Thursday, June 29, 2006

Newfoundland calls again

I'll be gone, and won't be here to witness what happens on St. Clair Avenue when Italy gets either its next win or crashes in the World Cup. It will be TOTAL MAYHEM (check it out here) in either case. College Street and Ossington Avenue will run a close second regardless of how it goes for Brazil, based on local Portuguese loyalties. (Why does nobody ever rag on the Portuguese for the still-evident consequences of their fierce 16th-century colonialism? But I digress.)

I've been having an interesting exchange with various retired military dudes, one
Colonel who edits the Marine Corps publication Leatherneck magazine, and one General who co-wrote Cobra II, a large and pointed history of the conduct of the Operation Iraqi Freedom. I've only just started the book, but began it with Victor Davis Hanson's review in hand (Refighting the War), which was critical enough that I wrote and suggested that Leatherneck re-visit the subject, since their review of Cobra II had been pretty brief and uncritical. (It's time to get nervous when you start sounding not unlike the New York Times.)

Well all sorts of considerations are now going back and forth about my letter and Hanson's viewpoint. All very fascinating, and, in view of the influence the book is likely to have in shaping public opinion, all very important too. Recommended reading for one and all if (as the old adage goes from the earliest days of the eco-freaks) you love this planet.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

THE CONTINUING TRIALS OF MICHAEL YON, self-embedded reporter on the War on Terror

If you want to know what's really goi
ng on in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is no better way to get to the bottom of the story than to follow the "Milblogs"-- web-loggers on the battlefield, either as military personnel or embedded reporters. Among the best, and bluntest, is Michael Yon, a journalist with no previous combat exposure who decided to raise money and get himself embedded as an independent observer, not in the employ of any commercial media outlet. His writing and photography have been among the most vivid and intense, and he takes second place to no one in giving the true picture of front-line action.

Yon has supported himself in this endeavour by soliciting donations and selling limited editions of his powerful photographic images, the most famous of which is the picture of Major Mark Bieger giving compassionate comfort to Farah, a 3-year-old Iraqi girl in her last moments of life after terrorists attacked an Army convoy which had been surrounded with excited young children, as they often are. The full story behind this photo is here.

When Yon offered this moving image in a limited edition to support his continued presence in Iraq, I snapped one up (for $125 well spent) and was proud to put it on my wall, where I can see it now from where I sit. For Yon this image is an icon of every courageous act of service he has witnessed in Iraq and Afghanistan while living and travelling side by side with American troops, and it is precious to him, as to all of us who own one.

Imagine his shock, and that of all his readers, when this image turned up on the cover of the debut issue of a magazine called "SHOCK" -- the new English-language version of a trashy French photo-rag which typically features gross-out freakshow exploitation pictures of festering wounds, human deformities, disaster victims, vomiting celebrities, plus the predict
able array of half-naked women. Yon's copyrighted photo had been used without permission in a setting which degraded it beyond description.

Yon expressed his outrage on his webpage, and it did not take much encouragement for his fans to embark on a major campaign of complaints and boycotts aimed at retailers and publishers who handle this revolting magazine. With its image in the back of my mind, I kept an eye out for it as I did my regular shopping. The last place I expected it to turn up was on the shelf at my local Bruno's Fine Foods one of seven branches of a family-run up-market grocery in Toronto. I immediately emailed the management of the chain, and to their credit they agreed wholeheartedly with my opinion of the magazine and have returned it to the publisher. [I think the email I received w
as from the manager of my local store, so I will check out other branches to see if they have done likewise.] The response was as follows:
Upon receiving your e-mail and looking at the publication, I could not agree with you more fully. We do not always choose what the publisher sends us, but we are not under any obligation to display or sell any title. The ladies who look after the shelf have not encountered many situations like this, and I apologize to you for having this type of magazine available for sale here at Bruno's. We have informed our distributor that we no longer want to receive the "Shock" title and I have pulled all issues from the shelf, personally. We trust that will meet your approval and that of most all our customers'.

I thank you for bringing this matter to my attention and hope that we will be able to continue to serve you here at Bruno's, in the future.

Sincerely, Al McMurray Manager, Bruno's Fine Foods
Good work, Al.

The debut issue of "Shock" with the Michael Yon photo is now off the shelf, replaced by issue #2. All Toronto readers of this blog are urged to monitor both your local Bruno's and other stores (Chapters/Indigo has refused to pull the magazine-- big surprise!) to see if this piece o' trash is littering the magazine rack. It is truly the kind of stuff you used to have to order in a plain brown wrapper, but that's true of so much that has become mainstream in today's media. Still-- this is a new item, it has no other purpose than exploitation and an appeal to sick appetites, and a quick reaction might nip its fut
ure in the bud, at least at small neighbourhood outlets. (But it's also worthwhile keeping up the waves of complaints to the big guys-- Borders in the States is being as unresponsive as its little cousin, Chapters/Indigo.)

The publisher of "Shock" is a huge French media conglomerate (HFM) which also publishes Elle, Car & Driver, Woman's Day, and various other popular magazines. Michael Yon's fans are working hard to make HFM feel the pinch on all these products until they arrive at a fair settlement for their misuse of his prized photograph.

At the recent whack-job conspiracy nutbar 9/11 + The Neo-Con Agenda convention held in La-La-Los Angeles, a stoodent named "Rico" was heard to opine that the presence of Charlie Sheen: Actor, Swinger, Structural Engineer lent the conference some needed "legitimacy."

Bwah-hah-hah-hah. Heh.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Speaking of journalists—NON-STORY of the week:

Silly me. My prediction (below) seems to have spluttered. I was fool enough to think that the grisly details of th deaths of Pfc. Mechaca and Pfc. Tucker might prove irresistable fodder for the ongoing med
ia cannonade at the Bush administration, the perfect opportunity for humiliating him through this devastating tragedy: Was the President slow to react? Did he look like he cared? Will he apologize to the families? What kinds of mutilation did the soldiers undergo? Has there been video on Al-Jazeera?

Silly me—I thought the MSM would run with this one for sure. But for that they would have h
ad to look up from their lap-tops and notice. They would have to feel some stirring within that went deeper than their amnesia over Danny Pearl and their indifference to Nick Berg. And the federal Democrats gave them almost nothing to work with.

Only one floated a noticeable trial balloon. Senator Dick (the Turban) Durbin let fly a suitably grief-stricken reaction
to the reports.
Unfortunately, this is a grim reminder of the price we're paying for a failed policy in Iraq.
Okay, so he followed
by calling the news “heartbreaking” but not until he had barfed up the important death statistic—2500. (I almost wrote “combat death statistic,” but of course it isn’t— that would carve off the nearly 18% which are non-combat deaths, primarily from accidents, and take that nice round 2500 number out of the equation) It's a round “grim milestone” number Durbin had been waiting for-- dare we say “eagerly”?— ever since he announced:
At the time that we recorded the 2,000th military death in Iraq, I asked, along with other Senators, for a moment of silence on the floor of the U.S. Senate to acknowledge their great contribution to our country and in respect for their memory. When the time comes that 2,500 have given their lives, I will make that same unanimous consent request... Senators from both parties should come to the floor when we have recorded the 2,500th death in Iraq and observe a moment of silence in memory of our fallen warriors and in prayer for their families whose lives will never be the same because of their loss.
[Read into the Congressional Record 06/14/06]

Durbin’s politiciza
tion of the heinous murders of Private Kristian Menchaca and private Thomas Tucker prompted me to write him a little note, as follows:
Congratulations on being the first Democratic official to exploit the butchery of two American soldiers by Iraq-based terrorists, to score points against the current administration. Your statement regarding "the price we're paying for a failed policy in Iraq" implies that the degree of barbarity reportedly exhibited in these deaths represents some kind of zenith in a prolonged and escalating scale of violence, which might not have reached this height had we concluded our involvement earlier. You called it a "grim reminder"-- but DO you remember? This is the same band of global gangsters who beheaded journalist Daniel Pearl in Afghanistan more than FOUR YEARS ago. What did that have to do with failed policies in Iraq or anywhere else? They have been beheading adolescent girls in Indonesia for the offense of being Christian. Are you ready to hang that on our Republican President?

There is noth
ing escalating about this-- butchery is what these people do, and have done, irrespective of "policies." If there is any real American arrogance on display in our era, it is in the belief that Islamist savagery is primarily a response to actions taken by us. To anyone who's been paying attention, we are but one ring in their global target. Your use of our soldiers' deaths for political fingerpointing is not only shameful, it is myopic.
I emailed Durbin via his website, and then broke down and sobbed. For the first of several times that day.

I don’t know what it means that there has been no word of an Al-Jazeera video of the soldiers killings. I’m a little bit surprised. And very glad—I hope we never so much as hear about one, much less find that it is available to see.

When Daniel Pearl was beheaded his family knew that the video was circulating on the internet, and made a public plea that people would not watch it. Even if I had been inclined to, I felt their wishes should be respected and we should close the book on his horrific end, in favour of thinking about his accomplishments in life.

“Closing the book” had to do with the belief that this act had been a freak—a desperate game of chicken which the hostage-takers lost. It never occurred to me, or to many others I’m sure, that sawing off a head with kitchen-sized knife was something that would come so easy to anyone as to occasion repetition.

But occasions came: Eugene Armstrong, Paul Johnson, Nick Berg, Kenneth Bigley, Robert Jacob, Jack Lee Hensley, Kim Sun-il (Korean translator), Luqman Mohammed Kurdi Hussein (Titan Security employee), Shosei Koda (Japanese traveller), Ibrahim Mohammed Ismail (Egyptian drive
r), Georgy Lazov (Bulgarian truck driver), Mohammed Mutawalli (alleged Egyptian Spy), Durmus Kumdereli (Turkish Driver), Khudair al-Tamimi (26-year-old groom taken from his wedding reception in Muqdadiya, Iraq, with his father, uncle, cousin, and one guest-- all beheaded). And many others whose names have not been reported.

Nicholas Berg had the misfortune to have literally lost his head at the time when the world's most raving anti-Americans, including those in the United States Senate and many of their fellow-countrymen, were losing their metaphorical heads and tarring the whole American culture with guilt over the outrageous "tortures" committed at Abu Ghraib prison. Compared to stacks of naked Iraqi men and sadistic application of women's underwear, poor Nick Berg hardly merited the time of day. As Senator Zell Miller of Georgia put it at the time, "Why is it that there's more indignation over a photo of a prisoner with underwear on his head than over the video of a young American with no head at all?"

I decided at that point, when so many of those with the luxury of public platforms and public influence had let this horrific event pass with barely a raised eyebrow, that I was going to see what they refused to see. I figured some of us owed it to the slaughtered to see how it was during their last seconds on earth.

So I scoured the
internet (it wasn't too hard), and I watched. I watched them all, starting with Daniel Pearl, and searching out at least another four based on names known at the time. (Paul Johnson was one). Since then I have discovered one website that has every single known beheading video-- dozens of them. I won't name it here, and I certainly couldn't make myself look at any more of them, or at any of the early ones a second time. But it did help put names to the many, many victims, and to get an idea of the scope of these kinds of killings.

I remember as a fact that the sound of Daniel Pearl's death is the most horrible thing I've ever heard-- so horrible that I can't replay it in my memory even if I wanted to. I recall that there was only sound to begin
with, while the screen was blank; this was followed by the murderers' clumsy re-enactment of the decapitation because their camera had failed to function during the original act. For this second segment, the soundtrack had an overlay of pig squeals, considered appropriate because Pearl's ultimate crime was being a Jew.

All these videos are jumpy and out of focus for some reason-- maybe they are recorded on cell phones, or sent to Al-Jazeera by email. Or maybe Al-Jazeera imposes distortion on them so they will be clear enough to communicate their message without being so clear that they disgust even the jihadists who watch them. Nevertheless they are enough to teach any viewer that the imagination is no substitute for reality.

The news reports on Privates Menchaca and Tucker began with suggestions that they might have been beheaded. Since then I have heard different reports: of eyes gouged out, hearts cut out, throats slashed, genitals hacked off and stuffed in their mouths. The method could have been any, or all, of the above. Anyone capable of one such act is capable of anything, in any number and combination.

On the whole it is not i
mportant that the general public know the particular details of these deaths, or any of the others, as long as there is a willingness to understand that there is no moral equivalency between such acts and anything known to have been done by any member of the American military in Iraq.

Senator John Kerry claims our people committed similar acts during the Vietnam war. He may be right, though the ensuing decades have produced only accusations and no documentation. History points to Wounded Knee and Samar and My Lai as examples of American bloodlust in war-- we can't
deny them or downplay their gravity. But there is something about a conventional mass battlefield whacking with rifles that seems essentially different from what is required of a person to complete the job of carving up a human body-- in this case, sawing off a living human head with a knife too small for the job, usually after making a prolonged speech into a camera lens. One can imagine the mass shooting becoming easy-- fast and relatively clean, nearly mechanical after awhile, and conducive to emotional detachment. Not so the hands-on bloodletting.

Normal human beings have stood horror-struck at their own species when bearing witness to this kind of mad-sickness throughout history: the Roman genius for martyring Christians by flaying, cutting off br
easts, or igniting human torches coated with pitch; the Iroquois custom of biting off fingers and burning or extracting clods of flesh from the extremities, in the knowledge that they can endure tremendous damage without causing death; the uniquely English capital punishment whereby the condemned was dragged through the streets behind a horse, hanged until not quite dead, gruesomely disembowelled alive (including castration), and dismembered after death-- a penalty in use from the 13th to the 19th centuries; the experimental surgeries of Dr.Josef Mengele on the 3000 twins who passed through Auschwitz, including two Gypsy children whom he stitched together back to back just to see what would happen. (Their parents suffocated them to put them out of their misery once gangrene set in.)

Probably no bodily atrocities more resemble the actions of Al Qaeda in Iraq than those committed by the Japanese army during the 1937 "Rape of Nanking" where it is claimed that about 300,000 civilians were deliberately massacred (gang-raped, shot, beheaded, impaled, disembowelled) in about six weeks.

Our kind can do this stuff-- and once upon a time we used to be taught about it so we would not forget. But that kind of education is pretty sketchy these days.

Now that the basest kind of man-on-man butchery is happening again, our current state of historical amnesia ought to increase the shock and outrage, yet so many people in positions of prominence seem oddly blasé. When the mutilated bodies of Privates Menchaca and Tucker were discovered, Senator Harry Reid's outrage took the form of calling it "sad news." His reflection on the meaning of the tragedy?
One thing Democrats agree on is this war has taken too long, it's too expensive... We all agree that there should be redeployment starting sooner rather than later.
Okay-- crammed into that ellipsis was somethin
g about the cost in lives and injuries. But "too long" and "too expensive" were his first thoughts on the subject. What kind of robot is this man? Or any of the rest of them? Did we hear one single elected official (including the Commander-in-Chief) rail in fury and visceral digust, or display a millisecond of unguarded emotion? Where we should have seen barely suppressed impulses to vengeance, we instead saw and heard arguments over when and how fast to RUN AWAY!!!!. (Mona Charen
references Monty Python). Ah, timing is everything.

A politician once said
In fact, I fear that in the run-up to the 2004 election, the administration is considering what is tantamount to a cut-and-run strategy. Their sudden embrace of accelerated Iraqification and American troop withdrawal dates, without adequate stability, is an invitation to failure. The hard work of rebuilding Iraq must not be dictated by the schedule of the next American election.
That was John Kerry speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations in December of 2003, (hat-tip Ca
ptain Ed at Captain's Quarters) In that same speech Kerry asked (rhetorically, I'm sure)
How is it possible to liberate a country, depose a ruthless dictator who at least in the past had weapons of mass destruction, and convert a preordained success into a diplomatic fiasco?
Isn't it astounding how a "preordained success" transmogrified into "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time" by the following September? And is it any wonder that people have so much trouble b
elieving Kerry's previous remarks to the other Foreign Relations folks (the Senate committee)-- the 1971 version-- when he said that Americans randomly dismembered and beheaded civilians in Vietnam. He's as phony now as he was then, only now his party has the good sense to know he's got political "cooties" and should be shunned. Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit summed it up: "Kerry will have his Iraq position all figured out by, say, 2016. This is one of many reasons why Democrats should be embarrassed that he was their nominee -- and why Republicans should be embarrassed that he came so close to winning." Amen, brother.

And they should ALL be embarrassed at how far short they fell of the proper level of SEETHING RAGE over the butchery of our guys. The New York Times continues to defend its national security nudism, apparently failing to make the connection between the fate of Privates Mechaca and Tucker and the implictions of their own premeditated loose lips. However, the connection was not lost on some of our fighting men. Check out Letter Number One from Lt. Tom Cotton (hat-tip Powerline), sounding off from Baghdad, and Letter Number Two where Sgt. T. F. Boggs weighs in from Mosul (hat-tip Hugh Hewitt).

Bottom line-- military
to New York Times: "Thanks for nothin', schmucks. Here's some newsprint to wipe the blood off your hands."

The New York Times should be boycotted and its editorial staff charged. The government leakers should be hounded out and prosecuted.


* * * * *

Speaking of late night TV offerings:

My channel surfing stopped, as it often does, on APTN, the Aboriginal Peoples' Television Network, a Canadian government-funded outfit which produces pretty respectable and interesting programming, as well as running old films and series that have some tangential connection to their mandate. Truth to tell, in any given week I expect my APTN viewing time ou
tnumbers my CBC time by about 5 to 1.

Friday night brought me a fashion show. It originated in Nunavut, and the models were attrac
tive (as in fresh-faced and smiling) Inuit girls (plus a couple of embarrassed-looking young men), with the lyrics to the appealing sooundtrack sung mostly in Inuktitut.

What was most appealing, though, was that the fashions being presented were all coats, jackets, and wraps made of seal fur (mature, of course-- the mottled black, grey, and greenish hides-- no snow-white babies have been harvested for more than a decade). And the clothing was a
bsolutely beautiful-- this was first-rate creative fashion design. I found myself feeling very proud for them-- the show itself had a pleasantly amateurish feel to it, but there was nothing amateurish about the work-- it was brilliant. [PHOTOS are from a different show, but clothing in similar style.]

Take that, (soon-to-be-not) Sir Paul and Mrs. McCartney! The only thing disturbing white baby seals these days is loud-mouthed celebrity
animal-rightists seeking a doe-eyed prop for their on-ice photo-op. Even if Sir Paul and wife had chosen to create a more honest photo-splash by posing with khaki-coloured mature seals (the only ones actually still hunted for their fur), it wouldn't have changed the fact that European PETA-loving do-gooders have all but wrecked a millennia-old aboriginal trade. I, for one, was no end delighted to discover, by chance, that somewhere on the Canadian ice-patch the fur trade is being unapologetically pursued and, even better, providing the raw material to feed the creative juices of contemporary artists drawing on ancient traditions.

"Here are the facts. It is illegal to kill whitecoats. Adult seals are killed with rifles. Many of
ose videos were staged and became so notorious, they created the term animal snuff films. Greenpeace, which originally promoted the sealing ban, has reversed its position. The World Wildlife Fund is trying to alert the public to the damage the seal ban continues to inflict on the people of the Arctic." (see

The real endangered species?: the Inuit hunter.

Saturday night's APTN Inuktitut feature: competitive clog-dancing and melodeon-playing for the whole damn town, in a rural gymnasium. GREAT STUFF! I loved it.
Nice seal-fur boots, by the way--lookin' good.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


What to choose, what to choose, for your late night viewing pleasure on Friday?
Letterman had Al Gore.
Leno had Orlando Bloom.

Hmmmmmm. Do I pick the sententious and sibilant eco-puffster so I can revel in his boundless condescension and genuflect in his general direction?—yeah, that’s right, fer sh

“Who would not trade a raven for a dove?”

Once again “the paper of record” has compromised the security of the United States and the
wider world by exposing a secret government program for detecting terrorist activities to stop them before they come to fruition and apprehend the perpetrators. In the first instance, it was the NSA warrantless wiretap program, about which, admittedly, people with many more qualifications than a Times hack can creditably argue both sides of legality question—but which nevertheless was an effective anti-terrorism tool, now rendered completely inoperable due to its exposure, with no evidence that its potential for abuse had ever been exploited.

Now, fresh from their Pulitzer triumphs for dismantling that safeguard, the Times has taken the lead (with the L.A. Times, plus a couple of others picking up the wire) in exposing another, very successful secret means for choking off terrorist resources and tracking down the bad guys—it’s the Treasury Department’s Deep Throaty operation, or “Follow the [Terrorist] Money.”

Using a Belgium-based international banking clearing house ("Swift" = Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) major international transactions are followed and vetted for terrorist connections. Or rather, they were. Thanks to the New York Times, once again this program has been rendered impotent by being blabbed above the fold. This one’s different from the wiretap business, though. Everyone could imagine that it was being done, and could agree that it should be done—we just didn’t know the specifics of how it was done. Now the Times has thrown open the curtains on it, and revealed (dunt-da-da-DAH!) in its own account that:
...the program is legal. The program is helping us catch terrorists. The administration has briefed the appropriate members of Congress. The program has built-in safeguards to prevent abuse. And yet, with nothing more than a vague appeal to the "public interest" (which apparently is not outweighed in this case by the public's interest in apprehending terrorists), the NYT disregards all that and publishes intimate, classified details about the program.
Thus writes Stephen Spruiell of National Review Online (Hat-tip, Instapundit)
Reaction to the Times’ desperate quest for (a) another Pulitzer, and (b) another black eye for the President has been, as it were, swift—and resoundingly damning. This was not whistle-blowing about some possibly illegal subterfuge, some assault on civil liberties and the Constitution, some backroom game of dirty tricks. By the authors’ own admission, it was a pretty solid and internationally sanctioned process. The big puzzle is: cui bono? What’s in it for the Times?

The charitable answer is that it was a naked grab for readership—what was known, back in the days of real journalism, as a “scoop.” It is c
haritable to think them so deeply deluded that they believed the public excitement would outweigh the public opprobrium on this one. Because if this scoop was not motivated by a delusional self-interest, the only other possibility is that the Times finds it more important to help America lose the war by thwarting its anti-terrorist measures, and thereby ruin George Bush, than to consider the welfare of everyone on the planet who is or has been or may one day be the victim of terrorist violence.

Despite the John Kerry mantra about (horrors!) alienating our European allies, the truth is that even as the Chiracs and Schroeders have blustered on about our unilateralism, their governments (specifically their undercover security forces) have worked cheek by jowl with the United States ever since September 11 and have had many cooperative successes in foiling plots and arresting plotters. It was happening even before the Islamist-perpetrated bombings, murders and civil unrest that have plagued several European nations in recent times.

The beneficiaries of these successes have undoubtedly been more than just Americans and Europeans—anytime and anywhere a terrorist is tripped up, the belly-flop makes the world that little bit safer for all us “infidels” including those who live in Indonesia, India, Sudan, the Philippines, or Egypt. If the Times and its devotees are still so into hating America, they could at least pretend for a minute to care about these other, foreigner-type folks, whose lives are in much more grave and immediate danger than ours. For their sake, at least, you would think a few of these ink-stained crusaders could sacrifice that prize-winning headline and just button it.

[See Michelle Malkin for more creative updates of WWII posters.]

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

It is reported that the bodies of the two U.S. soldiers, kidnapped last week from a checkpoint near Youssifiyah, have been found, and that the two were victims of "barbaric" torture and execution. A faction of Al Qeada In Iraq has claimed credit for this foul deed, announcing that the "slaughter" (using a word previously employed to indicate beheading) was carried out by Zarqawi's Designated Hitter and heir, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer (aka: Abu Ayyub al-Masri).

Immediately upon hearing about the abduction of these two soldiers, I had feared it would end in beheading, and now I fear something else-- I will go as far as to make a little prediction.

The Mainstreamedia, over the past five years, have decided on our behalf that we are entirely t
oo sensitive to see horrific pictures of people leaping to their deaths from the Twin Towers, or of the murder of innocent victims like the four American contractors burned alive and mutilated,or journalist Daniel Pearl and contractors Nicholas Berg and Paul Johnson being beheaded. However, sometimes it seems that they (the MSM) don't think we can get enough pictures of American military coffins or recently dead Iraqis (in contrast to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis found in Saddam's mass graves who are of minimal interest).

The point is that shocking pictures and video which would incite anger against terrorists don't get seen, but disturbing scenes which are likely to turn the public against the President and the war are seen in abundance.

It is difficult to predict how the public might react to graphic images of these two dead soldiers, but it's reasonable to argue that there has been enough of a shift in public se
ntiment about the war (thank you, MSM, for all your creative work on that project) that images which would have inspired anti-terrorist fury a few years ago might today spawn a new burst of anti-Bush fever. If the media decide that the odds favour the latter, I predict that images of these soldiers which find their way into standard news outlets will be more frequent and more graphic than has been the norm for similar incidents in the past.

I hope the families have braced themselves for the exploitation their sons' deaths are likely to engender. Let us pray that their grief is not eventually compounded by the presence of the wretched and abominable membership of
the Westboro Baptist Church/Phelps-Roper tribe spouting their putrid slogans as the mourners try to bury their dead.

Identities of the murdered soldiers have not yet been officially confirmed, but there is every
reason to believe that they are Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, Texas and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Oregon. May they rest in peace, if not today then on some tomorrow when Iraq is rid of these barbarians, whose brand of butchery was standard fare in Saddam's Iraq-- what we went in there to end, once and for all. We're not there yet, obviously. God willing, we'll be staying until the task is finished.


Lord Stanley turns Canadian Snowbird--
goes south for the winter

Thanks, guys-- it was a great rid

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Anybody seen my puck?


Nothing could be finah
Than to crush
North Carolina
As an Oi----ler

Oilers pound Hurricanes 4-zip, force Game 7, there is no tomorrow, and this time I really mean it.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


DAY --

I’m delighted to have hung in there and been a witness to Fernando Pisani’s BRILLIANT, PERFECT overtime w
inner for the Oilers, taking the Stanley Cup series to a sixth game. Don’t know if the Oil-kings can pull it out, but getting there has been fun.

I'm having a hard time keeping up with my masquerade as a World Cup afficianado, though.

I was driving down the street minding my own business, England flag flapping out the window, when a
car driving toward me began to honk, and one hysteric was waving a bed-sheet-sized old bunting Union Jack out the car window. I realized only as I passed them that this was a salute in my direction, and that we were all celebrating something.

Fortunately when I arrived at my destination, a more-informed person than myself (married to Tottenham Hotspur’s biggest fan this side of the pond) brought me up to speed on England’s last-minute header to save their imperial bacon ag
ainst Trinidad/Tobago. This allowed me, later on, to be quick with the “thumbs-up” salute to a group of hollering young folk on a park bench sporting England’s spiffy white jersey and flags, looking like they’d had a rough afternoon of it. Go England! Justify that payroll!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


My car is now masquerading as the vehicle of someone who cares about the World Cup of Soccer [read: FOOTBALL]. I can't say that's exactly accurate. I watch some, but don't knock myself out to follow its progress. However, it's fun to cheer for England amid the plethora of Italian and Brazilian flags that dominate the local scene.

Mostly, t
hough, it gives me a rare chance to sport the emblem of THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR, not to mention the whole CRUSADER thing. It's delicious. I encourage it. Americans especially, who pay precious little attention to soccer (that's FOOTBALL, folks), should embrace this opportunity. Indulge yourselves.

[Frightening factoid: Google "England soccer" images and you
get an x-ray of David Beckham's right foot. This is not healthy.]
Rip Van Bush wakes up

Two pieces of exciting news from Camp David, Maryland:

(1) The President met with an interesting selection of folks (among them, as I understand it, Frederick Kagan and Robert Kaplan ) who are likely to convince him of the timeliness of an all-out military effort to “clear-hold-build” the city of Baghdad, as they have successfully accomplished with other, smaller Iraqi cities which were once terrorist strongholds. (Notably absent, as I understand it, the Secretary of Defense, whose strategery has been to confine what troops there are to bases, and then send them out to address flare-ups as needed. Screw that.) Yay, Hurray, and IT’S ABOUT EFFING TIME!!!

The White House press corpse (and I mean that, for corpses are all that interest them) was hearded into a bus to head for Camp David, only to be informed that the President was no longer there—that he is, in fact, in Iraq meeting with new Prime Minister Maliki and giving the old back-slap to the newly minted government. Excellent news, and again, ABOUT EFFING TIME. Bush has been pretty much confined to base for past few years himself.

We know he likes to catch a refreshing nap now and again. A shame this last one’s been about two and a half years long. As the guys in uniform like to say, TURN US LOOSE, OR TAKE US HOME.

If that kind of sentiment unnerves people now worrying about what took place in Haditha, two things:
(1) a more strategic “turning loose” to address the larger problem of the terror campaign might preclude the likelihood of these one-off reactionary encounters; and (2) the more one learns about Haditha from those who were actually in the neighbourhood at the time, the more the worst case scenario is falling apart. Can you spell "Jenin"? Time will tell.

To no one’s great surprise, Congressman J
ohn Murtha’s unconscionable grandstanding summary conviction of his fellow Marines has coincided with his announcement to Congressional Democrats that in the event of their re-capture of the House in November he is putting himself forward as a candidate for majority leader. This man is so stupid he can’t even be underhanded—could there be anything more obvious than his anti-war, anti-troops bloviating as a naked ploy for maximum publicity, and pressure on the Democrats to exploit his usefulness as an anti-war veteran? (Gee, that worked so well in the ‘04 presidential race!—hell, Democrats, GO FOR IT! It could be your most cynical, and suicidal move yet!)

There is a pattern here, though, folks-- Murtha has the House back in Democratic hands months before the election-- he's jumping to a by no means foregone conclusion again-- kind of like hanging Marines before they're tried. Or even named! Who exactly should be put in the noose Congressman? Names? Who is going to lose their seat in Congress? Names?

Act now! Support the gorgeous and level-headed Diana Irey for Congress and maybe Murtha himself will be out of a job.

Jonathan Kay has an interesting piece in today's National Post called Islam as Goth-- maybe radical Islamist terrorism is attracting bored and disaffected youth as a new form of rebellion, like looking sullen, dressing Goth, and flipping off society. That's one of the popular multi-culti takes on the Toronto Seventeen, and Kay doesn't disagree-- he likens these guys to the Columbine High School killers. Except he reminds us that people wound up DEAD, and that was just with the stuff that two lone gunmen could accumulate in their garage, under their oblivious parents' noses. When seventeen people have the connections to accumulate a three-ton bomb, the deadness gets very very big, and the "ordinariness" of the kids doesn't actually matter much.


We're full of insecurities about Canadian patriotism these days. So it was actually quite moving to watch the pre-game ceremonies of the Oilers-Hurricane match last night. One of those big old opera singers, Paul Lorieau, came out to do the national anthems, and had to wait considerable time for the totally hysterical crowd to begin to calm. Eventually he just started to sing over the noise, and did a dramatic rendering of the Star-Spangled Banner. The place quieted down, and there were many voices joining in. The usual thing happened at the end, where the crowd erupted into cheers before the song was done.

Then the not usual thing happened. As the singer prepared for Canada's anthem, the whole arena went dead quiet. The song began and about three or four lines into it, Lorieau simply raised his microphone to the air and let the crowd take it.

I have never heard the anthem sung with such power (though apparently this has been building for awhile while I was watching other teams in the play-offs-- I thought I had video of last night, but turns out it was an earlier game against the Ducks, looking more or less exactly the same as last night. Well, good for them-- I can think of worse habits to cultivate than socking it to the national anthem. And Canada's is such a good one-- much better, as music, than the Star Spangled Bananner, which I have always felt was grossly inferior to America the Beautiful. Anytime Congress wants to change it is fine with me.]

The moment transcended hockey, and in an odd way transcended patriotism too-- it seemed more than anything else to be familial rather than national. Yes, I know, the Canadian anthem was booed in San Jose. (Real class act, Californicators.) But that seems a long time ago now. I thought the singer might take back the mic for the final bars, but he didn't-- he let the crowd have it all.

Unfortunately it didn't win the game. Back to Carolina. There is no tomorrow.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Well, it’s been a quiet week in Lake Al-Wobegon…

Not really.




That’s right—the only thing he’ll be torturing these days is that rhyme I just tried to achieve.

Infamous IRA (Iraq-based Raving Abomination) terrorist Abu Musab O’Zarqawi (seen at right in his "Jean Lafitte" period) has hoisted his last Guinness (we understand from his family he wasn’t the world’s most ascetic Islamoid). He has also hoisted his last decapitated human head.

News travels fast i
n the age of Global Communications, so naturally it took very little time for Certain People to realize and proclaim that this guy was just a figurehead, bogeyman, Bush administration invention, a nobody, and his passing wouldn’t slow down or change or mean much of anything. I guess that’s why they were CHEERING and ULULATING at the press conference when Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki announced his unlamented demise. (Picture Helen Thomas ululating about anything… Wait— no. Bad idea.)

Most Frightening Thing Heard on Zarqawi D-day (death day—when a combination of CIA, American troops, Iraqi army, sin
ging detainees, and fed-up insurgents invaded the Normandy Coastline of Zarqawi’s arse)—
Congressman Jo
hn Kline (R-MN) speculating on the future of the new Iraqi government, which has just appointed its Minister of Defense: “They don’t have an Iraqi Pentagon yet…” Allah spare them one of those!

Most Depressing Thing Heard regarding the Recently Martyred

American Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Zarqawi’s recent career:
“He personified the
dark sadistic and medieval vision of the future -- of beheadings, suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings.”

Oh Don—it would be so good if you didn’t talk about stuff you don’t know anything about— you and the 99.999% of the people who use the word “medieval” as a pejorative. Oh those wicked Middle Ages, which saw the birth of our most revered traditions of tort law and laws of evidence (the latter specifically the product of the Inquisition, which produced a surprising number of acquittals). Not to mention eyeglasses, Romanesque sculpture, and Thomas Aquinas. Give it up, Don. Please.

There’s an upside and a downside to a Presidential administration peopled by those who are “just folks”—in this case, just folks like the vast majority of their constituents who don’t know squat about the history of much of anything prior to the Beatles’ first gig on Ed Sullivan.

One can’t reasonably expect all the politicians to be keen students of history, but it’s painful to see them cornered by practitioners of ignorance, the worst of whom can be those whose credentials make them seem reliable.

Take, for instance, the annoying little co-ed who was permitted to lecture/question the President during a town-hall forum at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University in Washington D.C.
Her speech went thus:

Morning, Mr. President. I have a more general question about the United States' work to democratize the rest of the world. Many have viewed the United States' effort to democratize the world -- especially nations in the Middle East -- as an imposition or invasion on their sovereign rights.

Considering that it was, in fact, the Prophet Mohammed who established the first known constitution in the world -- I'm referring to the constitution he wrote for the city of Medina --and that his life and the principles outlined in his constitution, such as the championing of the welfare of women, children and the poor, living as an equal among his people, dissolving disputes between the warring clans in Arabia, giving any man or woman in parliament the right to vote and guaranteeing respect for all religions, ironically parallel those principles that we hold most precious in our own constitution... I'm wondering how might your recently formed Iraq Study Group under the U.S. Institute for Peace explore these striking similarities to forge a new relationship with Iraqis and educate Americans about the democratic principles inherent in Islam? (emphasis added)

Bush’s answer was lengthy, somewhat disjointed, and painful to listen to. He did not, in fact, answer the question because he didn’t know enough to recognize the STUPIDITY of it.

Apparently neither the co-ed nor the President ever heard of, say, ARISTOTLE and the Athenian Constitution of the 4th century B.C.? Or if you want to go all Mesopotamian, you could call the Code of HAMMURABI a constitution dating from the 18th century B.C. Go crazy and call it “B.C.E.” if you want! But if Mohammed invented the constitution, Al Gore invented the internet.

God help us, the girl’s a
graduate student, in international affairs! Bush never claims to have been anything but a sort-of student who managed to graduate (with consistently better grades than contemporaries Gore and Kerry). But anyone who doesn't know that constitutions and democracy pre-date Mohammed has a pretty loose grip on the world we live in (and probably shouldn’t have the right to vote).

The Constitution of Medina, by the way, is a list of 57 simplistic proscriptions which read like a peace pact about who fights, who kills, and who pays between Believers and un-Believers (primarily the local Jews)—a list of specific statutes on a small range of subjects, not the sort of treatment of the nature and principles of government worthy of the name “constitution.” (Even calls it a "social contract.")

Especially fatuous is the young student’s claim that this document “champions the welfare of women”— the sole item respecting women states A woman will be given protection only with the consent of her family (Guardian). (a good precaution to avoid inter-tribal conflicts). Wow— Susan B. Anthony couldn’t have said it better. And I couldn’t find a thing about children in it.

What a shame our President took at face value the twaddle being spouted by this mal-educated student, probably based on the assumption that she had been well-served by her $28,000 a year Master’s program (that’s tuition— $45,000 including all the trimmings).

Just a little teeny “What about Aristotle?,” Mr. President?—is that to
o much to hope for? Yes. Read or watch the rest of the townhall, if you dare. Painful.

AWAY – REND al-RAHIM FRANCKE surfaced in the news this week, first ambassador to the United States from the new Iraq. An impressive and formidable woman, never foolishly optimistic but given to a contagious hope.


Conservative Queen of Mean Ann Coulter ha
s been making the rounds this week, selling her new book Godless: The Church of Liberalism. (Would someone get this woman a sandwich? Now?)

As usual she’s pretty much on
the nose about everything left-vs.-right, but just so NASTY. We had a two-word expression for chicks like her when I was in college: the first word was “barracuda.”

Coulter has been taking the most heat for her comments on the “Jersey girls” – four 9/11 widows who in their distress have become activists in search of someone to blame—anyone other than the perpetrators, though, because what the blame game is really about is fixing on a formula by which the tragedy could have been prevented. Since man is not Superman, but a fallen and blinded creature, this is usually a fool’s game—sometimes evil just triumphs, whether good men do everything, something, or nothing.

Coulter is completely right that these women’s widowhood has metamorphosed into a bulletproof, argument-proof cloak, which stacks the
deck against intelligent assessment of what they have to say. The same thing goes for Cindy Sheehan (endowed by Maureen Dowd with “absolute moral authority”) and (for better or for worse or when it’s useful to the left) the Johns, Murtha and McCain.

But their (the girls) husbands are still dead, Ann. Dead. Not "killed"-- murdered. That’s the word used by Maureen Basnicki, one of two Canadian 9/11 widows I had the privilege of meeting on July 4, 2002. She made me feel ashamed because I teared up when I talked to her—I who had lost no one— and she was so graceful and composed. I’m not sure whether Ms. Dowd would endow Maureen Basnicki, or fellow-Canadian widow Cindy Barkway, with absolute
moral authority, because both these women were adamant that the American government, and the American President personally, had taken more care with them than any Canadian counterpart. The Basnickis haven’t scapegoated the Bushies, but are seeking remedy from a more logical source, the Saudi Arabian government. More power to ‘em, I say.

But all their men are dead, Ann, as is Cindy’s boy. Go ahead and say their political opinions are crazy, but it’s a really bad idea to tell them they’re getting off on their grief.

I miss Barbara Olson at times like this—the original beautiful blonde conservative bombshell with a law degree, and fearless and brainy— but graceful and straightforward, and way more likely to win friends and influ
ence people than Boadicea Coulter.

Al Qaeda got Barbara that day, incinerated in the wall of the Pentagon on Flight 77. (At least I think this actually happened, despite the fact that the internet is awash in conspiracy theories that she never called from the plane, and there was no plane, and she was subsequently arrested last year in Germany with a fake Vatican passport and a fortune in counterfeit Italian lira. Don’tcha love those cyber-space-cadets???

Barbara’s seat on the panel is remains empty.


>Number of domestically-cultivated terrorists arrested in Toronto

>Number of fruitful raids on festering insurgents carried out simultaneously with Zarqawi hit

>Number of severed heads
(give or take a few) Zarqawi recently left in banana boxes as his
last calling card on behalf of “the Word of Allah” (he said it, I didn’t)

It seems all very neat, so I suspect those numbers won’t turn out to be exact. Well, except for the Toronto terrorists—seventeen were definite
ly picked up, but their circle of friends on various continents is growing daily.

Canadians tend to enjoy hearing a Canadian angle on international news in Real Big Countries, but the last time the affairs of Canada got this much coverage was the SARS epidemic, so the thrill is pretty much gone. It’s been a useful occasion for re-thinking both the National Bird (right), and perhaps the feeling of self-satisfaction customarily engendered by the evidence (often fairly fanatical) of the great many foreign loyalties comfortably at home in Canada every time the World Cup rolls around. Flags of the world are everywhere-- for sale from vans in empty lots near major intersections, flying from bobbing mini-poles perched on car windows.

What's interesting (or iron
ic, as Canada's Alanis Morissette would sing, only this time the word is being used correctly) is that with millions of people across the country recently-enough immigrated to preserve intense loyalty to a far-away soccer team, and tens of thousands of schoolkids playing in the many available neighbourhood leagues-- many of them very skilled and very serious-- Canada doesn't generally field a world-class national soccer team that can find its way to the World Cup.

[By the way, there's a Saudi cleric who says that watching the World Cup could send people to hell. (British soccer hooligans may help.)]

It's not too surprising that this large and underpopulated country with a fairly hostile climate much of the year cannot maintain a professional soccer league-- (heck, it has never even maintained a whole major league for its own native sport, ice hockey-- in its earliest professional phase the National Hockey League was the "original six," four of which were Chicago, New York, Boston, and Detroit)-- but you would think all that soccer-generated energy and interest could be funnelled into an impressive national effort. I'm sure there are lots of reasons why this doesn't happen, but I'm convinced that one of the missing ingredients is the kind of national pride that could trump old ties to old countries.

But where would people learn that national pride in a country where the government hands out money to help your children take free instruction in the "heritage language" of the country you left b
ehind, to perpetuate yours being a non-English-speaking household? (okay, okay-- or non-French-speaking).

How can a national identity compete with the attention kids are reward
ed with when asked to bring in to school some artifact of their family's "cultural background" to discourse upon (often something rather moving, like embroidered hangings treasured and smuggled aboard by Vietnamese boat people)-- which can leave, as I have witnessed myself, some kid named Smith (with an all-Canadian family who have lived here so long that their cultural heritage artifacts, like great-grandpa's old radio and Scout badges, or even his Mason's apron!, have been declared "non-ethnic") to feel like he has nothing to contribute?

Not to mention the growing national ethos that lavishes protection and deference on a "cultural diversity" of every conceivable variation as long as it isn't Christian and heterosexual-- that being the formerly domi
nant, intolerant population which now deserves to be kicked in the shin (or maybe jailed) for the mere drawing of breath.

The pageant of self-deluded silliness ushered in by the arrest of t
he Seventeen is now the subject of much blogospheric comedy, especially the Toronto Star's $64,000 question about what common thread could tie together these men of such diverse ages, educations, professions, etc.-- LIKE MAYBE THE FACT THAT THEY ALL ATTENDED THE SAME STORE-FRONT MOSQUE IN THE SAME SUBURB BECAUSE THEY ALL FOLLOWED THE SAME FANATICAL VERSION OF ISLAM THAT WAS PREACHED THERE. GEE, D'YA THINK?


Check out the MSM and political left of all degrees, trying their best to downplay the importance of the Zarqawi hit
and hoping no one will remember that last week the inability to stop the guy (or his buddy OBL) was the best evidence of American impotence, failure, quagmire, yada, yada, yada.

I love the "meme" that O'Zarqawi is an "invention" of the Bushies, a concocted and demonized bogeyman set up to rally the brawling Iraqis against a common enemy and distract them from the real enemy, the wicked U.S.of A.

So what you folks are saying is... the behe
ading videos were directed by Spielberg, with special decapitation effects by Industrial Light and Magic? (Very worrying-- could take the wind out of Michael Berg's sails if he discovers it was all a hoax, and Nick, head and all, is really hanging out with Barbara Olson, taking in the World Cup in Munich-- with all the sausage a zillion counterfeit lira can buy). It's truly pathetic.

American anti-Americanism is always disturbing, but nothing beats British anti-Americanism for sheer loathsomeness. (Not even the French-- like, who cares, eh?) I refer, of course, to THE FISK.

I keep my finger on the unfiltered pulse of the loopy left mostly
through the news billboard at Perceval Press, which posts a wide variety of what passes for seriousness from that sector. Both the content and selection of articles are revealing. (On the glorious day of the first Iraqi election their lead story was about a water-diversion plan in North Dakota-- election not mentioned at all. Don't hurt yourself, people, bending over backward to avoid the truth hitting you in the noggin. What an insult it was to people who had risked their lives to vote.)

For awhile Perceval was a good way to check out what the New York Times axis of weasels was up to (Dowd, Herbert, Rich, Krugman, occasionally the less-weaselly Friedman, but never Brooks) without having to go through all that registration crap-- but now that the Times has decided to address its hemorrhaging circulation by charging fees (which make its major columnists even less accessible online--go figure), full articles are no longer available. But at least Perceval gives a glimpse of mo
re opening paragraphs than the Times site does.

So at the Perceval billboard you can take the temperature of the Left (usually a little on the high side?!) without having to sift through the kind of invective and raging obscenities likely to be found among the Kos kids, Huffington puffers, and the Move-on/DemUnderground types. (For example, I don't know if anybody's ever taken a whack at Michelle Malkin on the Perceval site, but when they do I doubt it will involve calling her a "chink" or a "slant-eyed c**t" as she has been labelled by the aforementioned offenders.)

Perceval Press is the small artsy publishing house [read: wil
l publish stuff no commercial place wants because it's too weird, politically extreme, not very good, and/or has a potential customer base of about two dozen] co-founded by chin-dimpled born-too-late-to-be-a-beatnik actor Viggo Mortensen (great 'spit-take' at right-- obviously not too obsessed with his own dignity) whose moonbat politics have turned up on this blog from time to time-- partly because I encounter them when he inserts occasional editorials on his own news board. He's a respectable prose stylist (that makes him at least more grammatically lucid than most of the Hollywood left), painfully sincere, presenting a moderate temperament which belies his totally way-whacked-out opinions and associates. He also provides periodic comic relief, like when he accused the Bush administration of "changing the subject" to the immigration question in order to distract the public from the Great Unjust War, a neat trick for a president who has been running away from the immigration issue like a madman for five solid years, until the public finally got fed up and rubbed his face in it.

It was at the Perceval site that I slammed into the latest from THE FISK, i.e., Robert Fisk of
Independent, which refers to itself as a "broadsheet"-- that's antiquarian for "tabloid." Fisk is the man who famously sobbed, after being attacked by Afghan refugees in Pakistan,
If I was an Afghan refugee in Kila Abdullah, I would have done just what they did. I would have attacked Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find.
(He seemed to think the beating was an anti-Western political statement. His own description would indicate either an ordinary robbery, or perhaps just a digusted response to his insufferably condescending pretense that he was their dear friend, while possibly murdering their language. Andrew Sullivan dishes him here.)

Fisk is a man so diseased with the heartworm of anti-Americanism that he has created for himself an alternate universe more stratospherically distant and self-absorbing than any of those we might spot in the scribblings of any other leftist.

Fisk's standard reportage is "fabrication" in the most literal sense: a shroud woven so thick with distortons and untruths that threads of reality are almost impossible to extract. Eventually his most outrageous work gave birth to the new expression "fisking" (noun and verb forms now in common use)-- that is, laying out (usually against one's will, and with many sighs) a detailed deconstruction of a composition so thoroughly false that it cannot be refuted in anything less than a lengthy line-by-line analysis. The blogosphere has made such exercises possible, because it does not limit the number of words required to do the job (although many professionals have polished the art of the Fisking to where they can sometimes get these things published in dead-tree form).

One is almost grateful to Fisk for never disappointing, never giving scope for even a glimmer of doubt that one has judged him aright. And in his June 4th piece in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (hat-tip Perceval Press), Fisk fulfills our worst expectations with The Way the Americans Like Their War. It is classic Fisk at his most poisonous.

It's about the still undetermined events at Haditha
, and it begins,
Could Haditha be just the tip of the mass grave? The corpses we have glimpsed, the grainy footage of the cadavers and the dead children; could these be just a few of many? Does the handiwork of the United States' army of the slums go further?
Gee, I don't know, Bob-- could Bono be a paedophile? Could Kofi Annan be a heroin dealer? We have no explicit evidence that they aren't-- so let's just go with it and raise the questions-- it might be all we need to do to initiate rumour and suspicion against them, or anybody. Wow-- that could be, like, so exciting. And it could prolong that visceral thrill you felt when you got away with the phrase "United States army of the slums," because, technically, that's a reflection on conditions in Iraq, not on the "Crips'n'Bloods" thuggishness of the troops-- but o-o-oh, how it rolled off the tongue there for a minute.

Speaking of mass graves, have you (Bob) EVER written about the ones created by Saddam Hussein, still being discovered in Iraq? The ones with HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of men, women, and children in them, most shot in the head? --just in the interest of balance, Bob, and perhaps out of respect for the English language, in which words like "mass" have always been assumed to have a reality-based meaning.

Fisk goes on:

It's no good saying "a few bad apples." All occupation armies are corrupted. [And all journalists are faced with the temptation to stack their work with categorical assertions so huge no one knows
where to start to disprove them.--ed.]

I suspect part of the problem is that we never really cared about Iraqis, which is why we refused to count their dead. Once the Iraqis turned upon the army of occupation with their roadside bombs and suicide cars, they became Arab "gooks," the evil sub-humans whom the
Americans once identified in Vietnam.
I think it's safe to assume that Fisk would have been somewhat disapproving of the MacNamara/Westmoreland taste for body counts as measures of success in Vietnam-- but he (carefully) misses the point that this is PRECISELY why we have not trumpeted counts of the dead in Iraq.

And check out how he slides over the words "the Iraqis turned upon the army," implying that they all put up resistance, down to the last man of them. But we know that didn't happen-- hey, all swarthy men don't look alike to us.

How would Fisk explain the fact that, immediately upon the June 29, 2004 from Bremmer to the interim government [read this account by Mohammed at Iraq the Model-- its' the best], the official U.S. military terminology for suicide bombers and other insurgent terrorists became, in all instances, the "anti-Iraqi forces." (Helps to read more widely than tabloid journalism to discover these things.) This term embodies respect for those Iraqis-- the majority-- who never turned against the coalition, and demonstrates our ability to distinguish between the butchers and citizens-- something Fisk keeps failing to do. His desire for all Iraqis to turn against America is so intense that he is blind to his own racist lumping of all of them together into a mob of raging street-fighters.

Fisk closes:
I can't help wondering today how many of the innocents slaughtered in Haditha took the opportunity to vote in the Iraqi elections -- before their "liberators" murdered them.
Well it's certainly a much more efficient use of time to write a newspaper column than to go through the complicated business of charges, and trials, and evidence and such, before convicting Marines (as yet unnamed!) of murder. Fisk plays the Queen of Hearts to the hilt (literally?): 'Sentence first-- verdict afterward!... Off with their heads!'

Fascinating that on the 10th of June, in the Independent, Fisk worries in print about fair trials for the Toronto seventeen in virulently "racist" Canada! Talk about comic relief!

And barely have I had time to cut and paste the Fiskaditha atrocity from Perceval's billboard, but it has been superceded there by Fisk's next entry on the demise of Zarqawi. Headline:
"Zarqawi's end is not a famous victory, nor will it bring Iraq any nearer to peace." (Reminds me of the old atheist-in-hell joke: "It's not hot, and I'm not here. It's not hot, and I'm not here.") He goes on:
So, it's another "mission accomplished". The man immortalised by the Americans as the most dangerous terrorist since the last most dangerous terrorist, is killed - by the Americans. A Jordanian corner-boy who could not even lock and load a machine gun is blown up by the US Air Force.
What are the most-repeated details about the Zarqawi hit, from every official source in all countries involved? That the hit was enabled by the
combined efforts of American, coalition, and Iraqi forces

Nowhere, never, not once, in any instance has the United States unduly credited itself with the execution of this execution.
As for the Jordanian corner-boy, it's worth remembering that Fisk observed of him last November (after he pulled off the Amman hotel bombing),
...56 dead, most of them Jordanians, is a devastating blow to the man [King Abdullah] who once ran the supposedly "elite" Jordanian special forces and who is King of that little sandpit Winston Churchill created and called "Jordan". And who was to blame? Why Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, of course. The same tiresome, odd, ruthless, nebulous Zarqawi who the Americans seem as little able to capture or kill as they do Osama bin Laden, or Mullah Omar...
For a little nebish, he dealt a "devastating blow"-- and now he's been killed. One down, two to go, for the marquee terrorists.

As I read THE FISK (which shouldn't be done too often), wandering his way in his own little world, inventing new sights when those his eyes encounter do not suit his virtual reality, I can't help thinking of that pitiful little journalista played so well by Geraldine Chaplin in Robert Altman's Nashville-- a hundred weird stories happening all around her to which she is utterly oblivious, and she wanders alone in a junky parking lot full of school-buses
(Ray Nagin, call your office) conjuring up poetic fanstasies to babble into her tape recorder about what the ghostly old vehicles are "saying."
(It's summer--school's out--they're saying, "Shut up and let me sleep.")

One would like to think that as events unfold over time, people like Fisk who have so gleefully butchered the facts will be held to some kind of public reckoning, and perhaps even acknowledge without coercion that they got it wrong. But the public is reliably amnesiac, and da Nile ain't just a river in Egypt. One wants to believe that truth will out, but I'm not holding my breath on it happening, even when my breath is one day long gone. But reckoning-wise, there is always the "other side."

"I may not be sure about God or the Devil, but I still believe in the United Nations," wrote Fisk on April 23, 2005. That's faith indeed!!-- even by Dan Brown's definition: "acceptance of that which we imagine to be true, that which we cannot prove.”

It's summer in Turtle Bay.
It's not hot, and I'm not here.