April 21, 2004

Frum Spins Woodward

Other people can read Bob Woodward’s book Plan of Attack so I don’t have to. I can only read so many books in my life, and this one doesn't make the cut.

Still, other people’s reactions to it are interesting.

Here’s something David Frum learned from its pages:

George Bush told Saudi ambassador Bandar of his intention to go to war in Iraq before he told Colin Powell. Personally, I wonder whether this revelation is quite true. The source of this story is most likely Bandar himself – and his claims should always be swallowed with a good portion of the annual output of an especially productive salt mine.
That seems about right. Of course it might be true. Who knows? Let’s say it is and see what Frum thinks.
But if it were true, it would suggest several important and disturbing conclusions.

(1) It would rather give the lie to the claim that the Iraq war was masterminded by Israel, wouldn’t it?

I don’t see how. One thing has nothing to do with the other. Besides, anyone who thinks the United States is a Jewish sock puppet lives in a phantasmagorical mental universe. Weighing evidence is beyond them.
(2) It would suggest that by the end of 2002, the president no longer trusted Powell to do the basic work of diplomacy for him.
Eh. I don’t know.
(3) Again if true, the story would suggest that the breakdown of relations between Powell and the president did severe damage to the national security of the United States – by placing the president in a position where he had to inform doubtfully friendly states of major decisions before he told them to his own secretary of state!
Come again? Bush had to tell the Saudis what was up before he told Colin Powell? Why would he have to? Who on earth could have made him?

I’ll give Frum some slack for describing an enemy state as “doubtfully friendly.” His NR colleagues have done a fine job exposing the perfidy in that kingdom. He knows what I know.

And that’s what makes his blame-it-on Powell spin so ridiculous. Either Frum thinks Colin Powell is less trustworthy than the Saudis or he believes Bush thinks so. Either way…ptth.

I rather doubt the story Woodward is telling is true. If it is true, that’s a problem. And it's a problem because of what George W. Bush did, not because of what Colin Powell might have done to deserve it.

It's probably best not to blame Powell for being stabbed in the back. And it’s also probably best not to accuse him of endangering national security in the process. Let’s try to remember who supposedly did what to whom here. It’s pretty straightforward.

(Hat tip: Matt Welch)

UPDATE: On a slightly related note, it looks like the Bush campaign likes Woodward's book. Moe Freedman has the details.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 9:43 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

April 20, 2004

Happy Anniversary to us

Today (Tuesday) is Shelly's and my second wedding anniversary. So you get nothin'!

Enjoy the fine blogs to your left. See you again shortly.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 8:59 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

Another Kind of Terror

Damn this is creepy.

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- The body of a Spanish police officer who was killed in a raid on suspected Islamic terrorists was removed from its tomb Sunday night, dragged across a cemetery, doused with gasoline and burned, a Spanish police official told CNN.
I don't believe in evil, at least not in the religious sense of the word. But this makes me think of gothic horror novels, not politics.

UPDATE: CNN completely changed that story. If you follow the link now there is no mention of what I excerpted. Here's a cached version at Google where you can read the original before they purged it.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 1:45 AM | Permalink | Comments Off

April 19, 2004

Duelling Opinions

Oxblog found what looks to be an interesting Web site called Opinion Duel.

It's a collaboration project between The New Republic and National Review. If you're interested in serious debate between smart and reasonable people, check it out. A flame war forum it definitely is not. At the time of this posting, Jonathan Chait and Ramesh Ponnuru are going at it. If they can be faulted for anything, they're too polite.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 7:55 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

Paranoid Blowhard

So Rush Limbaugh thinks Hillary Clinton might murder John Kerry and dump his body in a park. That's what happens when you spend your entire life in a dittohead partisan echo chamber.

Gary Farber explains.

I'm sure plenty of people will defend him by saying he's joking. Well, that's what Michael Moore says about his crackpot theories, too. I'm a comedian, he says. Yeah, whatever. Then again, maybe Al Franken can joke around about assassinating George W. Bush and conservatives will finally think he's funny.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 7:21 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

None of the Above

I watched John Kerry for a few minutes on Tim Russert’s Meet the Press and all I could do was sigh. Why did the Democrats have to pick this guy? No one really likes him much whatever they think of George W. Bush.

I don’t like John Kerry, but I don’t hate the man either. I'm one of the very few people who feels exactly the same way about President Bush.

I agree with Roger L. Simon about almost everything, and I agree with Andrew Sullivan slightly more often than not. Today is no exception.

Roger said “I am not in a panic over the election the way some are.” The same goes for me for mostly the same reason. He quotes from a piece in the LA Times by Moisés Naím, editor in chief of Foreign Policy magazine, about how history makes a president more than the other way around.

All recent U.S. presidents have learned that despite their immense power, they remain at the mercy of uncontrollable global forces, which can render their personal views and campaign promises largely irrelevant. The Clinton campaign's famous dictum, "It's the economy, stupid," proved a better election-year slogan than a predictor of how often international turmoil would distract his administration from domestic issues. Bush reneged nearly as quickly on his campaign promise to adopt a "humble" foreign policy, wary of active foreign engagements and nation-building efforts.
That’s basically right. George Bush has certainly done a 180 on foreign policy since the election. He started out as a paleoconservative Buchananite and morphed into an aggressive Wilsonian hawk. He began as a shrugging isolationiast and ended up in the same place I was led to by Bosnia.

Andrew Sullivan is likewise soft in his opposition to Kerry.

Here he is in an interview with Timothy Perry.

I'm encouraged by some of the things Kerry has been saying recently…In general I trust Bush more than Kerry in this war - far more. But I'm open to persuasion and don't think of myself as blindly in support of a person. If another person can better achieve our goals, the beauty of a democracy, unlike a dictatorship, is that we can change leaders quite easily.
I’d like to warm up to Kerry if for no other reason than that he might be our next president. If I don’t vote for him and he wins anyway, I’m not going to be one of those people who are sure to freak out and say it’s the end of us. In fact, I’ll swing around to being one of his defenders by default. I learned something by starting out as a Bush-hater and later deciding I was wasting both my energy and my time. Kerry may govern well, or at least passably. Clinton wasn’t half as bad as his worst detractors said he was, and neither is Bush. Kerry probably wouldn’t be either.

Still, I find myself more or less back to where I was during the last election when I voted for Ralph Nader. I was a paleoliberal then who was mad at the neolibs in the Democratic Party. Now I’m a neoliberal centrist annoyed with the paleos. I guess I’m just hard to please.

I don’t care for Ralph Nader as much as I used to (to say the least), but there’s one thing I really do (still) like about him. He wants an option on the ballot for “None of the Above.” I know it’s not likely to ever happen, at least not at the presidential level. But I like the fact that he brings it up anyway. I want to call do-overs. I’d like to see a Republican like John McCain run against a Democrat like Harold Ford. I would remain a centrist if we could have such a contest, but a happy one.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 12:22 AM | Permalink | Comments Off

April 17, 2004

Mistah Rantisi, He Dead (Updated)

Got another one of the bastards.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Israel assassinated Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi in a missile strike on his car Saturday, part of its declared campaign to wipe out the Islamic militant group's leadership ahead of a planned Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Two of Rantisi's bodyguards were also killed.

He didn't fill the also-assasinated Sheik Saruman's shoes very long. Good luck filling the job opening this time, creeps.

UPDATE: John Kerry isn't sorry to see him go, either. He might even be willing to take our Yasser Arafat. Here he is on Meet the Press with Tim Russert.

MR. RUSSERT: Israel assassinated Hamas leader Rantisi. Do you support that assassination?

SEN. KERRY: I believe Israel has every right in the world to respond to any act of terror against it. Hamas is a terrorist, brutal organization. It has had years to make up its mind to take part in a peaceful process. They refuse to. Arafat refuses to. And I support Israel's efforts to try to separate itself and to try to be secure. The moment Hamas says, "We've given up violence, we're prepared to negotiate," I am absolutely confident they will find an Israel that is thirsty to have that negotiation.

(Hat tip: Roger L. Simon)

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 3:30 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

The First Egyptian Blog?

Glenn Reynolds found this blog from a Egyptian who calls himself GM. As far as I know, it's the first and only Egyptian blog in English. (There may be some in Arabic, I don't know.) He is just getting started, but it looks to be pretty interesting. Good stuff.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 10:24 AM | Permalink | Comments Off

April 16, 2004

Directing Traffic

I understand why so many people still don’t know what a blog is, and I understand why they wouldn’t care if they did. Most of my friends are only vaguely aware I even have a Web site in the first place, and they certainly don’t read it. (A few read it, but only a few.) And that’s fine with me. While it’s fun to talk shop, so to speak, it’s also nice to be able to chill out with my friends and not yammer on about politics and the media all the time. Not to mention the fact that if I write something dumb or off the wall they won’t even know about it, let alone care about it. Nor will they hold it against me personally if I don’t vote for the same presidential candidate they do.

It does surprise me, though, how many people in “old media” are still out to lunch on this subject. They’re opinionated news junkies just like the rest of us. Maybe they just feel threatened and would rather not think about it.

Here is Jeff Jarvis on his blog today:

Many of us have seen it: A mention of a blog in a paper or a magazine or even on TV doesn't bring in nearly the traffic of a big blog link. I get much more traffic from a mention by Glenn Reynolds than from a mention in Time magazine or the New York Times.

I remember the business head of MSNBC.com telling me sometime ago that Glenn Reynolds' column there gets more traffic from external blogs than from the internal promotional power of the meganewssite.

See Media Drop's comments (and links to Terry Heaton and Bill Hobbs) on a panel discussion that brought gasps to the lungs of flacks when they heard this phenom: Blogs cause more links than big, old media.

Gasps to the lungs of flacks! I’ll bet.

The truth is that big old media hardly directs any Internet traffic at all.

Howard Kurtz linked to me in the Washington Post. There was a time when I would have thought such a link would be huge. But no. Not at all. I got a grand total of 25 hits from him.

Whenever I publish a piece in Tech Central Station, a link to my blog is posted at the end. I usually get about 100 hits from that.

A few days ago Roger L. Simon linked me and gave me 500 hits.

When Glenn Reynolds links me, I get 10,000.

It’s tempting for people in the blogosphere to pat themselves on the back and say ha! to old media. Sometimes it’s a bit much, but only sometimes. I wonder if the folks at the Washington Post know just how much more traffic a blog can direct than the online version of their newspaper can.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 3:38 PM | Permalink | Comments Off
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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