Soldiers for the Truth

I can’t recommend strongly enough that you take a few minutes to read a startling article posted by Joseph Bosco over at Longbow Papers.

The interviewee, U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, 43, is no ordinary peace protestor. In the Air Force for 20 years, this lifelong conservative boasts a master’s degrees from Harvard in government and zoology and is the author of two books on Saharan Africa. Her charges against the US government in general, and Dick Cheny and Donald Rumsfeld in particular, are simply devastating.

If she is to be believed — and she certainly appears to have some credibility — the propaganda machine for invading Iraq was turned on very early in the Bush administration, and simply spat out one huge lie after another to ensure the invasion took place at any cost, truth be damned. The reason? Mainly money.

Go over to Joseph’s site and check it out. She makes it abundantly clear why we had to invade Iraq at a time when Saddam was giving in to all of our demands. (How ironic, that it was Saddam’s cooperation that made it so essential to invade, and fast.) What an eye-opener — for the first time, it all made total sense.


Top-secret Pentagon report tells Bush “Climate change will destroy us”

This is simply too amazing to be true. Calpundit has an astounding post on a UK article that quotes from an allegedly highly classified Pentagon document warning of the end of the world as we know it in less than 20 years, all due to global warming. From the article:

A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a ‘Siberian’ climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.

‘Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,’ concludes the Pentagon analysis. ‘Once again, warfare would define human life.’

The findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration, which has repeatedly denied that climate change even exists. Experts said that they will also make unsettling reading for a President who has insisted national defence is a priority.

The report was commissioned by influential Pentagon defence adviser Andrew Marshall, who has held considerable sway on US military thinking over the past three decades. He was the man behind a sweeping recent review aimed at transforming the American military under Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

This leads Capundit to muse:

Now, I have to assume that the report is real and the Observer reporters didn’t just make it up. On the other hand, the language is so apocalyptic that surely it must be part of a section labeled “absolutely positively really really worst case and not at all likely scenarios — but we thought we’d include them anyway since that’s the kind of thing we do around here.”

But this is what we love about the British press, isn’t it? There’s really no way to tell. Perhaps they’ll be kind enough to put the entire report up on their website someday so we can see for ourselves what it’s really all about.

It all sounds way too far-fetched to be true. Each paragraph in the Observer article is more bizarre and frightening than the last. Either this is the mother of all hoaxes, or we’re in for some interesting times ahead.


Ebert and Roeper give “Passion” 2 thumbs up

They both loved it.

“It’s the only religious movie I’ve seen, with the exception of ‘The Gospel According to St. Matthew’ by [Italian director Pier Paolo] Pasolini, that really seems to deal with what actually happened,” said Ebert, who is the Sun-Times film critic.

“This is the most powerful, important and by far the most graphic interpretation of Christ’s final hours ever put on film,” said Roeper, a Sun-Times columnist. “Mel Gibson is a masterful storyteller, and this is the work of his lifetime. You have to admire not just Gibson for his vision and his directing abilities, but Jim Caviezel [as Christ] and the rest of the cast.”

As for the controversy over whether the movie promotes anti-Semitism, Ebert said, “I hope people will see this movie for themselves and then judge. I don’t think the movie is anti-Semitic.”

It will be intriguing to read the reviews as they come out this week (I think it opens nationwide on Wednesday). Meanwhile, it appears most Mormons are going to steer clear of the controversial film.

Many Mormons, who don’t wear or display crosses, will also stay away.

Like other Christians, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus died to atone for humanity’s sins, but they don’t see it as a single event on the cross. They believe the atonement began in the Garden of Gethsamane, where the New Testament says Jesus’ “sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground,” continued with the Crucifixion and culminated with the empty tomb on Easter morning.

“Because the Protestant world focuses so much on the death of Jesus, we have a tendency to emphasize Christ’s resurrection,” says John Fowles, a New Testament teacher at Logan’s LDS Institute of Religion.

In any event, many Mormons will not see “Passion” because it is R-rated and they believe the LDS Church forbids it.

With all due respect, I am so glad I am not a Mormon. I love coffee, and some of my favorite movies are R-rated.


Are Mainland China bloggers “ignored”?

Apologies, but I’ve decided to cut this post and all its comments. After a brief communication with the blogger who inspired it, I realize he meant more by the word “ignored” than just links and traffic. In particular, he was referring to the unwillingness of some established bloggers to at least listen to what bloggers in China have to say and to communicate with them.

While I don’t necessarily agree — I think some of the big bloggers are equally dismissive of everyone, whether in China or not — I understand where he’s coming from and it does alter the premise of my original post, enough so that I thought I should excise it and its racy comments. Thanks for your understanding.


The New York Times’ slick approach to the Kerry “intern” rumor

This is really interesting, at least to media junkies like me. The New York Times today has an article that is ostensibly about the use of Internet attack ads in the presidential election.

It gets off to a good start, with a description of a nasty ad on Bush’s campaign web site. But suddenly, halfway through, it veers in a different direction, focusing on one topic: the rumor spread by Drudge about Kerry having an affair with an “intern.”

Here’s how the reporter segues away from the ad topic to the Drudge topic:

But perhaps most significantly, the Web has evolved as a relatively permissive environment. A negative advertisement that might rub viewers the wrong way in their living rooms is apparently less likely to do so when they are at their computers.

The tension between the different strata of media was evident when The Drudge Report, the news Web site, recently reported that several major news organizations were investigating a rumor that Mr. Kerry may have had an extramarital affair.

And from then on it’s all about the scandalette — in other words, it’s really two separate articles, joined loosely together by the theme of how we respond to material on the Net vs. other media.

The reporter’s description of how Drudge’s blatant rumor mongering pressured the “regular media” to respond is fascinating.

Unlike the Monica Lewinsky scandal, news of which The Drudge Report also broke, the Kerry rumor had no accompanying criminal investigation, which could justify coverage by itself, and newsrooms across the country found themselves in a state of paralysis — caught between ignoring a story millions already knew about or validating a charge without independent confirmation.

The pressure mounted as The Drudge Report posted follow-up articles, effectively fanning the flames. Those watching from the sidelines saw the situation as a test of just how far the major newspapers, magazines and television networks would allow themselves to be pushed.

“Clearly the Internet is accelerating the pace at which politics move,’’ said Jim Jordan, Mr. Kerry’s former campaign manager. “And, increasingly, it seems to allow the mainstream media to rationalize editorial decisions that wouldn’t have been made in the past.’’

Ultimately, most news organizations, however, did not take the bait, with some ignoring the story entirely and others, including The New York Times, reporting denials from Mr. Kerry and the woman in question deep within their news pages.

So what the Times did was use an article on Internet Advertising as a framework in which it was able, somewhat awkwardly, to tell a very different story — exactly how the rumor started, how Drudge spread it, and how it was handled by the various media.

I think it tells that story really well. But it was amusing they felt they had to couch it in a more respectable framework (Internet advertising) to avoid looking like flame-fanners themselves.


John Edwards on Jay Leno

Aside from fleeting soundbites on the BBC I had never seen John Edwards speak before, so I was intrigued to see him on Jay Leno last night. This guy is really impressive. He has the gift of gab way above any of the others, and his self-effacing humor and easy-going manner, sincere or not, are brilliant.

Most refreshing was his blunt, fuck-political-correctness stand on gay marriage, which he openly endorsed. This is one of those third-rail issues, and watching an American presidential candidate take a real stand, without dancing around the topic with vague generalities, struck me as unprecedented.

Does he have the experience in national security and foreign relations that Bush has? Maybe not, but Bush didn’t have it either until his baptism by fire. (And has Bush been a model of wisdom in these areas?) Like Bush, it will depend on the people he surrounds himself with.

Edwards won’t win the nomination, but seeing him last night convinced me he is certainly a star in the ascendant. As Bush speaks, we can see him weighing every syllable and fighting to remember his talking points — usually with little success. Like Clinton, Edwards really communicates. The rapport he built with that audience in just a few minutes was dazzling.

At a time when Americans are sick and tired of the lies about the economy and jobs and Iraqi WMDs, Edwards offers an alternative that the people seem to be thirsting for. Keep your eye on him; he may not be on the ticket this year, but he’s certainly set the stage for 2008.

Update: I have to change the sentence in which I say he “openly endorsed” gay mariage. What he said was that he strongly opposes any constitutional amendment to outlaw gay mariage.


Josh Marshall on Ralph Nader’s probable bid for the presidency

He says it all way better than I can:

I truly hope that Democrats will not spend too much time abasing themselves, begging Ralph Nader not to run again for president in 2004, as he seems likely to announce he will do on Meet the Press this Sunday.

Certainly, this latter-day political narcissist has already made up his mind what he’s going to announce. So there’s no point waiting to call him what he is: an enemy of progressive change in this country and a cat’s paw of the Republican party.

If anything, calling him a ‘cat’s paw’ is too generous since a dupe at least doesn’t know he’s being used.

In any case, I have a rough confidence that this won’t be as damaging to Democratic prospects as some fear. Because after the last four years I just don’t think that many people will get in line again behind this pied piper of political oblivion.

Late Update: A reader notes that since Nader now isn’t even running as a Green, he has apparently abandoned even the pretense that he is in the race to create a viable third party in American politics. If he runs, it would now be strictly on a platform of vacuous moral posturing and self-aggrandizement.


The retired doctor, 76, who blew the whistle on the Henan AIDS scandal

“Grandma” Gao Yaojie, a 76-year-old retired gynecologist, has had her phone tapped and her travel restricted and is under constant government surveillance. Her crime? She is China’s best-known AIDS activist and the one who single handedly brought the story of the Henan province AIDS scandal to light.

A magnificent profile of this hero is as inspiring as it is distrubing.

She has spent eight years describing the greed and incompetence she blames for infecting hundreds of thousands of villagers and uses her pension to buy anti-Aids drugs.

Her campaign started in 1996 when she was called in to see a man with unusual symptoms. “He had strange red marks on his skin,” she said. “I suggested he go for a blood test. My diagnosis was correct. He had Aids.”

The man told her he had donated blood. When Dr Gao and colleagues investigated, they found that the province’s hospitals were provided with blood by a network of businessmen who went round poor villages paying farmers to donate.

So that they could donate more often, donors were injected with blood plasma. It came from an HIV-contaminated common pool, sending infection rates soaring.

Dr Gao toured the countryside and found village after village full of sick people, whole families dying. But her work, and the publicity it brought, were not welcomed by the authorities. Her phone was bugged and her home watched. When she won an international human rights award, she was stopped from going abroad to receive it.

It would be a shocking story if it happened elsewhere, but China isn’t renowned for encouraging, let alone rewarding, whistelblowers who make the government look bad. While the government harasses her, the people worship her.

….with brusque manners and outspokenness Gao Yaojie, 76, has exposed the plight of central China’s dirt-poor, Aids-infected villages, bullying health authorities into providing some limited care.

The area’s farmers sing her praises and at the other end of the social scale she has been feted by prime ministers and China’s top academics.

Yet, when she arrived at the gates of China’s leading university to listen to a speech by Bill Clinton in November, she was stopped by officials. They had followed her from her home in Zhengzhou, in Henan province, they said.

Why did she insist on disclosing her country’s secrets to its enemies, they asked. She was told that foreigners wanted to overthrow China – meaning the Communist Party – and she was the person who exposed its “bad things” to the world.

Amazingly, none of the CCP’s tactics have slowed her down or diluted her barbed criticisms of the government. Gao remains furious that the officials behind the blood donation scheme “have been promoted, not punished.” How ironic that, despite her recognition among the people as a saint, it is Gao whom the government is harassing, and not the criminals who created this staggering mess.


New Republic reporter: Drudge has it wrong on infamous Wes Clark “quote”

I don’t think Ryan Lizza is being pedantic

HE DID SPELL JOHN KERRY CORRECTLY: Just in case anybody was still wondering whether anything in the original Drudge item about John Kerry was accurate, I can confirm that Wesley Clark did not say what Drudge says he said at that off-the-record conversation with reporters in Nashville one week ago.

I was there when Clark spoke, and just to make sure I didn’t miss anything, I’ve also checked with other reporters who were there. Since it was off the record (sort of), I can’t get into what Clark actually said (let’s just say it was not his finest moment on the campaign trail), but I can report that the quote Drudge attributes to him–“Kerry will implode over an intern issue”–is not accurate. He never said that.

UPDATE: Ryan Lizza’s blog about covering the 2004 elections is sensational. Be sure to check it out.


Hong Kong dismisses China’s “scare tactics”

The Straits times today looks at how Hong Kongers are reacting to the CCP’s blustery rhetoric, which has included threats to shut down the legislature if it isn’t run by “patriots” (read “goons”). Apparently most are dismissing the prickly proclamations as meaningless scare tactics.

It’s interesting to watch as HK’s officials try to walk the nano-thin line between the fiery CCP and the feisty HK public, which has already shown its willingness to spend a holiday demonstrating in a protest March against Chinese “anti-subversion” laws.

Top government officials who tried to evade the subject have not been spared criticism.

Chief Secretary Donald Tsang, when asked last week to define patriotism, could only manage: ‘I believe we all know in our hearts what is patriotism and loving Hong Kong.’

He was criticised by the media for being unclear.

Financial Secretary Henry Tang came under attack for failing to respond when he was invited by Deputy Commerce Minister An Min to elaborate on patriotism at a meeting in Beijing on Tuesday. Mr An had said earlier that some people had deliberately distorted the principles of patriotism.

The issue is expected to simmer until the Legislative Council (Legco) elections in September.

This was signalled by Professor Xu Chongde, a mainland legal expert, who yesterday urged voters to pick patriots in the Legco polls.

He warned: ‘If they choose the wrong people, Hong Kong will suffer.

Will the people of HK be browbeaten into voting for “patriots”? Somehow, I can’t see it. So the next question is, will they really “suffer” as a consqeuence? I can’t see that, either, but then the Chinese have surprised me again and again.