, found lower attention to the war in Iraq even before the death of former President Ronald Reagan dominated the news. Overall, four-in-ten paid very close attention to Reagan's death and memorial service, which is about the same level as interest in former President Nixon's death and funeral a decade ago (36% very closely).

About three weeks ago, I told my younger brother that Iraq was going to be a nonstory by the time the election swung around, due to the fact that a democratic government was slowly being established there. I just wish I'd been smart enough to document this thought on my blog, the way Mr. Judd did on his.


"Tonight on CBS, Another Horror Story from Abu Ghraib..." 

The American Spectator picks up on yet another story you won't find on ABCNNBCBS:
On June 9, Demetrius Perricos announced that before, during and after the war in Iraq, Saddam Hussein shipped weapons of mass destruction and medium-range ballistic missiles to countries in Europe and the Middle East. Entire factories were dismantled and shipped as scrap metal to Jordan, the Netherlands and Turkey, among others, at the rate of about 1,000 tons of metal a month. As an example of speed by which these facilities were dismantled, Perricos displayed two photographs of a ballistic missile site near Baghdad, one taken in May 2003 with an active facility, the other in February 2004 that showed it had simply disappeared.

What passed for scrap metal and has since been discovered as otherwise is amazing. Inspectors have found Iraqi SA-2 surface-to-air missiles in Rotterdam -- complete with U.N. inspection tags -- and 20 SA-2 engines in Jordan, along with components for solid-fuel for missiles. Short-range Al Samoud surface-to-surface missiles were shipped abroad by agents of the regime. That missing ballistic missile site contained missile components, a reactor vessel and fermenters -- the latter used for the production of chemical and biological warheads.

"The problem for us is that we don't know what may have passed through these yards and other yards elsewhere," Ewen Buchanan, Perricos's spokesman, said. "We can't really assess the significance and don't know the full extent of activity that could be going on there or with others of Iraq's neighbors."

Perricos isn't an American shill defending the Bush administration, but rather the acting executive chairman of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and his report was made to the Security Council. Yet his report didn't seem to be of much interest to a media which has used the lack of significant discoveries to question the rationale for the war.

To paraphrase P.J. O'Rourke, the media will start reporting this sometime during the second Trump administration.


Tuesday, June 01, 2004

From the "Your Spouse Is Nuts" Department: 

I didn't think you were speaking literally!


We'll Let John Kerry Know About This on November 2nd 

Iraq Situation Improving
Associated Press
Despite war and occupation, Iraq has seen a surge in human rights organizations, political parties and independent newspapers -- entities almost unheard of under Saddam Hussein, said a report by an Arab think tank.

The report by Egypt's Ibn Khaldoun Center for Development Studies welcomed the promise of elections, the freedom of expression and independence of the media but was careful not to credit the Americans for the progress.

"Even though all indications of political rights and human rights mentioned in this report clearly illustrate that the situation in Iraq after occupation is much better than Saddam Hussein's Iraq, the truth remains that any situation would have been better than Saddam Hussein," the report said.
Read that last sentence again. Even the Arabs are starting to "get it." Too bad the Democrats don't.


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