Tiny, like President Bush, has a great poker face. From her expression, you might think "worried exotic cat, caught in a trap and about to be traded in the illegal rare-species market." But no. She's just jumped into the laundry basket and preparing to attack -- and vanquish -- an enemy sock being dangled before her.
When we first learned from Rob A's Fine? Why Fine? first thing this morning that the broadcast networks aren't planning to carry President Bush's primetime speech tonight at 8 -- in which he will lay out a "clear strategy" for the future of Iraq -- we shared his outrage:
But then we checked out Andrew Sullivan's Bushometer readings, which have been just this side of wobbly of late, and we started to feel a lot better:
After a while, you get to know how to read the major media about Iraq. Much good news will be reluctantly produced and buried within the paper. All bad news will get banner headlines. But today, the Washington Post leads with the Coalition's successes in Kufa and the Times publishes this story by Edward Wong, whose reporting has been excellent. The Mahdi Army, Moqtadr al-Sadr's gang, has essentially withdrawn from Karbala under fire in part from Iraqi soldiers, trained by the U.S. Special Forces. The militia has also withstood terrible casualties in Kufa, and may be on the verge of collapse. Fallujah, for the time at least, seems relatively pacified (if by worrying means). We are, in other words, seeing some modest military progress in Iraq. Politically, we are just at the beginning of a critical period, but, again, the signs are not so awful. The jostling for positions in the new government is surely a sign that Iraqis are beginning to battle politically for new power. Better than a civil war.
Hope is not a strategy, but we're feeling hopeful, as are many Iraqi bloggers -- their opinions summarized here by Jeff Jarvis -- who aren't all gloom and doom as the Western press is. And don't forget blog reports straight from our own troops at the front -- like those you should check out at Marine Corps Moms -- where the bad news is fairly balanced with the good. GW specifically did not request those "Big Four" networks to broadcast his speech live. We know what a great poker player he is. While those about him are frantically showing their cards, we suspect he's holding an ace or two up his sleeve.
"Don’t believe the elitist spin that young American reservists are uneducated nitwits who can’t be trusted to act properly in wartime," wrote Michelle Malkin May 11. We missed her article back then -- just stumbled onto it in our Site Meter stats, as she had linked to one of our own posts on the subject. Highlights of Michelle's essay:
[Take] Specialist Joseph M. Darby of the 372nd MP Company, who "discovered evidence of abuse and turned it over to military law enforcement" . . . Darby, 24, came from a poor family in southwestern Pennsylvania. He worked at Wendy’s as a teenager, as a mechanic after graduating high school, and then joined the 327nd three years ago. According to Darby’s mom, who spoke with ABC News: “He said he could not stand the atrocities he had stumbled upon. He said he kept thinking, 'What if that was my mom, my grandmother, my brother, or wife?'"
[From Maj. Gen. Taguba's report on alleged abuse of prisoners]: "Throughout the investigation, we observed many individual Soldiers and some subordinate units under the 800th MP Brigade that overcame significant obstacles, persevered in extremely poor conditions, and upheld the Army Values."
Biologists have learned to treat such assertions with caution. In particular, they have found evidence of theories of mind in a range of mammals, from gorillas to goats. But two recent studies suggest that even mammalian studies may be looking at the question too narrowly. Birds, it seems, can have theories of mind, too.
Anyone who's loved and lived intimately with cats or dogs or birds knew it all along, of course. Sometimes science -- burdened with cultural anthropocentrism -- can be a lagging indicator:
Response to gaze is reckoned to be a good measure of the development of theory of mind in human children . . . Dr Heinrich and Dr Bugnyar found that all the birds were able to follow the gaze of the experimenters, even beyond the barrier.
Ravens may have mastered the art of deception too. Clearly (and not unexpectedly) ravens are able to learn about food sources from one another. They are also able to bully each other to gain access to that food . . . But then something unexpected happened. Hugin, the subordinate, tried a new strategy. As soon as Munin bullied him, he headed over to a set of empty containers, prised the lids off them enthusiastically, and pretended to eat. Munin followed, whereupon Hugin returned to the loaded containers and ate his fill.
Journalism is created by biased creatures -- humans. One of the advances in knowledge these days is that most of us finally realize institutions like The New York Times are not ex cathedra authorities, but just somebody's idea of the truth -- ultimately the publisher's.
'Course we've known that for some time now, having long ago -- in the Dark Ages before the internet, even -- canceled our NYT subscription in disgust. The only one we still pay for nowadays is the Wall Street Journal, online version. But it's good to know that a formerly leftish writer of Roger L. Simon's top-notch caliber finally gets it. As he says, specificallly re the NYT front-page "news":
One of our own posts turns up at the top of the list in a Yahoo! search of "****ING GIRLS IN ABU GHARIB [sic] PICTURES," according to eXTReMe Tracking stats. Well, we hope the searcher didn't find what he -- we're 99.99% certain it was a fellow -- was looking for. It was our live post of Republican Senator James Inhofe's opening statement at prisoner-abuse hearings May 11:
Here's the lowdown re words we ever/never use on this website:
****ING: Never. It's editorial policy. Expletives are deleted. This is a family website (read daily by members of our family).
GIRLS: Early and often. In fact, since "Girls just wanna have fun" is one of our Categories, it appears in every page a websearch engine might crawl to.
ABU GHARIB [sic]: (The searcher mispelled it, but who doesn't? As we recall, we misspelled it ourselves a couple of times and later corrected it, so it may be cached out there with the misspelling intact): As appropriate.
They are the proud Rhinos of Marine Wing Support Squadron-374 en route to the sandbox. Nineteen hours in the air. No smiling flight attendants. No reclining chairs. No in-flight movie. Some of them might bring a CD player with headphones or a portable DVD player -- they'll watch as long as the batteries hold out. Others play cards or talk about home and family -- everything they're leaving behind for the next seven months.
Goose bumps, of course. Eyes tearing up. Marine Corps Moms fan Jim says it all:
Excellent reality check for a lot of us. We are so spoiled and don't even realize it. Thanks to these guys for doing what must be done . . . may they all return to their families safe and sound.
A thoughtful essay by Libyan blogger Highlander of From the Rock explaining her response to the abuse by American MP's of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib makes us want to explain something important to her. Presumably getting her news from the BBC, Al-Jazeera or other media -- like our own mainstream press -- predisposed to want the Bush Administration to fail -- she appears to share with many a misconception re the sequence of events that has been spinning out there since the Abu Ghraib pictures were first made public by CBS on "60 Minutes" in late April. Writes Highlander:
On the other hand in my last post of May the 1st, I had said that I did not believe that the American soldiers would be punished for their disgusting treatment of Iraqi POWS. However, I'm glad to note that worldwide condemnation, pressure from American people themselves and from honest armed forces individuals in the US, has led to an inquiry, and even Rumsfield was questioned. I am thankful that it seems some would be courtmartialled and others dealt with accordingly.This does not erase the ugly degrading images but it is a very positive step towards healing and more than what I thought would happen.
In fact, the Pentagon had launched its inquiry in mid-January after a soldier assigned to Abu Ghraib informed his superiors about abuses there. The press was notified shortly thereafter, and the inquiry was begun on Jan. 16. The Pentagon did try to prevent public disclosure of the photographs. CBS was asked not to show them but went ahead and aired the images in late April, precipitating the firestorm of condemnation and prejudgment that has raged ever since. It is our belief that because the press and other Bush haters miscast the sequence of events, persons like Highlander harbor the misconception that it was worldwide condemnation and domestic pressure that forced the inquiry, when, in fact, the inquiry was well under way by the time the pictures were made public. Highlander continues:
I did say earlier that I was never shocked that soldiers had tortured prisoners. This is expected in any prison; it happens/happened even in America let alone in Iraq -- a war zone where everything is possible in the name of the 'war on terrorism'. I will say this once more, I absolutely do not blame or criticise them for acting this way, this is a logical result of the war. When you go to war you expect, blood, pain and death on both sides. The winner is the one who survives to tell about it! But my criticism was that America kept talking about how it is upholding all the greatest demcocratic moral values and how its military/navy, etc., were the best of the best. So one did not expect this behaviour from them, hence the shock (not the act per se). I'm actually sorry for these soldiers who have been caught out and will pay the price in lieu of their commanding officers whom I wish were the ones to be court martialled, reprimanded or whatever applicable.
We share her sense of betrayal at the behavior of those who abused or who may have allowed or even encouraged subordinates to abuse Iraqis. For an American it is especially painful, but unlike Highlander, we have faith that the judicial process will progress up the chain of command however high is necessary to ensure justice is served. Again, presumably influenced by anti-Bush news sources, Highlander appears to have tried the higher ups in advance, before all the evidence is in. We ask her to try to bear with us and believe -- as we do -- the words of General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in Senate hearings blogged live here: "A fair judicial system takes time to work . . . I know our servicemen and women are suffering with a collective sense of shame."