Don’t Blame Marty – Blame the ‘Retarded Technologies’

by matttbastard

Now that The New Republic has been purchased by the crazy Canooks at CanWest, it’s all socialism and ‘legalize it’ from now on at the liberal interventionist Beltway institution, right? Bespectacled soccer-loving editor Franklin Foer for one appears eager to resurrect the diminishing lefty bona fides of the once-essential-now-irrelevant political mag:

“We’ve become more liberal,” Foer said, pointing out that he used his first issue to embrace universal health care and “retract” a famous 1994 piece that helped bring down Bill Clinton’s 1994 heath care reform plan.

“We’ve been encouraging Democrats to dream big again on the environment and economics,” he said.

Under Foer, the magazine has also cut its remaining editorial support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The magazine’s editorial voice supported the invasion at the time, though some writers dissented, and in the summer of 2004, the New Republic published a famous cover package of essays under the heading “Were We Wrong?”

You hear that, former subscribers? It’s safe to come back now – third-way neocon Bush-licking and “retarded technologies” are, like, so 2001. Web 2.0 in tha hizzouse! No blood for oil! DEAN IN ’04!!11

Well, ok, so Marty Peretz is maintaining 25% ownership of the publication, in addition to his oh-so-precious vanity title of ‘editor-in-chief’. Plus, he’s really starting to dig the whole ‘blogging’ thing, despite the damn dirty hippies and their uncouth demeanor. However, stupidity as distinctive as Peretz’s does transcend ideology, thus fitting Foer’s glossy bi-weekly vision.

Oh, and even though new majority purse-holder Leonard Asper shares Marty’s blind spot re: Israel, we shouldn’t expect the same ol’ anti-Muslim propaganda from TNR. No, we can now look forward to rigourous, hard-hitting products of full-time journalism, like Amir Teheri’s ‘Iran-is-the-new-Fatherland’ story that briefly surfaced last summer (courtesy CanWest’s flagship daily, the National Post).

Sure, Foer’s ‘New Yorker of politics’ line makes for a tasty soundbite. But before getting too comfortable with his all-new liberal(ish) mandate, Frankie should first pass along for approval all grand ideas to the new masters in Winnipeg. Just ask former Ottawa Citizen editor Russ Mills.

The New New Republic? I’m still exhaling.

Via memeorandum

“To the man I once loved”

by matttbastard

Former Mugabe confidante Wilf Mbanga sends a bitter, mournful birthday greeting from exile:


Do you remember when you visited me in my humble home at Beatrice Cottages? We listened to Jim Reeves and Elvis and Pat Boone and sang along and laughed together.

You revealed your soul to me, your dreams, your hopes – and I wrote your first biography, introducing you to the world through the syndication of the Argus Group. I introduced you to the ITN reporter Mike Nicholson who first captured you on film for the international media. I was so proud of you. I wanted the whole world to know about you, hear you speak.

Later, you became their darling. I was so proud.


Do you remember when I interviewed you on the eve of the announcement of the independence election results in March 1980? You told me you intended to form a government of national unity – to include everyone. Once again, we made world headlines. Your vision, my story.

And then on the day of the announcement itself. How we laughed together for joy, and you told me your heart had gone “boom, boom” when the registrar-general had announced your landslide victory. How we rejoiced. Independence at last! The birth of Zimbabwe.


Do you remember when I sat in the front row of the press conference you held in 2000 to launch your election campaign? By then you had come to regard me as your enemy, because of my role in launching the Daily News, which was critical of your administration. You would not look at me. I remember the feelings of betrayal, disappointment and sadness that almost choked me.

We did not see each other again after that.

Today, 21 February 2007, is your birthday, Mukoma. When we met thirty-four years ago, I wished you long life, health and happiness. It should not have turned out like this. Zimbabwe was and is worthy of so much more.

It is not too late, Mukoma. You can still do the right thing. The people for whom you were once prepared to suffer so much are still there. They still need freedom. You once loved them enough to give your life to set them free. Can you not find it in your heart one more time to set them free?

More on the autocratic Zimbabwean President’s lavish 83rd birthday celebration (despite his nation’s current state of overwhelming poverty and economic instability) from Michael Wines of the NY Times (via Hilzoy).

On Qualifications

by matttbastard

Tony Blair then:

Tony Blair now:

Tony Blair is expected to announce a timetable for the withdrawal of UK troops from Iraq.

The prime minister is due to make an announcement in the House of Commons on Wednesday in which he is expected clarify the details.

Mr Blair is expected to say hundreds of troops will return from Basra within weeks with more to follow later.

Some 7,000 UK troops are currently serving in Iraq and about 1,500 are expected to return within weeks.

BBC political correspondent James Landale said: “We have been expecting an announcement for some time on this.”


Our correspondent said senior Whitehall sources told him that the pullout was “slightly slower” than they had expected and “if conditions worsen this process could still slow up”.

Is the UK PM really pulling a McCain? Perhaps not. Methinks the key weasel word in Blair’s HOC bloviating (from way back in the halcyon days of, er, January ’07) is ‘arbitrary’. As noted by the BBC, any pullout will still be conditional, the pace to be determined based upon improvement of events on the ground.

In other words, not bloody likely to occur any time soon, unless Tony is planning a hasty legacy-salvaging ‘mission accomplished’ declaration prior to retirement (What – we painted some schools. What more do you want?)

Still, qua Wonkette, I won’t be surprised come Wednesday to see Freedom Muffins on sale in the Congressional Cafeteria (or some greasy spoon in South Carolina, at least).

update: More from the Guardian:

 Ministers have taken on board the message coming from military chiefs over many months – namely that the presence of British troops on the streets of Basra is increasingly unnecessary, even provocative. The reduction of just 1,000 by early summer cited by officials yesterday is significantly less than anticipated in reports that British troops in southern Iraq, presently totalling 7,200, would be cut by half by May.

A more cautious reduction may reflect concern expressed by the Iraqi and US governments about British intentions. The US has privately admonished Britain claiming it is interested only in Basra. British ministers and officials say the situation in the Shia-dominated south cannot be compared to Baghdad, which is plagued by Sunni-Shia sectarian violence.

Under the plan due to be outlined by Mr Blair, British troops will gradually move into a single base on the outskirts of Basra. They will continue to take part in operations but in a role supporting Iraqi security forces rather than leading them, according to defence officials.

They will also continue operating long range desert patrols in Maysan province, north of Basra, along the border with Iran – a mission pressed on Britain by the US which says it is concerned about the smuggling of weapons from Iran. By the end of next year, all but a few army instructors will have left the country.

Kevin Drum voices skepticism at the ‘pullout’ framing:

If the Guardian is right, the real story here isn’t that Britain is withdrawing from Iraq, but that they’re actually planning to stay longer than previously planned. That seems like a pretty important qualifier.

Late Night Logic: Poking the Bear

by matttbastard

Inspired (in a somewhat sideways manner) by this this ObWi post on revisionist cold war history.

  • The beginning of a new arms race? Spiegel International examines the increasingly chilly diplomatic relationship between Russia and the US.
    related: Moscow threatens Poland and the Czech Republic over US missile defense
  • Orange Revolution icon Yulia Tymoshenko says the way Russia wields strategic influence in the Middle East (including its relationship with Iran) poses a threat to long term national interests.
    related: With nuclear fuel shipments to Iran scheduled to begin in March, Russia gets cold feet, citing failed payments as the reason behind the apparent (temporary?) delay.
  • Putin gives Chechen presidency to a thuggish militia leader with a penchant for human rights violations. related: In Russia, democracy doesn’t exactly march; at best, it ‘accidently’ trips and breaks its neck.

The Best Defence…

by matttbastard

Ralph Goodale asks Prime Minister Stephen Harper for an apology after the former Liberal finance minister is exonerated by an RCMP investigation into the leak of income trust policy prior to implementation in November 2005.

Harper’s response: “No, your face is!!11″

Harper yesterday swept aside any suggestion that the completed police investigation exonerated Goodale, and scoffed at calls for him to apologize to Goodale.

“On the contrary, I actually believe Mr. Goodale owes Canadians an apology,” Harper told reporters during a visit to Mississauga.

“You will recall that he told Canadians that no one in his office or his department was involved in any kind of activity. It was the position of the Liberal party prior to the last election that this should be swept under the carpet.”


In Ottawa, Goodale said Harper simply can’t admit he’s wrong now or he was wrong when he and other critics accused Goodale or his office of leaking information that may have allowed some people to make a killing.


Harper also demanded the Liberals apologize to former RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli for suggesting the scandal “was an invention of the RCMP.”

There is good reason to be suspicious of the timing behind the RCMP’s announcement, so I’m not shedding any tears for the disgraced ex-commish. That said, there’s no denying Goodale was mistaken to claim there was no merit to the investigation. As NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis contends,”[Goodale] was wrong. He claimed that I and the NDP were motivated merely by politics. He was wrong.”

If Goodale has any sense of ethics, he’ll apologise to Canadians. Regardless of direct complicity, a cabinet minister is ultimately responsible for what occurs in his or her department. Even though Goodale had no knowledge of or part in the leak, it happened under his watch and he should own up to it.

However, the self righteous posturing on the part of the CPC (and NDP) is nauseating. To summarise: during the last election campaign, the Tories (and Dippers) called for Goodale’s scalp, adding to the atmosphere of Liberal graft and corruption already enveloping the Canadian political environment. Now that Goodale and the rest of his senior staff have been cleared, Harper and co. have decided that continuing to take the low road through Quebec is the best route to reach majority status in 2007.

The heavily partisan, wholly polarising communication style of Harper’s government is uncomfortably similar to that of a certain southerly neighbour’s (case in point: the manner in which the Tories defend Canada’s role in Afghanistan).

update 02.18: Sinister Greg doesn’t buy the official story.

From the ‘Unfortunate Analogy’ Files

by matttbastard

(via Memeorandum) Weekly Standard editor William Kristol lays the foundation for the ultimate ‘When did you stop beating your wife’ question; good thing Obama has already reportedly given the cold shoulder to Fox News.

More on Obama and his campaign kickoff from CanWest News Service, the Sunday Times and the Washington Post.

update: Australian PM John Howard plays the Osama endorsement card (bringing back memories of the ’04 campaign):

Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a staunch Bush ally who has sent troops to Iraq and faces his own re-election bid later this year, said Obama’s proposals [to withdraw US troops in Iraq by March 2008] would spell disaster for the Middle East.

“I think that will just encourage those who want to completely destabilize and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and a victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for an Obama victory,” Howard said on Nine Network television.

“If I were running al-Qaida in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and be praying as many times as possible for a victory, not only for Obama but also for the Democrats.”

Howard’s comments prompted a forceful rebuttal from the neophyte presidential candidate:

“I think it’s flattering that one of George Bush’s allies on the other side of the world started attacking me the day after I announced,” Mr Obama told reporters in the mid-western US state of Iowa.

“I would also note that we have close to 140,000 troops in Iraq, and my understanding is Mr Howard has deployed 1,400, so if he is … to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq.

“Otherwise it’s just a bunch of empty rhetoric.”

CNN has more on the US’ response to Howard’s juvenile poo flinging.

Late Night Logic: The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of*

by matttbastard

Because I’m too lazy to come up with original work:

  • Arab Iraqis in Kirkuk face government expulsion as sectarian strife threatens to migrate north; according to ISN Security Watch, an estimated 150,000 Arabs, mostly Shia, have fled the largely-Kurdish region since 2003, with some reporting threats of violence and abduction. Since 2006, nearly 350 have been people killed (almost of a third of which in death-squad style executions) and 1500 injured in Kirkuk.
  • Stephen Duncombe thinks ‘reality’ is highly overrated by the progressive left in the US.

*with apologies to Thomas M. Disch

The Clock Stops at Midnight

by matttbastard

Newsflash: The creative team behind hit TV series 24 are sadistic pigfuckers who hobnob with the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. And, as intimated by the chronically incoherent Laura Ingraham, American viewers eat up the pornographic exploits of Bauer and co. with sick relish. While discussing the overwhelming success of the show, Path to 9/11 screenwriter Cyrus Nowresteh (a close friend of 24 creator and self-described ‘right wing nut job’ Joel Surnow) had this to say:

“Every American wishes we had someone out there quietly taking care of business…It’s a deep, dark ugly world out there. Maybe this is what Ollie North was trying to do. It would be nice to have a secret government that can get the answers and take care of business—even kill people. Jack Bauer fulfills that fantasy.”

Lefty Canuck actor Kiefer Sutherland can wring his hands all he likes; I doubt he even sheds crocodile tears when cashing the $10 million annual paycheques. Tommy Douglas must be spinning like a centrifuge at his grandson’s useful idiocy.

Via Memeorandum.

Sins of Omission

by matttbastard

Mark C. of Daimnation! gleefully points to this story, published in today’s print edition of the Globe and Mail, which details the plagiarism charges being levelled at Canadian journalist and best-selling author Paul William Roberts. Roberts admitted to mistakenly inserting numerous passages from a well-known 2002 Atlanta Journal-Constitution op-ed piece into his 2004 book A War Against Truth: An Intimate Account of the Invasion of Iraq, without properly attributing the original source. As a result, Roberts’ Canadian publisher, Raincoast Books, has halted shipment of the book’s paperback edition:

In a Jan. 19 letter of apology to a lawyer for the newspaper, Mr. Roberts called his failure to acknowledge the use of [Jay] Bookman’s material in five of his book’s 350-plus pages “a journalistic travesty” and “an egregious lapse of professional conduct,” but he said the failure was inadvertent, more the result of “the dangers of sloppiness” than an act of malice or bald plagiarism.

A close friend of Roberts who agreed to speak with me on the grounds that he remain anonymous backs up Roberts, explaining that the besieged journalist “is not malicious, but he is sloppy”. The source goes on to say that “[Roberts] is so outspoken, that the [right] targets him.”

Whether motivated by partisan vendetta or not, this isn’t the first instance Roberts has found himself facing charges of plagiarism. A 2006 Globe feature by Roberts (unfortunately now behind the pay wall) contained passages that closely resembled a New Republic article (also subscriber-only) from earlier that year. After an internal investigation, the Globe issued this ‘clarification’ (via Regret the Error):

A profile of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that appeared in last Saturday’s Focus section referred to a story about the Iranian President in the current issue of The New Republic. After an investigation by The Globe and Mail, it appears that notes by the author were mistakenly inserted into the story without proper attribution. The Globe has apologized to The New Republic and regrets the error.

But conservative blogger Robert Aterman found the Globe’s ‘clarification’ (eerily similar to Roberts’ latest mea culpa) inadequate:

The PWR article is around 2,000 words. Of that about a third is given over to Ahmadinejad’s biography. Almost all of this section is a lightly paraphrased (and in parts exactly identical) version of the original article by [Matthias] Küntzel. This represents pretty much the entire informative content of the article; the rest is Roberts’ opinioneering. It is hard to see how this can be described as “notes by the author.” Nor is it believable that this was “mistakenly inserted.” This isn’t a line or a paragraph, but over 700 words, absent which the article would include essentially no factual content.

Like my anonymous source, I don’t want to believe that Paul William Roberts deliberately appropriates other people’s work without citing the source material. It is, however, hard to give someone who has repeatedly shown such lax journalistic standards the benefit of the doubt. I may respect and admire Roberts for his willingness to speak truth to power, but I cannot condone plagiarism, intentional or otherwise.

Roberts may or may not survive this latest controversy with his reputation intact. However, I know I’ll find it hard to read something by him without second guessing the originality of the work, much like that of disgraced historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Malice or incompetence aside, Roberts must take responsibility for the inevitable erosion in confidence his actions have engendered.