Sunday, July 27, 2003

Best Goldberg line ever.

I'm sorry, but not since Professor Peter Singer explained that we should give as good as we get from dogs who hump our legs, have I been so exasperated with the way some academics think they can use their head for a colonoscopy and then crab-walk around expecting all the world to think their new hats make them look smart.
I don't consider myself particularly conservative, but the article made me laugh out loud.

Update: I fixed the link, so now you can find the correct article. Thanks to Julie de Maupin for alerting me to the mistake.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Si Vous êtes français...

Do NOT send me email. Do NOT send email to anyone else. Don't even read the email you have already received. Certainly don't answer it.

You have been warned.

Quick follow-up: Yes, this is only marginally more stupid than "Freedom fries." And if references to French fries were banned "in all government ministries, documents, publications or Web sites," it would be equally stupid.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003
I've seen people ask where the moderate Muslims are hiding. Well, they aren't. In fact, they were protesting on New York City streets today. Against theocracy, repression, and the Hizbollah. Naturally, the usual ANSWER-controlled protestors "against war," "for real democracy," or some other such BS were nowhere to be found. Saving their strength to fight the really crucial battles, no doubt: GMO beans, Starbucks, and Bushitler. Well, we all have our priorities.

Actually, they did spare a couple of second-stringers:

On the sidewalk outside the protest, two Americans were holding a big banner stating "US Hands off Iran." Some Iranians then stationed themselves in front of these counter-protesters with their own banners, obscuring it. The counter-protesters then relocated across the street.
Nice to see the "Hands off Iraq" posters reused so quickly.

On the other hand, and everyone linked to above has mentioned it, these protests seemed to receive zero coverage in the West. CNN's US News page has no mention of them at all (apparently, a bear attack in Utah is more newsworthy). Google News's only mention of Iran is in reference to the dead Bijani twins. Yahoo News has one (one!) story from AFP in Washington, and that was nowhere near the front pages; I had to search for it.

This is ridiculous -- and appalling. A few dozen anti-Bush dipwads marching in Senegal merit several global wire stories from AP and Reuters, even if they have to interview the same dimwit with a dumb sign in order to have him "give voice to the concerns of a continent." But hundreds of Iranians march in Washington, New York, Austin, LA -- not to mention Paris, London, Barcelona, Bern, and The Hague -- and no one seems to give a damn. I guess a protest just ain't a protest unless there's puppets and riot police.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003
Courtesy of the Inoperable Terran, I found a rather neat comparison of headlines on the parliamentary findings on the accusations that the Blair government misled Parliament. Not surprisingly, one British "news" service has ...unusual emphasis.

I first heard this story listening to The World -- a co-production of the BBC and Public Radio International -- while driving home last night. The story, which you can listen to from this page, was actually pretty thorough, immediately made the listener aware of the fact that Blair was cleared, and seemed to genuinely try to be balanced about the whole thing.

But frankly, I could have skipped the story, because the instant they mentioned it, I knew that Blair was cleared. How did I know this? What magical powers of prediction have I to guide me? Well, none. All I have is a clock in my car. The story wasn't even mentioned until about 10 minutes into the program. Had Parliament found Blair guilty of cover-up, does anyone doubt that The World would have led with it?

The Atlantic reports that the UN has appointed an ombudsman to help sort out problems among its many staffers.
UNITED NATIONS—The United Nations is trying a little preventive diplomacy on itself. For the last eight months, an ombudsman has been setting up shop to listen to staff grievances and try to address them before office battle lines form and confrontations erupt. Amazingly, this is a revolutionary step for the organization. Until now, most employees had to wait until an internal dispute provoked administrative action—and then appeal it. Festering and backbiting are thus pastimes in many offices, and capable people can turn into dispirited cynics, or flee the U.N. system altogether.
Imagine that: becoming cynical while working for the UN. Shocking, I tell you.

Anyway, this isn't too surprising -- as the article says, any organization of the UN's size will have internal staff problems. Especially given the cultural ...idiosynchrasies of some of its members:

"It is a challenge to operate in a multicultural system," [Patricia Durrant, the current ombudsman] said in her characteristically quiet, understated mode. "All of us come with our own national baggage," she said, "and we have to leave that at the door. Sometimes it's extremely difficult to do that, especially when you have persons who have been working in their national services for a long time and are accustomed to operating in a certain environment." Although Durrant would not say so, that "certain environment" can mean anything from tolerance for corruption to systematic demeaning of women.

Some outposts, often run by appointees not trained in management skills, have been particularly troubled. For years, the war crimes tribunal for Rwanda, based in unsatisfactory quarters in Arusha, Tanzania, was an example of a poisoned work atmosphere. African and European or Canadian officials traded charges of racism, nepotism was reported to flourish, money was wasted and cases dragged on or were fumbled—not by judges but by the administrative staff assigned to support them. Employees, some of high professional standing, had no recourse but to call for investigations by the U.N. inspector general or seek out journalists to tell their stories. Reporters could do little; the United Nations is remarkably devoid of paper trails.
Just the sort of organization that I would want charged with "global justice" and "world peace."
Here's something to think about: the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq is only now approaching Gulf War I levels.
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon on Tuesday raised its count of Americans killed by hostile fire in Iraq since the war began in March to 143, a figure that approaches the 147 killed in the 1991 Gulf War.
Before anyone writes angry comments, yes, I know this is cold comfort to those who sent their loved ones to Iraq never to see them again. I am not here to devalue their lives and discount their deaths. Nonetheless, we live in the real world, and the real world doesn't usually grant us ideal outcomes. I am sorry for the 143 soldiers that died, but I am elated for all those that have not, and will not. We are at war to crush a hideous movement in its infancy. Given the conflict, the enemy we face, and the consequences of continuous appeasement masked by UN euphemisms, 143 dead is a small price to pay. Better a couple of hundred now, than thousands, or millions, later. It's unpleasant to face the world on these terms, but sometimes, cold comforts is all we have.
Monday, July 07, 2003

Slow news day for the wire services

Bush arrives in Africa! Protests greet him! The protests are huge!

...No, actually, they aren't:

Calling the United States a warlike nation bent on global hegemony, about 40 people marched from Dakar's main mosque, through densely populated neighborhoods, to a central monument marking Senegal's independence from France in 1960.
Wow, 40 people. In a Muslim nation. That's worth a wire story, no? At least they give the scale in the first paragraph, with the vague "dozens."

Contrast this to Reuters, which not only waits until the third paragraph to give a "crowd" estimate -- 50, in their case -- but also attributes extra significance to their claims:

The protesters only numbered about 50, but they gave voice to some of the concerns running through the poverty- stricken continent where Bush will spend five days.
Far be it for me to speculate (hey, it's good enough for Reuters...), but I doubt that 50 people can "give voice to concerns" of an entire continent. Never mind that Africa is indeed poverty-stricken, so I imagine for most people, the concerns are more along the lines of where their next meal and medicine will come from, not with the War in Iraq. Both the AP and Reuters emphasize the protest in their headline, and both quote one Seydina Sarr, whose main achievement seems to be carrying a poster that said, "Make tea not war." I guess this is what hippies sound like in sexually-repressed Muslim societies -- wouldn't want to be saying "Make love not war" publicly, eh?
Sunday, July 06, 2003
So Google has been putting up some rather interesting Left-wing links as banner ads on this blog. Just in case you are wondering, I don't get to select the sponsors, though I don't particularly object to people who disagree with me sponsoring my blog. I know, I know, I've brought it up before. Just thought I'd say it again, just in case.
Charles Johnson has a link to the ultimate Islamist hissy fit. Go and check it out, before he takes it down. But be forewarned: it is about 10-15 minutes of rather obnoxious wailing (cranky three-year-olds have more dignity), combined with some pretty repulsive photos.

("Allah, fix this. Allah, fix that. Allah, these mean people are picking on us! Boo-hoo-hoo! Allah, the spiteful Christians, the merciless Yahoods, the meanie atheists -- show them your power! Come on, take care of them! They are meeeeaaan to us! Come on, Allah! Show them! Waaaaahhhh!")

Thursday, July 03, 2003
This past Tuesday, hundreds of thousands marched in Hong Kong to protest a "security" law, pushed through by the mainland government.
Hong Kong's national security law, expected to pass in a few days, will ban subversion, treason, sedition and other crimes against the state, giving police more powers and carrying life prison sentences for some offenses.
Let's see, a power grab that restricts freedom of speech and imposes onerous sentences, by a government with a history of brutal suppression of dissent - check. Large number of protestors - check. Dramatic speeches - check. Flag-burnings, etc. - check.

Hundreds of news organizations covered the story. Guess who did not? In case you're curious, the main site (which I won't link to; I have standards) has the following stories, listed in reverse chronological order:

  • Asian Developement [sic] Bank VS. Anti-Capitalist Action - July 3, 2003
  • Direct Action in Europe to Protect Woodlands - July 3, 2003
  • Some Gains, Many Challenges Ahead (a story on gay rights) - June 30, 2003
  • Thousands Demonstrate Against Bush During California Fund Raisers (with "as many as 10,000" protestors) - June 28, 2003
  • 30 years after the coup, struggle and resistance (a story from Uruguay) - June 27, 2003
The Hong Kong protests happened on July 1st. Not a peep. Let's all hear it for these idealistic freedom fighters, protecting the world from fascism and oppression.
Wednesday, July 02, 2003
By way of Charles Johnson comes news that Saudi Arabia is set to host a world conference on human rights.

(Suggested conference theme: Who needs them, anyway!)

The SRCS official said invitations had been sent to many local and international organizations. A number of universities, the Shoura Council, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the King Faisal Foundation, the International Red Cross Society, the Muslim World League (MWL), the Italy-based International Institute for Human Rights and some UN organizations including UNESCO and UNICEF have been invited to attend.
Between the Shoura Council, the OIC, and the King Faisal Foundation -- to say nothing of the Muslim World League! -- I'm sure much new ground will be broken. And that's just to bury adulterers.

Let's all wish the attendees luck, remind them to send only male delegates, and hope that the weekly beheadings don't spoil the atmosphere of good will and mutual understanding that is sure to be fostered at such a prestigious international event.

(Of course, the truly sad thing is that a "human rights conference" held in Brussels or New York would be equally meaningless -- just less ironic.)