Patterico's Pontifications


The Mosque Bombing: the Glass Half-Full Perspective

Filed under: General,Terrorism,War — Patterico @ 3:25 pm

Tom Bevan has an optimistic outlook on the bombing of the mosque in Samarra:

The Iraqi government is forming and the terrorists are running out of both time and options, so they turned to an unbelievably risky strategy that will either incite civil war or unite the country against their cause. This bombing smacks of being an act of last resort.

I’m not so confident that he’s right, but let’s hope.

Taking Complaints About Cartoons Seriously

Filed under: Scum — Patterico @ 3:23 pm

Tim Blair has an interesting story about murderous fascists getting upset over cartoons — and people who take their complaints seriously. Worth a read.

“Brokeback Quailhunt”

Filed under: Humor — Patterico @ 2:29 pm

Ace dishes the funny. The title says it all.

Another Angle on the Inside Story

Filed under: Books — Patterico @ 1:48 pm

In a Romenesko post titled Why can’t we embed reporters with teachers or bus drivers?, I ran across this column by Washington Post columnist John Kelly. Kelly complained that he had tried to get everyday access to workers at “a semi-governmental organization, an organization responsible for operating a public attraction that I dare say most of us have visited.” Kelly says he was stymied by the P.R. people, who refused to give him anything but prearranged interviews — not what he was looking for. Kelly asks:

We embed journalists with military units in Iraq. Why can’t we embed reporters with, say, Metro, or the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority, or Fairfax County public schools or Freddie Mac?

The answer is: we can. I don’t know exactly why Kelly was denied access at the particular “semi-governmental organization” he wanted to write about, but it’s quite common for book authors, at least, to gain extraordinary access to all sorts of governmental institutions.

I have read several books by authors who managed who get themselves “embedded” in places like public schools, courtrooms, police stations, juvenile halls, and penitentiaries. These books are categorized as narrative nonfiction. They have made for some of my favorite reading over the years, and I’m pleased to recommend some of them to you. Just off the top of my head, you should check out:

  • Homicide by David Simon (Baltimore Police Homicide Unit)

I find it a little odd that Kelly would think it unlikely that reporters could be “embedded” at a public school, since it has happened so many times before. Many of my favorite narrative nonfiction books are set in public schools, such as:

Of course, most of the above authors had to talk themselves into being allowed access; they had to convince the relevant officials that it would be in their best interest to allow them access, while still demanding independence. It’s a tricky task, but all of these authors managed it. Maybe Kelly should check out some of the books above and learn some of the tricks of the trade.

Jack Dunphy Blasts L.A. Times Again

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 12:21 pm

More catching up on Internet reading: you should read this recent Jack Dunphy piece on the L.A. Times‘s coverage of discipline at the LAPD. Good stuff as always.

Los Angeles Times Downplays Possible Connection Between Al Qaeda and the Samarra Mosque Bombing

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Terrorism,War — Patterico @ 12:15 pm

The L.A. Times has a news analysis today of the aftermath of a Samarra mosque bombing, which has unleashed sectarian violence in Iraq. The news analysis continues the paper’s trend of portraying the current violence as a signal of an all-but inevitable civil war, rather than as the deliberate result of a strategy concocted by terrorists, possibly from Al Qaeda.

The linchpin of the paper’s portrayal of the current violence is to downplay (or not even mention) the fact that the U.S. Government believes that the bombing may be the work of Al Qaeda terrorists. For example, today’s news analysis describes the bombing suspects, not as “terrorists” or “Al Qaeda” or “Zarqawi,” but rather as simply “Sunnis”:

The surge of sectarian fighting after a Shiite Muslim shrine was bombed last week has dealt a hard blow to hopes for creating a functioning Iraqi state.

Instead of laboring to create a well-run economy or a democracy, Iraqi and American resources are being diverted to stave off a civil war between Shiites and Sunnis, who are suspected in the bombing.

While we still don’t definitively know who is behind the bombing, it’s clear that Al Qaeda operatives are among those “suspected” of involvement in the bombing. A search for Samarra and “Al Qaeda” on Google News reveals over 1,150 results. If you click through the stories returned in the search, you will see countless references to the fact that Al Qaeda generally, and Zarqawi specifically, are suspected of having been behind the bombing.

If you’re going to talk about who is “suspected” of having perpetrated the bombing, how’s about letting readers know that the suspects include Al Qaeda??

Knowing that Al Qaeda is suspected to be behind the attacks provides critical context for the current violence in Iraq, which could be portrayed as either the beginning of an inevitable civil war, or a momentary outbreak of violence spurred by a terrorist (possibly Al Qaeda) attack. It’s clear that the editors prefer the former explanation.


Mark Bowden on Ahmadinejad

Filed under: Books,Scum,Terrorism — Patterico @ 9:28 am

I’m a big fan of Mark Bowden’s classic book Black Hawk Down, and also enjoyed his book Killing Pablo, about the criminal empire of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. Power Line reports that Bowden has a book coming out in May about the Iranian hostage crisis.

Scott Johnson asked Bowden what role Iran’s current president played in the takeover, if any. John:

Bowden told me that his reporting establishes that [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad was one of the central figures in the student group that planned the seizure and took over the American embassy. Initially Ahmadinejad supported the takeover of the Soviet embassy, but he changed his view when Khomeni endorsed the takeover of the American embassy the evening of the takeover.

Given his position with the student group, Bowden surmises that Ahmadinejad was one of its ringleaders. Moreover, he was identified as one of the group’s ringleaders by every one of the dozen or so hostage takers Bowden interviewed in Tehran last year before Ahmadinejad became president. (Bowden disregards as ambiguous the photograph of the Ahmadinejad lookalike with a hostage.)

This is further confirmation of what we already pretty much knew, but it means a lot to me coming from a journalist as careful and thorough as Bowden.

I’m looking forward to the book. I’m not looking forward to our country’s having to deal with Ahmadinejad.

Seven Wonders

Filed under: International — Patterico @ 1:40 am

Via Tom Maguire comes the opportunity to vote for which of these 21 wonders of the world should be considered the Seven Wonders of the World.

Another question: how many of these have you personally seen? For me, the answer is only eight, which seems pretty poor.

Scalia vs. an Idiot

Filed under: Humor,Judiciary — Patterico @ 1:09 am

Still catching up on Internet surfing from the last few days, I learned that a video of excerpts from the Scalia appearance where he was heckled by a LaRouche supporter can be seen here. My favorite bit comes at the very end, where Scalia confronts an idiot who accuses him of advocating moral relativism. I was so amused by this that I have taken the time to prepare a transcript of the exchange, which starts at 5:54:

IDIOT: I wanted to iterate [sic] what that gentleman over there said, um, seeing your agility today, with these aforesaid bad people, is, uh, is quite humbling. Um, I just wanted to ask you one question, though, on this idea of moral relativism, um, and that is, how, when you’re combating such bad people, um, do you argue for moral relativism without citing such obvious anti-American sources like John Locke or [unintelligible].

SCALIA: Gee, I’m, I, I, I, I don’t th –, I don’t take your, uh, attribution of, of agility to be a compliment. [Laughter] Uh, the, the, uh, and I certainly have never . . . have never endorsed moral relativism. To the contrary, I have said that I believe in natural law.

IDIOT: But you say it’s subjective.

SCALIA: I’m not a moral relativist at all.

IDIOT: Entirely subjective.

SCALIA: I don’t say it’s entirely subjective. I do believe that there is a right and a wrong.

IDIOT: No, you —

SCALIA: The trouble is, my perception of it is not the same as yours. And therefore, I have no right to im —

IDIOT: That’s relativism!

SCALIA: No it isn’t. No it isn’t. I think there’s a right and a wrong answer. And I would say my perception of the moral law is right and yours is wrong! [Applause.] All I’m saying — all I’m saying — all I’m saying is that our perceptions are different. Yours happens to be wrong — that doesn’t make me a moral relativist.


Comments: Slow? Or Down?

Filed under: Blogging Matters,General — Patterico @ 12:12 am

Okay, it’s a weekend, and the blog has been a little slow lately what with my Internet connection being out and all. But I’m looking at my last 5 posts and none have any comments. I mean, it’s starting to look like the “Martini Republic” blog around here! So my question is: are you guys just bored? Or is the comment function down?

If it’s the latter, e-mail me at patterico AT patterico DOT com.

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