Thursday, June 29, 2006

A not-so-subtle put down

When an esteemed journalist and author goes nutty with the analysis, expect harsh reviews.

In his new book, The One Percent Doctrine, Ron Suskind gets a little ahead of himself ascribing to Osama Bin Laden a natural mastery of political game theory. To Suskind, OBL has been toying with American electoral politics for some time-- secretly wanting President Bush to prevail in 2004. All because Osama's plea to the Blue States (vote against Bush and you shall avoid the wrath) was a contrived piece of reverse psychology. Such is the nature of asymetrical warfare where the American press serves as a willing mouthpiece and guide.

Of course it's always George Bush's fault that the devil is still at large. And no grand analysis is complete without a reference to Abu Ghraib. The running and very tired narrative provides enough ammuntion for the Democratic opposition and its allies in the Medicrat Party. Somehow Suskind forgot to drop the old chesnet that AQ hates us because of our pro-Israel Mideast politics. How does Suskind know the inner thoughts of the devil? Well the CIA is telling him such much as they told Frontline. Some news cycle the medicrats have these days.

"The torture at Abu Ghraib" and so many other events of the past five years, writes Mr. Suskind, "strike at the nation's character. And, sadly, give true comfort to our enemies, graced with more recruitment tools than they could have hoped for." He tells of a consensus among CIA analysts--a consensus in which he seems to share--that bin Laden's 2004 "October Surprise" broadcast, in which he promised more terror, "was clearly designed to assist the President's reelection." And Mr. Suskind approvingly quotes former CIA official Jami Miscik, who says that "certainly [bin Laden] would want Bush to keep doing what he's doing for a few more years."

Robert Pollack will have none of the shoddy analysis. In a devastating review of the One Percent Doctrine, Pollack unloads on the Suskind fantasy.

... of course Mr. Suskind advances the standard left-wing criticisms of prewar Iraq intelligence--that the administration pressured analysts and deliberately distorted findings. This despite the fact two major bipartisan inquires--conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee and by the Robb-Silberman Commission--have found no evidence to support such a charge.

This will never change hearts and minds. Nor will it advance rational discussion of the Saddam problem, post-911.

There are certainly plenty of just criticisms of the war on terror to be aired, but every time Mr. Suskind approaches one--such as the tension between our democracy-promotion agenda and our ties to Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf--he quickly returns to more simple-minded Bush-bashing. The overarching idea that George W. Bush and his team were uniquely and irrationally determined to get Saddam simply doesn't square with the glaring fact that both of Mr. Bush's predecessors also felt compelled to do battle with the Iraqi dictator.

I think Mr. Suskind's credibility has been ripped to shreds. He is the Michael Moore of the written word.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Why does Keith Emerson play the keyboard upside down?

Because he can and proves to this day that he is one of the greatest musicians to sit down in front of a keyboard.

Great show in Arlington last night! Sorry you missed it!

Long live the Moog!

More on Emerson from Moogfest! And here's an interview from the confab in New York City.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Say a prayer for Rev. Hurman Hamilton

Some people simply have given up on the inner city. To them it's a matter of family preservation. After years of trying to struggle with violence in his neighborhood, Roxbury's Rev. Hamilton is moving his family to Woburn. Who could blame his choice, given the almost nightly violence?

[Rev. Hamilton] could not bear the growing possibility that, with youth violence in Boston spiraling out of control, the blood could be that of his 15-year-old son, Jonathan.

So this spring, the 41-year-old minister and his wife Rhonda, a physician, decided to give up on their 20-year commitment to living among the people to whom he ministers. On Wednesday, they moved the family to a house in Woburn.

"We had feelings of great contrition, feelings of guilt, feelings of embarrassment," said Hamilton, who will remain the minister of the church.
"At the end of the day, our conclusion was that it is heroic to want to stay on a street that is designated a hot zone with a 15-year-old who looks 19 and a 2- year-old who wants to play in the yard," he said. "But it is even more heroic to figure out how to keep them alive."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The CIA Empire Strikes Back

I have just finished watching PBS Frontline's "The Dark Side," a rather compelling but one-sided view of the battle to control intelligence between Vice President Cheney and the Central Intelligence Agency before the runup for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Essentially, it's an hour and a half of grievances from former CIA officials who don't add anything new to the War on Terror narrative. Does Richard Clarke add anything new? Frontline takes its obligatory crack at the Vice President but in the end it's the CIA that proves itself incomeptent. This episode is the CIA's latest chapter in covering its ass.

Sam Allis of the Globe thinks otherwise.

"The Dark Side" is, in a sense, CIA payback for its treatment. The program is dominated by legions of former CIA officers, some of whom left over the agency's treatment by the White House, and they detail what they view as Cheney's efforts to find the intelligence to fit the war he wanted against Saddam. Virtually no one, in contrast, appears from the Cheney-Rumsfeld camp to defend the two men's actions.

Perhaps because they couldn't get a fair shake. But here one reason to consider that despite an absence, Cheney comes across as far more knowledgeable about bureacratic infighting and how to survive. Watching Frontline I often thought of how the trial lawyer would have reacted. As he proved himself in the 2004 VP debates, John Edwards is way out of his league.

More from Dan Froomkin at the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, the Post's TV Critic Paul Farhi takes a swipe at Frontline's overly dramatic stenorian style, a trait I've found perennially irritating in an otherwise superb program

All that material [in "The Darks Side"} is strong enough without the addition of
an irritating "production value" -- "Frontline's" use of music, particularly bass notes, to underscore something the filmmakers apparently want viewers to think is sinister or foreboding. That is both irritating and gratuitous, considering that the subject itself -- orchestrating a war -- is plenty foreboding enough.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

What do you mean Boston's not the smartest?

The city of Boston is the Athens of America and we don't hesitate to let people know in our gruff way. But one recent survey says we Bostonians are not as smart as we think.

Forget Harvard and MIT. Think University of Washington!

That's right Seattle's number 1 according to a survey. The erudition may be due to Seattle's climate. What else to do when it's raining except to exercise the gray matter?

Considering the downpour this spring, we'll eventually match Seattle's brainpower rainwater inch by inch.

Meanwhile, we're number 13. Right behind Virginia Beach. Ouch! The south of all places is catching up. My my!

The lesson here is thus: We ought not to have so high an opinion of ourselves. A little humility might be in order.

Trade with Denmark is up: Swapping for freedom

Hitchens as a trade facilitator. Take that intolerant minions of Mahomet!

A note of cheer to all those Slate readers who either attended the Solidarity With Denmark rally, or sent encouragement, or rallied round to buy Danish goods. I have today received a note from one of the Copenhagen editors who published the original cartoons, informing me that in the last quarter, Danish exports to the United States have increased by 17 percent and that, overall, the Danish economy has more than compensated for the results of the unjustified Muslim boycott. Let us keep this example in mind.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

O Canada!

Read the following entry from the Seixon blog, "Terrorism, eh?" and tell me you feel comfortable with liberal Democrats waging the war on terror. By the way was not Canada making accomodative moves to allow Sharia law in certain provinces? Show weakness and you get Oklahoma City three times over.

All the terrorism alerts over the past few years were not real; they were just creations by the Bush administration to scare the public into supporting him. Bush won the election by ?fear-mongering? about terrorism. The farther into the left-wing you go, you get into al Qaeda not being real, al Qaeda being a creation of the Bush administration, bin Laden working for Bush, every single terrorist attack attributed to al Qaeda having been staged by the CIA, and so on, and so forth. Osama bin Laden?s video release in October 2004 was a Karl Rove ploy. The Bush administration was behind 9/11. You get the picture.

Terrorists plotting against Canada just doesn?t compute for these people. They have been brainwashed into believing all sorts of myths and lies about the reasons for terrorism, and Canada doesn?t fit into this picture one bit. They can?t rationalize an excuse for why terrorists would seek to destroy Canadians. So instead, they will ignore the issue entirely or... seek to spin the issue into being about something else.
I think the collective silence on this piece of news in the liberal blogosphere is quite demonstrative as to the fact that they don?t understand this security issue with terrorism. To them, terrorism is a fictional issue created by the Bush administration to control the masses with irrational fear. However, as this newest case in Canada, one of many including cases in France and Jordan, it gives them pause and they can?t do anything other than stay silent and ignore what does not fit into their warped worldview.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Discuss among yourselves: Does Pete Doherty belong in jail?

Rocker Peter Doherty is a threat to himself and the hangers-on around him. He also is a poster boy for stupid behavior as is anyone who glamorizes drug use. I think he belongs in jail. How about you?