Becoming What You Oppose

The new nation of Macedonia, eager to prove its anti-terror chops on the world stage, made much of stopping a terrorist cell in its capitol city of Skopje, killing seven Pakistanis identified as terrorists conspiring to attack embassies and diplomats throughout the country. However, prompted by US intelligence agencies that remained skeptical of the plot, Macedonian authorities have discovered that several police officers and a businessman smuggled the Pakistanis into Macedonia to act as clay pigeons:

Macedonian police gunned down seven innocent immigrants, then claimed they were terrorists, in a killing staged to show they were participating in the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism, authorities said Friday. Police spokeswoman Mirjana Konteska told reporters that six people, including three former police commanders, two special police officers and a businessman, have been charged by police with murder. …
She described a meticulous plan to promote Macedonia as a player in the fight against global terrorism that involved smuggling the Pakistanis into Macedonia from Bulgaria, housing them, and then coldly gunning them down.
The killings, she added, were part of an attempt to “present themselves as participants in the war against terrorism and demonstrate Macedonia’s commitment to the war on terror.”

The Macedonian legislature promptly revoked the immunity that one of the conspirators enjoyed as a recently-elected representative in order to allow for his prosecution, and authorities say that more arrests may be forthcoming. He still claims that the Pakistanis were terrorists, but forensic evidence collected by the Macedonians show that the shooting was a set-up job, and that the Pakistanis were nothing more than targets for Macedonian murderers. Ironically, the killings prompted al-Qaeda to target the Macedonian consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, where they bombed the building after slitting the throats of three people inside, with a warning about “infidels”.
In their depravity and greed for Western anti-terror recognition — and undoubtedly the funding that would follow — these Macedonians became what they purported to fight against: terrorists. They lured seven men into an ambush, and they did it not for Allah nor self-determination but to make themselves look good. It’s hard to imagine any more complete picture of humans without souls than the men at the center of this conspiracy.

Did Chris Matthews Equate Bush and Cheney to the Menendez Brothers?

I received an e-mail from reader Vayapaso who regularly watches the Imus show on MS-NBC. Today’s guest was Chris Matthews, who infuriated Vayapaso by equating George Bush and Dick Cheney with the notorious parricidal killers, Lyle and Eric Menendez. Here’s an excerpt from her e-mail to Matthews, which she copied to me as well:

Dear Mr. Mathews:
I rarely ever write to people in your industry but you said something this morning on the Imus show that shocked and amazed me; so much so, I had to write you. It was when you compared the President and Vice President to the Menendez Brothers. I realize that your philosophy differs from this administration but there should be a line that you should not cross over and I believe that you crossed that line.
I have watched you for the seven years you have had Hardball and felt that even though you are clearly a “liberal,” most times you seem to be fair in your analysis. You do not have to agree with the policies of the current administration, and when you don’t you should put forward your views but when you start to compare the people who are trying to do the best for the country (I hope you agree that while the methods are not what you want to see, you agree with the sincerity of their efforts), you start to compare those people with the despicable people who kill their own parents, then I say again, you crossed that line. I am sure that you will get pats on your back from people who agree with your philosophy and validate your comparison, but there are many people out here in American feel shocked and sickened by your discussion this morning with Imus.
To say, “I will not watch your show again” probably does not mean much to you, one viewer, “so what,” but I hope there are a lot of people who was as outraged as I was and will not take you seriously again.

I can personally vouch for Vayapaso’s credibility. When I see a transcript on line, I will link back to it. Matthews’ remaining credibility in commentating during this election has to be seriously damaged as a result.
UPDATE: Imus has it on his page now, at the link above:

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews comments on the decision that the President and Vice President had to be together when meeting with the 9/11 commission. Chris Matthews: “I hate to say this because these are all good Americans but it reminds me a little bit of the Menendez brothers, just a little bit. Two guys who are connecting there phones so they can get the story straight. I mean it’s all about getting this story straight isn’t it?”

I’m sure he hates to say that Bush and Cheney are the equivalent of a couple of ambush murderers … that’s why he said it on national TV.

It’s Not Just Bombs and Bullets

The New York Times shines a light on a little-mentioned facet of the Bush adminsitration’s approach to combating terrorism. While wars and captures understandably occupy the headlines, the strategy also works towards building stronger relationships with Muslims in areas where we can provide humanitarian assistance:

From remote Siyu, investigators say, the bombing of a Mombasa hotel that catered to Israeli tourists, and the simultaneous failed attempt to shoot down an Israeli-chartered airliner, were planned in 2002. The well is one of many public works projects being undertaken by the American military throughout the Horn of Africa aimed at changing the locals’ view of a country many of them had learned to hate.
“The war on terrorism is not necessarily a shooting war,” said Maj. W. Brice Finney, commander of theArmy’s 412th Civil Affairs Battalion. Still, these are good deeds with a strategic edge. The main purpose is to monitor the vast coastline for terrorists fleeing Afghanistan and other spots across the Gulf of Aden. All of which explains why the military is paying close attention to Siyu.

Complaints from the hard left of the military response to terrorism leave the impression that the military strategy has been the only response the Bush administration has provided. The policy of assigning uniformed American troops to East African areas for humanitarian assistance allows unpressured interaction to grow between American troops and Muslim civilians, who normally may never have had the opportunity to meet Americans before having fanatics describe us with horns growing out of our heads.
The White House has good reason to keep this program low-profile; if al-Qaeda or its associates find out how well it works, the troops could be targeted for terrorist attacks, or worse, the civilian population could be attacked as retribution for cooperating with the Americans. Some local clerics have already voiced their disapproval, asking Muslims to cease cooperating with American efforts to make civic improvements. So far, their congregations have ignored them:

People here have become used to the sight of soldiers in their midst. Most welcome the American help with open arms, putting their political and religious beliefs to the side.
“We need all the help we can get,” said Bunu Mwengyealy, headmaster of Pate Primary School, across the island from Siyu. A storm wiped out one classroom last year, so Mr. Mwengyealy and others were thrilled when American soldiers arrived recently to assess the campus.
Muslim leaders say their followers have been ignoring their warnings about accepting the American largess. The people are poor and ideology takes a distant second to making ends meet.
“When I tell people, ‘Don’t let the Americans help you,’ they ask me, ‘What is the alternative?’ ” Sheik Abdulkadir said, shaking his head in frustration.

Bush demonstrates more subtlety than his critics allow — another “misunderestimation” that will cost them in November if the shrill Bush-hatred campaign continues.

And Now, Today on Dr. Howard, People Who Shout “YEEARGH!”

Matt Drudge reports on the nadir of Howard Dean’s trajectory in what was supposed to be his triumphant march to the Democratic nomination. Instead, Dr. Dean may trade in politics to signify the end of his career as surely as a previous generation’s Vegas shows marked the end of theirs:

While everything’s still in the early talking stages, the former Democratic presidential candidate is mulling the idea of hosting his own syndicated gabfest. He’s hooked up with ex-Big Ticket TV topper Larry Lyttle (“Judge Judy”) and longtime political consultant Gerald Rafshoon, who would likely serve as exec producers of a pilot for any such project. …
“The last thing we’re going to talk about is politics,” Lyttle said. “We’d talk about a myriad of other things instead of politics. He’d look at things like, What happens if you lose a sibling? What about when you’re victimized by not having health care?” Lyttle said, arguing that Dean has the perfect persona for the small screen [emph mine].”

I’d make a joke about that, but I’m already in trouble with Bill at the great blog INDC Journal, so I’d better leave it alone. In terms of the “perfect persona”, though, did anyone come away from the early primary season with an impression of Dean as a warm, approachable person, the kind of guy you’d welcome into your living room on a daily basis? To me, he alternated between cold calculation and angry passion, not a terribly winning combination for television unless you want to be the next Morton Downey.
I doubt we’ll actually see this project come to air, but if we do, perhaps we could suggest his first topic: “Men Who Torpedo Their Own Success With Subconscious Sabotage — on the next Dr. Dean Show!!”

Teamsters Anti-Corruption Team Resigns, Blames Hoffa

In a move that threatens to delay the end of federal control of the largest American union, 20 investigators and lawyers assigned to fight corruption in the Teamsters followed the example of their leader, Edwin H. Stier, and walked off the job. The New York Times reports that union president James Hoffa, Jr frustrated investigators who got too close to high-ranking members of the union:

The former prosecutor, Edwin H. Stier, sent a sharply worded letter that accused James P. Hoffa, the Teamsters president, of blocking a broad investigation into possible union corruption in Chicago and of dragging his feet in a case of alleged embezzlement by a Teamsters leader in Houston.
“In spite of our efforts to convince General President Jim Hoffa to remain committed to fighting corruption,” Mr. Stier wrote, “I have concluded that he has backed away from the Teamsters’ anticorruption plan in the face of pressure from self-interested individuals.”

In the 1980s, the government finally took over the International Brotherhood of Teamsters after decades of organized crime and petty corruptions had turned the union into a sewer of crime. Ever since, the union has chafed under the scrutiny of the feds and came up with its own, supposedly independent task force as a means of demonstrating their ability to police themselves and eliminate the federal mandate for control. No one took them terribly seriously, and these resignations only underscore the superficial nature of the Teamsters’ efforts to eliminate corruption within their ranks:

Mr. Stier accused Mr. Hoffa of delays in moving against Chuck Crawley, the former president of a Houston Teamsters local, who has been accused by the review board of receiving more than $20,000 in kickbacks. Mr. Crawley, who denies any wrongdoing and has not been formally charged, is accused of telling a vendor to inflate the price of a phone system for a new union building and then to kick back the money to him.
Mr. Stier also asserted that Mr. Hoffa and several people around him were trying to shut down a wide-ranging investigation into charges that various Teamster members and officials in Chicago were associates of organized crime, and that some Teamster officials had participated in a deal in which a mob-run company was allowed to use nonunion workers to replace union workers in construction and convention jobs.
“These people didn’t want to be investigated, and it eventually got to a point where the situation got to be intolerable,” Mr. Stier said. “Hoffa’s office was responding to these guys in Chicago, and interfering with our ability to investigate.”

It sounds like Stier’s next stop should be the FBI to determine why Hoffa and his senior leadership were so determined to keep Stier’s team from investigating the Chicago officers.

Watchers Council Announces Winners and Open Seat

The Watchers Council has spoken again this week, and the winners are King of Fools in the Council category for his post on creating terrorists, and Kim du Toit in the non-Council category for his weekly rant on Dubya the “dummy”. My post on Kerry’s prime-time paranoid waffling about WMD got an honorable mention … and one-third of a vote. Lo, have the mighty fallen! It’s an honor just to be nominated, of course.
The Watcher also announced that the Council has an open seat due to the resignation of the Hawken Blog, who has an acute case of life and needs to reduce his blog load. I’d volunteer, but with the workload I already have, it’s just not possible. Be sure to read the rules and let the Watcher know if you’d like to join up. It looks like tremendous fun!

Sinclair Group: Koppel’s Plan “Political Statement”, Pre-Empts Nightline

Bloomberg reports that the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns 62 ABC affiliates, will preempt the Nightline broadcast when Ted Koppel spends the hour reading off the names of American servicemen killed in Iraq:

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. ordered its ABC affiliates to preempt tomorrow’s broadcast of “Nightline,” which will air the names and photos of U.S. military personnel who have died in combat in Iraq, saying the move is politically motivated.
“Despite the denials by a spokeswoman for the show, the action appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq,” the company said in a faxed statement. Sinclair, which owns 62 U.S. television stations, said ABC is disguising political statements as news content.

Many readers may not recall this, but during the Teheran hostage crisis, Dan Rather traveled to the Iranian capitol in order to televise interviews with the American captives for a special titled (as I recall) “Christmas With The Hostages”. I remember watching it and considering it an egregious exploitation of the situation, as Rather’s questioning centered not just on the hostages’ fears but also asking them how they were being treated and whether they thought their captors had legitimate gripes — as if they could answer him honestly under those circumstances. I was also struck at that time by how little criticism Rather received for his embarassingly naive, at best, performance.
When I heard about Koppel’s plan to read the names of those KIA in Iraq and display their photos, I was torn on how to react. On one hand, I believe that the current administration has been terribly remiss in not sharing the bravery and accomplishments of American soldiers, sailors, and Marines during this war, regardless of whether they died in battle. Giving public recognition to those who gave their last full measure to protect us and make a safer world would be a good way to start. However, Koppel’s outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq, and the interesting omission of those who died in Afghanistan, makes the entire enterprise look suspiciously like an anti-war protest, no matter how ABC News denies it. Plus, as Hugh Hewitt noted, the fact that Koppel planned this during “sweeps week” confirms its exploitative nature instead of any honorable motivation.
Ted Koppel protests this interpretation, of course, in an interview with Al Tompkins, telling him:

You start to wonder after a while. I’ve been doing “Nightline” for over 24 years, I’ve been at ABC for 41 years, if that’s really the impression I’ve left with people then I have failed in such a colossal way that I can’t even begin to consider the consequences of it.
But quite apart from that, it seems to me absolutely silly that anyone would suggest that we were doing this for ratings. In point of fact, we were sitting around unaware that it was sweeps [emph mine], that’s how dumb we are at “Nightline.”

As Michele Catalano says at her mega-blog A Small Victory when producer Leroy Sievers trotted out the same line:

Show me an exec that doesn’t know when sweeps starts and I’ll show you an exec getting a pink slip.

Who believes for a moment that a broadcast professional, anchoring a show that had been rumored to be expendable because of declining ratings if David Letterman was available, doesn’t know when the sweeps period comes around? Puh-leeze.
Good for the Sinclair Broadcast Group for holding ABC News to a standard to which it should be holding itself instead. (via Drudge)
UPDATE: Brent Bozell noted in 1997 10 examples of Koppel’s bias, which makes his “failure” complete, incontemplatable or not. (via The Corner)

Kerry’s Diversity Problem, Part II

CNN’s Inside Politics continues its look at the Kerry campaign’s diversity problems, which I described on the air on the Northern Alliance Radio Network as The Incredible Whiteness of Being. Since Carlos Watson’s original piece appeared on CNN talking about the fact that almost all of his campaign’s decision-making positions have been filled with Caucasians, representatives from traditionally Democratic minority groups have begun to make their displeasure known. Typically, the same people who would scream bloody murder if Bush’s campaign or his cabinet had a similar composition are now busy making excuses for Kerry:

Some black officials and independent analysts expressed concerned about the campaign’s lack of racial diversity. Campaign officials and the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus said the criticism was unfounded.
“I am concerned about diversity, but more importantly I am concerned about the experience in that diversity — senior policy people who know people from one end of the country to the other,” said Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Illinois, a caucus member.

If the Kerry campaign was a corporate boardroom instead of a Democratic presidential campaign, Rep. Jackson’s father would be suing it and demanding not only an explicit plan to fill key roles with people of color but also extorting money to fund his own political organizations. The chair of the Congressional Black Caucus seems similarly disinterested in Kerry’s monochromatic management staff:

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, the black caucus chairman, said he was satisfied with the access minorities had to Kerry, noting that he and fellow Democratic Reps. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina and Harold Ford of Tennessee are among House members asked to play key roles in the campaign.
“I believe the door is open and we are present and accounted for,” he said. “I really believe in my heart that those trying to judge Kerry early in campaign are a bit premature in regards to diversity.”

Not everyone declared themselves satisfied with Kerry’s effort:

Added Ron Walters, who worked on the presidential campaigns of Jesse Jackson Sr. and runs the African-American Leadership Institute at the University of Maryland: “There is a sense that Kerry’s people don’t get it.”

As always, the issue is the double standard that applies between the two political parties. George Bush, who has appointed a cabinet and selected campaign support staff that demonstrates a much larger commitment to real diversity — and who has remained low-key about doing so — gets labeled as a racist on a regular basis, while the Democratic nominee assumes that minorities will vote for him even though he gives them no voice in his inner circle. Two cheers to CNN for sticking with this story, even if they quote only one critical comment, and a fairly mild one at that.


I’ve received e-mail regarding the sudden disappearance of JAG Wire, a fresh new blog by Whiskey, an active-duty officer serving overseas for her country. I can tell you that Whiskey herself is just fine and that she will soon be back to blogging, although under different circumstances, probably in a week or so. I will post an announcement as soon as she’s okayed it.
Stay tuned!

Al Franken: Neanderthal Man

The London Telegraph has uncovered new evidence as to why Al Franken is such an unpleasant little man:

Evidence that the life of Neanderthal man was short and probably nasty, is published today.

Short … nasty … Al! The Telegraph includes some convincing visual evidence as well:
al's familyal himself
Of course, the good news is that the Neanderthals eventually went away, which may be happening soon with Al, if Err America keeps going the way it has been ….