The Carter Diaries
On March 23, the leftist blog/nuthouse known as the Daily Kos upped its prestige factor to unprecedented levels, when former President Jimmy Carter wrote a "diary" for the site. That's right--one of the 43 men to serve as president of this country decided to strut his blogging stuff in an arena where the current president is frequently referred to as a chimp, a stooge, and a Nazi.
Obviously thrilled at being in the presence of, well, not greatness but renown of a sort, over 600 Kos community members commented on Carter's diary. So great was the response, Carter felt called to post a follow-up diary dealing with the many "questions" his original diary provoked.
Carter's follow-up reprinted eight questions. As luck would have it, fully seven of the eight also just happened to include a seemingly irrelevant but obsequious tribute to the former president, which Carter carefully reproduced. Among our favorites:
* "My vote for you in 1976 was the first I ever cast on any local, state or federal ballot, and I cannot tell you the utter thrill it was to have done so."
* "My admiration for you and your family as genuinely compassionate, ethical and moral human beings who truly follow the teachings of Christ, could not be higher."
* "I am in awe, sir. I turned 18 two weeks before your first run for president, and I was so proud to wear that 'I voted' sticker. So excited to have voted for a man I admired and trusted. I have come to admire you 100 fold since then."
Now that The Scrapbook knows what it takes to get Carter's attention, maybe we can get him to answer our longstanding question:
"Sir, we revere you. Although the Bible commands us to worship only the Lord, we feel an understandable exception can be made where you are concerned. A Boston Globe editorial famously referred to one of your speeches as 'more mush from the wimp.' How could any creature here below have been so blind to your virtues?"
The Times and Iraq
In recent days, the New York Times has splashed on its front page the "news" that George W. Bush wanted to go to war in Iraq by January 2003. It has reported that Vice President Dick Cheney likes his hotel rooms at 68 degrees and drinks Diet Sprite. The paper learned of these preferences from a document posted on smokinggun.com, "confirmed as authentic by Mr. Cheney's office." What's more, it has twice printed stories based on outright fabrications--one about a man who falsely claimed to be the hooded victim in the famous Abu Ghraib photo, and another about a welfare cheat from Brooklyn who fooled a Times reporter with her claim to be a victim of Hurricane Katrina and (natch) the Bush administration.
All of this, but the Times cannot find room for a serious article on findings that concern whether the fighting in Iraq is central to the war on terror, as the Bush administration claims, or a distraction from it, as the administration's critics charge.
The Times has yet to report, for example, that a Pentagon study released last week found that Saddam Hussein's regime had trained non-Iraqi Arab "volunteers" in terrorist techniques beginning in 1998. Not news, apparently. The Times did note another finding from the same report--that captured Iraqi documents suggest Russia had a source at CENTCOM in Doha, Qatar, who passed U.S. war plans to Baghdad.
Why report on one finding and not the other? Who knows? It's probably just a coincidence that the first lends support to Bush's arguments for the war, while the second suggests administration incompetence.
The paper has also barely noticed the planned release onto the Internet of 2 million captured Iraqi documents, but its reaction to them is telling. Reporter Scott Shane mocked people who are downloading the documents and reading them, comparing them to UFO crackpots. As the Times has done habitually, Shane turned to anonymous intelligence officials to tell us what to think about prewar Iraq. That is striking. The Times chooses to provide its readers with assessments of (hardly disinterested) intelligence officials who haven't seen most of the documents (nobody has) rather than simply report on the contents of those documents. Lost on Shane, apparently, is the fact that one of the major advantages of the document release is that reporters are no longer forced to rely on the speculation of intelligence officials. We can now look at what the Iraqis themselves said and did before the war, something bound to be more enlightening than listening, once again, to CIA agents anonymously snipe at the White House.
If you're nonetheless inclined to give the Times the benefit of the doubt, consider a contrasting article published by the Times two days after it mocked the process of exploiting the Iraqi documents on the web. "On Web, Error is Uncovered Through Relentless Pursuit," ran the headline over a piece from John Broder. The article recounts how Internet sleuths showed that a photograph on the website of a Republican congressional candidate was "a fraud." The candidate had posted a picture of what an accompanying note said was a peaceful Baghdad neighborhood. It turns out to be suburban Istanbul, a fact uncovered by a blogger. The article quotes USC professor Martin Kaplan (not identified as the former chief speechwriter for Vice President Walter Mondale) who gushes about the possibilities of group investigations on the Internet. "There's a reserve army of unpaid researchers ready to mobilize at a moment's notice," he said. Indeed.
Hamas in Power
Here's Sarah El Deeb of the Associated Press, reporting last Tuesday on the Palestinian Legislative Council meeting at which the new Hamas-led government's 25-member cabinet won an overwhelming formal vote of approval:
[Incoming Palestinian prime minister Ismail] Haniyeh toned down Hamas' violent ideology, saying he was not interested in perpetuating the cycle of violence with Israel. . . . In Gaza City, Hamas lawmakers broke into chants of "God is Great" after parliament voted 71-36, with two abstentions, to approve the new lineup. Palestinian legislators swarmed Haniyeh to congratulate him. . . . Haniyeh said Tuesday that he intends to push for an independent Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in what is now Israel. Those demands are far more moderate than Hamas' traditional call to replace Israel with an Islamic state.
Note, please, Ms. El Deeb's casually tossed off reference to "what is now Israel." Then have a look, courtesy of the Middle East Media Research Institute, at a transcript of what actually happened immediately after the parliamentary vote in question--the one where Ismail Haniyeh is reported by AP to have "toned down" his group's traditionally violent rhetoric:
Parliamentary Speaker Aziz Dweik: The 10th Palestinian Government, headed by the Palestinian prime minister, brother Ismail Haniyeh, has gained the absolute majority of the votes of the Legislative Council members . . .
Hamas MP: Allah Akbar, Allah be praised.
Other MPs: Allah Akbar, Allah be praised.
MP: Allah is our goal.
Other MPs: Allah is our goal.
MP: The Koran is our constitution.
Other MPs: The Koran is our constitution.
MP: The Prophet Muhammad is our model.
Other MPs: The Prophet Muhammad is our model.
MP: Jihad is our path.
Other MPs: Jihad is our path.
MP: Death for the sake of Allah is our most lofty aspiration.
Other MPs: Death for the sake of Allah is our most lofty aspiration.